Monday, July 23, 2007

More Proof That Japan Just Dodged Chernobyl Last Monday

As someone living less than three miles from the trouble plagued, mismanaged and leaking facility owned by Entergy, and known as Indian Point, I am startled at the frightening similarity between Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant and the three aging and dilapidated reactors that sit on the shore of the Hudson River here in New York. Living in the shadow of these behemoth relics of a failed nuclear industry, and having spent some time in Japan back in the 90's, I have kept a close eye on the aftermath of the TEPCO accident as it unfolds, and just as I had predicted, as information trickles 0ut, Japan and the world came much closer to a world wide disaster than was first known, and is now being admitted. Pure blind luck, not nuclear industry expertise saved us from what would/could have been a catastrophic event far worse than Hiroshima or Chernobyl.
Here in America, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant story is not getting the coverage it deserves as the media cooperates with our government, the NRC, NEI, DOE and the nuclear industry in mitigating the damage that has been done to George W. Bush's plans for a Nuclear Renaissance with 200 new reactors being built along the waters edge here in America. These high money players in the nuclear industry want the story buried, and our press seems more than ready to oblige...after all, Patrick Moore, Christine Todd Whitman, CASEnergy and the NEI have bought and sold their souls, convinced them that Nuclear Energy is the vital, safe, secure green energy that will save us from Global Warming. Now that the emperor has been shown to have no clothes, now that the naked ugliness that is nuclear energy has been exposed, they are pretending not to see, hoping the story will just go away.
Problem is, the story should not, and so far is not going away, but continues to get worse as news story find their way out of Japan, and onto the world wide web. Like Indian Point, Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant sits atop and earthquake fault line, and like Indian Point, both Japan's regulatory agency (NISA), and the plant owners chose to ignore that reality from the very beginning, even before construction had begun. Here in Westchester county, the Indian Point site failed five out of six citing criteria, yet the NRC ignored that truth and allowed the reactors to be built. False assurances were handed out like DumDum lollipops, and the host community was assured the facilities were/are safe, that the odds of a large earthquake doing significant damage to the reactors was so small as to be almost nil...we now have quantitative proof that promise was a lie, a red herring trotted out to cloud the real risks involved in constructing and operating nuclear reactors sitting atop earthquake faults.
A look at various Japanese press sites this morning outline more problems as the investigation into TEPCO's cover up of the incident continues. Most alarming on this morning's list, is the fact that six of the transformers were damaged in the quake. Niigata prefectural government officials who inspected the plant have been quoted when asked about the transformer fire that it was, "simply by chance" that a fire broke out only at the transformer of the No. 3 reactor. It took TEPCO over two hours to extenquish the transformer fire for reactor number 3. What could/would have happened if all six damaged transformers had erupted into flames? As we contemplate that question, it should be noted here, that it has come to the light of day, that ten of the eleven companies owning nuclear reactors in Japan do not have the necessary equipment and staff on hand to fight a fire at their nuclear facilities. This information only saw the light of day as a result of the investigation now going on in Japan in the aftermath of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant debacle. Officials have been quoted as saying, "the companies did not have firefighting squads on duty around the clock and would have to summon such personnel if a fire broke out at night or during a holiday period. "
Pro Nuclear Bloggers like Rod Adams, the NEI Blog, and We Trust Lee spent the better part of last week doing damage control, trying to play with the radioactive release numbers to make the leaks seem insignificant. Meanwhile, a TEPCO official has been quoted regarding the leaks, and stated, "A considerably large amount of water" must have spilled out", the TEPCO official said. Further, we now know that irradiated water leaked out of ALL SEVEN spent fuel pools at the crippled Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant site, and that company officials are refusing to quantify just how much radioactively contaminated water actually LEAKED OUT of these pools. A TEPCO official was quoted as saying, "We never assumed that water could flow out of the pool."
There is a very scary thought...earthquakes SHAKE the ground, and much like a bucket being shaken about, significant amounts of water will SLOSH out, but this NEVER occurred to company officials, never occurred to the regulators (NISA and the IAEA)? TEPCO attempts to mitigate this disturbing news by saying none of the leaked water in the other six pools contaminated the non-radioactive side of those buildings...uhhh, is it me, or does that contamination of the nuclear side of the building still have to be remediated, or are workers going to be forced to accept the additional exposure risks going forward if these reactors ever go back online?
Japan, and TEPCO have now reluctantly agreed to allow the UN (IAEA) to send and inspection team to the devastated plant site, not because it is the right thing to do, but because they want to stem negative World Wide Press coverage of the accident, fearing the negative stories, and the comparisons to Chernobyl could negatively impact their tourist industry. Funny what a difference a few days makes. Last week the government rejected the IAEA's offer of assistance in inspecting the plant, claiming the damage was so serious that the people concerned are too busy repairing it.
We are talking a huge cover up here...already the government of Japan is saying the plant will eventually reopen. Early plans see TEPCO going in, and BEEFING up the foundation, which is four stories underground. This sounds eerily similar to the never ending quilt of failing weld joints that are holding Indian Point's reactor cores in place...God Forbid a quake should hit our area, as these embrittled domes would shatter like a thermos dropped on a concrete floor, the radioactive plumes rapidly visiting death upon the populace of our area. Some would come such a statement alarmist in it? The NRC over the years has issued over 1500 Generic Findings that EXCUSE their licensees from rules and regulations meant to keep us safe. Cost benefit analysis now places company profits ahead of citizen safety, and protection of our environment, and if nuclear reactor owners cannot meet certain regulatory guidelines, the NRC simply suspends them in the name of National Security and Interest.
The horrific accident at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant should be the world's wake up call that nuclear cannot, must not play a key role in resolving Global Warming, proof that the risks are far too great. GNEP is a fatally flawed nuclear energy strategy that would see America playing host to the entire world's nuclear waste streams. The NRC has callously ignored reality, placed public safety at risk by rubber stamping every licensee renewal application that has come before it. However, we have and opportunity to stop George W. Bush's Nuclear 2010 wagon from racing further down the road to hell, but it requires citizens of every nation getting involved. The line in the proverbial sand is Entergy's Indian Point reactors in Westchester county, New York.
Entergy's Indian Point facility NEVER SHOULD HAVE BEEN BUILT, much like the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant in Japan. The Indian Point facility has been nothing but trouble since day one. Mismanagement, cover up and lies have been the norm through all of its various owners, and like the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, Indian Point sits atop a MAJOR earthquake fault line, and failed to meet five of the six siting criteria required at the time the plant was built. Couple this with leaking fuel pools, cracks in the reactor domes, failing spray nozzles, underground electrical cable problems, a non working evacuation plan, tritium and strontium 90 leaking into the Hudson River and the obvious lack of meaningful and effective security, and the fact that NRC is contemplating Energy's license renewal application is pure insanity. The good news if any, is that we have a chance to stop this injustice.
Politicians, and calls for and ISA will not shut down Indian Point, nor keep the NRC from rubber stamping Entergy's license renewal application like they always do. Massive public outcry and anger though will stop the relicense of the facility. With 21 million people living within a 50 mile radius of the plant, we have the numbers...but, people must get involved in the process, people must start organizing protests, and demanding accountablity from our government, and from our politicians. Hilliary Clinton pretends too be worried about Indian Point, but then goes out on the campaign trail and tells citizens in South Carolina that nuclear MUST BE ON THE TABLE as and option in addressing Global Warming...sorry babes, but you should not be allowed to claim both sides in this important debate. A few hundred protestors targeting her district offices on a regular basis would hold her feet to the fire, force her to DEMAND the closing of Indian Point.
Congressman John Hall talked a good game when he ran against incumbent Congress woman Sue Kelly, but he's become rather cool on the subject of Indian Point since being elected. If you look at John Hall's roots, he has the contacts (Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne) in the music industry to bring significant attention to this issue, can put the International Spotlight on Indian Point with a carefully orchestrated concert, by calling his grassroots supporters into the streets to march too, and onto the grounds of Indian Point. Sadly though, his campaign rhetoric was just that, and now that he is in office he is more concerned about staying in office than doing right by the people he is sworn to protect. That has got to change, and it will only change when public outcry demands that he take real action on this important issue. Decades ago he filled Madison Square Gardens, yet today as a Congressman in Washington, DC he is content with issuing meaningless press releases to our local papers.
The call for a world wide Nuclear Renaissance comes from America, the GNEP plan the tap root that must be eradicated. We can end this failed energy strategy by targeting sites such as Indian Point, we can stop nuclear proliferation by fighting Indian Point's license renewal application with everything we have. We need Greenpeace to send their boats up the Hudson River, we need the Sierra Club to take a stand. Indian Point is the battle we have to win, Entergy the nuclear licensee to go after. To be successful, we need anti nuclear groups from around the world to step in and lend us a helping hand, because the next nuclear bullet is coming, and we might not be so lucky as to dodge it when it hits.

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