by Justin McKeating – April 26, 2013
April 26th marks the 27th anniversary of the devastating accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.
The radiation released into the atmosphere by the exploding nuclear reactor found its way across Ukraine, Belarus, Russia and large parts of Europe. Continue reading
Greenpeace activists plant cherry trees in front the Duke Energy Harris Nuclear Plant near New Hill, N.C.
Monday will mark the two-year anniversary of the day that the disastrous Japanese earthquake and tsunami were exacerbated by the manmade disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Two years after the meltdowns and explosions at the nuclear plant, tens of thousands of people in Japan still cannot safely return to their homes as a result of the disaster.
After Fukushima, many companies and governments finally accepted what they should have known all along: nuclear power is a bad bet. Aside from being far more expensive than safe, clean forms of energy like wind and solar power, nuclear plants simply present too great a safety risk to allow their continued construction. Continue reading
Vermont residents and activists join a Greenpeace rally outside the Statehouse, following a vote by Vermont Senate to retire the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in 2012.
In February 2010 Greenpeace and our Vermont colleagues convinced the Vermont legislature to reject the license from the state’s lone nuclear plant, Vermont Yankee and shut the plant down in 2012. The Vermont Senate voted 26 to 4 that operating Vermont Yankee was not in the best interest of Vermonters.
Entergy, the out-of-state corporate owners of Vermont Yankee, challenged this ruling in court. Last January U.S. District Court Judge Murtha sided with Entergy and said that Vermont was improperly motivated by safety.
The State of Vermont appealed that ruling and was in court in New York yesterday.
Below is an account of yesterday’s hearing from Richard Watts, University of Vermont professor and author of Public Meltdown: The Story of Vermont Yankee. Continue reading
Salem Nuclear Generating Station, New Jersey
Several nuclear reactors in New Jersey and New York shutdown as Hurricane Sandy slams into East Coast.
The morning after Hurricane Sandy struck the eastern seaboard several nuclear reactors in New Jersey and New York are now shutdown and information on their status is sparse if available at all. Continue reading
The Fiasco at Fukushima in Japan has reminded the planet that despite the blithe assurances of the nuclear industry, nuclear power is never safe. Over a year after the meltdowns and explosions of three General Electric designed reactors the disaster is far from under control. The so called experts still don’t know where the radioactive cores of these reactors even are. As a result of Fukushima, Japan has shut down every one of its nuclear reactors. They should NEVER split another atom!
The Washington Post chose Earth day to pose the question: Can the world fight global warming without nuclear power? In fact, we can do just that, as Greenpeace’s Energy Revolution scenario has shown. Let’s keep the nuclear reactors on the drawing board; they don’t meltdown there, like they do in real life. Continue reading
The Unusual Suspect
It’s a year after Fukushima and there’s a new book out about nuclear power in America, but there’s more to it than meets the eye.
Public Meltdown is about the struggle by the state of Vermont to gain control over and close the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant and the efforts by the plant’s owner – Entergy Nuclear of New Orleans – to keep it open. The book, however, is not the usual suspect’s tale of fighting the good fight to save the planet.
Yes, it’s about the pros and cons of nuclear power and the Vermont Yankee story is a compelling back-and-forth battle, but what the book reveals is applicable to public policy debates beyond nuclear power and beyond the environmental movement. Anyone interested in shifting the body politic, anywhere for any reason, will find this work closer to George Lakeoff than Helen Caldicott.
The book’s author, Richard Watts, a research professor at the University of Vermont, is primarily interested in the way we make public policy. Entergy Nuclear wants to influence government to keep the plant open, so it frames the issue as “safe, reliable, affordable energy.” Environmentalists want to close the plant and frames the issue as “dirty, dangerous and outdated accident waiting to happen.”
Dr. Watts tracks the debate – and the up-and-down fortunes of each “frame” – by counting the number of times each frame appears in the media over a number of years. Who’s repeating Entergy’s frame? Who’s repeating the opponents’ frame? Whose frames are the politicians and editorial boards repeating? Have they changed their frame? When? Why?
It’s a book about a nuke fight, but for Dr. Watts’s media laboratory, it’s a case study from a small state with a media market a researcher can get his arms around. The insights he draws from the public debate – which has now shifted to the courts – are ones everyone in the environmental movement would be well advised to heed.
(Mark Floegel is a Senior Investigator with Greenpeace and lives in Burlington, VT)
I will never forget the sleepless nights that began for me on March 11, 2011, endless hours organizing the Greenpeace response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
While looking for any piece of information that could give better clues to what was really happening at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, my mind was in Japan. I worried about everyone in the country but of course most of all those immediately affected by the tsunami. And I could not stop thinking about the heroic efforts of plant work-ers who risked their lives and fought against time to avoid the worst-case situation under which we knew even Tokyo would have to evacuate. Continue reading
Yesterday the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted to give Southern Company a combined operating license for two new nuclear reactors at the Vogtle plant site in Georgia. This is the first of a new generation of nuclear reactors to be licensed by the NRC. The NRC vote on the new nukes at Vogtle was 4 to 1 with the NRC’s Chairman dissenting. Continue reading
A decade ago, nineteen suicidal terrorists hijacked airliners and turned them into weapons by flying them into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Since those horrific attacks, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and the nuclear industry have repeatedly claimed that nuclear plants were not vulnerable to a similar attack.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
Rather than reduce the risks posed by nuclear power plants and their deadly wastes, nuclear bureaucrats have trafficked in half-truths about the vulnerability to a 9-11-type attack. When former NRC Chairman Dale Klein was asked what would happen if Al Qaeda flew a plane into a nuclear reactor, Klein’s response was that, “in general … the plane would bounce off.”
Unbelievable! Documents the NRC scrubbed from its own web site after 9-11 come to a very different conclusion. The report prepared by Argonne National Labs contradicts the NRC and industry claims of invulnerability and details accident sequences in which, “the core would most probably be headed for serious damage if not total meltdown.”
But the radiation from a meltdown of the reactor is not the only threat. The waste pools that store the highly radioactive fuel rods are also at risk. According to NRC’s own study, one third of U.S. nuclear reactors ”do not appear to have any significant structures that might reduce the likelihood of aircraft penetration [of the spent fuel pool].
The NRC has now dithered for a decade while suicidal terrorists have eye balled U.S reactors and their radioactive wastes as “nice targets.”
Rather than merely portray nuclear plants as hardened targets, the nuclear regulators should force the industry to move radioactive wastes into hardened on site storage and thereby reduce the potential consequences of a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant. Ten years after 9-11 both the Bush and Obama administrations have failed to do so and have failed to adequately protect the American people.