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Report on Facing our Nuclear Responsibilities Program with Dr. Helen Caldicott

 “Facing our Nuclear Responsibilities”
Summary of September 20, 2014 Program - from Beverly Droz
With Dr. Helen Caldicott, Guntram Mueller, & Diane Turco
Sponsored by Newton Dialogues on Peace & War
at Newton City Hall, MA
Helen Caldicott, © 2014 Ellen Shub

Helen Caldicott
Photo by Ellen Shub ©2014

“Facing our Nuclear Responsibilities” opened with the moderator, Beverly Droz, past National President of WAND, welcoming a representative from Mayor Setti Warren’s office who read his welcoming statement. Beverly provided facts about Newton as Mayors for Peace City and presented a brief history of Newton’s peace work in 1980’s when Dr. Caldicott was a resident of Newton. She acknowledged special guests and introduced Helen.

Dr. Helen Caldicott, our key note speaker, spoke in detail about the imminent yet unpublicized threat of nuclear war, particularly with the current state of events in Ukraine and other places in the world. She outlined the impact that artificial intelligence contributes to the risk of nuclear war and gave examples of past near misses of nuclear war. She discussed Fukushima and how nuclear power plants like Pilgrim pose a grave health threat to us all.

Guntram Mueller, MA Peace Action Chairman, presented updates on recent and upcoming UN events concerning nuclear weapons and the status of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. He detailed current plans on the eye-popping expenditures that the US is undertaking for new nuclear weapon systems.

Helen and Guntram emphasized these important 2 points, and provided facts on nuclear weapons and energy which are listed on page 2 of this summary:

  1. A recent study shows that the detonation of 50-100 Hiroshima size bombs would suck enough dust into the stratosphere to cause the dimming of the sun, resulting in mass malnutrition and starvation. Nevertheless, the US has 450 even more powerful bombs ready to be fired in under two minutes, which could well result in the starvation of all humanity.
  2. The US, along with the other nuclear parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty of 1970, namely Russia, China, France, and the UK, have committed themselves to "negotiate in good faith" the elimination of their nuclear weapons. After these 44 years, there have been absolutely no such negotiating sessions. This is not only in violation of the treaty, but also of the US Constitution, which upholds the force of treaties.

Diane Turco, co-founder of Cape Downwinders, presented information about the research into radiological emergency plans and the lack of state and Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight. She detailed the impact of a Pilgrim Power Plant mishap on all of MA and nearby states, and the fact that all residents of Cape Cod will be forced to stay where they live and not allowed to evacuate over the Cape Cod Canal bridges. Diane provided a powerful slide show documenting many facts about her subject matter. The last slide superimposed the Fukushima accident plume over the Pilgrim Plant – a stark visualization of how such an accident would impact our state and surrounding states.

A Question and Answer session with the audience and speakers was moderated by Beverly.

All 3 speakers reminded the audience that each of us can, and must take action.

Each of us can play a part in reducing and ultimately eliminating the threat of nuclear catastrophe – from weapons, war and nuclear power accidents.

We can write to our representatives, senators, and the President, as well as letters to the editor. We can talk to the officials during their local office hours, and ask questions at campaign stops. We can attend talks, rallies, vigils. We can join peace/social justice/environmental organizations to find out what’s going on and how we can be involved and support their work.

There are many groups you can contact and here are just a few:

Mass Peace Action   

20/20Action for monthly action suggestions

Pilgrim Coalition

Nationally: Women’s Action for New Directions

For more information about Dr. Caldicott:

There are many local groups in MA – please support yours.

In Newton: Newton Dialogues on Peace & 

Basic Facts about Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Energy

1.   How many nuclear weapons are there?

a)    The U.S. has about 7800, of which about 1700 are deployed, and of those, 450 are missiles on hair-trigger alert, ready to fire in under two minutes.

b)    Russia has about 8200, with about 1575 deployed.

c)    France, China and the United Kingdom have between 200 and 300 each.

d)    Israel, India, and Pakistan have about 100 each.

e)    North Korea has at most 6, and Iran has 0.

2.   How many nuclear detonations does it take to bring about a "nuclear winter", where the dust of nuclear destruction is sucked up beyond the stratosphere, blocking out the sun, and causing the collapse of agriculture?

  • About 50 to 100 detonations is all it takes to cause mass starvation.

3.   The U.S. is embarked on a new program of "life extending" the existing arsenal. What will it cost?

  • The Monterey Institute has estimated that over the 30 year life of the program of upgrading the existing warheads, and designing and constructing new missiles, subs, and bombers, it will cost $1 trillion, that is $1,000,000,000,000. 

4.   How many nuclear power plants are there?

  • Worldwide about 400, of which 104 are in the U.S. About 40% of these, including Pilgrim Plant in MA, are of the same design as the failed reactors in Fukushima. We have still not found a place to store the nuclear waste, so it is now accumulating mostly in highly vulnerable "spent fuel pools" next to the reactors, vulnerable to earthquakes, accidents, power outages, sabotage, and the customary human screw-ups and errors.

Bios of speakers:

Dr. Helen Caldicott, our featured speaker, is a world renowned activist, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee, a founder of the Nobel Peace prize-winning organization Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and of national Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament (WAND, now Women’s Action for New Directions), Author of “The New Nuclear Danger”, “Nuclear Power is Not the Answer” and many more books. A former Newton resident, Dr. Caldicott lives in Australia and travels internationally, speaking about the imminent threat of nuclear war, particularly with the current state of events in Ukraine; the impact that artificial intelligence contributes to the risk of nuclear war; the past near misses of nuclear war; and Fukushima and how nuclear power plants like Pilgrim pose a grave heath threat to us all.

Guntram Mueller, a longtime resident of Newton, has been an activist against nuclear weapons since 1989, when he became a member of the Core Group of 2020Action. In the late 1970's he designed, built & tested a 48 foot high wind turbine. Its design is now adopted for wind turbines in gusty, turbulent wind sites. In 2008 he joined the Board of Massachusetts Peace Action, and is currently serving as its Chair. Guntram speaks about these issues at event throughout the state.

Diane Turco is co-founder of Cape Downwinders, a citizens group calling for the closure of Pilgrim Nuclear in Plymouth, MA. Diane serves on the Steering Committee of Pilgrim Coalition. She is a retired special education teacher and lives in Harwich. After learning of the threat from Pilgrim to the public and the environment in the late 1980's and lack of protection at the state and federal levels, she began to work for public safety and continues to investigate, educate, and agitate for the closing of Pilgrim Nuclear in Plymouth.  

Beverly Droz, after hearing Dr. Caldicott speak in Jan. 1981, co-founded Newton Action for Nuclear Disarmament and national Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament of which she because President. In 1987 she traveled to the U.N. World Congress of Women on Disarmament in Moscow, USSR. A co-founder of Green Decade / Newton, she is a long-time activist and advocate for funding human & environmental needs.

“Facing our Nuclear Responsibilities” was sponsored by Newton Dialogues on Peace & War, and we thank our 19 co-sponsoring organizations:

Co-sponsors: 20/20 Action, Arlington UJP, Cambridge UJP, Cape Codders for Peace & Justice, Cape Downwinders, Coalition for a Strong United Nations, Green Decade/Newton, Massachusetts Peace Action, Merrimack Valley People for Peace, Newton Interfaith Clergy Association, North Shore Coalition for Peace & Justice, Occupy Fall River, On Behalf of Planet Earth, Pilgrim Coalition, United for Justice with Peace, Veterans for Peace/Smedley D. Butler Brigade, Watertown Citizens for Peace Justice & Environment, Women's Action for New Directions, Women's International League for Peace & Freedom – Boston.


Newton Dialogues on Peace & War gratefully thanks our donors who help use with the expenses of this program:

Gold Sponsors: Cape Downwinders, Pilgrim Coalition, Veterans for Peace/Smedley D. Butler Brigade, Watertown Citizens for Peace, Justice and the Environment, Women's Action for New Directions (WAND), Women's International League for Peace and Freedom – Bosto 

Silver Sponsors:  Arlington United for Justice with Peace, Cambridge United for Justice with Peace, Green Decade / Newton, Merrimack Valley People for Peace, United for Justice with Peace, and Individuals: Jane Brown, Libby Gerlach, Susan Mirsky, Guntram Mueller, Daniel & Laura Shaw

Friend Sponsors:  20/20 Action, Coalition for a Strong United Nations, Metro West Peace Action, North Shore Coalition for Peace & Justice, On Behalf of Planet Earth

Newton Dialogues on Peace & War has introduced a Newton Nuclear Resolution to the Board of Aldermen in support of: the goal of Mayors for Peace to eliminate all nuclear weapons by 2020; and to ask President Obama to adopt an unconditional No-First-Use policy; and to ask Congress to stop the new Nuclear Complex program and thus devote the $1 trillion in savings over 30 years to human needs. We are asking Newton residents to contact their Aldermen in support of this resolution.

Droz 10.1.2014


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