Secretary Clinton Addresses High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
September 22, 2011
High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security at the United Nations General Assembly

Today, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton participated in a High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Safety at the United Nations in New York. During the meeting, Secretary Clinton said:

"...It's a privilege to join with so many of you on this very important and timely issue of nuclear safety. I want to thank Secretary General Ban for leading this discussion, and I want to recognize the leadership of Director General Amano. This year the International Atomic Energy Agency has, again, proven itself to be an indispensible forum for monitoring and supporting the peaceful nuclear activity of countries.

"A member of our international community suffered a great trauma this year. We all followed it with our hearts and our heads trying to understand the consequences of an immense earthquake that sparked a tsunami that in turn created a nuclear crisis. This trio of disasters devastated the people of Japan, but they also made nuclear safety concerns a headline the world over. The fear of nuclear contamination casts a long shadow. Six months later, Japanese authorities are still working to bring the reactors to a cold shutdown. The towns in the immediate vicinity are still unlivable.

"So this crisis, if the world needed one, is a very stark reminder that nuclear power requires comprehensive security precautions. Although nuclear safety has been a priority concern in the international community for years, it is clear that we need to redouble our efforts and our thinking as to how to imagine and then put in place reactions to whatever might occur.

"The United States faced a core meltdown just 180 miles from here at Three Mile Island. The world recently marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. None of us is immune. And on each of these occasions, the IAEA and nuclear regulatory bodies have moved to determine what went wrong and to try to prevent it from happening again. But it's imperative that every nuclear country be prepared for scenarios that include multiple severe hazards and prioritizes public safety. I think we have to take this opportunity to update our risk and safety assessments in nuclear power plants, to continue improving our international standards for nuclear safety, and strengthen our global emergency preparedness.

"In this spirit, President Obama immediately ordered a comprehensive safety review of all 104 active nuclear power plants in the United States. Our Nuclear Regulatory Commission has already completed its near-term inspections and made recommendations for improving our regulatory framework and safety procedures. And as we design and construct next-generation nuclear power plants, we must integrate the lessons that we are still learning from Japan.

"Each country must also similarly be responsible for ensuring their own reactors meet the highest, most up-to-date standards of safety. But we must set those standards here. And because a nuclear accident in one country can quickly become a transnational crisis, we are all vested in ensuring each other's success. That is why the United States supports the action plan on nuclear safety that the IAEA General Conference endorsed earlier today. It outlines steps to strengthen and expand the IAEA's peer review programs, improve emergency response training, enhance transparency and cooperation, and strengthen nuclear safety infrastructures around the world.

"The IAEA safety standards are invaluable to the success of every country's nuclear energy program. They should be continually reviewed and revised as we learn more and detect new risks. The United States also calls on all nations with nuclear reactors to adhere to the Nuclear Safety Convention, which remains our best instrument for promoting international safety standards. We will continue to support the IAEA and the peer review process, both scheduling missions in the United States and contributing senior experts to missions in other countries. We look forward to working with our partners around the world to implement the provisions of the action plan.

"The Obama Administration is committed to nuclear power as a component of our secure energy future, and we recognize that nuclear power is a vital contributor to the world's growing energy needs. It is, therefore, not an option that we simply can take off the table. But it is an option that carries special risks and dangers. Therefore, we must do everything possible to ensure its safe and responsible use. We must remain vigilant against outside threats and internal weaknesses to prevent accidents from occurring. We must make continuous improvements to regulations and strengthen implementation of existing conventions so we hold ourselves, and others, to the highest standards. And we must have exhaustive international response plans in place so that if an accident does occur, the damage is contained as much as, and as soon as, possible.

"With mutual resolve, and with the IAEA's continuing leadership, we can make concrete improvements to nuclear safety practices around the world. The United States is eager to work with our fellow members states to achieve this goal. And finally, let me say that, at a time when there is just so much happening in the world, so many both challenges and opportunities, we recognize there are differences of opinion, there are differences in approach, but on this issue we should be all united. There is no room for politics or partisanship, or any other divisiveness. We have to be united. We have to work together. We owe it to ourselves and we owe it to future generations."

You can also read the Secretary's remarks here on state.gov.

Comments

Comments

Michael K.
|
New York, USA
September 22, 2011

Michael K. in New York writes:

It is nice to read this article.

Zharkov
|
United States
September 22, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

Japan had 5 nuclear reactors blow sky high; Japanese are dying, radiation has covered the US for the past 6 months, and now we have radioactive rain, radioactive food and water, and an epidemic of cancer, so it's a bit late to begin thinking of nuclear safety. 24 hour air filters show over 1,000 counts per minute 6 months after Fukushima and still their nuclear reactors remain uncovered and leaking.

There is no nuclear safety as long as reactors are built anywhere, but especially in Tsunami zones and earthquake zones. What you have is nuclear danger, not safety.

Any reactor will explode in a severe enough earthquake because neutrons weaken the atomic bonds of the steel shielding over decades of operation. Solid steel reinforcements crumble like toasted bread after long exposure.

Two 50 year-old reactors on the West Coast of the US have radioactive hot spots in offices and rooms where there should be none at all. Workers tell of unreported radiation leaks, afraid to file formal reports out of fear of retaliation.

Electric companies will run reactors until they explode unless they are forced to dismantle them at the end of their useful lives. And the NRC renews their licenses even after the reactors are obsolete.

What happened in Chernobyl, Fukushima, in California, at 3 mile Island, and other places will continue to happen as long as we pretend they are "safe". They cannot be made safe as long as they are fueled by radioactive materials.

If anyone in Congress had a working brain cell, they would have banned reactors before Fukushima blew up.

Natural gas provides low cost, clean, safe power and there is no shortage of it. Hydroelectric power is as clean and safe as can be. Geothermal power is free energy.

Nuclear power reactors are dirty bombs waiting to explode. All it takes is a human error, an earthquake, maybe old age, before they blow.

based84
September 22, 2011

W.W. writes:

nuclear power wondering what anti-uranium does...

ethics ? we need ethics in any matter and anti matter from executing people in georgia to leave assad killing its citizen and be tolerant with a mass murdering movment which chops heads off around the globe.

both ways is something that just tribal believers and a not evoluted secure peacefull prosper society does

Ahmadinejad nuclear power ? he already made a plant with anti uranium with C.E.R.N.

Atomikrabbit
|
New York, USA
September 23, 2011

Atomikrabbit in New York writes:

Please inform Sec. Clinton that the reasons areas around Fukushima have not been repopulated are political, not scientific.

A vast amount of data has been gathered to suggest that low levels of radiation, somewhat greater than naturally-occurring background, are not only harmless, but possibly hormetic (health promoting).

Inertia by the regulating authorities have held regulatory thresholds much lower than is justified by science. The people of Japan could be sent back to their homes now if the authorities and public opinion, molded by a fear-amplifying press, would allow it.

Please start by reading this excellent summary of the situation at "http://atomicinsights.com/2011/09/if-fear-of-radiation-is-the-most-serio..."

Daniel
|
Canada
September 23, 2011

Daniel in Canada writes:

Madam,

I once heard that you were considered one of the top legal minds (top 5) in the US. I cannot recall the source or the context, but I have no doubt regarding your intellectual capacities. I see no reason why you could not become one the top 5 influencers of the only proven massive carbon free source of energy.

People in many parts of the world are living with background radioactivity in excess of 600 msv a year. Still, innocent Japanese citizens are evacuated from their perfectly safe homes on threshold of 20 msv a year.

TMI was an industrial incident were no one died from radiation. The same is occurring in Fukushima. The earthquake and ensuing tsunami were devastating. But 5 miles up the sea cost, 5 other reactors were exposed to the same forces. Nothing happened there.

There is only one lesson to be learned from Fukushima: 40 year old reactors could not withstand the forces of nature but 30 year old plants did.

It is time for your administration to allow the construction of clean, affordable and abundant nuclear energy.

Thank you.

Zharkov
|
United States
September 25, 2011

Zharkov in the U.S.A. writes:

No reactor runs on low level radiation. They all run at deadly high radiation levels.

When they explode, radioactive particles are carried around the world. A microscopic particle of radioactive plutonium, uranium, cesium, or strontium sitting inside the body will result in cancer. Fukushima has released radioactive plutonium, uranium, and other deadly isotopes into the air and water that will be around for thousands of years.

Even long-term Low level radiation is as genetically damaging as higher level but short term exposure. Radiation injury is cumulative according to the NRC and many research studies.

In an internal paper, Japan's nuclear safety agency NISA warns that there will soon be a lack of technicians because too many have exceeded their radiation limits. As early as next year, NISA anticipates that there will be a shortage of 1,000 to 1,200 qualified workers, "which will severely affect the work at Fukushima Daiichi and at nuclear power plants throughout the country."

The nuclear safety agency's solution is simple: create higher thresholds. It recommends raising the limits to allow workers to be exposed within a few years to significantly greater amounts of radiation than before. A team of workers who have been quickly trained in radiation levels checks each man's exposure. The members of the radiation detection team are now working in three shifts around the clock. Workers are often exhausted, "at their limit -- not only physically, but also mentally."

J-Village is a former training center for the Japanese national soccer team. Since March 11, is Japan's largest soccer complex has been transformed into the base camp for Japan's latest heroes - the workers who are trying to regain control of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. TEPCO is preparing to spend decades in J-Village.

Every day a brigade is deployed to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in an attempt to bring the stricken reactor under control. The workers toil in sweltering heat and dangerously high radiation levels. The maximum annual dose for workers in Japanese nuclear power plants is normally 50 millisievert. After consulting with the authorities, TEPCO has decided to raise the maximum allowed dose to 250 millisievert, high enough to significantly increase the likelihood of developing cancer.

Some 18,000 workers have helped manage the disaster since March 11. Most of them are not employed by TEPCO, but by subcontractors, who in turn recruit their workers from temporary employment agencies. Before the tsunami, many of these temporary workers had already done their fair share of the dirty work at other nuclear power plants.

Most of them are not doing this to save Japan, but to feed their families.

Mr. Sasaki is a small but muscular man. He vividly remembers how he saw the destroyed reactor for the first time in mid-August.

"It looks much worse there than on T.V.," he says. "Like New York after September 11. Destruction everywhere." He hasn't told his family that he works at the plant. He doesn't want them to worry.

He has his own worries. He needs the money, which is just under €100 a day. But if things keep going like this, he says that he will only be able to do the job a few more weeks until he reaches his company's radiation limits.

Meanwhile, millions of Japanese, Americans, and Europeans, will be dying from cancer from Fukushima fallout particles in their air and food over the next few decades. Researchers say over a million people died from cancer from Chernobyl fallout across the Northern Hemisphere. Fukushima is the equivalent of hundreds of Chernobyls, and thousands of A-bomb explosions, and there is no end in sight.

Nuclear reactors are not worth the lives lost. We have other ways to generate power that are cheaper, safer, and far more sustainable. Nuclear power was a mistake and it's time to correct that error.

Ban nuclear power reactors completely.
Since the atomic age began in 1945, cancer rates have skyrocketed. Nearly every family has someone with cancer.

Nobody wants spent fuel stored in their state; nobody wants their children and grandchildren born with birth defects; nobody wants to see their sons and daughters die from cancer; nobody wants to abandon their cities forever when a reactor explodes.

Nuclear power today has a horribly bad track record. It's far too expensive, accident-prone, and deadly when its fuel has been released into the environment.

Nuclear power companies lied when they bragged that "it was too cheap to meter"; in fact, it is too expensive to tolerate.

Brian C.
|
United Kingdom
September 25, 2011

Brian C. in the United Kingdom writes:

This is based on some misunderstanding of radiation risks from modern reactor designs and the actual safe levels of radiation. Looking at old designs thawhose potential problems and overal meltdown resistance are massively improved won't help other than dealing with those old reactors if they have a problem. Both Fukushima and Chernobyl had idiot grade failings, but Fukushims had a proper containment vessel. Fukushima was in a really stupid place, Chernobyl had no containment. Those two lessons are probaly learnt. Others are using old data and discredited LNT safe dose approach. Fukushima and Chernobyl exclusion zones appear to be denying better health to people because the politicians don't understand the science of safe levels, again. Many places in the World have far higher natural levels than obtain at these places and probably healthier populations - up to 1,000 mSv pa vs glabl average of c.3mSV pa. . The US evacuates at 20mSv pa, the level that applies in Sweden naturally, and a quarter of the 85mSv level level in SW France, etc. Check out the absolute rejection of the Linear no Threshold- LNT - "all radiation increases risk" theory.

It appears no radiation increases risk, we have evolved on a radioactive world and need it, in moderation. Homesis. Today's levels of a few mSv pa are low compared to apparent optimum of 100mSV pa. Homesis suggests optimum safe radiation levels for optimum health of 100mSv pa - SW France. GLobal average is 2.4mSv , less makes health worse..... Increase up from world average through the optimum 100mSv gets to 10 Sieverts pa before risks on cancer again increase. This is continuous dose vs single day/shift, dose rate hence cell damage rate is cricial to the effect. Sources are my own scientific experience in UK NPL and NRPB in the 60's working with former setters of limits, who had serious internal debate about this, and the recent work which appears to corroborate the Hormetic effect at lower levels they believed may exist from the Horoshima and Nagasaki data.

Sources "Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation: a Perspective for Japan, T. D. Luckey" and "A Guide to Radiation Hazard Evaluation, Applied to Fukushima Recovery Workers, Bobby R. Scott, Ph.D.". Both of these independenatly use different studies that point to a optimum radiation level and the existence of an upper relatively safe to today limit.

THis is all dose rate dependent of course - 200mSV appears a single dose threshold in areas of high radiation whereas 10Sv spread across a year is about the same.... obvious, but not to those commenting and opining apparently. Its all about the rate of cell damage plus the need to have some continuous cell damage to keep the immune system on its toes for all kinds of dodgy cells we continually create and are destroyed. We get around 86 Million natural radiation hits per day. 10% of this is from Radio Potassium in our bodies, etc. The whole thing requires much better understanding and MUCH better communication to the non technical public by people who understand the data. Not unqualified opinionated interpreters which sadly includes most politicians and media "experts", including medical doctors with a poor grasp of science.

higher67
September 26, 2011

W.W. writes:

Higher : yeah the only radiation worthed is from the United Nations

Wall street equals democracy in an era where it is needed to invest in govs ...govs are promoting what in Not gov as long as they are organization NGO'S

Oh thanks rockefeller for saving the globe oh thanks mighty warren buffet god for taxing yr self and suck from other countries with your moody behaviour ...what rupert urdoch was saying over the phone he had some investigator on british petrolium sinking lousiana with an income as uch worthed as greece...

so invest on made in china nike

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