Jeffrey Lewis is at a nuclear policy conference nicknamed “Nukestock” and reports:
We had an oddly bloodless discussion this morning of the unfolding events at Fukushima. One thing that struck me about the panel, with perhaps Mark Hibbs excepted, was the gap in perception between nuclear industry and the public at large. The panel seemed to view this as an unfortunate inconveneince for the coming nuclear renaissance. To me, at least, that seems like the captain of the Titanic wondering whether he’s still going to make his dinner reservations.
As usual, the Union of Concerned Scientists press conferences are interesting and informative. Here’s an interesting snippet where Dave Lochbaum answers a question about NRC studies of the danger of overheating spent fuel pools at US plants similar to Fukushima:
MR. LOCHBAUM: Yeah. I know they’ve looked at it, because the reason I’m at the Union of Concerned Scientists is a colleague and I found a problem with spent fuel pools in BWR Mark II containments like the ones in Japan. We pointed out that there was no way to cool them should power be lost. If you were unable to cool them, the things would overheat, melt down, and cause problems, just as exactly has happened in Japan.
The NRC looked at that. Initially, they didn’t look at it very well, because unfortunately, every other page was missing from the report we sent them, because I took it to Kinko’s, and they didn’t duplex it. So, the NRC, three months later, had determined that our concerns had no consequences, even though page 2, page 4, page 6 and so on was missing. So, that kind of gave us a clue as to how detailed they looked over those concerns.
They basically said the chances of that happening were so small that nobody really needed to do anything about it. We think they need to get a new Ouija board, because the events in Japan showed them how wrong that assessment was.
Lochbaum is testifying in the Senate today, and I think a little more attention is going to be paid to his concerns.