Physicians for Social Responsibility Calls for Improved Safety at Nuclear Reactor Sites
August 25, 2011
Pinnell | 202-587-5232
Washington, DC - August 25, 2011 – Physicians for Social
Responsibility called for immediate action to improve safeguards at nuclear
reactors vulnerable to seismic events such as the 5.8 magnitude earthquake that
struck the East coast on August 23, 2011.
was felt from South Carolina to Toronto, with an epicenter in Mineral,
Virginia, just a few miles from the North Anna nuclear station. The reactor lost offsite power and had to
rely on diesel generators for cooling until late Tuesday night. About a dozen other reactors experienced
‘unusual events’ as a result of the quake.
event highlights how absolutely essential backup safety systems are for nuclear
reactors. In this instance, only three
of the four backup generators functioned as they should. We are lucky,” said Peter D. Wilk, MD
executive director of PSR “We call on
the NRC to uphold their duties and begin reviewing and implementing the
Fukushima Task Force recommendations promptly.
Anything less can only be perceived as willful blindness.”
earthquake was the second largest in Virginia history and just a fraction less
than the maximum allowable earthquake (6.1) for the North Anna reactors. The Earth Institute has predicted that a 7.0
magnitude quake is very possible under similar circumstances very close to the
Indian Point reactor only 35 miles from New York City.
the Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a report from its Fukushima task force
with preliminary recommendations to improve safety and backup systems at US reactors. These recommendations included enhanced
station blackout capability (such as ensuring proper function of the diesel
generators) and strengthening emergency preparedness in events such as
yesterday’s earthquake. While far from
exhaustive, these recommendations would provide a critical first step towards
addressing some of the glaring safety problems at existing US reactors. Remarkably, a majority of the Commissioners
have voted against even preliminary review of these recommendations, instead punting
their public health and safety responsibilities.
quake was a wake-up call,” said Andrew S. Kanter, MD, MPH, president-elect of Physicians for
Social Responsibility “The NRC should begin implementing the recommendations of the Fukushima
task force immediately and uphold their vital responsibilities to protect
public health and safety. How many more
near misses will be enough to convince the NRC that urgent action is required?”
Helfand, MD, past-PSR president said "The Virginia quake is just another of those problems we don't
expect to happen which do. Reactors throughout the Northeast, especially
Indian Point near New York, and Pilgrim near Boston, are not built to
withstand the kind of earthquakes that they might in fact
experience. A Fukushima-like accident at these reactors would threaten
millions of people. It is time for the US government to start protecting
the physical health of our people, not the financial health of the
companies that have built these dangerous reactors."
Coast has some of the oldest, most problematic reactors in the country. The fact that we haven’t seen huge problems
as a result of this earthquake is not an endorsement of the existing safety
regimes, but sheer dumb luck.”
ABOUT PHYSICIANS FOR
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY (PSR)
Physicians for Social Responsibility is the largest physician-led
organization in the country conveying both the health risks and threats to
human survival posed by nuclear weapons, climate change, nuclear reactors and
toxic degradation of the environment.
Founded in 1961 by physicians concerned about the impact of nuclear
proliferation, PSR shared the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize with International Physicians
for the Prevention of Nuclear War for building public pressure to end the
nuclear arms race. PSR is dedicated to
improving national policy formulation and decision-making about security,
energy and the environment through the combined efforts of credible, committed
health professionals and our active and concerned citizen members. For more information, go to http://www.psr.org.