As such, it is disturbing news that the ground beneath unit 4 is sinking.
Specifically, Unit 4 sunk 36 inches right after the earthquake, and has sunk another 30 inches since then.
Moreover, Unit 4 is sinking unevenly, and the building may begin tilting.
Given the precarious situation at Unit 4, it is urgent that the world community pool its scientific resources to come up with a fix.
Earthquakes can – of course – damage nuclear power plants. For example, even the operator of Fukushima and the Japanese government now admit that the nuclear cores might have started melting down before the tsuanmi ever hit. More here.
Indeed, the fuel pools and rods at Fukushima appear to have “boiled”, caught fire and/or exploded soon after the earthquake knocked out power systems. See this, this, this, this and this. And fuel pools in the United States store an average of ten times more radioactive fuel than stored at Fukushima, have virtually no safety features, and are vulnerable to accidents and terrorist attacks. And see this.
Indeed, American reactors may be even more vulnerable to earthquakes than Fukushima.
But American nuclear “regulators” have allowed numerous nuclear power plants to be built in earthquake zones (represented by black triangles in the following diagram):
(Note: Ignore the long lines … they represent the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, which present a huge danger of flooding nuclear reactors):
- The NRC won’t even begin conducting its earthquake study for Indian Point nuclear power plant in New York until after relicensing is complete in 2013, because the NRC doesn’t consider a big earthquake “a serious risk”
- Congressman Markey has said there is a cover up. Specifically, Markey alleges that the head of the NRC told everyone not to write down risks they find from an earthquake greater than 6.0 (the plant was only built to survive a 6.0 earthquake)
- We have 4 reactors in California – 2 at San Onofre 2 at San Luis Obisbo – which are vulnerable to earthquakes and tsunamis
For example, Diablo Canyon is located on numerous earthquake faults, and a state legislator and seismic expert says it could turn into California’s Fukushima:
On July 26th 2011 the California Energy Commission held hearings concerning the state’s nuclear safety. During those hearings, the Chairman of the Commission asked governments experts whether or not they felt the facilities could withstand the maximum credible quake. The response was that they did not know.
Yet the Nuclear Regulatory Commission doesn’t even take earthquake risk into account when deciding whether or not to relicense plants like Diablo Canyon.
Are They Fracking With Us?
American nuclear regulators are allowing earthquake-inducing fracking to be conducted mere feet from nuclear power plants.
As the Herald Standard reports:
Chesapeake Energy has a permit to frack just one mile from the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station in Shippingport. Whether that is cause for alarm, experts can’t say.
“Hydraulic fracturing near a nuclear plant is probably not a concern under normal circumstances,” [Richard Hammack, a scientist at the Department of Energy’s National Energy Technology Laboratory] said. “If there is a pre-stress fault that you happen to lubricate there (with fracking solution), that is the only thing that might result in something that is (seismically) measurable.”
That’s not very reassuring, given that “lubrication” of faults is the main mechanism by which fracking causes earthquakes. (Indeed, the point is illustrated by the analogous fact that leading Japanese seismologists say that the Fukushima earthquake “lubricated” nearby faults, making a giant earthquake more likely than ever.)
And as Akron Beacon Journal notes, fracking is allowed with 500 feet of nuclear plants:
“We’re not aware of any potential impacts and don’t expect any,” said FirstEnergy spokeswoman Jennifer Young today. “We see no reason to be particularly concerned.”
[But] experts can’t say if the proposed well so close to two nuclear power plants is cause for concern.
DEP spokesperson John Poister told the Shale Reporter that there are no required setbacks specifically relating to a required distance between such shale wells and nuclear facilities, just a blanket regulation requiring a 500-foot setback from any building to a natural gas well.