Nukes. 'Perfect Storm' A-Brewing?

** note on November 23/16. An item has been added in below, to the section on the CNSC Whistleblower letter. Lately, the news about glaring lapses in nuclear “safety” (an oxymoron if ever there was one!) seems to be coming thick & fast.

Failure of “regulators” to actually regulate.

  • Leaks. Spills
  • & whistleblowers!
  • A rising chorus of whistleblowers

Some who are being listened to (one hopes!); some who are not.

This will be by absolutely no means a thorough list.

But one with enough information to surely make even the most die-hard nuclear supporter give pause.

NRC Petition

In March (2016), 7 electrical engineers employed by the U.S. nuclear “regulator,” the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) put in a petition alleging dangerous safety issues at U.S. reactors, & calling on the NRC to either fix the situations, or shut the plants down.

* Read more about this here

Canadian Groups Call on Prime Minister Trudeau

Also in March (2016), more than 10 groups called on the Canadian federal government to do a review of the Nuclear Safety & Control Act, alleging that “Modernization of the NSCA is urgently needed in light of the lack of institutional independence on the part of Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) and lessons learned from the Fukushima disaster.”

* Full letter here

CNSC Whistleblower Letter

CNSC “specialists” submitted an anonymous letter to the President of the CNSC (Michael Binder – appointed in 2008 – after its previous head, Linda Keen, was fired) alleging “Our primary concern is that CNSC commissioners do not receive sufficient information to make balanced judgments.” And, “because insufficient information is made available, other branches of government cannot make informed decisions. For example, the government of Ontario cannot make a good decision about financing the refurbishment of Darlington without knowing all the facts.” Going on to cite several specific cases where tribunal members rendered decisions based on incomplete information; for example, allowing Ontario Power Generation (OPG) & CNSC staff to use out-of-date seismic risk data in a Darlington hearing.

cnsc-anon-letter-to-binder

textbook-example [Quick read! Textbook case of what the whistleblowers were complaining of.]

Federal Commissioner of the Environment & Sustainable Development: Audit Results

QUOTE: “The audit found that the CNSC conducted site inspections, identified instances of non-compliance, and followed up with plant operators. However, the Commission could not show that it has a well-documented planning process for site inspections at nuclear power plants. It did not carry out a quarter of the inspections it had planned over a two-year period, and three quarters of the inspections it did conduct went ahead without an approved inspection guide, though the Commission’s own procedures requires one. In other words, the Commission could not demonstrate that it is conducting the right number and type of inspections to provide the coverage required to confirm that compliance is sufficient.”

Audit report here

Media Items about the audit commissioner-audit-media-oct-416

 

Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources: feeling the heat!

Critics accuse nuclear safety official of acting as industry cheerleader

 

& let’s not forget:

 

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, as they say…

Risk of another Chernobyl or Fukushima type accident plausible, experts say

 

Let’s face it. Claims about nuclear “safety” have always been fraudulent.

(Very partial list of nuke accidents.)

 

One can only hope now

that there are some people in “authority”

who have common sense

integrity

& some, well, let’s just call it chutzpah, shall we?

 

Who are paying attention

 

And take appropriate action.

Soon.

 

** Quotes on the causes of the Fukushima accident

** Japan’s atomic disaster caused by “collusion”: panel report

** Nuclear “regulatory capture” – a global pattern

** Is Ontario ready for a nuclear disaster? (2011 article; still utterly relevant)

** Is Toronto ready for a radiation emergency?   (Jan. 5/16 Toronto Star article. Still as relevant as when it was written)

Fukushima: 5 years In. What Have We (Not) Learned?

March 11, 2016 marks 5 years since the start of this neverending nuclear disaster that has shaken Japan and the world. There are many misconceptions about the nuclear disaster, its causes & its endless repercussions.

Some things, however, are not open for debate.

1. The nuclear disaster has been shown to be “man-made” – could & should have been prevented, in other words, but due to the dangerous collusion among government, nuclear industry & the far-flung “nuclear establishment,” became inevitable. (See posting here, ‘Fukushima: what really happened?’) Another, similar disaster could occur at any time, given the world’s hundreds of aging, decrepit reactors, and this global issue of collusion/regulatory capture.

2. Emergency planning & response were utterly inadequate to deal with the nuclear crisis in Japan. This too is a common feature of all nuclear jurisdictions. Even here in Ontario? Yes. Emergency planning is every bit as inadequate here.

3. Reports on the # of people evacuated vary, but around 160,000 Japanese citizens were evacuated from their homes. The evacuations were messy, ill-planned and poorly executed. Many people died during careless evacuations. Some people were sent into the very areas where the radioactive plume was heading, and some communities were left for weeks in areas with very high levels of contamination before evacuation orders were issued.

Nearly 100,000 people in Japan continue to live away from their homes.

The Prime Minister of Japan recently told his citizens all they need to do is put on a happy face. “The cure for radiation is a smile,” he said.

Shameful.

4. There is much common ground between the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster (April 26, 1986) & those of the Fukushima accident. Many people are living in areas of high contamination. They are eating food that contains radioactive contaminants. They are becoming ill from both, with a wide variety of illnesses (cancer being far from the only one), & these populations are going to continue facing health risks & consequences for decades. In Japan, people are now being coerced into returning to areas of high contamination. (See Greenpeace reports linked in below.)

Nuclear messes can't be cleaned up. The industry basically just moves waste around from one place to another. A recent New York Times article ‘Playing Pass the Parcel with Fukushima’ spells this out clearly. The waste in Japan is simply being schlepped around from one location to another. This is not a “solution”! It’s a way of making money for the nuclear clean-up industry (very profitable for them, of course), & it means simply re-contaminating new communities & endangering everyone within range of its transportation & its current (temporary) location (much of it in bags that will last a few years at most). Oh yes, let's not forget that it is also being incinerated.

Nuclear fallout is forever. It's long past time for us all to be 100% clear on this point by now, surely!

5.  We do not seem to be learning from these disasters (well, some jurisdictions are! A number of countries are now phasing out nuclear energy, Germany notable among them) … though the lessons are surely as plain as the noses on our faces.

We keep right on using this dangerous energy source that emits poisons into air & water even during routine operations, putting drinking water supplies at risk and creating endless quantities of nuclear wastes there is no solution for. Wastes that will remain toxic & dangerous for longer than human beings have walked on the Earth.

Preposterous.

Shame on us.

Information Links

Below are links to a large # of information sources about the situation in Japan.

These include articles, a news release, recent documentary, & a podcast with voices from Japan.

All of them of very recent vintage.

Events

are taking place all over the world to mark this anniversary.

Interesting & no doubt very partial list here.

Documentary Showings in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area)

The Japanese community in Toronto has shown two documentaries that focus on the impacts of the March 2011 earthquake & tsunami.

The documentary ‘A2-B-C’ (about health impacts to Japanese children from the nuclear disaster) is being shown in

  • Pickering, March 10th
  • Toronto, March 11th
  • Beaches community, March 13th

Following these film showings, the lessons we need to take from the Fukushima accident, for Ontarians, will be discussed by knowledgeable speakers.

(see previous post for more details)

 

Finally…

Never again?

Until the lessons from Chernobyl & Fukushima are truly absorbed & appropriately acted on, the best we can hope for is that the next (inevitable) nuclear accident will not take place in our own backyard.

Given the age of Ontario’s nuclear fleet & our government and the nuclear industry’s determination to keep it on life support?

Faint hope, I’m afraid.

Very faint, indeed.

 

** Many pithy quotations about inadequate nuclear emergency planning & the causes of the Fukushima disaster here

 

The Links

Recent conference: Berlin Congress: 30 years of Chernobyl, 5 of Fukushima

TORCH 2016 -Chernobyl Health Report

Analysis: The legacy of the Fukushima nuclear disaster-Carbon Brief

Court Orders One of Japan’s Two Operating Nuclear Plants to Shut Down

Crippled Fukushima Reactors Are Still a Danger, 5 Years after the Accident

Fairewinds Posts on 5th Anniversary (Arnie Gundersen on a Japanese tour)

(Against the Will of the People; final Fairewinds item from Japanese tour 2016)

Five Years Living with Fukushima - report from Physicians for Social Responsibility

FIVE YEARS AFTER: ‘Don’t abandon us,’ victims of Fukushima nuclear accident say

Five Years After Fukushima, 'No End in Sight' to Ecological Fallout

Five years on, cleanup of Fukushima's reactors remains a distant goal

Five Years After the Fukushima Accidents: Thinking about Nuclear Power and Safety

Former Tepco bosses charged over Fukushima meltdown

FUKUSHIMA AT 5 CHORNOBYL AT 30-Kraft NEIS

Fukushima: A Nuclear Story (1-hour Passionate Eye documentary shown on CBC TV this week)

Fukushima nuclear disaster evacuees establish liaison group for lawsuit plaintiffs

Fukushima – Deep Trouble

Fukushima: Tokyo was on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, admits former prime minister

Fukushima Report: 10,000 Excess Cancers Expected in Japan as a Result of 2011 Reactor Meltdowns, Ongoing Radiation Exposure (from Physicians for Social Responsibility)

Fukushima Keeps Fighting Radioactive Tide 5 Years After Disaster

Fukushima 'Decontamination Troops' Often Exploited, Shunned

Fukushima: They Knew

Fukushima's ground zero: No place for man or robot

Fukushima Five Years On: Not a Comedy of Errors, a Calamity of Terrors

Fukushima Five Years After: Health Researchers Turn Blind Eye to Casualties

Greenpeace items

How is Fukushima’s cleanup going five years after its meltdown? Not so well.

Japanese Citizens Celebrate Victory -- Shut Down Nuclear Power Plants (YouTube)

Japan's nuclear refugees face bleak return five years after Fukushima

No bliss in this ignorance: the great Fukushima nuclear cover-up

Nuclear Hotseat # 246 - Fukushima 5th anniversary - Voices from Japan (podcast)

No Nukes News – great compilation item!

On Forgetting Fukushima

Playing Pass the Parcel With Fukushima

Radioactive waste fire in Namie, Fukushima

The mothers who set up a radiation lab

The NRC Seven: Petitioning the NRC over Safety

When the Unthinkable is Deemed Impossible: Reflecting on Fukushima (by a former member of the NRC - U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission)

14 Groups Call on Canada’s PM to Fix Nuclear Law & Oversight

Five Years After Fukushima, U.S. Nuclear Safety Upgrades Lagging

MARY OLSON's POSTS from Japan & note: they are must-reads!! These posts describe encounters with people affected by the accident, including evacuees. Ms. Olson makes this very personal. Please read them!

 

Darlington Hearing: Weigh in ... & watch!

CNSC Hearing: Nov. 2-5, in Courtice (west of Bowmanville). ** NOTE: You can watch the hearing via Webcast. Go to www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca to find out how. (Allow yourself a few minutes to sort this out. You may have to fiddle a bit & click on several links before you get to the right spot. There should be a link on the upper right side of the main CNSC page.)

*** DNA's written submission to CNSC

What's It About? Why is this Licence a Bad Idea?

OPG (Ontario Power Generation) is asking for a 13-year licence to refurbish (i.e., rebuild) & continue operating 4 reactors at Darlington Nuclear Generating Station (DNGS) -- at huge public expense.

There are many reasons to speak up about this “life extension” project & the 13-year licence:

  • Building these reactors will cost Ontario taxpayers a fortune! At least $10 billion. Probably way more. Heck, the project is already costing us a fortune.
  • Who knows if they will be finished safely & on time? (In 2009, 500 Bruce Power workers were exposed to alpha radiation during refurbishment activities there. Much more could be said about this; feel free to dig around on the topic! Nasty.)
  • OPG’s past licences have never been for more than 2-5 years. Thus, this request is unprecedented.
  • Such a long licence is not necessary; other reactor operators in Canada have neither requested nor been granted such a long term. Bruce Power went through a licensing hearing earlier this year at which they asked for, & were granted, a 5-year licence for similar activities, i.e., refurbishment & continued operation.
  • A licence of this length is a way of reducing public scrutiny over OPG’s operations at Darlington.
  • If DNGS gets a 13-year licence, members of the public would not have the opportunity to oversee what is going on at the plant until 2028. Public hearings allow citizens to review OPG’s operations, and to ask questions. This ensures that OPG remains accountable to its host community.
  • Regular re-licensing hearings allow the public & independent CNSC commissioners to scrutinize both OPG operations & CNSC staff oversight of OPG.
  • Reduced public scrutiny can increase the risk of an accident if OPG & CNSC staff are not regularly – and publicly – held accountable for their actions.
  • Without accountability & transparency, reactor operators & regulators can become complacent, ignoring their responsibilities to ensure public safety. This is often referred to as “regulatory capture.”
  • This is what occurred at Fukushima. Lack of proper scrutiny & oversight (proper regulation) led to the Fukushima accident, assessed to be a “man-made” accident (you can check out this posting for many relevant quotations about the causes of the Fukushima accident).
  • Emergency planning in Durham Region/the Greater Toronto Area is gravely inadequate in the event that a serious accident occurs. The plans have been made under the assumption that only a mild accident with a minor release of radioactivity would take place. All explained more thoroughly here & here. Bottom line? Residents of Durham Region/the GTA are not safe to assume they'll be well protected in the event of a serious nuclear accident.
  • Most citizens of Durham Region & Toronto actually don't have a clue what they would do if an accident did take place. People are not well-informed.
  • We don’t seem to be able to count on Canada’s nuclear “regulator” to tell us the truth about nuclear safety, nuclear studies, & so on. The Harper government has turned a nuclear watchdog into a lapdog.
  • Canada’s nuclear regulator claims its staff has conducted a “severe accident study” that indicates a “serious” accident wouldn’t really cause too much of a problem. Problem is, the study is not what it claims to be … not at all. Best to read the previous post to get the lowdown.
  • Nuclear refurbishments create (literally!) tons of new nuclear wastes. We all know there is nowhere safe for any of that stuff to “go.” Plenty of detailed info on that topic here.
  • It just doesn’t seem that OPG’s plans for Darlington are worth the risk.
  • You know what? I haven't even mentioned Lake Ontario, & what nuke plants do to the bodies of water they are located on. Holy smokes. Major omission. The Lake Ontario Waterkeeper site has some recent info; why not check that out? For sure, Lake Ontario takes a bit hit from this plant. Nor should we be risking the drinking water source for millions of people. Nosirree.

WHY Weigh In?

Those of us experienced with nuclear hearings & nuclear industry dealings find the CNSC doesn’t pay much attention even when a very large number of people tell them their licensees & licensees' plans can't be trusted. I say this advisedly, having taken part now in 10 hearings over the past 9 years.

Why do we keep showing up at CNSC hearings when the CNSC doesn’t really seem to be listening?

Because we need to get other people to listen!

Municipal / regional / provincial politicians – who can exert pressure on the Premier of Ontario.

It is up to Ontario’s Premier to sign off on this refurbishment project.

Politicians at the Durham (& Toronto) municipal / regional / provincial levels should speak up on our behalf (& their own!) because

  1. They live here too, so they're just as much at risk as you & I.
  2. It’s their job & responsibility to protect the citizens who put them there (& who, also, btw, pay their salaries!)
  3. It’s dangerous that so few people & so few politicians are paying attention to serious nuclear risks & seriously deficient nuclear emergency planning.

Nuclear accidents are happening around the world at the rate of one every 10 years. There is no way under these circumstances that OPG should be permitted to operate behind closed doors for 13 years.

Emergency Planning Deficiencies

Current provincial emergency plans are built around the assumption of a minor accident in which no large release of radioactivity takes place immediately. Unsafe, unreasonable assumptions.

Plans for a serious accident, then, are not robust.

In Durham Region, what this means is that DEMO (Durham Emergency Management Office) is only really prepared for the evacuation of people in the immediate vicinity of the plants (Pickering or Darlington).

Not for a big accident – a Level 7 on the INES (International Nuclear Event Scale) – like the Chernobyl and Fukushima disasters. Where tens of thousands of people needed to be evacuated … quickly.

DNA has been working to inform local politicians about these gaps & deficiencies, & it seems to have sunk in (with some, anyway) that most people really actually have no idea what to do if a serious accident happens.

We Canadians are so polite, though, aren’t we? Polite to a fault. So polite we do not safeguard our own … safety.

We need Durham Region’s politicians to come right out & say very clearly to the Province: “Dudes. We’re right here at Ground Zero if a serious accident should happen. Doesn’t look to us like emergency plans here are very … robust. You gotta do something about this!”

Heck, even nuke agencies IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), which exists to both promote and regulate nuclear energy; yes … & ICRP (the International Commission on Radiological Protection) have clearly stated that emergency plans need to be clearly communicated to members of the public before any emergency takes place, or they will not be of much use! (Previous post goes into detail on all this.)

Finally…

You need not be a rocket scientist, nor possess a Ph.D., to speak clearly & concisely to the CNSC & express your lack of support for this refurbishment/life extension/13 year licence.

Short & sweet (well, no need to actually be sweet) will do nicely. From the heart is always best!

Just note down the things that irk or concern you the most, & fire it off by midnight on Monday, September 28th. Once again, details on making a submission are right here.

Recent postings:

Please take a look through recent postings on this site for relevant, related information. Each posting lists many additional resources at the end, should you be keen to learn more.

Direction sign to Nukes
Direction sign to Nukes

<these distances from downtown Toronto>

Fukushima: What Really Happened?

A detailed account of what took place at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant beginning on March 11, 2011 is provided in the book Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster, by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists (The New Press, 2014). On the Union of Concerned Scientists' Web site there is a detailed description of what the book covers.

You'll find reviews of the book here and here. (Of course, if you do a search on the book’s title, you’ll encounter more than just these two.)

The book is pretty well-indexed, so readers can look up words/phrases such as “beyond design basis” or “sea wall” or “potassium iodide” or “complacency and overconfidence” & find all the pages on which the particular topic is mentioned. There is also a glossary of terms.

As the list below indicates, the book goes into much detail about earthquake & tsunami research (both what was known & what was ignored), how the Japanese nuclear regulator operates, how TEPCO (owner/operator of the reactors at Fukushima) operated in the years before the disaster & then during the early days of the disaster, how the media in Japan operate, how emergency planning broke down, etc. etc.

Covered very thoroughly indeed, toward the end of the book, is how the U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) operates – which, as it happens, has a major bearing on how the Japanese regulator operates.

Much of what this book reveals is enough to cause nightmares, or at the very least, some lost sleep – especially if you live in the neighbourhood of an aging nuclear reactor –  or 10, as we do here in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

A list of important things covered in the book:

  • Emergency exercises are good mostly for PR purposes
  • Emergency plans fell apart badly in Japan
  • "Defense in depth" is not something that can be relied upon
  • How information about genuine risks (earthquakes, tsunamis) is swept under the carpet
  • "It can't happen here" has basically been the nuclear industry/nuclear regulators' mantra ever since the Three Mile Island accident (March 1979)
  • Regulatory agencies cannot be counted on to regulate
  • Risk analysis is not a real science & is essentially meaningless
Direction sign to Nukes
Direction sign to Nukes

Topics the book covers

  • Information about Japan’s history of earthquakes & tsunamis & technology related to predicting/preparing for them
  • A day-by-day accounting of the accident’s progression in the early days: quite detailed & technical
  • Explanation of what is meant by “design basis” & design-basis accidents
  • U.S. NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) involvement, including specifics about NRC head Gregory Jaczko (including his 2012 resignation)
  • Related information about U.S. reactors of similar design (General Electric boiling water reactors or BWRs)
  • Corruption at TEPCO
  • Collusion between nuclear industry & government
  • Manipulation of public opinion to favour nuclear energy
  • Revolving door between regulator & nuclear industry
  • Infrequency of inspections by the regulator (NISA)
  • Falsified reports, repairs that were not made, employees fired for reporting problems (** hair-raising information in Chapter 2)
  • Reliance on computer modelling vs. actual reality (i.e., ignoring evidence of possible tsunami if computer model says it is unlikely)
  • Communication manipulation (& “bungled communication”) during early days of crisis (Chapter 3) – among TEPCO officials, between various groups, to the public
  • No monitoring of quantity of radioactivity being released (Ch. 3)
  • “Lackadaisical attitude” toward robustness of spent fuel pools (Ch. 3)
  • Description of the lamentably poorly-thought-out care of spent fuel storage
  • Dangerousness of crowded fuel pools at U.S. reactors
  • Evacuation of U.S. citizens within 50-mile radius
  • Safety of dry cask storage at site during earthquake & tsunami (pg. 83)
  • “Sluggish” response of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (p.105)
  • Media coverage: choppy, contrast between the foreign & the domestic (Ch. 5) which gave TEPCO a “free ride” (p. 107)
  • Explanation of Japanese “press clubs” (p. 110)
  • Bungled gov’t handling of radiation exposure/health risks (p. 108)
  • Public’s loss of trust in government due to not being told the truth (p. 111)
  • U.S. & its 31 boiling water reactors – questions about U.S. safety with respect to earthquake risks
  • Evacuees’ situation (some “forced to relocate 6 times or more”) – pg. 117
  • Futaba Hospital: bungled evacuation. Patients who died (pg. 118)
  • Iitate: symbol of breakdown of gov’t response (25 miles /40 km from plant. Gaps/failures in emergency planning: zones arbitrary, evacuations far beyond 10K necessary, people evacuated in direction plume was going, hospital patients abandoned & then died. Etc. Failure to trust data saying plume going that way. Early awareness of it being a “hot spot” – yet a long delay in evacuation) (pg. 118, Ch. 5)
  • Three Mile Island: March 1979: lessons NOT learned – Davis-Besse 1977 incident (Ch. 7)
  • 2011 incidents at 2 U.S. nuke plants (Fort Calhoun-flooding & North Anna-earthquake)
  • Value (or not) of biennial emergency exercises – pg. 154 (Ch. 7)
  • Nearly 160,000 evacuees (pg. 157, Ch. 8)
  • Fallout contamination (pg 159, Ch. 8)
  • Anti-nuclear protests at prime minister’s office in Tokyo (pg. 163, Ch. 8)
  • NRC safety measures discussions (pg. 167, Ch. 8)
  • Japan’s PM goes anti-nuclear (pg. 171, Ch. 8)
  • More NRC safety discussions
  • TEPCO bailouts
  • Gregory Jaczko's resignation (Pg. 177, Ch. 8); Allison Macfarlane replaces him
  • “It can’t happen here” myth at the NRC (Chapter 9)
  • Inadequacy of reliance on “design-basis” accidents/rules (pg. 188, Ch. 9)
  • The problems with risk analysis & “probabilistic risk assessment” (PRA) – pg. 192
  • The issues with GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactors (pg. 195, Ch. 9)
  • U.S. loose rules emulated by Japanese regulator (pg. 202, end of Ch. 9)
  • NRC manipulations to present nuclear as safe; unbelievable! (Ch. 10)
  • The SOARCA (State-of-the-Art Reactor Consequence Analyses fiasco): “Science” manipulated, obfuscated; this must be read to be believed! (Ch. 10)
  • Proposed nuclear re-start in Japan & associated citizen protest (Ch. 11)
  • Back to business as usual at the NRC (Ch. 11)
  • Re-org of Japanese regulator (pg. 240, Ch. 11)
  • Great map of evacuation zones illustrating the lack of “neatness” of where fallout goes, & where evacuations are necessary (pg. 242, Ch. 11)
  • Political scene in Japan – Abe re-elected (pg. 243, Ch. 11)
  • Finger-pointing after the accident, including TEPCO blaming first Mother Nature, then the regulator for not being strict enough (pg. 244, Ch. 12)
  • “It can’t happen here” mindset, both in Japan – & the U.S. (pg. 247)
  • Casual attitude of politicians in U.S. (pg. 247)
  • Fires at U.S. reactor, new regs, regulations NOT enforced (pg. 247-8, Ch. 12)
  • Other examples of problems at U.S. reactors (pg. 249)
  • Defense-in-depth both “a blessing and a curse” (pg. 250); its strengths & limitations
  • Problems with evacuation in Fukushima situation (pg. 251)
  • Various things that were not planned for in emergency planning (pg. 251)
  • NRC’s 2011 NTTF (near-term task force, immediately post-Fukushima) & how NRC task force recommendations for change in U.S. regulation came to naught (pg. 252-3)
  • NRC refusal to address beyond-design-basis accidents (pg. 252-3)
  • Industry’s FLEX (“diverse and flexible mitigation”) strategy: how this prevented necessary changes at the NRC & avoids dealing with stubborn risks/issues (255-6)
  • NRC’s continued defense of 10-mile planning zones in spite of lessons from the experience proving inadequacy of this approach (pg. 256, Ch. 12)
  • NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service) proposal re: U.S. planning zones for emergency measures, i.e. evacuation, potassium iodide (pg. 256, Ch. 12)

** Conclusions: the NRC needs to make big changes in safety analysis

“In the end, the NRC must be able to tell the American public, “We’ve taken every reasonable step to protect you.” And it must be the public, not industry or bureaucrats, who define “reasonable.” (pg. 260, Ch. 12)

This document provides a lengthy compilation of quotations from the book. Many more pithy & informative quotations could have been included if recording all these quotes were not so time-consuming!

This is a very important book.

Why this posting now?

The problems that this book details about the intransigence of the nuclear regulatory agencies have not begun to be solved. The problems of collusion among regulators & industry & governments have not begun to be solved.

Since most "average citizens" (& even politicians) seem unaware that these problems exist (while those in power who do know, deny them), rassling with & solving them will be a very great challenge indeed.

In Durham Region (& of great interest across the entire Greater Toronto Area), we’re about to witness an expensive hearing process involving Ontario Power Generation (OPG)’s request to Canada’s nuclear regulator, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), for a 13-year license for the aging reactors at Darlington (hearing to take place in early November).

People need to understand the kinds of problems that led to the Fukushima disaster that are laid out so very thoroughly in this book.

“Fukushima Daiichi unmasked the weaknesses of nuclear power plant design and the long-standing flaws in operations and regulatory oversight. Although Japan must share the blame, this was not a Japanese nuclear accident; it was a nuclear accident that just happened to have occurred in Japan. The problems that led to the disaster at Fukushima Daiichi exist wherever reactors operate.” (from the introduction to the book)

The Fukushima disaster was not caused by the earthquake or the tsunami; it is a man-made disaster that could happen anywhere there are nuclear reactors.

Toshimitsu Homma of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency stated in April 2013 at an international conference on Emergency Management (held in Ottawa) that the most important lesson of Fukushima was that before the accident, “There was an implicit assumption that such a severe accident could not happen and thus insufficient attention was paid to such an accident by authorities.”

** Note: same deal here in Ontario! Emergency planning predicated on a minor accident, not a major one. Plans = utterly inadequate. Recent editorial from Japan regarding evacuation issues there.

“The earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 were natural disasters of a magnitude that shocked the entire world. Although triggered by these cataclysmic events, the subsequent accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant cannot be regarded as a natural disaster. It was a profoundly manmade disaster – that could and should have been foreseen and prevented. And its effects could have been mitigated by a more effective human response.” – Kiyoshi Kurokawa, Chairman of The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (Pg. 9)

“A “manmade” disaster: The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties. They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents. Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly “manmade.” We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual. (see Recommendation 1)” — from The official report of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 16)

“The Commission has verified that there was a lag in upgrading nuclear emergencypreparedness and complex disaster countermeasures, and attributes this to regulators’ negative attitudes toward revising and improving existing emergency plans.” – from The official report of The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission (pg. 19)

** Other recent, relevant posts on this blog:

2 outstanding (& related) articles:

P.S. on October 17/15: On October 14th, DNA donated copies of the Union of Concerned Scientists' book to each of Durham Region's eight municipal Councils (& the Regional Chair) & reminded them all of inadequate nuclear emergency planning as well as the untruth of the "It Can't Happen Here" myth. Media article here. Copies were also later given to the Premier of Ontario & to the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services (the provincial ministry in charge of emergency planning).