As a History Chanel special notes, a nuclear meltdown occurred at the world’s first commercial reactor only 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles, and only 7 miles from the community of Canoga Park and the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.
Specifically, in 1959, there was a meltdown of one-third of the nuclear reactors at the Santa Susana field laboratory operated by Rocketdyne, releasing – according to some scientists’ estimates – 240 times as much radiation as Three Mile Island.
But the Atomic Energy Commission lied and said only there was only 1 partially damaged rod, and no real problems. In fact, the AEC kept the meltdown a state secret for 20 years.
There were other major accidents at that reactor facility, which the AEC and Nuclear Regulatory Commission covered up as well. See this.
Two years earlier, a Russian government reactor at Kyshtm melted down in an accident which some claim was even worse than Chernobyl.
The Soviet government hid the accident, pretending that it was creating a new “nature reserve” to keep people out of the huge swath of contaminated land.
Journalist Anna Gyorgy alleges that the results of a freedom of information act request show that the CIA knew about the accident at the time, but kept it secret to prevent adverse consequences for the fledgling American nuclear industry.
1980s Studies and Hearings
In 1982, the House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs received a secret report received from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission called “Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences 2”.
In that report and other reports by the NRC in the 1980s, it was estimated that there was a 50% chance of a nuclear meltdown within the next 20 years which would be so large that it would contaminate an area the size of the State of Pennsylvania, which would result in huge numbers of a fatalities, and which would cause damage in the hundreds of billions of dollars (in 1980s dollars).
Those reports were kept secret for decades.
Well-known writer Alvin Toffler pointed out in Powershift (page 156):
At least thirty times between 1957 and 1985—more than once a year—the Savannah River nuclear weapons plant near Aiken, South Carolina, experienced what a scientist subsequently termed “reactor incidents of greatest significance.” These included widespread leakage of radioactivity and a meltdown of nuclear fuel. But not one of these was reported to local residents or to the public generally. Nor was action taken when the scientist submitted an internal memorandum about these “incidents.” The story did not come to light until exposed in a Congressional hearing in 1988. The plant was operated by E. I. du Pont de Nemours & Company for the U.S. government, and Du Pont was accused of covering up the facts. The company immediately issued a denial, pointing out that it had routinely reported the accidents to the Department of Energy.
At this point, the DoE, as it is known, accepted the blame for keeping the news secret.
And former soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said on camera for a Discovery Network special (“The Battle of Chernobyl”) that the Soviets and Americans have each hidden a number of nuclear accidents from the public. (17:02 into video.)
In light of the foregoing, the following quote from the San Jose Mercury News may not seem so far-fetched:
EPA officials, however, refused to answer questions or make staff members available to explain the exact location and number of monitors, or the levels of radiation, if any, being recorded at existing monitors in California. Margot Perez-Sullivan, a spokeswoman at the EPA’s regional headquarters in San Francisco, said the agency’s written statement would stand on its own.
Critics said the public needs more information.
“It’s disappointing,” said Bill Magavern, director of Sierra Club California. “I have a strong suspicion that EPA is being silenced by those in the federal government who don’t want anything to stand in the way of a nuclear power expansion in this country, heavily subsidized by taxpayer money.”