- May 2, 2011
Counterpunch features blog “Japan's Nuclear Catastrophe Leaves Little to Celebrate on Children's Day”Visit the publisher's website • See the blog
- May 2, 2011
The Huffington Post features blog “Japan's Nuclear Catastrophe Leaves Little to Celebrate on Children's Day”Visit the publisher's website • See the blog
- April 27, 2011
TrustLawVisit the publisher's website
The International Atomic Energy Agency says that such health problems are more the result of psychological trauma experienced by the liquidators while working in the contamination zone. But Robert Alvarez, a nuclear expert at the Institute for Policy Studies, challenges this notion. He says the powerful effects of radiation on the human body are only just beginning to be understood.
"There's now growing evidence that radiation can cause a lot of other things to happen because it's one of the few environmental poisons that can damage your overall immune system," Alvarez said. "Anything that would do that can cause your overall death rate to increase."
Alvarez said supporters of the nuclear power industry are underestimating the potential risk.
"There is this mindset in the government, amongst public health researchers involved in ascertaining the effects of radiation from nuclear activities, that there's nothing good to occur if we make certain information public," he said.
"With Fukushima . . . reactor vessels which hold these radioactive cores have more or less remained intact," Alvarez said. "There may be cracks or other things which may compromise their integrity, but they don't have that kind of full-blown release of everything that Chernobyl experienced."
"Women are twice as sensitive to contracting cancer of the thyroid and breast [from ionizing radiation] than men, and of course, you have the offspring," Alvarez said. "Exposures during that period [pregnancy] are much more serious than they would be for an adult, and you're looking at the probability for raising the risk of childhood cancer and things like that."
- April 27, 2011
Rolling StoneVisit the publisher's website
"Tens of thousands of tons of irradiated fuel continue to sit in spent fuel pools at reactors across the country — America's largest repository of radioactive material. A release of just one-tenth of the radioactive material at the Vermont Yankee reactor could kill thousands and render much of New England uninhabitable for centuries. 'Yet the NRC has ignored the risk for decades,' says (Robert) Alvarez, the former Energy Department adviser."
- April 18, 2011
Japan FocusVisit the publisher's website
According to atomic specialist Robert Alvarez, such pools contain radioactivity between five and ten times greater than that of one reactor core, with one pond holding “more cesium-137 than was deposited by all nuclear weapons tests in the Northern Hemisphere combined” and “a major release of cesium-137 from a pool fire could render an area uninhabitable greater than that created by the Chernobyl accident.”
- April 17, 2011
MassLive.com features article “What About The Spent Fuel?”Visit the publisher's website • See the article
In a 2002 report, Robert Alvarez, a former top official at the federal Department of Energy and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies, wrote in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists that if a fire broke out at the Millstone Reactor Unit 3 spent-fuel pool in Connecticut it would result in a three-fold increase in background exposures. That would trigger the NRC’s evacuation requirement and could render about 29,000 square miles of land uninhabitable, severely affecting Connecticut, much of Long Island and even New York City.
“On average, spent fuel ponds hold five to 10 times more long-lived radioactivity than a reactor core,” Alvarez wrote in his report.
“Particularly worrisome is the large amount of cesium 137 in fuel ponds, which contain anywhere from 20 to 50 million curies of this dangerous isotope. With a half-life of 30 years, cesium 137 gives off highly penetrating radiation and is absorbed in the food chain as if it were potassium. According to the NRC, as much as 100 percent of a pool’s cesium 137 would be released into the environment in a fire,” Alvarez wrote.
- April 16, 2011
The Journal of Turkish Weekly features report “Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States”Visit the publisher's website • See the report
A 2003 study, led by Robert Alvarez, a former official at the United States Department of Energy, estimated that a worse-case terrorist attack could drain cooling pools, resulting in spent fuel rods heating up and possibly combusting. That, in turn, would cause substantial amounts of radioactive material to be released if containment structures are breached, potentially resulting in an area of contamination greater than that caused by the Chernobyl accident in 1986.
The Alvarez study estimated a cost of $3-5 billion for the entire US reactor fleet, which is the largest in the world.
- April 15, 2011
The New York TimesVisit the publisher's website
Robert Alvarez, a former Energy Department official, calculated recently that removing the backlog of fuel older than five years from the spent fuel pools of all 104 operating reactors would cost $3.5 billion to $7 billion and take several years to accomplish.
- April 13, 2011
The TelegraphVisit the publisher's website
“There’s nothing like this, on this scale, that we have ever attempted to do before”, Robert Alvarez, a former assistant secretary in the US Department of Energy, told the Los Angeles Times.
- April 12, 2011
The Bellingham Herald features report “Reducing the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United States”Visit the publisher's website • See the report
The author of the 2003 report, Robert Alvarez, a former Department of Energy official who oversaw nuclear issues, said dry casks would provide safer storage until a permanent nuclear repository was built and loaded, a process that would take decades.