FROM Dan Hirsch
Tunnel collapses at Washington plutonium plant A collapsing tunnel at America's most radioactive nuclear site in Washington State near the Colombia River Photos courtesy Hanford Nuclear Site The Hanford Nuclear Site in Eastern Washington built the atomic bomb that destroyed Nagasaki, Japan in 1945. It provided plutonium for nuclear weapons for the next 40 years, and now it's the most radioactive location in the Western Hemisphere. Yesterday, a 20-foot section of a tunnel full of nuclear waste collapsed . So far, there are no reports of radioactive releases. Dan Hirsch, director of the Environmental and Nuclear Policy Program at UC Santa Cruz and president of the nuclear watchdog group Bridge the Gap in Los Angeles, has more on the accident and clean-up efforts. Workers have begun to fill the hole in the tunnel, located near the PUREX Plant at the Hanford Site, with soil. Approximately 50 truckloads of soil will be used to fill the hole.
California's Double Standard for Public Protection State regulators waited for months before they responded to the Southern California Gas Company's dangerous leak in the San Fernando Valley. They waited for years until the federal government finally forced closure of the Exide Technologies battery-recycling plant near East Los Angeles. Nancy Martinez reports for Eastern Group Publications, with six bi-lingual papers, including the Eastside Sun .
How Safe Are America's Aging Nuclear Power Plants? America's nuclear power plants are aging. The anticipated lifetime originally was about 40 years, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is allowing them to be re-licensed for 20 more. Now a year-long investigation by the Associated Press reports that the NRC works with the industry to weaken safety standards, or fail to enforce them, in order to keep the plants running. Accidents at nuclear plants may be extremely rare, but when they happen, they're devastating. Are regulators in the US doing all that it takes to prevent another Fukushima-type incident from happening here?
How Safe Are America's Aging Nuclear Power Plants? The ongoing disaster at Fukushima has focused attention on the safety of nuclear power plants in the United States. Could a similar accident happen here? The nuclear industry says there's only been one "safety-significant" incident since 2001, and that was nine years ago. But the nuclear plants are aging. The anticipated lifetime originally was about 40 years, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is allowing them to be re-licensed for 20 more. Now a year-long investigation by the Associated Press reports that the NRC works with the industry to weaken safety standards, or fail to enforce them, in order to keep the plants running. The probability of a nuclear accident is very low, but the consequences can be catastrophic. Have the industry and its regulators become complacent?
State Radiation Monitors Were Offline after Japan Disaster Trace amounts of radiation from Japan's damaged nuclear-power reactors have turned up in rainwater from New England to Florida. They are comparable to findings in Washington State, Nevada and California. But the Environmental Protection Agency says monitors in San Diego, San Bernardino and Los Angeles were off-line last week for repairs and maintenance.
Obama Reassures Nation on Radiation, Nuclear Safety The United States and Japan have different interpretations of radiation readings from the nuclear power plant at Fukushima. President Obama said that he did not expect harmful levels of radiation to reach the West Coast, and added that nuclear power is still part of America's energy future.
Japan's Ongoing Disaster and the Future of Nuclear Power There hasn't been a nuclear power plant constructed in the United States since the 1970's, but the Obama Administration has approved federal loan guarantees for two new reactors in Georgia. They are not yet licensed, and the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has raised questions about their safety from aircraft attacks and their vulnerability to earthquakes. Now comes the crisis at Fukushima. We update the situation in Japan and explore the future of nuclear power in the US.
Japan's Ongoing Disaster and the Future of Nuclear Power The extent of the damage at Fukushima is still unclear, and nobody knows how much radiation has been released or how more will be. But the ongoing crisis has renewed debate about the safety of nuclear power. There hasn't been a nuclear power plant constructed in the United States since the 1970's, but the Obama Administration has approved federal loan guarantees for two new reactors in Georgia. They are not yet licensed, and the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has raised questions about their safety from aircraft attacks and their vulnerability to earthquakes. Should nuclear energy be expanded to fuel President Obama's "green economy?" Is it still too early to tell?
Will a Massive Source of Potential Cancer Finally Be Cleaned Up? The Santa Susanna Mountains between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys is among the most contaminated places in the United States. For decades during and after World War II, it was used to test rocket fuel and nuclear materials. In 1959, a small nuclear reactor actually melted down there, an incident kept from the public for 20 years. In the meantime, houses were built on the slopes. But, even after they discovered what they were living on, many homeowners did not move away. Now, after generations of local effort, the state and federal governments have agreed to a cleanup. Midnight tonight is the last opportunity for public comment .
LA's Own Nuclear Meltdown Revisited It's been 50 years since America's first nuclear meltdown in the Santa Susana Mountains, between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys. The site was a massive research installation, which tested 30,000 thousand rocket engines over the years and included ten nuclear reactors. On July 13, 1959, one of those —the Sodium Reactor Experiment — sprung a leak , and was shut down. But before the problem had been resolved, the reactor was started up again. It ran for nearly two weeks without any kind of containment, like the big concrete domes that shield commercial reactors at San Onofre and other nuclear power plants. To this day, nobody knows how much gas was vented into the air, and cleanup operations still continue. We speak with reporters, environmentalists and a trainee of the facility, who was just 20 years old at the time.
Nuclear Power and Climate Change After 20 years and $9 billion, the nuclear-waste storage facility at Nevada's Yucca Mountain has been scrapped by the Obama Administration. There has not been a nuclear power plant licensed in the US since the Three Mile Island accident 30 years ago. In the meantime, nuclear power is finding converts in Europe, and America's Nuclear Regulatory Commission is looking at more than 30 applications.
Climate Change and Nuclear Power After 20 years and $9 billion, Nevada's Yucca Mountain won't be the final resting place for 60,000 tons of deadly nuclear waste piling up at power plants all over the country. So what happens now to a nuclear industry that expected a shot in the arm from demand for “clean” energy to reduce global warming? No new plant has been licensed in the US since the Three Mile Island accident 30 years ago, but Energy Secretary Henry Chu has promised to find a way. Has Europe developed safer technologies? What about cost and weaponization? Would nuclear power be better or worse than climate change?
Santa Susana Nuclear Meltdown For 40 years, the Santa Susana Field Laboratory tested rocket engines and nuclear reactors in the hills between the San Fernando and Simi Valleys. In 1959, officials reported problems with a nuclear research reactor, but said that no employees were exposed to radiation and that no radioactivity was released outside the facility. In 1979, UCLA graduate students uncovered records indicating that there was a partial reactor meltdown, similar to that at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island that same year. Last week, a new report says the meltdown released as much as 300 times the radiation of Three Mile Island, possibly causing 260 cancers in surrounding neighborhoods. The report is based partially on technical models to fill in details researchers can't get from the Department of Energy or the Boeing Company , which now owns the property. We get the latest in a long-running battle over technology and public health.
Who's to blame for the opioid crisis? Some of the lawyers who took on Big Tobacco are now going after Big Pharma. It’s all about the deadly epidemic of opioid use. Are the drug companies to blame? What about the users? Later, on today’s Talking Point: making sense of Britain’s upset election.
Venezuela spirals into economic and political chaos Venezuela, a country whose potential for prosperity is unmatched, finds itself on the verge of civil war. What sustains the repressive government? With time running out, guest host León Krauze looks at what the international community can do to pull the country from the edge of collapse.
Trump's 'America First' goes missing abroad In the Middle East, President Trump is changing some policies of the Obama Administration—and reversing his own campaign attacks on Islam as a religion that "hates us." We hear about his visit to Saudi Arabia and what's at stake for the rest of his foreign excursion.