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I’ve decided to finally begin blogging again. This is a copy of the speech I gave yesterday at a rally outside of Dominion Powers Headquarters. We were there to honor the victims of Fukushima & to continue to shed light on the ongoing dangers that Dominion continues to subject us to here in Virginia.
On August 23, 2011 at 1:45pm, my two children and I were sitting in the kitchen when the 5.8M earthquake struck approximately three miles from our home. I will never forget the look of terror that washed across their faces nor will I ever forget my own horror at my initial take of the situation: I thought the nuclear plant at North Anna had exploded.
In the weeks that followed, I became aware of the following facts:
- North Anna was built on a fault line, which Dominion, then VEPCO, didn’t disclose when they applied for their initial operating permit from the NRC. They were later fined $32,000 by the NRC for the nondisclosure. Learn more here: North Anna Cover Up
- Dominion Power still doesn’t know the root cause of the automatic shutdown on 8/23
- Only three of the four back up generators worked
- The ground motion from the quake exceeded the plants design by 100%
- 25 of 27, 117 ton , radioactive spent fuel casks moved as much as 4 inches and sustained cracking on the exterior.
Given these facts, about a dozen of us came together and formed Not on Our Fault Line in the week after the quake. The lessons of Fukushima were not lost on us. Fukushima taught us that eventually the improbable happens. Fukushima also taught us that the corporation running the nuke plant does not care about the safety or well being of the surrounding people or land base. In the days, weeks and months following the accident, TEPCO and the Japanese Government knowingly misled the public, downplaying that actual disaster level at the plant. This is just one of many examples of how government sanctioned denial endangers us all. We are especially in danger at North Anna.
Since the quake, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has continued their policy of industry appeasement at the people’s expense. They allowed the restart at North Anna despite the reactors not being retrofitted to withstand strong earthquakes. They allowed restart without conducting an inspection of reactor 1’s core. They allowed restart without requiring that the underground pipes be fully inspected. The NRC’s very own chairman Greg Jaczko said “ the commission “has taken an approach that is not as protective of public health and safety as I believe is necessary.” Where does that leave those us living in the shadow of this dangerous plant??
Since restart, North Anna has seen at least two partial shutdowns, both for leaks ( Learn more at the following links: http://tinyurl.com/december062011 , http://tinyurl.com/january032012 , http://tinyurl.com/january312012 , & http://tinyurl.com/february222012 ). Just last month, a report was issued that the groundwater at the plant is measuring at twice the EPA allowable levels for tritium. Please note: allowable does NOT mean safe! The nuclear industry will tell you that tritium isn’t dangerous because its beta radiation cannot penetrate the skin. But what happens when you drink the radioactive substance in your water? Fine out here: http://tinyurl.com/unsafe-tritium Bottom line – they don’t care about us, our health or our well being.
I and several others of us in Not on Our Fault Line live approximately 15 miles from the plant. Currently, the NRC sets the evacuation zone at 10 miles. During last year’s nuclear disaster in Japan, over 150,000 people had to be evacuated from more than 25 miles away from the plant. At Fukushima most of the radiation blew out to sea. A meltdown at north anna would be much worse. Prevailing winds blow from the northwest, which puts Richmond downwind from North Anna, and its only 40 miles away. Fredericksburg, Manassas, Ashland and Charlottesville are other cities within the critical 50 mile radius that should have evacuation planning in place. We are one of 37 environmental groups currently petitioning the NRC to expand the evacuation zones around nuclear plants to 50 miles. We’re here to put pressure on the City of Richmond — and the State of Virginia as well – to take emergency planning seriously.
If nuclear catastrophe were to occur, we would lose everything, maybe even our lives. My question is this: at what risk level do we say “it’s too much”? When do we stop letting the foxes guard the hen house? Put another way, when do we say that the reassurances from Dominion Power and the NRC are not enough? We cannot appeal to the systems of power to protect us. They are the ones who created this mess in the first place. It is up to us to take a stand and raise our voices and tell them that they are not allowed to gamble with our lives!