Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

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The Nuclear Information Resource and Service and dozens of other organizations on Tuesday uncovered an unpublished study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that suggests that even a small nuclear reactor pool fire could render up to 9,400 square miles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

Pexels

By Shawna Foo

Anyone who's tending a garden right now knows what extreme heat can do to plants. Heat is also a concern for an important form of underwater gardening: growing corals and "outplanting," or transplanting them to restore damaged reefs.

Read More Show Less
Malte Mueller / Getty Images

By David Korten

Our present course puts humans on track to be among the species that expire in Earth's ongoing sixth mass extinction. In my conversations with thoughtful people, I am finding increasing acceptance of this horrific premise.

Read More Show Less
Women sort potatoes in the Andes Mountains near Cusco Peru on July 7, 2014. Thomas O'Neill / NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Alejandro Argumedo

August 9 is the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples – a celebration of the uniqueness of the traditions of Quechua, Huli, Zapotec, and thousands of other cultures, but also of the universality of potatoes, bananas, beans, and the rest of the foods that nourish the world. These crops did not arise out of thin air. They were domesticated over thousands of years, and continue to be nurtured, by Indigenous people. On this day we give thanks to these cultures for the diversity of our food.

Read More Show Less
A sand tiger shark swims over the USS Tarpon in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Tane Casserley / NOAA

By John R. Platt

Here at The Revelator, we love a good shark story.

The problem is, there aren't all that many good shark stories. According to recent research, sharks and their relatives represent one of the world's most imperiled groups of species. Of the more than 1,250 known species of sharks, skates, rays and chimeras — collectively known as chondrichthyan fishes — at least a quarter are threatened with extinction.

Read More Show Less
The Anderson Community Group. Left to right, Caroline Laur, Anita Foust, the Rev. Bryon Shoffner, and Bill Compton, came together to fight for environmental justice in their community. Anderson Community Group

By Isabella Garcia

On Thanksgiving Day 2019, right after Caroline Laur had finished giving thanks for her home, a neighbor at church told her that a company had submitted permit requests to build an asphalt plant in their community. The plans indicated the plant would be 250 feet from Laur's backdoor.

Read More Show Less
Berber woman cooks traditional flatbread using an earthen oven in her mud-walled village home located near the historic village of Ait Benhaddou in Morocco, Africa on Jan. 4, 2016. Creative Touch Imaging Ltd. /NurPhoto / Getty Images

By Danielle Nierenberg and Jason Flatt

The world's Indigenous Peoples face severe and disproportionate rates of food insecurity. While Indigenous Peoples comprise 5 percent of the world's population, they account for 15 percent of the world's poor, according to the World Health Organization.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Danny Choo / CC BY-SA 2.0

By Olivia Sullivan

One of the many unfortunate outcomes of the coronavirus pandemic has been the quick and obvious increase in single-use plastic products. After COVID-19 arrived in the United States, many grocery stores prohibited customers from using reusable bags, coffee shops banned reusable mugs, and takeout food with plastic forks and knives became the new normal.

Read More Show Less