For the four-year mark of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe in Japan, Greenpeace International has published a status report entitled "Japan's nuclear crisis." Senior nuclear campaigner Shaun Burnie of Greenpeace Germany is the author.
Beyond Nuclear, while U.S. based, recognizes that the issue of nuclear power, particularly in relation to climate change and reactor expansion, has become an international issue. Multi-national corporations, often with foreign ownership, have taken over every facet of the nuclear fuel chain, from uranium mining to waste disposition. Beyond Nuclear is currently engaged in supportive efforts in a number of different countries.
As reported by the Associated Press, on Feb. 24th, President Obama vetoed Senate Bill 1, which would have rushed the immediate construction of TransCanada Pipelines' Keystone XL tar sands crude oil pipeline. Our friends and colleagues at 350.org called for a rapid response action at the White House, at 5pm, just hours after the veto. As we have many times in the past -- on tar sands, fracking, and other environmental issues -- Beyond Nuclear answered the call, and stood in solidarity with our allies. We have also joined a unity statement with a large number of other groups, calling on President Obama to reject TransCanada's Keystone XL Pipeline once and for all.
Take action against another of TransCanada's dirty, dangerous and expensive scheme: the plan to bury radioactive waste on the Great Lakes shoreline! Urge President Obama to block this insane proposal!
Today, DuPage County, the second most populous in Illinois, announced the passage of a resolution in opposition to the proposal by nuclear utility Ontario Power Generation (OPG) to bury radioactive wastes from 20 atomic reactors across the province at its Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, on the Lake Huron shore in Kincardine, ON (see photo, left). Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump shared the good news in a press release, with the DuPage Co. resolution attached.
On Feb. 6th, the City of Chicago also passed a similar resolution. As reported in the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump's press release, the Mayor of Chicago, Rahm Emanuel, said: “The Great Lakes hold 84 percent of North America’s fresh water and Chicago’s position as the paramount Great Lakes city makes OPG’s proposed nuclear waste repository a threat to both public health and our environment. As shown by our City Council’s unanimous approval of a resolution opposing the repository, as well as the many voices throughout the United States and Canada, passionate support to protect our Great Lakes spans across North America and cannot be ignored.”
As tallied at the Stop the Great Lakes Nuclear Dump website, the 142 resolutions, and counting, passed to date by tribes, states, counties, cities, towns, and villages across the Great Lakes Basin, represent a combined population of 17.9 million residents. Altogether, the Great Lakes provide drinking water for 40 million people in eight U.S. states, two Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.
What's especially significant about DuPage County's and Chicago's resolutions, is the fact that these are themselves "nuclear municipalities." DuPage County hosts the national HQ of Exelon in Warrenville, the biggest nuclear utility in the country, with 23 atomic reactors in its fleet. And Chicago, encircled by Exelon reactors (including identical twin designs to Fukushima Daiichi), gets around 80% of its electricity from nuclear power. Yet, these municipalities have spoken out against the insane proposal to bury radioactive waste on the Great Lakes shore.
As Dave Kraft, director of Nuclear Energy Information Service of Illinois, has pointed out, if burying radioactive waste on the Great Lakes shore is a bad idea, it's also a bad idea to be generating and storing it there in the first place.
TransCanada's other dirty, dangerous, and expensive energy scheme: Bruce Nuclear and the proposed Great Lakes radioactive waste dump
TransCanada Pipelines, infamous for its Keystone XL tar sands pipeline scheme, is also a nuclear power utility and generator of radioactive wastes.
TransCanada is a major partner in Bruce Nuclear, which leases and operates Ontario Power Generation's (OPG) Bruce Nuclear Generating Station in Kincardine, Ontario (photo, left). Bruce is one of the world's single largest nuclear power plants, with a total of nine reactors on one site: one long-shuttered early prototype reactor (Douglass Point), and eight operable commercial CANDUs (Canadian Deuterium-Uranium reactors) at the adjacent Bruce A and Bruce B nuclear power plants.
Bruce Nuclear is located on the Great Lakes shoreline, 50 miles across Lake Huron from Michigan. OPG proposes to bury all of the province's so-called "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, including those generated by TransCanada Pipeline's, in a "Deep Geologic Repository" (DGR) at Bruce. This, despite the risk to the drinking water for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations. Learn more, and take action!
As reported by the Korea JoongAng Daily on Dec. 20th, on Dec. 15th, design blueprints and detailed instructions regarding safety control systems at South Korea's two largest nuclear power plants -- Gori (with six operating reactors, two more under construction, and two more planned) and Wolseong (six operational reactors) -- were posted on South Korea's biggest Web portal site.
At 4,137 Megawatts-electric and 2,779 MWe, respecitvely, the Gori and Wolseong nuclear power plants are already the biggest in the world; but they are projected to expand to 7,937 MWe and 4,779 MWe, respectively. (See the EJA map and chart, above, as well as the Wikipedia entry "Nuclear Power in South Korea.") Altogether, there are currently 23 atomic reactors in South Korea, with more planned.
News of the leak became public once Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power Corporation (KHNP) -- part of the state-run Korean Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) -- officially requested an investigation by the Seoul Supreme Prosecutor's Office, and the Korean National Police Agency Cyber Bureau, on Dec. 18th. The provocative blog was also supposedly shut down that same afternoon.
Park In-sik, a spokesman for KHNP, was quoted as saying "The blueprint is often used by operators at the Gori plant when managing the reactor. And the program control manual was actually published in 2009 and handed out to employees as part of a training program at the Wolseong 1 reactor."
KHNP was reported to have added: "We acknowledge [our information management] has been lax, but we can only take action against the leak after the investigation is complete. To prevent additional leaks, all data stored on computers inside our offices was encrypted this morning," presumably Dec. 20th.
(Is there a Korean saying akin to the American English "Why close the barn door after the horse is gone?"?!)
The article quoted a National Information Security Service official as warning "If these reactor blueprints and system manuals are leaked, we could be faced with a situation where someone posing as an employee could log onto the main reactor control system and commit a terrorist act."
However, in a Dec. 22nd Reuters article, KHNP downplayed the risks, labeling the stolen data as "non-critical"; a South Korean deputy energy minister, Chung Yang-ho, was quoted as saying "It's our judgment that the control system itself is designed in such a way and there is no risk whatsoever." A KHNP spokesman was also reported to have said "It is 100 percent impossible that a hacker can stop nuclear power plants by attacking them because the control monitoring system is totally independent and closed."
But nuclear reactor design specialist Suh Kune-yull of Seoul National University was quoted by Reuters as countering "This demonstrated that, if anyone is intent with malice to infiltrate the system, it would be impossible to say with confidence that such an effort would be blocked completely. And a compromise of nuclear reactors' safety pretty clearly means there is a gaping hole in national security."
Who leaked the information to the internet, and why?
Although providing no specifics, the Korea JoongAng Daily article reports "Although no details about the identity of the blogger were disclosed, the user identifies themselves [as] 'the head of antinuclear power group's Korean branch.'"
The Korea JoongAng Daily quoted "Who am I?", the user name of the blogger, as writing "Why did we attack the control system? Because we don’t want to suffer disasters like the Fukushima accident...Nuclear power is not a safe source of energy anymore. People living near the nuclear power complex have filed a class action suit claiming that they have been suffering from thyroid cancer."
The Korea JoongAng Daily reported that "hacked information posted on the blog included test results for thyroid cancer for residents living around the Gori reactor, as well as some personal information of about 10,800 current and former KHNP employees."
The atomic reactor-generated radionuclide Iodine-131 is known to cause thyroid pathology, whether released in relatively small amounts as a so-called "routine emission" from regular nuclear power plant operations, or during a nuclear catastrophe, as at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.
But it must be emphasized that the leading anti-nuclear power organizations in South Korea -- groups like KFEM (Korea Federation for Environmental Movements), a national member of Friends of the Earth International -- have a long and proud tradition of non-violent anti-nuclear activism. They are dedicated, of course, to preventing catastrophic radioactivity releases, not facilitating such disasters by making nuclear power plants vulnerable to terrorist attack.
By contrast, the Reuters article placed the supposed anti-nuclear blogger in Hawaii, again providing no specifics. The anti-nuclear power movement of the United States, of course, is unanimously dedicated to non-violence and radiological prevention.
However, the Reuters article explicitly addresses another possibility, the elephant in the room: that the source of the hack was instead the North Korean military dictatorship. After all, the breach of the South Korean nuclear power industry comes amidst accusations by the FBI and White House that the Kim Jong-un regime in North Korea is responsible for a costly hack against Sony Pictures described by President Obama as "cyber vandalism."
Both articles have reported that the provocative blog threatened to expand the attack, and post further revelations of critical nuclear power safety information, on Christmas Day, if the two South Korean nuclear power plants are not shut down, and a ransom (for lack of a better word) paid.
The Guardian has reported the hack has prompted two days of emergency preparedness exercises at South Korean nuclear power plants, as well as increased security vigilance at U.K. atomic reactors.
North Korean threats against U.S. nuclear power plants?!
Bill Gertz, Senior Editor of the blog Washington Free Beacon, reported on Dec. 18th that very heavily redacted U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) documents, recently released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), have revealed that five North Korean commando sleeper cells had been deployed into the U.S. in the 1990s, to potentially attack U.S. nuclear power plants in the event of hostilities between the two countries.
Gertz links to a blog entitled The DMZ War: 1953 to Today, where documents purporting to comprise the DIA FOIA release are posted.
A few other online blogs, such as The Inquisitr, as well as Fox News, have reported on or reprinted the Washington Free Beacon's allegations. However, no other news organizations have done so. Beyond Nuclear can provide no further authentication of the these alarming claims.
Reuters has reported that South Korean officials allege similarities between the recent hack on the South Korean nuclear power industry, and previous hacks on other sectors, such as banking and broadcasting, that it attributed to North Korea. The same article reports that South Korean officials have reached out to U.S. counterparts to assist in the investigation of the nuclear power industry hack.
In a separate article, Reuters has reported that South Korean nuclear power plants have raised their cyber security alert status, and that the South Korean president has spoken out about the gravity of the lapse of cyber security in the nuclear power industry. Reuters has also reported that more leaked documents appear to have been posted on the Internet.