|April 20, 2011
For Immediate Release
Contact Nukewatch: 715-742-4185
NUCLEAR POWER CRITICS PLAN CHERNOBYL ANNIVERSARY WALK --APRIL 23
LUCK, WI — Critics of nuclear power will walk the seven miles between two Wisconsin nuclear reactor sites this Saturday, April 23 commemorating the 25 years since the radiation catastrophe at Chernobyl, in Ukraine.
The “Walk for a Nuclear-Free Future” will also mark the sixth week of the ongoing radiation releases from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi reactor complex in Japan. The event is free and open to the public.
Beginning at noon near the one-reactor Kewaunee complex by Two Rivers, Wisconsin, walkers and bicyclists will proceed south along Highway 42, arriving outside the two-reactor Point Beach site around 3 p.m. A picnic is planned in the nearby Point Beach State Park.
The event comes three days prior to April 26, the 25th anniversary of when Chernobyl reactor No. 4, sixty miles from Kiev, suffered a series of explosions and a 10-day fire that spewed over 250 million curies of radiation, some of which spread to every country in the northern hemisphere. Some hard-hit areas of Ukraine, Belarus and Russia will not be habitable for 30 generations.
“Even though the Chernobyl disaster was 25 years ago, wild game in northern Europe is still contaminated with cesium and officially off limits,” said John LaForge a staffer with Nukewatch, one of the walk’s sponsors. “Whether it’s from Chernobyl or Fukushima, cesium contaminates the food chain for centuries and in Japan cesium has already been found in fish, milk, vegetables and tea.”
Speakers at the event include Natasha Akulenko, of Madison, a native of Kiev who was living there when Chernobyl exploded and burned; and Kevin Kamps, the nuclear waste specialist with Beyond Nuclear, a watchdog group in Takoma Park, Maryland.
For 30 years Nukewatch has been calling for alternatives to nuclear power, saying the industry is too dangerous, too dirty and too expensive. The group notes that the Kewaunee and Point Beach reactors have had a variety of accidents over the years. In January 2008, Point Beach’s Unit 1suffered the complete loss of offsite electric power for 15 minutes, requiring notification of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, when an electric supply breaker opened “for unknown reasons.” Offsite power is required to cool hot fuel rods in reactors and in waste cooling pools during shutdowns. In Fukushima, the loss of offsite power and the wrecking of backup generators by the tsunami caused such severe loss of coolant and overheating that reactor fuel and waste fuel have melted and released high levels of radiation that have spread around the world.
“Failed backup systems are a problem at Point Beach and Kewaunee, not just in Japan,” said Bonnie Urfer, also of Nukewatch. In March 2006, Kewaunee was cited by the NRC for safety violations, including a design flaw affecting the backup cooling water system.
In December 1996, Point Beach’s owners were fined $325,000 for 16 safety violations. Among other failures, the NRC said the owners had failed to install “the required number of cooling pumps.”
Nukewatch is a member of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, a coalition of 167 member groups working towards the creation of a sustainable world, free from violence and injustice.