Nukes Are Our Corporate Death Wish…the Sun is the People’s Cure

By Harvey Wasserman

Image by Andrey Grinkevich

Humankind’s ultimate extinction is now flowing through an atomic death spiral.

A single errant shell at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia…a single seismic shock at California’s Diablo Canyon…can bury us all in apocalyptic radiation.

The eruptions already stretch from Kyshtym, Iron Mike, Castle Bravo, Windscale, SL-1, Chalk River, Santa Susanna, Fermi I, Perry, Davis-Besse, North Anna, Tokaimura, Three Mile Island, Church Rock, Surry, Chernobyl, Vandellòs, Sosnovy Bor, WIPP, Fukushima, Fort Calhoun to South Texas and too many more.

It’s been clear since 1945 that A-Bombs can extinct the human race. Commercial reactors supply them with fissionable material and a work force.

Burning alongside thousands of nuclear warheads there are 400+ commercial reactors worldwide…decrepit, decayed, expensive, under-maintained, unstable and uninsured (except by token taxpayer funds). Six in Ukraine currently tremble in a war zone.

The average age of the 92 nukes in the US is nearly 40. The 1000+-square-mile dead zone around Chernobyl could be easily duplicated by any nuke. Just superimpose a similar lethal wound anywhere on a US map and calculate the damage.

But it’s a double-sided apocalypse.

Bombs & reactors can obliterate the human species with both explosive bangs and the agonized whimpers of radioactive murder.

But replacing nuke power and fossil fuels with solar, wind, batteries and LED/efficiency means a parallel apocalypse in the world of corporate power—-an end to the centralized multi-national control our global energy supply.

Cheaper, cleaner, safer, more reliable, more job-producing democratized green energy stands to obliterate the monetary and political death grip King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, Gas) has on our species’ throat.

The decentralized, community-controlled green vision is as terrifying to global energy barons as is biological extinction to the rest of us. And thus the atomic hucksters somehow try to convince us their apocalyptic reactors are “clean, green, carbon-free,” you name it.

The scam’s cutting edge is now in California, where would-be president Gavin Newson is pushing nuclear power while conspiring to kill renewables.

At the End Time vortex is Diablo Canyon.

For more than a half-century, plus grassroots citizens have fought two atomic power reactors on the central California coast, eight miles west of San Luis Obispo.

Unit One’s first components arrived on site in pre-digital 1967. By 1984-5, when the hardware was already obsolete, more than 10,000 citizens (including me) were arrested there.

As Jerry Brown’s greening Golden State has welcomed more than 17,000 wind turbines, 1.4+ million rooftop solar installations and massive advances in battery and LED/efficiency technologies now dwarf the output from the state’s one remaining nuke plant.

Some 1500 Californians now work at Diablo; over 70,000 work in renewables, batteries and efficiency. Shutting Diablo and replacing it with real green power would add thousands of jobs to the state’s energy mix.

Early on Pacific Gas & Electric vehemently denied that there were any active earthquake faults threatening Diablo. They refused to allow experts who said otherwise to testify in official hearings. They also refused to build in the safeguards required to withstand certain levels of seismic shaking.

But then in 1973 the company admitted that they knew about an active earthquake fault—-the Hosgri—-sitting just three miles from the reactor cores. Just 45 miles from the San Andreas, a dozen more fault lines intertwine near the core. Dr. Michael Peck, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s site inspector for five years, warned in 2014 a likely quake could shake Diablo to rubble.

But the NRC has refused to force PG&E to physically upgrade the facility. Instead a series of “waivers” let Diablo run where any number of fault lines could rattle it—-and millions of us downwind—-to outright oblivion.

The NRC has long since admitted that Unit One is seriously embrittled. It’s well-known throughout the industry that the steel cylinder containing its super-hot core reaction will shatter in a melt-down. Explosive radioactive death clouds will then pour into Los Angeles, the Central Valley and/or Bay Area….and into the jet-stream and around the globe, doing terminal damage to the human species.

Diablo has not recently—-if ever—-been independently inspected. It has no private insurance. There are no public evacuation plans for California’s major population centers.

In 2016-8, then-Governor Brown and now-Governor Newsom helped plan Diablo’s closure. Local citizens, elected officials, unions, regulators, environmental groups and more mapped out an orderly shut-down.

As a result, workers are being compensated, with some retiring, some staying for decommissioning, the younger ones being retrained to work in the booming renewable industry.

As a reward for not meeting legal safety and ecological requirements, PG&E has ducked a wide range of upgrades and maintenance The plant has been set to operate through the expiration of Unit One’s NRC license in 2024, then Unit Two’s in 2025. Its owner has been allowed to ignore routine upkeep, becoming more dangerous by the day.

Hot radioactive water still pours into ocean, killing billions of marine creatures. There remains just barely enough on-site space to accommodate the ensuing spent fuel through 2024-5. Managing more is an epic unknown, requiring at very least exceedingly dangerous manipulations of what’s already in the fuel pools, along with untenable expansions of the dry casks and concrete pads on the site.

The venerable Mothers for Peace—and thousands more—-want Diablo to immediately shut.

The nukes’ 2400 megawatts are already fading below a well-planned, cleanly executed symphony of solar panels, wind farms, batteries and LED/efficiency. Massive off-shore wind turbines will soon send mega-juice pouring into Diablo’s switching stations.

By public consensus the 2016 phase-out plan embodies as rational and well-calculated a transition as the human species could concoct…a model for winding down the other 90+ American reactors, and maybe even the 400+ worldwide. It offers a sustainable green escape from the obscene financial and ecological failures of atomic power to the proven reliability of a Solartopian future.

Which has pitched King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, Gas) into a Luddite state of terminal atomic panic.

The Diablo deal clearly puts the global fossil-nuclear utility industry on the path to extinction. If these two immense reactors can be smoothly overtaken by cheaper, cleaner, safer renewable energy…what about the rest of the dying fossil/nuke fleet? What does that say about the future of centralized corporate power?

With this giant hole poked into the obsolete energy Luddites’ Maginot line, what will happen to the trillions of dollars still sunk in the old ways of scorching the Earth? What will trillions of kilowatts of Solartopian electricity pouring into the grid do to the future of fossil/nuclear fuels?

The industry does not want to know—-and it does not want YOU to know.

Wind, solar, batteries and efficiency already sustain much of California’s and the nation’s grid, now commonly providing the flexible, reliable, low-cost, zero-aaron essential power needed to avoid blackouts, unsustainable rate hikes and lethal climate chaos.

First and foremost, King CONG’s anti-green blitzkrieg disrupts supply chains and assaults rooftop solar with taxes and regulations designed to kill it. Endless genuflections to the dead bird each big turbine kills per year accompany the assault. So do rightful worries over mining of lithium and cobalt, major polluters in regions with bad labor practices.

But these are solvable, non-plutonium-based problems in comparison with mining, milling and enriching uranium while failing to manage its wastes.

No windmill ever killed a fish, but nukes kill billions of marine creatures every day.

Every reactor burns at roughly 570 degrees Fahrenheit, spewing radiation, carbon 14 and lethal pollutants into the eco-sphere. Massive quantities of carbon pour from mining, milling, enrichment and disposal. All reactors and fuel pools can explode at any time.

The Trumpian Big Lie is that these ancient, uninsured instruments of mass extinction are somehow “emission and carbon free.”

So Newsom has strong-armed California’s legislature to trash Diablo’s shut-down deal and hand PG&E $1.4 billion to operate til the next quake blows the place apart.

With utility and fossil/nuke money in his presidential war chest, Newsom is poised to pursue the White House against a hard-right Ron DeSantis who actually vetoed solar taxes like the ones Newsom is pushing.

Polls in both Florida and California show 80% support for renewables. Fierce campaigns now rage against Diablo’s extension and Newsom’s attempt to kill rooftop solar.

The Governor now has the radioactive winds to his back.

But as fossil/nukes scorch the planet, and as their apocalyptic clouds pour over our biggest cities, and as their over-the-top inefficiencies bankrupt our economy, what will be left for his corrupt, cynical ilk to govern?

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at

This article was published on September 21, 2022, at CounterPunch.

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