Congratulations to environmental allies who have successfully pressured the Obama administration to postpone -- and hopefully ultimately cancel -- TransCanada Pipelines' proposed Keystone XL Pipeline for Canadian tar sands crude oil. Climate activists have described the proposed 1,700 mile long pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Texas as the fuse on a carbon bomb that would explode into the Earth's already overtaxed atmosphere. But tar sands crude oil isn't the only "dirty, dangerous, and expensive" energy source TransCanada dabbles with. According to its website, it also owns 48.8% of the 3,000 Megawatt-electric (MW-e) Bruce A nuclear power plant, and 31.6% of the 3,200 MW-e Bruce B nuclear power plant. Bruce -- a 9 reactor and radioactive waste complex located in Ontario on the shore of Lake Huron just 50 miles from Michigan -- is the largest nuclear power plant in the Western Hemisphere, and the second biggest in the world. TransCanada entered the nuclear power business despite warnings by NIRS in late 2002 about serious financial and environmental risks. (A primary bone of contention over the Keystone XL pipeline is its proposed route over the irreplacable Ogallala Aquifer; the Waste Control Specialists radioactive waste dump in Texas also threatens the Ogallala.)
Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time. Funding diverted to new nuclear power plants deprives real climate change solutions like solar, wind and geothermal energy of essential resources.
The Wall Street Journal reports that due to past violations involving flood protections and automatic shutdown systems, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will keep Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska on a close-watch list. Most of the plant is under two feet of flood waters on the historically flooded Missouri River. There is currently about a ten foot safety margin between the flood waters and what the nuclear power plant is prepared to withstand -- but only because NRC busted them for their inadequate preparations late last year. "They are receiving heightened oversight because of inadequate procedures to protect their intake structure and auxiliary building from a flood...and other past performance issues," NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said.
The Omaha World-Herald reports that the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) has re-installed the 2,000 foot long, 8 foot tall water-filled rubber berm called the "AquaDam" around vital areas of the Ft. Calhoun nuclear power plant. It collapsed on June 26th when a worker accidentally nicked it with a Bobcat bulldozer, causing two feet of flood waters to lap at the walls of the reactor containment and auxiliary buildings, which house safety-signficant systems, structures and components.
An op-ed by Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps has been published by Counterpunch. Prompted by historic floods in Nebraska threatening atomic reactors on the Missouri River, as well as historic wildfires in New Mexico threatening plutonium-contaminated wastes at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab, it describes how the location of atomic reactors on seacoasts, rivers, and the Great Lakes makes them vulnerable to worsening severe weather caused by the accelerating climate crisis. Beyond Nuclear has prepared two backgrounders on this issue: "Far from 'solving global warming,' atomic energy is too risky to operate in a destablizied climate," and "Climate chaos and nuclear power." Previously, Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter also wrote "Natural Disasters and Safety Risks at Nuclear Power Stations." The vulnerable locations of the 104 operating U.S. atomic reactors are mapped in Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet "Routine Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants in the United States: What are the Dangers?"
A recent op-ed in the New York Times by Heidi Cullen of Climate Central, "Sizzle Factor for a Restless Climate," reveals that extreme weather such as the current heat wave across most of the United States will become the norm if we don't solve the climate crisis. IEER's Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change, written five years ago by Dr. Brice Smith, debunked the Nuclear Energy Institute's false myth that nuclear power is any kind of solution to the climate crisis.
Adding a one-two punch at Counterpunch, Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman also published an article entitled "What Could Truly End the Space Program: A Nuclear Disaster Overhead" in the same weekend edition.
In response to the freakishness of historic floods on the Missouri River in Nebraska threatening the Fort Calhoun and Cooper atomic reactors simultaneous to a historic wildfire in New Mexcio coming dangerously close to tens of thousands of 55 gallon barrels of plutonium-contaminated wastes, Beyond Nuclear has published a new fact sheet entitled "Far from 'solving global warming,' atomic energy is too risky to operate in a destabilized climate."
Dr. Michio Kaku (pictured left), a professor of theoretical physics at City University of New York, a radio host, and popular t.v. personality who has been interviewed extensively by national news media regarding the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, has written "United States Hit With a Triple Nuclear Threat - How Dangerous is it?" and "Preparing for the 100 Year Storm and Wondering if the Three Simultaneous Nuclear Crises are an Accident?". Kaku questions whether global climate change could account for the severe weather extremes currently threatening nuclear facilities simultaneously -- historic floods on the Missouri River putting the Fort Calhoun and Cooper atomic reactors in Nebraska at risk; historic wildfires in New Mexico that nearly overtook the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab. He warns that "we might have more 'unprecedented' nuclear crises due to historically bizarre weather patterns." Far from solving the climate crisis, as the nuclear industry would like everyone to think, nuclear power is too risky and unsafe to operate in a climate crisis.