Who would think that allowing the nuclear industry to operate virtually unimpeded could result in low safety standards and the potential for a major accident?
U.S. nuclear power plants operate with known safety problems because of inadequate federal inspections, faulty maintenance and poor design, concludes a report Thursday by U.S. scientists.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission investigated 14 safety lapses at these plants last year, an error rate that’s “high for a mature industry,” according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, an environmental and nuclear watchdog group. Its report, prepared before Friday’s earthquake and tsunami in Japan triggered a nuclear crisis, is the first in an annual series on NRC performance.
“If there is a common theme among last year’s near‐misses, it’s that none would have happened had prior warning flags been heeded rather than discounted or ignored,” said report author David Lochbaum. He said the NRC, an independent agency that oversees safety at the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors, inspects about 5% of plant operations.
The report comes as President Obama ordered a “comprehensive review” Thursday of U.S. nuclear power plants. He said they’re designed to withstand major natural disasters, but the U.S. had a “responsibility” to learn the lessons from the Japanese nuclear crisis.
The scientists’ report warns that ignoring safety flaws can snowball into catastrophes, adding known problems triggered the near meltdown at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania 1979 and a worse disaster, an actual meltdown, at Chernobyl in the Ukraine in 1986.
The only things I really like are Krugman and Bob Herbert, so it’s no skin off my nose if they want to shoot themselves in the foot.
Here’s what I’ve been suggesting for years: Create a news portal. One price covers all online member publications, and it’s paid painlessly ($10 a month on Paypal, Amazon or something similar). Then you split the advertising revenue – a combination of circulation and click-throughs that will offer the opportunity for smaller papers to compete with the larger publications for readers.
It’s nothing radical. It’s based on the same BMI/ASCAP model we already use to pay recording artists.
It’s fair, and it’s competitive, which is why they’d never agree to it.
UPDATE: Oh, and an alternative? I suggested cutting deals with the internet providers to offer the content free to their subscribers.
YAMAGATA, Japan (AP) — Smoke billowed from a building at Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant Friday as emergency crews worked to reconnect electricity to cooling systems and spray more water on the overheating reactors at the tsunami-ravaged facility.
Four of the troubled Fukushima Dai-ichi plant’s six reactors have seen fires, explosions or partial meltdowns in the week since the tsunami. While the reactor cores where energy is generated are a concern, Japanese and U.S. officials believe a critical danger are the pools used to store spent nuclear fuel: fuel rods in one pool were believed to be at least partially exposed and in danger of leaking radiation.
Friday’s smoke came from Unit 2, and its cause was not known, the nuclear safety agency said. An explosion had hit the building on Tuesday, possibly damaging a crucial cooling chamber that sits below the reactor core.
More urgent, Japan’s chief government spokesman said, was the adjacent Unit 3. Fuel rods there may have been partially exposed, and without enough water, the rods may heat further and possibly spew radiation. Frantic efforts were made Thursday to douse the unit with water, using helicopters and firetrucks, and authorities prepared to repeat the effort Friday.
“Dealing with Unit 3 is our utmost priority,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano told reporters.
In the week since the massive earthquake and tsunami, Japan’s government and the utility that runs Fukushima have struggled to contain the plant’s cascading troubles.
Edano said Friday that Tokyo is asking the U.S. government for help and the two are discussing the specifics.
“We are coordinating with the U.S. government as to what the U.S. can provide and what people really need,” Edano said.
I’ve learned by now that there’s never a happy ending to these things, and Libya won’t be any different. It wasn’t until years after that I found out getting involved in Bosnia wasn’t a humanitarian mission, and was indeed a very bad idea.
As wars always are.
Do primary challenges doom a sitting president — or does a sitting president have to be perceived as so weak before someone will challenge him that he’d lose anyway?