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Nuclear Perceptions Fight Reality

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"They didn't want to create the perception that the site was unsafe, so therefore they kept the site unsafe," Gunderson said. 

He explained that they have since acknowledged their behavior and he read from a TEPCO public statement:  "There was a worry that, if the company were to implement a severe accident response plan, it would spur anxiety throughout the country and in the community where the plant was sited, and it would lend momentum to the anti-nuclear movement."  

Similar thinking in the U.S. was revealed by the release of a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) study that showed that 34 U.S. nuclear power plants at risk of flooding from dam failures upstream.  Written about six months ago, but classified "not for public disclosure," the study was recently made public by a whistleblower

"So here's the NRC, America's nuclear watchdog, doing exactly what Tokyo Electric did, preventing the public from becoming aware of a safety problem, because they don't want to frighten the public," Gunderson said. 

   How Many Potential Fukushimas in US? 

After discussing the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant surrounded by flood waters in 2011, with five full-to-capacity dams upstream, Gunderson commented: "Yet the NRC was basically telling everybody, don't worry be happy.  You know, the probability of a dam failing is pretty low, but so is the probability of a 60 foot high tsunami hitting Fukushima.  We know that low-probability events happen.  And the NRC and Tokyo Electric both basically don't want to admit that these events can happen.  And we've got 34 different Fukushimas in the United States -- one third of the nuclear fleet is in danger of an upstream dam failing."   

Currently four U.S. nuclear power plants have been shut down for extended periods of one to four years, while ratepayers continue to pay the operating costs of plants that aren't operating.  The two shut down reactors at San Onofre in California are costing ratepayers $50 million a month just to maintain the opportunity to re-start the reactors on short notice. 

Worldwide, about 60 of the world's 434 so-called safe, clean, reliable, inexpensive nuclear power plants are shut down, some forever. 

"It just shows that the people we're counting on to protect us, the regulators and the people that own these power plants, can't be trusted," Gunderson concluded.  

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Vermonter living in Woodstock: elected to five terms (served 20 years) as side judge (sitting in Superior, Family, and Small Claims Courts); public radio producer, "The Panther Program" -- nationally distributed, three albums (at CD Baby), some (more...)
 
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Great article, if I may say so, William. (And I've... by Martin Cohen on Friday, Nov 2, 2012 at 4:13:07 PM
Safety is a drain on profits, not to mention ... by William Boardman on Friday, Nov 2, 2012 at 6:05:35 PM