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Fukushima – it can happen in America – new book

read-this-wayBOOK REVIEW ’Fukushima’ sounds warning on nuclear energy A clear-eyed overview of the nuclear industry and the Japanese disaster doesn’t split hairs over the risk: It can happen here. LA Timeds, By Michael Hiltzik February 21, 2014,   On March 18, 2011, an official from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission named Chuck Casto called together the NRC delegation on assignment with him in Tokyo.

“We’re in never-never land,” he told them.

Seven days earlier, a magnitude 9 earthquake had rattled a complex of six nuclear power plants known as Fukushima Daiichi, roughly 150 miles northeast of Tokyo. Then came nature’s second, more devastating blow: a tsunami that swamped the complex, flooding its electrical generators and putting its three operating reactors out of commission. The reactors were soon out of control, the plant effectively disabled by that most feared event in the nuclear industry: a “station blackout,” when no power is available to run any of the safety systems designed to defend the public from a runaway reaction……

Never-never land” barely did justice to the situation. Casto and his team had been flown to Japan to help deal with the crisis, but all that they knew was that the Japanese government and Tokyo Electric Power Co., which owned the plant, were at an almost complete loss about how to deal with the catastrophe, as was the Japanese government.

Today, nearly three years after the event, only two of Japan’s 50 nuclear power reactors have been permitted to restart. The wrecked Fukushima station has been leaking radioactive water into the Pacific.

These events and more are meticulously reconstructed in “Fukushima: The Story of a Nuclear Disaster” by David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman and Susan Q. Stranahan of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Followers of Fukushima and its consequences for the nuclear power movement have come to rely on Lochbaum and Lyman for their scientific expertise on the topic. Stranahan, a journalist and writer whose experience with nuclear power dates back to her coverage of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, is evidently responsible for the book’s lucid and gripping narrative.

No one with an interest in the present and future of nuclear power in the United States should miss it……..

“Fukushima” is an indispensable reminder of the nuclear power industry’s failure to learn from the past. The assurances of greater rigor in the operation and regulation of the peaceful atom after Three Mile Island are contradicted by the flaws exposed by Fukushima. As Lyman, one of the authors of this book, observed in congressional testimony shortly after the disaster, a similar event could happen in the U.S. “We have plants that are just as old. … We have a regulatory system that is not clearly superior to that of the Japanese. We have had extreme weather events that exceeded our expectations and defeated our emergency planning.”

How safe is safe enough? Throughout the history of nuclear power, utilities and regulators have assured the public that their plants can withstand every emergency situation except the truly unimaginable. But the unimaginable can happen, as it did on the coast of Japan on March 11, 2011.

“Fukushima” shows in sobering detail what can follow when those with a vested interest in making the technology seem safer than it is decide not to plan for an extreme event because “it can’t happen here.” The authors remind us: Yes, it can.

The Story of a Nuclear Disaster

David Lochbaum, Edwin Lyman, Susan Q. Stranahan and the Union of Concerned Scientists
New Press: 320 pp., $27.95,0,752043.story

February 24, 2014 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. The really big statistical thing about Fukushima, was that that NOT ONE BUT THREE of the often claimed once in 10,00 year events (i.e. meltdowns) occurred almost on the same day! That proves beyond a shadow of a doubt (to me at least) that either man and/or Nature can cause Nuclear to go BAD, which in my humble opinion is totally unacceptable since we now have the technology to do without it completely!

    Comment by CaptD | February 25, 2014 | Reply

  2. After any accident something (right or wrong) is pointed out as the cause…

    When it comes to nuclear going BAD, then whatever the reason I maintain that the accident is unacceptable!

    Why should people trust the nuclear industry, when they continues to insist that, “Safety is our number one concern”, when in fact it is N☢T, since they are really focused on making profits?

    Example: Japan is now suffering with a Trillion Dollar Nuclear Eco-Disaster, yet many of their Leaders (and others Pro Nuclear decision makers globally) consider that, in effect, Radiation is “N☢ BIG DEAL” and insist instead that:

    Polluted Ocean, N☢ Problem, it will become less polluted after a while….

    Polluted Fields, N☢ Problem, farmers can remove the radioactive upper layer

    Polluted Air, N☢ Problem, people can wear paper masks for a while

    Polluted Food, N☢ Problem, people should mix the good to dilute the bad

    Polluted Homes, N☢ Problem, people can power wash them clean

    Polluted Schools. N☢ Problem, students and teachers can clean them

    Polluted Cities, N☢ Problem, residents will be able to return soon…

    Since Fukushima proved that Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7, mankind has really just been very lucky (so far) that we have not had more Fukushima’s to date. I am not looking forward to the next Fukushima, no matter its cause, because I believe it will be even worse because it will probably immediately affect far more people who will be forced to relocate because of it…

    Said another way, the nuclear industry itself cannot afford another Fukushima ANYWHERE ON THE PLANET because it will doom their entire industry, yet they are still promoting, at least in the USA, for less not more oversight from their regulators. (Example, how many US reactors have deferred required maintenance for multiple years simply because they do not want to spend the money making them?) Is it any wonder that Wall Street is now looking for other energy investments?


    Comment by CaptD | February 25, 2014 | Reply

  3. By knowing the history of nuclear energy in the USA, whose subsidizes have been enormous over the years and that does not even mention the Price Anderson Act which limits any huge penalties that might have to be paid by either the individual Utility/operator at fault or even the entire Industry that pays into the 12 Billion dollar fund if something BAD happens like a trillion dollar Fukushima.

    Face it, the US Gov’t. has been supporting the nuclear industry for many decades because it tends to provide a “PR balance” to our nuclear weapon R&D which is of course still ongoing.

    To date, the USA has just been plain lucky that nothing BAD has happened here because if Fukushima has taught us anything, it is that Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7 and yet the NRC and especially the nuclear industry are still living in Nuclear Denial* about it ever happening in the USA. Experts point out the once in 10,000 probability, yet not one but 3 reactors melted down right after 3/11/11.

    The USA cannot afford to take any chances with nuclear reactors that are being run by Utilities whose first priority is to generate profits for their shareholders, despite giving US all lip service that safety is their first concern. San Onofre NPP is a perfect example of how a Big Utility can game the Reg.’s to suit themselves causing a Nuclear Near Miss (NNM) in the process, which has resulted in the early decommission of Units 2 & 3 which will cost either the ratepayers and/or the shareholder of SCE and SDG&E (The two largest owners) many billions of dollars.


    The illogical belief that Nature cannot destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7/365!

    Comment by CaptD | February 25, 2014 | Reply

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