The news from Japan is heartbreaking. I can think of no other words to describe it. The havoc wreaked by the earthquake and tsunamis is devastating, but I'm amazed by the resolve the Japanese people have shown in this time of crisis.
And now we learn that radioactive iodine has been found in Tokyo's drinking water at levels above what is safe for babies to drink. Radiation levels continue to spike, and food produced from around the reactor has been deemed too dangerous to consume.
Here in the United States, the nuclear industry's lobbyists and propagandists work to downplay concerns. "Earthquakes of that magnitude would never happen here." "We'll do a thorough safety review." "Nuclear power needs to be part of our energy future." And so on.
Just ten days after the earthquake in Japan, the NRC granted a twenty year license extension to the Vermont Yankee reactor. This is the same reactor that continues to leak tritium, had a transformer fire and cooling tower collapse, and has been so mismanaged by Entergy that Vermont's Attorney General is investigating company officials for lying to the legislature. Entergy also continues to push for license extensions on Indian Point's two reactors, which threaten 20 million people within a 50-mile radius and sit on two active seismic zones.
The federal government has failed for years to provide appropriate oversight of nuclear reactors, but fortunately, two states are leading the fight to close down their dangerous old nuclear reactors. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo has been a longtime critic of Indian Point, and has called for a safety review of the reactors. In Vermont, where the state legislature voted overwhelmingly last year to close Vermont Yankee as scheduled in 2012, over 600 people gathered outside the reactor on Sunday to show solidarity with the people of Japan and call for the plant to be shut down.
This Monday, March 28, people across the country will be showing their support for the people of Japan and calling for a world free of nuclear disasters. To find a Stand with Japan vigil near you, go to: www.greenpeace.org/usa/vigilsforjapan.