The nuclear-meltdown threat in the States via Aspen Times

Dear Editor:

Congratulations to The Aspen Times for covering the dangerous San Onofre nuclear power plant (“Uncertainty clouds future of California nuclear plant,” Feb. 27). If there is a major accident, prevailing winds could contaminate much of the Southwest, including western Colorado.

Both reactors at San Onofre were closed in January 2012 because of radiation leaks caused by a faulty steam-generator design. Southern California Edison now wants to reopen one of the reactors under reduced power as an experiment to see if it will break again. Sen. Barbara Boxer found out that Edison and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission knew about the design flaws before Edison installed the generators but kept this information secret from the public. Edison concealed this safety information to avoid an adjudication requiring testimony under oath about the design changes made to increase profits.

In the meantime, Rep. Ed Markey asked the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate whether Edison broke laws by keeping the flaws secret from investors. It is beginning to appear that the United States is repeating the mistakes of Fukushima instead of learning the lessons of Fukushima. Perhaps the main lesson of Fukushima is the collusion between the nuclear power industry and the government “regulators.”

Fourteen U.S. senators recently wrote to the Nuclear Regulator Commission to ask why the safety lessons of Fukushima have not been implemented. Under intense pressure from the nuclear lobby, many politicians are pressuring the National Regulatory Commission to ignore safety features, some of which are expensive. Moreover, the National Regulatory Commission permits nuclear reactors (such as San Onofre) to operate even if they are sitting on top of an active seismic zone. In Japan, the Nuclear Regulator Authority will not allow this. Why is something considered dangerous in Japan considered safe in the U.S.?

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