By Dave Lindorff
It seems rather silly now, doesn't it, all the US concern about terrorism?
The nuclear crisis in Japan, which continues to worsen, threatens to become a total multiple meltdown, combined with the perhaps even more disastrous explosion and fire in one or several spent fuel rod ponds. If any of these things happen, not to mention many of them, several hundred square miles of Japan would be rendered indefinitely uninhabitable, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. And it could be worse. If the winds are blowing south during such a disaster, all of Tokyo, which has a metropolitan population of over 30 million, could have to be evacuated.
A study by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission back in 1997, found that one spend fuel disaster could devastate almost 200 square miles of the US, and cause half a trillion dollars in damage!
And we're spending hundreds of billions of dollars a year chasing after a few thousand ragtag Taliban fighters and supposedly pursuing a few hundred Arab terrorists, most of whom are fighting back with their shoes and their underwear?
So where is the real risk to America's security?
Well, for starters, we could consider the 23 nuclear plants currently operating in the US that were built by General Electric using the same basic flawed design as those that are blowing up in Fukushima, Japan right now. Those plants, which are located in my state of Pennsylvania, as well as everywhere from Alabama to Nebraska and Vermont, are as much as 40 years old. They are only still in operation today because the NRC is such an industry-captive regulator that it has granted them long license extensions running way past their sell-by date. It has even given many of them the okay to run at capacities exceeding 100% of design standards!
There are other plants, also creaky with age, such as the ones in San Onofre and Diablo Canyon, California, which were knowingly built within a few miles of major earthquake faults--faults which could produce earthquakes on a scale of the one that just hit Japan. Both those facilities were designed to allegedly be able to survive (when new) a 7.5 quake. That was an untestable assertion of faith, but in any case, with an 8, an 8.5 or a 9, all bets would be off...