Earth Matters: Indian Point’s Final Days – Nyack News and Viewsby Barbara PuffIndian Point has been the crown jewel of the nuclear industrialist complex and closing it is a big step to a sustainable energy future. — Susan Shapiro, environmental lawyer.When scientists began exploring nuclear power in the 1950s, pollsters didn’t ask the public their opinion as support was almost unanimous. By the ’60s, there had been a few protests and opposition increased to 25%. So when Indian Point opened on September 16, 1962, it was greeted with enthusiasm, fanfare, and, in hindsight, naivete.Within a few years, increased pollution, loss of wildlife, and accidents at the plant elicited concern. In response, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater and Riverkeeper were formed in 1966. After incidents at Three Mile Island in 1979 and Chernobyl in 1986, public opinion began to turn against the use of nuclear power.In 1984, her first year as a legislator, Harriet Cornell formed the Citizens Commission to Close Indian Plant. A glance at her press releases over the years shows her convictions regarding closing the plant. In a recent speech she noted: “Were it not for the superhuman efforts of concerned individuals and dedicated scientific and environmental organizations focusing attention on the dangers posed by Indian Point, who knows what might have happened during the last 40+ years.”Simultaneously Riverkeeper began documenting incidents, including:1 An antiquated water-cooling system killed over a billion fish and fish larvae annually.2 Pools holding spent nuclear fuel leaked toxic, radioactive water into the ground, soil, and Hudson River.3 Recurring emergency shut-downs.4 27% of the baffle bolts in Unit 2 and 31% in Unit 3, holding the reactor core together, were damaged.5 The plant was vulnerable to terrorist attack.6 Evacuation plans were implausible.7 No solution for spent nuclear fuel, posing the risk of radioactive release and contamination of land.8 The plant was near two seismic zones, suggesting an earthquake over 6.2 could devastate the area.9 Asbestos exposure.These and other issues led the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rate Indian Point in 2000 as the most trouble-plagued plant in the country. Lamont-Doherty Observatory agreed, calling it the most dangerous plant in the nation.As individuals realized the seriousness of the situation, urgency for a solution grew and Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition was formed in 2001. Comprised of public interest, health advocates, environmental and citizen groups, their goals were to educate the public, pass legislation, and form a grassroots campaign with hundreds of local, state, and federal officials.Clearwater also began monitoring the plant around that time. Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director, recalls, “We were concerned when one of the planes that struck the WTC flew over the plant, including several buildings that hold huge fuel pools, filled with spent fuel rods and radioactive waste.” Had anything happened, the nuclear power industry had provided protection for themselves while neglecting surrounding communities. Powerful lobbyists, backed by considerable financing, induced Congress to pass the Price-Anderson Act in 1957. This legislation protected nuclear power plant companies from full liability in the event of an accident, natural disaster or terrorist attack.With such warnings, it’s hard to believe as late as 2010, The New York Times stated, “No one should be hoping for a too hasty shutdown.” Over time, the cost of litigation by New York State proved more fatal to the continuance of plant operations than protests, though they were a crucial factor and led to initial filings. Attorney General Schneiderman was very active in filing contentions, legal reasons the plant shouldn’t be relicensed, and won several important court cases on high-level radioactive storage.In 2016, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation denied Entergy a discharge permit for hot water into the Hudson River, part of their once-through cooling system. This permit was necessary for continued operation of the plant and a requirement for relicensing. The New York State Department of State, Bureau of Coastal Management, denied Entergy a water quality certificate the same year, which it also needed to relicense. After more than four decades of danger to the environment and residents, Governor Cuomo announced in January 2017 the plant would finally be closing. Unit 2 would cease production on April 30, 2020 and Unit 3 would end productivity on April 30, 2021.Later that year, in March 2017, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board allowed Entergy to renew the plant’s licenses until 2021, dismissing final points of contention between the company, New York State, and Riverkeeper. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino attempted to sue the state and reopen the plant in April 2017 but failed.Ellen Jaffee, NYS Assemblywoman, stated, “After 46 years of operation, I am glad to finally see the closure of Indian Point. Since joining the Assembly, I have long fought for its closure. I would not have been able to pursue these efforts if not for the environmental advocates, like the Riverkeeper, who fought long and hard beside myself to close the plant. The plant’s closure must be conducted in a safe manner, where all radioactive materials will be properly disposed of, without inflicting further harm on our environment. The closure of Indian Point shows that we can reduce our impact on the environment.”Harriet Cornell said, “We have waited years for this to happen and frankly, it can’t happen soon enough. The facts have long shown there is no future for this dangerous plant.”“The closure of Indian Point marks the shutdown of dirty polluting energy,” noted Susan Shapiro.Holtec, the company chosen to oversee decommissioning of the plant, has a horrific track record. New York State Attorney General Tish James released a statement in January expressing multiple grave concerns about them. According to Riverkeeper, they have a scandalous corporate past, little experience in decommissioning, dubious skills in spent fuel management, workplace safety infractions, and health violations. Another fear is the cost will exceed a decommissioning fund set aside by Entergy, Holtec will declare bankruptcy, and the public will absorb the difference.“Entergy made huge profits from Indian Point,” said Manna Jo Greene. “They’ve hired Holtec, a company with a poor record of decommissioning, to complete the work. Entergy plans to declare bankruptcy, thereby having taxpayers foot the bill. We are not out of danger. It is a different danger.”Richard Webster, Legal Program Director at Riverkeeper, adds, “Decommissioning must be done promptly, safely and reliably. Selling to Holtec is the worst possible option, because it has a dubious history of bribes, lies, and risk taking, very limited experience in decommissioning, is proposing to raid the decommissioning fund for its own benefit, and is proposing leaving contaminated groundwater to run into the Hudson River.”State Senator David Carlucci warned, “The NRC Inspector General Report shows there is much to be done by the NRC to gain the confidence of myself and the public, as the commission is charged with overseeing the decommissioning of Indian Point and ensuring the health and safety of Hudson Valley Communities. We demand answers from NRC Chairman Kristine Svinicki. The Chairman needs to come to the Hudson Valley immediately and outline the steps being taken to address our safety and explain how the commission will properly inspect and guard the pipeline near Indian Point moving forward.”One of the gravest dangers in decommissioning is the storage of spent fuel rods. A fuel rod is a long, zirconium tube containing pellets of uranium, a fissionable material which provides fuel for nuclear reactors. Fuel rods are assembled into bundles called fuel assemblies, which are loaded individually into a reactor core. Fuel rods last about six years. When they’re spent and removed they are placed in wet storage, or pools of water, which is circulated to reduce temperature and provide shielding from radiation. They remain in these pools for 10 years, as they are too hot to be placed in dry storage, or canisters. Even in dry storage, though, they remain extremely radioactive, with high levels of plutonium, which is toxic, and continue to generate heat for decades and remain radioactive for 10,000 years.“Elected officials and government groups became involved once they understood the fatal environmental dangers nuclear energy creates for millenium,” said Susan Shapiro. “It is the only energy that produces waste so dangerous that governments must own and dispose of it.”Robert Kennedy, Jr., of Waterkeeper, explained “If those spent fuel rods caught on fire, if the water dropped, the zirconium coatings of the spent fuel rods would combust. You would release 37 times the amount of radiation that was released at Chernobyl. Around Chernobyl there are 100 miles that are permanently uninhabitable. I would include the workplaces, homes of 20 million Americans, including the Financial District. There’s no evacuation plan. And it’s sitting on two of the biggest earthquake faults in the northeast.”On April 24, 2020, Beyond Indian Point Campaign was launched to advocate for a safe transition during decommissioning. Sponsored by AGREE, Frack Action, Riverkeeper, NIRS and Food and Water Watch, they’re demanding Cuomo hire another company, opposing a license transfer before the State Public Service Commission and NRC and pushing state legislation to establish a board to supervise the decommissioning fund. When decommissioning is finished Beyond Indian Point hopes to further assist the community in the transition to renewable energy. These include wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydrothermal power. Sign an online petition on their website to support their work, future generations and earth at BeyondIndianPoint.com, Facebook, or Twitter.“Bravo to everyone involved in making this historic day come to pass,” said Susan Shapiro.Raised in the Midwest, Barbara Puff is a writer who lives in Nyack, NY.
One Rocket Launched From Gaza, Fails to Cross Into Israel
Rocket alert sounded in Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza, army says
HaaretzPublished at 14:33
A rocket was fired from the Gaza Strip Monday evening, the Israeli army said, but failed to cross into Israeli territory.
A rocket alert was sounded in the kibbutz of Kerem Shalom on the border with Gaza.
The army added that the incident is under investigation.
On Saturday, the Israeli military struck several Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip in the early hours after rockets fired from the enclave were intercepted over southern Israel.
December 29, 2020
A few days ago Euro Disinfo Lab revealed that India has been trying to malign and portray Pakistan in dismal colours before the international community by generating and propagating false and fake news through a network of 750 fake media outlets and 550 website domain names in 162 countries. Reportedly Indian RAW set up a fake front entity Srivastava Group (SG) with headquarters in New Delhi in 2005 which over the last fifteen years developed this network.
The revelations by the Disinfo Lab have been corroborated by a report that Ofcom, the media regulatory in the UK, has imposed a financial penalty of twenty thousand pounds on Republic Bharat TV for serious broadcasting breaches after the channel aired hate speech against Pakistan and its people. The regulatory authority in its findings said “We considered the statements of the guests in the programme to be expressions of hatred based on intolerance of Pakistani people and that the broadcast of these statements spread, incited, promoted and justified such intolerance towards Pakistani people among viewers. The statement made by a retired Major General of the Indian Army, which clearly threatened that the Indian military would attack Pakistani civilians in their homes, were an expression of hatred and desire to kill by a figure of authority. In our view the broadcast of these statements also promoted hatred and intolerance towards Pakistani people. The overall tone of the discussion was provocative, comparing Pakistanis to donkeys and monkeys”
The programme apart from spreading hate against Pakistan and its people was also a calculated attempt to hurl threats at Pakistan. Coming from the mouth of a Major General it actually indicates the mindset of the Indian Army and political leadership of India. Former Chief of Indian Army and now Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat has also been hurling threats of teaching Pakistan a lesson. Indian Defence Minister recently boasted that India was ready for both Pakistan and China.
The foregoing realities are a ranting testimony of unabated Indian hostility towards Pakistan. India all along has been a threat to the security of Pakistan but that hostility has gained unprecedented intensity since the advent of Narendra Modi as Indian Prime Minister. The BJP regime inebriated by the RSS ideology of Hindutva has promulgated anti-Muslim laws within the country and also scrapped Article 370 of the Indian Constitution to end special status of the India-Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) showing disdainful defiance of the UN resolutions. With a view to diverting world attention from the blatant violations of human rights in IOJ&K and the killing spree, India has been continuously violating the Ceasefire Agreement along the LoC and the Working Boundary.
It reportedly has committed more than 3000 violations of the ceasefire and killed 278 civilians during this year. Not only that, it also has been running a sustained campaign to isolate Pakistan accusing her of supporting alleged acts of terrorism in IOJ&K. It dared to launch naked aggression against Pakistan in February 20189 when it sent planes to attack an imaginary terrorist camp at Balakot. In the light of the foregoing facts one can hardly contest the claims by Prime Minister Imran Khan and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi that India, as per intelligence reports, was planning to launch yet another false flag operation against Pakistan. Pakistan faces real security threat from India and there can be no two opinions about it. Pakistan has been sensitizing the global community about it since India ended special status of IOJ&K and urging it to intervene before it was too late. The likely clash between the two nuclear powers can lead to cataclysmic consequences for the entire region. But the dilemma is that the world community and the UN in spite of being informed about the Indian designs and threat to peace by the Government of Pakistan as well as the international media, remain criminally indifferent to the plight of the people of Kashmir and the prospects of war between two nuclear powers.
The reason is that the world politics and the policies pursued by the big powers which have the strongest clout in the management of global affairs are not amenable to the UN Charter, the principles enunciated in for promoting peace and regulating inter-state relations. Their actions and policies are premised on their self-perceived strategic and commercial interests and in pursuing their objectives, they even do not hesitate to flout the UN Charter and the rules and principles set by themselves in regards to inter-state relations. Legitimacy of any cause is viewed by them through the prism of their own interests. That is exactly what we are witnessing in regards to Indian actions in IO&JK and its aggressive designs against Pakistan. India is a strategic partner of the US and its Western allies and a pivotal player in this region to further the objectives of their ‘contain China policy’.
The sufferings of the people of Kashmir and UN resolutions regarding the dispute have no meaning for them. India is taking advantage of their criminal indifference. In the permeating international environment, frankly speaking, instead of looking upon others to dissuade India from her aggressive designs against Pakistan, our focus should be on enhancing our military prowess to deter India from any indiscretion, strengthening economic edifice of the country and forging impregnable national unity. If we can achieve that it would also strengthen our position for supporting the cause of Kashmiri people.
— The Islamabad-based writer is former Director Administration, Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation.
Influential Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr is warning both Iran and the United States against further involving Iraq in any of their conflicts, saying Iraq has been “greatly affected” by being treated as an arena for proxy fighting.
“Iraq and the Iraqis are not a party to the conflict,” Sadr warned, saying both sides should distance their Iraq ties from their mutual hostilities. Fear of being the battleground for a US-Iran conflict has been a defining part of Iraqi policy for years.
Since the 2003 US invasion and occupation, Iraq has been politically dominated by factions loyal to the US or Iran. Protest movements have pushed for autonomy heading into the June vote, and Sadr’s party is also trying to position itself as such a party, more nationalist than most.
In early January, the US assassinated a top Iranian general in Baghdad. This almost started a war, and culminated with Iran retaliating against US forces stationed on an Iraqi base. This set the stage for 2020 as a year where Iraq’s worst fears came to the fore.
While Sadr’s political bloc has somewhat alienated the protest movement in Iraq, they may still gain a lot from being a reflection of Iraqi desires for an autonomous foreign policy and not being a battleground for rival powers.
Although six world powers (the US, the UK, Russia, France, China and Germany) were parties to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the 2015 deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for an easing of sanctions, the two major players were, and still are, Iran and the US.
That is why when US President Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the pact, it fell apart. Tehran ceased to comply with the agreement despite entreaties from the other signatories. The re-imposition of US sanctions on Iran’s energy, banking and shipping sectors hit its economy the most, as foreign corporations were reluctant to do business with Iran because of the potential repercussions.
Joe Biden has made it clear that he intends to rejoin the nuclear deal when he becomes US president. Since Iran’s Supreme Leader enjoys the final say in the country’s major foreign policy issues, his stance on the nuclear deal will determine whether the nuclear agreement can be resurrected under the Biden administration. So, what is Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s position?
In the next few months, he will probably play a double game. In public, he will be warning the Iranian authorities not to hold negotiations with the US because Washington cannot be trusted. Khamenei has already started his campaign of criticizing the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and the Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. “I did not believe in the way the JCPOA was done, and I have made this clear to the president and the foreign minister on many occasions,” he said last week.
This is a classic Machiavellian tactic employed by Iran’s Supreme Leader in order to evade accountability and responsibility when some policies fail. He does not want to show weakness and loss. He shrewdly claims that his role as a Supreme Leader does not include “intervention in executive affairs” unless the hold on power of the Islamic Republic is in danger. “I believe the leader should not meddle in executive affairs unless there is a risk that the entirety of Revolution’s movement is endangered,” he says.
But the reality is that Iranian presidents and foreign ministers have an extremely limited amount of power overTehran’s foreign policies, all of which must be signed off by the Supreme Leader, directly or indirectly.
In addition, by publicly showing his opposition to the nuclear deal or any negotiations with the US, the 81-year-old supreme leader is attempting to establish his legacy of anti-Americanism. He wants to appeal to his hardline base and his proxies and militia groups abroad, and to show that he is consistent, resilient, and brave in opposing the “Great Satan.”
Nevertheless, beneath Khamenei’s facade lies the truth — not only does he wants to rejoin the nuclear deal, he is desperate to do so. In private, he is almost certainly instructing Rouhani and Zarif to revive the agreement when Joe takes office on Jan. 20.
Between 2013 and 2015, when Iranian officials were holding meetings with US authorities to finalize the nuclear deal, Khamenei employed the same modus operandi. He publicly suggested that he was not favor of making deals with Americans, but Rouhani and Zarif could not, and would not, have reached such a critical international accord without the approval of the supreme leader.
Khamenei knows one of the main requirements for US sanctions to be lifted is the revival of the nuclear deal. He is extremely concerned about Iran’s fate if sanctions persist. There have been several major widespread protests against the regime in the past few years. For the first time, people began chanting “Death to Khamenei” and demanding that he step down. People in other countries such as Lebanon and Iraq, where Tehran exerts significant influence, have also protested against Iran’s interventions in their internal affairs. The regime’s popularity in the Middle East has reached a new low.
The supreme leader is also witnessing how the sanctions have substantially cut off the flow of funds to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, and its cronies and terror groups across the region. This is why he has said: “If we can remove the sanctions, we must not delay even one hour.”
So Iran’s supreme leader is shrewdly criticizing the JCPOA in public, while in private he both needs and wants to bring it back to life.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. He is a leading expert on Iran and US foreign policy, a businessman and president of the International American Council. He serves on the boards of the Harvard International Review, the Harvard International Relations Council and the US-Middle East Chamber for Commerce and Business. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News’ point-of-view
Israeli jets hit several targets in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Saturday morning after terrorists fired two rockets at Israel from the coastal territory on Friday, Dec. 25.
Among the targets struck were a rocket manufacturing site, underground infrastructure and a military post, the Israeli military said in a statement on Saturday. Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system intercepted both of the rockets, which were aimed at Ashkelon, the army said on Friday.
No Palestinian terror group has taken responsibility for the rocket fire, but Israeli views all attacks emanating from Gaza as the responsibility of Hamas.
“Hamas will bear the consequences for all terror emanating from Gaza,” said the IDF statement.
The post Israeli jets hit Gaza targets after terror groups launch two rockets at Ashkelon appeared first on JNS.org.
On Saturday, Dec. 26, the destruction of a children’s hospital in Gaza city in Israeli aerial strikes that aimed at Hama’s armed facilities in the Gaza Strip in return to rockets firing was denounced by the movement.
Israel’s aerial strike on Gaza “is a barbaric aggression,” stated Hazem Qassem, the spokesperson of the Islamic movement that governs the beleaguered coastal enclave, in a press release.
Qassem stated: “the airstrikes and bombings terrified civilians, and the shrapnel of the missiles hit a children’s hospital and a rehabilitation center for disabled people.”
Hamas security resources noted that, previously on Saturday, Israel’s warplanes hit targets belong to Hamas forces wing in the Gaza Strip in return to firing rockets into southern Israel.