Walking for Peace: No More Fukushimas

From the July-August 2012 PNL #816

Amelia Ramsey-Lefevre

As you read this, about a dozen activists are circumnavigating Lake Ontario on foot – a total of 400 miles – to publicize the presence and impact of the 17 nuclear reactors and a handful of uranium mining and fuel production sites on its shores. The Peace Walkers remind us that “it has been proven time and time again that humans do not have the capability to control the long-term effects of nuclear power from uranium mining to power production and radioactive waste. Nuclear power is not sustainable from environmental, human rights or economic standpoints.” The Peace Walk is initiated by Nipponzan Myohoji and the Grafton Peace Pagoda and is supported by numerous groups including SPC, Peace Action CNY, and Alliance for a Green Economy. In July, the Walkers stopped for events in Syracuse and Oswego. The Peace Walk will end on August 11 at the Grafton Peace Pagoda with a ceremony in honor of Hiroshima Day. For information call Hannah at 781-472-9676.

INDIGENOUS LAND IN DANGER

The Peace Walkers decision to start their journey at the Onondaga Nation is significant and intentional. As their literature states, “Lake Ontario is sacred to the First Nation people of  the US and Canada, and yet it is being highly contaminated by 13 nuclear reactors on the Canadian side and four reactors on the US side (and the US government wants to build two more). Native people have disproportionately high cancer rates due to higher exposure from nuclear radiation created by nuclear waste dumping and uranium mining on Native lands.”

IT DOESN’T TAKE A TSUNAMI

Two of the boiling water reactors on the shore of Lake Ontario share the exact design of those plants that melted down in Fukushima, Japan in March 2011. All it takes to trigger a meltdown is a loss of power (preventing water from being pumped to cool the radioactive fuel). Last year in Fukushima, a tsunami caused the power outage.  In CNY, it could be an ice storm or even a simple thunderstorm. With those plants less than 40 miles from Syracuse,  we are all at risk of radiation poisoning in the event of a meltdown.

LEAKS ARE ROUTINE

Each reactor draws hundreds of millions of gallons of water every day to cool the reactor core. All too often, this radiated water is accidentally released as liquid or steam. The likelihood of these leaks increases as the reactors age, but perhaps even more disconcerting is the response of industry representatives.  Responding to questions about a March 2011 water leak at Pickering A, one local expert said, “the water was not radioactive at all”; while an Ontario Power Generation representative called it “normal water with a bit of radiation.”  A bit? How much radiation can you, or your kids, or your parents tolerate in your water?

 

REACTOR DESIGNS

PWR - Pressurized Water Reactors are the most common reactor type in the western world. Similar to the BWR, but in contrast to the CANDU design, PWR’s use “light” (or regular) water to moderate the nuclear fission reaction. Ginna is the only PWR on this map.

BWR - Boiling Water Reactors are the second most common reactor design, after PWRs. Dr. Helen Caldicott describes them as “a very expensive and complicated way to boil water” because the basic task of the reactor core is to boil water to steam, which turns turbines. Nine Mile I & II and FitzPatrick are all BWRs. Nine Mile I and FitzPatrick share the exact design as the Fukushima reactors that melted down in March 2011.

CANDU - All nuclear reactors in Canada are the CANDU (Canada Deuterium Uranium) design. This heavy water-moderated reactor is distinctive in its ability to be refueled at full power. It is also unusual in that it can use a variety of fuel types including fuel that was already used in a PWR. This is signicant because it necessitates the transport of spent fuel, which increases the risk of a spill or an accident. In 2010, CANDU reactors provided 55% of Ontario’s electricity, and about 20% of all electricity in Canada.

Monday, August 6
Annual Hiroshima Day
Dramatic Procession

Join us as we mournfully remember the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and say, “Another world is possible.” Meet at 11:30 near City Hall. Please wear white or light-colored clothing to enhance the dramatic effect. Contact Amelia at 478-7442 or Claire at 472-5478.

Also!     Sunday, July 22
Peace Picnic!
Thornden Park Lily Pond

Come play, sing, make crafts, and hear the story of Sadako Sasaki and the 1,000 paper cranes. Family-friendly activities.

TURNING POWER INTO BOMBS

[Nuclear power] is not cheap because it’s all paid for by tax dollars… No other industry has that sort of subsidization and do you know why? Because [nuclear power] is the prodigal son of the weapons industry. When nuclear power was developed by Eisenhower in the ‘50s – “Atoms for Peace” – the weapons industry “required nuclear power as a sort of Trojan horse, a camouflage to hide behind.” And then everyone said it was safe. The Japanese didn’t want nuclear power after Nagasaki and Hiroshima but they were talked into it... And any country that has a reactor [has] a bomb factory. … Each reactor makes 500 pounds of plutonium a year; plutonium lasts for half a million years; and all you need is five pounds to make yourself a nuclear weapon. So by selling nuclear power abroad, [the US] is causing proliferation of nuclear weapons.
-Dr. Helen Caldicott

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REFERENCES:

Caldicott, Helen. Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer. New York: New Press, 2007. Print.

CANDU Owners Group (COG), Bruce Power and Ontario Power Generation. "Nuclear Generation in Ontario." Canadian Nuclear Association. 2010. Web. June 2012. http://www.cna.ca/curriculum/cna_can_nuc_hist/pdf/CANDU-Ontario.pdf

"New York Power Plants: Great Lakes." Network for New Energy Choices. 2004-2012. Web. June 2012. http://www.newenergychoices.org/maps/homepage/post/423

Linktv. "Dr. Helen Caldicott on Fukushima and the Perils of Nuclear Power." EarthFocus Magazine. YouTube, 28 Oct 2011. Web. June 2012. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsrik7HEvh8&feature=related

Whitlock, Jeremy. "CANDU Nuclear Technology," "The Nuclear Industry in Canada," and "Safety and Liability." Canadian Nuclear FAQ. April 2012. Web. June 2012. http://www.nuclearfaq.ca/index.html#toc

Amelia works to abolish nuclear power and weapons at Peace Action of Central New York.

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