In advance of New York’s April 19 primary, presidential candidate Bernie Sanders characterized the 40-plus-year-old Indian Point nuclear power station located 36 miles north of Midtown Manhattan as “a catastrophe waiting to happen” that should be shut down. Sanders’ statements in New York were no surprise. His ambitious plan to combat climate change includes a phase-out of the nation’s nuclear power plants, which currently account for about one-fifth of U.S. electricity production. Instead, he proposes working toward a 100 percent clean-energy system by investing heavily in wind, nuclear and geothermal. Hillary Clinton, meanwhile, has called for investment in nuclear power alongside renewable energy as part of her plan to modernize the U.S. energy infrastructure. She opposes shuttering Indian Point, which is currently being reviewed for license renewal by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
In These Times 3rd May 2016 read more »
‘America’s Fukushima’ Is Leaking. The Hanford Nuclear Reservation sits on the plains of eastern Washington, where the state meets Oregon and Idaho. This is open country through which cars pass quickly on the way to the Pacific coast or, conversely, deeper into the heartland. The site is nearly 600 square miles in area and has been largely closed to the public for the past 70 years. Late last year, though, it became part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which will allow visitors to tour B Reactor, where plutonium for one of the two atomic weapons dropped on Japan in World War II was produced. But all is not as it seems, with recent reports indicating new breaches in the tanks holding the nuclear waste. Workers on the site have been sickened too, suggesting that the rush to designate Hanford as a park may have been premature. The 177 underground tanks were never a permanent solution, and the government has hired private contractors to build a plant that will solidify the waste and prepare it for permanent safe storage. The project will cost an astonishing $110 billion, according to estimates, making it what many believe to be the most expensive, and extensive, environmental remediation project in the world. Completion is about five decades away. When I visited Hanford in 2013, construction of the Waste Treatment Plant—which will pump nuclear sludge out of the tanks and turn them into a hardened, glasslike substance—was slow and rife with technical challenges. Whistleblowers, meanwhile, were alleging that private contractors had neglected safety and engineering concerns in their rush to complete the job. Otherwise sober observers likened the place to a nuclear tinderbox. “America’s Fukushima?” asked the resulting Newsweek cover story.
Newsweek 3rd May 2016 read more »