8. THE CENSORED SAFETY RECORDS OF THE WORLD'S NUCLEAR
In recent years, considerable attention, both public and press, has
been paid to land-based nuclear reactors. Little attention has been
paid to their nuclear counterparts on the high seas.
Yet, for three decades, floating nuclear power plants have been steaming
the world's oceans with few questions asked.
Marine reactors are developed and controlled almost entirely by the
world's military forces with virtually no civilian independent oversight
or international control.
Since the 1950's the Navy has annually testified before Congress that
there has never been an accident involving a naval reactor, or any release
of radioactivity which has had a significant effect on individuals or
That statement stands in sharp contrast to a recently published list
which documents 126 accidents involving nuclear powered vessels, including
accounts of fires, floods, collisions, and sinkings. Among the accidents
cited were 37 involving the reactors of these ships, including 13 discharges
of radioactive material into U.S. coastal waters.
The Navy recorded these events as "incidents" and "discrepancies"
and not as accidents. Therefore, through Naval nuke-speak, the Navy
can claim no "accidents."
For the past 15 years there hasn't been a radiological survey of nuclear
ports in the U.S. by independent agencies.
Official Navy policy states that solid nuclear wastes are no longer
disposed of at sea. But, according to interviews with former submarine
and shipyard personnel, the Navy routinely dumps overboard highly radioactive
resins which are used as filters for the reactor coolant.
And while the U.S. Navy is reluctant to admit or confirm any serious
problems with any of its 154 floating nuclear reactors, it should be
noted that the Soviet Navy is just as reluctant to admit or confirm
any serious problems with any of its floating nuclear reactors.
Investigative journalist David Kaplan called the rapid growth of naval
nuclear reactors "a series of Three Mile Islands at sea waiting
OCEANS Magazine, July, 1983, "When Incidents are Accidents: The
Silent Saga of the Nuclear Navy," by David Kaplan.