— Ojai, California’s nuclear-free resolution: A call to action

From Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR)

May 24, 2018
By Bob Dodge, MD

On April 10, 2018, the city of Ojai, California adopted a resolution declaring the city the first nuclear-free zone in decades. Against the backdrop of events over the past year, and recognizing the catastrophic human consequences of any use of nuclear weapons plus the exorbitant costs of nuclear weapons production and maintenance, the City Council adopted the resolution unanimously.

The background for our Resolution began last November when I approached one of our city council members about the proposal. He was supportive and encouraging of the process. On November 18th, during public comments, I challenged the City Council to take a stand on behalf of the citizens of Ojai regarding the greatest public health threat we face, that of nuclear war, and declare our city a nuclear-free zone. I encouraged them to consider a future response when our children’s children ask us: “What did you do when the planet was threatened?” We will be able to say we took a stand for the abolition of nuclear weapons. The Council that night agreed to put the Resolution on a future agenda.

One week later, the California Thomas fire started with Ojai at the epicenter. I requested our efforts be postponed until the city could return to some semblance of normalcy. On February 13, the Council Resolution was introduced by Councilmembers Francina and Weirick. Speaking on behalf of the Resolution, I advised the Council that as city leaders and first responders—just as in our recent fire—they had a responsibility to protect the citizens of Ojai. I stated—as a physician—that  there was no adequate response to a nuclear attack and that prevention by abolition of these weapons was the only response. After discussion, the Council unanimously voted to consider the Resolution.

At their April 10th meeting, the Council announced that the Resolution was adopted unanimously!

This bold Resolution has three main components.

First, it adopts the five point “Back From The Brink” resolution that many PSR chapters are championing.  “The city council, on behalf of the residents of Ojai, call on the United States and our elected officials to lead a global effort to prevent nuclear war” via:

  • Renounce the option of using nuclear weapons first.
  • End the president’s sole, unchecked authority to launch a nuclear attack.
  • Take U.S. nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert.
  • Cancel the plan to replace the entire U.S. arsenal with enhanced weapons.
  • Actively pursue a verifiable agreement among nuclear armed states to eliminate their nuclear arsenals.

Secondly, the City Council declares Ojai a Nuclear Weapons Free Zone by prohibiting a variety of nuclear weapons-related activities within the city.

The third section, titled “Nuclear Free Contracts and Investments,” includes guidelines for city contracting and investment of funds.  The resolution calls for divestment from institutions and companies that are involved in the financing, manufacture, development, stockpiling and testing of nuclear weapons.

Recognizing that Ojai is but one small Southern California community, the resolution concludes with this appeal to other communities:

“Conscious of the magnitude of destructive capacity of modern nuclear weapons, we recognize that our proposal would have little meaning on its own. We therefore appeal to our neighboring counties and cities to make similar statements on the half of the citizens they represent”.

This appeal has already had an effect on neighboring communities. A group of middle school students from R.J. Frank Academy of Marine Science and Engineering, aware of the Ojai action, just challenged the city of Oxnard to protect their future and adopt a similar resolution. California State Assembly member Monique Limón has introduced California Joint Resolution 33 calling on the state to adopt the “Back From the Brink” resolution. Ultimately, we all have an opportunity and role to play in bringing forth a future free of nuclear weapons.

Text of the Ojai resolution

Text of California Joint Resolution 33, introduced by Assembly member Monique Limón

Nuclear weapons divestment information from “Don’t Bank on the Bomb”

“Back from the Brink” resolution and background

https://www.psr.org/blog/2018/05/24/ojai-californias-nuclear-free-resolution-a-call-to-action/

Advertisements

— California Senate Bill 968 supporting PG&E’s Diablo Canyon faces sharp opposition

Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant faces increasing calls for closure. It is the only power generating nuclear plant currently operating in California. Its problems have been ongoing from the beginning. It is at daily risk from the four earthquake faults in the vicinity. The many frightening safety violations there by Pacific Gas and Electric and the NRC whistleblower exposé that the plant is out of compliance have caused alarm bells. Recent comments by Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom on the California Lands Commission mean Diablo Canyon’s future is being questioned in Sacramento.

But in February, Sen. Bill Monning introduced Senate Bill 968, co-written by Sen. Katcho Achadjian (San Luis Obispo) and Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson (Santa Barbara-Ventura), calling for a study of the adverse economic effects of closing Diablo Canyon. Many profit by its continued operation. The study would be funded by the public. The bill and its unbalanced study has encountered strong opposition from environmental and health organizations. Though Monning has now amended the bill to add ‘beneficial’ economic effects from a closure to the investigation, this seems merely a cosmetic change. The intent of the authors and this bill is clear.

Sen. Monning and co-authors state they want an independent evaluation, but the California Public Utilities Commission – an agency notorious for biasing results and ignoring unwanted conclusions – will oversee the selection. Furthermore in 2011, Monning as Assemblyman helped choose, and then affirmed findings of, the California Council on Science and Technology on Smart Meters. CCST was a supposedly independent group, but flaws in the review panel, the data, and the report were exposed by state health officials, scientists, and medical experts. However, Monning stood firm, despite what was widely known about Smart Meter problems, despite formal comments to the CPUC on overbilling and health issues, and despite public testimony to the Commission and Monning’s own office of the harm being inflicted by Smart Meters. CCST’s pro-industry report gave cover to PG&E and other utility companies for the continued roll-out of the very dangerous and controversial meters.

Bill Monning has proven a reliable supporter for utility company initiatives and Democratic Party positions and backers, despite his former position as Executive Director for the International Physicians for Social Responsibility. The San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles Chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility called their decision to oppose this bill and its author “painful” because of Monning’s previous affiliation with their group, but they felt they had no choice.

PSR reluctantly has concluded that this bill would be at variance with the fundamental principle “do no harm”. By calling on PG&E to submit an analysis of the supposedly adverse economic impacts of closing the plant at the end of its designed life with no discussion of impacts of a Fukushima-type disaster were the plant to keep running, the study would amount to a piece of advocacy for continued operation of this dangerous facility.

Each Diablo unit contains 1000 times a long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. Each year Diablo produces enough plutonium for hundreds of nuclear weapons as well as waste toxic for half a million years.

The plant was built based on the assumption there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. Now we know there are 4. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

The public should not be forced to pay as taxpayers or ratepayers for a wasteful, unbalanced, and unnecessary report that may have the effect of implicitly pushing for the continuation of these risks. Thank you.

Monning: “One slight correction on the opposition testimony. We do remain open to working with them. This would not be a study conducted by PG&E. It would be supported by an independent study.”

The economic and environmental damage that Diablo Canyon inflicts on San Luis Obispo County now and on the ocean now is not considered by Sen. Monning and Co.. And “a catastrophe waiting to happen” decimating all industry and population centers within many miles is simply not a part of their equation, economic or otherwise – a startling realization. It is especially surprising that Senator Jackson co-authored this bill, since her district does not have the economic gain that SLO County enjoys, and both of the counties she represents — Santa Barbara and Ventura — would suffer terrible impacts if Diablo Canyon underwent an accident. Ventura County was impacted by the Santa Susanna Field Laboratory’s multiple nuclear accidents starting in the 1950s. Why would Sen. Jackson risk more nuclear danger?

Given Sen. Monning and co-authors’ intent for his bill, it is doubtful that an evaluative group would do anything other than rubberstamp the original goal — to show that closing Diablo Canyon would cause adverse economic impacts to San Luis Obispo County (and also, to PG&E investors) – and thereby slow any process to close the plant.

When Monning states that the bill’s authors remain open to working with the groups in opposition, one thing is clear: for the authors, these environmental and health groups are the opposition. The authors are against reason, against the science, and against public safety.

Below is an unofficial transcript of the May 2 Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. The links to the video are here:http://senate.ca.gov/media-archive – Videos, May 2, 2016 Appropriations Comm hearing

http://vod.senate.ca.gov/videos/2016/20160502_Appropriations_high.mp4

Appropriations Committee hearing, May 2, 2016

SB 968 goes from 10:20 – 17:28 on the video.

SB 968 – Diablo Canyon

Sen. Monning: Good morning, Chair, members.

Senate Bill 968 requires an economic assessment of the adverse and beneficial impacts that could occur in the event that the Diablo nuclear power plant shuts down. The economic assessment is an appropriate use of ratepayer funds, because allr atepayers have benefited from the energy generated from Diablo Canyon. There are past examples of ratepayers-funded studies only benefiting a single region.

Even if there is disagreement on this point, the actual impact to ratepayers will be de minimis.

San Luis Obispo’s economy is heavily reliant on Diablo Canyon which is why an independent accurate assessment to help identify ways to mitigate the impacts is indeed prudent.

I along with Asm. Achadjian have a duty to protect the region that we represent from economic harm, and SB 968 is a means for the San Luis Obispo community to plan and discuss in the event of the plant’s closure. I recognize this is a candidate for suspense and would urge an aye vote at the appropriate time. And we have a couple of witnesses in support. Thank you.

In support:

1 — Derek ? on behalf of the San Luis Coastal Unified School District. This is a school district that encompasses the power plant and surrounding region and so it’s really impacted by the local economy that’s brought to the area by PG&E and the power plants.

This nexus we think with state funding here is the fact that when the local economy becomes depressed because of a sudden instance like the closure of a power plant, we’d see an augmentation in state funding required under the local control funding formula and our unique funding system here in California. So we think that some point, there could bee a big augmentation devoted to this very school district and surrounding area, given its $80 million dollar annual operating budget and the fact that it might fall out of basic aid status. And so we urge you to support the bill.

2 — Good morning, Chair, members. Karen Lang (?) of the San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors. This county collects almost $26 million dollars in property taxes from the existence of the plant. Obviously that goes to all the tax entities including the school district. With concerns about any sudden or over time closure of the plant, and so a third party analysis would be really helpful we think and we urge your aye vote when the time comes.

Witness in support:

In opposition:

1 — I am Molly Johnson. I am here to present the opposition of more than 30 environmental and other health organizations including Public Citizen, Greenpeace, LA and San Francisco Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Northern Band Chumash Council

We remain troubled by the bill’s one-sided nature although it is getting better, and we are working with to continue that, Uit still focuses on adverse economic rather than a balanced, and we would like to it more balanced.

We do see that there has been an amount put to the bill which we did not see until just a little bit ago. So even though these matters are now touched upon by the staff report, we feel that this still is a wasteful expense unless it is a balanced bill. Thank you.

2 — Good morning. I am Tabez Zadi (sp?) and am appearing on behalf of the San Francisco Bay and Los Angeles Chapters of Physicians for Social Responsibility which has long worked to address nuclear risks. And Sen. Monning once served as Executive Director of PSR’s parent international physician’s organization.

And PSR’s opposition to his bill on Diablo Canyon is thus painful and hasn’t been entered into lightly. PSR reluctantly has concluded that this bill would be at variance with the fundamental principle “do no harm”. By calling on PG&E to submit an analysis of the supposedly adverse economic impacts of closing the plant at the end of its designed life with no discussion of impacts of a Fukushima-type disaster were the plant to keep running, the study would amount to a piece of advocacy for continued operation of this dangerous facility.

Each Diablo unit contains 1000 times a long-lived radioactivity of the Hiroshima bomb. Each year Diablo produces enough plutonium for hundreds of nuclear weapons as well as waste toxic for half a million years.

The plant was built based on the assumption there were no active earthquake faults within 30 kilometers. Now we know there are four. It is a catastrophe waiting to happen.

The public should not be forced to pay as taxpayers or ratepayers for a wasteful, unbalanced, and unnecessary report that may have the effect of implicitly pushing for the continuation of these risks. Thank you.

Monning: One slight correction on the opposition testimony. We do remain open to working with them. This would not be a study conducted by PGE&. It would be supported by an independent study. With that again, I would request at the appropriate time an aye vote.

——————-

More information:

http://mothersforpeace.org/blog/29-gaps-in-excellence-in-2014

http://nonukesca.net/?p=539

http://www.foe.org/news/news-releases/2015-03-diablo-pge-secretly-used-wrong-data-for-safety-equipment#sthash.8DQl1ReI.dpuf

https://healfukushima.org/2016/02/29/take-action-on-diablo-canyon-npp-tell-california-state-lands-commission-to-do-full-ceqa-review/

http://mothersforpeace.org/blog/topics-to-address-at-august-5-2015-nrc-meeting-in-slo

http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/ap-exclusive-expert-calls-diablo-canyon-shutdown/ng8Tj/

http://lompocrecord.com/news/opinion/mailbag/hartmann-nuke-risks-oil-trains/article_9f1703e4-4a34-5f16-997c-6be468a26bc9.html

Steven Starr, implications of radioactive cesium contamination — Introduction

From Ratical.org

The Implications of The Massive Contamination of Japan With Radioactive Cesium
Steven Starr

Senior Scientist, Physicians for Social Responsibility
Director, University of Missouri, Clinical Laboratory Science Program
Helen Caldicott Foundation Fukushima Symposium
New York Academy of Medicine, 11 March 2013

Contents
Introduction
Presentation
Biographical Sketch of Steven Starr
Bibliography of Recently Published Works

Introduction by Maria Gilardin
from TUC Radio’s 10-part Fukushima Symposium Mini-Series
Recordings from March 11 and 12, 2013
Broadcast quality mp3 of the 30 minute program is here: < http://tucradio.org/Starr_FUKU_SYM_FOUR.mp3> (20.8 MB)

The first time radiation contamination came to the attention of the American public was in 1979 when on March 28 a nuclear reactor at Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, had a partial meltdown. A huge controversy developed as to what radionuclides had been released and what the health effects might be.

The overwhelming problem being that a lay person cannot see or smell nuclear radiation and also that health effects, such as cancer, in most cases do not occur immediately. Then and now the public and media are dependent on radiation monitors run by the nuclear industry and safety standards set by government agencies such as the EPA or the ICRP, the International Commission on Radiological Protection.

Only five weeks after the Three Mile Island accident 70,000 people from all over the country came to Washington DC for a rally to Stop Nuclear Power. California governor Jerry Brown spoke, as well as the actress Jane Fonda, and whistle blower, nuclear chemist, and MD, John Gofman. The comedian Dick Gregory made an amazing and inspiring point:

What we’re doing here today is more important than the Vietnamese war, it’s more important than dealing with racism, than dealing with sexism, than dealing with hunger. Because I can feel hunger. I can see war. I can feel racism. I can feel sexism. I cannot see radiation. I cannot smell radiation. I cannot hear radiation. I look around one day and I am dead. Somewhere, you have to.

So I say to you today, when you leave here, you have to give radiation an odor. You have to give radiation a sound. So go back into your communities. And be willing to go to jail if it comes to that. Because I’d rather see you in jail with the jails filled up, than the graveyards running over.

That was Dick Gregory on March 28, 1979.

I do not know if the world renowned Japanese film maker Akira Kurosawa heard those words. But in his 1990 movie Dreams he inserted a nightmare segment: Mount Fuji in Red. It shows the serial explosion of six nuclear reactors spewing radiation. In Kurosawa’s imagination the radiation had been colored by the engineers so it would become visible. And the last images of Mount Fuji in Red show a father desperately swinging his jacket into a cloud of red Cesium-137 trying to protect his wife and their two children.

No color had been added to the Cesium-137 dispersed by the Fukushima disaster and secrecy still prevails on part of the industry and government. But much more so than in 1979, people’s monitoring efforts and the voices of scientists, who still risk their careers for speaking out, give us a deeper understanding of nuclear radiation. Very sadly also we now have studies from the aftermath of Chernobyl when proof can be found as to how radiation damages the environment and health, especially of children, and how it persists for much, much longer that any one of our personal life spans.

A whole group of of responsible scientists had come to New York City on the two year anniversary of the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi. Among them Steven Starr from the Clinical Laboratory Science Program at the University of Missouri.

When I heard him speak concisely and crisply about Cesium-137 and what people in Japan are facing; how cesium moves, persists, accumulates, how it enters the body with contaminated food, and what organs it damages; I felt that he is one of the few scientists who actually can make radiation visible. In one brief quote he conjured up the nuclear fire, and the fact that we are trying to understand and cope with something totally new.

Long-lived radionuclides such as Cesium-137 are something new to us as a species. They did not exist on Earth in any appreciable quantities during the entire evolution of complex life. Although they are invisible to our senses they are millions of times more poisonous than most of the common poisons we are familiar with. They cause cancer, leukemia, genetic mutations, birth defects, malformations, and abortions at concentrations almost below human recognition and comprehension. They are lethal at the atomic or molecular level.

They emit radiation, invisible forms of matter and energy that we might compare to fire, because radiation burns and destroys human tissue. But unlike the fire of fossil fuels, the nuclear fire that issues forth from radioactive elements cannot be extinguished. It is not a fire that can be scattered or suffocated because it burns at the atomic level—it comes from the disintegration of single atoms.

That was a brief preview of Steven Starr’s talk at the New York Academy of Medicine, recorded on March 11, 2013. Steven Starr is Senior Scientist with Physicians for Social Responsibility. Here is his full presentation:


Title

( PDF format )

Editor‘s note: this transcript was created from the broadcast quality audio recording program featuring Steven Starr produced by Maria Gilardin in her Fukushima Symposium Mini Series on TUC Radio. Starting with the PDF file in the March 11 Documents tab of < http://www.totalwebcasting.com/view/?id=hcf#>, the text below was fashioned using Maria’s Introduction and Mr. Starr’s actual presentation. (All highlighted text in the original PDF – e.g., underlining, italics, bold – is represented below as underlined text.) The slides were generated from copy generously provided by Mr. Starr. I am grateful for the assistance of Steven Starr and Maria Gilardin in assembling this presentation.

http://www.ratical.org/radiation/Fukushima/StevenStarr.html