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Nuclear Experts Say U.S. Learned Nothing From Fukushima

Nuclear Experts Say U.S. Learned Nothing From Fukushima

 

Sunday marks the six-month anniversary of the Fukushima nuclear reactor crisis.

In anticipation of that milestone, three leading U.S. experts held a news conference Friday to outline both what is now known in the wake of the Fukushima and where things stand for the nuclear power industry in the United States.

The overwhelming opinion of the panel, which included Peter Bradford, former member of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Edwin Lyman, Ph.D., senior scientist, Global Security Program, Union of Concerned Scientists and Dr. Andrew Kanter, national board president-elect, Physicians for Social Responsibility, was that major lessons from the Japanese nuclear disaster are in danger of going unheeded.

The experts outlined eight concerns and lessons from this crisis that should guide decisions regarding the future of nuclear power in the U.S.:

1. The U.S. regulatory response since Fukushima has been inadequate. “Six months after Fukushima, it seems clear that the U.S. is not going to undertake the type of fundamental, no-holds-barred look at its nuclear regulatory practices that followed the much less serious accident at Three Mile Island some 30 years ago,” said Peter Bradford.

2. America should avoid post-9/11 mistakes in tightening reactor safety standards. “In responding to Fukushima by issuing orders, the NRC should not make the same mistakes as it did following 9/11, when industry stonewalling delayed implementation of critical security measures for many years.  Even today, some post 9/11 security upgrades have not been completed at numerous plants … The worldwide response to the Three Mile Island accident was clearly inadequate to prevent even worse events from occurring.  The U.S. must respond to Fukushima in a much more comprehensive way or it may soon face an accident even worse than Fukushima,” said Edwin Lyman.

3. Overall Japanese health dangers are getting short shrift. “The last six months have shown a continued pattern of secrecy, cover-up, and minimization …. (The) news media and some so-called authorities have repeated the false information that doses under 100 mSv (millisieverts) have no health effects. All radiation doses have some effect, particularly when large populations are exposed.  The Japanese government’s decision to increase the maximum allowed dose for citizens of Fukushima (including children) from 1 mSv per year to 20 mSv, the equivalent of 200 chest x-rays or the maximum many countries allow for nuclear workers … is unacceptable and remains in place despite vehement public and international pressure,” said Dr. Kanter

4. The impact on the health of Japanese children is being ignored. Children are at least three-to-four times more susceptible to radiation than are adults.  There are about 350,000 children under 18 in Fukushima Prefecture. If each of these children were exposed to the 20 mSv maximum over two consecutive years, the National Academy of Sciences BEIR VII report would predict 2,500 additional cancer deaths… The upshot is that there is no safe dose of radiation and exposing non-consenting people, especially children, to these increased health risks is medically unacceptable. The Japanese government is not adequately monitoring radiation contamination of soil, food, milk, water, and air and is not providing the parents with sufficient information to protect their children,” said Dr. Kanter.

5. The U.S. was warned of Fukushima-style problems but failed to act … and is still failing to do so. “U.S. reactors have some of the shortcomings of the Fukushima plants.  Furthermore, citizen groups and scientists had tried to call one of these – spent fuel pool vulnerability — to Nuclear Regulatory Commission attention during the last decade.  The NRC dismissed these efforts, with one commissioner even ordering the staff to do a review designed to discredit the concerns. The NRC reviews of Fukushima to date are all well and good, but the Commission and the Congress need to face up to the deeper lessons of Fukushima as well,” said Peter Bradford.

6. Emergency planning zones in the U.S. must be expanded. “The NRC Task Force report got some things right but others wrong.   In contrast to the Task Force conclusions, we believe that emergency planning zones should be expanded, certain hydrogen control measures should be immediately enforced and spent fuel transfer to dry casks should be accelerated.  Also, the safety margins of new reactors need to be reassessed,” said Lyman.

7. The recent East Coast earthquake should spur more NRC safety analysis. “The earthquake near the North Anna nuclear plant, which reportedly exceeded the plant’s seismic design basis, reinforces the urgency of the NRC Fukushima task force’s recommendation that all plants immediately be reviewed for their vulnerability to seismic and flooding hazards based on the best available information today,” said Lyman.

8. Fukushima is turning out to be much worse than Chernobyl. “Although the Chernobyl reactor explosion was devastating, scattering the majority of its nuclear core across a wide swath of Europe, the Fukushima accident involved three reactors, which underwent meltdowns (or melt-throughs) and four spent-fuel pools that suffered damage. It will take years to measure the total release of radioactive materials into the environment from Fukushima, but we already know that that the immediate releases are now estimated as being twice as high as originally admitted. Some authoritative sources, using releases of radioactive Xenon as a marker, show that the amount of Fukushima Daiichi radioactive fuel that has been damaged/released could be several times that of the Chernobyl release. Another estimate has the equivalent of 168 Hiroshima bomb’s worth of Cesium have been released onto Japan,” said Dr. Kanter.

A streaming audio replay of the entire news event is available at www.nuclearbailout.org.

Take Action: Sign the petition to tell Obama to stop subsidizing nuclear energy.

Related Reading:

After Fukushima, Japan Reconsiders Geothermal Power

Sunflowers May Heal Fukushima’s Radioactive Soil

Is The Next Fukushima In Your Backyard?

 

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Image Credit: Flickr - abode of chaos

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12:20PM PDT on Mar 19, 2012

Nuclear power started out as a Public Relations gimmick to try to make nuclear energy seem peaceful rather than only for bombing our enemies to hell with nclear bombs.

8:20AM PST on Nov 12, 2011

how can the U.S. learn anything when our own elected politicians are to stupid to understand and grasp the situation. During their college years that was paid for by DADDY, these so called future politicians boozed it up and got high every chance they had for they knew DADDY would make sure they graduated.

So now their running the government and look at the mess the U.S. Government is in. and we are letting these dirt bags make decisions pertaining to the future of our lives and the future of our children and grandchildren. God help us all.

Long live OCCUPY WALL ST.

8:17AM PST on Nov 12, 2011

how can the U.S. learn anything when our own elected politicians are to stupid to understand and grasp the situation. During their college years that was paid for by DADDY, these so called future politicians boozed it up and got high every chance they had for they knew DADDY would make sure they graduated.

So now their running the government and look at the mess the U.S. Government is in. and we are letting these dirt bags make decisions pertaining to the future of our lives and the future of our children and grandchildren. God help us all.

Long live OCCUPY WALL ST.

3:58PM PDT on Oct 30, 2011

Its bad to have coal plants it poisons the air and the earth with mercury and other contaminates that harm animals and people and plants.

Its bad for nulcear energy even with the new technology today that lets us recycle nuclear waste that dont have as long a life for it to dissapate.

Solar power technology makes tons of pollution just making the components to use them and require heavy maintenance to maintain them as nuclear energy does.

Any course we take will damage the planet in some way. This is a very good example that the planet has too many humans on this planet and should form massive organizations to sterilizing the human race in hopes that we can cull the population down.

There are already a few larger organizations that do this and there should be more and larger ones.

3:52AM PDT on Oct 7, 2011

Human kind is NOT ready to handle nuclear power safely. If you get the chance, watch the amazing documentray "Into Eternity" (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Into_Eternity_%28film%29), that raises some superbly interesting philosophical questions about nuclear waste.

12:56AM PDT on Oct 6, 2011

http://www.rense.com/general94/secbb.htm

10:19PM PDT on Sep 14, 2011

The US needs to follow Germany's lead, phasing out all nuclear plants by 2022. Goes to show...Germans ARE smarter than Americans!

3:12PM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

how hard is it to put a backup plan in place?

11:40AM PDT on Sep 13, 2011

They dont want to lose money and nuclear weapons are tied up with nuclear power.

6:12PM PDT on Sep 12, 2011

This sounds concerning, but sadly rather predictable. I think it would be much better for humanity to invest in inherently safer energy sources, renewable energy, energy efficiency and conservation. I agree with Dieter that we can help keep the pressure on to achieve these things!

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