Quantcast

How Small Reactor Fires Could Result in U.S. Nuclear Disasters Worse Than Fukushima

Photo credit: CNN's Pandora's Promise

No matter the size, a nuclear reactor pool fire is dangerous enough to change millions of lives forever.

The Nuclear Information Resource and Service and dozens of other organizations on Tuesday uncovered an unpublished study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that suggests that even a small nuclear reactor pool fire could render up to 9,400 square miles uninhabitable, displacing more than 4 million Americans.

The study examined spent fuel storage at the Peach Bottom reactor in Pennsylvania and determined that releasing a small fraction of the pool into the environment could result in a disaster worse than the one in Fukushima, Japan.

As a result, 34 environmental organizations filed a petition asking the NRC to hold off on issuing any more reactor licensing. According to petition, the NRC has never before acknowledged such dire pool fire risks while deciding on reactor licenses. The petition also seeks to debunk old NRC conclusions that the impacts of spent fuel storage during reactor operation are insignificant. 

“If a pool fire accident occurs such as was studied in the Peach Bottom case study, the resulting widespread contamination and displacement of people could have enormous socioeconomic impacts, matching or exceeding the devastating effects of the Fukushima accident on Japanese society,” said Diane Curran, an attorney with Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, L.L.P. who jointly filed the petition with Mindy Goldstein, director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University.

Other filing organizations include the Nuclear Energy Information Service, Citizens Allied for Safe Energy,  Physicians for Social Responsibility and No Nukes Pennsylvania.

The NRC's study also said that spent reactor fuel could be transferred out of high-density storage fuels—where the fire risk is the greatest—in a cost-effective manner.

The groups challenge the NRC to protect the environment along with public health and safety.  That includes ecological health and socioeconomic well-being, the groups say.

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

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Micromobility is the future of transportation in cities, but cities and investors need to plan ahead to avoid challenges. Jonny Kennaugh / Unsplash

By Carlo Ratti, Ida Auken

On the window of a bike shop in Copenhagen, a sign reads: Your next car is a bike.

Read More Show Less
An American flag waves in the wind at the Phillip Burton Federal Building in San Francisco, California on May 17 where a trial against Monsanto took place. Alva and Alberta Pilliod, were awarded more than $2 billion in damages in their lawsuit against Monsanto, though the judge in the case lowered the damage award to $87 million. JOSH EDELSON / AFP / Getty Images

By Carey Gillam

For the last five years, Chris Stevick has helped his wife Elaine in her battle against a vicious type of cancer that the couple believes was caused by Elaine's repeated use of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide around a California property the couple owned. Now the roles are reversed as Elaine must help Chris face his own cancer.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Butterfly habitats have fallen 77 percent in the last 50 years. Pixabay / Pexels

The last 50 years have been brutal for wildlife. Animals have lost their habitats and seen their numbers plummet. Now a new report from a British conservation group warns that habitat destruction and increased pesticide use has on a trajectory for an "insect apocalypse," which will have dire consequences for humans and all life on Earth, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
Six of the nineteen wind turbines which were installed on Frodsham Marsh, near the coal-powered Fiddler's Ferry power station, in Helsby, England on Feb. 7, 2017.

Sales of electric cars are surging and the world is generating more and more power from renewable sources, but it is not enough to cut greenhouse gas emissions and to stop the global climate crisis, according to a new report from the International Energy Agency (IEA).

Read More Show Less
"Globally, we're starting to see examples of retailers moving away from plastics and throwaway packaging, but not at the urgency and scale needed to address this crisis." Greenpeace

By Jake Johnson

A Greenpeace report released Tuesday uses a hypothetical "Smart Supermarket" that has done away with environmentally damaging single-use plastics to outline a possible future in which the world's oceans and communities are free of bags, bottles, packaging and other harmful plastic pollutants.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Children are forced to wear masks due to the toxic smoke from peat land fires in Indonesia. Aulia Erlangga / CIFOR

By Irene Banos Ruiz

Pediatricians in New Delhi, India, say children's lungs are no longer pink, but black.

Our warming planet is already impacting the health of the world's children and will shape the future of an entire generation if we fail to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius (35.6°F), the 2019 Lancet Countdown Report on health and climate change shows.

Read More Show Less
Private homes surround a 20 inch gas liquids pipeline which is part of the Mariner East II project on Oct. 5, 2017 in Marchwood, Penn. Robert Nickelsberg / Getty Images

The FBI is looking into how the state of Pennsylvania granted permits for a controversial natural gas pipeline as part of a corruption investigation, the AP reports.

Read More Show Less
Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles. Carolina Wild Ones / Facebook

Three cows who were washed off their North Carolina island by Hurricane Dorian have been found alive after swimming at least two miles, The New York Times reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less