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    McCain's Pitch for Safe Nuclear Power May Be Undercut by Leaks

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    McCain's Pitch for Safe Nuclear Power May Be Undercut by Leaks

    Post by sang_garuda on Sun Aug 17, 2008 7:13 am

    Aug. 16-- Republican presidential candidate John McCain promotes nuclear power as a central element of his energy plan, boasting in particular about the safety record of the Navy's reactor-propelled fleet.

    ``We have been sailing nuclear ships around the world for 60 years, never had an accident,'' McCain, an Arizona senator and former Navy pilot, said July 22 in Rochester, New Hampshire.

    Only two days later, the Navy disclosed that one of its nuclear submarines, the USS Houston, had been leaking radioactive coolant for two years as it called on ports in Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Guam and Hawaii. The incident is part of a spate of nuclear accidents on land and sea that may undermine McCain's message.

    Even after the Navy reported the Houston incidents, McCain continues to make the safety record of nuclear power a staple of his energy proposals. At an Aug. 8 fundraiser in Rogers, Arkansas, he said the U.S. has ``never had a serious problem.''

    That wasn't the view of officials in the Japanese ports of Nagasaki and Okinawa, who said they would refuse future visits by the USS Houston until measures were taken to prevent another accident.

    ``We're very surprised because this is the first such leakage involving a nuclear submarine and it lasted for as long as two years,'' said Toshio Mizoguchi, a Nagasaki prefecture risk-management and disaster-prevention official. ``We were always told that nuclear-powered submarines were safe.''

    `Accident' Definition

    Still, the Navy said McCain's statement about its safety record is accurate. The Naval Reactors office of the Energy Department defines an ``accident'' as an event in which a person is exposed to radiation above federal limits. That, said Lukas McMichael, technical director for public affairs at Naval Reactors, has ``never'' happened.

    Instead, the Navy called the USS Houston leak a ``weepage'' that posed no danger to the crew, the public, or marine life. The radiation released was less than that emitted by ``a common household smoke detector,'' the Navy said in a report.

    John Pike, director of www.globalsecurity.org, a Web site on military issues, agreed that the information the Navy makes publicly available shows a good record. He cautioned, however, that the nuclear program is ``astonishingly opaque and about as secretive as the Central Intelligence Agency.''

    The incidents that have been reported aren't surprising, he said.

    ``You're occasionally going to have some leaks,'' Pike said.

    Radioactive Incidents

    The Navy, which has 99 vessels powered by reactors, has had a number of radioactive incidents since it first began using nuclear propulsion in the late 1950s.

    In 1999, the USS John C. Stennis, a nuclear aircraft carrier, ran aground off the California coast, clogging the cooling pipes to its two reactors. McMichael said one reactor shut down automatically and the other was taken off line by the crew.

    He pointed to a 2005 incident involving the USS San Francisco as another demonstration of the fleet's safety. The submarine hit an underwater mountain, though its reactor was undamaged and the ship returned to port under its own power, McMichael said.

    Torpedoes Expected

    ``We design these ships to go into battle,'' McMichael said. ``We expect torpedoes to be fired at them.''

    Such reassurances don't assuage nuclear critics, who reject McCain's claim that atomic power is safe.

    ``It seems like he's deliberately misleading the public about the safety of nuclear power to push a particular agenda,'' said Josh Dorner, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based Sierra Club, an environmental group that has endorsed McCain's Democratic rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. ``You have very mature industries in this country, Japan, and France that are almost constantly having accidents.''

    Obama, 47, also supports expanding nuclear power, though as a small component of a package focused on renewable-energy sources such as wind and solar.

    McCain, 71, has said that such sources currently can't meet U.S. energy needs, and that expanded nuclear power and domestic drilling for oil and natural gas are necessary in the near term.

    Michigan Plant

    Almost all U.S. reactors on land have reported malfunctions, accidents or leaks. That includes the Enrico Fermi Nuclear Plant in Newport, Michigan, which McCain visited Aug. 5. The plant's original reactor, now dismantled, suffered a partial meltdown in 1966, one of the first serious nuclear accidents.

    Standing in front of Fermi's two cooling towers, McCain repeated his promise to build 45 nuclear plants by 2030. He omitted, however, his oft-repeated praise for France's nuclear power industry.

    Weeks before, on July 18, France reported its second radioactive leak in a month. Officials said uranium may have leaked for years from a cracked pipe at a plant in southeast France owned by Areva SA. Earlier in July, Paris-based Areva, the world's largest nuclear-reactor maker, closed part of a waste- treatment plant after discovering a uranium leak and radioactive pollution.

    McCain spokesman Taylor Griffin said such incidents don't worry the candidate.

    ``Given our country's stellar record of safety in both the commercial and military sectors, we can be assured of the safety of U.S. nuclear power now and in the future,'' Griffin said.

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    Re: McCain's Pitch for Safe Nuclear Power May Be Undercut by Leaks

    Post by Prodip2007 on Sun Aug 17, 2008 10:15 am

    ------||------------||------nice sharing bro.Tq u bro...Tq u very much...Keep up bro------||------------||------

      Waktu sekarang Wed Apr 25, 2018 11:55 am