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Wasserman writes: "Forty years ago this week, the Three Mile Island nuke began pouring lethal radiation into our air and water, lungs and livers."

The Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station. (photo: AJ)
The Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station. (photo: AJ)

Three Mile Island's Murderous Legacy Still Threatens Us All

By Harvey Wasserman, Reader Supported News

02 April 19


orty years ago this week, the Three Mile Island nuke began pouring lethal radiation into our air and water, lungs and livers.

Throughout central Pennsylvania and beyond, people, animals, plants, and the planet began to die en masse.

In 1980, a mile from the plant, I interviewed many of the immediate victims. It was the worst week of my life.

Today 98 US reactors could repeat the slaughter. Worldwide there are about 450. Many are falling apart. Each could deliver a lethal dose of apocalyptic proportions. All heat the planet, emit carbon, kill nearby newborns, suck up public money, hinder renewables, and threaten fresh catastrophes.

None are “zero emission” or “carbon free.” None can compete with the solar, wind, battery storage, and LED/efficiency technologies that can save us from a fried planet.

If we’re to live on this Earth, King CONG (Coal, Oil Nukes & Gas) must die.

Since TMI, Solartopian costs have become far cheaper than fully amortized reactors.

And nuke costs have soared. Last week Trump slipped in another $3.7 billion in federal loans for two reactors under construction at Vogtle, Georgia. They may ultimately cost $25 billion or more and still never open.

They’re bankrupting the state, having already helped gut Westinghouse and Toshiba. They’ll never come close to competing with wind, solar, batteries or LED/efficiency, which will create far more jobs.

A quarter-million Americans now work in solar energy alone, with another hundred thousand in wind. More Californians work in solar than dig coal nationwide.

Two nukes in South Carolina were recently canceled at a cost of billions. Two more being built in France and Finland are years behind schedule and billions over budget.

The current crop of nuke fanatics wants more. They’ll waste billions of public dollars. But proposed new reactors are so much more expensive than renewables that except for a few big boondoggles, they’ll never be built.

The real threat is the reactors that still operate … the Three Mile Islands in progress.

All heat the planet with massive steam and hot water emissions. Their cooling towers kill thousands of bats and birds. The heat, radiation, and chemicals spewed by their out-take pipes destroy entire marine ecosystems, including millions of fish. The radiation from Fukushima still pours into the Pacific.

Most reactors are losing huge amounts of money. In New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Ohio (for starters) owners are demanding billions in bailouts.

Nuke operators in Ohio and California are bankrupt. Pacific Gas & Electric is under criminal parole for killing eight people in a 2010 San Bruno fire. It’s being sued for more than $10 billion by residents of northern California, where PG&E started fires that killed 80 people, incinerated 12,000 structures and destroyed one of Earth’s most precious ecosystems.

The predecessor to Ohio’s bankrupt FirstEnergy blacked out the entire northeast in 2003. But First Energy now runs the crumbling Davis-Besse and Perry reactors.

All nukes worldwide are embrittled to some degree. If cold water is poured in to stop an out-of-control chain reaction, their pressure vessels will shatter like glass, causing an apocalypse.

But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission does not want to inspect these reactors. With one exception, all US reactors are more than 20 years old. Some are more than forty.

Citizen activists have asked California Governor Gavin Newsom to inspect the two reactors at Diablo Canyon, which could send a radioactive cloud pouring over the ten million people in downwind Los Angeles. Nationwide, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is rubber-stamping new reactor licenses without inspecting to see if they’re embrittled, cracked, properly maintained, earthquake-vulnerable, handling their nuke wastes properly … or if the companies that own them are capable of actually running these giant, aging, insanely complex reactors.

Diablo Canyon is surrounded by active earthquake faults. So is New York’s Indian Point, north of NYC. Ohio’s Perry and Virginia’s North Anna have already experienced seismic damage.

Forty years after TMI, the question is: How many more operating nukes will blow up like Fukushima and Chernobyl, or partially melt like Three Mile Island, pouring heat and radiation into the ecosphere?

As the existing reactors fry the planet, we have no excuses. We saw what happened at TMI forty years ago.

We can’t let it happen again, especially when the Solartopian alternatives are so cheap and ready to go.

And especially knowing the nightmares that will ensue after the next one explodes.

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Harvey Wasserman’s Green Power & Wellness Show is podcast at; California Solartopia is broadcast at KPFK-Pacifica, 90.7 fm, Los Angeles. His Life & Death Spiral of US History: From Deganawidah to The Green New Deal to Solartopia will soon be at your social media marketing partner


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+47 # 2019-04-02 12:47
thank you, RSN, for publishing this. let's shut them all down!!!
+21 # Robbee 2019-04-02 15:38
thank you, RSN, for publishing this. let's shut them all down!!!

- to "climate change", even tho they don't burn carbon, nuke plants are the wrong answer! the disastrous, wrong answer!

- nuke plants pose a whole series of catastrophes of their own!
+27 # PABLO DIABLO 2019-04-02 14:43
"Nuclear energy, too cheap to meter". Popular slogan from the 1950's. Add nuclear weapons to this nightmare of what to do with spent fuel. WAKE UP AMERICA.
" When a form of life reaches a certain level of intelligence, it will destroy itself". --- Enrico Fermi.
-11 # pres 2019-04-02 17:04
GOC (Gas, Oil, and Coal) kills/injures far more each year than all the worldwide nuclear power plants do combined.
Most of the nuclear meltdowns were sponsored by the GOC industry!
+15 # Freddy 2019-04-02 17:53
The opposition to nuclear crosses political divides. Right before the 2018 election Rick Perry accidentally told the truth about plans to re-open the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site, which sits less than 100 miles from Las Vegas. Unified opposition to this plan was likely pivotal in securing Jacky Rosen's place in the US Senate, over the Republican incumbent.
+17 # Kootenay Coyote 2019-04-02 19:24
I was in Spokane then, leading a field trip for my Anthropology students. As it happened, we had just finished watching The China Syndrome on TV when the 3-Mile-Island news came on. Somewhat startling…& the future of these perilous machines doesn't look smart, either.
+8 # 4angels4 2019-04-02 20:41
"If we’re to live on this Earth, King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes & Gas) must die." This is so potent - and so very clever, creative. I am embedding this pithy, prophetic, potent verse into my brain, to use it over and over and over again wherever I can maneuver its message into the conversation.
+10 # ahollman 2019-04-02 23:28
The US government -does- have an industrial policy, despite its denials. It is to give financial incentives and legal protections to large, capital- and resource-intens ive projects. For nuclear power, these include partial legal immunity from meltdown costs and big financial subsidies throughout a reactor's "life" cycle, from construction (cheap money to borrow) to operation (generous subsidies in electric rates) to decommissioning and taking out the garbage (no federal nuclear repository after decades, and none likely).

Subsidies for renewable energy are comparatively modest and are time-limited and/or in danger of expiring or being cancelled.

It's time to redirect subsidies away from large, capital-intensi ve industrial projects and toward smaller-scale, less capital-intensi ve renewable energy projects.

That's industrial policy. We have one. We should have one. But we should have the right one.
+11 # DongiC 2019-04-03 00:56
Can the human species survive? Not when it commits gross errors like building and maintaining nuclear power plants. Shut them all down. NOW!
+11 # bobmiller101 2019-04-03 01:07
I lived near TMI and then near Diablo Canyon, then near San Onofre. Now I live in North California, and while PG&E services my area, they only cause wildfires, but NO Meltdowns here. They ALMOST DID here in NorCal out at Bodega Bay. They had already poured the foundation for the reactor when saner heads prevailed; The San Andreas Fault is less than 1,000 yards from the site. If you ever get to Bodega Bay, head out to Bodega Head State park. There is a parking area dedicated to the "Hole in the head." There's an interesting placard there telling the story. As an aside, I just got back from the California Poppy Reserve (Incredibly BEAUTIFUL) which is at the western end of the Mojave Desert. Both windmills and photovolteics are being used. This in turn refutes Trumps claim that the wind doesn't blow all the time as he forgot to mention that photovolteics are just as "useless" as the sun doesn't shine all the time. [Please forgive me; I just drove 500 miles from the desert.]
+11 # Salburger 2019-04-03 07:25
These days there is a little noticed epidemic of thyroid cancer among middle aged adults here in Austria--which was downwind from Chernobyl. Austria has only 1 nuclear plant and protestors kept it from ever starting up, but that didn't keep Austrians safe.
+9 # Glen 2019-04-03 07:42
And now we have an entertainer in chief who just declared wind mills are noisy and cause cancer! Don't expect Trump or his wealthy oil and gas pals to assist with any type of clean energy. He would ignore that China Syndrome unless it took out his towers and Mar-a-Lago.
-3 # wcandler1 2019-04-03 14:42
Please look at Molten Salt Reactors and Thorium, on YouTube or anywhere. Molten Salt Reactors operate at atmospheric pressure and hence no liable to explode as Pressurized Water Reactors.
A ton of carbon as coal cost $70 and generates 3.67 tons of CO2, which (with no proven technology) is expected to cost our children $100 a ton (of CO2) to remove from the atmosphere. We are getting $70 of benefit, that will cost our children $367 to remove the damage done. Even old style Nuclear does better than fossil.
+3 # elizabethblock 2019-04-04 06:33
Bill McKibben spoke in Toronto yesterday. I wanted to ask him: What about nuclear? There are green people who are in favor of it. Well, now I know. And I'll forward this to one of those people.
0 # 2019-04-05 00:48
tuesday i discussed this with cenk on Young Turks. here's the url:

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