February 6, 2012
A leak at a Southern California nuclear facility that regularly provides power to roughly 1.4 million households has caused the plant to shut down a reactor.
Despite officials insisting that everything will be perfectly alright at the San Onofre nuclear site, this is not the first time as of late that power plants have raised serious questions about their safety in America.
A reactor at the San Onofre nuclear power station was halted Tuesday afternoon after personnel at the plant identified a leak in a steam generator tube. Gil Alexander, a spokesman for Southern California Edison, explains to Reuters that the reactor will remain offline for at least a couple of days.
“We don’t expect any impact on our customers tomorrow,” Alexander adds, yet notes that the reactor in question usually churns out around 1,100 megawatts of electricity to one of the biggest metropolitan areas in the country.
The shutdown is forcing officials to halt operations in Unit 3 of the plant. Unit 2 of the station was already offline at the time of the incident, of which officials say was the result of routine maintenance and upgrades.
Speaking of the alleged minuteness of the leak, Alexander tells the Los Angeles Times that “it wouldn’t even qualify as the least severe” infraction under guidelines set up by the United States’ Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Regardless, the plant, located south of San Clemente, California, reported the incident to them anyway.
As it would be, the regulations in place for American facilities are actually more lax than one would expect.
“While the NRC and the nuclear industry have been reassuring Americans that there is nothing to worry about – that we can do a better job dealing with a nuclear disaster like the one that just happened in Japan – it turns out that privately NRC senior analysts are not so sure,” Edwin Lyman, a Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear expert, explained to Reuters last year. Even after the nuclear disaster at Japan’s Fukushima plant in early 2011 raised questions internationally over safety regulations, the United States has done little to improve conditions since.
The reason, some say, is that the regulations in place don’t call for them. In a report conducted by the Associated Press last year, it was revealed that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has repeatedly weakened safety requirements for facilities, regularly allowing antiquated plants to continue operating by making it easier to pass tests in lieu of actually upgrading the facility. The AP found that of the 104 nuclear plants operating in America last year, 66 of them had been re-licensed for an additional 20 years of service. The vast majority of plants in the US, however, are already older than a quarter of a century.
San Onofre, located around 70 miles south of Los Angeles, is one of those.
“I think we need nuclear power, but we can’t compromise on safety. I think the vulnerability is on these older plants,” engineer Richard T. Lahey Jr., formerly with General Electric Co, told the AP last year. Although one-fifth of the nation’s power comes from nuclear plants — and much of Southern California relies on the San Onofre, loosened regulations are repeatedly putting much of America and the world at risk.
September 1st, 2011
By: PF Louis
There has been a lot of disinformation regarding the Fukushima Nuclear disaster. It appears the government agencies of other nations cooperated with Japan while the international nuclear industry sided with TEPCO’s (Tokyo Electric Power Company) disinformation and denial campaign.
As Mike Adams noted in his April 5th, 2011 Natural News article on Fukushima, “The government is going to turn off the radiation detectors, raise the official EPA limits of radioactive exposure, urge Americans to avoid preparing for fallout, and then pretend absolutely nothing is wrong.”
Understanding the Millisievert
Millisievert figures are tossed out by the media with little attention to explaining them. Millisieverts (mSv) are measurements of ionizing radiation absorbed by a human body. Geiger counters formally measured with Rems (Roentgen equivalent man) or millirems. The figures on Geiger counters now represent mSv units per hour. There is always a low level of measurable background radiation in our environment from celestial bodies and earthly elements.
Whenever Geiger counters measure more, there is concern. Putting concerns into perspective, smoking a pack and a half of cigarettes (tobacco leaves absorb radioactive isotopes) daily causes an annual exposure level of 13 mSv per year. A 5,000 mSv single dose creates 50% likelihood of death within a month. A single 10,000 mSv dose of radiation causes almost certain death within a month.
Fukushima – Chernobyl Comparisons
Chernobyl was a one reactor meltdown. Fukushima had three reactors that melted down. Chernobyl was land locked in a relatively desolate area. The heaviest radiation was in the sparsely inhabited area near the plant, although air currents contaminated Northern Europe and Western Russia as well.
Fukushima is the small densely populated island of Japan. It seems there are going to be more cancer victims and food contamination with this disaster than Chernobyl’s. The Fukushima plants are on the Pacific Ocean coast.
Millions of gallons of contaminated water are being dumped into the Pacific in addition to radiation particles floating on air streams. So ocean currents are assisting air currents, exposing the world to excessive radiation.
Sea life is getting contaminated as well. The most dangerous radiation comes from radioactive particles ingested with contaminated foods. It only takes a few ingested particles to create intense health issues or death. Seems wise to avoid northern Pacific Seafood and Japanese Teas from your diet for the near future.
The easiest sign of food chain contamination comes from high radiation readings on milk. And what little data has leaked from normally scheduled testing across the United States has shown increased radioactivity in water and milk. But the USDA is not testing organic milk since that’s not part or their job description. Raw milk is another issue. There should be even more concern over Japan’s food exports, especially tea.
Before the actual extent of Japan’s crisis became evident, Chris Busby, a professor at the University of Ulster weighed in with a realistic early warning. “Fukushima is still boiling its radionuclides all over Japan,” he said. “Chernobyl went up in one go and Fukushima is worse.”
Other experts noted the futility of watering down the reactors from outside and above, which was an early attempt to cool down the reactors. The cooling has to occur inside, the way radiator coolant cools auto engines. Internal reactor cooling requires pumping water generated by electric pumps. And electricity hasn’t been available there. Many experts have questioned why the sarcophagus solution was not employed or even considered.
Sarcophagus means stone tomb in Russian. The Russians devised this solution almost immediately after Chernobyl’s meltdown. It took several months to implement. But they got it done, thus restricting more emissions in the immediate area and throughout Western Russia and Northern Europe.
Those living nearby Chernobyl were exposed to 450 mSv over several days. This level of exposure is sufficient to cause cancer for many within their lifetimes. Nevertheless, nearby residents were evacuated as soon as possible.
It seems Fukushima evacuation planners dragged their feet with a smaller area of no return than Chernobyl’s restricted area. What kind of measurements were occurring in Fukushima by the time the Japanese government and TEPCO finally admitted that their situation was worse than originally reported?
That’s difficult to answer because of the denial and disinformation during the early stages of this disaster. But it’s apparent that the zone of intense radiation involves more inhabitants in Japan than Chernobyl ever did. A nearby Japanese university has tested soil samples in the area and discovered the radioactive contamination is deeper and higher than originally anticipated.
Unanticipated higher readings done by third party groups imply earlier industry and government cover ups that downgraded or withheld readings.
It was months after the initial event that the Japanese government and TEPCO raised the Fukushima danger level to seven, matching Chernobyl’s disaster level.
One thing is for certain. The Fukushima radioactive leaks will continue at high amounts longer than Chernobyl did. Fukushima’s radioactive fallout will be affecting more people, crops, and of course sea life than Chernobyl’s disaster caused. But just like the Gulf BP oil disaster, we won’t be able to count on accurate mainstream media information or government intervention to minimize the damage.
March 15th, 2011
By: Eric Talmadge and Shino Yuasa
Dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors Tuesday after an explosion and a fire dramatically escalated the crisis spawned by a deadly tsunami.
In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation had spread from the four stricken reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant along Japan’s northeastern coast. The region was shattered by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, plunged millions into misery and pummeled the world’s third-largest economy.
Japanese officials told the International Atomic Energy Agency that the reactor fire was in a fuel storage pond — an area where used nuclear fuel is kept cool — and that “radioactivity is being released directly into the atmosphere.” Long after the fire was extinguished, a Japanese official said the pool might still be boiling, though the reported levels of radiation had dropped dramatically by the end of the day.
Late Tuesday, officials at the plant said they were considering asking for help from the U.S. and Japanese militaries to spray water from helicopters into the pool.
That reactor, Unit 4, had been shut down before the quake for maintenance.
If the water boils, it could evaporate, exposing the rods. The fuel rods are encased in safety containers meant to prevent them from resuming nuclear reactions, nuclear officials said. But they acknowledged that there could have been damage to the containers. They also confirmed that the walls of the storage pool building were damaged.
Experts noted that much of the leaking radiation was apparently in steam from boiling water. It had not been emitted directly by fuel rods, which would be far more virulent, they said.
“It’s not good, but I don’t think it’s a disaster,” said Steve Crossley, an Australia-based radiation physicist.
Even the highest detected rates were not automatically harmful for brief periods, he said.
“If you were to spend a significant amount of time — in the order of hours — that could be significant,” Crossley said.
Less clear were the results of the blast in Unit 2, near a suppression pool, which removes heat under a reactor vessel, said plant owner Tokyo Electric Power Co. The nuclear core was not damaged but the bottom of the surrounding container may have been, said Shigekazu Omukai, a spokesman for Japan’s nuclear safety agency.
Though Kan and other officials urged calm, Tuesday’s developments fueled a growing panic in Japan and around the world amid widespread uncertainty over what would happen next. In the worst case scenario, one or more of the reactor cores would completely melt down, a disaster that could spew large amounts of radioactivity into the atmosphere.
Tsunami Relief: Network for Good
“I worry a lot about fallout,” said Yuta Tadano, a 20-year-old pump technician at the Fukushima plant, who said he was in the complex when the quake hit.
“If we could see it, we could escape, but we can’t,” he said, cradling his 4-month-old baby, Shoma, at an evacuation center.
The radiation fears added to the catastrophe that has been unfolding in Japan, where at least 10,000 people are believed to have been killed and millions of people were facing a fifth night with little food, water or heating in near-freezing temperatures and snow as they dealt with the loss of homes and loved ones. Up to 450,000 people are in temporary shelters.
Hundreds of aftershocks have shaken Japan’s northeast and Tokyo since the original offshore quake, including one Tuesday night whose epicenter was hundreds of miles (kilometers) southwest and inland.
Officials have only been able to confirm a far lower toll — about 3,300 killed — but those who were involved in the 2004 Asian tsunami said there was no question more people died and warned that, like the earlier disaster, many thousands may never be found.