Guns and Butter

Guns and Butter – February 10, 2016

We’re All In the Nuclear Hotseat with Libbe HaLevy

Author of, Yes, I Glow in the Dark! One Mile from Three Mile Island to Fukushima and Beyond, Libbe HaLevy was exposed to radiation at the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster. We discuss the ongoing natural gas and radioactive radon mega-leak in Aliso Canyon in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, its impact on the residential area of Porter Ranch; the unfolding nuclear disaster at the reactors in Fukushima, Japan; the catastrophic wildlife die-off in the Pacific Ocean; regulatory and health agencies; the nuclear industry; the embrittlement of aging reactors; nuclear waste; the Bridgeton Landfill Fire; the Westlake Landfill contamination; and Three Mile Island.

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  • WRT to your guest talking about radioactivity in Porter Ranch –
    1. Radon is a gas, presumably mixed with the methane before it was released. Gases do not spontaneously unmix. This is a basic tenet of Thermodynamics. Radon may be a serious contaminant but not because it is heavier than air and is rolling along the ground. Benzene is also heavier than air but she is not imagining that IT is rolling along the ground. It doesn’t.
    2. She seems a bit hesitant about the possibility of the leak catching fire from a spark and becoming a raging inferno. I can’t see why anyone would hesitate. This is a torrent of flammable gas. The only amazing thing is that it wasn’t ignited within the first hours. Sparks are everywhere.
    3. The Cernobyl example comes to mind. In that case, they bombed the core and building with cement from the air. Why aren’t they doing the same thing here? Couldn’t the leak be stopped that way. In fact, what intrigues me is the complete lack of any description of the actual configuration of the leak. I have no idea if a hole opened up in the earth which was a natural cover for a huge empty dome in the ground or if there is some large pipe with a hole in it. When BP oil leak disaster in the Gulf took place, we were inundated with technical descriptions of the blowout protector and the pipes and the cement used on and on. In this case, we seem to have zero information on the actual details of the source of the leak. Why is this?

    4. We hear a lot about “wells” that have been “pumped” for half a century. This tells me that energy is being used to push gas out of the ground. Which sounds like they could shut off the pumps and stop the gas. Are they continuing to pump, despite the leak, because they don’t want to lose money by not delivering gas as per their contracts? There is a huge amount of technical information that is being hidden by the hysteria (justified!) around personal contamination. Could they actually stop the leak but refuse to? I don’t know, and unless I’m missing a lot of news, no one does.

  • WRT the same guest, now talking about nuclear waste:
    She says “there is nothing to do with it, there is no way to neutralize it”.
    Of course not. She is asking exactly the wrong questions, so of course she gets the wrong answers.
    The only important question to be asked, is this:
    The other questions, are the corporate questions, the way they want the public to think.
    Why would they want the public to think this way? Because this is the universal way we deal
    with excesses that we don’t want to think about. We put them into a dump or a garbage can.
    This kind of irresponsibility is cheap. Finding ways to reuse unwanted byproducts takes research.
    Research costs money. Therefore make the public swallow the cheaper method. Enlist all of the
    critics and the commenters in repeating the corporate line without even recognizing what they are
    saying. The propaganda that there is no place to put it is the mantra that the otherwise enlightened
    critics repeat endlessly. I think that one of the reasons is that it is such a convenient way to
    criticize the nuclear industry so why look for an effective way to solve their problem?
    What could have been worked out if the nuclear industry had been forced to do research on
    reuse of radioactive elements for the past fifty years? Who can say what methods of reuse
    could be well known by now? But the amount of research was essentially zero and the critics,
    in their naivete, don’t even ask the important question.
    The largest component of rad waste is plutonium. There are obvious ways to reuse the
    Pu in other plants. But the government, echoing the industry, was permitted to simply wave its
    hands, saying “terrorists” and shut down this route. The critics just shut up and repeated the
    gov’t propaganda.
    There is no other way to avoid drowning in byproducts except reuse. This applies to apple
    peelings, iphones, insect carapaces and radioactive elements. Dumping is an idiotic expression
    of capitalistic, profit driven evasions. Recycling is corporate propaganda, not reuse (unless you
    consider recycling to be the worst form of reuse). Reuse methods are discovered by research.
    But no such research is undertaken anywhere.

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