Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen (pictured at left), in a video now posted at the homepage of Fairewinds Associates, explains that a non-radioactive test performed at the Brunswick, North Carolina General Electric Boiling Water Reactor of the Mark I design 40 years ago, supports his theory that the primary reactor containment head at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 lifted, due to elongation of bolts, allowing hydrogen gas generated by the meltdown in the reactor core to escape into the secondary or outer reactor containment building. "It only took a spark" to then detonate the hydrogen gas, destroying the reactor containment building. Thus, and very significantly, all the talk (including in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Fukushima Task Force deliberations) about "hardening" the vents at U.S. and other Mark Is around the world is irrelevant. This is a flaw in the Mark I design that any hardening of the vents to make them "new and improved" cannot solve. Arnie shows a photo revealing that the vent at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 appears to have been functioning before the explosion -- steam is visible exiting the top of the Unit 1 "smoke stack." Despite this, it did not prevent the explosion that followed.
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.
Citizen Environmental Alliance of Southwestern Ontario has joined a U.S. environmental coalition to officially intervene against the new "Fermi 3" reactor proposed near Monroe, Michigan. This is because the risks from the Fermi nuclear power plant (including the operating Fermi 2 reactor, a GE BWR Mark I, identical in design to, although significantly larger than, Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4) extend across the artificial U.S.-Canadian border drawn through Lake Erie and the Detroit River. Such risks and impacts include to health, the impossibility of effectively evacuating all of southeast Michigan, northwest Ohio, and southwest Ontario during a catastrophic radioactivity release, etc.
The Fermi nuclear power plant is located a mere 8 miles across Lake Erie from Ontario.
Regarding the environmental coalition's -- and allies' -- recent strong resistance to Fermi 3, including those issues mentioned above, please see:
In October 2011, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps was honored to be asked by Families Against Radiation Exposure in Port Hope, Ontario, Canada to serve as its expert witness in a proceeding before the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission regarding Cameco's application for a five year license extension at its Uranium Conversion Facility, just off downtown and very near residential neighborhoods. Cameco's waterfront facility is amongst the oldest nuclear industrial sites in the world, first opened in 1932 as a radium extraction plant. Port Hope's residents have suffered many decades of radioactive pollution and contamination as a consequence.
Kevin submitted his written comments to CNSC on December 19, 2011. He focused on the radioactive stigma impacts to Port Hope, including on property values, as well as threats of flooding at the site due to climate destabilization, as well as security risks given Cameco's (and its predecessor Eldorado's) involvement in the nuclear weapons industry, as well as depleted uranium (DU) munitions. Kevin then attended a three day long hearing before the CNSC, from January 17 to 19, 2012, at which he testified.
In late March, 2011 Kevin also served on the Northwatch team, along with Northwatch's Brennain Lloyd and Great Lakes United's John Jackson, at a Joint Panel Review concerning proposed new reactors at the Darlington Nuclear Power Plant, just a short distance west of Port Hope. Kevin focused on high-level radioactive waste risks associated with that proposal. A coalition of environmental groups in Ontario has since filed a lawsuit challenging the decision to move ahead with those new reactors.
In such U.S. states as Utah and Idaho, the 61st anniversary of the first nuclear weapons test at the Nevada Test Site was marked by a National Day of Remembrance for Downwinders, and a call for compensation and health care for an expanded number of fallout victims and uranium workers. However, as shown by the map at the left, radioactive fallout from the Nevada Test Site did not magically stop at the U.S. border. Judging by the high levels of fallout in Montana and North Dakota counties immediately on the Canadian border, it is reasonable to assume that significant radioactive fallout entered Canadian provinces. Ironically, Saskatchewan provided a large fraction of the uranium that went into the U.S. nuclear weapons arsenal, as documented in Jim Harding's 2007 book Canada's Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System (Fernwood Publishing, Halifax and Winnipeg) -- only to have it "return to sender" as hazardous radioactive fallout from nuclear weapons testing in Nevada.
Similarly, while proposed U.S. legislation would expand Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA) coverage to the U.S. territory of Guam, downwind of U.S. nuclear weapons tests in the Pacific, no mention is made of the many other countries in the Pacific likewise downwind.
The suggestion made during the Frontline program that Germany will emit more Co2 as a result of its nuclear phase-out is another perfect example of those skeptics who claim that the German nuclear phase-out was a panicked overreaction and could even amount to environmental vandalism. But science disproves these claims. Thanks to Arne Jungjohann at the Heinrich Boell Institute for the following rebuttal:
Looking at the German nuclear phase-out, some have argued that Germany will produce an extra 300m tones of carbon dioxide between now and 2020. However, Numerous feasibility studies, amongst others by the Federal Environmental Agency or an independent Commission on Energy Choices , have shown that the nuclear phase-out will not jeopardize Germany's ambitious climate action efforts: reducing carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2020 and by at least 80 percent by 2050. If emissions were to rise due to the nuclear phase-out, the government would have to come up with compensating measures to reach these targets.
However, it is unlikely that emissions will rise, because according to the rules of the EU cap-and-trade system there is a cap for emissions from the energy sector and that of course also applies for Germany. Even if Germany’s nuclear capacity was to be replaced by using energy generated in coal plants, the total energy emissions would still have to be reduced. This could be achieved by either shifting to more natural gas or by replacing older coal plants with new and more efficient plants. That's the genius of a cap-and-trade system. Believe it or not, with that system in place, Germany's nuclear phase-out will even cause emissions in other European countries to fall.
The German nuclear phase-out – which is being followed by other countries including Switzerland, Italy and Belgium – is in reality another important element to accelerate the long-term strategy of a transition towards a low-carbon economy.