Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search


Bush's Nuke Cronies Re-Open Door For Apocalypse

Bush's Hole-In-Head Nuke Cronies Re-Open Door For Terror Apocalypse

By Harvey Wasserman

George W. Bush's big-money backers at Ohio's infamous FirstEnergy electric monopoly are re-opening the door for a nuclear apocalypse by terror or incompetence (whichever comes first). In classic Bush style, they are trashing public oversight as they go.

The Akron-based FirstEnergy blacked out the entire northeast a year ago, resulting in at least $10 billion in losses to the public. No criminal charges have been filed, though the company has reportedly paid tens of millions in civil suits and has been under grand jury investigation for a wide range of issues.

FirstEnergy's top management, starting with President Anthony Alexander, has poured huge sums into Bush's campaign coffers. Before last year's blackout FE big wigs hosted a fundraiser with Vice President Dick Cheney, raising a reported $600,000.

FirstEnergy has gouged billions from Ohio ratepayers as part of a California-style deregulation fiasco. In its wake, FE extended its reach from northern Ohio to New Jersey, buying the Three Mile Island nuke plant along the way. Promised competition has not materialized, leaving more than four million FE customers hostage to an unregulated monopoly.

FirstEnergy has so badly mismanaged the Perry reactor on Lake Erie East of Cleveland that the timid, industry- owned Nuclear Regulatory Commission has actually threatened to shut it down. Repeated, extremely dangerous pump failures have prompted a rare admission of guilt from the utility itself.

FE also owns the infamous Davis-Besse reactor outside Toledo. Over a six-year period boric acid leaked on D- B's critical reactor pressure vessel, eating a six-inch hole all the way through it. Only a thin shroud and what one expert calls "blind luck" saved all of northern Ohio from a radioactive apocalypse.

The aging, badly built Three Mile Island clone is notoriously vulnerable to terror attack. Recent breakthroughs in windpower have made it possible for northern Ohioans to entirely supplant the rickety reactor with new turbines. Two large wind machines went on line near Bowling Green last September and are running ahead of projections; two more are on their way up.

While D-B was shut for repairs for more than a year, the region suffered no shortages. The reactors on line during last August's blackout worsened rather than lessened the crisis.

The Washington-based Nuclear Information & Resource Service is challenging recent NRC rulings allowing D- B to restart after a fresh round of safety and operating problems. On the afternoon of Monday, August 16, three NRC Commissioners quietly voted to hold a public meeting at 9:25am the following morning. The meeting was part of a legal appeal against the Commission's vote on restart. NRC rules require a one-week notice.

Instead the Commissioners e-mailed notice to NIRS attorneys in Toledo at 8:30 the morning of August 17th, less than an hour before the hearing was to begin. "The Agency sunset its own sunshine law," says NIRS's Paul Gunter. "Whose government is this, anyway?"

U.S. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-Cleveland) has called FE's performance "troubling." NIRS had planned to call him and Representative Marcy Kaptur (D-Toledo) to underscore growing northern Ohio determination to get these reactors shut. In objecting to the Davis-Besse restart, NIRS and local plaintiffs have documented violations of mandatory fire protection for reactor safe shutdown equipment. According to Gunter, FE's fire protection plan relies on "Indiana Jones-style runners" instead of reliable structural firewalls.

Critics also warn the shaky, unstable reactor could be a target for terror attack. A disaster at Davis-Besse or Perry could cause untold casualties along the Erie lakefront, along with incalculable billions in economic damage.

But Toledo Attorney Terry Lodge charges that "when serious safety allegations didn't fit the agency's restart script, NRC omitted them from any restart considerations."

Plaintiff Michael Keegan called the NRC "rogues masquerading as regulators" and demanded Congressional intervention.

Given FE's lucrative ties to the Bush Administration, and the fact that they've walked away unindicted from last year's blackout, only a regime change in Washington is likely to have an impact.


Harvey Wasserman is senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and the Nuclear Information & Resource Service. HARVEY WASSERMAN'S HISTORY OF THE US is available at

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>



Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>


Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>


Get More From Scoop

Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news