March 12, 2011, WASHINGTON, D.C. (Coal Geology): The following comments were made today by U.S. nuclear experts on the rapidly evolving Japanese reactor crisis.
[ReviewAZON asin="0982684401" display="inlinepost"]Peter Bradford, former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission: ”An early tipoff that Japanese authorities felt that events at Fukushima were very serious was the ordering of an evacuation within a couple of hours of the earthquake. Though the area was small and the evacuation was called ‘precautionary,’ the fact is that ordering several thousand more people into motion during the immediate aftermath of a major earthquake and tsunami is something that no government would do if it could possibly help it. Neither Three Mile Island nor Chernobyl were accompanied by natural disasters. Even then, authorities were loathe to evacuate, in part because evacuations are themselves dangerous and in part because they are admissions of a major failure. But with natural disasters you have many people moving about in panic anyway. They have no place to go. Traffic lights aren’t working. Roads are closed. Transport is disrupted. Police have other responsibilities. Many are seeing to their own families. Only gravest danger would justify an evacuation at such a moment. The viability of US emergency plans at densely populated reactor sites may have to be reexamined to determine whether they can be implemented in the context of a nuclear accident precipitated by a natural disaster. This was always a theoretical possibility. Now it’s real.”
Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research: ”The Japanese authorities seem to be working from a standard nuclear industry playbook whose byline seems to be ‘What me worry?’ A frank appraisal of what is known and not known and the potential range of damage and consequences would be much more reassuring in that the public could at least have some confidence in the pronouncements of the authorities. That range could run from moderate to serious to catastrophic – at present it is just too difficult to tell, not least because official verbal reassurances about low radiation levels stand in stark contrast to repeated increases in the radius of evacuations.”
Ira Helfand, MD, board member, Physicians for Social Responsibility: “It is not known how much radiation has been or will ultimately be released from the damaged Daiichi nuclear reactor in Japan, but as found by the National Academy Sciences, any exposure to radiation increases a person’s risk of cancer. No one, including the plants operators, can say what is going to happen, and potentially millions of people are in harm’s way. The Japanese government should be preparing for the worst-case scenario. After one year of operation, a commercial nuclear reactor contains 1000 times as much radioactivity as was released by the Hiroshima bomb. From a public health perspective, the most important isotopes are short-lived isotopes of iodine (like Iodine-131), Cesium-137, Strontium-90, and possibly Plutonium-239. Radioactive iodine caused thousands of cases of thyroid cancer in children after the Chernobyl accident. Cesium and strontium cause a number of different kinds of cancer and remain dangerous for hundreds of years; plutonium causes lung cancer as well as other types of cancer and remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years.”
The experts may be contacted over the weekend as follows:
|802-824- 4296 (land)|
Peter A. Bradford is a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and former chair of the Maine and New York utility commissions. He teaches energy policy and law at the Vermont Law School and has taught at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.
Robert Alvarez is a senior scholar at IPS, where he is focused on nuclear disarmament, environmental, and energy policies. Between 1993 and 1999, Mr. Alvarez served at the Department of Energy as a Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary and deputy assistant secretary for National Security and the Environment. In 1994 and 1995, Bob led teams in North Korea to establish control of nuclear weapons materials. He coordinated nuclear material strategic planning for the department and established the department’s first asset management program.
Kenneth Bergeron is a physicist and former Sandia scientist who worked on nuclear reactor accident simulation. Bergeron is the author of “Tritium on Ice: The Dangerous New Alliance of Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Power.”
|Dr. Ira Helfand, MD|
|(413) 584-5933 (land)|
Ira Helfand, MD, is a member of the board of Physicians for Social Responsibility. He is an expert on nuclear power, nuclear waste, and radiation exposure issues.
Tom Clements is Southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth. He is a leader in the campaign to prevent new nuclear reactors from being built in the U.S. and can speak to how the reactors involved in the emergency in Japan compare to those that exist and that are proposed in the U.S.
|Dr. Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D.|
|(301) 509-6843 (cell)|
|(301) 365-6723 (land)|
Arjun Makhijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental research, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley. He has produced many studies and articles on nuclear fuel cycle related issues, including weapons production, testing, and nuclear waste, over the past twenty years.
Damon Moglen is director of the climate and energy project of Friends of the Earth. He has extensive expertise on nuclear issues and the nuclear industry in Japan. For more than a decade, Moglen ran Greenpeace’s International’s plutonium campaign, including more than a year spent inside Japan focused on nuclear issues.
|Aileen Mioko Smith|
Alieen Mioko Smith, Executive Green Action, in Kyoto, Japan, is a long-time activist in Japan on nuclear power issues who lived near Three Mile Island from 1980-82. She is currently visiting the United States.
|301-270-2209 ext. 1 (land)|
Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear specializes in high-level waste management and transportation; new and existing reactors; decommissioning; Congress watch; climate change; federal subsidies.
Michael Mariotte is executive director and the chief spokesperson for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service. He has led the organization for 20 years, making numerous television appearances and having been widely quoted in the press. He has testified before the United States Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives on radioactive waste transportation; radioactive metals “recycling;” the future of the nuclear power industry; “one-step” reactor licensing and other issues.
A streaming audio replay of a related media briefing will be available on the Web at http://www.foe.org as of 4 p.m. EST on March 12, 2011.
For additional background information, please refer to http://www.psr.org/nuclear-bailout/japan-earthquakenuclear.pdf.
MEDIA CONTACT: Ailis Aaron Wolf, (703) 276-3265 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
SOURCE Physicians for Social Responsibility, Washington, D.C.; Friends of the Earth, Washington, D.C.
Web Site: http://www.foe.org