False Climate Solutions: The Destructive Cycle of Nuclear Power in Alaska

April 26, 2023
4:00 pm US Eastern Time

Slides & Resources

Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT). 1995. Nuclear Flashback– Return to Amchitka.

Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT). 2000. The Nuclear Reactor at Fort Greely Investigative report by ACAT for Delta Junction, Alaska.

Associated Press. 2020. Colorado company agrees to $7 million cleanup of former uranium mine in Southeast Alaska

Beyond Nuclear

Higman, B. et al. Ross Adams Uranium Mine. Ground Truth Alaska summary. 

Kohlhoff, D. 2022. Amchitka and the Bomb: Nuclear Testing in Alaska. University of Washington Press. 

Lyman, E. 2021. "Advanced" Isn't Always Better: Assessing Safety. Security, and Environmental Impacts of Non-Light-Water Nuclear ReactorsUnion of Concerned Scientists report. 

Nuclear-Free-Weapons America and the Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT). 1998. Nuclear Flashback Part II. The Threat of the U.S. Nuclear Complex 

O'Neill, D. 2007. The Firecracker Boys: H-Bombs, Inupiat Eskimos, and the Roots of the Environmental Movement. New York: Basic Books. 

Union of Concerned Scientists: Nuclear Power Resources  

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You can watch a recording of this webinar HERE

In this webinar, Emily Murray and Dr. Edwyn Lyman discussed the impact of nuclear power on Alaskans and worldwide. Nuclear power is touted as a safer alternative to power generation using fossil fuel. Our guests discussed this claim from their own perspectives and research, including the consequences of uranium mining and processing, the disproportionate impact of uranium mining on Indigenous lands, risks associated with the operation of nuclear reactors, issues surrounding perpetual storage of spent nuclear fuels, and the ways in which nuclear power generation contributes to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Alaska has a history of nuclear experimentation, including weapons testing on Amchitka Island in the Aleutian Archipelago, unrealized plans to create a deepwater port near Point Hope, a nuclear reactor operating at the Fort Greely military base near Delta Junction from 1962-1972, and uranium mining at the Ross-Adams Mine in Southeast Alaska. More recently, uranium exploration has taken place near Elim, Alaska on the Seward Peninsula.

Recently adopted state legislation in Alaska streamlines the permitting of small nuclear reactors, dubbed as “micronukes,” for use in rural communities and to power remote mining operations. Alaska Governor Dunleavy’s Administration is moving forward with proposed regulations on the siting of “microreactors.” There are serious health and safety concerns with micronuclear reactors, and they are a false solution for Alaska's energy needs and the climate crisis.

Alaska Community Action on Toxics has worked on nuclear power and weapons issues in Alaska since the organization's inception in 1997.  This includes publication of two reports on the consequences of the Amchitka Island nuclear tests in the Aleutian Islands and an investigative report on the Fort Greely nuclear reactor. See the "slides and resources" section for these and other related links. 

Featured Speakers

Emily Murray is the Vice President of the Norton Bay Inter-Tribal Watershed Council and a teacher at Aniguiin School in the Inupiat village of Elim, Alaska, where she works with students to conduct research about the effects of uranium on community health. Emily presented on CHE-Alaska in 2008 on the topic of Uranium Mining and Community Health: Environmental and Health Concerns about Proposed Uranium Mining in Alaska

Edwyn Lyman, PhD is the Director of Nuclear Power Safety at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Washington, DC. He earned a doctorate in physics from Cornell University in 1992.  From 1992 to 1995, he was a postdoctoral research associate at Princeton University's Center for Energy and Environmental Studies (now the Science and Global Security Program).  From 1995 to 2003, he worked for the Nuclear Control Institute. His research focuses on nuclear power safety and security. He is a co-author, with David Lochbaum and Susan Q. Stranahan, of the book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster (The New Press, 2014). He is the recipient of the 2018 Leo Szilard Lectureship Award from the American Physical Society. He is the author of the 2021 Union of Concerned Scientists report, "Advanced" Isn't Always Better: Assessing the Safety. Security, and Environmental Impacts of Non-Light-Water Nuclear Reactors, pertaining to changes in nuclear reactor

This call is hosted by the CHE-Alaska Partnership, which is coordinated by Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT).