FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

We’ve Almost Lost Nebraska

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

Humankind is now threatened by the simultaneous implosion, explosion, incineration, courtroom contempt and drowning of its most lethal industry.

We know only two things for certain: worse is yet to come, and those in charge are lying about it—at least to the extent of what they actually know, which is nowhere near enough.

Indeed, the assurances from the nuke power industry continue to flow like the floodwaters now swamping the Missouri Valley heartland.

But major breakthroughs have come from a Pennsylvania Senator and New York’s Governor on issues of evacuation and shut-down. And a publiccampaign for an end to loan guarantees could put an end to the US industry once and for all.

FUKUSHIMA: The bad news continues to bleed from Japan with no end in sight. The “light at the end of the tunnel” is an out-of-control radioactive freight train, headed to the core of an endangered planet.

Widespread internal radioactive contamination among Japanese citizens around Fukushima has now been confirmed. Two whales caught some 650 kilometers from the melting reactors have shown intense radiation.

Plutonium, the deadliest substance known to our species, has been found dangerously far from the site.

Tokyo Electric and the Japanese government have admitted to three 100% meltdowns but can’t confirm with any reliability the current state of those cores. There’s reason to believe one or more have progressed to “melt-throughs” in which they burn through the thick stainless steel pressure vessel and onto the containment floor.

The molten cores may be covered with water. But whether they can melt further through the containments and into the ground remains unclear.

Possibilities may include a “China Syndrome” scenario in which one or more still-molten cores does melt through the containment and hits ground water. That could lead to a steam explosion that could blow still larger clouds of radioactive steam, water and debris into the atmosphere and ocean.

At least three explosions have occurred, one of which may have involved criticality.

There is no doubt at least two containments were breached very early in the disaster. Unit Four is cracked and sinking. The status of its used radioactive fuel pool, which has clearly caught fire, is uncertain. Also unclear is the ability of the owners to sustain the stability of Units Five and Six, which were shut when the quake/tsunami hit.

That stability depends on continued power to run cooling systems, which could disappear amidst seismic aftershocks many believe are inevitable. A very substantial quake hit after the tremors that led to Indonesia’s devastating tsunami, and few doubt it could happen again—soon—at Fukushima.

All the above is dependent on reports controlled primarily by Tokyo Electric and the Japanese government. There is every reason to believe the situation is worse than it seems, and that those in charge don’t really know the full of the extent of the damage or how to cope with it.

Just five years ago a quake shut seven reactors at Kashiwazaki. The entire nation of Japan sits on a wide range of fault lines. Tsunami is a Japanese word

Radiation from Fukushima has long since been detected throughout the northern hemisphere, with health effects that will be debated forever.

Some fifty reactors still operate in Japan. According to some, the Japanese public has the legal right to shut them all.

Let us pray they do. Yesterday.

LOS ALAMOS: A massive wildfire has swept at least to the outskirts of the national laboratory that was at the core of the program that built the Atomic Bomb.

The first explosion irradiated a nearby valley on July 16, 1945. Then came the two that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

There are significant quantities of stored radioactive material in and around Los Alamos. How much there is, where it is, how badly it is threatened, how much (if any) has already been engulfed in flames remains to be seen. Evacuations are underway.

Official reassurances are not reliable.

Nor are estimates of the potential for radioactive fallout to spread throughout North America and beyond.

VERMONT YANKEE: Entergy, owner of the one reactor in Vermont, has sued to shred a solemn public contract.

The one thing certain here is the company’s contempt for the sanctity of its own word.

Years ago Entergy sought official permits at VY. It promised in return that the state could choose to shut the reactor on March 21, 2012, which it’s now done.

In recent years VY has spewed tritium into groundwater and the Connecticut River, in some cases from underground pipes whose existence the company denied. A cooling tower has collapsed.

But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has extended the reactor’s license and asked the federal Justice Department to intervene on behalf of the utility.

The request trashes any credibility retained by the NRC. The Commission was established in the mid 1970s to be a disinterested party on which the public could rely. For it to now take a partisan stand on behalf of a reactor owner it’s bound to regulate thoroughly contaminates the core of its existence.

Entergy has sued so it can buy some $65 million in radioactive fuel the people of Vermont do not want burned on their land.

This will go to the US Supreme Court, where the future legal sanctity of any and all public contracts signed by any corporation, nuclear or otherwise, may be determined.

NEBRASKA: The flooding Missouri River continues to threaten at least two heartland reactors.

Late reports indicate Cooper may still be running, with public assurances it could be shut very quickly. What might happen if the operators are a little bit late has not been explained.

Nor is there much to go on about the impacts of flooded cores and fuel cooling ponds on the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers or the eco-systems along the way to a Gulf of Mexico still reeling from BP’s toxic dose.

But an almost surreal set of circumstances surrounds the true nature of design specifications and protections in place (or not) at Ft. Calhoun.

They may be best summarized by what happened to a “flood berm” meant to protect Ft. Calhoun. This huge rubberized water-filled sausage was sixteen feet at the base and eight feet high.

But CNN has quoted a company representative as saying a some sort of equipment “came in contact” with the berm and punctured it.

Not to worry: the “same level of protection is in place” as had been prior to the installation of the berm.

In other words, the device was installed to protect the reactor. Then somebody punctured it. But things are as they were before so they must not have needed that berm in the first place. Got it?

It’s as yet unclear whether flood waters will continue to rise at these two reactors, whether the operators can protect them, and what will happen if they can’t.

The corporate media is carrying virtually zero coverage of any of the above stories. All are subject to rapid, dangerous changes about which we may have little reliable information.

But we do know for sure that US Senator Robert Casey, Jr. (D-PA) now wants to see more deeply into one of the key holes in the nuclear fa?ade: evacuation.

After Three Mile Island’s 1979 partial melt-down, new federal legislation allegedly gave states more power over how to get people out of the path of a melting nuke.

But after an as-yet unopened Perry reactor was damaged by a 1986 earthquake, Ohio’s then-Governor Richard Celeste sued to keep Perry shut pending a state evacuation study.

The NRC refused and won in federal court. Perry opened. Ohio’s official study then said evacuation was virtually impossible.

A quarter-century later, Casey wants to see what it might now take to move downwinders out of harm’s way from a TMI, Perry, Chernobyl, Fukushima, Vermont Yankee, Cooper, Ft. Calhoun?..you name it.

Casey’s being joined by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, whose demands for the shut-down of Indian Point, 35 miles north of Manhattan, have left its owners “shaken.”

Cuomo and Casey might do well to join governors of states like Vermont, Massachusetts, California and others in testing the law on evacuation planning. Populations have vastly increased at virtually all US reactor sites since TMI. And the ugly realities that define the so-called “Peaceful Atom” are still making themselves all too apparent.

Whether the US will now turn with Germany, Japan, Italy, Switzerland, Israel and others away from atomic power and toward a green-powered Earth is up to us. The Solartopian technologies of wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, ocean thermal, bio-fuels, increased efficiency and conservation are now demonstrably cheaper, safer, cleaner, more reliable, more job-producing and quicker to install than anything atomic energy can promise.

A $36 billion loan guarantee give-away still mars the proposed 2012 federal budget. Constant pressure on Congress and the White House can kill that, and any other proposed funding for still more of these nightmares.

The stream of reactor disasters spewing from this dying industry is certain to escalate. The toll rises with each leak at Fukushima, every flame at Los Alamos, each legal brief at Vermont Yankee, every foot of Nebraska floodwater.

The need to stop the madness grows more desperate every day.

Harvey Wasserman, a co-founder of Musicians United
for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA!
Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030,
is at www.solartopia.org.
He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com

 

Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

February 22, 2017
Mike Whitney
Liberals Beware: Lie Down With Dogs, Get Up With Fleas
John Grant
On Killers and Bullshitters*
Peter Linebaugh
Catherine Despard, Abolitionist
Patrick Cockburn
The Bitter Battle for Mosul
Ted Rall
Sue the Bastards? It’s Harder Than You Think
Yoav Litvin
The Emergence of the Just Jew
Kim Scipes
Strategic Thinking and Organizing Resistance
Norman Pollack
Mar-a-Lago, Ideological Refuge: Berchtesgaden, II
Fred Donner
Nixon and the Chennault Affair: From Vietnam to Watergate
Carl Kandutsch
Podesta vs. Trump
Ike Nahem
To the Memory of Malcolm X: Fifty Years After His Assassination
Jesse Jackson
Trump’s Tough Talk Won’t Fix Chicago
Paul Donnelly
Betsy DeVos and the War on Public Education
Ebony Slaughter-Johnson
The End of an Alliance for Police Reform
Richard Lawless
Wall Street Demanded the Nuclear Option and the Congress Delivered
Liaquat Ali Khan
Yes, Real Donald Trump is a Muslim!
Ryan LaMothe
“Fire” and Free Speech
CounterPunch News Service
Bloody Buffalo Billboards
February 21, 2017
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
Finance as Warfare: the IMF Lent to Greece Knowing It Could Never Pay Back Debt
CJ Hopkins
Goose-stepping Our Way Toward Pink Revolution
John Wight
Firestarter: the Unwelcome Return of Tony Blair
Roger Harris
Lenin Wins: Pink Tide Surges in Ecuador…For Now
Shepherd Bliss
Japanese American Internment Remembered, as Trump Rounds Up Immigrants
Boris Kagarlitsky
Trump and the Contradictions of Capitalism
Robert Fisk
The Perils of Trump Addiction
Deepak Tripathi
Theresa May: Walking the Kingdom Down a Dark Alley
Sarah Anderson
To Save Main Street, Tax Wall Street
Howard Lisnoff
Those Who Plan and Enjoy Murder
Franklin Lamb
The Life and Death Struggle of the Children of Syria
Binoy Kampmark
A Tale of Two Realities: Trump and Israel
Kim C. Domenico
Body and Soul: Becoming Men & Women in a Post-Gender Age
Mel Gurtov
Trump, Europe, and Chaos
Stephen Cooper
Steinbeck’s Road Map For Resisting Donald Trump
February 20, 2017
Bruce E. Levine
Humiliation Porn: Trump’s Gift to His Faithful…and Now the Blowback
Melvin Goodman
“Wag the Dog,” Revisited
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima: a Lurking Global Catastrophe?
David Smith-Ferri
Resistance and Resolve in Russia: Memorial HRC
Kenneth Surin
Global India?
Norman Pollack
Fascistization Crashing Down: Driving the Cleaver into Social Welfare
Patrick Cockburn
Trump v. the Media: a Fight to the Death
Susan Babbitt
Shooting Arrows at Heaven: Why is There Debate About Battle Imagery in Health?
Matt Peppe
New York Times Openly Promotes Formal Apartheid Regime By Israel
David Swanson
Understanding Robert E. Lee Supporters
Michael Brenner
The Narcissism of Donald Trump
Martin Billheimer
Capital of Pain
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail