It was only a few years ago the nuclear industry started again with its decade long push to increase the production of nuclear energy through the construction of new nuclear power plants across the country, especially on the east coast. The plans didn’t go far, but reflected the lack of change of both the nuclear industry and the government with regard to nuclear technology. The United States has not drastically changed its policies regarding nuclear weapons or nuclear power since the 1950’s.
We still possess over 3000 nuclear weapons with plans for a whole new generation of weapons to come online as our aging weapons are retired. We still have dozens of nuclear power plants online across the country, especially concentrated in the the South and the Northeast. These power plants, with their low level nuclear waste, have created an environmental catastrophe that we have not generated the resolve to deal with, leaving communities stranded with tons of nuclear waste hoping they don’t have a catastrophe, like a flood or an earthquake which would release waste into the environment.
In the Northwest, we have been fairly intelligent in trying to limit the scourge of nuclear power and nuclear weapons complex processing, but we do have the unfortunate legacy of Hanford, an intergenerational legacy for the future of nuclear waste and contaminated facilities which threaten the health of our entire watershed due to the location of the former facility to the Columbia river, our primary source of fresh water for much of Oregon and Washington. Hanford was created during a time of extreme ignorance of lack of foresight about the impact such a facility would have on future generations, it reflects the same ignorance that has gone into the construction of the entire nuclear weapons and nuclear power infrastructure.
There is no such thing as safe nuclear energy. Just ask our friends from Japan how they feel about Fukushima. Engineers believed that nothing like Fukushima could happen, but it happened because of an earthquake and tidal wave, just like there have always been in the pacific northwest and Asian pacific. The other lie the nuclear industry is always pushing is that nuclear weapons make us strong, they are our bottom line source of security. This is the big lie.
When Abraham Lincoln declared war in 1861 he acknowledged that slavery was the great moral sin, the great failing of the United States and now the US must pay for its sin with the blood of its children. That is one of the most profound truths I know about the truth of slavery and the real cost of the great moral injustice of 350 years of blind ignorance toward the human dignity of millions of Africans. I believe, in my heart, that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the great moral sin of our generation, and the perpetuation of weapons of mass destruction is akin to the great moral injustices of the past which we must come to account someday, including slavery, the stealing of the country from Native Americans, imperialist wars overseas and the devastation of our climate through industrial scale pollution. I pray that day never comes that we have to once again sacrifice the blood of our children in order to maintain the illusion of power that nuclear weapons creates but until then I will work to the best of my ability to abolish nuclear weapons.