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|WAR IS OVER
|"No matter how cynical you
get, it's almost impossible
to keep up." - Lily Tomlin
|Way Worse Than a Dumb War:
Iraq Ten Years Later
Phyllis Bennis on March 18, 2013 - The Nation
Editor’s Note: This statement on the tenth anniversary of the launch of
the Iraq War was signed by Phyllis Bennis, John Cavanagh and Steve
Cobble (Institute for Policy Studies); Judith LeBlanc and Kevin Martin
(Peace Action); Laura Flanders (GritTV); Bill Fletcher (The Black
Commentator); Andy Shallal (Iraqis for Peace); Medea Benjamin (Code
Pink); Michael T. McPhearson and Leslie Cagan (United for Peace
and Justice); Michael Eisenscher (US Labor Against the War) and
David Wildman. All organizations for identification only.
It didn’t take long for the world to recognize that the US invasion and
occupation of Iraq constituted a dumb war, as then Senator Barack
Obama put it. But “dumb” wasn’t the half of it.
The US war against Iraq was illegal and illegitimate. It violated the UN
Charter, the Geneva Conventions and a whole host of international
laws and treaties. It violated US laws and our Constitution with impunity.
And it was all based on lies: about nonexistent links between Iraq and
Al Qaeda, about never-were ties between Saddam Hussein and
Osama bin Laden, about Iraq’s invisible weapons of mass destruction
and about Baghdad’s supposed nuclear program, with derivative lies
about uranium yellowcake from Niger and aluminum rods from China.
There were lies about US troops being welcomed in the streets with
sweets and flowers, and lies about thousands of jubilant Iraqis
spontaneously tearing down the statue of a hated dictator.
And then there was the lie that the US could send hundreds of
thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars worth of weapons across
the world to wage war on the cheap. We didn’t have to raise taxes to
pay the almost one trillion dollars the Iraq war has cost so far, we could
go shopping instead.
But behind these myths the costs were huge—human, economic and
more. More than a million US troops were deployed to Iraq; 4,483 were
killed; 33,183 were wounded and more than 200,000 came home with
PTSD. The number of Iraqi civilians killed is still unknown; at least
121,754 are known to have been killed directly during the US war, but
hundreds of thousands more died from crippling sanctions, diseases
caused by dirty water when the US destroyed the water treatment
system and the inability to get medical help because of exploding
And what are we leaving behind? After almost a decade the US finally
pulled out most of its troops and Pentagon-paid contractors. About
16,000 State Department-paid contractors and civilian employees are
still stationed at the giant US embassy compound and two huge
consulates, along with unacknowledged CIA and FBI agents, Special
Forces and a host of other undercover operatives. The US just sold
the Iraqi government 140 M-l tanks, and American-made fighter jets
are in the pipeline too. But there is little question that the all-
encompassing US military occupation of Iraq is over. After more than
eight years of war, the Iraqi government finally said no more. Their
refusal to grant US troops immunity from prosecution for potential war
crimes was the deal-breaker that forced President Obama’s hand and
made him pull out the last 30,000 troops he and his generals were
hoping to keep in Iraq.
But as we knew would be the case, the pull out by itself did not end the
violence. The years of war and occupation have left behind a
devastated country, split along sectarian lines, a shredded social fabric
and a dispossessed and impoverished population. Iraq remains one of
the most violent countries in the world; that’s the true legacy of the US
war. We owe a great debt to the people of Iraq—and we have not even
begun to make good on that commitment.
The US lost the Iraq War. Iraq hasn’t been “liberated.” Violence is
rampant; the sectarian violence resulting from early US policies after
the 2003 invasion continues to escalate. Of course we didn’t bring
democracy and freedom to Iraq—that was never on the US agenda.
The failure to “liberate” Iraq cannot be the basis for assessing the war.
The real assessment must be based on whether the war achieved the
goals that the Bush administration and its neo-conservative, military
CEO and Pentagon profiteering partners established for this war:
Consolidating permanent US control over Iraq’s oil. Nope, US oil
companies are just some of the myriad of foreign oil interests in Iraq’s
Leaving behind a pro-US, anti-Iranian government in Baghdad. Hardly,
Prime Minister al-Maliki is barely on speaking terms with anyone in
Guaranteeing permanent access to US bases in Iraq. Not even close,
all but two of the 500 plus US bases and outposts were either closed
down or turned over to the Iraqi military.
Ensuring that a post-war Iraqi government would allow the US to use
Iraq as a jumping off point to attack Iran. No way, despite continuing
billions of dollars of our tax money, the Iraqi government today is allied
more closely to Iran than the US.
In the buildup to the war, too many media, government officials,
academics and others allowed fear to curb their tongue or their
eagerness to curry favor with those in power to stifle their speech. This
remains a crucial lesson as we stand up to the escalation of Obama’s
drone war and continue to challenge those who call for war against
The war in Iraq began with significant support, with many people
accepting the false claims that this new war would bring security to a
still-frightened US public. But that support did not last long. Within the
first years, pro-war assumptions had been reversed, and by the end,
the anti-war movement and escalating casualties had turned around
public opinion so thoroughly that overwhelming majorities admitted the
war in Iraq was wrong and should never have been fought in the first
And this war showed us our power. It proved the possibility of
globalizing opposition even before the war began. The mobilization of
February 15, 2003, when the broad United for Peace and Justice
coalition joined with allies around the world on the day the world said
“No to War!” February 15 created what The New York Times called
“the second super-power,” ready to challenge the US drive towards
empire. Our movement changed history. While we were not able to
prevent the invasion of Iraq a month later, that mobilization proved the
illegality of the war. It demonstrated the isolation of the Bush
administration, pulled governments and the United Nations into a
trajectory of resistance, helped prevent war in Iran and inspired a
generation of activists, including some of those who, eight years later,
would create the Arab Spring in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
The US troops left behind a devastated, tortured Iraq. What they didn’t
leave behind is one dollar for reparations or compensation. That battle
still lies ahead. The US war in Iraq may be over, but we owe an apology
to all those who suffered from the war. And that apology must be
grounded in recognition of our enormous debt to the people of Iraq, a
debt for which compensation and reparations are only a start. Our real
obligation, to the people of Iraq and the region and the rest of the
world, is to transform our government and our country so that these
resource-driven wars, shaped by lies and fought for power and for
empire, whether in Iran or somewhere else, can never be waged again
Read more: http://www.thenation.com/blog/173396/way-worse-dumb-
|Weekend Edition November 8-10, 2013 COUNTERPUNCH.ORG
Nuclear Greens in a Post-Fukushima World
The Ring of Eternal Fire
by ALEXANDER COCKBURN and JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
Americans read the increasingly panic-stricken reports of meltdown
at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear-power plant in Japan and asked:
‘Can it happen here?’ They already knew the answer.
As the late great environmentalist, David Brower, used to put it, ‘nuclear plants are incredibly
complex technological devices for locating earthquake faults’. Along much of America’s West
Coast runs the Ring of Fire, which stretches all around the Pacific plate from
Australia, north past Japan, to Russia, Alaska, and down the coast to Chile. Some 90 per cent
of the world’s earthquakes happen around the Ring.
Apparently acting predictively on Brower’s piece of sarcastic wisdom, the US has
deployed four nuclear plants near the Ring of Fire fault lines, two of them in Brower’s home
state of California. In Eureka, California forty miles up the road from CP headquarters in
Petrolia, there was a boiling-water reactor that was closed in 1976 following an earthquake
from a ‘previously unknown fault’ just off the coast.
In its place, there are now spent nuclear fuel rods—except one they now cannot find—in
ponds, right on the shoreline; nicely situated for a tsunami, such as the one that disabled the
relief diesel generators that were designed to pump emergency coolant in the Fukushima plant.
Three plates meet at Triple Junction off Cape Mendocino. The region experienced a
7.1 earthquake in 1992.
Moral number one in the nuclear business: eyes wide shut at all times; deny the predictable.
Further south, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, is the Diablo Canyon nuclear
plant. It was planned in 1968 when no one knew about the Hosgri Fault, part of the Ring of Fire,
a few miles from the coast. Further enquiry established that there had been a 7.1 earthquake
forty years earlier, offshore from the plant, which was duly completed in 1973. The power
company, Pacific Gas & Electric, said it would beef up defences. In their haste, the site
managers reversed the new blueprints for earthquake-proofing the two reactors, so the retro-
fit was not a total success. Moral number two in the nuclear business, as in any other human
enterprise: somewhere along the line people always fuck things up.
Diablo Canyon was supposedly built and retro-fitted to survive a 7.3 quake intact. In 1906, San
Francisco was destroyed by a 7.7 quake, which ripped the San Andreas fault for 300 miles,
north and south of the city. Back to the first moral, ‘deny the predictable’: Diablo Canyon
authorities recently learnt of yet another fault and are now worried about ‘ground liquefaction’
in the event of a big quake. In 2008 there was an attack by a smack of jellyfish
(Yes, the collective noun is correct), which blocked the cold-water intake; the plant was
shut down for a couple of days. At the last count there were four identified faultlines
offshore from Diablo Canyon.
Another 150 miles south lies the recently shuttered San Onofre plant, perched on the shoreline.
It has been cited as ‘the scariest workplace in America’. People swim in its shadow, in waters
highly esteemed by anglers because fish gather there to enjoy the elevated temperatures;
some also claim the fish there get bigger, faster. There are storage ponds for spent fuel in a
decommissioned unit, a spherical containment of concrete and steel, the smallest wall being
an adamantine six feet thick; just about the same as the ruptured containment at one of the
collapsing Fukushima units.
Further illustration of moral number two, ‘fucking up’, is to be found in one of San Onofre’s
two sizzling units: the mighty engineering and construction firm Bechtel installed a 420-ton
nuclear-reactor vessel here backwards. The nearest faultline is the Cristianitos, deemed
inactive; see moral number one. The power company says San Onofre is built to withstand a
7.0 quake. There is a 25-foot sea wall, half the height of the walls that crumbled like sand along
Japan’s north-east coast, as the tsunami from the 9.0 Tohoku earthquake rolled in. San Onofre
is seawater-cooled. Environmentalists didn’t care for that, so they planned to build two cooling
towers the other side of Interstate 5, California’s main north–south road; immune to jelly-fish
attack, but open to other methods of assault. The Uniform California Earthquake Rupture
Forecast figures a 67 per cent probability of an earthquake 6.7 or higher for Los Angeles,
63 per cent for San Francisco. Up here in the Cascadia subduction zone—where one bit of
a plate pushes under another, as happens off north-east Japan—we have a 10 per cent
possibility of an 8 or 9 force quake; a Big One is a near certainty fairly soon.
The United States produces more nuclear energy than any other nation. It has 104 nuclear
plants, many of them old, prone to endless leaks and kindred malfunctions; all of them
dangerous. Twenty-four of them are the same design—by General Electric—
as the Fukushima reactors.
Take the Shearon Harris power station in North Carolina, also a repository for highly radioactive
spent fuel rods from two other nuclear plants. It would not even require a quake or tsunami,
only a moderately ingenious terrorist to breach Shearon Harris’s puny defences and sabotage
the cooling systems. A study by the Brookhaven Labs estimates that a pool fire there could
cause 140,000 cancers, and contaminate thousands of square miles of land.
The reactions to Fukushima from the nuclear industry’s shills have been predictable—
if still scarcely believable—sallies into cognitive dissonance. Thus Paddy Reagan, professor
of Nuclear Physics at the University of Surrey: “We had a doomsday earthquake in a country
with 55 nuclear power stations and they all shut down perfectly, although three have had
problems since. This was a huge earthquake, and as a test of the resilience and robustness
of nuclear plants it seems they have withstood the effects very well.”
Also jumping on the bandwagon are prominent greens like George Monbiot, who has seized
the opportunity of one of the worst disasters in the ‘peacetime’ history of nuclear power to
announce his endorsement of atomic energy in the Guardian:
You will not be surprised to hear that the events in Japan have changed my view of nuclear
power. You will be surprised to hear how they have changed it. As a result of the disaster at
Fukushima, I am no longer nuclear-neutral. I now support the technology. A crappy old plant
with inadequate safety features was hit by a monster earthquake and a vast tsunami. The
electricity supply failed, knocking out the cooling system. The reactors began to explode and
melt down. The disaster exposed a familiar legacy of poor design and corner-cutting. Yet,
as far as we know, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.
Does Monbiot live on Fantasy Island? “Sound as the roots of the anti-nuclear movement are,
we cannot allow historical sentiment to shield us from the bigger picture,” he wrotes. “Even
when nuclear power plants go horribly wrong, they do less damage to the planet than coal-
burning stations . . . The Chernobyl meltdown was hideous and traumatic. The official death toll
so far appears to be 43–28 workers in the initial few months then a further 15 civilians by 2005.”
The 1986 explosion in the fourth reactor at the Chernobyl power station in the Ukraine does
indeed remain the benchmark catastrophe amid peacetime nuclear disasters. Denial that
Chernobyl actually killed—and is killing—hundreds of thousands of people is crucial to the
efforts of the nuclear lobby. Amid the Fukushima crises, Fergus Walsh, the BBC’s medical
correspondent, comforted his audience with the absurdity that by 2006, Chernobyl had
prompted only sixty deaths from cancer; the same drivel has been repeated many times
over since the Fukushima catastrophe, buttressed by a shameful report overseen by the
UN’s nuclear lobby.
In 2009 the New York Academy of Sciences published Chernobyl: Consequences of the
Catastrophe for People and the Environment, a 327-page volume by scientists Alexey Yablokov,
Vassily Nesterenko and Alexey Nesterenko, the definitive study to date with comprehensive
health statistics. In the summary of his chapter ‘Mortality After the Chernobyl Catastrophe’,
Yablokov demonstrates that 4 per cent of all deaths in the contaminated territories of Ukraine
and Russia from 1990 to 2004 were caused by the Chernobyl catastrophe:
Set Fukushima next to Chernobyl and its ongoing lethal aftermath; think of southern California
or North Carolina. Nuclear expert Robert Alvarez, an advisor to Clinton and CounterPunch
contributor, wrote a few weeks after the meltdown that a single spent fuel-rod pool—as in
Fukushima Number 4 or Shearon Harris—holds more caesium–137 than was deposited by all
atmospheric nuclear-weapons tests in the northern hemisphere combined; an explosion in that
pool could blast ‘perhaps three to nine times as much of these materials into the air as was
released by the Chernobyl reactor disaster’.
Pro-nuclear greens like Monbiot and the despicable James Hansen prattle on about “better
safeguards.” Can they not get it into their heads that nuclear power’s entire history has been
the methodical breaching of supposedly reliable safeguards? There are 40-foot sea walls
around much of Japan’s coastline. The Fukushima tsunami went through them like a wavelet
through a child’s sandcastle.
Monbiot writes as though the nuclear-industrial-academic complex—one of the most powerful
lobbies in the world, in continuous operation for seventy years—did not exist. Yet its real-world
effects are plain enough. President Obama, for example, took plenty of nuclear-industry money,
specifically from the Exelon Corporation, for his presidential campaign. In his State of the Union
address in January 2011, Obama reaffirmed his commitment to ‘clean, safe’ nuclear power,
as insane a statement as pledging commitment to a nice, clean form of syphilis.
Post-Japanese earthquake, Obama’s press spokesman confirmed that nuclear energy
‘remains a part of the President’s overall energy plan’. Even as Fukushima Daiichi threatened
a runaway meltdown, Obama found time to record a tv interview for a news programme in
southwestern New Mexico on his 2010 proposal for nuclear-warhead development. The
centrepiece of this plan is funding for a sprawling $6bn factory to produce explosive triggers
for thermo-nuclear weapons at the Los Alamos nuclear compound, 50 miles from Santa Fe.
Why choose the moment of Fukushima’s collapse to address New Mexico? As the tv
interviewer made clear, it is home to powerful potential donors of Democratic Party campaign
funds: Lockheed Martin (which manages the Sandia National Laboratory, Bechtel, Babcock &
Wilcox and the urs Corporation (which, along with the University of California, collectively
administer Los Alamos).
In Germany and in France there have been huge turnouts against atomic energy in the wake of
Fukushima. In the US only a handful of Greens have spoken out. Why have we not seen furious
demonstrations outside every one of America’s 104 nuclear plants? One reason: major
environmental organizations long ago made a devil’s pact with the nuclear industry, which
since the early 1970s has worked to frame carbon dioxide as the real environmental problem
and nuclear power as its only solution.
Fixated by speculative and increasingly discredited models of anthropogenic global warming,
mainstream greens took the nuclear option. We are talking here about the Natural Resources
Defense Council, the World Wildlife Fund, the Sierra Club—which forced out David Brower when
he opposed Diablo Canyon—and people like Obama’s White House advisor John Holdren, along
with supposedly progressive outfits like the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists and the Union of
There has been no upsurge against nuclear power here because American progressives still
mostly cram in under the toxic umbrella of Obama’s energy plan. When the House of
Representatives (though not the US Senate) voted for a climate bill in 2009, a “clean energy
bank” to provide financial backing for new energy production, including nuclear,
was part of the bargain.
In political terms, nuclear power has always been a war on the people, starting with the
Japanese in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, going on to the Marshall Islanders, ranchers and kindred
inhabitants of test sites across the West, Native Americans, poor Latinos and African
Americans (the usual involuntary neighbours of waste dumps), people in the path of ‘accidents’
or deliberate secret experiments, and most recently Fukushima. Not the executives of the
Tokyo Electric Power Company. They are in Tokyo or heading further south. It is ‘worker heroes’
who know perfectly well they are doomed. It is the Board of TEPCO and the likes
of Monbiot and Hansen that should be sent to the front lines.
Look at the false predictions, the blunders. Remember the elemental truth that Nature bats last,
and that folly and greed are ineluctable parts of the human condition.
Why try to pretend that we live in a world where there are no force 8–9 earthquakes,
tsunamis, dud machinery, forgetful workers, corner-cutting plant owners, immensely powerful
corporations, permissive regulatory agencies, politicians and presidents
trolling for campaign dollars?
Is that the shoal on which the progressive movement in America is beached?
This shameful pact between the nuclear industry and many big greens must end.
A version of this article appeared in the April 2011 print issue of CounterPunch.
|PEACE ACTION YOUNGSTOWN
|Published on Sunday, November 10, 2013 by The Huffington Post
Why Does Congress Think
It's OK for Working Americans
to Go Hungry? by Jerry Lanson
The Dow closed the week at a record high. And all those billionaires? They're
barely even an exclusive club anymore, what with 442 in the U.S. in 2012 and
almost a thousand more than that globally, a jump of 200 in a single year, Forbes
data shows.Capital Area Food Bank serving the Washington DC metro area
(Photo: Capital Area Food Bank)
So why is it OK for working Americans to go hungry? Why in the midst such
affluence for the wealthy do we, as a nation, simply turn our back on those
struggling, even when they are lucky enough to land a job and work for a living?
To me, it is the shrug with which most Americans seem to greet such questions
today that offers the most alarming evidence we live in a broken and declining
society. Sure, each month we wait with anticipation for the job growth and
unemployment data. Today public radio was abuzz with excitement at the
better-than-anticipated numbers for new job creation in October.
I'm all for success; we need a whole lot more. But why do we barely notice the
figures about failure -- not the failure of individuals, but the failure of a society
to take care of its children, its disabled, its old people? The failure of that society --
our society -- to even acknowledge it's wrong to let people starve in the midst
Below the fold in today's New York Times, below all the excitement about
Twitter's public offering on the market, is a smallish article is titled "Cut in Food
Stamps Forces Hard Choices on Poor."
It tells the story of peple like Rafaela Rivera, a home health aide who earns $10 an
hour. Her husband is on disability. They support a household of four. They already
supplement the money for food they get from food stamps with handouts
from food kitchens. But on Nov. 1, Rafaela Rivera took a $36 cut in her food
stamps. She's one of millions who saw her benefits nibbled on the same day.
"Your not dealing with big numbers," Christopher Bean, executive director of
Part of the Solution, told the paper in a web video accompanying the article. "Maybe
for a lot of people $36 doesn't seem like a lot. If you're a family that's relying on
$300 to $400 just to go everywhere, $36 is huge."
A few weeks ago, Charles Blow wrote a column for The Times that once again
noted the growing disparity between rich and everyone else. It was titled
"Billionaires' Row and Welfare Lines."
He noted that while the rich are getting richer, U.S. Census data shows that the
median income in the country, in real purchasing power, has declined more than
8 percent since the last recession began in 2007. And he quoted from a Pew
Research Center report that noted:
During the first two years of the nation's economic recovery, the mean net worth
of households in the upper 7 percent of the wealth distribution rose by an
estimated 28 percent, while the mean net worth of households in the lower 93
percent dropped by 4 percent.
But the numbers don't tell the stories of the country's Rafaela Riveras, people
struggling to feed their families, working people. They're at the bottom of the food
chain, and there are many of them, quietly I'll bet, even in middle-class communities.
They are the one in seven Americans on food stamps today, most of them living
below the poverty level. Last year these Americans, many working, many others
disabled, cost the government more than $78 billion. It's a record, though still much
less than a fifth of the U.S. annual defense budget, the world's largest.
And soon that percentage spent on food stamps will drop further, perhaps
dramatically so. The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would
cut the food stamp budget in half over a decade's time. The Senate, meanwhile,
has proposed cuts of "only" $4.5 billion, an amount on a par with what's rippled
down in cuts of $10 and $20 and $30 a month to millions of recipients this
November, causing so much hardship.
Congress, of course, deals with data -- numbers -- not people. These times are
just fine for the constituents who lobby them and who pay their campaign bills.
But real people, people like the Riveras, will have limited choices as Congress
continues to turn the screws -- scavage for more food in kitchen pantries,
go hungry or steal.
Tell me. Doesn't that bother you just a little?
Copyright 2013 The Huffington Post
Jerry Lanson is an associate professor of journalism at Emerson College in Boston.
His third book, "Writing for Others, Writing for Ourselves: Telling Stories in an Age
of Blogging" will be published by Rowman & Littlefield this fall. His blog can be found
Brought to You by a Fracking-
The Lotto of a
by MICHAEL McGEHEE
December 12, 2013
It is a scary world and getting
scarier every day. I live in the
small town of Kennedale, Texas.
Population: 7,068. We are just
south of Fort Worth (whose city
motto is: “Where the West
Begins”), but just north of
Mansfield, a fast-growing suburb.
My family lives within the danger
zone of two nuclear power plants,
and two more whose construction
have been postponed. Were
Comanche Peak (1&2) to
experience some kind of disaster
like that in Fukushima, Japan—
whose reactor was severely
damaged in a 2011 earthquake—
we would be up radiologically-
contaminated Shit Creek
without a paddle.
Across the street from my home is
a hydraulic fracturing well. What
do these wells and nuclear power
plants have in common? More
than most North Texans may
Hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,”
is a process where wastewater is
used to fracture hard rock, like
shale, in order to get to the oil
and gas below by injecting it down
into the ground at high pressures.
A huge amount of natural gas has
been discovered underneath the
Barnett Shale here in the Fort
Worth Basin. Over the last several
years more than 50,000 of these
drilling wells have sprouted up all
across the state.
The dangers with these wells are
there are some 600 chemicals
used in the waste water, some of
the carcinogenic and toxic. But
there is a growing body of data
showing the process is linked to
earthquakes (also, see here and
here and here). Cliff Frohlich, a
research scientist at the Institute
for Geophysics at the University of
Texas at Austin, has explained it
as “the air hockey table model”:
“You have an air hockey table,
suppose you tilt it, if there’s no air
on, the puck will just sit there.
Gravity wants it to move but it
doesn’t because there friction
[with the table surface] . . . Faults
are the same.” The injection of
the water allows the faults to slip
more easily, producing the
obvious results we have
In the last six years, since the
fracking boom began, 60% of the
earthquakes in Texas (93 of 153)
have been here in North Texas.
While Earthquake Track goes
back only 38 years, between 7-38
years ago there were no
earthquakes here. None. Nada.
Zilch. Zero. In fact, from 7-38
years ago there were only 70
earthquakes in all of Texas. In a
six year span there were 25%
more earthquakes here in North
Texas than that 28 year period
for the entire state! For the state
as a whole, seismic activity has
increased more than 100% in six
years, as compared to
a 32-year period.
In the aftermath of the earthquake
that damaged the nuclear reactor
in Fukushima, Japan, we can turn
to a 2010 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory
Commission study that calculated
the odds of an earthquake strong
enough to damage the reactor
core of the two Comanche Peak
plants in nearby Glen Rose,
Texas. According to NBC, which
covered the study, there is a
“1 in 250,000 chance each year”
of such a catastrophe. To get an
idea of how things have worsened
for us here, the old estimate,
based on earthquake data as of
1989, was 1 in 833,333.
The change in risk: 233%.
The NRC’s data is as of 2008.
Earthquakes have escalated over
the last five years, especially in
Cleburne, Texas, which is only
twenty miles east of Comanche
Peak on US-67 (in fact, there
have been 16 earthquakes in
Cleburne over the last five years).
The probability of an earthquake
producing a nuclear disaster
is certainly greater.
According to Luminant, the Texas-
based utility company that
operates Comanche Peak,
“Nuclear power is a safe,
dependable, clean-air energy.” Of
course they make a lot of money
off of the nuclear power plant. But
considering the recent spate of
earthquakes in Azle and Mineral
Wells, I am not sure I feel as safe
and comfortable as they do. Here
in the Lone Star State the odds of
winning the Lotto Texas are 1 in
25 million. How safe are we when
we are more than 100x more likely
to experience a nuclear disaster
brought on by an earthquake than
we are to win the lottery?
By the way, this is not just limited
to Texas. Our neighbors are
having the same problems. In the
last ten years there have been
691 earthquakes in Oklahoma,
with 669 in the last six years,
since they too began fracking for
gas. And, to their east, and my
Northeast, the same pattern holds
for Arkansas: over the last
decade there have been 424
earthquakes in Arkansas, with
407 occurring in the last six years.
And remember, up until these
wells were dug and drilling began,
we in North Texas did not have
earthquakes. This is the price we
pay to have carbon-spewing semi-
trucks—adding a climate-
changing insult to the still-thawing
injury we have dubbed
of gallons of carcinogenic and
toxic wastewater to tens of
thousands of wells all across the
state in order to fracture hard
rock two miles underground so
that private multi-billion dollar
companies like Chesapeake
Energy can make a buck or two:
profits over people.
Michael McGehee is an
independent writer from
North Texas. He can be reached at