This [updated] edition of Planetarian Perspectives brings you:
Steiglitz on Fukushima and nuclear capitalism
America’s 104 aging reactors unfixable
As nuke pollution rises, safety standards drop
Lovins debunks new nukes
Nuclear power’s deep dependance on fossil fuels
Wasserman on San Onofre restart maddness
Caldicott on lowered safety standards
SHUTDOWN:The Case of San Onofre ‘preview interview’ series launched
Published on Thursday, April 7, 2011 by Al Jazeera
Gambling With the Planet
by Joseph Stiglitz
The consequences of the Japanese earthquake – especially the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant – resonate grimly for observers of the American financial crash that precipitated the Great Recession. Both events provide stark lessons about risks, and about how badly markets and societies can manage them.
Of course, in one sense, there is no comparison between the tragedy of the earthquake – which has left more than 25,000 people dead or missing – and the financial crisis, to which no such acute physical suffering can be attributed. But when it comes to the nuclear meltdown at Fukushima, there is a common theme in the two events.
Experts in both the nuclear and finance industries assured us that new technology had all but eliminated the risk of catastrophe. Events proved them wrong: not only did the risks exist, but their consequences were so enormous that they easily erased all the supposed benefits of the systems that industry leaders promoted….
…[W]hile Germany has shut down its older nuclear reactors, in the US and elsewhere, even plants that have the same flawed design as Fukushima continue to operate. The nuclear industry’s very existence is dependent on hidden public subsidies – costs borne by society in the event of nuclear disaster, as well as the costs of the still-unmanaged disposal of nuclear waste. So much for unfettered capitalism! Read more.
Ex-Regulator Says Reactors Are Flawed
By MATTHEW L. WALD
Published: April 8, 2013
WASHINGTON — All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday. Shutting them all down at once is not practical, he said, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives. read more
Nuclear Is NOT a Low-Carbon Source of Energy
Posted on April 14, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
Why Do People Claim that Nuclear Power is a Low-Carbon Source of Energy?
Even well-known, well-intentioned scientists sometimes push bad ideas….
…some scientists are under the mistaken impression that nuclear power is virtually carbon-free, and thus must be pushed to prevent runaway global warming. (If you don’t believe in global warming, then this essay is not aimed at you … although you might wish to forward it to those who do.)
But this is a myth.
Amory Lovins is perhaps America’s top expert on energy, and a dedicated environmentalist for close to 50 years. His credentials as an energy expert and environmentalist are sterling.
Lovins is a former Oxford don, who taught at nine universities, most recently Stanford. He has briefed 19 heads of state, provided expert testimony in eight countries, and published 31 books and several hundred papers. Lovins’ clients have included the Pentagon, OECD, UN, Resources for the Future, many national governments, and 13 US states, as well as many Fortune 500 companies, major real-estate developers, and utilities. Lovins served in 1980-81 on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Research Advisory Board, and in 1999-2001 and 2006-08 on Defense Science Board task forces on military energy efficiency and strategy.
Lovins says nuclear is not the answer:
Nuclear plants are so slow and costly to build that they reduce and retard climate protection.
Here’s how. Each dollar spent on a new reactor buys about 2-10 times less carbon savings, 20-40 times slower, than spending that dollar on the cheaper, faster, safer solutions that make nuclear power unnecessary and uneconomic: efficient use of electricity, making heat and power together in factories or buildings (“cogeneration”), and renewable energy. The last two made 18% of the world’s 2009 electricity, nuclear 13%, reversing their 2000 shares–and made over 90% of the world’s additional electricity in 2008.
Those smarter choices are sweeping the global energy market….
An International Forum on Globalization report – written by environmental luminaries Ernest Callenback, Gar Smith and Jerry Mander – have slammed nuclear power as catastrophic for the environment:
Nuclear energy is not the “clean” energy its backers proclaim. For more than 50 years, nuclear energy has been quietly polluting our air, land, water and bodies—while also contributing to Global Warming through the CO2 emissions from its construction, mining, and manufacturing operations. Every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, shipping, processing, power generation, waste disposal and storage—releases greenhouse gases, radioactive particles and toxic materials that poison the air, water and land. Nuclear power plants routinely expel low-level radionuclides into the air in the course of daily operations. While exposure to high levels of radiation can kill within a matter of days or weeks, exposure to low levels on a prolonged basis can damage bones and tissue and result in genetic damage, crippling long-term injuries, disease and death.
Does nuclear power produce no CO2 ? You Betcha!
See this excellent photographic depiction of the huge amounts of fossil fuel which goes into building and operating a nuclear power plant.
by Dave Kimble, originally published by www.peakoil.org.au | May 11, 2006
Proponents of nuclear power always say that one of the big benefits of nuclear power is that it produces no Carbon dioxide (CO2).
This is completely untrue, as a moment’s consideration will demonstrate that fossil fuels, especially oil in the form of gasoline and diesel, are essential to every stage of the nuclear cycle, and CO2 is given off whenever these are used. Read and see more.
Government Reacts to Fukushima Radiation Crisis By Raising Acceptable Radiation Standards … Instead of Fixing Anything
Posted on April 14, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
Just Like the Financial Crisis, the Gulf Oil Spill, and All Other Crises, Government Covers Up Instead of Addressing the Real Problems
[For this excellent article in full with embedded reference links click here. ]
2 weeks after the Fukushima accident, we reported that the government responded to the nuclear accident by trying to raise acceptable radiation levels and pretending that radiation is good for us.
And there are so many new leaks that even the mainstream press is starting to admit that Fukushima was never fixed.
Radiation from Fukushima is slamming Tokyo, as well as the West Coast of North America.
Fukushima radiation is showing up in fish on the West Coast of the United States. Scientists are starting to sound the alarm as to additional human deaths and health problems on the U.S. West Coast due to Fukushima radiation, and an epidemic of injuries to sealife.
And it’s not just Fukushima …
An investigation by Associated Press found that 75 percent of all U.S. nuclear sites have leaked radioactive tritium.
In fact, whistleblowers at the Nuclear Regulator Commission say that the risk of a major meltdown at U.S. nuclear reactors is much higher than it was at Fukushima.
And an accident in the U.S. could be a lot larger than in Japan … partly because our nuclear plants hold a lot more radioactive material. Radiation could cause illness in huge numbers of Americans, and a major nuclear accident could literally bankrupt America.
So what has the American government done to protect us?
It has pressured the Japanese government to re-start its nuclear program, and is allowing Fukushima seafood to be sold in the U.S.
And U.S. nuclear regulators actually weakened safety standards for U.S. nuclear reactors after the Fukushima disaster.
And as we noted 6 months after Fukushima melted down:
American and Canadian authorities have virtually stopped monitoring airborne radiation, and are not testing fish for radiation. (Indeed, the EPA reacted to Fukushima by raising “acceptable” radiation levels.)
The failure of the American, Canadian and other governments to test for and share results is making it difficult to hold an open scientific debate about what is happening.
And it’s happening again …
Forbes reported last week:
The acting EPA director on Friday signed a revised version of the EPA’s Protective Action Guide for radiological incidents, which critics say radically relaxes the safety guidelines agencies follow in the wake of a nuclear-reactor meltdown, dirty-bomb attack, or other unexpected release of radiation.
According to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) [a government whistleblower support group], that means agencies responding to radiation emergencies may permit many more civilian fatalities.
“In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems,” PEER advocacy director Kirsten Stade said in a press release. “This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period.”
Medical doctor Helen Caldicott notes:
The radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:
In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period;
In water, the PAGs punt on an exact new standard and EPA “continues to seek input on this.” But the thrust of the PAGs is to give on-site authorities much greater “flexibility” in setting aside established limits; and
Resolves an internal fight inside EPA between nuclear versus public health specialists in favor of the former. The PAGs are the product of Gina McCarthy, the assistant administrator for air and radiation whose nomination to serve as EPA Administrator is taken up this week by the Senate.
Despite the years-long internal fight, this is the first public official display of these guides. This takes place as Japan grapples with these same issues in the two years following its Fukushima nuclear disaster.
“This is a public health policy only Dr. Strangelove could embrace. If this typifies the environmental leadership we can expect from Ms. McCarthy, then EPA is in for a long, dirty slog,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that the EPA package lacks a cogent rationale, is largely impenetrable and hinges on a series of euphemistic “weasel words.”
“No compelling justification is offered for increasing the cancer deaths of Americans innocently exposed to corporate miscalculations several hundred-fold.”
Reportedly, the PAGs had been approved last fall but their publication was held until after the presidential election. The rationale for timing their release right before McCarthy’s confirmation hearing is unclear.
Since the PAGs guide agency decision-making and do not formally set standards or repeal statutory requirements, such as the Safe Drinking Water Act and Superfund, they will go into full effect following a short public comment period. Nonetheless, the PAGs will likely determine what actions take place on the ground in the days, weeks, months and, in some cases, years following a radiological emergency.
As we noted right after Fukushima happened, this is standard operating procedure for government these days….
…In other words, this is a concerted propaganda campaign to cover up the severity of a major nuclear accident by raising acceptable levels of radiation and saying that a little radiation is good for us. Read more
The bitter battle over two stricken southern California reactors has taken a shocking seismic hit.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ignored critical questions from two powerful members of Congress just as the Government Accountability Office has cast serious doubt on the emergency planning at the San Onofre nuclear plant.
At a cost of some $770 million, Southern California Edison and its partners installed faulty steam generators at San Onofre Units 2 and 3 that have failed and leaked.
Those reactors have been shut since January 2012 (similar defects doomed Unit 1 in 1992).
They’ve generated zero electricity, but SCE and its partners have billed ratepayers over a billion dollars for them.
SCE wants San Onofre reopened by June 1. The idea is to experiment with Unit 2 at 70% of full power for five months, despite widespread concerns that the defective generators will fail again.
That would require a license amendment, about which the NRC staff has asked Edison 32 key preliminary questions. But there’s been no official, adjudicated public hearing on Edison’s response….
Boxer (202-224-3553) and Markey (202-225-2836) are now being asked to hold those adjudicated public hearings in southern California, and to investigate the GAO’S findings on evacuation, before any new license is granted at San Onofre. Full article here.
Rollback in Nuclear Radiation Cleanup
By Helen Caldicott
Global Research, April 14, 2013
Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket Following Radiological Incidents
The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).
Issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, the radiation guides (called Protective Action Guides or PAGs) allow cleanup many times more lax than anything EPA has ever before accepted. These guides govern evacuations, shelter-in-place orders, food restrictions and other actions following a wide range of “radiological emergencies.” The Obama administration blocked a version of these PAGs from going into effect during its first days in office. The version given approval late last Friday is substantially similar to those proposed under Bush but duck some of the most controversial aspects:
In soil, the PAGs allow long-term public exposure to radiation in amounts as high as 2,000 millirems. This would, in effect, increase a longstanding 1 in 10,000 person cancer rate to a rate of 1 in 23 persons exposed over a 30-year period…. Read more
EON, in co-operation with WomensEnergyMatters.org, launches ‘preview interview’ series based on exclusive material from their forthcoming documentary SHUTDOWN: The Case of San Onofre, a look at the resurgent Nuclear Free California movement.
Here’s the first in the series:
S. David Freeman, legendary former Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) administrator, who has shutdown many a nuke in his career – and is now working in his 85th year to help local residents and Friends of the Earth decommission San Onofre – explains why we have to ‘kill nuclear power before it kills us.’
The SHUTDOWN ‘Preview Interviews’ will include SanOnofreSafety.org Founder, Donna Gilmore; San Clemente Green co-founders Lauri & Gary Headricks; Emergency Response Expert Deanna Polk; Investigative Reporter Harvey Wasserman; Urban Planner Torgen Johnson; WomensEnergyMatters.org Founder Barbara George and others-to-be-posted.
You can find them on our sister blog eon3EMFblog.net and on our YouTube Channel.
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