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Ukraine Crisis/Nuclear Boondoggle

Ralph welcomes the editorial director and publisher of the Nation magazine, Katrina Vanden Heuvel, to offer her expert insight into ways the U.S. can peacefully resolve our conflict with Russia over Ukraine. Plus, former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner, Peter Bradford, updates us on the latest rise from the dead of that dangerous zombie technology known as nuclear power.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is editorial director and publisher of the Nation magazine and writes a weekly column for the Washington Post. She has also edited or co-edited several books, including Meltdown: How Greed and Corruption Shattered Our Financial System and How We Can Recover.

The Exit from the Ukraine Crisis That’s Hiding in Plain Sight

I think this agreement (the Minsk agreement)… is a possibility [to resolve the current crisis in Ukraine]. But it needs space, and it needs patience, and you know I think that is in lack of supply in our political culture.
Katrina vanden Heuvel

The demonization of Putin is not a policy, it’s an alibi for a policy. And it has also led to the ability to think about war. If you demonize something, or someone, or a country, it’s easier to see why one would go to war.
Katrina vanden Heuvel

I continue to think the more time that elapses, the more possibility for diplomacy. And the more possibility for face-saving maneuvers.
Katrina vanden Heuvel

This reminds me of how World War I started, with the assassination of the Archduke in Sarajevo in Serbia. And then it went like lightning through a bunch of egos, who all knew each other… they had intermarriage with each other’s families, but they had their egos involved. And you know 25 million people were killed in World War One.
Ralph Nader

Peter Bradford is a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the former chair of the New York and Maine utility regulatory commissions. He has taught at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and is currently an adjunct professor at Vermont Law School, where he teaches Nuclear Power and Public Policy. He is vice chair of the board of the Union of Concerned Scientists and is the author of Fragile Structures: A Story of Oil Refineries, National Securities and the Coast of Maine. He is also the author of an article entitled “When the Unthinkable is Deemed Impossible: Reflecting on Fukushima.

[New nuclear agreements] basically permitted the utilities to start charging the customers for nuclear plants the day they started building them. And that transferred a bunch of risks– the financial risks, the risks of cancellation– from investors to customers. And that’s the only way you can finance these things. Because sophisticated investors won’t take those risks, they insist on shifting them either to taxpayers or customers.
Peter Bradford

The old myth about environmentalists turning out and blocking the gates [at nuclear plants], that’s gone. And none of the plants that have closed in recent years have been closed by environmental opposition. They’ve all failed economically.
Peter Bradford

Betting a big chunk of our climate change strategy on what’s essentially a fantasy land is a pretty dubious proposition. And the “All of the above” strategy that’s used to justify this is just… it’s ridiculous to call it a strategy. We don’t do “All of the above” with regard to other serious problems. We don’t use caviar to fight world hunger.
Peter Bradford

 

Additional Resources:

Nuclear Information Resource Service 

World Nuclear Industry Status Report 

Ralph Nader Radio Hour Ep 414 Transcript (Right click to download)

27 Comments

  1. John Puma says:

    Re
    1) Demonization. Bertold Brecht is quoted: “Unfortunate the country that needs heroes!” But exceptionally more pathetic and dangerous the country that needs demons … as in the US case, to allow favorable comparison to its own leaders, the actual global demons since the end of WWII.

    2) The Minsk Agreement. This was poorly handled on the podcast … as if by a Washington Post neo-con!?!. This agreement exists solely because of the Ukrainian civil war, the direct result of the Obumma-Biden engineered 2014 coup that changed the Ukrainian regime not sufficiently obedient to the US nor viciously opposed to Russia.

    The coup brought neo-Nazi elements (e.g., the Azov battalion) into the power structure of the US-puppet-Ukraine. The ethnic-Russian, UKRAINIAN residents & citizens of the Donbas in eastern Ukraine, objected to the coup and the obvious hostility towards them by the new regime. These Ukrainian citizens are “the separatists.” This was not made clear on the podcast … allowing the standard, intended conflation with Russian residents/military egged-on by devil Putin. “The separatists” well remember, even as Americans never knew, that Russia (then the USSR) lost some 25 million people, about, 15% of its 1940 population and 2/3 civilians, to the Nazis … in their winning WWII in Europe for the West. So WWII returned to the Donbas in 2014-15, thanks to Nobel Peace Prize winner Obumma.

    Yes, Russia helped the Donbas militarily in that civil war and has made clear it will do so again, if necessary. Russia brokered the Minsk agreement between Kiev and the Donbas republics to call a cease-fire in the fighting and to serve as a diplomatic instrument to resolve their political differences in peace. In another short-coming of the podcast, mention of the ongoing, Normandy Format, talks regarding the Minsk agreement failed to explain the absence of the Donbas delegations. That is because Kiev still refuses to deal with them as it has done since it signed the agreement that exists to make sure it does.

    • Beto says:

      Nonsense. Long live a free Ukraine. The fact is, the russians violated the 1994 agreement that promised the respect Ukraine’s TERRITORIAL integrity in exchange for giving up 2000 nuclear heads.

      • John Puma says:

        So you don’t 1) acknowledge the fact of the US 2014 coup against Ukraine to change a regime to one sufficiently hateful of Russia (and ethnic Russian Ukraine citizens) or 2) consider US coups against whomever it pleases to officially affect prior “freedom”?

  2. Andree Vacca says:

    Thank you Ralph, Katrina, Russel, Steve and everyone else that makes this program available. On the Russia Ukraine radio show. I have always wondered what Russia’s side of the story is. I hear a few voices here and there and try to come up with a better visual of this. Your segment on this helped me think I have a better understanding, thank you.
    I wonder when we are trying to understand Putin and how Russia has been treated, where do you factor in his interference into our elections and connections inside our government etc. Am I naive in thinking that we do the same to them and it is a mutual behavior?
    Also do we have any evidence in reports of brain injuries and attacks known as the “Havana Syndrome” linking Russia? If there is a link, shouldn’t we still be ultra concerned and very leery of Putin?

    • Chadd ludwig says:

      What do you think ? I Thant America is trying to take over the Russian energy supply to Europe, with cheap Iraq oil ?

    • Beto says:

      Yes, you are naive. AFter all, Russian elections are rigged by the Putin regime

  3. andree says:

    .and thanks to Tom and sorry to anyone else I missed….

  4. K. Bednarek says:

    Sludge magazine journalists detail who many in Congress have financial interest in oil and pipelines which stand to profit exponentially if we provide as offered by Biden to supply our fracked oil to Germany and the EU if the Russia Germany paid for pipeline is stopped. We can thank Obama for overturning laws that prohibited export of our precious natural resource energy sources of gas, oil and coal. Now Dem Biden has okayed more fracking on public land permits than DJT gave out his first 2 years! So the American people are going to support more climate changing fracking and resulting increase in gas and oil in the US to WTF to help Ukraine join NATO? Unbelievable!!
    The United States of the Military Industrial Complex? Congress adding $24 billion to our military war budget supports this insanity🌍☮️

  5. Wendy Yona NooN says:

    I have been WORRIED about the loose use of RADIOACTIVE materials in our BONES & BLOOD CELLS from our AIR+WATER for years; beginning with “Wake uP” Calls from Dr Helen Caldecott, MD.
    Also, the DAILY EXPLOSIONS from WAR GAMES
    to the use of RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS when FRACKING make me WONDER WHO is in charge of “Taking Care of 0uR 0NLY PLANET”.because the “Promise” made in Genesis, page (2) is FACTUALLY being PURPOSELY PUNISHES:
    or., anyone who Raises Concern to Stop the ABUSE of OuR ParenT. After all, we suckle from her daily & drink from Her Sea & Eat the SeedS from His Trees, don’t we 🌜🌎🌨🌍🌛

    Could it be the explosions “pop” oxygen permanently & lower the amount of 0xygen+Hydrogen in our GLOBAL ENVIRONMENT ? Is it possible our Healthy Equillibrium is lowered & is it possible that
    we are Vulnerable to dis.ease & diseases
    from Too Little Heathy 0xygen+Water
    Possibly because the THICK distribIuton
    of radioactive materials is building from ground up & in our oceans from oil spills & Fukushima covering the foods that aquatic animals feed on & covering the foods that land animals feed on.

    When did the UN or League of Nations approve of Global Eugenics ? When will we realize our
    Brains are computers that we can develop with the use of globally share of education ? and our Body is Needing Minerals & 0il at least 1ce per day to give it the Mineral RailRoad Our Impulses Travel to our Brains & Back to Respond to InpuT.

    We know that as 0uR PlaneT lives, We Live.
    We have seen that 0uR Planet takes care & nurtures of all of us that suckle from it.
    Who take all. Our RESPONSIBLE DOMINATION away from all of us ?🤷🏿‍♂️👶🏻🤷🏽‍♀️?

    Some say it is TIME each state Becomes a Country again & Drafts it’s Landsmen+women
    to rebuild their home. I like that idea, too.
    Please Educate & Advise.

    • Bruce K. says:

      >> Possibly because the THICK distribution of radioactive materials is building from ground up & in our oceans from oil spills & Fukushima covering the foods that aquatic animals feed on & covering the foods that land animals feed on.

      That is sad and scary.

      If you want to start somewhere in earnest, read my other comment on this page, assume both get moderated and published. This is the kind of uncertainty driven into fear – most likely by the fossil fuel industry to drive the fear of nuclear into the unthinking subconsciousness of people so deep they cannot even consider anything else.,

      What is truly disgusting is that in this country there is a not a clear, public and obvious place to go for fact and science based information on issues such as nuclear or global warming … we are totally driven by people who generate huge amounts of noise, and the rest of them who just lie for the profit of whatever industry they work in.

      We don’t know what real honesty or patriotism is, and it is going to kill our species if we do not get a clue.

  6. Bruce K. says:

    Peter A. Bradford may be a smart guy, and have a lot of opinions, but Wikipedia says he merely has a law degree, not any training, and apparently not any understanding of science, nuclear physics or nuclear power plants and radiation. The ignorance in Ralph Nader’s, et al is astounding, and in my opinion undercuts everything else he has to say … Ralph Nader, at least on nuclear power ( and some other things ) has totally clay feet.

    Here are some links that are clear, wonderfully explained and very important for people to understand by Prof. David Ruzik …

    David N Ruzic
    Director, Illinois Plasma Institute, Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering
    Abel Bliss Professor, Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering
    Professor, Nuclear, Plasma, and Radiological Engineering
    Campus Honors Faculty, Office of the Provost
    Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering
    Professor, Micro and Nanotechnology Lab
    Professor, Health Care Engineering Systems Center, Coordinated Science Lab
    Professor, Biomedical and Translational Sciences

    Here are some of the video lectures Prof. Ruzik has produced free on YouTube:

    How Much is Too Much?
    Explains in detail the different dosages and effects of radiation on humans.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niFizj29h5c

    The Cost of Sunshine
    Explains in detail the economics of solar power.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKeiMWXUkCI

    Economics of Nuclear Reactor
    Compares the construction of a nuclear power compared to a natural gas power plant.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbeJIwF1pVY

    Dispelling the Myths of Nuclear Energy (Live Lecture)
    For example, that the high-level nuclear waste generated in the US in the last 63 years could all fit in a big room, and what low level nuclear waste is and how it is managed.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1QmB5bW_WQ

    Chernobyl: Worst Accident Ever
    Compares Chernobyl and Fukushima and explains the differences.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCbms6umE_o

    ABCs of Radiation
    Explains the different type of radiation and their dangers and shielding
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjkTzk8NAxM

    If you cannot watch some of these videos and either understand or criticize them intelligently, they you are just babbling pure ignorance. The fate of this planet in large part lies in the ability of people to at least withhold some of their emotion and engage their curiosity in learning and critical thinking ability – and raving naively about nuclear power is a useless and dangerous use of your time and political capital – people trust you folks.

    At least make an effort to learn something.

  7. John Puma says:

    Re: Energy and emissions.

    There is NO energy source or energy-generating technology that is CO2 emission-free when the entire process needed to generate the energy is considered in its entirety.

    Nuclear, solar and wind-powered plants may*** get close to zero CO2 emissions WHILE IN FINAL OPERATING MODE but all still require energy expenditure (i.e. CO2 emission) for the exploration, mining, transport and processing of raw materials, and transport of end products, (in)to reactor, solar panel and windmill.

    CO2 generated by combustion of fossil fuel, whether for driving one’s car or manufacture of a solar panel, remains in the atmosphere for centuries, so it is fraudulent (or is it “sincere” ignorance?) to perpetrate the fantasy of “emission-free energy production”?

    The ONLY effective approach to pending climate crisis is to acknowledge that massive reduction of consumption is necessary. Yes, this means turbo-consumption capitalism must go extinct if we are to prevent our species from doing so instead. It is well beyond time to stop enabling the small fraction of the terminally avaricious among us.
    —————————–
    *** only if one disregards the continued mining/processing of fuel in the case of reactors, or general maintenance/repair of physical plant, transportation of work force, etc., for any technology.

    • Bruce K. says:

      >> There is NO energy source or energy-generating technology that is CO2 emission-free when the entire process needed to generate the energy is considered in its entirety.

      I’m sorry, but that is so completely irrelevant it is borderline deceitful – as all the anti-nuclear criticisms turn out to be when examined closely, honestly and in the cold harsh light of reality.

      It is, destroy the planet or risk having some nuclear accidents.

      You can think about this as a human rights issue. Look at how much the blind support of fossil fuels and the poorly thought out alternatives for the future that are not going to happen have cost this country going back decades – the having to police the world’s energy support and control countries and populations and our own citizens in terms of money, lives, the environment, wars. Not to mention the cost in money for the energy we use that requires all this infrastructure – and political ossification.

      That the nuclear industry has not been managed well or given a chance to evolve and mature and the costs to go down is the thing that is going to make so many people’s lives one of misery and probable conflict and poverty when massively abundant energy is the only thing that gives us alternatives to make the future work.

      The CO2 we generate into the future must be seen as an investment to fix the CO2 problem, which of course is itself going to generate CO2, and we can be sure that we are not in the foreseeable future ever going to hit 0 emissions.

      There is no perfect, but the one thing we can be 100% certain of is that if we survive as a species and our Earth biosphere is to thrive we need massive amounts of energy to separate human industry from nature, to re-cycle, and to clean up our mistakes, to electrify our machines, to generate and distribute power, desalinate and distribute water to a drought challenges world to bring it back to green. We much need more, not less, and that is the deciding factor in favor of nuclear. The faster the better.

      • John Puma says:

        You can erroneously attach whatever unintended meaning you desire but my comment is hardly deceitful. It is, rather, a summary of relevant physical/chemical/thermodynamic reality.

        It was not an “anti-nuclear criticism” as I included solar and wind with nuclear.

        • Bruce K. says:

          I hope I’m repsponding to both your replies.

          Sorry if that seemed an attack, my point was that whether there is carbon attached to some technology is irrelevant to its usefulness, especially off into the future. We’ve got to get off carbon, and fast, and large scale as well. We can only do the best we can do. Sadly it is too late to make up for that by going fast!

          So, was your point that carbon by-products or side-effects of whatever technology must be taken into account for future planning and, except with fossil fuel, that carbon by-product would be continually decreasing … assuming we all live that long or we do not get a planetwide thermal runaway?

          I’d readily agree, but it is not a first order effect even with oil or coal, is it? I must be missing why you think that is critical to mention. Thanks.

          • John Puma says:

            My 2 response comments were equivalent – caused by system glitch.

            IF, as you say: “whether there is carbon attached to some technology is irrelevant to its usefulness,” then why are discussing at all the concept of dropping fossil energy sources?

            Your stated understanding of my point is correct as to: “So, was your point that carbon by-products or side-effects of whatever technology must be taken into account for future planning … … assuming we all live that long or we do not get a planet wide thermal runaway?” This, of course implies, choosing the most efficient (lowest CO2 cost) technology not simply generating exquisitely accurate accounting of destruction … as so much of “ecological” science currently seems content to do?!?

            I don’t understand ” … except with fossil fuel, that carbon by-product would be continually decreasing … ”

            I don’t know what you mean or consider by “first order effect even with oil or coal.”

            THE first order of business in any genuine effort to avoid imminent species extinction, is to DRASTICALLY reduce consumption (all types of which can occur only with CO2 emissions) … RIGHT NOW. This was in my last paragraph of the original comment.

      • John Puma says:

        You have misinterpreted my words to twist your message out of them. My comment was not anti-nuclear precisely because it included solar and wind energy sources. It WAS, solely, a much-needed summary of the physical/chemical/thermodynamic reality to be understood and incorporated into whatever plan emerges to deal with climate change.

        • Bruce K. says:

          > IF, as you say: “whether there is carbon attached to some technology
          > is irrelevant to its usefulness,” then why are discussing at all the
          > concept of dropping fossil energy sources?

          Really?

          Whatever energy infrastructure eventually arises it is unavoidable
          that fossil fuel will play its part in building it in all kinds of different
          ways. I hope that you can see that energy expended to get the
          economy off carbon sources is not in the same class as energy
          used in the economy.

          The reason is because the carbon based energy used in the economy
          just to keep things rolling is so much greater that the energy used to
          build any alternatives that the energy to changeover is insignificant in
          the long run.

          What we need is for it to start and to get done as fast as possible
          because it’s possible our planet is already dead with respect to
          the current ecological and environmental order.

  8. William Haught says:

    Yeah, right. A moratorium on NATO expansion probably just long enough for the U.S. to develop hypersonic missiles. Donetsk, Luhansk, and LDNR not mentioned once in the whole program.

  9. William Haught says:

    PS: As for Putin, Biden, and humiliation is concerned, what is needed is some humility on the part of the Cruzes and Wickers and others less human than Guo Dang Dang — or even humiliation. Either will do.

  10. William Haught says:

    Taiwan is a province of the one and only China, unless you want war with a nuclear power — false equivalence. It is more Chinese than Hawaii taken in a midnight coup and seven southwestern states taken after Zachary Taylor send 80 tripwire troops into an ambush so Polk could have the Eagle hold a snake in its beak is American. Then Taylor was (s?)elected President as a reward.

    • Beto says:

      Not true. Taiwan was invaded by China around 1911. Its original inhabitants are not Han Chinese. By the way, how is the weather in Shangai today?

  11. Don Klepack says:

    This is for the panel, and all the smart people that commented on this page. I was for Nuclear Energy but since chernoby, 3 mile island,, and fukushima became a sceptic but I never heard a good answer to question why the Country of France is doing so well with their cost and efficiency of their Nuclear Energy policy.. Below the latest website that discusses France.

    https://www.world-nuclear.org/information-library/country-profiles/countries-a-f/france.aspx

    • Bruce K. says:

      That is a pretty complicated paper, and I am not sure it really explains why France has done so well with its nuclear power. When you look at Fukushima and Chernobyl both of these accidents seem so stupid and unnecessary – totally irresponsible. My understand is that France’s system is either done by or overseen by the government, which seems to be a non-starter in America. Also, our own oil industry is fixated on oil both for their own profit and keeping the world under the control of the US.

      For a better understanding of a lot of these issues I’ve found the YouTube videos of Professor David Ruzic to be incredibly enlightening and educational. Here is the link to his library of videos that I highly recommend because of his objective and informed manner. Ruzic’s collection of videos on YouTune is at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKH_iLhhkTyt8Dk4dmeCQ9w/videos

      The American public has been scared to death over radiation and nuclear power, and those who are not programmed to go hysterical over the mere mention are pushed to be negative by lies. The people engaged in these lies think they are doing the right thing, and up until several years ago I was even one of them as I listened to the horror stories about Fukushima. As I found out more and listened to both sides I see nuclear as not only a good solution, but really the only solution. We are all being manipulated by our lack of understanding, and there is only one way to fix that.

      Here are some of the video lectures Prof. Ruzik has produced free on YouTube:

      How Much is Too Much?
      Explains in detail the different dosages and effects of radiation on humans.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=niFizj29h5c

      The Cost of Sunshine
      Explains in detail the economics of solar power.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VKeiMWXUkCI

      Economics of Nuclear Reactor
      Compares the construction of a nuclear power compared to a natural gas power plant.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbeJIwF1pVY

      Dispelling the Myths of Nuclear Energy (Live Lecture)
      For example, that the high-level nuclear waste generated in the US in the last 63 years could all fit in a big room, and what low level nuclear waste is and how it is managed.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1QmB5bW_WQ

      Chernobyl: Worst Accident Ever
      Compares Chernobyl and Fukushima and explains the differences.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bCbms6umE_o

      ABCs of Radiation
      Explains the different type of radiation and their dangers and shielding
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjkTzk8NAxM

      There are many other videos. The sad part is that in the absence of knowledge and understanding we get lied to from all sides, pro and anti nuclear … and that is the main remaining concern I have – that the people in this industry will be all about profit, but corners and lie to us – as all of our corporations and big industries have for so long. The problem with nuclear though is that it is down the wire and we have to act to curtail carbon fuels as much as possible as fast as possible.

      The other problem is the promulgation of lies and hate in our social media that until it stops we will continue to be an uneducated confused society that keeps declining relative to the other Western developed nations in every way.

      One thing I did not like about the paper you cited as this:
      > Adding boron to the water diminishes the reactivity uniformly, but to reverse the effect the water
      > has to be treated to remove the boron, which is slow and costly, and it creates a radioactive waste.

      It’s like the mere mention of waste is supposed to subliminally be a hard stop for consideration. The waste is talked about by Prof. Ruzic extensively and it is not unsolvable by any means, and there is a relatively minute amount of waste compared to other power generation methods.

  12. Lonie H. says:

    My brother shared this info with le, from another podcast, ( Here is an excerpt:)

    “And if Putin doesn’t like that deal, we still recognize Venezuela, and unleash their oil, without doubt the greatest weapon on this battlefield.

    Yes, the Germans have agreed (for this week at least) to cancel Nord Stream 2, the new gas pipeline from Russia. But that’s one more cruel joke in which the Ukrainians are the punchline, ignoring Nord Stream 1. Germany continues to take Russian oil and Nord Stream gas, sending Putin nearly $1 billion a day. This is the commercial equivalent of the Hitler-Stalin pact.

    The US and UK governments have seized Venezuela’s oil revenues (and even its gold reserves), leaving its people to starve. Yet, we are not holding back payments to Putin”

    I think he has a good point.
    here’s the link:
    “Venezuela Can Bring Putin to his Knees
    by Greg PalastFebruary 24, 2022”
    https://www.gregpalast.com/venezuela-can-bring-putin-to-his-knees/

  13. Lonie H. says:

    Also…. It’s hard to believe this conflict ( now war) is going on 100 years or more after my family immigrated from this part of the world.
    Thank you Ralph,
    for all you do.
    You are a treasure.
    I voted for you back in the day.

  14. Eve Teresa says:

    thank you this was a really helpful and informative show. I appreciate this show and your work greatly.