ProPublica

Journalism in the Public Interest

Cancel

Whistleblowers Say Nuclear Regulatory Commission Watchdog Is Losing Its Bite

The NRC’s Office of the Inspector General has filled a key oversight role, conducting investigations that have changed how the agency regulates nuclear waste, fire protection and security. But ex-employees say the office has shied away from challenging the commission, altering the report on one investigation and dropping another probe.

.

George Mulley, who worked as an investigator with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's inspector general for 26 years, says the current Office of the Inspector General has shied away from challenging the NRC. (Photo by Cameron Hickey)

When he retired after 26 years as an investigator with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's Office of the Inspector General, George Mulley thought his final report was one of his best.

Mulley had spent months looking into why a pipe carrying cooling water at the Byron nuclear plant in Illinois had rusted so badly that it burst. His report cited lapses by a parade of NRC inspectors over six years and systemic weaknesses in the way the NRC monitors corrosion.

But rather than accept Mulley's findings, the inspector general's office rewrote them. The revised report shifted much of the blame to the plant's owner, Exelon, instead of NRC procedures. And instead of designating it a public report and delivering it to Congress, as is the norm, the office put it off-limits. A reporter obtained it only after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan has thrust the NRC's role as industry overseer squarely in the spotlight, but another critical player in U.S. nuclear safety is the NRC's Office of the Inspector General, an independent agency that serves as watchdog to the watchdog.

Now, Mulley and one other former OIG employee have come forth with allegations that the inspector general's office buried the critical Byron report and dropped an investigation into whether the NRC is relying on outdated methods to predict damage from an aircraft crashing into a plant.

The inspector general's office, they assert, has shied away from challenging the NRC at exactly the wrong time, with many of the country's 104 nuclear power plants aging beyond their 40-year design life and with reactor meltdowns at Fukushima rewriting the definition of a catastrophic accident.

"We're in the nuclear power business. It's not a trivial business; it's public health and safety," said Mulley, who won the agency's top awards and reviewed nearly every major investigation the office conducted before he retired as the chief investigator three years ago.

"We have to have somebody that's going to look over the NRC's shoulder and make sure they were fulfilling their obligations," he said.

Inspector General Hubert T. Bell declined to comment, but Joseph McMillan, the assistant inspector general for investigations, said the office has continued to vigorously pursue cases. He confirmed that the aircraft crash case has been closed but said it was proper. Regarding the Byron case, McMillan acknowledged disagreements but said: "I stand by the work we have done."

The U.S. nuclear industry can point to an enviable safety record -- no member of the public has ever been injured by an accident at a plant. Nonetheless, critics point to issues like the NRC's drawn-out effort to enforce fire rules as evidence that the five-member commission and the agency it runs are too close to the industry.

The inspector general's office has traditionally filled a key oversight role, conducting dozens of investigations that have changed how the NRC regulates nuclear waste, fire protection and security, among other things. Its regular reports to Congress cover waste, fraud and agency performance.

Many federal agencies have similar independent offices to ferret out wrongdoing and improve efficiency. The NRC's was established in 1989 and has been led for the past 15 years by Bell, who was appointed by President Clinton after nearly three decades in the Secret Service.

'Everything Seems to Die'

In the office's history, Mulley has left a big mark.

For years, he documented how the NRC dropped the ball on the handling of nuclear fuel and security in nuclear plants. His reports on defective fire barriers led to congressional hearings and ultimately to a complete overhaul of the agency's fire protection regulations.

He retired in 2008 as a senior-level assistant for investigations but continued work as an OIG consultant for two more years. Before he retired, Bell and a deputy wrote that Mulley was "so thorough and knowledgeable of all aspects of investigations, that even NRC management recognizes the value added to having Mr. Mulley's expertise on all cases."

Mulley is not alone in his concerns about the inspector general's office. Another former employee told ProPublica that the office has become reluctant to probe anything that could become controversial or raise difficult questions for the NRC.

"They don't want to do anything," said the ex-employee, who left out of dissatisfaction with the direction of the office and asked not to be named to protect his current job. "Everything just seems to die."

The former employee told ProPublica that the OIG's office had dropped an inquiry into whether the NRC could accurately predict the damage to a plant from an airplane crash, and Mulley confirmed his account, saying the office received a tip in 2007 that the NRC was using an outdated method.

Because a wrong prediction could lead to insufficient protection for the plants, the inspector general's office opened an investigation, Mulley said. "We went to several experts who said that thing is antiquated, you can't use it," he said.

Mulley said that the NRC's experts insisted that their method was accurate. He said the aim of the investigation was not to prove that the NRC experts were wrong but to show there was a dispute and question whether the NRC should update its predictions.

"In my mind, the OIG was not going to resolve it," he said. "It raised a valid question."

The 2001 terrorist attacks drew attention to the potential hazard of an aircraft crash for nuclear plants, and afterward the NRC and nuclear industry examined whether new precautions were needed.

The main industry trade group, the Nuclear Energy Institute, commissioned studies that showed U.S. plants could sustain a direct hit from a modern airliner without any radiation release.

Following 9/11, the NRC adopted a rule requiring nuclear operators to take steps to minimize possible damage from major natural disasters or an aircraft crash. Two years ago, the commission required new licensees to assess whether their reactors could withstand an airliner crash.

Eliot Brenner, an NRC spokesman, said the agency's method of evaluating the risk to plants has been thoroughly checked and relies on "realistic threat parameters."

McMillan said that OIG completed its investigation into the crash prediction issue and that the case was "closed to the file," meaning that no report was issued.

The decision to forgo a report usually means that the inspector general found no public safety concerns. McMillan declined to comment on the report or to describe any conclusions. He said it was available only through a Freedom of Information Act request, which ProPublica filed today.

The Byron Plant's Rusty Pipe

Water shoots out of a rusty pipe at the Byron nuclear plant. (Photo courtesy of the NRC)Mulley spent more than a year investigating why the pipe blew out at the Byron plant.

On Oct. 19, 2007, a worker using a wire brush to clean a thick coating of rust from the massive steel pipe ripped completely through the metal. Water shot out, triggering a 12-day shutdown of the plant's two reactors located outside Rockford, Ill.

The 24-inch pipe was part of the plant's Essential Service Water System, a network of eight huge pipes that carries water to cool emergency equipment. During an accident, it can be critical because it protects the generators and pumps that keep the reactor from overheating.

"It's a safety-related system," Mulley said. "If it doesn't operate, you can't operate the plant."

After the pipe ruptured, the NRC assigned a special inspection team to find out whether Exelon could have prevented it. Mulley put together a four-person team to start a parallel investigation into whether the NRC inspectors should have caught the problem beforehand.

His team interviewed workers and NRC inspectors assigned to the Byron plant since the early 1990s. They concentrated heavily on the inspectors' actions in 2007, when Byron engineers began scrutinizing pipe sections, called risers, that were partly buried in concrete in a below-ground vault.

Plant engineers performed ultrasonic tests on the thickness of the risers. Originally, the pipe walls were three-eighths of an inch thick, but over the span of three tests, engineers stepped the acceptable thickness down to three-hundredths of an inch -- equivalent to seven sheets of paper.

Mulley's team found that the NRC's on-site inspectors had not checked the Byron engineers' work even though repeated drops in safety margin should have been a red flag. Corrosion in Byron's essential water system had been discussed in plant meetings, and because testing the risers required repeated use of a crane to gain access, inspectors should have suspected something.

"The NRC is supposed to -- if they're overseeing this thing -- take a look at it and say, 'Oh, wait a minute, what's going on?'" Mulley said. "But obviously, they didn't look at that one."

Mulley found that NRC's on-site inspectors had repeated opportunities to check the pipes over the years but had not done so. In interviews, the inspectors told Mulley's investigators that they had been busy with other work. Although inspectors had preformed a required number of equipment checks, Mulley's report found that their inability to set priorities was a weakness in the inspection program.

The NRC, it turns out, had received a warning about a similar pipe break at the Vendellos nuclear plant in Spain, Mulley's team discovered. Peter B. Lyons, then an NRC commissioner, had even mentioned the Vendellos break in a speech, saying the agency was on top of the problem. But the word was never sent to NRC inspectors in the field, Mulley found.

"I don't think anybody up there was purposely saying, 'Hey, this is not so important,'" Mulley said of the Vendellos information. "I think they knew it was important. I think they intended to. I don't think anybody followed up on it, and then it falls into the cracks."

Report Revised, Kept From Public

Because the Byron incident touched broadly on NRC inspection policies, Mulley opened his case as an Event Inquiry -- a report normally intended for release to Congress and the public. He stayed on after retirement to complete it, submitting it in 2009 with some tough conclusions.

The NRC "provided little meaningful regulatory oversight of corrosion of piping in the Byron essential service water system, one of Byron's most risk significant systems," his version states. Moreover, the NRC "did not take full advantage of lessons learned" from Vendellos.

Mulley said no one raised questions.

"The report languished for a year," he said. "Nobody ever got back to me once to let me know, although I emailed them asking what's going on, what's happening with this thing."

Then, in September 2010, the inspector general's office issued a new version. Mulley's draft had been thoroughly rewritten, and although the facts were similar, the conclusions were not.

The report said NRC oversight "was not successful" and that guidance for inspectors "was not specific enough," but pointedly blamed Exelon for the inspectors' failings.

"Although the (NRC) resident inspectors carried out routine oversight responsibilities in accordance with agency requirements, the licensee's failure to analyze a problem correctly resulted in the resident inspector's lack of awareness of a significant problem," it states.

By contrast, Mulley's version squarely faults NRC inspectors and procedures.

"From 2000 to 2007, the NRC did not conduct any documented inspection activity of essential service water piping," it states, while inspectors "provided no regulatory review … to support the licensee's lowering of the acceptable minimum wall thickness" in the piping.

The revised report did not mention Vendellos or the NRC's failure to inform inspectors about it. And instead of being issued publicly, the report was classified for internal use only.

"I was amazed," Mulley said. "This had never happened before in all my years."

Mulley said the official report left out systemic problems his team uncovered and was not published so that shortcomings in NRC oversight would be hidden from the public and Congress.

"I think changes that could have been made, pressure that could have been applied to improve the process, improve our oversight, are not going to be done," Mulley said.

'We Stand by the Report'

Byron Nuclear Plant (Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty Images)Brenner, the NRC spokesman, said the commission has upgraded procedures as a result of its own review of the Byron incident. In particular, he said inspectors were told to prioritize inspections of areas that had limited access and of equipment that repeatedly degraded, like the pipes at Byron.

McMillan declined to answer any specific questions about the Byron report because the matter has been referred to the Council of the Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency, which has the authority to investigate allegations of wrongdoing against inspectors general.

He said he believed the Byron case was handled appropriately. "We can have disagreements over how the reports are handled," he said, "but at the end of the day, we stand by the report."

A spokesman for the council's integrity committee said he could not comment. Marshall Murphy, an Exelon spokesman, also declined to comment. The company previously has said it improved procedures after the pipe rupture at Byron.

The significance of a strong, independent inspector general is not lost on the NRC, which is struggling with how to respond to the Fukushima accident after a special agency task force called for a potentially far-reaching reworking of regulations covering catastrophic events.

Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, who has come under fire recently for pushing too fast on reforms, reflected on the inspector general's role in a statement last month.

The office, Jaczko said, "plays an important role in enabling the American people to continue to have confidence that my focus as chairman -- and the entire agency's focus -- is on effectively carrying out the NRC's vital safety mission."

Mulley said that mission is too vital for him to remain silent.

"I am coming forward because I spent my entire life, most of my professional life, doing this," he said. "We get the power to write these reports, we get the power to talk to you. We've got the power to go to (Capitol) Hill, at least keep it in line a little bit as much as we can.

"We can't be every place but at least try to keep them in line, and I think it's vital."

The U.S. nuclear industry can point to an enviable safety record—no member of the public has ever been injured by an accident at a plant.

And the end of the day, that says a lot. The proof is in the pudding.

@Mike H:  Your comment, and the attitude of the NRC, reminds me of the old joke about the construction worker who falls off a skyscraper while working on it.  As he plummets ever downward, fellow workers call out to him, “How’s it going?”  “So far, so good,” is always the reply.

Or the Onion headline of March 17, 2011: “Nuclear Energy Advocates Insist I.S. Reactors Completely Safe Unless Something Bad Happens.”

And finally, the old industry saw, that the one thing you DON’T want in the reactor control room during a nuclear accident is—an optimist.

Dave Lochbaum

July 27, 2011, 1:15 p.m.

I had the pleasure of working with George Mulley for over a decade when he was in the NRC Inspector General’s office and I at UCS. I took literally dozens of safety and security concerns to George. He substantiated fewer than half of the concerns. But I was satisfied every time because I knew George looked into each one with no preconceived notion. He called them as he saw them, not as he wanted to see them. His telling me that his efforts did not show a problem to exist was as when he reported back that problems existed. I could trust George to conduct an honest inquity and provide me an honest answer.

I very seldom take safety and security concerns to the NRC’s Inspector General. It’s simply not worth the time any more. The invaluable work that George and his colleagues conducted for the American public has been largely replaced by a hamster wheel—it doesn’t matter which direction they face or how face they move, they aren’t going anywhere. It’s a shame—the NRC’s Inspector General used to be the strongest ally that nuclear safety proponents could want.

Stephanie Palmer

July 27, 2011, 1:39 p.m.

In this country, business runs the show. Regardless of the danger and lack of security in the nuclear power business, the business is responsible for policing itself. No part of this industry should be in the hands of investors. As citizens of the United States, we should be the investors. There is too much opportunity for cutting corners and not reporting dangerous issues as was just shown by what happened at Fukeshima.  Does anyone doubt that that could happen here? If anyone does, I suggest you get your feet back on the ground and stop living in fantasy land.

Michael Mulligan

July 27, 2011, 1:45 p.m.

http://www.topix.com/forum/cityhttp://www.topix.com/forum/city/brattleboro-vt/TLSR2U5J4UG27JKLU/brattleboro-vt/TLSR2U5J4UG27JKLU/p5

This log illuminates my saga with the NRC OIG over the House Republicans going to war with the NRC and chairman Jazcko beginning with the teabagger takeover in the House. We knew the House Republicans were going to start WW III with the NRC and Jazcko with the intent to intimidate the NRC into softening regulations from even before they won the House.

Everything about the NRC OIG report over Yacca Mountain and chairman Jazcko speaks that the House Republicans have a lazer target light over every commissioner who doesn’t further reduce regulation with the nuclear plants…

You realize the House Republicans made a complaint to the NRC OIG at the turn of the year over Jazcko….I believe the NRC OIG answers more to the House Republicans than the OIG is suppose to answer to the chairman…

Gregg Stoerrle

July 27, 2011, 3:32 p.m.

Response To Stephanie Palmer
You are completely correct i am going through it right now with OSHA where after years of warning my employer of what i was uncovering with documentation and proof i contacted OSHA early 09.5 Weeks later fired after great record with the company.The employer was so arrogent they sent out on rent a five ton lift i just locked out unsafe with a major steering problem where you will lose control at any time with complete indisputible proof given to OSHA.This would have got Mr Goodwrench fired on the spot and his tools thrown at him at any other company. 15 months later a second technicion i trained leaves a message on my home answer machine and states(gregg every thing you said about (company)was right everything buddy.Im so worried of what im finding im taking picturies including in the refineries to cover my ass,maybe ill hear from ya).Called him back and even told me how they were coached on what to say to OSHA about me.Then 5 months later a third technicion comes forward but is so worried the company might find out he has the OSHA investigator checked out by his wife a state trooper.We had almost no support from OSHA whistleblower protection program and there is so much more to this story.We have turned to youtube to warn other whistleblowers not to count on OSHA for protection.You can find them under(OSHA whistleblower)in four parts.They do not cover how we were retaliated against but there will be more videos.AS for the four lifts i locked out in the video the company sent a second one into a sunco refinery.OSHA new this! That was a five ton tank rolling around a refinery that could lose its steering at any moment and these machines do not have a brake pedal they are controled by computer and stop at a predetermend distantance depending on the speed your traveling.I provided OSHA INDISPUTIBLE DOCUMENTATION OF THIS!!!!!!!!!!
Trust me you have no protection with OSHA!

Gregg Stoerrle
PROUD NAVY DAD

Gregg Stoerrle

July 27, 2011, 3:34 p.m.

You are completely correct i am going through it right now with OSHA where after years of warning my employer of what i was uncovering with documentation and proof i contacted OSHA early 09.5 Weeks later fired after great record with the company.The employer was so arrogent they sent out on rent a five ton lift i just locked out unsafe with a major steering problem where you will lose control at any time with complete indisputible proof given to OSHA.This would have got Mr Goodwrench fired on the spot and his tools thrown at him at any other company. 15 months later a second technicion i trained leaves a message on my home answer machine and states(gregg every thing you said about (company)was right everything buddy.Im so worried of what im finding im taking picturies including in the refineries to cover my ass,maybe ill hear from ya).Called him back and even told me how they were coached on what to say to OSHA about me.Then 5 months later a third technicion comes forward but is so worried the company might find out he has the OSHA investigator checked out by his wife a state trooper.We had almost no support from OSHA whistleblower protection program and there is so much more to this story.We have turned to youtube to warn other whistleblowers not to count on OSHA for protection.You can find them under(OSHA whistleblower)in four parts.They do not cover how we were retaliated against but there will be more videos.AS for the four lifts i locked out in the video the company sent a second one into a sunco refinery.OSHA new this! That was a five ton tank rolling around a refinery that could lose its steering at any moment and these machines do not have a brake pedal they are controled by computer and stop at a predetermend distantance depending on the speed your traveling.I provided OSHA INDISPUTIBLE DOCUMENTATION OF THIS!!!!!!!!!!
Trust me you have no protection with OSHA!

Gregg Stoerrle
PROUD NAVY DAD

The Bushies spent a lot of time appointing political hacks to career jobs across federal agencies. The goal was to permeat the agencies with incompetent persons who had no intention on enforcing the laws and regulations on industry. It is clear, that those irresponsible actions are leading to real dangers to american safety and eroding american’s cofidence that govt can function. This is the repug goal “BIG ENOUGH TO FAIL, and hastening the demise of a functioning federal govt.

One problem I have with the article is the reference to 40-years as the “design life”.  The 40 year period is arbitrary, and has no clear technical basis.  This is especially true given that plant equipment is replaced as necesssary.  Engineers see no reason why the plants can’t be run for 60 years or even more.  There’s no reason why the site, and the large (passive) structures can’t be used indefinitely.  When are we planning on tearing down the Empire State Building and the Hoover Dam because they’re “too old to be safe”.

Dave Kraft,

Your logic would be sound if the consequences of a severe nuclear accident were so bad that “it only takes one”, i.e., it only takes one for nuclear’s health and environmental consequences to exceed those of the main (fossil fuel) alternatives, over a long time frame.  In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

The consequences of even a severe nuclear accident are puny compared to the ANNUAL consequences of fossil fuel use, and such severe accidents (like Fukishima) only occur once every 40 years or so.  Worldwide, fossil fuel power plants cause ~1000 deaths every single day, along with global warming.  Nobody is projecting anywhere near that level of consequence (deaths) from Fukishima.

One final thing to note (given the stark contrast between fossil fuels and nuclear discussed above).  If you tighten up nuclear regulations and standards to the point where it is never used, and fossil fuels are used instead, you are not making the public safer.  You’re increasing public health and safety risks, and environmental impacts.  What we really need, of course, are far stricter requirements on fossil fuels.

I have great respect for Dave Lochbaum’s views, and he has had far more contact with George Mulley than I have over the years.  But my last contact with Mulley was when I was asking OIG to look at the fact that the NRC staff, in a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, had seriously misrepresented the findings of a National Academies of Science report on potassium iodide.  (This produced an extremely sharp response from HHS Secretary Michael Leavitt.)  Mulley, who at the time was Allegations Coordinator, told me that OIG declined to look at the allegation.  He explained, in more or less these words:  “The first thing we do is ask what federal statute has been violated.  And there is nothing in the U.S. Code that makes it a crime to lie to another federal agency.”  The NRC could not have continued to misinform other federal agencies and the public for so many years without OIG’s consistent refusal to look at these events.  From my point of view, George Mulley was not the crusading housecleaner, making sure OIG did its job, but very much part of the problem.  I wish that the attitude he is displaying now had been more in evidence when he was in a position to do something about it. 
  —Peter Crane, Counsel for Special Projects, USNRC (retired)

JimHopf - wrong there are people that predict more deaths - I cant believe your caviler attitude toward the disaster and the effects of the inevitable 40 year event as you put it - you either dont live anywhere close to a plant or your one of the regulators that feel were all stupid and or expendable - see below
The European Committee on Radiation Risk argues that existing risk models used by the NRC do not take internal exposure into account. High rates of internal exposure will mean a dramatic increase in cancer risk for Fukushima residents, with as many as 400,000 cases predicted by 2061.

Say No to Nuclear Power –

Speaking of stealing from your grandkids - Radiation in the leading cause of Cancer in the World the NRC should be stripped of its police state powers and not allowed to issue permits without public hearing and full health studies to the population
The American Academy of Sciences 2008 “Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation” report claims that there is no safe level of radiation exposure.
The European Committee on Radiation Risk argues that existing risk models used by the NRC do not take internal exposure into account. High rates of internal exposure will mean a dramatic increase in cancer risk for Fukushima residents, with as many as 400,000 cases predicted by 2061.

The Office of Science Financial Assistance Program Notice 99-14; Low Dose Radiation Research Program states, “each unit of radiation, no matter how small, can cause cancer and most of the projected radiation exposures associated with human activity over the next 100 years will be to low dose and low dose-rate radiation from medical tests, waste clean-up, and environmental isolation of materials associated with nuclear weapons and nuclear power production. “

A study commissioned by the German Federal Office for Radiation Protection titled “Epidemiological Study of Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants” proves that young children develop cancer more frequently when they live near nuclear power plants.

The American Cancer society states “Ionizing radiation”  is a proven human carcinogen (cancer causing agent). The evidence for this comes from many different sources, including studies of atomic bomb survivors in Japan, people exposed during the Chernobyl nuclear accident, people treated with high doses of radiation for cancer and other conditions, and people exposed to radiation at work, such as uranium miners and nuclear plant workers. “They go on to say, “people living near or downwind of nuclear facilities may also be exposed to radioactive byproducts. Levels of radiation are likely to be higher near these sites, but some radioactive particles enter the atmosphere and travel great distances, landing thousands of miles away from the facility.”

Whether the industry does or does not choose to acknowledge it, the nuclear age is over. Jeremy Riftkin explains this very well. There were always other choices for energy. I would love to be able to live in a country or a state which does not include a risk of the fallout from errant nuc plants, but I am afraid that there is no where on Earth to go, not as long as we are living with this insanity. The ground will never hold still for containment-never. A brief education in Earth Science will teach you this if you haven’t already figured it out. The climate patterns will always change. There are also astronomical risks too numerous to mention. I feel so sorry for the youth of Japan and of all nations who chose to engage in the high risk, short-sighted life style of the modern age. Obviously, they don’t care what we think or feel on this matter.
Watch this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LethPJ9Vd8Y&feature=share

I suggest Georgy Mulley file a whistleblower disclosure with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) per 5 U.S.C. section 1213.  It will likely result in OSC directing NRC investigate the matter of the squeching of Mr. Mulley’s draft report and its conclusionsin a much more accountable, public, way, that keeps Mr. Mulley ‘in the loop.”

I don’t understand how a pipe that starts life at 375 thousandths could still be acceptable when the wall thickness was reduced to 30 thousandths. That’s a reduction of more than an order of magnitude! Obviously the engineers at Byron were pushed by their higher-ups to save money. However, I want to know what the incentive is for the NRC. Or is the problem gross incompetence?

Mike Mulligan

July 30, 2011, 8:35 a.m.

Everything in the industry revolves a engineering calculation called risk perspectives. Nobody in the cosmos understands what the hell they are talking about. I call it the “nothing ever matters” safety rationale. There is never enough incentive to change behavior until a accident happened. They hijacked real science away from us.

Lyle Courtsal

Aug. 2, 2011, 4:46 p.m.

A 35% increase in infant mortality is being reported in west coast US cities after fukushima cloud passed over west coast US (alexanderhiggins blog). RADNET access shut down but not before cloud spike levels recorded 3/20/11. Higgins shows that EPA radnet contractor was a Bush company so sensors not calibrated and read artificially low; nazi fox in henhouse. Cloud materials concentrated in rainfall San Francisco to 131 times acceptable level. Report out at http://www.snakeriveralliance.org shows we can do energy future without coal and nuclear by going wind/solar/tidal, walking/biking, and conserving.

The U.S. nuclear industry can point to an enviable safety record—no member of the public has ever been injured by an accident at a plant.

And the end of the day, that says a lot. The proof is in the pudding.

Really? What about Three Mile Island back in 1979?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Mile_Island_accident_health_effects

@ Josh

And, for the record, how many people were injured as a result of TMI?

Oh, thats right, none.

All this for naught! China using a pooling of the finest Asian minds, has invested amounts U.S. researchers can only dream of, towards Thorium fueled, LFTR reactors. They seek, Thorium fueled, because Thorium is cheap and easy to refine, available even in desert, beach,  sands, safe to mine, simple to transport. LFTR cycled because: they need no pressure containers, they run at low pressure, they produce no humanocidal, undesposable, plutonium, they make waste dangerous for only three hundred years. All humankind prays for their success! Chinese government wishes to retain patents, keeping them out of Corporatist, Capitalists hands. After the proof positive of faulty design for American ‘pressure pot” reactors, a safer cheaper (10 times cheaper to build) LFTR reactor technology will be welcomed world -wide, and will replace all former American efforts at Corporate extortion, U.S, dollar dependence, in exchange for nuclear power.

Mike Mulligan

Aug. 4, 2011, 2:55 p.m.

“no member of the public has ever been injured by an accident at a plant.”

To make that statement true, you would have to add “no degreed” people have ever been killed at a civilian nuclear power plant. The nuclear industry people always wants to make little of the people at the bottom of the totem pole….humanity is according to income level and status. The nuclear industry never honors our dead and the hard lessens we learned from it…!

So what about those 4 lowly pipe fiiters and insulation people who got scalded to death at the Surry plant in 1986! Ever had a tear over their deaths!

@ Mike Mulligan


To make that statement true, you would have to add “no degreed” people have ever been killed at a civilian nuclear power plant.

Member of the public does not include people who are exposed to occupational risks at the plant. The nuclear industry has the LOWEST loss time incident rate and the LOWEST fatality rate for any industry. More workers die every year working on wind turbines then have EVER died from nuclear power.

Mike Mulligan

Aug. 4, 2011, 4:31 p.m.

Well, I can make a case the nuclear plant construction and operational incompetence of the 1970’s ending in TMI led to hurting a lot of public people, when we lost confidence in the nuclear industry and mostly stopped new construction. Just like currently integrity issues are impacting the new nukes and public acceptance, which right now, is in a state of collapse….

Man, the nuclear industry is good at language gaming and hiding behind their high security fences…

Just like now saying there was no nuclear deaths associated with Fukushima with over 100,000 people still in evacuation…

 


Nobody I know trust the enforcement, both state and federal, with the enforcement of OHSA accident reportability requirements…

@ Mike Mulligan

Nobody I know trust the enforcement, both state and federal, with the enforcement of OHSA accident reportability requirements…

Thats right its all a massive conspiracy to make your argument look foolish.

Mike Mulligan

Aug. 5, 2011, 1:44 p.m.

Mike H,

Apparently, Ronald Reagan is still alive!

http://www.southernstudies.org/2011/07/workplace-deaths-raise-questions-about-osha-experiment-in-self-regulation.html

Workplace deaths raise questions about OSHA experiment in self-regulation

@ Mike Mulligan

I am intimately familair with OSHA’s Voluntary Protection Program, in fact it is no small part of what I do. So tell me, left unsaid in that piece of “investigative journalism” you linked to is the following question: Do VPP participants operate their plants more or less safely than non VPP participants?.

I know what the answer is, and I suspect the author of that embarrassingly superficial article knows the answer too which would explain why he never mentioned it. And FYI, VPP facilities are an order of magnitude safer than their non VPP counterparts.

In the biz we call an argument like the one you just put forth as an “EPIC FAIL”.

I tell ya what though, come at it again, I’ll give ya a mulligan.

Mike Mulligan

Aug. 5, 2011, 5:10 p.m.

Mike,

Did you ever read my childhood book ‘Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel’?

I’ll bet you I am the only one who ever made a complaint to OHSA on this site concerning safety at a facility with many people. I caught Wall Mart Hinsdale NH not doing their required daily OHSA safety inspections on all driver fork lifts and all their walk along electric fork lifts, among other issues. It was in our computer safety training module and nobody even sighed off on the machine sign off sheets for a year on any of the equipment. The whole region was like this. Got OSHA to write them a warning letter! Now that takes guts!

Right, as with this and all of the NRC, we are under a ideological and corporate deregulation shield.

How about be a gentleman and throwing me a decent independent report…a link about OHSA Voluntary Protection Program….

You know, the media and newspaper cycle is so slow now a days…?

Mike Mulligan

Aug. 5, 2011, 5:12 p.m.

Mike my friend,

Did you ever read my childhood book ‘Mike Mulligan and His Steamshovel’?

I’ll bet you I am the only one who ever made a complaint to OHSA on this site concerning safety at a facility with many people. I caught Wall Mart Hinsdale NH not doing their required daily OHSA safety inspections on all driver fork lifts and all their walk along electric fork lifts, among other issues. It was in our computer safety training module and nobody even sighed off on the machine sign off sheets for a year on any of the equipment. The whole region was like this. Got OSHA to write them a warning letter! Now that takes guts!

Right, as with this and all of the NRC, we are under a ideological and corporate deregulation shield.

How about be a gentleman and throwing me a decent independent report…a link about OHSA Voluntary Protection Program….

You know, the media and newspaper cycle is so slow now a days…?

Mike H-
I believe you are way behind the learning curve. This technology, including LFTR technology, is now archaic. Why do you push it? Corporations don’t even want to invest in it. Again, read or listen to Jeremy Riftkin’s interviews. I have posted links above. The cost is much too high, it is completely deadly, and the volume of water needed to maintain the plants, no longer fits the current model of available water. We are in a post-Fukushima and active climatically changing world-and how would you address NOAA’s recent articles about the massive solar storms expected to hit for ten years, within ten years? Hello!!! The nuclear age has come to an end. Wasn’t it always obvious? It was to SO many of us-after all, it’s not organic! When the whole world is talking about going green, there are still folks like you peddling the radioactive snake oil, as a remedy to an already fully nuked world. Trust us, we have enough radiation to clean up right now (used fuel). The last thing we need is to continue to live with blinders on. I have my doubts as to whether we can even survive the current damage-much less continuing this stupidity.
Thank you for the chance to get this off of my chest. It is just getting so old-ahhhhh. This nonsensical technology had 70 years to straighten itself out and it always failed to do so. I am old even to know and I am Fin!

Thorium fueled LFTR reactors - Chemist’s reactors in the midst of the Physicist dominated American thinking. This narrow-minded, “My way or the highway” styled, full blinkers on, “conclude” for political convenience, forge ahead in one direction only, thinking that puts far too much faith in older science and leaves it untested, has resulted in the faulty designs at Fuckoshima.
For example:America once led the world in Automotive technologies. America designed and built Oldsmobiles, Packard’s, Hudson’s, Desoto’s, Pontiac’s, Nash, Studebaker’s, Mercury’s.  Single-mindedness in design, sales, and manufacture, and the inability to “think outside the box’ by American designers, caused American corporations to miss the boat, and let Honda,  Hyundai, Toyota, Subaru, Suzuki, with more progressive, open thinking designers with wider scope, to absolutely devastate the American Automotive supremacy, as will the Chemist’s LFTR reactors or a similar “out of the box” based design from China.
FACTOID: China has CANDU reactor running on cheaper more plentiful thorium as we speak. Google Tsinghua University, pebble bed gas reactor - China has one of these up and running, and they are so safer, cheaper to build, decommission-able, more efficient than the typical, faulty, dangerous, American designed, Uranium fueled, Plutonium producing, dangerous waste product producing, “tea-pot’ style reactors.

The notion that enough energy to satisfy the “American Dream” lifestyle from: Solar, Wind, Wave, Hydro, Tidal, Geothermal, Bio-mass, Anaerobic sewage digestion, Algae-diesel,  has been firmly rejected by the American population - Scientists have proven on paper, and by practical example, that a comfortable, sustainable, environmentally safe, healthy and happy life-style can be fully supported by these mostly renewable, or if you prefer, perpetual natural resources, and with space age super - insulation materials. But:  America has spoken! NIMBY was heard over the Scientists pleadings. America wants no less than McMansions, gasoline powered land-yacht cars, SUV’s, unhealthy, high meat, high fat, high sugar diets, lavish ‘throw-aways” for greater personal convenience, stylish clothing, violent TV shows, loud music, “glorious” clothing, little pressure in education, shorter work-weeks, higher pay, plentiful drugs, alcohol, long vacations abroad by airplane, lavish cash oriented retirements, job security, financial security, national security, and more!
All these demands cannot be met by perpetual or renewable resources. Meeting these requirements, the requirements Corporate America must pander to, in order to generate ROI for shareholders, will require alternate energy sources. The cheapest, fastest, after conquests for oil, is Nuclear Energy - the next best, cheapest, means of producing 24/7 electricity. This is the “real” direction America takes, regardless of some altruistic horse-Shiite we may encounter. More Uranium fueled reactors of the “tea-pot’ style typical of the Fuckoshima reactors will so be built, and on continental U.S.A. Demand for cheaper faster higher power levels from the American people will make this so. Remember: expediency rules the day in America, not common sense, not national interests, not altruism, not even good health. This is the American way.

Lyle Courtsal

Aug. 12, 2011, 3:55 p.m.

Wakee, wakee, We can do a future without nuclear power. Are you listening to the reallity of the situation or just the money talking? europeans are still rational; when will we ever be? See previous post. How would energy future including precautionary principle work?
The healthiest stuff first and the most poisonous last. The way I see it nuclear power is last because it has potential to mutate all complex lifeforms on the planet;HELLO! RATIONAL BRAIN, BIG PICTURE!

I don’t get it why nobody understands. The single determination for nuclear safety, overcoming global warming and to secure our energy future is to have sufficient income for the bottom half of the population of the USA.

The planet doesn’t have a energy problem, it is a income problem in our system…

Well, our debts overwhelm us and suppress our efficient and just economy…

It is really a failure of our imagination in ours and the world’s monetary system…

Once again, cloaked mouth-pieces touting LFTR reactors!  Let China make their power plants…they will be just as safe as their baby formula!  They must first prove that their products are safe because so far they are riddled with problems and everyone knows it. If they aren’t even concerned about their own babies (en masse) then how in the hell can you expect them to be cautious about radioactivity?

Get a clue people. The rich don’t care if the monetary system doesn’t work for the poor-it is fine for them! There will be no change of system-it is a great plan for them. they get to keep our money in their banks. Wake up!  No one cares if a couple of million people get cancer and die from reactors and other forms of radioactive fallout and pollution!  They even call the people who are giving their lives to save others Liquidators!  We are at around seven billion in population and most know the planet would be better served if there were far less of us-heck we all know this. Do you really think “they” wish to save our lives?  I for one, do not think so.

If, at the very least, we do not allow radiation to be part of our conversation-part of our reality and our future-NO MATTER how much less polluting LFTR is or other similar forms of power-then we will be far safer. By the way, the mining that it takes for these LFTR reactors is still deadly for the ecosystem and peoples who live near the mining operations. The only reason they are pushing LFTR reactors is the abundance of the key ingredient ...“Thorium is a naturally-occurring, slightly radioactive metal discovered in 1828 by the Swedish chemist Jons Jakob Berzelius, who named it after Thor, the Norse god of thunder. It is found in small amounts in most rocks and soils, where it is about three times more abundant than uranium. Soil commonly contains an average of around 6 parts per million (ppm) of thorium.

Thorium-232 (Th-232) decays very slowly (its half-life is about three times the age of the Earth) but other thorium isotopes occur in its and in uranium’s decay chains. Most of these are short-lived and hence much more radioactive than Th-232, though on a mass basis they are negligible.
Since the nuc industry itself is not convinced of the use of LFTR, I am even more certain they don’t have a clue how to control radioactive materials….see below see all of Fairewinds.org, PSR.org,Union of Concerned Scientists, etc.etc….!

http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/inf62.html.

The rest of the world will follow if we lead. Sadly we are not leading anymore. There are no leaders and so you have the situation globally, where people are beginning to rebel against their unjust regimes. I hear a lot of men on this site, pushing nuclear…men, who are not being “Men”. Men should wish to protect their women and children and land and animal. Those of you who are participating in the further destruction of our planet, are going in the wrong direction and I have absolutely no respect for you-as you have no respect for life.

We are all leaders of a kind in our social spheres of influence. Out of the chaos emerges a message and people who hopefully will listen and respond adequately to dimensions of unfolding situation(s). The more we must remember, the more likely it is we momentarily forget; adequate brain nutrition for body/mind type crucial to prevent partial shutdown of more complex brain functions. What is important is to adequately respond to the major things we remember and move forward, even march sometimes in the rain. I luv the tao; what is it for you at this moment? Pray and watch it change again.
    Ithaca hours barter system exchange rate; $10/hr. Love ya, Lyle
What’s your labor worth today?

“The U.S. nuclear industry can point to an enviable safety record—no member of the public has ever been injured by an accident at a plant.”


Yet or that we know of!!!
<a >Beyerdynamic T 50 P</a>

This article is part of an ongoing investigation:
Nuclear Safety

Nuclear Safety

With the disaster in Japan, we're investigating questions about nuclear safety.

The Story So Far

Following a massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan, hydrogen explosions rocked three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Radioactive spent fuel stored in pools was also affected, especially at one reactor—the plant has a total of six—where multiple fires erupted. Evacuation orders were issued, potassium iodine tablets distributed, and plant employees used seawater and external electrical power to cool the stricken reactors, three of which had a partial core meltdown.

More »

Get Updates

Stay on top of what we’re working on by subscribing to our email digest.

optional

Our Hottest Stories

  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •  
  •