"January 23 News: U.S. Warned About Multiple Nuclear Meltdowns Years Before Fukushima"
Four years before the accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission was warned about the possibility of a plant suffering simultaneous meltdowns due to a natural disaster. [NYTimes]
The accident at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011 alerted the American nuclear industry and its regulators to the possibility that operators at plants with more than one reactor might have to deal with more than one meltdown at a time in a flood, earthquake or other catastrophe. Officials are now working to assure that they could master that situation.
But documents uncovered by a group that is critical of nuclear safety show that a high-level safety analyst at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission posed the possibility to his superiors in July 2007, about four years before the earthquake and tsunami that led to three simultaneous meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi. The documents also show that in August 2008, the commission staff formally acknowledged the issue.
But until Japan’s disaster, progress in the American nuclear industry was glacial….
The warning, which now seems prophetic, predicted “common cause failures,’’ meaning single events that disable different pieces of equipment that are supposedly independent and nearly invulnerable to failing simultaneously on their own. The risk analyst, Richard Sherry, wrote that flooding or earthquakes could disrupt both normal grid power and emergency backup power.
China is trying to get a leg up on clean energy transportation by getting into the patent wars. The country has filed over 2,000 patent applications — 8 percent of the world’s total — placing China third globally. [ChinaDaily]
Greenpeace released a report yesterday warning of various fossil fuel projects around the world that could serve as “carbon bombs,” driving the planet still closer to disastrous levels of global warming. China and Australia topped the list. [The Guardian]
A global and legally-binding agreement to reduce mercury emissions was reached in Geneva over the weekend. But it still faces ratification by over 140 countries, even as studies show mercury levels around the world continue to rise. [LA Times]
The unusually cold temperatures across America’s northern Plains and New England could be due to a combination of a warming event in the upper atmosphere over the Arctic, and fluctuations in a natural cycle of tropical rainfall near the equator. [ClimateCentral]
Ikea will double its investment in renewable energy — including wind farms and solar parks — to $4 billion by 2020, as part of an effort to bring down costs for more cash-strapped consumers. [Bloomberg]