Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

An American Fukushima

leave a comment »

A sobering article by William Boardman in Alternet:

The likelihood was very low that an earthquake followed by a tsunami would destroy all four nuclear reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, but in March 2011, that’s what happened, and the accident has yet to be contained [4].

Similarly, the likelihood may be low that an upstream dam will fail, unleashing a flood that will turn any of 34 vulnerable nuclear plants into an American Fukushima [5].  But knowing that unlikely events sometimes happen nevertheless, the nuclear industry continues to answer the question of how much safety is enough by seeking to suppress [6] or minimize what the public knows about the danger.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has known at least since 1996 that flooding danger from upstream dam failure was a more serious threat than the agency would publicly admit. The NRC failed from 1996 until 2011 to assess the threat even internally.  In July 2011, the NRC staff [7] completed a report finding [8] “that external flooding due to upstream dam failure poses a larger than expected risk to plants and public safety” [emphasis added] but the NRC did not make the 41-page report [7] public.

Instead, the agency made much of another report [9], issued July 12, 2011 – “Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century,” sub-titled “The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident.”  Hardly four months since the continuing accident began in Japan, the premature report had little to say about reactor flooding as a result of upstream dam failure, although an NRC news release [8] in March 2012 would try to suggest otherwise.

Censored Report May Be Crime by NRC 

That 2012 news release accompanied a highly redacted version of the July 2011 report that had recommended a more formal investigation of the unexpectedly higher risks of upstream dam failure to nuclear plants and the public.  In its release, the NRC said it had “started a formal evaluation of potential generic safety implications for dam failures upstream” including “the effects of upstream dam failure on independent spent fuel storage installations.”

Six months later, in September 2012, The NRC’s effort at bland public relations went controversial, when the report’s lead author made a criminal complaint to the NRC’s [10] Inspector General, alleging “Concealment of Significant Nuclear Safety Information by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”  In a letter [11] dated September 14 and made public the same day, Richard Perkins, an engineer in the NRC’s Division of Risk Analysis, wrote Inspector [12]General Hubert Bell, describing it as “a violation of law” that the Commission:  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 November 2012 at 10:43 am

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.