Not If, But When

Safety Rules Loosened For Aging Nuclear Reactors.

One of these days the shit will hit the fan. LINK
Courtesy of a corrupt government and an even more corrupt energy industry. LINK

We have all this old equipment, that just like old people, needs more looking after than it used to. But we’re doing just the opposite. That’s just brilliant. The American Society of Civil Engineers have sponsored and authored studies indicating how serious our infrastructure problems are. Congress and the banks look at the price tag to fix it (somewhere north of $3 trillion last I read) and insanely conclude that cutting taxes will fix it. Cut taxes. No plan. No nothing. Just cut taxes. With the expectation that industry will step up. What a laugh.

One of these days there’ll be an event like the one in the gulf that dumped an unknown amount of oil in one of our most important natural habitats. Except it won’t be oil that is dumped all over the place. It’ll be nuclear pollutants. And it’ll be far worse.

You can see this coming. We have all the same weak regulation and industry buying off of politicians so incumbents can keep their jobs. But it doesn’t seem to make a bit of difference to either party. In the collective, both are crooked as hell. It makes not a bit of difference that there might be a few good ones. The good ones are far outnumbered by the terminally stupid and career criminals.

Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found.

Time after time, officials at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission have decided that original regulations were too strict, arguing that safety margins could be eased without peril, according to records and interviews.

The result? Rising fears that these accommodations by the NRC are significantly undermining safety — and inching the reactors closer to an accident that could harm the public and jeopardize the future of nuclear power in the United States.

Examples abound. When valves leaked, more leakage was allowed — up to 20 times the original limit. When rampant cracking caused radioactive leaks from steam generator tubing, an easier test of the tubes was devised, so plants could meet standards.

Failed cables. Busted seals. Broken nozzles, clogged screens, cracked concrete, dented containers, corroded metals and rusty underground pipes — all of these and thousands of other problems linked to aging were uncovered in the AP’s yearlong investigation. And all of them could escalate dangers in the event of an accident.

Yet despite the many problems linked to aging, not a single official body in government or industry has studied the overall frequency and potential impact on safety of such breakdowns in recent years, even as the NRC has extended the licenses of dozens of reactors.

Government regulators and industry execs know of the problems but refuse to take action to prevent the coming catastrophe. Exactly the same as they did in the gulf and in most all other industries where potential or almost certain harm to the public and to the environment is ignored.

Radioactive tritium has leaked from three-quarters of U.S. commercial nuclear power sites, often into groundwater from corroded, buried piping, an Associated Press investigation shows.

The number and severity of the leaks has been escalating, even as federal regulators extend the licenses of more and more reactors across the nation.

Tritium, which is a radioactive form of hydrogen, has leaked from at least 48 of 65 sites, according to U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission records reviewed as part of the AP’s yearlong examination of safety issues at aging nuclear power plants.

You can’t run up the bill on this stuff forever. Eventually it has to be paid.

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4 thoughts on “Not If, But When

  1. I do not understand this!
    Germany is giving up, throwing the towel in on nuclear.
    I would bet there are experts in France scared to death.
    Great blog but this quote got to me:

    Federal regulators have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. ”

    You could substitute nuclear power industry with banking industry, or highway system or ….

    1. You get the picture Dick. You’re dead on target. The decisions being made are being made with an eye to profits. End of story.

      We need to be investing in some form of technology to replace our aging energy infrastructure. And a whole lot else. But nobody wants to commit to it. Financially or otherwise. It means taxes.

      No consideration to tomorrow or to safety or anything else. Just profits.

      I don’t think France is worried. I think nuclear can be safe. To do nuclear you can’t cut corners just to save a buck. You do the very opposite. You spend the extra money to cover that last .01% of risk that will only come into play once in 100 years. You do that because if you don’t and shit goes bad you are seriously fucked.

      Japan is a perfect example. The plants that are now seriously messed up are going to be a major problem for a long time. Back when they were being made much of what has come to pass was warned against. Critics wanted a far more robust containment scheme etc. There was lots of crap went on back then over the design. The people selling the project who stood to make a lot of money went for the less costly solution to get the sale. That happens all the time. Salesmen are dorks.

  2. cmaukonen

    This whole damn thing is depressing. I don’t like feeling depressed. it makes me want to go out and kill something. Very, very slowly and painfully.

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