Archive for June, 2011

Bigfoot In the Sierras?

June 25th, 2011 No comments

Amy Rolph at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a blog post about some evidence that some California paranormal researchers think they’ve found in the form of some snuffle-shaped  smudges on a windshield that don’t quite match the shape you’d expect from a big cat or bear.

Apparently there’s “DNA” involved. Presumably from snot, not to put too fine a point on it.

Rolph links to an earlier post of hers, from yesterday, that mentions the fact that these researchers think they’ve found a substance (did I mention snot?) that might contain the DNA of the creature in question, and are seeking private donations to have DNA testing done. There’s a video of the smudges on the windows here — though, sadly, not of Bigfoot putting them there.

Since this stuff is in my neck of the woods — you know, central California and all — my interest was piqued. One of the researchers is Mickey Burrow, who’s based in Fresno (about 2 hours south of me on I-5). Also involved are the Sanger Paranormal Society, which covers “Central California and Coastal Area,” but which focuses, from the notes on its Bigfoot page, on the eastern half of the state — that’d be the Sierras, not the coast, and certainly not the north coast.

That further grabbed my interest by the cojones, because that’s not where I’d personally go looking for Bigfoot.

The famous 1967 Patterson-Gimlin film that is reputedly of a big hairy hominid was, of course, shot on the whole other side of northern California (for the uninitiated, this is a big frickin’ state), in the Six Rivers National Forest in Del Norte County. That part of the state is where the Bigfoot Trail is, and the world’s only Bigfoot Trap is also over in that neck of the woods, in Jackson County in the extreme south of Oregon — Jackson County, that is.

The short version is that the majority of the interest and the bulk of the encounters with supposed outsized non-human hominids are in the Pacific Northwest, of which the Sierras are topographically part only in sort of a stretching-the-globe sort of way. Sure, it’s the general region, but I don’t think of the wilds of the Lake Tahoe region as being even remotely Bigfoot-infested.

I even felt sufficiently confident that there are no significant (real or legendary) human-sized ape-type things running wild in the Sierras (other than the occasional Pabst-addled feral hunter, of course) that when setting one of my many unpublished paranormal novels south of Lake Tahoe, I invented a hominid wholesale, rather than risk Scullying my reputation by locating the Bigfoot species someplace it ain’t. I called it Sierra Slim and implied that, with occasional disastrous consequences for hippies, Slim aggressively sought out carnal relations with ’60s vintage Volkswagens, with occasional disastrous consequences for hippies. This interest of Slim’s was owed to a brief but oh-so-satisfying amorous encounter deep in its racial memory with robotic visitors from Theta Alpha Epsilon that really knew the meaning of “air-cooled engine,” if you catch my drift.

Shows you how much I know! Not much, it turns out. In addition to the audacious team over at Sanger, there’s actually a Sierra Sasquatch Research Group, a Sierra Tahoe Bigfoot Research blog — and, of course, Sierra Nevada breweries’ barleywine-style Bigfoot Ale. As if to prove that I’m a dipshit, you can even find reports of the Sierra “DNA evidence” in that newspaper-of-record for pissing-me-off, the Daily Mail. Apparently the got the “Bigfoot in the Sierras” memo in London Town before we got it here in Sac.

Speaking of memos that people didn’t get, the folks at North America Bigfoot Search didn’t get the memo about open-sourcing that shit when it comes to the looking-for-Bigfoot project. On the contrary; when they decided put together an oh-so-helpful Bigfoot encounter map, not only was it limited to California’s Trinity, Humboldt, Sikyou and Del Norte counties (all contiguous, in the extreme Northwest of the state) but rather than thinking, “Let’s further human knowledge and make it interactive on the web, with GPS coordinates,” the NABS folks decided, “let’s charge $6.95 for it, plus 9.25% sales tax for California residents.”

My attempts to find anything approaching official Bigfoot maps that consolidate reports of all encounters went to interesting but slightly sketchy free sites and half-assed Wikipedia maps that only break ‘er down by state (and, speaking of which, when it comes to Bigfoot sightings, California is the sassiest, may I observe? Eat your heart out, Oregon.) If you want a county-by-county Bigfoot encounter map for the Sierras, your guess is as good as mine.

Mind you, I don’t actually approve of an army of people driving around attempting to spot and photograph Bigfoot any more than I would approve of them trying to bag-and-tag Bigfoot with a tranquilizer gun. I respect the work of wildlife researchers whether or not the species they’re looking for seems to be represented by, you know, like, consensus reality and stuff. But I worry what will happen if there’s ever a seriously credible video of the big hairy thing. Will there be an avalanche of thrill-seekers? While today’s Bigfoot researchers seem respectful and even a little bit wacky-spiritual about it, what happens if they find something? When Bigfoot Fever catches, will jackasses be selling $6.95 maps so that all y’all can drive into the forest and piss on Bigfoot’s campfire?

I think driving out into the wilderness with the specific purpose of bugging the hell out of some hairy thing that never bugged you is sort of a sketchy way to get hour ya-yas. I’d sooner suggest that hippies drive up to the Sierras and plant their VW’s tires on sacred ground with the rear-end jacked up, if you know what I mean.

This is B’s home, homies. Don’t put your feet on the coffee table.

Luckily for all who value the sanctity of the wild environment, the magnificent crush of humanity that descends on the wilds of California during camping-friendly times of the year is so extreme that Bigfoot hunters are really nothing more than a drop in the bucket.

I also repeat my earlier comment that in my experience genuine Bigfoot researchers, while they may seem wacky to many, have always struck me as far more likely to be clued in with the environment and wildlife habitats — and to encourage responsible use of our natural resources — than your garden-variety espresso zombie like yours truly. At least, that’s the theory.

Anyway, there are reported Bigfoot encounters in the Sierras. Now I know.

The Anti-Obama Right Grabs at Anti-U.S. Pakistani Conspiracy Delusion

June 19th, 2011 No comments

Interpol surveillance photo of suspected Pakistani ISI agent (left) and American gun-nut right-winger (right). Note the concealed-carry permit in the latter's wallet.

As a second nuclear plant in Nebraska issued a “notification of unusual event” because of rising floodwaters, right-wingers are spreading the Pakistani story of a “news blackout” around the Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant…for no reason other than that it gives them an excuse to hate the government and be paranoid.

The “notification of unusual event” came from Cooper Nuclear Station operated by the Nebraska Public Power District — about 70 miles south of Omaha. It is a level 1 alert, which occured simply because the floodwaters reached a certain level. There has been no operational deviation within the plant itself. On the U.S. NRC’s scale, level 1 is the first of four levels of alerts for nuclear plants, and it means nothing in operational terms. The only thing that’s being done is that the plant operators have stacked sandbags and done other flood-preparedness activities. There is no “meltdown,” “nuclear disaster,” or “nuclear event.” There are only the rising waters.

Specifically, the notification was triggered because floodwaters surrounding the plant reached a level of 42.5 feet, and are expected to reach 42.7 feet (90 feet above sea level) this afternoon. If they rise another three feet, the plant goes offline — it’s currently online and generating power.

There’s no news on the Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant itself other than that I found this really freaky photo gallery of the workers there, on Looks to me like those kids have been having a good time…

But it should be no surprise to me that “gun owners” in forums like this one right chere don’t care that no news is good news, or understand how to limit their Google searches to the latest results. Some anti-government conspiracy theorists — have seized on yesterday’s hysterical, fanatical report from a country whose rogue intelligence agency is currently waging a de facto proxy war with the United States in Afghanistan.

They do this without, apparently, being able to tell the difference between Pakistan’s The Nation and the U.S. “progressive” magazine The Nation (which also doesn’t like nukes all that much.)

No, this shouldn’t surprise me…I’ve been reading gun forums for years now, and the posters there are a bizarre mix of borderline-genius highly-functioning lunatics, garden-variety reasonable people and start raving mad fuckwads. Whenever the tone of the discussion migrates away from specific gun-related facts and experiences, the overheated core of roadside-attraction weirdness that forms the guns-and-butter heart of Bitterly Clinging America begins to puke forth its molten zirconium. Wanna know the terminal ballistics of a thirty-ought-six round in a deer’s ass or a human chest cavity? No problem, son, pull up a notepad and get ready for a six-hour lecture, with diagrams. Wanna know what’s going on in politics? Obama’s trying to take away our guns. Sometimes it seems like that’s all you need to know to talk politics on a gun forum…and all you ever need to know.

The same inexplicably credulous and stumblingly pro-Pakistan paranoia is true of these foaming-at-the-mouth right-wingers “inspired” by the supposedly “Libertarian” Gentleman from Texas at The Daily Paul, which repeated theclaim of a “news blackout.” The Daily Paul essentially republished without commentary the Pakistani article, which incidentally I already pissed on from a great height here, in case you missed it.

Out in liberal Oregon, spread the anti-Barack yowls of certain doom, even going so far as to poop out a paranoid, deceitful and blatantly ignorant paragraph like this one:

US Orders News Blackout Over Crippled Nebraska Nuclear Plant

Report notes the “cover-up” of this nuclear disaster by President Obama is based on his “fantasy” of creating so-called green jobs which he (strangely) includes nuclear power into.

(MOSCOW ) – Editor’s note: I am about to approve a comment on this story that claims it is a hoax, in fact it is not a hoax, it possibly may not be entirely accurate, but this piece has been carried by many agencies already. There are so-called ‘Citizen Journalism’ sites that sometimes strike it with groundbreaking news, so the fact that they allow people to post their own stories means they need disclaimers, unlike which is staffed by working news editors and other personnel

Now the fact that it is on Wikipedia does not make it true, but I think if that information were blatantly false, the nuclear plant’s publicists would have instantly stripped from the pages of the world’s online public encyclopedia.

This “editor” had the gall to add the “crippled” moniker to Ft. Calhoun — apparently by making it up wholesale. Maybe he wanted to make the situation seem worse than it is to attack Obama’s attempt at creating “green jobs” — without looking critically at whether Obama’s political opponents are also supporting nuclear…or, if they’re opposing it, looking at if they’re opposing it because they’re in bed with Big Oil and Big Coal, which never did anything to fuck us, did they?

Then again, maybe the need to leap on the conspiracy-theory bandwagon is just a desire to justify in right-wing anti-Democratic terms the verbatim reposting of an article that seems obviously, to me, written by a hostile foreign country’s intelligence service to discredit the the United States.

Here’s where I get mad. Here’s where I go screaming into I-Love-America territory. Here’s where I look suspiciously like the rednecks looked thirty-five years ago before Carter, before Reagan. Here’s where I start to look, if I may, like the crazed prospector stock character in a Western movie, with Tabasco on his butt plug.

Here’s where I hate on the gun nuts.

Look, I know full well that I am a howling-mad socialist liberal on the domestic front, except for the most part on gun control (which I think is  a turd-sniffing straw-man the Left should forget about). But in international terms, I’m actually a bit of a policy hawk. I think it’s a pretty fucked world out there, and if the U.S. helped make it that way…well, that blows, but it sure as hell doesn’t mean I’m going to “blame America first.” It means I think most governments blow steaming chunks, and America should be blamed when it’s culpable.

But let’s blame Pakistan when it’s culpable, shall we?

My problem with certain born-again anti-taxation pasty-faced right-wingers who name their rotary-magazine shotguns things like Lucille and their Chris Crafts things like the Freedom Isn’t Free is not so much when they’re anti-intellectual, xenophobic assholes who hate the rest of the world and any Americans who think differently than them.  It’s when they do it badly. People should refrain from making paranoid anti-government posts online if they can’t be bothered to figure out the international political playing field before they start believing anti-American stories that seem almost certainly promulgated by the sworn enemies of the United States they claim to love so much (except on April 15).

No, when I refer to the “sworn enemies of the United States,” I’m not referring the people of Pakistan — many Pakistanis and Pakistani-Americans are not anti-American, even remotely. Others are, sure; you don’t have to work to find anti-Americans in most part of the world, alongside people who support the U.S. (everywhere — including Iran).

Pakistan is a big frickin’ place. I would never make the kind of generalizations about the population of Pakistan that I read in gun forums routinely – where posters often can’t be bothered to know the difference between, say, the terms “Muslim” and “Arab,” which are completely unrelated descriptors. The result is that bizarre paranoid statements

Mind you, I’m not claiming that the majority of the Pakistani population in Pakistan loves the United States — as George W. Bush claimed the population of Iraq did. In fact, the nuclear scientist and entrepreneur A.Q. Khan, the Pakistani who pseudo-stole nuclear weapons technology from the Dutch and then sold it to Libya and North Korea and tried to sell it to Iran, remains a national hero in Pakistan. But it’s not just the people — many of whom are astonishingly underprivileged — who raise Khan to the level of a national saint. It was the government of Pakistan, which without question knew about Khan’s activities in selling nuclear weapons technology to three “rogue” nations…and then claimed not to. The government hung Khan out to dry and made him issue a broad confession of his crimes in public…in English…a language most people in Pakistan do not speak. In case anyone’s wondering who really sold North Korea those nukes probably aimed at Tokyo, it almost surely wasn’t Khan…at least, not acting alone. He had the support of some elements of the Pakistani government. Which ones? Fuck if I know — people who have worked for the CIA can’t keep that shit straight in Pakistan right now! Which is probably one of the many reasons they had no idea North Korea had a nuke until they detonated one.

As a liberal, I’ve been accused of being anti-America. I’m anti-America? I’m not going to claim that my fellow left-of-centers weren’t posting some serious jackass shit in the wake of the Fukushima crisis, but at least their information didn’t come from fucking Pakistan!

Anti-Obama right-wingers: You love America, right? You love the Second Amendment? Do you love the First Amendment? Do you think they have freedom of the press in Pakistan? Do you think that something published in is unlikely to be vetted by the ISI — the Pakistani intelligence service? Do you credit for an instant — or even know about — the claims of American military intelligence operatives that one of the biggest problems of the war in Afghanistan is separating out “insurgents” from the Pakistani ISI itself? That it’s not just that the ISI is supporting anti-US Afghan rebels, but that they’re the same goddamn people?!?

Whether those facts (covered in some detail in this book by Army Reserve intelligence officer Lt. Col. Anthony Schaffer) are credible I don’t really know; I found the book far more convincing than the claims of the DOD that went out of its way to censor it.

But I sure as hell am aware of those claims. I know that I’m going to question a report coming out of Pakistan about a broad Obama-based conspiracy to hide a major disaster in Omaha from the American people — when Obama made himself the explicit enemy of the Pakistani government by making the first real overtures in years toward Pakistan’s nemesis, India, including advocating India getting a seat on the U.N. Security Council!! Do you think maybe there’s an anti-American slant going on here, from the government-controlled press of a nation whose government is waging a war against the U.S.???

Or could the Pakistani ISI and Afghan anti-American forces even be conspiring to keep the heroin flowing to Europe and the U.S. both to screw the US attempt to hold on to its role as the defining regional power in Central, South and Southwest Asia, and because dope is profitable?

Nah, what are the chances of that?

For fuck’s sake, all you Goldwaterites and concealed-carry lunatics out there!!! Get your sources straight!!! URLs do not stop at the dot!!!! is not the same as!!!!! Russia provoked a war with U.S. regional ally Georgia just to warn Ukraine not to join NATO!!!! The Pakistani ISI is in a proxy war with the United States, people!!!It has been since at least 2001!!!! Get with the program!!! Just because it’s anti-Obama doesn’t mean it’s true!! Put down the shotgun and read a fuckin’ book once in a while, people!!!!

Pakistani Slam Piece Spreads Panic Over Ft. Calhoun

June 18th, 2011 1 comment


Image from Omaha Public Power District.

A truly crazed article in Pakistan’s The Nation leads one to believe that the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant is a Fukushima-style disaster not just about to happen, but already happening…and President Obama is to blame. Please don’t think for a second I believe the federal government is incapable of lying, or that there’s complete freedom of the press in the U.S. Far from it! But in this case, Pakistan’s The Nation is off its rocker, and factually mis-states something so critical that it totally derails any claims they make. This is anti-American hysteria, pure and simple, whipped up by a Pakistani publication and supposedly supported by a Russian agency that I know nothing about, but that I would, at face value, be inclined to trust about as far as I could throw it.

Regardless, the kind of hysterical coverage seen in the Pakistani article is just out of control. Here’s the madness:

A shocking report prepared by Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency (FAAE) on information provided to them by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) states that the Obama regime has ordered a “total and complete” news blackout relating to any information regarding the near catastrophic meltdown of the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant located in Nebraska.

According to this report, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant suffered a “catastrophic loss of cooling” to one of its idle spent fuel rod pools on 7 June after this plant was deluged with water caused by the historic flooding of the Missouri River which resulted in a fire causing the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) to issue a “no-fly ban” over the area.

Located about 20 minutes outside downtown Omaha, the largest city in Nebraska, the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant is owned by Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) who on their website denies their plant is at a “Level 4” emergency by stating: “This terminology is not accurate, and is not how emergencies at nuclear power plants are classified.”

Russian atomic scientists in this FAAE report, however, say that this OPPD statement is an “outright falsehood” as all nuclear plants in the world operate under the guidelines of the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale (INES) which clearly states the “events” occurring at the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Plant do, indeed, put it in the “Level 4” emergency category of an “accident with local consequences” thus making this one of the worst nuclear accidents in US history.



For what it’s worth, the claim about a Level 4 emergency is complete and total garbage, and that’s really significant. It’s a basic fact that cannot be disputed…unless the NRC and plant officials are lying. I’m not saying they’re not — I have no idea — but I have no indication that they are, and that is not what the Pakistani source says the Russians say. Their claimed “falsehood” does not derive from a cover-up of facts (for instance, if there had been a release of radiation but the power company did not report it) — but from a FUNDAMENTAL MISREADING OF THE International Nuclear Event Scale that even I, a simple caveman with about a 7 I.Q. and an inability to do basic math, can understand.

That comes from an official Russian source? I hope not. If it does, the world has bigger problems than Fort Calhoun.

A Level 4 event requires a release of radiation to generate local consequences, or at least one death locally (i.e., in the plant) from radiation, not just from anything. (That’s OR! Or!! Not AND!). When the crane operator died at Fukushima, that did not fulfill the criteria for a Level 4 event — because he did not die of radiation.

However, for some time after that, Tepco was lying. The implication, here, in the Pakistani source, in claims they attribute to the Russians, is that the Obama administration is lying. I’m not saying they’re not — I haven’t the foggiest fucking idea. But it completely misconstrues the facts to claim that the reported incident on June 7 at Fort Calhoun is a Level 4 event. According to the report to the NRC (see my earlier article on this), there was no release of radiation. There were no deaths associated with radiation. There wasn’t jack kitty crap, other than a temporary evacuation.

Is Omaha Public Power District lying? I haven’t the foggiest, but either the Pakistani The Nation or the Russian source, and probably both, are deliberately misstating the facts of the INES, which you’d think Russia would have a handle on…given, you know, that its precursor state kinda set the standard for nuclear accidents.

Yes, that’s true, people, I, who never shut up about how full of shit the American press is, would still rather rely on the American press than on the Russian nuclear agency and the Pakistani press to tell me the truth about my own country. You know why? Because I know a thing or two about Russia and Pakistan. When they handed out Freedom of the Press, Pakistan was on vacation. And the government of Pakistan needs all the anti-American sentiment it can get, in order to counter the swiftly growing American political and economic overtures toward its perceived nemesis, India. Hey, I can’t say I blame them; as a nation, Pakistan is threatened by internal instability. Furthermore, after years of getting a free ride because it helped the U.S. in the “war on terror,” the Pakistani government is finding that the Obama administration is less inclined to completely blow off India in favor of a country that handed nuclear weapons technology over to North Korea and tried to sell it to Iran and Libya…then blamed it on a single rogue nuclear scientist, who had stolen said technology from the Dutch in the first place and who remains a national hero in Pakistan.

Don’t get me wrong…the U.S. press is repeatedly asleep at the wheel in covering both corporate malfeasance and environmental crises. I’m not trying to be an American chauvinist here — believe me, no one loves America or wants to slap it around more than I do. But in the case of hysteria like this — with a clear political bias — what irritates me is that a lot of the world will believe it.

Meanwhile, the dark tentacle-gods of Big Coal are locked in their hellspawn canyons deep beneath the earth, counting their gazillions…

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No-Fly Zone, “Level 4 Emergency” at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant?

June 17th, 2011 2 comments

Screencap detail of AP photo, from USA Today.

About an hour ago, Reuters published an article reassuring readers about the Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant, North of Omaha, Nebraska. Associated Press published one about an hour and a half ago saying the same warmed-over crappy “Don’t Panic” garbage, with very little real information.

But viral sources are spreading fear right now about Ft. Calhoun, and it’s just getting started. It’s not surprising, after the gross malfeasance of Tepco and the Japanese government following the Fukushima nuclear crisis. (Incidentally, it is significantly ongoing — and maybe getting worse, though Al Jazeera‘s latest bit of “infant mortality” panic seems to be a gross misrepresentation of what passes for data).

Meanwhile, back in Nebraska: The Forth Calhoun Nuclear Generating Station is currently on an island in the Missouri River. No, it wasn’t on an island until the recent flooding…that whole being-on-an-island thing is new. I came to it because someone sent me an email with the quote, taken from a comment (not a post) on SFSIst, that said, and I quote:

“In other news, we have a level-4 emergency alert at the Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant, which is now under water as a result of the Missouri River flooding and The Kansas Department of Health and Environment is advising people to avoid contact with the Missouri River altogether.”

First and foremost, the reason the Kansas Department of Health and Environment advised people to avoid contact with the Missouri River is (they claimed) because the flood could sweep “pathogens” into the water. That comment leads one to believe that the Missouri is about to become radioactive because of a release of radioactive material from Ft. Calhoun. That is not the case — at least, not insofar as public information is available. Could it be a smokescreen? Sure, but I see no indication of that, given that there’s been no reported release at all from Ft. Calhoun, no meltdown, no core damage, no irregularities in any core, just a bit of a problem cooling fuel rods…no big deal. Not that it’s not a big deal, exactly…but I do not see the faintest hint of a “level 4 emergency” — which is to say, basically, a radiation release.

And that “level 4″ tag is significant here, because Fukushima was a Level 4 for a while. So check it: A “level-4 emergency,” on the International Nuclear Event Scale would be kind of a big deal north of Omaha. (Or anywhere…but that’s, you know, like, in my country and stuff, so I get kinda worked up.). A level-4 event would mean something like either at least one death from radiation, or damage to a small part of a reactor core (0.1%) or “Release of significant quantities of radioactive material within an installation with a high ­probability of significant public exposure,” which would be indicated if you were to, say, assume that the Missouri was being irradiated and that’s the “real” reason Kansas doesn’t want you to drink the water…not because it has cow poop in it.

Things at Ft. Calhoun sure seem shady. But there’s no indication that there’s a huge problem. This local Fox News 8 story, which draws heavily from Reuters, adds a couple of details like the fact that the plant authorities have not declared a “notification of unusual event” to the NRC, and won’t until the water gets higher than it is. What that means is that there is no “Level 4 Emergency” — as far as the NRC is concerned. What there was, was an electrical fire with poisonous gases on June 7, which caused a “Halon fire extinguisher activation” and a partial evacuation, and was reported as a Level 2 event. That’s a hell of a lot different from Level 4.

But just to be a total conspiracy nut: Fukushima was said to be a Level 4 for quite an enormously long time…including a significant period of time after radiation was released i nto the environment. In the context of post-Fukushima nuclear politics, questions should be asked, and somebody at the AP and Reuters should have spent the months since Fukushima doing a little research on Wikipedia. The Omaha Public Power District  has not advised the NRC of an unusual event beyond June 7th’s fire, and there’s been no release of radiation.

But for what it’s worth, their report on the June 7th fire…didn’t get sent to the NRC until June 8. So there’s likely to be a lag time even in a relatively small irregularity.

Suggesting there is a “Level 4 event” seems completely unfounded as I can tell, and likely to cause panic.

Incidentally, the Omaha Public Power District is presumably publicly owned — not like Tokyo Electric and Power Co., which is private. The latter are Fukushima’s owners (the plant was built by General Electric).

Also, importantly, it’s a Kansas agency advising people to avoid contact with the Missouri River. It’s the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. They don’t necessarily have the faintest idea what they’re talking about when it comes to radiation safety. They should, sure, radiation being a significant potential environmental risk in a state with nuclear reactors. But we definitely saw with the Fukushima crisis that local and state agencies know fuck-all when it comes to radiation. That’s why there’s an NRC…which is from the government, they’re here to help us.) In any event, it’s far more credible that toxins and sewage are sweeping into the Missouri, not radiation from Ft. Calhoun.

Panic is spreading in places like the LDS Freedom Forum (yes, that’s “Latter Day Saints”), where a poster calling himself “Col. Flagg” (yes, he was the fanatic right-wing CIA agent on M*A*S*H…who knew the guy was still working?) started this hysterical thread that, nonetheless, comes up at the top of a search string for the SFSIst claim…and, not incidentally, has a lot of worthwhile informational links.

In any event, here’s why Reuters says you should not panic:

The Fort Calhoun nuclear power station in Nebraska remains shut down due to Missouri River flooding, but the plant itself has not flooded and is expected to remain safe, the federal government said Friday.

The rising river “has certainly affected the site, but the plant itself, the actual reactor is still dry,” said Scott Burnell, Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman.

The 478-megawatt plant north of Omaha shut April 9 to refuel, and has remained shut because of the flooding, said Omaha Public Power District spokesman Jeff Hanson.

“When the river reaches 1,004 feet above mean sea level, we shut down,” said Hanson. “We don’t have any idea when we’ll be able to start again.”

…The Fort Calhoun station is owned and operated by the Omaha Public Power District and supplies power to Nebraska’s largest city. Contractors at the plant have completed construction of an earthen berm around the plant’s switch yard and are protecting the plant and other facilities with large temporary structures filled with water.


Whatever you might say about me, I don’t through the “Corporate Stooge” label around that carelessly, but in this case I can’t avoid it. Reuters isn’t telling even part of the story….it’s actually telling less than none of the story, and the NRC sounds asleep at the wheel here, as far as public information goes.

The backstory, from a June 8 Wall Street Journal article: On June 7, there was a fire at the Ft. Calhoun nuclear facility, and the FAA established a no-fly zone over Ft. Calhoun, after the facility “briefly lost the ability to cool spent fuel rods,” following the fire. Here’s the actual no-fly order; it is, however, possible that it’s being overstated. The restriction is only for altitudes under 3,500 feet, which lends credence to the idea that it’s a PR move, not a safety issue. I don’t know enough about airplane altitudes to say.

Anyway, here’s the WSJ on June 8, following the fire at Ft. Calhoun and the resultant establishment of the no-fly (which is still in effect):

The NRC said the plant recovered cooling ability without activating backup systems and “temperatures in the pool remained at safe levels.” The public was not in danger because the plant has been shut down since early April for a refueling outage, the agency said.

Spent fuel pools in the U.S. have received increased scrutiny after a recent crisis in Japan involving potentially overheated nuclear fuel and the release of dangerous radiation.

The agency declared an alert, the second of four emergency classes, at 9:40 a.m., 10 minutes after “an indication of fire” in a building at the plant. The NRC didn’t disclose the cause of the fire. Automatic fire control systems activated and the fire was out by 10:20 a.m., the agency said. The plant is operated by the Omaha Public Power District.


Spent fuel, of course, was — and is — a huge part of the problem at Fukushima, and one of the things Tepco consistently lied about.

The above, incidentally, comes to me based on to this very helpful Metafilter post (and its sources), and one Metafilter commenter sensibly points out: “One has to wonder if keeping planes, helicopters, etc. in a two-mile radius outside the nuclear plant is really just to keep any embarrassing pictures from being taken and published in the news. Out of sight, out of mind.”

Given how (relatively) few photos have been published of the Fukushima site, and how full of crap the Japanese government, Tepco, and the news was in the Japanese crisis, and how sluggish US public health response was, and the mixed messages and bland disinterest in putting out correct info about, for instance, iodine, and how the Fukushima crisis just seems to keep getting worse despite the recurring ridicule of the pro-nuclear trolls, I’m left asking the same question…and about a million more.