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ARTICLE ARCHIVE

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power cannot address climate change effectively or in time. Reactors have long, unpredictable construction times are expensive - at least $12 billion or higher per reactor. Furthermore, reactors are sitting-duck targets vulnerable to attack and routinely release - as well as leak - radioactivity. There is so solution to the problem of radioactive waste.

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Tuesday
Jun282011

NRC and utilities assure "water event" protections holding, while Army Corps warns rain could worsen Missouri River flooding

The New York Times reports the latest entry in the Nukespeak dictionary: a "water event," also known as a flood. U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko, who visited Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant "partly to reassure the public" on Monday, said at a news conference afterwards “Sometimes visually you’ll see things at the site, see changes at the site, but those don’t always have an impact on the safety aspect of facilities.” He was referring to the accidental piercing of Ft. Calhoun's Aqua Dam by a Bobcat earth mover at around 1:25 a.m. on Sunday, June 26th, which deflated the 8 foot tall, 2,000 foot long "water balloon" anti-flood barrier, allowing two feet of flood waters to lap up against the reactor containment and auxiliarly buildings of the vital plant area. NRC and Omaha Public Power District officials assure that they have made preparations against another 7.54 feet of flood rise at the site. However, Col. Robert J. Ruch, commander of the Omaha District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in charge of a half-dozen major dams upstream on the Missouri, warned “We don’t like to give worst-case scenarios anymore because every time it rains, we get a new worst case.” At just after 10 a.m. Central time on Monday, June 27th, the National Weather Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration changed the flooding forecast from "moderate" to major severity" for portions of the Missouri River in Iowa and Nebraska near Blair. The warning goes on:

 "THE FLOOD WARNING CONTINUES FOR THE MISSOURI RIVER NEAR BLAIR.
* AT  9:16 AM MONDAY THE STAGE WAS 32.5 FEET.
* FLOOD STAGE IS 26.5 FEET.
* MODERATE FLOODING IS OCCURRING AND MAJOR FLOODING IS FORECAST.
* FORECAST...THE RIVER WILL CONTINUE RISING TO NEAR 33.1 FEET BY
  EARLY WEDNESDAY MORNING.  ADDITIONAL RISES MAY BE POSSIBLE
  THEREAFTER.
* IMPACT...AT 33.5 FEET...WATER REACHES LEVELS NOT SEEN SINCE THE
  FLOOD OF 1952.  SIGNIFICANT FLOODING WILL BE OCCURRING FROM BLAIR
  TO FORT CALHOUN."

Tuesday
Jun282011

Beyond Nuclear on the Big Picture with Thom Hartmann re: Nebraska's nuclear flood risks

Thom Hartmann, host of "The Big Picture" television showThom Hartmann had Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps on his Big Picture television program on June 27th to discuss the risks of flooding at Fort Calhoun and Cooper atomic reactors, as well as wildfires very near the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab in New Mexico. The first 11 minutes of the show are devoted to nuclear risks, including the growing risks of climate instability ("global wierding") on fragile nuclear facilities.

Sunday
Jun262011

Nebraska governor says NRC and nuclear utilities are in charge as flood waters rise on the Missouri River

When it comes to trusting utility companies and government regulators about nuclear safety, the Governor of Nebraska, should probably learn a lesson or two from the Governor of Vermont, as well as the Governor of Fukushima Prefecture in Japan. In both places, they have had to do battle with their local nuclear utility and federal regulatory agency.

KVNO News reports:

"Governor Dave Heineman says he’s confident Nebraska’s two nuclear power stations are safe, and is glad the NRC Chief plans to visit.

'I trust the judgment of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and the leaders of our two nuclear power plants,' Heineman said. 'They’re the ones in charge. Obviously, with all the water around, we’re all concerned. But they’ve protected those plants very well, and we’re very confident that we’ll be okay in that regard.' " (emphasis added)

Saturday
Jun252011

Lincoln Journal Star reporter asks questions on safety status of atomic reactors to Nebraska nuclear utilities

Algis J. Laukaitis of the Lincoln Journal Star has asked a series of questions to Nebraska's nuclear power utilities in an effort to separate fact from rumor as flood waters threaten the Fort Calhoun and Cooper atomic reactors on the severely flooded Missouri River near Omaha. Dave Lochaum of the Union of Concerned Scientists expressed concern about the risk of upstream dams bursting and sending a wall of water down the Missouri, which could inundate the riverside reactors. A burst levee near the Cooper atomic reactor -- an identical twin to the Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4 -- provided a temporary reprieve to the rising waters. The floodwaters near Cooper suddenly dropped more than 1.5 feet as its waters spread out into the countryside through the breached levee. But federal authorities warn such a respite will be short-lived, as flood waters are predicted to rise again in coming days, despite the levee breach.

Saturday
Jun252011

Spate of aircraft incidents near nuclear power plants in recent days

As reported by MyFoxDC News, on Friday, June 24th, an un-manned helicopter made an emergency landing on a reactor building roof after mechanical problems at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

As reported by KFAB, the Washington County News, and KETV, a manned helicopter, contracted by the Omaha Public Power District to survey the status of electricity transmission lines threatened by historic Missouri River flooding that has also put OPPD's Fort Calhoun atomic reactor at risk, made an emergency landing on Thursday, June 23rd, just 1.5 miles from the nuclear power plant (see photo at left).

As Yahoo News reports:

"The Federal Aviation Administration has issued a Notice to Airmen banning flight around the plant. The ban includes a 2 mi. radius around the plant and a minimum allowed altitude of 3,500 ft. Existing restrictions about flying around all nuclear plants were being ignored by many aircraft and helicopters attempting to photograph the flooding near the plant. OPPD authorities were very concerned that an accident might occur and the FAA assisted the utility by issuing the notice."

And, as reported by the St. Joe, Michigan Herald-Palladium, on Monday, June 20th, an unidentified flying object was spotted very near the Cook nuclear power plant on Lake Michigan in southwest Michigan, prompting a waterborne and airborne search by the U.S. Coast Guard and local sheriff's department.

Aircraft crashes -- whether accidental or intentional -- into "soft spots" located outside primary containment structures at nuclear power plants, such as control rooms, electrical switchyards, or even storage pools for high-level radioactive waste -- present potentially catastrophic radiological risks.

Despite the recent spate of aircraft incidents, the Associated Press reports that Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Greg Jaczko will tour the swollen Missouri River by helicopter in the next couple of days to view flooding countermeasures being carried out at the Fort Calhoun and Cooper atomic reactors.