What would you rather do, spend billions of dollars to build a new nuclear power plant and deal with its radioactive waste for thousands of years or install double pane or triple pane windows and extra insulation in order to save money and power during your lifetime?
Energy and Efficiency Conservation Expert Elizabeth Chant joined Fairewinds Energy Education chief engineer Arnie Gundersen, to inform Fairewinds’ viewers of A Cheaper Way to Save. Employed as a principle consultant for Vermont Energy Investment Corporation (VEIC) for 20 years, Elizabeth Chant helps Fairewinds viewers understand how energy efficiency coupled with investment incentives can help to change the energy paradigm around the US. VEIC’s mission of reducing energy costs for consumers, particularly low-income consumers and the entities that help them, has not changed since its inception 30-years ago.
Utilities are realizing that they need to shift their energy efficiency focus from commercial businesses and remodeling high end homes to low income groups and our country’s stock of older buildings and houses.
Elizabeth noted that conservation is an attitude: It’s turning off all the lights before leaving the home. Meanwhile, energy efficiency is making sure you invest in smart energy using devices, like energy smart washers and dryers. Choosing to rehab an older home with double or triple pane windows is a cheaper way to save on energy costs in the long run that lasts for years to come. As Elizabeth lays it all out for us, we also learn that being energy efficient creates more green jobs and why conservation of energy is a smart national trend.
– Book of the Month
A Bluish White Light by Yasunaga Tatsumi and Sato Yutei
The Fairewinds office was honored to receive a copy of A Bluish White Light as a gift from co-author Yasunaga Tatsumi. These powerful short poems are written in the classical Japanese style of “tanka”, a major genre of Japanese literature. Sato Yutei, author and farmer of the Fukushima Prefect, started writing tanka poems during the early operation of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in the 1980s. By 1988, Yutei foretells a chilling end to farming in the region and advises his son to leave the family business behind and pursue a different life path. Years go by, radiation leaks from the reactor and neighbors get sick, and die from poisoning. A voice like those of so many living in the radioactive shadow of a nuclear plant, Yutei’s tanka style like a personal diary takes us through the decades leading up to Fukushima’s meltdown capturing the uncertainty and vulnerability of the Japanese people whose lives already greatly affected by nuclear in the 1940s are hit once again with the nuclear disaster of March 11, 2011.
Fairewinds in the News:
ENENews has cited Fairewinds Energy Education’s video on Nuclear Containment Risks as a source to learn about the total gaseous and liquid radioactive releases from the Fukushima Daiichi meltdown. Data shows that the radiation release far exceeds that of the meltdown at Chernobyl. Check out the video on our site.
John Herrick at VT Digger interviewed Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen about the recent discovery of Strontium-90, a cancer-causing radioactive contaminant, detected from 21 monitoring wells on the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant site. Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen said that this is neither a new leak nor a risk to the public however. Strontium 90 is directly linked to bone cancers and leukemia and has been detected in fish bones in the Connecticut River that runs next to the plant. Gundersen points out the potential issues this discovery will have on decommissioning Vermont Yankee by citing the 1996 shutdown and decommissioning cost overruns at nuclear site the Connecticut Yankee nuclear plant when and the strontium found there that was discovered entering the water table and costing ratepayers an additional billion dollars to clean up. Although Vermont authorities do not know where the Strontium-90 leak specifically occurred, the assumption is that the numerous identified spills and leaks of radioactive contaminants during its operating life are to blame.
Once again, Dave Lochbaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project for the Union of Concerned Scientists, brings us great insight into the evaluations and procedures used by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to form nuclear safety regulations.
In Accident Sequence Precursors for Nuclear Reactors, Lochbaum poses a NAQ (Never Asked Question):
How does the NRC determine which events become accident sequence precursors?
Why does the NRC determine which events become accident sequence precursors?
The NRC defines an Accident Sequence Precursor (ASP) as “an observed event and/or condition at a plant, when combined with one or more postulated events (e.g., equipment failures, human errors), could result in core damage.” Out of 458 potential ASPs, the NRC found only 17 ‘official ASPs’, that’s less than 4% of all ASP candidates. Ultimately, it appears that the only reason ASPs exist to determine what events and conditions can be presented to Congress as “abnormal occurrences” in the NRC’s annual report.
Identifying and measuring isotopes are a means for geologists to discover significant changes in time on Earth. An isotope consists of two or more atoms of the same element that have the same number of protons but a different number of neutrons. The February 10 issue of Scientific American explores the geological marker for the Anthropocene era: our era. With no known natural sources of Cesium 137, the exact marker of our geological footprint started in the New Mexico desert when the first atomic bomb was exploded July 16, 1945 at 5:29am. This atomic bomb created the first radioactive isotopic marker of “man”. With the subsequent atomic arms race going off like a bomb (pun intended), hundreds of detonations around the world created plenty of Cesium 137, Plutonium 239 and 240 isotopes marking our planet and with the Anthropocene era for years and years…and years to come. “Like the meteorite that helped end the Cretaceous period about 65 million years ago, and possibly the reign of the dinosaurs as well, the nuclear detonation may mark for future geologists a turning point in Earth's history.”
Less emergency personnel will be available to monitor the shutdown Vermont Yankee Nuclear site now that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Entergy’s request to reduce emergency personnel from 13 people to only 5. Entergy is also asking the NRC for approval to remove another 26 positions from its emergency response team as well as a heavy reduction of responsibility for its off-site emergency planning. The NRC claims that their staff reduction approval is in line with other permanently shutdown U.S. nuclear power plants – only five people in case of a security threat; a fuel handling accident; an aircraft threat; a fire; or the release of radioactive materials.
According to the Economist, in an article entitled Mission Impossible, utility owner Tokyo Electric Power Company continues to mismanage the decommissioning and cleanup of the disastrous Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown site, thanks to repeated financial bailouts of the Japanese government. In the history of mankind, there has never been an industrial accident of the magnitude of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdown, and its engineers and laborers struggle to implement working solutions. TEPCO still lacks development of a robot to extract fuel. As water is pumped into reactors to keep melted uranium cool, the purification system, known as “Seven Samurai”, fights to keep up with the flow of tons of radioactively contaminated water. Ultimately, TEPCO plans to dump this highly toxic water into the Pacific Ocean. In the meantime, TEPCO is attempting to build a $272M ice wall, an untried engineering feat, around the four damaged reactors to protect ground water by digging moats and filling them with coolant. This ice wall may or may not be summer proof or earthquake safe. Meanwhile, an army of workers with shovels, mechanical diggers, and Geiger counters are skimming the Fukushima prefecture soil in an attempt to make the land safe for the 71,000 nuclear refugees to eventually return home. This is a task that will not be completed for years. The duration and overall costs for TEPCO’s cleanup of the triple meltdown are as unknown and fantastical as their radical methods.