For other people named Philip Johnson, see Phillip Johnson.
Phillip Johnston (born January 22, 1955) is an American avant-garde saxophonist.
Phillip Johnston was born in Chicago, Illinois on January 22, 1955, and raised in the New York City area.
During the 1970s he met and formed relationships with some of his earliest musical associates (John Zorn, Joel Forrester, Dave Hofstra, Eugene Chadbourne), and moved often between San Francisco and New York City. In 1980 he settled in New York, and soon formed his first ongoing music groups, The Public Servants (with vocalist Shelley Hirsch) and The Microscopic Septet (with pianist Joel Forrester).
Throughout the 80s and 90s and early 2000s, he worked as a leader (The Microscopic Septet, Big Trouble, Transparent Quartet) co-leader and sideman (Mikel Rouse, Kitty Brazelton, Bobby Radcliff), and began a parallel career in composition for film, theatre, dance and the concert hall. He has a particular interest in contemporary scores for silent film.
In 2005, he moved with his wife, Australian playwright Hilary Bell, and their two children to Sydney, Australia. As of 2015 he lives and performs in Sydney, but travels regularly to New York and Europe to perform, collaborate and record. He also teaches film music history at the Australian Institute of Music.
- Rub Me the Wrong Way (Innova, 2004)
- Music for Films (Tzadik, 1998)
- Big Trouble (Black Saint, 1993)
- Flood at the Ant Farm (Black Saint, 1996)
- The Unknown (Avant, 1999)
The Transparent Quartet
- The Needless Kiss (Koch Jazz, 1998)
- The Merry Frolics of Satan (Koch Jazz, 1999)
- Page of Madness (Asynchronous, 2009)
The Microscopic Septet
- Take the Z Train (Press, 1983)
- Let's Flip! (Osmosis, 1984)
- Off Beat Glory (Osmosis, 1986)
- Beauty Based on Science (Stash, 1993)
- Seven Men in Neckties: The History of the Micros, Vol. 1 (Cuneiform, 2006)
- Surrealistic Swing: The History of the Micros, Vol. 2 (Cuneiform, 2006)
- Lobster Leaps In (Cuneiform, 2008)
- Friday the 13th: The Micros Play Monk (Cuneiform, 2010)
Fast 'N' Bulbous
- Pork Chop Blue Around the Rind (Cuneiform, 2005)
- Waxed Oop (Cuneiform, 2009)
- Not So Fast (Strudelmedia, 2011)
- Boggy Creek Bop (Rufus, 2010)
Joel Forrester/Phillip Johnston
- Live at the Hillside (Asynchronous, 2011)
Guy Klucevsek/Phillip Johnston
- 1984 Committed dir. by Lynne Tillman and Sheila McLaughlin.
- 1986 Paradise (songs only) dir. by Doris Dörrie
- 1987 When, If Not Now (songs only) dir. by Michael Jüncker
- 1988 How To Be Louise dir. by Ann Flournoy
- 1988 What Then dir. by John Inwood
- 1989 Geld dir. by Doris Dörrie
- 1992 Money Man dir. by Philip Haas
- 1992 The Clean Up dir. by Jane Weinstock
- 1993 The Music of Chance dir. by Philip Haas
- 1994 Umbrellas dir. by Henry Corra/Graham Weinbren/Albert Maysles
- 1996 Faithful dir. by Paul Mazursky
- 2000 Sana Que Sana dir. by Ron Daniels
- 2001 Mackenheim dir. by Adam Barr
- 2004 Frames dir. Henry Corra & Charlene Rule (conductor/supervisor only)
- 2007 Stolen Life dir. Jackie Turnure/Peter Rasmussen
- 2008 Noise dir. Henry Bean
- 2010 Mr. Sin: The Abe Saffron Story dir. Hugh Piper
- 1993 The Unknown (1927, dir. Tod Browning)
- 1997 The Georges Méliès Project (1899-1909)
- 1998 Page of Madness (1926, dir. Teinosuke Kinugasa)
- 2003 Faust (1926, dir. F.W. Murnau)
- 2013 The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926, Lotte Reineger)
China has one the most ambitious nuclear programmes in the world. Over the next five years, it plans to build 40 nuclear power plants at a time when most western countries are winding down their nuclear programmes. The strategy involves building commercial reprocessing facilities to store and process hazardous waste, a by-product of nuclear energy.
Recent plans to build a reprocessing plant in Lianyungang, in Jiangsu province, were stalled after thousands of locals took to the streets in opposition to the proposed Sino-French facility, prompted by environmental and health concerns. The delay offers an opportunity to pause and asses the experiences of other nations that have pursued a reprocessing strategy.
The United Kingdom’s experience suggests that reprocessing is dangerous, not as green as proponents claim and economically unsound. The history of the UK’s longstanding commercial reprocessing activities offers a cautionary tale regarding the pitfalls, which will impact British national policy for decades to come.
The UK experience
Reprocessing remains, in the words of British scientist Brian Wynne, “the most controversial global aspect, of the most iconically controversial of modern technologies”.
Its controversy lies in the fact that reprocessing can be used for the purposes of nuclear weapons proliferation.
Reprocessing was initially developed in the UK in the 1940s and 50s to make nuclear warheads using recovered plutonium and uranium. Later, it was marketed as a “great hope” with untold economic benefits. Its proponents claimed a new type of nuclear reactor, the Fast Breeder Reactor (FBR) could take spent nuclear fuel and recycle it to produce more power. However an FBR programme never materialised on a commercial scale. Following a series of economic and technical problems, the UK abandoned its fast breeder reactor programme in the 1990s.
Sellafield and Magnox
Since 1954, the UK has undertaken reprocessing activities at the site now known as Sellafield in Cumbria. The facility currently operates two reprocessing facilities, the soon-to-be-closed “Magnox” plant and the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP).
Both facilities have been shrouded in controversy: Magnox only achieved around half of its projected output, according to the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) 2005 projections; while THORP has been closed for around six years of its 22 years in operation. During its lifetime ,THORP has consistently failed to meet its throughput targets and in 2005, had a major leak of high level radioactive material.
Undetected for several months, this accident led to the closure of THORP for three years, until 2008, at an estimated cost of £2 million (17.8 million yuan) a day. Sellafield was only fined £500,000 for breach of various licensing conditions.
The Mixed-Oxide (MOX) production plant, which also formed a key part of the rationale of reprocessing -- the facility was designed to utilise the separated plutonium in the production of MOX fuel for use in conventional reactors -- closed in 2011 after 10 years of operation, accumulating a net loss of £2.2 billion. An internal governmental review concluded that the facility was “not fit for purpose”.
When THORP was first debated in the late 1970s, the main justification was that it made commercial sense. Reprocessing, proponents said, turned spent nuclear fuel from a “waste” product into an “asset”, because the separated plutonium could be used in the much-vaunted FBRs. An echo of the arguments you hear in favour of reprocessing today.
But despite repeated claims around FBRs, no fast breeder reactor programme exists and there is no commercial fast reactor operating anywhere in the world.
It is perhaps unsurprising then, that Wynne concluded UK reprocessing represents “one of the UK’s great public technology policy disasters”. Beyond the safety implications highlighted by the leak in 2005, as well as a recent BBC documentary that revealed acute problems with the storage and protection of plutonium and other fissile materials, immense costs and operational set-backs that characterise the history of reprocessing in the UK.
Doubts over fast breeder reactors
China’s commitment to reprocessing is underpinned by plans to develop FBRs on a commercial scale over the next 20 years. In the 1970s, FBR supporters in the UK claimed they would make a significant contribution to the UK’s electricity generation – a contribution that never materialised. The same could happen in China.
As a consequence of its failed FBR programme, the UK has accumulated the largest stockpile of plutonium in the world, which costs an estimated £80 million a year to store securely and safely. With no solution to this plutonium storage problem, it will most likely have to be secured for decades to come at a cost of hundreds billions of pounds, and potentially great danger to the public and environment. Spent nuclear fuel in China is currently stored at reactor sites in ponds and a centralised storage facility has also been built at the Lanzhou Nuclear Fuel Complex. China is also exploring sites for Deep Geological Disposal. Given the scale of China’s nuclear new build programme, a sizeable, expensive and potentially dangerous plutonium legacy could also present itself in China.
But what if the long-promised potential of fast breeder reactors is realised? In the 1970s, many experts viewed fast breeders as the future; an essential technology, as other finite energy sources were set to decline and the price of uranium set to rise. Today, the development of fast breeders is justified due to their “low carbon” status, with some environmentalists enthusiastically supporting fast breeder technologies – including in China.
Yet it is long understood that pursuing FBRs means creating a “plutonium economy”, which due to the security risks involves high levels of secrecy, armed protection and vetting – as can be seen at Sellafield -- which would have had to have been replicated at various sites across the country if FBR technology had been developed. This throws in to question the degree of transparency that can be achieved -- and the effects this lack of transparency has on how business is carried out. At THORP, there is a series of worrying examples of malpractice: quality issues, resulting in Japan refusing to use the fuel and BNFL paying £40 million in compensation; an economic report used by politicians to justify THORP that turned out to not actually exist; a major leak remained undetected for nine months; frequent concerns around transportations of plutonium; and the Sellafield facility in 2006 breaching EURATOM’s safeguards policy to ensure that fissile materials are not diverted from the peaceful uses for which they have been declared.
Over the years, THORP has been condemned by politicians, business leaders and environmental groups alike, who referred to the management culture around UK reprocessing as having a “disdain for the government and the public”. And this seems to be the experience internationally, not just in the UK.
In the context of the energy transition in China, committing to FBRs is likely to stand in the way of greater transparency and participation in decision making. Whether or not it is worth the risk, the UK government will be dealing with the consequences of reprocessing for decades to come.
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