- In any form, nuclear power is inherently unsafe. For
decades, nuclear expert Helen Caldicott warned it must be abandoned, saying:
- "As a physician, I contend that nuclear technology
threatens life on our planet with extinction. If present trends continue,
the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink will soon be
contaminated with enough radioactive pollutants to pose a potential health
hazard far greater than any plague humanity has ever experienced."
- Anti-nuclear activist/expert Professor Karl Grossman
agrees, calling "Atomic Energy: Unsafe in the Real World" in
his June 29 article, saying:
- "Nuclear power requires perfection and no acts of
God" to avoid accidents that may become catastrophes. Humans and technology
aren't perfect. Natural and other type disasters happen. "(W)e can't
eliminate them. But we can - and must eliminate atomic energy" or
it will eliminate us.
- On March 18, Bloomberg said Japan's Fukushima disaster
"follows decades of falsified safety reports, fatal accidents and
underestimated earthquake risks in Japan's atomic power industry."
- The same is true in America and elsewhere - governments,
regulators, and power companies suppressing vital truths, instead of shutting
down inherently unsafe plants, making all of them ticking bombs.
- Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island exploded.
Others as bad or worse are assured, irradiating vast parts of the earth
disastrously. On June 22, kinetictruth.com headlined, "US heading
toward nuclear disaster," saying:
- "After a yearlong investigation, AP concluded that
many of the nation's facilities are still (operating) because the safety
standards that they are held to have been repeatedly weakened as regulations
(for the world's most hazardous industry became) more and more lax."
- After reviewing tens of thousands of government and industry
studies and documents since the 1970s, it concluded that the industry-run
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) falsified arguments, saying "safety
margins could be eased without peril." As a result, not only are Americans
endangered, so is one-fifth of the nation's electricity supply.
- Many problems AP found could trigger a nuclear disaster,
including broken seals and nozzles, rusted pipes, aging facilities past
their useful life, and numerous examples of shoddy maintenance and management
laxity. Nonetheless, NRC officials rubber stamp license extensions, including
66 facilities over 25 years old re-licensed for another two decades, instead
of responsibly shutting them down.
- Vermont Yankee is perhaps the most notorious. Licensed
to begin operating in 1972, Vermont's Senate voted 26 - 4 against re-licensing
in February 2010, citing radioactive tritium leaks, falsified management
statements, a 2007 cooling tower collapse, among other problems, proving
the facility is a disaster waiting to happen.
- Nonetheless, on March 21, 2011, the NRC extended its
life for another 20 years until 2032. Moreover, Entergy, Vermont Yankee's
owner and America's second largest nuclear generator after Exelon, sued
to revoke a state law, giving it legislative authority to suspend operations
when its current license expires next March.
- The plant, in fact, has the same GE Mark 1 Boiling Water
Reactor design as Fukushima's Units 1 and 2. According to Citizens's Action
Network's Bob Stannard:
- "It's unimaginable to think that the NRC would declare
this plant safe when (it) houses 640 tons of spent fuel in an unprotected
fuel pool with no containment vessel. In Japan, the plant that's in the
worst shape has only 80 tons."
- If Vermont Yankee blows, perhaps all Vermont and New
England go with it, and given its deplorable state, it may if it's 20 year
extension isn't stopped.
- Mid-America Threatened
- In Missouri, record floods threaten two nuclear plants
- the Cooper Nuclear Station and Fort Calhoun Station, yet little about
either is reported, especially on television where most people get news.
In early June moreover, the FAA issued an indefinite "no-fly hazards"
restriction over the facilities to conceal the worst of what's happening.
- Both plants issued low level "unusual event"
alerts that may rise to catastrophic ones. On June 30, the Omaha World-Herald
reported that both plants store spent fuel rods in open casks. As a result,
if Missouri River flood levels rise enough, they'll "overflow them
and carry contaminated water downstream."
- Both plants "use outdoor, above-ground entombment
(called dry cask storage) for its oldest fuel," kept in welded shut
steel canisters placed "inside concrete bunkers that rely on outside
air flowing" to dissipate residual heat. Allegedly, bunkers and canisters
can withstand flooding. They may soon get a chance to prove it.
- On June 15, Rense.com contributor Tom Burnett headlined,
"Ft. Calhoun Spent Fuel In Ground Pools, Flooded Already?" saying:
- "Ft. Calhoun is the designated spent fuel storage
facility for the entire state of Nebraska....and maybe for more than one
state." It's stored in ground-level pools underwater but open on top.
"When the Missouri River pours in there, it's going to make Fukushima
look like an x-ray. But that's not all. There are a LOT of nuclear plants
on both the Missouri and Mississippi and they can all go to hell fast"
if flood waters or other natural disasters threaten them.
- Ft. Calhoun's spent and recently removed fuel are stored
"OUTSIDE the reactor waiting to wash away or explode - which will
destroy about 15,000 square miles of what used to be the corn belt,"
besides the potential human toll.
- In fact, "Calhoun may already be spewing radiation
into the flooding Missouri." However, an information blackout keeps
the public uninformed, including about an NRC report effectively saying
it's unprepared "to protect the intake structure and auxiliary building
against external flooding."
- Nonetheless, Omaha Public Power District CEO Gary Gates
- "There is no possibility of a meltdown. The floodwaters
are outside of Ft. Calhoun, not inside," AP adding:
- "Fort Calhoun is the subject of more public concern
because the floodwaters have surrounded that plant and forced workers to
use raised catwalks to access the facility." Cooper Nuclear Station
"is more elevated, so the floodwaters aren't as close to the facility."
But the facility is by no means out of danger.
- NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko also claims flooding endangers
neither plant, words he may later eat if levels keep rising. In fact, Public
Citizen's Tyson Slocum believes conditions are dangerous, saying:
- "We're inches away from (Calhoun) nuclear plant
being flooded. It's already an island. And we still have a very real possibility
of flood levels rising....There's always the possibility of the situation
escalating, especially when we don't control all the variables. That's
what happened in Japan."
- "There's no question that there's significant concern
about the threat that rising flood waters pose to flooding certain operations
of the plant that could disable certain critical safety features, including
- Cooper may also be endangered, he added, saying:
- "We wouldn't be having this conversation if this
were a wind farm or if this were a solar power installation. Nuclear power
inherently poses enormous risks to our communities. We really have to start
questioning whether (it) should be a viable part of our 21st century energy
- Any sane person would call that a no-brainer.
- In addition, conditions appear worse, not better, after
a protective Calhoun facility water-filled berm collapsed on June 26 after
being struck by some heavy equipment. As a result, "(m)ore than 2
feet (60 cm) of water rushed in around containment buildings and electrical
transformers," according to Reuters.
- Most disturbing is that very likely the worst of what's
happening is suppressed. Moreover, it's standard practice for all major
industries to protect their bottom line priorities, aided by complicit
regulators, government officials, and media bosses, dismissive of public
- As a result, the official IAEA Chernobyl death count
was 4,000 when, in fact, a New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) study concluded
numbers approaching one million and counting. Moreover, little information
explained how BP destroyed America's Gulf and gravely harmed the health
and livelihoods of millions of area residents.
- In early June, the Nuclear Energy Institute, a US industry
lobbying group, claimed:
- "No health effects are expected among the Japanese
people as a result of the events at Fukushima." In fact, weeks after
the March 11 disaster, two distinguished nuclear experts, Christopher Busby
and Marion Fulk, publicly said northern Japan (one-third of the country)
is uninhabitable and should be evacuated. By now perhaps most or all Japan
is affected, as well as many other parts of the world, including American
air, water, soil and food contaminated by hazardous radiation levels.
- America's Southwest On the Edge
- In late June, the Las Conchas fire began in New Mexico's
Sante Fe National Forest, 12 miles southwest of the Los Alamos National
Laboratory (LANL). It's America's largest nuclear weapons research center,
storing huge amounts of nuclear waste, including a reported 30,000 55-gallon
drums of plutonium, the most toxic substance known.
- According to the Los Alamos Study Group (LASG), a LANL
site called "Area G" houses a nuclear dump, 19 miles from Sante
Fe Plaza. "It's Growing. And It's Ours Forever:"
- -- larger than the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad,
- -- permanent waste is kept "in shallow unlined pits
and shafts covered with dirt;"
- -- enough's there to "fill 1.4 million 55 gallon
drums - plus (another 60,000 drums) of temporarily-stored waste;"
- -- weapons testing and production adds another 54,000
- -- "two other mesas (will also be used) for dump
- -- regulatory oversight is entirely absent; and
- -- most waste "is entirely unnecessary."
- In fact, weapons development, testing and production
way exceeds Cold War levels, even after America's 2010 Strategic Arms Reduction
Treaty (START) with Russia. It was an agreement more in name than substance,
given Washington's determination to pursue nuclear superiority by replacing
old weapons with new, improved, more destructive ones.
- As a result, LASG said LANL weapons design and testing
continue. "Production of plutonium bomb cores has begun. A second
plutonium plant is planned. Many more tons of plutonium are needed for
the bomb factories. Huge new facilities for weapons testing and or novel
kinds of nuclear processing - which will produce even more waste - are
- Everything is dangerous and secret. LASG worries most
- -- increasing US Southwest drought, creating conditions
for raging fires; and
- -- natural or engineered "unexpected events,"
causing "unthinkable" nuclear catastrophes, including one affecting
LANL, surrounding areas, and potentially much of America's Southwest because
bad enough nuclear accidents are unforgiving.
- Whether current Los Alamos fires qualify isn't known.
On June 28, AP said midday flames were "as close as 50 feet from the
grounds." LANL safety assurances aren't reliable, nor is information
about potential widespread contamination if containment doesn't work.
- In Los Alamos, Senator Tom Udall (D. NM) said, "We
are throwing absolutely everything at this that we've got." As a precautionary
measure, the city's entire 11,000 population was evacuated.
- According to Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety executive
director Joni Arends:
- "The concern is that (drums of plutonium) will get
so hot that they'll burst. That would put this toxic material into the
plume. It's a concern for everybody."
- She also worries that fire may affect LANL nuclear-contaminated
soil. With a staff of about 15,000, the facility is huge, including 2,000
buildings, covering over 36 square miles on nearly four dozen sites.
- It's been around since WW II as part of the Manhattan
Project. Thereafter, it evolved into a major scientific and nuclear research
facility, developing, testing and producing state-of-the art weapons, as
well as multidisciplinary work in various fields, including national security,
space, renewable energy, medicine, nanotechnology, and supercomputing.
- About one-third of its technical staff are physicists,
one-fourth engineers, one-sixth chemists and materials scientists, and
the others involved in mathematics, computational science, biology, geoscience,
and other disciplines. Along with Alameda County, CA's Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory, it's one of two Department of Energy facilities designing
nuclear weapons and related activities.
- Because of fire, lab facilities were shut for days. Moreover,
30 or more of its structures were destroyed, yet LANL claims its buildings
were constructed to meet strict nuclear safety standards. In Japan, Tokyo
Electric (TEPCO), regulators and government officials gave similar nuclear
safety assurances, even after disaster struck, and still suppress vital
information millions of Japanese citizens need to know. America's NRC does
- Why expect LANL to operate otherwise, especially given
its sensitive work and large amounts of stored nuclear waste, including
plutonium, perhaps vulnerable to ignite and spread over a wide area disastrously,
despite officials calling the exposure risk small. Maybe they're right,
maybe not but won't say. On June 30, Los Alamos County Fire Chief Douglas
Tucker said the fire could double or triple in size before it's checked,
- "We have fire all around the lab. It's a road away."
- On June 29, the Sante Fe Reporter said nearly 93,000
acres were consumed. Its feature story headlined, "Flash Point: The
West is burning. Is global 'weirding' to blame? saying:
- Another 60,748 acres are ablaze, threatening LANL. It's
not one big fire. Since last July, nearly 1,000 ignited around the state,
most in the past few months because of tinderbox dry conditions. They're
also across the West from Texas to California, as well as north to Colorado
and Utah. In nearly a year, over 711,000 New Mexico aces were lost.
- In a separate report, writer Chip Ward said Arizona and
Texas are burning besides New Mexico and other states. However, residents
close to Los Alamos live in fear, worried that smoke plumes might contain
deadly radiation, especially plutonium if it ignites. Unless prevented,
"the West is ours to lose," and perhaps a whole lot more.
- Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
- Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
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