A catastrophe like Chernobyl could happen here. It's the radioactive core of the second biggest lie in US industrial history.
The atomic pushers say such a disaster is "impossible" at a US reactor. But Chernobyl's explosion spewed radiation all over the world. And Sunday's tragic 23rd anniversary reminds us that any reactor on this planet can kill innumerable people anywhere, at any time, by terror, error, and more.
It further clarifies why yet another grab at billions of taxpayer dollars for new reactor construction must be stopped NOW!
The BIGGEST lie in US industrial history is that "nobody died at Three Mile Island." Just before last month's thirtieth anniversary of the central Pennsylvania melt down, critical new evidence was completely ignored by the corporate media.
Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, a former industry executive, reported in Harrisburg that new findings show far more radiation may have been released than previously estimated. Epidemiologist Stephen Wing of the University of North Carolina joined in a study indicating human health was indeed compromised downwind.
To this day neither TMI's owners nor the Nuclear Regulatory Commission knows how much radiation escaped, where it went or whom it impacted. The Gundersen/Wing findings cast new light on the question of building more reactors.
But they got a Stalinesque blackout from ALL corporate media, which parroted the official lie that "nobody was harmed" at the 1979 disaster.
This week comes official Radioactive Lie #2: "Chernobyl can't happen here."
Chernobyl Unit 4 exploded in the wee hours of April 26, 1986. It was of a different design than US reactors. But its lid was stronger than about a third of the domes covering plants here. The Soviets who ran it also said Chernobyl could not explode, and that in any event its lid.
On October 5, 1966, the Fermi I fast breeder reactor nearly delivered a far worse explosion. Cooled by highly volatile liquid sodium, it teetered for a month on the brink of a radioactive eruption that could have cratered much of southeastern Michigan and permanently destroyed the biggest fresh water bodies on Earth. The accident was kept under Soviet-style wraps for years.
When TMI melted a potentially explosive hydrogen bubble formed inside the dome. Officials denied there was a melt-down (there was) but were privately terrified the trapped gas could rupture the containment. The escaping cloud would have contaminated millions along the east coast from Boston to Washington.
Chernobyl's cloud blanketed Europe with deadly isotopes. Some came down in California within ten days, killing countless birds and possibly, in the long run, even more people. The radiation then crossed the entire northern United States, contaminating milk in New England. It returned later for a second pass.
Reactor backers say Chernobyl "only" killed 31 plant workers. But the Soviets denied the accident happened, then ran 800,000 drafted "jumpers" through the radioactive corpse for a futile clean-up. They have been dying in droves for two decades.
Chernobyl's radiation rained down on a May Day parade among citizens of Kiev who were told nothing about the catastrophe 80 kilometers away. The heartbreaking deformities plaguing the children born thereafter are the starkest reminders of that horrific day. Dr. Alexey Yablokov, former environmental advisor to the late President Boris Yeltsin, and president of the Center for Russian Environmental Policy, has estimated the known death toll at 300,000. The financial costs have topped a half-trillion dollars. The sale of lambs is still banned 2000 miles away in Wales and Scotland, where radioactive cesium still contaminates sheep farms and grazing land.
The tidal wave of cancers, miscarriages, sterility and worse that still washes over the Ukraine and surrounding regions gets ever more horrifying as time passes. Because Chernobyl 4 was a new "state of the art" unit, its core spewed far less radiation than might come from older reactors at Indian Point, New York, or Oyster Creek, New Jersey, which has just been re-licensed to run twenty years beyond its original design specifications.
Chernobyl's design was peculiar to the Soviets. But to say only it could explode is to argue that hybrid cars can't run people over, or that since there are no more World Trade towers, terrorists can no longer kill Americans.
On January 31, 1986, four months prior to Chernobyl's explosion, an earthquake shook the Perry reactor east of Cleveland, which thankfully was not operating at the time. Now it is.
By accident inspectors stumbled onto a football-sized hole eaten by boric acid to within a fraction of an inch through the pressure vessel at Davis-Besse near Toledo. A worker using a candle set a $100 million fire at the Browns Ferry reactor in Alabama. A cooling tower unexpectedly collapsed to the ground at Vermont Yankee. A basketball wrapped in tape was used to stop up a pipe at a reactor in Florida. This March 28, on TMI's 30th anniversary, an unexplained tremor shut Unit Two at Fermi.
And, of course, the first jet that flew into the World Trade Center passed directly over the two decrepit reactors at Indian Point, as well as the three spent fuel pools and one dormant core shut for lack of an emergency cooling system. No reactor on this planet could withstand a similar terror attack.
Small wonder the reactor industry cannot get private financing or insurance and has no place to go with its radioactive waste. Or why its pushers are yet again demanding $50 billion in loan guarantees for new reactor construction, and still more to perpetrate the myth that nuclear fuel can be reprocessed (to help stop this madness, see www.beyondnuclear.org, www.nirs.org and www.nukefree.org).
Chernobyl remains history's worst human-made disaster. Something slightly different but even worse could be happening as you read this. Building new reactors, and keeping old ones running, will guarantee it.
The only containment strong enough to make atomic energy truly safe is the political power YOU exert. Chernobyl "can't happen here" only if the reactors are turned off before they kill again.
Comment by: GeneralZim (General Zim) (Apr-6-2010)
Ok, so your saying that if I sat my butt down in front of the TV for 2 hours I will save more energy than having to drive out to an activity such as golf that is 30 mins from my house. Please reply.
Anyway, seriously, I wonder whether we would be driving around more if we did not take time in front of our computers. Electricity is a MUCH more efficient source of energy than vehicle mileage. I appreciate your thought, in any case.
Comment by: donna (Donna) (Mar-31-2010) Web site
maybe if everyone stopped using their laptops to blog we wouldn't need so much power. score one for nukes...
Comment by: PT (David Alexander) (Dec-11-2009) Web site
I see your comment comes from a sincere concern. I must disagree with a few of your statements, such as saying that modern reactors are safe. They do continue to leak radiation, overheat the rivers that take coolant runoff, and leave an unsolved problem of handling radioactive waste, of which the low and medium-level radioactive waste is quite voluminous. Lastly, as Harvey has pointed out quite often, nuclear energy has never been able to prove itself even close to economically viable, even in the poster-child of nuclear energy, namely France.
There are many articles here, and of course on the Internet, on these issues. I do say all the above in the context of understanding that you convey a real desire to take the best path. Perhaps some additional information will be useful, but of course that is up to you.
Comment by: AbbyWilde (Abby Wilde) (Dec-11-2009)
Lets see how long you survive against those terrorist that hit the trade centers when you get rid of all the Nuclear reactors in the US... You do realize that if you live anywhere near a navy base you probably live right next to a nuclear reactor and that that nuclear reactor is responsible for your freedom. Reactors do kill people I agree...they power the ships to take the marines and the missiles to the people that want to kill you. But by all means... get rid of America's nuclear reactors lets so how long we stay a free country. And nuclear power is completely safe as long as a reactor is operated correctly. Reactors today take a lot more to "melt down" then the reactors of the past and with all the safety feature that are installed it is almost impossible to cause a nuclear accident, and any such accident would be caused by human error. And nuclear power is probably one of the most "earth friendly" ways of producing power that our technology can currently produce. Grant it terrible things can happen from it. But then again terrible things can happen if someone crashes planes into buildings.
Free Press Senior Editor and "Superpower of Peace" columnist Harvey Wasserman is author or co-author of a dozen books including SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030; Harvey Wasserman's History of the U.S.; and, A Glimpse of the Big Light: Losing Parents, Finding Spirit.
With Bob Fitrakis, Harvey has helped expose the theft of the presidency. Their freepress.org coverage has prompted Rev. Jesse Jackson to call them "the Woodward and Bernstein of the 2004 election." Their books include How the GOP Stole America's 2004 Election & Is Rigging 2008, and What Happened in Ohio?, coming soon from the New Press.
Harvey's widespread appearances throughout the major media and at campuses and citizen gatherings have focussed since the 1960s on energy, environment, peace, justice, U.S. history and election protection.