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US Nuclear Industry Gaffes, Smokescreens and Crazy Demands

On Friday March 11, 2011 while the reactors at Fukushima Daiichi were melting down, nuclear industry representatives were parroting their standard industry line how everything is fine. More than 9 months later reading these statements shows how dishonest and out of touch the industry really is. These statements were made at a Washington State House energy hearing.

Working at a nuclear plant is safer than working at Toys ‘R’ Us.” –  Hanford lab director Jim Conca .

“The safety systems in place at the nuclear reactors “absolutely” would come through. “It’s a conservative safety system,”   -  Nuclear Energy Institute public affairs director Jim Colgary

Now, there are some issues with cooling water systems, and they’ve brought in diesel generators on trucks to make sure that they’re able to keep the reactors cool. It’s not that the reactor is a problem, it’s that all this metal is very much heated up and hot, so you have to cool that down. … Yes, I’m adequately sure that the safety systems in place work.”  -  Nuclear Energy Institute public affairs director Jim Colgary

“I’m very happy that Japan has 26 percent nuclear because those will not be the problems. When you see the pictures things burning [in Japan], it won’t be nuclear, it’ll be the gas-fired power plants and things like that. Nuclear is no problem at all.”   -  Nuclear Energy Institute public affairs director Jim Colgary

Jim Colgary is THE face of the nuclear industry’s main lobbying group and PR apparatus.

The NY Times recently did a piece on the Nuclear Safety Myth in Japan. The same thing happens in the US. Like nuclear insider turned author Amelia Frahm. Frahm penned a book on behalf of a nuclear power company in Texas to convince children nuclear power is safe. If the tobacco industry had used this angle in the fashion Frahm did there would be a Congressional investigation. The gaffe and total irony is that Frahm has written two books, one telling kids nuclear power is all fun and full of cute cartoon characters, the other explaining cancer to children.

(thanks to Ian Goddard and Mid Valley for finding the information)

The Economist looks at the ugly reality of the negligence of the Japanese government before and after the accident at Fukushima. They ignored and downplayed risks for decades, when an accident finally did happen nobody was able to respond in a functional way, hindering every aspect of the government response.

Beyond Nuclear penned a piece at CounterPunch about what they see as the real goings on at the NRC recently. That the dust up among the commissioners was more about the years of neglect towards protecting the public than the supposed personality conflicts. They article alleges that the NRC knew about the giant hole in the Davis Besse reactor in Ohio and allowed the reactor to continue to operate for two years. A power company worker was later charged and punished for not conducting inspection tests on the reactor cap. They point out years of letting known safety violations slide and blatant favoritism for what nuclear companies wanted over public safety.

PG&E attempted to force consumers to pre-pay $80 million dollars to cover the costs of applying for a license renewal for the Diablo Canyon reactor. This is just the costs of applying for it. We are constantly being told in the US that nuclear power is so cheap by comparison to other sources, but there is a constant stream of incidents where nuclear power companies try to shake down consumers for millions of dollars in additional costs on top of the power rates they pay. A judge denied the request and instructed PG&E to complete a seismic study on a new fault line found a few hundred yards off shore first.

By contrast a project to build a massive midwest US high capacity power transmission grid to move wind power from South Dakota & Minnesota to other areas of the midwest including Minneapolis and Chicago would only cost $9 million more than the licensing application costs of one nuclear power plant. South Dakota has enough wind capacity to power 50% of the total US power consumption.

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