Fighting back in Erwin

Erwin TN Brian Stansberry_WikiM

On this week’s edition of Nuclear Hotseat: Erwin, Tennessee (pictured) is a small, seemingly idyllic town with a big problem: Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc., known as NFS, a company that since the 1960s has been a major supplier of nuclear fuel for the United States Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered vessels. These fuel fabrication operations have resulted in ongoing chemical and radioactive poisoning of underground and surface water, including a river contaminated with enriched uranium, as well as numerous other violations.

Now, the U.S. government has granted NFS $57.5 million USD to refine uranium into thermonuclear bomb-grade material. The local citizens’ action group, Erwin Citizens Awareness Network (ECAN), which opposes the plant, has been fighting back, hard.

One of their most inspired moves was to put together a sterling group of experts for a one-day People’s Hearing for Nuclear Awareness.

Host Libbe HaLevy spoke with the panelists to get a full picture of the problems.

  • Terry Lodge is an environmental and civil rights lawyer representing protesters opposing nuclear power and nuclear weapons, mountaintop removal, fracking and its radioactive waste, and war. He has been working with ECAN.
  • Michael Ketterer is currently Professor Emeritus of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Northern Arizona University, and was formerly with the US environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Enforcement.
  • Mary Olson is an Evolutionary Biologist; Founder of Gender and Radiation Impact Project, and retired Radioactive Waste Specialist for Nuclear Information and Resource Service.
  • Patrick O’Neill is a journalist co-founder of the Father Charlie Mulholland Catholic Worker House, and part of the Kings Bay Plowshares nonviolent direct action and other peace work, for which he has been imprisoned for over three years.
  • Mari Inoue, Esq., is an attorney. Born and raised in Tokyo, she is a co-founding member of the Manhattan Project for a Nuclear-Free World, which is raising awareness about concerns in communities impacted by nuclear policy.

And on this week’s Hot Story, Beyond Nuclear’s Linda Pentz Gunter notes the upcoming 37th commemoration of the Chornobyl nuclear power plant disaster and asks, beyond the suffering of humans, what we know about the health of dogs (and cats) left behind in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone. (Headline photo by Brian Stansberry/Wikimedia Commons.)

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