February 15, 2002
Not everyone in the industry runs at 100 percent capacity.
Oh, it's OK. It's Greenpeace. Some 30 or so Greenpeace protesters on Dec. 17 managed to penetrate the grounds of Australia's sole nuclear facility, Lucas Heights, located near Sydney. In the time it took Australian authorities to reach the scene, one team of protestors had scaled a radio tower, another group climbed to the top of the reactor facility, and yet a third group climbed onto the top of a waste storage facility and unfurled a "Nuclear-Never Safe" banner. The remaining protesters, who presumably could not climb while wearing their costumes of nuclear waste barrels, ran around the facility grounds.
A groundskeeper at the Lucas Heights facility, Matthew Davies, said he initially worried the protesters were terrorists. "My first thought was 'Bin Laden, terrorist attack in Australia,' " he said to reporters. "And then I saw the Greenpeace [sign] and I thought, 'Oh, that makes sense.'" So far, there are no reports that any Greenpeace signage is unaccounted for, or has fallen into the wrong hands.
Chernobyl, Shmernobyl! We're in a renaissance. Russia's enthusiasm for nuclear power has not been dimmed. Russia's atomic energy minister Alexander Rumyantsev said in late December that the country is living in a "post-Chernobyl renaissance," as he announced plans to commission at least four new nuclear reactors by 2009. One of the reactors will be a Chernobyl-type reactor. Rumyantsev did mention that all the planned reactors have been modernized to meet current safety requirements. The statement follows a March announcement by the Atomic Energy Ministry that Russia will build a floating nuclear power plant in the White Sea. Some expressed doubts that Russia would be able to afford the floating project. And, in assessing Russia's history of nuclear development, Daniel Lochbaum, nuclear safety engineer for the Union of Concerned Scientists, said, "Russia has a problem with construction quality."
The credit for the idea of a floating nuke plant does not belong to Russia. A prototype for such a plant was designed by Westinghouse in the 1970s, to be sited off the New Jersey coast. The project was canceled, though, possibly due to an incident called Three Mile Island.
It's not a terrorist plot, it's a misunderstanding. Authorities in Orange County, CA say that threats made by a fired San Onofre nuclear plant worker were aimed at former co-workers, andhad nothing to do with terrorism. David Reza, who had worked at the plant since 1984, was dismissed from his job in December for absenteeism. Reza allegedly threatened to "take my guns and go to San Onofre and whack a bunch of people." He was arrested and charged with making terrorist threats in early January.
Reza's girlfriend said it was all a misunderstanding. Reza was a known gun collector, she claims, who owns mostly antique weapons. Police found 61 firearms and narcotics at Reza's apartment, along with another 250 weapons at a storage facility, including an anti-tank rocket launcher, several inactive grenades, and 5,000 rounds of ammunition. According to the Los Angeles Times, Reza was a "fixture" at the San Juan Capistrano Swallows Day Parade, wearing period costumes and sporting antique Colt sidearms, worth up to $25,000 each. Assistant Sheriff George Jaramillo defended the arrest of Reza, saying "[h]e may be just an avid gun collector. It may be that he was a despondent, unemployed gun collector. But that's not the point. Right now is not the time to be making threats against anyone."
Forget the nukes, let's go to space, baby! One scientist believes we should just avoid all the fuss with nuclear power by building solar plants on the moon and beaming energy back to Earth via microwave. David Criswell, director of the University of Houston's Institute for Space Systems Operations, says that energy from his Lunar Solar Power System would be pollution-free, abundant, clean, stable, and affordable. All for the same cost as the Apollo program price tag, according to Criswell.
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