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Nuclear Shutdown News September 2017 by Michael Steinberg (b
Sun Oct 1, 2017 04:12

Nuclear Shutdown News September 2017
by Michael Steinberg (blackrainpress [at]
Saturday Sep 30th, 2017 4:13 PM
Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the nuclear power industry in the US and abroad and highlights the efforts of those who are working for a nuclear free world. Here is our September 217 report.

As Hurricanes Batter the Caribbean and Southeast US, Nuke Plants in Texas And Florida Refuse To Shut Down, Heightening Risk To Already Devastated Communities.

On September 19 the Austin (TX) American-Statesman ran this story "South Texas Project stayed open during Hurricane Harvey." South Texas Project is a nuclear plant with two reactors near Bay City, TX on the Gulf Coast, 90 miles from Houston.It has been operating since the late 1980s. Austin Energy is one of three utilities that owns it.

The newspaper article's subtitle was "Some question decision to keep Texas nuclear plant open during Harvey."

The American Statesman reported, "An evacuation of surrounding areas and flooding fears kept the plant's storm crew in the plant for nine days." But management had planned for a stay of only three days and the A-E also reported "the Colorado River is only two miles away" and "it was forecast to crest a week after the storm hit."

Fortunately the floodwaters didn't reach the plant, so the nuke kept operating at 100%.

But Kathy Hedden, director of Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) told the American-Statesman "the risk wasn't worth keeping the plant running." And although winds "topped off at 40 mph--well below the 73 mph that would have triggered mandatory shutdown for the nuke, the paper reported. "tornadoes touched down just miles from the site."

Kathy Hedden asserted "The South Texas Plant nuclear reactors, 90 miles south of Houston, could have shut down to ensure our health and safety, but instead played radioactive roulette. They prioritized profit and continued operating. Picture a nuclear disaster on top of that."

The situation was much the same in Florida as Hurricane Flora roared in. Florida Power & Light, owner of the Turkey Point and St. Lucie nuke plants, each with two reactors, was preparing to shut them down during the storm. But when winds fell to less than hurricane force, and the utility wasn't required by law to take them offline, FPL kept them running full force, except when a faulty valve at one Turkey Point reactor closed it down.

By the way, both reactors at Turkey Point are over 40 years old, as is one of St. Lucie's.

On September 11 Newsweek reported that FPL had been "operating during Irma although the plant had not met federal safety requirements implemented after Fukushima."

The Fukushima catastrophe in March 2011 followed a severe earthquake and tsunami, resulting in the meltdown of three of its reactors and a disaster that continues today.

Although nuclear plants produce electricity, they are also dependent on outside sources for electrical power as well. If the grid is down, the risk of serious accidents can increase.Newsweek consulted two nuclear experts on this matter.

David Lochbaum is director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "The pump room is the Achilles Heel at Turkey Point," he commented. "Without Cooling Water during an accident, workers must deploy backup to the backup system. At Fukushima workers were unable to accomplish this task in time to prevent the reactor core from overheating."

And Maggie Gundersen, co-founder of Fairewind Energy and Education, like Lochbaum a former high level nuclear employee, added ""When there's a possibility to lose power, why would you take the risk of that? That's just hubris and a hug risk to the population."

Sources" Austin American-Statesman,; Newsweek,

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