I am now hot on the trail of another story, around smart justice, those alternatives to counties and municipalities building more unconstitutional prisons for profit, prisons for putting in jail people who have very little resemblance to criminals. You know, recently houseless, or those with some big life force that has jiggered with their emotional and psychological anti-tilting qualities in their heads that sometimes take them off the “path.” You know, people in transition and people facing problems, much of them created by a society that scoffs at the very real and only-life saving philosophy and action plan: “It takes a village to build a community, raise a family, and care for the weakest . . . a village that insists and makes the richest pay for the servitude we all undergo in this world of dice and social Darwinism . . pay as in tax, tariff and denude of power, both their rich individual power and their corporate and transfinancial power.”
Coalition and other stakeholders developed this plan to address the administrative structure of a Spokane Regional Criminal Justice System, regional consolidation, facilities, funding, and the racial, economic and other problematic disparities in the Spokane criminal justice system.
We continue to believe that the most effective means of creating lasting criminal justice reform is to adopt a Smart Justice Lens. That means examining every current practice and proposed reform to determine if it creates greater community safety, is cost effective and reduces recidivism so that there are fewer victims and offenders. In order to achieve Smart Justice in Spokane, we will need to redirect money from pre-trial warehousing towards proven programs that hold offenders truly accountable to their community. This will require a substantially higher level of communication and coordination across county and city jurisdictions. In the long term, adopting a Smart Justice Lens will cost taxpayers less and provide them with more safety. In the short term, pre-trial jail costs, which are unrelated to punishment, can be re-directed to fully fund the alternatives that will likely reduce the need for the large capital expense of a new jail.
I will bring DV that story soon, for the next installment in my paid gig as a magazine writer, doing a regular column, hard news and cutting edge stories for Spokane. You’ve read my stuff for that rag here, before.
I want to make it clear though that my call out for donations, for the off-setting of the costs to bring out an author from Boston and a downwinder now living in Berkeley, CA, did get one respondent, and amazing how that person who wishes to remain anonymous sent in $151 in cash via USPS, and that will go directly to the fund to pay back some of the expenses to create a panel on downwinders. Below is the press announcement. Below that are some links to a rotten propaganda scheme by Robert Stone, Pandora’s Paradox, a pro-nuclear energy documentary that barely got into Sundance. But, first, a real movie on the so-called safe nuclear energy industry.
In the Shadow of Plutopia: Living Downwind and Downstream from the World’s First Plutonium Plants
Kate Brown, author, Plutopia: Nuclear Families, Atomic Cities and the Great Soviet and American Plutonium Disasters
Friday, October 25, 2013
7 p.m.–9 p.m.
While many transnational histories of the nuclear arms race have been written, Kate Brown provides the first definitive account of the great plutonium disasters of the United States and the Soviet Union. In Plutopia, Brown draws on official records and dozens of interviews to tell the extraordinary stories of Richland, Washington and Ozersk, Russia-the first two cities in the world to produce plutonium. To contain secrets, American and Soviet leaders created plutopias–communities of nuclear families living in highly-subsidized, limited-access atomic cities. Fully employed and medically monitored, the residents of Richland and Ozersk enjoyed all the pleasures of consumer society. Nearby, migrants, prisoners, and soldiers lived in ghettos, labor camps and garrisons. They often performed the most dangerous work at the plant. Brown shows that the plants’ segregation of permanent and temporary workers and of nuclear and non-nuclear zones created a bubble of immunity, where dumps and accidents were glossed over and plant managers freely polluted. In four decades, the Hanford plant near Richland and the Maiak plant near Ozersk each issued at least 200 million curies of radioactive isotopes into the surrounding environment, laying waste to hundreds of square miles and contaminating rivers, fields, forests, and food supplies. Because of the decades of secrecy, downwind and downriver neighbors of the plutonium plants had difficulty proving what they suspected, that the rash of illnesses, cancers, and birth defects in their communities were caused by the plants’ radioactive emissions. Plutopia was successful because in its zoned-off isolation it appeared to deliver the promises of the American dream and Soviet communism; in reality, it concealed disasters that remain highly unstable and threatening today.
Downwinders: Twenty-five years of Activism
Jay Mullen, former CIA Uganda operative, retired S. Oregon University history professor.
Tom Bailie, farmer, rancher, activist, spokesperson for his generation and subsequent ones.
Trisha Pritikin, lawyer, occupational therapist, advocate and key organizer of the panel.
Paul Haeder, reporter, educator, activist, and discussion moderator.
“Downwinders” became a term soon after March 1986 when, in response to mounting public pressure, the Department of Energy released thousands of documents pertaining to past Hanford operations to activists in eastern Washington. Activists and others were concerned after significant numbers of people who had lived near the Hanford plant began to develop disabling illness and questioned whether Hanford was the cause. The public was shocked to learn that these documents revealed decades of radiation releases from Hanford onto unsuspecting populations downwind. By 1993, more than 4,000 plaintiffs had filed personal injury lawsuits against the prime contractors who operated Hanford during years of offsite releases. The Downwinders’ personal injury lawsuits have dragged on in court for over 23 years. Private defense attorneys have racked up legal bills of more than 60 million dollars, all paid for with taxpayer money under indemnity agreements signed by Hanford operators in the early years of Hanford operations. Attorneys for health-damaged plaintiffs have been forced to rely on their own financial resources throughout over two decades of litigation. This is truly an uneven playing field.
Three Hanford “Downwinders” involved in bringing this story to light will speak about their experiences. All three were children during early years of Hanford operations. One was born and raised in Richland, the child of two Hanford workers. The second grew up on a farm just downwind of the facility, and the third was a child on a military base downwind, within Idaho. All three have experienced thyroid and other health problems they believe were caused by their exposures to Hanford’s offsite radiation releases.
The impetus for this document is the summer 2013 theatrical release of the pro-nuclear documentary ﬁlm, Pandora’s Promise, directed by Robert Stone. Its protagonists, both in the ﬁlm and in their writing and public statements, broad brush the nuclear power industry in an almost entirely positive light.
The ﬁlmmakers originally promoted the ﬁlm as “anchored around the personal narratives of a growing number of leading former anti-nuclear activists,” even though no one in the ﬁlm ﬁts this description. However, they have since modiﬁed this description, toned down the trailer and withdrawn the more detailed descriptions of the ﬁlm’s early thesis. Beyond Nuclear has tracked this on its Pandora’s False Promises webpage.
❒ Nuclear power, no matter the reactor design, cannot address climate change in time. In order to displace a signiﬁcant amount of carbon-emitting fossil fuel generation, another 1,000 to 1,500 new 1,000+ Megawatt reactors would need to come on line worldwide by 2050, a completely prohibitive proposition.
❒ So-called “Generation IV” reactor designs, including “fast” or “small modular reactors,” are the last gasp of a failing industry. Earlier versions of the fast breeder reactor were commercial failures and safety disasters. The ever soaring costs make nuclear power a ﬁnancial quagmire for investors, and expensive new prototypes commercially unattractive.
❒ Proponents of the Integral Fast Reactor, overlook the exorbitant costs; proliferation risks; that it theoretically “transmutes,” rather than eliminates, radioactive waste; that it is decades away from deployment; and that its use of sodium as a coolant can lead to ﬁres and explosions.
❒ The continued daily use of nuclear power means continued risk of radiation exposure to surrounding populations, especially children who are vulnerable to leukemia when living close to reactors. Ionizing radiation released by nuclear power plants, either routinely or in large amounts, causes cellular damage and mutations in DNA, which in turn can lead to cancers and other illnesses.
❒ Low-ball health predictions after nuclear accidents are not reliable. The 2005 IAEA/WHO Chernobyl health report has been discredited for suppressing key data to justify low death predictions that do not stand up to scientiﬁc scrutiny. Furthermore, the IAEA has a mandate to promote nuclear technology. Given the long latency period of cancers caused by radiation exposure, it is too soon to
accurately predict the ultimate health impacts from the Fukushima nuclear disaster, although some health effects are already being observed.
❒ The example of Germany — and numerous studies — demonstrates that both coal and nuclear can be phased out in favor of renewable energy. Jobs are more plentiful and enduring in the renewable sector. In Germany, renewable energy already employs 380,000 people compared to 30,000 in the nuclear sector.
❒ The argument that only nuclear provides “carbon-free,” base load energy is out of date. Geothermal and offshore wind energy are capable of delivering reliable base load power with a smaller carbon footprint than nuclear energy. Energy efﬁciency is also an essential component in displacing nuclear and coal.
Heck, readers, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has sanity in its review of this sad-sack documentary:
Writer and director Robert Stone, whose dicey documentaries have tried to redeem Patty Hearst and indict Lee Harvey Oswald, interviews several self-described environmentalists who say they’ve seen the light on nuclear power. The best-known is Stewart Brand, the septuagenarian creator of “The Whole Earth Catalog.” But since these contrarians are outnumbered by the millions of mothers and fathers who are fearful about radiation, the film is front-loaded with concessions.Yes, it mentions, Hiroshima was horrible. Yes, the incident at Three Mile Island mirrored a warning in “The China Syndrome.” Yes, there are restricted zones around the damaged nuclear plants in Chernobyl and Fukushima. But, it insists (with the aid of a handheld radiation meter we’re supposed to trust), the dangers are overblown. And given the insatiable energy demands of developing countries, the world can’t afford to wait for the slow roll-out of renewable alternatives such as solar and wind power.
Those renewables are shrugged off because the wind and sun are cyclical and must (for now) be augmented with natural-gas backups. But is that reason enough to invest in nuclear, which has provably killed many people?
The movie has no discussions with Hiroshima survivors. Nor do we hear from medical professionals in Fukushima or Chernobyl, or closer to home, near the waste dump in Hanford, Wash., or the testing grounds in Las Vegas, places where radiation-caused cancers can take years to manifest.
And nowhere is it mentioned that 10 years ago, a president, vice president and secretary of state with backgrounds in the petroleum industry invaded an oil-rich region at a cost of $1 trillion to $2 trillion, money that could have perfected renewable energy for the entire planet.
Any discussion of our energy future that doesn’t confront past mistakes is a broken promise.
Unfortunately, I have to go see this film, when it’s free, or just jumping the backdoor to some Portland, Oregon, theater. Maybe go in with a Halloween scar on my neck and say, “I am one victim of the nuclear threat . . . .”