by Lucas O’Connor / Issa Exposed / June 20, 2011
The UN’s top nuclear expert is again highlighting today the safety concerns of U.S. nuclear facilities as things continue to get worse in Japan’s ongoing meltdown:
The disaster at Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant underscores that “we need to systematically and regularly review the safety of all nuclear power plants” around the world, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said today.
“Business as usual is not an option,” IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano added in an address to the agency’s Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in Vienna.
This comes two weeks after Japan doubled its estimate of the radiation released from the meltdown, and days following the updated announcement that nearly 1,000 square kilometers around the plant are now uninhabitable due to radiation from the continuing disaster.
…a nuclear waste advisor to the Japanese government reported that about 966 square kilometres near the power station – an area roughly 17 times the size of Manhattan – is now likely uninhabitable.
In the US, physician Janette Sherman MD and epidemiologist Joseph Mangano published an essay shedding light on a 35 per cent spike in infant mortality in northwest cities that occurred after the Fukushima meltdown, and may well be the result of fallout from the stricken nuclear plant.
The eight cities included in the report are San Jose, Berkeley, San Francisco, Sacramento, Santa Cruz, Portland, Seattle, and Boise, and the time frame of the report included the ten weeks immediately following the disaster.
The San Onofre nuclear facility is squarely in Darrell Issa’s district. And if redistricting shakes out similarly to the original draft map released earlier this month, Issa would be representing the coastal region from San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente all the way south to Del Mar. Presumably, this would be a top concern for Darrell Issa, especially since San Onofre recently experienced its fifth spill of toxic chemicals in just over two years. Notorious for its deficient safety culture, “San Onofre is the leader still in safety concerns reported to the NRC.”
That ought to be a terrifying concern for anyone living near San Onofre, as thousands of Issa’s constituents do. But Issa has taken a full pass on pressing for better safety measures in his own district. But the primary owner of the plant is also Darrell Issa’s third-largest campaign contributor, and instead of following up on accusations that employees have been fired for reporting safety problems, Issa is focused on attacking the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission over the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste project — right up through subpoena.
So while Darrell Issa tries to divert NRC resources from pressing safety concerns, what would it look like if the Fukushima meltdown happened at San Onofre? I was curious, so I put it on the map below. The entire town of San Clemente, plus virtually all of the Camp Pendleton Marine Base, would be made uninhabitable.
To put that in further perspective, 63,522 people live in San Clemente, and more than 38,000 military family members live on Camp Pendleton, which has a daytime population of 70,000. That’s not including those within the radius that aren’t part of those two main population points and the ecological devastation that would result.
Not only that, but a simple circle could be generously conservative. As a nuclear expert notes after examining the Japanese meltdown:
“The data I’m seeing shows that we are finding hot spots further away than we had from Chernobyl, and the amount of radiation in many of them was the amount that caused areas to be declared no-man’s-land for Chernobyl. We are seeing square kilometres being found 60 to 70 kilometres away from the reactor. You can’t clean all this up.”
Darrell Issa has spent his entire tenure as chair of the Oversight Committee pushing the anti-worker, anti-regulation agenda of his corporate backers and lobbyist friends. He’s attacked public servants and defended Wall Street CEOs. He’s blamed the economic collapse that occured under the watch of George Bush and Republican majorities in both houses of Congress on clean air, clean water, workplace safety, immigration, unions, not enough oil drilling, middle class salaries, health care reform, Medicare, Medicaid, and consumer financial protections.
A well-documented, systemic history of poor nuclear safety is sitting squarely in the center of his district as the world watches a nuclear disaster that may surpass any in our history. Not only does the nuclear facility in Darrell Issa’s district lead the nation in safety concerns, there’s a documented threat that management actively seeks to suppress further reports of safety problems.
Many of us are watching today as flood waters threaten a nuclear facility near Omaha. A rapid survey of nuclear safety after the initial earthquake and tsunami in Japan found domestic nuclear facilities to be far more susceptible to natural disasters than previously thought — including earthquakes . And of course, San Onofre is on a major faultline.
A repeat of the Japanese meltdown at San Onofre would turn nearly four hundred square miles of Darrell Issa’s district into an uninhabitable nuclear wasteland and force more than 100,000 of his constituents from their homes permanently. Not only is Issa not taking action, he’s actively obstructing the ability to improve safety. Now far beyond simply failing to represent his constituents, he’s now put his partisan, corporate agenda ahead of the most basic safety of his district and lives of his constituents.