Australian news, and some related international items

Catastrophic’ Nuclear Power Accidents ‘Highly Likely’ If US Reactors Are Extended For 100 Years.

Catastrophic’ Nuclear Power Accidents ‘Highly Likely’ If US Reactors Are Extended For 100 Years. Sputnik News, 10 Feb 21Nuclear reactors in the United States were originally only certified to be operated for a maximum of 40 years. However, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been extending their operating time beyond that and is now considering doing so, yet again, this time up to 100 years.

Professor Karl Grossman is an award-wining investigative journalist. He authored Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power and Power Crazy and is the writer and presenter of television programmes on nuclear power. Grossman tells Sputnik that “nuclear power plants in the US were never seen as operating beyond 40 years” and that plans to extend their operating licences for more than twice that amount of time is incredibly dangerous. Every day a nuclear power plant operates the intense radiation embrittles (i.e. weakens) the metal in the reactor. “If the reactor is embrittled and cracks”, Grossman says, quoting a nuclear engineer-turned whistleblower, “it’s game over”.

Sputnik: You recently co-authored an article with journalist Harvey Wasserman calling on President Joe Biden to “inspect” the US’ “embrittled reactors”. Explain what exactly an embrittled reactor is.

Professor Karl Grossman: As Arnold “Arnie” Gundersen, a nuclear engineer with more than 44 years of experience in the nuclear industry, who became a whistleblower and is now chief engineer at Fairewinds Associates, described embrittlement in a nuclear power plant to my co-author of the article, Harvey Wasserman:

“When exposed to radiation, metal becomes embrittled and eventually can crack like glass. The longer the radiation exposure, the worse the embrittlement becomes. A nuclear reactor is just like a pressure cooker and is a pot designed to hold the radioactive contents of the atomic chain reaction in the nuclear core”, continued Gundersen, whose experience includes being a licensed Critical Facility Reactor Operator. “And metals in reactors are exposed to radiation every day a plant operates”……….

Sputnik: Why do you think that embrittled reactors are “at the top of the list of nuclear power concerns”?

Professor Karl Grossman: There are numerous major concerns regarding nuclear power plants.

But embrittlement is on the top of the list because nuclear power plants in the US were never seen as operating beyond 40 years—because of embrittlement.

That’s why the operating licenses originally issued by the US government for the plants were limited to 40 years. After 40 years, they were considered to be unsafe to run—because of embrittlement…….

virtually all operating atomic reactors are producing electricity at much higher base costs than solar and wind.


So the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is seeking to try to bail out the nuclear industry—to keep it going—by allowing nuclear power plants to operate for 100 years.

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been staunchly pro-nuclear through the years, captured by the nuclear industry, indeed nicknamed the Nuclear Rubberstamp Commission for doing whatever the US nuclear industry wants it to do…….

, in extending the operating licenses for nuclear power plants for decades, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission is also allowing them to be “uprated”—to run hotter and harder to generate more electricity and to further increase the likelihood of a nuclear power plant disaster.

The bottom line: a nuclear power plant catastrophe is being invited……..

Sputnik: What exactly is it that Joe Biden or his administration can do to address these issues?

Professor Karl Grossman: Biden must step in and order the inspection for embrittlement of US nuclear power plants. The old, decrepit nuclear power plant fleet in the US—with embrittled metal components—must be inspected. And with embrittlement and other likely age-induced problems, they must be shut down.

Biden must act to prevent what would constitute nuclear suicide in the United States.

Last month, Biden announced a climate change agenda transitioning the US towards renewable energy. But taking action against fossil fuel is not enough. Nuclear power plants are also engines of global warming. The claim of the nuclear industry that atomic energy is “carbon free” is a lie. The “nuclear fuel chain” which includes uranium mining, milling and fuel enrichment is carbon intensive, and nuclear power plants themselves emit Carbon-14, a radioactive form of carbon.  

Sputnik: Can these embrittled reactors simply be replaced in order to safely extend the life of the power plant?

Professor Karl Grossman: It makes no sense to replace these deadly machines when here today [we have] safe, clean, green, renewable energy—led by solar and wind.

Nuclear power plants make no sense economically. Consider the only two nuclear power plants now under construction in the US, Vogtle 3 and 4 costing $30 billion for the two and the price still rising, and solar and wind being able to producing electricity at a lower cost—and be put into operation far more rapidly. And there are additional safe, green, cost-effective, clean, renewable energy sources—energy, most importantly, that we can live with.

Sputnik: Is there a realistic alternative to extending the lives of nuclear power plants?

Professor Karl Grossman: The realistic alternative is to shut down all 94 nuclear power plants now in the US and move ahead fully implementing the use of safe, green, cost-effective clean, renewable energy technologies. And this should be emulated in countries all over the world with nuclear power plants.

Three decades ago the Union of Concerned Scientists published a book titled Renewables Are Ready. Now renewables are more than ready to power the world.

February 11, 2021 - Posted by | General News

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