[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] Outside View: Nuclear plant dangers - Helen Caldicott

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Mon Apr 2 11:55:52 CDT 2007


Outside View: Nuclear plant dangers - Helen Caldicott
Sheen Cited for Anti-Nuclear Protest
1st VP to open logistic units of Bushehr nuclear power plant
Labor inconsistent on nuclear power, says Howard
Russia eyes nuclear power co-operation with Canada
France´s Alstom joins with Russian Atomenergomash to create NPP
World's largest nuclear icebreaker put to sea in St. Petersburg 
Police Test Technology To Safeguard City From Nuclear Attacks
Call for Arab states to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes 
DHS Awards $8.8 Million for Exploratory Research 

Outside View: Nuclear plant dangers

UPI Outside View Commentator

MELBOURNE, April 2 (UPI) -- Nuclear power plants are vulnerable to 
many events that could lead to meltdowns, including human and 
mechanical errors; impacts from climate change, global warming, and 
earthquakes; and, we now know, terrorist attacks. 

Statistically speaking, an accidental meltdown is almost a certainty 
sooner or later in one of the 438 nuclear power plants located in 33 
countries around the world. Human error, compromise, laziness, and 
greed are implicit in the affairs of men; when these attributes are 
applied to the generation of atomic energy, the results can be 

David Lochbaum, a nuclear engineer from the Union of Concerned 
Scientists, points out, nuclear power plants are like people: they 
have numerous problems in their infancy and youth, they operate 
relatively smoothly in early-to middle life, and they start to show 
signs of stress and manifest pathology as they age. Every U.S. 
nuclear power plant is moving into the old-age cycle, and the number 
of near-misses is increasing. In a 13-month period from March 7, 
2000, to April 2, 2001, eight nuclear power plants were forced to 
shut down because of potentially serious equipment failures 
associated with aging of their mechanical parts--one shut down on 
average every 60 days. 

According to John Large, a British consulting engineer, "Nuclear 
power plants are almost totally ill-prepared for a terrorist attack 
from the air" because nuclear reactors were designed and constructed 
more than 50 years ago, well before the large airplanes in common use 
today were ever conceived. Large points out that designs of relevant 
nuclear power plants are easy to obtain in the open literature. 
Although security at civilian airports has been enormously improved, 
security at nuclear power plants is virtually unchanged. 

What would a catastrophe at a nuclear power plant in the United 
States look like? 

Let's consider the two large Indian Point reactors located in the 
town of Buchanan in Westchester County, 35 miles from midtown 
Manhattan. Both reactors are aging and adjacent to a very large 
population base: More than 305,000 people live within a 10-mile 
radius of the plants, and 17 million live within 50 miles. 

An Indian Point meltdown caused by a small group of people intent on 
wreaking disaster could readily be achieved. Terrorists could easily 
disrupt the external electricity supply of the reactors, or obtain 
one small speed boat, pack it with explosives, and drive it full tilt 
into the two adjacent intake pipes that suck almost two million 
gallons of Hudson River cooling water per minute into the reactors. 

Within several hours the meltdowns would be in full swing. 
Alternatively, a terrorist could drive a truck packed with explosives 
into a strategic area of the plant, or, after a few basic flying 
lessons, a novice pilot could commandeer a large passenger plane 
loaded with fuel and fly it into the reactor itself, destroying 
strategic safety systems and/or emptying the reactor of its cooling 

The calculations are truly frightening, because people in the 
evacuation zone will receive enormously high doses of radiation. The 
symptoms that will be experienced by people in Westchester County and 
Manhattan include: acute loss of hair, severe nausea, vomiting and 
diarrhea, bleeding from every orifice, and massive, overwhelming 
infection. This collection of symptoms was first experienced by 
Hiroshima victims and is called acute radiation sickness. 

Now imagine this scene. Over 300,000 people are running and driving 
away from the stricken reactor along winding Westchester roads, stuck 
in traffic jams; all are in a state of panic, anxiety, and acute 
disarray. Then they begin to taste a strange, metallic flavor in 
their mouths. They infer that each breath exposes them to deadly 
radioactive gases, the radio blasts out dire warnings, yet nobody 
knows what they are doing and nobody is in control. And what about 
Manhattan? Millions of people trapped as the bridges and tunnels are 
totally blocked, hiding in their apartments, hardly daring to 

The economic consequences of a meltdown at Indian Point would be 
stupendous. The financial capital of the world could be rendered 
virtually uninhabitable, with a possible $1.17 trillion to $2.12 
trillion dollars in damages. 

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not make public its risk 
assessment studies on nuclear power plants, even though by law it is 
obliged to do so. David Lochbaum says this "agency continues to make 
regulatory decisions affecting the lives of millions of Americans in 
a vacuum." 

While the Indian Point nuclear power plants I and II operate at full 
tilt -- in a country that insists on car seats and safety belts, no 
smoking, no swimming without a lifeguard, fire extinguishers and 
oxygen masks, life vests and air bags -- citizens lack the most basic 
information about how best to protect themselves and their children 
in the event of a nuclear meltdown. Nor is there any official 
requirement to supply this information to the general population. 


(This piece originally appeared in Dr. Helen Caldicott's "Nuclear 
Power Is Not the Answer," The New Press, 2006. Ths piece is published 
here with the permission of The New Press. Helen Caldicott is 
president of the Washington-based Nuclear Policy Research Institute. 
She was a founder of the International Physicians for the Prevention 
of Nuclear War, the organization that won the 1985 Nobel Peace 


(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written 
by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important 
issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 
United Press International. In the interests of creating an open 
forum, original submissions are invited.)

Sheen Cited for Anti-Nuclear Protest

HOLLYWOOD - Hollywood star Martin Sheen has been cited by Nevada 
sheriff's deputies after joining an anti-nuclear protest at a test 
site in the state. 

The Apocalypse Now actor was among 39 peace activists handed 
citations after they crossed onto the Nevada Test Site, near Las 
Vegas, yesterday. 

Sheen, who has been cited in the past for similar offenses at the 
same test site, was released following his brush with the law. 

Protest organizer Ming Lau explains of the group's presence in 
Nevada, "We are asking for nuclear disarmament and peace. We are 
asking for the Nevada Test Site to stop doing the testing they're 
doing. The only reason they're doing it is to make bombs."

1st VP to open logistic units of Bushehr nuclear power plant 

Tehran, April 2, IRNA - The logistic units of Bushehr nuclear power 
plant including its pump house and 400-KW power station will be 
commissioned on Tuesday in the presence of First Vice President 
Parviz Davoudi, Vice President and Head of Iran's Atomic Energy 
Organization Reza Aqazadeh as well as his deputies. 

The logistic units of the power plant were primarily expected to be 
commissioned on March 13, 2007, but it was postponed to April 3. 

Meanwhile, the fuel units of Bushehr nuclear power plant are also 
ready for operation. 

Deputy Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) for 
international affairs, Mohammad Saeedi, had also declared earlier 
that the technical and legal grounds have been prepared for dispatch 
of fuel to Bushehr nuclear power station. 

The Russian Atom Stroi Export Co. started the construction of Iran's 
first nuclear power plant in Bushehr in 1995. 

Based on the fifth agreement signed by Iran and Russia on September 
26, 2006, the Russian contractor accepted commitment to finalize the 
power plant project in September of 2007. 

Though it also accepted to supply the required fuel six months prior 
to its commissioning, namely in March 2007, Atom Stroi Export Co. has 
not yet dispatched it. 

The Russian company claimed towards the end of the past Iranian year 
(ended March 20) that it was unable to complete the project on 
schedule, given that Iran had not complied with its financial 
commitments on time. 

In response to the Russian contractor, Iran dismissed such a claim 
and declared that it had fully fulfilled its commitments on schedule.

Following extensive talks between Iran and Russia on the issue, 
despite the developments taking place over the past weeks, the 
Russian side declared that Iran has resumed paying the relevant funds 
to the Russian contractor and is attempting to carry out its 

Labor inconsistent on nuclear power, says Howard

Prime Minister John Howard has used a tour of the Olympic Dam uranium 
mine in South Australia to attack what he says is Labor's 
inconsistency on nuclear energy.

Mr Howard visited the site today, where he welcomed plans for the 
expansion of the BHP Billiton-run mine. 

Mr Howard says Labor's opposition to nuclear energy is completely 
inconsistent with its support of the uranium industry.

"It is the most inconsistent policy imaginable," he said. 

"What is the consistency in a policy that says we believe in mining 
uranium, we believe in exporting it but we completely close our minds 
to the possibility that we might use uranium domestically for the 
purpose of generating nuclear power?

"There is no consistency in that at all."

But Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd has defended Labor's refusal to 
consider nuclear energy in Australia.

Mr Rudd and Labor's environment spokesman Peter Garrett toured 
Blackwater's BHP Billiton mine today, selling their plan to clean-up 
the coal industry. 

Coal provides thousands of jobs for the region and is the livelihood 
of towns such as Blackwater. 

Mining communities are anxious about a suggestion from the Greens to 
phase out coal exports. 

Mr Rudd believes that is not needed with Labor's $500 million plan to 
cut carbon emissions by 2020.

He says Labor's focus on clean coal technology is the best way to 
tackle climate change.

"If the alternative is a huge amount of government subsidy involved 
in Mr Howard's 25 nuclear reactors around the country as opposed to 
investing government funds in supporting clean coal technology, I'll 
let you know very clearly where I'd rather go," he said.

"That's to support coal for Australia's future and clean coal for our 
climate change future as well."

Russia eyes nuclear power co-operation with Canada

OTTAWA -- Russia's nuclear energy agency is looking to forge a 
partnership with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. to develop the next 
generation of reactors, as part of the country's effort to become a 
global leader in the nuclear power industry.

Russia has one of the world's most ambitious nuclear programs, both 
for its domestic market and in international sales, and it is looking 
to AECL to collaborate on a new generation of high-efficiency 

In the next 25 years, the Russian government plans to build more than 
40 reactors at home -- at an estimated cost of $60-billion (U.S.) -- 
and to expand nuclear power's contribution to the country's 
electricity mix to 25 per cent from the current 16 per cent. The 
country now has 31 nuclear plants.

Despite the legacy of the world's worst nuclear accident at 
Chernobyl, the Kremlin is eager to dramatically increase nuclear 
power generation to meet the country's growing power needs and reduce 
its dependence on natural gas to generate electricity. The government 
would rather direct the country's natural gas supplies to lucrative 
export markets in Europe, Asia and even North America.

Valery Rachkov, head of atomic power at Rosatom, the state nuclear 
agency, visited Ottawa last week to attend Russia's first formal 
session in an international organization for nuclear research that 
promotes co-operation on reactor development.

In an interview at an Ottawa hotel, Mr. Rachkov said Russian and 
Canadian nuclear efforts bear similarities, including plans for the 
development of a new pressure tube reactor, and the two sides are 
exploring avenues of mutual interest.

Canada has "great experience in operating the Candus-type of 
reactor," Mr. Rachkov said. "We think there are great opportunities 
for co-operation."

In a telephone interview, AECL's senior scientist, Romney Duffey, 
said he sees "potential areas of collaboration" with the Russian 
nuclear agency, which, he noted, has a well-developed program with 
good testing facilities.

But he does not expect to see AECL sell reactors to Russia. In fact, 
the Crown corporation competes against the Russians for international 
reactor sales.

"Russia is an important energy producer to the world -- they've got 
an extensive development effort and good people, which clearly we 
could leverage,"' Mr. Duffey said. "They're both a collaborator and a 

He added, however, that AECL's Canadian suppliers may have the 
opportunity to do business in Russia as the country looks to 
dramatically expand its nuclear power infrastructure.

Mr. Rachkov said Russia is aiming to account for 20 per cent of the 
world's foreign reactor sales. Rosatom now boasts that it has the 
largest number of foreign reactor projects in the world, with two 
under construction in China, two in India, two in Bulgaria and one in 

Work at the Iranian reactor was halted after Russia complained about 
late payments, but has recently resumed. Mr. Rachkov said he does not 
expect the project to be affected by United Nations sanctions -- 
which Russia supported -- aimed at halting Iran's uranium enrichment 
program, which the United States and its allies claim is part of a 
clandestine nuclear weapons program.

"We do not connect this with any type of sanctions; that is a 
separate problem," he said. "If they fulfill their obligations, we 
will fulfill ours."

At home, the Russian nuclear agency expects little public resistance 
to its massive construction plans, despite the lingering memories of 
the Chernobyl disaster that occurred 21 years ago in the Ukraine. By 
2020, Rosatom expects, at a minimum, to double its power output to 45 
from the current 23 gigawatts.

The country's nascent environmentalist movement recently complained 
about a vote by the regional legislators in Kostroma, 300 kilometres 
east of Moscow, to allow construction of a nuclear power plant. 
Residents had voted down such plans in a 1996 referendum.

Mr. Rachkov said every country will face some public opposition to 
the location of nuclear power plants, but it "will not be a great 
problem for the development of atomic energy" in Russia.

Russia's power

Electricity production in 2004 by source:

Natural gas, 45 per cent

Hydro, 19 per cent

Coal, 17 per cent

Nuclear, 16 per cent

Petroleum, 3 per cent

France´s Alstom joins with Russian Atomenergomash to create EUR200 
million nuclear power 

French  power and transport company  Alston  on Monday  signed  an 
agreement  with a Russian company. They´re going to  produce  
turbines and generators for Russian-built nuclear power plants, AP 

Alstom said in a statement that it and Russia's Atomenergomash 
company would invest some EUR200 million (US$267 million) in the 
venture, which will be based at Podolsk, near Moscow. 

Atomenergomash, a subsidiary of Russia's main equipment maker for the 
nuclear power industry, will hold a controlling, 51 percent stake. 

In a statement, Alstom CEO Patrick Kron said the deal gives the 
company "privileged access to the burgeoning Russian market." 

Russia has 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for 16-
17 percent of the country's electricity generation. President 
Vladimir Putin has called for raising the proportion of nuclear-
generated power to at least 25 percent by 2030. 

World's largest nuclear icebreaker put to sea in St. Petersburg 

ST. PETERSBURG, April 2 (RIA Novosti) - The largest nuclear-powered 
icebreaker in the world has been put to sea and left St. Petersburg 
for Murmansk, a spokesman for a St. Petersburg-based ship maker said 

The 50 Years of Victory icebreaker, which has been under construction 
since 1989 and was built at the Baltiisky Zavod ship factory, was 
successfully tested in February of this year.

"The icebreaker was launched on the Baltic Sea and set sail for its 
port of assignment in Murmansk [Russia's north]," the spokesman said. 
"The icebreaker will follow a Northern Sea route for the ice 
channeling of vessels during the 2007 spring navigation period."

An upgrade of the Arktika-class icebreaker, the 159-meter (522-foot) 
long and 30-meter (100-foot) wide vessel, with a deadweight of 25,000 
metric tons, is designed to break through ice up to 2.8 meters deep 
(9.2 feet). It has a 138-man crew.

The Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet, which is operated by 
the Murmansk Shipping Company, currently consists of five Arktika-
class icebreakers (Arktika, Sibir, Rossiya, Sovetskiy Soyuz and 
Yamal), and two Taymyr-class river icebreakers (Taymyr and Vaygach).

According to experts, Russia will need six to 10 nuclear-powered 
icebreakers in the next 20 years, as demand for them grows with the 
development of the Arctic shelf and increased traffic along the 
Northern Sea route

Police Test Technology To Safeguard City From Nuclear Attacks
As part of a new initiative to secure New York City from a largescale 
terrorist attack, the police department will employ a new technology 
in the subway system designed to detect the harmful radiation present 
in nuclear weapons, the police commissioner, Raymond Kelly, told The 
New York Sun in an interview.

The fresh technology, currently in its final phase of testing, will 
become part of the $30 million Securing the Cities Implementation 
initiative, a partnership between the Department of Homeland Security 
and local law enforcement. The goal of the program is to bar nuclear 
weapons from the city by creating a 50-mile protective perimeter.

The new technology would bolster the city's nuclear exposure programs 
because the detectors decipher between deadly radiation in nuclear 
weapons and harmless radiation carried by New Yorkers involved in 
recent medical tests, Mr. Kelly said.

"It tells you precisely what the element is and how much radiation, 
which is 90% of the battle," Mr. Kelly said.

The detectors function by differentiating between harmful and 
innocuous isotopes in radiation, a spokeswoman for the Domestic 
Nuclear Detection Office, Jenny Burke, said.

Even while the new detectors are in development, Mr. Kelly said the 
police department is designing a state-of-the-art sport-utility 
vehicle that will mobilize the fresh technology, allowing it to 
detect harmful weapons such as dirty bombs at bridges and tunnels.

Because New York City was selected to pilot the securing the cities 
initiative, it will be the first jurisdiction in America to utilize 
the new radiation detectors that the Department of Homeland Security 
plans to implement in major metropolitan areas across the country.

The new radiation detection technology is being tested at the New 
York Container Terminal by the DNDO. A cargo portal has been 
constructed to screen for ships carrying harmful nuclear materials. 
The pilot program, which has been given $178 million in funding from 
the Department of Homeland Security, is not only part of the agency's 
goal of screening 98% of all containers entering America, but also 
the nuts and bolts for the burgeoning technology that will strengthen 
the city's defenses against large-scale nuclear attacks.

"The biggest benefit to me is the emitter identification," Mr. Kelly 
said. "It's going to come in a lot of different sizes and shapes."

While specialized units in the force presently use sophisticated 
radiation detectors and about 700 supervisors carry hand-held 
devices, the new technology will allow the department to cast a wider 

"Something we really have to worry about is false positives," Mr. 
Kelly said. "You can have these detectors in the subway, and it will 
be geared toward vehicles."

The Department of Homeland Security, which has been criticized in the 
past for setting its own agenda on counter-terrorism efforts, has 
made a point of coordinating the planning of the initiative with 
state and local authorities.

The city's police department, which Mr. Kelly called a "conduit" of 
the initiative, has organized several meetings between local law 
enforcement departments and federal agencies to plan steps going 

A staff inspector with the New York State police who has worked 
closely with the initiative, David McBath, said New York City has led 
the effort in coordinating the "cutting edge" program.

The city's police department has set up three subcommittees of law 
enforcement officials to analyze equipment, concept of operations, 
and training and exercise, Mr. McBath said.

"It's all about intelligence policing," Mr. McBath said. "This is a 
new role in law enforcement."

Catalyzed by resurging terrorist networks and a growing market for 
materials used in the production of nuclear weapon worldwide, 
radiation detection technology is a necessity for New York City, a 
senior fellow and policy analyst at the Manhattan Institute, R.P. 
Eddy said. He points to a recently released study on the 
vulnerability of urban populations to nuclear attacks conducted by 
the International Journal Health Geographics. The study paints a 
morbid picture of how New York would be able to cope with a nuclear 

"Obviously this is worse than we thought it would be," Mr. Eddy said. 
"Preventing nuclear attacks should be the no. 1 tactical issue."

SANA'A, March 31 (Yemen Times) - Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh 
called on Arab states to utilize nuclear energy for peaceful purposes 
and to make greater efforts to ensure a joint Arab project for 
generating electrical energy by means of nuclear energy. 

''It is time for Arab nations to make use of nuclear energy for 
peaceful purposes, and reunify Arab efforts made in this regard, as a 
way to ensure the existence of a joint Arabic project for nuclear 
energy to generate electricity from which all Arab states can 
benefit,'' he said. 

The call came on Thursday during the 19th Arab Summit held in Riyadh, 
the Saudi capital. The summit, which began on Wednesday, was chaired 
by Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz. 

Arab leaders showed concerned over a nuclear arms race in the Middle 

"For the first time Arabs are showing real interest in developing a 
nuclear industry but further steps depend on their political will," 
the Associated Press quoted Wael al-Assad, the League´s official in 
charge of preparations for the meeting, as saying. 

He said closer nuclear co-operation was prompted by fear of Israel´s 
nuclear weapons, and Iran´s escalation of its program.

The summit called for "freeing the region from weapons of mass 
destruction without double standards."

The summit was attended by leaders of 21 of the Arab League's 22 
member states, while Libya boycotted the summit. United Nations 
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the European Union's foreign policy 
chief Javier Solana attended the summit. 

At the summit, Arab leaders called for reactivating the peace 
initiative with Israel. The initiative, first launched by the Arab 
summit in 2002, offers Israel recognition and permanent peace with 
all Arab countries in return for Israeli withdrawal from lands 
captured in the 1967 Mideast war. 

UN Secretary-General Ban said the initiative "suggests a new way 
forward for the region" after decades of division over the Israeli-
Palestinian conflict." 

However, the peace initiative was rejected by Israel. Yemeni Foreign 
Minister Abdu Bakr Al-Qirbi said on Saturday that Israel's rejection 
of the peace initiative was expected. 

"Israel wants to impose its own solution on Palestinians -and the 
Arabs in general- based on arrogance, which will lead to an impasse 
and make the region undergo ongoing tension and instability," he 

Al-Qirbi called on the international community to exert pressure on 
Israel to accept the "peace solution" according to the Arab peace 
initiative that is based on the land-for-peace principle.

DHS Awards $8.8 Million for Exploratory Research on Advanced Nuclear 
Detection Technology

Washington - The U.S. Department of Homeland Security´s (DHS) 
Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) announced ten contract 
awards today totaling $8.8 million to nine companies that will 
perform exploratory research in advanced nuclear detection 
technology. The Exploratory Research Program is designed to transform 
nuclear detection technology by funding aggressive research and 
development that is unconstrained by pre-existing user expectations 
and initial technical risks.

The nine companies selected are: Alliant Techsystems Incorporated, 
Mission Research Division; Canberra; EIC Laboratories, Incorporated; 
General Electric Global Research Center (two awards); Physical Optics 
Corporation; Radiation Monitoring Devices, Incorporated; Rapiscan 
Systems Corporation; Science Applications International Corporation 
(SAIC); and Westinghouse Electric Company.

Each contract consists of multiple phases, including an advanced 
technology demonstration, before potentially transitioning to a 
systems development and acquisition program. Successful technologies 
will be deployed to provide port-of-entry (POE) and non-POE 
radiological and nuclear detection capability.

Earlier this year, DHS announced the award of Exploratory Research 
Cooperative Agreements with Academia totaling approximately $3.1 
million to make significant advances in basic nuclear detection 
technology. Seven universities were awarded cooperative agreements: 
California Institute of Technology, Florida Institute of Technology, 
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, State University of New York at 
Stony Brook, University of Michigan, University of Nebraska at 
Lincoln, and Washington University.

Sandy Perle
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc.
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614 

Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714  Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144

E-Mail: sperle at dosimetry.com
E-Mail: sandyfl at cox.net 

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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