Nuclear power’s 3 Titanics- Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima – and they still push it as ‘safe’
Nuclear power plants and the process of atomic fission in them are inherently dangerous—at a scale of technological disaster that is unparalleled.
now there are numerous and truly safe, clean energy technologies available that render nuclear power totally unnecessary. Thus, we can avoid sinking with the atomic Titanics which the nuclear power promoters insist we board.
Nuclear Titanics - The Perils of Technological Hubris, Counter Punch, by KARL GROSSMAN 16 April 12, On the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, The Japan Times yesterday ran an editorial titled “The Titanic and the Nuclear Fiasco” which stated: “Presenting technology as completely safe, trustworthy or miraculous may seem to be a thingof the past, but the parallels between the Titanic and Japan’s nuclear power industry could not be clearer.”
“Japan’s nuclear power plants were, like the Titanic, advertised as marvels of modern science that were completely safe. Certain technologies, whether they promise to float a luxury liner or provide clean energy, can never be made entirely safe,” it said…
the same kind of baloney behind the claim that the Titanic was unsinkable is behind the puffery that nuclear power plants are safe. The nuclear power promoters are still saying that despite the sinking of atomic Titanics: Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and now the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.
In fact, underneath the PR offensive are government documents admitting that nuclear power plants are deadly dangerous. The first analysis of the consequences of a nuclear plant accident was done in 1957 by Brookhaven National Laboratory, established a decade before by the
since disbanded U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to develop civilian uses
of nuclear technology. Its “WASH-740” report said a major nuclear
plant accident could result in “3,400 killed and about 43,000 injured”
and property damage “could be about 7 billion dollars.” However, this
analysis was based on nuclear power plants a fifth to a tenth of the
size of those being constructed in the 1960s.
So Brookhaven National Laboratory conducted a second study in the
mid-60s, “WASH-740-update.” It stated repeatedly that for a major
nuclear plant accident, “the possible size of such a disaster might be
equal to that of the State of Pennsylvania.” It increased the number
of deaths to 45,000, injuries to 100,000 and property damage up to
Then, in 1982, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department
of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories did a study they titled
“Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences” that analyzed the
accident consequences for every nuclear plant in the U.S. It
projected, for example, for a meltdown with a breach of containment at
the Indian Point 2 plant just north of New York City: 50,000 “peak
early fatalities; 167,000 “peak early injuries;” 14,000 “peak cancer
deaths;” and $314 billion in “scaled costs” of property damage in, it
noted, “1980 dollars.”
As to likelihood, in 1985 there was a formal written exchange between
U.S. Congressman Edward Markey’s House Subcommittee on Oversight &
Investigations and the NRC in which the panel asked: “What does the
commission and NRC staff believe the likelihood of a severe core melt
accident to be in the next twenty years for those reactors now
operating and those expected to operate during that time?”
The NRC response: “In a population of 100 reactors operating over a
period of 20 years, the crude cumulative probability of such an
accident would be 45%.” But then it went on that this might be off by
“a factor of about 10 above and below.” Thus, the chances of a
meltdown during a 20-year period among 100 U.S. nuclear plant plants
(there are 104 today) would be about 50-50.
These are not good odds for disaster.
Steven Starr, a board member of Physicians for Social Responsibility,
speaks further of the “fatal and deadly flaw” of nuclear power “that
cannot be remedied by any technological fix or redesign. Nuclear power
plants manufacture poisons thousands and millions of times more deadly
to life than any other industrial process, and some of these poisons
last for hundreds of millennia, and thus have great potential to
become ubiquitous in the global environment.” And the “clear evidence”
is that it is “beyond the means of the nuclear industry to keep these
poisons contained during even the average lifespan of a nuclear
reactor. It is beyond belief that anyone can promise that we can
contain them for tens or hundreds of thousands of years.”….
Virtually all man-made disasters—including the Three Mile Island
nuclear accident, the space shuttle Challenger explosion, and the BP
oil spill—can be traced to the same human failings that doomed
Titanic. After 100 years, we must still remember—and, too often,
relearn—the grim lessons of that night.”
Indeed, human error is a big part of what can go wrong at a nuclear
power plant. However, even without human error, nuclear power is
fraught with the potential for immense catastrophe. A mechanical
malfunction simple or complex, an earthquake, a tornado, a tsunami, a
hurricane, a flood, a terrorist attack, these and other threats can
result in catastrophe. Nuclear power plants and the process of atomic fission in them are inherently dangerous—at a scale of technological disaster that is unparalleled.
Some 1,500 souls were lost with the Titanic. For a nuclear plant
accident, it is anticipated that tens of thousands could die—and the
most recent estimates by independent scientists is that a million have
died as a result of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster. It is expected that
even more will perish as a result of the six-nuclear plant Fukushima
And it’s not a ship sinking to the bottom of the sea but a part of the
Earth rendered uninhabitable for millennia—as a huge area around
Chernobyl has been, and now a large area around Fukushima will be.
They become “sacrifice zones.”
And what for? In 1912 there was no other way to cross an ocean than on
a ship—there were no airplanes flying passengers from continent to
continent. But now there are numerous and truly safe, clean energy
technologies available that render nuclear power totally unnecessary.
Thus, we can avoid sinking with the atomic Titanics which the nuclear
power promoters insist we board.
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