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Islands of Peace – Casualties of War, a Pan-Pacific Discussion

April 17, 2013 

For Immediate Release: April 16, 2013  

Contact:  Kyle Kajihiro 

808-542-3668

kkajihir@hawaii.edu

Islands of Peace – Casualties of War, a Pan-Pacific Discussion

As a new wave of militarization bears down on the Pacific under President Obama’s so-called “Pacific Pivot”, the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus and the Honolulu community will have a rare opportunity to hear the voices of those directly affected by these policies.

Islands of Peace – Casualties of War will be held on April 25, 2013, from 6:00 – 8:00 PM. at the Hālau o Haumea, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies.

The event will feature a presentation by Jeong Young-hee, Chairwoman of the Women Villagers’ Committee to Stop the Naval Base, Gangjeong, Jeju Island.  Ms. Jeong will share stories of her direct experience in her village’s ongoing nonviolent struggle against the construction of a South Korean naval base and its devastating ecological and cultural impacts.

Jeju Island was designated an “Island of Peace” by the Korean government and is heavily dependent on tourism from the main Korean peninsula. The coral reef near Gangjeong was designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. In contrast to protests against the presence of U.S. military bases in South Korea, the villagers are pushing back against the South Korean government, which has argued that Hawaiʻi is a model of how militarism and tourism uses can be mutually beneficial.  Some foreign policy analysts believe that the proposed naval base will also be integrated into the U.S. missile defense program, a move seen by China as a provocation. For more information about the campaign to save Jeju see: http://savejejunow.org/

The event also brings together Native Hawaiian and Chamorro scholar-activists who have been active in efforts to confront militarization and its impacts in their home islands. ʻIlima Long, M.A. student in Hawaiian Studies and member of HauMĀNA, a Hawaiian student political organization will discuss the impacts and resistance to the U.S. military “pivot” in Hawaiʻi.  Ken Gofigan Kuper, M.A. student in Pacific Island studies and Guam native will discuss the military buildup threatening the Marianas Islands under the military “pivot”.  This multi-island dialogue has particular resonance given Hawaii’s use as a strategic outpost for the U.S. military has been the model for Jeju, Guam and Okinawa.

Co-sponsors:  Oceania Rising, HauMANA, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, Center for Korean Studies, US-Japan Committee for Racial Justice, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice, DMZ-Hawaiʻi /Aloha ʻĀina.

-END-

Toxic “Rainbow” across the Pacific: New Information Revealed About Agent Orange

August 10, 2012 

Today is the 67th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki.  Rebecca Solnit wrote on Facebook:

In 1995 a woman who survived the bombing of Nagasaki (67 years ago today) came to San Francisco to tell her story. She spoke so slowly I was able to write much of her talk down:

The city was a flat sea in flames
and the dust from the sky
is complete
Sky is black

[. . .]

[man blackened exiting train, frozen in place, inside the train sitting there–of courses all dead, black burned]
It was so hot
Nagasaki is so hot.

But we can’t make it
We are so sick
Infection from nail, spent one night in bamboo then decide to go back to grandmother’s home
The Americans coming so we [young girls] all have to cut hair
but I no cut hair

Every time you comb like this hair comes out
gum start losing teeth start losing
I was so skinny, my grandmother could pick it [me?] up
My cousins started dying one by one
They die
They didn’t have big scar, they die from radiation symptoms
They start vomiting
It is black, black
The plutonium in Nagasaki is different
Whatever comes out is black.

Another horror of war and militarization has lately been on my mind and in the news: Agent Orange.  As Beverly Keever revealed years ago “University vulnerable to pitfalls of secret experiments” (March 27, 2005), Hawaiʻi has the dubious distinction of being one of the places where Agent Orange was developed and tested under the cover of agricultural research.  Two UH researchers who were doused by Agent Orange during field tests later developed cancer  and tried to sue for compensation.  There is also an Agent Orange spill site on Kauaʻi near the Wailua river.

Oshita and Fraticelli marked their bulldozers with flags to serve as targets and stayed there while the planes swooped down to spray the defoliants. “When the plane came to spray, someone had to guide him,” Oshita told a reporter in a Page 1 report in the campus newspaper, Ka Leo O Hawaii, on Feb. 3, 1986. “We were the ones.”

Testing was done without warning UH employees or the nearby Kapaa community even though in 1962, just months before being assassinated, President Kennedy was told that Agent Orange could cause adverse health effects, U.S. court documents show. And a 1968 test report written by four UH agronomists said that on Kauai Agent Orange, alone or combined with Agent Pink, Purple or Blue, was effective and “obviously may also be lethal.”

When the testing finished in 1968, five 55-gallon steel drums and a dozen gallon cans partially filled with the toxic chemicals were buried on a hilltop overlooking a reservoir. There they remained until the mid-1980s when the Ka Leo reporter’s questions led to their being excavated, supposedly for shipment to a licensed hazardous waste facility. They left behind levels of dioxin in some soil samples of more than five times normal cleanup standards.

The barrels were then placed in a Matson shipping container. There, instead of being shipped out of state as promised, they sat for another decade. Then, in 1997, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state Department of Health discovered that UH had failed to dispose properly of the hazardous materials and included this infraction along with a Big Island one in a $1.8 million fine against the institution. In April 2000, the barrels were finally shipped out of state.

Oshita and Fraticelli have since died. A year after his Agent Orange work, Oshita was diagnosed with liver dysfunction, bladder cancer, diabetes, chronic hepatitis and a severe skin disease called chloracne. Fraticelli died in April 1981 from lung and kidney cancer; he also had bladder cancer and a brain tumor, court documents indicate.

Today, the AP reported that the U.S. is finally planning to address Agent Orange in Vietnam –  “U.S. plan to clean up Agent Orange dioxin ‘better late than never’” (August 9, 2012):

Vo Duoc fights back tears while sharing the news that broke his heart: A few days ago he received test results confirming he and 11 family members have elevated levels of dioxin lingering in their blood.

The family lives in a twostory house near a former U.S. military base in Danang where the defoliant Agent Orange was stored during the Vietnam War, which ended nearly four decades ago. Duoc, 58, sells steel for a living and has diabetes, while his wife battles breast cancer and their daughter has remained childless after suffering repeated miscarriages. For years, Duoc thought the ailments were unrelated, but after seeing the blood tests he now suspects his family unwittingly ingested dioxin from Agent Orange-contaminated fish, vegetables and well water.

Dioxin, a persistent chemical linked to cancer, birth defects and other disabilities, has seeped into Vietnam’s soils and watersheds, creating a lasting war legacy that remains a thorny issue between the former foes. Washington has been slow to respond, but today the United States for the first time will begin cleaning up dioxin from Agent Orange that was stored at the former military base, now part of Danang’s airport.

The article continued:

Over the past five years, Congress has appropriated about $49 million for environmental remediation and about $11 million to help people living with disabilities in Vietnam regardless of cause. Experts have identified three former U.S. air bases – in Danang in central Vietnam and the southern locations of Bien Hoa and Phu Cat – as hotspots where Agent Orange was mixed, stored and loaded onto planes.

The U.S. military dumped some 20 million gallons (75 million liters) of Agent Orange and other herbicides on about a quarter of former South Vietnam between 1962 and 1971.

The defoliant decimated about 5 million acres (2 million hectares) of forest – roughly the size of Massachusetts – and another 500,000 acres (202,000 hectares) of crops.

After years of denying veterans’ medical compensation for Agent Orange contamination, much less the environmental health concerns of Vietnamese people, why the change in tune?  One possible explanation is that the U.S. is seeking closer ties with Vietnam (including negotiating the use of ports for U.S. war ships) in order to counter the growing power of China:

Military ties have also strengthened, with Vietnam looking to the U.S. amid rising tensions with China in the disputed South China Sea, which is believed to be rich in oil and gas reserves and is crossed by vital shipping lanes.

Although Washington remains a vocal critic of Vietnam’s human rights record, it also views the country as a key ally in its push to re-engage militarily in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. says maintaining peace and freedom of navigation in the sea is in its national interest.

But, the U.S. has not even acknowledged the use or storage of Agent Orange in Okinawa.  Jon Mitchell reveals in the Japan Times “25,000 barrels of Agent Orange kept on Okinawa, U.S. Army document says” (August 7, 2012). Those barrels were later shipped to Kalama (Johnston Atoll) 800 miles from O’ahu and once a part of the Hawaiian Kingdom:

During the Vietnam War, 25,000 barrels of Agent Orange were stored on Okinawa, according to a recently uncovered U.S. Army report. The barrels, thought to contain over 5.2 million liters of the toxic defoliant, had been brought to Okinawa from Vietnam before apparently being taken to Johnston Island in the Pacific Ocean, where the U.S. military is known to have incinerated its stocks of Agent Orange in 1977.

The army report is the first time the U.S. military has acknowledged the presence of these chemicals on Okinawa — and it appears to contradict repeated denials from the Pentagon that Agent Orange was ever on the island. The discovery of the report has prompted a group of 10 U.S. veterans, who claim they were sickened by these chemicals on Okinawa, to demand a formal inquiry from the U.S. Senate.

The army report, published in 2003, is titled “An Ecological Assessment of Johnston Atoll.” Outlining the military’s efforts to clean up the tiny island that the U.S. used throughout the Cold War to store and dispose of its stockpiles of biochemical weapons, the report states, “In 1972, the U.S. Air Force brought about 25,000 55-gallon (208 liter) drums of the chemical Herbicide Orange (HO) to Johnston Island that originated from Vietnam and was stored on Okinawa.”

In a companion article “Poisons in the Pacific: Guam, Okinawa and Agent Orange” (August 7, 2012) he describes how the use and storage of Agent Orange on Guam as well as Okinawa has taken a heavy toll on many of the GIs who were exposed to the deadly toxins:

Within days of starting the assignment, Foster developed pustules and boils all over his body that were so severe he bled through his bed linen. Then during the following years he fell ill with a litany of sicknesses, including Parkinson’s and ischemic heart disease, that he believes were caused by the highly toxic herbicides he was ordered to spray. Foster also contends that Agent Orange’s dioxins — long proven to damage successive generations’ health — have also affected his daughter, who had to undergo cancer treatment as a teenager, and his grandchild, who was born with 12 fingers, 12 toes and a heart murmur.

News photo

Toxic legacy: U.S. Air Force veteran Leroy Foster holds his granddaughter in a picture taken not long after her birth in 2010. She was born with 12 fingers and toes, as well as a heart murmur — abnormalities that Foster believes are a consequence of his exposure to Agent Orange on Guam in the late 1960s. COURTESY OF LEROY FOSTER

[. . . ]

According to Edward Jackson, a sergeant with the 43rd Transportation Squadron assigned to Guam in the early 1970s, these herbicides were a common sight. “Andersen Air Force Base had a huge stockpile of Agent Orange and other herbicides. There were many, many thousands of drums. I used to make trips with them to the navy base for shipment by sea,” Jackson told The Japan Times.

Knowing what we do now about the toxicity of these chemicals, it is easy to imagine that service members handled them wearing protective clothing. But for years the military and manufacturers suppressed the research on their dangers. “They told us Agent Orange was so safe that you could brush your teeth with it,” says Stanton.

Not only did this lackadaisical attitude apply to the usage of these herbicides, it also applied to their disposal. Just like on Okinawa, where veterans have claimed Agent Orange was buried on Hamby Air Field (current-day Chatan Town), Kadena Air Base and Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, former service members on Guam say they engaged in similar practices.

According to Jackson, the barrels of herbicides were sometimes damaged during transit so they were dumped on Andersen Air Force Base. “I would back my truck up to a small cliff that sloped away towards the Pacific Ocean. I personally threw away about 25 drums. Each individual drum was anywhere from almost empty to almost full,” Jackson explains. 

In the 1990s, the U.S. government cracked down on such methods, and after conducting environmental tests on the site where Jackson dumped the barrels, that area was found to be so severely polluted that it was listed for urgent cleanup by the Environmental Protection Agency. Across the tiny island, almost 100 similarly tainted sites were identified, including one where dioxin contamination in the soil of 19,000 parts per million (compared to a recognized safe level of 1,000 parts pertrillion) made it one of the most toxic places on the planet. Further alarming residents was the proximity of many of these sites to the Northern Guam Lens, the aquifer that supplies the island with its drinking water.

How did the military rationalize this kind of environmental practice?

The heavy loss of G.I. blood on both islands imbued in many U.S. leaders a sense of entitlement to the hard-won territories. Following the end of World War II, the islands were gradually transformed into two of the most militarized places on the planet — Guam became the “Tip of the Spear” and Okinawa the “Keystone of the Pacific.”

[. . .]

The fates of Guam and Okinawa have been entwined in the Gordian knot of the planned relocation of thousands of U.S. Marines within the Pacific theater. Associate professor Natividad believes that this plan has made Guam’s leaders reluctant to push the Pentagon for full disclosure about its poisoning of the island. “Our former governor was too afraid of making waves with Washington for fear of jeopardizing the realignment. Our current governor is more confident but even if he pressured Washington for an admission, they’d just send him a letter saying that they’ve cleaned up the contaminated sites.”

While it now seems clear that America’s reasons for bringing Agent Orange to Guam and Okinawa were rooted in the Cold War past, Washington’s increasingly implausible refusals to admit to the presence of these toxic substances on either island are tightly interwoven with its 21st century military strategy for the region.

“We veterans have become a political pawn between the U.S. and Japan,” says Jackson, the former air force sergeant. “We’re an army waiting to die.”

What about the Agent Orange, chemical weapons and nuclear waste on Kalama (Johnston Atoll)?

Ed Rampell wrote “The military’s mess: Johnston Atoll, the army’s ‘model’ chemical disposal facility, is an environmental disaster” (PDF) (January 1996):

According to “Mr. D.,” a defense industry source knowledgeable about JACADS, speaking on condition of anonymity, a nuke “went off the launch pad and cracked … The missile did not go off, but it cracked the casing, releasing plutonium.” The radioactive area, he said, is “still offlimits via a chain link fence.” In what amounts to the world’s first and largest plutonium mining project, the U.S. is spending $10 million to separate contaminated soil at the atomic atoll.

Plutonium is not the only lethal substance to leak into Johnston. In the 1970s, the U.S. shipped to the atoll millions of gallons of dioxin-contaminated Agent Orange, the birth defect-causing defoliant used in Vietnam. According to Mr. D., “The Agent Orange was stored in 55-gallon drums, which rusted, and the Agent Orange leaked into the soil.” This still-contaminated area is also fenced off. According to Wilkes, the herbicide was finally burned in 1976 on the Vulcanus II incinerator ship, which he calls “notoriously inefficient.” He adds, “Here, to an extreme degree, the U.S. military does anything that is too unpopular, too dangerous and too secret to do elsewhere in the Pacific.”

See http://guamagentorange.info/johnston_island

The Great Pacific Shuffle – US Troops to Move from Okinawa to Guam, Hawaii, Australia

June 29, 2012 

Discussing the so-called Pacific ʻpivotʻ of U.S. policy, Cara Flores Mays (We Are Guahan), Terri Kekoʻolani and Kyle Kajihiro (both with Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice and DMZ-Hawaiʻi / Aloha ʻAina) were guests on the Asia Pacific Forum radio program on WBAI (New York) with host Hyun Lee. Listen to the program here:

The Great Pacific Shuffle – US Troops to Move from Okinawa to Guam, Hawaii, Australia

The US military is playing a game of shuffle in Asia Pacific – planning to withdraw 9000 troops from Okinawa and transfer them to Guam, Hawaii, and Australia – according to a deal reached at the US-Japan summit last month. The plan reflects “US’ attempt to save its long-standing alliance with Japan in the face of unrelenting resistance by the Okinawan people” against the presence of US marines there, according to Kyle Kajihiro of DMZ Hawaii. What does this sudden announcement mean for the people of Guam and Hawaii? How much will the move cost US taxpayers, and will the minority but growing voices of concern in Washington about unlimited military spending check the planned troop transfer? APF talks with Kyle Kajihiro, as well as Terri Keko’olani of the Hawaii Peace and Justice Center and Cara Flores-Mays of We are Guahan.

Guests

  • Cara Flores-Mays is an indigenous Chamorro small-business owner specializing in creative media. She is an organizer for the grassroots organization “We Are Guåhan”, which has played a significant role in educating the Guam community about the potential impacts of the proposed military buildup. She provides strategy and resource development for the group’s initiatives, including “Prutehi yan Difendi”, a campaign to increase public awareness and support for a lawsuit against the Department of Defense for which We Are Guåhan was a filing party.
  • Kyle Kajihiro is a fourth generation Japanese in Hawaiʻi and was born and raised in Honolulu. He has worked on peace and demilitarization issues since 1996, first as staff with the American Friends Service Committee, and now with its successor organization, Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice. He writes and speaks about the demilitarization movement in Hawaiʻi and has traveled internationally to build solidarity on these issues. In the past, he has been active in anti-racist/anti-fascist issues, immigrant worker organizing, Central America solidarity, and community mural, radio and video projects.
  • Terri Keko’olani is a native Hawaiian and sovereignty activist/community organizer with DMZ Hawai’i Aloha Aina and the Hawaii Peace and Justice Center.

Listen to the program by downloading the MP3: http://www.asiapacificforum.org/downloads/audio/APF20120604_743_TheGreatPa.mp3

Feffer: Small Step Forward in Resolving Okinawa Base Impasse

May 9, 2012 

John Feffer, the editor of Foreign Policy In Focus and a leader with the Network for Okinawa has written an excellent article “Small Step Forward in Resolving Okinawa Base Impasse” (May 3, 2012) that analyzes the implications of the U.S.-Japan deal to move 9000 Marines from Okinawa and distribute them to different locations in the Pacific:

It’s a deal that’s been more than 15 years in the making and the unmaking. The United States and Japan have been struggling since the 1990s to transform the U.S. military presence on the island of Okinawa, the southernmost prefecture of Japan.

In preparation for this week’s visit of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to Washington, the two sides rolled out the latest attempt to resolve what has grown into a major sticking point in alliance relations.

According to the most recent deal, 9,000 U.S. Marines will leave Okinawa, thus fulfilling a longstanding U.S. promise to reduce the overall military footprint on the island. Half of that number will go to expanded facilities on Guam while the remainder will rotate through other bases in the region, including Australia, the Philippines, and Hawaii.

Japan will cover a little more than three billion dollars out of the estimated 8.6-billion-dollar cost of the Guam transfer.

“These adjustments are necessary to realize a U.S. force posture in the Asia-Pacific region that is more geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable,” according to a joint statement issued by Washington and Tokyo.

[…]

Key critics of the process of Pacific realignment – including John McCain, Carl Levin and Jim Webb – remain sceptical of the latest agreement since the review has not yet been completed.

Also skeptical are anti-base activists in the places where the Marine presence will increase.

“Hawaii does not need more military,” says Koohan Paik, a media professor at Kauai Community College.

“There are already 161 military installations in Hawaii, which have resulted in hundreds of sites contaminated with PCBs, trichloroethylene, jet fuel and diesel, mercury, lead, radioactive Cobalt 60, unexploded ordnance, perchlorate, and depleted uranium. And they call this security? The only ‘security’ this brings is economic security to military contractors.”

[…]

The latest U.S.-Japan deal comes at a time of considerable uncertainty regarding military spending. The Pentagon is under pressure to reduce costs in order to meet new spending limits dictated by concerns over rising national debt.

However, the Barack Obama administration’s “Pacific pivot”, announced last year, is difficult to achieve on the cheap. U.S. allies are concerned that they will have to shoulder an increasing amount of the costs of this realignment. Included in this bill will be the cost of upgrading the Futenma facility while Tokyo and Washington debate the base’s future.

Navy renames Hawaii Superferries “USNS Guam” and “USNS Puerto Rico”

May 9, 2012 

Recently, we reported that the two repossessed Hawaii Superferry ships will be deployed to Okinawa as part of the Navy sea lift fleet.  But now it gets wierder.  The Navy just announced that the ships will be renamed the USNS Guam and USNS Puerto Rico!  So after two fast ferry naval ships are pushed out of one occupied island (Hawai’i) by protesters and renamed after two other U.S. colonies (Guam and Puerto Rico), they are reassigned to another military colony (Okinawa).   Is it some cruel joke on four colonies?  Or just an ignorant gesture of inclusion? The Pacific Business News reported “Navy renames former Hawaii Superferry vessels” (May 8, 2012):

The two high-speed ferries built for the shuttered Hawaii Superferry were renamed Tuesday by the vessels’ new owner — the U.S. Navy.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus announced Tuesday that the Alakai, which sailed between Oahu and Maui from August 2007 until it was shut down in March 2009, and its sister ship, the Huakai, were renamed the USNS Guam and the USNS Puerto Rico.

“High-speed ferries will be used for peacetime operations such as troop transport training, exercise missions and humanitarian and disaster relief,” Mabus said in a statement.

Military rethinking location of Guam Marine base

May 8, 2012 

With the U.S. changing its distribution of troops moving from Okinawa, Hawai’i is expected to get up to 2700 Marines, while Guam will get less than originally projected.   USA Today Reported that “Military rethinking location of Guam Marine base” (May 2, 2012):

The federal government is rethinking where to put a Marine base on Guam now that fewer Marines will be moving to the U.S. territory from Okinawa, Japan.

With fewer troops and families to house, a local Marine base could be smaller than previously thought, Joe Ludovici, the executive director of the military’s Joint Guam Program Office, said Wednesday.

New environmental impact reviews will have to be done:

New draft and final environmental impact statements will be released in 2014. A decision on where to put the base and firing range would come the following year.

And the ancient Chamorro village site in Pagat may yet dodge the bullet(s):

The changes could also lead to a new proposed location for a firing range.

Under the new plan, 5,000 Marines and 1,300 dependents will move to Guam. The old plan included 8,600 Marines and as many as 12,000 dependents.

The military had been planning to build the Marine base on about 680 acres of civilian land in Dededo, in northern Guam.

The firing range was to go on the site of an ancient village, Pagat, also in northern Guam. The Navy began reevaluating this idea last year after a lawsuit alleged it had failed to adequately consider other locations that would affect the environment and historical sites less.

9000 Marines to move off Okinawa to Hawaiʻi, Guam, Australia, etc.

May 1, 2012 

As reported in the Washington Post, the Obama administration announced that the U.S. will move 9000 Marines off Okinawa to other locations in the Pacific. While this may have sidestepped a politically volatile issue in its relations with Japan, the problem of the Futenma Base still remains, and the expansi0n of troops and bases in other locations in the Pacific may be spreading the seeds of opposition:

The U.S. and Japanese governments said Thursday that they will move about 9,000 Marines off Okinawa to other bases in the Western Pacific, in a bid to remove a persistent irritant in the relationship between the two allies.

The Marine Corps Air Station Futenma on Okinawa has been seen by both sides as essential to deterring Chinese military aggression in the region. But the noisy air base’s location in a crowded urban area has long angered Okinawa residents, and some viewed the Marines as rowdy and potentially violent.

This plan will relocate 2700 Marines from Japan to Hawaiʻi.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “Hawaii must prepare for move of up to 2,700 Marines, Inouye says”:

The U.S. will move as many as 2,700 Marines from Japan to Hawaii as the Pentagon scales back a $21.1 billion blueprint for Guam, U.S. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye confirmed today.

“This troop movement will occur after extensive discussions with the leaders of Japan and it highlights Hawaii’s importance as the focus of our national defense shifts to the Asia-Pacific region,” Inouye said.

The Pentagon is expected to announce as soon as tomorrow that it intends to send about 4,700 U.S. Marines now stationed in Japan to Guam, as previously reported, as well as the contingent going to Hawaii, according to two people familiar with the plan, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan hasn’t been made public.

“There is a lot of work that needs to be done (in Hawaii) to prepare for their arrival,” Inouye said. “We must build more housing, secure more training areas and improve and expand infrastructure while working with the counties and the state to make certain the Marines transition easily into their new duty station in Hawaii.”

This decision is being leaked in advance of a formal announcement. However, no environmental/social/cultural impact analysis has been done to address securing “more training areas” and develoment to “improve and expand infrastructure”.  This is typical of the military decisions in Hawaiʻi: plans are made, studies (when they are done) are written to order to justify the decision, and political bosses make pronouncements as if they were commandments from God.  And, just in case anyone had objections or doubts about these plans, Senator Inouye made clear how the people of Hawaiʻi are supposed to respond:

The one thing I am confident of, is that the people of Hawaii will welcome these brave men and women and their families with Aloha,” said Inouye.

In other words, the profoundly sacred Kanaka Maoli concept of “aloha” has been hijacked and turned into a kitsch tourist slogan, whose flip-side is a weapon to silence dissent and suppress political protest.

Jon Letman’s latest article, “Without question: US military expansion in the Asia-Pacific” discussed the U.S. military’s Pacific ‘pivot':

As Noam Chomsky wrote in this two-part essay, America’s “pivot” toward the Asia-Pacific region is in response to what it calls “classic security dilemmas” posed by the rising influence of China and Russia. Reacting with military programmes and strategies it says are “defensive”, this US “pivot” is perceived as bullying, threats and intrusion – in other words more of the same – by those most impacted by America’s foreign military presence.

The “classic security dilemma makes sense”, Chomsky argues, if one operates under the assumption that the US has “the right to control most of the world, and that US security requires something approaching absolute global control”.

As Letman noted:

Hawaii’s role in all this is enormous. Hawaii represents a fraction of one per cent of the United States’ land area and has just 1.37 million people, but is home to 119 total military sites, making Hawaii effectively a giant floating military garrison from which troops and military hardware are dispatched around the world.

Not a dozen miles from tourist-packed Waikiki Beach is Camp HM Smith, headquarters of the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) which oversees military operations in roughly half the world from the Bering Sea to the Antarctic and across the entirety of the Pacific Ocean as far west as Central Asia, Pakistan and the southern Indian Ocean. Over half the world lives within USPACOM’s “area of responsibility” including China, India, Indonesia, Japan and 32 other countries.

The military bases in Hawaiʻi and the bloated U.S. defense budget has been justified as a jobs creation program: military Keynesianism.  But it is a myth that military spending is the best way to create jobs. Letman explored this contradiction:

Rather than question an economy based on weapons, violence and control, the American public largely forfeits any protest in favour of the holy four-lettered word, JOBS. But the argument that the military and defence industry is an indispensable source of jobs is deflated when one reads a study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst which finds that $1 billion spent on military production creates 8,600 direct and indirect jobs. But that same amount of money invested in clean energy, health care or education could produce between 12,000 and 19,000 jobs.

This, however, is not a debate that is being waged by the wider American public. In fact, like the subjects of our foreign bases, drone warfare and the US military’s impact on people in the Asia-Pacific, it’s largely overlooked. In general, Americans spend little or no time considering the plight of people in other nations – especially small islands – whose land, sea, ports and resources are used to test, train and store US military hardware and personnel. Whatever the costs may be to local populations in terms of environmental damage, social disruption, economic coercion and an increased danger simply by hosting US bases goes undiscussed.

Curiously, despite the fact that in 2011 the US defence budget was well over $700 billion – far exceeding the combined defence budgets for China, Russia, India, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Germany, France, the UK and Japan – a recent Rasmussen telephone survey reveals one in four Americans believe the US is still not spending enough of its military.

But as the Asia-Pacific “pivot” brings more testing, training and deployments to accommodate weapons and warriors fanning out across half the world, Americans would do well to pay closer attention to the vast human and financial resources its government demands. The time is long overdue to consider that what we call “defensive” is to so many around the world seen as offensive.

As Bruce Gagnon said just prior to going to Jeju island, “This has nothing to do with defending the United States or its people against attack. It has everything to do with corporate profits and power.”

Relocating U.S. bases and troops is like BP spraying chemical dispersants on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill: it only makes the problem sink, spread out and persist. As peoples movements of Ka Moana Nui (the Vast Ocean) have demanded, we demand a reduction of U.S. military foces, the removal of bases and the restoration of people to military-occupied lands.

U.S. military reductions in Okinawa adds up to more militarization of Hawai’i

February 22, 2012 

Despite much bellyaching from the Pentagon about having to go on a diet, President Obama himself stated, “Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership.” The new defense strategy reflects reductions in the rate of growth of the military budget.   The Atlantic published an interesting article “The Real Defense Budget” (February 20, 2012) that reports the Pentagon budget is actually closer to $1 trillion!

Senator Inouye told the media that despite these changes in the military budget and in basing plans in east Asia, Hawai’i will not get relief from militarization. In fact, the military may grow in some areas to absorb some of the Marines being pushed out of Okinawa.  The Honolulu Star Advertiser reported  “Isles hold on to military might” (February 21, 2012):

As military communities around the nation fret about defense cuts, U.S. Sen. Daniel Ino­uye said Hawaii expects to receive about 1,000 more Marines from Oki­nawa, have the same number or more ships based at Pearl Harbor and see a slight increase in shipyard work here.

Inouye confirmed Monday that with continuing problems with a 2006 agreement to relocate some Marines on Oki­nawa and move about 8,000 to Guam, the plan has changed.

About half the total, or 4,000 Marines, will now go to Guam, he said.

“Instead of all (8,000) going to Guam, they’ll go elsewhere — Australia, Hawaii and Guam,” Ino­uye said

[…]

“But the question now arises, Will those troops be rotating-type troops, or will they be stationed here with dependents, which would require schools, etc.? We have not reached that stage (of decision) yet.”

One  disturbing revelation was that Marines could be housed in Kona on Hawai’i island. This follows similar remarks by Governor Abercrombie several months ago:

From a logistics and transportation standpoint, the Army’s Schofield Barracks on Oahu or the Kona side of Hawaii island could be looked at to house more Marines, he said

Inouye also confirmed that Singapore and the Philippines are being targeted for increased militarization:

Inouye said, “It’s serious business — the fact that we will be adding vessels in Singapore, we’ll be setting up a rotating-type of base in Australia, and I don’t know if the people of Hawaii have caught it, but we have now restored discussions with the Filipinos.”

[…]

HIS MAIN POINTS

U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye says:

MARINES

The Pentagon is looking at shifting about 1,000 Marines from Okinawa to Hawaii. The move could be as part of permanent stations or rotational duty through Hawaii. About 500 could be accommodated at the Kaneohe Bay Marine Corps base. Schofield Barracks and the Kona side of Hawaii island are being looked at as possibilities.

SHIPYARD

Pearl Harbor shipyard work will increase slightly.

PEARL HARBOR

The specific surface ships stationed at Pearl Harbor will change, but the base will retain 11 — the number it now has — or even more.

In an earlier article, the Honolulu Star Advertiser reported “$487B in Defense cuts would take 2 cruisers from Pearl Harbor” (February 15, 2012):

The Navy plans to retire two of three cruisers at Pearl Harbor under a leaner defense budget — a move that, along with other cutbacks, is expected to have a negative effect on Hawaii’s economy.

Officials at the Pentagon confirmed that the USS Port Royal — the newest cruiser in the Navy inventory and one with ballistic missile shoot-down capability — is expected to be decommissioned in fiscal year 2013.

The USS Chosin, which is in Pearl Harbor shipyard receiving $112.5 million in repairs and upgrades, would be retired in 2014.

In a statement submitted Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said the Pentagon is “retiring seven lower-priority Navy cruisers that have not been upgraded with ballistic missile defense capability or that would require significant repairs.”

The Defense Department’s budget request for 2013, released Monday, sets out $487 billion in cuts over the next 10 years. Also affected would be the towering Sea-Based X-Band Radar, a regular visitor to Hawaii’s shores.

The U.S. Missile Defense Agency said it plans to sideline the $1 billion one-of-a-kind missile tracker by placing it “in a limited test and contingency operations status” to save $500 million over five years.

As the article mentions, one of the ships to be decommissioned, the USS Port Royal, is the newest cruiser. The ship cost $1 billion to build.  In 2009, the USS Port Royal ran aground on the reef outside of Pearl Harbor, causing extensive damage to the coral as well as to the ship.  The repairs were estimated to cost $25 million to $40 million.  However, shipyard sources reported that the damage to the frame could not be fully repaired.  This probably explains the early retirement of this state of the art missile cruiser.

 

U.S. military’s Pacific ‘pivot’ and Okinawa drawdown unsettles the region

February 14, 2012 

After several weeks of speculation and anonymous ‘leaks’ about possible changes to the U.S.-Japan plan to relocate the Futenma Marine base to Henoko, Okinawa, government officials announced that the U.S. would begin moving some troops out of Okinawa, independent of the base relocation to Henoko. But the news is having an unsettling effect across the entire region.  Here are a sampling of the articles.

The AP reported “Okinawa Marines going to Guam, Australia, Hawaii and Philippines” (February 7, 2012):

Japan and the United States agreed Wednesday to proceed with plans to transfer thousands of U.S. troops out of the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, leaving behind the stalled discussion about closing a major U.S. Marine base there.

The transfer, a key to U.S. troop restructuring in the Pacific, has been in limbo for years because it was linked to the closure and replacement of the strategically important base that Okinawans fiercely oppose.

The announcement Wednesday follows high-level talks to rework a 2006 agreement for 8,000 Marines to transfer to the U.S. territory of Guam by 2014 if a replacement for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma could be built elsewhere on Okinawa.

That agreement has been effectively scuttled by opposition on Okinawa, where many residents believe the base should simply be closed and moved overseas or elsewhere in Japan. More than half of the 50,000 U.S. troops in Japan, including 18,000 Marines, are stationed on Okinawa, taking up around 10 percent of the island with nearly 40 bases and facilities.

The two governments said in a joint statement that the transfer of thousands of U.S. Marines to Guam would not require the prior closure of Futenma, as the original pact required. Details of the realignment will be discussed further, but about 10,000 troops will remain on Okinawa, as in the original agreement.

The reduced number of troops projected to move to Guam may be encouraging to grassroots groups who have fought against the military expansion in Guam. However the Governor of the U.S. colony, and the many businesses that hoped to cash in on the boom, were disappointed:

Guam, meanwhie, has pushed hard for the troop buildup because of the potential economic boom.

“We are the closest U.S. community to Asia. We are very patriotic citizens. And unlike many foreign countries and even some U.S. communities, we welcome an increased military presence,” Gov. Eddie Calvo said in a statement last week.

Guam, which is being built up to play a greater role in Washington’s Asia-Pacific strategy, could also stand to get far fewer Marines than expected if the new plan goes through. The tiny U.S. territory had been counting on a huge boost from the restructuring plan, and may have to revise its forecasts.

But officials said the revised number could be more manageable.

A smaller contingent of Marines would alleviate concerns on Guam that the swelling military presence would overwhelm the island’s infrastructure and environment.

Mark G. Calvo, the director of Guam’s military buildup office, said the territory has been briefed by the Department of Defense about the talks with Japan and supports the transfer, even if it is smaller than expected. He said the idea of reducing it to about 4,000 Marines had been discussed after an environmental impact assessment two years ago pointed to possible problems.

“There are concerns about a loss of economic benefits, but it puts us in a better position to adjust our infrastructure,” he said.

The AFP reported “US Marines may leave Japan before base closure” (Febraury 8, 2012):

Thousands of US Marines could leave Japan’s Okinawa island before a controversial American base is closed, Washington and Tokyo announced Wednesday, in the latest twist in a long-running saga.

In a densely-worded joint statement, the two sides said they were talking about “delinking” the redeployment of 8,000 Marines from a 2006 agreement to close the base in the crowded urban area of Futenma.

It has been widely reported in Japan that Washington has now set its sights on shifting 4,700 Marines to Guam without waiting for Japan to stop its foot-dragging over the accord, which would see a new facility built in a sparsely populated coastal area.

The original agreement offered the carrot of a Marine drawdown in exchange for Okinawans allowing the construction of an airstrip at Henoko.

The Washington Post headline was “U.S. likely to scale down plans for bases in Japan and Guam” (February 8, 2012):

The U.S. military will probably scale back plans to build key bases in Japan and Guam because of political obstacles and budget pressures, according to U.S. and Japanese officials, complicating the Obama administration’s efforts to strengthen its troop presence in Asia.

Under a deal announced Wednesday with Japanese officials, the U.S. government said it will accelerate plans to withdraw 8,000 Marines from the island of Okinawa. The decision came after several years of stalled talks to find a site for a new Marine base nearby.

Washington’s inability to resolve its basing arrangements on Okinawa, as well as the rising price tag of a related plan for a $23 billion military buildup on Guam, underscore the challenges facing the Obama administration as it seeks to make a strategic “pivot” toward the Pacific after a decade of fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Japanese government said it is still committed to a 2006 accord with the United States to find a new base location for other Marines who will remain on Okinawa. But officials in Tokyo acknowledged that they had made little progress in the face of fierce resistance from islanders opposed to the long-standing U.S. military presence there. Bleak public finances in the United States and in Japan have also undermined the effort.

The article also described the proposal to rotate troops to different locations in the Asia-Pacific region, including an expanded U.S. military presence in Singapore:

The administration has moved on a series of fronts to bolster the U.S. military presence in Asia and the Pacific recently. Officials reached a deal with Australia to deploy a small number of Marines to Darwin and are holding talks with the Philippines about expanding military ties.

Those moves, along with an agreement to station Navy ships in Singapore, are part of a broader strategy aimed at countering China’s rising influence in the region. Although the Obama administration wants to retain the bulk of U.S. forces in South Korea and Japan, where they have maintained a heavy presence since World War II and the Korean War, officials said they are looking to expand their presence in Southeast Asia.

An Asia Times article Okinawans see duplicity in US withdrawal” (February 11, 2012) was more critical and emphasized the Okinawan reaction to the announcement:

With the United States shifting its axis of security toward the Asia-Pacific by expanding its military footprint in Australia, the Philippines and Vietnam, it may be high time for the United States Marine Corps to leave Japan’s Okinawa.

A shifting security dynamic in the region, most notably due to China’s enhanced strike capabilities, will likely marginalize the marines’ presence on the island.

The Asia Times article explored how the U.S. strategy is directed at countering China’s rise, but it tended to overemphasize the military threat from China as the reason for moving troops from Okinawa:

The planned transfer of thousands of marines to Guam without progress on the Futenma relocation is also part of an ongoing US strategy to counter China’s military build-up, especially its growing naval power in the West Pacific.

The Pentagon is closely watching China’s “anti-access/area denial” strategy, which envisions blocking freedom of movement for US ships. By creating two lines of coastal defenses in the region, military analysts believe Beijing aims to nullify the capabilities of US aircraft carriers and air defenses within the zone.

The so-called AirSea battle concept combines US air and naval strengths. It departs from the Cold War-era AirLand Battle doctrine drafted to prepare for an invasion by the former Soviet Union.

The AirSea battle concept meant to combat China’s growing military might doesn’t fit with high troop levels on Okinawa, since the latter cannot be moved swiftly and could be easily targeted by China’s middle-range ballistic missiles such as the DF-21.

The new battle strategy forces the Pentagon to keep key US forces out of China’s strike range.

“It’s better for US Marines to keep at a safe distance from China,” Japanese military analyst Toshiyuki Shikata told Asia Times Online. “I expect the US to fortify Guam as a strong military base from now on.”

The Asia Times also revealed that in addition to shifting troops to Guam, Hawai’i, Australia and the Philippines, there have been talks about moving Marines to South Korea or other parts of Japan:

Japanese media have reported that apart from moving 4,700 marines from Okinawa to Guam, the Pentagon is also considering rotating 3,300 to other overseas bases in the Pacific such as Hawaii, Australia and the Philippines.

Of the 3,300 marines, media have reported that 1,000 will be deployed to Hawaii and 800 to the US mainland. Meanwhile, other media have said 2,300 will go to Darwin in northern Australia and 1,000 to Hawaii.

It’s also been reported that the US has sounded out Tokyo on transferring about 1,500 marines to the Iwakuni marine base in Yamaguchi Prefecture – the only Marine Corps Air Station on mainland Japan – with central and local governments flatly rejecting the idea.

Some US Marines stationed in Okinawa will likely move to South Korea, Chosun Ilbo also has reported. Pentagon spokesperson Leslie Hull-Ryde on Friday denied the South Korean newspaper’s report by saying, “there has been no discussion between the US and the Republic of Korea [South Korea] on this issue”.

Unclear figures on how many US Marines are actually on Okinawa – due to expeditions and rotating shifts – has also aggravated the Japanese public. While both the US and Japanese governments claim 18,000 marines are normally based on Okinawa, the Okinawa prefectural government says only 14,958 marines were based on the island as of September 2009.

Military experts estimate the number at 12,000-14,000 at best in recent years because of deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Then Japanese defense minister Toshimi Kitazawa said in February 2010 that there were only 4,000 to 5,000 marines stationed on Okinawa due to Iraqi and Afghanistan deployments.

The US and Japanese governments say there will 10,000 marines in Okinawa even after shifting 8,000 marines around the island. But the claim could be just a pretext to avoid military budget cuts.

Plans for deep US defense cuts are another major likely reason why moving the marines out of Okinawa has been disconnected from the relocation of the Futenma airbase.

The Marine Corps Times published an article “More Marines may deploy to South Korea” (February 14, 2012) expounding on the possible stationing of more Marines in South Korea:

Recent South Korean media reports have highlighted two items of interest. The first was a Jan. 19 meeting in Seoul attended by the commanding generals of Marine Corps Forces-Korea and the Republic of Korea Marine Corps. There, the two sides agreed to expand combined training exercises, including a large joint-landing operation planned for the first half of this year.

The second report is potentially more sensitive. Two articles, one Feb. 8 and another Feb. 10, published in the Chosun Ilbo, a national daily newspaper, indicate that as part of the planned move of U.S. Marines from Okinawa, an undetermined number may end up going to South Korea on a rotational basis.

A Defense Department spokeswoman, Lt. Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, had no immediate comment on either of the South Korean media reports, saying no decisions have been finalized concerning the scope of planned personnel shifts in the Pacific.

Reuters published an interesting article “Exclusive: U.S. military seeks more access in Philippines” (February 9, 2012) on the proposed expansion of the U.S. military presence and activities in the Philippines. Calling it “access, not bases,” the Philippines government hopes to deflect public protest for violating the 1987 constitutional ban on any permanent foreign military presence. The Philippines has been a laboratory for new types of basing arrangements, where U.S. troops, equipment and supplies are “temporarily” stationed in the country for training missions:

The United States is seeking more access to Philippines ports and airfields to re-fuel and service its warships and planes, diplomatic and military sources said on Thursday, expanding its presence at a time of tension with China in the South China Sea.

But it is not trying to reopen military bases there.

Washington’s growing cooperation in the Philippines, a U.S. ally which voted to remove huge American naval and air bases 20 years ago, follows the U.S. announcement last year of plans to set up a Marine base in northern Australia and possibly station warships in Singapore.

It also coincides with diplomatic and military friction in the South China Sea and its oil-rich Spratly Islands, which are subject to disputed claims by China, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian nations.

Last month, senior Philippine defense and foreign affairs officials met their U.S. counterparts in Washington to discuss ways to increase the number and frequency of joint exercises, training, ship and aircraft visits and other activities.

“It’s access, not bases,” a foreign affairs department official familiar with the strategic dialogue told Reuters.

“Our talks focus on strengthening cooperation on military and non-military activities, such as disaster response and humanitarian assistance, counter-terrorism, non-proliferation. There were no discussions about new U.S. bases,” he said.

These activities would allow the U.S. military more access in the Philippines, stretching its presence beyond local military facilities and training grounds into central Cebu province or to Batanes island near the northern borders with Taiwan. (Emphasis added)

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported “Admiral Seeks Freer Hand in Deployment of Elite Forces” (February 12, 2012) that the Commander of the Special Operations Command wants more autonomy for special forces, which as Filipino activists point out, is the main branch of the military involved in counterinsurgency operations in Mindanao:

The officer, Adm. William H. McRaven, who leads the Special Operations Command, is pushing for a larger role for his elite units who have traditionally operated in the dark corners of American foreign policy. The plan would give him more autonomy to position his forces and their war-fighting equipment where intelligence and global events indicate they are most needed.

It would also allow the Special Operations forces to expand their presence in regions where they have not operated in large numbers for the past decade, especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Filipino reactions to the news has ranged from outrage to sarcasm.  Erick San Juan wrote an opinion piece in the Zamboanga Today Online,Let’s get our acts together! (February 14, 2012), in which he suggested that Senator Inouye’s visit to the Philippines last year was a prospecting mission for expanding the U.S. military presence:

Americans are our friends. But, let us all be wary every time Uncle Sam’s top officials and representatives visit the country. . .

In May of last year, I wrote about the “visit” of US Senators Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) and William Thad Cochran (R- Mississippi) to the country for a “possible return of the US naval base in Subic.” Of course, the US embassy here denied this and that the visit was “to see the economic progress in the Subic Freeport area that has been made over the years and to ask how the US can collaborate.”

And, could it be that the said visit of the two elder senators from the US Senate Appropriations committee was to test the water, so to speak of what could be the reaction of the populace?

[…]

US troops never left and they are using our military camps as portable bases via the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA). In this way, they are actually saving a lot of dollars because in reality the annual joint military exercises has benefitted them a lot more than our Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).

Actually that “smaller base” in the south has been there as the aftermath of Bush’s synthetic war on terror. And now, according to reports, Uncle Sam will send its marines and navy men in Subic Bay on rotation with its other allies.

*Floating Base

Speaking of portable base, Washington has plans of deploying of what they call “floating base”, first in the Middle East this summer. According to news release from the New York Times online dated 1/27/2012 – The conversion of the Ponce, which had been scheduled for retirement, would be an interim step to providing the military with its first afloat staging base.

The Pentagon’s new budget proposals, unveiled Thursday, included money to turn a freighter hull into a full-time floating base that could be moved around the world for military operations or humanitarian missions.

Seriously? That familiar line again – for humanitarian missions?

Nuclear Power Plant Proposed for Guam

February 13, 2012 

After the Fukushima nuclear disaster last  year, it seems inconceivable that nuclear power is still being touted as a ‘safe’ and ‘greener’ alternative to fossil fuels.   But according to the an article in the Mariana Variety shared by Koohan Paik, “‘Clean’ nuclear power eyed”, a nuclear power plant is being considered for Guam:

THE Consolidated Commission on Utilities and the Guam Power Authority are investigating a new type of “generation five” nuclear power generator – one that could potentially reduce power costs for Guam ratepayers by half or more.

The Variety has learned Dr. Jay W. Khim, CEO of Global Energy Corp. (GEC) based in Annandale, Va., made a presentation to the utilities commission, GPA officials and Navy engineers last month and will make another tomorrow afternoon.

This so-called “generation five” nuclear power plant technology was developed jointly with the Navy:

You have to change the basic science of nuclear power,” Khim explained. “We’ve been working with the U.S. Navy for about 22 years and the basic science phase is now over. Now we’re going into commercial development, which the Navy is not going to do.”  But Khim says the science has been repeatedly duplicated by the Navy, and has been proven, recognized and published.

[…]

Global Energy Corp. is proposing to build a 50-megawatt plant as a pilot project on Guam, on a build, operate and transfer basis for which GEC would obtain its own financing. Guam ratepayers would pay only for the electric power generated. Khim says he will finance the estimated $250 million plant himself. “No initial money for Guam at all,” Khim assured. “I’ll pay all the money; I’ll run it; and give Guam cheap electricity.” He says once his company and the CCU enter into a memorandum of understanding, other issues, such as the location of the reactor, will be explored.

“Our plan is to fuel the generator only once, and the fuel would last for 50 years,” Khim said. The fuel will be natural, unenriched uranium ore, which is mined in various countries including the U.S. and Australia.

“This concept is simple,” Khim added. “We’re tsunami-proof, earthquake-proof, and typhoon-proof. There is no chance of a major catastrophe because there can be no meltdown. This is clean, green nuclear energy. This is the future … where we are going. This is a dream come true for all humankind.”

It sounds too good to be true.  Have we heard all this before?

This energy is to propel the machines of progress; to light our cities and our towns; to fire our factories; to provide new sources of fresh water; and to really help us solve the mysteries of outer space as it brightens our life on this planet.

We have moved far to tame for peaceful uses the mighty forces unloosed when the atom was split. And we have only just begun. What happened here merely raised the curtain on a very promising drama in our long journey for a better life.

- President Lyndon B. Johnson, Remarks at the National Reactor Testing Station, Arco, Idaho, The American Presidency Project, August 26, 1966

Makiko Sato, a Japanese peace and anti-nuclear activist has been alerting others that the nuclear industry has been trying to remake itself, including exploiting new markets for small nuclear reactors geared to islands and other remote locations. An article in Nuclear Street “Under The Hood With Duncan Williams – Toshiba 4S” described one type of small nuclear reactor that was proposed for Alaska:

In November of 2009, the U.S Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources introduced legislation that would provide funding to the Department of Energy for the development of small nuclear reactors.  The Nuclear Power 2021 Act (S. 2812) would allow the federal government to fund 50% of the cost of the development and licensing of two different small modular reactor designs.

One of the co-sponsors of the bill, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, hopes that one of these new small reactor designs will be built in Alaska.  In fact, the NRC has already met with the city manager and vice mayor of Galena, Alaska, in order to discuss plans for building a proposed small nuclear reactor there.  Since the current bill requires that at least one of the designs must have a rated capacity of not more than 50 electrical Megawatts, a likely candidate for the Alaska site would be a design by Toshiba Corporation known as the Super-Safe, Small and Simple (4S) reactor.  The 4S design has a capacity of 10 electrical Megawatts, and would therefore qualify for funding under the proposed legislation.

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