AMY GOODMAN: Today, workers at the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan started to pump radioactive water from a leaking reactor into a makeshift storage area, an effort they say is a crucial step toward easing the nuclear crisis. About 25,000 tons of contaminated water has collected in the basement of Unit 2. Moving it will help restore the vital cooling systems knocked out in the March 11th tsunami.
The Tokyo Electric Power Company, TEPCO, remained optimistic Sunday it can bring down radiation at the damaged plant in three months and achieve what it called a "cold shutdown" of the facility in six to nine months. A cold shutdown would core temperatures under 100 degrees. TEPCO officials acknowledged setbacks, such as another power outage, could delay a plant shutdown.
Meanwhile, here in the United States, owners of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant have filed a federal lawsuit against a state law in Vermont that gives the Vermont legislature veto power over operation of the reactor when its current license expires next March. We’ll speak with the chief whistleblower now, from Vermont Yankee, Arnie Gundersen. He says Vermont Yankee, which went into operation in 1972, is exactly like ones in Japan. He’s a nuclear engineer who coordinated projects at 70 nuclear power plants around the United States. He’s joining us from Burlington, Vermont.
Arnie Gundersen, thanks for coming back to Democracy Now! Can you assess the situation in Japan? We don’t have much time. And talk about what’s happening in Vermont right now, because even as this nuclear crisis unfolds in Japan, President Obama is pushing for nuclear power plants to be built in this country after decades of them not being built here.
ARNIE GUNDERSEN: Well, the plants at Fukushima are identical to Vermont Yankee, Oyster Creek, Pilgrim. There’s about 20 different plants here in the States that are identical to Fukushima. And they—and, of course, President Obama basically said that they’re different than we are, and our plants are safe. Here in Vermont, the day after Fukushima, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Vermont Yankee a 20-year license extension, despite the fact that Fukushima had just had an accident. On top of that, though, there’s an issue where here in Vermont we have the legislative approval for Vermont Yankee to move forward beyond its end of life, which is 2012. And the legislature said no last year. And just yesterday, the owner of Vermont Yankee, Entergy, sued the state of Vermont, saying that we had no right to make that decision. more and video
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
If We Take TEPCO at Their Word: Fairewinds Update
Update: Arnie Gundersen talks to Democracy Now.