Nuclear disasters – update July 1, 2011

First, the good news. Reports about an evacuation of a 10 mile radius around the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant 20 miles north of Omaha, Nebraska are FALSE. There is no evacuation (yet). All that’s been released are reports about an evacuation plan that all nuclear plants are required to have in the event it becomes necessary.

Now the bad news. The aqua/dam berm protecting the Fort Calhoun plant was punctured by an operator “brushing” against it with a machine. The second line of defense, a concrete barrier around the main electrical transformer was also breached and flooded. Click on the news story below.

The above news story tries to put a comforting spin on it but there are a few disconcerting items and, more important is how much is left unsaid. The reporter says, “A large number of safety systems are in place to prevent any damage to the reactor.” Left unsaid is how many of the primary safety systems have been compromised by the flood waters. Also left unsaid and more important is the integrity of the nuclear fuel storage pool. More on that in a moment.

Another reporter says. “Despite some seepage, the officials say the plant is still safe.” Ah, excuse me, but “some seepage”? It’s doubtful this is a leaky toilet otherwise they wouldn’t mention it. Would this be radioactive seepage by any chance? Amazing how this is mentioned so casually! And, if there’s a leak in the midst of a flooding river, of course “the plant is still safe” because the river current carries the radioactivity away from the plant. But how safe is that downstream? That’s also left unsaid.

Back to the fuel pool. Fort Calhoun contains a large amount of nuclear fuel stored in its fuel pool. If Fukushima contains 20 times the amount of fuel as Chernobyl, then, according to several different reports, Fort Calhoun has in storage 20 times Fukushima’s nuclear fuel. Simple math says Forth Calhoun has 400 times Chernobyl’s nuclear fuel. Needless to say, that was also left unsaid.

Unlike Fukushima where the fuel pools are stored above the reactors, the fuel storage at Forth Calhoun is at and below ground level. Ground level is now flooded. Nuclear fuel pools require a constant flow of coolant. The flow is circulated by electric pumps. Electric pumps require electricity. The electricity at Fort Calhoun has been disconnected because electrical systems are underwater.

Emergency generators are being used. However, because of the flooding, diesel fuel has to be hand-carried into the plant in jerry cans. This sounds like a last ditch effort and not very reliable.

Is the electricity that’s being generated powering the pumps cooling the fuel pool? That too is left unsaid. The water that cools reactors and fuel pools must be isolated by heat exchangers to prevent radioactive water from escaping into the environment. Since the fuel pool is now under flood water, is the radioactive cooling water still isolated or being released? This is left unsaid. Is this the so-called “seepage” referred to in the news story? That too is left unsaid.

The so-called authorities and their media lackeys ALWAYS under-report and downplay disasters. Katrina, the Gulf oil spill and Fukushima are perfect examples.

For instance, what is “seepage”? How much is seeping? Where is it seeping from? All this is left unsaid. If it’s seeping, then it’s seeping into the Missouri River and farmers’ fields and the flood plain and eventually into the Mississippi River which is also flooding farmers’ fields and flood plains. Much of it will be left on fields and flood plains when they finally dry. Then the radioactive dust will blow in the wind. Radioactivity will also be absorbed by vegetation (see “rhizofiltration” at Los Alamos below). And, some of which is absorbed by vegetation ends up on our dinner table as food. Eat your vegetables, dear.

The plant had a fire earlier in June. Two years ago the NRC indicated deficiencies in the flood preparation area. It seems that designers miscalculated the pump size needed to protect the reactor core in case of flooding. It has now been upgraded and the NRC says it has a 97.5% chance of protecting the reactor core. Even though it’s now several feet underwater, this has now been miraculously blessed as adequate by Gregory Jaczo, the NRC Chairman who recently visited the stricken plant. Sub-levels aren’t designed to operate submerged. The plant is disconnected from the power grid (just like Fukushima was before it melted down) and they are using emergency generators that rely on diesel fuel carried into the plant by hand.

The news report says that City of Blair officials, “are more worried about keeping the city’s wastewater treatment facility running.” We’re supposed to be comforted knowing that officials are more worried about shit than radiation. The so-called officials are telling us not to worry, move along, nothing to see here.

Folks, this is insanity! You can’t make this stuff up.

According to concerned scientists, if the flood waters rise another three feet, the chance of a melt-down is 100%. That’s not very comforting.

Flood waters are expected to remain well into August and long-range forecasts call for above average rainfall in the Midwest. However, other than some mysterious “seepage”, Fort Calhoun is not yet a complete disaster. Of far more immediate concern is Los Alamos.

Los Alamos

A 93 square mile wildfire is threatening the nuclear weapons lab and birthplace of the atomic bomb at Los Alamos, New Mexico. The city of 12,000 has already been evacuated.

The news media are focusing on the 30,000 barrels (55-gallon drums) of plutonium-contaminated waste which could get so hot that they’ll burst and release this toxic material into the wildfire plume. However, officials assure us that the drums are designed to withstand a wildfire and that the fire is unlikely to reach the storage area. If the fire did reach the drums they, “stood ready to coat the drums with fire-resistant foam if the blaze got too close.” Left unsaid is how they would accomplish this in the heat of a fire. They also assure us that critical buildings are fire-proof.

More important, however is the un-reported news. For years, burrowing animals have brought contaminated soil to the surface. The organization, Concerned Citizens for Nuclear Safety are worried that the fire could stir up this nuclear-contaminated soil and send it airborne.

Also of concern is bio-mass (various plants and vegetation) growing in the contaminated soil around the site. Bio-mass can remove radionuclides from soil and groundwater in a process called rhizofiltration. Most plants do it but some are more effective than others. For instance, sunflowers are being used at Chernobyl for bioremediation of radioactive contamination. They are then stabilized, ashed and stored at a disposal facility.

However, at Los Alamos, the biomass is burning (ashed but not stored) and may be releasing radioactive contamination into the environment as smoke and dust (Hot Particles) and the ash that falls to the ground may be carried in the wind. I say “may be” because I have NOT seen or heard any reports to verify this yet. However, we do know there’s a wildfire. And, given biomass rhizofiltration ability, this may be happening at Los Alamos. The only thing we don’t know is the extent of radioactive release; how much radiation is re-entering the environment. Is it a little or a lot? Apparently the radiation is being monitored but you likely won’t see the results on the news because the nuclear industry, as we have seen with Three-Mile Island, Fukushima and Fort Calhoun, is notorious for downplaying their disasters. And, the trouble with Hot Particles unlike radioactive gas is they are difficult to detect. A plume can miss detectors by a quarter mile and be undetected.

Again, this is an example of media distortion. They are reporting the good news (“the facility has not caught on fire”) and suppressing the bad news. This is another example of information left unsaid.

This is not a media conspiracy so much as media incompetence and corporatocracy. The era of Bob Woodward and Watergate investigative reporting is long past. Today, the corporate news owners discourage reporters from investigating and questioning. Today, reporters are repeaters; they simply repeat what the so-called authorities hand them.

This is another good reason to throw away your stupid TV. The boob tube is nothing but cheap entertainment and the so-called news is nothing but disinformation, distortion and the suppression of real news. They aren’t lying to you; they just aren’t telling you what’s important.

As mentioned in other posts, they want you to be a happy little mushroom; kept in the dark, fed shit and wondering when you’ll get canned.

Fukushima insanity

The bungling idiots of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) are still in charge of the insane asylum. During TEPCO’s press conference last month, a CRIIRAD (1) laboratory manager, asked a TEPCO official about air contamination monitoring at Fukushima. TEPCO explained that there was only one monitoring station but the device is used only about 20 minutes each day. During the remaining 98,6 % of the time, the contamination of the air around the plant is not measured. CRIIRAD is able to run 5 air monitoring stations in France so the TEPCO official was asked why they could not afford more than a part-time one. TEPCO replied that it was not a money issue but a lack of personnel qualified to change the filters of the instruments. Folks, you can’t make this stuff up! Homer Simpson is better qualified to run a nuclear plant.

FOX News seems to be the only network reporting on the danger posed by Fukushima.

FOX News: “U.S. is receiving a steady flow of radiation from Fukushima” — Media paying little attention to radiation in food, as if problem only involves Japan”
June 29th, 2011

“(North American) milk, fruits and vegetables show trace amounts of radioactive isotopes from the Fukushima Daichi power plants, and the media appears to be paying scant attention, if any attention at all. It is as if the problem only involves Japan.

Radiation tests conducted since the nuclear disaster in Japan have detected radioactive iodine and cesium in milk and vegetables produced in California. Milk sold in Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Vermont and Washington has also tested positive for radiation since the accident.

Additionally, drinking water tested in some municipalities also shows radioactive contamination. Is the fallout from Fukushima Daichi falling on us? Yes, it is.

Thanks to the jet stream air currents that flow across the Pacific Ocean, the U.S. is receiving a steady flow of radiation from Fukushima.

The West coast may be getting the brunt of Fukushima but most of the population of Canada and the U.S. is downwind from Los Alamos. The prevailing wind from Los Alamos is northeast towards the Midwest, the eastern seaboard and southern Canada.

In each of these incidents the amount of radiation is not immediately life-threatening. However, these are merely three of the many sources of radioactivity contaminating the environment (by the way, Chernobyl is leaking again). The real threat is the cumulative effect of all these sources.

Nuclear industry shills remind us that there is naturally occurring background radiation. The implication is that a little bit of radiation is ok. No, it’s not ok. Background radiation also causes cancer which is why we try to minimize radon gas from natural sources which can accumulate in buildings, especially in confined areas such as attics, and basements. Radon is the second most frequent cause of lung cancer, after cigarette smoking. No, it’s not ok.

According to the U.S.-based group of medical doctors Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR), no amount of man-made radiation in water and food is safe. “There is no safe level of radionuclide exposure, whether from food, water or other sources, period,” said Jeff Patterson, DO, immediate past president of PSR, in late March. “Exposure to radionuclides, such as iodine 131 and cesium 137, increases the incidence of cancer. For this reason, every effort must be taken to minimize the radionuclide content in food and water.”

Our bodies do a magnificent job of fighting cancer but you only need to look at the number of cancer patients to see the failure rate is high. Every new source of contamination adds to the risk.

There are three things you can do.

1) Nothing, and suffer the consequences.

2) You can call, write and email your elected officials, and demand that they push for testing of air, food and water. Tell them to take the threat of global nuclear fallout seriously. For while none of the more than 100 nuclear power plants in the U.S. and Canada are melting down at present, we have had our own nuclear accidents and there will be more. Remember Three Mile Island in the U.S. and Chalk River in Canada? Radiation has made its way to the dinner table. This is a time to speak out, and to put pressure on policy makers. Every response they get they consider it equivalent to the voice of 10 voters. As commenter Jebus said, “Clearly, it’s far better to be politically active now than radioactive tomorrow.”

3) Protect yourself and your loved ones. See the previous post Fukushima Apocalypse: What the Media are NOT Telling You for recommendations on what you can do for personal protection.

July 1, 2011
(1) Commission de Recherche et d’Information Indépendantes sur la Radioactivité)

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About gerold

I have a bit of financial experience having invested in stocks in the 1960s & 70s, commodities in the 80s & commercial real estate in the 90s (I sold in 2005.) I'm back in stocks. I am appalled at our rapidly deteriorating global condition so I've written articles for family, friends & colleagues since 2007; warning them and doing my best to explain what's happening, what we can expect in the future and what you can do to prepare and mitigate the worst of the economic, social, political and nuclear fallout. As a public service in 2010 I decided to create a blog accessible to a larger number of people because I believe that knowledge not shared is wasted.
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2 Responses to Nuclear disasters – update July 1, 2011

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