March 11, 2012, marks the first anniversary of
the Fukushima nuclear disaster and resultant meltdown. Given the gravity and extensiveness of its effects one might hypothesize
that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) here in the United States might be out there flexing its muscle and ensuring
the safety of all Americans from similarly tragic events as they never before have. Wrong.
Power Plant Safety, Security,Emergency Evacuation Plans, and
Status of Nuclear
Reactors: According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) (Earthwise, Spring 2012) some forty-seven reactors
in the USA fail to comply with 1980 as ammended in 2004 fire regulations. As for voluntary plans, according to the Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC), where plans are in place, most of the plants that have them are unprepared for their implementation.
And then there is the question of whether or not the ten-mile radius evacuation plans would be adequate in both breadth and
feasibility in the event of a reactor meltdown. My take on it: It wouldn't hurt if you were to call your
Senator or Representative requesting the NRC institute needed reforms suggested by the above facts. Contact number for all
Senators and Representative is Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121.
However safety and security are more than nuclear plant safety, security, and emergency response plans.
So let us look at other concerns related clean air, global warming effects, and keeping healthy.
Emissions and Clean Air: It may have taken the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA) twenty years to do it, however in December 2011 it finalized a set of national standards designed
to limit the toxic emissions of power plants powered by coal and oil. My take on it: Bodes the promise of
cleaner air and a push toward cost saving by increasing our reliance on renewable energy.
Effects of Global Warming
Electricity Use: During summer months in 2011 when
forty-two states had above normal summer temperatures, instead of the increased demand lowering the cost of electricity, the
providers increased the price of a megawatt-hour from $100 to $350. My take on it: Contrary the belief about
the effect of lesser demand on supply and cost prices, greed ruled the day.
production in Costa Rica dropped 44% since 2000 in part due to an increase of 2 1/2 percent average increase in warm days
in each of the last four decades. And on the flip side, for those crops requiring a certain number of winter "chill days,"
by the middle of this century, states such as Pennsylvania may achieve the required minimum in chill-hours for optimal bud
formation for apples only one out of two winters. That scenario assumes the increase in warming emissions globally will continue
without decrease. My take on it: At the rate we are going, start thinking tea and bananas rather than coffee
Farmers' Markets: Since
1970 the number of farmer's markets has increased a remarkable twenty-one times--from 340 to 7,175 in number. My
take on it: Where regular people can have some control they not only watch finances, they will strive to maintain
a safe and healthy diet.
For more on
the Union of Concerned Scientists go to www.ucsusa.org.
Roberta in Po-Town