Third Thursday Newsletter: Oct 2022
Helping us to Help Others
Floating Schools of Bangledesh works to bring access to education to those living in the flood-prone regions of northwestern Bangladesh.
In addition to our perennial fight against the scourge of nuclear contamination, the Samuel Lawrence Foundation is on a mission to support programs at the intersection of arts, science and education. One such program is the Floating Schools of Bangladesh. Thanks to your generosity, we directed $22,000 toward the floating schools in 2021.
Nuclear waste threatens the health and safety of Southern California, the richest half of the richest state of the richest country in the world. In the Midwest, radioactive contamination plagues working-class West Chicago. Across the Pacific, the nuclear exclusion zone in Fukushima is reopening and the government in Japan is forcing refugees to resettle. On still another continent, Vladimir Putin’s power play at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine seems to introduce new threats of a nuclear disaster every minute.
Here’s how the Samuel Lawrence Foundation is responding:
At San Onofre, the California Coastal Commission voted 9-0 Oct. 13 to approve a 13-year extension to allow Southern California Edison to continue storing deadly radioactive waste at the older one of two oceanfront facilities.
With the help of the Coalition for Nuclear Safety, we prepared a letter to commissioners repeating warnings of seismic risks, sea level rise, inadequate monitoring and integrity of the storage canisters themselves.
Commissioners seemed to brush aside these warnings. Their action means that 63 canisters can remain in storage next to a newer facility and its 73 canisters until 2035. The shuttered plant, which is being demolished, will be long gone by then. Meanwhile, no one can say with any certainty what will become of the 3.5 million pounds of waste.
Support for H.R. 6685
We are pleased to rally behind H.R. 6685 and its author, Rep. Mike Levin, whose district includes San Onofre. Levin understands that the beach is no place to store highly-radioactive waste. H.R. 6685, the Spent Fuel Prioritization Act of 2022, requires the Department of Energy to prioritize the acceptance of high-level radioactive waste from facilities near large populations, with high earthquake hazards, and where it poses a significant national security concern. The San Onofre waste dump — which straddles a fault zone, occupies a military base and is within 50 miles of 9 million people — checks all of those boxes.
During the past few months, we have emailed the offices of nearly 70 House members whose districts include or are near nuclear waste storage facilities or reactors. As Levin has shown with his Spent Nuclear Fuel Solutions Caucus, the nationwide pileup of stranded nuclear waste is a bipartisan issue. We are driving that point home with our outreach, especially to freshman Republican members of Congress.
Accolade for Environmental Writer
We are pleased to present a Hero Award and $250 check to writer Liuan Huska, whose reporting digs deeply into thorium pollution in West Chicago, a predominantly-Latino community in Illinois. Her story in Borderless Magazine about “the radioactive capital of the Midwest” exposes how underrepresented populations so often are the first victims of environmental racism.
More Information Needed from Fukushima
We want to better understand the situation in Fukushima, Japan, where the United Nations is demanding more support for refugees from the nuclear disaster in 2011. Meanwhile, the Samuel Lawrence Foundation is supporting a fact-finding visit to Fukushima by Thomas Bass, a writer and professor in literature, journalism, and history.
So far, Bass has confirmed that construction has started of a pipeline that will bleed a billion gallons of radioactive water into the Pacific starting this spring.
There’s more to the story of 160,000 people who fled the fallout from exploding reactors. Today, as the Japanese government reopens schools and declares the area safe, it also has raised permissible levels of exposure to radiation. According to published reports, the government is forcing some residents to return to the exclusion zone against their will.
“I'll be in Fukushima for another week,” Bass said to us in an email. “The place is remarkably inventive about learning how to survive in a nuclear exclusion zone, but the radioactive dump from F1 is a done deal. The spooky story stretches from here to Ukraine and out to you in California. It will just take me time to write it. In the meantime, thanks again for your help.”
Let’s hear it for the bright and smiling volunteers who staffed our booth Oct. 9 at EcoFest Encinitas. Thank you!