Japan marks 600th eruption of the Sakurajima volcano this year
I find myself faced, today, with the incredibly unpleasant task of delivering some rather frightening news. Perhaps we can forgive humanity’s nuclear planners because they could not foresee a time where the world was going to suffer though increasingly violent earthquakes that would threaten nuclear instillations. The geological news and the nuclear news are on a collision course and there is nothing we can really do about it short of closing down every nuclear plant in the world. And even then, as we saw in Fukushima, with fuel pools and already shut-down reactors, there continues to be significant ongoing risk from the powered-down nuclear stations.
This past week we found out that the risk of an earthquake causing a severe accident at a U.S. nuclear plant is greater than previously thought, 24 times as high in one case, according to an Associated Press (AP) analysis of preliminary government data. The threat came into sharp focus last week, when shaking from the largest earthquake to hit Virginia in 117 years appeared to exceed what the North Anna nuclear power plant northwest of Richmond was built to sustain.
The two North Anna reactors are among 27 in the eastern and central U.S. that, according to a preliminary Nuclear Regulatory Commission review, may need upgrades that would take years and billions of dollars to implement. The recent quake in Virginia shifted about two dozen spent-fuel containers, but Dominion Virginia Power blew the all-clear sirens saying that thank God all the containers were intact. But lo and behold we find that based on the AP analysis of NRC data, the plant is 38 percent more likely to suffer core damage from a rare, massive earthquake than it appeared in an analysis 20 years ago.
We now have to ask ourselves: What if these rare massive earthquakes on which they are basing their numbers become more frequent and more intense then nuclear planners ever thought they would? At my Sanctuary in the interior highlands of Brazil, I built a walking bridge over our stream that turns into a strong river when it rains. Well the rains have been getting heavier and one day three years ago the river and rains just carried my beautiful bridge away. I should have built it higher and stronger! They should have built those sea walls higher at Fukushima as well.
Seismologist Annie Kammerer acknowledged that stronger quakes could happen. “Frankly, it is not a good story for us. The plants were more vulnerable than they realized.” Of course she says they are safe, for to say otherwise is to go against a huge establishment that says everything is okay, trust us, you are in safe hands.
In a separate problem reported last month, GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy acknowledged that its older control rods could get stuck if an earthquake struck when reactors were running at low power.
The manufacturer has alerted the operators of 35 U.S. reactors at 24 sites, who are checking whether replacements are needed. The AP documented scores of instances of such wear and tear in a range of equipment in a June investigative series showing that safety standards have been relaxed to keep aging reactors within the rules.
We did not have to wait long to be reminded how vulnerable we all are after the largest earthquake to hit the East Coast of the United States in 67 years raised concerns about the safety of the country’s nuclear power plants. The 5.8 magnitude quake’s epicenter was just a few miles from the two-reactor North Anna nuclear power plant operated by Dominion Resources in Mineral, Virginia, 80 miles southwest of Washington, D.C. Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle said the plant was designed to withstand an earthquake of up to 6.2 in magnitude. What if this one had been a 7.0? The 5.8 quake already took people by surprise and so are do all the quakes currently shaking the earth when you consider them all together.
Regardless, this quake made history. This is the first time nuclear storage casks have moved as a result of an earthquake in the USA, says David McIntyre, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And they also had a crack in the containment building—nothing serious but the reactors still have not been restarted.
Nature is Becoming Increasingly Violent
On Saturday the Associated Press printed: “Nature is pummeling the United States this year with extremes. Unprecedented triple-digit heat and devastating drought. Deadly tornadoes leveling towns. Massive rivers overflowing. A billion-dollar blizzard. And now, unusual hurricane-caused flooding in Vermont. If what’s falling from the sky isn’t enough, the ground shook in places that normally seem stable: Colorado and the entire East Coast. On Friday, a strong quake triggered brief tsunami warnings in Alaska. Arizona and New Mexico have broken records for wildfires.”
Nature is pummeling the world with earthquakes and long-dead volcanoes are coming to life. These past two weeks we have seen a lot of action both above and below ground and it seems that something is stressing the earth. Just in Indonesia alone the government has requested that local administrations remain on the alert for severe risks of volcanic eruptions, as the number of volcanoes showing abnormal activity continued to rise. As of Friday, activity in 22 volcanoes was categorized as above normal, with six at alert level three and 16 at level two.
News from the Ground from the Last Two Weeks
Iceland’s Katla volcano hit by 3.2 magnitude earthquake Christchurch,
September 1, 2011
New Zealand rattled by more earthquakes
September 1, 2011
It is quite disheartening to learn that most nuclear plants are increasingly likely to get hit with earthquakes larger than what they were designed to handle. Plants built a generation ago were designed to withstand earthquakes but we are now entering a time of not only extreme climate change but also extreme geological changes that have the earth under our feet shaking more violently.
The same people who say the risk is slight for vaccine damages and that fluoride is all right to put in drinking water because the chance of it causing cancer eventually in your children is small tells us that the overall risk at a typical reactor is very slight.
Brian Sheron, who heads the NRC’s Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research, wrote in a March 14 email that updated numbers showed the government “didn’t know everything about the seismicity” in the central and the eastern part of the country. “And isn’t there a prediction that the West Coast is likely to get hit with some huge earthquake in the next 30 years or so? Yet we relicense their plants,” he wrote.
As we have seen this year at Fukushima, these people’s sense of “slight” is warped and not to be trusted. The authorities have licensed and relicensed dangerous nuclear power stations that have been built on fault lines, flood zones or, in the case of Fukushima, in an area prone to tsunamis.
“And there shall be signs in the Sun, and in the moon, and in the stars, and upon the Earth distress of nations with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring. Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the Earth, for the powers of heaven shall be shaken.” – Luke 21:25, 26
That’s quite a mouthful from Luke. When I look at the simulations of the dispersion of radioactive cesium-137 across the northern hemisphere during the first two months alone I tremble. Chernobyl and Fukushima are across the globe from each other. Both are monuments to the stupidity of man as both will be constant radioactive emitters for as long as we can think into the future. (Be sure to see the active simulation at the bottom of the page in the above link.) I do wonder who is going to come up with the billions of dollars it will take to build a proposed new shell over Chernobyl when the world’s financial system collapses.
One has to remember that governments’ calculations on safe levels of radiation assume only brief exposure. Chronic and persistent exposures need to be calculated in a very different mathematical way and this is just not happening. “The standard does not take into account the effects of accumulative exposure,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said. “We are discussing what standards to use for accumulative radiation.”
I am already starting to become concerned about the radiation spreading into the southern hemisphere and was just telling my wife that even down here in Brazil we have to start to strongly mineralize our children. There are many years ahead of them with nuclear rain and contamination promised. Even if 80 or 90 percent of the radiation remains in the northern hemisphere, in time there will be plenty of contamination here in our more pristine south to cry about.
Everyone I know seems to be caught like a deer in front of a car’s headlights, frozen into inaction not even dreaming of escape. There is no escape off the planet though some seek to go underground, but will they be safe when the ground shakes violently? We learned from mercury distribution that what comes out of the coal-fired plants in India, China, the USA and Europe ends up everywhere, even at the North Pole. We really are in trouble and are not able to get our minds and hearts quite around the issues and threats. At least we should be studying and applying non-pharmaceutical medicines that will help us and our children resist the nuclear contamination that will be with us from now on till the end of all our lives and even beyond and into our graves.