May 3, 2013

Going nuclear?

You may have missed a few news articles about nuclear energy in the last few weeks. So here's a recap:

1) Two years after a triple meltdown at Fukushima that grew into the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, they face a new crisis with a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain. 75 gallons a minute is nothing to sneeze at since they are running out of space to store this highly contaminated radioactive water. 42 acres is not sufficient! So they plan to chop down a small forest  to make room for hundreds more tanks, a task even more urgent because the underground pits built to handle the overflow sprang leaks in recent weeks.

Was entrusting the cleanup to the company that ran the plant before the meltdowns a wise decision?

2) Huge piles of highly radioactive waste are sitting all over the world in vulnerable spent fuel pools lacking containment structures or backup generators. Our nearby Surry nuclear plant on the James River stores the radioactive spent fuel in huge above-ground concrete "tanks."

3) The most alarming announcement came from Gregory Jaczko, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. He calmly pointed out that all 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology. He said that shutting them all down at once is not practical, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives.

4) Now hear this! Virginia is creating a new agency to support developing more nuclear power. BUT the newly created Virginia Nuclear Energy Consortium will NOT have to comply with Virginia's Freedom of Information Act and other laws.