Memory: The Nuclear Industry is unable to recall anything bad that happens, or any discussion of anything bad that might happen.
Let's take a trip down Memory Lane. The following cartoon is from a 1978 book. Notice that the issues mentioned are exactly the same issues that the nuclear industry pretends are such a big surprise, after 9-11:
-- The above image is from: The Anti-Nuclear Handbook, by Stephen Croall & Kaianders (Pantheon Books, New York, 1978. (Colorized by this author.)
The nuclear industry has no memory. This inability to recollect (and learn from) past events causes, among other things, waste disposal ideas to be recycled over and over and over. For example, rocketing the waste into space. Immobilizing it in glass (vitrification). Creating biological agents which "eat" nuclear waste, somehow rendering it harmless. Polar disposal, plate tectonic, deep sea -- each one has been brought up over and over and over.
Yucca Mountain has taken decades and billions of dollars, just to come to the forefront for a vote, a "yes" vote meaning nothing will happen for another couple of decades anyway, while the nuke plants make more and more garbage!
Coal, oil, and natural gas were the world's big three energy producers prior to World War Two -- as they are today -- and safe, clean energy sources were the "holy grail" of energy solutions -- as they are today. The concept of using nuclear power for controlled energy production is old -- it was conceived at least as long ago as 1919! Yet, no one could convince either private investors or government to build nuke plants until World War Two.
First, during WWII, the government needed nuclear power to produce atomic bomb material. So they built a few nuke plants specifically to produce the weapons-grade fissile materials they desperately wanted -- mostly uranium and plutonium.
Second, after WWII, The Bomb's use in ending that war gave radiation a new public image -- which, somehow, was good! Radiation's image was good because the horror of what it did to the citizens of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was censored from the American public, and from everyone else. After the war, the military wanted a lot more bombs -- thousands of them. This required a huge number of operational "civilian" nuclear power plants -- regardless of whether those plants were good ideas for society or not.
Third, and most useful, after WWII, the American people had an enormous faith in a government which had just saved them from worldwide fascism. But alas, the government -- with the help of private investors who realized that personal fortunes could be made -- misused its power, and actively promoted a useless, dangerous, and foolhardy energy source (which did, indeed, make many of its most strident proponents a lot of money).
SOME MAJOR NUCLEAR ACCIDENTS
An accident anywhere is an accident everywhere.
This list is based on Chris Busby's compilation in Wings of Death: Nuclear Pollution and Human Health, pages 89-92 (1995), and Arjun Makhijani and Scott Saleska's The Nuclear Power Deception: U. S. Nuclear Mythology from "Electricity 'Too Cheap to Meter' to 'Inherently Safe' Reactors: A Report of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (1999), with additional commentary and updated information by this author. It is by no means a complete list, and specifically does not include military nuclear accidents such as lost bombs and lost (or rusting in docks, or purposefully sunk) submarines, or the global irresponsible dumping of radioactive waste into our environment, or so-called "civilian" nuclear space mission losses, or radioisotope thermoelectric generators which have been used around the world by spy organizations for powering various listening devices:
Chalk River, Canada, 1952:
A heavy water-moderated, light water-cooled, experimental reactor suffered an inadvertent supercriticality and partial meltdown with an unknown amount of radioactivity released.
Windscale, England, October, 1957:
A graphite-moderated, gas-cooled reactor suffered a reactor-core fire that burned for two days. 20,000 Curies of Iodine-131 were estimated to have been released. Authorities, in a decisive move, changed the name of the nuclear facility where the accident occurred to Sellafield.
Kryshtym, South Urals, 1957:
Apparently a storage tank containing about 168 tonnes of radioactive waste overheated and exploded. The United States' Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) knew about the accident at the time (as did, undoubtedly, Congressional leaders), but nobody said anything to the American people. There is little question why not: Because if the public was able to grasp how dangerous the entire nuclear fuel cycle really is, they might have put a stop to this madness. But the CIA wanted bombs. The military wanted bombs. Congress wanted bombs. And the industry loved being given FREE FUEL for their power plants, which, they were also assured, the U.S. Government (that's US, folks!) would take back afterwards! What a deal (for the reactor operators, not for us!). Indeed, nearly everyone was happy, for a while. (The American public was happy only because they didn't know they were suckers.)
Chalk River, Canada, 1958:
At a heavy water-cooled and moderated reactor, there was a lack of coolant for a fuel element accidental exposure. One worker received a dose of 19 rem, but radiation was said to have been contained within the building. ("Contained within the building" usually means it was released to the environment slowly, instead of all at once.)
Near Idaho Falls, Idaho, 1961:
A light water experimental BWR was destroyed by an accidental supercriticality followed by an explosion. The small Army reactor was using Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) fuel. Three workers were killed, one being impaled on the roof by the force of the explosion.
Fermi-1, Lagoona Beach, Michigan, 1966:
A sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor suffered a cooling system block and partial meltdown during testing for full power. From the first indication of "negative reactivity" to meltdown was just four minutes.
Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, March, 1979:
A Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR), TMI Unit 2's partial core meltdown was a relatively small accident, but very nearly a catastrophic one. Even so, scientists have "shown persuasively that significant increases in infant mortality and other morbidity in states downwind of the releases did occur" (Busby, p. 91). (This author's brother may have contracted leukemia from Three Mile Island. He later died of complications from that disease.)
Chernobyl, Ukraine, April, 1986:
Considered the most serious nuclear accident so far, even Chernobyl was small by the standards of what could happen. The #4 reactor at the complex went supercritical, exploded, and then burned for 10 days. Radiation releases continued for months afterwards. The explosion occurred less than two minutes after starting an unauthorized test, and less than 90 seconds after the reactor computer warned to shut the reactor down immediately. Authorities at first said nothing to the public (in this case Russian authorities, first, but American CIA and Congressional leaders unquestionably also knew about the accident and said nothing). It was not until other countries downwind of the accident noticed severely increased radiation levels that the accident was publicized, and America condemned Russia for not saying anything. The concrete sarcophagus for the ruined Chernobyl reactor is deteriorating and in danger of releasing additional radioactivity.
Narora, Rajasthan, India, 1993:
A heavy water-moderated, heavy-water-cooled CANDU reactor suffered a turbine fire. Its Emergency Core Cooling System "operated to prevent a system meltdown".
Monju, Japan, 1995:
A sodium-cooled fast breeder reactor had a large secondary sodium leak, probably due to early embrittlement. Fortunately the reactor was still being tested and the secondary sodium loop was not radioactive, but the plant was contaminated with sodium.
9-11: Q + > = N
Although no nuclear power plant was struck on September 11th, 2001, there is evidence that -- despite government claims otherwise -- the target of the fourth plane was Three Mile Island. One of the two NYC-bound airplanes flew directly over Indian Point. Fortunately, the terrorists did not choose it as a target that day.
San Onofre, California, 2001-2002:
Although few outside California are aware of it, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (site of two operating reactors) has recently suffered numerous expensive and dangerous accidents including fires, explosions, dropped and destroyed capital equipment, a nearby airplane crash, a nearby fuel tanker truck accident, a nearby fire (threatening offsite power, essential for plant operation), as well as several security lapses, and in January, 2002, an ex-17-year disgruntled employee threatened the plant while possessing a "one-man arsenal" consisting of hundreds of weapons, which he could use to carry out his threat with.
Davis-Besse, Ohio, April, 2002:
Again, another major accident has received virtually no major media publicity, but the near-catastrophe, due to corrosion and inattention at the Ohio reactor should have been a wake-up call to America that our nuclear reactors are aging very poorly.
To Be Continued, UNLESS we shut the plants down and properly manage the waste (as properly as possible, that is). There is ZERO POSSIBILITY that we can properly manage the waste UNLESS we stop trying to make money from the nuclear fuel cycle! It CANNOT be done! The physical laws of "Binding Energy" prove it!
THERE ARE ONLY TWO POSSIBLE FUTURES FOR THIS PLANET:
A NON-NUCLEAR ONE, OR A CANCEROUS ONE.
Copyright (c) 2002 by Russell D. Hoffman. All Rights Reserved