Editorials

“Minnesota Bridge Collapse Could Have Been Nuclear Reactor” by Royce Penstinger

“First, our heartfelt concerns and prayers go out to the people of Minneapolis, Minnesota tonight as they deal with this horrible human tragedy. Watching the staggering devastation as it unfolds on CNN, it is a miracle that the loss of human life has not been far greater. The helpfulness of average citizens has been remarkable, and the response of Minneapolis’s emergency crews has been sterling. Sadly, it seems the same cannot be said of DHS (Department of Homeland Security) and FEMA, who hours later apparently do not yet have boots on the ground at this devastating tragedy. How hard would it be for DHS, FEMA, the FBI and other agencies of the Federal Government to have boots on the ground, offering help in Minneapolis’s hour of need? It is noted here that the National Guard is on the scene, and they and other local emergency service agencies deserve our debt of gratitude. Pity President Bush has not even bothered to issue a statement at this late hour, but then not surprising.

FOX News did an interview with someone from the MDOT in which he discussed some of the potential causes of this catastrophic collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge near University Avenue. His first assumptions lead one to believe the cause and effect has to do with cracks and fissures, rust and other degradation and aging issues, coupled with poorly executed inspections by government charged with the task of PUBLIC SAFETY. So, a concrete and steel structure is taken down in the blink of an eye due to structural aging issues, steel fatigue, and perhaps embrittlement of the concrete. These significant aging issues, coupled with a deplorable inspection and/or enforcement program have left people dead, maimed and injured. Families have been devastated all because the government failed to do its job properly, failed to carry out and/or implement and adequate inspection program.

This early report on possible causes of the bridge collapse is a frightening eye-opener for those of us living within a scant few miles of America’s 104 aging, embrittled and fatigued nuclear reactors. The NRC, in pushing a Nuclear Renaissance agenda, has pushed human health and safety to the sidelines, putting corporate profits ahead of adequate inspections, honest and truthful enforcement. This reality, the NRC’s rubber-stamping of license renewal applications of ancient nuclear structures amounts to our Federal Government, DOE, NRC and the NEI (Nuclear Energy Institute) playing Russian Roulette with public health and safety, and as this tragedy shows, government ineptness or corruption eventually sees members of the general public paying the ultimate price of their stupidly and greed.

Minnesota’s collapsed bridge is not much older than Entergy’s failing Indian Point nuclear reactors that sit beside the Hudson River, just a scant 24 miles up-river from New York City. The comparisons between the Interstate 35W bridge near University Avenue, and America’s aging fleet of nuclear reactors is startling, but the repercussions of a reactor failure would be far more catastrophic than a bridge collapse. Entergy’s Indian Point is known to have a rusting steel liner and fissure cracks abundant on the twin domes of these ancient nuclear relics. The patchwork quilt of failing weld joints speaks to the fatigue of failing steel in both liner and reactor core.

The DOE and NRC reports admit to a lack of knowledge when it comes to aging effects on both the concrete and steel of these reactors as they are bombarded with radioactive particles day and night for over 30 years. Despite this lack of knowledge, the NRC has no problem pushing safety inspections back for periods of five or more years and has no problem granting license renewals without a Independent Safety Assessment of the entire nuclear reactor facility before even considering the granting of a license renewal application.

Many reactors in America, such as Vermont Yankee and Indian Point owned by Entergy, are known to have serious structural issues. Indian Point has leaking spent fuel pools which are leaking both strontium-90 and tritium into the Hudson River. Stainless steel piping buried underground is known to be leaking radioactive contaminants into our environment. Yet, the NRC is content to turn a blind eye to these very real safety concerns that point to a failing of the structural integrity of these ancient relics.

The month of July should be a wake-up call for the nuclear industry and a wake-up call to the NRC that their sacrifice of public health and safety cannot continue. Just two weeks ago we had an earthquake shut down the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant, which was improperly and illogically built atop a fault line, much like Entergy’s Indian Point. Now, we have a bridge in Minnesota that has collapsed, apparently due to either poorly done inspections, or age related degradation issues, or a combination of both. The NRC and NEI’s callous disregard of safety issues is begging for a nuclear disaster here in America that will be far worse than tonight’s bridge collapse, far worse than even Chernobyl. The time has come for an ISA (Independent Safety Assessment) of every aged, decaying, degraded nuclear reactor in America. There should be a moratorium on all relicensing activities nationwide until these inspections have been completed, and a report has been given to both Congress, and the American people.

Author’s Bio: I am an anti-nuclear activist and publisher of two blogs on the subject of nuclear energy. Living less than three miles from Entergy’s Indian Point, which is leaking tritium and strontium 90 into the Hudson, I write in the hopes of awakening the public to the horrors that are nuclear energy. NEI’s lies about nuclear energy being carbon-free have to be exposed, their incestuous relationship with the NRC and DOE has to be brought into the light of day, and the wrongful rubber-stamping of license renewals ended before an American Chernobyl occurs.

Author’s Website: http://greennuclearbutterfly.blogspot.com”

To view the complete editorial, click the link below:

http://www.opednews.com/articles/opedne_sherwood_070801_minnesota_bridge_col.htm

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