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Nuclear Issues

Nuclear Issues


By Robert Frye

Now more than 70 years after the first and only nuclear bombs were used in war, North Korea's nuclear tests and the potential for a new global arms race provide stark reminders of the enormous threat posed by the most lethal weapon ever invented.

The Nuclear Requiem presents an updated, in-depth reflection on the continuing danger nuclear weapons pose, an honest assessment of the current obstacles to disarmament, and a frank, yet hopeful, discussion of what it will take to overcome the roadblocks to a safer world.

Featured are more than three dozen top security experts and citizen activists in countries from around the world. An original piano composition by Alain Kremski provides a meditative background score to the informed commentary.

The film begins with a brief overview of the major milestones in the nuclear age to provide essential historical background.

It then highlights the status of nuclear weapons worldwide and the major areas of concern, not just North Korea, but also a new cold war with Russia, with both countries spending billions of dollars on new weapons. Inside a UN session on nuclear nonproliferation, we witness first hand the complex political and strategic concerns that make steps towards disarmament a major challenge.

The Nuclear Requiem reviews some of the recent more hopeful developments, including the Iranian nuclear agreement and greatly improved verification capabilities, as well as voices from a new generation of younger experts and activists who are working globally to change the dialogue around what is possible.

The film includes President Obama's historic 2016 visit to Hiroshima, the first by a U.S. President. In his speech he suggests we must "look directly into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again." Hiroshima should be a memory that "allows us to fight complacency" and "fuels our moral imagination."

DVD (Closed Captioned) / (Grades 10-Adult) / 90 minutes

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By Holly Morris and Ann Bogart

The Babushkas of Chernobyl journeys into the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone several decades after the world's worst nuclear disaster in April 1986. The tightly regulated 1000 square mile Dead Zone remains one of the most radioactively contaminated places on Earth, complete with military border guards.

Surprisingly, a defiant, spirited group of elderly women scratches out an existence in this lethal landscape. The resilient babushkas are the last survivors of a small community who refused to leave their ancestral homes after the Chernobyl disaster.

The film follows the women for over a year, capturing their unusual lives in the Dead Zone, as well as other extraordinary scenes -- from radiation spikes just a few feet from the nuclear reactor, to a group of thrill-seekers called "Stalkers" who sneak into the Zone illegally to pursue post-apocalyptic video game-inspired fantasies.

Scientists in the area describe the extent of contamination in the Exclusion Zone and the continuing danger of radiation poisoning. Journalist Mary Mycio, author of Wormwood Forest: A Natural History of Chernobyl, studies the long-term impacts on humans, animals, and plants. A visit to the reactor itself shows a containment sarcophagus under construction, which will need to last longer than the pyramids in Egypt to prevent further radiation releases.

While the babushkas' spirit mirrors the determination of the Ukrainian nation - a country that continues to survive despite its ongoing conflict with Russia - it remains unlikely Chernobyl will be repopulated anytime in the foreseeable future

DVD (Region 1, Closed Captioned) / 2015 / (Grades 11-Adult) / 72 minutes

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Director: Ivy Meeropol

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant looms just 35 miles from Times Square. With over 50 million people living in close proximity to the aging facility, its continued operation has the support of the plant's operators and the NRC - Nuclear Regulatory Commission - yet has stoked a great deal of controversy in the surrounding community, including a vocal anti-nuclear contingent concerned that what happened at Japan's Fukushima nuclear plant could happen here. In the brewing fight for clean energy and the catastrophic possibilities of government complacency, director Ivy Meeropol presents a balanced argument about the issues surrounding nuclear energy and offers a startling reality check for our uncertain nuclear future.

DVD / 2015 / 94 minutes

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The movie describes three areas in the world in the US, France and Japan where the landscapes are dominated by nuclear sites. It explains the origins of plutonium, and examines its evolution from a matter used for military purposes to one which is used for nuclear energy. It explores the scientific, industrial and geopolitical implications of its production.

The film begins with the story of the birth of plutonium production in the 40s in Hanford USA, then recounts the history of the nuclear reprocessing plant in La Hague, France, then tells of the Rokkasho nuclear site in Japan which is actually built on a seismic fault line.Citizens and local politicians share their thoughts and experiences on living near these nuclear sites. The film is based on archives made by scientists at that time and recreates the story of an industrial environment secretely born in arid and desolate locations. The sites, depicted though creative imagery, show us that humankind made an irreversible choice in the mid-twentieth century.

DVD / 2015 / 52 minutes

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Director: Atsushi Funahashi

Nuclear Nation II follows a new group of people exiled from Futaba, the region occupied by the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Since the 1960s, Futaba had been promised prosperity with tax breaks and major subsidies to make up for the presence of the plant... until the townspeople lost their homeland on March 11, 2011.

The film portrays their lives as refugees in an abandoned high school, and in temporary housing. The political fallout from the nuclear disaster results in conflict between residents, and the mayor is forced to resign. Many decide to move back to Fukushima prefecture, just outside the evacuation zone. The town finds itself divided by the arbitrariness of evacuation, radiation levels, and compensation guidelines from the plant's operator. And then, the Japanese government announces a plan to turn Futaba into an official, literal wasteland.

Is it possible to truly compensate the townspeople for what they have lost? Through their agonies and frustrations, the film questions the real cost of nuclear energy and unbridled capitalism. But perhaps more important, this film gives a fully textured, all-access account of governmental bureaucracy's attempt and ultimate incapacity to adequately deal with displaced peoples. This is a problem we continue to face: Hurricane Katrina uprooted over a million people in the Gulf Coast region, more than a million migrants and refugees entered Europe in 2015, and over 11 million unauthorized immigrants seek home in the United States. There are over 60 million refugees worldwide.

Teachers and students looking to understand the depth of challenges facing the fair and efficient administration of human rights in times of crisis will be pleased to find Nuclear Nation II.

DVD (Japanese with English subtitles) / 2015 / 114 minutes

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Directed by Chad Gracia

The Russian Woodpecker is a thrilling, award-winning investigation into whether the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown was an inside job. Director Chad Gracia follows the unforgettably eccentric artist Fedor Alexandrovich, who reveals to the world an enormous secret Soviet weapon that stands in the shadow of Chernobyl, which Kremlinologists in the 1980s thought might be a giant mind-control device. But what Fedor discovers is much more sinister. Secret police start appearing and one of the crew members is shot by a sniper, as revolution, paranoia and terror engulf the crew. This Sundance Grand Jury winner and darling of critics worldwide pushes the boundaries of the documentary form while telling a crucial story about the deadly dance between Ukraine and Russia.

DVD (Color) / 2015 / 81 minutes

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A story of genius, folly and controversy

This exclusive look inside the Sellafield nuclear facility reveals the secrets and nightmares of the Atomic Age.

Sellafield is the keystone of the UK's nuclear industry. Its story is the story of the nuclear age. Now, for the first time, Sellafield is opening its doors to television cameras. From the world's first commercial nuclear reactor, to the first reprocessing facility ever to recycle used fission material, this is a revelatory tour around one of the country's most controversial sites.

Discover secrets that have been hidden for 60 years, in this remarkable account of humanity's attempts - past, present and future - to harness the almost limitless power of the atom.

Note: This BBC production not available in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Mainland China, Japan, USA, Canada.

DVD / 2015 / 60 minutes

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By Richard Breyer & Anand Kamalakar

Garwin is the first film to profile renowned physicist and inventor Richard Garwin, who helped shape history as designer of the first hydrogen bomb and later as a top science adviser on nuclear arms control and other issues.

In verite style, the documentary delves into the rich and controversial life and career of 85 year-old Garwin, offering personal insights into his thinking and actions. The film follows backpack-toting Garwin as he revisits the Los Alamos National Laboratory, attends a conference in Europe, travels to the White House, and meets with politicians, other scientists, and historians.

Garwin received his Ph.D. under Nobel Laureate Enrico Fermi, who later invited him to work at Los Alamos on the nation's nuclear weapons program. Fermi called Garwin "the only true genius he ever met". Garwin authored the final design used for the hydrogen bomb at age 23, assigned to the task by Edward Teller.

He later worked for IBM at its research center, while also serving as top science adviser to every president from Eisenhower to Obama on nuclear policy and many other technical issues. In recent years he was part of an elite group of scientists asked to help plug the BP oil spill and find solutions to contain the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. His work was honored with the National Medal of Science.

While exploring Garwin's life and work, the film offers a rare look into the world of science and policy, notably the role of scientists like Garwin who regularly advise our leaders on solutions to the most critical issues of our time, from nuclear proliferation and disarmament, to climate change and energy.

DVD (Region 1, Closed Captioned) / 2014 / (High School - Adult) / 67 minutes

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By Shizumi Shigeto Manale
Written and Directed by Bryan Reichhardt

Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard presents the aftermath of the first atomic bomb through the remarkable drawings and untold stories of surviving Japanese school children who were part of an extraordinary exchange with their American counterparts.

In 1995, a parishioner of the All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., discovered a long-forgotten box containing dozens of colorful drawings made by Japanese children from the Honkawa Elementary School in Hiroshima just two years after their city was destroyed. The surprisingly hopeful drawings were created and sent to the church nearly 50 years earlier in appreciation for much-needed school supplies received as part of the church's post-war humanitarian efforts.

The Honkawa school was just 1100 feet from ground zero on August 6, 1945. Nearly 400 children died in the schoolyard that fateful morning. Surviving students and teachers describe the horror of that day and reflect on their difficult lives amidst the rubble of their decimated city, as well as the hope they shared through their art.

Classes resumed soonafter in the window-less concrete shell of the remaining Honkawa school building to provide some sense of normalcy. The film features recently found archival footage that shows what life was like in the weeks and months after the bomb fell and how Hiroshima gradually recovered.

The rediscovered drawings were restored by members of the All Souls Church, who several years later embarked on an emotional journey to Japan to exhibit the artwork at the Honkawa school and reunite the surviving artists for the first time with the drawings they created as children.

The artists and church members reflect on the lessons that resulted from a compassionate exchange nearly 70 years ago between American and Japanese children following a bitter and devastating World War.

DVD (Region 1, Closed Captioned) / 2014 / (Grades 9-Adult) / 58 minutes

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By Kimberley Hawryluk & Adam Schomer

The Polygon reveals the untold legacy of the Soviet Union's extensive Cold War nuclear testing program at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan. Over 600 nuclear bombs were detonated at the formerly secret site, known as "The Polygon", from 1949 to 1991, including 116 above ground explosions.

The massive mushroom clouds were witnessed by hundreds of thousands of nearby unprotected Kazakh villagers, unaware that nuclear fallout was raining down on them, their land and water.

More than 18,000 square kilometers remain heavily contaminated. The radiation silently devastated three generations who have suffered serious health problems, including thyroid disease, cancer, birth defects, and more. Life expectancy in the region is seven years less than the national average in Kazakhstan.

The full impact of radiation exposure was hidden by Soviet authorities, and only came to light after the test site was closed in 1991 after major protests.

The tragic story is told in part by the villagers themselves, including Bolat Baltabek, a teacher and town leader, who lost his sister, brother, son, and countless neighbors to radiation-related diseases.

Shot over 3 years, The Polygon revisits the history of these tragic Cold War experiments, and profiles the unfortunate victims that remain today, still suffering with little or no compensation, or global recognition of their plight.

DVD (Region 1, Closed Captioned) / 2014 / (Grades 11- Adult) / 55 minutes

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The atomic bomb and meltdowns like Fukushima have made nuclear power synonymous with global disaster. But what if we've got nuclear power wrong? PANDORA'S PROMISE asks whether the one technology we fear most could save our planet from a climate catastrophe, while providing the energy needed to lift billions of people in the developing world out of poverty. In his controversial new film, Stone tells the intensely personal stories of environmentalists and energy experts who have undergone a radical conversion from being fiercely anti to strongly pro-nuclear energy, riskingtheir careers and reputations in the process. Stone exposes this controversy within the environmental movement head-on with stories of defection by heavy weights including Stewart Brand, Richard Rhodes, Gwyneth Cravens, Mark Lynas and Michael Shellenberger. Undaunted and fearlessly independent, PANDORA'S PROMISE is a landmark work that is forever changing the conversation about the myths and science behind this deeply emotional and polarizing issue.

DVD (Region 1, Color) / 2013 / 80 minutes

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Can we dismantle our nuclear power plants? An alarming report on the dangers of deconstructing nuclear stations.

From France to the USA to Germany, the countries that have banked on nuclear energy are today facing a new challenge: decommissioning their power plants that are either ageing or are definitively ceasing activity.

40 years ago, their designers did not foresee that, once the plants had become too old and therefore dangerous, they would need to be dismantled, and that highly radioactive wastes would need to be stocked. Although both plant operators and nuclear safety authorities claim they are in full control of the decommissioning process, the reality is somewhat different.

DVD / 2012 / 52 minutes

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Director: Atsushi Funahashi

This documentary sensitively but penetratingly chronicles the aftermath of the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant reactor meltdown following the devastating impact of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

DVD-R (Japanese with English Subtitles) / 2012 / 96 minutes

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Low-carbon energy solution, or a ticking time bomb?
When the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant went into meltdown following an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011, the world started to question the safety of nuclear power. But is such distrust justified?

Jim Al-Khalili, Professor of Theoretical Physics at the University of Surrey, is convinced of the theoretical value of nuclear power. In this programme, he travels to the most important sites in nuclear safety - Fukushima, Chernobyl and new reactors in Finland - to see if nuclear power can ever work as well in practice, when exposed to politics and economics, as it does on paper.

Note: This BBC production not available in Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan, Mainland China, Japan, USA, Canada.

DVD / 2011 / 50 minutes

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Looking at the cases of France, Germany, the United States and Russia, this scientific and political report explores the taboo subject of nuclear power, particularly the darkest aspects of the latter.

Nuclear power is not without risks, its Achilles heel being nuclear waste. People are afraid of it, scientists cannot find an acceptable solution to the problem, industry companies are trying to reassure us and politicians avoid talking about it altogether.

But what do we really know about nuclear waste ? How can people have a clear vision of something that has always been shrouded in secrecy ?

In seeking "the truth about waste", this film aims to provide, for the very first time, the keys to understanding the choices which weigh heavily on the future of humanity.

DVD / 2009 / 76 minutes

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A moving and complex essay on a unique landscape of the American West, the area around the Hanford Site in Washington State.

Arid Lands is a documentary feature about the land and people of the Columbia Basin in southeastern Washington state. Sixty years ago, the Hanford nuclear site produced plutonium for the atomic bomb dropped on Nagasaki, and today the area is the focus of the largest environmental cleanup in history. It is a landscape of incredible contradictions: coyotes roam among decommissioned nuclear reactors, salmon spawn in the middle of golf courses, wine grapes grow in the sagebrush, and federal cleanup dollars spur rapid urban expansion.

Arid Lands takes us into a world of sports fishermen, tattoo artists, housing developers, ecologists, and radiation scientists living and working in the area. It tells the story of how people changed the landscape over time, and how the landscape affected their lives. Marked by conflicting perceptions of wilderness and nature, Arid Lands is a moving and complex essay on a unique landscape of the American West.

DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2007 / (Grades 10-12, College, Adult) / 98 minutes

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By Justin Pemberton

In a world living in fear of climate change, the nuclear industry is now proposing itself as a solution. It claims that nuclear power generation produces zero carbon emissions... and people are listening. The result is the beginning of a global nuclear renaissance, with 27 nuclear power stations under construction, and another 136 to be commenced within the next decade.

The world's electricity consumption is expected to double in the next 25 years and the nuclear industry claims that nuclear power is the only large-scale method of power production that can reliably replace coal, gas or oil-fired power plants. But many people have an inherent fear of nuclear power. Is it time we learned to love the split atom? Or is there a risk that we might be jumping out of the carbon frying pan and into the plutonium fire?

THE NUCLEAR COMEBACK goes on a worldwide tour of the nuclear industry in search of answers. It visits some of the planet's most famous nuclear facilities, including the control room of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, it investigates the state of 'the grand old lady' of commercial nuclear power, the U.K.'s Calder Hall, and travels through a nuclear waste repository under the Baltic Sea, a uranium mine in Australia, and one of only two fuel recycling plants in the world.

Despite nuclear power's new environmental benefits, detractors claim that it's producing a 100,000-year legacy of radioactive waste, for which there is not yet any permanent storage, that the power stations are known terrorist targets, and that the industry, in addition to its links to nuclear weapons, has a reputation for accidents and cover-ups.

THE NUCLEAR COMEBACK thus poses the question of whether, by seriously considering the renewed development of nuclear power, we may now be gambling with the survival of our planet.

DVD (Color, Closed Captioned) / 2007 / 53 minutes

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This up-to-date program brings knowledge and perspective to an emotionally charged subject. Includes video footage from Los Alamos, Three Mile Island, Oak Ridge and other centers of nuclear research. Program can help provide a base in science and history for discussion of nuclear power issues, including new developments in connections between energy production and global warming.

Part 1. The History of Nuclear Power. Tells the story of how nuclear power was developed in World War II and how it has come to be an important source of power (and controversy) today.

Part 2. Nuclear Power Today and Tomorrow. Helps the student understand the basic scientific principles involved in nuclear reactions. Includes pros and cons of nuclear energy in the future.

In Nuclear Power the keys to scientific literacy include: atomic number, atomic weight, background radiation, Niels Bohr, chain reaction, Chernobyl, Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, e=mc2, Enrico Fermi, fission, fusion, half-life, Hiroshima, hydrogen bomb, isotopes, meltdown, neutrons, plutonium, protons, radiation, radioactive wastes, Three Mile Island, U-235.

DVD (Closed Captioned) / 2007 / (Secondary, College) / 39 minutes

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The incident at Three Mile Island has increased debate over the use of nuclear energy. In this program, background information and interviews prepare students to make balanced judgments about the benefits and hazards of this controversial energy resource. The program describes how atomic power works and explains its potential for producing low-cost electricity. Students are given an account of positive and negative economic and ecological factors relating to nuclear energy.

DVD / 37 minutes

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