Reports CNN: "Japan's prime minister said Friday he has asked the operator to shut down the nuclear reactors at the Hamaoka nuclear plant until earthquake and tsunami protections can be built. The plant -- located on the Pacific coast in Omaezaki, southwest of Tokyo -- is vulnerable and could produce "grave damage to Japan" similar to the problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that was damaged in the magnitude-9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said."
The continued operation of the General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors in the United States and around the world, like those destroyed and now leaking radioactivity in Fukushima, is increasingly dangerous and irresponsible. The clearest evidence is demonstrated by the plight of the Japanese people now faced with a 24-mile diameter radioactive "no inhabitation" zone in addition to the wreckage of the March 11, 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami.
More communities around the United States like Plymouth, Massachasetts are standing up and asking questions about these dangerously flawed and aging power reactors in their backyards. On Saturday, May 7th, a Rally for Safety will take place at Plymouth Rock, not far from the Pilgrim nuclear power plant (pictured left), organized by Pilgrim: Make Us Safe Today. The rally featuring a strong line-up of speakers including Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear will take place from 10am to 12 noon.
Two scientists retained by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to oversee the construction of the mixed-oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication plant in South Carolina (pictured left) say the agency took safety shortcuts that seriously jeopardize the project. According to an expose by the news service, ProPublica, first Alex Murray, the lead chemical process engineer on the NRC review team, and then his replacement, Dan Tedder, a chemical engineering professor from the Georgia Institute of Technology, called out safety problems but were either removed from the job (Murray) or resigned in frustration (Tedder). The MOX plant is supposed to process left over plutonium pits from the U.S. atomic arsenal into commercial reactor fuel, although no U.S. reactors are designed to use MOX and the utility slated to use it - Duke - has withdrawn from the project.
According to the scientists, as reported by ProPublica: "Work on the facility was allowed to begin, they say, before some of the most essential questions were fully answered. They have been particularly concerned about the danger of chemical explosions, the adequacy of the ventilation and radioactive waste disposal systems and the way the plutonium will be tracked as it is processed."
According to Tedder, the NRC's "primary focus is staying on schedule and not doing anything to delay the applicant, rather than identifying dominant risks and safety issues.”
The NRC has a lamentable track record, called out by Beyond Nuclear staffers for years, of prioritizing industry profit motives over public safety. Needless to say, the NRC has denied the assertions of their former staffers.
In a stellar op-ed in the May 1st edition of the New York Times, renowned pediatrician and anti-nuclear activist, Dr. Helen Caldicott, calls on doctors to act against nuclear power. As she writes: "There’s no group better prepared than doctors to stand up to the physicists of the nuclear industry." The article concludes: "Physicists had the knowledge to begin the nuclear age. Physicians have the knowledge, credibility and legitimacy to end it." Read the full article. Dr. Caldicott is the founding president of Beyond Nuclear and currently heads the Helen Caldicott Foundation for a Nuclear-Free Planet.
These are the words of Tsunehisa Katsumata, Chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company, from a news conference in March. He was referring to the liabilities Tepco faces in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant catastrophe. He was quoted in a May 4th Wall Street Journal article entitled "Japan Confronts Liabilities for Crisis: Tokyo to Offer Plan for Victim Payouts, Financial Support for Plant's