Cuban Nuclear Reactors
By, Timothy S. Bruenig
Davis Community Network

In the Sunday Forum Section of the January 26 Sacramento Bee, I read an article about two very unsafe nuclear reactors being built in Cuba. If those reactors suffer meltdowns, they could expose 80 million Americans (and probably everyone in Cuba) to dangerous levels of radiation, like Chernobyl.

According to the article, two VVER-440 reactors are being built in Juragua 180 miles off the coast of Florida. One of them is almost finished. Unfortunately, VVER-440 reactors are unsafe by Western standards even when properly constructed and operated, and the Cuban reactors have not been properly constructed, according to Cuban defectors, the U.S. General Accounting Office, a congressional committee, and NBC News.

For one thing, X-rays of weld sites in the auxiliary plumbing system (a key part of the safety backup cooling system) show that 10-15% of the weld sites are defective. Since Cuban intelligence has reportedly destroyed the X-rays, it will be impossible to correct the problems.

Moreover, the containment domes are too weak to withstand the pressure levels reached in an accident, some key parts are defective, and sensitive equipment has been stored for four years in the corrosive sea air. Also, Cuba lacks a well trained cadre of nuclear technicians, and the nuclear reactors are in an earthquake prone area (a la Diablo Canyon).

Thus, I believe that those Cuban reactors are a serious threat to the people and the environment of Cuba, the Caribbean Basin, and the U.S., and must never come online. To stop the Cuban reactors, I believe that President Clinton should warn all entities assisting or funding the construction of the reactors (such as the IAEA, European export credit guarantee agencies, Russia's Ministry of Atomic Energy, and all corporations involved in the construction of the Cuban reactors) that they will be barred from the U.S. market (if they are foreign entities) or barred from U.S. government contracts (if they are U.S. entities) if they continue to assist in the construction of those reactors.

On a more positive note, I believe that Clinton should offer Cuba the following deal:

I. If Cuba stops construction of the reactors, the U.S. will partially lift its embargo to allow U.S. companies to assist Cuba in developing renewable energy sources (such as solar and wind power), encourage the international community to do the same, and begin negotiating a treaty to lift the embargo entirely in return for improvements in human rights and political freedoms.

Please contact President Clinton (The White House, Washington D.C., 20500;
(202) 456-1111; to urge him to adopt the above policies.

Timothy S. Bruening (
Davis Community Network

Compliments of Proposition One Committee >