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The UK Government's Nuclear Scam

170+ Organizations Sign Letter Opposing Subsidies to Delay Closure of Diablo Canyon Power Plant

By staff - Nuclear Information and Resource Service, June 21, 2022

Over 170 organizations, including Beyond Nuclear, North American Water Office, Food & Water Watch, Institute for Policy Studies Climate Policy Program, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Center for Biological Diversity, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) and more sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm opposing the misuse of the Department of Energy’s Civil Nuclear Credit program (CNC) to dismantle the fossil-free phaseout and just transition plan for the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. 

The CNC was created by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to mitigate potential greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) increases due to the closure of unprofitable nuclear reactors that operate in competitive electricity markets. The letter explains how applying the CNC program to Diablo Canyon would violate the letter and intent of the law. The nuclear power plant is not eligible for funds under the CNC program because it does not meet the basic requirements of the IIJA, nor those of the CNC program guidance DOE published to implement the program. 

The letter highlights climate, economic, environmental justice, and power supply concerns with abandonment of the just transition agreement dictating the planned closure of Diablo Canyon’s nuclear reactors in 2024 and 2025. 

Over 50 organizations from the State of California signed onto the letter, including San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, SoCal 350 Climate Action, Tri-Valley CAREs, Physicians for Social Responsibility/Sacramento, San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility, Oceanic Preservation Society, Electric Vehicle Association of CA Central Coast, Californians for Energy Choice, Parents Against Santa Susana Field Lab and more. 

Tim Judson, NIRS executive director said, “Diablo Canyon’s planned phaseout and just transition accelerates California’s climate and renewable energy goals, supports Diablo workers and local communities, and promotes economic and environmental justice. Misusing the CNC program to unravel that progress would betray President Biden’s commitments to climate and environmental justice.” He added, “The Diablo Canyon phaseout plan which California is implementing is a just transition model DOE should promote instead of seeking to preempt it. The basis for the plan shows how phasing out nuclear power plants along with fossil fuel generation can help accelerate emissions reductions, the growth of the renewable energy economy, and a just and equitable transition for workers and communities. Is DOE afraid to let that happen while it is spending billions of dollars to promote the idea that we need to invest in overly expensive, failure-prone nuclear power plants?”

Learning About a Just Transition

Uranium City: What happened to the miners?

By Paul Filteau - Mining Watch Canada, July 14, 2021

In June of 1981, a company executive from Eldorado had flown in to Uranium City, Saskatchewan to announce closure of the Beaverlodge Mine, the main employer. It was completely unexpected. It was a tight knit and prosperous community. The 3000 residents were stunned!

In February, 1983, I flew in a small bush plane to Uranium City. Regular air service to the community had discontinued. En route, we dropped down flying over expansive sand dunes south of Lake Athabaska, then across the frozen lake. Normally, the pilot would tip his wings, a “hello” to dog teams crossing the lake; however, this time there were none. As the plane descended, children could be seen jumping in the water from a dock. The melting ice had receded from the shoreline. It was the first time “El Nino” had come this far inland. Indeed, at 59 degrees north latitude hen temperatures often plunged to 40 below, the sudden winter warming was a new phenomenon.

When I met with them, representatives of the two hundred or so citizens that remained were bushed, desperate and out of money. No-one had ever anticipated having to wait for the ice to refreeze in the middle of winter. Transport trucks sat loaded with their possessions and the drivers hoping to get back over to Fort Chipewyan at the west end of the lake. They never did.

There was work for miners who had relocated to Saskatoon or Prince Albert and would fly back north to work at uranium mines near Key, Cluff or Rabbit Lakes. Many originally came from Northern Ontario and returned to their home communities. One had to wonder why the Saskatchewan Government closed down Uranium City. It had been a well-serviced town for the families, both indigenous and non-native alike. Instead, they were forced to depart without furniture, homes or businesses. Despite the cost, a few managed to barge their possessions out in the spring.

For others who chose to remain in the north, it was a different story. Many of the indigenous people had already returned to their ancestral communities, most to Fond du Lac or Stony Rapids and Wollaston Lake. Unfortunately, these communities were struggling with problems of their own. There was neither the housing nor water or power infrastructure to accommodate their existing populations, let alone a flood of new families. Their children were born and had grown up in Uranium City. Most did not speak Dene.

Meanwhile in Uranium City, the remaining people - some non-native but mostly Metis, others Dene and a few Cree - were reluctant to move to Prince Albert or Saskatoon where they experienced discrimination. Despite the restaurant, store and the few remaining services that would soon be shutting down, about 75 residents decided they would try and hold on. Today about 50 of them are still living there. Disturbingly, about the same as the number of former uranium mines abandoned in the area.

Unfortunately, the plight of former mining communities, the hazards of associated radioactive mine waste and and the health of an older generation of miners and their families have been largely forgotten. If you search in Google under Gordon Edwards, you can see in a video where he talks about the dangers uranium mining for Mining Watch Canada.

Recently, I asked Janice Martell, heading up the McIntyre Powder Project, if she had been able to locate any miners from Uranium City. I thought the aluminum dust had been blown into miners' lungs until the mine closure in 1981. Many of them were only in their twenties. She replied, “It is sadly not surprising to see how many deaths are related to uranium mining. The few miners and families that I speak to who were from Uranium City all tell me that everyone they know from the mining days is dead. Several of the Elliot Lake guys said the same thing -'all of my friends are gone.' ”

The bogus claim of the industry was that aluminum dust protected the miners' lungs from silicosis. In reality, the aluminum deposited in nerve ganglia leading to a syndrome of diseases, cancers, early dementia and death. Their lungs blackened with aluminum dust confused compensation claims to save the companies and the compensation boards money. The miners in miserable health, many in poverty, died prematurely.

Clock ticking on benefits deadline for uranium workers

By Kathy Helms - Multicultural Alliance for a Safe Environment, July 10, 2021

CHURCHROCK – Larry King, president of Churchrock Chapter and a former uranium worker, doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance in the melting Arctic of receiving federal benefits afforded sick Navajos who worked in the uranium industry before 1971. King isn’t the only one.

Linda Evers of Milan, co-founder of the Post-’71 Uranium Workers Committee, and the group’s members also can forget about help with their medical bills unless Congress changes qualifications for the 1990 program.

This weekend, the first day dawned in the countdown to July 10, 2022, when, according to statute, the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act Trust Fund “terminates,” along with the authority of the U.S. Attorney General to administer the law, according to the Department of Justice.

When the sun sets on this program, former uranium workers and downwinders will be unable to apply for benefits.

The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, “RECA,” provides compassionate payments to workers for certain cancers and diseases resulting from exposure to radiation during the build-up to the Cold War. It also compensates individuals who became ill following exposure to radioactive fallout from nuclear testing in Nevada.

Earth Day, Labor, and Me

By Joe Uehlein - Labor Network for Sustainability, April 21, 2021

The approach of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 provides us an opportunity to reflect on the “long, strange trip” shared by the environmental movement and the labor movement over four decades here on Spaceship Earth.

A billion people participate in Earth Day events, making it the largest secular civic event in the world. But when it was founded in 1970, according to Earth Day’s first national coordinator Denis Hayes, “Without the UAW, the first Earth Day would have likely flopped!”

Less than a week after he first announced the idea for Earth Day, Senator Gaylord Nelson presented his proposal to the Industrial Union Department of the AFL-CIO. Walter Ruther, President of the UAW, enthusiastically donated $2000 to help kick the effort off ““ to be followed by much more. Hayes recalls:

“The UAW was by far the largest contributor to the first Earth Day, and its support went beyond the merely financial. It printed and mailed all our materials at its expense — even those critical of pollution-belching cars. Its organizers turned out workers in every city where it has a presence. And, of course, Walter then endorsed the Clear Air Act that the Big Four were doing their damnedest to kill or gut.”

Some people may be surprised to learn that a labor union played such a significant role in the emergence of the modern environmental movement. When they think of organized labor, they think of things like support for coal and nuclear power plants and opposition to auto emissions standards.

When it comes to the environment, organized labor has two hearts beating within a single breast. On the one hand, the millions of union members are people and citizens like everybody else, threatened by air and water pollution, dependent of fossil fuels, and threatened by the devastating consequences of climate change. On the other hand, unions are responsible for protecting the jobs of their members, and efforts to protect the environment sometimes may threaten workers’ jobs. First as a working class kid and then as a labor official, I’ve been dealing with the two sides of this question my whole life.

Biden’s Climate Pitch Could Hit Turbulence From Some Fossil Fuel-Friendly Unions

By Reid Frazer - Allegheny Front, April 16, 2021

President Biden is selling the climate-friendly aspects of his $2 trillion infrastructure plan as a chance to create good-paying union jobs. But at a local branch of one of the country’s oldest unions, there are doubts that dealing with climate change will be good for workers here, in the oil-and-gas state of Pennsylvania. 

Boilermakers Local 154 in Pittsburgh builds and maintains coal, natural gas, and nuclear power plants. During a recent training session, a handful of members practiced welding behind a thick blue safety curtain, part of preparations to repair and rebuild the boiler in a coal-fired power plant.

“That boiler is 100-some feet high,” said Shawn Steffee, the local’s business agent. “And they go up, way up in that boiler, perform that weld, and then come back down.”

It’s highly skilled work that can pay well, sometimes six figures — the “pinnacle” of blue-collar craftwork, Steffee said. And it’s exactly the kind of job he worries will disappear if Biden’s climate policies speed up the decline of fossil fuels in favor of renewable energy.

If he were to go work in the solar industry, for example, Steffee said he’d be essentially starting over in a new trade and risk losing some of his pension and other benefits.

“I’m going to throw everything away to go over here, and maybe start as an electrician?” he said. “I don’t know nothing about electrical. I know how to weld. I know how to build power plants.”

For a decade, Pennsylvania and other states have seen jobs in coal disappear as utilities have turned to cheaper natural gas. Now some in these states worry that ambitious climate goals — and cheaper wind and solar — mean oil and gas jobs will be the next to go. 

Karen Silkwood: A Radioactive Angel

Korean Unions Call for a “Just Energy Transition” to Move Away From Coal and Nuclear

By Staff - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, August 4, 2017

In a series of landmark statements following the May 2017 election of the pro-reform President Moon Jae-in, Korean energy, transport and public service workers have called for “a just energy transition” allowing the sector to “function as a public asset under public control.”  Unions support the new government’s decision to close the country’s aging coal-fired and nuclear power stations, and its planned reconsideration of two new nuclear facilities, Kori 5 and Kori 6. In a statement issued in late July, the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU) and the Korean Labour and Social Network on Energy (KLSNE), a coalition of unions and civil society organization, said, “We actively support the policy of phasing out coal and nuclear and expanding clean renewable energy.” The statement urged the development of, “A roadmap for energy transition that ensures public accountability and strengthens democratic control of the energy industry.” KPTU and KLSNE also committed  “to work together with the public and civil society to achieve a just transition.”

The Korean Labour and Social Network on Energy (KLSNE) and the Korean Public Service and Transport Workers’ Union (KPTU) Support the Government’s Policy of a Transition towards a Coal-free, Nuclear-free Energy System

The Moon Jae-in government, which was elected on a pledge to phase out coal and nuclear generation and scale up clean renewables, is now moving quickly to enact these promises. Following a temporary shutdown of old coal-fired power plants, the Kori 1 nuclear reactor was permanently closed down on June 19. The government is now reconsidering plans to build new nuclear reactors Kori 5 and 6. The KLSNE and KPTU declare our support for these policies and our intentions to play a leading role in bring about a just energy transition.

The government’s establishment of a commission to assess public opinion on the plans to build Kori reactors 5 and 6 on July 24 sparked immediate outcry from nuclear power business interests and pro-nuclear power scholars. The press has exacerbated this conflict with sensational reporting. It is deeply regrettable that those who oppose the government’s policies are speaking only from their individual self-interest without putting forth viable alternatives.

It is even more regrettable that the voices of workers at the Korean Hyro & Nuclear Power Corporation and other nuclear-power related companies who support a just transition are being stifled in the process. We stress the importance of recognising the difference between nuclear power business interests and the nuclear power workers. These workers are the people most easily exposed to radiation and at the most risk in the case of accidents. Electricity and gas workers, who have been discussing paths for a just transition for many years now, are sure that nuclear power workers will soon join us in this effort.

During the last nine years of conservative rule, South Korea’s energy policy has been focused on restructuring aimed only at meeting the interest of corporations (i.e. privatisation). The result has been the expansion of nuclear power and private coal and LNG generation and massive profits for corporations. Energy policy has been consistently undemocratic and anti-climate.

With South Korea now facing the threat of earthquakes and air contaminated with fine dust it is only natural that we energy workers, who have fought for almost two decades to stop privatisation and protect our public energy system, would take a leading role in the fight for a just energy transition.

Full Report from an “International Meeting on the Energy Mix and the Commons” – Buenos Aires, Argentina (English)

By admin - Trade Unions for Energy Democracy, September 27, 2017; English translation provided by Daniel Chavez of this original report.

The Energy Mix and the Commons

On 4-5 September 2017, an International Meeting on the Energy Mix and the Commons was held at the ATE National trade union’s main office, in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The meeting was framed within a broader process of exchange of knowledge and experiences on climate and energy policies in Argentina, Latin America and the world. The Argentinian State Workers’ Association (Spanish acronym ATE; acronyms will be for Spanish names where applicable) and the Autonomous Argentinean Workers’ Congress (CTA-A) are engaged in international processes towards the construction of regional and global alternatives, in particular the Development Platform of the Americas (PLADA) and the Trade Unions for Energy Democracy (TUED) initiative. The PLADA platform was conceived within the framework of the Trade Unions Confederation of the Americas (TUCA; CSA in Spanish) as a strategic political proposal centred around four dimensions—political, economic, social and environmental—aiming to contribute to the design and implementation of a regional model for sustainable development. PLADA proposes a gradual reduction in the use of fossil fuels, the universalisation of access to energy services, and the rationalization of those sectors of the economy that pollute the most. TUED, a global network composed of workers’ confederations and trade unions, focuses on democratizing generation, distribution and consumption of energy around the world.

The meeting was organised by ATE and CTA-A, with the support of the Transnational Institute (TNI, a worldwide network of scholar-activists based in the Netherlands) and the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of State Workers (CLATE).

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