Worry About Terrorists Much?

(Originally published March 28, 2016 on https://athf3.wordpress.com/)

If you do, you should consider how easy it would be for a small group to attack a nuclear power plant and cause a meltdown, and how horrible the consequences of that would be. Once you think of nearly 100 large reactors of the United States as nearly 100 targets, you see another reason to shut them all down before one of them shuts us down.

Is that a far-fetched and extremely unlikely scenario? It’s true, several big nuclear reactors have had meltdowns just because of flawed designs and operator errors without any help from terrorists. However, we do now know that at least two of the people involved in the recent Brussels bombing were also planning to attack a Belgian nuclear plant. The idea is really not absurd.

Doel nuclear power

Take Fermi 2, for example. A meltdown there would quickly ruin Lake Erie as a source of drinking water, so several million people would need a new source of water right away. And even if the fallout does not directly reach downstream, the contaminated water will within only a few years. Tens of millions of people would need a new source of water.

Depending on which way the wind is blowing during the meltdown, it might be necessary to permanently evacuate Toledo, or Detroit, or Cleveland. That’s a big result for a small group of terrorists. Of course, there are other nuclear power reactors. Some are positioned to to drop the same consequences on Chicago, or New York, or Boston, or Miami … you can see for yourself how much of the United States is at risk by looking at the map locating commercial nuclear reactors. 

Karl Grossman has explained the clear and present danger in his recent article in Counterpunch. Nuclear regulators in Britain take this particular threat seriously. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has said much the same.

Just how many warnings does it take before we take action to remove the targets and the threats? Of course, here at the Alliance to Halt Fermi 3, we’re very receptive to this idea, because it fits in well with all the other reasons we believe nuclear reactors should be shut down.

It’s not so easy for someone who insists, “But we need the electricity!” to accept backing off from nuclear power. For these people, apparently the historical meltdowns at Fermi 1 and Chernobyl and Three Mile Island and Fukushima 1 and Fukushima 2 and Fukushima 3 are not enough to convince them that nuclear reactors are unacceptably dangerous. There clearly is a conflict between a desire to “grow the economy” and a decision to scrap the billions of dollars already invested in reactors. As a society, we have to make a choice between two conflicting goals.

For us, it boils down to the choice between your money and your life. What choice do you think we should make?

Art Myatt

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