New Report Reveals Scale of Steam Generator Failures at Nuclear Plant
Southern California Edison avoided federal regulatory guidelines when replacing defective steam generators at the San Onofre nuclear power plant—a costly mistake that can’t be fixed by plugging the tubes that carry radioactive steam or by operating the plant at reduced power, according to a new report released today by Friends of the Earth.
The content of the report by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen details the significant design changes that should have triggered a license review which would have uncovered problems that subsequently led to serious damage and the release of radiation from the defective equipment at San Onofre in January.
Gundersen also criticizes Edison's plans to rapidly restart the damaged reactors at lower power after having done minimal plugging of damaged tubes carrying radioactive water. He warns that these are “non-solutions” that could lead to even more significant equipment failure and releases of radiation. Edison is expected to propose running the reactors at between 50 and 80 percent power. The report challenges the safety and effectiveness of such an approach, concluding:
- Reducing power does not provide a remedy for the underlying structural problems that are creating the vibration that has damaged and will continue to damage the tubes deep inside the San Onofre steam generators
- Reducing power will not change the pressure inside or outside the tubes—previously damaged tubes will continue to vibrate damaging surrounding tubes and tube supports and worsening the existing damage
- Lower power might create a resonate frequency at which vibration might increase without notice causing further damage
- Historical evidence at other reactors has shown that operating at lower power has not been an effective solution
Gundersen concludes that plugging the tubes and restarting the reactor could lead to catastrophe: “If a steam-line accident were to occur, vibrationally induced tube damage at San Onofre could cause an inordinate amount of radioactivity to be released outside of the containment system, compromising public health and safety in one of the most heavily populated areas in the United States.”
“Edison should never have been allowed to install these fundamentally defective steam generators,” said Damon Moglen, climate and energy campaign director at Friends of the Earth. “Now Edison is planning to avoid dealing with the underlying problems and instead restart at lower power. Their claims of nuclear safety first ring completely hollow and must be stopped
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Two lawmakers introduced a bill Tuesday addressing previous actions the U.S. government inflicted upon Native Americans.
The bill, authored by Rep. Deb Haaland from New Mexico and Sen. Elizabeth Warren from Massachusetts, specifically addresses the "intergenerational trauma" caused by policies that tore Native American children away from their families and sent them to boarding schools to be educated in white culture, HuffPost reported.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Gudrun Heise
Just as scientists are scoring successes in coronavirus research, new problems are on their way. Fall is with us and winter is around the corner, so the season for colds and flu has begun — joining COVID-19.
Influenza Vaccination<p>A flu vaccination may thus be able to narrow down the diagnostic options when flu-like symptoms occur, but whether such a vaccination also has an influence on the behavior of the dangerous new virus is — like so much else — not clear. "It is conceivable that there is an indirect effect. But it is, I believe, a matter of speculation whether it has an immunological effect in the narrower sense," says Krause.</p><p>Every winter, doctors' waiting rooms are full of people who are coughing and sniffing but who mostly turn out to have only a severe respiratory infection. According to current knowledge, the virus that causes COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, is also likely to be subject to seasonal fluctuations. </p><p>In winter, cold viruses, at least, flourish because cold and dry air offers ideal conditions for their spread. In addition, it becomes more difficult to air rooms regularly and intensively — an important further measure to counteract the coronavirus and contain to some extent the danger posed by aerosols.</p><p>According to the <a href="https://www.rki.de/DE/Home/homepage_node.html" target="_blank">Robert Koch Institute, Germany's public health agency</a>, between 5% and 20% of people in Germany become infected with flu viruses every year. These viruses are also dangerous and can be fatal. The flu vaccination must be adapted to the influenza viruses every year, because they mutate. But at least there is a vaccination.</p><p>Most experts agree that there is unlikely to be a vaccine against the coronavirus by the time the next wave of influenza comes around. And even if a vaccine were to be approved, many unknowns remain.</p>
COVID-19 and Flu Simultaneously<p>For example, there is a lack of practical experience in dealing simultaneously with SARS-CoV-2 and influenza. It is possible to speculate that having influenza could facilitate the entry of the coronavirus into the human body. "The general weakening of the immune system during an influenza infection could increase the susceptibility of a patient to a SARS-CoV-2 infection," Krause says.</p><p>However, it is uncertain how dangerous this double infection could ultimately be and what can be done about it. Krause is of the opinion that we must arm ourselves against all three diseases — colds, flu and COVID-19. If we have a cold, bed rest, hot tea and cough medicine usually help. We can get vaccinated against flu. But how do we deal with COVID-19?</p><p><span></span>Probably people can only hope that if they get the illness, they will have a mild form with as few after-effects as possible. Here, it will certainly help to stick to suggested rules on hygiene to reduce or prevent our exposure to the virus. In an interview with DW, Bonn-based virology professor Hendrik Streeck made it clear that COVID-19 usually takes a more severe course when there is a high viral load at infection.</p>
Hygiene, Hygiene, Hygiene<p>The same hygiene measures with which we are trying to get at least some kind of grip on COVID-19 also apply to influenza. The less we come into contact with viruses, the greater the chance that we will be spared an infection or that it will be mild.</p><p>These measures include general hygiene precautions such as frequent hand washing and the wearing of protective face masks. "The various hygienic measures against COVID-19 will also reduce the spread of influenza," says Krause. "Possibly, further connections of a more immunological nature will be discovered."</p><p>Let us hope that is the case, because the flu season hasn't even started.</p>
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Rising temperatures in the air and the water surrounding Greenland are melting its massive ice sheet at a faster rate than anytime in the last 12 millennia, according to a new study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
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A grim new assessment of the world's flora and fungi has found that two-fifths of its species are at risk of extinction as humans encroach on the natural world, as The Guardian reported. That puts the number of species at risk near 140,000.
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