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The level 7 nuclear crisis which hit Japan has reverberated across the globe.  
More than one-third of Germany's nuclear plants have been shut down.  Residents in the U.S. have also been questioning the safety of local nukes.  At a public meeting in Watertown, Connecticut, concerns were expressed over the vulnerabilities:

The owner of Millstone Power Station sought to reassure concerned residents Monday night that it is working to put potentially vulnerable spent fuel from one closed reactor into safe, dry storage on site.

A crowd of more than 150 people at Waterford Town Hall included an unidentified woman who said she wasn't convinced by Millstone owner Dominion executives' premise that the two operating Unit 2 and 3 reactors and the closed Unit 1 reactor could withstand a natural catastrophe like the earthquake and tsunami that wrecked still-troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors in Japan.

It wasn't the first time that the safety of this power plant had come into question.  15 years ago, a TIME cover story called “Nuclear Warriors” blew the lid off their shoddy practices:

Millstone 1 was ignoring the mandated 250-hr. cool-down period before a full off-load, sometimes moving the fuel just 65 hrs. after shutdown, a violation that had melted the boots of a worker on the job. By sidestepping the safety requirements, Millstone saved about two weeks of downtime for each refueling --

Of even greater concern is the fact that across the country radioactive waste is being dumped underneath existing nuclear power plants:

Every 18 months the reactor is shut down so the fuel rods that make up its core can be replaced; the old rods, radioactive and 250 degrees F hot, are moved into a 40-ft.-deep body of water called the spent-fuel pool, where they are placed in racks alongside thousands of other, older rods. Because the Federal Government has never created a storage site for high-level radioactive waste, fuel pools in nuclear plants across the country have become de facto nuclear dumps--with many filled nearly to capacity. The pools weren't designed for this purpose, and risk is involved: the rods must be submerged at all times. A cooling system must dissipate the intense heat they give off. If the system failed, the pool could boil, turning the plant into a lethal sauna filled with clouds of radioactive steam. And if earthquake, human error or mechanical failure drained the pool, the result could be catastrophic: a meltdown of multiple cores taking place outside the reactor containment, releasing massive amounts of radiation and rendering hundreds of square miles uninhabitable.

In a recent interview, whistleblower George Galatis said that safety issues had still not been adequately addressed:

“The real issue is that of nuclear safety. Right now the true risk to public health and safety associated with the generation of nuclear power is intentionally kept from the public. Because of misplaced trust, these enormous risks are in effect being enforced on the public without their knowledge or consent. People need to know about and agree to accept the real risks involved so that when a scenario like Fukushima—or worse—arises here, there is already a degree of acceptance. Without this formal public acceptance, nuclear power will never be cost effective nor will it survive.”

“And despite many years of hard work of the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) and others such as Robert Alvarez of the Institute for Policy Studies, the risks associated with nuclear power and in particular, the storage of spent fuel in the spent fuel pools, have not been properly addressed by the nuclear industry and its Federal regulator. Without appropriate action, the nuclear tragedy in Japan may very well be reproduced on American soil at some point in the near future.”

The lax oversight in Japan which led to the crisis is matched or even surpassed by U.S. nuclear regulators who view themselves more as salesmen than cops on the beat.

Originally posted to The Anomaly on Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 05:00 PM PDT.

Also republished by Nuclear Free DK.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (8+ / 0-)

    Hope. It is the quintessential human delusion, simultaneously the source of your greatest strength, and your greatest weakness.

    by The Anomaly on Tue Apr 19, 2011 at 05:00:54 PM PDT

  •  It happens here all the time. (0+ / 0-)

    It just doesn't make the news because it doesn't involve nuclear power.

  •  There's a very likely reason for upcoming meltdown (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    chimene, nathguy, Just Bob

    All plants rely upon on a functional power grid to run their cooling systems.   They have backup generators which can run for a few days until power is restored.

    NASA predicts that in the 2012-2013 timeframe, we'll likely see a "Carrington" event -- which is an especially intense solar storm that's capable of knocking out large portions of the electric grid.    Lloyds of London has a study out which notes that there's a massive bottleneck in the manufacture of utility-scale transformers, such that if more than a few were to blow up for some reason (say during a major solar storm?), the grid would likely be down for months or even years.  

    In such an event, the electronics of vehicles, refineries, and numerous other infrastructure elements will likely be fried.   Doesn't give me a warm fuzzy feeling...

    •  More than a few? This is BS. That's a (0+ / 0-)

      wiesel term if there ever was one. If solar flaires are big enough to take out the grid for "months" we'll have a lot more to worry about than nukes not getting cooling water. A lot more.

      Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

      by davidwalters on Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 02:06:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  this is frankly concern-troll bullshit. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    erush1345, Recall

    And nuclear schadenfreude at the expense of the Japanese people.

    And self-serving as all hell, considering that somewhere between 10,000 - 20,000 Japanese have been killed by the combination of the earthquake and the tsunami.  

    Where's the oh-so-sad about that, eh?

    Where's the concern for low-lying cities in various places in the world that could get scrubbed off the face of the Earth the same way?

    Coal combustion kills something like 25,000 Americans every year from respiratory illnesses: where's the oh-so-sad about that?

    Really now.  

    Cut the bullshit.

    •  Here's your BS... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      nathguy, Radical def, miriam, Joieau

      The idea that anti nuke = pro coal.   How about none of the above?

      •  While I'm happy to hope otherwise (0+ / 0-)

        it doesn't seem to work that way.  To increase power supply Tepco will:

        the company aims to increase its capacity through installing smaller gas-fired turbines and buying power from such sources as independent power producers
        ...
        The company now aims to increase its capacity further by installing small to medium-sized gas-fired units for a combined capacity of 1 GW
        ...
        Earlier, Tepco said that it planned to install a new 400 MW gas-turbine
        ...
        and bring back online at least one oil-fired unit
        ...
        The 1.6 GW oil-fired Hirono plant had not previously been listed as one of the power plants that could be partially restarted by the end of July.

        Source
        •  So...more dangerous fossil fuel? Good (0+ / 0-)

          for them...how is that a "good thing"?

          The "smaller power producers" use what exactly? Wind? I think not.

          As I noted elseware, the Domain Chandon champagne was flowing around the corporate board rooms of every fossil fuel supplier in the world in the wake of the disaster in Japan.

          This disaster first and foremost is that probably 30,000 people will be dead form the tsunami and quake. It's a second disaster because Japan will have to rely on more dangerous fossil fuel to make up for the short fall of carbon free nuclear energy. Not good, at all.

          Dr. Isaac Asimov: "The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!' but 'That's funny ...'"

          by davidwalters on Wed Apr 20, 2011 at 02:03:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think you misread my comment (0+ / 0-)

            I was alluding to the fact that because of the dramatic fall in electricity from nuclear power, there is now a huge rush into fossil fuel electricity.

            I think this is bad, and again shows anti nuke, even with the best of intentions, often equals more coal (or natgas, or oil, which is probably even worse than coal).

            •  As has been said (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Just Bob, Joieau

              many, many times on this site, it doesn't have to be either nuclear or coal only.  When nuclear "accidents" occur, the toll is higher than most find acceptable in terms of human lives and the environment.  And we still have no way to deal with nuclear waste, which is becoming a real catastrophe in the making.  

              As long as human greed exists there will be cost cutting which makes the so-called "rules" for maintenance and safety a joke.  Fukishima has proven that we still don't know how to deal with problems when they occur.  Hell, they still can't get those reactors under control and who knows when and if they will.  There are too many unknowns to continue building these astronomically expensive plants even if they are cleaner than coal.  Spend that money on developing renewable power.  Germany is leading the way and showing us how, so please, no more false dichotomies.

              When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.- -John Muir, naturalist

              by miriam on Sat Apr 23, 2011 at 08:04:48 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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