THE BLOG
03/25/2011 11:52 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Japan's Nuclear Nightmare Is Our's Too

There is no safe level of radiation. All radiation is cumulative, invisible and knows no boundaries. The deadly radiation released from the Fukushima nuclear accident will result in countless cancer victims and premature death. The worldwide nuclear industry has been getting away with murder because radiation from nuclear plants is not only invisible, but largely undetectable even when cancer erupts years and decades later.

The damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors and highly radioactive spent fuel pools partially or fully melted, and at least one of the nuclear reactor vessels "breached," spewing deadly radioactive particles into the wind, water, food and human bodies in Japan and across the world. At first the world was told that residents within a 20-mile radius were at risk and must evacuate, while those within 50 miles should stay indoors.

Now radioactive materials are showing up on people, in the ocean, on the ground, in food, milk and tap water more than 140 miles away in Tokyo and beyond. President Obama told us there was no risk, yet it took only days for the Fukushima nuclear plant's radioactivity to travel 5,500 miles to be ingested by Americans on the West Coast and a few more to reach the East Coast. The dirty little secret that the nuclear industry and government officials in Japan, the U.S. and around the world are hiding, is that the heroic workers on the Fukushima site were virtually issued death sentences and the rest of us are destined to wait and see if we're the unlucky cancer victims as a result of the Fukushima nuclear accident. The "nuclear" world just got very small.

There are currently 104 nuclear power plants operating in the US. The Pilgrim Nuclear Plant in Plymouth, MA and 5 others are identical to the Fukushima reactors and 17 others are very similar. Several nuclear plants, including Pilgrim, Indian Point (35 miles from New York City) and Diablo Canyon in California are located dangerously close to major earthquake faults. There are more than 500 nuclear plants worldwide. Until President Obama's sweetheart deal last year providing 100 percent taxpayer subsidy and a $56 billion loan guaranty program for the nuclear industry, no new nuclear plants had been ordered by utility companies since 1978. At the end of 2010 there were 4 new reactors under construction in Georgia, 4 planned in Texas and 66 officially listed as "under construction" worldwide. Of those, 50 are in just four countries (China, India, Russia, South Korea) and zero were free-market purchases.

Nuclear power generates about 20% of our electricity and far less of our total end use energy. Conservation, cogeneration and other renewable energy sources generate far more electricity worldwide than nuclear power. In short, nuclear energy is the most dangerous, expensive and inefficient way to boil water for electricity generation. If the nuclear industry did not have the benefit of inappropriate taxpayer subsidies and the congressional Price Anderson Act, providing government underwriting of insurance and a "Nuclear Exclusion Clause" on every policy, nuclear power would never exist in the U.S. After the anti-nuclear movement successfully highlighted the enormous risks associated with nuclear power, combined with the well-publicized nuclear accidents at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, public support and business investment for new nuclear plants disappeared in the early 1980s, and for good reason.

Every nuclear plant in the U.S. shares the same dangerous realities. No one is safe from the cancer-causing radioactive fallout routinely released during "normal operations" or from catastrophic accidents like Fukushima, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and countless other "nuclear incidents" we never hear about in mainstream media. In 2005 the International Atomic Energy Agency estimated about 4,000 Chernobyl nuclear-accident-related deaths. Conversely, a detailed 2009 review of 5,000 largely Slavic-language scientific papers, ignored by the IAEA, found Chernobyl deaths approaching a million through 2004, nearly 170,000 of them in North America!

After more than 60 years of generating nuclear power, there is still no long-term storage solution for the thousands of tons of highly radioactive nuclear waste generated each year. This waste must be safely stored for several centuries in the case of cesium-137 and strontium-90 and over 24,000 years for plutonium to be half as lethal. Fukushima Unit 3, like many nuclear plants, is spiked with airborne plutonium of which a millionth of a gram causes cancer in laboratory animals and 10 pounds is all a terrorist needs to make a crude nuclear weapon.

Highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel rods are stored in "temporary" inadequately contained cooling pools at every nuclear plant and all reactors are built next to oceans, rivers and "public" water supplies necessary for cooling. As we've seen firsthand at Fukushima, a loss of cooling to a reactor or spent fuel pool from an earthquake, human error or terrorist attack with an airplane or conventional weapons, can result in a "nuclear meltdown" and massive radioactive release.

On Sept. 11, 2001, al Qaeda terrorists flew past 12 operating nuclear plants and had they wanted to, would have caused a nuclear holocaust.

According to physicist Amory Lovins, the Fukushima and Pilgrim Nuclear Plant's spent fuel alone, while in the reactor, produced more than a hundred times more fission energy and radioactivity than the atomic bombs dropped in 1945 on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan combined.

Nuclear power is simply too dangerous and no energy source is worth the risk of having to evacuate your home or die prematurely from radiation induced cancer as a result of generating electricity.

In the words of Swedish Nobel physicist Hannes Alfven, nuclear power is uniquely unforgiving and "No acts of God can be permitted".