The news seems to be coming fast and hard these days, with some being more important than others. In Washington DC, hearings were held yesterday on Benghazi and the role that Hillary Clinton played while she was Secretary of State. This has been a big talking point for the Republicans for years now, who feel that she had a role in the death of a US diplomat and several of the soldiers that attempted to rescue him. And while Clinton has been able to deflect any allegations of wrongdoing so far, the impression that she had something to do with the attack on the US embassy in Libya has stuck with many Americans. And while the hearings have been front page news for sometime, how many people in the United States know that there is a fire that is creeping ever so close to a nuclear waste facility? In fact, it is about one football field away? And that this fire has been burning for years?
The Australian News website is reporting that- “….the fire at Bridgeton Landfill, near St. Louis has been burning since at least 2010, and a plan for a worst-case scenario was developed only a year ago and was never publicized until last week”. That’s right. A fire in a landfill has been burning for nearly 5 years. Furthermore, authorities have been unable to put it out. The website goes on to say that — “Directly next to Bridgeton Landfill is West Lake Landfill. The West Lake facility was contaminated with radioactive waste from uranium processing by a St. Louis company. The nuclear waste was illegally dumped in 1973 and includes material that dates back to the Manhattan Project, which created the first atomic bomb in the 1940s.” Crazy right. The nuclear waste problem from 60s some years ago still hasn’t been solved? And now it could be an even bigger problem today? The article notes that — “If the underground fire reaches the waste, “there is a potential for radioactive fallout to be released in the smoke plume and spread throughout the region”. The plan calls for evacuations and development of emergency shelters. Private and volunteer groups, and perhaps the Federal government, would be called upon to help, depending on the severity of the emergency. Did you get that wording? The severity of the emergency dictates who would respond. First it would be private groups (who are these private groups?), the second group would be volunteers, and the third group to respond would be the Federal government. So, basically, the government would only step-in in a last resort manner, if the other two groups failed. That’s a reassuring thought, right? But this isn’t the only case where nuclear safety issues have made the news in the last week.
The Wall Street Journal reported that — “A national radiation-monitoring system enhanced after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks isn’t working as intended, with nearly three-quarters of stations not checking for a type of radiation in real time, including ones in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.” The article goes on to note that — “Environmental Protection Agency officials confirmed 99 of 135 beta-radiation sensors in its RadNet system—which monitors in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico—aren’t working and have been turned off.” Yup, you heard that last part right. A system that was designed to make the lives of everyday Americans safer doesn’t work, so the Feds just turned it off. The newspaper goes on to note that — “Officials blame electromagnetic interference from sources such as cellphone towers and said efforts to resolve the problem have been unsuccessful.” Questioning this decision, Daniel Hirsch, a lecturer on nuclear policy at the University of California, Santa Cruz, asked-“If real-time beta measurements were unnecessary, why did the government spend money installing the capability in the first place?”
Putting the two stories together, maybe this is why as the Australian News website reports — “Last month, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster said he was troubled by new reports about the site. One found radiological contamination in trees outside the landfill’s perimeter.” That’s right. It appears that there is at least a small radiation leak, leading to at least enough contamination that a State Attorney General would become aware of it, but without the sensors working, the Feds can neither confirm, nor deny this story. Convenient, right?
Or maybe the radiation-detecting sensors were turned off because, as the Shanghai daily reports — “West Coast of North America to be Slammed by 2016 with 80% As Much Fukushima Radiation As Japan”. That’s right. We are back to the Fukushima story. You know, the Nuclear disaster that was the worst accident in recent history only to be somewhat white-washed out of existence. Let’s just forget for a moment that it still hasn’t been fixed. That it is still pouring radiation into the Pacific Ocean. That experts still don’t know how to solve this problem or even where the cores might be. Forget that the Pacific Ocean has had massive animal die-offs since 2011, from the little creatures in the food chain all the way up to the big guys. For instance, FukushimaWatch has noted that — “Whales have been dropping like flies in the Gulf of Alaska.
Approximately nine whale carcasses were sited in late May and early June. Now, fisherman have spotted five more decomposing whales, a fin whale and four humpbacks, to add to the death toll.” And that is just Alaska. Stories up and down America’s local West Coast newspapers tell the same tale. Stories of mysterious large-scale animal die-offs with questionable causes of death. Like the rare Oarfish in Southern California. Or the seabirds in Oregon. Or the Sea Lion pups in Washington. Or the dead Walruses. and the list goes on and on and on.
Deutsche Welle is reporting that the UK has just signed a deal with China and France to “to build the first new nuclear power station in a generation in the UK. According to England, it's a strategic move to help keep the lights on long term.” In fact, it goes on to report that — “The government in London said it believed the project would secure reliable low-carbon electricity and create many new jobs.” So, there you have it. It seems as if governments around the world have chosen nuclear power stations to fulfil their energy needs, but have they taken the risks into account?
So, what do you think dear listeners-“Should the world pursue nuclear energy?”