In March, Vermont’s Arnie and (our own) Maggie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates penned a report for Friends of the Earth, which prompted the NRC to put an indefinite hold on operation of the San Onofre nuclear facility in California.
In his analysis of available public information, Gundersen has concluded that “both units 2 and 3 have experienced extraordinarily rapid degradation of their steam generator tubes.” He has concluded that the “severe short-term steam generator degradation” could lead to a “large risk of tube failure” and result in “an uncontrolled release of radiation into the environment.”
Now we are hearing some details of the NRC response. After touring the facility NRC Chairman Jaczko
had this to say about the issue of tube degradation, accelerated by design changes, that was raised in Fairewinds’ report:
The NRC “wants to get to the bottom” of the plant’s problems, he said. “The issue of the steam generators is a very serious issue.”
“We have to have assurance of safety before we will allow the plant to restart,” he added.
Could this be signaling a change in the mindset at the NRC?
Is it too much to hope that they might reexamine their hasty extension of VY’s license in light of lessons from Fukushima?
Of course it is.
How fitting that this news roughly coincides with the 33rd anniversary of the infamous accident at Three Mile Island.
A third of a century later, the official line on the amount of radiation released at TMI, held by both the industry and the NRC, still differs markedly from that of Mr. Gundersen, who was sacked by his employers after coming forward in 1990 as the key whistleblower. For some perspective on this “difference of opinion,” have a look at this interesting piece on how, in the past, truth has been bent to serve industry purposes.
Just to wrap things up, I thought I’d embed a Rachel Madow discussion of Fukushima that brings her special talent for articulation to bear on the realities of this ongoing disaster, plus a look at the politics of nuclear waste.
Have a peaceful Easter! Strike that…I wish you an UNEVENTFUL Easter!