Nuclear Business as Usual

While other small business go the wall as collateral fallout of COVID19 , the military and civil nuclear global industrial complex continues with business as usual and even seeks to benefit from the pandemic.

Here in Cumbria the BAE shipyard at Barrow continues to build its next generation Weapons of Mass Destruction – nuclear submarines armed with Tomahawk Cruise Missiles “The Astute Class submarines feature the latest nuclear-powered technology and the Sonar 2076. The 7,400-tonne boat can circumnavigate the world submerged, limited only by their food storage capacity, manufacturing the crew’s oxygen from seawater as they go.  They also have the ability to operate covertly and remain undetected in almost all circumstances despite being 50 per cent bigger than the Royal Navy’s current Trafalgar Class submarines which is being replaced by the Astute Class.”

“COVID-19 has changed the way we are working at Barrow and our absolute priority is the health and safety of the workforce and local community. Precautions have been taken to implement social distancing and protection measures on site to allow work on critical operations such as HMS Audacious.”

On 6th April amid the COVID19 lockdown for the rest of UK society “HMS Audacious, the Royal Navy’s fourth Astute Class submarine has sailed from the BAES shipyard in Barrow in-Furness for her new home at Her Majesty’s Naval Base Clyde, where she will prepare for sea trials before entering operational service with the Royal Navy.”

Even the workforce at the shipyard are unhappy about work continuing amid the COVID19 pandemic – there is a petition which has recieved scant attention …nevertheless over 500 folk have signed, many with family at the shipyard in Barrow.

Across the Atlantic in the US, the Phoenix New Times reports that the Uranium industry (necessary to the military, civil nuclear industrial complex) has asked for a COVID19 bailout of $150M. This has sparked a “Disgusted Pushback.” The Phoenix New Times explains:

“When Jamescita Peshlakai was a little girl, she herded sheep along the Little Colorado River, which courses through the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona.

One July morning in 1979, a dam containing tailings from United Nuclear Corporation’s uranium mill some 200 miles away broke, letting loose more than 1,000 tons of waste. Ninety-four million gallons of radioactive water gushed into the Puerco River, which feeds the Little Colorado. ADVERTISING

More than 40 years later, the Church Rock spill is still the biggest release of radioactive material in American history.

The lambs born soon after that disaster barely lasted after birth, recalled Peshlakai, now an Arizona state senator. 

“Once the umbilical cord was cut, they simply died,” she said. “That happened to a lot of livestock at that time, and we did not know it was because of the Church Rock spill.”A historic photo of the Church Rock uranium mill in New Mexico.A historic photo of the Church Rock uranium mill in New Mexico.Wikimedia Commons

Uranium mining has left a toxic, indelible imprint on the Navajo Nation. Mining companies would come in over the years to hire Navajo people for the backbreaking work of picking at uranium ore and hauling it in wheelbarrows. 

When the companies were ready to move on, they abandoned more than 500 mines on the Navajo Nation, the water they had contaminated, and the people who worked them, many of whom died of cancer and whose offspring were born with birth defects, Peshlakai said. 

“They never did anything to fix the land, and fix the communities or the tribal nations that they used,” Peshlakai said.

That legacy has done nothing to stop America’s dwindling uranium mining industry from going to the federal government and asking to be bailed out in the midst of a public health crisis.

At the end of March, two uranium companies penned a letter to President Donald Trump asking for a $150 million bailout, citing the economic impacts of COVID-19. One of them was Energy Fuels Resources, which hopes to open a uranium mine south of the Grand Canyon and whose exploratory operations already have led to it trucking radioactive wateracross the Navajo Nation.

The request quickly sparked disgust and fury among those who oppose the industry’s deleterious effects on people and the land.”

The Full Article can be read here

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