Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Nuclear Leaks 17: American Radiation Risks

Image Source: GoogleMaps via Common Dreams.

Common Dreams has a piece on the Natural Resources Defense Council's assessment of potential areas of fallout risk in North America around American nuclear power plants. The NRDC allows users to enter their zip code (here) to call up a Fukushima-like projection around their nearest plant.

It is the kind of thing that frightens people, but then again, the news out of the nuclear power industry is not very encouraging these days. Alarmist Preppers claim that North America is being hit with vast amounts of fallout, which they insist is being covered up by the government and mainstream media.  On the other hand, they confront the remarkable counter-factual logic of those who still think that nuclear energy will reduce humanity's carbon footprint. On 20 March 2012, Olivia Fermi argued for the Vancouver Observer that, "Nuclear energy [is] still looking good for climate change reduction post-Fukushima." One commenter thanked Olivia for championing, "clean nuclear energy."

That is not the line taken by Common Dreams, whose author focuses on conditions at American plants:
In the one year since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began, the Nuclear Regulator[y] Commission (NRC) has failed to enact any safety mandate for U.S. reactors, an oversight the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says is making 120 million Americans at an increased risk of radioactive impacts. The group's new U.S. nuclear fallout map shows the risk factors associated with the nation's plants and the radioactive plumes that would have occurred had an area been hit with a Fukushima-like disaster.
The NRC is criticized for its domestic nuclear management. This is the Website of the branch of the US Environmental Protection Agency that deals with nuclear emergency responses and radiation data testing. According to the NRDC, the following American nuclear plants had emergency shutdowns in 2011:
I have an earlier post, here, about a leak at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Plant in Mississippi in 2011. There were further problems at Grand Gulf in February 2012. The NRC recently penalized Fort Calhoun, Turkey Point, Florida and Catawba, South Carolina plants for violations. In March 2012, the NRC granted construction approval for two new nuclear plants in South Carolina. And on 10 April 2012, a report circulated on the Web that the US Military was stocking up on Potassium Iodide tablets to protect troops from radioactive fallout.

Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant (2002). Image Source: Wiki.
Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant during flooding (2011). Image Source: The Nation.

The Fort Calhoun incident listed above may have been more serious than initially reported. This comes from an unconfirmed Russian source via the Pakistani English paper, The Nation. The Nation reports that the Fort Calhoun incident actually was a serious Level 4 accident on the International Nuclear Event Scale and that it has been covered up by the current American administration (again, the tone and wording suggests biased or unconfirmed sources; typos are from the original piece):
A shocking report prepared by Russias Federal Atomic Energy Agency (FAAE) on information provided to them by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) states that the Obama regime has ordered a total and complete news blackout relating to any information regarding the near catastrophic meltdown of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant located in Nebraska.

According to this report, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant suffered a catastrophic loss of cooling to one of its idle spent fuel rod pools on 7 June after this plant was deluged with water caused by the historic flooding of the Missouri River which resulted in a fire causing the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to issue a no-fly ban over the area.

Located about 20 minutes outside downtown Omaha, the largest city in Nebraska, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant is owned by Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) who on their website denies their plant is at a Level 4 emergency by stating: This terminology is not accurate, and is not how emergencies at nuclear power plants are classified.

Russian atomic scientists in this FAAE report, however, say that this OPPD statement is an outright falsehood as all nuclear plants in the world operate under the guidelines of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) which clearly states the events occurring at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant do, indeed, put it in the Level 4 emergency category of an accident with local consequences thus making this one of the worst nuclear accidents in US history.

Though this report confirms independent readings in the United States of negligible release of nuclear gasses related to this accident it warns that by the Obama regimes censoring of this event for political purposes it risks a serious blowback from the American public should they gain knowledge of this being hidden from them.

Interesting to note about this event was the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chief, Gregory B. Jaczko, blasting the Obama regime just days before the near meltdown of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant by declaring that the policy of not enforcing most fire code violations at dozens of nuclear plants is unacceptable and has tied the hands of NRC inspectors.
Other reports on the 7 June 2011 fire, the leak, the closure of airspace and the potential seriousness of the incident in Nebraska are here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists criticized the press for poor handling of this incident.

The Savannah River Site, where strange webs are growing on nuclear waste. Image Source: Daily Mail.

In February 2012, mysterious white string-like things began growing on waste uranium rods at the Savannah River Nuclear Facility in South Carolina, which is run by the US Department of Energy. The material has never before been seen on nuclear waste. This raises the question whether an organism has evolved to live in spite of the radiation. From the Daily Mail:
A report filed by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board - a federal oversight panel - concluded: ‘The growth, which resembles a spider web, has yet to be characterised, but may be biological in nature.’ ... The report said the initial sample of the growth was too small to characterise, and that ‘further evaluation still needs to be completed’. ...

Experts say that any creature inside in the pools of water - which are intended to protect workers - would have been exposed to the nuclear fuel.

This raises the prospect of a creature having morphed into a new species of 'extremophile' after being exposed to uranium.

Organisms with a natural resistance to radiation are said to be 'radioresistant,' and do exist. Deinococcus radiodurans is one of the most naturally radioresistant organisms on Earth and has been genetically engineered so that that it can be used in the treatment of radioactive waste. ...

The water in the spent fuel pools is maintained at a certain pH and temperature. If micro organisms enter into the pool they may have a chance to live. The radiation field near a spent fuel assembly is very large and will definitely disturb the normal life cycle of the micro-organisms. ... The growth was found on fuel stored in a compound with three-foot-thick concrete walls and pools that ranged from 17 to 30 f[ee]t deep.
"The white 'string-like' material - never seen before on nuclear waste - was found among thousands of spent fuel assemblies submerged in deep pools." Image Source: Daily Mail.

On 19 March 2012, several thousand gallons of radioactive Tritium-laced water leaked from the Limerick Nuclear Plant into a Philadelphia drinking water source. Locals are trying to find out why it happened. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) held a town meeting on 18 April 2012 to discuss it at the local township municipal building near the plant. On the same day, a well in New Jersey (Willingboro Township, Burlington County, a suburb of Philadelphia) was shut down because it contained high levels of possibly-related radiation.

Limerick Generating Station, site of leaks in March 2012, Pottstown, Pennsylvania. Image Source: Pottstown Patch.

Meanwhile in April 2012, unusual wear appeared on steam generator tubes at both of the San Onofre Nuclear Plant’s reactor units in California. The plant is shut down for repairs. The U-T San Diego pointed to the fact that 1980s' era generator tubes were replaced in 2009-2010 with units manufactured by Mitsubishi in Japan. Apparently the new tubes do not fit correctly. On 21 April, there was an electrical fire at the plant which burned for over 40 minutes. The fire was extinguished by the plant's own fire department and its cause is unknown (reports here and here).

Redesign and repair problems at San Onofre Nuclear Plant, southern California. Image Source: U-T San Diego.

Also in California, the L.A. Daily News reported on 7 April 2012 (here) that there is talk that a casino might be built on the site of a little-reported nuclear reactor meltdown; the disaster was "up to 240 times" worse than Three Mile Island and occurred in July and August of 1959, 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles in the Simi Hills. 13 fuel rods melted down with no containment vessel. You can see a video about the meltdown at the Santa Susana reactor, here. There was also a waste fire there in 1971. At present, Cesium-137 is up to 1,000 times the standard levels at this location (see a report on radiation levels, here). Celebrated anti-corporate activist Erin Brokovich is investigating high rates of cancer in the area.
The NRC page which documents nuclear incidents of all kinds within the United States for 2012 is in their electronic reading room, here (click on the dates to see nationwide incidents for each day). This site catalogues any operational problems at US nuclear plants as well as related issues, such as failed drug tests by contract staff who work in nuclear facilities and improper disposal of radioactive materials.

Of course, radiation incidents do not just involve nuclear plants. They include thefts of radioactive material from hospitals or research institutions; or shipments of items with radioactive material in them, which do not arrive at their destinations. The site also lists any problems encountered in the administration of radioactive medicines. In one example from 31 January 2012, someone was buried in Warren, Michigan with a Plutonium pacemaker: "There is no planned action to recover the pacemaker from the buried patient. THIS MATERIAL EVENT CONTAINS A "CATEGORY 3" LEVEL OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL. Category 3 sources, if not safely managed or securely protected, could cause permanent injury to a person who handled them, or were otherwise in contact with them, for some hours. It could possibly - although it is unlikely - be fatal to be close to this amount of unshielded radioactive material for a period of days to weeks." When it comes to radiation, the devil is in the details.

See all my posts on Nuclear topics.

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