Sunday, 19 June 2011

Obama Covers Up Nebraska Nuclear Accident?

A fire has broken out in a nuclear facility in Nebraska. It may not be of the proportions of Fukushima, but there again, as the President of the United States has reportedly ordered a blackout of all news from the plant, we can only hope that is the case. After all, it took the Japanese Government several weeks to admit to the disastrous levels of radiation that even now continue to leak out of their damaged reactors to spread over almost the entire surface of the Earth.

The fire, which broke out after the nearby Missouri river burst its bank a fortnight ago, has knocked out a cooling pool for spent fuel rods. As to how bad it is, there is no news other than that "an unusual event" has been notified to the authorities.

Reassured? No, not likely. We have been here before so many times with the nuclear industry - firstly we are told the plants are so safe that nothing can go wrong; then, when something goes wrong, they assure us that its nothing to worry about; and then as it gets worse, they tell us that the particular reactor or plant is an old one and the problem could not repeat itself anywhere else.

Except that it does - Fukushima was frowned upon by the world as a uniquely stupid place to site a nuclear power plant. After all, it was by the sea in an earthquake zone. So, unlikely to find similar situations elsewhere.

Well, the Nebraska plant is next to a major river on a flood plain. Smart siting?

In March, a Canadian reactor suffered a pump failure and has leached tens of thousands of gallons of radioactive waste into Lake Ontario.

And even in Britain, plans are afoot to recommission a nuclear power plant on the north Wales coast in spite of two recent major (by UK standards) earthquake tremors and being right next to the sea.

Why on earth do we keep buying into the nuclear lie? Supposedly cheap, it isn't - it has never been profitable so governments have had to pay electricity companies to build nuclear power, subsidise them to operate them and now shell out to decommission them. In the UK, decomissioning our existing, aging nuclear power stations will cost in excess of £73,600,000,000 over the next century, a figure substantially eclipsing the bank bailout with no prospect at all of any cash back. And then we have to keep the waste safe for several thousand years - laughable if it wasn't so execrable.

Clean? No, it isn't. And safe, no.

Who knows what is happening in Nebraska? If it is so safe, why has the operating company simply said that rumours of a level 4 nuclear alert "are not how we classify nuclear problems" and why has the President stepped in? This is the man who won an award for transparency - so what is so seriously wrong that he has imposed this ban?

Of course, we may never know. Perhaps in 10 or 20 years cancer deaths in the state will be notably higher, or not. But the fact is that just as Chernobyl even now makes sheep on Welsh hillsides sick and inedible, Fukushima has shrouded the world in its toxic embrace. If Fort Calhoun threatens to do the same, the world deserves to know and know now.


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