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Day 17

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Foreclosing on the Planet

Occupy the NRC

by MICHAEL LEONARDI

A new and important phase in the Occupy movement began last week as Occupiers from Occupy Toledo crossed the border into southeast Michigan to target the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at a public meeting held to promote the construction of a new Fermi 3 Nuclear Power Plant on the shores of Lake Erie. This was the first time that the Occupy movement has targeted the NRC and it won’t be the last. If you visit the NRC’s web page you will be greeted by the statement “Protecting People and the Environment,” A claim so farcical that even the nuclear industry’s staunchest supporters could not possibly defend it now. Occupy Toledo sees through this farce and is mobilizing to take on, not just the NRC and the Nuke industry, but all the poisonous industries that are spreading death and cancer in our region and devastating our planet.

Developments in recent weeks have once again laid bare a commission that is criminally negligent in its mandate to protect American citizens from a Nuclear industry of old and decrepit power plants that present a clear and present danger to the entire population of this country. Touting “good jobs” and “clean safe energy” the con artists posing as regulators from the NRC bury reports, cover-up evidence, and spread outright lies about an industry of profiteers that puts production ahead of health, safety and the environment time and time again. It is time to rise up and put an end to the madness.

Just last week the NRC put on an orchestrated soap opera in Washington D.C. instead of addressing the dangerous findings of an industry that is literally cracking apart at its seams with almost constant radiation releases reported as “negligible” or “likely not a risk” to the surrounding communities and environment. In his report entitled “Regulatory Meltdown” released on the 9th of December, (http://markey.house.gov/docs/regulatory_meltdown_12.09.11.pdf) Representative Edward Markey of Masachusetts  details a conspiracy within the NRC to weaken US nuclear safety in the wake of Fukushima.

Deadly silence emanates from the nuclear powered white house where Obama has surrounded himself with people like his chief political advisor David Axelrod formerly a consultant for Exelon corporation, the largest nuclear plant owner in the United States, and Jeffrey Immelt, the CEO of General Electric who Obama tapped to head his Jobs and Economic Recovery task force. GE designed the faulty MARK 1 breeder reactors that melted down at Fukushima and 23 sister reactors that continue to operate around the US today despite industry watchdogs and whistleblowers calling for them to be shut down immediately. With just a little scratching beneath the surface we find that “thirty-five years ago, Dale G. Bridenbaugh and two of his colleagues at General Electric resigned from their jobs after becoming increasingly convinced that the nuclear reactor design they were reviewing — the Mark 1 — was so flawed it could lead to a devastating accident,” from an ABC news report by Matthew Mosk dated March, 15th. Evidence has existed for decades that these Mark 1 reactors are not safe and cannot withstand the immense pressures resulting from loss of cooling power, yet the NRC sits on this clearly and scientifically researched evidence and allows these plants to operate unabated.

While it seems many Union bosses and Industry financed congressional leaders accept  the NRC’s sloganeering, Occupy Toledo can not only see the writing on the wall but can read it too “Protecting People and the Environment” is a complete falsehood. We live  less than 30 miles from the decommissioned Fermi 1 nuclear plant that suffered a partial meltdown in 1966 inspiring Gil Scot Heron’s “We Almost Lost Detroit”. We live less than 30 miles from Fermi 2, a Mark 1 plant with design flaws that has a record of significant safety violations and radioactive releases into Lake Erie and the surrounding communities. We live less than 30 miles from Plum Brook a decommissioned NASA nuclear power plant that is still leaking radioactivity into the surrounding waterways.  We live under 30 miles from Davis Besse, the reactor with the worst record in the United States, that the NRC just allowed to go back on line despite there being cracks of unknown origin all over the concrete containment building. We live in an area where there are higher than normal cancer rates, higher than normal rates in diseases and developmental disabilities, and this could be because of radioactive releases from the nuke plants in this area and we have had enough!

Congressmen Dennis Kucinich has been leading the charge on the grave situation at Davis Besse as can be seen here, while our other elected officials have been silent. Together with Dennis we of Occupy Toledo have been outraged that the NRC would continue to put industry profits ahead of the health and safety of all of us and the entire Great Lakes Ecosystem after being called out on this practice time and time again.

Last Thursday Occupy Toledo crossed the border into Monroe, Michigan to directly confront the NRC criminals as they attempted to present their ludicrous Draft Environmental Impact Statement to the public and allow for the public to comment. This absurd document of over 1,500 pages claims that Detroit Edison’s proposed Fermi 3 nuclear reactor would have no negative impact on the environment. This document claims that the state of Michigan that uses 16 percent less electricity than it did ten years ago, will need over 30 % more electricity by 2020.  The industry touts jobs and the Industrial Unions salivate over these jobs, while our planet and future generations continue to be afterthoughts.

MIC CHECK

Where as the Nuclear Regulatory commission Region 3 has a clear record of putting profit and production ahead of health and safety.

Where as there is no way to dispose of high level radioactive waste Safely.

Where as the worst nuclear disaster in history at Fukushima has reminded the world of the dangers that Nuclear Energy poses to us all.

Where as the NRC is attempting to play a manipulative numbers game using grossly exaggerated and fraudulent projections for Michigan Electric Usage in this Draft Environmental Impact Statement.

Whereas The NRC cannot be trusted to protect the citizens of the Great Lakes and the Lake Erie Basin.

We denounce this ridiculous public meeting as nothing but a DOG and Pony Show prioritizing the profits of Detroit Edison over the health and safety of the citizens of this region and the natural environment.

Furthermore we find you, the representatives of the NRC, criminally responsible for endangering the citizens of this region with your ridiculous Environmental Impact Statement.

We will do everything in our power to stop this plant from being built.

We are the 99 percent.

The mic check was delivered passionately and many of the Sierrans and other area environmentalists joined in. After attempting to shout us down the facilitator suspended the meeting and the stone faced bureaucrats mostly looked on in stunned silence as we continued to berate them angrily on our way out. It was truly an empowering and exhilarating experience that we highly recommend to occupiers all across the country.

Ray Bradbury once said that “Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage.” It is time to break the bars of the Nuclear Cage that the NRC and Industry have had us locked in once and for all. It is time to break the bars of the Oil Cage, The Coal Cage, The Tar Sands Cage, The Fracking Cage et. al. once and for all! Through conservation and use reduction we can reduce our destructive habits of mass consumption, we must. With existing technology and a coming together of organized labor, environmentalists, scientists and economists we can map out the implementation of a Smart Grid based on renewable energy technologies while creating 1000s of good occupations for years to come. We must. The co-founder of the Earth First! movement Mike Roselle, who has been busy fighting mountain top removal in the Appalachian mountains, said this last week: “Why is Occupy not preoccupied with rising global temperatures? Ocean acidification? Dying forests? Mountain top removal? The real home that is being foreclosed on is our planet Earth.” We damn well better be and we hope this is a start that resonates across the country.

Michael Leonardi is currently living in Toledo, Ohio and is a participant in the Occupy Movement. he can be reached at mikeleonardi@hotmail.com