nuclear energy

Bush's Homeland Insecurity: NRC Relaxes Nuke Plant Inspection Rules
nuclear energy

AP: "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced Monday that it is relaxing visual inspection requirements at the nation's nuclear power plants. The move comes two years after inspectors found that boric acid corrosion on the reactor head at the Davis-Besse plant along Lake Erie east of Toledo, Ohio, had nearly eaten through the 6-inch-thick steel cap. In response to that, the NRC issued requirements one year ago for operators at the 69 plants with pressurized water reactors to inspect the entire reactor head visually for cracks or leaks. The rules announced Monday would lower that requirement to at least 95 percent of the plant's reactor head."

Pills Urged for People Near Nuke Plants
nuclear energy

"Making potassium iodide pills available to people who live near nuclear power plants was endorsed Thursday by the National Research Council. The pills can help protect the thyroid gland of people exposed to radiation, if taken promptly after a radioactive release occurs. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced in late 2001 it would provide the pills to states with nuclear plants on request, so they could have the material on hand if needed in an emergency. Agency officials said Wednesday that has been done, and handling and distribution of the pills is up to the states. The council report, requested by Congress, agreed that the pills could be effective if taken within a few hours of exposure to radiation. It said the pills should be made available to everyone age 40 or younger, especially children and pregnant and lactating women... But potassium iodide has just one use to prevent thyroid cancer... It blocks no other type of radiation and protects no other body part."

Energy Bill Gives $6 Billion to the Nuclear Power Industry
nuclear energy

"Two new provisions in the energy bill conference report, which just emerged from behind closed doors, would lavish more than $6 billion to the nuclear power industry. The energy bill conference report, released this weekend by Senator Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) and Representative Billy Tauzin (R-La.), contains two new tax provisions that would provide the first ever production tax credit for nuclear power and grant tariff relief for importers of nuclear power reactor components. 'It's outrageous that these new provisions would encourage more radioactive waste production and allow dirty expensive nuclear power plants the same tax credits as clean renewable energy,' said Anna Aurilio, legislative director for U.S. PIRG."

CLEAR LIES 5: Nuclear Nightmare - Bush's Own Brand of State-Sponsored Terrorism
nuclear energy

"Thanks to Bush," writes Cheryl Seal, "aging nuclear reactors are now being relicensed at an astoundingly rapid pace. Proof is not even required that the repairs prescribed by inspectors have been made and area residents near the plant are often not even informed that its happening. And they most certainly should be: According to the Federal Register notice, each relicensing is expected to be responsible for the release of 14,800 person-rem of radiation and the deaths of 12 people during its 20-year life extension. Nice little fact to know if you happen to be living and raising kids in the area! And, since 9/11, most nuclear plants remain inadequately guarded - if at all. It was not until the second week of February, 2002, that the Bush administration issued a press release stating it would "soon" order the nation's 103 nuclear power plants to improve security."

Germany Pulls the First Plug on Nuclear Power
nuclear energy

"Germany switched off the first of its 19 nuclear power stations on Friday, launching what it calls the world's fastest withdrawal from atomic energy but a policy that may still be reversed if the opposition takes power. Germany's center-left government struck a deal with industry in 2000 to close all nuclear power plants by about 2025, the Greens making a phase-out a condition for forming a coalition with Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats in 1998... Greens Environment Minister Juergen Trittin said Friday's closure showed nuclear power had no future in Germany. 'No country is pulling out as quickly as Germany. Up until 2020 one nuclear power plant will be closed on average every year in Germany,' he said in a speech."

Japanese Study Says Nuke Plant Radiation Leak Could Kill Over 400,000
nuclear energy

"A large-scale radiation leak at a major nuclear reactor in Japan could kill more than 400,000 people and cost up to 460 trillion yen over 50 years, according to a study by a Kyoto Sangyo University researcher released Monday. Pak applied various data, including income, agricultural output and population, to a formula Seo developed in calculating the cost of damage over 50 years. High-level radiation would prevent people from being able to live within 160 to 200 km downwind of the nuclear plant, and no farming could occur within at least 500 km."

Don't Let FirstEnergy Restart the Davis-Besse Nuclear Plant
nuclear energy

Ohio Citizen Action writes, "If you thought the blackout was bad ... what FirstEnergy wants to do next is worse. You can help stop them right now. FirstEnergy now wants to gamble with the safety of 50 million people in the Great Lakes and Northeast by restarting the most dangerous nuclear plant in America. Last year, their Davis-Besse plant on Lake Erie nearly had a nuclear meltdown. After years of neglect, boric acid had eaten a football-sized hole in the reactor head. Then we learned that in an accident the emergency system would have quickly clogged and failed. FirstEnergy's response was to lie to regulators and stockholders, and intimidate or fire employees who dared to speak out. James Caldwell of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has the authority to keep the crippled nuclear Davis-Besse reactor closed. Please e-mail the NRC's James Caldwell now." opa@nrc.gov

Disappearance of Weapons Grade Nuke Material from Russian Facility Proves that the Only Good Nuclear Program Is NO Nuclear Program
nuclear energy

Several grams (it doesn't take much) of weapon-grade nuclear material has mysteriously disappeared from Russia's nuclear plants, the Russian nuke regulatory agency reports. And, it isn't the first time this has happened in Russia. Similar apparent thefts occurred in 1994 and 1995. However, the current event happened DESPITE highly upgraded post-9/11 security at Russiasn nuke plants. The moral to this story? As long as any country maintains nuclear facilities, the U.S. included, determined terrorists will find a way to get at the goods. The solution - don't maintain nuclear facilities. Not only is alternative fuel cheaper in the long run, but what are the chances of a terrorist using solar panels or biomass as a weapon of mass destruction?

Will There Be a Nuclear Trucking Accident in Your Community?
nuclear energy

The full House is expected to vote this week on a Bu$h proposal to put the first permanent nuclear waste depository in Yucca Mountain, NV at a cost of $58 billion. "If Congress approves this project, as many as 108,000 shipments of nuclear waste will travel across 45 states,' Rep. Shelley Berkley, Nevada's sole congressional Democrat, said in the Democrats' weekly radio address. Berkley said government statistical models show there could be between 50 and 300 accidents during the transfers. 'People make mistakes; accidents happen. But an accident involving nuclear waste could be catastrophic, exposing whole communities to radiation and utterly destroying the environment for nearly a quarter of a million years,' she said. In 2036, when Yucca Mountain is filled to capacity, there still will be 44,000 tons of nuclear waste stored at reactor sites, she said. The shipments to Nevada will have reduced on-site storage of nuclear waste by just 4 percent, she added."

With Bush at the Helm, It COULD Happen Here: 16th Anniversary of Chernobyl Passes without Mention by US Press or White House
nuclear energy

"About 250 people [in Ukraine] gathered to commemorate the 16th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant explosion, the world's worst nuclear accident, in this town near the doomed facility. Participants... observed a minute of silence at 1.23am, the exact time when Chernobyl's nuclear reactor number four blew up 16 years ago. They laid wreaths and candles near the monument to the 26 people - many of them rescuers - who died in the weeks immediately following the blast." The radioactive cloud from the blast on April 26, 1986 blast spread across Europe. Since then, 15,000-30,000 people have died from the effects of radiation. In coming years, the death toll will climb - nearly six million people still live in contaminated areas. FYI: a single disaster (like a tunnel fire) involving spent fuel rods being shipped to Yucca Mountain, would eclipse Chernobyl (see http://democrats.com/view.cfm?id=6439 )

Bu$h Shorts Nuclear Security Funding But Gives Billions for Flawed Missile Defense
nuclear energy

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, says "The administration has requested almost $8 billion for missile defense, which won't do anything to prevent suicidal terrorists from attacking nuclear facilities and blowing up dirty bombs or homemade nuclear weapons. But when the Department of Energy finally admits that security is not what it should be, the Office of Management and Budget refuses to help." Among critical shortcomings being ignored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission are not knowing the number or nationality of foreign employees, not knowing the amount spent on security or number of security guards and more. Read the synopsis of critical shortcomings at: http://www.house.gov/markey/iss_nuclear_pr020325.pdf

Gov. Jim Hodges Will Do 'Whatever it Takes' to Stop Bush from Foisting Weapons-Grade Plutonium on SC!
nuclear energy

South Carolina, Gov. Jim Hodges ordered a practice drill today, consisting of about three dozen state troopers and transport police officers, in preparation to block shipments of weapons-grade plutonium from entering the state in mid May. Bush's Department of Energy has ordered that the plutonium be transported from Colorado to South Carolina starting as soon as May 15th, but has thus far refused to sign a written agreement with the state regarding how long the plutonium will be stored there. Hodges has threatened to lie down in the road if necessary to block the shipments unless the Energy Department signs an agreement that the plutonium won't stay in the state. Lots of luck, Governor!

Fort Sumter II: US May Go to War with South Carolina over Plutonium
nuclear energy

141 years ago, the Civil War began with a battle at Fort Sumter, SC. Now a new battle is brewing between the Federal government and South Carolina over the transport of plutonium, the deadliest man-made product of the nuclear age. Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham notified Gov. Jim Hodges (D) that the Feds will begin shipping 34 metric tons of plutonium into SC in May, over the firm objections of the state. Hodges says he'll have state troopers stop the shipments at the border. The central issue is Abraham's promise to process the plutonium into reactor fuel. Hodges wants more than promises, saying "The federal government is asking us to take them at their word. Given their track record, that's just not good enough." You said it, Jim - just ask Nevada Gov. Kenny Guinn (R) about Yucca Mountain! When it comes to Nukes, Oil - and stealing elections - Bush's Federalist Society administration sees no limits to Federal power.

US Nuclear Reactors Face Shutdown for Shockingly Rapid Corrosion That Could Cause a Catastrophic Meltdown
nuclear energy

According to the NY Times, the NRC has discovered "that acid in cooling water had eaten a hole nearly all the way through the six-inch-thick lid of a reactor at a plant in Ohio. The corrosion left only a stainless-steel liner less than a half-inch thick to hold in cooling water under more than 2,200 pounds of pressure per square inch. At the 25-year-old Ohio plant, Davis-Besse, near Toledo, the stainless steel was bent by the pressure and would have broken if corrosion had continued [and caused a meltdown!], according to the [NRC], where officials were surprised by the discovery. They said they had never seen so much corrosion in a reactor vessel. The [NRC] has ordered all 68 other plants of similar design - pressurized-water reactors - to check their lids. The commission is particularly worried about a dozen of the oldest plants and ordered them to report by early April whether they were safe enough to keep in service." Stay tuned for a possible nuclear industry meltdown...

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Admits NOT ONE of America's 103 Nuke Plants Could Withstand Impact of a Commercial Airplane
nuclear energy

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: "Government regulators have acknowledged for the first time that none of the 103 operating nuclear reactors in the United States could withstand the impact of an airliner like those that crashed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon. The agency acknowledged that critical systems that provide cooling, electricity and storage of spent nuclear fuel are mostly in nonhardened buildings that could not withstand a Sept. 11-type attack. The revelations were included in a report made available by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), based on responses to his queries from NRC Chairman Richard Meserve. Markey, a frequent critic of the NRC, said the agency's acknowledgement shows that additional steps need to be taken to improve nuclear plant safety." Since 9/11 Bush has failed, despite repeated requests, to provide ANY addition security to nuke plants - yet he claims U.S. safety motivates all his moves. Yeah, right!

Playing with Nuclear Fire: Bush Turns Blind Eye to Number One Threat On American Soil
nuclear energy

After September 11, new NRC chairman Richard Meserve tried to get the commission to call out the National Guard and air defenses to protect reactors and upgrade all security regulations, especially those focused on spent fuel pools. Despite his strongly worded warnings, not one change has been made. A bill proposed by Senators Harry Reid, Hillary Clinton, Jim Jeffords, Joe Lieberman, and Congressman Ed Markey that would have required the NRC to improve security has been blocked by industry lobbyists. We don't need more security, the terrorism-enablers at the Nuclear Energy Institute now tell us, because Chernobyl wasn't all that bad after all! Meanwhile, Bush continues to ignore the very real threat of nuclear disaster here at home while pursuing much vaguer "evil ones" abroad.

DOE Snubbed Opponents of Yucca Mountain Nuclear Storage Site
nuclear energy

Just-released Department of Energy documents show that, during the DOE's deliberations over designating Nevada's Yucca Mountain a nuclear waste storage site, Spencer Abraham met WAY more often with nuclear industry representatives than opponents. These reps obviously support the Yucca plan. "It's pretty evident what was going on here," said Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV). "The administration had a pro-Yucca inclination from the beginning, and the people they met with were all pro-Yucca supporters and they threw in a meeting with the governor." How much more evidence do the American people need before crying out for impeachment? Shrub is prostituting the government to his biggest corporate campaign contributors at the expense of all else - even public safety and health.

Six Months After Sept. 11th, Nuclear Plants Are Still Vulnerable
nuclear energy

Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) released a report pointing out that despite evidence proving they were targeted by Al Qaeda, our 103 nuclear power plants have made few countermeasures to ensure their safety. Accusing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission of being just a little too cozy with the industry, Markey noted that underpaid, undertrained guards and unprotected spent fuel are just a couple of the risk factors that make us all vulnerable to a disastrous attack on one of these plants. Markey isn't the first to have noticed these problems. Ever since September 11th, critics have called for more stringent safety measures at nuclear plants, but Shrub's administration has blithely ignored them. Makes you wonder how much money the nuclear industry has donated to Shrub to make him look the other way and put us all at risk of Chernobyl USA.

What's More Important: Tourism or the Potential of Nuclear Meltdown?
nuclear energy

Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn (R) is fighting tooth and nail to stop Bush's plan to send nuclear waste to Yucca mountain. He wants to convene a special session of his legislature to seek $10 million in emergency funds to run advertisements all over the country to point out that transporting waste to Nevada poses a danger to everyone, not just Nevadans. If Guinn can rouse enough people to urge their Senators to vote against the plan, Congress could kill it. Unfortunately, a Republican State Senator is throwing a wrench in Guinn's way, fearing the ad campaign will discourage tourism. Repugnicant Ray Rawson cares a lot more about tourists' dollars than he does the health and safety of his constituents. Hey Ray, are you too clueless to realize that nuclear accidents are bad for business?

Only One Nuke Corp Gets Green Light by Bush/Cheney Energy Plan and - Surprise! - It's one of the Biggest GOP Donors
nuclear energy

Welcome to the Bush/Cheney energy sweepstakes! The catch is, the only winners are Bush campaign donors: The more they gave, the more they're getting - all at taxpayer expense. One of the big winners is Exelon, which has showered the GOP with hundreds of thousands of dollars in the past few years. So Bush has decided to go with pebble bed nukes. Gee, why pebble bed? According to a NYT report: "Exelon, the nation's largest nuclear energy company, is the only American corporation developing a design for the pebble-bed reactor, which it says will lead to a new generation of cheaper, smaller and more efficient nuclear reactors. The company says the pebble-bed reactor will be safer, too, though environmentalists in the United States and in other countries have sharply disputed this, calling the pebble-bed reactor a failed system vulnerable to terrorist attack."

Tests of Nuclear Dry Casks Reveal Tunnel Fires or Terrorist Attacks Could Trigger 'Mobile Chernobyl'
nuclear energy

Bush's spokespeople in the nuke industry, like Jack Edlow of Edlow International (which is in the business of transporting nuclear wastes) are currently on the "expert opinion" circuit, hoping to convince Americans that transporting nuclear wastes to Yucca mountain, even through urban areas and tunnels, is safe. But a report by Radioactive Waste Management Associates begs to differ! A study by RWMA after the Baltimore tunnel fire last July concludes that if the train involved had been carrying casks of spent nuclear fuel, the casks would have failed in the intense heat, exposing tens of thousands of people to acute radiation and costing billions in cleanup. Another series of tests at Aberdeen Proving ground showed the casks are vulnerable to the sort of weaponry a well-armed terrorist might use. And 60 million Americans will have spent-fuel laden trains passing within one mile of their homes if Bush gets his way. Read the whole RWMA report at http://www.state.nv.us/nucwaste/news2001/nn11459.htm

Nuking the Atmosphere: What The Bush Administration ISN'T Telling the Public about Nuclear Energy
nuclear energy

"The argument that nuclear power plants don't produce greenhouse gasses is one of the theories upon which the National Energy Policy rests. But creating nuclear energy is a five-step process. At every other step in the process, pollution is emitted -- including substantial amounts of greenhouse gases. Uranium, the fuel base of nuclear power, must be mined, milled, converted, enriched, packaged, sent to reactors and split to produce the heat and steam that generate electricity. The uranium enrichment process generates greenhouse gases galore. 'It requires a tremendous amount of electricity,' explains Elizabeth Stuckle, a spokeswoman at the US Enrichment Corporation. To get that electricity, she says, 'we are having to rely on fossil fuels.'"

Bush's Top Energy Advisors Are Nuclear Energy Barons Who Were Determined to Ram Yucca Mountain Down Nevada's Throat
nuclear energy

Bush's money ties to the nuclear industry are deep and incestuously intertwining. Not only did Bush receive the most money from the industry of all candidates in 1999-2000 - a whopping $290,000 total, he rewarded his buddies by appointing them to top posts as advisors on energy policy. Among those Bush gets his "advice" from: Joe Colvin, president and chief executive officer of the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the industry's leading advocacy and lobby group; and J. Bennett Johnston, the former Louisiana senator who authored the 1987 "Screw Nevada" bill that designated Nevada as the only state to be considered as a nuclear dumping ground. Here's an earlier article from the Las Vegas Sun that proves just what the good citizens of Nevada are up against - a wall of corporate collusion.

Conservatives Should Let the 'Free Market' - Not Government Subsidies - Determine the Future of Nuclear Power
nuclear energy

Imagine if one of those "suicide" airplanes had struck a nuclear power plant. Instead of 5,000 dead we could have had 100,000 dead. We don't need any more nuclear power plants; the government has yet to find a place where they can dump the nuclear waste that has accumulated over the past 30 years. The "free market" would have stopped nuclear power, except for massive direct and indirect government subsidies supported by Republicans. The biggest indirect subsidy is the Price-Anderson Act, which artificially limits the liability of nuclear power plants. Urge Congress not to renew the Price-Anderson Act - sign the petition.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission Admits Vulnerability of Nuclear Power Plants
nuclear energy

"For the first time, the [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] acknowledged that containment domes around the plants could not withstand the impact of a commercial jetliner... The agency is considering a call from the Nuclear Control Institute... to install anti-aircraft weapons and a permanent military presence at all 103 nuclear power plants... In a sharp break with past assertions, the NRC [said] the concrete containment buildings housing nuclear reactors 'did not specifically contemplate attacks by aircraft such as Boeing 757s or 767s, and nuclear power plants were not designed to withstand such crashes'... 'I am stunned at the amount of damage that could happen if there were an attack on Indian Point,' said Marilyn Elie, head of Westchester Citizens Awareness Network, which has sought to close Indian Point. 'It is out of the scope of anything anyone in this neighborhood has considered.'"

Nuclear Plant Safety Must Be Drastically Improved - NOW
nuclear energy

The Nuclear Control Institute and Committee to Bridge the Gap have called upon the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take action immediately to protect nuclear power plants. They called for "immediate use of National Guard troops to deter attacks from land and water, prompt deployment of advanced anti-aircraft weapons to defeat suicidal attacks from the air, and a thorough re-vetting of all plant employees and contractors to protect against sabotage by insiders." According to CBG's Daniel Hirsch, "The vulnerabilities at these plants can and must be closed, now. The American people have a right to know the dangers and to demand the prompt corrective actions that we propose to protect nuclear power plants from terrorist attacks and the unthinkable consequences that could follow." The NRC has largely ignored these groups for nearly two decades, but it must respond now.

We Must Immediately Address the Vulnerability of Nuclear Power Plants
nuclear energy

In The Nation, Matt Bivens asks, "What happens if a suicide bomber drives a jumbo jet into one of America's 103 nuclear power reactors? What happens if a fire fed by thousands of tons of jet fuel roars through a reactor complex--or, worse, through the enormous and barely-protected containment pools of spent nuclear fuel found at every such plant?" These are horrendous questions that no one in the nuclear industry wants to address, but now they must do so - and the answer is clear. We must replace the Bush-Cheney pro-nuclear energy plan with an emergency national mobilization to conserve energy, switch to alternative fuels, and shut down nuclear power plants. And we must start NOW.

As Bush Administration Rushes to Revive Nuclear Power, the NRC Ignores Deadly Defect Affecting 2/3 of All U.S. Reactors
nuclear energy

The Union of Concerned Scientists is appalled by the cavalier attitude the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has toward public safety. Writes USC: "For 10 years the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ignored a deterioration problem that affects the reactor vessels of two-thirds of the nation's nuclear power plants. While France and Japan moved swiftly to correct the problem in their plants after it first surfaced in 1991, the NRC has rejected efforts to replace the equipment in US plants, even though the problem emerged this spring at a nuclear plant in South Carolina." Even now, despite the new push toward reviving nuclear power in the U.S. on a large scale, this potentially disastrous problem is STILL being ignored.

Ex-Spooks and Militarists Want to Ship 10,000 Tons of Radioactive Garbage to Russia - Head for the Fallout Shelters!
nuclear energy

Investigative reporter Greg Palast writes: "Here's a hot idea: Why don't we send 10,000 tons of high level uranium waste to Russia? You'd rather not? Not until you buy your lead suit? OK then, how about we send 10,000 tons of radioactive garbage to Russia AND throw in $15 billion for Vladimir Putin. For the cash, Putin must solemnly promise to store the potential bomb-making material safely and not let any of it slip into the hands of the Iranians or the IRA. Just when I thought the Bush Administration had adopted every crack-brained idea that could threaten Mother Earth, along comes another."

Nuclear Dump Law Firm Had Fatal Conflict of Interest
nuclear energy

According to Matthew Wald of the NY Times, "The law firm hired to advise the Energy Department on how to open a nuclear- waste dump at Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas, was simultaneously lobbying Congress and the administration on behalf of the nuclear power industry about crucial decisions involving the project. Critics call this a conflict and say it casts doubt on years of legal and technical work at Yucca Mountain, where the government has spent $4.5 billion so far to determine whether the site is suitable to isolate wastes for millenniums to come. The law firm, Winston & Strawn, was being paid by the Energy Department and one of its contractors to help determine if the site was suitable, while also taking money from the industry to assure that the site was approved. 'You could make a case that every piece of data since 1992 is tainted,' said Robert R. Loux, the head of the Nevada Nuclear Projects Office."

Bush Administration Fans Nuclear Peril Back to Life Under Conditions of Utter Chaos
nuclear energy

"Under the Bush Administration, the nuclear policies of the United States - and of the world - are in a state of greater confusion than at any time since the weapons were invented. Chaos would not be too strong a word to use." Thus writes "The Nation's" Jonathan Schell in a scary but comprehensive article on Shrub & Corp.'s revival of the nuclear peril the world struggled for decades to reduce. Even the hawkish Reagan saw the need for nuclear disarmament and realized that the MAD policy (mutually assured destruction) of the Cold War era was, indeed, mad.

Daschle Says Nevada Nuclear Waste Dump is Dead
nuclear energy

Speaking of the plan to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain in NV, Senator Tom Daschle said, "As long as we're in the majority, it's dead." The Energy Department, under nuclear power hawk Spencer Abraham, will recommend next year whether to open the long-studied site in 2010. If it opens, deadly waste will cross the country to be buried there.

Another Study You'll Never See in U.S. Under Bush-Energy Moguls Regime
nuclear energy

In coming months, the Bush-Cheney-Energy Mogul regime will try to ram scores of new power plants down America's throat, including nuclear reactors. So, it isn't likely U.S. readers will see many studies like this one from England, which reveals the dramatic increase in cancer deaths in people living near nuclear power plants. Worse yet, America's plants have a safety record that is far worse than England's!