Why Do We Build Nuclear Power Plants In Stupid Places?
Hazardous Facilities In Hazardous
Locations Are An Undeniable Threat To All
NewsFocus.org, Op-Ed by Tim Watts - 031611
For years, activists and anti-nuclear advocates alike have
decried the ominous threat that nuclear power plants hold for society. Those
groups were labeled as kooks and alarmists by the big money powers that
personally benefit from the proliferation of nuclear energy. If you didn't get
the message before from Three-Mile Island, or the Chernobyl disaster, it would
seem that now after the Japanese disaster the truth is undeniably in front of
us; nuclear power is a serious threat to life as we know it on planet earth.
This is news only for those that never bothered to listen to the
so-called kooks and alarmists. Only now do those who have had their heads
in the sand for so long finally see the light, but it could be too late. With
six reactors failed and in the process of meltdown, the Honshu earthquakes now
stand as the worst disaster to threaten the earth. This isn't just a disaster
for the island nation of Japan, but for the entire world.
Not only is the risk of radiation contamination a dangerous
reality from blowing winds, but also from the high altitude jet-stream which can
carry radioactive dust across whole continents, threatening vast populations
with deadly airborne particulate and toxic nuclear rain. The biggest threat
being missed by the media to date is the poisoning of the entire Pacific Ocean,
and all life within it. This affects the food source for many, and seriously
jeopardizes the fishing industry. How can anyone possibly eat fish anymore in
All around the Pacific rim, those countries that rely on fishing
as an industry and food source are now in deep trouble. It isn't just the
Pacific, as eventually the radioactive contamination will makes its way around
the world. This is a disaster of epic proportions. Many have not yet realized
the totality of this awful event, but they soon will. And when they do realize
what they've lost, they are are going to demand answers.
The one answer that many will seek, how could we have been so
stupid to place such dangerous reactors in such critical locations that endanger
all those around them?
Sadly there will be some who defend nuclear power, claiming that
the reactors would have been safe had it not been for the tsunami, but they
would be remiss in failing to recognize that there is no safe place on the
earth when it comes to mother nature. Whether it be a category five tornado,
hurricane, or earthquake, there is always the possibility for disaster. So why
then did man tempt his own fate by building these nuclear threats in such
precarious locations, earthquake fault lines and waterways?
For anyone to think that a tsunami is a big surprise for an
earthquake prone island surrounded by an ocean is absolute ignorance at its
highest. Are we that stupid?
Japan is certainly not the only bad idea for nuclear power. One
only has to look as far as the U.S. to find many reactors built on top of
dangerous tectonic fault lines. When you know full well the repercussions of a
nuclear meltdown, why in the world would anyone build a reactor on top of a
fault line, let alone a major waterway that has the potential to affect so many?
It is absolute madness, but hey, I guess for some hindsight is always 20-20.
Intuitive foresight is lost reason for them.
California, the land of earthquakes, has two nuclear reactors
built near fault lines, Diablo Canyon and San Onofre. The alarming prospect is
Diablo Canyon plant was only designed with a maximum stress level of 7.5.
San Onofre plant, built between the major metropolitan areas of San Diego
and Los Angeles, has a maximum stress level of only 7.0. Again, all of this in
prime earthquake country.
To top it all off, the San Onofre facility is very near the
ocean, but plant operators like to boast of its 25 foot tall concrete tsunami
wall. Someone needs to remind them that the Japan tsunami was 33 feet tall.
It's bad enough that the Fukushima reactors were only built to
withstand a 7.9 quake, but the California situation borders on pure insanity, if
not criminal negligence.
And then you have arguably the most dangerous reactor in America,
Hanford reactor, originally built during WWII, it has had numerous issues
over the years, one of which is contaminating the ground water and the Columbia
River with radioactive coolant discharge. This facility has eight reactors
and is a serious threat to the U.S., should the Pacific Northwest ever have a
devastating earthquake. The jet-stream there would take radioactive particulate
across the U.S. and southern Canada very quickly.
And then we have potentially the most dangerous earthquake fault
in America, the New Madrid fault in southern Missouri and southeast U.S. There
are no less than 15 nuclear reactors built within this dangerous quake zone.
These are not the only reactors at risk for earthquakes in the
U.S. (see map)
See more updated maps below this article.
Are you starting to see the error in foresight here? Not only are
they dealing with dangerous, threatening technology to begin with, they have
then placed these reactors in some of the most precarious and dangerous spots that anyone
in their right mind could ever possibly think of.
This is only the beginning of the myopia in nuclear design. Most
nuclear reactors are built near large rivers or public waterways, where the
threat of contamination can spread easily to areas outside the reactor zone.
Three mile Island is just one of many. In Iowa, they only have one nuclear
reactor, the Duane Arnold Energy Center, but it is built upstream on the Cedar
River, just a few miles north of Cedar Rapids, one of Iowa's largest cities.
That same river also runs through a major college town just scant miles south in
Iowa City. This plant also just so happens to dump its cooling water just
hundreds of yards upstream from the public boat launch at the local park there.
Where was the foresight in that reactor location?
And speaking of the Duane Arnold reactor, this reporter used to
be a broadcaster in Cedar Rapids in the early 80s. I had a good friend who was a
welder there. He told me that he had worked on the Duane Arnold plant and that
it was not a safe facility. When asked why, he told me matter of factly
that they had run out of the proper brazing rods during construction, and were
told to use an improper substitute in order to keep the construction on
schedule. With that in mind, Iowa is not historically quake territory, however,
it is big tornado country. An ominous threat if ever there was one.
So who is responsible for such lapses in common sense and
foresight with our nuclear plant construction? Well, you have to look at the
facility owners, plus the Atomic
Regulatory Agency (AEC), but some culpability also has to go to the
manufacture of these facilities who profit tremendously. Many of the reactors
around the world are built by General Electric (GE) and Westinghouse. The Japan
Honshu Fukushima reactors were designed and built by GE. Will anyone hold them
accountable for their role in the minimal design and questionable placement of
these ticking time bombs?
After reading this, you might ask why these facilities aren't
built to a higher stress level? One answer... money, good ol' cost and
profit. It's that simple. One of the most dangerous technologies known to man,
with far reaching ramifications for public safety, and it all comes down to
scrimping for a buck. And if their defense is that you can't spend enough to
possibly make these reactors safe from all natural disasters, wouldn't you think
that would be a solid qualifier for not investing in such dangerous technology?
We have gun manufactures and car companies sued as contributing
parties in many wrongful death suits, so when are we going to hold the big
corporations such as GE and Westinghouse rightfully responsible for their roles
in unsafe reactor designs? I suppose the Gulf disaster and the fact that BP got
off scot-free is a bad omen here.
Lastly, one can only hope that after the Japan disaster, people
of the world might re-think their position on the use of nuclear power,
especially when we already have
other power sources
which could easily take the place of this antiquated and dangerous technology.
Hats off to German Chancellor Andrea Merkel for immediately
down seven of Germany's reactors that were built before 1980. Let's hope the
rest of the world can stand up to the big money interests, such as GE and
Westinghouse, and say no more to nuclear power.
The planet will be a much better place for it, but will always
carry the scar of Honshu for
thousands of years to come.
NewsFocus thinks it would be a good precautionary move
for the U.S. to take steps now to prepare its nuclear facilities. Perhaps
shutting them down temporarily before the peak period would be a prudent move. Just sayin'...
Iodide Recalled By Government
There have been media reports that the main reason
U.S. residents cannot find the much sought after potassium iodide is because the
government has recalled it. The reason why is pure speculation at this point.
Until a spokesman from the Obama administration comes forward, we have only two
things that could be reasonably assumed, either they're sending it to Japan, or
else they're saving it in the event of a reactor breach here in the U.S.
If indeed the latter is true, that is cause for
alarm, as it would be an admission that up to this point, state and federal
emergency preparedness around US reactors is lacking, if not inadequate, or
worse, we have had nothing in place to begin with.
And if they're sending it all to Japan, what then if
we have major quakes here, and the Diablo, San Onofre or Indian Point reactors
should become breached? What about those 15 reactors in the New Madrid zone?
Arguably, the best practice in life is to always err
on the side of caution, however, the recall of KI (potassium iodide) at this
time, under these conditions, is understandably bringing more questions for the
public than it has ease and comfort.
The 10 Highest Risk Nuclear Power Plants In The US
Half of U.S. nuclear reactors over 30 years old
Database of active nuclear reactors
NRC fact sheet
Track The US Jet Stream
US Support For Nuclear Power Drops
And Finally, A Word of Warning:
I truly hate to say this, but the
reason to do so has valid precedent...think long and hard
about what you hear from the government on radiation warnings.
they lied to us about the toxic air quality at ground zero
As bad as this is to say, if the
situation is out of their control, they would rather not admit a
powerless situation and would more than likely defer towards
keeping the story under wraps in an effort to maintain an image
of control. They would likely opt for civil order, preferring
instead to deal with the case-by-case ramifications as
they arose. That is, for all intents and purposes, easier for
them to deal with than mass panic.
Again, it's happened before. After
have died, and will continue to die, all because we were lied to
us about the air quality. They willing did so simply because
they wanted to get
Wall Street up and running again. They made a trade off. Lives
for money. And in
the end we all know how Wall Street paid us back for that high
priced favor, they tanked our economy.
Thanks for reading.
Current quakes and US nuclear facilities
US quake activity
and nuclear plants