I'm writing to mark 35 years since the average American became aware of the term "Meltdown" as it applies to the Safe, Clean, Too Cheap to Meter sneaky transfer of plutonium production technology to the for-profit public utility sector following WWII. I didn't find the information I was looking for in Wikipedia, specific to where the reactor had been shipped back in the 1990s after the corium was sliced and diced and sent off to Idaho. I recall they shipped it to Hanford, which would make an ironic historical marker for a currently gnarly situation there, which I'll note toward the end of this missive.
TMI2 was the first public meltdown of a big commercial reactor, occurring at the very height of the good old Cold War when fairly regular meltdowns at SuperSecret government facilities weren't reported on the nightly news. So it's not really surprising that no truthful accounts of what went wrong at TMI2 were ever forthcoming from the paranoid government that spawned and so richly subsidized these scaled-up monstrosities. Of the 100+ commercial reactor plants built, more than 90 remain in operation in the U.S. all these years later. Most have been gifted with 20-year operating license extensions by the NRC to ensure continued profitability to utilities that only recently finished paying off the capital costs originally incurred. It's all gravy from here.
Until they break and/or melt down and/or explode, as more than one or two of them inevitably will before those 20 years is up and if the grid doesn't fail (and melt all of 'em at once). Amazingly, all these decades later there is still no place to put thousands of tons' worth of gnarly spent fuel waste either, so it stays in overcrowded spent fuel pools on-site, either 100 feet up in the air at BWRs, or in-ground next to containments at PWRs. Given current problems at the only long-term high-level waste burial site in the country - the Waste Isolation Pilot Project [WIPP] near Carlsbad, New Mexico - it's unlikely there will be any secure waste storage facility in the foreseeable future. As hundreds of tons more high-level waste continues to be produced every year.
Having been part of an on-site investigative team arriving at TMI2 on April 1, 1979, I could point out a dozen lies in Wiki's TMI2 account, but there's really no point. Those lies are enshrined in not just one but two major governmental investigation reports - one from a "Blue Ribbon Commission," the other from the NRC itself. Both of which reached their false 'conclusions' - a.k.a. cover story - about the accident years before it was finally admitted there had been an actual meltdown, or that there were huge hydrogen explosions at TMI2 just like there were at Fukushima Daiichi. TMI2's containment structure being far more substantial than the piddly-assed known-to-be-weak containments at Daiichi, we just didn't get the spectacular video footage of exploded nuke in March of 1979 like we did the 4 exploded nukes in March of 2011. Or even the exploded nuke of April of 1986 if you want to count Chernobyl.
Radiation managed to get out anyway, of course. As it does daily even during the 'normal' operation of these Beasts. Because it's never actually 'contained' in the first place. The people of south-central Pennsylvania have been living - and dying - with TMI2's load of belched crap ever since.
Gnarly News from Hanford
Over the past 9 days more than 17 workers at Hanford have been sickened by what have been characterized as "toxic fumes" from an underground nuclear storage tank. This is one of 177 underground nuclear storage tanks at the reservation, many known to be leaking to produce a plume of radiochemical sludge moving toward the Columbia River, containing at least 56 million gallons of liquid waste left over from weapons production from 1943 to 1989.
Meanwhile, CDC and EPA investigations of a "cluster" of severe birth defects in a 3-county area just outside the Hanford reservation boundary have purportedly not yet determined any cause for the rash of babies born over the past three years with missing brains and/or skulls, serious neural tube defects and spina bifida, even as the number of new cases continues to rise. Both state and federal officials are being closed-mouthed, refusing to inform media or public of the actual numbers ("dozens" has been floated) while pretending they cannot see any suspicious connections with the known plume of contaminated wastes spreading underground from Hanford. Despite the fact that Hanford has been dubbed "the most contaminated area in the Western Hemisphere."
So. Here we are 35 years later, and things are getting worse by the day. How much longer will it be before we finally end this insanity? How many more must die, or never get a chance at life? How much money are we willing to pay for suffering and early death for ourselves and our progeny, as our civilization literally drowns in its own filth and petty indulgences?
Oh. And then there's this bit of cognitively dissonant bullshit offered in an era of plutarchy-imposed austerity as they busily "liquidate" the homes, labor, sustenance and support of the masses to line their own pockets. As if there were no tomorrow and he who dies with the most loot (and blood on his hands) "wins" whatever evil race they're running. Oy.
If. If we could banish the black Beast back to the Hell that spawned it, who knows what other things we could do to make this world a better place to leave our children than the world our parents left to us? We are the lucky ones - we were not only spared the instantaneous mass extinction promised to us all our lives by TPTB with their MAD stockpiles, we were born with brains. If we'd only learn use them, we could... We could.
Happy Anniversary, Earthlings. Don't eat the sushi.