The Top Short-Term Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima
The Greatest Single Threat to Humanity: Fuel Pool Number 4
We noted days after the Japanese earthquake that the biggest threat was from the spent fuel rods in the fuel pool at Fukushima unit number 4, and not from the reactors themselves. See this and this.
We noted in February:
Scientists say that there is a 70% chance of a magnitude 7.0 earthquake hitting Fukushima this year, and a 98% chance within the next 3 years.
Given that nuclear expert Arnie Gundersen says that an earthquake of 7.0 or larger could cause the entire fuel pool structure collapse, it is urgent that everything humanly possible is done to stabilize the structure housing the fuel pools at reactor number 4.
Tepco is doing some construction at the building … it is a race against time under very difficult circumstances, and hopefully Tepco will win.
As AP points out:
The structural integrity of the damaged Unit 4 reactor building has long been a major concern among experts because a collapse of its spent fuel cooling pool could cause a disaster worse than the three reactor meltdowns.
Gundersen (who used to build spent fuel pools) explains that there is no protection surrounding the radioactive fuel in the pools. He warns that – if the fuel pools at reactor 4 collapse due to an earthquake – people should get out of Japan, and residents of the West Coast of America and Canada should shut all of their windows and stay inside for a while.
The fuel pool number 4 is apparently not in great shape, and there have already been countless earthquakes near the Fukushima region since the 9.0 earthquake last March.
Continue reading Top Threat to Humanity: The Fuel Pools of Fukushima
End Student Debt!
The student loan crisis finally reached center stage in Washington after the House GOP budget called for letting interest rates double on government-subsidized loans (and for deep cuts in Pell grants and other student support). If it passes, students who borrow the maximum will end up paying as much as $1,000 a year in added interest. President Obama sensibly called for extending the lower rate, stumping at colleges and on talk-shows to enlist students and others in the cause.
Republican leaders quickly realized the perils of angering young voters. In another flip-flop, Mitt Romney decided to support extending the lower rate, while the House GOP passed an extension but taunted the president by stipulating that it be paid for with money taken from the preventive health fund created by the Affordable Care Act. Senate Democrats propose paying for it by closing a loophole that doctors, lawyers and small businesses use to avoid payroll taxes.
Ignored in the standoff is that even at the lower rates, more and more students can’t afford the college education or advanced training everyone but Rick Santorum believes they need. Since 1982 the cost of living has doubled and healthcare costs have tripled; college tuition and fees have exploded more than four times. All this comes amid revelations about the hundreds of billions in loans—at below-market rates—ladled out to the banks by the Federal Reserve and Treasury during the financial crisis.
Continue reading Bailout Student Loan Debt – Tax Wall Street
Chesapeake Energy CEO bankrolled Corbett starting in ’04; McClendon’s contributions pivotal for PA governor
June 30, 2011
Philadelphia Daily News reporter Will Bunch, in “How a Natural-gas Tycoon Tapped into Corbett,” has helped reveal the tragic impact of massive gas industry campaign contributions on Pennsylvania politics (for the big picture see MarcellusMoney.org, meticulously researched up to the minute by Common Cause). Chesapeake Energy CEO Aubrey McClendon has been bankrolling Pennsylvania’s current gas-loving governor as far back as 2004.
Will Bunch’s feature on Governor Corbett’s rise to power and the role the gas industry has played in it was the cover story in yesterday’s Daily News. (Source: Keegan Gibson/politicspa.com)
In the Daily News’ June 29th cover story, Bunch explains that a wildcat well is “when a prospector takes a big risk drilling deep in an unexplored area.” Bunch then suggests that a “flamboyant Oklahoma City multimillionaire” did just this – and struck it big – back in 2004:
The $450,000 in campaign checks that energy mogul Aubrey McClendon wrote that fall helped elect a man he said he’d never even met – a relatively obscure GOP candidate for Pennsylvania attorney general, Tom Corbett.
And so the story goes in Bunch’s high-profile article exploring the power relationships behind Governor Corbett’s devotion to the natural gas industry in Pennsylvania. While Bunch begins by raising unanswerable questions of intent and foresight on the part of McClendon, the CEO of Chesapeake Energy, the overall impact of industry donations is unquestionably terrible for the environment and public health.
Continue reading PA Governor Corbett Bankrolled by Gas Drillers
Why Fukushima Is a Greater Disaster than Chernobyl and a Warning Sign for the U.S.
April 20, 2012 · By Robert Alvarez
The radioactive inventory of all the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools at Fukushima is far greater and even more problematic than the molten cores.
In the aftermath of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster, the news media is just beginning to grasp that the dangers to Japan and the rest of the world posed by the Fukushima-Dai-Ichi site are far from over. After repeated warnings by former senior Japanese officials, nuclear experts, and now a U.S. Senator, it is sinking in that the irradiated nuclear fuel stored in spent fuel pools amidst the reactor ruins may have far greater potential offsite consequences than the molten cores.
After visiting the site recently, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) wrote to Japan’s ambassador to the U.S. stating that, “loss of containment in any of these pools could result in an even greater release than the initial accident.”
This is why:
- Each pool contains irradiated fuel from several years of operation, making for an extremely large radioactive inventory without a strong containment structure that encloses the reactor cores;
- Several pools are now completely open to the atmosphere because the reactor buildings were demolished by explosions; they are about 100 feet above ground and could possibly topple or collapse from structural damage coupled with another powerful earthquake;
- The loss of water exposing the spent fuel will result in overheating can cause melting and ignite its zirconium metal cladding – resulting in a fire that could deposit large amounts of radioactive materials over hundreds of miles.
Irradiated nuclear fuel, also called “spent fuel,” is extraordinarily radioactive. In a matter of seconds, an unprotected human one foot away from a single freshly removed spent fuel assembly would receive a lethal dose of radiation within seconds. As one of the most dangerous materials in the world, spent reactor fuel poses significant long-term risks, requiring isolation in a geological disposal site that can protect the human environment for tens of thousands of years.
Fukushima’s devastation two weeks after the tsunami.
Lawsuit seeks to overturn Pennsylvania voter ID law
May 1, 2012 7:56 am
By Karen Langley / Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau
HARRISBURG — The debate over Pennsylvania’s new voter ID law is heading from the state House to the courthouse.
Groups opposed to requiring photo identification at the polls plan to file a lawsuit today in Commonwealth Court seeking to prevent the law from taking full effect at the November elections. The lawsuit will name about 10 people who lack the documents needed to obtain an acceptable form of identification, said three attorneys involved in the suit.
Continue reading ACLU Sues to Overturn PA Voter Restriction Law