Archive for the ‘Nuclear Crisis’ Category
The often-excruciating blockbuster “San Andreas” makes zero mention of the over-riding reality about a major shock at that earthquake fault:
It would turn the Diablo Canyon nukes into radioactive rubble, forever contaminate at least California, and kill millions.
By Harvey Wasserman
Emergency crews were trying to contain and clean up the transformer fluid that leaked from the Indian Point 3 plant. (photo: Ricky Flores/The Journal News/AP)
11 May 15
New York Gov. Cuomo says oil seeps into Hudson River from holding tank after blaze at nuclear power plant
ew York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that part of a nuclear power plant remains offline after a transformer fire that has created another problem: thousands of gallons of oil leaking into the Hudson River.
At an afternoon briefing, Cuomo said emergency crews were out on the water near Buchanan, New York, trying to contain and clean up the transformer fluid that leaked from the Indian Point 3 plant.
“There’s no doubt that oil was discharged into the Hudson River,” Cuomo said. “Exactly how much, we don’t know.”
Cuomo revealed Sunday that even after the blaze on the non-nuclear side of the plant was quickly doused, the heat reignited the fire, but it was again extinguished.
Oil in the transformer seeped into a holding tank that did not have the capacity to contain all the fluid, which then entered river waters through a discharge drain.
Joseph Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Protection, said measures were taken to keep the oil from spreading, including setting up booms over an area about 300 feet in diameter in the water.
The cleanup should take a day or two, Cuomo said.
A spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the U.S. regulator for nuclear power, said several thousand gallons of oil may have overflowed the transformer moat.
The reactor itself was deemed safe and stable throughout, said a spokesman for Entergy Corp., which owns the plant. The adjacent Unit 2 reactor was not affected and remained in operation.
The transformer at the Indian Point 3 plant, which is around 30 miles north of midtown Manhattan and surrounded by about 20 million residents, failed on Saturday evening, causing a fire that forced the automatic shutdown.
The fire on the non-nuclear side of the plant was quickly extinguished and the reactor was deemed safe and stable, said a spokesman for owner Entergy Corp.
“These situations we take very seriously. Luckily this was not a major situation. But the emergency protocols are very important,” Cuomo said Saturday. “I take nothing lightly when it comes to this plant specifically.”
The transformer at Indian Point 3 takes energy created by the plant and changes the voltage for the grid supplying power to New York state. The blaze, which sent black smoke billowing into the sky, was extinguished by a sprinkler system and on-site personnel, Entergy spokesman Jerry Nappi said. Westchester County police and fire were on site as a precaution.
It was not immediately clear what caused the failure, or whether the transformer would be repaired or replaced. Nappi said there were no health or safety risks.
“There is no threat to area residents,” said Eliot Brenner, director of public affairs for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. “They declared an unusual event. That’s the lowest of our four situation designations.”
An “unusual event” classification indicates a potential security threat or a possible “degradation of the level of safety” at a plant, according to the NRC website. It also means there have been “no releases of radioactive material requiring offsite response or monitoring.”
The Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan supplies electricity for millions of homes, businesses and public facilities in New York City and Westchester County.
In accordance with federal regulations, the NRC plus state, county and local officials were notified of the event, considered the lowest of four emergency classifications for U.S. nuclear plants.
Cuomo said there had been too many emergencies recently involving Indian Point. Unit 3 was shut down Thursday morning for an unrelated issue — a water leak on the non-nuclear side of the plant. It was repaired and there was no radioactive release, Nappi said. In March, Unit 3 was shut down for a planned refueling that took about a month.
The environmental watchdog group Riverkeeper issued a statement Sunday saying the latest Indian Point accident proves that the plant should be closed for good.
A recent fire at Indian Point Nuclear Plant in New York is prompting renewed calls to close the plant.May 13, 2015
In 1976, Robert Pollard, a rarity among U.S. government nuclear officials—honest and safety-committed—said of the Indian Point nuclear power station that it was “an accident waiting to happen.”
Pollard had been project manager at Indian Point for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from which he resigned at that time charging the NRC “suppresses the existence of unresolved safety questions and fails to resolve these problems.” He joined the Union of Concerned Scientists.
An explosion and fire at a transformer at Indian Point 3 on Saturday is but one of the many accidents that have occurred at the Indian Point facility through the years—none catastrophic as have been the disasters at the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.
But Indian Point 2 has been in operation for 41 years, although when nuclear power was first advanced in the United States, plants were never seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. So licenses were limited to 40 years.
Indian Point 2 is thus now running without an operating license while the NRC considers an application before it from the plant’s owner, Entergy, to allow it to run another 20 years—for 60 years.
Indian Point 3, where the transformer explosion and fire occurred, has been operational for 39 years and its license expires this year. (Indian Point l was shut down early because of mechanical deficiencies.) Entergy also is seeking to have Indian Point 3’s operating license extended to 60 years.
These old, long problem-plagued nuclear plants, 26 miles up the Hudson River from New York City, are now disasters waiting to happen in a very heavily populated area. Some 22 million people live within 50 miles of the Indian Point site.
“This plant is the nuclear plant that is closest to the most densely populated area on the globe,” declared New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Indian Point site on Sunday. Cuomo, who has been pushing to have the Indian Point nuclear plants closed, noted that this was “not the first transformer fire” at them. And the concern is that “one situation is going to trigger another.”
Entergy PR people in recent days have stressed that the transformer explosion and fire occurred in the “non-nuclear part” of Indian Point 3. However, as Pollard noted in a television documentary, “Three Mile Island Revisited,” that I wrote and narrated on that accident, “there is no non-nuclear part of a nuclear plant.”
What could be the extent of a major accident at Indian Point?
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1982 issued a report titled “Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences” or CRAC-2. The research for the report was done at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.
CRAC-2—you can read the full report online athttp://www.ccnr.org/crac.html–projects
—projects that in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident with breach of containment at Indian Point 2, there could be 46,000 “peak early fatalities,” 141,000 “peak early injuries,” 13,000 “cancer deaths” and a cost in property damages (in 1980 dollars) of $274 billion (which in today’s dollars would be $1 trillion)
For an accident at Indian Point 3 in which the transformer explosion and fire happened, because it is a somewhat bigger reactor (generating 1,025 megawatts compared to Indian Point 2’s 1,020) the impacts would be greater, said CRAC-2
For Indian Point 3, in the event of a meltdown with breach of containment, CRAC-2 estimates 50,000 “peak early fatalities,” 167,000 “peak early injuries,” 14,000 “cancer deaths” and a cost in property damage at $314 billion.
Compounding the problem of the Indian Point plants being old—consider driving a 60-year-old car on a high-speed Interstate—they are at the intersection of the Ramapo and Stamford earthquake faults. As a 2008 study by seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found: “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident. This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”
“This aging dilapidated facility has endless problems leaking radioactive chemicals, oil and PCB’s into the Hudson River. It’s unconscionable to permit the continued operation of Indian Point,” said Susan Hito-Shapiro, an environmental attorney and member of the leadership council of the Indian point Safe Energy Coalition.
Further, she pointed out this week, Indian Point has been described as “the most attractive terrorist target” in the U.S. because of its proximity to New York City and it also being seven miles from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Indeed, there was consideration by the 9/11 terrorists of crashing into Indian Point. Both captured jets flew over the Indian Point nuclear station before striking the World Trade Center minutes later.
And she described it as “outrageous” that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved an evacuation plan for Indian Point “although it would never work” in the event of a major accident at the plants considering the millions of people who stand to be affected.
The key to New York State’s strategy to shut down Indian Point is the denial by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to give Entergy a “water use permit” to let it continue to send many hundreds of millions of gallons of water a day from the nuclear plants into the Hudson River.
“We need to make sure DEC stays strong,” says Hito-Shapiro.
In light of the historic, reckless, scandalous weakness of the federal government when it comes to Indian Point—and the nuclear power plants of other utilities—strong state action is most necessary.
The clerical leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, gave a speech on Sunday in which he urged that Iran maintain its military readiness in order to fend off any hostile invasion or attack. But, he said, “Iran has never invaded a country and never will.” He also called US charges that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon a “myth” and “propaganda.”
Whatever else is wrong with the Islamic Republic of Iran, you have to admit that it is refreshing for a country’s leader to make such a pledge. No American politician could even run for election on such a platform, of “no conventional military attack on another country.” American politicians are always talking about keeping all options open or ‘on the table’, by which they mean that Washington might at any moment take it into its head suddenly to go to aggressive war against another country, even though that country had not attacked the US. The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 was only the most recent and dramatic such attack.
Iran has a small military budget, about $10 bn., on the order of that of Norway or Singapore. It has no air force to speak of. The US military budget is roughly 80 times that of Iran.
Khamenei said that Iran has a no first strike policy and is no danger to its immediate neighbors (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, and Kuwait), much less to countries further away (he may be referring to Israel and Yemen).
What about Khamenei’s claim that Iran hasn’t invaded another country? He probably meant the the Islamic Republic has launched no wars of aggression since its founding in 1979. This is true. In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran. Iran fought the invaders to a standstill and ultimately made peace, making no effort to occupy Iraqi territory.
Iran did invade Herat in Afghanistan in the 1850s, but Iranians argue that Herat had long been part of the Iranian empire and so Iran was just recovering what was theirs. Before that, Iran invaded Iraq in 1785 and took Basra. So it has been a long time.
Critics of Iran will complain that it does support Hizbullah and the al-Assad regime in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen. This is true, though the latter has been exaggerated. But offering an ally strategic advice or logistical help on demand is different from invading with tanks.
Those who only read the US press on Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program may be surprised to see Khamenei deny that Iran wants a nuclear bomb. But he has been saying this all along. He said in 2006 of US criticisms of his country:
“Their other issue is [their assertion] that Iran seeks [a] nuclear bomb. It is an irrelevant and wrong statement, it is a sheer lie. We do not need a nuclear bomb. We do not have any objectives or aspirations for which we will need to use a nuclear bomb. We consider using nuclear weapons against Islamic rules. We have announced this openly. We think imposing the costs of building and maintaining nuclear weapons on our nation is unnecessary. Building such weapons and their maintenance are costly. By no means we deem it right to impose these costs on the people. We do not need those weapons. Unlike the Americans who want to rule the world with force, we do not claim to control the world and therefore do not need a nuclear bomb.”
Khamenei has repeated this stance numerous times, but the US media can’t seem to hear him say it. He considers nuclear bombs to be against Islamic law, since they kill large numbers of innocent non-combatants, including women and children, when deployed. Of course, he could be lying. But that is sort of like the Pope maintaining a condom factory in the basement of the Vatican. You have to ask yourself, why ban something religiously that you intend to promote in actuality? If the contradiction became known, it would damage the religious leader’s credibility.
According to the BBC Monitoring translation of Khamenei.ir , Khamenei said:
“Iran not “a threat” to any country
The Islamic Republic is not a threat to any country. We have never been a threat even to our neighbours, let alone to distant countries. Our contemporary history clearly shows this. Even when some of our neighbours treated us not in a neighbourly manner, we showed restraint. Iran has never invaded a country and never will. The fake myth of nuclear weapons has been devised by America and then Europe and some other bootlickers in order to portray the Islamic Republic as a threat.”
Khamenei went on to point out that it is the USA that has illegally launched wars of aggression in the Middle East, along with Israel. Iran, he said, never has.
I think he was pointing to Iraq when he said, “Even in some cases it has graciously forgiven the bad attitude of its neighbours. Insecurity is coming from the direction of unleashed powers which take over everywhere.”
As for Yemen, while Iran stands accused of giving military aid to the rebel Houthi movement, that charge is not easy to prove. It seems unlikely that the Houthis needed Iran to launch their protest movement. It is Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the USA, who have launched an attack on the Houthis even though they did not attack Saudi Arabia. Khamenei in his speech said that Iran is merely helping countries that have been attacked.
Today, these heartbreaking events are happening in Yemen and the Americans support the tyrant. The West supports the tyrant. Insecurity is coming from their direction. It is them who make countries unsafe, and make the environment insecure for people to live in. It is them who bring insecurity. The Islamic Republic of Iran considers security as the biggest divine gift both for itself and others and stands up for its security and defends it.”
h/t to BBC Monitoring for translations.
Federal agency rejects appeal by watchdog group to suspend operations at reactors identical to those at disaster-stricken reactors in Japan.
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has rejected an appeal to halt operations at the nearly two dozen reactors in the nation that have the same containment system as those at the ill-fated Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors.
The decision was posted (pdf) in the Federal Register on Friday.
Watchdog group Beyond Nuclear filed the appeal in April, 2011 in the wake of the Fukushima disaster, charging that the then-21 Mark 1 design General Electric Boiling Water Reactors were “accidents waiting to happen.”
The filing (pdf) sought emergency enforcement action to protect the public from the “unreliability of [the design’s] containment system to mitigate a severe accident and the lack of emergency power systems to cool high density storage pools each containing hundreds of tons thermally hot and extremely radioactive used reactor fuel assemblies located atop the reactor building s and outside a rated containment.”
The suspension is necessary “in response to the dramatic and ongoing failure of similarly designed and constructed GE Boiling Water Reactors systems, structures and components at one or more units at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan,” the group wrote.
In response to the decision posted Friday, Beyond Nuclear stated that though it acknowledges that “a portion of the actions that we requested in April 2011 have been taken at some of these reactors,” it says it rejects the NRC decision that the issues raised have been resolved.
Paul Gunter, Director of Reactor Oversight at Beyond Nuclear and the person who initiated and submitted the petition, called the efforts taken so far to address the issues are “inadequate half measures that need not be fully implemented for years to come, if ever.”
“In critical safety areas for the Mark I containment vulnerability, the proposed corrective actions credited in the [NR] Director’s Decision are not even conceptually finalized or approved by the regulator. Moreover, there are significant agency staff non-concurrences on how to proceed with post-Fukushima action plans,” Gunter concluded.
Jim Riccio, Greenpeace’s Nuclear Policy Analyst, wrote last month that “despite the efforts of green groups to ensure that the lessons of Fukushima have been learned by the nuclear industry and their regulators, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is backing off post Fukushima fixes at reactors around the country due to fear that added regulatory costs would topple more nuclear plants.”
Beyond Nuclear adds that its continued concerns are based in part on a “nuclear industry that first considers its financial margins over public safety margins.”
“Our common struggle for real public safety, environmental protection and energy independence remains to permanently closing down an inherently dangerous atomic power industry.” it states.