Return to Transcripts main page

The Global Brief with Bianca Nobilo

Fears Over Zaporizhzhia; Mexico's Missing Students; CNN Interviews Alec Baldwin. Aired 5-5:30p ET

Aired August 19, 2022 - 17:00   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN HOST: Hello and welcome. I'm Bianca Nobilo in London. A warm welcome to THE GLOBAL BRIEF.

Growing Fears of a nuclear disaster around Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. We'll speak to a nuclear expert about the consequences of

possible radiation leaks across Europe.

And Mexico's vanished people. A report on a case of 43 students who disappeared in 2014 is highlighting the countries many who are missing.

Then, CNN interviews actor Alec Baldwin, days after FBI findings of fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust" 10 months ago.

The director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency is calling for maximum military restraint around the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power

planet. It's Europe's largest nuclear plant, and it's an active war zone. The facilities occupied by Russian forces. Ukraine is fighting to free it.

Both Russia and Ukraine are accusing each other of launching dangerous attacks near the plant.

The IAEA chief warns that any escalation could lead to the nuclear accident with grave consequences. According to France, Russian President Vladimir

Putin has agreed to allow international observers into the facility. World leaders are calling for calm, desperate to avoid another Chernobyl, that

accident at that Ukrainian nuclear plant back in 1986, which spread radiation as far as Sweden and Finland.

Ukrainian scientific agencies as published this map, simulating how far radiation could travel if there were disaster at the Zaporizhzhia plant.

Let's talk about the risks and what's actually happening here with Edwin Lyman. He's the director of the nuclear power safety for the Union of

Concerned Scientists and he joins me now from Washington.

Thanks so much for joining the program tonight, sir.


NOBILO: So, starting with the basics, in simple terms, why can't all the reactors just be shut off and how far with that guard against a nuclear

incident of any kind?

LYMAN: Well, there are other considerations, right now. The nuclear reactors were to shut down, that would certainly reduce the logical risk,

if there were a damage to the plants cooling systems, because the shutdown reactor is safer than an operating reactor.

However, the risk would not go away, because that fuel is still going to be dangerously hot for a long time to come. There's also a lot of radioactive

spent nuclear fuel, which has to be cold. On the other hand, that power is needed for the Ukrainian people to support important activities, and

shutting down the plant completely could create other problems.

So, it's a balance, but I think at this point, probably a temporary shutdown might be one of the most prudent things to do until the situation

cools down.

NOBILO: What precautions, physical in terms of process would be in place to protect the plant from impact like shelling?

LYMAN: Well, unfortunately, there is nothing really at the plant that was designed to protect against the military conflict. The reactors and the

spent fuel pools themselves are encased in a fairly robust reinforced concrete structure cull containment that could probably withstand random

sporadic shelling, but would likely be severely damaged in a sustained military assault.

As well, there are a lot of vulnerable systems outside the container of damage could imperil the fuel within the containment.

NOBILO: So, if there was no mention there was a leak, how fast could it spread and what is the scale of the potential impact here?

LYMAN: Well, in the worst-case, with an operating reactor, is if it lost all electrical power and cooling, that radioactive fuel with start to melt

in a matter of a few hours. Then you could see, probably within a day, a leakage of radiation, how large it would be and how far it would spread and

how quickly would depend on the details of the extensive damage.

But you are talking about something that would probably be it comparable to Fukushima accident in Japan in 2011, where radioactive iodine spread many

tens of kilometers from the site forcing evacuation of 160,000 people.


In worst case, you might see some radioactivity spreading to western Europe, and in the least, probably not enough to cause immediate health

concerns, but possibly enough to cause problems for agriculture, as was seen after Chernobyl.

NOBILO: So you mentioned Chernobyl, and obviously Fukushima. There's a lot of comparisons being drawn to Chernobyl and the Russian ministry of defense

is also compared a potential for disaster to Chernobyl.

Do you think it's an accurate comparison in terms of the potential scale of destruction?

LYMAN: Well, because the reactors of Zaporizhzhia were different designed to the Chernobyl reactor, they're not likely to experience the same kind of

accident. There were certain unique features and Chernobyl that made it severe. So, under most circumstances it would probably not be severe as

Chernobyl, probably not have as large of an impact on Western Europe.

However, that does not mean to say that it could not happen and again, depending on the damage we do have six reactors and a lot of spent fuel on

the site. All but two of them are shut down now, but they still have radioactive fuel in them. Depending on the number of reactors affected and

how bad things got. You could see something maybe -- not as likely.

NOBILO: Edwin Lyman, the director of nuclear power safety at the Union for Concerned Scientists, thank you so much for joining us today.

Now, communities across the world are battling with extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. Sometimes the consequences are deadly.

Let's take a look at some of the key climate stories making international headlines at this hour.

In Argentina, high winds and a lack of rain mean devastating wildfires are set to spread even further. The fires are ravaging wetlands and the delta

of the river. Tens of thousands of hectares have already been burned, and officials are hoping that the damage doesn't surpass the decimation of the

past couple of years.

Italy is also feeling the force of the climate crisis as it deals with its worst drought in 70 years. Parts of the country are now being battered by

storms, to. Two people were killed and others injured as extreme winds brought down trees and parts of Tuscany.

More than half of the country's regions were placed under warnings there on Friday. And the river that is defined and inspired Europe as we know it,

isn't one of its lowest levels in almost a century. Extreme drought is exposing relics of the past, namely the hoax of doesn't German war ships

sunk during World War II, many still laden with explosives. Serbia estimates that it would cost about $30 million to remove them.

Next, we want to take you to a part of the U.S. that has been battered by two weather extremes at the same time. Several days of rainfall are about

to hit the southwest, with experts warning of flash flooding over the weekend. It comes as the state of Arizona is also facing intense mega

drought and well over 1000 years.

CNN chief climate correspondent Bill Weir explains why there's water shortage and it's getting political.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Monsoons are adding a few precious inches to the waterline, but not nearly enough,

America's largest reservoir still 25 feet lower than last summer. So this fall, parts of Phoenix will see unprecedented tier two cuts their share of

the Colorado River, joining Arizona farmers at the end of the water rights line.

Do you foresee a day when it's tier three, tier four, mandatory cuts that will --

KATHRYN SORENSEN, DIRECTOR OF RESEARCH, KYL CENTER FOR WATER POLICY: Absolutely. I am genuinely worried about the possibility of the system

hitting dead pool.

WEIR: You are?

SORENSEN: Absolutely I am.

WEIR: Dead pool is Mead gets low enough to crash the whole Colorado system. When Kathryn Sorensen was running the water departments in Phoenix and

Mesa, it was the biggest worry. But now it's worse. The feds are begging Western states to cut up to one out of every four gallons consumed.

I know from our reporting that there was some western weather managers that were frustrated that the bureau of reclamation was not tougher. They said

you guys work it out and will work it out for you, but they did not do that. What are your thoughts on that?

SORENSEN: Well, you know, it is disappointing, because the longer that we have to injure the uncertainty, the more at risk the entire system is. I

don't envy the federal government, the Biden administration. They have some really tough choices to make.

No elected official wants to be the person saying, who gets water and who doesn't. I'm sure they are desperately searching for the least worst

option. But in the meantime, water levels continue to fall.


GOV. DOUG DUCEY (R-AZ): And we will invest heavily in conservation, efficiency, reuse and advanced water technologies like desalination.

WEIR: Arizona's outgoing governor wants to build a desalination plant in Mexico and canals in Kansas could bring more water eventually. But in the

meantime, the call to use less puts less scrutiny on thirsty industries like golf, especially after an "Arizona Republic" investigation found that

30 to 50 percent of courses here use more than their share of water with little oversight.

State records show that the water cops of Arizona have issued a punishment against the golf course, exactly twice in the last 20 years. It's pretty

obvious that from the feds down to the locals, people are not exactly lining up to be the tough sheriff desperately needed to tame waters in the

Wild West.

SORENSEN: I know golf, so I don't feel a need to defend gulf. But I will say this. People focus on it because it's visible. But there are lots of

things about what we do and what we consume, what we eat, what we wear that are also very water intensive.

So I don't like to think of it in terms of we don't have enough water. I like to think of it in terms of, what do we have enough water for? We want

to build semiconductor factories or do we want to grow cotton? Do we want to grow subdivisions or do we want to have high density developments that

is more water efficient? Those are the conversations we need to have.

WEIR: Bill Weir, CNN, Phoenix.


NOBILO: In the U.S. state of Virginia, a British ISIS fighter has been given eight life sentences. Elshafee al Sheikh, a member of the so-called

ISIS Beatles was convicted for his role in the hostage taking and deaths of four Americans and several others. He was sentenced on the eighth

anniversary of the beheading of one of his victims, American journalist, James Foley.

Court documents reviewed by CNN showed that a Saudi woman sentenced to 34 years in prison, a Twitter post about political and human rights issues.

But Salma al-Shehab is not a well-known activist. She was a PhD student at Leeds University in the UK before her arrest in Riyadh in January 2021. The

United Nations Human Rights Office is now calling on the Saudi authorities to release her. U.S. State Departments say it's studying the case.


NED PRICE, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN: Exercising freedom of expression to advocate for the rights of women should not be criminalized.

It should never be criminalized.


NOBILO: Coming up on THE GLOBAL BRIEF, eight years after the disappearance of 43 students in Mexico, a new report points fingers at the highest levels

of government.

Plus, Alec Baldwin speaks to CNN about the fatal shooting on the "Rust" movie set, after the FBI released its conclusion on that incident.


NOBILO: Relations between Washington and Beijing have hit rock bottom even before U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi made a visit to Taiwan. Now, in an

exclusive interview with our Selina Wang the U.S. ambassador to China says that Beijing overreacted to her visit.


SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was in Taiwan for less than 24 hours. But the fallout from her visit

is still rippling round the world. China's wars the skies and sees around Taiwan with more ships and planes, encircling the island in a practice


NICHOLAS BURNS, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO CHINA: I think there's a lot of concern around the world, the China has now become an agent of instability, in the

Taiwan Strait, and that's not in anyone's interest.

WANG: In his first TV interview since becoming the U.S. ambassador to China, Nicholas Burns, says he defended Pelosi's visit to Beijing.

The night that Pelosi went to type one, you were summoned by China's deputy foreign minister. What happened?

BURNS: I was summoned at exactly the time when the speaker's plane landed in Taiwan. We had a very spirited, I would say, contentious meeting. The

central issue is that the government in China overreacted, did so in a way clearly designed to intimidate and coerce the Taiwan authorities.

WANG: Beijing claims the response was justified in order to defend its sovereignty.

After the visit, China said it would cut communications with the U.S. on a number of key areas. I mean, how damaging is that to bilateral relations,

but to the world?

BURNS: It's very damaging. Our government in Washington has been talking to the Chinese embassy in Washington, but there is no substitute for cabinet

level senior conversations. The Chinese have largely shut those down.

WANG: When you look at this event, 20 years from now, are we going to see that Pelosi visit as a moment that fundamentally change the U.S.-China


BURNS: We do not see that there should be manufactured crisis in U.S.-China relations over the visit. It's a manufactured crisis by the government in


WANG: Russia's war in Ukraine has raised fears that Taiwan could also suffering invasion by its more powerful neighbor.

What lessons do you think Beijing has learned from the war in Ukraine and how might it be applied to Taiwan?

BURNS: I think the Chinese authorities here know that the United States is watching China very carefully as it conducts this relationship with Russia.

In the meantime, we have been disturbed by what the Chinese government is telling its own people. Beijing has been blaming the war in Ukraine on the

United States, on NATO. These are completely specious and inaccurate arguments.

Thirty-four years ago --

WANG: U.S.-China relations are at the lowest point in decades. Mistrust is rampant on both sides of the Pacific.

What are you transmitting to Washington about your key observations or about a reality check about what's actually possible when it comes to


BURNS: We have a difficult, competitive relationship with China. You have to show up at the negotiating table. One of the messages at like to impart

to the government of China's please meet us. Please meet us halfway, both to discuss the issues and hopefully work on issues where we might do some

good together, for the greater good in the world.

Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.


NOBILO: The abduction and disappearance of 43 students in Mexico back in 2014 is being called a crime of the state. The group went missing in the

southwestern city of Iguala, after their bus was intercepted by local police. Now a government truth commission says that they believe multiple

state institutions were involved in their abduction. The commission also found no indication that any of the students are still alive.


ALEJANDRO ENCINAS, HUMAN RIGHTS, POPUATION AND MIGRATION SUBSECRETARY: There is no indication that the students are alive. On the contrary, all

the testimonies and evidence prove they were cunningly killed, and disappeared.



NOBILO: We're joined now with CNN's Rafael Romo.

Rafael, great to talk to you.

Can you put this into context for viewers? Because the students disappeared in 2014. This year alone, more than 100,000 people have disappeared in

Mexico. What can we glean from this report that helps make sense of these staggering figures?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Bianca, that's a very good point. There is a crisis of disappearances in Mexico.

And this latest report constitutes a blow to the parents of the 43 missing students. Many were still hoping to find their children alive one day. But

Mexico's under the secretary for human rights, Alejandro Encinas, saying in a press conference in Mexico City Thursday that, we just heard him, there

is no indication that the students are alive. On the contrary, he said, all the testimony and evidence prove that they were cunningly killed, and


The current president, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, created the truth commission at the very beginning of his term in 2018, finding the truth

about the 43 students was a promise he had made during his presidential campaign. Some of our viewers may remember, Bianca, the 43 young men who

disappeared came from a teacher's college in the rural town of Ayotzinapa. This is in Guerrero state.

The students were last seen in the night of September 26, 2014. The following morning, and then you're by a city of Iguala, also in Guerrero

state, after local police and the federal military forces intercepted their bus. Some details of their attack and the identities of those responsible

remain a mystery, even after multiple investigations by the Mexican government, and independent commission of international forensic experts.

As you can imagine, Bianca, the case ignited international outrage. Then president, Enrique Pena Nieto and Jesus Murillo Karam, his attorney general

at the time, were criticized for the lack of transparency in the investigation. Murillo Karam originally said the students had been killed

and their bodies incinerated in a nearby landfill.

The original explanation of what happened which Murillo Karam described in 2014 as the historical truth, has been discredited multiple times. Over the

years have had the opportunity to interview some of the parents of the missing students. And, Bianca, against all odds, some were still clinging

to the hope that they could still find their children alive, while others told me they weren't even hoping for justice to be done anymore.

We just want to be able to give our children a proper burial, a parent once told me.

Bianca, back to you.

NOBILO: It's so incredibly sad, and disturbing. It big so many questions, but thank you so much Rafael Romo for joining us and giving us some more

information about them.

Now it's been ten months since the fatal shooting of the cinematographer on the set of the movie "Rust". Now, actor Alex Baldwin is speaking out to

CNN, amid new investigation. An FBI report concluded that gun Baldwin was holding could not have been fired without the trigger being pulled. Baldwin

insists he did not do it.

CNN's Chloe Melas has more.


CHLOE MELAS, CNN CORRESOPNDENT (voice-over): Ten months in and confusion still persists over the sequence of events that led to a deadly shooting on

the set of "Rust". This week, an FBI report concluded that this gun could not be fired without the truck are being pulled while the gun was cocked

and eventually malfunctioned after internal parts fractured.

In his first interview with CNN, Alec Baldwin denies pulling the trigger.

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I never once said that the gun went off in my hand. I always said I pulled the hammer back, and they pulled back as far as I

could. I never took the gun in pointed somebody and clipped the thing.

MELAS: While waiting for the result of the Santa Fe County sheriff investigations, Baldwin says he hired his own investigator.

BALDWIN: That private investigator, as you probably know, did not have a difficult time accessing the staff of the sheriff's department. And that

person told, quote/unquote, we have known the department since January that Alec would not be charged with a crime.

MELAS: A sentiment echoed by his attorney.

Do you think that there is a possibility, though, that he could face charges at all?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It would be a huge miscarriage of justice.

MELAS: But the then president fanned flames against him.

BALDWIN: The former president of the United States says, he probably shot her on purpose.

To me, that was really the only time I thought that I needed to be worried about what was going to happen. Because here was Trump who instructed

people to commit acts of violence, and he was pointing the finger at me and saying that I was responsible for the death.

MELAS: No one has been charged for the tragedy on set. But Baldwin said there were two people responsible, armorer Hannah Gutierrez Reed and

assistant director Dave Halls.


Through their attorneys, they accused Baldwin of defecting blame. But Baldwin points to the findings of an occupational safety report.

BALDWIN: Hannah Reed handed the gun to Halls and said, don't give it to Alec until I get back to the set, I have to go to something else. And he

proceeded to the set, and, A, handed me the gun.

MELAS: Baldwin said Gutierrez-Reed should have known the difference between dummy rounds with make a rattling sound, and live ammunition.

BALDWIN: I mean, anybody on earth who works in that business can determine that.

MELAS: Baldwin raised questions about the supplier of guns in ammunition for the film, Seth Kenney, who is being sued by the armorer. An FBI report

said that 150 live rounds were found on set.

BALDWIN: What was the provenance of all the bullets on the set? Where do those come from?

MELAS: Well, according to the FBI report, as far as I'm aware the bullets were comingled.

BALDWIN: If that is the case, then who comingled them? Did Seth Kenney provide her with prop ammunition where he comingled live rounds with blank


MELAS: Questions Baldwin said kept him up at night, as he replayed the final days of a talented friend and cinematographer.

BALDWIN: And she was great at her job, and she died. And she died. And that hurts me every day. Every day of my life, I think about that, it's



MELAS (on camera): In January, the film's armorer, Hannah Gutierrez-Reed sued the movie's gun and ammunition supplier, accusing its founder Seth

Kenney of selling her a cache of dummy ammunition with live rounds mixed in.

Now, Kenney's attorneys filed an answer last month denying any allegations, asking the court to dismiss the case, but admitting his company was the

sole supplier of ammunition to the set.

In my wide-ranging interview with Alec Baldwin, he said the last ten months have been tough, especially when it comes to finding work, and that he was

fired from five jobs, just one the other day. But he says he's leaning on the support of his family, specifically his wife, Hilaria Baldwin, who's

expecting their seventh child this fall. Back to you.


NOBILO: Chloe Melas there for us.

Well, thank you for watching. That was "THE GLOBAL BRIEF".

And "World Sport" with Alex Thomas is up for you next.