Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Over Erwin Nuclear Plant and Cancer Rates


"Attorneys from three states filed a class action lawsuit today against Erwin's Nuclear Fuel Services.

Law firms from Greeneville, New York and Rhode Island claim emissions from NFS are to blame for high rates of cancer.

Attorneys are fighting for their clients to get compensation for personal injury and property damage.

“No one wants to face the truth here and the truth is, I have highly enriched uranium on my property and I am 21 river miles downstream,” says Park Overall who’s one of the main advocates of the lawsuit against Nuclear Fuel Services. “I began to hear about all this cancer here, and we started to look into it. These chemicals and radioactive isotopes are related to particular cancers that we have too much of in the area.”

Overall says Monday's filing of the class action lawsuit is the biggest step so far for the Erwin Citizens Awareness Network (ECAN). ECAN is a group that’s researched NFS’s emissions dating back to 1954.

“The paperwork tells the true story, the lack of public regard for health and safety,” explains Overall. “How much was spilled. how much went in the air.”

Attorney John Rogers is with the Greeneville firm who agreed to take on this case, and Monday he filed the 40 page suit with the Federal Courthouse in Greeneville.

“[We} filed in United States District Court seeking compensatory and punitive damages for those personal injuries and also property damages.”

He says there's proof that NFS's chemicals have caused harm to it's neighbors.

“You don't have to go very far away from the nuclear facility itself to run smack dab into the pattern of significant cancers that greatly exceed the national average,” says Rogers. “There are about 20 cancers that science can trace to exposure to materials such as those being emitted into the environment.” Those radioactive materials linked to cancer he says are like those manufactured at companies like NFS.

Right now, there are about 20 names on this class action law suit.

Once attorneys review more medical records and backgrounds, the number of people suing NFS has the potential to reach the hundreds.

NFS issued this statement on the lawsuit.

"Although the company can not respond to the specific allegations. We take our environmental health and safety obligations seriously and we routinely monitor the work place and our employees to ensure we maintain a safe work place. We also monitor our emissions and the surrounding environment to ensure our operations are not adversely impacting the environment. NFS firmly believes that it's operations have not harmed anyone in the community and the company will vigorously defend itself against any lawsuit alleging otherwise."

New Coal Gasification Plant Abandons Cumberland Site, Lands In Morristown Days Later

Just a few short days ago, plans to build a massive $400 million-plus plant geared for coal gasification was being hailed in Cumberland, Roane and Morgan counties. The company, a relative newcomer called Freedom Energy Diesel, was promising jobs for some 150 people. But something happened - the project was apparently rejected, and now only days later, the plant is to built in an industrial plant in Morristown, hailed as a "miracle" by the city's Industrial Board chairman, and will offer 600 jobs.

After public notice of the Cumberland project was published in the local press, a public meeting was held to discuss some key issues, such as the value of the 100-plus acres of land the counties would donate to the company, and that both elected officials and residents were concerned that the massive amounts of coal which would be needed, the massive amounts of water needed and the fact that other infrastructure needs - roads and rail access - did not exist. Ron Woody, Roane County Executive said he had not been able to find much information about the company and was eager to here more from them.

That meeting - reported in the Knoxville News Sentinel - was May 27.

A few days later, a June 2nd article in the Crossville Chronicle quoted Freedom Energy Diesel CEO Bernie Rice on the project:

He further said the fuel is already sold and the majority of it would be used in the Knoxville, Nashville, Chattanooga region of Tennessee.

The company was recently organized and Rice could not reveal who the principal investors in the company were, other than saying they were technology-based.

(Chief Operating officer William) Daniels said the "stealth" of the project was part of the plan and thanked Crossville-Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce Director Beth Alexander; Gary Human, jobs development specialist with the state of Tennessee economic and community development; and Cumberland County Mayor Kenneth Carey for keeping quiet about the project."

On June 12th, the Morristown newspaper announced that a deal had been made over the weekend for FED to build their plant in Morristown, hiring some 450 employees to begin and then add another 150 jobs by the time the facility is completed. (The local paper has a paywall for archived articles, so I can't link to it, but I did copy some of the info from that story which I'll include below.)

FED says their operations will take in tons and tons of coal daily and convert it to a synthetic fuel which will be turned into diesel fuel. The process requires about one million gallons of water every day, though they say they reclaim much of that and will keep about 900,000 gallons of water on site in retention ponds. The company goes on to claim the process produces very little air pollution, but is mum on what materials might be released. Typically, such plants created much more carbon dioxide than traditional oil refineries. And I've seen no information on any other type of releases into the soil or water mentioned.

Certainly, new energy technologies are urgently needed.

But, there are many questions that should be answered. FED says their work will create an enormous amount of traffic on local roads and rail - for example, 100 rail cars loaded with coal are required every other day for the plant's operations, and every day some 113 tractor trailers will exit the facility, loaded with diesel fuel, and onto Highway 25-E and Interstate 81.

No mention is made in the Morristown paper of the sale or cost of the land FED wants, but does add that other 'infrastructure needs" (road and rail) will come from state grants and that FED will be applying for other grants from TVA.

As I said, urgent need for new energy tech concerns us all. But it is rather odd to me that I saw no notice of any public notices about this new facility (perhaps they will come later) and hopefully the Tennessee Department of Transportation speak publicly about the massive increase in tractor trailer traffic on already heavily traveled roadways.

I wonder too - why did the counties in Middle Tennessee drop their plans, and how much dealing was done to land the project in a new location in just a few short days?

Some excerpts from the Morristown newspaper article:

"Freedom Energy Diesel – in conjunction with the city of Morristown, Hamblen County and the state of Tennessee – announced this weekend the company has agreed to create a first-of-it’s-kind coal gasification facility in East Tennessee.

Construction is expected to begin as soon as possible and plant operations are to begin by November 2012.

The closed-loop facility – which represents a $405 million investment – will employ about 450 people in the first phase and then add another 150 jobs about 18 months later, according to sources.

"This is a miracle for Morristown," said R. Jack Fishman, chairman of the Morristown Industrial Board. "It’s a prayer answered."

At full capacity, the plant – which will cost around $405 million to construct, including equipment – will send out 113 tractor trailers of diesel fuel a day, require 100 rail cars of coal every other day and will be in production six days a week.

Training for all future plants will be conducted at the Morristown facility as well. The plant – on 115-plus acres – will be a total of 570,000 square feet with 25,000 of that dedicated to office space. Construction on the plant will begin immediately and the company plans on beginning deliveries of diesel fuel to its customers in the 3rd quarter of 2012.

The D4 process will use a million gallons of water per day but recycle 900,000 gallons kept on a trio of retention ponds on the property

The citizens group, SOCM, sent out information prior the public meeting in Cumberand County and included some of their concerns:

Plateau Partnership Park is a joint project of the three counties to encourage and develop economic development. As an incentive to attract industry development, the Industrial Development Board will consider giving away significant acreage to Freedom Energy Diesel. Please tell the Industrial Development Board that business development is very important to the area, but not at the expense of our health and environment.

Coal liquefaction has traditionally been a more expensive form of energy production (compared to natural gas and oil), but as oil prices increase, other forms of energy production such as coal liquefaction and fracking are being analyzed more closely. The coal liquefaction process involves first converting coal to gas and then into a synthetic fuel. Liquid coal requires huge amounts of both coal and energy.

Carbon dioxide production, limited utility infrastructure, and large amounts of water needed for this form of energy production are some of the major concerns that policy makers will need to address."


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Everything You Know Is Wrong ... Or Maybe It Is Right - But Can You Even Tell the Difference?

In most any day, readers across the Internet encounter some story, some report, some stunning claim which - for once and all - utterly proves that you were absolutely right about some idea you've had. Except maybe instead, what you read instead proves utterly you were absolutely wrong. Which will you decide is accurate and which is false?

Writer David McRaney says your decision has little to do with truth and more to do with what you think and believe even before you encounter something that might prove your ideas true or false. What is certain is that all across the media, the Internet, inside those tales stuffed into those endlessly forwarded emails from outraged friends and relatives, the ideas we earnestly believe grip our brains like a tropical fever which may never be cured.

His essay, The Backfire Effect on his blog You Are Not So Smart, has some very provocative ideas on this topic, highlighted by a deceptively simple thesis:

The Misconception: When your beliefs are challenged with facts, you alter your opinions and incorporate the new information into your thinking.

The Truth: When your deepest convictions are challenged by contradictory evidence, your beliefs get stronger."


"In 2006, Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler at The University of Michigan and Georgia State University created fake newspaper articles about polarizing political issues. The articles were written in a way which would confirm a widespread misconception about certain ideas in American politics. As soon as a person read a fake article, researchers then handed over a true article which corrected the first. For instance, one article suggested the United States found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. The next said the U.S. never found them, which was the truth. Those opposed to the war or who had strong liberal leanings tended to disagree with the original article and accept the second. Those who supported the war and leaned more toward the conservative camp tended to agree with the first article and strongly disagree with the second. These reactions shouldn’t surprise you. What should give you pause though is how conservatives felt about the correction. After reading that there were no WMDs, they reported being even more certain than before there actually were WMDs and their original beliefs were correct."


"Geoffrey Munro at the University of California and Peter Ditto at Kent State University concocted a series of fake scientific studies in 1997. One set of studies said homosexuality was probably a mental illness. The other set suggested homosexuality was normal and natural. They then separated subjects into two groups; one group said they believed homosexuality was a mental illness and one did not. Each group then read the fake studies full of pretend facts and figures suggesting their worldview was wrong. On either side of the issue, after reading studies which did not support their beliefs, most people didn’t report an epiphany, a realization they’ve been wrong all these years. Instead, they said the issue was something science couldn’t understand. When asked about other topics later on, like spanking or astrology, these same people said they no longer trusted research to determine the truth. Rather than shed their belief and face facts, they rejected science altogether."

Read the full essay here. But will you think it has factual value or will you see it merely as yet another example of the utter lies which fill the world and seek to destroy you?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sara Palin's Emails And Shakespeare

Macbeth - Act 5, Scene 5

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

"Palin was governor for 966 days, before ending her term abruptly. As of Friday,'s request for public records was pending for 997 days.

At $725.97 for the latest set of documents, that price is a bargain, only 3 cents a page for the photocopying, compared with the state's first cost estimate of $15 million for search and copying costs during the 2008 campaign, when officials were flustered by the burst of attention focused on their governor." (

"We're told that there are about 25,700 e-mails, with an unknown number of pages. That's not exactly what any of the news organizations asked for, as explained below, but it's what the governor's office says it will consider releasing.

They include these e-mails: anything sent to or from the governor or her husband, Todd Palin (either from their government or private Yahoo accounts) to the government accounts of 53 people: the governor, her husband, and 51 key state employees, including current and former top aides, gas pipeline commission members and members of her Cabinet.

The state says it plans to release some, and withhold some, of the e-mails it has collected, following the exemptions allowed in the public records law. (

"Sarah Palin is not so much a political institution in America as a spectator sport. Ever since she burst, or crashed, on to the national scene as John McCain's presidential running mate three years ago, she has been the irresistible car wreck the country cannot help but ogle -- the polarising, gaffe-prone, attention-seeking gift that just keeps on giving. .....

If the email leaks do anything, they are likely to act as a reinforcement to the widespread perception, even among her supporters, that there is something unseemly and excessively visible about her public persona. Joshua Green, who wrote a long and fascinating profile of her for the June issue of the Atlantic magazine, likened her reputation in Alaska these days to that of an ex-spouse from a stormy marriage. "She's a distant bad memory," he wrote, "and questions about her seem vaguely unwelcome." It may be that the rest of the country -- other than the media, who can't wait for her next stumble -- is tiring of her also. (Via)