Thursday, September 22, 2011

San Clemente Radiation Event Emergency Planning Meetings

San Clemente California Fukushima USA
In the past 60 years there have been numerous military and nuclear power plant accidents which resulted in radiation poisoning to the public. Three of the biggest disasters were at Three Mile Island (USA), Chernobyl (Russia), and Fukushima (Japan).  An NRC study warned that a nuclear event in the U.S. could cause 50,000 fatalities and cost over $300 billion in property damage.  Anyone who lives within the 50 mile danger zone (San Diego to Los Angeles)   should prepare for possible emergencies including abandoning their home.

What Could Cause a Nuclear Emergency
·        Earthquake
·        Tsunami
·        Equipment failure
·        Power outage
·        Human error
·        Terrorist attack

What Will Not Happen
·        Atomic bomb-type explosion

What Could Happen
·        Radiation leaks from very small to very large will move inland and follow prevailing wind patterns.
·        Radiation cannot be seen, heard, tasted, or smelled. It can silently penetrate all materials.   It will contaminate food and water, clothing, furniture, and can be inhaled or absorbed through the skin.  Large doses will quickly have severe and possibly lethal impacts.  Smaller doses will not be noticed immediately but can lead to severe medical problems weeks, months, or years later.  Predictions of premature cancer deaths from Chernobyl range to almost a million all over Europe.

What You Can and Cannot Do
·        Radiation emergencies are unlike any other conventional emergencies.   This means that much of conventional disaster planning will not work.
·        Depending on where you live, evacuation may not be feasible.   Evacuation cannot take place upwind because of the ocean, and moving 8.4 million people downwind cannot work and might expose everyone to even more radiation.
·        From past experience we know that authorities underestimate the actual radiation levels or may not want the public to know the dangers.  The only way to know the radiation level in your area is to do what many Japanese have done:  buy your own household Geiger Counter. A millionth of a gram of Plutonium 239 can be lethal.
·        If you have a basement or underground shelter, go there and stay there.
·        Learn about the pros and cons of taking Iodine pills which might reduce absorption of certain kinds of radioactive elements.
·        In the event that a widespread area between San Diego and Los Angeles becomes contaminated, be prepared to abandon your home.  Insurance will not cover any loses.  After 25 years, Chernobyl remains an uninhabitable zone of death may stay that way for centuries.  This could happen to any area near a nuclear reactor.

Are Nuclear Reactors Safe?
          It is not possible to make nuclear reactors 100% safe  (as we have seen from Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima).  Explosions within a reactor are uncommon but did happen at Fukushima. Each plant also stores many dangerous and relatively unprotected radioactive fuel rods outside the reactor. Estimates of natural disasters (earthquakes, tsunamis, fires) and other dangers (human error, terrorist attacks) involve guesswork and have been wrong in the past.  In the event of a disaster,  operators of a nuclear plant are not liable.

Should the Remaining San Onofre Reactors Be Decommissioned?
          This is an expensive process, but consumers already pay for this every month in their electric bill.   All reactors have a limited lifespan, and the oldest San Onofre reactor was decommissioned 20 years ago.  The two remaining reactors, already renewed once,    should be closed as soon as possible.   San Onofre's aging reactors, unfortunately built in a highly populated area,  are vulnerable to tsunamis, earthquakes, and terrorists.  Since it is not possible to protect the public in the event of an accident, many argue that public safety can be achieved only by closing the facility.   (The determination that evacuation was not possible is what forced the closing of the  Shoreham reactor in NY.) Many countries have banned nuclear reactors  or are phasing them out.
          Even though the remaining San Onofre reactors are very old, the operator (Southern California Edison) is planning to lobby for license renewal.   Because it was built so long ago, it is exempt from many safety standards required of new reactors.   There is a very large, powerful, profitable, and well-funded public relations lobby that promotes  nuclear energy.  The U.S. government has agencies which are supposed to insure public safety, but these agencies often ignore the public and act in the interests of the nuclear industry. Most funding for the NRC comes from the nuclear industry it is supposed to regulate.

Three very important "San Clemente Radiation Emergency Planning Meeting" reminders:

          1.  Progressives of South Orange County, 6 PM this Thursday Sept. 22, Dana Point Yacht Club.  Our guest will be Ace Hoffman who will speak about the dangers of living near a nuclear power plant.  RSVP to  Roger at SCNJ66 at yahoo dot com.

          2.  San Clemente City Council Town Meeting,  Tues., Sept. 27 6:30 PM, San Clemente Community Center (100 N. Calle Seville).     The Lessons Learned from Fukushima Part One: The Nuclear Industry Point of View.

          3.   San Clemente City Council Town Meeting, Tues., Oct. 11 6:30 PM, San Clemente Community Center (100 N. Calle Seville).    The Lessons Learned from Fukushima Part Two:  Presentations from Independent Experts about the Safety of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

 Learn more about nuclear power by visiting these websites: ;;;;

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