The so-called "Consumer's" Power Company of Michigan has filed a $300 million lawsuit against five companies that worked on its ill-fated Palisades nuclear generating plant in South Haven, right on Lake Michigan.
In the suit, Consumers said the five companies sold it defective equipment and performed faulty design work on the plant, which has been out of service for more than a year now. Palisades was closed after a radioactive leak was discovered in its condenser tubes, damage was sustained from vibrations in its nuclear core, and large amounts of poisonous radiation was leaked into the atmosphere and lake.
In order to replace the output of the plant in the state electrical system, Consumers has been forced to buy huge amounts of power from other utilities. It estimates that it spent S3.44 million on replacement as of July 31. The company has also spent a great deal of money repairing the plant, but will not reveal how much.
Consumers says that it hoped to start the plant up again next month.
The damage, waste and leakage at Palisades are not unique. Similar incidents have been occurring across the world where dangerous and unproven nuclear power plants are being increasingly introduced into operation. Yet despite these frequent and plaguing problems. the $40 billion a year nuclear power industry continues to lobby and push its product successfully to politicians and government.
According to the Atomic Energy Commission there were 861 "abnormal occurrences" at nuclear power plants in just the past year. The British Government has refused even to consider purchasing any American-made plants as too dangerous. But even so the companies, underwritten with two-thirds of the Federal energy get, are rushing ahead towards their goal of over 900 nuclear plants in operation domestically by the year 2000.
According to Ralph Nader, a chief spearhead of the growing movement against nuclear power and in favor of less dangerous and more de-centralized alternatives like the sun and wind, "if the power companies have their way, the year 2 000 will mean the end of America."
In addition to the dangers of faulty equipment and cancer-causing radiation leakage, studies have shown that a serious accident at a nuclear power plant-an explosion or meltdown -would kill people as far as 100 miles from the reactor. If wind dispersed the radioactive cloud that would result, an area the size of Pennsylvania would be contaminated.
Other dangers exist in every phase of the nuclear power process and its current level of technology. Uranium mining is unsafe; the incidence of cancer in its miners is clearly above normal. Liquid nuclear waste products must be perpetually guarded for over 20,000 years, their half-life, or tremendous contamination can result to the entire planet, yet the canisters for storing the wastes are not expected to last more than 50 years!
The companies named in the Consumers suit are Bechtel Corp. of San Francisco, Combustion-Engineering, Ingersoll-Rand Co., and the Wolverine Tube Division of Universal Oil Products Co.
Consumers was fined last year a mere $19,000 by the AEC for radiation leakage at Palisades. According to a SUN expose last January, company officials deliberately set the plant alarm systems for leakage higher than accepted levels, so that the warning-buzzer wouldn't be continually set off by the leaking equipment. For more information on nuclear power and its risk to humankind, see SUN No. 14 this year, or drop us a line.