Uncommon knowledge, news, and opinion

Uncommon knowledge, news, and opinion

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Fukushima-like new U.S. nuclear reactors approved for Georgia – design flaws NOT fixed

February 12, 2012 at 7:06 pm By Roz Potter

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,  Link

America’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission, approved two new reactors for Georgia, the first in the U.S. since1978, the year before the partial core meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania.

Of the five NRC commissioners, the chairman, Gregory Jaczko, cast the the lone dissenting vote. He had asked for but not received a binding commitment from Southern Company, the plant’s owner, to incorporate changes that would avert a Fukushima-like disaster.

The four commissioners who approved the new reactors are the subject of a congressional report which details their efforts ” to undermine the efforts of the Fukushima Task Force with request for endless additional study in an effort to delay the release and implementation of the task force’s final recommendations”.

“Documents also show open hostility on the part of the four Commissioners toward efforts of NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko to fully and quickly implement the recommendations of the Task Force, despite efforts on the part of the Chairman to keep the other four NRC Commissioners fully informed regarding the Japanese emergency.” An account of the report by Senator Edward Markley of Massachusetts, can be found here.

The Vogtle project will be built with a new reactor design, the AP1000 from Westinghouse, approved in December. An NRC report said the AP1000 design has “many of the design features and attributes necessary to address” new safety recommendations since the disaster. However, as NRC Chairman Jaczko point out, although the new design improves upon the old, there is no evidence that sufficient improvements to safeguard the public have been made.

The Vogtle expansion is considered the vanguard of a possible revival of nuclear power construction in the United States, though projections of as many as 30 new reactors have been scaled back. It is also a test of whether the industry can smoothly build and bring online new reactors without major cost and technical problems.

Eye-opening Frontline documentary on Fukushima, nuclear power and energy

January 18, 2012 at 3:19 am By Roz Potter

From PBS:  Link

A look at nuclear power,  energy, Fukushima, the Indian Wells nuclear plant near New York City, a near-disaster at the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska last year, and other threats. Link

Doomsday Clock moves to five minutes to midnight

January 11, 2012 at 10:57 pm By Roz Potter

From the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists,  Link


It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.

About the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists was established in 1945 by scientists, engineers, and other experts who had created the atomic bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. They knew about the horrible effects of these new weapons and devoted themselves to warning the public about the consequences of using them. Those early scientists also worried about military secrecy, fearing that leaders might draw their countries into increasingly dangerous nuclear confrontations without the full consent of their citizens.

The Doomsday Clock

In 1947, the Bulletin first displayed the Clock on its magazine cover to convey, through a simple design, the perils posed by nuclear weapons. The Clock evokes both the imagery of apocalypse (midnight) and the contemporary idiom of nuclear explosion (countdown to zero). In 1949, the Clock hand first moved to signal our assessment of world events and trends. The decision to move the minute hand is made by the Bulletin’s Board of Directors in consultation with its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates. The Clock has become a universally recognized indicator of the world’s vulnerability to catastrophe from nuclear weapons, climate change, and emerging technologies in the life sciences.

Today’s challenges

When we moved the hand of the Clock from 7 to 5 minutes to midnight in January 2007, the Bulletin’s Board of Directors warned about two major sources of potential catastrophe: the perils of 27,000 nuclear weapons in the world, 2,000 of them ready to launch in minutes, and the destruction of human habitats from climate change.

The Bulletin publishes information from leading scientists and security experts who explore the potential for terrible damage to societies from human-made technologies.
We focus as well on ways to prevent catastrophe from the malign or accidental use of nuclear, carbon-based, and biology-based technologies. After all, these technologies are ones that we create; it is in our power to channel them solely for benign purposes.

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