The Mercury article of Feb. 23, “We just have to hope that nothing happens” has profound implications to everyone in the Greater Philadelphia Region. We applaud the March 1 Mercury editorial conclusion, “Clearly, hope is not enough to maintain safety…”
So-called “bomb trains” containing up to 3 million gallons of explosive, flammable, hazardous crude oil travel right through Pottstown and the Limerick Nuclear Plant Site. A derailment, explosion and days-long fire ball near Limerick’s reactors and deadly fuel pools could trigger simultaneous meltdowns with catastrophic radioactive releases. Millions of Greater Philadelphia Region residents could lose everything forever.
Days of thick black smoke from a crude oil fire could be devastating. Even Occidental Chemical’s large vinyl chloride accidents (seven-tenths of a mile from Limerick) caused problems at Limerick, according to employees, some of whom are very worried about crude oil train derailments.
Risks are increasing. Emergency responders are smart to be concerned. They shouldn’t be expected to be on the front lines of such devastating uncontrollable disasters.
Train derailment disasters should be anticipated. Sixty-five tank cars bound for Philadelphia had loose, leaking, or missing safety components to prevent flammable, hazardous contents from escaping (Hazmat report – last two years). A fuel-oil train already derailed a few miles from Philadelphia.
Heat from the rupture and ignition of one 30,000-gallon car can set off a chain reaction, causing other cars to explode, releasing a days-long fireball. Basically, responders must let it burn out.
Over 100 railcars, estimated to hold three million gallons, regularly sit on tracks from the Dollar General in Stowe to Montgomery County Community College.
ProPublica data from the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (2011-2014) shows incidents in over 250 municipalities. The worst of eight major crude oil train accidents include:
• A train derailment and explosion killed 47 and destroyed 30 buildings in Quebec.
• 2,300 residents were evacuated in North Dakota. The fireball was observed states away.
Safer trains aren’t the answer. A new safer-design derailed February 2015 in West Virginia, despite adhering to the speed limit. Hundreds of families had to flee their homes in frigid weather. Burning continued for days. Drinking water and electricity were lost. Leaking crude oil poisoned the water supply. Fireballs erupted from crumbled tank cars, underscoring volatility of crude oil’s propane, butane, etc.
Safe evacuation from our densely populated region is an illusion. Limerick Nuclear Plant’s evacuation plan is unworkable and unrealistic, not robust as claimed by a health official. Just consider work hour traffic combined with deteriorated roads and bridges. We encourage officials to visit www.acereport.org to view ACE’s 2012 video-blog series on the reality of Limerick’s evacuation plan. For a graphic presentation call (610) 326-2387.
Who pays to deal with irreversible devastation from train derailments and meltdowns? Clearly, not the oil industry, nuclear industry, railroad or government. We’d be on our own, despite:
1. Long-term ecological damage that would leave ghost towns that can’t be cleaned up safely.
2. Risking the vital drinking water resource for almost two million people (Pottstown to Philadelphia).
3. Millions of people losing their homes, businesses and health.
Richard Lengel, Pottstown’s Fire Chief, admitted, “If something catastrophic happens, there’s no municipality along the railroad that can handle it, the volume [crude oil] is too great. We just have to hope that nothing happens, honestly.”
Hope is no solution! Neither is denying the reality of our unacceptable devastating risks.
The catastrophic disasters we face can, and must, be prevented with foresight and political will to face the facts and take action. Enough of corporate profits jeopardizing public safety.
Wake up! Speak up! Tell local, state and federal elected officials to stop this insanity!
Say no to dangerous crude oil trains traveling through our communities and the Limerick site.
Say no to continued Limerick Nuclear Plant operations to avoid meltdowns that can be triggered by cyber/terrorist attacks, embrittled/cracking reactors, earthquakes and now oil-train explosions/fires.
Terrorist Threats At Limerick Pose Catastrophic Risks
ACE wants a safer future for you and your family.
A 2013 Defense Department analysis said NO U.S. nuclear plant is protected against terrorist attacks, and all pose catastrophic risks.
We can avoid a Limerick Nuclear Plant catastrophe if our elected officials and government agencies stop dodging the harsh reality of risk and take action.
To insure a safer future we must transition to safer energy immediately, and close Limerick now before a terrorist attack triggers a meltdown which can be caused by loss of power and/or water.
Millions of people would suffer irreparable health harms from Limerick’s radioactive plume contaminating everything.
We would be financially ruined and permanently displaced. It’s insanity to allow that kind of unnecessary risk to continue.
After 9/11, ACE started investigating Limerick’s vulnerabilities to terrorism, plus security and evacuation problems. For details: www.acereport.org #13 “Terrorists Threats: Precaution Is Inadequate” and Video Blog Series 1-8. The reality is alarming. It’s not fear-mongering to report it in hope of prevention.
On July 30, 2014, the Mercury printed Evan Brandt’s article, “NRC Mum about Security Problem at Limerick Nuclear Plant”. It’s unacceptable for NRC to withhold information about risks from those who would be most impacted by the consequences.
For a year following 9/11, taxpayers paid for Limerick’s air defense. Since then, NRC refused to require Exelon to pay for that, despite extraordinary risks from terrorists’ planes or missiles.. If a plane or missile crashed into a fuel pool, it could result in loss of water, meltdown, and fire.
One expert reported that a fuel pool fire could cause fatal radiation-induced cancer in thousands of people as far as 500 miles from the site. “Spent fuel” rods (among the deadliest materials on earth) are jam packed in Limerick’s extremely vulnerable fuel pools, constructed with substandard cement and without extra containment walls. Like Fukushima’s, they’re directly above Limerick’s reactors.
On September 24, 2014, a PBS documentary, “Cyber Security, Rise of the Hackers”, revealed the reality of high-stakes cyber attacks. For example: the Stuxnet virus targeted an Iranian nuclear plant in 2010, destroying over 1,000 centrifuges before detection. Stuxnet, capable of spreading, could be a blueprint for cyber attacks on U.S. nuclear plants. Even a cyber attack on the grid could lead to extended loss of power and water, triggering meltdowns at Limerick.
Limerick security and NRC oversight are so lax that an Al-Qaida suspect worked undetected for 5 years (2002-2007) during Limerick re-fueling.
Inexplicably, in 2012, even after lessons from Fukushima, NRC pared down emergency evacuation planning for radiation exposure after meltdowns.
Nearly 8 million people live within 50 miles of Limerick, the evacuation zone that NRC recommended after Fukushima. Millions of people, in all directions, would suffer health harms, financial ruin, and permanent displacement, while Exelon would be liable for only a tiny fraction of the estimated one trillion dollar cost.
We can’t evacuate safely! No workable evacuation plan exists. Escape routes would be completely gridlocked.
The Montgomery County Planning Commission and the Department of Safety both warned NRC about inadequate infrastructure to support safe evacuation. Where would everyone go, with Philadelphia just over 20 miles downwind and downstream from Limerick?
The price of ignoring the public’s health and financial risks are incalculable, yet almost all our elected and agency officials have displayed callous disregard for the extraordinary terrorist threats we face related to Limerick Nuclear Plant and our future.
We can’t afford to elect more politicians like Tom Quigley, who took contributions from Exelon and publicly supported Limerick relicensing until 2049, despite ACE repeatedly informing him of irrefutable catastrophic risks, including terrorism.
Before voting 11-4-14, ask each candidate if they will help close Limerick now to protect your family.
We also encourage you to review just released 2013-2014 environmental voting records of PA state senators and representatives at www.conservationpa.org.
Financial Injustice To The Public
Related To A Nuclear Plant Radiation Accident / Meltdown
Taxpayers Unfairly Saddled With Staggering Financial Burden by Congressional Act
• The Price Anderson Act Guarantees The Nuclear Industry That It Won’t Have To Pay More Than $12 Billion for a U.S. Nuclear Plant Accident / Meltdown.
NRC documents suggest that Exelon is only required to set aside $375 MILLION in preparation for a meltdown.
As of 2012, Exelon has only set aside $223.8 MILLION of the $375 MILLION.
• NRC and Independent Experts Agree That A Nuclear Plant Meltdown Would Cost At Least $1 Trillion.
The Evacuation Zone Becomes A Key Factor In Which Victims Even Have An Opportunity To Apply For Temporary Housing, Reimbursement Costs For Lost Property and Possessions, or Relocation Costs.
Evacuation costs are calculated on the number of people living in the evacuation area.
Cost is an obvious reason NRC is refusing to require Exelon to expand Limerick Nuclear Plant’s evacuation zone, even after Fukushima proved expanded evacuation and ingestion pathway zones are needed to protect public health and safety.
• Taxpayers Are Unfairly Burdened With The Lion’s Share (Almost $900 Billion) Of The $1 Trillion Cost.
With a shrinking federal budget and high national debt, it is doubtful that hundreds of billions of dollars would be provided for compensation claims from nuclear refugees.
Note the difficulty of getting $60 billion from Congress for victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Some in the Gulf still haven’t been fully compensated for loss of property and businesses for the BP oil spill.
These disasters were highly visible and still victims are not being fully compensated.
With a nuclear meltdown, radiation is invisible.
Radiation from a meltdown would cause unprecedented long-term harmful health impacts and decades of environment devastation.
Just as in Japan, nuclear refugees would be lose everything.
Survivors would have a difficult time even getting temporary housing, let alone compensation for relocation and long-term medical care.
Other Costs and Consequences to the Public
Once a large amount of radiation enters an ecosystem, it quickly becomes widespread, contaminating water, soil, plants and animals making a large area around the nuclear plant an uninhabitable dead zone for generations. Nuclear refugees can lose everything they own. Homes inside the exclusion zone would be uninhabitable but owners may be forced to continue to make mortgage payments. Those outside the declared evacuation zone where radiation levels are still dangerously high, would not even get modest compensation to cover costs of living as evacuees. Only the wealthy could afford to escape radiation exposure.
No Agency Wants Responsibility for Attempting Clean Up After a Nuclear Disaster. Agencies Ignore or Miss the Fact That Nuclear “Accidents” NEVER End.
• No agency admits the obvious – that a nuclear plant radiation accident / meltdown is likely to be impossible to clean up.
• Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) struggle to determine which agency, and with what money and legal authority, would oversee cleanup in the event of a large-scale accident at a nuclear power plant that disperses radiation over vast areas impacted by meltdowns.
• NRC informed the other agencies that it does not plan to take the lead in overseeing such a cleanup and that money in an industry-funded insurance account for nuclear accidents would likely not be available – According to documents obtained by Inside EPA under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). (Request Part 1, Request Part 2)
• Refusal to even address the issues – Questions regarding whether or how EPA or others would attempt a clean-up after a nuclear power plant incident were “based on hypothetical situations / scenarios” and that EPA could not “give an assessment on something that [was] hypothetical.”
Source: “Agencies Struggle To Craft Offsite Cleanup Plan For Nuclear Power Accidents” November 10, 2010 http://insideepa.com/Inside-EPA-General/Inside-EPA-Public-Content/agencies-struggle-to-craft-offsite-cleanup-plan-for-nuclear-power-accidents/menu-id-565.html (Published 09/11/11)
Evacuees Escaping Radiation Become Nuclear Refugees.
• A Radioactive Accident / Meltdown creates a dead zone, where homes and properties are uninhabitable for generations.
• People whose homes and businesses are in the “Dead Zone” lose their homes, businesses, and possessions.
• Evidence shows that “Dead Zones” go far beyond 10-miles, Limerick’s current evacuation zone.
• People outside the 10-Mile evacuation zone who suffer the same damages inside the designated evacuation zone would get NO compensation.
• Tragically, many people could NOT move because they could NOT afford to rent or buy another home.
• Homeowners insurance is NOT available to residents and small business owners to cover sustained losses from a Limerick Nuclear Plant radiological accident.
• Currently, even in the 10-Mile Evacuation Zone, there seems to be NO specific plan for temporary housing for the hundreds of thousands of people for as long as needed, much less full reimbursement for displacement.
FINANCIAL QUESTIONS THAT MUST BE ANSWERED BEFORE A LIMERICK NUCLEAR PLANT RADIOACTIVE ACCIDENT / MELTDOWN:
• Which agency is in charge of providing funding for temporary housing for the hundreds of thousands of evacuated residents within the 10-mile evacuation zone?
Which federal agency would be responsible to oversee claims? NRC, EPA, or FEMA?
Is there reimbursement compensation guaranteed to victims from the evacuation / dead zone?
What proof would home and business owners need to produce to validate the legitimacy of claims for loss of radioactive property and possessions?
The gulf disaster shows why Exelon, Limerick’s owner, can’t be left to control the process.
• Victims of a nuclear disaster should anticipate lengthy delays in receiving compensation, compared to victims of Hurricane Sandy, where even when a clear plan was established prior to the disaster, and people were forced to wait months for reimbursement.
• Inside the Limerick Nuclear Plant 10-Mile Evacuation Zone, hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars would be needed to compensate victims for losses due to radioactive contamination of:
Homes – Personal property – Furniture – Vehicles
Private insurers do not cover radioactive contaminated property or possessions due to a Limerick Nuclear Plant radiation accident / meltdown.
Will home owners and business owners be obligated to continue to pay mortgages for radioactive properties that can’t be safely occupied? Homeowners are obligated to continue paying mortgages on radiation uninhabitable properties in Japan.
• Anyone with a job once held in the evacuation zone would lose their livelihood.
How would they pay for new living expenses following a meltdown?
In this highly populated Philadelphia Region, especially during a recession, how would the millions of evacuated victims find new jobs?
• How could business owners from evacuation zones be fully compensated for:
Loss of Income from Operations?
Loss of A Building or Plant For Safe Operations?
Loss of Business Equipment and Vehicles?
• Who would pay the astronomical medical expenses for hundreds of thousands or even millions of people who may need:
Treatment For Radiation Sickness?
Long -Term Medical Treatment for the broad range of human health impacts, in addition to cancer, resulting from radiation exposure after a meltdown, such as those suffered after Chernobyl?
• Who would pay for:
Final expenses and burial costs?
• Local governments, police and fire departments whose facilities are also radioactive will need to move their operations
Will Exelon or taxpayers bear the costs?
• Who will pay to evacuate hospitals that are in the evacuation zone like Pottstown and Phoenixville?
Who pays for emergency responders and the radiation-protective gear that would be needed for such a massive rescue effort?
• Would the industrial rail line which runs directly through the Limerick Nuclear Plant site have to be closed down?
How would that impact other businesses?
Fukushima’s Financial Meltdown
Costs and Consequences of Fukushima Provide Evidence of What Could Happen Here
The precise value of the abandoned cities, towns, agricultural lands, businesses, homes and property located within the roughly 310 square miles of the exclusion (“dead”) zone has not even been established. Independent experts say industry estimates of economic loss are grossly underestimated, to date, ranging from $250-$500 billion U.S.
September 2012, Fukushima officials stated that 159,128 people had been evicted from the exclusion (“dead”) zones, losing their homes and virtually all their possessions. (That was a sparsely populated area compared to our Philadelphia Region.)
• Most have received only a small compensation to cover their costs of living as evacuees.
• Many are forced to make mortgage payments on the homes they left inside the exclusion zones.
• In the beginning, they were not told that their homes will never again be habitable.
• TEPCO, Fukushima’s owner, refuses to take responsibility to compensate people for the radioactive fallout destroying their homes, businesses, food, and water.
• The company actually claimed in court that radiation is no longer their responsibility once it spreads off-site.
• People outside the zone were not told to evacuate, even though radiation levels were extremely dangerous. Outside Japan’s official evacuation zone, people got NO compensation even for costs of living as evacuees.
• Only the wealthy could afford to evacuate and leave everything behind.
Efforts to clean up highly contaminated areas are failing.
• Melting snow and rainwater run off the contaminated hills and return to recontaminate homes and land.
• Diversion ditches have failed to stop the process.
• Areas significantly contaminated with radioactive cesium and other long-lived radionuclides can no longer sell and export agricultural crops.
News Articles Listed Below Show Government and TEPCO Exhibited Absolute Disregard For Victims.
Japanese Officials Exposed Their Own People To Dangerous Radiation And Financial Threats, Rather Than Expose TEPCO, Fukushima’s Owner, to Financial Risk.
• Over 13,000 File Second Criminal Complaint Against TEPCO. Reported 11-16-12
TEPCO, owner of Fukushima reactors, faces prosecution for withholding crucial information that may have prevented some radiation exposures and for operating after being warned about the inadequacy of its protections against disasters.
The criminal complaint was filed against Japanese government officials, 33 TEPCO executives, and experts for their role in the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
TEPCO executives are accused of inadequate safety measures.
People are demanding answers for the evacuation procedures and accountability for deaths due to the nuclear disaster.
The complaint outlines professional negligence resulting in deaths and injuries and violation of Japan’s environmental laws.
• Fukushima Nuclear Plant Owner Added Insult to Injury – Claiming Radioactive Fallout Isn’t Theirs (Reported January 16, 2012)
A Golf Club Demanding Decontamination of the Golf Course Hauled TEPCO into Tokyo District Court, Reported October 31, 2011
TEPCO lawyers claimed the company isn’t liable because it no longer “owned” the radioactive poisons that were spewed from its destroyed reactors.
TEPCO attorneys assert radiation from the meltdowns is now the property of each property owner.
• The Entire Fukushima City (50 Kilometers From Meltdowns) Needs To Be Decontaminated All Fukushima City Residents Outside the Evacuation Zone Are Expected To Decontaminate Their Own Radioactive Homes and Property Using Government Distributed Manuals.
Why? To avoid clean-up costs for TEPCO, Fukushima’s owner
These Japanese residents should have been evacuated. Instead they are being victimized to save money for the nuclear plant owner.
• The Japan Times Reported “Economic Meltdowns Begin” (6-14-11)
• Fallout from Fukushima Continues to Blight Japan’s Agricultural Heartlands, Authorities Revealed
• Tokyo Soil Samples From Public Parks, Playgrounds, and Rooftop Gardens (140 miles from Fukushima Meltdowns) Would Be Considered Nuclear Waste In The U.S. (Reported 4/30/12) http://www.fairewinds.com/content/tokyo-soil-samples-would-be-considered-nuclear-waste-us
• Farmers Lost Their Livelihoods – Crops Were Radioactive and Couldn’t Be Sold
Dairy Farmer Commits Suicide (Reported – June 13, 2011)
He lost everything, thanks to the nuke plant. He already killed his cows and gave up on dairy farming.
He left a note, which said “If only there was no nuke plant…”
There would be no compensation [from the government]. He was not in the evacuation zone.
• Over 2,500 Fukushima Farmers and Fisherman Suffered Heavy Losses Due to Fukushima Meltdowns
Fukushima Farmers and Fisherman Protested Over the Nuclear Crisis. They called for prompt compensation from TEPCO and Japan government. (Reported 8-13-11)
• Japanese Beef – Cattle Shipments Banned (Reported 8-2-11)
• Radiation Bankrupts Japanese Cattle Ranch with $5.6 Billion in Liabilities (Reported 8-23-11)
• Japan says it is ok for residents to return at 2,000 millirem / yr – 12-16-11
Some wonder what the eventual health costs will be.
• A Reporter Revealed The Financial Incentive For Japan To Deny Deaths Caused By Fukushima Meltdowns. (Reported 2-5-12) – http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/T120204003191.htm
Japanese government has to approve deaths claimed to be related to Fukushima. 634 deaths in one prefecture were cleared to undergo screening for being related to the nuclear disaster. Japan admits at least 573 deaths ‘related to nuclear crisis’.
If a municipality certifies the cause of death is directly associated to a disaster, a condolence grant is paid to the victim’s family. Associated costs would include final burial.
If the person was a breadwinner, 5 million yen is paid.
• Fukushima’s Owner, TEPCO, is seeking 2 Trillion Yen in Government Loans to Remain Solvent (Reported 1-12)
TEPCO, owner of Fukushima power plant, has drastically underestimated costs for compensation and clean-up.
TEPCO claims only $350 Billion in compensation and cleanup costs (Reported 1-12)
• (Reported 1-16-12) TEPCO Faces Prosecution:
For Withholding crucial information that may have prevented some radiation exposures
For operating Fukushima Nuclear Plant after being warned about the inadequacy of its protections against disasters
• Japan’s Environmental Ministry began a decontamination program with a budget of $4.8 billion for 2012 alone.
A small army of workers were employed to scrape away top soil, denude trees and scrub down buildings in Okuma and other evacuated communities.
The ministry admitted an experimental effort to decontaminate a 42-acre area in Okuma had failed to reduce radiation dosages by as much as had been hoped, leading officials to declare most of the town uninhabitable for at least another five years. Okuma’s officials target date for repopulating the town changed to 2022, instead of 2014.
Eight U.S. Sailors Sue Japan Over Fukushima
Courthouse News Service By ELIZABETH WARMERDAM 12-26-12
The Fukushima nuclear disaster exposed Navy rescue workers on the U.S.S. Ronald Reagan to dangerous levels of radiation, which the government-owned power plant covered up.
Sailors say they “face additional and irreparable harm to their life expectancy, which has been shortened and cannot be restored to its prior condition.”
They seek $10 million in compensatory damages and $30 million in punitive damages for fraud, negligence, strict liability, failure to warn, public and private nuisance, and defective design.
They also want TEPCO ordered to establish a fund of $100 million to pay for their medical expenses.
The complaint says:
1) The Japanese government and TEPCO conspired to intentionally conceal dangerous levels of radiation in the environment of US Navy rescue crews working off the coast of Japan, to lull the U.S. Navy “into a false sense of security”. They lied through their teeth about the threat to human life from the meltdowns at Fukushima.
2) Radiation data shows radiation levels exceeded the levels of exposure to which those living the same distance from Chernobyl experienced who subsequently developed cancer.
A Few Of Chernobyl’s Large Economic Impacts Include:
• The disruption of large areas downwind of the radiation source due to evacuations
• Shutdown of plants and facilities
• Decontamination activities
• Impact of radiation on agriculture, especially the dairy industry
• Pollution of water supplies, especially downstream
Limerick Nuclear Plant Owners Financially Victimized Ratepayers and Taxpayers From The Beginning.
Limerick’s Past Financial Injustice To Ratepayers and Taxpayers Show Why We Should Be Concerned That Nuclear Refugees Would Be Financially Victimized After A Limerick Nuclear Plant Radioactive Accident / Meltdown.
A Few Examples:
1) Remember claims of having electric too cheap to meter? Our regions’ residents ended up paying 55% higher rates than the national average within ten years after Limerick started operating.
2) PECO originally estimated Limerick Nuclear Plant construction cost would be $326 million. Yet, PECO Ratepayers ended up paying $6.8 BILLION (between 1985 and 2010), which is why PECO electric bills were so high.
3) PECO / Exelon failed to pay any property taxes (1985 to 2002) on Limerick’s 600 acre property. In 1999, when finally urged to pay taxes, PECO ludicrously claimed the nuclear plant property was worth ZERO.
4) A judge in 2002 finally decided Exelon had to pay $3 million, but that was instead of the $17 million PECO should have been paying each year. Taxpayers were burdened with higher taxes because PECO / Exelon avoided paying their fair share.
5) Each month in electric bills ratepayers of our region pay Limerick Nuclear Plant’s projected astronomical decommissioning costs. Those costs to go higher. During the relicensing process NRC discovered that Exelon doesn’t have the total amount money it was required to set aside for decommissioning.
It appears Exelon’s fund may be a small fraction of the estimated billions of dollars decommissioning would cost.
Exelon significantly underestimated decommissioning costs. Sites elsewhere cost many billions more than Exelon is estimating.
Exelon only guarantees $115 Million of what would be Billions.
(NRC’s 2-23-12 letter) Taxpayers would be forced to pay the rest.
We obviously can’t trust or depend on Exelon to pay for the astronomical financial consequences that would be inevitable if Limerick Nuclear Plant has a radioactive accident / meltdown.
Our Region Needs Up-Front Planning and Assurances
Multiple Meltdowns Can Happen At Limerick Nuclear Plant
Nuclear Refugees Would Lose Everything
And Need To Be Permanently Relocated
Millions In The Greater Philadelphia Region
Need Up-Front Planning and Financial Assurances For:
• Payments For Temporary Housing
• Full Compensation For Homes, Furniture, and Other Personal Possessions
• Forgiveness Of Payments On Mortgages For Radioactive Homes and Businesses
• Full Reimbursement For Radioactive Cars, Business Vehicles and Equipment, and Other Possessions Left Behind
• Full Compensation For Loss Of Employment For Jobs That Were Located In The Radioactive Dead Zone