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Thursday, January 26, 2012

New report on nuclear power threats to drinking water

Many Rhode Islanders could be affected by nuclear accidents
Neighborhood nuke: Millstone, 20 miles from Charlestown
By Will Collette

Environment Rhode Island and RIPIRG released a new report, "Too Close to Home," that takes a broad look at the potential for widespread drinking water contamination should one of America’s many aging nuclear power plants suffer a catastrophic failure.

URI's nuke - smaller but older and recently cited photo
After the terrible Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear disaster caused by last March’s earthquake in Japan, many people are once again thinking the unthinkable. Japan had counted on nuclear power as its primary source of energy, and most of the world deemed Japan to be the leaders in safe nuclear technology.

But Fukushima showed that despite Japan’s extensive experience and assumed supremacy in controlling the technology, accidents happen and they can exceed expectations, preparations and training.

In Southern Rhode Island, we live within the danger zone of two aging nuclear facilities. The large site is the Millstone nuclear power plant just outside of New London, 20 miles from Charlestown. The other is the small research reactor at URI’s Bay Campus in Narragansett, 12 miles from Charlestown Town Hall.

Both facilities have been cited for safety violations by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission just in the past few weeks. Millstone was cited for making changes to its system without the NRC’s approval. URI was cited for failing to control access to high-radiation areas, allowing a student intern to receive three months’ worth of radiation exposure in the matter of minutes. 

Former State Representative Ray Rickman, who generally opposes nuclear power, has advocated for the closure of the URI reactor for years. Not only does the facility present a safety hazard, despite its smallness, but it is a waste of taxpayer money. Its age makes it a poor research and teaching tool. 

Read the entire report by clicking here.

This should be required reading for our anti-wind NIMBYs and Council Vice-President Deputy Dan Slattery.