Why do Americans think nuclear power is safe when near-meltdowns and leaks happen constantly?

In a previous post, I reported that 58% of Americans think nuclear power is safe. After reading the below reports one has to wonder why that is…

14 Near Meltdowns

Among the litany of violations at U.S. nuclear power plants are missing or mishandled nuclear material, inadequate emergency plans, faulty backup power generators, corroded cooling pipes and even marijuana use inside a nuclear plant, according to an ABC News review of four years of Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) safety records.

There are 104 U.S. nuclear power plants, producing 20 percent of the country’s electricity at world-class safety levels, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

The Union of Concerned Scientists found 14 “near misses” at nuclear plants in 2010. And there were 56 serious violations at nuclear power plants from 2007 to 2011, according the ABC News review of NRC records.

In a statement by the NRC to congress, “the last five years show no abnormal occurrences at U.S. nuclear plants. In fact, America’s reactors produce 20 percent of all electricity at world class safety levels.”

Chicago is in Danger

At the Dresden Nuclear Power Plant in Illinois, for instance, which is located within 50 miles of the 7 million people who live in and around Chicago, nuclear material went missing in 2007. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission fined the operator — Exelon Corp. — after discovering the facility had failed to “keep complete records showing the inventory [and] disposal of all special nuclear material in its possession.”

As a result, two fuel pellets and equipment with nuclear material could not be accounted for.

Two years later, federal regulators cited Dresden for allowing unlicensed operators to work with radioactive control rods. The workers allowed three control rods to be moved out of the core. When alarms went off, workers initially ignored them.

New York City is in Danger

At the Indian Point nuclear plant just outside New York City, the NRC found that an earthquake safety device has been leaking for 18 years.

In the event of an earthquake, Lochbaum said, the faulty safety device would not help prevent water from leaking out of the reactor. A lack of water to cool the fuel rods has been the most critical problem at the Fukushima plant in Japan after the recent earthquake and tsunami.

“The NRC has known it’s been leaking since 1993,” Lochbaum said, “but they’ve done nothing to fix it.”

via ABC news: Records show 56 violations in past 4 years

Do American think nuclear power is safe, even after Fukushima? …Yes

 Despite concerns about a possible nuclear disaster in the U.S.,

58% of Americans think nuclear power plants in the U.S. are safe, while 36% say they are not.

Nuclear power remains very much in the news as workers in Japan continue efforts to contain the disastrous impact of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami on nuclear power plants along that country’s northern coast.

In a survey conducted just days later, Gallup found 7 in 10 Americans saying that as a result of the events in Japan, they were more concerned about a nuclear disaster occurring in the U.S.

Still, a March 25-27 Gallup survey shows that a clear majority of Americans believe nuclear plants in the U.S. are safe.

via Gallup

 

Here is a follow-up post that shows 14 near meltdowns in 2010 and 56 serious violations from 2007-2011, and yet Congress and the public were told that “all is well.”

The Oil Industry – the most developed world industry, twice the size of the food industry

In 1950, the United States was the only country with a well developed oil industry. Today, the energy sector as a whole is the largest industry in the world and accounts for over $3 trillion dollars in annual sales. The second largest global industry, food, accounts for $1.7 trillion. Between 1950 and 1973 the world oil industry grew 9-fold – a rate of increase of 10% per year, sustained over a period of 20 years. During that time period, the world produced over 2.5 billion new motor vehicles, half of which in the United States.

The world demand for oil has multiplied from 11 million barrels per day (mbd) in 1950, to 57 mbd in 1970, to almost 80 mbd today. The United States consumes 20.7 mbd, which is the most of any nation and equals the consumption of the next 5 largest national consumers (China, Japan, Germany, Russia and India). World demand has recently grown as the economies of China (6.5 mbd) and India (2.3 mbd) have developed, but the United States remains the largest consumer.

The five largest producers of oil are Saudi Arabia (10.37 mbd), Russia (9.27), United States (8.69), Iran (4.09) and Mexico (3.86). Proven oil reserves are concentrated in the Middle East (60%).

via Joseph Coton Wright at Berkeley

Marine Protected Area – MPA – saving our coasts with science and conservation

Marine Protected Areas are regions in which human activity has been placed under some restrictions in the interest of conserving the natural environment.

This can include limitations on development, fishing practices, fishing seasons and catch limits, moorings, bans on removing or disrupting marine life of any kind.

In some situations MPA’s also provide revenue for countries, often of equal size as the income that they would have if they were to grant companies permissions to fish.

As of 2010, the world hosted more than 6,800 MPAs.

via Wikipedia

In the United States there are nearly 2,000 MPAs and in 2008 a new federal framework was established, which aims to:

Enhance protection of marine resources, build partnerships to address issues affecting MPAs, and improve public access to scientific information and decision-making about marine resources.

While MPAs have been established throughout the U.S. for decades, there has not been an overarching mechanism to coordinate effective ecosystem management. About 100 federal, state, territory and tribal agencies manage the nearly 2,000 MPAs across the country, often with no coordinated strategy.

via NOAA blog

You have probably visited one before:

Chances are you’ve visited a marine protected area and don’t know it. If you’ve gone fishing in central California, diving in the Florida Keys, camping in Acadia, swimming in Cape Cod, snorkeling in the Virgin Islands, birding in Weeks Bay, hiking along the Olympic Coast, or boating in Thunder Bay, you’ve probably been one of thousands of visitors to a marine protected area (MPA).

via NOAA

 

Learn more at www.mpa.gov