Commentary on the economic , geopolitical and simply fascinating things going on. Served occasionally with a side of snark.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism ....April 2013 Sniper Attack Knocked Out Substation, Raises Concern for Country's Power Grid . Just me by anyone wonder why this attack was blared across the major media including TV and newspapers ? This was a precision terror attack and it doesn't look like " Al Qaeda " had anything to do with this one ! Maybe because DHS is still busy portraying gun owners as nut cases and bio weapon threats ! LIGHTS OUT FOR NSA? MARYLAND LAWMAKERS PUSH TO CUT WATER, ELECTRICITY TO SPY AGENCY HEADQUARTERS - other event watch for Maryland ..... Some items in the news that make you wonder where we actually live
Assault on California Power Station Raises Alarm on Potential for Terrorism
April Sniper Attack Knocked Out Substation, Raises Concern for Country's Power Grid
SAN JOSE, Calif.—The attack began just before 1 a.m. on April 16 last year, when someone slipped into an underground vault not far from a busy freeway and cut telephone cables.
Within half an hour, snipers opened fire on a nearby electrical substation. Shooting for 19 minutes, they surgically knocked out 17 giant transformers that funnel power to Silicon Valley. A minute before a police car arrived, the shooters disappeared into the night.
A sniper attack in April that knocked out an electrical substation near San Jose, Calif., has raised fears that the country's power grid is vulnerable to terrorism. WSJ's Rebecca Smith has the details. Photo: Talia Herman for The Wall Street Journal
With over 160,000 miles of transmission lines, the U.S. power grid is designed to handle natural and man-made disasters, as well as fluctuations in demand. How does the system work? WSJ's Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.
To avoid a blackout, electric-grid officials rerouted power around the site and asked power plants in Silicon Valley to produce more electricity. But it took utility workers 27 days to make repairs and bring the substation back to life.
Nobody has been arrested or charged in the attack at PG&E Corp.'s PCG +0.88%Metcalf transmission substation. It is an incident of which few Americans are aware. But one former federal regulator is calling it a terrorist act that, if it were widely replicated across the country, could take down the U.S. electric grid and black out much of the country.
The attack was "the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred" in the U.S., said Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time.
The Wall Street Journal assembled a chronology of the Metcalf attack from filings PG&E made to state and federal regulators; from other documents including a video released by the Santa Clara County Sheriff's Department; and from interviews, including with Mr. Wellinghoff.
The 64-year-old Nevadan, who was appointed to FERC in 2006 by PresidentGeorge W. Bush and stepped down in November, said he gave closed-door, high-level briefings to federal agencies, Congress and the White House last year. As months have passed without arrests, he said, he has grown increasingly concerned that an even larger attack could be in the works. He said he was going public about the incident out of concern that national security is at risk and critical electric-grid sites aren't adequately protected.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation doesn't think a terrorist organization caused the Metcalf attack, said a spokesman for the FBI in San Francisco. Investigators are "continuing to sift through the evidence," he said.
Some people in the utility industry share Mr. Wellinghoff's concerns, including a former official at PG&E, Metcalf's owner, who told an industry gathering in November he feared the incident could have been a dress rehearsal for a larger event.
"This wasn't an incident where Billy-Bob and Joe decided, after a few brewskis, to come in and shoot up a substation," Mark Johnson, retired vice president of transmission for PG&E, told the utility security conference, according to a video of his presentation. "This was an event that was well thought out, well planned and they targeted certain components." When reached, Mr. Johnson declined to comment further.
A spokesman for PG&E said the company takes all incidents seriously but declined to discuss the Metcalf event in detail for fear of giving information to potential copycats. "We won't speculate about the motives" of the attackers, added the spokesman, Brian Swanson. He said PG&E has increased security measures.
Utility executives and federal energy officials have long worried that the electric grid is vulnerable to sabotage. That is in part because the grid, which is really three systems serving different areas of the U.S., has failed when small problems such as trees hitting transmission lines created cascading blackouts. One in 2003 knocked out power to 50 million people in the Eastern U.S. and Canada for days.
Many of the system's most important components sit out in the open, often in remote locations, protected by little more than cameras and chain-link fences.
Transmission substations are critical links in the grid. They make it possible for electricity to move long distances, and serve as hubs for intersecting power lines.
Within a substation, transformers raise the voltage of electricity so it can travel hundreds of miles on high-voltage lines, or reduce voltages when electricity approaches its destination. The Metcalf substation functions as an off-ramp from power lines for electricity heading to homes and businesses in Silicon Valley.
The country's roughly 2,000 very large transformers are expensive to build, often costing millions of dollars each, and hard to replace. Each is custom made and weighs up to 500,000 pounds, and "I can only build 10 units a month," said Dennis Blake, general manager of Pennsylvania Transformer in Pittsburgh, one of seven U.S. manufacturers. The utility industry keeps some spares on hand.
A 2009 Energy Department report said that "physical damage of certain system components (e.g. extra-high-voltage transformers) on a large scale…could result in prolonged outages, as procurement cycles for these components range from months to years."
Mr. Wellinghoff said a FERC analysis found that if a surprisingly small number of U.S. substations were knocked out at once, that could destabilize the system enough to cause a blackout that could encompass most of the U.S.
Not everyone is so pessimistic. Gerry Cauley, chief executive of the North America Electric Reliability Corp., a standards-setting group that reports to FERC, said he thinks the grid is more resilient than Mr. Wellinghoff fears.
"I don't want to downplay the scenario he describes," Mr. Cauley said. "I'll agree it's possible from a technical assessment." But he said that even if several substations went down, the vast majority of people would have their power back in a few hours.
The utility industry has been focused on Internet attacks, worrying that hackers could take down the grid by disabling communications and important pieces of equipment. Companies have reported 13 cyber incidents in the past three years, according to a Wall Street Journal analysis of emergency reports utilities file with the federal government. There have been no reports of major outages linked to these events, although companies have generally declined to provide details.
"A lot of people in the electric industry have been distracted by cybersecurity threats," said Stephen Berberich, chief executive of the California Independent System Operator, which runs much of the high-voltage transmission system for the utilities. He said that physical attacks pose a "big, if not bigger" menace.
There were 274 significant instances of vandalism or deliberate damage in the three years, and more than 700 weather-related problems, according to the Journal's analysis.
Until the Metcalf incident, attacks on U.S. utility equipment were mostly linked to metal thieves, disgruntled employees or bored hunters, who sometimes took potshots at small transformers on utility poles to see what happens. (Answer: a small explosion followed by an outage.)
Last year, an Arkansas man was charged with multiple attacks on the power grid, including setting fire to a switching station. He has pleaded not guilty and is undergoing a psychiatric evaluation, according to federal court records.
Overseas, terrorist organizations were linked to 2,500 attacks on transmission lines or towers and at least 500 on substations from 1996 to 2006, according to a January report from the Electric Power Research Institute, an industry-funded research group, which cited State Department data.
An attack on a PG&E substation near San Jose, Calif., in April knocked out 17 transformers like this one.Talia Herman for The Wall Street Journal
To some, the Metcalf incident has lifted the discussion of serious U.S. grid attacks beyond the theoretical. "The breadth and depth of the attack was unprecedented" in the U.S., said Rich Lordan, senior technical executive for the Electric Power Research Institute. The motivation, he said, "appears to be preparation for an act of war."
The attack lasted slightly less than an hour, according to the chronology assembled by the Journal.
At 12:58 a.m., AT&T fiber-optic telecommunications cables were cut—in a way that made them hard to repair—in an underground vault near the substation, not far from U.S. Highway 101 just outside south San Jose. It would have taken more than one person to lift the metal vault cover, said people who visited the site.
Nine minutes later, some customers of Level 3 Communications, LVLT +0.03% an Internet service provider, lost service. Cables in its vault near the Metcalf substation were also cut.
At 1:31 a.m., a surveillance camera pointed along a chain-link fence around the substation recorded a streak of light that investigators from the Santa Clara County Sheriff's office think was a signal from a waved flashlight. It was followed by the muzzle flash of rifles and sparks from bullets hitting the fence.
The substation's cameras weren't aimed outside its perimeter, where the attackers were. They shooters appear to have aimed at the transformers' oil-filled cooling systems. These began to bleed oil, but didn't explode, as the transformers probably would have done if hit in other areas.
About six minutes after the shooting started, PG&E confirms, it got an alarm from motion sensors at the substation, possibly from bullets grazing the fence, which is shown on video.
Four minutes later, at 1:41 a.m., the sheriff's department received a 911 call about gunfire, sent by an engineer at a nearby power plant that still had phone service.
Riddled with bullet holes, the transformers leaked 52,000 gallons of oil, then overheated. The first bank of them crashed at 1:45 a.m., at which time PG&E's control center about 90 miles north received an equipment-failure alarm.
Five minutes later, another apparent flashlight signal, caught on film, marked the end of the attack. More than 100 shell casings of the sort ejected by AK-47s were later found at the site.
At 1:51 a.m., law-enforcement officers arrived, but found everything quiet. Unable to get past the locked fence and seeing nothing suspicious, they left.
A PG&E worker, awakened by the utility's control center at 2:03 a.m., arrived at 3:15 a.m. to survey the damage.
Grid officials routed some power around the substation to keep the system stable and asked customers in Silicon Valley to conserve electricity.
In a news release, PG&E said the substation had been hit by vandals. It has since confirmed 17 transformers were knocked out.
Mr. Wellinghoff, then chairman of FERC, said that after he heard about the scope of the attack, he flew to California, bringing with him experts from the U.S. Navy's Dahlgren Surface Warfare Center in Virginia, which trains Navy SEALs. After walking the site with PG&E officials and FBI agents, Mr. Wellinghoff said, the military experts told him it looked like a professional job.
In addition to fingerprint-free shell casings, they pointed out small piles of rocks, which they said could have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.
"They said it was a targeting package just like they would put together for an attack," Mr. Wellinghoff said.
Mr. Wellinghoff, now a law partner at Stoel Rives LLP in San Francisco, said he arranged a series of meetings in the following weeks to let other federal agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, know what happened and to enlist their help. He held a closed-door meeting with utility executives in San Francisco in June and has distributed lists of things utilities should do to strengthen their defenses.
A spokesman for Homeland Security said it is up to utilities to protect the grid. The department's role in an emergency is to connect federal agencies and local police and facilitate information sharing, the spokesman said.
As word of the attack spread through the utility industry, some companies moved swiftly to review their security efforts. "We're looking at things differently now," said Michelle Campanella, an FBI veteran who is director of security for Consolidated Edison Inc.ED +0.58% in New York. For example, she said, Con Ed changed the angles of some of its 1,200 security cameras "so we don't have any blind spots."
Some of the legislators Mr. Wellinghoff briefed are calling for action. Rep. Henry Waxman(D., Calif.) mentioned the incident at a FERC oversight hearing in December, saying he was concerned that no one in government can order utilities to improve grid protections or to take charge in an emergency.
As for Mr. Wellinghoff, he said he has made something of a hobby of visiting big substations to look over defenses and see whether he is questioned by security details or local police. He said he typically finds easy access to fence lines that are often close to important equipment.
"What keeps me awake at night is a physical attack that could take down the grid," he said. "This is a huge problem."
2nd amendment advocates depicted as domestic terrorists during drill
February 10, 2014
Last January, Infowars reported on a “safety” exercise involving police, national guard and emergency management officials in Portsmouth, Ohio. The premise of that exercise was that individuals “disgruntled over the government’s interpretation of the Second Amendment” plotted to use weapons of mass destruction to terrorize the local community.
On Monday the investigative non-profit Media Trackers posted documents released by the Ohio National Guard’s 52nd Civil Support Team a full year after the exercise. The documents reveal a deliberate effort to portray Second Amendment supporters as racist right-wing terrorists who use chemical weapons on school children.
“On the chalkboard as well as the tables there were several statements about protecting Gun Rights and Second Amendment rights,” a scenario document received by Media Trackers dated January 17, 2013 states. According to the fictional account used in the exercise, the leader of the Second Amendment group was a white nationalist going by the name William Pierce.
“No apology to Ohioans who supported limited government and the Second Amendment appears to be forthcoming,” writes Jesse Hathaway for Media Trackers. “Scioto County Emergency Management Agency director Kim Carver refused to comment, telling Media Trackers she was ‘not going to get into an Ohio Army National Guard issue that you have with them.’”
Ohio National Guard Communications Director James Sims II said Media Trackers had inferred the scenario demonized gun owners and Second Amendment activists.
The Missouri Information Analysis Center (MIAC) also produced a document in 2009 warning about the danger of a purported “Modern Militia Movement,” including the likes of Ron Paul, Bob Barr and Chuck Baldwin. MIAC and fusion centers around the country coordinated with the DHS to “collect, evaluate, analyze, and disseminate information and intelligence” on the supposed threat posed by libertarians and constitutionalists, including Second Amendment advocates. Between 2004 and 2007, the DHS provided $254 million to fusion centers engaged in surveilling Americans considered a terrorist threat by the government.
In 2013, the DHS released a report, “Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the United States, 1970 to 2008,” that employed the phrase “extreme right-wing, ethno-nationalist/separatist” to describe individuals and groups it claimed represented a domestic terrorist threat. The report takes its definitions from a 2011 study entitled Profiles of Perpetrators of Terrorism, produced by the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism.
On May 1, 2013, Infowars posted a video portraying a mock news report produced by the Department of Homeland Security depicting American gun owners as terrorists.
The documents obtained by Media Trackers provide more evidence that the government and its counterterrorism infrastructure consider American gun owners at the top of the list of domestic terror threats.
LIGHTS OUT FOR NSA? MARYLAND LAWMAKERS PUSH TO CUT WATER, ELECTRICITY TO SPY AGENCY HEADQUARTERS
The National Security Agency’s headquarters in Ft. Meade, Md., will go dark if a cohort of Maryland lawmakers has its way. Eight Republicans in the 141-member Maryland House of Delegates introduced legislation Thursday that would deny the electronic spy agency “material support, participation or assistance in any form” from the state, its political subdivisions or companies with state contracts. The bill would deprive NSA facilities water and electricity carried over public utilities, ban the use of NSA-derived evidence in state courts and prevent state universities from partnering with the NSA on research. Read More...
The bill was introduced yesterday, HR4009, and provides, in relevant part,
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an institution of higher education shall not be eligible to receive funds or any other form of financial assistance under this Act [not including student aid funds] if the Secretary determines that such institution is participating in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars….
For purposes of this section, the Secretary shall consider an institution of higher education to be participating in a boycott of Israeli academic institutions or scholars if the institution, any significant part of the institution, or any organization significantly funded by the institution adopts a policy or resolution, issues a statement, or otherwise formally establishes the restriction of discourse, cooperation, exchange, or any other involvement with academic institutions or scholars on the basis of the connection of such institutions or such scholars to the State of Israel.
Leading First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams has said that the bill would be unconstitutional:
The notion that the power to fund colleges and their faculties may be transformed into a tool to punish them for engaging in constitutionally protected expression is contrary to any notion of academic freedom and to core First Amendment principles…. I believe that academic boycotts are themselves contrary to principles of academic freedom but that does not make the legislation being considered any more tolerable or constitutional.
Sometimes real-world occurrences are so terrifying and absurd that they transcend the content of even the most vivid and imaginative science-fiction novels. And just as societal fears inform popular literature, it would seem that life itself has the perverse tendency of mimicking (even realizing) the stuff of dystopian fictions. And for those of us who are prone to anxiety and morbid ponderings, recent news has done little to set our minds at ease. I’m referring, of course, primarily to the recent NSA domestic spying scandal andGoogle’s acquisition of smart technology developer Nest.
The very basis of science-fiction itself could be humanity’s fear of technology, and our constant struggle to reconcile our own frail identity in the face of rapid advancements. On the one hand, technological advancements have enriched modern life for many people throughout the world. On the other hand, we’ve seen the consequences of misapplied technology, or technology which has been purposefully used towards destructive ends.
While a case could be made that classic science fiction works might have helped to avoid certain catastrophes by anticipating them, why are there still so many similarities? Why is our reality starting to feel like more and more like a George Pal film come to life? Pal was part of a significant era in the annals of genre pulp influenced filmmaking -- many stellar works of science-fiction were born out of the cold war era.
The 1950’s was a time fraught with friction. Tensions were high between the United States and the former Soviet empire. Many factions throughout the world were still struggling to come to terms with both the long and short-term consequences of World War II. Stock footage of the atrocities committed by the Nazi party under Hitler’s reign left an indelible mark upon the global collective consciousness, and the knowledge that the United States had demonstrated its nuclear capabilities by decimating Hiroshima and Nagasaki also became a source of anxiety for many people. Science-fiction offered something catharticto the general public by presenting dramatic treatments of these events.
And now with the news of “smart” technology developments in the private sector, and the degree to which this gives the government and other commercial entities too much insight into our daily lives, it seems that a whole new generation of science-fiction writers will have ample fodder.
Certainly, much has been written on the NSA scandal, and all of the confidential information disclosed by Snowden, but the media frenzy surrounding that has largely eclipsed another disturbing development. Google has acquired the company Nest, meaning that they are now a major player in the world of home automation. The central idea of home automation is that a homeowner will be able to control all of their household electronic devices (which will be equipped with wireless connectivity) by using a smartphone device. Many large corporations are developing technology for: Samsung just recently announced a new smart device platform that will only be capable of interacting with their own products, while more sophisticated apps, such as the newest versions of the ADT Home Security system, allows multiple devices to interact -- everything from your kitchen wares to your home security system. What’s disturbing about Google moving into this space is that it means they are potentially gaining a window into our everyday lives -- and many are concerned that the data they gather will be sold to third parties.
One of the first negative associations summoned to this writer’s mind is the story August 2026: There Will Come Soft Rains, written by Ray Bradbury. We spend an August day in a fully automated modern home, in a dystopian future where the entire country has been wiped out as a result of nuclear warfare. The fully mechanized home continues to operate as it was designed to, with no human beings to mediate its functions. Eventually, the house catches fire and is incapable of extinguishing itself. It’s a dark and fascinating story -- one which can be interpreted to mean a variety of things. For one, we can think about it as an allegory for the dualistic nature of technology: it yields utilitarian things like antibiotics, satellite communications, and sophisticated kitchen appliances. It also yields monstrous things like biological warfare, nuclear weapons, and invasive instruments which can be used to monitor and control the general public.
And, to elaborate on that last point about surveillance, one could also easily find comparisons between the present situation, and the autocratic, technology abusive future predicted by George Orwell in his seminal 1984. Orwell’s novel tells the story of the fictional Oceania, where “Big Brother” and “the thought police” monitor the public’s every move with the aid of “telescreens” which function as TV windows into everyone’s home. In our present grim reality, you can now substitute “telescreens” with “smart devices” which are now feeding Google’s bottomless datamine on practically every living person with a social security number. In the book, no one in Oceania gets to enjoy so much as a moment of privacy, and anyone who exhibits behavior which even hints at what the government might perceive as a rebellious or non-conformist attitude is promptly “vaporized.”
In this writer’s opinion is that there is not enough disparity between the perilous and dogmatic societies envisioned by the writers of the cold war era and the realities which we now face. There are endless societal benefits to technology -- for example, “white space” transmissions are making the internet more accessible in remote areas, and the countlessmedical advancements we’ve seen in recent years. But domestic spying and bulk metadata being sold to anonymous third parties is inexcusable. This is perfectly acceptable in the domain of science-fiction but utterly reprehensible when it comes to constitute any part of the fabric of modern life.
http://www.golemxiv.co.uk/2014/02/trade-deals-and-investment-treaties-how-companies-can-sue-whole-nations-and-win/ ( Could Japanese companies sue the US for loss of earning related to the Fukushima disaster if the TPP goes through ? )
Trade deals and Investment Treaties – How companies can sue whole nations and win.
This is the title of a fringe session I will be doing at the Green Party Conference at St George’s Hall, Liverpool, at 17.00 on Sat. the 1st March.
The blurb for the session reads:
Inside trade deals like the TTIP between the US and EU are Bilateral Investment Treaties. There are now over 3000 of these treaties. They give corporations the right to sue a nation for “loss of earnings.” The companies sue not in an international court but at a special tribunal. The tribunals trump any and all local and national laws. They meet behind closed doors, their decision is final, there is no appeal and their awards – often in the hundreds of million are internationally enforceable.
We all know that the radiation from the stricken Fukushima plant has spread around the globe and is poisoning people worldwide. We all know that the West Coast of the United States is being polluted with radioactive debris and that the oceans, the beaches that border them, and even the air is becoming more polluted by radioactivity as time goes on.
You have to ask yourself why the government won’t admit this. It’s not like a disaster half a world away is their fault is it?
Or is it? Could the United States government have done something to prevent the situation getting to this point?
Nothing in this article is a state secret, everything is in the public domain, but the information is so disseminated that it appears disconnected.
I suggest that they know that the many of nuclear reactors in the United States are also prone to catastrophic meltdown, and they are doing nothing about it.
I suggest that research by doctors and scientists is being suppressed, and that research by private citizens is being written off purely because they have no scientific background.
All the warnings were ignored
The narrative that leads us to the state we are in today starts in 1972.
Stephen Hanauer, an official at the atomic Energy Commission recommended that General Electric’s Mark 1 design be discontinued as it presented unacceptable safety risks.
The New York Times reported:
In 1972, Stephen H. Hanauer, then a safety official with the Atomic Energy Commission, recommended that the Mark 1 system be discontinued because it presented unacceptable safety risks. Among the concerns cited was the smaller containment design, which was more susceptible to explosion and rupture from a buildup in hydrogen — a situation that may have unfolded at the Fukushima Daiichi plant. Later that same year, Joseph Hendrie, who would later become chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, a successor agency to the atomic commission, said the idea of a ban on such systems was attractive. But the technology had been so widely accepted by the industry and regulatory officials, he said, that “reversal of this hallowed policy, particularly at this time, could well be the end of nuclear power.” (source)
Then, three years later in 1975, Dale Bridenbaugh and two colleagues were asked to review the GE Mark 1 Boiling Water Reactor (BWR). They were convinced that the reactor was inherently unsafe and so flawed in its design that it could catastrophically fail under certain circumstances. There were two main issues. First was the possible failure of the Mark 1 to deal with the huge pressures created if the unit lost cooling power. Secondly, the spent fuel ponds were situated 100 feet in the air near the top of the reactor.
They voiced their opinions, which were promptly pushed aside, and after realizing that they were not going to be allowed to make their opinions public all three resigned.
Over the years numerous other experts voiced concerns over the GE Mark 1 BWR. All have gone unheeded.
Five of the six reactors at Fukushima were GE Mark 1 BWR. The first reactor, unit one, was commissioned in 1971, prior to the first concerns about the design being raised. The other reactors came on line in 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978 and 1979 respectively. Although all six reactors were the GE Mark 1 design only three were built and supplied by GE. Units 1, 2 and 6 were supplied by GE, 3 and 5 by Toshiba and unit 4 by Hitachi. (Now Hitachi-GE)
Why isn’t GE being held accountable?
Why wouldn’t GE be held accountable? Here’s one possibility: Jeffery Immelt is the head of GE. He is also the head of the United States Economic Advisory Board. He was invited to join the board personally by President Obama in 2009 and took over as head in 2011 when Paul Volcker stepped down in February 2011, just a month before the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Fukushima.
Paul Volcker was often seen as being at odds with the administration and many of his ideas were not embraced by the government. The appointment of Immelt, a self described Republican, was seen as a move to give Obama a leg up when dealing with the Republican majority in the House.
There have been calls from many organizations for GE to be held accountable for the design faults in the reactors that powered the Fukushima plant. The fact that they had been known for so long does seem to indicate that the company ignored and over-ruled advice from nuclear experts.
GE ran Fukushima alongside TEPCO, but it isn’t liable for the clean-up costs.
A year after the disaster, Tepco was taken over by the Japanese government because it couldn’t afford the costs to get the damaged reactors under control. By June of 2012, Tepco had received nearly 50 billion dollars from the government.
The six reactors were designed by the U.S. company General Electric (GE). GE supplied the actual reactors for units one, two and six, while two Japanese companies Toshiba provided units three and five, and Hitachi unit four. These companies as well as other suppliers are exempted from liability or costs under Japanese law.
Many of them, including GE, Toshiba and Hitachi, are actually making money on the disaster by being involved in the decontamination and decommissioning, according to a report by Greenpeace International.
“The nuclear industry and governments have designed a nuclear liability system that protects the industry, and forces people to pick up the bill for its mistakes and disasters,” says the report, “Fukushima Fallout“.
“If nuclear power is as safe as the industry always claims, then why do they insist on liability limits and exemptions?” asked Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a nuclear analyst with Greenpeace Canada.
Nuclear plant owner/operators in many countries have liability caps on how much they would be forced to pay in case of an accident. In Canada, this liability cap is only 75 million dollars. In the United Kingdom, it is 220 million dollars. In the U.S., each reactor owner puts around 100 million dollars into a no-fault insurance pool. This pool is worth about 10 billion dollars.
“Suppliers are indemnified even if they are negligent,” Stensil told IPS. (source)
GE will not have put anything into this ‘pot’ to cover Fukushima ,as it is not in the United States. They have walked away, even though they knew their reactors have design faults.
Wait! There’s more!
It’s not that simple though, and here’s where keeping quiet and denying what’s happening comes into its own.
So far I have not explained why Obama is keeping quiet about the radiation contamination. Well, that’s the easy part.
There are 23 nuclear plants in the United States that use the GE Mark 1 BWR.
There are 23 nuclear plants in the United States where the used fuel rods are suspended, in a pond, 100 feet above the ground. (source)
Any admission that radiation has spread across the Pacific Ocean and contaminated American soil is an admission that the technology was flawed, and that same flawed technology is being used in the United States. The government does not want anyone looking closer at the situation. They don’t want people poking around asking questions about why the radiation got out in the first place…it’s too close to home.
Better to say that the radiation is within safe levels, and then if such a disaster happens here they can mourn those in the immediate fall out zone and maintain that the rest of the country is okay, just as it was after Fukushima.
The fact that the CEO of GE works for Obama just highlights the facts. There is no way that Immelt doesn’t know about all the warning his company was given about the design flaws of the Mark 1, and if he knows, the government knows.
It is impossible to have so many scientists and doctors agreeing to this level. Nothing has been published regarding the increased rates of miscarriage and childhood thyroid cancers. Why is that?
After Chernobyl there was a plethora of papers announcing to the world the increased cancer risks, the risks to pregnant women and young children. I suggest that because Chenobyl was in Russia, a place where no American technology was used, that there was no suppression of the facts.
GE cannot afford a corporate law suit, and neither can the Obama administration. It wouldn’t be pretty if a senior advisor to the president was hauled through the courts. There’s a chance it would not just be GE that went down in the wake of such a case.
The President of the United States knows that the radiation from Fukushima is worse than it would have been had the reactors used at the plant been of a different design.
The President of the United States knows that the delicate and hazardous task of removing and storing the spent fuel rods is going to take years and that one mistake can exacerbate the problems ten-fold.
The President of the United States knows that 23 sites in America are using the same flawed reactors and he is doing nothing about it.
The President of the United States is holding the lives of tens of millions of Americans in his hands and he refuses to even admit there is a problem.
The President of the United States needs to understand that the people of the West Coast are not just pawns in his political game.
The President of the United states should be explaining what is causing all the fish die-offs if it is unconnected to radiation.
Obama knows that millions of American citizens are being poisoned due, in part, to a failure of American technology. I recognize that the earthquake and tsunami were forces of nature, but the damage sustained could have been reduced considerably by not using the Mark 1.
I understand that these reactors were not installed on his watch, but he’s there now. He’s the one that can make the difference now. It is he who can look into the nuclear power stations on American soil in the hope of preventing a meltdown here. Our nuclear power stations are old, past their sell by date in some cases. It’s not just the reactors that are the problem either. Hanford, right on the Columbia River in Washington state, as one example, constantly leaks radioactive liquid into the ground, and possibly the groundwater.