In a photo essay focused on the ten oldest operating atomic reactors in the United States, National Geographic reports on findings by Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspectors revealing weaknesses to seismic and fire risks post-Fukushima. Not mentioned is the fact that four of the ten oldest reactors -- Nine Mile Point Unit 1, NY; R.E. Ginna, NY; Point Beach Unit 1, WI; and Palisades, MI -- are located on the shoreline of the Great Lakes, 20% of the world's surface fresh water, drinking water supply for 40 million people downstream in the U.S., Canada, and numerous Native American First Nations. Four more of the ten oldest U.S. reactors -- Dresden Units 2 and 3, IL; Monticello, MN; and Quad Cities Unit 1, IL -- are located just outside, or not very far from, the Great Lakes watershed, in terms of the potential for airborne fallout from a catastrophic radioactivity release, as clearly shown by the widespread contamination downwind and downstream of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe. (Also not mentioned in the article is the fact that four of Canada's oldest reactors -- four units at Pickering A nuclear power plant just east of Toronto -- are located on Lake Ontario's shore.) Each of the 10 oldest U.S. reactors has already received a 20 year license extension rubberstamp from the NRC.
Intense grassroots organizing. Several decades worth. In a story entitled "Germany's Anti-Nuclear Shift," Public Radio International's "The World" looks at the long history of Germany's anti-nuclear power movement, especially its resistance to the national radioactive waste dumpsite at Gorleben. That long history laid the groundwork for massive street demonstrations, as well as Green Party electoral victory, in the immediate aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe. Even pro-nuclear Conservative Party Prime Minister Angela Merkel could not withstand the popular pressure, and announced a dramatic reversal to her previous plans to extend the operations of Germany's 17 atomic reactors: the immediate shutdown of the 7 oldest units, followed by the gradual shutdown of the 10 remaining units by 2022. A companion piece shows that the replacement power will come from Germany's renewable and efficiency industries -- already world leaders -- redoubling efforts, despite challenges. Gerry Hadden, the reporter of the two stories above, added his thoughts in a blog entitled "In Nukes’ Shadow, Fearlessness and Fatalism," comparing and contrasting the feelings of those living near the permanently shuttered (for safety reasons, after a fire) Brunsbüttel nuclear power plant in Germany, with those living near the shattered Chernobyl Unit 4 in Ukraine.
The Voice of Russia reports that the first radioactive foodstuffs from Japan -- tea, exceeding "permissible" standards two-fold -- to be detected by French customs officials has been seized at the border and will be "destroyed" (radioactivity cannot be "destroyed" -- it will likely be dumped somewhere). The radioactively contaminated tea is reportedly from Shizuoka Prefecture, around 100 miles southwest of Tokyo, which is itself 150 miles southwest of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. This shows that the nuclear catastrophe's hazardous radioactive fallout has travelled far from the three melted down reactor cores and boiling high-level radioactive waste storage pools.
Although this story by CNN does not mention nuclear power plants explicitly, it does feature a photograph of one! As the anti-nuclear movement has warned since even long before the 9/11 attacks, but especially so since, nuclear power plants and radioactive waste storage facilities are potentially catastrophic targets for terrorist attack, dirty bombs in our backyard of immense size.
"U.S. officials were stunned last year in Yemen with the arrest of an alleged American recruit to al Qaeda, Sharif Mobley, of New Jersey, who had been employed as five different U.S. nuclear power plants in and around Pennsylvania after successfully passing federal background checks."
In a media release, U.S. Rep. Markey (pictured left) stated:
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 20, 2011) – Today, Congressman Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), the top Democrat on the Natural Resources Committee and a senior Member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, released the following statement in response to the votes of NRC Commissioners Kristine L. Svinicki and William D. Magwood to delay even the consideration of the adoption of the recommendations of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC’s) Near Term Task Force reviewing NRC processes and regulations in the wake of the Fukushima nuclear meltdowns.
“Commissioners Svinicki and Magwood have rejected the Chairman’s call to vote on the Fukushima task force’s recommendations within 90 days,” said Rep. Markey. “Instead, they want to direct the NRC staff to endlessly study the NRC staff’s own report before they will even consider a single recommendation made by the very same NRC staff. We do not need another study to study the NRC staff’s study. This is an unacceptable abdication of responsibility, and I call on these two Commissioners to do their jobs and quickly move to order the adoption of the recommendations of the Fukushima task force.”
Commissioner Svinicki’s vote can be found at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/cvr/2011/2011-0093vtr-kls.pdf
Commissioner Magwood’s vote can be fount at http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/cvr/2011/2011-0093vtr-wdm.pdf
# # #