A Recap of Recent Healthy Climate Victories

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KING 5 News Story on Columbia Generating Station Nuclear Waste Violations

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The Columbia Generating Station near Richland, WA, the region's only nuclear power plant.
Photo: KING

On August 10th, 2017 Susannah Frame of King 5 news in Washington state published an in-depth look at nuclear waste transport violations at the Columbia Generating Station near Richland, WA. Because of multiple errors in its shipping of radioactive waste, The Washington State Department of Health has suspended indefinitely the shipment of radioactive waste from the nuclear plant. Click here to read and watch the report.

Click here to see more information about the Columbia Generating Station, formerly known as WPPSS Nuclear Plant #2.

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Montana Coal Train Dumps 30 Cars of Coal Near and Into Clark Fork River

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Thirty coal trains overturned alongside the Clark Fork River in Montana.
Photo Credit: Sandy Compton

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 15, 2017

CONTACT: Regna Merritt, Power Past Coal Co-Director, 971.235.7643, regna@oregonpsr.org

Montana Coal Train Dumps 30 Cars of Coal Near and Into Clark Fork River

NOXON, MT - A westbound 120-car coal train derailed at approximately 11:00 pm on Sunday, August 13th about 10 miles west of Noxon, Montana. Thirty of the 120 uncovered rail cars, each fully loaded, dumped dirty and dangerous coal next to and into the Cabinet Gorge Reservoir of the Clark Fork River. There were no injuries. Crews are working to clean up the mess and hope to finish on Wednesday. The track is closed.

“Despite many track upgrades through Montana, coal trains still derail, and they still discharge their loads into our rivers and countryside when they crash,” said Beth Kaeding of Bozeman and a spokesperson for Northern Plains Resource Council. “Shipping coal to Asia comes with a high price that all of us must pay.”

"Clark Fork River has overcome decades worth of toxic pollution from mining activity to provide some of the best fly-fishing in the country,” said Shannon Williamson, Executive Director of Lake Pend Oreille Waterkeeper. “This incident is yet another reminder of what's at risk when we transport tons of uncovered piles of dirty coal along environmentally sensitive water bodies. Why sacrifice our clean water when we've got better, cleaner options for powering our homes and businesses?"

"This derailment underscores why coal export proposals must be stopped. The proposed Millennium coal export terminal in Longview, Washington would add 16 more coal trains to railways in the Inland and Pacific Northwest,” stated Regna Merritt, co-director of the Power Past Coal coalition. “It is fortunate that no injuries resulted from this coal train wreck but the impact to the spectacular Clark Fork River will be seen for years to come."

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Photo Credit: Sandy Compton

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Photos from Portland's 2017 Hiroshima & Nagasaki Memorial

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The crowd at Portland's 2017 Hiroshima & Nagasaki Day commemoration at the Japanese American Historical Plaza.

On Wednesday, August 9th, 2017, Oregonians gathered in downtown Portland on a hot summer evening to commemorate the tragedy of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II in 1945. This year marks the 72nd anniversary of the horrifying loss of tens of thousands of lives as the United States made the decision to deploy our nuclear arsenal. The event came a month after 122 countries voted in the United Nations to approve a historic treaty ban on nuclear weapons. It also occurred in the midst of the United States current embroilment in nuclear threats with North Korea.

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The theme of this year's memorial was "Remembering Hiroshima and Nagasaki: From Despair to Hope." Oregon PSR's Associate Director Sean Tenney spoke of historic new movements to ban nuclear weapons and a rise in activism among his community as sources of hope as we honor the despair of Japanese communities' trauma. Community groups including faith communities and Veterans for Peace Chapter 72 held vigil with flags and a giant peace dove.

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Sean Tenney, Oregon PSR's Associate Director, delivered keynote remarks.

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Quakers from Multnomah Meeting of Friends

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We honored indigenous activist Russell Jim for his steadfast and critically important work on Hanford Nuclear Reserve cleanup. We also displayed Mayor Ted Wheeler's proclamation that August 9th, 2017 is "Nagasaki Day for Nuclear Weapons Abolition." 

Artists Yukiyo Kawano and Allison Cobb shared a multilingual poem as a teaser for their art event that was hosted in conjunction with the outdoor program. That art event, "Suspended Moment" was performed with butoh, sound, words, light, and poetry. It was performed in the shadow of the to-scale model of the nuclear weapon dropped on Hiroshima made out of Yukiyo's hibakusha grandmother's kimonos. 

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Allison Cobb and Yukiyo Kawano

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Yukiyo Kawano's life-size nuclear bomb sculpture, made out of her grandmother's kimonos.

We were fortunate to have community activist Polo Catalani emceeing the event. The Reverend Yuki Sugahara of the Oregon Buddhist Temple led the crowd in a moment of silence. Portland Taiko was generous in performing as an opening and closing to the spoken program. 

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Emcee Polo Catalani

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The Rev. Yuki Sugahara

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We are grateful to all of the cosponsoring organizations and generous donors who helped to make this event possible. We will see you next year, and before then, we will see you in the streets as we mobilize to ensure that nuclear weapons are never used again.

CLICK HERE for video footage of the Portland Taiko opening performance.

CLICK HERE for the Mayor of Portland's proclamation of "Nagasaki Day for Nuclear Weapons Abolition." 

 

 

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Energy Northwest has Radioactive Waste Disposal Privileges Revoked by WA State Again

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The Columbia Generating Station at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, WA.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 11, 2017

CONTACT: Chuck Johnson, Physicians for Social Responsibility (503) 777-2794; chuck@oregonpsr.org

Energy Northwest has Radioactive Waste Disposal Privileges Revoked by WA State Again

PORTLAND, OR - On July 26, 2017, quietly and with no reporting to the media, the State of Washington’s Department of Health found that Energy Northwest vastly under-reported the radioactivity of a July 20, 2017 low-level radioactive waste shipment. As it had after a previous similar incident in November, the Department of Health indefinitely revoked the nuclear utility’s right to ship radioactive materials to the state’s licensed disposal site.

Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station (CGS) nuclear power plant, the Northwest’s only nuclear power facility, located on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation along the Columbia River, was already under a “white finding” heightened monitoring program administered by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for repeatedly delivering incorrectly reported waste shipments to Washington’s Low-level Radioactive Waste Facility, located further inland at Hanford. Energy Northwest’s appeal of the “white finding” was denied by the NRC in June and yet, less than a month later, the utility was found guilty of the same error that had placed it into a category of additional NRC scrutiny shared by only 13 of the 99 US nuclear power reactors.

This poor performance by operators of the CGS nuclear reactor mirrors its bottom quarter performance ratings for the last two years by industry watchdog Institute for Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) – a status Energy Northwest initially tried to hide from its own board and has stopped reporting altogether, ostensibly because INPO has told them these ratings are proprietary. Energy Northwest’s INPO ratings have been charted since it began operating in 1984 and the utility only stopped reporting them in January 2016 after a whistleblower letter to the Energy Northwest board of directors revealed the deceptive presentation of the ratings to the board.

Economist Robert McCullough noted that Energy Northwest – previously known as the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS, pronounced ‘whoops’) – has been challenged by the Bonneville Power Administration to reduce costs, due to low power prices in the region. “They have been costing the region hundreds of millions of dollars annually since 2008,” McCullough said, “and the pressure to improve its financial performance will inevitably affect areas such as completing timely repairs and operator performance.”

Bonneville, through agreement in the 1970s, is required to buy power from the Columbia Generating Station and to pay down the debt of two additional Energy Northwest reactors that were abandoned in the 1980s. Nuclear project costs make up 36% of Bonneville’s annual expenses, while supplying 10% of Bonneville’s electricity, the bulk of which comes from inexpensive hydroelectric power, to its utility customers.

“This shows that the problems of poor performance revealed by the whistleblower letter last year have not been resolved,” said John Pearson, MD, a nuclear power critic representing Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).

National PSR board member Dr. Steven Gilbert agreed: “Given its consistently poor operation, high price, and the inherently dangerous high-level radioactive waste it generates with no permanent disposal site, we believe it is now time to replace the CGS nuclear reactor with affordable renewable energy sources, which are readily available in this region.” Using solar panels, Dr. Gilbert generates more than 100% of the electricity used annually in his family home in Seattle.

Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility works to protect human life from the gravest threats to health and survival. More information is available at www.oregonpsr.org and twitter.com/oregonpsr.

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On August 10th, 2017 Susannah Frame of King 5 news in Washington state published an in-depth look at nuclear waste transport violations at the Columbia Generating Station near Richland, WA. Because of multiple errors in its shipping of radioactive waste, The Washington State Department of Health has suspended indefinitely the shipment of radioactive waste from the nuclear plant. Click here to read and watch the report.

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Health & Environmental Justice Groups Applaud Metro Council Decision to Abandon Waste Incineration Proposal

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Oregon PSR and 350 Salem after the Metro Solid Waste Alternatives Advisory Committee heard testimony in opposition to sending 200,000 tons of the Portland area's trash to the Covanta Marion Waste-to-Energy incinerator in Brooks, OR.

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release: August 8th, 2017

Contact:
Damon Motz-Storey, Oregon PSR, 303.913.5634, damon@oregonpsr.org
Jo Ann Hardesty, NAACP Portland Branch, 503.957.4364, joannhardesty@gmail.com
Mary Peveto, Neighbors for Clean Air, 503.705.0481, mary@whatsinourair.org

Health, Environmental Justice, and Community Groups Applaud Metro Council
Decision to Reject Covanta Marion Waste-To-Energy Incineration Proposal

200,000 Tons of Metro Area Trash Will Not Be Burned in Brooks, OR

August 8th, 2017 (Portland, OR) – This afternoon, health, environmental justice, and community groups celebrated as the Metro Council voted to proceed no further with a proposal to send 200,000 tons of waste per year to the Covanta Marion incinerator in Brooks, OR. The amount equals one-fifth of the tri-county area’s solid waste and would have emitted high levels of air pollution and greenhouse gas. Fifteen organizations including Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), The NAACP Portland Branch, and Neighbors for Clean Air sent a letter to the Metro Council last week urging them to abandon the proposal.

"Waste-to-energy incineration is an outmoded, dirty, high-carbon technology that is inconsistent with the climate action, environmental justice, and sustainability policies embraced throughout our region,” said Joseph Miller, PhD of Oregon Physicians for Social Responsibility and the Metro Stakeholder Advisory Group for the project’s Health Impact Assessment. “Today's decision allows Metro to more intensely focus on its excellent waste reduction, reuse, recycling, and composting programs, and its current emphasis on getting food scraps out of the waste. No one likes landfills, or the air emissions produced by them or by transporting waste to them, but the way to reduce both is to reduce our total waste as well as food scraps waste."

“The NAACP Portland Branch appreciates Metro’s process to include community members in the review of the consultants recommendations. Unfortunately the recommendation that was under consideration ignored frontline communities most impacted by this plant,” said Jo Ann Hardesty, President of the NAACP Portland Branch. “We commend Metro Councillors for rejecting this proposal to expand Covanta. We look forward to working with Metro on developing a more equitable solution that incorporates our clean energy objectives.”

"We have learned so much over the last year about what was not understood about potential health risks from air toxics,” said Mary Peveto, President of Neighbors for Clean Air. “The emissions from burning anything, especially the problematic mix of waste material, creates untold and nearly unmeasurable risk for anyone in its path. This should be a last resort option."

Based upon U.S. Environmental Protection Agency data, waste-to-energy incinerators produce more pollution and global warming emissions per unit of electricity produced than coal-fired power plants. Communities that already face socioeconomic and health inequities, which include youth, elders, people of color, and low-income communities, would have been most severely impacted by the proposal. Waste-to-energy still requires landfilling since one ton of incinerator ash is produced for every four tons of solid waste burned.

The proposal was considered not long after the City of Portland and Multnomah County both made strong commitments to renewable energy on June 1st, 2017 that specifically excluded incineration of municipal waste from their definitions of clean, renewable energy. Metro Council President Tom Hughes also joined Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler, Multnomah County Commission Chair Deborah Kafoury, Beaverton Mayor Denny Dole, and Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba in signing the "We Are Still In" letter to the international community. The letter affirms that, despite the actions of the Trump Administration, they and many other "mayors, governors, college and university leaders, businesses, and investors are joining forces for the first time to declare that we will continue to support climate action to meet the Paris Agreement."

Guided by the values and expertise of medicine and public health, Oregon PSR works to protect human life from the gravest threats to health and survival. Locally, the Portland NAACP is focusing its efforts on economic equity, police accountability, and leadership development. Neighbors for Clean Air works to make public health a priority in Oregon’s air quality standards and programs for toxic emissions.

The groups who joined Oregon PSR, Portland NAACP, and NCA are 350 Salem, 350PDX, APANO, BARK, Beyond Toxics, Climate Action Coalition, Eastside Portland Air Coalition, Onward Oregon, Oregon Chapter, Sierra Club, North Portland Air Quality, PCUN, and Verde.

Resources:


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Advocate for an Informed Decision at Portland City Council's Hearing on Bull Run Water Treatment

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Bull Run Reservoir, source of the majority of Portland's drinking water.

Should we spend $500 million on a filtration plant PLUS $100 million on a UV plant to treat Bull Run water? This is the hasty recommendation, released late last week, of the Portland Water Bureau. There is considerable confusion regarding Bull Run treatment decisions.

Oregon PSR agrees with PUB, CUB and water customers on this point: we must have an informed public discussion before decisions are made. The Portland City Council must not lock down on a specific treatment on August 2. We all deserve accurate information and sufficient time to digest it, including information about potential impacts to low-income communities, communities of color, and the carbon footprint of alternatives. Let's not be forced into a hasty decision.

Please prepare 2-3 minute testimony or simply attend. We need a good crowd at the Portland City Council hearing to ensure that the Council agrees to request an extension from the Oregon Health Authority. Please join us:

WHAT: Portland City Council hearing and vote on Bull Run Drinking Water Treatment
WHEN: Wed. August 2, 2017 2:00pm (Time Certain)
WHERE: Portland City Hall, Council Chambers
1221 SW 4th Ave, Portland, OR

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What Does Peace Really Mean? Reflections on a Visit to Hanford's B Reactor

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The face of the Hanford B Reactor, 36 feet tall with over 2,000 horizontal aluminum loading tubes.

July 27th, 2017
By Damon Motz-Storey, Oregon PSR Program Assistant

On July 7th, 2017, one hundred and twenty-two countries in the United Nations voted to enact a treaty ban on nuclear weapons. Not a single one of those 122 countries was a nuclear-armed nation. 

On July 11th, 2017, I traveled with seven others from Oregon PSR to visit the first fully functional nuclear reactor at the Hanford Nuclear Reserve near Richland, Washington. It took us many hours of driving along the Columbia River and watching the landscape around us change dramatically from verdant, rain-soaked Portland to the yellow, arid plains of eastern Washington. In one way, it felt like a return to familiar lands, since I grew up driving from dry Colorado across the midwestern plains to see my family in Southern Illinois.

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Oregon Legislative Wrap-Up 2017

The 2017 Oregon legislative session finished up this month with a few victories and a lot of disappointment in terms of protecting the health of Oregonians. Oregon PSR weighed in on a number of bills from climate and environmental health protection to stopping nuclear power, curbing gun violence, and ensuring all kids have access to health care. Thanks to so many of you who responded to our numerous requests to call your legislators, attended lobby days, and submitted testimony.

Here’s how it all shook out in the end:

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15 Organizations Oppose Metro Sending Waste to Covanta Incinerator

Oregon PSR, NAACP Portland and Neighbors for Clean Air along with twelve other organizations sent a letter today to Metro Council asking them to oppose sending waste to the Covanta incinerator in Brooks, Oregon. 

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