Thursday, March 15, 2007


Over the past two days I've twice expressed disapproval (see here and here) of the MSM coverage crediting anti-nuclear activist Kevin Kamps as a "nuclear expert". Now that I have a bit of time, let's take a closer look at some of his remarks to the media:
A study has identified cities such as Townsville, Mackay and Brisbane as potential sites for nuclear reactors because of the coastal cities' proximity to power and water.

But the US experience had been that marine life was seriously affected by coast-based nuclear plants, Mr Kamps said.

"Even large animals like endangered sea turtles are sucked into these cooling systems," he said.

"In one year, 933 endangered sea turtles were sucked into a reactor in Florida.

"Sixteen of these were killed and many of the others were injured or traumatised, so it's having very serious impacts on endangered species on the sea coasts."
All very vague coming from an expert: neither the year nor the name of the Florida nuclear plant are cited. Fortunately, Kamps' parent organization, Nuclear Information and Resource Service (an official sounding environmental pressure group) links the 933 "entrainments" to 1995. The figure is old because the report it's sourced from was produced in 1999. (Entrainments are actually on the increase.)

A contemporaneous report (1998) is available in the Maritime Turtle Newsletter (produced by the corporate-shilling right-wing group, Here's what it says about sea turtles being sucked into the St Lucie power station:
From March of 1976, when the power plant began operation, to April 1998, 5727 sea turtles were captured at the plant's intake canal. This total includes 3357 loggerhead (Caretta caretta), 2297 green (Chelonia mydas), 34 Kemp's ridley (Lepidochelys kempii), 20 leatherback (Dermochelys coriacea) and 19 hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) turtle captures. The vast majority of turtles entering the canal are in good condition and are not affected adversely by their rapid entrainment. Although some mortalities have occurred ([less than] 3.3%overall; [less than] 1.2% since 1990), constant evaluation and modification of capture technique has minimized these incidents
Being sucked into the plant's cooling system either isn't all that traumatic or sea turtles are exceptionally stupid:
From July 1994 to April 1998, 1673 green turtles were captured at the power plant's intake canal; 210 juvenile green turtles accounted for 614 of these capture events. Many of these juvenile turtles were captured numerous times, with one individual being captured 13 times in a three year period. All recaptured juvenile green turtles were recaptured at the canal an average of two times after initial capture. The number of recaptures found at the intake canal might actually be much higher as many turtles have been observed with obvious tag scars.
When a turtle is vacuumed-up 13 times and is not killed or seriously injured, the process sounds more fun than dangerous. Regardless, the newsletter does not make a big deal about turtle deaths and neither does the University of Florida Veterinary News (2005):
University of Florida scientists and their collaborators have stumbled on a sea turtle treasure trove that will help them better assess the endangered animals’ health. Researchers are creating a database of unprecedented size that will chart blood profiles of turtles entering the intake canal of a nuclear power plant in Port St. Lucie.
I'm sure the University of Florida researchers would tell us if there is a turtle-mangling problem at the St Lucie nuclear power station.

Kevin Kamps is no expert: he's an anti-nuclear propagandist who's here in Australia to pitch the environmental line and should be ignored.


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