Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Atomic Dominoes Fall While Tanks Leak at Hanford

Energy
Atomic Dominoes Fall While Tanks Leak at Hanford

Harvey Wasserman

Washington Governor Jay Inslee reported Friday a tank storing radioactive waste at Hanford is leaking between 150 to 300 gallons per year. Photo Department of Energy

Two more atomic dominoes have hit the deck.

At least a half-dozen more teeter on the brink, which would take the U.S. reactor count under 100.

But can we bury them before the next Fukushima erupts, and the leaks at Hanford destroy the Northwest?

And will we still laugh when Fox "News" says there's more sun in Germany than California?    

Wisconsin's fully licensed Kewaunee reactor will now shut because it can't compete in the marketplace.

Florida's Crystal River will die because its owners poked holes in the containment during a botched repair job.

UBS and other financial experts say Entergy is bleeding cash at Vermont Yankee. After blacking out the SuperBowl, Entergy has no problem stiffing a state that has sued to shut its only reactor.

But in the face being crushed by renewables and gas, the money men may finally pull the plug.

The same could happen to New York's Fitzpatrick and Ginna reactors, as well as the two at Indian Point, which need water permits and more from an increasingly hostile state. New Jersey's Oyster Creek, slammed by Hurricane Sandy, and Nebraska's Ft. Calhoun, recently flooded, are also on the brink.

The list of crippled, non-competitive and near-dead reactors lengthens daily. Few are more critical than California's San Onofre Units Two and Three, perched on an ocean cliff in the earthquake-tsunami zone between Los Angeles and San Diego.   

More than eight million people live within a 50-mile radius of where San Onofre's owners botched a $600 million steam generator replacement. As radiation leaked, they may have lied to federal regulators, prompting U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) to demand an investigation.   

After being down more than a year, Unit Three will almost certainly never reopen. Unit Two may well stay shut at least through the summer.   

If a rising grassroots movement can bury them both, it will mark a huge turning point in a state where renewables are booming with new revenue and jobs.   

Which gets us to the Murdochian weather report. A recent "Fox & Friends" was mystified by Germany's popular (and very profitable) decision to phase out nukes while turning to solar, wind, increased efficiency and other Solartopian technologies.

Finally, Shibani Joshi figured it out:  "They're a small country, and they've got lots of sun. Right? They've got a lot more sun than we do."

The staggering laugh line that cold, dark Germany has more sunlight than a nation stretching from Hawaii to California to Florida could come only from an industry at dangerous odds with the planet on which it malfunctions.

This latest stretch of shut downs does not mean the death of the industry. Both Georgia and Florida are being assaulted with legislation that would allow utilities to build new reactors while ratepayers foot the bill.   

And some activists concerned about global warming still dream of carbon-free reactors they hope might someday alleviate the situation.

But they miss the reality that such plants will likely never exist. Every promise this industry has made—from "too cheap to meter" to "reactors don't explode" to "radiation is good for you"—has turned toxic.   

They also forget that a fragile pool laden with enough fuel rods to poison countless millions still sways 100 feet in the air at Fukushima. It remains horrifically vulnerable to seismic activity that could send it crashing down to a permanently contaminated earth.   

All this happens as a horrific brew of radioactive sludge makes its way toward the Columbia River. Anyone who doubts the lethal legacy of the atomic industry need only look at the 177 giant tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation now leaking some 54 million gallons of toxic sludge. These wastes were created by atomic bomb production starting some 70 years ago, and still there is no firm idea what to do with them.

According to leading expert Robert Alvarez, the residues stored in Washington State have been eating through tanks there with no solution in sight. A proposed processing reactor to help deal with it all is estimated to cost at least $12 billion, if it ever gets finished—with no guarantee it will work. The overall clean-up could run more than $70 billion, says Alvarez, requiring technology that still must be invented. It's a project on par with putting a man on the moon, he says. Meanwhile new reports indicate the leaked poisons are migrating into the ground water just 10 miles from the Columbia, threatening to irradiate our precious Northwestern watershed.

Overall Hanford bodes badly for a commercial industry whose back is dangerously to the wall. We know it will squeeze every last cent from these dying reactors with less and less care for safety, especially since the federal government still insures them against the financial consequences of a major catastrophe. Every day they operate heightens the odds on something truly apocalyptic to follow in the wake of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.   

Meanwhile they continue to spew out huge quantities of heat and waste. They divert precious capital from the proven green technologies that are now revolutionizing our energy economy in the only ways that can possibly save us from climate chaos.

This may yet become the first year in decades that the U.S. has fewer than 100 operating commercial reactors. It will also be the biggest year worldwide for the booming Solartopian industries that are transforming how we get our energy, create our jobs and grow our economy.

Lets just make sure we win that transition before the next radioactive disaster does its worst.

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR POWER page for more related news on this topic.

——–

Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

 

A 3-hour special film by EarthxTV calls for protection of the Amazon and its indigenous populations. EarthxTV.org

To save the planet, we must save the Amazon rainforest. To save the rainforest, we must save its indigenous peoples. And to do that, we must demarcate their land.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres delivers a video speech at the high-level meeting of the 46th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council UNHRC in Geneva, Switzerland on Feb. 22, 2021. Xinhua / Zhang Cheng via Getty Images

By Anke Rasper

"Today's interim report from the UNFCCC is a red alert for our planet," said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

The report, released Friday, looks at the national climate efforts of 75 states that have already submitted their updated "nationally determined contributions," or NDCs. The countries included in the report are responsible for about 30% of the world's global greenhouse gas emissions.

Read More Show Less

Trending

New Delhi's smog is particularly thick, increasing the risk of vehicle accidents. SAJJAD HUSSAIN / AFP via Getty Images

India's New Delhi has been called the "world air pollution capital" for its high concentrations of particulate matter that make it harder for its residents to breathe and see. But one thing has puzzled scientists, according to The Guardian. Why does New Delhi see more blinding smogs than other polluted Asian cities, such as Beijing?

Read More Show Less
A bridge over the Delaware river connects New Hope, Pennsylvania with Lambertville, New Jersey. Richard T. Nowitz / Getty Images

In a historic move, the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) voted Thursday to ban hydraulic fracking in the region. The ban was supported by all four basin states — New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York — putting a permanent end to hydraulic fracking for natural gas along the 13,539-square-mile basin, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Read More Show Less
Woodpecker

Colombia is one of the world's largest producers of coffee, and yet also one of the most economically disadvantaged. According to research by the national statistic center DANE, 35% of the population in Columbia lives in monetary poverty, compared to an estimated 11% in the U.S., according to census data. This has led to a housing insecurity issue throughout the country, one which construction company Woodpecker is working hard to solve.

Read More Show Less