IMPLICATIONS (AND ACTIONS) FOR U.S. NUCLEAR POWER
Sunday, March 13, 2011, 6:30 pm
The nuclear crisis in Japan has taken a turn for the worse this afternoon, as Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) has reported that six to ten feet of the core of its Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3 reactor has been uncovered for a considerable period of time despite efforts to pump seawater into the reactor. Moreover, Tepco says it believes water may be leaking and preventing the water from covering the core. According to a translation of a Tepco statement by our Japanese colleagues, "The fuel's integrity has been considerably compromised. We are assessing a considerably serious situation." This unit uses plutonium-based MOX (mixed-oxide) fuel; accident consequences from a reactor that uses MOX fuel are even higher than for a more traditional uranium-fueled reactor.
At this point it is clear there has been some fuel melting at Fukushima Daiichi, probably at both Units 1 and 3. What we don't know yet is whether that will continue or whether utility workers will be successful at preventing any further melting. We hope they are successful and wish them our best. They are working under intolerable conditions and getting exposed to high levels of radiation in their ongoing effort to prevent a broader disaster. We believe that a catastrophic accident still can be prevented.
In all, there remain six reactors in various stages of trouble at two sites in Fukushima. Another three reactors, further north at Onagawa, are in a low-level state of emergency, although the utility there says they are under control.
We are regularly updating the situation as we receive reliable information and posting new relevant documents as we identify them. Check the front page of our website, www.nirs.org, often for these updates.
Implications for the U.S.
It would be nice to think that U.S. politicians and authorities will suddenly snap to their senses and begin work to end nuclear power and prevent new nuclear reactor construction. It won't be that easy.
However, one prominent pro-nuclear politician, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) this morning did call for a moratorium on new reactors until any lessons from Japan can be incorporated. And Rep. Ed Markey wrote a strong letter to President Obama calling for a moratorium and other actions (we will post it on our website as soon as it is posted on Rep. Markey's site).
Still, it's going to take all of us working as hard as we can right now to make a real difference.
Our number one priority today: ending taxpayer subsidies for new nuclear power. If you haven't yet sent a letter to your Congressmembers, please do so now. If you haven't yet passed the word on to your friends and colleagues, organizational e-mail lists, shared the action page on Facebook, Twitter, etc., please do so now. We need the broadest outreach possible. More than 18,000 letters have gone in so far (thank you!), but we'll need more than that.
Beyond that, however, we want to know what your priorities are and help develop a coordinated plan of action. Thus, we are sponsoring two grassroots conference calls this week. The first is tomorrow, Monday, March 14, 2011 at 4 pm eastern time. This will be a "listening" call. We invite you to call in with your concerns and suggestions: we will listen to them and we ask all of you to listen respectfully to each other. The call-in number is 218-237-3840; the code is 110336#.
From that call and the ideas generated, we will put together a second grassroots strategy call later in the week. If you are interested in this second call (date/time have not been set yet), please send an e-mail with your name, organization (if one) and location to us at email@example.com.
Finally, we urgently need donations for a rapid response to the developments in Japan and the strongest possible actions here in the U.S. We need to be letting all Americans know that a nuclear future is not needed, that we can end nuclear subsidies now, that out of this disaster can come real hope for the future. Thank you to everyone who has donated this weekend. We ask everyone who can to please dig a little deeper right now and support our expanded efforts at this crucial time.
Thanks for all you do,
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