• The end is near
    December 26,2012
     

    The end is near

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission “supervises” our nuclear power plants. It is neither “super” nor “visionary,” and that is the extent of our protection.

    The oil and gas lobbyists kept us from replacing our light water reactors (Yankee Nuclear) with integral fast reactors developed by the Argonne National Laboratory as a safer alternative that would also consume the spent fuel rods stored next to the light water reactors. The lobbyists were protecting oil and gas plants from replacement with integral fast reactors. The two Westinghouse AP1000 reactors now to be built in Georgia are estimated at $7 billion each. How many solar panels and wind generators could be built for that money? Fortunately, we have hydro in Quebec and on the Connecticut River. Those generators could be replaced several times over with that money.

    The nuclear catastrophe we were all fearing, and hiding from under our school desks, is happening now as the aging plants crumble and fall apart whenever there is an earthquake or tsunami or flood to wreck the safeguards and allow the fuel to overreact and radiate every living thing for hundreds of miles with fallout dust. There is no containment.

    There is no protection from accidents. Aging switches, valves and water pumps can and do fail, the cooling of the fission process stops, and the plant is out of control. The plants are as dangerous as aging nuclear warheads, and circumstances beyond our control will cause them to release a plume of radioactive dust carried everywhere by the wind.

    The Stanley Kramer film “On the Beach” showed us that wind, blowing the protest signs over the dust, in the last beautiful sunset we would ever see. The Fukushima Daiichi reactor buildings in Japan are still releasing radioactive materials into the air above the plant and the groundwater under it. The saltwater fish passing by in the Pacific Ocean are irradiated, eaten by larger fish and then by us. Yankee Nuclear presents just such a threat to the fish in the Connecticut River. Do you fish there? Do you swim there?

    I just visited the atom bomb museum in Nagasaki, Japan. It is clear to me that people who think that blowing up bombs will reverse social problems have no idea of what the other consequences of those nuclear explosions have been to generations of families. The risk posed by nuclear reactors in power generating plants run amok is just as grave.

    Some of the families of Okuma, near the Fukushima reactors, were living there for 1,000 years. The elders describe an almost spiritual attachment to the land where they grew rice for at least 19 generations and that holds the family graves that Confucian tradition forbids them to abandon. The radiation levels will keep them out of their ancestral homes for the rest of their lifetimes. We need to protect our land and our ways of life from the clear and present danger presented by nuclear power plants.

    The consequences of inaction are detailed at “ifyoulovethisplanet.org/?p+6282” in a conversation between Dr. Helen Caldicott and nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen on the present danger posed by the continuing disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan.

    David Smith

    Greensboro

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