In Fairewinds’ latest update of the ongoing nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi, Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen presents two reports that confirm the direct link of numerous cancers in Japan to the triple meltdown. Based upon data from Japanese medical professionals and utility owner of the meltdown site, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Arnie concludes that heavy radioactive discharges will be the cause of enormous spikes in cancer in Japan.
TEPCO’s press release confirms the leukemia diagnosis for a TEPCO worker due to his ongoing exposure during the last four years to radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi triple meltdown. Sadly, during the early months of the Fukushima Daiichi emergency, most TEPCO workers did not wear the required dosimeters required to measure each employee’s exposure to radiation, which has made accurate assessment of the radiation doses received by TEPCO employees impossible.
The second report, provided by esteemed Japanese medical professionals, reveals that the incidence of thyroid cancer is approximately 230 times higher than normal in the Fukushima Prefecture. This disturbing number for the people of Japan is solely due to the Fukushima Daiichi disaster and the ongoing radioactivity emanating from the decimated nuclear site.
In this video, Arnie recounts his presentation from 2013 at the New York Academy of Medicine where he forecast continuous radiation releases from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and also the devastating health effects for the Japanese people, despite the chronically underestimated radiation exposure levels propagated by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the Japanese government.
Demystifying Nuclear Power:
November 2015 is an election month at many locations in the United States. Most Americans have seen the slick ads, paid for by the fossil fuel industry, urging voters to demand more and more dirty energy.
Personally, I’d like to see this message stripped of its cynical agenda and appropriated by clean energy advocates.
It goes without saying that we should all be energy voters because the single overarching threat to our future on this crowded planet is due to Climate Change and environmental degradation. All other political debates pale by comparison as the point at which our planet may become largely unable to support mammalian life is approaching ever more rapidly.
As energy voters we should be demanding a shift from dirty energy practices to clean energy technical innovation and efficiency. It is up to each of us to insist that our leaders adopt a fresh perspective on the tired old twentieth-century model of unlimited “growth” that has charted a cancerous course toward inevitable systemic collapse.
For the human race to have any kind of a long-term future, sustainability must replace this irrational meme, and any future growth must be subservient to that non-negotiable master. This is a step we must take for the sake of our children, our grandchildren, and the future descendants our ancestors dreamt of.
Sustainability creates a lot of opportunity for the expansion of reasonable prosperity and comfort, especially because the infrastructure of sustainable living is brimming with job opportunities, and entrepreneurial potential thrives on meeting the challenges posed by systemic limits. A sustainable energy economy would immensely simplify aspects of our lives.
Fossil fuel and nuclear energy corporations depend on creative inertia and a seriously outdated energy distribution model to maintain their political hegemony and to hamstring all efforts to move past outdated energy platforms.
Harnessing clean local energy sources is increasingly met with corporate resistance. As alternatives become more popular, their advancement is identified as a threat to the outdated distribution grid, which dates to a significantly less sophisticated era. Rather than initiate new public works projects that would modernize electrical supply systems, thereby providing skilled employment for a huge workforce, special interests keep redirecting the conversation to how to generate more and more conventional power, disregarding both efficiency and environmental impacts, even though there is no factual data to support their claims, and all in the name of corporate power and profit.
Candidates for President who would have the U.S. fortify its international prestige and influence should ask themselves how that could ever be possible if we are unwilling to lead the world on the most pressing issue of our times: Climate Change.
One of the most neglected aspects of a clean energy agenda in the U.S. is efficiency. While there are some local and statewide efforts that deserve recognition, as the second largest power consumer in the world, the U.S. has no powerful efficiency agenda to counterbalance the growth and consumption agenda that is vigorously promoted by fossil fuel and nuclear energy players through their powerful lobbies.
It’s time for energy voters to insist that candidates present truly clean energy plans that include efficiency strategies and incentives to restrain consumption, create new jobs here in the U.S., and grow the U.S. economy using foresight and creativity.
Fairewinds in the News:
Small Modular Renewables are a green, equitable and promising way to create all the electricity our hungry world demands, according to an interview with Fairewinds’ Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen Right Now, an Australian, volunteer based non-profit media organization focused on human rights issues. Interviewer Reiko Okazaki, an international attorney, published author, and journalist, has interviewed numerous human rights activists including Noam Chomsky. Ms. Okazaki also is a co-author with Arnie and Maggie Gundersen of the Japanese best-selling book Fukushima Daiichi: The Truth and The Way Forward.
Australia currently relies heavily on the profits earned from the mining and export of minerals, including coal and uranium. By explaining how extraction economies generally operate at very low profit margins, typically afflicting impoverished areas with low paying salaries and long-term health consequences, Arnie and Reiko discuss how and why vibrant economies are not based solely on resource extraction, but rather are knowledge-based and adaptable to economic changes as technology advances. With climate change a pressing issue, Reiko asks Arnie, “What mix of energy sources would be appropriate for the immediate future, in order to reduce CO2 emissions and support peak demand?” Because nuclear reactors take decades to build and billions of dollars before they produce electricity, Arnie makes an emphatic push for governments to invest in renewables now.
“Global climate change and CO2 buildup will not take a vacation while those new nukes are being built, and dollar for dollar, renewables will be a much cheaper solution as they also help to reduce problematic increases in CO2,” he said, clearly making another crucial argument for renewable energy as an incredible possibility for wide spread social change.
“You build power plants near water because you have to cool them and you build nuclear waste storage sites away from water because of the threat of radioactive materials reaching it,” Fairewinds’ Arnie Gundersen said in the New York Times AP story by David Gram following the fight by the State of Vermont to hold the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) accountable for complete regulation of the nuclear industry. Instead of protecting public health, as it is required to do by federal law [The Code of Federal Regulations], the NRC continues to grant exemptions to nuclear plants nationwide allowing them to violate NRC rules and take money from decommissioning trust funds to build waste storage on-site as reactors like Vermont Yankee only begin the lengthy decommissioning process.
Vermont’s ratepayers provided the money for Vermont Yankee’s Decommissioning Trust Fund to assure that costs are covered for decommissioning the reactor, dismantling all the buildings, and returning the Vermont Yankee site to a greenfield – not for indefinite nuclear waste storage, which is a cost [subsidy] provided by the federal government to all nuclear plant owners.
The nuclear industry and government officials agree that the failure of the U.S. Department of Energy to open a permanent disposal site for spent nuclear fuel is a large part of this national problem, but as Arnie also emphasizes to the NYT, Vermont seems to be the only state taking issue with these financial raids on the nuclear plant’s Decommissioning Trust Fund. The article concludes with a nod to Vermont’s recent victory, a ruling from an NRC board that Entergy would have to keep it informed of withdrawals from the fund for specific expenses, a relatively small win in light of the magnitude of what’s at risk.
Fairewinds Crew Book Review:
"What are we reading at Fairewinds Energy Education?"
Today, we begin a new feature of Fairewinds Crew Book Reviews. Everyone on the Fairewinds Crew has a favorite book on nuclear power and we'd like to share our favorites with all of you!
Toby Aronson, Web Content Management/Audio Engineer : I’m reading...
Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Demascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety by Eric Schlosse
Whether it’s spent fuel sitting in dry casks at a nuclear power plant site during and after decommissioning or the highly toxic radioactive material being stored in our nation’s nuclear warheads one thing is clear to me, nuclear power and nuclear weapons are a risky business. In the non-fictional thriller, Command and Control, Eric Scholosser, author of Fast Food Nation, chronicles very unsettling secrets about the mismanagement of America’s nuclear arsenal. As we see ongoing evidence of the continuing folly of operating aging nuclear power plants leaking radioactivity around the world, Schlosser clearly reveals how human and technological errors make harboring nuclear weapons an impalpable risk for humanity – that is, all of us living together in this world. Schlosser uses his skill as a writer to make an incredibly dense scientific and politically complex subject more accessible to readers with his inclusion of an explanation for all the complex acronyms and terms bandied about by the nuclear weapons aficionados. Readers are kept on the edge of their seats by his detailed account of the “Damascus Accident” in Arkansas, which reads like a play-by-play fictional thriller. However, unlike a fictional thriller, the harrowing tale told by Schlosser is very real. While it’s daunting to know what it means to harbor nuclear weapons as I go about my daily life, reading Command and Control made it evident to me that the bottom line is Atomic is Nuclear and Nuclear is Atomic.
Like dominoes, one by one, they fall… First Vermont Yankee, then Pilgrim, and now Entergy Corp. has announced their plans to cease operations in 2016 at a third nuclear plant, FitzPatrick, located in upstate New York.
Entergy officials announced that the company would not be refueling the FitzPatrick plant next September with the uranium-enriched fuel rods required for continued operation. FitzPatrick is a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) like those that melted down at Fukushima Daiichi in Japan and has recently been referred to as a “money-losing stinker” worth almost $1 billion less than what it showed on company books.
Members of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration are apparently seeking a compromise that would keep FitzPatrick open and have been in private discussions with Entergy for at least two months, according to Syracuse News. In an interesting twist, Cuomo has been fighting Entergy's application for a 20-year extension of neighboring nuclear plant Indian Point's operating license.
Unlike Indian Point located near Manhattan, FitzPatrick resides in rural Scriba, NY, a place inherently more reliant on the union jobs and economic support of FitzPatrick’s operation. Although Indian Point is considered “profitable” by Entergy standards, Politico New York reports:
“Speaking to reporters at a Thursday event in Syracuse, Cuomo repeated his longstanding position that Indian Point places New York City at an unacceptable risk and should be closed… ‘Their best answer if there's a nuclear accident is, everybody should take an iodine pill,’ Cuomo said. ‘You know? And they're supposed to have an evacuation plan for the surrounding area — when the surrounding area is New York City, you cannot evacuate New York City. You know, what's the plan, jump in the river and swim to Jersey? Right? So, I've had that problem with Indian Point for a long time.’ ”
Fairewinds’ President Maggie Gundersen worked in nuclear public relations for New York State Electric & Gas (NYSE&G) at its proposed two-unit Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR) located in New Haven, NY near the Entergy owned FitzPatrick site in Oswego County New York.
When asked about this story in preparation for this issue of the Fairewinds Energy Education Newsletter, Maggie noted the entire area is surrounded by some of the most fertile and pristine farmland in upstate New York. Oswego County is known for its muck farms:
"Muck or organic soils contain at least 20 percent and up to 80-plus percent organic matter. This is why they are dark in color," said Christine Hoepting, a vegetable specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Orleans-Genesee counties, according to Debra Groom in a 2009 article for Syracuse.com. "They are high in nutrients, have great water-holding capacity and are used extensively for vegetable production, especially onions," she said.
Jonathan Schell, agriculture team coordinator, Cornell Cooperative Extension, Oswego County, noted that “onion production is a $14 million industry for the county. The National Onion Association places the State of New York at sixth in onion production.”
Oswego County has incredible wind and sun, and an amazing infrastructure of transmission lines that feeds into the New York State grid system. It is the perfect setup for Small Modular Renewables. Oswego County is located on the shores of Lake Ontario, and the wind in the area is so severe that students at the State University of New York in Oswego hold on to ropes strung between the buildings in order to brave the winter winds and attend classes at the campus located a few miles from FitzPatrick.
It is disturbing to see Governor Cuomo pander to union votes and large donations by unions in an attempt to keep the technologically unsound FitzPatrick nuclear plant open, while at the same time demanding the shutdown of Indian Point as if upstate lives and the bread basket of New York State do not matter as much as those in wealthy Manhattan and Westchester County.
FitzPatrick has been plagued with problems for years. In 2005, its containment (identical to Fukushima Daiichi’s) developed the worst containment crack in US history, and between 2010 and 2014 its condenser had more leaks than any reactor in the US. All these problems are age related, and Entergy does not want to spend the money to make the plant safe. See Fairewinds’ report on nuclear containment failures including FitzPatrick.
It would be far better for NY State and Governor Cuomo to focus on building a renewable energy system in the FitzPatrick area. Oswego County already has a talented and trained workforce and a fully operational transmission system in place with which to build a renewable portfolio. Entergy’s FitzPatrick nuclear plant is a Boiling Water Reactor (BWR), and sister plant to the now decimated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plants that melted down almost 5-years ago. Finally, it is Fairewinds’ position that the Cuomo Administration should focus on closing the decrepit FitzPatrick facility in order to protect Oswego County’s fertile farming belt and the more than 250,000 people that live within 50 miles of the two nuclear power plant sites in Oswego County.
Buried radioactive waste exploded along the high-traffic, northwestern Nevada portion of US Highway 95 on October 18, 2015, closing the highway until the fire burned out. The exploding nuclear waste is stored at the nation’s first federally licensed low-level radioactive waste dump opened in 1962 in Beatty, NV. Due to leaky shipments and oversight so lax that employees took contaminated tools and building materials home, the site was closed to more waste in 1992; this radioactive dump was owned by US Ecology, formerly known as Nuclear Engineering, according to state and federal records.
The State of Nevada and its taxpayers currently have the ownership and oversight of this abandoned nuclear weapons waste that holds 4.7 million cubic feet of atomic garbage buried beneath the 40-acre waste site.
Refusing any fiscal responsibility, the waste site’s former owner, US Ecology, has shirked questions about the fire by claiming the nuclear dump is “under a different name and different ownership” and referred all queries to State officials. Such waste abandonment by this nuclear vendor has exposed major problems within the system as Nevada’s emergency response organizations are left without any knowledge of what exactly was contained in the barrels of atomic material that exploded. Operating records for the damaged trench are in Department of Health and Human Services archives and were not immediately available according to Nevada state emergency management chief, Caleb Cage. State radiation control supervisor Jon Bakkedahl, suspects the nuclear material that exploded and burned belongs to a group of nuclear waste shipments accepted and buried during the 1970s; US Ecology’s license to appropriately manage the toxic hazardous material was suspended for mishandling the radioactive waste.
Today, the company is still operating 15 hazardous materials treatment, storage and disposal facilities around the country – including a 40-acre hazardous materials dump accepting toxic polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, adjacent to the closed Beatty radioactive disposal site. US Ecology is no stranger to fines, as well as license suspensions. In 2010, The Guardian reports, US Ecology was fined nearly $500,000 by the US EPA at its hazardous industrial waste recycling and disposal plant after inspectors found leaky containers and operating logs showing smoke emissions containing hazardous wastes had been improperly vented in 2008. The company has been fined for open containers of hazardous material and has a reputation of poor record keeping as well.
Former Nevada Governor Robert List ordered the shutdown of US Ecology’s nuclear waste facility in 1979 and launched an investigation after a truck parked on US Highway 95 had a radioactive cargo fire at the facility gate. Expressing doubt to The Guardian that anyone will ever know what is really underground at the site, “Good luck with that,” List said. “What we found when we did our investigation was they had very, very skimpy records about what was there.”
What a legacy to leave to the people of Nevada and its emergency responders to sort out, especially since no accurate radiation monitoring system for the abandoned weapons waste is in place.
Vermont Yankee’s LLC owner, Entergy Corp., has filed a required 30-day notice for withdrawal from the VY Decommissioning Fund because they want to apply at least $1.2 million from the trust fund created by Vermont ratepayers to pay Vermont Yankee property taxes. The State of Vermont objected earlier this year when Entergy requested that the required notification for withdrawals be waived in order to extract money from the fund for whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted. The State of Vermont requested to see more details as to how these funds, created by utility customers specifically for Vermont Yankee’s decommissioning in this special trust fund, would be used by Entergy. With Entergy’s most recent, current request of $6.6 million dollars, this is the first time the state is receiving a detailed account of how the money will be used and, “Clearly some of these [expenses] are not related to decommissioning,” points out Chris Recchia, Vermont Department of Public Services Commissioner. It is Entergy’s desire to use the withdrawn money for not only state property taxes, but also insurance and emergency contractor costs.
“We want the decommissioning trust fund to be spent on things that improve the radiological condition of the site and actually advance decommissioning,” says Recchia. “Property taxes is a really good example of one that does not. The expenditures for emergency planning we don’t believe those are related to decommissioning. The NRC has given them permission to take money for spent fuel management which we don’t agree should come out of the decommissioning trust fund either.”
Unsurprisingly, NRC Spokesman Neil Sheehan conveyed the federal agency’s position on the matter and has no objections to Entergy’s request. Vermont has 30-days to challenge the disbursal request.