Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Report finds U.S. Not Prepared for Nuclear Disaster

A report from the American Medical Association finds the US is not prepared to deal with the public health crisis that would ensue from a major nuclear accident. There is also evidence suggesting that aging nuclear plants are less stable and less secure than the public is led to believe. Indeed, radiation releases are surprisingly and disturbingly common.

Christian Parenti, author of the book Tropic of Chaos: Climate Change and the New Geography of Violence, told MSNBC tonight that at least two aging nuclear plants in the northeast —one in Vermont and one in New York— are presently leaking radiation. And as many as 180,000 gallons of radioactive tritium-laced water may have leaked into ground water in one incident.

According to the study, titled State-Level Emergency Preparedness and Response Capabilities

The extent of planning for epidemiology and surveillance for the human health effects of radiation was assessed for 5 types: syndromic surveillance, clinician reporting, crisis-phase epidemiology, recovery-phase epidemiology, and other types of statistical surveillance (Table 1). A range between 70% and 84% of states reported minimal to no planning completed on the potential human effects of radiation among any of these 5 types of surveillance.

States reported only slightly better planning for providing advice on exposure assessment and environmental sampling combined (42%–50% reporting none to minimal planning) and little planning to provide advice for biological sampling (14% have none and 60% have minimal). Seventy-four percent of states reported having minimal (53%) or no (21%) plans to conduct population-based exposure monitoring.

In response to accidental release of radiation:

Twenty (53%) states reported having a finalized radiation-specific written response plan (Table 5). Four (20%) of the 20 states did not have a nuclear power plant (data not shown). For unintentional releases, half of the states had written or detailed operations plans for all scenarios except for a waterways incident, for which only 6 (15%) states reported having a writ- ten or detailed operations plan.

On just one day in April 2010, two different nuclear plants in New Jersey were visited by nuclear inspectors, to deal with possible radiation seepage. According to New Jersey Newsroom, “State and federal inspectors Friday were searching for the cause of a leak of radioactive water into catch basins at the Salem 2 nuclear power plant in Lower Alloways Creek in Salem County.”

Then, shortly after the Salem 2 release was made public:

the state Department of Environmental Protection announced that it had been notified by Exelon, owner of Oyster Creek nuclear generating station in Lacey, Ocean County, that a monitor that measures radiation emissions from the facility was discovered to be inoperable. It is unknown how long the monitor has been out of service.

Exelon, the operator of that Ocean County plant, was forced to pay for clean-up of an estimated 180,000 gallons of radioactive tritium-laced water that leaked from the plant on 9 April 2009. The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reportedly found evidence that water with contamination levels 50 times legal limits may have reached the Cohansey Aquifer, an important drinking-water source for southern New Jersey.

On Wednesday evening Chris Jansing reported for MSNBC that a report has found that 25% of all nuclear plants in the United States have leaked or are presently leaking radioactive waste. 

According to a report from The New York Times, the underregulated practice of hydraulic fracturing (hydro-fracking) is releasing not only high quantities of minerals into the water supply, but also radioactive materials. Regulators are not acting to halt such releases or require full reprocessing of waste water from the drilling sites. 

Notes

  1. wordsagainstchaos posted this