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Safety

Nuclear safety is, of course, an oxymoron. Nuclear reactors are inherently dangerous, vulnerable to accident with the potential for catastrophic consequences to health and the environment if enough radioactivity escapes. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Congressionally-mandated to protect public safety, is a blatant lapdog bowing to the financial priorities of the nuclear industry.

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Saturday
Jul022011

"The Implications of the Fukushima Accident on the World's Operating Reactors"

In a video dated May 22nd posted on the Fairewinds Associates website at its Updates section, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen discusses how Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 3's "band aid" vents not only did not prevent a catastrophic radioactivity release, but how such vents in the U.S. could actually lead to a core meltdown.

Friday
Jul012011

Atomic risks in the Great Lakes on Peter Werbe's "Nightcall"

Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear appeared on Peter Werbe's radio talk show "Nightcall" on WRIF, as well as other radio stations in Metro Detroit, Michigan on June 5th. To listen to the interview, click here; go to the June 5th episode; the scroll through the show to the beginning of the third hour following Peter Werbe's phone-in talk show; it's the either the first or second segment in the third hour of the show.

Thursday
Jun302011

Atomic Energy: Unsafe in the Real World

Just as Ralph Nader (himself a longtime anti-nuclear leader) wrote about GM's Corvair as being "Unsafe at Any Speed" for its passengers and those in passing cars, Karl Grossman (pictured left) warns about nuclear power -- unsafe on any planet near you! Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College at Old Westbury, author of Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power, and host of the nationally-aired TV program Enviro Close-Up, as well as a board member of Beyond Nuclear, has posted "Atomic Energy: Unsafe in the Real World" at OpEdNews.com. In it, he looks to near-misses like the Fermi 1 "We Almost Lost Detroit" partial meltdown in 1966 and the 1979 Three Mile Island partial meltdown,  as well as the 1986 Chernobyl and 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophes -- underscored by the current Missouri River flooding and Los Alamos wildfires -- to call for the abolition of atomic energy and its inevitable risks.

Thursday
Jun302011

Palisades flunks yet another safety test

Dave Lochbaum, Nuclear Safety Project Director at Union of Concerned Scientists, has documented that the Palisades nuclear power plant on the Lake Michigan shore in Covert, Michigan, has failed the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's test when it comes to "Severe Accident Management Guidelines" [SAMGs]. Lochbaum reports: "...two U.S. plants – Comanche Peak (TX) and Palisades (MI) – had negative [incorrect or inadequate] answers to seven of the eleven questions. It’s not likely that these plants are really ready to cope with a Fukushima-like challenge. Perhaps they would get by with luck, but not using their SAMGs, assuming they could find them." Lochbaum's report, appeared on June 27th at the UCS "All Things Nuclear" blog. 

Wednesday
Jun012011

Orwell's turning so fast in his grave...

...he should be connected to the electric grid!

At a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards (ACRS) subcommittee meeting on May 26, 2011 about the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, ACRS Member Dana A. Powers bragged about how little radioactivity had escaped during the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.

Powers said: "But, the whole thing is quite remarkable, I mean, that you have damage to three units, maybe a couple of spent fuel pools, we've got a megacurie or so of cesium outside the plant...I mean, that just shows you how much defense-in-depth you have, even when things get very, very heavily compromised here. I mean, there is a tremendous -- had you asked me a priori, before the event, you had this sort of event occur, what kind of source term would you expect, I would have written out a much more severe set of numbers for you." 

See page 130 of the transcript.

In a sense he's right -- perhaps 99% of the radioactivity hasn't disgorged into the environment -- yet. But that 1% packs quite a punch -- a million curies of radioactive cesium represents a catastrophic release. And we aren't out of the woods yet on the other 99%, especially since a lot of it is contained in the countless tens of thousands of tons of radioactively contaminated cooling water, which Tokyo Electric Power Company ran out of room to store many weeks ago. Of course, they continually "feed and bleed" the melted down Units 1, 2, and 3 each day, generating even more radioactively contaminated water with nowhere to go. Unknown amounts have already been released into the ocean, either accidentally through leaks, or else on purpose to make room in storage areas for even more highly contaminated water. 

An NRC media release from 1998, announcing his re-appointment to the ACRS at the time, gives this biography on Dr. Powers: "...born in Ironton, Missouri, received his B.S. degree in Chemistry and his Ph.D. degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, and Economics from the California Institute of Technology. He began his career in 1974 at Sandia National Laboratory, where he currently serves as a senior scientist at the Nuclear Technology Center. Dr. Powers is responsible for the development of safety research programs for Department of Energy nuclear facilities. He has served on the Advisory Committee on Nuclear Facility Safety for DOE and for DOE's Chemical Reactions Tank Advisory Panel."