Ellen Cantarow and Alison Rose Levy wrote an alarming and plausible article for TomDispatch about the likelihood of a Fukushima-type accident at the Indian Point nuclear power plant outside New York City.
The Indian Point plant has a terrible safety record, even by industry standards. There is an ongoing leak of tritium (radioactive) water, whose source has not been identified, into local groundwater and the Hudson River. There is a known danger of flooding, which could cause a meltdown of the reactor core, but management of Entergy, the owner of Indian Point, has declined to install a $200,000 flood detector.
Now a high-pressure natural gas pipeline is planned by an energy company called Spectra, would carry fracked gas within 150 feet of Indian Point. Accidents in gas pipelines are on the rise, according to a study by the National Transportation Safety Board, due to gas companies cutting corners on safety.
How much risk should the nearly 20 million people who live in the vicinity of Indian Point assume?
When I wrote about nuclear power in the 1980s as a reporter for the Rochester (NY) Democrat and Chronicle, I thought nuclear power generation was relatively safe and preferable, on both health and environmental grounds, to electricity from fossil fuel plants.
I had to change this opinion after the Chernobyl disaster, but I attributed it as much to incompetent Communist bureaucrats as to the inherent flaws of the system.
During the 2000s, I saw the obvious problem with continuing to operate American nuclear power plants, may of them on earthquake fault lines, past their scheduled closing dates.
But I still was still open to the possibility of a new generation of nuclear power plants, similar to the French system, rigorously regulated and using the latest system.
The Fukushima disaster showed me that such a system, if it is feasible at all, is workable only in a utopian society of the future, in which prudence and professionalism take precedence over cost-cutting and deadlines. As the Indian Point situation shows, we are a long way from such a society in the USA and probably anywhere else.
A Fukushima on the Hudson? by Ellen Cantarow and Alison Rose Levy for TomDispatch (via the Unz Review)