Mexico has 2 nuclear reactors and both are contained within the complex called Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant (LVNPP) in Alto Lucero, Veracruz. The complex is owned and regulated by Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), the government-owned electric company. The amount of electricity these reactors provide the Mexican people seems to vary, but most sources agree it is less than 4%. Mexico has said that it plans on adding two more reactors to the Laguna Verde complex, but those have yet to materialize.
According to Wiki, LVNPP has been presented with numerous awards–from breaking the world record for reaching 250 days of continuous operation during the first generation cycle in 1991 to the Nuclear Excellence Recognition Manager’s Award by WANO in 2010. It was even given the Socially Responsible Enterprise award by the Mexican Centre for Philanthropy in 2009. Upon further investigation, I found some disturbing information.
In 1999, the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO) reported that the Laguna Verde complex has had a high number of shutdowns which have weakened the operating systems, personnel with inadequate training, lack of proper management and organization and obsolete equipment, all of which pose potential safety hazards. WANO completed a second evaluation in 2009, however, those results were never made public. Greenpeace somehow got a hold of some of the paperwork and surprise, surprise–serious safety concerns.
In the event of a major nuclear accident, 80 percent of Mexico would be affected. According to geologists, Laguna Verde is an accident waiting to happen. In addition to the substandard operating procedures and faulty equipment, the very location of Laguna Verde is a risk.
The Laguna Verde complex is situated on the Zacamboxo fault line along the Mexican Volcanic Belt with an active volcano five miles away. This location is prone to seismic activity, not limited to earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tsunamis.
On April 6, 2011, an earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 did hit the area. Yet CFE denied any damage was done to the power plant.
Veracruz is also subject to frequent hurricanes due to its location. The wind current at Laguna Verde blows in from the Gulf of Mexico over central Mexico–right over Mexico City with a population of 20 million.
On September 10, 2010, Hurricane Karl forced the suspension of operations at the Laguna Verde facility, but CFE reported no damage.
A former employee of the Laguna Verde facility reported several serious incidents while he was employed at the complex. On November 25, 1989, and Abril 27, 1990, radioactive vapor escaped from the main line. CFE denied it. In December 1989, 130 thousand liters of radioactive water was released into the lake. CFE said no such thing occurred. In 2005, there was a fire on the roof of the building that houses the reactors. CFE doesn’t know anything about that one either. In 2006 and 2013, the power plant was in a state of emergency shut-down, but no information was ever released to the public.
How is it that the facility is given award after award for quality control, non-contamination, and preservation of natural resources?
There are no publicly accessible radiation monitoring networks in Mexico which would give some warning about high radiation level. Nor is there any policy in Mexico for the disposal of radioactive waste. CFE can say what it pleases, the Laguna Verde Nuclear Power Plant is a health hazard.
The best thing that La Yacata has going for it in the event of a nuclear disaster is that it is far away from the Laguna Verde facility.
That doesn’t mean no radioactive exposure could ever occur. In 1984, the lack of disposal regulations and detection strategies in Mexico permitted radioactive material from scrap metal to expose at least 4,000 individuals over the period of a month and throughout 4 states to harmful levels of radiation.
In 2013, 2015, and 2016, radioactive materials were stolen from transport vehicles. Thieves, drivers, bystanders, police officers, cleanup crews were exposed to high doses of harmful radiation. Those were just 3 that were recovered–how many more incidents have their been that have been covered up?
Well, we will just have to hope for the best on this one then!