Report: From Hiroshima to Fukishima to California

The San Jose Peace and Justice Center commemorated the sixty-sixth anniversary of the tragic nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Friday, August 11th, at the Joyce Ellington Library in San Jose with the “From Hiroshima to Fukishima to California” anti-nuclear event, part of the Center’s “no-nuke summer”. After a moment of silence for the victims of Hiroshima, San Jose Peace and Justice Center President Sharat Lin commented on contemporary developments regarding nuclear weapons. Lin pointed out that even supervised nuclear power is not safe, as the world witnessed during the Fukushima disaster after Japan’s recent earthquake; that a recent Global Zero report estimates that nuclear powers will spend one trillion dollars on nuclear weapons developments within the next decade; and that, unlike during the Cold War, now nuclear powers – specifically the United States and Israel – -have threatened to use nuclear weapons for a first strike. Lin also noted that there was little reasoning for the nuclear weapons used against Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as Japan had already approached the USSR during World War II to surrender.

The first speaker, Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley Cares, discussed contemporary nuclear weapons research, especially at Lawrence Livermore Labs in Berkeley. Tri-Valley Cares functions, among other purposes, as a watchdog for the Lab. Kelly commented that even under the Obama Administration, the United States was moving in “the wrong direction,” as the 2012 nuclear weapons budget is significantly larger than the nuclear weapons budgets under George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan. She noted that Livermore Labs was one of two locations in the United States that had designed every nuclear weapon the United States has used, and that of the 1.2 billion dollar budget requests at Lawrence Livermore Labs, 89% were for nuclear weapons, while 0.06% were alloted for alternative energies. In addition, the Lab’s nuclear waste has had serious health effects on employees of the labs, as well as local residents and the environment, which Tri-Valley Cares has mobilized to clean up.

Ed Ehmke of the Pacific Life Community (PLC) spoke next, primarily discussing civil disobedience and the assembly of nuclear weapons at Building 181 at the Lockheed Martin facility in Sunnyvale. Ehmke promoted the PLC’s monthly vigils outside the facility every fourth Friday, and pointed out the long history of jailing anti-nuclear activists. Lockheed Martin, along with a myriad of other corporations, says Ehmke, assembles nuclear warheads for the Trident Missile, capable of causing an explosion roughly the size of “3800 Nagasakis” or 475 kilotons. The vast majority of Lockheed Martin’s business is for the United States government, while the remaining twenty percent involves exporting military equiptment; Lockheed Martin has not manufactured a commercial airplane since 1983. Ehmke also suggested that the government has provided poor and unsafe security at nuclear assembly sites, which have been penetrated by non-violent peace activists in the past.

The final speaker, Barbara George of Women’s Energy Matters, discussed several aspects of nuclear power and local control of utilities. George discussed the successful implementation of a government energy-purchasing authority in Marin as an alternative to the PG&E monopoly, and previous attempts by PG&E to prevent locals from retaking control over energy distribution. She noted that San Jose is currently looking to follow in Marin’s footsteps in doing so. George also spoke about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) failure to address earthquakes during emergency planning for nuclear power facilities, and that due to the size and intersection of earthquake fault lines in California, an earthquake could have devastating Fukushima-style consequences for Californians. George also pointed to a recent Guardian report that suggested that government officials were collaborating with nuclear power companies in order to head off anticipated criticism from anti-nuclear activists. Finally, George suggested drafting anti-nuclear city and county resolutions for residents to promote.

Some thirty people were in attendance for the event. The event was sponsored by Code Pink (San Jose), the Green Party of Santa Clara County, the Nihonmachi Outreach Committee, our developing world, South Bay Mobilization, Veterans for Peace (Chapter 101), and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (San Jose).

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