“The Dream thrives on generalization, on limiting the number of possible questions, on privileging immediate answers”
–Ta-Nehisi Coates, Between the World and Me
Today I feel like David and Energy NW, the owners of a large nuclear reactor in Washington State, the Columbia Generating Station(CGS), is my Goliath. My slingshot, Truth and I fight against Goliath, symbolic here of Radiation.
I have now figured out how to win this fight if only others would join me along with those of us who have also been fighting Goliath for almost 70 years and the answer was waiting for me to find it. It took 3 years of following radiation readings around the US to figure this out.
Sometimes we are told to follow the money. In this case, I had to follow the radiation. After tracking readings and following how the NRC and the EPA work I realized the symbiotic relationship between these two groups were where the answers were hidden and where the answers could be found. I will explain.
Since writing my first article 4 months ago published in CounterPunch titled, Why Fukushima Ended the Nuclear Debate, there have been about 11 reported NRC Events from CGS. I ask myself each time a new Event occurs, how many near misses can one nuclear plant have before the next Fukushima attacks us from within? When does the luck run dry? I also ask daily, why won’t the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shut down nuclear power plants before luck turns to corium, molten nuclear core?
In order for you to understand what is truth and what is pure fiction, you must know a few key factors. Obfuscation is an imperative, a must have tool used by the EPA, the NRC and by nuclear companies to “protect” you from what you should not know. I’ll repeat that last part: to protect you from what you should not know. Let me explain further.
To understand viscerally the truth behind how much radiation leaks at a nuclear plant under “normal” operations, I pulled graphs of radiation leaks directly from the EPA’s site from their Radnet Monitors which were placed in this case, in Richland, WA. I then went to the NRC’s website to gather the Nuclear Events that occurred from the planned refueling shut down at the Columbia Generating Station from just before May 9th- July 23rd.
I’ve listed the NRC Events as they were posted on the NRC event page from which I copied the data, followed by these Events superimposed onto the radiation graphs themselves so you can see how they relate to each other and see what radiation “looks” like to the EPA. (The measurements on the EPA’s site are in Counts Per Minute, reading the amount of ambient radiation in the air. For comparison purposes, EPA counts in Seattle hover around 50 – 80 CPM. Seattle is 200 miles West of Richland. Notice the baseline counts on these graphs from Richland.)
May 1st –Rod Position Indicator System (RPIS) Unplanned Outage and Major Loss of Assessment Capability.
May 9th. Columbia Generating Station Shuts down for Refueling.
May 13-15 Event # 51068 Loss of Radiological Assessment Capability Due to Non-Functional Radiation Monitor. Radnet Spikes to 450 Counts Per Minute.
May 22nd. Event #51086 Emergency Diesel Generator Start Due to Actuation of Undervoltage Circuitry. Radnet Spikes to 360 Counts Per Minute.
May 27th. Event # 51094 Area Radiation Monitors Non-Functional During Planned Bus Outage. Radnet Monitors show steady increase from 260 CPM – 285 CPM
June 2nd. Event #51109 Defective Circuit Breaker Secondary Close Latch . Radnet spikes to 285 CPM with additional spikes on June 7th and 8th to 290 CPM
June 26th. Event # 51182 Half -Scram. Two Reactor Vessel Channels Failed High. Radnet Monitors show Steady Increases over next two days from 265 CPM – 320 CPM
July 8th-July 10th. RADNET SHUT DOWN MONITOR FOR TWO DAYS.
July 13th Event # 51228 Secondary Pressure Containment Increase Above Technical Spec Limit. WHAT HAPPENED DURING THE TWO DAY RADNET MONITOR SHUTDOWN?
One might ask after seeing these charts, where does the radiation go after it passes over the EPA’s Radnet Monitor for detection? Which way were the winds blowing? What are the radioactive elements that were released and what does that mean to the food chain and to human bodies?
Who will get cancer from each release of radiation and how many will suffer? Was anyone notified?
You will not be notified. Some people near nuclear reactors will have been supplied with inert potassium iodide tablets to block the uptake of radioactive iodine131 and 129 should they be released, but you must take them before the radioactive gases reach you, however almost certainly the owners of the nuclear plant won’t tell you when you should be taking them. The dispensing of iodine tablets, no matter how rare an occurrence, is a telling piece of evidence that the nuclear companies are aware that nuclear plants leak and cause cancer.
How do I know that they know this? There is a report that needs to filed from each nuclear plant to the NRC called the Effluent Release Report. The Report linked here from CGS – Columbia Generating Station – which explains all the ways that CGS released radioactivity to the people and the environment in 2014. When I asked the Resident Inspector at CGS how the NRC allows a nuclear plant to run knowing that it has radiation releases, he said, the releases at a nuclear power plant are “as low as reasonably achievable…there’s always some amount of release coming from Columbia.” That does not make me feel safe and the fact that there is no safe limit of radiation, no one reading this should feel safe either. You will hear PR talking points like “the dose report is only1/10th of a millirem” but what they won’t tell you is that each new dose is cumulative and adds to previous dosages you have received from dental X rays etc., and therefore if you live near a reactor even during routine operations you will receive doses of radiation that you should never have been exposed to.
“… If you pollute when you do know there is no safe dose with respect to causing extra cases of deadly cancers or heritable effects, you are committing premeditated random murder.”
– John W. Gofman, Ph.D., M.D. Comments on a Petition for Rulemaking to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, May 21, 1994.”
You have seen what I’ve seen. You know basically what I know. You know that communities near and relatively far from nuclear power plants are getting dosed with radiation, an act that is sanctioned by the NRC. You can see it for yourselves in the charts I’ve presented. We know that according to Dr. Ian Fairle and studies reported in the Lancet, that workers at nuclear power plants develop leukemia at more than double the previous estimates in studies from 2005.
The essence of the argument against nuclear is that nuclear power kills. Its origin of intent was destruction through the creation of plutonium to make nuclear weapons. Nuclear power has killed and sickened large numbers of native Americans, but no one really knows because the research necessary to estimate these health effects has never really been done. The nuclear catastrophe in Fukushima will kill many thousands in Japan. Nuclear power has already killed over one million people in Russia, the Ukraine and Europe after Chernobyl. Nuclear power killed people in Pennsylvania after Three Mile Island. Nuclear power is killing people all over the world and will continue to do so for the rest of time because of persistent leaking of massive amounts of radioactive waste into food chains.
On this 70th anniversary of the mass killing in Japan from Nagasaki to Hiroshima, please stand up and renounce nuclear power as unsafe, unclean and outrageously expensive. Tell your local 350.org to include nuclear in their messaging and actions for the planet. Tell all of your environmental groups to embrace a full Boycott Nuclear Campaign in your area. (Details on that in the next article!)
Be smart. Be clear. Be active against Radioactive.