Amsterdam is currently hosting 53 world leaders participating in the 3rd Nuclear Security Summit, a perfunctory gathering where world leaders feign interest in dealing with enormous nuclear stockpiles and radioactive materials. This year, participants were able to demonstrate their world-leader-worthiness playing highly competitive video games simulating nuclear attacks, an exercise which was not appreciated by certain participants, mainly Angela Merkel. The Telegraph reported:
The German chancellor grumbled at being asked to play games and take tests with the Prime Minister, US and Chinese presidents around a table with dozens of heads of state at a nuclear summit in The Hague.
Her complaints were overruled because Mr Obama was keen on the idea, and “in” on the surprise.
When asked about the video game, US officials said that the unconventional approach had been designed to give a “scare you to death” shock to make leaders seriously think about the security of nuclear materials
In the war game, played out by actors in a series of short films, a terrorist attack with an atomic “dirty bomb” takes place in the financial heart of an unnamed but Western metropolis. “It could be the City of London, or Wall Street, Milan or anywhere…” summit leaders were told. As the scenario unfolded, it emerged that the terrorists are from an unidentified global terror network and they have stolen nuclear material from an unidentified country that had poorly secured its radiological and nuclear stockpiles.
And, at a press junket later in the day, President Obama skillfully passed that shock along to the American people and the rest of the world, to once again hammer us with his super-scary anti-terrorist agenda (which usually just equates to more spying on US citizens or citizens/leaders in foreign countries, and does very little at actually preventing terrorist activities. See: Boston Bombing). He was quoted as saying:
“I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.“
And, from the looks of things online today, nothing gets the sheep stirred up quite like Manhattan Nuke Doom.
Safety and Security in a world full of loose nukes can be an agenda-aggregator for world leaders, if played appropriately. Because if people are afraid enough, they will allow all kinds of draconian measures to be passed, and without alot of annoying and disruptive questions (See: 911/Patriot Act). George W. Bush really excelled in this department.
What is not being discussed at this high-level Summit, which would be a perfect opportunity given the broad attendance of important people, is the Fukushima Accident, contamination of the Pacific Ocean, radionuclides in our food supply, and what the f*ck we (as a world) can do about it.
In previous years, the focus of the Summit was mainly Iran. This year, since Iran has become kinda-sorta-almost our friend, the threat has shifted to just a faceless terrorist cell. Scary and nameless, the broader the better.
Instead of reporting on these curiosities however, the mainstream news focused not only on the Manhattan Doom scenario, but an in-depth report on why blondes could not serve the delegation of world leaders their snacks.
So, in the interest of keeping things real, and since President Obama chose Manhattan as an example for his supposed ‘nuke scenario’, let’s take a closer look at the current radioactive threat in the New York area, and one that actually exists in real-time. It’s called:
Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) is a three-unit nuclear power plant station located in Buchanan, New York just south of Peekskill. It sits on the east bank of the Hudson River, 38 miles north of New York City. The plant is owned and operated by Entergy Nuclear Northeast, a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, and includes two operating Westinghouse pressurized water reactors – designated “Indian Point 2” and “Indian Point 3” – which Entergy bought from Consolidated Edison and the New York Power Authority respectively. The facility also contains the permanently shut-down Indian Point Unit 1 reactor.
There is a debate between Entergy and various opponents over whether the two Indian Point reactors should continue to operate beyond September 2013 and December 2015, when their respective initial forty-year operating licenses (!!!) are scheduled to expire. Entergy has applied for license extensions and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is moving toward granting a twenty-year extension for each reactor. Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo, however, wants them shut down at the end of their current license periods. As of midnight on September 28, 2013, Unit 2 has entered its “Period of Extended Operation” (PEO) until the NRC makes a final determination on its license renewal application.
In the event of a nuclear accident, this is an approximation of areas that would be affected:
So Manhattan has been under threat of massive nuclear bomb, that has been in place now for the past 40 years.
According to The New York Times, the Indian Point plant “has encountered a string of accidents and mishaps since its beginnings, and has appeared on the federal list of the nation’s worst nuclear power plants”. A 2003 report commissioned by then Governor George Pataki concluded that the “current radiological response system and capabilities are not adequate to…protect the people from an unacceptable dose of radiation in the event of a release from Indian Point.”
And, we have had a few close calls already. A few such incidents are listed in Wikipedia:
- In 1973, five months after Indian Point 2 opened, the plant was shut down when engineers discovered buckling in the steel liner of the concrete dome in which the nuclear reactor is housed.
- On October 17, 1980, 100,000 gallons of Hudson River water leaked into the Indian Point 2 containment building from the fan cooling unit, undetected by a safety device designed to detect hot water. The flooding, covering the first 9 feet of the reactor vessel, was discovered when technicians entered the building. Two pumps which should have removed the water were found to be inoperative.
- There was intense scrutiny of the Indian Point plant between 1993 and 1997, when it was on the Federal list of the nation’s worst nuclear power plants.
- In February 2000, the most serious incident at the plant occurred, when a small radioactive leak from a steam generator tube forced the plant to close for 11 months.
- In 2001, a series of leaks sprung up in non-nuclear parts of the plant.
- In 2005, Entergy workers while digging discovered a small leak in a spent fuel pool. Water containing tritium and strontium-90 was leaking through a crack in the pool building “and then finding its way into the nearby Hudson River.” Workers were able to keep the fuel rods “safely covered” despite the leak. On March 22, 2006 The New York Timesalso reported finding radioactive nickel-63 and strontium in groundwater on site.
- In 2007, a transformer at Unit 3 caught fire, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission raised its level of inspections, because the plant had experienced many unplanned shutdowns. According to The New York Times, Indian Point “has a history of transformer problems”.
- On January 7, 2010, NRC inspectors reported that an estimated 600,000 gallons of mildly radioactive steam was intentionally vented to the atmosphere after an automatic shutdown of Unit 2. After the vent, one of the vent valves unintentionally remained slightly open for two days. The levels of tritium in the steam were within the allowable safety limits defined in NRC standards.
- On November 7, 2010, an explosion occurred in the main transformer for Indian Point 2, spilling oil into the Hudson River. The owner of the Indian Point nuclear plant later agreed to pay a $1.2 million penalty for the transformer explosion.
Indian Point is not only a nuclear bomb waiting to go off, as you can see from the list of leaks, fires, and problems; it’s a 40-year old nuclear sh*thole, whose “GAME OVER” sign should have been flashing decades ago. And there are many similar nuclear sh*tholes around the US and the world – in fact, new ones are being built and promoted all the time, as they make energy companies very rich. Those energy execs all seem to have friends in high places too, which is how companies like GE get away with certain things, like not paying taxes. Anyway, the strange and ironic part of all of this, is that the nuke plants were built to generate Plutonium to make bombs in the first place. That was their purpose, sold to the public under the guise of electricity generation. So with what Obama revealed today, his “Sum of all fears” is this: a nuclear bomb (whose materials came from a nuke plant) may take out NYC, where one such nuke plant has existed for 40 years (and may have even generated the materials to make such a bomb). Along with thousands of tons more nuclear material and waste on site that could make tens of thousands more bombs. It doesn’t get any more surreal…except maybe if you are sitting around playing video games with world leaders at the Hague.
There are 104 operating reactors in the United States, all on major waterways except for one, all near population centers. Most are greater than 20 years of age, and contain 10,000 parts just in the reactor alone. Those parts don’t get replaced, unless they break. Always remember, all nuclear plants leak radiation, all of the time.
Health data from peer-reviewed scientific studies show unquestionable large increases in illness, sickness, and death in surrounding populations, such as higher miscarriage rates, birth defects, brain cancer, autism, auto-immune disorders, and excess mortality. Oh yeah, and lots of other cancers. But a nuclear event leading to a large scale release of radiation, such as Fukushima or Chernobyl, would cause the need to evacuate millions of people, in a city like New York.
Estimation for costs and cleanup of a nuclear disaster have been as high as $420 billion dollars, not to mention the large areas that would be uninhabitable for centuries, as in Japan and the Ukraine. New Yorkers would not be seeing their beloved city again for a very, very long time.
None of this is new. The safety issues arising from Indian Point and it’s proximity to New York City have been a sore-spot for activists and other people that care about the environment, their quality of their life, and the future health of their children, for a very long time. Since Fukushima, more and more people are casting a weary eye on this aged facility, as well as many, many others. Even Gregory Jaczko, who loved nuclear-everything so much he became Chairman of the NRC, recently stated: “The best solution is to sit down with all the interested stakeholders and think about a way to shut down the plant on a reasonable time frame.”
However, Mr Jaczko’s statements would likely fall on deaf ears at the Nuclear Summit, as radiation problems usually do, when it comes to politics (like Chernobyl, Windscale, Three Mile Island, Fukushima, or WIPP).
Besides, they are probably too busy playing video games and dreaming about terrorists to worry about any pesky 40-year old nuclear bombs in real-time. And stay away from those blondes, I hear they are dangerous.
Stay up-to-date on what’s happening at Indian Point on the Rock the Reactors facebook page.