If the account of a Vermont Yankee employee attempting amateur bomb disposal isn’t enough to persuade you that “Elvis has left the building,” there is an incident report filed yesterday that reinforces the picture of wreckless abandonment.
It seems that on March 19, a random fitness-for-duty test identified an employee non-licensed supervisor with alcohol in his or her bloodstream.
We are assured in the report that that supervisor has no further access to the plant; but the fact that the test was “random” begs the question of how many other employees might be working similarly impaired; and what the hell might the amateur bomb cracker have been on at the time of his infraction?
One might further speculate that the imminent shut-down of Yankee may have given rise to a dangerous culture of personal irresponsibility among the managers and employees who no longer see a future at VY.
But if you would expect the people who know best about the cost of nuclear plant folly, the Japanese, to hold the line against irresponsible decisions, you might be sadly disappointed.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has strong ties to the nuclear power industry, has made it his priority to bring Japan’s nuclear power plants back on line as quickly as he can.
One of the first locations where this is likely to happen is at the Ikata Nuclear Power Station, a facility built in 1977. Under Japanese rules, the town of Ikata must first approve the restart; but this is almost assured to happen even though surrounding communities oppose the move. The Power Station is the principle employer in the town, and despite misgivings about the risks associated with operating the plant, the Mayor says the town will endorse a restart if they can be assured of the plant’s safety.
Like the majority of Japanese, people in neighboring communities which do not depend on the plant for employment are distinctly less enthusiastic about the prospect of reopening the plant; but there is little they can do to prevent the Power Station from resuming its output if the town of Ikata gives it the nod.
Depending upon official assurances of safety has its problems, as well. Mr. Abe’s government and the entire Japanese regulatory system are more or less captive to the industry. What they deem “safe” ain’t necessarily so.
Reminding us that officials have severely underestimated the threat of future cancers amongst children who lived under the invisible canopy of Fukushima exposure during the early months of the unfolding event, Fairewinds Associates has re-released its video exploration of the evidence as documented in 2013.
Watch it again and ask yourself whether Japanese nuclear industry authorities can be trusted to tell the truth.