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June 27, 2011
Two natural disasters threaten two nuclear facilities in heavily populated areas.
June 28, 2011
Los Alamos, New Mexico was evacuated today:
Notes on ABC Nightline Report:
As a consequence of increasingly unpredictable weather patterns, physicist Michio Kaku says, “We amy have to re-evaluate the risk that we engaged in at the beginning of the nuclear age.”
Regarding the situation at Fort Calhoun, Kaku says, “If water levels surged just a few feet higher, at that point, we’re talking about short-circuiting all the pumps, leading to a loss of all the coolant. Water levels could drop, exposing the core and then we could have a Three Mile Island – we could have a Fukushima all over again.”
Fort Calhoun issued a statement that the facility “…remains safe and secure, despite the elevated river levels and flooding conditions in the area…”
After touring the Fort Calhoun power plant on Monday, Nuclear Regulatory Chairman, Greg Jaczko said that both Fort Calhoun and Los Alamos National Labs are safe: “There’s absolutely no reason, now to do any emergency evacuation of these sites,” (which contradicts the mandatory evacuations now in place at both locations). Here’s the evacuation story in Fort Calhoun:
A new AP report says that in the 30-40 years since many of the US’ nuclear plants have come online, the once-rural populations have spiked in the hundreds of percents and that the old evacuation plans cannot be effectively updated.
Dr. Ed Lyman from the Union of Concerned Scientists says that the “Evacuation plans have been updated but they have not taken into view the issues involved with this uncontrolled population growth very close these plants.”
If the Indian Point facility outside of New York City were to be the cause of evacuating the population within a 50-mile radius, that would mean re-locating 17 million people or 6% of the US population, restricted by two-lane roads and busy bridges.
Dr. Lyman says, “Frankly, the idea that you can ask the population around New York City to evacuate within a 50-mile radius within a matter of hours is ludicrous.”
50 miles is the distance the NRC’s Greg Jaczko recommended that US Citizens evacuate around the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, last March.
When Greg Jaczko was asked why the requirement within the US remained only 10 miles, he said: “We anticipate there would be time to adjust the evacuation plans.”
The new AP report also said that radioactive tritium has leaked from three quarters of US nuclear power plants. Tom & Judy Zimmer had just moved into their home near a nuclear facility outside of Chicago in 2005 when plant owners showed up on their doorstep. Today, the Zimmers can’t sell their home and Judy has developed cancer, although she is unable prove a link between the tritium leak and her illness.
The plant owner, Exelon says it’s nearly finished cleaning up the leak and that tritium levels were always below EPA danger limits.
Although the industry has stepped-up its inspections to prevent leaks, it is its ability to prevent catastrophes from unpredicted natural disasters that has its critics concerned.