The Fukushima/San Onofre Connection
This is a packed edition folks. We’ve been on the road for the last several weeks, generating more video and reporting than we can keep up with posting. This is a sampling of the harvest. We hope you’ll find it a rich, informative and galvanizing scan. More to follow. Let’s hear it for a Nuclear Free California! And that’s just for starters… [ We haven't been ignoring 'smart meter,' wifi pollution issues, but that's for another blog. Stay tuned. ]
As thousands march in Japan protesting the start-up of the Oi reactors; and a panel rules the Fukushima disaster was ‘man-made;’ Friends of the Earth Special Consultants David Freeman and Arnie Gunderson are joined by Committee to Bridge the Gap President Dan Hirsch in a critique of the joint NRC/Southern California Edison report-to-the-public on San Onofre’s faulty steam generators; Cecile Pineda reveals the nuclear utilities’ PR playbook; Mae-Wan Ho and Peter Saunders blow the whistle on the WHO/IAEA connection; the L.A. Times calls for the permanent shutdown of San Onofre; and Chris Busby denounces the flawed ‘schoolboy’ plan to ‘dispose’ of nuclear waste in explosion-prone canisters under the Baltic Sea. Exclusive EON video reporting is combined with other sources. Scroll down, as they say, for ‘all that and more.’
Notice: EON is honored to host major organizer and Fukushima survivor, Chieko Shiina and Professor Rebecca Jenisson, 6 pm, Friday July 13. They will speak at a dinner at The Station House Cafe, Pt. Reyes Station, CA – $25.00
RSVP to: email@example.com
Chieko Shiina was an organic farmer and B & B owner until the Fukushima disaster.
Afterwards, she organized the women’s sit-in in Tokyo which became Occupy Tokyo
and gained international attention to the plight of the multiple and ongoing meltdown’s victims. Both Chieko and Professor Jenisson of Kyoto Seika University, will share the truth of the horrors being experienced by the Japanese people as a result of the criminal mismanagement of the catastrophe and how people are responding.
Cover-Up Charged at Ailing Seaside Nuke
Are the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Southern California Edison (SCE) collaborating in keeping from the public the root malfunction cause of the two faulty Mitsubishi steam generators that have kept the reactors in a shutdown that started last January? Are the so-called ‘watchdog’ agency and the investor owned utility trying to deflect justified public fears in the hope of starting the aging reactors up again despite serious problems? That’s what Friends of the Earth‘s special consultants David Freeman and Arnie Gundersen say in response to a recent joint NRC/Edison public meeting in San Juan Capistrano. Nuclear policy expert Dan Hirsch agreed as he challenged officials to supply ‘real numbers’ in place of vague assertions.
Please see video clips below.
Local residents have already got the picture: as Donna Gilmore of SanOnofreSafety.org asks “These steam generators are defective and not repairable. We don’t even need the energy from these plants, so why are we risking our communities, the future of California and the breadbasket of the nation for energy we don’t need? It’s insane.”
It was a well attended, heavily managed – and heavily policed – event in which NRC and Edison representatives ‘shared the interim findings’ of their on-going investigation of the steam generator malfunctions and fielded questions from the audience in order to demonstrate ‘transparency’ and ‘rebuild public trust.’ The meeting seemed to follow with creepy exactitude the playbook laid out by Frank Luntz of Luntz Global, ‘a powerhouse in the profession of message creation and image management.’ Here’s his advice to clients:
“Remember: ‘It’s not what you say. It’s what people want to hear.’”
In her new book “Devil’s Tango: How I learned the Fukushima Step by Step,” Cecile Pineda parses the Luntz playbook. It’s worth quoting at length.
Fran Luntz is the principal of Luntz Global, a man with a wide reach and author of the bestselling “What Americans Want – Really.” He has put words in the mouth of every two-bit snake oil salesman who’s ever run for office. But on the subject of nuclear energy, he waxes particularly eloquent. ‘Americans aren’t concerned about nuclear energy since Fukushima,’ he counsels members of the industry, ‘they are [merely] anxious’ And here’s the good news from Frank: ‘their anxiety can be manged, controlled and addressed,’ (but presumably not in that order). All you have to remember when talking about the absolute beauty of nuclear power is that although uncertainty has grown since Fukushima, ‘the light (for the industry) is yellow, not red.’ They need to hear you’re ‘learning lessons from Japan,’ in every way, and every day. And ‘going forward’ (a red-flag clue a bromide is about to be delivered) there’s going to be ‘even more accountability and even better safety.’ All around. Your responsibility is to educate them (if that is indeed possible), by reminding them that you are ‘committed to the relentless pursuit of safer nuclear energy.’ Let them know they ‘have a right to know the FACTS about nuclear energy…and that [you] have the responsibility to tell [them] openly and honestly’
But ‘talk about radiation as little as possible.’ Or if you must talk about it, say ‘we are committed to safely containing radiation in every nuclear facility. We don’t take chances. We used layer upon layer of redundant protection.’ And above all, ‘you need to invest time and language in building up the stringent oversight of the NRC.’ Frank follows up this generous advice with a list of ‘Do not says’ and ‘Do says.’ Example: ‘never refer to the NRC as a government agency.’ Say, ‘the NRC, the independent watchdog regulator.’
What’s at Stake for Stakeholders
The subtext of the local controversy over San Onofre nuclear power station is this: The promoters of a national and global ‘nuclear renaissance’ insist that nuclear-generated electricity is necessary and indispensable. With most of Japan’s nukes now off-line and Germany committing to close its own nukes down, decommissioning San Onofre’s two nukes (and better yet Diablo Canyon’s as well) would be a big loss of credibility for their agenda. If no blackouts or brownouts occur this summer with San Onofre shut down, the public might catch on that (a) California already has an excess of electrical capacity WITHOUT nuclear power and, (b) conservation, efficiency and renewables can more than replace the percentage of power now supplied by nukes.
Here are two charts that tell the story:
From Donna Gilmore of SanOnofreSafety.org
From Barbara George of WomensEnergyMatters.org
Here are our video reports.
In this news conference held June 18, 2012 in San Juan Capistrano, CA. before a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) public report on conditions at Southern California Edison’s currently shut down San Onofre nuclear reactor facility, international environmental organization Friends of the Earth (FoE.org) called for a full adjudicatory hearing on the safety risks of the aging, ailing plant located in a tsunami zone near the intersection of several active earthquake faults.
Calling the NRC investigation faulty and flawed speakers including FoE Energy and Climate Director Damon Moglen; former Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) Director David Freeman; nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org; Donna Gilmore of SanOnofreSafety.org; and local mother of three, Crystal Coleman, reported on some of the reasons Edison’s nuclear generating station has the country’s worst safety record and demanded release of information and documents they charge are being withheld by the utility.
Before speaking in a recent Friends of the Earth 6-18-2012 news conference in San Juan Capistrano, Ca., nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org tells EON why San Onofre’s new, ill-designed steam generators were doomed to fail…and why he thinks Southern California Edison is ‘hiding the ball.’ The Southern California Edison nuclear generating plant is located in an urban area between L.A. and San Diego of 8 million people, in a tsunami zone, near intersecting active earthquake faults and has the worst safety record of all the 104 U.S. reactors.
Dan Hirsch, President of Committee to Bridge the Gap and former Director of the Program on Nuclear Policy at U.C. Santa Cruz, challenges officials of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Southern California Edison disclose specific data on the damaged steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear generator, which has been shut down since January. The NRC was giving an interim report to the public on its investigation of the malfunction. Environmental groups suspect a cover-up of problems at the aging, ailing nuclear facility, located in a tsunami zone near several active earthquake faults in an area between L.A. and San Diego populated by 8 million people.
After listening to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and Southern California Edison officials report to the public on steam generator malfunctions that have kept the two San Onofre nuclear reactors shut down since January, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds.org, speaking as a special consultant to Friends of the Earth (FoE.org), points out the flaws in the official account. The Southern California Edison nuclear generating plant is located in an urban area between L.A. and San Diego with millions of people, in a tsunami zone, near intersecting active earthquake faults and has the worst safety record of all the 104 U.S. reactors.
Some Recent Related Stories
L.A. Times EDITORIAL
San Onofre’s cloudy future
Can the damaged nuclear power plant be repaired and restarted? And if so, what then?
These are dark days at the San Onofre nuclear plant just south of Orange County. Both of its reactors have been shut down for more than four months, when abnormal “thinning” was discovered in the tubes of recently installed steam generators. Neither reactor will come back on line this summer, and after that, it’s still unclear whether one or both will be switched on again and if so, at full power or partial — or whether they’ll stay shut for the foreseeable future….
…The decision about whether to start up the reactors is essentially an engineering issue. But the bigger policy question for both Edison and regulators is the long-term future of the aging plant. San Onofre’s two current reactors have been operating since 1983 and ’84, respectively; the license for both expires in 2022. (Unit 1 was retired in 1992.) Edison says it has not yet determined whether to seek a 20-year license extension, a process that it would have to begin in 2017 to be completed in time.
It should not. Instead of spending the next five years figuring out how to keep the plant going indefinitely, Edison should be using that time to develop other ways to generate the needed power, especially from reliable, sustainable sources such as solar and wind….
…Nuclear energy has been a relatively cheap source of power and one that doesn’t contribute to global warming, but the energy is not worth the long-term risk. As we have said before, California, with its network of earthquake faults and the environmental health of the ocean to consider, is the wrong place for such plants. Now is the perfect time for Edison, and the state as a whole, to begin the planning for a non-nuclear future. Read more
California energy officials plan for life without San Onofre
As officials make short-term plans to cope while the San Onofre plant is off line, they’re also starting to think about the possibility of a nuclear-free future.
By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
June 24, 2012
California energy officials are beginning to plan for the possibility of a long-range future without the San Onofre nuclear power plant.
The plant’s unexpected, nearly five-month outage has had officials scrambling to replace its power this summer and has become a wild card in already complicated discussions about the state’s energy future.
That long-range planning process already involves dealing with the possible repercussions of climate change, a mandate to boost the state’s use of renewable sources to 33% of the energy supply by 2020 and another mandate to phase out a process known as once-through cooling, which uses ocean water to cool coastal power plants, that will probably take some other plants out of service.
“Some of the weaknesses we have in the infrastructure [of Southern California] are laid bare by San Onofre,” said Steve Berberich, chief executive of the California Independent System Operator, the nonprofit that oversees most of the state’s energy grid.
Berberich and other energy leaders gathered in Los Angeles on Friday for a meeting convened by the California Energy Commission looking at long-term plans for California’s power grid. Read more
Published on Friday, June 29, 2012 by Common Dreams
200,000 Protest in Japan Ahead of Nuclear Restart
- Common Dreams staff
Hundreds of thousands of protesters showed up at the door of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s residence on Friday, lining the streets of central Tokyo to express outrage over the continued push for nuclear reactor restarts in the country.
Shareholders of Japan’s electricity companies voted on Wednesday to reboot nuclear power throughout the nation, despite widespread public opposition.
Noda approved the restarts of two reactors at Kansai Electric’s Oi plant on June 16, but his pro-nuclear stance has prompted weekly protests outside of his residence. Friday’s protest was perhaps the biggest yet. Organizers estimated the turnout to be over 200,000 people, according to Japan Times.
Japan had shut down the last of its 50 nuclear facilities in early May, following continued public disapproval of nuclear power after last year’s disaster in Fukushima, which continues to plague the region with record levels of nuclear radiation. Read more
Published on Sunday, July 1, 2012 by Common Dreams
Japan Nuclear Back Online as Protests Continue
- Common Dreams staff
The Oi nuclear plant’s reactor No 3, in the western Fukui Prefecture of Japan, was switched back on Sunday evening in opposition to public outrage and a growing anti-nuclear protest movement throughout the country.
Hundreds of protesters blocked the road to the front gate of the power station on Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, as they faced off against riot police and pledged to stay there day and night, reports Al-jazeera.
However, plant operator, Kansai Electric said Sunday it already had enough workers on hand for the restart.
Last month Noda ordered the restarts of reactors No 3 and No 4, at the Oi plant, as he continued his campaign of hooking the country back onto nuclear power.
Up to 200,000 protesters had gathered Friday evening in central Tokyo, chanting, “No to nuclear restarts” outside of Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda’s home. Read more
A partial list of non-cancer health effects of human exposure to radiation:
Cleft Lip and Palate
Kidney and Liver Damage
Increased Infant Mortality
Genetic Mutations/Chromosomal Aberrations
Nuclear Storage: Explosive Developments and Oversights
Dr. Chris Busby
The future of nuclear energy depends on the industry finding somewhere to put the high level waste. This is radioactive for millions of years and must be isolated from the environment.
The hitherto intractable problem was apparently solved by the Swedish nuclear industry who proposed a plan to encapsulate it in copper canisters and bury it in tunnels 500m underneath the Baltic Sea at Forsmark.
The full environmental impact report was released last year; the government requirements are that the company SKB show that the waste will not emerge from the canisters between 100,000 years and 1 million years.
After studying the report in detail it became clear that the design was flawed because it did not include consideration of the Helium gas produced from the alpha emitters. The volume of gas in each canister would cause it to explode long before 100,000 years resulting in the contamination of the Baltic Sea by the equivalent of 2000 Chernobyl accidents. Back to the drawing board!
Click here for a PDF of the Busby study…
Pandora’s Canister: A Preliminary examination of the Safety Assessment SR-Site for the SKB proposed KBS-3 Nuclear Waste Repository at Forsmark Sweden and associated activities relating to the disposal of spent nuclear fuel
The Swedish Land and Environmental Court, Unit 3, Nacka District Court, Case No Case M 1333-11
Swedish Radiation Protection Agency, Strålsäkerhetsmyndigheten, reference numbers: SSM2011-3522 for repository application SSM2011-3833 for Clink application
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho and Prof. Peter Saunders
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Now or never
“We lost Japan,” said Rie Inomata, who works as an interpreter .
“I feel guilty and sorry for the children. They did not choose nuclear power plants, they did not choose to be born; but it is them that have to suffer in the future.”
“By not protesting against nuclear power I allowed this accident to happen. If we go in the same direction, I don’t see any future.”
“If we [are to] make a difference, we must decide now, it is now or never.” Read more
Published on Thursday, July 5, 2012 by Common Dreams
Fukushima Nuclear Disaster ‘Clearly Man-Made’, says Parliamentary Panel
TEPCO, government faulted for betraying public; report cites self-interested decisions before and after disaster
- Common Dreams staff
A parliamentary panel investigating the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan last year have placed the blame squarely on the shoulders of plant owner TEPCO and government regulators by saying the crisis was “clearly man-made.” Though the plant was crippled by an enormous tsunami generated by a powerful earthquake, the panel concluded that key warnings were ignored and preparations that could have been implemented were disregarded out of self-interest.
“They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents,” the panel’s report said. “Therefore, we conclude that the accident was clearly ‘man-made’.”
The report was submitted to the heads of both chambers of the Diet on July 5. It can be read in Japanese on the NAIIC’s website (http://www.naiic.jp/).
“We plan to make an English version of the final report to show it to the world,” said head of the commission, Kiyoshi Kurokawa. Read more
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