This blog has looked at the devastating effects of the Japanese nuclear disaster. But could a similar event happen in the United States? The evidence provides reason for concern.
As a result of the 9.0 earthquake on March 11, 2011, nuclear reactors of a Fukashima power plant were damaged. The reactors' cooling system did not work, which lead to partial meltdowns of three of the six units. This led to explosions, radiation leaks, and mass evacuations of the area. Radioactive gas emissions traveled as far as South Carolina and Florida. There is fear of the long-term effects of contaminated air, soil, and food. The Fukashima power plant, first commissioned in 1971, is the oldest nuclear plant in Japan. Its cooling system was a boiling water system designed by General Electric. For several years, experts have questioned the safety of this model.
Now attention turns to the 23 similar reactors in the United States. Some worry that plants such as the Edwin Hatch plant in Georgia, could experience a similar disaster under the "right" circumstances. Yet others such as Terry Pickens, director of nuclear regulatory policy at Xcel Energy, Inc., argue that American nuclear power plants are different from the plants in Japan. There were no "cookie-cutter" reactors like those in Japan because utilities back then hired their own engineering firms and architects to create custom designs. Currently, the 23 reactors are being operated by 11 different companies.
Even if the similar design of nuclear reactors does not pose a problem, many fear that age could be a problem by itself. They criticize the United States for failing to act while countries such as Germany, Italy, and Switzerland look to end their nuclear power programs and replace them with clean, renewable energy. Plants were found to have failed cables, busted seals, broken nozzles, corroded metals, rusty underground pipes, and more. Any of these, the critics argue, could heighten the risk of disaster.
Radiation has caused numerous health problems and has been linked to birth defects. Fetal development in the first trimester is especially vulnerable. Radiation can lead to mutations in the DNA, which can reduce height and impair brain development. Around 45 groups have called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to suspend licensing of 21 proposed nuclear reactor projects and conduct a thorough examination of the U.S. nuclear plants.
If you believe that your child's birth defect may be linked to radiation from an aging nuclear power plant, you have the option of suing the company that runs the plant under a theory of negligence. You would argue that the company owed a duty to the community to run the plant according to reasonable industry standards. Through its actions or failure to act, the company did not meet that duty. This failure was the direct or proximate cause of your baby's birth defect. To make a persuasive argument, you would need to first rule out other causes of your baby's birth defect, such as genetics, diet, or prescription medications. If able to do so, you would also need to provide evidence of the nuclear company's negligence. Records showing that the company knew of the age and decay, but failed to correct it in a timely manner, would be persuasive evidence. You would also have to prepare for counterarguments by the company, claiming that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission never took them to task. Many, including the Union of Concerned Scientists in March, have criticized the Commission for failing to enforce rules in a "timely, consistent, or effective manner." If enough people are in a situation similar to yours, you may be able to form a class action lawsuit.
The birth defect lawyers at Oshman & Mirisola, LLP have successfully represented clients in birth defect lawsuits for more than 35 years. If your infant was born with birth defects that you believe are linked to radiation caused by a defective nuclear plant, please contact us today at (800) 400-8182 or submit our online Contact Us form.