Nuclear Power News ArticlesExcerpts of key news articles on nuclear power
Working on nuclear issues on Capitol Hill in 1999 as an aide to Democratic lawmakers, the risks from human-caused global warming seemed to outweigh the dangers of nuclear power. By 2005 ... I was serving on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, where I saw that nuclear power ... was a powerful business as well as an impressive feat of science. In 2009, President Barack Obama named me the agency’s chairman. Two years into my term, an earthquake and tsunami destroyed four nuclear reactors in Japan. I spent months reassuring the American public that nuclear energy, and the U.S. nuclear industry in particular, was safe. But by then, I was starting to doubt those claims myself. I now believe that nuclear power’s benefits are no longer enough to risk the welfare of people living near these plants. The current and potential costs - in lives and dollars - are just too high. For years, my concerns about nuclear energy’s cost and safety were always tempered by a growing fear of climate catastrophe. But Fukushima provided a good test of just how important nuclear power was to slowing climate change: After the accident, all nuclear reactors in Japan were shuttered indefinitely, eliminating production of almost all of the country’s carbon-free electricity and about 30 percent of its total electricity production. Fewer than 10 of Japan’s 50 reactors have resumed operations, yet the country’s carbon emissions have dropped below their levels before the accident. How? Energy efficiency and solar power.
Note: The above was written by Gregory Jazcko, former head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the risks and dangers of nuclear power.
The U.S. government secretly allowed radiation from a damaged reactor to be released into air over the San Fernando and Simi valleys in the wake of a major nuclear meltdown in Southern California more than 50 years ago — fallout that nearby residents contend continues to cause serious health consequences and, in some cases, death. "Area Four," which is part of the once-secret Santa Susana Field Lab, [was] founded in 1947 to test experimental nuclear reactors and rocket systems. In 1959, Area Four was the site of one of the worst nuclear accidents in U.S. history. But the federal government still hasn't told the public that radiation was released into the atmosphere as a result of the partial nuclear meltdown. Now, whistleblowers ... have recounted how during and after that accident they were ordered to release dangerous radioactive gases into the air above Los Angeles and Ventura counties, often under cover of night, and how their bosses swore them to secrecy. For years starting in 1959, workers at Area Four were routinely instructed to release radioactive materials into the air above neighboring communities, through the exhaust stacks of nuclear reactors, open doors, and by burning radioactive waste. Radioactive contamination ... remains in the soil and water of Area Four and in some areas off-site. The fallout could be linked to illnesses, including cancer, among residents living nearby. In addition to the radiation, dozens of toxic chemicals, including TCE and Perchlorate, were also released ... from the 1950s to 80s.
Note: The government is lying, and people are dying. For lots more on this huge nuclear cover-up, see this NBC article and this one. You can also watch an eight-minute History Channel video on this disaster. The video states that the amount of radiation released during this accident was 240 times the amount released at Three Mile Island, making it one of the worst nuclear disasters in history, yet it was all kept secret. For more, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on government corruption and nuclear power issues.
For almost nine hours starting on Sept. 18, 1980, brave airmen sought to contain the damage precipitated by a dropped wrench socket that hit a Titan II missile -- which was tipped with a W-53 thermonuclear warhead -- in its silo [in Damascus, Arkansas]. The socket pierced the missile’s skin, causing fuel and oxidizer leaks. The ensuing explosion destroyed the silo, propelling missile parts and [the] warhead into abbreviated flight. One airman died from internal wounds while 21 personnel were injured. The W-53 warhead ended up on a nearby roadside -- passed by motorists but fortunately never detonated. Close, but no mushroom cloud. This freakish event is at the core of Eric Schlosser’s new book, Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident and the Illusion of Safety. “The United States has narrowly avoided a long series of nuclear disasters,” he writes. He reveals declassified studies that disclose hundreds of mishaps between 1950 and 1967 and beyond. They include a B-61 hydrogen bomb accidentally dropped 7 feet from a parked B-52 bomber at Carswell Air Force Base when a crewman pulled a handle too hard, and a Mark 6 atomic bomb landing in a Mars Bluff, South Carolina backyard, creating a 35-foot-deep crater and blowing out nearby windows and doors. Schlosser takes Baby Boomers of the “duck and cover” era down a Megaton Memory Lane while providing a vivid primer for the Twitter generation on a world where nuclear weapons were a fact of life to deter a larger-than-life Soviet Union depicted as bent on world domination.
Note: Watch a 16-minute interview with Erik Schlosser showing how close we have come to accidental nuclear explosions. For more on this, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear risk news articles from reliable major media sources.
Extremely high radiation levels have been recorded inside a damaged reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station, almost six years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown. Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said atmospheric readings as high as 530 sieverts an hour had been recorded inside the containment vessel of reactor No 2, one of three reactors that experienced a meltdown when the plant was crippled. Even if a 30-percent margin of error is taken into account, the recent reading, described by some experts as “unimaginable”, is far higher than the previous record of 73 sieverts an hour detected by sensors in 2012. A single dose of one sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness and nausea; 5 sieverts would kill half those exposed to it within a month, and a single dose of 10 sieverts would prove fatal within weeks. Quantities of melted fuel are believed to have accumulated at the bottom of the damaged reactors’ containment vessels, but dangerously high radiation has prevented engineers from accurately gauging the state of the fuel deposits. The extraordinary radiation readings highlight the scale of the task confronting thousands of workers, as pressure builds on Tepco to begin decommissioning the plant – a process that is expected to take about four decades. In December, the government said the estimated cost of decommissioning the plant and decontaminating the surrounding area ... had risen to 21.5tn yen (Ł150bn), nearly double an estimate released in 2013.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear power news articles from reliable major media sources.
Life as we know it almost ended in 1980. At a Titan II complex in Damascus, Ark., a technician dropped a wrench during routine service of one of the missiles. It bounced down the cavernous silo and punctured the missile’s fuselage. Rocket fuel poured out, and desperate efforts began to prevent the warhead – 600 times greater in explosive power than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima – from detonating. With reenactments the equal of any thriller and gripping interviews with participants, experts, and survivors, Robert Kenner’s “Command and Control” shows how close we came to the brink of annihilation, and how likely the chances are of such an accident occurring again — with potentially catastrophic consequences. While “Command and Control” tells the story of a nuclear catastrophe that nearly happened in the past, Peter Galison and Robb Moss’s documentary “Containment” shows how the distant future - as in hundreds of thousands of years from now - might be a little dicey, too. The problem is the hundreds of millions of gallons of nuclear waste, some with a half-life in six digits, the residue of weapons making and reactors, that litter the landscape. Not only must secure places be found to store it, but some way must be devised to warn future generations who might not share the same language as us. Moss and Galison employ startling documentary footage and scintillating sci-fi-like animation in examining the danger.
Note: Watch a riveting 10-minute clip from the documentary on the near disaster in Arkansas. One former officer involved in the incident states, "You had to be ready to destroy an entire civilization." For lots more on this important documentary, see this PBS webpage.
The Hanford Nuclear Reservation sits on the plains of eastern Washington. The site is nearly 600 square miles in area and has been largely closed to the public for the past 70 years. Late last year, though, it became part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. A total of nine reactors operated at Hanford, and though they are now decommissioned, the reactors have left behind 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. Recent reports [indicate] new breaches in the tanks holding the nuclear waste. Workers on the site have been sickened too, suggesting that the rush to designate Hanford as a park may have been premature. The government has hired private contractors to build a plant that will solidify the waste and prepare it for permanent safe storage. The project will cost an astonishing $110 billion ... making it what many believe to be the most expensive, and extensive, environmental remediation project in the world. Completion is about five decades away. In 2013, construction of the Waste Treatment Plant - which will pump nuclear sludge out of the tanks and turn them into a hardened, glasslike substance - was slow. Whistleblowers, meanwhile, were alleging that private contractors had neglected safety and engineering concerns. Observers likened the place to a nuclear tinderbox. “America’s Fukushima?” asked the resulting Newsweek cover story. [One containment tank] was already known to be leaking toxic sludge into the soil. Now a second double-shelled tank ... is believed to be leaking as well.
Note: We are still 50 years and $110 billion away from safely containing the waste from just this one nuclear site, which was decommissioned 70 years ago. Why are we still using nuclear power? For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing nuclear power news articles from reliable major media sources.
A little over 50 years ago a South Carolina doctor ... treated a family for injuries sustained when a sudden, inexplicable explosion tore through their backyard. The object in the 50-foot crater left behind their house was an atomic bomb that had fallen from a passing Air Force plane. The bomb had not been “armed” with its nuclear core; the blast came from the explosives intended to trigger a chain reaction. The crater can still be seen today. That incident, which led to an anti-nuclear movement in Britain, where the plane was bound, is one of many stories Eric Schlosser ... tells in Command and Control: Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety. During the cold war, nuclear bombs fell out of the sky, burned up in plane crashes and were lost at sea. In the incident Schlosser describes in greatest detail, “the Damascus accident” of Sept. 18, 1980, the warhead from a Titan II missile was ejected after a series of mishaps that began when a repairman dropped a socket wrench and pierced a fuel tank. Tactical nuclear weapons scattered across Europe had minimal security; misplaced tools and failed repairs triggered serious accidents; inadequate safety procedures and poor oversight led to dozens of close brushes with nuclear explosions. Schlosser’s readers (and he deserves a great many) will be struck by how frequently the people he cites attribute the absence of accidental explosions and nuclear war to divine intervention or sheer luck rather than to human wisdom and skill.
Note: For more on this highly revealing book, click here. For details of Schlosser's amazing story of the two H-bombs that fell on North Carolina in 1961, click here. For more on the grave risks of nuclear technologies, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Tons of contaminated groundwater from the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant have overwhelmed an underground barrier and are emptying daily into the Pacific, creating what a top regulator has called a crisis. The water contains strontium and cesium, as well as tritium. The plant was already struggling to store hundreds of thousands of tons of contaminated water that flowed through the buildings housing three reactors where [three] meltdowns occurred in 2011. But the contamination in this new groundwater problem is from different sources, Tepco said. The company has admitted that it failed to respond quickly enough to the latest groundwater contamination, saying it was preoccupied with more pressing issues like cooling the damaged reactors. “Tepco appears overwhelmed in dealing with what is a very serious problem,” said Akio Yamamoto, a professor of nuclear engineering at Nagoya University, who serves as outside expert for the Nuclear Regulation Authority, Japan’s nuclear watchdog. Critics contend that the plant has emitted far more radioactive materials than it is saying, based in part on levels of contaminants discovered in the harbor, which are well above safe levels in some places. The contamination appears to be spreading, with tests last month by Tepco showing high levels of tritium and other radioactive elements like strontium starting at other locations near the two other crippled reactors.
Note: Declaring the situation an "emergency", the Japanese government has stepped in to take over control of the response from Tepco. For more on this, click here. For a National Geographic article on what you need to know about the radioactive contamination of the Pacific Ocean by the Fukushima disaster, click here. It reports that scientists have estimated that contaminated seawater could reach the West Coast of the United States in five years or less. For more on the environmental devastation of nuclear power, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Lockheed Martin has reportedly been working on a revolutionary new type of reactor that can power anything from cities to aircraft carriers. The Maryland-based defense contractor recently received a patent for the compact fusion reactor (CFR) after filing plans for the device in 2014. According to reports, one generator would be as small as a shipping container but produce the energy to power 80,000 homes or one of the U.S. Navy’s Nimitz-class carriers. Lockheed’s advanced projects division, Skunk Works, has reportedly been working on the futuristic power source since 2014 and claimed at the time that a CFR could be ready for production by 2019. “I started looking at all the ideas that had been published. I basically took those ideas and melded them into something new by taking the problems in one and trying to replace them with the benefits of others,” Dr. Thomas McGuire of Skunk Works said during a 2014 interview. “The nice thing about a fusion reaction is that if somehow it would go out of control, it would just stop itself automatically,” William & Mary’s Saskia Mordijck told Phys.org in 2012. “If a fission reaction goes out of control, it can really go out of control. You can’t stop it and it actually might go into a nuclear meltdown.” Lockheed advertises its quest to develop fusion power on its website, calling the technology “a cleaner, safer source of energy” that could be used to power communities or even travel to Mars.
Note: A 2004 New York Times article stated that Lockheed Martin runs a "breathtakingly big part" of the US. This company's "Skunk Works" was kept very secret until 2014, when reporters were given a glossy brochure featuring a "10-point "Skunk Works 2015" agenda". For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing energy invention news articles from reliable major media sources.
When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations. The early federal statements gave no hint that the blast had caused massive long-term damage to the dump, a facility crucial to the nuclear weapons cleanup program that spans the nation, or that it would jeopardize the Energy Department’s credibility in dealing with the tricky problem of radioactive waste. But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania. The dump, officially known as the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, was designed to place waste from nuclear weapons production since World War II into ancient salt beds, which engineers say will collapse around the waste and permanently seal it. The equivalent of 277,000 drums of radioactive waste is headed to the dump, according to federal documents. It had operated problem-free for 15 years and was touted by the Energy Department as a major success until the explosion. Though [an] error at the Los Alamos lab caused the accident, a federal investigation found more than two dozen safety lapses at the dump. The dump’s filtration system was supposed to prevent any radioactive releases, but it malfunctioned.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the grave risks of nuclear technologies.
Japan's prime minister at the time of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami has revealed that the country came within a “paper-thin margin” of a nuclear disaster requiring the evacuation of 50 million people. In an interview with The Telegraph ... Naoto Kan described the panic and disarray at the highest levels of the Japanese government as it fought to control multiple meltdowns at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station. He said he considered evacuating the capital, Tokyo, along with all other areas within 160 miles of the plant, and declaring martial law. Mr Kan admitted he was frightened and said he got “no clear information” out of Tepco, the plant’s operator. He was “very shocked” by the performance of Nobuaki Terasaka, his own government’s key nuclear safety adviser. “We asked him – do you know anything about nuclear issues? And he said no, I majored in economics.” Another member of Mr Kan’s crisis working group, the then Tepco chairman, Tsunehisa Katsumata, was last week indicted on charges of criminal negligence for his role in the disaster. Mr Kan lost the prime ministership later in 2011. The former leader said that “a lot of the accident was caused before March 11” by the complacency and misjudgment of Tepco, a verdict echoed by the official inquiry, which dubbed the nuclear accident a “man-made disaster”. The criminal investigation which led to last week’s charges against Mr Katsumata and two other Tepco managers found that they had known since June 2009 that the plant was vulnerable.
Note: For more along these lines, see concise summaries of deeply revealing news articles on the Fukushima Nuclear Plant disaster.
In what may be the biggest such scandal in Air Force history, 34 officers entrusted with land-based nuclear missiles have been pulled off the job for alleged involvement in a cheating ring that officials say was uncovered during a drug probe. The 34 are suspected of cheating several months ago on a routine proficiency test that includes checking missile launch officers' knowledge of how to handle an "emergency war order," which is the term for the authorization required to launch a nuclear weapon. The cheating scandal is the latest in a series of Air Force nuclear stumbles ... including deliberate violations of safety rules, failures of inspections, breakdowns in training and evidence that the men and women who operate the missiles from underground command posts are suffering burnout. In October the general who commands the nuclear missile force was fired for engaging in embarrassing behavior, including drunkenness, while leading a U.S. delegation to a nuclear exercise in Russia. The AP disclosed in May an internal Air Force email in which a missile operations officer complained that his force was infested with "rot" — bad attitudes and disregard for discipline. The Air Force's nuclear mission includes operation of 450 Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Malmstrom unit failed a nuclear safety and security inspection in August but succeeded on a redo in October.
Note: Some are speculating about a purge of high-level U.S. military officers. For evidence of this, click here. And is it just a coincidence that the Malmstrom unit is mentioned? That is the base where several officers testified that a UFO shut down all nuclear warheads several decades ago. For more, click here. And for more on military corruption, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
Israel has 80 nuclear warheads and the potential to double that number, according to a new report by U.S. experts. In the Global Nuclear Weapons Inventories, recently published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, proliferation experts Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris write that Israel stopped production of nuclear warheads in 2004. But the country has enough fissile material for an additional 115 to 190 warheads, according to the report, meaning it could as much as double its arsenal. Previous estimates have been higher but the new figures agree with the 2013 Stockholm International Peace Research Institute yearbook on armament and international security. The yearbook estimated 50 of Israel's nuclear warheads were for medium-range ballistic missiles and 30 were for for bombs carried by aircraft. Although widely assumed a nuclear power, Israel has never acknowledged possessing nuclear weapons or capabilities and continues to maintain its decades-old "strategic ambiguity" policy on the matter, neither confirming nor denying foreign reports on the issue. In 1986, Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli nuclear technician, leaked the country's alleged nuclear secrets to a British newspaper, and said Israel had at least 100 nuclear weapons. Vanunu was later convicted of espionage and treason and was released from jail in 2004 after serving 17 years. Israel continued to adhere to its vagueness policy after comments made by then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2006 were interpreted by many as an inadvertent confirmation that Israel had nuclear weapons.
Note: For more on government secrecy, see the deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources available here.
All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on [April 8]. Shutting them all down at once is not practical, he said, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives. The position of the former chairman, Gregory B. Jaczko, is not unusual in that various anti-nuclear groups take the same stance. But it is highly unusual for a former head of the nuclear commission to so bluntly criticize an industry whose safety he was previously in charge of ensuring. Dr. Jaczko made his remarks at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference in Washington in a session about the Fukushima accident. Dr. Jaczko said that many American reactors that had received permission from the nuclear commission to operate for 20 years beyond their initial 40-year licenses probably would not last that long. He also rejected as unfeasible changes proposed by the commission that would allow reactor owners to apply for a second 20-year extension, meaning that some reactors would run for a total of 80 years. Dr. Jaczko resigned as chairman last summer after months of conflict with his four colleagues on the commission. He often voted in the minority on various safety questions, advocated more vigorous safety improvements, and was regarded with deep suspicion by the nuclear industry.
Note: For deeply revealing reports from reliable major media sources on grave risks caused by corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
Exposure to radioactive material released into the environment has caused mutations in butterflies found in Japan, a study suggests. Scientists found an increase in leg, antennae and wing shape mutations among butterflies collected following the 2011 Fukushima accident. By comparing mutations found on the butterflies collected from the different sites, the team found that areas with greater amounts of radiation in the environment were home to butterflies with much smaller wings and irregularly developed eyes. Six months later, they again collected adults from the 10 sites and found that butterflies from the Fukushima area showed a mutation rate more than double that of those found sooner after the accident. The team concluded that this higher rate of mutation came from eating contaminated food, but also from mutations of the parents' genetic material that was passed on to the next generation, even though these mutations were not evident in the previous generations' adult butterflies. The findings from their new research show that the radionuclides released from the accident had led to novel, severely abnormal development, and that the mutations to the butterflies' genetic material [were] still affecting the insects, even after the residual radiation in the environment had decayed away. "This study is important and overwhelming in its implications for both the human and biological communities living in Fukushima," explained University of South Carolina biologist Tim Mousseau, who studies the impacts of radiation on animals and plants.
The nuclear accident at Fukushima was a preventable disaster rooted in government-industry collusion and the worst conformist conventions of Japanese culture, a parliamentary inquiry [has] concluded. The report, released by the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission, challenged some of the main story lines that the government and the operator of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant have put forward. Most notably, the report said the plant’s crucial cooling systems might have been damaged in the earthquake on March 11, 2011, not only in the ensuing tsunami. That possibility raises doubts about the safety of all the quake-prone country’s nuclear plants just as they begin to restart after a pause ordered in the wake of the Fukushima crisis. “It was a profoundly man-made disaster — that could and should have been foreseen and prevented,” said Kiyoshi Kurokawa, the commission’s chairman, in the report’s introduction. “And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.” The 641-page report criticized Tepco as being too quick to dismiss earthquake damage as a cause of the fuel meltdowns at three of the plant’s six reactors, which overheated when the site lost power. Tepco has contended that the plant withstood the earthquake that rocked eastern Japan, instead placing blame for the disaster on what some experts have called a “once in a millennium” tsunami that followed.
Note: For lots more from reliable major media articles on corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
One of Japan's crippled nuclear reactors still has fatally high radiation levels and hardly any water to cool its fuel, according to an internal examination that reinforces doubts about the plant's stability. The data collected showed the damage from the disaster is so severe, the plant operator will have to develop special equipment and technology to tolerate the harsh environment and decommission the plant, a process expected to last decades. The No. 2 reactor is the only one plant workers have been able to closely examine so far. Tuesday's examination with an industrial endoscope detected radiation levels up to 10 times the fatal dose inside the chamber. The other two reactors that had meltdowns could be in even worse shape. Three Dai-ichi reactors had meltdowns, but the No. 2 reactor is the only one that has been examined because radiation levels inside the reactor building are relatively low and its container is designed with a convenient slot to send in the endoscope. The exact conditions of the other two reactors, where hydrogen explosions damaged their buildings, are still unknown. Simulations have indicated that more fuel inside No. 1 has breached the core than the other two, but radiation at No. 3 remains the highest. The high radiation levels inside the No. 2 reactor's chamber mean it's inaccessible to the workers. Fukushima's accident has instilled public distrust and concerns about nuclear safety, making it difficult for the government to start up reactors even after regular safety checks. All but one of Japan's 54 reactors are now offline, with the last one scheduled to stop in early May.
Note: For key reports from reliable sources on Fukushima and other cases of corruption in the nuclear power industry, click here.
British government officials approached nuclear companies to draw up a co-ordinated public relations strategy to play down the Fukushima nuclear accident just two days after the earthquake and tsunami in Japan and before the extent of the radiation leak was known. Internal emails seen by the Guardian show how the business and energy departments worked closely behind the scenes with the multinational companies EDF Energy, Areva and Westinghouse to try to ensure the accident did not derail their plans for a new generation of nuclear stations in the UK. "This has the potential to set the nuclear industry back globally," wrote one official at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), whose name has been redacted. "We need to ensure the anti-nuclear chaps and chapesses do not gain ground on this. We need to occupy the territory and hold it. We really need to show the safety of nuclear." Officials stressed the importance of preventing the incident from undermining public support for nuclear power. Louise Hutchins, a spokeswoman for Greenpeace, said the emails looked like "scandalous collusion". "This highlights the government's blind obsession with nuclear power and shows neither they, nor the industry, can be trusted when it comes to nuclear," she said.
Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation's aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril. The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public. Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards. Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered. Not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.
Note: Read this detailed report in its entirety to see the amazing range of serious problems in the US nuclear industry which have systematically been covered up by the NRC. For lots more from reliable sources on government and corporate corruption, click here and here.
A few weeks before the tsunami struck Fukushima’s uranium reactors and shattered public faith in nuclear power, China revealed that it was launching a rival technology to build a safer, cleaner, and ultimately cheaper network of reactors based on thorium. China’s Academy of Sciences said it had chosen a “thorium-based molten salt reactor system”. The liquid fuel idea was pioneered by US physicists at Oak Ridge National Lab in the 1960s. Chinese scientists claim that hazardous waste will be a thousand times less than with uranium. The system is inherently less prone to disaster. “The reactor has an amazing safety feature,” said Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer at Teledyne Brown and a thorium expert. “If it begins to overheat, a little plug melts and the salts drain into a pan. There is no need for computers, or the sort of electrical pumps that were crippled by the tsunami. The reactor saves itself,” he said. US physicists in the late 1940s explored thorium fuel for power. It has a higher neutron yield than uranium, a better fission rating, longer fuel cycles, and does not require the extra cost of isotope separation. The plans were shelved because thorium does not produce plutonium for bombs. As a happy bonus, it can burn up plutonium and toxic waste from old reactors, reducing radio-toxicity and acting as an eco-cleaner.
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