Thursday, April 14, 2011

Iodine, Anti-Nuclear, St. Lucie

River Park Uh-oh.

The level of Iodine-131 found at the Queen Lane treatment plant is the highest of 23 sites in 13 states where the particles have appeared following the massive radiation leaks from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Lower levels were found at the city's two other plants.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency told the Daily News yesterday that Philadelphia water samples from last August contained nearly twice as much radioactive iodine as the recent samples collected after the Fukushima disaster.

Although numbers aren’t given, I’m going to take a guess and say that in neither instance was the level of iodine-131 high enough to raise a danger flag. No harm in being careful, of course. From the Philadelphia Daily News.


Always on the lookout for interesting anti-nuclear energy editorials and op-eds, I’ve actually come up rather short. Sometimes, the ones I find are so weak that I don’t want to highlight them. It’s no fun smacking around straw men, after all.

Here’s an example and it actually is a kind of a straw man. Columnist Jack Ray at the Springfield (Ill.) News-Leader wants to abandon nuclear (and coal-fired) energy in favor of renewables. He tries to get around some of the obvious drawbacks:

The only reason that solar, wind, and geothermal technologies are not sufficient enough to provide the majority of our energy needs today is that our nation has not made a serious effort to fund the necessary research and development that they deserve.

Hmmm! Well, maybe, though it does seem an awful lot of research funds have been pointed in those directions. But the real problem is that Ray seems to be after bigger fish:

Unfortunately, with a few notable exceptions, we appear to be a short-sighted country with a significant population that does not want to pay any taxes, including those that in the long run could make our country a much safer and healthier place to live for our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

The anti-nuclear angle kind of gets lost pretty quickly.


A follow-up on the St. Lucie public meeting (see post below for a preview):

Residents packed the Florida Power and Light meeting room, which are usually not so popular, according to FPL.

That was what we expected.

Some wanted to know if a hurricane or other disaster could damage the reactors or spent fuel storage areas and release radioactive material.

FPL's Michael Waldron said no. "For example, in the case of our Turkey Point plant, in 1992 it got a direct hit from hurricane Andrew and performed exactly as expected. Here at St. Lucie, hurricanes Jeanne and Frances, one after another, hit this plant directly and it survived just fine," said Waldron.

And this, too. It sounds like it went pretty well, with FPL able to answer questions put to it:

FPL has run out of room to keep all of its spent fuel in cooling tanks, and for several years, has stored them in containers, called dry casks.

"The amount is irrelevant. They license you to store it. We take it out of spent fuel pools and put it in dry storage," said Waldron.

"It's our position that dry cask storage is perfectly safe. This system has been used since the nuclear industry began so there's some spent fuel that's been on-site for 30 years or more," said [NRC spokesman Joey ]Ledford.

This is all good: the public should show up and should ask difficult questions. The article doesn’t really cover the tenor of the meeting, but it does seem this happened and that FPL and the NRC gave correct answers. It’d be interesting to know how the audience took the answers, but I assume if there was pandemonium or sheer rejection, that would have been noted.

River Park in Port St. Lucie.

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