Sunday, 19 January 2014

The Danger of Testing Drones in Upstate New York

In response to a law directing the FAA find ways for unmanned aerial vehicles (drones) to fly safely within US airspace, the agency chose 6 sites around the US for drone research and testing. Griffiss International Airport was chosen because it had ready access to the northeast's congested airspace. The FAA says research at the Rome NY airport will focus on drones sensing and avoiding other aircraft. Enjoy your Buffalo to Albany NY flight. 

Rome NY is very close to 3 nuclear power plants located at Scriba NY: Nine Mile Point 1, 2 and Fitzpatrick --just 54 miles  west of Griffiss. Forty miles further west is one more nuclear power reactor -- Gina -- in Ontario NY. There are 4 nuclear power reactors in within 100 miles of the proposed drone testing base in Rome NY. Scriba NY is 7 miles east of Oswego NY.

What’s the concern? While the crash of an uncontrolled drone into  structurally hardened dome ...the containment structure....covering a nuclear reactor is unlikely to cause a problem, a similar crash into the buildings housing the spent fuel is another story.  Nuclear/environmental expert Robert Alvarez says those buildings "....are made from materials commonly used to house big-box stores and car dealerships".

A Congressional Research Service report released this month highlighting the problem of building integrity "[spent fuel storage is].... located outside the reactor containment structure, particular concern has been raised about the vulnerability of spent fuel to attack by aircraft or other means." 

And the amount of spent fuel radioactivity stored at the Scriba NY power plants is enormous...almost 300 million Curies --  3 times that of the troubled reactors at Fukushima Japan.

 About 80% of the spent fuel rods are kept in pools of circulating water to prevent self-igniting fires and subsequent  release of radioactivity to the atmosphere. Alvarez claims that a spent-fuel fire could cause an area of up to 340,000 square miles to become uninhabitable. An equivalent area is a circle with a radius of 330 miles, the distance between Scriba NY and Washington DC.

Leaks of water from those pools -- due to seal and fitting failures -- have occurred about ten times in the last 10 years. The frequent leaks underscores the vulnerability of spent fuel.

At a minimum, a drone crashing into a building housing spent-fuel rods could breech the seals surrounding the pools causing release of radioactive water into the environment, a subsequent fire and release of more radioactivity into the atmosphere.

On Nov 12 a MQ-9 Reaper drone -- under the control of a student pilot from the 174th Attack Wing -- based at Hancock Field near Syracuse NY -- crashed near the eastern shore of Lake Ontario, not far from the three Scriba nuclear power plants. That drone took off from Wheeler-Stack Army air base at Camp Drum NY and has yet to be found.

The Syracuse Post-Standard says the 174th Attack Wing  "...flies them across a wide swath of Upstate New York, from west of Rochester eastward to near Blue Mountain Lake, and from Syracuse north to the Massena area." That area includes the three nuclear power plants at Scriba NY and one at Ontario NY.

When the Rome NY drone base becomes active as the second drone base in NY, we will have two drone bases each about 50 miles from the three Scriba NY nuclear power plants.

It appears we will have many drones operating in test-mode in airspace over four operating nuclear reactors.

Charley Bowman
Renewable Energy Task Force
WNY Peace Center


1. Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States, by Robert Alvarez, Jan Beyea, Klaus Janberg, Jungmin Kang, Ed Lyman, Allison Macfarlane, Gordon Thompson, Frank N. von Hippel
Science and Global Security, 11:1–51, 2003

2. Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the U.S.: Reducing the Deadly Risks of Storage, by Robert Alvarez
Institute for Policy Studies, May 2011.

3. Nuclear Power Plant Security and Vulnerabilities by Mark Holt and Anthony Andrews, Congressional Research Service January 3, 2014. RL34331

4. Military Drones Grounded in Central New York following Crash in Lake Ontario, by Tim Knauss. Syracuse Post Standard ( , Nov. 13, 2013.

All of these are freely available on the internet.

Oral historian Rosalie Riegle, speaking in Buffalo, February 2014

Oral historian Rosalie Riegle will be in Buffalo (WATCH FOR DETAILS) presenting her new book on war resisters who say no to war-making in the strongest way possible—by engaging in civil disobedience and paying the consequences in jail or prison.

   Doing Time for Peace: Resistance, Family, and Community
   a book edited by Rosalie G. Riegle – Introduction by Dan McKanan

In this compelling collection of oral histories, more than seventy-five peacemakers (some of whom are dedicated freinds of ArtRage) describe how they say no to war-making in the strongest way possible—by engaging in civil disobedience and paying the consequences in jail or prison. These courageous resisters leave family and community and life on the outside in their efforts to direct U.S. policy away from its militarism. Many are Catholic Workers, devoting their lives to the works of mercy instead of the works of war. They are homemakers and carpenters and social workers and teachers who are often called “faith-based activists.” They speak from the left of the political perspective, providing a counterpoint to the faith-based activism of the fundamentalist Right.

In their own words, the narrators describe their motivations and their preparations for acts of resistance, the actions themselves, and their trials and subsequent jail time. We hear from those who do their time by caring for their families and man- aging communities while their partners are imprisoned. Spouses and children talk frankly of the strains on family ties that a life of working for peace in the world can cause. The voices range from a World War II conscientious objector to those protesting the recent war in Iraq. The book includes sections on resister families, the Berrigans and Jonah House, the Plowshares communities, the Syracuse Peace Council, and Catholic Worker houses and communities.

Rosalie is a professor emeriti in English at Saginaw Valley State University.  She lives in Evanston, Illinois and has published two previous oral histories: Voices from the Catholic Worker and Dorothy Day: Portraits by Those Who Knew Her. Rosalie G. Riegle is an oral historian who taught English at Saginaw Valley State University from 1969 to 2003. She raised four daughters and co-founded two Catholic Worker houses in Saginaw, Michigan.

This text comes from her fall visit to Syracuse:

justice for the Cuban 5, December 2013 letter in Buffalo News

LASC member Ned Cuddy's letter on justice for the Cuban 5 - in the BN, Dec. 27, 2013

Ball is in Obama’s court regarding Cuban ‘swap’

Ruth Marcus (“Nightmare for an American left behind in Cuba”) was half-right when she urged the Obama administration to negotiate a “swap” to free Alan Gross from a Cuban prison in exchange for releasing the “Cuban Five,” in American prisons. Gross, a contractor for the State Department, was imprisoned for smuggling Internet equipment into Cuba.
Marcus was well off the mark when she claimed that Gross was “a victim of the repressive Cuban regime.” In fact, Havana had promoted the swap. It was President Obama who rejected the deal, claiming that the Cubans had their “due process rights” – ignoring the evidence that the Cubans had been tried by a kangaroo court in Miami, a city rife with anti-Castro hatred. “The possibility of selecting 12 [impartial] citizens” was virtually “zero,” according to witness sociologist Lisandro Perez.
Moreover, Marcus was too hard on the Cubans, claiming they “are not the heroes of Cuban lore,” and too soft on Obama when she said that “Gross hasn’t been abandoned, just prioritized.” Havana had sent the Cubans to Florida to expose the Cuban-American terrorists who had been attacking their homeland for decades, leading to thousands of deaths. Instead of nabbing the militants, Washington convicted the Cubans of espionage.
When their attorneys appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for review in 2009, Obama urged the court to reject the case. The judges rejected the review without explanation.
“Prioritized”? The ball is already in Obama’s court. Either he accepts the swap or he slams the doors for both Gross and the Cubans.
Edward Cuddy

Close Guantanamo, January 5th to the 13th, 2014 in Washington

WNY Peace Center members were at this year's  fast, vigil and actions to close Guantanamo:
       Close Guantanamo- January 5th to the 13th  in Washington D.C     
Any questions, contact Tom Casey through the Peace Center or Pax Christi. 
Post by Terry Bisson, for LASC

see also:

Tom's report:   "It was a nourishing privilege to represent Pax Christi WNY in DC last week. See especially the link below at the end of the first paragrph to Ken Butigan's column.  You are all welcome to join us next year. One week of fasting (plenty of liquids), a comfortable church floor with mats and an amazing community of focused hope that was founded by about 25 people including many Catholic workers. Hopefuly Gunatanamo will be closed and we will be fasting, reflecting, vigiling and educating for another need."   tom casey

Hancock 17 Drone War Crimes Resisters Trial, January 2014

The first day of the trial of the Hancock 17 Drone War Crime Resisters began Friday, January 3 to a packed courtroom of over 75 supporters.and ended just after midnight early Saturday morning, January 4. The trial continues Monday, January 6 at 5 pm at the Town of Dewitt Court, 5400 Butternut Drive, East Syracuse, NY.

The first day included powerful opening statements for the group by Ed Kinane and Clare Grady, which began with a moment of silence for people killed by drone attacks. Ed powerfully stated that the defense was the convergence of two paths - the paths of legalism and of justice and conscience - and that the activists came not to break laws, but to uphold International Law.

Clare then spoke movingly that "law is here to serve humanity NOT the other way around" and that very important laws have been signed and agreed upon by the nations of the world that reflect this. "When we go to Hancock," she affirmed, "we go to call a halt to drone War Crimes.We breath life into treaties and agreements that are the supreme laws of our land. These laws, treaties and agreements, are designed to lead us toward peace and away from war."

The prosecutor called his first two witnesses, including Col. Earl Evans, who had been responsible for the activists being subjected to orders of protection ever since they were arrested on October 25, 2012, which state, among other things, that they stay away from his place of work. The two witnesses agreed that no one was violent or seemed dangerous or threatening. There was much discussion about the base property lines, in particular about where the road easement ended and where the base property started.

The activists are all from the Upstate Coalition to Ground the Drones and End the Wars, a decentralized, grassroots organization that represents diverse peace and justice organizations from different cities. We seek to educate the public and Hancock Air Base personnel about the war crimes perpetrated in Afghanistan with the MQ9 Reaper Drone piloted from Hancock Air National Guard Base just outside Syracuse.     See

Great News, Jan. 10, 2014: BAN ON FRACKING IN ERIE COUNTY!

Jan.10, 2014: GREAT NEWS - citing "overwhelming support," Poloncarz BANS FRACKING IN ERIE COUNTY!

Thank you, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz for listening to the science and your constituents and signing the bipartisan bill!

Previous Dec. 13, 2013 posting on Facebook said:

"We did it! After a year of tireless organizing, we've passed a fracking ban on Erie County-owned lands — and we've banned toxic fracking wastewater from entering our county. This was a landslide victory, with 9 out of the 11 legislators voting in support of the ban.

Without all of your hard work, this never could have happened. We'd also like to thank the bill sponsor, County Chair Betty Jean Grant, who stood on the side of the people and protected our air, land and water by introducing this bill. Please leave a sincere message of thanks on her Facebook wall!"

HONDURAS: Human Rights & Elections. Jan.27, 2014

Latin America Solidarity Committee January Coffeehouse
HONDURAS: Human Rights & Elections

7-9 pm Monday January 27, 2014 Daemen College
Wick Student Center, Alumni Lounge, 4380 Main Street

Since the 2009 military coup, resistance movements of Honduras have struggled against repression. A coalition political party, Libertad y Refundacion (LIBRE), formed in response, and ran in the Nov. 24 presidential elections. Many predicted that the LIBRE candidate would win, but official results went otherwise. Internationals saw an election overshadowed by violence, intimidation and fraud, unreported in Honduran and international media. Come hear first-hand about the election, U.S. and Canadian actions to legitimize and benefit from the coup, and the courage and spirit of Honduras' pro-democracy movements.

Speaker: Peter Dawson (Sociology, York University, Toronto) with work on human rights and indigenous communities. He was delegate on recent "Common Frontiers" election watch in Honduras, where he met with indigenous leaders there opposing planned model city programs there.


Ring in the New Year with Peace, Jan.15, 2014

Wednesday, January 15 at 7:00pm at at the amazing 464 Gallery  in Buffalo, NY;
a celebration "Ring in the New Year with Peace". 
2013 was a great year for theWNY Peace Center and 2014 looks to be even bigger. 
The movement toward Peace and Social Justice is growing.
Think about how you can grow with it.   JW