US Nuclear Safety Called into Question, Oil Spill Effects Continue in the Gulf and the EPA’s New Mercury Rules

March 22nd, 2011

Spent fuel rods have come into focus as a result of the partial meltdown in Fukushima, Japan. Yet the same problem of unsafe quantities of spent fuel exists, stored at nuclear power plants, with even greater quantities of spent fuel in the US, according to Bob Alvarez, a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies – yet, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has ignored warnings on this problem. We hear from Alvarez on this issue, and we hear from Jeffrey Patterson of Physicians for Social Responsibility, who claims there is no safe level of radiation, and that it is only a matter of time before an accident similar to Fukushima’s happens in the US unless we act swiftly.

Then we hear from BBC investigative journalist Greg Palast who reveals that the same company that has allegedly covered up safety problems in the partial meltdowns of nuclear power plants in Japan – Tokyo Electric Power – is planning on helping to build two nuclear power plants in Texas, with financial backing from the Obama administration.

Earthbeat host Daphne Wysham moderated a debate over America’s nuclear industry between Arjun Makhijani, the president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, and Eileen Supko, a vice president of Energy Resources International, a nuclear fuel consulting company in Washington, DC.

The audio and video of the debate is derived from our television partnership with The Real News Network.

More at The Real News

The US Coast Guard is investigating reports of new oil slicks in the Gulf of Mexico from a spill about 30 miles offshore. For many Gulf residents, reports of a new spill just adds to the astounding amount of oil and toxic dispersants they’re still living with from the massive BP oil disaster nearly one year ago. Rocky Kistner just returned from the Gulf and joins us to discuss the new spill and health concerns of residents along the Gulf. Rocky is a communications associate with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Finally, some good news, for the first time, the EPA is setting a national standard for mercury and other air pollution from power plants. Mercury and other air toxics like arsenic, chromium, nickel and acid gases cause as many as 17,000 premature deaths each year and they’re likely the source for 120,000 cases of childhood asthma, says the EPA. Gabe Wisniewski, Greenpeace’s coal campaign director, joins us to discuss the new rules.

Music in this edition of the show includes ‘Excuse Me Mister’ by Ben Harper and ‘Gone’ by Jack Johnson. Our theme music is “Baladi” by Tony Anka, Bellydance Superstars vol. 2.

Image from Bigod, used via Flickr with a Creative Commons license.

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