Nuclear Power's 5th Domino



During the 1960s when the American Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards debated containment structures, some members argued for the need to make stronger containments. Regrettably, a majority of the members believed that the emergency core cooling systems were adequate, so more than 50 years ago the Advisory Committee ignored its minority members and pushed ahead without rigorous failure-proof containment structures and systems. The Nuclear Regulatory Committee made the decision not to require stronger containments. Japan followed the American lead.

In our most recent video, Fairewinds’ chief nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen introduces us to the containment structures deemed adequate and strong enough by the NRC to protect civilians from nuclear meltdown. How could five radiation barriers fail at Fukushima Daiichi? Using the childhood game of dominoes, each domino represents a failed radiation barrier and like the game when a domino falls all others follow. Nuclear containment risk is nuclear power's fifth domino. Nuclear site failures are not a game and public safety is not something to play with- so why does the NRC act like a group of kids putting us all at RISK?



After you watch Fairewinds’ video, Nuclear Power’s 5th Domino, are you wondering about the 6th Domino of Emergency Planning? Union of Concerned Scientists’ Dave Lochbaum has the answers in this week’s All Things Nuclear Blog entitled Emergency Planning for Nuclear Power Plants. 

“How are emergencies classified?” 
“Who responds to an emergency?” 
“What do emergency plans protect?” 

In his post, Dave answers these questions and also details his up close and personal observation of a reactor site large-scale nuclear power plant emergency plan exercise conducted and observed by the NRC. Dave got to observe one of these biennial emergency practices at the Operations Center at the NRC in Rockville, Maryland. While the NRC is statutorily responsible for the oversight of nuclear plants, the apparent NRC oversight includes: ineffective public notification, a limited 10-mile emergency planning zone, and a lack of dialogue procedures with State Governments about any disagreements they might have as to emergency directives and authority during a nuclear accident.

Dave Lochbaum, who is the Director of the Nuclear Safety Project for UCS, also helped Fairewinds Energy Education access a 700-page report detailing the NRC’s 1960’s decision to weaken nuclear containments systems. Fairewinds discusses that report in our video, Nuclear Power’s 5th Domino. You may find that report on our website on the video’s webpage

unnamed.jpgFairewinds in the News:

“700 nuclear bombs worth of cesium” is sitting in fuel pools on Vermont Yankee’s roof. Citing these risks, both Arnie Gundersen and state officials share their concern with WCAX regarding Entergy’s decision to stop funding off-site emergency planning efforts. A lack of emergency planning would put Vermonters at great risk. Watch the video featured on Channel 3 WCAX News here.


Nuclear News:

 A loss of transmission lines shut down the Pilgrim nuclear power plant Tuesday at 4:05am. The degrading offsite electrical grid suffered from low temperatures during winter storm Juno causing the transmission line failure. According to an NRC report (Event#- 50771) a critical safety pump (this same pump failed at Fukushima) failed during shutdown, and relief valves were opened to keep reactor pressure stable. Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts announced there was no threat to public safety however, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ranks Pilgrim among the worst United States nuclear plants based on a recent inspection and Pilgrim has suffered a series of unplanned shutdowns that utility owner Entergy has not executed to the NRC’s standards. 

The international Crisis Prevention Institute questioned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi Tuesday to explain why his government is eagerly rushing into an agreement with the United States on the nuclear liability issue. Signing this agreement would propose an insurance pool to cover United States nuclear firms and violate the 2010 Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act. India is eager to be a global leader in nuclear energy however, the infiltration of US utility companies triggers reactions from the Indian public who recall the 1984 Bhopal Gas Tragedy during which a US owned Union Carbide factory leaked gas, another inherently dangerous substance, and wreaked havoc killing 20,000 innocents in Bhopal. Low liability and compensation resulted after delays and victims were not sufficiently or effectively compensated. Nuclear disasters are more disastrous for the environment and people than a gas leak. A political party national secretary D Raja brings up hard-hitting issues that will affect the Indian people and need to be addressed by the United States and Indian governments. D Raja also points out that the US firm General Electric was the supplier and designer of the Mark I reactors that failed at Fukushima Daiichi, and Japanese victims have been unable to hold GE accountable due to the Japanese government’s indemnity agreement with the firm. Will the Indian people be left uninsured at the expense of US big business again? US companies offer two reactor models, the AP1000 by Westinghouse and GE’s newest model ESBWR- neither is in commercial use anywhere in the world, and both have significant nuclear safety flaws. 

 A legacy of toxic radioactive waste is present everywhere that nuclear energy is generated and nuclear weapons have been made. No country has yet developed a safe way to store this waste that lasts thousands of years. Germany and Italy have rejected nuclear power as an energy source due to this extreme waste problem. The United Kingdom has struggled with finding a proper waste storage location and their attempt to plant their nuclear pollution in Great Britain’s Lake District has been vetoed due to the area’s rock fragmentation that allows water to seep through and thus would allow radioactive toxins to leak into the environment. Currently the Sellafield site in UK’s Lake District is grabbing billions and billions of taxpayer moneys and it will never be a permanent resting place for this toxic waste.  Sellafield’s further proof of nuclear safety and economic failures is the radioactive waste that has so severely contaminated the environment. 
  • published this page in Newsletters 2015-07-15 13:46:18 -0400


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