George W. Bush has embarked on perhaps the most radical course of any president in US history. Without consulting or even informing Congress, Mr. Bush this week terminated the landmark 1972 Antiballistic Missile Treaty that has been the cornerstone of global nuclear arms control for three decades.

– Marc Ash, December 16, 2001


Sightings from The Catbird Seat

~ o ~

July 19, 2006


Posted By: Seawitch <Send E-Mail>

This was emailed to me this afternoon. I am posting for awareness purposes.

Hong Kong’s Xin-bao reported on July 7th that China has deployed next-generation nuclear submarines and are capable of second nuclear counterstrike.

German military publication ‘International Navy’ reported that China officially deployed recently-developed Type 093 and 094 nuclear submarines, and conducted training exercises. They are in combat-deployment now, according to the publication.

It said that Type 094, Tang-class, is the improved version of Xia-class nuclear submarine, with 10,000-ton displacement, and can carry 16 Julang-2 SLBM’s which have means that a single Type 094 submarine can strike 48 targets simultaneously. Type 094 has fourth-generation nuclear reactor and is equipped with noise-suppression feature and precision sonar capability. It has superior stealth, mobility, and survivability, which is rated as comparable to Ohio class submarine of the U.S.

Type 093 is an attack submarine with 7,150 ton displacement, whose design is based on Han-class submarine. If their deployment is successful, Chinese nuclear capability will expand from land-based nukes to second nuclear counterstrike, according to this publication.

People’s Daily, Chinese official communist party paper, featured an article on its Internet site about the submarines on July 6th, which is a de-facto confirmation of their deployment.

Energy and Prayers,


June 21, 2006

New Nuclear Plants Too Risky to Build
and Too Costly to Operate

Public Citizen

AUSTIN – Environmental groups today decried NRG Energy Inc.’s plans to build two new reactors at its South Texas nuclear plant site. The costs for the reactors are expected to reach $5 billion and will expose Texans to the risks and radioactive wastes of nuclear power.

Nuclear power is extremely costly and relies on taxpayer subsidies, creates radioactive waste with no long-term disposal solution, and poses security and public health risks.

“Thirty years ago, we were promised that nuclear energy would produce energy ‘too cheap to meter,’ but the costs are still mounting,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Nuclear plants are too costly to build, too risky to operate and the wastes are still too hot to handle.”

The existing Texas reactors built at the site more than twenty years ago cost more than six times the projected estimates and had so many critical flaws that construction was halted and parts of the plant were rebuilt to address serious safety concerns.

Nuclear power continues to be dependent on taxpayer handouts for survival. From 1947 to 1999, the nuclear industry was given more than $115 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies. The management of nuclear waste and the requirements for reactor decommissioning require billions more in additional funds. In comparison, federal government subsidies for wind and solar power totaled only $5.7 billion over the same period – 25 times less than nuclear subsides.

“Pollution from uranium mining, the dangers of reactor accidents and the legacy of radioactive waste are all serious concerns,” said Donna Hoffman of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

“Nuclear madness has arisen again, risking our health and safety,” said Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition.

“Radioactive waste can be converted to materials to make nuclear weapons. We should lead by example and not fuel the international weapons race by creating more of it.”

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency are a viable alternative to nuclear power and conventional fuels, and can meet the country’s energy needs without the burdens of carbon emissions or radioactive waste,” said Luke Metzger of Environment Texas.

The flaws of nuclear power include cost, waste, security, safety, and proliferation. To learn more, click here.

$ $ $


March 17, 2006

Duke Energy Should Be Denied Taxpayer Subsidies to Build New Nuclear Reactors; Better Alternatives Exist

Public Citizen

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Duke Energy’s plan to apply for a construction and operation license to build two new nuclear reactors at a site owned by Southern Co. in Cherokee County, S.C., should not be permitted to come to fruition, Public Citizen said today. Duke is angling to receive billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to defray the costs of applying for a license as well as operating the plants; it should not be given a government handout for the application, the organization said. Nor should the government issue a license. Not only does nuclear power pose a threat to public health and safety, but Duke Energy has a track record that indicates it has been dishonest with consumers.

No new reactors have been ordered in the United States for 30 years, and for good reason. Nuclear power is extremely expensive and not economically viable in the marketplace – no nuclear power plant has operated without taxpayer money since the nuclear power industry was born. It also poses a public safety and national security threat and creates dangerous highly radioactive waste, for which no country in the world has a solution, and will not be effective in addressing climate change.

Further, Duke Energy has one of the worst track records of energy companies in the United States when it comes to manipulating markets and cheating consumers. Duke Energy has been forced to pay $257 million to settle allegations of market manipulation and other misdeeds in the past three years. Consider:

In September 2003, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission fined Duke Energy $28 million for manipulating natural gas markets.

In December 2003, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission fined Duke Energy $2.5 million, resolving an investigation into allegations that Duke engaged in market gaming practices during the California energy crisis.

In July 2004, the California attorney general announced a $207.5 million “electricity price-gouging settlement” with Duke Energy for the company’s role in ripping off the state’s consumers during the energy crisis that led to forced blackouts and almost bankrupted California, harming many small businesses and consumers.

The California Independent System Operator (CAISO) in 2001 rescinded $14.4 million in payments Duke Energy had received after the company did not make its power plants available for the California market. The CAISO then issued a $4.5 million fine against Duke for failing to follow California market rules during a declared system emergency.

In July 2005, the Securities and Exchange Commission imposed a cease-and-desist order on Duke Energy because Duke’s internal accounting controls were insufficient to ensure that its traders properly recorded their trading activities. As a result, Duke Energy illegally classified $56.2 million of the company’s speculative power and natural gas trading operations.

If Duke is permitted to proceed with its proposal, taxpayers could be on the hook for cradle-to-grave subsidies, including:

half the cost of applying for the license, estimated at as much as $45 million per application for pre-approved reactor designs;

“risk insurance” to pay the industry for delays in licensing, which could be up to $500 million each for the first two plants;

taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for up to 80 percent of the cost of a project, potentially costing taxpayers more than $2 billion per plant; and

production tax credits of 1.8-cents for each kilowatt-hour of nuclear-generated electricity from new reactors during the first eight years of operation, estimated at a total of $5.7 billion in revenue losses to the U.S. Treasury through 2025.

For these reasons, we urge the government to deny Duke Energy federal dollars to subsidize the exorbitant costs of building new reactors and ultimately deny the company a license.

Renewable energy is a viable alternative to nuclear power and conventional fuels, and can meet the country’s energy needs without the burdens of carbon emissions or radioactive waste. In addition to renewable technologies themselves, using energy more efficiently is an important part of moving to a clean energy future. The increase in energy demand Duke predicts can be met much more safely and effectively by efficiency measures than through building new nuclear plants.

For more information about the five fatal flaws of nuclear power, click here. For more information about the proposed Duke-Cinergy merger, click here.

$ $ $

December 20, 2005

Heads roll at Veterans Administration

Mushrooming depleted uranium (DU) scandal blamed

by Bob Nichols
Project Censored Award Winner

Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter charged Monday that the reason Veterans Affairs Secretary Anthony Principi stepped down earlier this month was the growing scandal surrounding the use of uranium munitions in the Iraq War.

Considering the tons of depleted uranium used by the U.S., the Iraq war can truly be called a nuclear war.

Writing in Preventive Psychiatry E-Newsletter No. 169, Arthur N. Bernklau, executive director of Veterans for Constitutional Law in New York, stated, “The real reason for Mr. Principi’s departure was really never given, however a special report published by eminent scientist Leuren Moret naming depleted uranium as the definitive cause of the ‘Gulf War Syndrome’ has fed a growing scandal about the continued use of uranium munitions by the US Military.”

Bernklau continued, “This malady (from uranium munitions), that thousands of our military have suffered and died from, has finally been identified as the cause of this sickness, eliminating the guessing. The terrible truth is now being revealed.”

He added, “Out of the 580,400 soldiers who served in GW1 (the first Gulf War), of them, 11,000 are now dead! By the year 2000, there were 325,000 on Permanent Medical Disability. This astounding number of ‘Disabled Vets’ means that a decade later, 56% of those soldiers who served have some form of permanent medical problems!”

The disability rate for the wars of the last century was 5 percent; it was higher, 10 percent, in Viet Nam.

The VA Secretary (Principi) was aware of this fact as far back as 2000,” wrote Bernklau. “He, and the Bush administration have been hiding these facts, but now, thanks to Moret’s report, (it) … is far too big to hide or to cover up!”

Terry Jamison, Public Affairs Specialist, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of Veterans Affairs, at the VA Central Office, recently reported that ‘Gulf Era Veterans’ now on medical disability, since 1991, number 518,739 Veterans,” said Berklau.

The long-term effects have revealed that DU (uranium oxide) is a virtual death sentence,” stated Berklau.

Marion Fulk, a nuclear physical chemist, who retired from the Lawrence Livermore Nuclear Weapons Lab, and was also involved with the Manhattan Project, interprets the new and rapid malignancies in the soldiers (from the 2003 Iraq War) as ‘spectacular … and a matter of concern!’”

When asked if the main purpose of using DU was for “destroying things and killing people,” Fulk was more specific: “I would say it is the perfect weapon for killing lots of people!”

$ $ $

April 4, 2005


Workers describe sabotage

Whistle-blower case lists efforts bypass
water meter, violate EPA guidelines

By Keith Rogers, Review-Journal

Pipe fitters on the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project were told by a foreman two years ago to sabotage the tunnel’s main water line and make a special pipe to bypass a meter that measures how much of the state’s water is used.

That’s according to a claim made in a Labor Department whistle-blower case and in interviews last month with former contract workers at the site, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Before Ronald Dollens of Pahrump was fired in May 2003 by Yucca Mountain Project contractor Bechtel SAIC, he said he endured “a lot of harassment” for reporting what he perceived as violations of worker safety laws and Environmental Protection Agency laws, including the Clear Air Act and Clean Water Act….

”In a statement that Dollens filed for a Labor Department investigation into his wrongful termination claim, he said his foreman, Mike Oettinger, asked him and co-worker Dale Cain in November 2002 “to purposely break a line that ran into the tunnel just so we could get overtime pay fixing the pipe that would be broken.”...

Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration in San Francisco, recommended Dollens receive a $250,000 punitive award from Bechtel SAIC for “reckless conduct indifferent to the rights of the whistle-blower.”

For more, GO TO > > > The Vultures on Yucca Mountain


April 6, 2005

Nuclear Plants in 31 States
Said Prone

By H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Fuel storage pools at nuclear power plants in 31 states may be vulnerable to terrorist attacks that could unleash raging fires and deadly radiation, scientists advised the government on Wednesday.

The group of nuclear experts said neither the government nor the nuclear industry “adequately understands the vulnerabilities and consequences of such an event.”

They recommended undertaking a plant-by-plant examination of fuel storage security as soon as possible….

Congress sought the study by a National Academy of Science panel because of the heightened concerns that terrorists might seek to target nuclear power plants. The release Wednesday of a declassified version of the report followed months of debate with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over how much of the findings should remain secret, and therefore, unavailable to potential terrorists.

At 68 plants, including some already shut down, in 31 states, thousands of used reactor fuel rods are in deep water pools. Dry, concrete casks hold a smaller number of these rods.

Much more highly radioactive fuel is stored in pools than is in the more protected reactors – 103 in total – at these sites.

Some scientists and nuclear watchdog groups long have contended that these pools pose a much greater danger to a catastrophic attack than do the reactors themselves….

The report said an aircraft or high explosive attack could cause water to drain from the pools and expose the fuel rods, unleashing an uncontrollable fire and large amounts of radiation.

Nuclear regulators said they would give the report’s recommendations “serious consideration.” But the NRC has disputed many findings and suggestions from the experts….


April 12, 2003

Agents Involved With Woman
Didn’t Tell FBI of Spy Suspicions

By Curt Anderson, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Two former FBI counterintelligence agents suspected in 1991 that the woman with whom both were having an affair was passing sensitive information to the Chinese, but neither told a superior, according to government documents.

Former agent James J. Smith and former FBI supervisor William Cleveland Jr. kept under wraps their knowledge that Katrina Leung, an FBI intelligence “asset” for two decades, had contacts with intelligence services of the Chinese government.

Cleveland, who retired from the FBI in 1993, has resigned from his position as chief of an employee security awareness program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The lab develops nuclear weapons….

…Continued at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


March 5, 2003

Lab Scandal Undermines
Nuclear Credibility

By Notra Trulock, III, Accuracy in Media

Three Los Alamos whistleblowers finally got to tell their story to Congress recently.

At a hearing before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, congressmen expressed shock and outrage at the testimony of Glenn A. Walp, Steve Doran and Jaret McDonald. The Inspector General of the Energy Department told the subcommittee that his inquiries had confirmed many of the problems uncovered by the three.

A University of California vice president, also present at the hearing, apologized to the Congress for the university’s management failures at Los Alamos, promised to do better in the future, and told members that “the experience has strengthened us.” Whether those assurances will be enough to save the university’s contract to manage the lab will not be known until later in March.

The subcommittee was most interested in the whistleblowers’ account of efforts by lab managers to cover up widespread abuses and obstruct investigations, including those by the FBI, into the scandal. These efforts went all the way up to the lab’s principal deputy director, who has since been fired….

… Continued at: Los Alamos National Laboratory

< < < FLASHBACK < < <

May 15, 1996


By Louise Fenner, USIA

Washington – The emergence of Russian, Eastern European, and Eurasian criminal groups in the United States is this country’s “fastest growing” criminal justice problem, and U.S. authorities are struggling to keep such groups from becoming entrenched, according to a top official of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

According to government officials testifying at t May 15 hearing of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, criminal activities engaged in by these groups range from auto theft and medical fraud through drug trafficking to the theft and sale of nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union.

Jim Moody, deputy assistant FBI director of criminal investigations, said the FBI has 215 active investigations underway involving Russian organized crime activities, compared with 68 at the beginning of the decade….

In addition to traditional criminal activities such as drug trafficking, extortion, and export of stolen automobiles, Moody said the Russian gangs are involved in fraud and financial crimes, such as multi-million dollar gasoline tax and medical insurance fraud. One way they launder money is through the purchase of expensive property in Hawaii.

According to George Weise, commissioner of the U.S. Customs Service, focused on the involvement of Russian criminal groups in the smuggling of nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. “The theft and sale of nuclear materials from the FSU (Former Soviet Union) continues to be a problem of great concern to the entire world,” Weise said. …

Weise said, and one investigation disclosed “the illegal sale of nuclear-grade zirconium to Iraq.”

Several other customs investigations involved “the sale, export and/or diversion of weapons, military hardware, critical high technology, precursor chemicals for biological warfare, military aircraft parts, and assorted missile systems.”…

* * *

February 28, 2003


CHEYENNE, WYO. – Thirty-seven people accused of being illegal immigrants were arrested at F.E. Warren Air Force Base, headquarters of the nation’s largest arsenal of intercontinental nuclear missiles….

… Continued at: Warren Air Force Base

* * *

December 25, 2002


Official blames U.S. ‘hawks’ for growing crisis

By Christopher Torchia, Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea ratcheted up its standoff with Washington yesterday, starting repairs at a long-frozen nuclear reactor and warning that U.S. policy is leading to an “uncontrollable catastrophe” and the “brink of nuclear war.”...

North Korea officials removed U.N. seals from more nuclear facilities and began repair work at a reactor that had been frozen since 1994, a U.N. agency said. The North Koreans will need “a month or two” to make their Soviet-designed 5-megawatt reactor at Yongbyon operational, said Mark Gwozdecky, chief spokesman at the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

Alarming governments around the world, North Korea has swiftly taken steps toward a possible reactivation of nuclear facilities that experts believe were used to make one or two weapons in the 1990s….

North Korea, which has accused the United States of plotting an invasion, has said it is willing to settle the nuclear issue if Washington signs a nonaggression treaty.

The North’s defense minister, Kim Il Choi, said in a report on KCNA, the North Korean news agency, that “U.S. hawks” were “pushing the situation on the Korean Peninsula to the brink of a nuclear war.”…

The North’s nuclear facilities at Yongbyon were at the center of a crisis in 1994 that some say nearly led to war.

Conflict was averted when North Korea agreed to freeze the facilities in a deal with the United States.

But Pyongyang said Dec. 12 that it planned to reactivate them to produce electricity because Washington had failed on a pledge to provide energy sources. U.S. officials say the primary purpose of the facilities is weapons production.

In South Korea, President-elect Roh Moo-hyun appealed to Russia, China and Japan for help in finding a peaceful solution….

For more, GO TO >>> Condoleezza and the Chicken Hawks

* * * * *

December 25, 2002

Iranian nuclear plant is for
power only, leader says

By Munir Ahmed, Associated Press

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – Brushing aside U.S. criticism, Iranian President Mohammed Khatami pledged yesterday to forge ahead in building Iran’s nuclear power plant.

But he said Iran didn’t want nuclear arms and would prove its sincerity by sending the plant’s spent fuel rods – a potential source of fissionable material – abroad for reprocessing.

“We have no problem with sending the nuclear waste and uranium waste to other countries,” Khatami said on his first visit to Pakistan.

“We are not insisting on keeping them in Iran, where they could also pose an environmental problem.”

Khatami made the promise at a news conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali in Islamabad, where he urged critics to focus on Israel’s reported nuclear arsenal, rather than on recently emerged nuclear powers like Pakistan.

Israel has never acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons.

Iranian officials insist the nation’s nuclear facilities are used only to generate power, even though Iran canceled a U.N. inspection of two sites this month. Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency, is scheduled to visit Iran in February.

The U.S. government has strongly criticized the plant at Bushehr in southern Iran, saying it could advance Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.

Yesterday, Khatami seemed eager to assuage Western concerns about the plant, being built with Russian help.

“We are very happy that we are going to have that nuclear power plant in Iran, and we are going to develop it for energy and peaceful purposes. I repeat, peaceful purposes,” he said.

Both Khatami and Pakistan’s new prime minister lead governments with powerful hardline Islamic factions. Jamali said he’d asked Khatami for help in negotiating a $3.5 billion gas pipeline deal with Pakistan’s majority-Hindu neighbor, India….

See also: U.S. Fuel and Security Inc.; United States Fuel Enrichment Corp.

For more, GO TO > > > Birds on the Power Lines

* * * * *

From: “Hannah Burdine” <>


Subject: Website links?

Date: Sun, 9 Feb 2003 21:40:39 -0600

Hi, do you have a links page? Can you add our website to your links page if you have one? We are fighting Louisiana Energy Services, which is a consortium of international nuclear companies that wants to build a uranium enrichment facility in Middle Tennessee. Time magazine did an article on this facility which you can find on our website.

It is believed that URENCO, a major stakeholder in LES (50% shareholder), shared nuclear technology with Pakistan and Iraq.

Now they want to profit from and pollute Middle Tennessee!

~ ~ ~

Hartsville Tennessee Citizens
Say No to LES!

Bombs into Plowshares? or How the LES Nuclear Fuel Plant
Threatens our Local and National Security

by J S Hepler

The nuclear processing plant proposed by Louisiana Energy Services for Hartsville looks like a clean, profitable business. It is certainly a far more efficient way to “enrich” uranium (gas centrifuge) than the old technology used in the only comparable processing done today in the US, in the Paducah Gas Diffusion Plant.

But the whole truth is much darker. A close look at the nuclear fuel industry reveals a fatal flaw in the rosy LES picture, a secret that threatens our lives.

The nuclear power industry has had fifty years of financial subsidies and promotion by the US government. Despite this, nuclear power has not caught on. The TVA’s aggressive nuclear program is 21 billion dollars in debt.

No new nuclear plants have been ordered in the U.S. for the past 24 years, and there won’t be another one built in the next 24 years.

Investors–not environmentalists– make the decisions as to what type of electric power generation to build based on profitability. Natural gas (highly efficient “combined cycle” units) and windpower are their current choices because they are cheaper, more efficient and more profitable than nuclear plants.

Nuclear power has two big disadvantages. First, every step of the complicated nuclear fuel process involves toxic chemicals, hazardous wastes and rising rates of cancer. And second, industrial nuclear accidents carry the possibility of devastating and long lasting consequences.

But our biggest problem is that the uranium fuel business threatens our national security. Today an oversupply of uranium and excessive faith in the market puts us all at risk.

In 1993, four years after the fall of the Soviet Union, the new/old nation of Russia was ready to deal: for 12 billion US dollars, Russia would sell us 500 tons of hot, highly enriched weapons grade uranium (also called HEU). Both Russia and the US had (and still have) FAR more nuclear bomb materiel than either would ever need. Russia was, and still is struggling with shortages of jobs, housing and most everything else including money. Their desperation for cash makes this situation extremely dangerous since many people, many countries want this uranium to be able to make bombs.

Most nuclear weapons are made of uranium (U-235), enriched to 93%. This same material, when “downblended” to 4% U-235, powers the hundred nuclear powerplants of the US nuclear industry. The 500 ton HEU deal– called Megatons to Megawatts– includes paying the Russians to downblend this highly enriched uranium into fuel, which gives them more money and allows for shipments of a much safer, though still dangerous, radioactive material. (60-80 tons of HEU, depending on rate of downblend, would run the US nuclear industry for one year.)

This sounds like an ideal situation: we are actually turning Bombs into Plowshares. US reactors will be using nuclear fuel for the rest of their lifetimes, maybe 25 or 30 years. The Russians will gradually melt down their bombs and get much needed money to ease their financial pressures. This project not only removes this dangerous material from circulation and off the black market, but recycling these bombs decreases our national need to produce more nuclear reactor fuel.

But its just not that easy. For various reasons there is an excess of uranium on the market which assures low prices: so low that it is now hardly profitable to mine it. In the long line of different fuel processes, one critical facility has laid off most of its workers. The only US enriching facility– in Paducah– is operating at 40% capacity.

For the next 12 years, Russian uranium from the original deal is coming in at the rate of about 30 tons per year, already downblended to make 900 tons of reactor fuel, the equivalent of what the proposed LES plant would produce.

The low prices of uranium reactor fuel is reinforced by the glut of weapons-grade uranium waiting in the wings: the huge US and Russian stockpiles, about 2000 tons, maybe more.. (The US and Russia have a general agreement to reduce their nuclear weapons to a level of 100 tons of weapons grade uranium (HEU) apiece) The Russians don’t like it because low prices mean less dollar income. Even the 800 pound gorilla of the US nuclear fuel industry is uneasy.

The US Enrichment Corporation, the quasi-government corporation that now runs the Paducah enrichment plant controls both the incoming Russian fuel. [The TVA, in a separate deal accesses about 175 tons of HEU from the US stockpile]. Yet even with these huge advantages in today’s market, USEC stock is down and they are struggling with complex problems, including the inefficient Paducah plant.

The USEC, as sole agent of the US government, is supposed to be “balancing its commercial interests with the national security interests of the USA.” But the USEC says its “priority is to remain a profitable commercial venture and maintain maximum value to its shareholders.”

In reality this means that the USEC and Russia are bickering about prices in a declining uranium market, while the bulk of Russian HEU stays in its stockpile waiting for a better price. US national security interests call for as much bomb-grade uranium as possible to be bought, downblended and stored so it cannot be used for bombs. This seems pretty simple. But its not happening. Why not?

Because the “magic of the market” is shoving our national security concerns to the back of the line. And this market is hardly free. It is supported by a tacit agreement– collusion– of the nuclear fuel industry and the US government to maintain a level of uranium prices that keep the nuclear fuel industry profitable. [Even if the nuclear fuel industry went out of business, US stockpiles alone would run our reactors for ten to fifteen years, probably more.]

The US nuclear POWER industry may look robust now but it is likely to be dead in 25 or 30 years, as our energy consumption is made more efficient, windpower becomes cheaper and new solar technologies come online.

Meanwhile, the US and global nuclear FUEL industry has now and for the next 20 years an excess of uranium, even while the downblending of weapons-grade uranium proceeds at a snails pace.

Russia sits on hundreds of tons of fissile uranium, while the US government relies on the shabby magic of the un-free market to resolve a global security crisis that threatens the safety of everyone on the planet.

Every additional pound of enriched uranium that is produced in the US threatens our personal safety and our national security, because every NEW ton of of reactor fuel produced keeps 70 pounds of Russian bomb-grade uranium cheaper, and more readily available to global terrorists and tinhorn tyrants.

The operation of the LES nuclear fuel plant in Hartsville will simply add to the global glut of uranium and the availability of uranium in the world market place.

The LES plant must never be built….


From Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial, (1995) by Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell:

Most books about the atomic bomb and Hiroshima climax on August 6, 1945.

Our book begins there, with Truman’s announcement of the invention of the bomb and its use against Japan, which set the tone for the official narrative that followed.

Just three week earlier America had successfully tested an atomic bomb device at the Trinity site in New Mexico. On July 26, the U.S. and Great Britain issued the Potsdam Declaration, demanding that Japan surrender unconditionally at once or else face swift and certain ruin by unidentified means. Two days later, the Japanese rejected the ultimatum, and President Truman ordered the bomb used against the enemy as soon as possible.

At fifteen minutes past eight on the morning of August 6 (Hiroshima time), one American plane dropped one bomb on one Japanese city, killing 100,000 people immediately, and fatally injuring at least 50,000 others….

~ ~ ~

Under George Bush, Hiroshima for a second time was invoked to bolster a nuclear threat.

In the early weeks of our conflict with Iraq in 1990, nuclear weapons were at the center of the dispute. One of the stated reasons for standing up to Saddam Hussein (besides his invasion of Kuwait) was that Iraq was purportedly building the bomb. Nuclear fear, therefore, was used to justify a conventional intervention.

Then, as our military assault on Iraq neared, several American spokesmen let it be known that if Hussein resorted to chemical warfare against Israel or the U.S., he could expect nuclear retaliation.

In a television interview, Defense Secretary Richard Cheney stated that the U.S. was not prepared to use nuclear weapons “at this point” – but he emphatically agreed with another guest, George Will, that Harry Truman had acted morally and “made the right decision when he used the bomb on Hiroshima.”

The historical allusion, as James Hershberg has pointed out, “sent a crystal-clear message to Hussein.” Iraq apparently did not use chemical weapons in the war, while the U.S. relied on a deadly new generation of conventional weapons – which produced massive casualties….


October 19, 2002

Liability concerns loom
over Johnston dump

By Diana Leone, Honolulu Star-Bulletin

Some 800 miles southwest of Honolulu on Johnston Island, a contractor hopes to complete a 25-acre landfill of radioactive rubble by next month.

The Defense Threat Reduction Agency, an arm of the U.S. Department of Defense, has pledged that radiation exposure on top of the landfill will meet Environmental Protection Agency standards set for the whole island.

But there’s a hitch.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which is scheduled to become the sole caretaker of the island after the military leaves in 2004, doesn’t want the liability of the radioactive dump.

The Fish and Wildlife Service maintains that “land-filling of plutonium contaminated material on Johnston Island is not appropriate, and that it should be shipped off-island to a radioactive waste facility,” Regional Director Anne Badgley wrote in a July 25 letter to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency….

The landfill contains 45,000 cubic meters of radioactive material, the last remnants of fallout from two failed 1962 test explosions of nuclear warheads that contaminated Johnston Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. The material is buried under 2 feet of coral....

Because nuclear fission never occurred, EPA engineer Ray Saracino likens the plutonium contamination to what people today call a dirty bomb.”

It will take 24,000 years before half of the plutonium decomposes to a harmless state, he said.

A Maui-based watchdog group, Earth Foundation, has sent out e-mails questioning whether contaminated fish from Johnston could pose a health risk to people in Hawaii.

That possibility is “extremely remote,” for a number of reasons, including the distance and the fact that plutonium isn’t readily absorbed by fish, Saracino said.

However, the EPA is advising the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to do a complete assessment of the effect of radioactive pollution already in the Johnston Atoll environment and to explain how it will handle long-term stewardship of the radioactive landfill….

The material buried in the new landfill accounts for only about 10 percent of the 16 kilograms of plutonium released in 1962, Saracino said.

The rest has been buried deep at sea or is dispersed in the lagoon.

That’s why assessing how wildlife have been doing under those conditions for the last 40 years is key to deciding future safeguards for the area, Saracino said.

An oasis for reef and bird life, Johnston Atoll is home to 32 species of coral, 300 species of fish, the threatened and endangered green sea turtle and Hawaiian monk seal, and 20 species of migratory birds.

As long as the radioactive material stays “buried it’s not a human health issue,” Fish and Wildlife’s Palawski said. “But there’s a longer-term issue with the possibility of sea wall failure and material being exposed to the surface or released to the marine environment.”

“DTRA will monitor the (landfill) site for construction defects as long as there is commercial air service to Johnston Atoll or for five years, whichever is shorter,” Wilson said….

For more, GO TO > > > Broken Trust


March 9, 2002


by Paul Righter, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration has directed the military to prepare contingency plans to use nuclear weapons against at least seven countries and to build new, smaller nuclear weapons for use in certain battlefield situations, according to a classified Pentagon report.

The secret report, which was provided to Congress on Jan. 8, says the Pentagon needs to be prepared to use nuclear weapons against China, Russia, Iraq, North Korea, Syria, Iran and Libya.

It says the weapons could be used in three situations: against targets able to withstand non-nuclear attack; in retaliation for attack with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons, or “in the event of surprising military developments.” . . .

“This is dynamite,” said Joseph Cirincione, a nuclear arms expert at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.

I can imagine what these countries are going to be saying at the U.N.”

Arms-control advocates said the report’s directions on development of smaller nuclear weapons could signal that the Bush administration is more willing to overlook a longstanding taboo against the use of nuclear weapons except as a last resort.

They warned that such moves could dangerously destabilize the world by encouraging other countries to believe that they, too, should develop weapons….

The report says the Pentagon should be prepared to use nuclear weapons in an Arab-Israeli conflict, in a war between China and Taiwan, or in an attack from North Korea on South Korea. They might also become necessary in an attack by Iraq on Israel or another neighbor, the report said.

The report says that Russia is no longer officially an “enemy,” yet it acknowledges that the huge Russian arsenal – which includes roughly 6,000 deployed warheads, and perhaps 10,000 smaller “theater” nuclear weapons – remains of concern….

~ ~ ~

“Why are you still here, they ask, why haven’t you left the city? Isn’t nuclear war a real possibility? It is, but where shall I go? If I go away and everything and every one, every friend, every tree, every home, every dog, squirrel and bird that I have known and loved is incinerated, how shall I live on? Who shall I love, and who will love me back?”

– Arundhati Roy, New Dehli, June 2, 2002


From Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial, (1995) by Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell:


In the beginning were the secrets.

The facilities where the bomb’s components were built, the men and women who worked on it, the entire enterprise and its desired product – all existed outside the known, visible world in a mysterious realm separate from that world.

The word secret means “kept from knowledge or observation” and is derived from words meaning “to separate” or “divide off.” To be privy to the secret, to be part of the secret megamachine, was to share in a privileged mystery, much in the manner of a childhood secret….

In respect to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it became more a matter of concealment. Secrecy and concealment are used almost interchangeably, but the latter suggests more active steps to suppress actual knowledge and is related in its derivation to the idea of covering, hiding, and (as a concealed place) “the underworld.”

From this standpoint, we can say that the bomb sequence has been from the secret to that which is actively concealed, and finally, to falsification.

It was that sequence, for example, that permitted the nuclear “medical” experiments on Americans and the intentional releases of radiation affecting American populations.

But the source of concealment and falsification … can be traced back to Hiroshima – or even before. It actually started with the decision to build a weapon of mass destruction and hide the nature of that device from most of the 125,000 people who built it.

“Only a handful, of course, knew what they were creating,” Dwight Macdonald observed shortly after Hiroshima.

“It hardly need to be stressed that there is something askew with a society in which vast numbers of citizens can be organized to create a horror like The Bomb without even knowing they are doing it.”

Unfortunately, the concealment not only escalated but settled into American institutional practice and individual American psyches. Forces could oppose the concealment, however, as Susan Griffin makes clear:

“Those who worked in the factories at Oak Ridge were not told that they were making a fissionable material to be used in atomic weapons. Almost none of the military men assigned to this project knew the purpose. But wherever a secret is kept it will make its way, like an object lighter than water and meant to float, to the surface. A Navy ensign posted to Oak Ridge suffers a mental breakdown. Is he the repository for the unspoken fears of others? He begins to rave about a terrible weapon that will soon bring about the end of the world. Because his ravings are close to the truth, the Navy builds a special wing of the hospital at Oak Ridge for him, staffed with psysicians, orderlies, and janitors, each chosen especially for this work, judged trustworthy and able to keep secrets. The ensign is given continual sedation. Whenever he begins to speak, he receives another injection. His family is told that he is on a long mission at sea.”

What has been lost sight of is the role Hiroshima concealment has played in encouraging subsequent American cover-ups. One need only to recall Vietnam (concealment of unauthorized bombing and human effects), Watergate (concealment of a string of Constitutional violations), and Iran-Contra (concealment of illegal government paramilitary activities).

Surely Hiroshima was the mother of all cover-ups, creating tonalities, distortions, manipulative procedures, and patterns of concealment that have been applied to all of American life that followed.

Secrecy has been linked with national security and vice versa ever since.


March 14, 2002

This is a nation run by a man who is willing to kill his own people by using chemical weapons, a man who won’t let inspectors into the country, a man who’s obviously got something to hide….

– President George W. Bush (regarding Iraq and Saddam Hussein)


From Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial, (1995) by Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell:

National Self-Betrayal

We have mentioned Hiroshima survivors’ angry resentment at being made into guinea pigs” who were studied but not treated. That sense has to do with feelings of being manipulated, attacked, or annihilated at the hands of all-powerful forces who have reduced a person either to a laboratory animal or a nonhuman object.

A considerable number of Americans, again including those living near Hanford, experienced the same feelings in connection with another shocking policy.

There has been, over the past decades, a gradual revelation that an elaborate series of radiation experiments was conducted on Americans, mostly by the Atomic Energy Commission – the predecessor of the Department of Energy and successor to the Manhattan Project – but also by the Department of Defense, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the Central Intelligence Agency, and probably the Department of Health and Human Services (or its predecessor) as well.

The experiments were conducted not only in laboratories directly associated with nuclear-weapons development but also at major American universities and medical centers. They were done, for the most part, without anything resembling adequate arrangements for informed consent.

The full extent of the experiments – now officially said to be “in the thousands” – is still not known (as of this writing in early 1995), but what has been learned suggests a pattern of planned experimental abuse that is unique in American history.

Congressman Edward Markey entitled the report of his subcommittee’s 1986 hearing on the subject: “American Nuclear Guinea Pigs: Three Decades of Radiation Experiments on U.S. Citizens.”

And Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary, in her dramatic official admission of wrongdoing in 1993, declared: “The only thing I could think of was Nazi Germany.”

There were, broadly speaking, two forms of experiments: nuclear “medical” manipulations on individual people; and exposure of large numbers of people, either by means of intentional radiation releases or by placing military personnel at or near ground zero of bomb tests….

From 1945 through 1947, bomb-grade plutonium injections were given to thirty-one patients at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New York, the Manhattan District Hospital at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and medical centers at the University of Chicago and the University of California, San Francisco.

All such experiments were shrouded in secrecy and, when deemed necessary, in lies.

Documents that emerged in January 1995 showed that contrary to official claims, not all the patients were terminally ill. Some were young adults and one was an eighteen-year-old youth. The experiments were intended to show what type or amount of exposure would cause damage to normal, healthy people in a nuclear war.

The son of one woman included in the plutonium injection experiment recently observed with some bitterness: “I was over there fighting the Germans who were conducting these horrific medical experiments. At the same time, my own country was conducting them on my mother.”

In the late 1940s, about eight hundred pregnant women were give radioactive iron so that the effects of that material on fetal development could be observed.

At prisons in the states of Oregon and Washington, inmates’ testicles were exposed to X rays in order to determine their effects on sperm production and the amount of radiation necessary to bring about at least temporary sterility.

Precisely the same experiment, though in more brutal form, was performed by Nazi doctors in Auschwitz….

In the early 1950s, residents of a Massachusetts state school for boys and men considered mentally retarded were given a radioactive calcium tracer in their milk. The experiment only came to light through the efforts of a former librarian whose father had died of leukemia after having flown through the mushroom clouds during a Bikini bomb test.

As a second-generation survivor, she was appalled by an Atomic Energy Commission document about the project she uncovered and she later explained, “I knew that the AEC was not interested in helping people who were retarded…. I saw the experiments against the whole backdrop of lies – the silence of the government, the silence of the professional.”

One of the school’s graduates, testifying at a Senate hearing held at the school, provided what one observer called a “redemptive moment” when he insistently confronted a doctor who was defending the experiments with the question, “…if you had a son here, would you have allowed this to happen, knowing what you know about radiation?”

That same graduate again spoke poignantly in denouncing the experiments as “morally wrong,” insisting that “these kids were put there to be helped, not abused…not to have their bodies guinea-pigged on.”

In the beginning the AEC lied, issuing a statement in 1950, for example, that it “has never sponsored a medical research project where human beings are used for experimental purposes.” More than that, in at least one documented case, it sought to reverse – that is, falsify – an autopsy finding of a radiation death of a Hanford worker. An anonymous telegram sent from the AEC office in Richland, Washington, to an AEC administrator in Washington, D.C., cited a widow’s claim for a pension on the basis of “special hazard injuries” (the code name for radiation effects).

A first autopsy, in the Hanford area, gave the cause of death as rupture of the aortic artery and attributed burn-like skin marks toa nonspecific dermatitis.”

But a second autopsy done in Chicago, where the body was taken for burial, “stated positively that … death was due to excess body radiation.

The telegram went on to urge that a doctor at the Industrial Medical Division of the General Electric plant (where the dead man had worked) “go to Chicago assoon as possible prepared to set before said autopsy surgeon (who had made the diagnosis of radiation effects) the facts with respect to (the dead man’s) work and exposure records. The purpose of such trip would be to see whether the surgeon’s conclusions can be altered.”

The telegram further proposed that an AEC medical consultant from Chicago also be present. The people involved should then “study all available facts and express conclusions … in accordance with procedures developed some years ago,” following which there would be a “conference” on the matter, at which additional AEC consultants and representatives would be present.

What is clear here is that no claim for a radiation death was to be approved, and a series of high-powered, pseudo-medical arrangements had been instituted for pressuring honest doctors (in this case a pathologist) to falsify their findings.

Atomic-bomb distortions had come full circle.

They came full circle in another way as well: the harmful and sometimes lethal exposure of American servicemen and civilians to radiation effects of our own bomb tests….

Part of the problem was that a “staggering” amount of radiation was released, overwhelming all of the preparations….

Despite “thousands of pages of detailed plans,” a recent book on the Bikini tests comments, “the U.S. Navy managed to expose tens of thousands of men and more than 200 ships to radioactive contamination more than 2,000 miles from decent port facilities without ever having attempted experimentally to irradiate a ship or parts of one to determine how – or whether – a ship could be decontaminated.”

Much of the problem centered on plutonium, discovered only in 1941 and in 1946 still much unknown in relation to its behavior in the body. It was understood to be extremely lethal, and the slowness of its elimination from the body was also beginning to be appreciated….

Hence the exposure of hundreds of thousands of military personnel to atomic explosions, notably at the Nevada test site between 1950 and 1962.

Soldiers would be separated from their original units, sent on special assignment to the test site, and there given a battery of psychological tests prior to their witnessing the atomic explosion at varying distances from the epicenter. They were then often marched to ground zero, without protective clothing and only sometimes with radiation badges, and after returning to their base were often given another battery of psychological tests.

The military sought to learn from them how men would react under nuclear combat conditions, but the men were placed under strict secrecy, and it was not until the late seventies and early eighties that their experiences became known. The veterans were often denied access to their own health records.

It is estimated that between 250,000 and 300,000 servicemen were exposed to radiation. Again the returns are hardly in, but there is no doubt about the considerable harm done to our own men and women, more or less sacrificed to our impulse to harness the deity.

The same ethically distorted impulse was carried still further in the form of several hundred intentional releases of radioactive material over populated parts of this country. A notable case was the notorious “Green Run” carried out at Hanford in 1949.

There radioactive material taken from nuclear fuel was deliberately released into the atmosphere in order to simulate a Soviet atomic-bomb explosion….

A woman recalled, when Green Run became known, that she had started to lose her hair about three weeks afer that release while studying at a college about fifty miles south-east of Hanford. Whatever the extent of harm she experienced from Green Run, or from the more routine radiation releases from Hanford’s bomb work over the years, we can understand her insistence that “the government has a lot to answer for.”

In 1982 researchers estimated that “men, women and children … contaminated by ionizing radiation from nuclear bomb tests … together with those who have been exposed through nuclear accidents, nuclear waste, and industrial or scientific work … comprises a population of over one million radiation survivors in the United States alone.”

With the more recent information about unsafe conditions, experiments, intentional releases, and secret nuclear tests, the number is undoubtedly very much greater….

In a country created out of concern for individual rights, we have betrayed our own history, our national entity, and ourselves….


March 21, 2002

New Nuclear Spy Scandal

By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid

From Media Monitor, courtesy Accuracy in Media (AIM)

Insight Magazine, a publication whose investigative reporting regularly scoops the competition, recently reported what appears to be a major spy scandal at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is managed by the University of California at Berkeley.

Insight reports that the FBI and lab police are conducting an investigation that involves a Pakistani and others who are suspected of targeting a classified nuclear research project at the lab known as the Nuclear Weapons Information Program.

According to the laboratory’s web site, this program began as an effort to archive valuable information on the construction and testing of nuclear weapons, information in the form of searchable, data-filled catalogs about existing nuclear weapons information, including scanned documents, photos and videos, including videotaped interviews with weapons designers.

It says the group behind the project set out to make scientists aware of the need to archive his information in a way that makes it accessible to those at different locations with a need to know.

“In essence,” Insight says, “it is the single repository of all U.S. knowledge concerning every aspect of the U.S. nuclear arsenalcapabilities, weaknesses, developments, strategy and new technologies….

Now it appears that scientists behind this project fear that they may have created a monster that could help speed up the proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world….

… Continued at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory


< < < FLASHBACK < < <


From Hiroshima in America: Fifty Years of Denial
by Robert Jay Lifton and Greg Mitchell:

The atomic transgression enveloped America and Americans. By the mid-1990s, our country found itself in the midst of what Newsweek called a “nuclear-waste crisis” which one official saw as “the single largest environmental and health risk to the nation.”

This vast and lethal “pulsating landscape of atomic waste dumps” stems directly from the manufacture of bombs to use on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, followed by America’s cold-war nuclear weapons buildup.

From the beginning American bomb-makers, in the rush to produce their product, were erratic and careless in the handling, storing, and disposal of the radioactive waste they were bringing into the world.

Over the years matters became worse as secrecy and deception – inherited from the Manhattan Project – came to dominate official attitudes. By late 1989 the Rocky Flats plant in Colorado, where plutonium was purified to weapons-grade quality, had to be closed down and raided by the FBI for “environmental crimes,” so that today Rocky Flats, according to one expert, “is a de facto plutonium dump.”

Radioactive plutonium is not the only waste problem, but it is the most lethal. Plutonium was developed by the Manhattan Project for the sole purpose of making bombs and was produced by the bombardment of uranium with neutrons. So poisonous that the tiniest amounts can kill, there is no more deadly substance known to humankind.

Kai Erikson has pointed out that the most dangerous of these wastes have half-lives of 100,000 years or more, “and they pose a hazard for a good deal longer than that.” For perspective one may ponder that Stonehenge goes back only 4,500 years, the earliest pyramids 5,000 years.

The plant at Hanford, Washington, that produced the plutonium for the Nagasaki bomb – and then for the atomic trigger-mechanism of subsequent hydrogen bombs – has been described as “the single most polluted place in the Western world.”

Although Hanford has served primarily as a plutonium-manufacturing facility, the radioactive wastes are so varied, extensive, and badly controlled that no one knows exactly what kind of witches’ brew is in them.

According to a knowledgeable engineer who worked at Hanford for many years, the radioactive wastes released there over the years come close to Chernobyl proportions, and 60 percent of that whole amount was released during 1944 and 1945, the period when the Nagasaki bomb was being constructed.

The Hanford area was chosen for the site of an atomic-bomb facility largely because it was so sparsely populated, but overnight it became a thriving boomtown area with workers in the tens of thousands and posters everywhere enthusiastically announcing: “There’s a job for you at Hanford.”

At all levels, people were imbued with the special significance of the project for the war effort and performed their work with pride. There was a sense of urgency, a “can-do spirit” . . . . Macho attitudes on the part of supervisors and workers led to circumventing precautions against contamination. People were reluctant to object lest they be seen as “not on the team.”

The attitude extended to engineers in their arrangements for handling materials. One spoke of “using sand filters to get rid of radiation – we had to make things up as we went along.”

This nuclear macho was known as becoming “Hanfordized,” and as one commentator put it, “Hanfordization was the dark side of the can-do spirit that made Hanford work during World War II.”

The attitude continued even after safety rules became more standardized: one engineer, when asked why he did not have the required calculations to support a design for pipes and materials, replied: “We don’t have time for that shit.”

In recent years it has become painfully clear that the surrounding population has paid the price in the form of high incidence of various forms of cancer, thyroid disease, and infant mortality. Because official statements constantly spoke of safety and denied danger, residents felt deceived. One woman who experienced miscarriages and hair loss declared, “I find it impossible to contain my anger at the government’s abuse of my trust.”

Here she articulates an exact psychological definition of a sense of betrayal – a perception of being harmed by a person or entity one had depended upon for support, nurturing, or protection. The anger and bitterness toward those considered responsible for the betrayal – plant officials, the military, the government – gives rise to more general feelings of alienation and distrust.

That has been the sequence with many living near nuclear facilities. “Our government wouldn’t let us work there if it was harmful,” is the way one woman remembered feeling.

But when her husband was near death from bone cancer, she angrily asked, “How can they do that to their own people? They figure they’re all dispensable, why not use them….”

And indeed, the Atomic Energy Commission had mounted an extensive public-relations campaign that Stewart Udall has called “the most long-lived program of public deception in U.S. history.”

One prominent pamphlet had a cowboy mounted comfortably on his horse against a landscape surrounded by a mushroom cloud, with the comment:


When evidence mounted that radiation did indeed constitute a serious hazard, the AEC countered not with an admission of mistakes or with added safety measures but with denial backed by further public-relations techniques and manipulated calculations that bordered on complete fraud – all of which led to still-greater bitterness when discovered.

To make matters even worse, the radioactive waste at Hanford seems to be intractable; efforts at cleanup have failed and appear doomed always to fail.

After the government had spent 7.5 billion dollars over a five-year period beginning in 1989, an official from the Environmental Protection Agency could declare: “There hasn’t been any real cleanup. We don’t have any place to put it.”

Victims of radioactivity often connected their plight with American weapons policies. “Go ahead and tell the world,” one of them near Hanford said, “America has created nuclear weapons. At the same time, it’s also created thousands of victims.”

More than that, they experienced compassion for Japanese victims:

“Forty-four years after the end of the war, I can finally understand what the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki must be going through.”


February 15, 2002

Planned Budget Cut Threatens
Monitoring of Paducah Plant

State questions U.S. commitment
to cleanup of site

By James R. Carroll, The Courier-Journal

WASHINGTON – Kentucky would stop environmental monitoring of air, soil, water and wildlife around the Paducah uranium plant under a budget cut proposed by the Bush administration.

In a letter to Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham, the state’s top environmental official said the budget cut “seriously undermines” the state’s monitoring program at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant and “runs counter to common sense.”

The Jan 31 letter by Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Secretary James Bickford questioned the federal government’s commitment to cleaning up the site, where uranium was processed during the Cold War for nuclear weapons.

Decades of pollution with radioactive and hazardous chemicals have fouled the plant’s environment….

The budget dispute is part of a rift between the state and the Energy Department over the pace of cleanup at Paducah, where contamination has spread from the plant site to nearby creeks, soil and wildlife. The state has set up a monitoring program to determine the effectiveness of the federal cleanup effort and to watch for the further spread of contamination.

Tensions also erupted in an e-mail sent Wednesday from an Environmental Protection Agency official to a local citizens’ advisory board in which the official said relations had deteriorated to the point that “DOE has now terminated ALL communication” with EPA….

Environmentalist Mark Donham, a member of the citizens’ advisory board at Paducah, said the fight reflects a philosophical shift by the Bush White House.

“They’ve got a new budget; they’ve got a war; they’ve got a deficit – and cleaning up nuclear plants is not one of their priorities,” Donham said.

“And they don’t want to be held to commitments made by a secretary of energy in a previous administration.” . . .

Federal agreements already signed with the state set specific deadlines by which contaminated sites at the plant will be cleaned up. Besides extensive ground water and soil contamination, the complex is storing tons of contaminated scrap metal as well as thousands of barrels of hazardous chemicals and waste. It also has empty buildings where radioactive contamination has yet to be addressed….

President Bush’s proposed fiscal 2003 budget would cut spending to clean up Paducah by $20 million, down from this year’s $93.4 million….

This time, the administration is proposing to set aside a special $800 million fund for “accelerated cleanup,” but whether Paducah would get any of that money is uncertain….


August 30, 2002


Contract awarded for Paducah plant
to convert waste

By James R. Carroll, The Courier Journal

WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy awarded a $558 million contract yesterday for two plants, one in Kentucky and one in Ohio, to make uranium waste safer.

About 496,000 tons of depleted uranium is stored in some 40,000 cylinders around the Paducah uranium plant in Western Kentucky – the nation’s largest repository of such waste, the by-product of decades of enriching uranium for use in nuclear weapons and nuclear power plants.

Another 280,000 tons of depleted uranium is stored at a uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, Ohio, and at an Energy Department nuclear facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn.

Depleted uranium, a crystalline substance that looks like rock salt but is dangerous if exposed to water, would be converted into a safer granular solid, either for long-term storage or reuse, under the Energy Department’s plans announced yesterday.

But environmentalists and neighbors of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant are worried that the government may create new problems while attempting to get rid of old ones.

“How much more damage is this going to do to the neighbors?” asked Ruby English, who lives near the Paducah complex and is chairwoman of Active Citizens for Truth, an advocacy group for neighbors who believe they’ve been harmed by the plant.

“Our property already is messed up, and our health.”

“This is not a panacea,” said Mark Donham, a Brookport, Ill., environmentalist and a member of the citizens’ advisory committee to the Paducah plant. “It’s still dealing with dangerous substances and dangerous waste…. I really don’t trust the Department of Energy to take the environment properly into account.”

Donham said he is concerned the conversion plant may accidentally release hazadous gases into the air or pollutants into the ground and water….

(Catbird Note: Now, follow the money in this story . . .)

But Kentucky’s two senators and the House member who represents the area praised the government’s decision – action they have been urging for years.

“This contract is a win-win for Paducah and has been a long time coming,” said Rep. Ed Whitfield, R-1st District. Besides achieving the removal of tons of depleted uranium, the conversion plant will create more than 200 jobs, he said.

Many of the 14-ton cylinders containing the depleted uranium have corroded, requiring repairs and repainting. The Energy Department in 1999 said the cylinders gave off low levels of radiation and, if they broke open or were involved in a major fire, could produce toxic gas that would threaten the safety of workers and the public.

Whitfield and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., included language in a supplemental spending bill that President Bush signed earlier this month requiring the contract for the conversion plant to be awarded within 30 days of the measure being signed into law. The legislation also stipulated that construction of both plants begin no later than July 31, 2004.

“This has been a tough battle, but today we can finally say we’re on our way to cleaning up the hazardous waste at the Paducah plant,” McConnell said.

“The folks in Paducah have waited too long for this announcement,” said Sen. Jim Bunning, R-Ky.

The $558 million contract is going to Uranium Disposition Services LLC of Oak Ridge, Tenn., which will design, build and operate the conversion plants in Paducah and Piketon. Four other companies submitted proposals.

The winning company was formed by Framatome ANP of Lynchburg, Va., Duratek Federal Services, Inc. of Lakewood, Colo., and Burns and Roe Enterprises Inc. of Oradell, N.J.

Framatome builds nuclear power plants; Duratek is a radioactive waste specialist; Burns and Roe is an engineering firm.

Little of the contract money is available now. Congress set aside $10 million in the current budget, and $30 million is being provided by USEC, the company enriching uranium at Paducah. The Bush administration is requesting $10 million for the project in the next budget.

Design costs are estimated at $30 million. Construction of the plants will require $202 million, and operations through 2010 will cost $326 million, according to Energy Department spokeswoman Dolline Hatchett.

Getting rid of the depleted uranium will take 25 years at Paducah and 21 years at Piketon, Hatchett said.

The Energy Department previously has estimated that the cost of conversion, from start to finish, would run from $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion at Paducah, and slightly less at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon.

The Ohio plant will handle nearly 218,000 tons of depleted uranium stored there, plus an additional 62,000 tons that will be transported from Oak Ridge, Tenn….


November 2, 2002

Decision sought in lawsuit
against uranium plant

Associated Press

PADUCAH, Ky. – Whistleblowers who sued the former operator of the uranium plant at Paducah want a judge to force federal officials to decide whether to join the suit, which seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds to the government. They suggest a deadline of Dec. 17.

The Justice Department on Thursday asked for an extension – the 13th extension since the suit was filed in June 1999 against Lockheed Martin Corp.

Plaintiffs in the suit in U.S. District Court include three current and former plant employees – Ronald B. Fowler, Charles F. Deuschle and Garland E. Jenkins. The Natural Resources Defense Council and one of its members, Thomas B. Cochran, also are plaintiffs.

Lockheed and its predecessors operated the uranium enrichment plant for the Department of Energy from 1982 until 1992.

The suit claims Lockheed made false statements involving storage and disposal of radioactive waste, exposure of workers to contaminants and contamination of groundwater and soil.

As a result, the suit alleges, Lockheed was paid hundreds of millions of dollars in fees that it didn’t deserve. It wants Lockheed to refund the money.

If successful, the whistleblowers would get up to 25 percent. Lockheed denies the claims.

The suit has been delayed while the Department of Justice and the Department of Energy have spent more than $1 million investigating the claims….

Attorneys for the whistleblowers contend in a court document filed Thursday that the investigation has “largely affirmed the allegations” made in the suit. However, the Energy Department hasn’t decided whether it will get involved, they contend.

In Thursday’s filing, Joe Egan, the lead attorney for the whistleblowers, said another extension was not justified. But he asked U.S. District Judge Joseph McKinley Jr. to grant a delay until Dec. 17 “with instructions that this extension shall be the last.” . . .

See also: Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant

For more on the Greed at Lockheed, GO TO > > > Tarnished Wings


March 1, 2002


Associated Press

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Audio tapes released yesterday include a conversation in which President Nixon raised the idea of using a nuclear bomb against North Vietnam in 1972, and Henry Kissinger quickly dismissed the notion.

“I’d rather use the nuclear bomb,” Nixon told Kissinger, his national security adviser, a few weeks before he ordered a major escalation of the Vietnam War.

“That, I think, would just be too much,” Kissinger replied softly in his baritone voice, in a conversation uncovered among 500 hours of Nixon tapes released yesterday.

Nixon responded matter-of-factly, “The nuclear bomb. Does that bother you?” he asked.

Then he closed the subject by telling Kissinger: “I just want you to think big.”

He also said, “I don’t give a damn” about civilians killed by U.S. bombing.

That exchange in the Executive Office Building on April 25, 1972, is contained in the largest batch of tapes ever released by the National Archives….

In May, Nixon reminds Kissinger that civilians are an unfortunate casualty of all wars.

“The only place where you and I disagree … is with regard to the bombing,” Nixon said.

“You’re so…concerned about the civilians and I don’t give a damn. I don’t care.”


March 2, 2002


The New York Times

In a preliminary study that takes into account not only nuclear tests in Nevada but also nearly all American and Soviet nuclear tests conducted overseas before they were banned in 1963, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that virtually every person who has lived in the United States since 1951 has been exposed to radioactive fallout.

The new findings expand on ones from five years ago by the National Cancer Institute showing that people living in a long, plume-shaped region stretching from Idaho and Montana to the Mississippi River and beyond had a slightly higher risk of developing thyroid cancer because of the Nevada tests.

The new study, which was completed in August 2001 and first revealed yesterday in USA Today, suggests that for all Americans born after 1951 “all organs and tissues of the body have received some radiation exposure.”

The study says in highly guarded terms that the global fallout could eventually be responsible for more than 11,000 cancer deaths in the United States.

But it says any medical implications are uncertain because the average American received almost 20 times as much radiation from medical procedures like chest X-rays as from fallout of all kinds over the same period.

Dr. Charles Miller, chief of the radiation-studies branch at the CDC’s National Center for Environmental Health, said the report is merely a “feasibility study” that shows it is possible – should Congress request it – to carry out a full analysis of the health risks associated with above-ground nuclear testing….

Still, given the widespread exposures indicated by the study, its tentative conclusions show that the government has inadequately explained the cancer risks from nuclear tests, said Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who believes the follow-up research must be carried out.

“If the threat of exposure had been related to Americans sooner, early diagnosis and treatment may have saved many of these lives,” said Harkin, who has seen four siblings die of cancer.

“The release of this report is long overdue.”

The United States conducted more than 200 above-ground, or atmospheric, tests of nuclear weapons from 1951 to 1963, about half of those at the Nevada Test Site, 65 miles northwest of Las Vegas, and the others in the Marshall Islands and elsewhere in the Pacific Ocean.

Over the same period, the Soviet Union exploded some 200 nuclear weapons in tests on its own territory.

Such tests release radioactive iodine, which decays away in a matter of days, as well as longer-lived isotopes like radioactive cesium and strontium, which take many decades to disappear completely.

The previous study, by the National Cancer Institute, examined fallout patterns and cancer risks to Americans caused by the release of iodine from the Nevada tests. The CDC study also looked at exposures to long-lived radioactive elements.

While the average exposure of an American because of the fallout is low, it increases each person’s chance of developing cancer by a tiny amount, potentially leading to a larger number of deaths by cancer nationwide.


March 2, 2002


From Washington Post and Associated Press

WASHINGTON – President Bush has created a “shadow government” of 75 or more officials who live and work in mountainside bunkers outside Washington in case nuclear-armed terrorists strike the nation’s capital.

“This is serious business,” Bush said yesterday of a Cold War-era plan that took effect in the hours after Sept. 11 suicide hijackings.

The top-secret effort, disclosed by government officials who spoke on condition of anonymity, has been retooled since the attacks to protect the continuity of government against the 21st-century threat of terrorism. Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly has been a major force behind the effort….

However, key congressional leaders yesterday said the White House did not tell them about plans for a shadow government….

Without confirming details of the doomsday plan, Bush said:

“Until this country has routed out terrorists wherever they try to hide, we’re not safe.”…


August 27, 2001

Lost: One Nuclear Weapon.
No Reward

By Mike Billips/Savannah, Time On-Line

The Air Force has made it plain it does not want back its 7,600-lb. hydrogen bomb, missing off the Georgia coast since 1958. And it says the bomb–dropped when the B-47 carrying it was hit by an F-86 fighter during an exercise–poses no threat, since it does not contain the capsule required to detonate a nuclear explosion, and is unlikely to spread toxic material.

The B-47’s pilot, retired Colonel Howard Richardson, supports that account; he tells TIME he did not personally inspect the bomb, but that he was briefed that the capsule was not on board.

Others aren’t convinced.

Retired Colonel Derek Duke, who sparked the recent investigation, claims the bomb was complete and should be located. He has formed a search-and-salvage operation, seeking a $1 million fee to find it in the shallow waters off Tybee Island, and assembled a band of advisers, which he describes as “like the famous TV A-Team.”

The Air Force says it’s not interested….



By Dr. Doug Rokke, Ph.D. Department of Physical and Earth Sciences, Jacksonville State University


31 Jan 2000

The United States and Great Britain deliberately used depleted uranium (DU) munitions causing a health and environmental disaster in Iraq and Kuwait with anticipated similar effects in Kosovo, Serbia, Bosnia, Puerto Rico, and Okinawa.

Consequently warriors and non-combatants have been exposed to uranium and possible contaminants such as plutoniun and neptunium which may have been introduced during uranium enrichment at United States Department of Energy facilities.

Depleted uranium (DU) or uranium-238 is made from uranium hexaflouride which is the non-fissionable by-product of the uranium enrichment process used to obtain uranium-235 for reactor fuel and nuclear bombs.

A surprising announcement by U.S. Department of Energy officials on January 29, 2000 acknowledged after many years of denial that employees of their facilities had significantly higher incident rates for leukemia; Hodgin’s lymphoma; and cancers of the prostrate, kidney, liver, salivary glands, and lungs.

Previous announcements acknowledged respiratory problems at the Paducah, Kentucky facility and other facilities. These revelations and acknowledgments reinforce the suspected health and environmental hazards of depleted uranium which is manufactured from the main byproduct, uranium hexaflouride, of each of these facilities.

It is even more disturbing that in a memorandum dated October 30, 1943 senior scientists assigned to the Manhatten Project suggested to General Leslie Groves that uranium could be used as an air and terrain contaminant because of it’s significant respiratory, gastro-intestinal based on contaminated food and water consumption, blood stream, and tissue adverse health effects. Today that recommendation has been implemented with eternal health and environmental effects.

Therefore, each day reveals more evidence that the United States’ and Great Britain’s willful distribution of over 310 tons of uranium contamination in Iraq, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia and over 10 tons in Kosovo, and unknown quantities in Puerto Rico, Okinawa, Serbia, and other locations poses serious risks.

Although it is difficult to verify that health effects were caused by DU exposure accumulating evidence indicates that health effects include: reactive airway disease, neurological abnormalities, kidney stones, chronic kidney pain, rashes, vision degradation, night vision losses, gum tissue problems, lymphoma, leukemia, other cancers, neuro-psychological disorders, uranium in semen, sexual disfunction, and birth defects in offspring.

Responsibility for DU exposures will be elusive while U.S. and British officials are permitted to willfully deny or delay medical treatment to all individuals who inhaled, ingested, or have wound contamination. Exposures will continue until removal of all DU contamination is completed. Still United States and British officials continue to deny any responsibility for this travesty of environmental justice. Therefore, the citizens of the world must insist that:

1. All individuals who may have inhaled, ingested, or had wound contamination must receive medical assessment and treatment for adverse health effects.

2. All depleted uranium penetrator fragments, contaminated equipment, and oxide contamination must be removed and disposed of to prevent further adverse health and environmental effects.

3. The use of depleted uranium munitions must be banned.

Author information: Dr. Rokke is the former ODS DU Team health physicist and medic, the former U.S. Army DU Project Director, and currently teaches environmental science and engineering at Jacksonville State University, Jacksonville, Alabama. Dr. Rokke was assigned by name to clean up the DU mess in a message sent to the theater commander from HQDA during February 1991. The comments contained in this article which are based on existing documents and personal experience contradict official U.S. and British policies and press releases.


March 27, 2002

Government can’t account for
traces of plutonium
distributed to 33 nations

by Walter Pincus, The Washington Post

WASHINGTON – The Energy Department cannot account for small amounts of plutonium provided under a 1954 Atoms for Peace program to 33 countries including Iran, Pakistan and India, says an inspector general report released yesterday.

Some of the plutonium, which was packed in sealed capsules, contained between 16 and 80 grams of the radioactive material – enough to pose a health hazard, an official said.

The official expressed concern that someone could construct a dispersal device and release a “dirty bomb.”

Although it would take three kilograms – more than six pounds – of plutonium to create a nuclear explosion, the chemical explosion of a dirty bomb could disperse minute amounts of plutonium that could kill if inhaled or ingested, according to Thomas Cochran, a physicist with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

The Energy Department inspector general report noted that the plutonium capsules sent overseas were supposed to be followed through a Seal Source Registry, but that program was discontinued in 1984.

The capsules, which were distributed until the late 1970s, were intended for use in calibrating radiation-measuring devices or for research.

The government disclosed in 1996 that the United States had distributed “approximately two to three kilograms of plutonium mostly in the form of sealed sources to foreign countries since the late 1950s.”

Among the other countries that received sealed plutonium capsules were Brazil, Israel, the Philippines, Taiwan, Malaysia, Greece, Colombia, Thailand, Turkey, Venezuela and Vietnam.

At that time it was unclear as to the ownership of the plutonium capsules since some were only lent to foreign governments and others were actually transferred. The report says “it has inconsistent historical data regarding the ownership of the material.”

Although relatively small amounts of plutonium are involved, Energy Inspector General Gregory Friedman said in his report, “Recent world events have underscored the need to strengthen the control over all nuclear materials, including sealed sources.”


March 11, 2003


Officials to discuss worldwide protection
of radiation sources

By Charles J. Hanley, Associated Press

VIENNA, Austria – Scientists, police commanders and government officials from more than 100 countries are converging on Vienna for the world’s first “dirty bomb” conference, searching for ways to head off the threat of simple weapons that spread radiation and chaos.

Governments are concerned. A recent report by U.S. experts concludes that tens of thousands of the most dangerous radiation sources worldwide – used to treat cancer, find oil deposits, disinfect food – may be insufficiently protected.

A so-called dirty bomb – conventional explosives combined with radioactive material – has yet to be detonated anywhere. But the al-Qaida network is reported to have been interested in trying such a terror weapon.

When it comes to safeguarding cesium, strontium and other radiation sources, “what may have been sufficient in the past may or may not be now,” U.S. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham said in an interview ahead of today’s conference opening.

His deputies acknowledge the dirty-bomb threat was rarely even thought of before the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The worry is not of mass immediate deaths, as in the 2001 attacks, but the spread of radiation that might cause immediate panic, because of fear of long-term illness, and make sections of cities uninhabitable for years.

The more than 600 technical specialists, customs and other law enforcement officers, regulatory officials and others will explore ways to identify the most threatening forms of radiation sources. They also will discuss how to find abandoned – or “orphaned” – radioactive material, keep track of sources in use, combat smuggling of such material and respond to the detonation of a dirty bomb in a congested city.

A prime concern is the former Soviet Union.

Washington, Moscow and the Vienna-based International Atomic Agency last June announced a joint effort to trace and secure unknown numbers of orphan sources the Soviet military and government left in former Soviet states a decade ago after that union collapsed.

They include, for example, highly radioactive strontium-90 batteries used for remotely placed aviation beacons.

Abraham and his Russian counterpart, Atomic Energy Minister Alexander Rumyantsev, are expected to discuss what progress has been made in appearances at the conference today.

The recent experts’ report, which said “several tens of thousands” of sources may be at risk worldwide, noted problems as well in the United States, particularly lack of controls on U.S. exports of radioactive material.

Researchers of the Center for Non-proliferation Studies, at California’s Monterey Institute of International Studies, said such isotopes can be shipped from the United States to such terrorism-afflicted nations as Afghanistan and Columbia without any certification that the end user is legitimate and will protect the material from theft or misuse….*

The U.S. government reported last year that nearly 1,500 such items are believed to have been lost or stolen in the United States since 1996….


* Hoots overheard from the Wise Old Owl…

Who-o-o’s gonna smuggle radioactive materials OUT of the United States, pack it in conventional explosives, and then try to smuggle the whole kit-‘n-kaboodle BACK INTO the United States so they can blow it up in the middle of one of our cities? I’d be more worried about having my tail feathers drop off from drinking water from one of America’s major rivers, when a terrorist blows up one of the trucks or trains transporting depleted uranium across a bridge on its way to Paducah, Ky, or Oak Ridge, Tenn, or to Yucca Mountain, Nevada. How long, and how much money, would it take to clean up the radioactive pollution in the Ohio, Missouri, or Mississippi rivers?



From Britannica’s Book of the Year – 1948:


The Plutonium Pile – Dr. Norris E. Bradbury, scientific director of the Los Alamos laboratory, announced in 1947 that a plutonium pile or fast reactor had been in operation at the laboratory from Nov. 1946.

Unlike the uranium pile, which employs a moderator to slow down the neutrons which sustain the chain reaction, the plutonium pile requires no moderator and, like the atomic bomb, makes use of fast neutrons. In fact this reactor may be regarded as an atomic bomb brought under control and made to release its energy slowly instead on in a fraction of a second.

Dr. Bradbury stated that the plutonium pile was another step toward finding the most efficient method of utilizing atomic power.

It is presumed that the development of the plutonium pile cost the life of Dr. Louis Slotin, who died from an overdose of radiation as the result of an accident at Los Alamos in May 1946.

Dr. Slotin is understood to have separated with his bare hands some pieces of plutonium which were beginning to glow with a blue light, apparently approaching the explosive point.


Whatever happened to States’ Rights?

Part II

May 27, 2002

Department of Energy Calls South Carolina’s Threats Unconstitutional

Attorney’s for the Department of Energy say South Carolina’s threats to block federal plutonium shipments to the agency’s Savannah River Site are unconstitutional.

In response to a lawsuit filed by Gov. Jim Hodges, the attorneys argued in court papers that the governor’s plan to use a blockade to keep the nuclear material out of his state would violate the federal government’s right to regulate interstate commerce.

A Hodges spokeswoman said the governor’s attorneys were still looking over the filing and had no immediate response.


January 29, 2002

Irradiated Mail
Blamed for Illness

WASHINGTON – The Senate is looking into complaints from a half-dozen Senate offices that staffers suffered health problems after handling mail that was irradiated to kill possible anthrax.

A task force is to hold its first meeting this week to analyze reports of reactions to irradiated mail, said Ranit Schmetzer, spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschele, D-S.D.

* * *

< < < FLASHBACK < < <

December 8, 1997

From Corporate Predators:

Clean Food or Irradiated Dirty Food?

The irradiation industry is betting that consumers will settle for the latter.

Earlier this month, in response to a petition filed by Isomedix, a New Jersey radiation firm, the Food and Drug administration (FDA) authorized the use of irradiation— a process by which food is exposed to high levels of nuclear radiation— for meat products including beef, lamb and pork. Irradiation is already permitted in the United States for poultry. Irradiation kills significant numbers of micro-organisms, such as e. coli.

Companies like Isomedix are hoping to ride the wave of justified public concern over outbreaks of e. coli and other food contaminants to overcome consumer resistance to the controversial irradiation process. Public opinion polls show three quarters of the population oppose irradiation and would refuse to eat irradiated food.

There are sound reasons underlying consumer resistance to irradiation.

First, although the FDA has approved the use of irradiation, there are serious uncertainties surrounding the safety of irradiated foods. “No long-term studies on the safety of eating irradiated beef have been conducted, and the effects on humans are unknown,” notes Michael Colby, executive director of Food & Water, Inc., a Vermont-based food safety organization that is the leading opponent of food irradiation.

Second, irradiation kills “good” as well as “bad” bacteria. That means if beef becomes contaminated after irradiation, dangerous bacteria will be free to multiply without competition from harmless bacteria.

Third, irradiation fails to deal with the real food safety problem: unhealthy conditions on animal farms and in slaughterhouses and packing-houses. In the last two decades, the meat and poultry industries have become tremendously concentrated, with each sector dominated by a handful of giants like ConAgra, Cargill, Perdue and Tyson.

These companies buy animals raised on “factory farms,” where the animals are confined to small spaces in which bacteria can easily spread.

The animals are transported to increasingly mechanized slaughterhouses and processing plants, where feces routinely spill or spray on meat, and chicken carcasses are dipped in cold water tanks contaminated with fecal material. Animals pass by workers on the corporate assembly lines at staggering speeds— often too fast for the workers to maintain proper sanitation standards, or even to identify contaminants on meat or poultry.

Genuinely insuring a safe food supply requires addressing these conditions so that animals are raised, slaughtered and processed in sanitary conditions.

There are other reasons to reject irradiation.

At existing irradiation facilities (which overwhelmingly sterilize products like medical equipment rather than food), there is already a disturbing record of worker overexposure to nuclear radiation and of improper disposal of radioactive waste….

The solution to the problem of dirty and contaminated meat and poultry is to clean up the beef, pork and poultry farms and the factories in which animals are slaughtered and processed— not to expose the food to nuclear radiation.

That’s the message consumers must send to the beef, pork and poultry companies, supermarkets, restaurant chains and other big food distributors….

For more on the fabulous FACTORY FARMS, GO TO > > > Down on The Factory Farm


July 15, 2000

New twists and turns

N-Base Briefing 237

The Department of Trade and Industry’s consultation on the management of nearly 25 tonnes of Prototype Fast Reactor fuel at Dounreay continues to throw-up new developments and new questions.

Councils raise urgent concerns

The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) have written to trade and industry minister Mr Stephen Byers, Scottish Ministers and the environmental ministers of the OSPAR Convention raising a number of serious concerns about the consultation….

HIE backs reprocessing

The government quango Highlands and Islands Enterprise has supported reprocessing the fuel at Dounreay in its submission to the DTI stating this option used proven technology and involved “no significant additional environmental penalties” and “gets plutonium off Dounreay’s hands and across to Sellafield”.

HIE’s submission was based on a report from consultant Mr Derek Bamber and both were criticised by Mrs Lorraine Mann of Scotland Against Nuclear Dumping. She said no environmental discharge statistics had been provided for the consultation so she did not understand how the HIE and Mr Bamber could make their assumptions. She also pointed out that reprocessing at Dounreay would increase the amount of radioactive waste stored at the site.

Other Dounreay News

Monitor turned off

Euratom inspectors found one of the air monitoring stations around Dounreay switched off during a visit in March 1999 according to a report just released by the Scottish Executive. UKAEA said the monitoring station at the Shedster Water Treatment Works, two miles south-east of Dounreay, had been working a week previously. . . .

New decommissioning centre

A national training centre for workers employed on nuclear decommissioning work is to be opened in Thurso by Motherwell Bridge Nuclear which has a number of contracts at nearby Dounreay.

Plutonium fuel to return to UK

After months of behind-the-scenes wrangling between the UK and Japanese Governments and BNFL and their Kansai Electric customer agreement was reached this week that the UK will take back the plutonium MOX fuel shipped last year to Japan with faked quality data and pay GBP40 million in compensation. This package entails a cash payment of GBP20m and the option for Kansai Electric to take the remaining GBP20m in ‘free’ MOX fuel. If the option was not taken up the balance would be paid in cash.

All these costs will fall on the British taxpayer.

An additional cost is transporting the fuel back to the UK and this estimate is GBP25m. The return shipment is not expected to be made in the near future. Negotiations with the US Government (owners of the original uranium from which the plutonium in the MOX fuel was sourced) and with countries on the route of the return shipment could take up to three years.

Opposition groups have condemned the deal as being an underhand way of trying to save the reprocessing industry at Sellafield and also increasing the chances for Sellafield operators British Nuclear Fuels to open its GBP300m Sellafield MOX Plant (SMP) which has remained mothballed for over two years because of doubts about its economic viability.

The eight MOX fuel assemblies, weighing a total of around 4 tonnes and containing over 200kg of plutonium was shipped last summer to Japan on board an armed BNFL ship, with another armed ship as escort.

The 18,000 mile trip took over two months.


News in Brief

BE takes over Bruce reactors

British Energy has successfully taken over the Bruce nuclear reactors in Ontario, Canada, subject to regulatory approval. The deal was through the Amergen joint company with Peco Energy.

Spent fuel shipment

The European Commission’s Joint Research Centre is looking for contractors to take up to 140 spent fuel and control elements of highly-enriched uranium from its Petten reactor in the Netherlands to the Savannah River site in the USA.

The transport is part of the American policy of taking back weapons-grade HEU fuel and encouraging operators to use lower-enrichment fuels.


Nuclear Subsidies:
$7.1 billion a year

excerpted from the book

Take the Rich Off Welfare

by Mark Zepezauer and Arthur Naiman

As Noam Chomsky points out, most successful US industries wouldn’t be competitive internationally if the federal government hadn’t developed their basic technology with your tax dollars, then given it away to private companies.

Computers, biotech and commercial aviation are examples, and so-preeminently – is nuclear power.

Nuclear power still can’t stand on its own two feet, but with a sugar daddy like the federal government, it doesn’t need to.

The feds still provide the industry with most of its fuel and waste disposal, and much of its research. Between 1948 and 1995, the government spent more than $61 billion (in 1995 dollars) on nuclear power research – almost two-thirds of all federal support for energy research and development. The 1996 figure was $468 million.

The insurance subsidy

Since 1959, the government has also limited the liability of nuclear utilities for damage caused by accidents. Until 1988, the utilities were only responsible for the first $560 million per accident; then the limit was raised to $7 billion.

But $7 billion wouldn’t begin to cover the costs of a core meltdown, or even a near meltdown like Chernobyl. That accident’s total costs are estimated at $358 billionnot to mention the 125,000 deaths the Ukrainian government figures it has caused.

The Energy Information Administration calculates that if nuclear utilities were required to buy insurance coverage above that $7 billion on the open market, it would cost almost $28 million per reactor, for a total annual subsidy of $3 billion. (Even if it could pay its own way, the risks of nuclear power far outweigh its benefits. But that’s the subject for another book.)

Enriched uranium fuel

Before 1993, the DOE (Department of Energy) was responsible for all domestic production of enriched uranium fuel for nuclear power plants. Since then, that’s been the job of a government corporation called the US Enrichment Corporation (USEC). The USEC has been a financial disaster, even for a government program; taking into account lingering liabilities like environmental cleanups, it’s more than $10 billion in the hole.

Having made a fine mess of things, the government plans to privatize the USEC. Naturally, they’ll try to give the private company buying USEC as many assets as possible, and keep as many liabilities as they can, so that we and our children can pay for them.

For example, the DOE plans to take large amounts of radioactive waste from the eventually privatized corporation, even though it has no place to safely store them. These liabilities will cost taxpayers an estimated $ 1.1 billion.

But wait-there’s more. We lose on the selling price too, which the GAO (Government Accounting Office) estimates at $1.7 to $2.2 billion. Since the net present value of USEC cash flows is $2.8 to $3.5 billion, taxpayers would be out between $600 million and $1.8 billion on the deal. So the total we’ll pay for privatizing the USEC will fall between $1.7 and $2.9 billion.

Reprocessing fuel rods

Nuclear power plants create radioactive waste. Naturally, the government feels that it’s our responsibility as taxpayers to take this waste and either reprocess it into new fuel rods or find some place to store it for the next 10,000 years or so. Let’s talk about reprocessing first.

Argonne National Laboratory (outside of Chicago) used to operate an enormously expensive facility for separating plutonium, uranium and the like from spent nuclear fuel rods, so that these elements could be used in new fuel rods or nuclear weapons. In 1994, Congress killed funding for that, but the same sort of reprocessing is still taking place in Idaho, at an annual cost to us of $25 million.

And Argonne is still getting $25 million a year to terminate its program.

The Savannah River site in South Carolina was originally used for weapons production. As a result of that activity, several square miles of land are so badly contaminated that human beings will probably never be able to use them again. This site is now used for reprocessing spent and corroded fuel rods, and may reprocess foreign fuel rods as well. This new business is going to cost us $340 million a year.

Their waste – our responsibility

A place like Savannah River naturally brings the subject of waste to mind. Nobody wants nuclear waste stored in their state, so Congress picked a place in Nevada, a state with little congressional clout. Called Yucca Mountain, it’s the least stable site of any considered to date, with 33 known earthquake faults in the area.

Work on Yucca Mountain can’t proceed until the Supreme Court rules on a law Nevada passed that prohibits the storage of nuclear waste in the state. Yucca Mountain’s planned opening has been moved back from 1998 to 2015, but we’re still being charged $250 million a year just to study the situation.

If Yucca Mountain does go ahead, it will cost us $33 billion-some say $40 or $50 billion-to build the facility, transport radioactive waste to it from all over the country, and seal the waste into thousands of containers. Meanwhile, there are no long-term storage sites for nuclear waste (and Yucca may never be one either).

The nuclear industry is lobbying hard to build a vastly inadequate short-term storage facility above ground at Yucca Mountain. Their eagerness is explained by the fact that once they turn the waste over to Uncle Sam, it’s our problem, not theirs. The Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) says that this whole boondoggle has the potential to turn into “the S&L bailout of the Nineties.”

Yucca Mountain is supposed to be financed by the Nuclear Waste Fund, which is generated by charging utility customers a fee of 1/10 ¢ per kilowatt hour for nuclear-generated power. But in its thirteen years of existence, the fund has never been adjusted for inflation, which has cut its purchasing power by 45%….

If everything remains unchanged, the Nuclear Waste Fund will fall $4-$8 billion (in 1995 dollars) short of the money it needs, according to the DOE and the State of Nevada.

The cost of closing them down

Nuclear reactors are licensed to operate for 40 years, but only one has survived past 30. Of the 110 reactors in the US, only three have begun to be “decommissioned” (closed down), but 25 others will need to be soon.

The Yankee Rowe plant in Massachusetts, the nation’s first commercial reactor, was the first to begin the process (except for the Shoreham plant on Long Island, which only operated for 300 hours). How much will decommissioning Yankee Rowe cost? The figure continues to rise; the owner’s latest guess is $375 million- ten times what it cost to build the plant. Other estimates go as high as $500 million.

Let’s say it costs about $400 million, on average, to decommission a nuclear reactor. That means that closing down 25 plants will cost about $10 billion, which is more than the nuclear industry has set aside for all 107 remaining plants. Decommissioning all the plants will cost almost $42 billion.

The utilities are supposed to maintain a trust fund for decommissioning each plant. Chicago’s Commonwealth Edison owns six elderly nukes, which will cost close to $2 billion to decommission; it has about $542 million set aside in trust funds for this purpose. Assuming this 73% shortfall is typical of the industry, the public’s eventual share of the cost of closing all nuclear power plants will run more than $30 billion.

To help bail the industry out, Congress dropped the corporate tax rate on the industry’s decommissioning trust funds from 34% to 20%. This has cost taxpayers $76 million for the five years from 1992 through 1996, and it’s projected to rise to “several hundred million more” in the future. The nuclear industry is lobbying for relaxed restrictions on what they can put the trust funds’ money into, obviously hoping that riskier investments will make up some of the shortfall.

A sympathetic federal appeals court has ruled that instead of decommissioning them, the utilities could turn their nuclear power plants into “sealed waste sites” for some unspecified period of time. This will probably make the eventual decommissioning even more expensive, since these reactors weren’t designed to be used as storage facilities.

There’s another problem with that plan. Because nuclear power plants need some place to discharge the water that cools the reactor, they’re all situated near large bodies of water-usually rivers. Rivers flood at least every hundred years, which is a fraction of a second compared to the half-life of radioactive waste. Lakes can flood too, given enough rainfall. And if ocean levels rise significantly over the next century-as is predicted-seaside plants would also be threatened by high tides.

One way or another, the decommissioning of all these reactors will have to be paid for. It’s not likely the utilities will cover the costs themselves. They’ll probably leave the government to pick up the tab, along the lines of the S&L bailout.

Fusion research

Compared to fission (the process used by all commercial nuclear reactors to date), fusion-the way the sun makes power-is much cleaner, safer and cheaper. Theoretically, that is. A few practical design problems crop up when you try to build a fusion reactor smaller than the sun.

Fusion research has been going on for more than 40 years, but even its most optimistic proponents admit that commercial applications can’t be expected until the middle of the next century. While commercially viable reactors would theoretically-there’s that word again-generate no waste, the currently existing experimental ones use radioactive tritium as a fuel and generate large amounts of waste.

A 1991 DOE memo that evaluated energy options in terms of economics and environmental risk ranked fusion 22nd out of 23. Despite that, the DOE spent $244 million on fusion research in fiscal 1996.

(Here’s a little insight into how Congress works. The House originally approved $229 million and the Senate $225 million. When they got together to work out a compromise, they came up with $244 million!)

The “next generation” of nuclear plants

There hasn’t been a nuclear power plant built in this country since 1973, and 89% of all utilities say they would never order one. So, naturally, our government is busy funding development of “the next generation of nuclear plants.” For fiscal 1996, the DOE contributed $40 million to a consortium of companies-including GE (which recently became the world’s largest company) and Westinghouse. The DOE even helps consortium members deal with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval process for new technology.

Since there’s no market for nuclear reactors in the US, any new reactors built here will probably be sold to East Asian countries. In fact, reactors based on the consortium’s designs are already being built in Japan and have been offered to Taiwan-which shows that they’re commercially viable and don’t need continuing government support.

Adding it all up

+ The government spent $468 million on nuclear research in 1996.

+ The nuclear industry’s insurance subsidy runs $3 billion a year.

+ Privatizing uranium fuel enrichment will end up costing us between $1.7 and $2.9 billion. Let’s take an average ($2.3 billion) and say the government issues 7% bonds to pay for it. The interest on those bonds will cost us $161 million a year.

+ Reprocessing spent fuel rods costs us $390 million a year ($340 million in South Carolina, $25 million in Illinois, $25 million in Idaho).

+ Just planning for long-term storage of nuclear waste currently costs us $250 million a year.

+ Estimates of the shortfall in the Nuclear Waste Fund range from $4 billion to $8 billion, and will go on virtually forever. Let’s take an average ($6 billion) and issue 7% bonds; interest on them will run $420 million a year.

+ Closing nuclear power plants is already costing us $15 million a year in lost taxes (a figure that’s projected to rise substantially).

+ But the real cost will come when the utilities admit they haven’t set enough money aside to do the job. If we have to pay for the estimated $30+ billion shortfall with 7% bonds, the yearly interest will run about $2.1 billion.

+ Fusion research cost us $244 million in fiscal 1996.

+ Development of the “next generation” of nuclear plants cost us $40 million in fiscal 1996.

= Put all these numbers together and you get a total subsidy for nuclear power of almost $7.1 billion a year! ...

– Courtesy Third World Traveler ( )




~ ~ ~

August 4, 2001

Nuclear Power Industry Feels the Wind at Its Back

International Herald Tribune

Shunned for years because of its potentially disastrous effects on the environment, nuclear power has been showing signs of a renaissance in recent months, benefitting from concern over high energy prices, rising demand and the ecological impacts of fossil fuels.

When a reactor at the nuclear power plant at Chernobyl in southern Ukraine blew up on April 26, 1986, exposing millions of people across Europe to radiation, plans for new nuclear reactors were scrapped around the world. But sentiment toward the industry appears to be shifting as safety and economical production of electricity from nuclear plants reaches all-time highs.

Advocates of nuclear power point to its comparatively low fuel costs. Although expensive to build, nuclear plants are relatively cheap to run. Taking into account back-end costs such as the fabrication of uranium and the management of spent radioactive materials, the total fuel costs of a nuclear power plant are typically about one-third of those of a coal-fired plant and about one-quarter of those of a gas combined cycle plant, reported the World Nuclear Association in London. The group is the trade organization for the world’s nuclear industry.

Environmentalists are among the most vocal opponents of nuclear power, yet paradoxically it could be one of the cleanest fuels available. John Ritch, director-general of the World Nuclear Association, said that atomic energy was the only source that could meet the world’s rising energy needs without threatening the environment. Unlike gas, oil and coal, nuclear plants do not emit carbon dioxide, which is thought to be a major contributor to global warming.

The United States has emerged as one of the strongest proponents of nuclear power.

Vice President Dick Cheney has advocated an expansion of nuclear power to meet future energy needs. He headed an energy task force that came out in favor of nuclear power when it issued its report in May.

No new nuclear reactors have been built in the United States since March 28, 1979, when a plant at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania malfunctioned and released radioactive gas into the atmosphere.

In France, the only Western European country that has had an active nuclear power construction program, sites have been designated for new power reactors and construction is expected to resume in a few years.

In other regions of the world, opposition to nuclear power has not stopped policymakers from building new reactors.

About 30 power reactors are currently being constructed in 11 countries, notably China, Japan and South Korea, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute, based in New York.

Assuming that the pundits are correct and the nuclear power industry is on the brink of a renaissance, the suppliers of its raw material – uranium – could be the first to benefit.

“As the United States is the largest single consumer of uranium, a change in policy would have a significant positive effect on the future of uranium demand,” said a Toronto-based basic materials analyst with Merrill Lynch Co.

“As the world’s largest producer of uranium, Cameco Corp. could be expected to benefit directly.”

Cameco, based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, is one of the few pure plays in the uranium mining sector. “There are several other companies with uranium mining interests, such as Rio Tinto PLC, but these interests form such a small part of the company’s portfolio that an increase in demand for uranium would have only a marginal impact on their overall profitability,” said Russell Skirrow, a London-based mining analyst with Merrill Lynch Co.

“The uranium market has been a difficult place to be during recent years,” said Steve Kidd, head of strategy and research at the World Nuclear Association. “The price of uranium has been depressed because of oversupply in the market; as a result mining companies have been unable to invest in new facilities.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel and the mining companies are hopeful that prices will improve, but it will be some time before uranium suppliers see an improvement to their bottom lines.”

Uranium enrichment companies, such as USEC Inc., one of the biggest suppliers of uranium enrichment services, have also been hit by weak pricing and stiff competition, according to Mr. Kidd.

Uranium enrichment is a critical step in transferring the naturally occurring form of the element into a fuel for reactors. USEC grew out of the American government, which created the United States Uranium Enrichment Corp. in 1992 and sold it to the public in 1998, making it the last U.S. privatization.

The company went public at $14.25 a share and dropped as low as $3.875 in December. Reflecting the improving outlook for nuclear power, however, it ended Thurday at $8 a share, yielding 6.9 percent.

A revival of interest in nuclear power appears to have boosted interest in the nuclear generators.

British Energy PLC, an international energy business focusing on nuclear power, has been busily acquiring nuclear plants in North America. Along with plants in Britain, it operates 26 nuclear facilities.

“Looking forward we see room for substantial growth in profits over the next few years, with the possibility of record profits within three years,” said Ian Graham, an Edinburgh-based utilities analyst with Merrill Lynch.

“Incorporating British Energy’s recent acquisitions in Canada and allowing for more cost-cutting measures, we have set an asset value of 580 pence per share.” The stock, which ended on Thursday at 276.5 pence, was given a target of 450 pence at Merrill, which rates it a buy.

Three Mile Island and Chernobyl may be fading memories, but the disposal of radioactive waste remains one of the industry’s most controversial issues.

Robin Jeffrey, chairman of British Energy, said that while the technical and safety issues have largely been resolved by the creation of improved waste repositories, political issues also need to be addressed.

“The nuclear power industry needs to get much better in presenting the environmental case for nuclear power and its crucial role in combating global warming and pollution,” he said.

“The industry needs to demonstrate that any new build program has a genuinely robust case. Given the progress made in recent years, another four years could mark a significant milestone for the industry.”

As the nuclear industry moves from government direction to private-sector control, new investment opportunities should present themselves.

Plans to restructure the French industry by establishing a single holding company – provisionally known as Topco – have been finalized by the French government and two state-controlled entities: the fuels processor Cogema SA and the nuclear-plant builder Framatome SA.

The resulting company might be privatized, analysts said.

Meanwhile, British Nuclear Fuels Ltd. has asked the government to take its Magnox business off its hands to enable it to press ahead with a partial privatization.

The government’s proposed target date for a partial privatization of British Nuclear Fuels is summer 2002. . . .

For more on Merrill Lynch, GO TO > > > BEWARE! This bull is for the birds!


HOW SOON WE FORGET (must be the NutraSweet)…

~ ~ ~

November 22, 1999

Nuclear accident casts
long shadows

Japanese town considers name change
to cape dark radioactive shame

By Valerie Reitman / Los Angeles Times Detroit News

TOKYO — The signs at the city limits that once proudly proclaimed “Town of Nuclear Energy” have been replaced with bland placards that say simply, “Welcome to Tokaimura.”

It is one tangible sign of the shame that the town — previously viewed as an elite center of nuclear power research — now feels in the wake of Japan’s worst nuclear disaster.

The Sept. 30 accident at the privately owned JCO Co. nuclear fuel processing plant occurred when workers set off a fission reaction while loading excessive amounts of highly enriched uranium into a tank. The accident is known to have irradiated at least 83 people, three seriously.

The townspeople once “took pride that they were helping develop Japan’s nuclear energy program,” with 14 nuclear-related facilities in and around the town. Now, outsiders “see Tokaimura as an area polluted or dangerous, even equated with Chernobyl, Hiroshima or Nagasaki,” Mayor Tatsuya Murakami said.

Japan has embraced the peaceful use of nuclear power to supplant its dependence on imported fuel. The United States and most Western European nations, in contrast, halted nuclear-energy expansion programs over the past two decades amid high costs and fears after nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania and Chernobyl in the former Soviet Union.

The mayor spoke of his pain after receiving origami cranes — which are sent to the sick or injured or placed on graves — from students in Australia and Britain. “On the one hand, I was happy they were sending messages of encouragement,” Murakami said. “On the other hand, I had mixed feelings that the image of Tokaimura had been bombarded with nuclear material.”

The town’s reputation has been so tarnished that there has been talk of changing its name, the mayor said.

Farmers can’t sell their produce because of consumer fears that it is tainted — even though the government has declared it safe and Japanese Prime Minister Keizo Obuchi recently ate a sample in a show of support.

Murakami criticized the government’s handling of the disaster and called for tougher regulations. Nevertheless, the majority of Tokaimura residents remain “quite calm” despite their proximity to nuclear-related facilities that generate two-thirds of the town’s revenues, he said.

Reflecting the widespread view in Japan that nuclear power is necessary, Murakami stopped short of calling for the phaseout of the country’s nuclear energy program. Japan plans to add as many as 20 nuclear reactors in the next decade.

“Personally, I feel nuclear power shouldn’t be the only choice,” he said. “In Europe, there are other options being explored and Japan should do likewise, not just say nuclear energy is everything.”

Bills pending

Japan’s parliament is considering legislation that would give the central government more authority in future nuclear accidents and strengthen safety measures at nuclear facilities.

— One bill would empower the prime minister to declare a state of emergency and set up emergency headquarters near accident sites, a role now carried out by local authorities.

— Another bill would require nuclear-related facilities to conduct the same safety checks as nuclear power plants. It also would require employees to report any illegal procedures to chiefs of related agencies or ministries.


< < < FLASHBACK < < <

From Britannica Book of the Year – 1947

March 5, 1946 – Atomic bombing of Japan was strongly condemned in report issued by special commission of Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America.

April 16, 1946 – Statement that atomic bomb tests on Bikini atoll were intended for “defensive” rather than for aggressive purposes, was made by Vice-Adm. W.H.P. Blandy.

July 1, 1946 – Superfortress dropped Nagasaki-type atomic bomb from height of 30,000 ft. over 73 vessels anchored in target area off Bikini atoll; five ships were sunk, nine craft were heavily damaged and at least 45 other ships suffered varying degrees of damage.

For the purpose of the experiment, 4,800 animals were placed on the ships. A task force of 1,000 vessels and 42,500 men participated. On July 1, a United States army bomber took off from Eniwetok and dropped an atomic bomb set to explode close to the surface of the water.

A second test in which an atomic bomb was exploded under water took place on July 25.

The 161 natives, of mixed Melanesian-Polynesian stock, were removed to Rongerik Atoll 130 mi. to the east in February.

Though Rongerik, previously uninhabited, appeared to have all the advantages of Bikini, the exiled natives expressed a desire to return to their home island in Oct. 1946.

The report was released because of the presence of radioactivity on Bikini….


November 27, 1999

Last Working Chernobyl Reactor
Is Restarted

New York Times

KIEV, Ukraine (Associated Press) — Ukrainian authorities restarted the last working reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant Friday, ignoring international pressure to shut it down.

The reactor, No. 3, was restarted at 5:30 a.m. after almost five months of repairs. It is running at about 5 percent of capacity and will gradually increase its output, said a spokeswoman for the plant who declined to give her name. She would not say when the reactor was expected to reach full power.

Officials at Chernobyl say the restarting is temporary and insist that Reactor No. 3 is safe and free of Year 2000 computer problems.

But environmental groups vehemently oppose even the temporary use of the plant.

“Chernobyl is probably the most dangerous reactor in the world,” Ben Pearson, an Amsterdam-based official of Greenpeace, said this week.

Ukraine and the leading industrial countries reached agreement in 1995 that the plant should close by 2000. But Ukraine now says it needs $1.2 billion from the West to finish construction of two reactors to replace Chernobyl’s output. The government says it hopes to shut Chernobyl definitively sometime next year.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which has played a leading role in discussions on financing the new reactors, was supposed to have made a loan decision in September. Other potential lenders are awaiting the bank’s decision.

The Chernobyl plant had four working reactors. No. 4 exploded in 1986, spewing radiation over much of Europe. Ukrainian authorities have attributed 8,000 deaths to the accident, the worst of its kind anywhere.

The reactor is now encased in a steel-and-concrete sarcophagus, and two more reactors have been permanently shut since then.

Meanwhile workers have begun repairs on the sarcophagus, which was hastily built in 1986 prevent new radiation leaks.

Ukraine operates 14 reactors at 5 plants, which supply about 40 percent of its energy.

Local news media gave little attention to the restart, and most Ukrainians’ reactions ranged from neutral to fatalistic.

“Anything may happen,” said Halyna Yanovska, a street vendor.

“I rely only on God.”


November 24, 1999

North Korea warns South Korea
over missile program

Miami Herald

SEOUL, South Korea — (AP) — North Korea on Wednesday accused South Korea of developing longer-range missiles and threatened to take a “stronger countermeasure” against its rival.

The North said it is upset by reports that South Korea is trying to develop a missile that can reach all parts of the communist country.

“If the South Korean rulers persist in their desperate moves to develop ballistic missiles despite our warnings, we will take a stronger countermeasure against it,” said the North’s ruling party paper, Rodong Sinmun.

The paper’s report, carried by the North’s foreign news outlet, KCNA, did not specify what measure the reclusive country would take. North Korean statements are often belligerent.

North Korea is believed to have far more advanced missile programs than South Korea. Last year, it rattled the region by firing a missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean.

The North shelved its plan to test-fire a more powerful missile after talks with the United States in October. Experts say the new missile could reach Hawaii and Alaska.

Under a 1979 agreement with the United States, South Korea cannot develop a missile with a range longer than 112 miles. Washington has agreed in principle to lift the ban, allowing Seoul to develop a missile capable of traveling up to 187 miles.

South Korea wants U.S. permission to research and develop a missile with a range of up to 312 miles, a distance that would cover all of North Korea.

Three days of U.S.-South Korea missile talks in Seoul last week failed to reach agreement on the issue.

The United States is concerned that South Korea’s efforts to lengthen missile ranges may trigger a regional arms race.

The two Koreas fought a war a half-century ago and tensions have been high ever since.


November 25, 1999

China to U.S.:
Back off treaty changes

By Erik Eckholm, The New York Times

BEIJING — China’s chief of arms control issued a new warning yesterday that U.S. plans for a national missile defense system, even if intended to stop attacks from countries like North Korea and Iraq, would set off a global arms race and cause more countries to develop nuclear weapons.

The existing Anti-ballistic Missile Treaty, which the United States proposes altering to allow limited defenses, has long been a cornerstone of nuclear stability, Sha Zukang, director of arms control and disarmament in China’s foreign ministry, said yesterday in an article in the official newspaper China Daily.

“Amending it in search of national missile defense will tip the global balance, trigger a new arms race and jeopardize world and regional stability,” Sha wrote.

Russia, the main nuclear rival of the United States, has also been vociferous in opposing missile defenses.

China has objected to proposed theater missile defenses, local systems intended to protect American allies in Asia from missile attacks.

China worries that such high-technology defenses would be offered to Taiwan, cementing military ties between Taiwan and the United States.

Though the debate is already heated, theater defenses that could stop a blitz of short-range missiles are still in the unproved research stage.

But in yesterday’s article and recent speeches, Chinese officials have also vehemently challenged the progressing American plans for a national defense system, perhaps designed to stop a handful of incoming missiles.

A prime reason for Chinese concern, weapons experts say, is that even a limited system would undercut China’s own nuclear strategy, forcing it to spend far more than it wants to build extra rockets and bombs.

Unlike the United States and Russia, China has deployed small numbers of weapons intended simply to give adversaries second thoughts about attacking it.


June 9, 2000

Rep. Hall Joins Veterans,
Presses for Iraq Uranium Study

U.S. Newswire

WASHINGTON, June 9 /U.S. Newswire/ — Rep. Tony P. Hall (D-Ohio) joined Congressional leaders known for their advocacy on behalf of American veterans in calling for an investigation of depleted uranium’s effects on human health.

In a letter to President Clinton on Thursday, Hall and eight other Members of the U.S. House of Representatives urged him to request a World Health Organization study of depleted uranium in Iraq.

“We are concerned by reports that the United States Government has blocked an investigation by the World Health Organization’s experts into the effects of depleted uranium on Iraq’s civilians,” they wrote. “If these reports are true, we are sacrificing an opportunity to help our own veterans to political concerns; we also may be putting those who serve in the U.S. military now at risk needlessly.”

The Congressmen urged President Clinton to involve himself personally. “…your leadership is needed to reverse this troubling record,” they said. “We urge you to put the health of American veterans and innocent Iraqi civilians ahead of political efforts to isolate Iraq’s government…Whatever WHO finds will better inform our country’s decisions about protecting American troops and others in the future. Its work should not be delayed.”

The full text of the letter follows:

June 8, 2000

Dear Mr. President:

As you know, American veterans of the Gulf War are fighting health problems which are not well understood by medical professionals, but which are real and affect their lives in significant ways. There are credible reports that Iraqi civilians too are suffering: cancer rates in Iraq appear to be significantly higher than the worldwide average, although the reason for this has not been determined.

The suspected culprit in both cases is depleted uranium, a toxic and radioactive metal. Yet, nine years after the Gulf War ended, few efforts have been made to examine its effects on human health.

We are concerned by reports that the United States Government has blocked an investigation by the World Health Organization’s experts into the effects of depleted uranium on Iraq’s civilians. If these reports are true, we are sacrificing an opportunity to help our own veterans to political concerns; we also may be putting those who serve in the U.S. military now at risk needlessly.

The General Accounting Office recently criticized the U.S. Government for mishandling its investigations on the possible effects of DU exposure on our Gulf War veterans. Critics of U.S. humanitarian policy toward Iraq also take issue with our response to this and other problems plaguing Iraqi civilians.

Mr. President, your leadership is needed to reverse this troubling record. We urge you to put the health of American veterans and innocent Iraqi civilians ahead of political efforts to isolate Iraq’s government by immediately requesting the WHO to conduct a comprehensive investigation of this matter.

Whatever WHO finds will better inform our country’s decisions about protecting American troops and others in the future. Its work should not be delayed.

– signed: Reps. Lane Evans (D-Ill.); Bob Filner (D-Calif.); Sam Farr (D-Calif.); Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio); Robert A. Underwood (D-Guam); John W. Olver (D-Mass.); Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii); and Silvestre Reyes (D-Texas).









AmerGen – A partnership of Philadelphia’s PECO Energy and British Energy of Edinburgh, Scotland. The new owners of Three Mile Island.

May 15, 1997

Three Mile Island for sale as
utilities gird for competition

HARRISBURG (CNN) — Even though you won’t see any “For Sale” signs outside, Three Mile Island, site of the nation’s worst nuclear accident, is definitely on the market.

Today the plant produces power at competitive rates, and its owner, General Public Utilities, wants to cash in on the electric industry’s impending deregulation. GPI says it has received several inquiries from prospective buyers, and may sell its other nuclear plant, in Oyster Creek, New Jersey, in a package deal with Three Mile Island.

Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 has been inoperative since the March 1979, when its reactor core overheated and partially melted, releasing radioactive gases.

Cleaning up afterward cost almost $1 billion and took more than a decade.

Unit 1 continues to generate electricity, however, and its operating costs add up to 2.5 cents per kilowatt hour — slightly above the national average, General Public Utilities spokesman John Fidler said, but lower than Oyster Creek’s 3.7 cents per kwh.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

* * *

March 28, 1999

Three Mile Island, 20 years later

The Three Mile Island accident is the worst in
American nuclear power history

LONDONDERRY TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania (CNN) — Twenty years ago Sunday, an accident at Three Mile Island began with a small mechanical problem — and ended as the worst accident in the history of American nuclear power.

The nuclear power plant’s cooling towers still loom over the farms and small towns that line Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River. Back in the 1970s, they were symbols of progress.

“We actually thought the plant was too well designed to have a serious accident,” said former Nuclear Regulatory Commission official Harold Denton. “It was kind of like the Titanic.”

That thinking changed on March 28, 1979, when a small valve stuck open, cooling water escaped and the reactor core of TMI’s Unit 2 began to melt. But at the time, nobody seemed to know what was going on.

“People were either telling us more than they knew or less than they knew,” recalled Richard Thornburgh, then Pennsylvania’s governor. Thornburgh recommended that pregnant women and young children leave town.

“We left with whatever we thought we needed to survive somewhere,” said area resident Marsha McHenry. “It was so hard to look at everything and just try to remember it just as it was and think we would never see it again.”

Workers spent years cleaning up the accident

How much radiation?

Disagreement on what had happened at Three Mile Island only added to the anxiety.

Officials admitted radiation had escaped, but probably not enough to hurt anyone. Physics professor John Leutzelschwab, who was living nearby, took his own readings and found the same thing.

“If there had been large releases, I would have seen something,” he said.

But others disagreed. One anti-nuclear group held an ominous news conference, chanting slogans such as “any dose is an overdose.”

While operators tried to get the situation under control, NRC scientists were in the middle of a high-stakes debate. Some thought there was a real chance a hydrogen explosion could shatter the containment building, spilling radioactive gasses into the atmosphere. Others said there was no way that was going to happen.

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn,
visited the plant to demonstrate it was safe

That’s when the White House called, and asked whether it would be safe for the president to visit. The answer came from a man who emerged as the calming voice at the center of the crisis.

“I told him it was all right,” said Denton. “That was my opinion. The NRC specializes in what-if calculations.”

Five days after the accident started, Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter visited Three Mile Island.

“A lot of people felt that if the president is coming here and bringing his wife, things must be all right,” said former Londonderry Township mayor Robert Reid, “and that had a calming effect.”

Within days, schools reopened and families came home. On Three Mile Island, workers discovered that half the reactor core had melted. It took years to clean it up.

Nuclear energy goes downhill

And it will be years more — if ever — before nuclear power’s reputation fully recovers from what happened at Three Mile Island.

No commercial nuclear reactor has been ordered and built since the accident — and nearly one-fifth of the reactors in the country have shut down since 1979. In 1999, there are just over 100 reactors operating — a far cry from the 1,000 reactors some expected by the millennium back in 1957, when the nation’s first town went nuclear.

Since 1979, public support for nuclear power has dropped from 70 percent to 43 percent, and power plants are on the selling block — including Three Mile Island.

AmerGen, a partnership of Philadelphia’s PECO Energy and British Energy of Edinburgh, Scotland, has offered to buy Unit 1, which is still operating, for $100 million.

It cost $400 million to build.

* * *

March 29, 1999

20 Years Later, Three Mile Island
Still Elicits Strong Emotions

Written by Stephanie Kriner, Staff Writer,

At 4 a.m. on March 27, 1979, flashing lights and wailing sirens shattered the pre-dawn stillness of Three Mile Island, a sandbar in the middle of Pennsylvania’s Susquehanna River and home to a nuclear power plant.

Across the river in Harrisburg, homes and streets remained dark, their residents blissfully unaware of the near-apocalyptic scenario unfolding in the reactor’s control room.

It took a personal visit from President Carter before residents were convinced it was safe enough to return to nearby Harrisburg. Three Mile Island’s Unit-2 (TMI-2) began its descent into history when a small valve malfunctioned and failed to close, allowing cooling water to escape. As a result, the nuclear core began to overheat.

Under immense stress and the knowledge that a core meltdown likely would kill them and everyone within miles of the reactor, the control room operators mistakenly shut off the emergency water system necessary to cool the nuclear core, thus ensuring the start of the very scenario they were trying to prevent.

Within hours, the core was hurtling toward meltdown. Temperatures in the reactor soared to 4,300 degrees, just 900 degrees from the disaster threshold wherein the core was reduced to a molten mass capable of eating through the reactor’s concrete containment vessel. Geysers of radioactive steam would have exploded into the air, the fallout spreading over the nearby city and throughout the surrounding states.

More than 140,000 Harrisburg residents were told to flee, many of them with just the clothes on their backs. “We left with whatever we thought we needed to survive somewhere,” said resident Marsha McHenry. “It was so hard to look at everything and … think we would never see it again.”

A significant part of the problem that night was over confusion about how the core would react under such duress. Some Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) engineers worried a hydrogen explosion would tear apart the reactor’s containment vessel, blasting radioactive gas and debris all over the area. Others were certain it could not happen.

Three Mile Island is named for the spit of riverine sand upon which it is located. In an attempt to calm a frightened nation, President Jimmy Carter and his wife paid the damaged plant a visit five days after the accident. The president’s visit had the desired effect and within days residents returned, schools reopened and businesses restarted their operations.

On Three Mile Island, cleanup workers discovered half TMI-2’s core had melted. It would take more than a decade and $1 billion to clean up the mess.

The Beginning of the End for Nuclear Energy

That fateful March morning brought not only Harrisburg, but also the entire world, face-to-face with the potential for a nuclear disaster. Like a virus, concern spread across the globe. Massive demonstrations were held around the world to protest nuclear power plants.

More than 2,000 Red Cross volunteers planned for the possible evacuation of 300,000 people.

On the 20th anniversary of that frightening day — eight years after the $1 billion clean-up effort was completed and with the damaged reactor permanently sealed and prevented from further operation — memories of its partial meltdown still evokes widespread fear over the potential of a nuclear meltdown.

“A lot of people here are still panicky and scared,” says Bob Straw, director of the York County Emergency Management Agency. More than 2,000 lawsuits, claiming that leaked radiation caused cancer, and birth defects such as clubfeet and Down Syndrome, were dismissed in 1996 but now are on appeal. Although studies done after the incident showed that increased radiation in the air did not pose threats to humans, a 1997 study revealed an increase in cancer in areas surrounding Three Mile Island.

Three Mile Island Alert and other anti-nuclear groups still work to remind people of the plant’s dangers. Three Mile Island Alert fears that damaged fuel — in the form of tiny particles — that still sits at the bottom of the Unit 2 reactor could heat up and start another nuclear reaction.

Even a recent battle over the inscription on an historical marker grew heated. Three Mile Island Alert wanted the sign to call attention to the incident as a nuclear meltdown. But the committee members who wrote the sign avoided the “m-word,” instead writing that “part of the nuclear core was damaged.”

The decision reveals the terror the word “meltdown” still conjures in the minds of those living around Three Mile Island. But since the accident, the industry has taken extra precautions.

As a result of Three Mile Island, the NRC revamped its licensing procedures, making it more difficult for new plants to open. The industry also formed its own watchdog group, the Institute for Nuclear Power Operators (INPO) which rates plant performance.

The cleanup of the plant took more than a decade and cost $1 billion.

But the public remains skeptical about the benefits of this “pollution-free” energy source. In a recent Associated Press poll, only 45 percent of adults said they support the use of nuclear energy. Indeed nuclear power may not be around into the next century. Due to negative public sentiment and escalating expense involved in the generation of nuclear energy, nuclear power is expected by many to disappear in the early part of the 21st century.

But some are confident that nuclear energy will thrive. Even the infamous Three Mile Island has a buyer for its No. 1 reactor, which sits next to its historical twin. GPU Inc. of Morristown, N.J., is selling the plant to AmerGen, a partnership of Philadelphia-based PECO Energy Co. and British Energy.

Nevertheless the threat of a nuclear disaster still looms, says Steven Sylvester, research specialist in the geo-sciences department of Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. Sylvester studied the off-site exposure flows in the Susquehanna River following the accident. He fears that aging power plants will only increase the risks of another meltdown.

Protesters resurrected their 20-year-old grievances against Three Mile Island and nuclear energy during the anniversary of the accident. Another pending disaster lies in the hundreds of tons of nuclear waste these plants have produced over the last two decades, some environmentalists and scientists fear.

“We need to start funding research to find out how we’re going to clean this stuff up,” says Eric Epstein of Three Mile Island Alert.

The 20-year anti-nuclear power advocate says that the storing of nuclear waste must involve a number of safeguards. It must be stored above ground, monitored and easy to retrieve in case a leak occurs, he says. Furthermore, areas close to nuclear waste dumps must have emergency plans in place to respond to a leak, he said.

Ironically, even as the nation made plans to commemorate the Three Mile Island accident, a truck of radioactive waste made its way to the nation’s first underground nuclear waste dump in New Mexico (which, in another bit of synergy, is located just 27- miles from the birthplace of the atomic bomb).

Critics fear that given the long shelf life of spent nuclear fuel — about 10,000 years in some cases — the underground radiation eventually could seep out. But the Energy Department insists that method is safe.

It’s a sobering reminder that even if nuclear power sources were shut down today, the atomic age is here to stay for generations to come, says Sylvester….


Bank of Credit and Commerce International – Better known as the Bank of Crooks and Criminals International.

From The Outlaw Bank: BCCI, by Jonathan Deaty & S.C. Gwynne:…

Kamal Adham was one of the true inside power players of the Middle East, a shrewd, jovial man who had for decades straddled the worlds of Middle Eastern business and politics.. He was the half brother of Iffat, the favorite wife of King Faisal, who ruled Saudi Arabia from 1964 until his death in 1975….

Like so many other enterprising Arabs in the 1960s and 1970s, when oil revenues were booming and foreign companies were lining up to sell their products, Adham had used his connection to commercial advantage. The way most commoners in the Middle East got rich off the oil boom was through a simple system know as “agency” arrangements.

In order to sell a product or service in Saudi Arabia, you had to know someone in the royal family, which authorized all expenditures. If you did not know a princeling or a royal cousin, then you hired an “agent” who provided you access for a “commission.”

Though this commission often looks very much like a “bribe” … it was nonetheless the way business was done, and few were better at it than Kamal Adham….

~ ~ ~

Bank licenses were no longer an insurmountable problem for Abedi….

By early fall 1978 Abedi opened bank branches in Lahore and Islamabad, and his choice of the young Nazir Chinoy, from the Bank of America’s Lahore branch, to head them and to “devise marketing strategies to enhance the business of the bank in Pakistan” illustrates another link in the shadow alliances he was forging in America.

Abedi orchestrated a similar cross-fertilization move by directing Pharaon to fire the incumbent CEO of the National Bank of Georgia and replace him with Roy Carlson, the former head of Bank of America’s Middle East operations.

(Carlson had other valuable connections: After twenty years with Bank of America he had gone to work for one of Abedi’s Iranian associates, Rahim Irvani, and Irvani’s American partner, Richard Helms, the former director of the CIA and U.S. ambassador to Iran.)….

Five of Bank of America’s senior officers were either on BCCI’s board of directors or helped to manage Abedi’s bank. For the nest decade the two banks would move billions of dollars a week through each other’s international offices, and the Bank of America would be an invaluable, if hidden, ally, since it would continue to accept BCCI’s letter-of-credit business after virtually no other Western bank would touch it. Indeed, it could be argued that Bank of America became the single most important financial institution helping BCCI stay afloat.

In the United States alone, Bank of America transferred more than $1 billion a day for BCCI until the moment of BCCI’s global seizure in July 1991….

Thus Bank of America acted as a sort of global vacuum cleaner, sucking up many BCCI branch deposits and thereby providing the fuel Abedi needed to keep his Ponzi scheme alive.

Meanwhile, a great deal of money was also routed through Bank of America’s Pakistan branches, perhaps one reason BofA hired a son of General Zia in 1978. A shareholder’s lawsuit against BofA alleges that Zia’s son was employed by BCCI, “even though he was completely unqualified for the position,” as a way of helping “BCCI bribe important Pakistani officials.” . . .

The favors granted to Abedi were not a one-way affair. What was good for Pakistan was also good for Abedi. He was building up a remarkable latticework of favors done and favors owed, while adeptly disseminating the benefits coming back his way. . . .

Abedi established the protocol department in 1975, while United Bank was still in business, to look after the needs of his wealthy clients who came from the Middle East to visit Pakistan. When BCCI opened its doors in Karachi in 1978, the protocol department was in place with a staff of more than one hundred and a $1.5 million budget….

BCCI officers showed up at the most unusual, high-level places: They were there for Henry Kissinger’s first secret mission to China; they accompanied Jimmy Carter on visits to both Pakistan and China.

Abedi had money to spare to underwrite the protocol department: In 1981 Ghulam Ishaq Khan granted BCCI a special tax-free status allowing Abedi to avoid tens of millions of dollars in taxes and to pour his huge Pakistan profits into one of his front companies and into Pakistan’s atomic bomb project.

When Abedi formed the BCCI Foundation in Pakistan in 1981, he named Khan chairman and announced that 85 to 90 percent of all the bank’s profits would be donated to charity, a claim that greatly enhanced his reputation as a philanthropist….

Most of the millions that flowed through the foundation went to two uses: first, to investments – patently noncharitable – in a company called Attock Cement, owned by Abedi’s associate and U.S. front man Ghaith Pharaon. The second beneficiary was something called the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute of Engineering Sciences and Technology.

In 1983, for example, the foundation’s investments in Attock were five times the amount donated to its fifty charitable causes, which included Jimmy Carter’s Global 2000.

And in 1987 the foundations single largest donation, $10 million, went to the Khan Institute. According to its brochures, the Ghulam Ishaq Khan Institute trains young scientists and engineers. The reality is a little more ominous….

The director of the institute is Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the man most closely linked with Pakistan’s efforts to develop nuclear weapons. Khan, a German-trained metallurgist, once worked as a classified enrichment plant in the Netherlands, where he gained access to key plans. So important is he to the Pakistani national interest that even his whereabouts are considered a national secret.

Another foundation branch is the New and Emerging Sciences and Technology (NEST) Institute, chaired by Pakistan’s leading nuclear physicist and the father of its nuclear program, I.H. Usmani.

Through the foundations it funded and controlled, BCCI was carrying out a key element of Pakistani national policy: shopping the world for nuclear technology and material. Bhutto himself had acknowledged the motives behind an attempt in the mid-1970s to purchase a French plutonium extraction plant.

“All we needed,” he wrote, “was the nuclear reprocessing plant.

When the United States blocked the French sale, Pakistan began acquiring hardware and technology for a uranium enrichment plant. Virtually an entire uranium conversion plant was smuggled out of West Germany between 1977 and 1980 and set up in the Pakistani town of Dera Ghazi Khan. Critical equipment was brought in from Switzerland, as were engineering plans from China.

Abedi and BCCI were involved in much of this, most often as financier of export shipments of materials, which involved elaborate falsification of documents and phony letters of credit. In 1991 German authorities jailed retired Pakistani General Inam ul-Haq, whom U.S. authorities had sought since 1987 in connection with the purchase of nuclear-weapons-grade steel for Pakistan’s bomb project. It came as no surprise to U.S. officials that Inam’s financier was BCCI.

The U.S. intelligence community had in fact been tracking the money behind those nuclear deals for years as part of a program to determine who was financing international terrorism.

BCCI’s role in prohibited nuclear technology deals for Pakistan, Iraq, Iran, and Libya was prominent in the reports delivered to the National Security Council at the White House from 1981 on.

The NSC official who analyzed those reports, Dr. Norman Bailey, had worked closely with Bill Casey, whose agency provided much of the information….

For more, GO TO > > > The Strange Saga of BCCI


Burns and Roe Enterprises – an engineering firm that, as announced on August 30, 2002, will participate in a $558 million government contract going to Uranium Disposition Services LLC.

EDITORIALS (12/18/2000)

Time to Bring Order to
Asbestos Litigation

With the exception of hazardous waste and abatement firms, the construction industry stopped making, specifying, installing, using and handling asbestos-containing materials years ago. But the damage was done. With a latency period that can be decades long, asbestosis and lung diseases related to asbestos exposure still are surfacing. That and large numbers of very aggressive plaintiffs’ attorneys may explain the sudden increase in asbestos cases being filed against companies. Like dominoes falling in a row, they are filing for Chapter 11 protection to survive the crushing load of these lawsuits, which in turn pushes the lawsuits further down into the industry.

Last week, two more companies took the bankruptcy route –– Armstrong World Industries Inc. and Burns & Roe Enterprises Inc.–– bringing the total to 25. The latest flurry seems to have been triggered by the Oct. 5 filing by Owens Corning. The most disturbing part of these events is that the protocols for the settlement of asbestos claims established after the bankruptcy of Johns-Manville Co. more than a decade ago appear to be disintegrating….

But the Burns & Roe filing is the most ominous signal to the industry. The engineering and construction company never manufactured asbestos-containing products, but it designed and constructed projects that did. A spokesman for the company says that Burns & Roe’s asbestos caseload over the past year rose by a factor of 10 and settlement demands increased by a factor of eight.

The family-owned company now has 12,000 claims pending…


Duratek Federal Services, Inc. – Nuclear waste and facilities management company; majority owned by The Carlyle Group.

From Hoovers On-Line (Aug. 30, 2002):

Hazardous waste is a terrible thing to mind, but Duratek (formerly GTS Duratek) does just that. The company treats radioactive, hazardous, and other wastes using methods such as incineration, vitrification, compaction, ion exchange, and metal decontamination.

Formed by the 1990 merger of General Technical Services and Duratek Corporation, the firm processes waste (such as low-level radioactive waste) at its plants in South Carolina and Tennessee.

Duratek also provides on-site waste management, environmental restoration, and nuclear facilities management at U.S. Department of Energy facilities (including the Hanford site in Washington and the Oak Ridge site in Tennessee).

The Carlyle Group owns 23% of the firm.

* * *

June 9, 2001

Duratek Promises Turnaround

By Sabrina Jones, Washington Post Staff Writer

Duratek Inc. executives assured investors yesterday that the radioactive waste disposal firm will turn a profit later this year after it corrects problems in its commercial waste-processing operations.

The Columbia-based company said at its annual shareholders meeting that it has hired new managers, instituted better performance reviews of management and made system improvements after the commercial processing unit, which includes waste-disposal plants in Memphis and Oak Ridge, Tenn., suffered financially in last year’s fourth quarter. Last month, Duratek reported that it lost $1.6 million in the first quarter.

“We’re not at all happy about the fourth quarter,” Duratek President Robert E. Prince told the audience at the company’s headquarters. He said the company’s stock price and credibility took a beating after delays late last year in the start-up of several new waste-processing programs. Three steam generators from nuclear power plants that Duratek was contracted to dispose of arrived late at the company’s Memphis plant. A company subcontractor is six months behind schedule in removing contaminated materials from the generators….

For more, GO TO > > > Birds that Drink from Cesspools


Export-Import Bank – The bank through which a lot of U.S. Taxpayer money is exported – and a little is imported.

From The Progressive ReviewClinton Scandal Clips Part 15….

Investors Business Daily reports: President Clinton’s appointee to a critical seat on the board of the Export-Import Bank has close ties to a crooked fund-raiser linked to China. China is Ex-Im Bank’s second largest customer.

During the Clinton years, the bank has given more than $5.5 billion in loans to China to help it buy U.S. technology and equipment for power plants and other projects. The loans were OK’d despite proof that China sold nuclear-related equipment to Pakistan and other countries that worry U.S. security experts.

The White House hopes the Senate will quickly confirm D. Vanessa Weaver to fill one of three vacant seats on Ex-Im’s five-member board. …

Weaver and John Huang exchanged at least 26 phone calls over a 17-month period in 1994 and 1995, records show. …

With administration approval, AT&T sells its secure communications system to the Chinese Army. Thus the Chinese Army gets the secure communications equipment that even the American public can’t. The Chinese call it “Hua Mei.”

Further, the Chinese reconfigure the Hua Mei technology and re-export it to Iraq where it is used for air defense against US aircraft.

While Huang’s name has not been directly linked to this project, it was the sort of thing his Chinese bosses were up to. Among those who were involved along the way was William Hambrecht, a major investor in Salon magazine, former Defense Secretary William Perry, and former Senator Adlai Stevenson….

For more, GO TO > > > The Story of Enron


Framatome ANP – The world’s “premier” nuclear supplier (according to their web site).

From Framatome’s web site:


“Powering the world with safe, clean and cost-effective nuclear energy”

Framatome ANP (Advanced Nuclear Power) merges the complementary strengths of two global nuclear industry leaders Framatome and Siemens – offering clients the best technological solutions for safe, reliable and economical plant performance.

In the company, AREVA has a 66% stake and Siemens 34%.

With a combined workforce of 13,000 skilled individuals, Framatome ANP is now the world’s premier nuclear supplier.

Serving as Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) for more than 90 reactors that provide about 30% of the world’s total installed nuclear power capacity, its experienced resources remain focused on the local needs of individual clients, wherever in the world they may be….

* * *

July 22, 2002

News Release


Office of Public Affairs, Region IV

611 Ryan Plaza Drive, Suite 400, Arlington TX 76011


The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will hold a predecisional enforcement conference Friday, July 26, with officials of Framatome ANP, Inc., of Richland, Wash., to discuss several apparent violations of NRC requirements….

Framatome manufactures uranium fuel used in commercial power reactors. There are times during fuel fabrication and handling when, without the proper safety controls, uranium could be present in sufficient quantity to lead to a fission chain reaction.

The apparent violations involve the failure of Framatome to properly maintain all the required safety controls during a certain uranium handling process.

Specifically, on April 3, a Framatome worker filled a 45-gallon drum with uranium oxide powder. The drum is required to have a neutron-absorbing fixture inside as one of the controls to prevent an uncontrolled criticality. The worker observed that the drum did not have the required fixture, and reported the event to plant management.

An inspection team from the NRC was sent to review the incident April 15-18. The team found five apparent violations; however, the NRC does not believe that a fission chain was possible at any time because other conditions required for such an event were not present….

No decision on the apparent violations or any contemplated enforcement action will be made at this conference. Those decisions will be made by senior NRC officials at a later time.


Hughes Electronics – You saw the movie, didn’t you?

From Betrayal – How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, by Bill Gertz:

President Clinton has turned upside down President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s warning about a too-powerful military-industrial complex. Using the end of the Cold War as cover, and to please corporate bigshots targeted for campaign contributions, Clinton has loosened export controls on several high-technology sectors, including U.S. high-speed computer manufacturers, software makers, and communications satellite makers who want to sell to China.

Two such companies are Loral Space & Communications, Ltd. and Hughes Electronics, both the subject of a federal investigation to determine how they passed embargoed militarily-useful rocket technology to Beijing without licenses….

Hughes was headed by C. Michael Armstrong, who was named head of the influential President’s Export Council after lobbying vigorously — and successfully — for the easing of U.S. National security export controls.

Shortly after the “decontrols” took place, American supercomputers began showing up in both Chinese and Russian nuclear weapons development centers — helping to build nuclear arms that might one day be turned against the United States….


Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory – Nuke lab managed by the University of California at Berkeley.

March 21, 2002

New Nuclear Spy Scandal

By Reed Irvine and Cliff Kincaid

From Media Monitor, courtesy Accuracy in Media (AIM)

Insight Magazine, a publication whose investigative reporting regularly scoops the competition, recently reported what appears to be a major spy scandal at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, which is managed by the University of California at Berkeley.

Insight reports that the FBI and lab police are conducting an investigation that involves a Pakistani and others who are suspected of targeting a classified nuclear research project at the lab known as the Nuclear Weapons Information Program.

According to the laboratory’s web site, this program began as an effort to archive valuable information on the construction and testing of nuclear weapons, information in the form of searchable, data-filled catalogs about existing nuclear weapons information, including scanned documents, photos and videos, including videotaped interviews with weapons designers.

It says the group behind the project set out to make scientists aware of the need to archive his information in a way that makes it accessible to those at different locations with a need to know.

“In essence,” Insight says, “it is the single repository of all U.S. knowledge concerning every aspect of the U.S. nuclear arsenal —— capabilities, weaknesses, developments, strategy and new technologies…..

It began as an oral history project to preserve knowledge that was considered vital for reconstructing steps in the weapons’ development due to scientists’ inability to replicate previous explosions because of the ban on underground nuclear weapons ’testing’.”

Now it appears that scientists behind this project fear that they may have created a monster that could help speed up the proliferation of nuclear weapons throughout the world.

An official told Insight that “it could tell other countries’’ scientists how the U.S. developed its weapons at a time when our technology was similar to theirs —— as with Pakistan today. This official said it could save countries like Pakistan all kinds of problems and help them avoid costly mistakes.

The Department of Energy and the FBI refused to tell Insight if they were conducting an espionage investigation at Livermore. Notra Trulock, the former chief of counterintelligence at the Department of Energy tells us that means that they are. Insight says that the Pakistani first came under suspicion because he had failed to disclose, or disclose sufficiently, that some members of his family in Pakistan are employed by the ISI, Pakistan’s equivalent of the CIA.

The ISI is known to have had close ties to Osama bin Laden and the Taliban, as well as to Chinese organizations that have helped Pakistan develop its nuclear capabilities.

Lax security has been a problem at the nuclear labs for years. Last summer two filing cabinets, each with three or four drawers containing top-secret documents from Lawrence Livermore, maps and photos were found in the hills a few miles from the lab.

When federal security police tried to turn the documents over to managers at the lab, they refused to accept them until the FBI was called in. It has been confirmed that the documents were from the lab.

– Reed Irvine can be reached at

* * *

April 12, 2003

Agents Involved With Woman Didn’t
Tell FBI of Spy Suspicions

By Curt Anderson, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Two former FBI counterintelligence agents suspected in 1991 that the woman with whom both were having an affair was passing sensitive information to the Chinese, but neither told a superior, according to government documents.

Former agent James J. Smith and former FBI supervisor William Cleveland Jr. kept under wraps their knowledge that Katrina Leung, an FBI intelligence “asset” for two decades, had contacts with intelligence services of the Chinese government.

Cleveland, who retired from the FBI in 1993, has resigned from his position as chief of an employee security awareness program at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, according to two law enforcement officials who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The lab develops nuclear weapons.

“While the employee in question has not been charged with any wrongdoing, due to the seriousness of the situation, a thorough review of his work is now under way,” Livermore spokeswoman Susan Houghton said yesterday.

Cleveland was an FBI counterintelligence supervisor in San Francisco when his affair with Leung began in 1988 according to court documents filed when Smith was charged Wednesday with gross negligence. Cleveland is not referred to by name in the court documents, but several law enforcement officials confirmed his identity.

Cleveland recognized Leung’s voice on a 1991 tape provided by a source in which she was overheard discussing classified U.S. defense information with a Chinese contact known only as “Mao.”

Cleveland immediately called Smith, based in the FBI’s Los Angeles office, who became “visibly upset at the news of Leung’s unauthorized communication” with China’s Ministry of State Security intelligence services, according to the documents, Smith, who served as the FBI’s “handler” for Leung, also was having a sexual relationship with her that dated to the early 1980s, the documents said.

It’s unclear whether the two men knew about each other’s affair. Neither took the issue to a superior or to FBI headquarters as required in such sensitive cases, which probably would have resulted in a polygraph test for Leung. The court documents say Cleveland replied on Smith to address the situation, and Smith later told Cleveland that he had.

In fact, both men’s relationships with Leung continued, with Smith inviting her to his retirement party in 2000 and allowing her to videotape it even though FBI and CIA officers were present, court documents show. She also continued to have access to classified material Smith carried with him when he visited her.

FBI Director Robert Mueller took over the agency in September 2001 and five months later was tipped off about Smith, Cleveland and Leung. He ordered an investigation and transferred and demoted Sheila Horan, then acting director of the FBI’s national security division, which oversees spy investigations.

The 13-month probe by a 30-member task force resulted this week in charges alleging Smith allowed Leung access to classified information that she later passed on to the Chinese.

Leung, a 49-year-old Los Angeles socialite and Republican Party activist, appeared in court yesterday and waived her right to a preliminary hearing within 10 days.

“She did nothing to violate her duty, allegiance and oath to this country,” said Leung’s attorney, Janet Levine.

One unresolved issue in the investigation is whether Leung provided information regarding China’s alleged attempt to influence the 1996 congressional elections through campaign contributions.

Smith was the main FBI contact for Johnny Chung, a key figure in the fund-raising scandal who cooperated in the federal prove after pleading guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations….

For more, GO TO > > > The Secret Nests; A Flock of Flying Donkeys


Los Alamos National Laboratory – The Place where “The Bomb” was developed; managed by the University of California.

February 5, 2003

Lab Whistleblower Allegations Confirmed

By Notra Trulock, III, Accuracy in Media

“Bury it, classify it, and get rid of the people who uncovered it.”

That is the prescription for dealing with problems and scandals inside the nation’s nuclear laboratory complex. That formula has been applied time and again, especially when the problems involve security, staggering budgetary overruns, or corruption. A newly released internal Energy Department review found that Los Alamos National Laboratory officials tried to apply that formula to bury the corruption scandal that has been brewing for months at the New Mexico weapons lab.

A special inquiry, conducted by the Department’s Inspector General, has now validated many of the concerns raised by whistleblowers about the misappropriation of funds and mishandling of lab property at Los Alamos. Although written in carefully stilted “bureaucratese,” the inquiry reveals the depth of the management problems at Los Alamos. The report raises, but does not resolve, questions about the national security implications of the scandal. For example, it cites the loss of a security radio and the failure of the Lab to determine whether frequencies used by lab-security personnel might have been compromised.

Most notably, Lab officials have consistently denied any national security problem stemming from the “loss” of more than 300 computers, at least 44 of which the Lab acknowledged were “stolen.” Given the Lab’s national security mission and the volume of classified data Lab scientists routinely handle, Lab officials might have been expected to investigate such concerns. But whistleblowers alleged that the Lab made no effort to determine whether any of the lost, missing, or stolen computers might have contained classified data.

The Energy Department inquiry confirmed that allegation. When inspectors asked about compromised information, the Lab produced a “draft memorandum, dated December 18, 2002,” concluding that none of the missing computers contained classified information. The inquiry deemed it “troubling” that little or no effort had been devoted to such assessments before the inquiry was initiated in November 2002. Further, the inquiry was unable to determine precisely how Lab officials concluded that no security compromises had occurred.

Beyond missing computers, two employees with high-level security clearances were found to have assembled a spy tool kit that included lock picks, anti-bugging devices, and eavesdropping devices. One of these employees reportedly sought information from co-workers about gaining access to top-secret facilities on Lab property.

However, a senior Los Alamos official claimed, “I was never concerned about them compromising information.” The Lab’s only fear was that the two might have been subject to blackmail for their misappropriation of more than $50,000 of Lab funds. The Lab claims that once the two fell under suspicion, they were enveloped by a “counterintelligence bubble.”

That official making this claim, however, was himself deeply involved in the cover-up of Chinese nuclear espionage at the Lab in the late 1990s.

The inquiry also examined allegations that Lab officials tried to cover up the scandal. The report concluded that allegations that Lab managers “deliberately hid criminal activity” could not be substantiated. Nevertheless, it cited actions taken by Lab officials that “contributed to an atmosphere where Los Alamos employees were discouraged from, or had reason to believe that they were discouraged from, raising concerns about property loss and theft, or other concerns, to appropriate authorities.”

Among these actions, the inquiry identified documents issued to Lab employees, just prior to an upcoming audit, that urged them to “resist the temptation to ‘spill your guts;’” and warned, “finger pointing will just make the program look bad.” The inquiry also uncovered a “Code of Ethical Conduct” statement internal auditors were forced to sign. The statement warned auditors not to use information in a matter that would be “detrimental” to the Lab or the contractor, the University of California.

Another action, deemed “chilling” to reporting of potential derogatory information, was the termination of two security officers, hired expressly to investigate such problems at the Lab. They were fired the same day they were scheduled to be interviewed by Department investigators.

The Inspector General termed their firings “incomprehensible.” But Lab officials thought they would get away with it; one told CBS Evening News’ Sharyl Attkisson that if the Lab Director John C. Browne refused to appear on camera, the whole episode would blow over.

Fortunately for the two security officers, the public outcry and pressure from Capitol Hill led to the University of California rehiring the two security officials, at least temporarily. This may not be enough to stave off a full-scale review of the University’s management of Los Alamos.

The Energy Secretary has promised to decide whether to put the Lab contract up for rebid by April 30 and Capitol Hill has promised a fresh round of hearings on the University’s management of the nation’s nuclear weapons labs.

– Notra Trulock is the Associate Editor at Accuracy in Media.

* * *

March 5, 2003

Lab Scandal Undermines Nuclear Credibility

By Notra Trulock, III, Accuracy in Media

Three Los Alamos whistleblowers finally got to tell their story to Congress recently.

At a hearing before a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee, congressmen expressed shock and outrage at the testimony of Glenn A. Walp, Steve Doran and Jaret McDonald. The Inspector General of the Energy Department told the subcommittee that his inquiries had confirmed many of the problems uncovered by the three.

A University of California vice president, also present at the hearing, apologized to the Congress for the university’s management failures at Los Alamos, promised to do better in the future, and told members that “the experience has strengthened us.” Whether those assurances will be enough to save the university’s contract to manage the lab will not be known until later in March.

The subcommittee was most interested in the whistleblowers’ account of efforts by lab managers to cover up widespread abuses and obstruct investigations, including those by the FBI, into the scandal.

These efforts went all the way up to the lab’s principal deputy director, who has since been fired.

In particular, they alleged that the lab’s general counsel had tampered with evidence and obstructed the FBI’s inquiries. They further charged that the general counsel had tried to compromise “secure, confidential FBI investigative notes” by sharing information from those notes with individuals and organizations under scrutiny.

Subcommittee members wondered how Los Alamos could protect nuclear secrets and stockpiles of nuclear materials if the lab was unable to exercise internal controls on the actions of its employees. The loss or theft of more than 350 computers, many from locations where highly classified work is performed, does not seem to have raised any serious concerns at Los Alamos about the potential compromise of sensitive or classified data.

The lab had never accounted for these computers until asked by the Inspector General in late 2002; it then produced a memo dated mid-December stating that “none of the lost, stolen, or unlocated computers identified by Los Alamos contained classified information.”

In testimony, the Inspector General could only say that his office had “not validated” the lab’s conclusion.

This scandal, coming on top of three other national security scandals at Los Alamos, should also raise serious questions about the Energy Department’’s management of the labs. Security reform and restructuring has been a major focus of the Department since 1999; in the wake of these scandals, the Congress established the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to provide more effective management of the nation’’s nuclear warhead design labs.

Critics have likened this to “rearranging the deck chairs” and the perpetuation of a “bureaucracy that has failed,” since many of those responsible for the earlier scandals simply changed job titles. And there have been continuing reports that lab “insiders” can still download nuclear secrets on portable magnetic tapes and carry the tapes out of the lab unmolested, just like convicted felon Wen Ho Lee did for nearly ten years.

The lab tests its security force by running simulations and force-on-force exercises; internal data show a failure rate in excess of 50 percent. Perhaps most revealing was the Inspector General’s report that the new NNSA had graded Los Alamos’ personal property and procurement management controls “excellent” in December 2002. No wonder lab managers believe they can get away with it; they can count on DOE Headquarters to look the other way.

The scandal has been unfolding over the past six months and has been covered well by local media in New Mexico and, most notably, by CBS Evening News’’ Sharyl Attkisson. The Washington Post and the New York Times passed up reporting on the congressional hearing. But most observers have yet to grasp the most significant implication of the whole sordid affair.

The Bush administration says that nuclear weapons continue to be the backbone of our strategic deterrent. News reports indicate the administration contemplates using these weapons in response to chemical or biological attacks on U.S. forces. The question is, if called upon, will the weapons work?

It has been more than a decade since any U.S. nuclear warhead has been tested in the Nevada desert. The Clinton administration cut a deal with the nuclear labs by which the labs would support the administration’’s comprehensive ban on nuclear testing in return for sustained funding and support for the nuclear design labs. Henceforth, the reliability and the safety of the nuclear stockpile would be verified by computer testing and a robust surveillance program.

Ultimately, however, the administration has to take the “word” of lab managers, like those at Los Alamos, that our nuclear stockpile is reliable and safe. The latest revelations about Los Alamos management serve only to further undermine the credibility of the labs and their managers in Washington.

– Notra Trulock is the Associate Editor at Accuracy in Media.


Magnequench Inc. – Indiana-based technology firm bought by a Chinese consortium.

October 30, 2002

China Makes Spying
A Company Policy

By Scott Wheeler, Insight Magazine

Bill Clinton’s eagerness to do business with China enabled the PRC to acquire technologies such as rare-earth magnets, which are vital components of guided missiles.

A U.S. high-tech firm bought in 1995 with Clinton-administration approval by a consortium that included two Chinese companies is proving to be a threat to U.S. national security, according to senior government analysts.

The Anderson, Ind., based Magnequench Inc. was bought by the San Huan New Materials and Hi-Tech Co. of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), which was started and still is partially owned by the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. It teamed in this venture with a Hong Kong investment house and a U.S. firm to form Magnequench International, which since has bought out at least one U.S. national laboratory spin-off company and has been project partner with another lab.

“The company is little more than a front for the PRC,” a senior government analyst tells Insight.

The official insists that the PRC owners of Magnequench are using its status as a U.S. company to obtain “state-of-the-art and emerging technology and transfer it to the PRC …It’s just another form of espionage.”

Magnequench itself is a General Motors spin-off company that produces rare-earth permanent magnets that have practical uses in electric motors. But these magnets also are used in advanced military equipment such as magnetic bearings in high-performance gas-turbine engines and in permanent-magnet submarine-propulsion systems, and are a key component in missile-guidance systems.

The concerns expressed by the senior government analyst are that the technology and equipment used to produce the permanent magnets here in the United States would not be allowed for export to the PRC.

But, because Magnequench supposedly is a U.S. company owned partly by a Chinese company, there is no control over how the technology is used. And the source indicates the technology is being used to enhance the PRC’s production capabilities.

“They have already duplicated the existing manufacturing line in China,” the source tells Insight.

The chairman of Magnequench is Hong Zhang, who also is chairman of San Huan. The company’s president and chief executive officer, Archibald Cox Jr., tells Insight that he did not believe his Chinese partners posed a threat. “There is no story about China stealing technology,” he says. Cox points out that since a recent realignment of the corporate structure, “San Huan’s stake is only 20 percent now.” He also acknowledges, though, that there was no wall of security protecting U.S.-developed technology from Magnequench’s Chinese partners.

The senior government official says that the activities of Magnequench since the 1995 buyout by the Chinese companies point to an aggressive pursuit of U.S. high-technology in rare-earth permanent magnets. In 1998 Magnequench acquired a small company formed by the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL), a U.S. national laboratory.

This company, GA Powders, was put together by two scientists who had developed an atomization process to aid in the production of high-tech neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnets while they worked at INEEL.

The U.S. national labs have been identified by U.S. counterintelligence as targets of PRC espionage attempts – especially the Los Alamos National Laboratory where the government says the theft of the nuclear W-88 warhead design occurred through a series of espionage efforts by the PRC.

The senior government analyst who is monitoring Magnequench says that by acquiring GA Powders the company has gained new technology developed at one of the nation’s most important labs. “The Idaho lab is where some of the most exotic work is done on new materials, including ordnance and other materials used in advanced manufacturing. …… It is a tremendous security issue.”

Indeed, in an internal newsletter the Sandia National Laboratory also has reported working on a joint project with Magnequench involving rare-earth magnets. The newsletter quotes a Sandia scientist involved in the project as saying, “Enabling aspects include advanced electrical controls [and] new magnet technology.” The senior government analyst calls the project “a disturbing partnership.”

In March 2000, Magnequench International announced that it would open “Magnequench Tianjin Co. Ltd., a new neodymium-powder plant, in Tianjin, China. This plant opening will locate the production of neodymium-iron-boron permanent magnetic powder close to the source of raw materials.”

The senior government analyst says this fits a pattern for the PRC: “They seem to be cloning whatever they do at Magnequench USA in China.”

When the consortium composed of two PRC companies and one U.S. company teamed up to buy Magnequench in 1995, the deal had to be approved by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Chaired by the Secretary of the Treasury, CFIUS is an interagency committee responsible for conducting thorough reviews of foreign companies attempting to purchase stakes in U.S. companies. Once notified of a foreign interest in a U.S. company, CFIUS determines whether the foreign interest would pose a threat to national security.

The 1988 Exon-Florio provision to the Defense Production Act gives the president the authority to restrict a foreign company from investing in a U.S. company if it poses a national-security risk….

Another U.S. official tells Insight that the servos and actuators are used for “missiles, rockets and precision-guided bombs.”

The senior government analyst tells Insight that the Magnequench technology being transferred to China has a bifurcated risk: “It enables them to produce super-high-quality rare-earth magnets/ring magnets for use in gas centrifuges to produce nuclear-weapons material. And in addition to enhancing their own nuclear-weapons program we know that China has already proliferated ring magnets to Pakistan, which played a critical role in developing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.”

In February 1996 the Washington Times reported that the CIA “has uncovered new evidence China has violated U.S. antiproliferation laws by exporting nuclear-weapons technology to Pakistan.”

It later was confirmed by Congress that military-industrial companies in China had sold 5,000 ring magnets to Pakistan.

Proponents of even more-liberalized trade with China often point to economic successes in joint projects which they say have pried open the bamboo curtain and promoted better relations with the PRC.

Defense experts, on the other hand, point to China’s nuclear-weapons program and related proliferation of weapons technology and say these relations may come at a higher cost to national security – and, in time, even of millions of lives.

Scott L. Wheeler is a reporter for Insight.


Miller & Chevalier A Washington, DC-based nest of Lawyers and Lobbyists.

From their web-site, 8/1/00: . . .In 1920, Robert Miller and Stuart Chevalier founded Miller & Chevalier as the nation’s first law firm specializing in tax matters. Mr. Miller had served as Solicitor and Mr. Chevalier as Asst Solicitor of the Internal Revenue Service shortly after the first federal income tax laws were enacted….

Like our firm’s founders, many of our tax lawyers have worked in federal government service….

Our firm’s tax practice is diverse, responding to the increasing complexity of the international tax system and the need for Washington representation to deal effectively with important tax policy issues. We serve clients in numerous industries: … aerospace, automobile, banking and finance, natural resources and energy, chemicals, electronics, pharmaceutical, retail, and health care insurance….

Our firm represents over half of the Fortune 50 companies. We also work with foreign-owned companies of similar size …

* * *

Taxation – Representative Engagements

Amoco Corp v. Commissioner (a.k.a. US Taxpayers) . . . The U.S. Court of Appeals … held that Amoco was entitled to foreign tax credits for Egyptian income taxes paid on its behalf by the Egyptian National Oil Co . . . The amount of the asserted deficiency was over $450 million….

Atlantic Richfield Co v. Commissioner (a.k.a. US Taxpayers) . . . This case involves over 200 issues and a deficiency in excess of $700 million. Some of the issues involve hedging, tax accounting, foreign source income, and capitalization questions….

The Boeing Co v. United States (a.k.a. US Taxpayers) . . . This case involves the allocation and apportionment of research and development expenses for purposes of computing combined taxable income for DISC/FSC purposes. The taxpayer is seeking a refund of over $450 million. The District Court granted Boeing’s motion for summary judgment; the govt’s appeal to the Ninth Circuit is pending….

Exxon Corp v. Commissioner (a.k.a. US Taxpayers) . . . The Tax Court held that the Commissioner’s proposed allocation of over $6.5 billion in income was precluded under Code sections 61 and 482 due to a foreign legal restriction….

General Electric Co v. Commissioner (a.k.a. US Taxpayers) … This case involved whether the taxpayer properly elected … to deduct currently approximately $118 million in research and development expenses.

~ ~ ~

In addition to their legal services, Miller & Chevalier declared lobbying income of $1.4 million in 1998, with total lobbying expenditures of $320,000 (all to the lobbying firm of Akin, Gump).

Among Miller & Chevalier’s lobbying clients: Assn of Financial Service Holding Cos; Atlantic Richfield; Blue Cross/Blue Shield; Boeing Co; Boston Edison; Chevy Chase Bank; Gallo Winery; Monsanto Co; Nuclear Fuel Services; and the Arkansas-based Wal-Mart Stores.

For more, GO TO > > > Dirty Money, Dirty Politics and Bishop Estate; General Electric


Oak Ridge National Laboratory – Oh, boy!

For more, GO TO > > > The Vultures on Oak Ridge


Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant – Your friendly, neighborhood nuclear bomb manufacturing plant.

March 9, 2003

Uranium plant workers
exposed to harmful metal

By James Malone, The Courier-Journal

PADUCAH, Ky. – Forty-four workers at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant have tested positive for exposure to a metal that can cause long-term lung problems, the Department of Energy said.

An extensive testing program is under way to find out how widespread the beryllium contamination may be. Stronger than steel and lighter than aluminum, beryllium was used in trigger assemblies of nuclear weapons.

This is the latest health risk workers at the uranium processing plant have faced. Since 1999, workers have been concerned about possible exposure to plutonium and other radioactive elements found at the site.

Testing for the beryllium began after documents were uncovered by the Energy Department in the fall of 2000, indicating that the metal had been used in making nuclear weapons. Signs warning workers of the potential for beryllium exposure have been posted in a building where beryllium was known to have been used.

The department did not start sampling sooner because earlier tests did not find beryllium at levels that would pose a threat to workers, said Walter Perry, spokesman for the department at Oak Ridge, Tenn.

About 1,300 people work at the 50-year-old gaseous diffusion plant in Paducah. The U.S. Enrichment Corp. leases the plant from the Energy Department to separate beneficial uranium and process it into fuel for commercial nuclear power plants.

Blood tests for beryllium were conducted between Nov. 26, 2001, and Feb. 24 of this year on 995 current and former workers.

To date, the department reports that 33 people have had one positive test, six have had two positive teasts and five have been diagnosed with chronic beryllium disease.

EXPOSURE TO beryllium dust or fumes can lead to lung problems. Acute beryllium disease comes on quickly and can look like bronchitis or pneumonia. Chronic beryllium disease can develop slowly when people who have a sensitivity to it are exposed to beryllium dust or fumes. The symptoms of the disease include coughing, shortness of breath, fatigue, weight loss, fevers and night sweats.

The Energy Department is spending about $300,000 to test the plant and its workers to determine how widespread the exposure may be….

In its 50 years, the Paducah plant produced fuel for nuclear weapons, recovered and smelted uranium metal, and served as a graveyard for dismantled atomic weapons. It also had a machine and fabrication shop with some of the world’s most advanced lathes and milling machines that other government agencies hired to do classified work.

In 1999, the government acknowledged that radioactive elements such as plutonium and neptunium had leaked into the ground around the plant facilities as a result of efforts to recycle fuel from government nuclear weapons reactors.

The government also has acknowledged that solvents leaked from equipment cleaning buildings have tainted an estimated 10 billion gallons of groundwater beneath the plant. The leakage is being investigated by a federal grand jury in Louisville.

The long-term health risks from the plant have remained a mystery to many workers.

“I never heard the word until I found out it was in my blood,” said Wayne O’Keefe of Vienna, Ill., a 79-year-old former worker who said he has had a positive blood test for beryllium….

Some workers at the plant have accused the government of dragging its feet in disclosing beryllium use and risks at the plant. Leon Owens, president of Local 5-550 of the Paper, Allied-Industrial Chemical and Energy Workers Union, said the Energy Department “denied the presence of beryllium here for 35 to 40 years.”…

While the number of Paducah workers with the disease or testing positive for exposure is less than the 100 or so affected workers at Oak Ridge, where the metal was used widely in weapons components, the Paducah situation is “somewhat of a surprise,” Griffon said.

“Beryllium was downplayed very much by the Energy Department,” Griffon said. “We had reports from former workers who thought they might have used it, but I could never get the records.”

The agency has said it wasn’t able to locate records until it conducted a renewed search in the late 1990s….

After a whistle-blower suit in 1999 regarding allegations of nuclear weapons being dismantled at the site, the Energy Department conducted a complete historical picture of the plant to determine what workers had been exposed to.

THE REPORT came out in December, 2000, said Perry, the agency spokesman.

That report only mentioned beryllium in vague terms but noted it “had the potential for adverse health effects.

The report also said that records from the time did “not show clear evidence that recommended protective mesures such as respirators and controlled ventilation were used.”

Officials with United States Enrichment Corp. say they do not believe beryllium poses a danger for their workers in the building.

Diane Snow, USEC’s industrial hygiene and safety manager at the Paducah plant, said in a telephone interview that the company has done air sampling in the maintenance building and results have been negative.

We do not feel it is a problem,” Snow said.

She also said that when “nonroutine” activity was done in the building, such as painting or maintenance, surface tests were done and came back negative.

Snow said USEC gave information about beryllium to its workers in the fall of 2000, after the Energy Department advised that it had discovered the metal’s use in legacy operations at the plant.

* * *

March 9, 2003

Nuclear Facility’s Safety is Questioned

Salaried employees work 72-hour weeks during Paducah strike

Associated Press

PADUCAH, Ky – U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield has questioned the safety at the Paducah uranium enrichment plant after a monthlong strike of more than 600 workers.

Whitfield, a Republican from Hopkinsville, wrote Richard Merserve, chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, on Thursday, saying salaried personnel have been working 12 hours a day, six days a week since 635 union members began picketing Feb. 4.

The letter said that although working 72 hours followed by one day offis not a direct violation of NRC rules, I would question how long that schedule can be maintained without sacrificing plant safety.”…

Striking members of Local 5-550 of Paper, Allied-Industrial, Chemical and Energy Workers International have repeatedly raised safety concerns, saying inexperienced people are running the plant, and two inspectors can’t keep pace.

There have been no nuclear safety violations or lost-workday injuries during the strike, said Elizabeth Stuckle, spokeswoman for USEC Inc., which owns the plant. She said there was more enrichment equipment running than before the strike and shipments of enriched uranium were still on schedule….

Workers went on strike largely because of increased health-insurance premiums.

* * *

January 31, 2000


By Cat Lazaroff, Environment News Service (

PADUCAH, Ky. (ENS) – Energy Secretary Bill Richardson pledged $222.7 million Saturday in cleanup, waste management and worker health initiatives for two of the nation’s uranium enrichment plants. The proposed funding includes more than $120 million in new spending to hasten work at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Ohio.

The funding proposal is the first Department of Energy (DOE) budget initiative for fiscal year 2001. It would double funding for Paducah and increase spending at Portsmouth by 83 percent. . . .

Richardson and the political leaders who accompanied him on his weekend visits to Paducah and Portsmouth promised to pressure Congress to approve full funding for Richardson’s initiative. . . .

The plants were originally designed to handle only uranium. After World War II, the gaseous diffusion facilities were used in a government experiment to recycle leftover uranium from nuclear reactors that made plutonium for bombs. Through an enrichment process, uranium dust contaminated with neptunium and plutonium was turned back into nuclear fuel.

Radioactive dust and contaminated metal parts still litter the sites. Many workers at the facilities received potentially deadly doses of radiation during decades of nuclear fuel production.

Since August 1999, when the “Washington Post” broke stories detailing radioactive hazards and worker illnesses at the two plants, the DOE has launched investigations, apologized to workers and pledged compensation for those who developed diseases linked to radiation exposure.

“We believe there is a link,” Richardson said Saturday. DOE and independent studies point to higher cancer rates in nuclear weapons workers than in similar populations that were not exposed to radioactive contamination.

Richardson has lobbied the White House to study whether to extend worker compensation to other sites that produced nuclear weapons materials. In March, a White House panel is scheduled to decide whether workers and their families at all DOE sites should be compensated for illnesses and deaths.

“The work that took place here, and the men and women who performed it, helped bring down an iron curtain 5,000 miles from here,” Richardson said during a speech to Paducah employees. “Now, you help us ensure a lasting peace.”

At Paducah, the 2001 budget request would provide:

$78 million for cleanup activities; $23.9 million for the uranium hexafluoride conversion and cylinder management programs; $4.3 million for environmental health and safety studies and health monitoring; $3 million for worker transition activities.

The DOE will use the cleanup funds to remove a pile of drums containing scrap metal known as Drum Mountain and begin to characterize the ground underneath it. Richardson pledged to make Drum Mountain disappear by the end of this year.

With the new funding workers could continue removing more than 50,000 tons of contaminated scrap in eight outside storage areas to reduce contamination in creeks and characterize the ground beneath.

They could dispose of 5,000 drums of low level radioactive waste, and ship more than 2,000 drums of hazardous and radioactive waste to an offsite facility.

The current cleanup budget for Paducah is $54.2 million. The fiscal year 2000 supplemental cleanup budget request of $8 million will speed up work already planned to characterize and clean up areas of radioactive contamination, dispose of waste and stabilize shut down facilities.

Contaminated equipment would be removed from two shut down facilities, a metals reduction plant and a feed plant, this year, at least a year earlier than previously planned.

At Portsmouth, the 2001 budget proposes:

$76.2 million for cleanup work; $27 million for the uranium hexafluoride conversion and cylinder management programs; $4.3 million for environmental health and safety studies and health monitoring; $6 million for worker transition programs.

The money would help complete cleanup of contaminated groundwater plumes at the south side of the site. The DOE would also design and implement cleanup plans for contaminated soil and a groundwater plume on the northeast side of the site.

The current budget for cleanup at Portsmouth is $46.1 million. Supplemental funds of $8 million would be used to dispose of more than 1,000 boxes of contaminated sludge and soil. Some 18,000 containers of mixed, low level waste will be characterized so they can meet criteria for disposal facilities.

The waste to be disposed of includes personal protective equipment, sampling equipment, floor sweepings and other miscellaneous debris contaminated with low levels of radioactive material. Closure of a waste storage area would be completed this year, at least a year earlier than previously planned. . . .

See also: United States Enrichment Corp.


PG&E, Inc. – Power company; parent of Pacific Gas & Electric Company.

April 11, 2000

Questioning Whistle-Blower’s ‘Delusions’

By Mathew L. Wald, New York Times

WASHINGTON, April 10 — The Department of Labor has concluded that the Pacific Gas and Electric Company maneuvered to have psychiatrists find “paranoid delusions” in a veteran manager because he complained publicly about safety problems and management inaction at the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant.

But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says there is no evidence of any retaliation against the manager, Neil J. Aiken, who was a shift foreman from 1983 until he received the diagnosis in 1998, and the commission does not believe that the incident or the Department of Labor report, which Mr. Aiken’s lawyer recently provided to a reporter, will make others reluctant to come forward with safety issues they observe on the job.

The utility company says it had only public safety in mind when it sent Mr. Aiken, now 54, to psychiatrists for an evaluation. It later fired him, although his lawyer and company officials differ on the circumstances.

Four operators and managers at the plant said in separate interviews that they believed that Mr. Aiken was mentally sound and was fired because he embarrassed executives. Two said they had been trained by the utility to spot mental instability.

For years, Mr. Aiken complained about problems at Diablo, near San Luis Obispo, Calif., where he had worked since before the plant was completed. In April 1998, he went to a shareholders meeting and distributed a paper detailing his criticism.

Soon after, the utility sent him to two psychiatrists, under a program that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires it to maintain. One described Mr. Aiken, who went into the nuclear industry after learning electronics in the Marine Corps, as suffering from a “delusional disorder, persecutory type.” The psychiatrists declared Mr. Aiken a threat to security, and the company revoked his security clearance. Late last year, it fired him.

But a report issued in November by the Labor Department, which enforces laws against harassing whistle-blowers, suggested that the real problem was that Mr. Aiken had publicly embarrassed his superiors. Notes by one psychiatrist, the Labor Department report said, show that the doctor’s conversations with utility executives before he did his work were “more about how to remove Mr. Aiken from his position than to make a fair, unbiased evaluation of Mr. Aiken’s mental state.”

A Labor Department investigator, acknowledging his own lack of training in psychology, said in the report that the diagnosis of a delusional disorder “appears unreasoned considering the fact that the evaluators never considered that other employees had complained about the same problem, there existed a culture where employees were reluctant to voice safety complaints, and the evaluators never checked to see if his thoughts were delusional.”

A critical point of contention was the safety of the new circuit breakers the company installed because the old ones allowed electrical arcs. The new ones did not, but several operators said they created other problems because they did not fit in easily with the old equipment.

The report found that company managers told the psychiatrists that Mr. Aiken was unable to accept that “numerous investigations” had rejected his position on circuit breakers, but that when the company gave this information to its psychiatrists, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was still investigating the devices.

The commission disputed this but said its report was secret.

“The N.R.C. advertises that you don’t have to be afraid of retaliation,” Mr. Aiken said in a telephone interview. “But the fact is that no one can stop the corporation from doing what they want to do to you.”

The chief nuclear officer of Pacific Gas and Electric, Gregory Rueger, said the company’s need to protect public safety conflicted with its need to avoid the appearance of retaliation, but that the former was more important.

“There are times you deal with Neil that he’s a very reasonable individual,” Mr. Rueger said in a telephone interview. But at other times Mr. Aiken would change the details of his complaint, Mr. Rueger said. He added that employees still filed safety complaints.

Mr. Aiken, unemployed, recently reached a settlement with the company that included early retirement. As a result, the utility’s appeal of the Labor Department report will not be heard, leaving the differences between the two agencies unresolved.

“We would not be properly husbanding the taxpayers’ money if we spent additional resources investigating,” said Gary F. Sanborn, an enforcement officer for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The commission said Mr. Aiken had made 50 complaints to the agency, of which about 18 were well founded, a higher batting average, officials said, than that of most complainants. The agency cited Pacific Gas and Electric for 2 low-level violations and told the company to fix 16 other problems.

Forty of Mr. Aiken’s co-workers took the unusual step of petitioning the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for his reinstatement.

* * *

July 19, 2002

White Defends his Record as
Executive with Enron

by Matt Kelley, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – Army Secretary Thomas White said yesterday he is “appalled and angered” by the scandals that drove Enron Corp. into bankruptcy but denied any role in or knowledge of wrongdoing while he was an Enron executive.

In testy exchanges with skeptical senators, White repeatedly said he had played no part in manipulating California energy prices and knew nothing of other improprieties while he helped run an Enron subsidiary. . . .

Although White said after the hearing he had no plans to resign his Pentagon post, Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., urged him to do just that in a letter late yesterday.

“I believe it is in the best interest of the country for you to step down as the Secretary of the Army as I believe today’s hearing will spark more investigations and more distraction from your crucial duties,” Boxer wrote.

Boxer said she was not satisfied with White’s testimony: “I found him evasive, argumentative, not contrite about what happened, not forthcoming.” . . .

Most of yesterday’s questioning concerned the electricity crisis in California and neighboring states in 2000 and 2001 that caused soaring utility bills, rolling blackouts and the bankruptcy of Pacific Gas and Electric.

Boxer and other senators grilled White about trading strategies in California’s electricity market detailed in December 2000 Enron memos. The memos described several schemes that critics say took advantage of California’s power crisis, including the one that involved White’s Enron subsidiary, Enron Energy Services. . . .

For more, GO TO > > > Birds on the Power Lines


U.S. Fuel and Security Inc. – From Washington on $10 Million a Day: . . .

Lobbyists and Nuclear Visigoths.

Big money corporate lobbyists don’t always win their battles, but when they are defeated it’s rarely because Congress or the White House rises to defend the public interest. More likely the scheme being advanced was so loopy that even official Washington was too embarrassed to take up the cause.

That’s the case with a multi-billion dollar plot put together by a cabal of beltway con men who hoped to dump tons of nuclear waste on a Pacific Island.

Money and politics make for strange bedfellows but the nuke deal was put together by what must surely rank as one of the most bizarre beltway coalitions of all time: a volatile Englishman who sometimes poses as a rock star, a retired CIA official, a self-described flower-child-turned investment banker, and a well-known friend of Bill.

The corporate vehicle for the plan is U.S. Fuel and Security Inc (USF&S), a Washington-based firm. The company’s CEO is Daniel Murphy, a lobbyist who formerly served as deputy director of the CIA and chief of staff to George Bush when the latter was vice president. Murphy carried out a variety of murky activities while in government, once accompanying the notorious influence peddler Tongsun Park to meet with then President Manuel Noreiga of Panama…

Murphy’s partners at USF&S include Alex Copson, who has pawned himself off to a variety of reporters and government officials as the former bass guitarist (and sometimes drummer) for the 60s rock group Iron Butterfly. . . . Then there’s a Wall Street investment banker named Thomas Kirch, an aging hippie who, Copson says, “brings the peace, love and flowers” to the project.

The firm has recruited a number of heavy hitters to its cause. USF&S’s counsel to retired Secretary of State James Baker. Former FBI Director William Webster sits on the advisory board of International Fuel Containers, a corporate subsidiary that plans to build huge steel containers to store the nuclear waste. Mark Grobmyer, a Little Rock lawyer and golfing partner of President Clinton’s, has vigorously lobbied the White House on the company’s behalf.

USF&S has also lined up international support. MinAtom, the Russian nuclear energy ministry, has indicated that it will sign on as a co-sponsor of the deal. The German firm GNB, Europe’s largest producer of fuel storage casks, has given permission for USF&S to mass-produce its patented waste containers under license.

I met with Copson and Kirch in Georgetown, where USF&S rents a suite of offices. They outlined what everyone agrees to be a real problem: Commercial nuclear reactors produce huge amounts of spent fuel which contains plutonium, the material needed to produce nuclear weapons. An estimated 100,000 tons of spent fuel has piled up around the globe and no one has figured out a way to store it.

The U.S. nuclear industry is looking to a site at the Yucca Mountains in Nevada, but Congress has yet to approve that site. Meanwhile, spent fuel is piling up at nuclear plants around the country. Similar problems exist in Russia— exacerbated by the fact that MinAtom is virtually bankrupt— and in all countries that produce nuclear power….

“Some people have billed us as anti-environmental, pro-nuclear, but it’s really just the reverse,” Copson says. . . .

Others take a less sanguine view of the USF&S scheme. “The motivation for this plan is not world peace but dollars,” said Patrick McGarey, an aide to Sen. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii, a leading opponent of USF&S.

“If they are successful many people are going to get rich very fast.”

McGarey pointed out that USF&S plans to charge $1 million per ton in storage fees, which could generate billions of dollars for the company annually.

Greenpeace opposes cross-border movement of nuclear waste and believe countries that produce it should take responsibility for storing it. “There is still no proven technology that stores radioactive waste without eventually contaminating the environment,” the group says….

Bullshit in the Pacific— and Washington.

USF&S had an easy time lining up money and influence peddlers to back its plan. Finding a dump site proved more difficult. . . . Copson explained to me that the Pacific was chosen because it lies between Russia and the U.S., and because it is littered with “useless dots of real estate.” As he sees it, sacrificing a “tiny piece of bullshit in the Pacific” is a small price to pay in order to avoid the doomsday scenario of nuclear annihilation….

USF&S first approached the Marshall Islands, a former U.S. protectorate which entered into a “Compact of Free Association” with the U.S. upon becoming independent in 1986. The Defense Dept used the Marshalls to conduct 23 nuclear tests during the early days of the Cold War. The biggest was in 1954, when the U.S. detonated the 15-megaton “Bravo Shot”– 1,000 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima— on the Bikini atoll, a blast that exposed hundreds of Marshallese to radioactive fallout.

The feasibility study states that the Marshalls would make an “appropriate storage and disposal site” since some of the islands have already been rendered uninhabitable due to “varying levels of residual radioactivity” . . . Another likely attraction (though one not mentioned in the study) was that Murphy’s son, Tom, is deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in the Marshalls capital of Majuro.

A feudal system prevails in the Marshalls, which is ruled by King Amata Kabua. On 10/14/94, the king received a fax from Murphy that laid out a preliminary proposal for a “global nuclear non-proliferation initiative.” In exchange for “exclusive use of one suitable atoll” for nuclear storage, the plotters pledged to provide the king with $10 million up front and $50 million annually for three years as the project was implemented. After operations began, the Marshalls would receive further millions through a profit sharing arrangement.

Annual revenues for the King Kabua’s government total about $70 million, and the large sums of money offered up by USF&S appear to have whetted the monarch’s interest. However, fierce local resistance arose when word of the plan leaked to the public and the king decided to turn the deal down.

Copson took the rejection badly. “They’re all scam artists, banging the tin cup in front of the white man,” he later said of the Marshallese to a reporter from Outside magazine.

“They’d open a whorehouse and sell their daughters and grandmothers for a dollar. They’ve never lived so good since that bomb, the fat lazy fu*ks.

Another possibility explored by USF&S was Midway Island, located 1,100 miles from Honolulu and site of a U.S. Navy base that the Pentagon had targeted for closing. Murphy wrote a letter to Navy Secretary John Dalton asking for a long-term lease on the island. He promised that his company’s plans to store vast quantities of nuclear waste there “would not disturb wildlife in the Midway habitat.” To the dismay of USF&S, the Navy selected a competing bid from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which will run Midway as a nature preserve.

The next port of call was Palmyra, a tiny atoll about 1,000 miles south of Hawaii which is owned by the Fullard-Leo family of Honolulu but administered by the Dept of the Interior. USF&S drew up plans that showed that all the world’s spent fuel could fit in the atoll’s 5,400-acre lagoon which would be filled with cement to prevent leakage….

Once again, strong opposition to the plan arose when word leaked out about Murphy & Co’s true intentions. The South Pacific Forum, an association of Pacific island governments that includes Australia and New Zealand, issued a statement that condemned the planned use of Palmyra as a “dumping ground for nuclear waste.”

Hawaii’s congressional delegation soon entered the fray, with all six members signing a letter to President Clinton in June of 1996 urging him to oppose the project. “We question the wisdom of sitting such a facility on an isolated atoll that is prone to erosion and extreme weather conditions,” reads the letter.

“Shipments of spent fuel and reprocessed nuclear materials by sea require extraordinary security measures. Even if careful precautions were observed, the safety of such cargo could not be guaranteed.”

The death knell for the Palmyra plan came in August, when the White House sent Senator Akaka a letter promising that the Administration would “strongly oppose” the USF&S proposal….

Copson was as bitter about this setback as he was about the unraveling of the Marshalls plan.

During our conversation he called Senator Akaka an “ignorant lightweight.” McGarey, the senator’s aide, would “realize the error of his ways when terrorists set off a bomb in Tel Aviv.”

Undeterred by this latest setback, USF&S is focusing its efforts on obtaining the use of Wake Island, site of a bloody World War II battle and now largely uninhabited.

Wake is a major stopover for migratory birds and, like Midway, a wildlife refuge….

~ ~ ~

For more, GO TO > > > The Secret Nests; Broken Trust; The Nature Conservancy


United States Enrichment Corp. – A privatized U.S. Government agency formed to enrich fuel for nuclear power plants, but ending up enriching insiders at the expense of taxpayers and national security.

~ ~ ~

From The Buying of the President 2000, by Charles Lewis and the Center for Public Integrity:

In 1993, Vice President Gore boarded Air Force Two and flew to Moscow for meetings with Russian Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin about the vitally important task of protecting nuclear weapons and nuclear material in the newly decentralized former Soviet Union….

Many defense experts consider Russia’s nuclear arsenal to pose the greatest immediate threat to U.S. security, of even greater concern than China’s acquisition of U.S. nuclear secrets. The Chinese will no doubt develop sophisticated warheads and the missiles to launch them over the next decade or two; the Russians already have them…

Gore’s mission was to reach an agreement with Russia on a way to manage all those weapons in a post-Cold War world.

Gore and Chernomyrdin discussed a 20-year, $12 billion deal – signed just months earlier – under which Russia would ship its weapons-grade uranium to the United States.

The U.S. Enrichment Corporation (then a government-owned corporation) would buy the highly enriched uranium, process it into lower grade, reactor-friendly uranium, and sell it to nuclear power plants in the United States.

The cash-starved Russian government would get much-needed dollars to pay its nuclear scientists, those scientists would not be tempted to offer their services around the world, and nuclear material would be under the protection of the United States.

It looked good on paper, but it didn’t work out that way. In 1996, Congress passed a bill to privatize the U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC), a move that threatened the Gore-Chernomyrdin agreement, though one that in fact would ultimately benefit Gore….

Although Gore was in a perfect position to lobby against the privatization scheme, he didn’t. Instead, the Clinton-Gore administration wholeheartedly supported privatization of USEC as part of its efforts to “reinvent government.”

USEC’s board of directors, led by William Rainer, a large donor to the Presidential Inaugural Committee in 1993, had decided to consider two options: Sell the company to a behemoth like Lockheed Martin Corporation, or go it alone with an initial public offering.

Ranier and the board chose the latter course.

In 1998 the U.S. government got $1.9 billion from the sale of USEC to private investors.

Clinton rewarded Rainer for presiding over USEC’s privatization by nominating him to serve as the chairman of the Commodities Futures Trading Commission

The decision was certainly right for some of Gore’s biggest benefactors, which quickly cashed in on what turned out to be a $75 million bonanza. Wall Street firms such as Morgan Stanley, Dean Witter & Co., Merrill Lynch & Co, Inc., and Goldman Sachs & Co., Gore’s No. 3 career patron, collectively raked in at least $42 million in underwriting fees.

Well-connected law firms, among them Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Patton, Boggs earned nearly $11 million for their part in privatizing the company.

USEC retained J.P. Morgan & Co., Inc., as its adviser in the deal; J.P. Morgan, in turn, hired Greg Simon, Gore’s domestic policy adviser, for a fee of $10,000 a month to help it select the new, privatized company’s directors.

As Neff and other experts had predicted, however, the deal soon began to unravel. Later in 1998, USEC announced that it had received shipments of uranium from the U.S. Department of Energy.

The sudden glut caused the worldwide price of uranium to plummet, and the Russians suddenly stood to receive less money than they had been promised. Yeltsin’s government cried foul and threatened to sell its nuclear material to other countries, including Iran.

The White House scrambled to come up with the money the Russians demanded, and managed to quietly slip an extra $325 million for the Russians – a taxpayer-financed bailout into an omnibus appropriations bill before Congress.

Neff, the architect of the plan to ship Russia’s weapons-grade uranium to USEC for reprocessing, estimates that it will cost taxpayers $140 million a year for fifteen years to continue purchasing the Russian nuclear material, for a total cost of $2.1 billion – or $200 million more than the sale of USEC brought in.

Gore’s “reinvention” of USEC made a lot of money for some of his most reliable political patrons. It also endangered nuclear arms control and left in private hands the management of facilities that are contaminated with deadly substances….

* * *

From U.S. News and World Report, April 24, 2000, by Bruce B. Auster:


A government-owned company goes private.
Guess who gets rich?

It was the largest privatization of a government agency since the sale of Conrail more than a decade ago. Al Gore hailed it as a model of “reinventing government.”

But last week, things weren’t looking so peachy. The little-known corporation that enriches fuel for nuclear power plants found itself before a testy Congress, confronting charges of self-dealing, conflict of interest, and jeopardizing national security.

The troubles of the United States Enrichment Corp. (USEC) began several years ago. The federal Department of Energy found itself saddled with two sprawling uranium plants, in Ohio and Kentucky, that originally produced uranium for the Pentagon’s nuclear bombs. But with the end of the Cold War, the plants just sold fuel to power plants. So Congress and the Clinton administration arranged to sell the enterprise to a private corporation or to sell stock to the public.

The plants could be run more efficiently, the theory went, and U.S. taxpayers could pocket billions. (Right – when pigs fly!)

The sale of USEC, through a 1998 public offering, yielded $1.9 billion – just about as predicted. But virtually nothing else since then has gone according to script.

A big part of the plan was for USEC to buy 500 tons of Russian atomic-bomb fuel and transfer it to the United States, out of harm’s way. But the process has been disrupted twice, and acquisitions are behind schedule. Meanwhile, USEC won a $325 million bailout from Congress, and some 1,350 company workers will lose their jobs.

Stockholders, unsurprisingly, have seen the value of their shares fall through the floor.


USEC officials have an explanation – sort of. Dramatic changes in the uranium market, they say, have hurt the company’s performance.

But Congress is finding other problems. The uranium deal with Moscow was one of them. Because of complex pricing and the volatile nature of the uranium business, USEC actually loses money for every ton of Russian uranium it obtains.

Critics say that federal officials who oversaw privatization never fully grasped the fact that USEC essentially had to choose between making money and protecting the national security.

“It was too much economics for the security people and too much security for the economics people,” says Joseph Stiglitz, who opposed the deal while serving as the president’s chief economic adviser.

How USEC came to be sold has raised other questions.

The company’s top executives pressed for privatization through a public offering, even though they stood to profit from it. Ordinarily, federal rules prevent government employees from cashing in on deals in which they have a financial interest.

Some safeguards were put in place to protect the integrity of the deal: The Treasury Department had to second the USEC board’s decision (Catbird: That’s like having the wolf okay the fox to eat the chicken), and board members – but not the company’s executives – had to step down after the sale.

But some USEC officials who pressed for the deal got rich from it.

The company’s chief executive officer, William Timbers, a onetime Wall Street analyst, earned approximately $325,000 a year for his government work. He now earns $600,000 annually from the privatized company. Last year, he also received a $617,625 bonus and stock options valued at $1.7 million, though their current worth is not clear.

Outside consultants and the investment bankers who handled the USEC deal pocketed another $78 million.

USEC officials say that Timbers and others followed all ethical rules for participating in the decision and that their own financial interests played no part in their recommendations.

Nevertheless, Ohio Rep. Ted Strickland, in whose district one of the two USEC plants is located, said Timbers’ salary and role in the transaction “call into question whether the decision [to privatize] was made in the best interest of national security or to further the financial interest of those involved.”

“These sharpies.”

It was another peculiarity of the privatization that USEC’s board, which chose how the organization went private, was also one of the bidders for the corporation.

The appearance of conflict has raised eyebrows. A memo prepared for an outside bidder, obtained by U.S. News, says: “We are concerned that the USEC privatization decision-making process provides insufficient protections against ‘insider’ biases.” Even a USEC board member acknowledged that the board was put in the position of voting for or against its own plan.

“We walk into it with a bias,” board member Bill Burton told his colleagues . . . “To vote the other way, we have to say: ‘Gosh, we were wrong; these sharpies … came in here and in three months did a better job than we did over five years.’ And that’s hard for somebody to do.”

It was even harder, no doubt, because USEC had a team of Washington power brokers pushing the case for privatization. The lineup included Susan Thomases, a friend of Hillary Clinton; Thomas Boggs, perhaps the pre-eminent Washington lobbyist; and Greg Simon, once a top adviser to Al Gore.

In a memo to the White House, Simon and Boggs asked – unsuccessfully – for $135 million to help USEC.

The vice president was no passive player in the USEC deal. He phone Rep. Strickland from Air Force Two to reassure the congressman’s constituents, for instance. Still, there is no evidence that Gore’s position was influenced by former advisers or by campaign contributions from USEC officials or consultants.

Last week, the investigative arm of the House Commerce Committee summoned Timbers and others to explain the USEC deal, in an effort to determine how to salvage the company.

The USEC executive was grilled about his salary, among other things. In trying to find a way to resurrect USEC’s fortunes, Timbers said he was placing “everything” on the table. Five outside experts who testified after Timbers appeared to take the statement literally.

USEC, they said, should be placed back under government management. . . .







AFL-CIO, et al., )


     Plaintiffs, )


v. ) Civil Action No.

                                   ) 98-1670 (GK)




     Defendant. )




This matter is before the Court on the Motion for Fees and Expenses of Plaintiffs James K. Phillips and the Oil, Chemical & Atomic Workers International Union, AFL-CIO (collectively “OCAW”). Upon consideration of the Motion, Opposition, Reply, and the entire record herein, for the reasons discussed below, the Motion for Fees and Expenses [#28] is granted in part and denied in part.

I. Background

The United States Enrichment Corp. (“USEC”) was created in 1992 as a wholly owned government corporation charged with producing enriched uranium at two gaseous diffusion plants (“GDPs”) owned by the United States Department of Energy (“DOE”).

Plaintiff OCAW, a labor union with approximately 85,000 members, was the collective bargaining agent for approximately 2,000 workers at the two GDPs operated by USEC.

These GDPs, in Kentucky and Ohio, are “the nation’s only operating plants which serve to enrich uranium for use in defense or civilian purposes, including nuclear power plant fuel.” Pls.’ Mot. for Fees and Expenses (“Pls.’ Mot.”) at 15.

In April 1996, Congress enacted the USEC Privatization Act, Pub. L. 104-134, tit. III §§ 3101, 110 Stat. 1321-335 (codified at 42 U.S.C. §§ 2297h-1 et seq.), which directed the USEC Board to transfer the federal government’s interest in USEC to the private sector.

By June 1998, the Board was left with three options for accomplishing that objective: (1) the sale of USEC, through a merger and acquisition, to a consortium led by the Carlyle Group; (2) the sale of USEC, through a merger and acquisition, to a consortium consisting of Texas Pacific Group and General Atomic; and (3) the sale of USEC stock to the public in an initial public offering (“IPO”). In early June 1998, the USEC Board met on three separate occasions to consider these privatization options. The meetings were closed to the public. At the end of the final meeting, on June 11, the Board voted unanimously for theIPO option. On June 29, the Board announced a proposed IPO to the public.

On December 22, 1997, Plaintiff Phillips, then a vice president of OCAW, submitted a FOIA request to USEC, asking for records concerning the privatization of USEC, among other things. USEC responded by sending Plaintiff certain records he requested, and withholding others.

The very next day, Plaintiffs brought the present action (Civ. A. No. 98-1670 (GK)) under the Freedom of Information Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 552(a), requesting that USEC produce all records, not previously produced, that came within the scope of the Plaintiff Phillips’ December 22, 1997, FOIA request….

The IPO was held July 23 through July 28, 1998, resulting in a transfer of the federal government’s ownership in USEC to the private sector. Subsequently, USEC moved for dismissal of both cases, contending that it was now a private entity and that neither FOIA nor the Government in the Sunshine Act applied to it. In response, the Court dismissed USEC from both lawsuits, ordered that DOE be substituted for USEC, and directed DOE to respond to the requests made by Plaintiffs in both lawsuits….

Defendant DOE provided Plaintiffs with certain documents in July 1998, and the parties thereafter entered into a settlement agreement. In December 1999, both cases were voluntarily dismissed, except insofar as Plaintiffs wished to seek attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. The parties’ negotiations to settle Plaintiffs’ fees and costs proved unsuccessful, and on April 17, 2000, Plaintiffs filed the present motion….


April 30, 2000

Uranium plant operators destroyed safety, environmental problem records,
documents show

by James R. Carroll and James Malone, Louisville Courier-Journal

PADUCAH, Ky. — Computer records of hundreds of safety and environmental problems at Kentucky and Ohio uranium processing plants were erased by the facilities’ operators in 1993 without the federal government’s approval, according to court and other documents obtained by The Courier–Journal.

Although the Department of Energy required the plant operators to track their progress toward correcting the problems, the companies deleted more than one-fourth of such records without clearance, the records show.

So serious was the breach of regulations by Martin Marietta Corp. and United States Enrichment Corp. at the Paducah and Portsmouth gaseous diffusion plants that the Energy Department considered shutting down the plants for safety reasons.

Among the items erased, according to the documents:

— Government and operator findings of a lax attitude toward safety by first–line supervisors.

— Inconsistent investigations of accidents.

— Purposeful violations of health and safety rules by management and rank–and–file workers who, in some cases, went unpunished.

— Use of old data and questionable analyses to assess environmental contamination.

The Energy Department, after a three–year investigation, reconstructed the erased items from computer archives and paper records and concluded that the deletions were inappropriate and that nearly half the problems had not been fixed or should have been referred to other agencies before being erased.

The United States Enrichment Corp., which now leases and operates both plants, was ordered to fix some of the remaining uncorrected problems, but it was not fined, nor were the plants closed. Four citations against USEC for low–level violations of nuclear safety regulations were prepared by Energy Department staff but never issued by the agency.

The Justice Department, however, is investigating the erasures as part of its broader probe into allegations of fraud by contractors at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

Critics of the Energy Department say the episode highlights their concerns that the plant operators are lax about safety and have too much leeway in setting their own standards; that the government is too reliant on contractors for safety information; and that the government takes too long digging into violations and does too little when it finds them.

“The contractors are way out of line, and they get a little slap on the hand,” said Wenonah Hauter, director of Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy Project, a public interest group that monitors energy and environmental issues.

“This reflects the lack of a safety culture at DOE, and they are the lap dog of the contractors they are supposed to be overseeing.”

Mark Donham, a Brookport, Ill., environmentalist and member of the community advisory board that makes recommendations on cleanup operations at Paducah, said, “There has been little oversight by DOE.”

Defending the Energy Department’s decisions, spokesman Walter Perry said, “The safety of the public and workers was not an issue.” While it was “very difficult to re–create archived (information),” he said, the public and the workers should have “complete confidence” that all erased information was retrieved by a contractor hired by the agency.

United States Enrichment Corp. spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle said that while the safety items were “deleted from the tracking system,” they were “never deleted from existence.”

In memos to the Energy Department, the corporation also has said that it had the right to erase certain items without permission and that the findings it deleted did not have a significant impact on the plants’ safety….

The Energy Department’s Perry said his department did not discuss the erasures in the reports because “any safety–significant item” was addressed when the two plants were certified in 1996 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The recent investigations “were performed on DOE, not USEC, operations,” he said.

While the contractors escaped any consequences, an employee who told the government about the erased items said he did not.

Kenneth Brooks, a former facilities safety manager in Portsmouth, accused his company, the former Martin Marietta Utility Services, of firing him in part because of his actions.

Brooks, who lives in Erin, Tenn., and has been out of work since his firing in June 1994, said in an interview that he had talked recently with the Justice Department regarding the deletions, but he declined to elaborate.

At the center of the story are decisions United States Enrichment Corp. made, in consultation with Martin Marietta (later to become Lockheed Martin Corp.), from July to September 1993. At the time, United States Enrichment was taking over management of the uranium–enrichment facilities from Martin Marietta.

At the time of the transition, Paducah’s computer database, known as the Integrated Resource Management System, contained records of 790 open safety issues at the plant that had been identified by the Energy Department and plant operators. Portsmouth had 903.

Ultimately, the Energy Department determined, 464 issues were erased by United States Enrichment Corp. and Martin Marietta — 7.4 percent of the total.

Energy Department investigators found that a number of the deleted items at Paducah were based on safety shortcomings previously uncovered in 1990 by special investigative task forces from the agency.

The agency also discovered during its probe that “it would appear … SEC was not properly maintaining the accuracy” of the computer database at the plants.

The investigators determined that of the 226 problems erased at Paducah, 111 still needed attention, according to a June 4, 1996, Energy Department executive summary.

The agency ordered United States Enrichment Corp. to incorporate 64 of the items into plans then being drafted to bring the plant into line with Nuclear Regulatory Commission rules. The investigators also determined that 47 items related to environmental and worker–safety issues should have been referred to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and other federal and state agencies.

At Portsmouth, 114 of 238 items had not been resolved when they were erased, the agency concluded.

Brooks, who had worked for the government for 21 years before going to Portsmouth, has said in court documents that the effort to delete safety items began with Martin Marietta, just before United States Enrichment Corp. assumed management of the plants in July 1993.

According to documents in a lawsuit Brooks brought in U.S. District Court in Columbus, Ohio, he sent a memo to a superior on June 28, 1993 — days before United States Enrichment took over the two plants –objecting to what the superior had ordered him to do.

“I apologize again for bringing up this issue, but I believe the destruction of government safety findings without the review and approval of DOE or (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration) is against the law,” Brooks wrote.

He repeated his superior’s alleged instructions to “delete as (many) safety findings as possible before USEC takes over,” and added, “I personally would not want to go to jail for destroying government documents.”

A day after he wrote about his concerns, he contacted Randall DeVault, who is in the regulatory oversight office at the Energy Department in Oak Ridge, Tenn. That started the agency’s investigation.

Brooks alleged in an interview that in addition to the deletions, countless documents were destroyed, primarily in shredding machines, at Paducah and Portsmouth.

“There were things that were never uncovered,” Brooks said. “A lot of information was shredded. … It was destroyed.”

Perry, the Energy Department spokesman, said his agency was “not aware of any unauthorized shredding, but if we had been informed of this type of activity, it would have been investigated.”

Brooks sued Martin Marietta in 1994, alleging that his firing was based on his “whistle-blowing.”

The company denied Brooks’ accusation, saying in court documents that he was fired for unsatisfactory work performance. Lockheed Martin — the product of a merger between Martin Marietta and Lockheed –declined to comment for this story, saying it would defer to the Energy Department and United States Enrichment Corp.

The merits of Brooks’ claims were never tried. A U.S. District Court judge dismissed his suit in 1997 on legal technicalities, including that Brooks had not met the requirement of Ohio’s law that a whistle–blower believe his employer’s conduct was criminal.

But vast numbers of internal United States Enrichment Corp. and Energy Department papers filed in the case document the lengthy dispute between the company (a quasi–governmental entity until it was privatized in 1998) and the government — dispute that consumed a lot of time and money.

The conflict “has placed a tremendous resource cost on both our organizations,” J. Dale Jackson, the Energy Department’s regulatory oversight manager, wrote Robert Woolley, United States Enrichment Corp.’s nuclear regulatory policy and assurance manager, in a July 16, 1996, letter.

“This cost has not only been a financial burden, but has been frustrating for both our organizations.”

The Energy Department dispatched two investigation teams to Paducah and Portsmouth during its three–year probe. The documents show that the investigators had trouble nailing down what was erased.

Copyright 2000, Louisville Courier–Journal


February 1, 2001


By Matthew Weinstock,

Three years after it was privatized, the U.S. Enrichment Corporation may be on the brink of failure.

It was hailed as the hallmark of government reinvention: The Clinton administration took the little known U.S. Enrichment Corporation (USEC), a wholly owned government corporation, and in 1997 flipped it to the private sector in hopes of saving taxpayers money and finding a more efficient way of doing business….

USEC provides enriched uranium to fuel nuclear power plants. Since its customers are private sector companies, a government-to-business relationship did not make sense in the eyes of reinvention experts, who believed the exchange would be better handled in a business-to-business environment.

Former Rep. Dan Schaefer, R-Colo., then-chairman of the House Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, summed up the case for privatization during a February 1995 hearing: “This is a classic example of the federal government operating a business which would be run better——and more cost-efficiently——by the private sector.”

But Schaefer was leery of making a mistake. “The task before this subcommittee is to ensure that American taxpayers receive a maximum return on their investment in the assets and technology of the corporation,” he said. “Clearly, it is important that we ensure the long-term survivability of this new corporation in the private sector. It is crucial that the U.S. retain uranium enrichment capabilities, whether in the private or public sectors. I do not want to see the government forced back into this business because the USEC could not stand on its own two feet.”

Unfortunately, critics of privatization argue, that is exactly the situation now facing policy-makers. Since being sold in 1998, USEC has failed to set the financial markets on fire. It is doing just the opposite. The facts are indisputable:

>> USEC’s stock price dropped from a high of $14 per share at the initial public offering in July 1998 to $4.37as of Jan. 2, 2001.

>> Profits fell more than $100 million, from $346.6 million in fiscal 1999 to $233.6 million in fiscal 2000.

>> USEC’s near dominance in global and domestic markets is threatened by an aggressive group of competitors.

>> Its investment rating last summer was downgraded to junk-bond status.

>> The company is shutting down its operations at one of its two production plants, forcing the Energy Department (a.k.a. US Taxpayers) to pony up $630 million to keep the plant open.

>> Company officials in 1999 asked Congress (a.k.a. US Taxpayers) for $200 million to help pay the costs of a vital national security program USEC is charged with carrying out.

>> A number of angry stockholders are suing the company claiming they bought into the IPO based on misleading information from USEC officials.

>> A September 2000 report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission suggests that USEC could be headed toward a complete meltdown by the end of the decade.

‘Megatons to Megawatts’

Were this simply the story of turning a government agency into a private company, it would just be a case study for public policy classes. But, as with most things in Washington, nothing is simple.

USEC is the nation’s only domestic producer of enriched uranium. Beyond providing fuel to 73 percent of North American nuclear power plants and 36 percent of the world’s nuclear power plants, USEC also acts as the government’s executive agent in a national security deal with Russia: USEC buys uranium that has been removed from Russian nuclear warheads and diluted in strength. Struck in the early 1990s, the deal keeps Russia’s weapons-grade uranium from falling into the hands of rogue nations.

USEC’s financial troubles have national security experts worried about the future. Thomas Neff, a physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and one of the men credited with coming up with the idea for the U.S.-Russian “Megatons to Megawatts” deal, says it is unlikely that USEC can fulfill its national security role if its economic slide continues.

Even high-ranking Russian officials have their doubts. “I have some concerns regarding the situation with the USEC company,” Yevgeny Adamov, minister of nuclear energy for the Russian Federation, said during a July 24 speech to the U.S. Secretary of Energy Advisory Board. “Some time has passed since the USEC privatization, and we fear that the current status of the company can complicate further implementation of [the agreement]. On the one hand, we are worried that this economically ineffective company may be tempted to blame the agreement for its own losses. We do not understand why the agreement in this particular case shall compensate the USEC for its low economic efficiency.”

If USEC cannot fulfill its obligation to buy Russian uranium, policy-makers will have to make a tough decision. They can find another company to act as executive agent or hand off the responsibility to the Energy Department. Doing the latter would cost taxpayers billions and require several members of Congress and former executive branch officials to admit that they erred in the first place.

Or, policy-makers can decide to subsidize USEC. Indeed, Congress almost came to that point in the fall of 1999 when company officials asked Congress for $200 million to help pay for uranium purchases from Russia. USEC even threatened to withdraw as executive agent.

Members of Congress and the Clinton administration were irate. According to a former Energy Department official, the administration started talking about the possibility of pulling the plug on USEC’s role in the Russian deal. By December 1999, USEC retreated from its threat.

Removing USEC from the Megatons-to-Megawatts agreement presents challenges to domestic energy supply too. Nearly 50 percent of USEC’s annuals sales of low enriched uranium come from Russia. Without that supply, many of USEC’s customers could be forced to turn to foreign uranium producers.

USEC’s threat to withdraw as executive agent also raises questions about the government’s ability to find a new executive agent. A December General Accounting Office report, “Nuclear Nonproliferation: Implications of the U.S. Purchase of Russian Highly Enriched Uranium” (GAO-01-148) criticizes the Clinton administration for not adequately monitoring USEC activities, a job given to the Enrichment Oversight Committee.

President Clinton created the committee by executive order in 1998 and staffed it with top officials from the National Security Council and the Energy and State departments. GAO found that the committee has failed to fulfill all of its legislative responsibilities. Most importantly, the committee is required to develop a plan for replacing USEC should the company no longer be able to carry out its national security obligations.

“However, the committee had no procedures when USEC considered resigning as executive agent in 1999 and continues to lack a contingency plan, should USEC need to be replaced in the future,” GAO found. “Furthermore, the committee is only beginning to conduct the required analysis of the impact of the agreement on the domestic nuclear fuel industry.”

USEC’s story shows what can go wrong when public and private sector interests intersect. In turning a national security program over to the private sector, policy-makers put USEC’s fiduciary obligations in direct competition with its role as an agent of the federal government, says Ronald Moe, a specialist in government organization and management at the Congressional Research Service.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a USEC official puts some of the blame for the company’s financial instability on Congress and the Clinton administration.

When privatization legislation was moving through Congress in 1997, lawmakers saddled USEC with restrictions that would hamper nearly any private sector company. For instance, the legislation prohibited USEC from laying off more than 500 workers in the first two fiscal years of operation.

The company also had to keep its two aging production plants open through Jan. 1, 2005. Those plants happen to be located in states that were considered up for grabs in the 2000 presidential elections — Kentucky and Ohio. Further, there is a three-year prohibition on the sale of more than 10 percent of the voting stock to a single entity.

These restrictions left USEC vulnerable to fierce global competition, plummeting prices and overcapacity. “Even before privatization, the U.S. government uranium enrichment enterprise faced increasing global competition,” says Charles Yulish, USEC vice president for corporate communications.

“Until the 1970s, the U.S. government had 100 percent of the world market. When it could no longer meet growing worldwide demand, other nations developed their own commercial enrichment operations. The U.S. faced three new rivals [Uranco, a British-Dutch consortium; Eurodif S.A., which is controlled by the French government; and Russia’s Tenex] that were increasingly selling aggressively in the global market — including the United States. Those competitors have the advantage of newer enrichment technology and we believe they have been violating trade laws requiring fair pricing. They have been dumping uranium to gain market share in the United States, materially damaging the U.S. enrichment industry.”

Additionally, oversupply in the market has depressed prices. USEC has seen prices drop from more than $100 for a unit of its product in 1998 to about $80 for a unit now. Yet production costs have not come down.

Critics charge that USEC is partially responsible for the oversupply. The company in the late 1990s started selling off a portion of its reserves, which had been transferred from the Energy Department during privatization….

Path to Privatization

It should come as no surprise that USEC is at the center of a debate over how, when and whether the federal government should engage in privatization. Despite support from Democrats and Republicans, USEC has found itself mired in conflict at every step along the path to privatization.

Uranium enrichment privatization traces its roots as far back as the Nixon administration. In November 1969, President Nixon asked the Atomic Energy Commission to operate its uranium enrichment facilities as a separate organization “in a manner which approaches more closely a commercial enterprise.” Nixon’s goal was to eventually sell the operations to the private sector, according to a Nov. 10, 1969, White House press release.

It wasn’t until 1992 that Congress finally took up the privatization question as part of the Energy Policy Act. The law turned USEC into a government corporation and set the wheels in motion for an outright sale. As a government corporation, USEC was required to act like a business….

The 1992 law also required USEC’s board of directors, all presidential appointees at the time, to develop a privatization plan and submit it to Congress and the President. As USEC was studying privatization, the Clinton administration in 1993 struck the historic deal with Russia to buy 500 metric tons of uranium. The 20-year deal was worth $12 billion.

The privatization plan was finished in 1995. It called for a dual track, recommending that the board simultaneously pursue a negotiated sale and a stock offering. Doing so would meet one of the main criteria of the energy policy law: ensure that the government got the best possible price.

Many high-profile bidders were rumored to be interested in purchasing USEC, including Westinghouse, Lockheed Martin and General Atomics. The plan called for a sale or public offering to be completed by March 1996. After several delays, it was determined that selling stock would maximize returns.

In 1996, Congress passed the USEC Privatization Act and in July 1998, the Treasury Department authorized the sale of 100 million shares of stock, netting $1.9 billion.

A Question of Ethics

How the board reached its decision is at the center of the USEC controversy.

Minutes of all the board meetings were kept confidential until after privatization. They were not made public until 1999 after labor unions sued to gain access. The unions feared that privatization would threaten jobs since company officials, beholden to stockholders, would look for ways to cut costs….

Rep. Ted Strickland, D-Ohio, says that shroud of secrecy allowed company insiders to exert considerable influence on the sales process in order to win an IPO, which was in their self-interest. If another company had acquired USEC, it could have put its own people in charge. USEC officials were better off under the IPO scenario, says Richard Miller, a policy analyst for OCAW. Not only could the USEC board stay in power, but members could benefit financially.

That’s just what happened. William Timbers, president and chief executive officer, for instance, made $325,000 as head of USEC when it was a government corporation. His annual salary jumped to $600,000 as head of the private company.

In 1999, he received a $600,000 bonus and stock options valued at more than $1 million.

“I have always had a suspicion that there were people who were motivated by self-enrichment,” says Strickland, whose congressional district includes USEC’s Ohio plant.

“Do conflict-of-interest rules mean anything to someone like [Timbers], whose salary was $325,000 from a public entity, and after being involved in the process, goes up to $2 million or so? What can be more of a conflict of interest than that?”” he asks.

Federal ethics standards bar government employees from participating in decisions that affect their personal finances, but William Rainer, USEC’s chairman at the time, granted Timbers a waiver so he could take part in the debate over how to take the corporation private. USEC officials declined to comment on salary increases after the IPO.

According to a former Clinton administration official, a determining factor in conducting an IPO was a pledge by USEC executives to continue work on a laser-based uranium enrichment technology known as Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation (AVLIS). The Energy Department had spent nearly $2 billion testing the technology.

At the time of privatization, USEC officials said AVLIS would improve efficiencies at the Ohio and Kentucky production plants, and reduce energy costs as well. At a June 3, 1998 board meeting, Timbers said, “every day that privatization is delayed is a delay of deployment of AVLIS.”

He assured the board that AVLIS would be in the company’s future despite the fact that competitors discounted the technology, saying it was not commercially viable. USEC killed AVLIS shortly after privatization….

Tough Decisions

Having fallen on hard times, USEC officials are now faced with making some tough economic decisions.

In June 1999, the board of directors authorized a buy-back of 10 million shares of stock through June 2001. Last February, the board expanded that by 20 million shares through the same period.

A chain reaction of negative news followed the buyback expansion. Wall Street analysts downgraded the company’s stock to junk-bond status. Once that happened, the NRC was required by law to launch a full-scale investigation into USEC’s finances. Copies of the final report, kept confidential, were delivered to members of Congress and national security advisers in September.

The report, obtained by Government Executive, shows that unless drastic steps are taken, USEC’s costs will continue to rise and cash flow will continue to fall. The company could reach total meltdown within five years.

Slipping to junk-bond status also triggered a provision in the 1996 privatization law allowing USEC to close one of its production plants before 2005. The company plans to shut down operations at the Ohio plant by June. Doing so will cut USEC’s fixed production costs by $55 million in 2002.

“Given our Russian purchases, slackened worldwide demand and other factors, including very aggressive sales and dumping by our competitors, our two enrichment plants are operating at only about 25 percent of capacity,” says USEC’s Yulish.

“Faced with those factors, in order to better compete, we made the tough decision in June to consolidate all of our production at our enrichment plant in Kentucky and cease enrichment at our Ohio plant in June 2001.”

During the presidential campaign, the Clinton administration said it would ante up $630 million to keep the Ohio plant open and save 1,200 union jobs. The money is in a trust fund left over from USEC’s public offering….

But Rep. Thomas Bliley, R-Va., former chairman of the House Commerce Committee, thought otherwise. Last October, he wrote to Richardson questioning the legality of the move.

During the presidential election campaign, George W. Bush said he, too, wanted to keep the Ohio plant operational. The plant will be kept on what is called “cold standby,” meaning it could be brought up to full operation without a major ramp-up. It could also be re-engineered to accommodate a new laser-enrichment technology the Energy Department is testing.

Watch the Money

While acknowledging that USEC has not met its shareholders’ expectations, former Clinton administration and USEC officials refuse to say they were wrong. They point out that USEC still is in business and still is carrying out its role as executive agent of the deal with Russia….

“As Deep Throat said, ‘To understand this you have to keep your eye on the money.’ While this is a national security undertaking, the simple fact remains that someone has to pay Russia for this material,” says Yulish.

“The government did not opt to use $8 billion of taxpayer money. They opted instead to go the commercial route and to have an executive agent buy the enriched uranium and sell it to utility customers to fuel their nuclear power plants. USEC has been proud to be the executive agent of the “Megatons to Megawatts” program since its inception nearly seven years ago, even though the market price declines for enriched uranium have made it unprofitable for the past few years.”…

A former Treasury Department official adds that the true measure of the success of the privatization is whether USEC is fulfilling its obligation as executive agent of the deal with Russia, not how it is performing on Wall Street.

Still, MIT physicist Neff points out that in July, the three-year restriction on any single entity buying more than 10 percent of USEC voting shares expires.

“When that happens, someone can come in and buy shares and liquidate the company. Do we really want the [Russian deal] tied up in liquidation?” says Neff.

“They will be liquidated if nobody acts. That’s a dangerous proposition. The U.S. should not let it get to that point.”

See also: Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant


Warren Air Force Base – F.E. Warren Air Force Base, on the west side of Cheyenne, Wyoming, is headquarters of the nation’s largest arsenal of intercontinental nuclear missiles, overseeing 150 Minuteman III and 50 Peacekeeper missiles in silos in western Nebraska, southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado.

February 28, 2003

37 men arrested on base by INS

By Michael Zamora

Published in the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle

CHEYENNE –– Thirty-seven illegal immigrants were arrested after more than 40 people were taken in during a U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service raid at F.E. Warren Air Force Base Wednesday.

The raid, conducted by the Denver District of the INS, originally identified 44 employees of a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers subcontractor who were working illegally at three construction areas on base.

Seven workers later provided documentation proving they were in the country legally. The remaining 37 were arrested, and 30 are still in custody.

Denver INS spokeswoman Nina Pruneda said the 30 workers are being held on administrative charges.

“They were not authorized to work in the United States, and their documents used to obtain work are still under investigation,” Pruneda said. “We know they were illegally in the country and unauthorized to work.”

She said the 30 workers, mostly of Hispanic origin, are being held in jails in Platte and Goshen counties.

Base officials said a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers sponsor is required to report to the base entrance to get any construction workers onto the base for up to three days at a time.

The investigation began Feb. 7, when five people were seen leaving through the base gate at a time when vehicle and pedestrian traffic was being limited. Security forces stopped the five and learned they were not credentialed to be on the base, base officials said.

While security concerns were raised about the presence of unauthorized foreign workers on a U.S. military base that oversees the nation’s largest arsenal of intercontinental nuclear missiles, Staff Sgt. Bryan Gatewood with base public affairs said Thursday that the illegal workers never posed a threat to secure areas or information….

F.E. Warren, on the west side of Cheyenne, is home to the Air Force Space Command’s 90th Space Wing, which oversees 150 Minuteman III and 50 Peacekeeper missiles in silos in western Nebraska, southeast Wyoming and northeast Colorado. The Peacekeepers are being deactivated.

The base also is headquarters of the 20th Air Force, which is in charge of 150 Minuteman III missiles at Minot Air Force Base in Minot, N.D., and 200 Minuteman III missiles at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Great Falls, Mont., as well as the Warren missiles.

The illegal immigrants were working at two unspecified maintenance complexes and at the new base fitness center.

Federal Contracting Inc., which operates under the name Bryan Construction Inc. out of Colorado Springs, Colo., was contracted to do the work at the base fitness center in October 2002.

Vince Shoemaker, chief financial officer for Federal Contracting Inc., said it is the base’s responsibility, not the company’s, to verify the information provided from their employers….

Pruneda said the workers that remain in custody are awaiting further investigation, and the INS is working with the U.S. Attorney General’s Office to determine the next course of action.

“The U.S. Attorney General’s Office in Wyoming is currently reviewing those cases to see if there are any criminal charges,” Pruneda said. “Anytime you have individuals working in a capacity such as this, it poses a concern not only for us but for other federal law enforcement agencies.”

She said whether the workers posed a threat to national security is also still being investigated.

“For the INS branch, our top priority is national security and anti-terrorism,” Pruneda said. “I’m not saying this is an issue of national security. For now they are charged with administrative charges.”

Gatewood said the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Omaha, Neb., who contracted out the work, would be the ones to look into how so many undocumented workers secured jobs on the base, not the contracting office at F.E. Warren.

Kevin Quinn with the Army Corps of Engineers public affairs office said he was unsure how the oversight occurred.

“I don’t have any idea how this would have happened,” Quinn said. “The Corps of Engineers does not condone this kind of thing.”

He said ultimately a base screening process is supposed to verify the subcontractor’s employability….

Jim Opitz, chief of contracting division for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the recent arrests at F.E. Warren have resulted in a change in policy in regard to hiring contractors…

Gatewood couldn’t say whether any specific policies at F.E. Warren would change.

He said security forces on base will continue to operate at the heightened state they had been on before the raid occurred.

“We will just continue to do what we need to do to protect our people and our assets,” Gatewood said.

Cheyenne Wyoming News,


17 June 2002

Eyeballing the Warren Air Force Base


Rank: No. 6

Nuclear Warheads: 592


WYOMING ranks 6th in number of nuclear warheads deployed, a rise from 10th in 1992 and 19th in 1985. But the number of warheads in the state has remained virtually unchanged. F.E. Warren AFB in Cheyenne is the only nuclear storage site, hosting both Minuteman III and MX ICBMs (one of four––soon to be three––Minuteman III bases, and the only MX base)…. The Wing’s 200 missile silos are spread out over 12,600 square miles in eastern Wyoming, northern Colorado and western Nebraska; 19 Minuteman III silos and 50 MX silos are physically located in Wyoming. The warheads for the missiles are 57 W62/Minuteman IIIs (plus 10 spares) and 525 W87/MXs.

The 90th Missile Wing received a comprehensive NSI on June 4 to 11, 1993 and was rated “satisfactory,” the equivalent of a failing grade in nuclear certification. Problems were identified in the areas of Nuclear Control Order procedures, facilities, and communications hardware maintenance, all rated “marginal.”

The marginal rating for Nuclear Control Order procedures resulted from failed inspections performed on the missile combat crews with the Missile Procedures Trainer. One crew opened the wrong positive control document and another performed an unauthorized launch of an ICBM.

A Nuclear Surety Inspection (NSI) was conducted of the 90th Wing in March 1997….

Warren has had a long history with ballistic missiles. There were 15 Atlas D ICBMs deployed, all in Wyoming in the early 1960s as were nine Atlas Es, three in Wyoming, five in Colorado and one in Nebraska. Soon after there were 200 Minuteman I silos which were converted to Minuteman IIIs in 1975. In 1986 50 of the Minuteman III silos were used to house 50 MX missiles….

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Source of maps and photos: (color) and TerraServer USGS 23 Jun 1994 (monochrome).

Warren Air Force Base:

From the report Taking Stock: Worldwide Nuclear Deployments 1998, by William M. Arkin, Robert S. Norris and Joshua Handler, published in March 1998 by the Natural Resources Defence Council.


Westinghouse Corporation – From The Buying of the President (1996): . . .

In 1993, the Ex-Im Bank’s Advisory Committee was headed by Warren H. Hollinshead, CFO of the Westinghouse Electric Co.

During that same year, Ex-Im awarded $98,075,505 to Westinghouse.

Ex-Im also provided financing for and loan guarantees to the Westinghouse Corporation from 1993 through mid-1995 worth a total of $572,774,329….

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From No Contest by Ralph Nader and Wesley Smith:


It isn’t too often that the public gets to look behind the scenes of material blocked from view by pretrial orders. However, several years ago the curtain of secrecy was lifted in a case involving Westinghouse Electric Corporation and the Republic of the Philippines.

On Dec 1, 1988, the Philippine government of President Corazon Aquino filed a multimillion-dollar lawsuit against Westinghouse and the New Jersey engineering firm Burns and Roe Enterprises, Inc.

The charges were serious, accusing Westinghouse and Burns and Roe of conspiring in mid-1970s to bribe former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos in order to secure a contract to build a nuclear power plant.

The Philippine government contended that $17.2 million in sales commissions Westinghouse paid a Marcos crony named Herminio T. Disini, plus another $2.3 million Burns and Roe paid, were in fact bribes that were passed on to Marcos.

During the pretrial stage of the trial, the Philippines and Westinghouse lawyers agreed, at Westinghouse’s request, to a protective order granting Westinghouse the power to declare which documents turned over to discovery were to be confidential. That maneuver effectively kept the evidence regarding the allegations against Westinghouse out of the public eye.

But then Westinghouse lawyers filed a written motion for summary judgment … The Philippines filed a brief opposing the motion. The judge, Dickinson Debevoise, heard oral arguments on the motion, and this hearing was open to the public. In arguing the motion, the lawyers quoted evidence from the court record.

On Sept 20, 1991, Judge Debevoise denied Westinghouse’s motion. Thereafter, Westinghouse asked the judge to seal the briefs and the documents …

But by now the documents had been placed before a court as evidence. They concerned a matter of strong public interest— alleged bribery by Westinghouse, one of the United States’ most powerful defense contractors and business conglomerates, as well as relationships between the United States and the Philippines.

Two civic groups, Public Citizen and Essential Information, intervened in the lawsuit to seek public release of the documents. They requested a court order unsealing the records on the basis that the protective order was inconsistent with the long-established public right of access to judicial records, as well as with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Westinghouse appealed to the U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals….

In Judge Debevoise’s decision granting the request to unseal the records of the motion he wrote:

“First, there is evidence that by decree President Marcos had placed NPC [National Power Company] directly under the control of his office.

Second, there is evidence that both Westinghouse and Burns & Roe believed that in order to obtain the PNPP contracts … they would need the assistance of a powerful person having influence with President Marcos. Disini was the person they selected …

Third, there is evidence that Disini communicated with President Marcos and obtained from him the authority to handle the PNPP contracts.

Fourth, it is undisputed that both Westinghouse and Burns & Roe entered into commission agreements with companies controlled by Disini pursuant to which millions of dollars were paid to those companies. . . .

Fifth, there is evidence that President Marcos personally intervened in the PNPP project to ensure that Burns & Roe and Westinghouse obtained the contracts …

Sixth, there is evidence that both Westinghouse and Burns & Roe took steps to cover up the payments, suggesting guilty minds…

After 1977 reports in the press suggested that Westinghouse may have made improper payments to obtain the PNPP contract, Westinghouse burned the files in Manila relating to the procurement of the contract. Other records were destroyed and other efforts were made to avoid discovery of the … agreement.” …

Writing for the appellate court, Judge Dolores Sloviter affirmed the strong public interest in ensuring that such proceedings are open to public scrutiny.

“Certainly, the allegations of bribes by a major U.S. corporation to the leader of a foreign country is a matter of public interest, which could give rise to public debate.”

Sloviter concluded that openness should be the general rule because “access to the judicial process reinforces the democratic ideals of our society.”

The judges had made the right decision. Big corporations and their power lawyers cannot turn public courts into private domains simply because they are embarrassed about their own behavior….

See also: Export-Import Bank

For more, GO TO > > > Nests in the Pentagon
























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Last Update July 22, 2006 by The Catbird