Two articles from very different places, WUSA-TV and Navy Times, that belong together: Maryland man, former sailor aboard navy carrier USS Ronald Reagan, blames Fukushima radiation for his serious health problems. Dr. Richard Gale–the go-to guy for those who want to downplay radiation effects, says it just can’t be. But the sailor has joined the lawsuit against Tepco filed by some 70 different sailors claiming effects from Fukushima as the carrier was caught downwind and close to the site. Meanwhile, the issue has, somewhat surprisingly to us, come to the attention of some in Congress, and Navy Times reports that the proposed omnibus budget bill includes a requirement that the Defense Department report on whether U.S. sailors received high doses of radiation during the period it was deployed near Fukushima.
Claiming new nukes are “1600 times safer” than existing reactors, a state legislator thinks some should be built in Indiana. Which brings to mind a couple of questions: if new ones are so much safer, it seems the older ones are pretty damn dangerous. Shouldn’t they be closed immediately (or sooner)? And from what Onion article did he get that statistic?
Two more stories that go together like peanut butter and jelly: A well-known local blogger reports that Babcock & Wilcox is having trouble finding private investors for small modular reactors. Seems those with money to invest don’t see much return on this idea. So in steps Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee (R-Nuke)–not coincidentally perhaps, B&W’s small reactor project is based in Oak Ridge, TN–who takes credit for inserting a provision into the omnibus budget bill that would increase DOE’s small modular reactor program 21% above the Obama Administration’s already too-high request. The biggest beneficiary: Babcock & Wilcox. Unfortunately, this one has a pretty good chance to staying in the bill. Apparently government spending is only bad when it helps poor people and the unemployed; when it props up nuclear companies that even Wall Street can’t stomach, now that’s a different thing…
New Czech Prime Minister splashes very cold water on plans to build new reactors at Temelin. In order to build Temelin (and take the risk away from its own bank accounts), the Czech nuclear utility CEZ wants price guarantees that could force ratepayers to pay twice as much for electricity as they pay now. The new Prime Minister doesn’t seem to think that would be the most popular way to start his term in office.
Japan trade ministry set to approve restart of at least 2 reactors–at site damaged by 2007 earthquake. Of all the reactors in Japan to consider restarting (though none, of course should be restarted), Japan picks those at the Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear plant, with seven big reactors the world’s largest nuclear site, to start up first. The reactors there were heavily damaged by an earthquake in 2007 and were shut down for years afterwards. Do these Japanese officials think that Japan has suddenly become an earthquake-free zone? Or maybe they think an earthquake can’t possibly strike the same site twice? This is truly playing with fire, and with the lives of the Japanese people.