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Indian Point: Fukushima’s Mini-Me

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Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant New York continually leaks radioactivity into the Hudson River. This has been going on for years. Seriously!

Meanwhile, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo agrees with advocacy groups such as Riverkeeper, Physicians for Social Responsibility, and The Sierra Club to close Indian Point. Why? Environmentalists claim the radioactive leaks are “just the tip of the iceberg,” Amy Kraft, Indian Point Nuclear Plant Called ‘Disaster Waiting to Happen, CBS News, Feb. 26, 2016.

According to CBS News, water at one of the monitoring wells for Indian Point showed a 65,000% increase in tritium, which, according to nuclear industry specialists, is the kind of radiation that passes through the body very quickly via urination. That’s a relief!

On the other hand, “… little research has been done on the health effects of exposure to increased levels of tritium. But the NRC states: ‘Exposure to very small amounts of ionizing radiation is thought to minimally increase the risk of developing cancer, and the risk increases as exposure increases,” Ibid.

On second thought, “the risk increases as exposure increases,” doesn’t sound too good. After all, +65,000% likely hits the marker within the category of “risk increases as exposure increases.” When is too much, too much?

“However, Jerry Nappi, a representative for Entergy Corporation, said that the most recent issue at Indian Point would not have any impact on human health or life in the river. ‘Concentrations would be undetectable in the river,’ Nappi told CBS News. ‘We know from more than 10 years of hydrological studies on the site that it [radioactive contaminants] can’t reach drinking water sources in nearby communities,” Ibid.

So, where do the radioactive contaminants go?

But wait, there’s more, according to Riverkeeper, since at least August 2005, radioactive toxins such as tritium and strontium-90 have been leaking from at least two spent fuel pools at Indian Point into the groundwater and the Hudson River. In January 2007, strontium-90 was detected in four out of twelve Hudson River fish.

According to Joseph Mangano, Executive Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project, “Despite the assurances from Entergy, the area around Indian Point is a ‘cancer cluster,’ with the local rate of thyroid cancer rates registering at 66% higher than the national average.” A cancer cluster!

Does Indian Point’s leaky radiation foreshadow the “End of the Nuclear Age,” as mentioned in Fortune magazine? Maybe it does as, “The plant’s problems are not isolated – leaks have been found at as many as 75% of U.S. nuclear plants,” David Z. Morris, Indian Point Leak Foreshadows the End of the Nuclear Age,” Fortune, Feb. 28, 2016.

According to Naoto Kan, former Japanese PM when the Fukushima crisis hit: “Technically it is impossible to eliminate nuclear power plant accidents. There is only one way to eliminate accidents, which is to get rid of all nuclear power plants,” Wilson Dizard, Fukushima on the Hudson: Could a Nuclear Accident Happen Near NYC? Aljazeera America, Oct. 14, 2013.

Indian Point has five times (5x) as much spent fuel in its spent-fuel pool as Fukushima. But, consider this cautionary flag: Japan has the best emergency-planning system in the world because the country is built on a seismically active island. Still, “they had an entire emergency-planning system collapse!” Ibid.

“They had an entire emergency-planning system collapse” is not at all comforting. Further to the point, in the context of Japan’s emphasis on the highest quality, the absolute best, emergency-planning systems, which crashed and burned when needed most, what does this say about the rest of the world? Like Indian Point, for example.

Radioactive toxins are complex. Nuclear reactors produce more than 100 different isotopes, which coincidentally are only produced in nuclear reactors or atomic bombs, isotopes such as Strontium-89, Strontium-90, Cesium-137, and Iodine-131. All of these isotopes are carcinogenic to varying degrees and each attacks different parts of the body, some the thyroid, some the bones, some the soft tissues throughout the body, and alter DNA. This is dangerous stuff that is so complex that the whole enchilada is unimaginably unimaginable.

Speaking of which, imagine this: Thom Hartmann’s interview of Alexey Yaroshevsky, regarding Indian Point, “I met people who used to live in the area, and they said they have thyroid cancer, which was the biggest shocker to me…since I come from part of the world where Chernobyl happened… so, you have people in the area of Indian Point in masses, 20,000 people diagnosed with cancer, 20,000 over 15 years… more than anywhere else in the United States,” Indian Point – We Are Flirting with Catastrophe, Thom Hartmann, The Big Picture – RT interview of Alexey Yaroshevsky, RT Reporter/Washington, D.C., Feb. 16, 2015.

The Department of State, Bureau of Coastal Management released a 40-page report about Indian Point in February 2016, part of which reads as follows: “Approximately 1,500 tons of spent fuel waste is currently stored in densely packed spent fuel pool at the Indian Point facility. Two of the spent fuel pools, in addition to an unknown number of other pipes, have already exhibited structural failures that have resulted in leakage of unplanned, unpermitted quantities of radioactive waste that have flowed into the groundwater beneath the Indian Point facility. … It has not been determined the exact source of all leaks, the length of time the leaks have been transmitting radioactive material into the groundwater and the waters of the Hudson River, and the quantities of latent radioactive waste distributed throughout the groundwater underneath the Indian Point facility. Full assessment and cleanup of the radioactive leaks cannot commence until the plant has been shut down. …The existence of measurable level of radioactive releases from the Indian Point facility demonstrates that such storage solutions do not prevent or minimize spills into coastal waters.”

As explained by the Bureau, they cannot even consider a “full assessment” until after the plant shuts down, meaning, nobody really knows for sure what’s going on. Therein, the Bureau of Coastal Management report fully describes a facsimile of Fukushima, aka Fukushima’s Mini-Me.

After all, the Bureau’s report candidly states: “Two of the spent fuel pools, in addition to an unknown number of other pipes, have already exhibited structural failures that have resulted in leakage of unplanned, unpermitted quantities of radioactive waste that have flowed into the groundwater beneath the Indian Point facility.”

That’s pretty clear, in plain English, radioactive waste is flowing into the groundwater beneath the nuclear plant. If anybody on planet Earth thinks that’s okay, please explain in a detailed memo.

A Leaky Industry

As previously mentioned, 75% of America’s nuclear power plants leak. This therefore begs the question of how serious the problem is to health and well-being. That answer is impossible to get if only because illnesses and deaths caused by radiation can take years to develop as radiation accumulates in the body over time, and by the time cancer is detected, it can be difficult to know the cause. This is called the “latency effect.” Essentially, the latency effect is a layer of protection, effectively removing the risks of citizens lining up in front of nuclear power plants, hollering, screaming, throwing bricks.

According to the U.S. General Accountability Office, there have been 56 nuclear reactor accidents in the U.S. but few fatalities. Yet, a significant pressing question is: Who’s counting?

A very recent example of non-reported deaths from radiation exposure comes by way of Fukushima. Even though mainstream sources in Japan claim no serious health issues, i.e., deaths, from Fukushima radiation exposure, non-mainstream journalists in Japan have uncovered a series of unreported deaths of workers.

Evidently, if a worker “dies at home,” the company (TEPCO) does not report it as “death at work.” By all appearances, this is how radiation-induced deaths are handled; they’ve gotta die at the work site or no reporting, nada, nil, a big goose egg.

So, in order to get reported as “a worker death,” the worker needs to crawl out of bed and struggle to the work site, maybe on hands and knees, plop down and die on the premises.

All of this segues perfectly into one of the best arguments of the pro-nuclear crowd, which is there have been so few deaths from nuclear radiation exposure, other than dropping nukes directly on the Japanese during WWII, when America very stupidly wiped out tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of innocent people at the very moment when the Emperor of Japan was already waving a white flag, which the White House was well aware of. It is far and away the world’s all-time biggest Duh!

Anyway, as it happens, deaths from nuclear radiation exposure don’t show up for years or decades, unless zapped with a huge dosage all at once, like happened to workers at the Chernobyl plant. Zap! Death within hours-to-days.

Speaking of which, Chernobyl’s radiation continues, yes currently, to take countless unreported lives, either by death or permanent disability and deformity, 30 years later, still deforming and distorting another generation of people thirty years after the fact. To read all about it here, jump to subsection “Hidden Casualties of Radiation, and while there, maybe check out the subsection “U.S. Sailors Hit Hard with Radiation,” which describes how Fukushima radiation impacts U.S. sailors. It’s scandalous!

Detecting Radiation

Mindful that radiation is a “silent killer.” It is accumulative, meaning it builds up in the body over time and does not leave the body once inside; it is imperative that people take matters into their own hands when exposed to areas of high radiation. Fukushima City qualifies in spades, as explained in a video of Fukushima mothers armed with personal radiation detectors, see below:

The following short video is a poignant story about “Mothers in Fukushima” taking it upon themselves to check for radiation hot spots in areas where their children walk, run, and play along the Abukuma River in Fukushima City.

Postscript: Forget Chernobyl at Our Peril

“Five years ago I visited the still highly contaminated areas of Ukraine and the Belarus border where much of the radioactive plume from Chernobyl descended on 26 April 1986. I challenge chief scientist John Beddington and environmentalists like George Monbiot or any of the pundits now downplaying the risks of radiation to talk to the doctors, the scientists, the mothers, the children, and villagers who have been left with the consequences of a major nuclear accident. It was grim. We went from hospital to hospital and from one contaminated village to another. We found deformed and genetically mutated babies in the wards; pitifully sick children in the homes; adolescents with stunted growth and dwarf torsos; fetuses without thighs or fingers and villagers who told us every member of their family was sick. This was 20 years after the accident, but we heard of many unusual clusters of people with rare bone cancers… Villages testified that ‘the Chernobyl Necklace’ — thyroid cancer— was so common as to be unremarkable,” John Vidal, environmental editor, Nuclear’s Green Cheerleaders Forget Chernobyl at Our Peril, The Guardian, April 1, 2011.

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Robert Hunziker lives in Los Angeles and can be reached at roberthunziker@icloud.com

CounterPunch Magazine

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