by James Heddle
“So I think if I wanted to pass on my DNA I would probably choose to be a cockroach ….”
Elizabeth Kolbert author of ‘The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History’
Ukraine: Energy War Ground Zero
As Extinction Number Six proceeds apace – the first of the Great Extinctions to be caused by planet-scale human activity – with hundreds of species disappearing into oblivion at an accelerating rate, the dominant nations of the world are in a ‘race for what’s left‘ of the earth’s resources, especially energy sources.
A major epicenter of that moronic, ecocidal competition is Ukraine. As Canadian commentator Prof. John McMurtry shows in his recent analysis, “Global Society Destruction” and The Ukraine Crisis: Decoding its Deep Structural Meaning, “…Ukraine – the biggest country and bread basket of Europe – has now been pried wide open for transnational Western banks, agribusiness, Big Oil and NATO to feed on.”
The maps below tell the story.
NATO is pushing forward in its strategy to encircle Russia & China. [For background on this issue, see: Mearshimer & Cohen on Crosstalk
Mother-earth-fracking transnational energy corporations are circling, licking their their chops over the third largest shale gas deposits in Europe.
US and European strategists are moving to control the flow of gas through the many pipelines that crisscross the Ukrainian landscape, bringing supplies from Russia and the Middle East to Europe.
The IMF and the EU banking elite are pushing for control of the Ukrainian economy with the help of the country’s recently coup-installed banker president, Arseniy Yatseniuk. [ Asst. Sec. of State Victoria (F**k the EU) Nuland’s pet name for him is ‘Yats.’)
Solar Offensive from an Oil-Rich (and Silicon-Rich) State
A Qatari-controlled & supplied German solar company is hoping to replace Russian gas with its solar panels.
Nuclear Fuel Salesmen
Oh, and Westinghouse is competing with Russia to supply nuclear fuel to Ukraine’s fleet of operating nuclear reactors.
What Ukrainian Nuclear Reactors?
Hadn’t heard about those? Yup. Conflict-racked Ukraine is home to 15 aging Russian nuclear reactors of the famous Chernobyl design – six of them at the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Station – the largest nuclear power plant in Europe and the fifth largest in the world – in the eastern part of the country that is the focus of the recent neo-Nazi-led violence.
What if those rickety Russian-built reactors become the targets of sabotage, or are abandoned by operators because of surrounding warfighting? What if they become the targets of NATO or Russian ‘tactical’ nuclear weapon strikes?
Unthinkable? Think again.
Hiroshima Peace Institute’s Dr. Yuki Tanaka points out. “…the Obama administration has not simply continued the aggressive Bush-era stance on America’s nuclear arsenal, but actually extended it.”
Meanwhile, Russia, for its part, is also ramping up the nuclear posturing. According to a new study by the Federation of American Scientists, Moscow deployed 25 new strategic nuclear launchers in the past six months, bringing its total of deployed launchers to 498 with 1512 associated nuclear warheads. And just last Thursday, the Russian military held a massive three-day nuclear exercise involving 10,000 soldiers in its Strategic Missile Forces. Global Research
The Stalled Chernobyl Sarcophagus
Not to mention the still-dangerous Chernobyl site itself, where construction of a ‘sarcophagus’ to cover the continuously-emitting radioactive ruble of its 4 reactors just north of Kiev has been halted. The 1986 Chernobyl nuclear explosion showered Europe, Scandinavia and North America with radioactive fallout, and the construction of a new ‘cap’ for the site is considered an ecological urgency for the entire surrounding region. Nevertheless, the political and economic crisis in Ukraine has brought construction on the $2.1 billion New Safe Confinement (NSC) cap, scheduled for 2015 completion ‘to a screeching halt.’
Marking the 28th anniversary of the April 26th. nuclear reactor explosion and fire at Chernobyl, Ukraine, Beyond Nuclear.org radioactive waste specialist Kevin Kamps pointed out, “The current tension between Ukraine and Russia serves as a stark reminder that armed conflict and nuclear power don’t mix.” Kamps further warned:
Decades of warnings that nuclear power plants are potential weapons for an enemy in wartime have gone unheeded. Whether intentionally targeted or accidentally hit during military conflict, atomic reactors and radioactive waste storage facilities could unleash catastrophic amounts of hazardous radioactivity over a broad region.
ProF. Floyd Rudmin, of the University of Tromsø in Norway writes in a recent CounterPunch article,
A rational world cannot tolerate chaos, or a collapsed economy, or a civil war, or any kind of war, in a region with nuclear reactors. If the power grid fails, if workers are unable or unwilling to show up for their shifts, if there is an act of sabotage, an act of war, if something happens to a nuclear reactor, then the Ukraine, Europe, Russia, and the rest of the world will receive heavy doses of radioactive fallout. There is now no government in Ukraine with the resources to manage a nuclear catastrophe.
Ukraine theoretically renounced possession of nuclear weapons at the end of the ‘Cold War,’ but heated rhetoric at the start of the current conflict suggested the country could develop nuclear weaponry quickly…and, as Kamps says, in conflict zones, reactors themselves become potential weapons.
Pointing out that “The ability to start a war has now been distributed across hundreds of relatively low-ranked individuals, on both sides,” Prof. Rudmin suggests a number of steps he says the ‘international community’ should take to prevent nuclear catastrophe in Ukraine, including: deploying non-aligned peace keeping troops; settling the Crimean secession with a second referendum; pressing for formation of an interim government of national unity including all factions; granting immediate economic aid, without condition; investigating all oligarchs for financial crimes; and auditing the $5 billion Victoria Nuland, the US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, has gone on record saying has been spent by the US in Ukraine. See: What Can be Done? The Crisis in Ukraine
But Ukraine is not alone in embodying the threat of a nuclear time bomb. All 400 of the world’s operating nuclear reactors pose a ‘clear and present danger’ to the planet – and will continue to do so even after they are decommissioned, because of the unsolved and apparently unsolvable problem of isolating millions of tons of nuclear waste from the environment for longer into the future than human civilizations has yet existed.
Cases in point are the recent fire and radiation-releasing explosion at the 15-year-old,’state-of-the-art’ model Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico (supposedly designed to last 10,000 years before something like this happened); and moves by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to reduce safety standards at decommissioned reactors, where thousands of tons of highly irradiated waste remains onsite.[See: Senators fight to keep nuclear protection zones in place For decomissioning power plants. ]
The case for the abolition of nuclear energy and weapons (all reactors are ‘weapons-in-waiting’) has never been so clear, nor so urgent to pursue. Nuclear Ukraine is yet another wake-up call.
For backgrounders that go beyond the misleading ‘pro-Ukrainian/pro-Russian’ narrative being put forward by US media, see these:
After Chaotic Autonomy Votes, Negotiations Could Be Sole Path to Prevent Ukraine’s Disintegration