Organizing Notes

Bruce Gagnon is coordinator of the Global Network Against Weapons & Nuclear Power in Space. He offers his own reflections on organizing and the state of America's declining empire....

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Location: Bath, Maine, United States

The collapsing US military & economic empire is making Washington & NATO even more dangerous. US could not beat the Taliban but thinks it can take on China-Russia-Iran...a sign of psychopathology for sure.

Monday, November 28, 2005

PLUTONIUM LAUNCH WORKERS STILL ON STRIKE


Boeing Corporation workers at the Florida space center are still on strike over health care and retirement benefit issues. They've been on strike since November 2.

What makes this story important is that these are the very same workers who are normally supposed to be preparing the Atlas launch rocket that is scheduled to lift-off on/after January 11, 2006 with the New Horizons plutonium probe to Pluto. The mission will carry 24 pounds of deadly toxic material on board.

The striking workers have been replaced by management employees and the Florida Today newspaper has reported that the union is concerned that the replacement workers might not have the skills to ensure a successful launch. Already there have been incidents that required investigation by NASA and the Air Force after union workers claimed that Boeing managers were in over their head.

Even in ideal conditions rockets have about a 10% failure rate at the space center. Add radioactive plutonium into the equation and you are asking for trouble.

Protests are now being planned at the space center prior to the launch. Florida residents who are concerned about what could happen after a launch accident are now organizing the planned protest. The NASA Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the New Horizons mission says that there is a 1 in 300 chance of an accident leading to the release of plutonium.

The nuclear industry views space as a new market. Unfortunately, we know that space technology can and does fail from time to time. NASA intends to expand the numbers of nuclear launches in coming years in order to put nuclear-powered bases on the moon and send nuclear rockets to Mars. The military wants nuclear reactors in space to provide power for weapons in the heavens. Would you feel safe with all these nuclear missions being launched from the space center if you lived near it?

Doesn't it make more sense to demand that NASA fund the development of alternative space power sources? Shouldn’t taxpayers demand that NASA not play Russian roulette with the lives of the people?

One serious space nuclear accident would kill the space program and destroy the Central Florida economy and environment. The time has come for the public to intervene on behalf of the future generations.

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