In EPRI's latest propaganda news publication, they had an article about the birth/hatching of the Nuclear Renaissance. If you look beyond the surface of the nuclear industry sales pitch, you quickly recognize the lies and stench that is the fetid reality of a industry that needs to die, plans for its rebirth set aside as the world investigates workable Global Warming solutions. One such lie, or serious issue as the nuclear industry races fool hearted down a pathway to hell, is a severely dangerous and hidden shortage of qualified craftsman. With this shortage, host communities are being put at and even greater risk and danger as these aging apocalyptic behemoths leak, degrade and move towards visiting one or more nuclear Holocausts upon the people of the world. Pick a reactor, Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim, Oyster Creek, Diablo Canyon or Indian Point to name a few...eventually, as the worker shortage deepens, we will see a catastrophic event.
As the nuclear industry races to be competitive while enhancing corporate profits communities are being put at serious and unacceptible risk as aging, crumbling reactors find themselves short of adequate numbers of qualified staff. Ruthless cut backs of personnel coupled with ever shorter outages has seen the loss of many qualified craftsman who, unemployed or under employed have moved on to other jobs in other industry. The shortage is reaching epidemic proportions, and will grow far worse in the next few years as many older employees retire, or seize the opportunity for lucrative positions as consultants as competition for a shrinking qualified work force in the nuclear industry intensifies.
According to the industries own whispered admissions, the shortages are extensive (see page 11), and cover almost every aspect of reactor safety and maintenance. NDE technicians, carpenters, grid personnel, welders, pipe fitters, insulators and people willing to do asbestos abatement are all in short supply. With the aggressive, even unrealistic goals found in the GNEP/Nuclear 2010 iniative documents, this worker shortage will only grow worse at a time when aging reactors being wrongfully relicensed will require ever more man hours to keep them up and running, let alone safe. Already many nuclear reactor licensees are seeing their FAC programs negatively impacted by these qualified worker shortages.
In industry meetings held in posh hotels where executives from DOE, EPRI, NEI, NRC and the nuclear industry are hidden from public scrutiny, management and regulators are scrambling to find ways to stem the arterial bleeding as the worker shortage grows worse with each passing day. Many of the ideas being bandied about are a recipe for disaster. The suggestions of desparate men as they struggle to keep a dying industry alive, breath new life into a decaying radioactive corpse. Without exception, their ideas are aimed at keeping their contaminated money machines up and running, with human health and safety getting nothing more than a cursory glance as safeguards are tossed to the curb with the full knowledge and blessing of the NRC.
How can we as a world even think about a Nuclear Renaissance when the industry cannot take care of the failing reactors they already own? Imagine corporate executives, members of industry groups such as EPRI and NEI sitting around a polished conference table suggesting that fewer safety inspections could ease the worker shortage. Competitors suggesting, even offering to share their work forces, transfering them temporarialy from plant to plant to do the work necessary for a refueling outage, while leaving their home reactors vulnerable and short handed should a serious radioactive incident and/or terrorist attack occur. Suggesting that corners be cut, less insulation, less scafolding as workers and the public are placed at ever increasing risks. To save time, to reduce man hour needs, areas requiring scaffolding for proper inspection simply ignored, or worse traded in for a pipe or similiar valve in a area that is easier, quicker to access. These supposedly honorable men are even willing to eliminate heat treatment of critical repair welds, that are already failing, even under idea conditions.
Perhaps, before Congress continues throwing billions of dollars in pork at the nuclear industry, it is time we citizens of America begin demanding some truthful answers to some hard questions.
Conservative safety measurements have been set aside, replaced with a cost benefit analysis that allows the nuclear industry to avoid, or postpone important inspections and/or repairs as they claim the benefits do not justify the costs. A dangerous trend, Russian Roulette with and accident only a matter of time, David Besse a perfect example of a bullet just dodged.
Regulations meant to protect human health and the environment are routinely set aside with another Generic Finding issued on the part of the NRC as they eliminate yet another safety reguirement or regulation meant to keep host communities safe. When do these dangerous actions and safety sacrifices end? Do we have to experience another Chernobyl for EPRI, NEI, NRC and the IAEA to admit they have sold their souls to the devil of greed? Are they blind to the incestous relationship that has given birth to a nuclear Rosemary's Baby? A line must be drawn in the proverbial sand, we as host communities must say enough is enough. You do not, and cannot man an aging nuclear reactor with a skeleton staff, and this aging management issue has not been addressed in any of the License Renewal Application processes yet...why?
People miss the various ironies and warnings associated with the nuclear industry, miss the cosmic warning signals of a scam perpetrated upon the world. Indian Point's reactor 1, as if in some cruel joke shut down on Halloween (October 31), 1974, yet the horrors of its existence are still haunting our community as radioactive contaminants leak from its spent fuel pool, putting it in violation of its SAFESTOR agreements. How many saw the irony in the IAEA arriving in Japan, starting to inspect the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant on the same day that Hiroshima was bombed? (August 6th)
The Japanese Government, officials of TEPCO are anxious to A) save face, and B) get their reactors back up, and so are prepared to bury the truth under a flourish of FAKE INSPECTIONS, cursory walk throughs by the revered United Nations watchdog, the IAEA. Smiling under their false claims of repentance, knowing a rubber stamped inspection, and a green light to start back up is just around the corner. This suspicion was born out when the IAEA inspection team in Japan said they had time constraints that required them completing the inspection of SEVEN reactors in just one week. 68 known and serious violations, seven reactors built atop a faultline, and the people of Japan, of the world are supposed to believe the IAEA can do a full and complete SAFETY INSPECTION in one week? Who are we kidding?
Much like the truth about the nuclear industry's worker shortage, honesty about the severity of the damage at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant could deliver a knock out blow to the Nuclear Renaissance. Imagine the world wide reaction, the reaction of Wall Street if it was announced that TEPCO's seven reactors had suffered severe damage, could not be restarted because of their position atop and ACTIVE EARTHQUAKE FAULT. Even NEI's desparately sought 100 percent loan guarantees would not save the industry's Nuclear Renaissance if these truths were adequately covered by the major media outlets.
This past week we watched the news story, saw the tragedy of the bridge collapse in Minnesota unfold before our eyes. As we thank God that the catastrophy was not worse than it was, let us not miss out on what should be lessons learned. Failed, inadequate or postponed infrastructures contributed to that bridge collapse. Steel fatigue, concrete embrittlement and other aging issues contributed to the collapse of that bridge, which is about the same age as many of Americans oldest reactors, such as Indian Point. Government and industry took a chance, believe they could postpone necessary repairs, avoid closing down the bridge...they were wrong.
The nuclear industry, EPRI, NEI and the NRC want us to believe they can sacrifice maintenance and eliminate safety inspections, while keeping us safe. They want us to believe that reactors license and designed for a 40 year life span can be operated for another 20 years if the plant owners have an adequate aging management plan in place. What if they are wrong? What if worker shortages, discarded regulations, and eliminated safety margins are setting us up for a nuclear reactor infrastructure failure as steel fatigue, embrittlement and radioactive bombardment of reactor cores see a nuclear plant give up the ghost, just as that bridge in Minnesota gave up its ghost? Is it fair for the nuclear industry and the NRC to dictatorially force such risks on host communities? Is it wise to jeapordize the safety of 21 million people here in New York by relicensing Indian Point?