Office of Citizen
Rest in Peace,
The Unspeakable Subject?
Submitted by Lee Batdorff on Wed, 04/13/2011 - 01:08.
The Fukushima Dailchi nuclear crisis in Japan has been re-rated to be a level 7 nuclear disaster*, the same level as the Chernobyl Ukraine nuclear disaster of 1986. While the dispersement of radiation from the nuclear power plants in Fukushima is said to be much less than Chernobyl, the Tokyo Electric Power Company and Japanese civil authorities have yet to “stabilize” their troubled reactors. The future level of radiation contamination in Japan and nearby nations is unknown at this time as is how long this crisis will continue.
On this gloomy note it is time to make take a look at the history of how nuclear power was instituted in this nation. It was not a decision made in the public sphere. While some activists were well educated in the problems of nuclear power, the hearings to establish the plants examined only the financial side of building nuclear power plants.
This is according to the late Evelyn Stebbins of Rocky River who was a dogged citizen intervener in federal nuclear power hearings on both the Davis-Bessie and Perry nuclear power stations. The question of safety on nuclear power could not be brought up at hearings because, “they've already decided that nuclear power is safe.”
A rare example of coverage of her warnings and the warnings of others about the problems of nuclear power where first published in a Cleveland newspaper starting in 1978. This was four-and-a-half months before the Three Mile Island near-explosion near Harrisburg Pennsylvania occurred, and nine years before the Chernobyl explosion.
The Unspeakable Subject: Why CEI wants to stop talking Nuke was the cover story of the November 16, 1978 edition of the Cleveland Express, a locally owned fledging alternative newspaper with a free distribution of perhaps 10,000 newspapers.
In 1978 few media outlets touched the subject of nuclear power in a substantive way. Few wanted to acknowledge the problems of a technology that was presented to us with so much promise since the early 1960s.
About 15 years before the story in the linked PDFs below was published, I was about 13 years old. Coming over the TV was a slogan presented by the electric utility companies that nuclear power was going to be, “Too cheap to meter.” I visited the New York World's Fair in 1964. Nuclear was just one of the marvelous technologies of our future. (Another technology was a machine that would grind through jungle, rip down the trees and everything else and somehow reconstitute this biomass into paved highway!)
When I was 14, I witnessed on TV Dorothy Fuldheim, a revered older commentator on WEWS TV, showing an image of a design for one of several floating nuclear reactors that were proposed to be stationed in Lake Erie to heat up the water and make Cleveland a tropical paradise!
The reactor's ball shaped iron clad design burned into my brain! This was around 1965 and Cleveland leaders and commentators were drawing at straws to stop the city's decline. When I heard Fuldheim and saw the image, it was an experience of failed cognitive dissonance for me. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't know what.
It is notable that the owners of nuclear power plants are indemnified of any financial responsibility for a nuclear accident currently at any losses over $12.6 billion through the Price–Anderson Nuclear Industries Indemnity Act which was first passed by the U.S. Congress in 1957. Without this act, there would be no nuclear power industry in the U.S. This is because no utility would build a nuclear power plant that had unlimited liability. Wikipedia on Price-Anderson Act.
PDFs, linked below, are of pages published in the Cleveland Express on November 16, 1978. They are of the first two of a series stories published over several months on the nuclear power industry.