Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: Nuclear Energy - Many Links & Great Info

May 14, 2007

Nuclear Energy - Many Links & Great Info

Below is a collection of recent info on nuclear that I put together after reading a story on alternative energies.

First, I have a letter to the editor written by Elaine Hughes from Saskatchewan, also found here, and reproduced on my blog with her permission.

Published February 3, 2007 in Saskatoon Star Phoenix

Dear Editor

. . . let’s not be coy about uranium!

If the Saskatchewan government follows the advice given by Mr. Percy in his frenzied article, “It’s a make-or-break year for Sask.” (SP Jan.06.07), they should just stop “being coy about supporting expanded uranium development…”.

They must knowingly ignore the wisdom of those who understand uranium - the price for uranium is high and getting higher – we don’t want to miss making all that money!

The threat, from radiation or bullets, to the entire planet posed by removing uranium from its protected location under the earth, hauling it many miles to mills for processing, then on to Saskatoon for shipment to the US and out into the world market, is enormous.

In its many forms, uranium is a killer – inevitable – contaminating everything it touches: water, soil, plants, animals and residents: fishermen, mothers, even babies.

To those of us who know and love northern Saskatchewan, and wish to visit it one more time - go now, before it’s too late!

Elaine Hughes

Archerwill, SK

I was recently inspired to collect all of my recent items on nuclear energy. I've added some other reference links for more info on nuclear energy and/or the tar sands. Click on the links to see the full stories.


Cameron Wigmore
Alberta Representative, Federal Council
Crowfoot Candidate, '06 & current
CEO, Crowfoot EDA

First, my previous blog on nuclear, and on the oilsands.

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Geothermal vs. nuclear in the tar sands
Silence on geothermal deafening
May 07, 2007
Tyler Hamilton

Three months ago, the Toronto Star ran a lengthy story about an oil-industry consortium that is quietly exploring the use of geothermal heat as an alternative to using natural gas in the oil sands.

Today, natural gas is burned to produce the hot steam that's needed to extract bitumen from the tar sands. Alberta's world-famous sands are already the fastest-growing source of greenhouse gases in the country, and on the current growth path, emissions are expected to jump more than four-fold over the next 10 years.

Replacing much of this natural gas with clean, emission-free heat under the Earth's crust, a completely feasible option according to a recent research report out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, would go an enormous way toward achieving a halt, and eventually a decline, in Canada's carbon emissions.

The problem is, nobody is making noise about it. Not Ottawa. Not the provinces. Not even environmental groups.

When the Harper government released its much-anticipated "green plan" in late April, there was no mention of geothermal in the oil sands. Gary Lunn, federal minister of Natural Resources Canada, has never publicly touted the option.

The situation is perplexing, to say the least.

On the other hand, Lunn has been quite vocal in pushing nuclear power and its potential as a source of energy in the oil sands...


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Canadian Oil Sands Nuclear Plant Seen for 2016
CANADA: March 5, 2007
OTTAWA - The first in a series of nuclear power plants planned for the oil-rich tar sands of Western Canada should be operating by 2016, the head of the project said Thursday.

The Energy Alberta Corporation says it wants to place a C$5.5 billion (US$4.3 billion) Canadian-built Candu twin reactor plant in northern Alberta to provide the massive amounts of power needed to extract oil from the sticky sands...

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Nuclear Power No Sure Cure for Climate Ills - Groups
US: May 3, 2007
WASHINGTON - Nuclear energy may not live up to its promise as the solution for global warming, according to separate reports released this week by an environmental group and an independent think tank...

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Australian Labor Party Scraps Ban on New Uranium Mines
AUSTRALIA: April 30, 2007
SYDNEY - Australia's centre-left Labor Party scrapped its 25-year ban on new uranium mines on Saturday after a divisive debate at the party's national policy conference in Sydney...

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Canada's Role in Depleted Uranium (DU) Weapons worldwide

DU & Public Health: The public health effects of the use of Depleted Uranium (DU) weapons are such that their use can be considered per se violations of the war crime of Genocide under the Statute of the International Criminal Court. The documented devastating effects of DU weapons on public health include:

3.0 Findings: The negative impacts of radiation from nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons testing, nuclear power and nuclear reactors, and depleted uranium weaponry, include but are not limited to the following.
3.1 Cancer
3.2 Birth defects
3.3 Chronic diseases caused by neurological and neuromuscular radiation damage
3.4 Mitochondrial diseases (Chronic fatigue syndrome, Lou Gehrig's, Parkinsons nad Alzheimer's; Heart and brain disorders)
3.5 Global DNA damage in men's sperm; Infertility in women.
3.6 Learning disabilities
3.7 Mental illness
3.8 Birth rates & death rates
3.9 Diabetes
3.10 Infant mortality and low birth weights
3.11 Atmospheric testing impact on Environment
3.12 It is hereby found that the only feasible remedy to cease the damage to the environment and public health caused by ionizing radiation, and to safeguard the future of humanity and all living things, is to permanently abolish all nuclear technologies...

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BOOK: WOLVES OF WATER - A Study Constructed from Atomic Radiation,
Morality, Epidemiology, Science, Bias, Philosophy and Death by Chris

"Come then all of you, come closer, form a circle Join hands and make
believe that joined Hands will keep away the wolves of water Who howl
along our coast. And be it assumed That no one hears them among the
talk and laughter." - Louis MacNeice

Light and Dark. Good and Evil. Themes from the night time recesses of our folk memories. They recur in literature, poetry, film: they are as old as time itself. In the scientific daylight of 2006, with the planet in danger, with massive expansion of industry, of pollution, of war, terrorism, threats of the effects of global warming, species loss, new diseases, even in this rationalist western world, illuminated by the stark light of scientific rationalism, no one can quite bring themselves to laugh about these deep ancient fears and pass them off as fantasy, or the stuff of dreams and cinema. There has always been an underlying public suspicion that the superficial events that influence their lives and the explanations of these events, which are common currency, do not address the underlying political truths. They suspect there is a real story that they are not being told. They are right. And, from time to time, stories emerge that demonstrate this. This is one such story. The message of this book is that the developments and advances of science have brought in their train devastating illnesses, and an even more devastating change in the way in which we now see the world...

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How green is nuclear power?
Some call it a carbon-free alternative to fossil fuels, but others point to significant environmental costs.

In Kansas, where winds blow strong, the push for clean energy includes not only new wind turbines but also new nuclear-power plants as part of a "carbon-free" solution to climate change.

It's an idea that may be catching on. At least 11 new nuclear plants are in the design stage in nine states, including Virginia, Texas, and Florida, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute website.

But that carbon-free pitch has researchers asking anew: How carbon-free is nuclear power? And how cost-effective is it in the fight to slow global warming?

"Saying nuclear is carbon-free is not true," says Uwe Fritsche, a researcher at the Öko Institut in Darmstadt, Germany, who has conducted a life-cycle analysis of the plants. "It's less carbon-intensive than fossil fuel. But if you are honest, scientifically speaking, the truth is: There is no carbon-free energy. There's no free lunch."

Nuclear power has more than just a little greenhouse gas attached to it, when mining uranium ore, refining and enriching fuel, building the plant, and operating it are included. A big 1,250 megawatt plant produces the equivalent of 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide a year during its life, Dr. Fritsche says...

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From the "Frying Pan of Global Warming into the Nuclear Fire":
Five reasons to oppose the uranium and nuclear industry
– April 2007 By Jim Harding, Ph.D.
Nuclear power is aggressively being promoted as the magic bullet for global warming, and the Canadian Nuclear Association (CNA) is again on our national airways bombarding us with the totally misleading message that nuclear is "clean." Here are five reasons to reject the nuclear propaganda.

1. Nuclear produces greenhouse gases
The nuclear industry is very energy-intensive, using massive fossil fuels, from mining, refining and enriching uranium to transporting and storing nuclear wastes. The most potent of the greenhouse gases - the otherwise banned ozone_depleting CFC's - continue to be released through uranium enrichment. And Saskatchewan's uranium, which accounts for one-third of world production, is enriched in the U.S. using a coal-fired plant.

At best, a nuclear plant is responsible for one-third of the green-house gases of an equivalent gas-fired plant. And an expanding nuclear industry will increasingly be forced to use lower grade uranium, requiring even more fossil fuels along the nuclear fuel system, with less and less net energy gain.

2. Nuclear is a Cancer Industry
Calling nuclear "clean" is Orwellian and obscene. Nuclear power spreads radioactivity in the earth's biosphere, and these radioactive particles will continue to bio-accumulate in the food chain long after nuclear power plants have shut down. Radiation released from the 1986 Chernobyl accident spread cancer and suffering widely, leaving some areas in Europe unsafe for growing food for as long as 600 years.

Fuelling the 435 reactors worldwide leaves hundreds of thousands of tonnes of radon-generating radioactive tailings in mining regions, such as Northern Saskatchewan. Reactors "legally" release hundreds of thousands of curies of radioactive gases and elements yearly. Each reactor produces ever-accumulating radioactive wastes as spent fuel that will have to be managed for millennia. Ever since the industry began in 1945, we have been asked to make a very risky and costly "leap of faith" that the storage problem will be solved. No safe and secure system of storing nuclear wastes in perpetuity has been created.

Cameco and other nuclear proponents tell us a majority of Saskatchewan people support uranium mining for the "economic development." But this is not informed consent. And even if a majority actually supported the export of this carcinogen, this would not make it right.

3. Nuclear is Not Peaceful
A 1,000 megawatt reactor yearly produces 500 pounds of the very carcinogenic element plutonium, which has a half-life of 24,400 years. That means that in 24,400 years - over 800 generations from now - it will still be half as radioactive. Only ten pounds of plutonium is required to make an atomic bomb, and Canada's CANDU reactor has already played a part in nuclear proliferation, most notably in the arms race between India and Pakistan.

Saskatchewan uranium was a primary source for thousands of American and British nuclear weapons in the arms race between 1953_66. Since the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) depleted uranium (DU) -left from enriching Saskatchewan's uranium exported for U.S. nuclear power plants - still remains available to the military for producing nuclear weapons, including H-Bombs. DU Bullets used in Yugoslavia and Iraq continue to spread radioactivity and cancer. As the world's major uranium-producing region, Saskatchewan is directly complicit in this low-level nuclear war. Our ever-denying governments and corporations will likely be seen as "war" and "ecological" criminals by future generations. They should be brought to account now.

France is the most nuclear-dependent country at 70% electricity. It has an interlocked military-industrial nuclear system and only recently stopped aboveground nuclear tests and signed the NPT. It relies on Saskatchewan uranium. The largest single source of uranium for the U.S. military-industrial nuclear complex is also Saskatchewan.

4. Nuclear Is Impractical
Nuclear electricity has been massively subsidized by a handful of nuclear weapons powers (mostly France, the U.S, Britain and Russia) which now try to profit through exporting nuclear technology to the industrializing (mostly Asian) world. Yet after 60 years nuclear power only supplies 17 percent of electricity, while coal produces 64 percent of electricity, worldwide. Even if coal dependent China built 30 new nuclear plants, nuclear would produce only 5 percent of its energy, which wouldn't mitigate its rising greenhouse gas emissions.

Also, uranium, like oil, is nonrenewable. If nuclear power could replace all coal presently used for generating electricity, we would run out of accessible uranium in less than a decade. Spending money on expanding nuclear therefore just postpones the inevitable - the need to convert to sustainable, renewable energy. And it squanders capital needed for this transformation, while increasing the burden of toxic radiation and huge decommissioning costs for future generations. This is immoral in every sense of the term.

Conservation, energy efficiency and perhaps "clean coal" are the realistic, cost-effective means of transitioning to sustainable, renewable energy to address global warming. This conversion, however,

continues to be stalled by huge taxpayer's subsidies to nuclear, which distort the energy market. George Bush's 2005 Energy Bill, for example, committed U.S. $13 billion to help the fledgling nuclear industry, something Helen Caldicott rightly calls a "theft from the production of cheap renewable electricity."

According to Ontario's Energy Probe, when you consider debt and interest costs over the last five decades, the Canadian nuclear industry has received $75 billion in public subsidies. Think what this scale of investment could have achieved if it were invested in renewables?

5. There's a Revolution in Renewables
Renewables include wind, solar, biomass, co_generation, geothermal, and kinetic energy. They also include "marine energy" (tidal and wave) which the British government-created Carbon Trust has said could produce 20 percent of the U.K.'s electricity. Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute has calculated that in the year 2004 alone, the amount of electricity supplied by renewables (excluding large hydro dams) added 500 times the total capacity worldwide that nuclear contributed. A political and techno-logical revolution towards ecological sustainability is currently underway.

The EU is now committed to reducing greenhouse gases by percent by 2020 through increased reliance on wind and solar power. In Canada, hydro produces 60 percent of our electricity, coal produces 22 percent and nuclear produces 14 percent. Between them, conservation and renewables can phaseout both nuclear and coal. Meanwhile the Harper Federal & Calvert Provincial governments continue with nuclear expansion. With support from the Sask Party,Calvert's NDP is promoting a uranium refinery, and Harper's Conservatives fantasize using nuclear power to increase the extraction of the west's heavy oil - the dirtiest of all oils.

If we continue on this destructive and dangerous path, we could become an international nuclear waste dump. We need a fundamental redirection of energy policy to address global warming and truly contribute to sustainability and world peace. Accepting the deception of the nuclear industry amounts to jumping from the frying pan of global warming into the nuclear fire.

Produced with research from Helen Caldicott's "Nuclear Power is not the Answer" (2006), and Jim Harding's "Canada's Deadly Secret: Saskatchewan Uranium and the Global Nuclear System" (forthcoming, Fernwood, 2007).This was originally produced for the Non_Nuclear Network and can be used by any environmental/ non_nuclear group.

See also: OUR DEADLY SECRET: Tracing Saskatchewan's Role in the Proliferation of Nuclear WMD1 by Jim Harding, Ph. D., Retired Prof. of Environmental and Justice Studies

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The Anonymous Green said...


No comment from me on your nuke posts (I'm pro nuke)

But, just a comment on your blog format.

Tough to follow links in the comments section. You can make it easier to get full page viewing if you make a simple change.

On blogger, if you go to the "blogger dashboard" pick "settings" and then pick "comments" along the menu, you can toggle from "Show comments in a popup window? " from yes (your current setting) to no.

It makes it much easier to read other person's comments, and follow links in full page view, rather than in a small narrow window.


Cameron W said...

Anon Green, have a look at my previous post below on nuclear energy. Actually, I think you have made a few comments there already. I'm surprised that my argument against nuclear hasn't changed your mind. Can you tell me why you're still pro-nuclear, and please tell me what part of my argument is unconvincing, or what area I haven't addressed yet?

Nuclear Is Not An Option

"...Using nuclear to maintain our society as it is won't work.

I am most certainly anti-nuclear, and I am fully aware of the reality of this position and the consequences of not building nuclear power plants in the face of an imminent global oil shortage.

In the post fossil fuel world (yes, it will happen one day not far from now) there will be consequences to not attempting to replace our 'cheap' abundant fossil fuel with the stop-gap of nuclear energy. Canada should start setting up sustainable decentralized energy systems that are not reliant on the grid right away.

Without fossil fuels to build nuclear power plants, large scale wind farms, solar grids, etc, we will find ourselves unable to maintain a society that's anything like what we have now. Based on the information in the book The Long Emergency I'm not even sure that we have a choice. A few decades (50 years?) down the road we may find ourselves with a broken down energy grid, using mostly coal and wood for energy because solar and wind power systems have broken down. When my 3 year old son turns 50, and his children are making a life for themselves, we won't have the abundant energy to consume at an unnecessarily rapid pace like we do now.

Nuclear will prolong the scenario of fossil fuel depletion, societal & government inaction, and the economic pains that accompany it, with the addition of radioactive waste. In the end we will not be able to maintain or replace the nuclear power systems without fossil fuel energy anyways...

...There's still no way around the fact that there will be less readily available easily accessed energy to go around in the future (we're already seeing this with the profitability of the once shunned and now coveted tar sands), and if the old-line parties are suggesting sustainability under the current economic model of growth and consumption, they either don't get it or they're lying...

...Using nuclear to reduce climate change will not work. Strangely, Patrick Moore, formerly of Green Peace and James Lovelock disagree. Some people are not fans of Patrick Moore, and although I find Lovelocks thoughts on a number of subjects interesting, I (and many others) disagree with him on this point. Nuclear energy won't solve the climate crisis.

First, there are considerable GHG emissions produced in the consumption of fossil fuels needed to create & ship the materials, mine the uranium ore and run the machines in the building of a nuclear power plant.

Second, who's to say that we wouldn't just continue to consume fossil fuels at the same rate, with electricity from nuclear power plants to fuel our increasing demand for energy? This seems to be a more likely scenario than having nuclear power stations everywhere, asking Canadians to start conserving energy and change their lives while pouring billions of tax dollars into subsidies for nuclear development, one of the most expensive forms of energy.

Third, the climate is changing, and even if we stopped all consumption of all fossil fuels right now the climate would still continue to warm. That statement is based on research that shows that there is a 'lag time' in the order of many years with regards to the effects of GHG's on climate change...

Cameron W said...

Oh yeah - I'll consider trying the other format for comments.



The Anonymous Green said...

The problem lies with providing baseload generation. This is the continuous load that a utility has to make available throughout the day.

There are basically three or four options to meet this - hydroelectric, coal fired plants, nuclear, or natural gas.

Wind energy and solar are unreliable, and not as scaleable. Until there are major advances in the ability to store energy from these sources when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing, it is not technically viable.

There may be potential in geothermal, but to the same scale as a nuke, I'm not sure, doubtful.

Here is a link that addresses some of these issues - a blog. Erich never came back to defend his claims.

Listen and read all of the links (I have worked in the utility industry and am quite familiar with load forecasting etc.)

Intellectual dishonesty? What is the basis for the Green Party's anti-nuke policy in Ontario?

For Alberta, listen to this discussion about using nukes for the oilsands. I agree with the first speaker, the retired engineer.

The IPCC and many others have come out in favour of more nukes as well in the future.
See here.

Cameron W said...

Might the solution be in reducing base load needs? If the energy requirements are reduced, then the base load could be met with other energy sources. The inefficient grid system might need to be revamped or discarded altogether if that path was taken.

Nuclear is not sustainable, and while it would help meet the ever-increasing base load needs for a time, it would eventually fall short of increasing base load needs, and then eventually our descendants will have to deal with reducing consumption to match available energy levels, as well as nuclear waste created by previous generations.

The Anonymous Green said...

Go study the Ontario reports etc. - load forecast, as well as generation plan.

It's not that simple.

Cameron W said...

I'm not saying it's simple - I'm saying that it could be & should be done.

What about California, where the state tasked economists with figuring out how to meet their increasing energy needs, and the economists surprised the government by saying that the only way to meet the needs is by reducing the needs. California pushed for energy efficiency across the board and what the professional economists recommended is working. The economy is doing fine as well. They made it work.

Other related stories:

Only Energy Conservation can solve Electricity Crisis: Nuclear is the problem, not the solution

"To achieve sustainable prosperity, Canada must invest in renewable energy, concentrate on conservation and energy efficiency and take advantage of new technologies to reduce air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions." - Conference Board of Canada

The Anonymous Green said...

What about California, where the state tasked economists with figuring out how to meet their increasing energy needs, and the economists surprised the government by saying that the only way to meet the needs is by reducing the needs. California pushed for energy efficiency across the board and what the professional economists recommended is working. The economy is doing fine as well. They made it work.

As in Ontario, in the studies I recommended you read, energy conservation and renewables are one part of the energy supply mix -yes a key component, California is a good example, as is BC. One part, only.

In California, your model state, nuclear still delivers 12.9% of it's supply. Renewables, only 10.9%. Coal still generates almost 16%.

They have also been able to avoid building more nuclear plants by importing 22% of their power from outside of the state, some of it coming from BC Hydro and it's share of hydro-electric power from the Columbia River Treaty.

The Large Hydro, Nuclear, Coal, Natural Gas, and imports are to meet base load demands, as I mentioned in an earlier post.

In-state renewables only deliver 10.9% of the energy supply mix, and they have been at this for quite some time! Sure, the windmills provide great visuals.

(I don't place much weight on press releases from The WWF or the Sierra Club etc as they have an agenda and often don't have suitably qualified technical people on staff, or retained to offer objective and professional opinions).

Electricity (2006)


In-State 78.03%
Natural Gas 41.5%
Nuclear 12.9%
Large Hydro 19.0%
Coal* 15.7%
Renewable 10.9%

Imports 21.97%
Pacific North West 6.72%
Deep South West 15.25%

Cameron W said...

"In-state renewables only deliver 10.9% of the energy supply mix, and they have been at this for quite some time! Sure, the windmills provide great visuals..."

They're a good model of what can be done without much of an impact on lifestyle. More could be done, and will have to be done, as we pass global peak oil production and begin to feel the crunch of our no longer supportable unsustainable lifestyles.

Windmills are more than great visuals, although I also find them nice to see on the horizon. I'm not suggesting that we could continue consuming energy at current levels on wind power alone.

"I don't place much weight on press releases from The WWF or the Sierra Club etc as they have an agenda and often don't have suitably qualified technical people on staff, or retained to offer objective and professional opinions.."

Sure they have an agenda. It's open and transparent and I think it's the right agenda. The pro-nuclear lobby groups also have an agenda, but there is a lot of disinformation put forth by many of those groups.

They often don't have qualified technical people on staff, or retained to offer objective and professional opinions, but they often do have qualified technical people on staff, or retained to offer objective and professional opinions too. Both sides are pushing their agendas, and in the end we are left wondering how long we can continue on the unsustainable path we're on before something gives.

The Anonymous Green said...


As I mentioned earlier, it's not that simple. There are also technical reasons.

Electricity generation, transmission, and distribution is very complex and interconnected. You would need to be an engineer or have a very technical background to understand some of the technical issues. This is partly why wind generation and other forms of renewables will be limited in the percentage of total generation.

California has been at this since the early 70's under Governor Jerry Brown, light years ahead of Canada, and is a good example. It still has nukes and will continue to need them in the future.

I really can't offer much more here. It's a very technical issue.

Cameron W said...

Sure it's a technical issue, but it's easy to see that nuclear is not sustainable, nor is our current level of energy consumption.

Compared to the energy yield of fossil fuels, which are finite, nuclear will not provide enough energy for people in North America to continue to consume energy at the current rate for much longer.

We can find the sustainable level of consumption, adjust our lives to work within the confines if a finite planet, and ensure the prosperity of our children's children. The alternative is not so appealing to me.

The Anonymous Green said...

Related to this and an earlier post about Nafta energy provisions, this opinion piece in the National Post about the questionable economics of the Mackenzie Valley Pipeline, and the government's possible financial participation. Note no mention of Nafta energy proportionality, just an acknowledgement that other energy sources will come on board in the US (dropping our percentage of production for export, as I described):

Even if work started today, completion wouldn't happen until 2014 at the earliest, and by then the gas might not be needed in the United States, the primary market.

Gas is a major potential source of electric power, and 10 or 15 years from now Mackenzie gas is unlikely to have any advantages. By 2014 and after, other sources of energy are expected to be on the market, driving the price of gas down and rendering Pipeline- Canada uneconomic. Liquified natural gas (LNG) could be landing in massive quantities in the United States, coal gasification is under intense development, as is another coal technology, thermo-energy coal burning. And who knows what chaos climate regulation will bring?

Without Mackenzie Valley Gas, nuclear generation in Alberta becomes increasingly more attractive as an alternate energy supply, as has been noted in the media. The only practical alternative is coal fired generation. Renewables are not a option to meet this baseload.

If "clean coal technology" - carbon capture and sequestration is not technically feasible, I'd rather go with nukes than CO2 emitting dirty coal.

One has to be realistic about timelines.

Anonymous said...

Nuclear energy is a great option for our power needs.

First talking about the green house gas issue and nuclear power. Our infrastructure will have to change and our form of mobile energy generation will also need to change as oil grows scarce. People will still want to drive their cars once oil is gone. Whether this is in the form of hydrogen, electric cars, bio diesel, or fuel cells is yet to be seen. But once this switch is made, nuclear power will be completely ghg free (if the base load grid is powered by nuke plants).

The waste issue which is harped on so much by the anti-nuke community isn't that big of an issue. You can reprocess the waste and get 95-97% of the waste back as fuel. The other 3-5% can be put back into fuel and bombarded with neutrons to shorten its half life and put back in the ground safely without risk of contamination. This process has been utilized by the French for 30 years and is also used by Britain and Japan.

Radiation release is not a problem with nuclear plants. There is more radiation outside of a coal plant then there is outside of a nuclear plant. The amount of radiation a radiation worker is allowed to receive in a year is equivalent to the same amount of radiation received flying 1000 miles in an airplane. That limit is for plant workers. What plants are allowed to release over a year is orders of magnitude less than that limit. Also, no one has died from radiation exposure in US commercial nuclear power, that includes both plant workers and the public.

The fuel itself is shielded and protected at all times. It is of no use to terrorists because of its low enrichments and poisons built into the fuel. Plus there is no way for terrorists to get the fuel if they "somehow" managed to breach the facility, and even if they magically got the fuel out of the reactor, they could not take it anywhere because the fuel is self protecting.

As for chances of meltdown, there really are not any. Not by any means of operator training or mechanical safety's,(a lot goes into both those aspects and reactors have many different safety systems and their operators are highly trained), but their greatest feature is the fuel itself. All western reactors have negative temperature coefficient cores which means that the hotter the reaction gets, the less reaction there is until it gets to a point where the reaction just shuts down. This is created by the natural laws of physics and is not a mechanical system that can fail.

It is true that nuke plants are expensive to build. There is a lot of concrete and steel that goes into their construction. Looking at the plants now though, which have paid off their construction; nuke plants offer some of the lowest prices of power at 2 kilowatt cents per hour.

As for fuel burn up, a reactor usually burns about 1 gram of Uranium per day for 1 MW. The total US nuclear waste stockpile for 50 years of nuclear power could fit inside of a football stadium. That's at 20% of the grid.

Nuclear power is highly misunderstood, as is radiation, and its the reason why people cry out against it thinking that there's a Chernobyl in everyone's back yard and we'll all be left with highly toxic waste for our children's children's lives. All of this stems back to a lack of information and poor press when scientific fact shows nuclear power to be a great source of energy.

Cameron W said...

Alright anonymous.

Before jumping into my blog and promoting nuclear energy, I'd like you to read my posts on nuclear energy and reply to the points I've made.

Here's my reply, which took me a few hours today to compose. I will also be posting this as a separate blog post. I hope you read it and offer a reply.

Nuclear energy is NOT a good option for our current or future power needs.

Regarding greenhouse gases, many are produce in the production of materials to build, shipping of materials, and building of nuclear power plants. Then there is a large amount of greenhouse gases produced in the further transporting, storage and reprocessing of nuclear waste. The energy is not entirely emissions free unless one unrealistically removes all indirectly related emission from surrounding activities.

People will still want to drive their cars once oil is gone, but if you look at the numbers, it just can't happen, nor can we all freely fly around the world at will. There will not be enough energy, even if you build dozens of nuclear power plants. An interesting side note is that it would take about twenty nuclear power plants to replace the level of energy used from natural gas to fuel operations in the Athabasca tar sands, and that's just so that they can get the oil out of the ground so it can be shipped to the U.S. to be processed.

In articles all over the media, people are talking about the future need to replace oil, as peak oil might be upon us in at most a few decades, and at soonest... right now. The problem isn't that we will need to find a way to meet our growing energy demands. I think that will prove to be impossible without cheap abundant fossil fuels. Instead the problem is that somehow people across the entire world will need to learn to live on far less energy. In the future the grid distribution system may prove so inefficient that it will be entirely unusable. Decentralized local energy generation will likely be the solution, but without oil, we'll have trouble even maintaining and replacing those systems. So, how easy will it be for our future society to maintain, replace or decommission nuclear power generators, or to ensure that radioactive waste continues to be stored in a safe and secure manner?

Nuclear energy is NOT an option for our power needs.

Nuclear power will never be completely GHG free. There are so many other things that we need to do before we try to promote nuclear energy as some kind of solution to global warming. Isn't it completely possible that our society would simply continue to consume fossil fuels at the same pace, regardless of how much extra energy for other purposes is from nuclear power? If we build nuclear power plants, will we drive less? Ship goods by truck less? Heat our homes less?

The waste issue which is thoroughly understood by the anti-nuke community is a very big issue. Waste can be reprocessed, but as France is discovering, eventually the leftover waste that cannot be reprocessed will build up and huge amounts will have to be dealt with. Nuclear waste could be put back in the ground, but there will always be a risk of contamination. This process has been utilized by the French for many years and they are starting to realize that there are issues with the sustainability of this strategy that is simply burying the problem and delaying the inevitable.

Radiation release is a concern with nuclear plants. No one has experienced radiation exposure from working in a solar panel or wind turbine factory.

I lived in Toronto many years ago when it was discovered that the Pickering Nuclear Power plant was not living up to promises.

Ontario Hydro failed to report decades of copper and zinc emissions from steam condenser tubes 1,800 tones into Lake Ontario, Southern Ontario's and northern New York States drinking water. Ontario Hydro admitted that groundwater at Pickering nuclear power plant has been contaminated with high levels of tritium since 1978. Ontario Hydro disclosed that up to 150,000 liters of waste oil had been illegally dumped in a landfill in the late 1970s. Both the tritium contamination and the oil dumping were brought to light by whistle-blowers not Ontario Hydro.

In October 1997 it was revealed and widely reported in the media that the Pickering nuclear power plant had 30 fires the previous year thats more than two a month. This nuclear power plant is just outside Toronto in a densely populated area on the shores of Lake Ontario. The water of Lake Ontario is used as a coolant in the reactors and then pumped back into the lake - the drinking water of Southern Ontario and Northern New York.

For more on Tritium see this story
Canada vs. U.S. Tritium Standards in Drinking Water (A Primer on Tritium)

Also, terrorist attacks weren't on the top of peoples minds back then, but we seriously need to consider the fact that a nuclear power plant is a possible target for terrorists. They wouldn't need to try to break in to get the fuel rods to try to make bombs, as some might suggest. There is a concern about the nuclear plants themselves being possible targets.

Nuclear plants are very expensive to build. There is a tremendous amount of concrete and steel that goes into their construction. They are heavily subsidized with taxpayers money and the ongoing costs including the costs of decommissioning a nuclear plant make nuclear energy one of the most expensive forms of energy.

Some might try to say that only small amounts of fuel are needed to yield huge amounts of energy, and while this is technically true, 'small' does not equal safe, or manageable, or responsible, or even adequate, meaning that we will need 'large' amounts of fuel if we are to try to attempt to run the grid on nuclear energy. Very large amounts.

A lot of those who are pro-nuclear mistakenly dismiss people who are anti-nuclear as being uninformed or not in possession of the facts. I'm not 'crying out' that we'd all need a power plant in our backyards. In my well informed opinion, one nuclear power plant is one too many. We'll all be leaving behind highly toxic waste for our children's children's lives and beyond.

Nuclear power is a horrible source of energy.

Here are some links to some must read stuff that will help inform the pro-nuclear individuals who are not in full possession of the facts.

- - -

Nuclear energy 'not a viable response to climate change' - enviro group
Earlier this week, Sancan criticised State-owned Eskom for being “misinformed” about the sustainability of nuclear energy as a response to the threat of climate change, arguing that the full fuel cycle of nuclear power generation was fossil-fuel intensive and that nuclear energy was emitting large amounts of greenhouse gasses.
By March, Eskom would complete a business case for new nuclear investment, which would be predominantly conventional projects and could see the current installed nuclear base rise from 1 800 MW to over 20 000 MW over the next 20 years.

The action group also stated that the mining, milling, processing and transportation of uranium fuel for reactors were all carbon-intensive industries and that nuclear power was releasing three to four times more CO2 per unit of energy produced than compared with renewable energy.

Worthington said that renewable energy initiatives involved smaller power generation units, which was opening up opportunities for greater employment.

He also said that risk of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, as was evident in the international attempts to get Iran to shut down its uranium enrichment, was showing that enrichment for power generation and enrichment for the proliferation of weapons were one industry.

“There is no such thing as peaceful nuclear,” he said, adding that South Africa had enough renewable energy resources to provide energy for the whole of Africa.

The Long Emergency - James H. Kunstler (book review)
...Nevertheless, he does not see nuclear power as more than a short-term stopgap. Its ultimate limitations come first from safety issues with regard to plant operations and the disposal of waste fuel (although he points out that coal has cost far more lives than nuclear power, especially in the West). Second is the large amount of oil needed to mine and process nuclear fuel and to build and maintain nuclear plants. And the third, formidable objection Kunstler makes is that "Atomic fission is useful for producing electricity, but most of America's energy needs are for things that electricity can't do very well, if at all. For instance, you can't fly airplanes on electric power from nuclear reactors"—although, as he notes, the U.S. military has tried...

The Peak Oil Crisis: Alternatives – Decentralized Power
Most electricity is generated in massive remotely located plants – be they powered by coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear reactors. These edifices, on average, waste two-thirds of the fuel that goes into them. Most energy is lost as waste heat that goes into the air or a local body of water, and the rest in line loses while bringing the power tens or hundreds of miles from the generator to the user.
In terms of green house gases, we could have the same lights, appliances, heating and air conditioning for half the carbon emissions if we simply switched from the current paradigm to decentralized power generation. If we toss some user conservation into the equation -- more efficient lights, appliances, insulation, and whatever – it just might be possible to stretch dwindling supplies of oil, natural gas, coal, and uranium far enough to allow time to replace fossil fuels with renewable sources of energy.

Government can’t solve energy crisis it created
...Americans are expected to consume 28 percent more oil in 2030, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates, as global demand for oil increases more than 50 percent. Even under the most optimistic scenarios, alternative fuels, including nuclear, hydropower and renewables like ethanol, will account for less than 20 percent of our total energy profile...

My note: Interestingly, this article completely ignores that global warming and the climate crisis is human caused, and that fossil fuels are a huge part of that. It goes on to suggest that the government relax regulations and provide incentives to the oil & gas industry so that companies can get to the oil as fast as possible. The numbers indicate that even with aggressive increasing of nuclear power it will be impossible to meet the energy needs of North Americans.

The nuclear energy option - Why environmentalists go silent when it's raised
Last week, John Rowe, chief executive of Exelon Corp., speaking at the CERES conference in Boston where hundreds of environmental officers from major corporations were in attendance, advocated the use of nuclear power to meet future energy needs.

The room went silent.

This is a telling sign of the state of the energy industry as a whole: "Environmentalists" create a lot of noise about creating alternative energy sources. The oil and gas industry quietly goes about its business. And when the nuclear option is brought one has much to say about it.

The silence from the environmentalists can be attributed to the fact that nuclear power doesn't create carbon emissions. And it's readily available. It's an answer to the issue of global warming.

However, nuclear power isn't "clean energy" like solar or wind power. It's source and waste are radioactive material and therefore dangerous.

I personally don't want to bet the long-term future of the planet on whether we can find a solution to the carbon emissions from fossil fuels with nuclear power that in the short term can decimate pretty much every living thing on the planet.

There has to be a solution to meeting the world's energy demands, predicted to increase by 50% over the next 25 years. But nuclear power isn't it. There are too many hazards to consider.

My note: but there is NO solution save for reducing our levels of consumption of energy. Not solar, not hydro, not wind and not nuclear. Nuclear energy will meet part of the demand, but this is akin to widening the freeway to accommodate more cars in order to reduce congestion, only to see more and more cars and renewed congestion, or buying bigger pants and a nigger belt to accommodate weight gain.

Nuclear is NOT an option.

Union of Concerned Scientists on Nuclear Power and Global Warming
It must be borne in mind that a large-scale expansion of nuclear power in the United States or worldwide under existing conditions would be accompanied by an increased risk of catastrophic events-a risk not associated with any of the non-nuclear means for reducing global warming. These catastrophic events include a massive release of radiation due to a power plant meltdown or terrorist attack, or the death of tens of thousands due to the detonation of a nuclear weapon made with materials obtained from a civilian-most likely non-U.S.-nuclear power system. Expansion of nuclear power would also produce large amounts of radioactive waste that would pose a serious hazard as long as there remain no facilities for safe long-term disposal.

In this context, the Union of Concerned Scientists contends that:

1. Prudence dictates that we develop as many options to reduce global warming emissions as possible, and begin by deploying those that achieve the largest reductions most quickly and with the lowest costs and risk. Nuclear power today does not meet these criteria.

2. Nuclear power is not the silver bullet for "solving" the global warming problem. Many other technologies will be needed to address global warming even if a major expansion of nuclear power were to occur.

3. A major expansion of nuclear power in the United States is not feasible in the near term. Even under an ambitious deployment scenario, new plants could not make a substantial contribution to reducing U.S. global warming emissions for at least two decades.

4. Until long-standing problems regarding the security of nuclear plants-from accidents and acts of terrorism-are fixed, the potential of nuclear power to play a significant role in addressing global warming will be held hostage to the industry's worst performers.

- - -

Countries Undecided on How to Store Nuclear Waste

France Deals with Legacies of its Nuclear Programs - Why the French Like Nuclear Energy

Here's an informative video clip about Frances nuclear waste crisis. It's surprising free of anti-nuclear rhetoric.
Greenpeace on Frances Nuclear Waste

Anonymous said...

There is a lot in your post I would like to talk about like nuclear efficiency and comparisons with other fuels and many other things as well but I will narrow down my points to keep it stream lined and we can go from there. Three things I notice you keep bringing up; the waste, safety of plants/radiation exposure, and green house gases.

Reprocessing nuclear waste eliminates 95-97% of the waste roughly. The last 3-5% is left over. The thing is, this remaining waste can be reformed back into the fuel in what is known as mox fuels. The waste is essentially "burned" (nomenclature for undergoing neutron capture) in reactors which transmutes the waste into materials that have short half lives. The remaining waste will have their half lives shortened and can be put back into spent Uranium mines, replacing the radioactive material that was removed and causing no net change in nature.

Radiation is a natural thing, it is not man made. Right now you are exposed to radiation from natural sources as you sit at your computer. After the waste is reprocessed and put into mox fuel, the radiation coming off of it is such that it does not go much above ambient levels, causing no damage to the environment or people.

Concern about nuclear plants and terrorists is another large issue with nuclear plants. Here's a video from one of the tests nuke plants are put through.

The fuel itself is of no use to terrorists. It is way too low of enrichment to make it into a bomb as well as containing burnable poisons that help moderate the fuel temperature, which also make it impossible to cause a nuclear explosion. It is impossible to make a bomb out of straight commercial reactor fuel.

As for meltdowns, on top of the safety systems and controls of nuclear plants, the fuel is self moderating. This means that the reaction can not run away and cause a meltdown. Reactors usually have two containment vessels as well which means that in the event of a meltdown somehow occuring, no radiation will be released and the meltdown will be contained. If you are thinking of Chernobyl, one thing to note is that it did not have a containment vessel. All Chernobyl had was a tar paper roof. All the concrete and steel that goes into nuke plants isn't for show. It keeps the terrorists out and the meltdowns in. Because of the low enrichments, self moderating fuel which relies on the laws of physics rather then engineering devices which can break, containment vessels, and reprocessing with mox fuels, nuke plants are a very viable form of power generation that is very safe and useless to terrorists both as targets as well as supplies for fissile material.

For green house gases. If the entire grid consisted of nuclear plants as well as wind and solar panels, the only part of the nuclear process which would produce green house gases would be the mining aspect from the machines. As I stated in my earlier post which you seemed to gloss over, whether it is bio diesel, hydrogen, battery power, solar cells, fuel cells, or some unforeseen technology, the mining aspect will be green house gas free otherwise our entire infrastructure will collapse when we run out of oil.

Cameron W said...

Our entire infrastructure will collapse when we run out of fossil fuels, and nuclear won't stop this.

It's reckless and self-centered to pursue nuclear energy.

You've chosen to make your argument based on weaker points, while I've offered more significant points in reply to your previous post above that you seem to have avoided talking about, likely because it makes the case for nuclear energy weaker. I made my new post based on your comment above. Please go check it out through the link below.

Here is my reply to a comment on
my more recent post on nuclear energy.

- - -

Energy conservation is the best solution. I agree.

You say you see no alternative but to go for nuclear, but why? Is it because you want our society to be able to continue to consume energy at greater and greater amounts? Over the coming decades not even nuclear energy will allow for this, as fossil fuels are depleting (the US is already past peak production) and not even nuclear can replace the energy yield and versatility that fossil fuels have provided.

I think this is irresponsible to our descendants who will inherit the costs of nuclear waste storage, not to mention the safety issues that have remained unsolved for decades.

If you want to consume ever greater amounts of energy, are not concerned by having to deal with the costs or safety issues with long term nuclear waste storage, and you mistakenly think nuclear will take society beyond peak oil (expected to occur in the next few decades, if it isn't already happening) then I understand why you might support nuclear.

The alternative is to significantly reduce our level of consumption, and with the political will we can make changes that will have a significant cumulative effect. In the end though, we will have to change our lifestyles so that we all consume less.

Reducing our energy use can be done in many ways, and it is our responsibility to do so. Eventually it will happen anyway whether we like it or not. The longer we continue to use energy at the current rate, the less sustainable our society is.

Cameron W said...

You said, "Three things I notice you keep bringing up; the waste, safety of plants/radiation exposure, and green house gases."

You haven't argued convincingly that waste is not an issue.

Safety and radiation exposure can be said to be acceptable, but what is acceptable to you and what is acceptable to me might be different.

Greenhouse gases are an issue from start to finish, because production and shipping of materials needed to build reactors involves fossil fuels, as does continued maintenance and eventual decommission of a plant.

Review the link on my more recent post for more info on GHG's and nuclear.

Anonymous said...

Talking about weakening my position, you are the one who keeps saying nuclear cannot support us, we need to cut back energy consumption, without providing facts. Lets just talk Uranium, forget breeders, reprocessing, fast fission, and thorium. There is an estimated 43.3 million tonnes of natural Uranium on earth which can be mined and used as fuel. That is equivalent to 43,300,000,000 kilograms or 43,300,000,000,000 grams of Uranium. A reactor burns about 1 gram of Uranium a day at 1 MW. This means that we have 43,300,000,000,000 MW days of Uranium power. That is without reprocessing the spent fuel, or using breeder cycles, or utilizing fast fission or thorium as fuel, which it is estimated that their is more thorium than uranium deposits. I got the tonnage of Uranium off of wiki. Here's a good article that talks about Uranium reserves as well as how feasible Uranium is as a fuel.

Also, your discussions of nuclear waste are either biased, misinformed, or incorrect. I looked at those articles as well as the videos and they completely ignored the nature of radiation. Also, when it comes to what is defined as nuclear waste and what is nuclear waste, there is a major disparity. The nuclear waste people here about that filling up landfills is not of the same caliber as spent fuel. Most of it is not even radioactive while the rest is of such low levels that it really is not that damaging. But due to stringent regulations based upon out dated, more highly conservative models of radiation, the waste is treated as highly dangerous. That type of waste is less radioactive then what comes out of a coal plant. In fact, if a coal plant were held to the same regulations as a nuclear plant in the form of radiation standards, every coal plant in the country would have to be shut down due to their output of radioactive waste. But since it comes out of a coal plant, it is not classified as radioactive waste. That is how stringent the guidelines are for nuclear plants and that is what is filling up the "radioactive" land fills. The waste people need to worry about, the high level spent fuel, is not nearly on the same level in volume compared to this low level waste. In fact, all the high level waste in the US that has been produced in the 50 years of US nuclear power could fit inside of a football field. And we could reduce 97% of that volume if we reprocess it right now.

Your articles mentioned nothing of mox fuel, nor did they compare natural radiation levels to waste that has been sufficiently burned in reactors. The idea is not to make these thing non-radioactive. The idea is to make them safe to handle and safe for the environment. We are naturally exposed to radiation from the sun and from radioactive materials decomposing in the ground. In fact the first nuclear reactor was a natural reactor in Africa thousands of years ago. There was a large pile of Uranium in one spot, and the geometries were just right that when it rained, the water provided sufficient moderation to create a nuclear reaction. This is just another natural process we are harnessing.

Based upon estimates now, between Uranium and Thorium, along with reprocessing and breeder reactors, we effectively have thousands of years of power. You say that we should totally reorganize our grid, completely change our infrastructure to localized. That in itself is a massive undertaking which cannot be completed quickly as well as producing massive amounts of green house gases as we undergo reclamation processes of un -used wires and old plants (coal, nuclear, oil, whatever). Coming back to green house gases, both the milling and enrichment facilities run off of electricity. If the grid is powered by green power, these processes too will be powered by green power. New reactor types do not require enrichment of their fuel at all, removing that step from the process completely. Reprocessing can be done in house with secondary reactors and the waste can be stored in secondary pools to cool after the mox fuel has been burned, allowing for the waste to be transported directly from the site and basically dumped anywhere without environmental impact since it was burned in a reactor.

I liked your quote on the fact that no one was exposed to radiation in building windmills or solar panals. To argue semantics, true the materials themselves did not dose the individuals, but the individuals were still dosed by radiation from their natural environment.

Another question is, what do you do with all the broken solar panels for the large grids needed for a house, even low power efficient houses? Also, when oil runs out, what will the plastics and composites which many windmills are made out of be constructed out of. Will we revert to wooden windmills? Also, we are now switching away from cadmium solar cells but there are still many cadmium solar cells in circulation. How will these be disposed of since cadmium is toxic forever.

I am not against wind power or solar power. I think they are great assists but I believe that they should be used to augment nuclear power, not replace it. You keep mentioning we need to reduce our consumption. I agree we should all try to be as efficient as possible, but humanities numbers continue to grow. Even if we scaled back everything, we would just be delaying the inevitable as the population grows and more people demand to have power, even if it is severely reduced power from what we have today. We have the technology to allow us to continue at the pace that has been set by modern society, we just need to use it.

Anonymous said...

Hey is that a soprano saxophone in your facebook photo?

Cameron W said...

It's a Tenor Sax.

Thanks for your comments above. I'll leave it to the readers to decide which argument is more convincing.

How do you propose we deal with nuclear power plants and all the issues they come with once our fossil fuels become depleted and start to run out?

Anonymous said...

That's nice, I play Alto.

Your question is opens an entirely separate energy war hehe. What will happen when we run out of fossil fuels to power our cars, our planes, our ships. Our homes may have power but how will cargo be shipped and how will we travel even a distance of a few kilometers in an economic fashion? Well, we could always revert back to the horse and buggy hehe, only joking.

First of all, fossil fuels are not dead yet. Very true our supplies are dwindling fast and we do not have time to dawdle thinking we can go on forever using decayed dinosaurs and swamps for power. But we still have enough time for an interim period to ween ourselves off of hydrocarbons without causing too much economic damage and make alternate fuels viable.

Fuel cell technology shows some promise. In so doing we could replace all the internal combustion engines on the mining and construction equipment with fuel cell engines, or hydrogen engines. 10-20 years down the road. In 20 years battery technology could also provide a source of power. All in all we could always plug our vehicles on a construction site or mining site into the power grid and they could all be cabled, getting power that way utilizing electric motars. They don't have to go far staying on site so we could just run them off of the power grid if some replacement is not found for fossil fuels.

But the race to find alternative fuels for cars/boats/construction equipment is as intense as the race to find an alternative grid power source. Results will be produced in some form, whether it is battery powered cars, hydrogen powered bull dozer's, or air planes running off of fuel cells. Society as we know it would crash to a halt if fossil fuels could not be used at this current juncture and transporting nuclear fuel/ waste and mining uranium and thorium would be the least of our worries if we do not find an alternative to gasoline in the near future. Whole governments and economy's will collapse. The capabilities to import and export will come to a halt. People dependent on other countries for food will starve. International and even inter state commerce will come to a halt. Everything we know will revert back to a time before the car was invented. Not a pretty picture. But this in turn has nothing to do with nuclear power because it is a different form energy that is being provided for the people. There is energy for their cars, and then energy for their homes. Solar cells and wind farms are relient upon the same factors as mining Uranium and transporting it. Without vehicles it becomes difficult to transport the large windmills or connect them, even to local grids to power wires. The large amounts of solar cells required for local grids would also required vehicular transportation to their locations.

In essence the question you asked does not apply so much as;"How do you propose we deal with nuclear power plants and all the issues they come with once our fossil fuels become depleted and start to run out?", as it is how will society function without a replacement for fossil fuels?

Anonymous said...

Sorry for the bad grammer. It is late and I only re-read the post once.

Cameron W said...

Well said, and nuclear energy is not a replacement for fossil fuels.

We have two or three decades at most before we hit global peak production of fossil fuels, the most optimistic experts say. Some say that global peak production might be occurring right now, and we already know that the USA is far beyond it's own peak production, and that is why it is looking to the middle east and Canada for new sources of oil.

Living in a post-peak-oil world means there will be wide spread recession, and global commerce will be significantly reduced due to shipping costs, as will food production due to fossil based fertilizers and pesticides and costs of fuel for farm machinery.

Nuclear cannot replace oil.

Peak oil production 101 for the skeptic.

Short video on peak oil (Youube).

Nuclear is very expensive.

Nuclear energy inputs - a pro-nuclear argument that ignores peak oil and spins other points.

NIRS found that DOE's policies and procedures are geared toward the "release of radioactive waste, materials and property from regulatory control."

Anonymous said...

Nuclear Power Kills; here's how. (Dirty nuclear truths.)
June 24th, 2007

Dear Readers,

Below are answers to common questions about nuclear power. The questions are:

1) Isn't France almost entirely dependent on nuclear power?

2) Don't nuclear submarines prove the technology works?

3) Nukes are getting safer all the time, aren't they?

4) Can't nuclear power solve the problem of Global Warming?

5) What exactly IS radiation and how does it harm us?

6) Won't Yucca Mountain solve the nuclear waste problem?

7) Science will surely cure cancer some day, and isn't that the main
danger from radiation?

8) Doesn't the nuclear industry protect humans from all its waste?

9) Isn't our other choice coal, and isn't that even worse?

10) Don't some people say that a little radiation might actually be GOOD for you?

11) Aren't we desperate for energy?

12) What about reprocessing? Can't we just "recycle" the radioactive waste?

13) Are nuclear power plants responsible for nuclear weapons proliferation?

14) Why does the industry keep going, if it's so bad?

15) Is the threat from terrorism real?

16) Are people who oppose nuclear power simply opposed to ALL technology?

Answers below.




1) Isn't France almost entirely dependent on nuclear power?

Sure, they have something between 70% and 80% nuke-generated electricity (the exact figure depends on who you ask). It's NOT particularly CHEAP for the French, by the way, and THAT should tell you something. But more to the point, COULD they have gone with renewables and still achieved their electricity goals (and their rates would now be vastly cheaper)? Certainly!

From wave power off the coast of Brittany to in-stream and small-scale hydro in the French Alps and the Pyrennes (and five other mountain regions in France), and bio-fuels, sunshine, and wind everywhere, and lousy conservation standards to begin with, there is no question France could get along without nukes entirely, as could anyone else. France has used extraordinary measures to stop the
so-called "anti-nuclear" (I call it the Pro-DNA) viewpoint from being heard. And one more point: AREVA, France's nuke power company, is even more secretive than our nuke mega-corporations, and their nukes have had serious problems which could have, with a little different luck, resulted in meltdowns. And AREVA buys up wind power and other clean energy companies all over the world, yet remain focused on nuclear!


2) Don't nuclear submarines prove the technology works?

Even if every nuclear submarine worked perfectly (they don't), the spent fuel from nuclear subs and other military nuclear vessels adds about 30% to the world's nuclear waste stream. The United States has launched nearly 200 nuclear submarines, but the reactors actually charge batteries, which power electrical motors, the same as on the old diesel subs. Staying submerged for months at a time, while theoretically possible, is seldom done and of little practical value in today's military threat scenarios.

Whenever we lose a nuke-powered sub (and it's happened twice to us, and about half a dozen times to the Russians) we lose the reactors and their radioactive fuel, to be dispersed into the waters. The Kursk's reactors were reportedly recovered (though undoubtedly, the highly radioactive cooling fluid was dispersed), but I don't think ANY other lost sub reactors have been recovered. Plus, Russia has hundreds of rusting subs that are releasing radioactive and other poisons into the oceans and will do so at ever-increasing rates unless WE somehow force the Russians to clean them up and remove them from the water. Russia's already proven they won't do it themselves.

Plus, at least in America, ex-nuke-submariners think they are ENTITLED to a job in a civilian nuke plant when they quit the service after securing a pension and life-time health benefits (such as they are) from the Navy. And there is good reason to believe the scuttlebutt that is rampant about ex-nuke-submariners dying of brain tumors and the like at MUCH higher rates than the rest of the population. THAT is their true sacrifice, but their promotion of nuclear power is by far the most damaging thing they have done (considering, for example, that they have never launched a single nuclear weapon at an enemy (thank goodness)).


3) Nukes are getting safer all the time, aren't they?

Actually, they are getting LESS safe. They are getting older, and the crews that run them didn't build them and haven't looked at the original plans even once in their lives. Any specific nuclear power plant is way too complex for any one person to understand, and their training is too specific, anyway. So one "expert" really just knows a piece of the puzzle, and leans on other experts to "solve" the whole puzzle for humanity, and excuse their own dirty part of the whole dirty job. Thus they convince themselves that nukes are safe and low levels of radiation might even be (in their opinion) GOOD FOR YOU. The old nuke power plants are rusting, becoming more and more embrittled, and parts that have lasted for 30+ years (and were designed to last only 20) are failing left and right. The companies all have a "replace on failure" policy for most components, since it would be impossible to guess what's going to break next. And as for future possible generations of new reactors, they have their own
problems INCLUDING unexpectedly rapid embrittlement of the cladding for the radioactive fuel pellets, which could lead to the very catastrophic failures they CLAIM can't happen. AND the new reactors are no better protected from terrorism than the old ones -- a fact of life, but then, so are TSUNAMIS and they are IGNORED, as well (yes, some coastal reactors have sea walls, but they are pitifully small).


4) Can't nuclear power solve the problem of Global Warming?

No. First of all, nuclear power doesn't produce MUCH of our energy mix. Only about 7% of America's energy usage is from nukes, if even that (it depends, of course, on how you measure it). The "20%" figure you might often hear is the percentage of ELECTRICITY nuclear produces, but electricity is a relatively small portion of our total energy usage.

Second of all, the global warming problem is (finally) considered IMMINENT. But no workable plan for building new nuclear power plants can possibly contribute more than a small percentage of the needed energy. The plants are too big, the lead time too long, the difficulties of siting them away from population centers and then running high-power lines, all doom the technology even if numerous OTHER important reasons are IGNORED!

Third, and most damaging, is that when you take into account: Caring for the nuclear waste afterwards; Caring for cancer victims; The energy needed to mine the uranium; The energy needed to clean up after an accident; All the other costs; Nuclear simply doesn't produce ANY net energy for the country! Not one watt!

So how can it solve the global warming problem?


5) What exactly IS radiation and how does it harm us?

Every element in the universe is made of atoms, and every atom is
made of protons and neutrons in the core, then lots of empty space,
with the tiny little electrons spinning around the outer edges. The number of protons determines what element something is. Except for hydrogen, which has a lone proton and can have zero neutrons, there are one or more neutrons in the core of each atom. Every element can have several different numbers of neutrons (called different isotopes of an element), but as long as the number of protons stays the same, it's the same element -- with the same chemical and biological behavior as any other atom of that element. All elements above and including element 86 have NO possible stable number of neutrons in their core, meaning, all isotopes of these elements are radioactive. Element 43, which doesn't exist naturally on Earth, also has no stable isotopes.

Unstable atoms decay, which means they break down into a stable
isotope of some element, or into another unstable isotope of some
element. For any particular atom, there is no way to predict WHEN it
will decay, but for large aggregates of the same isotope of the same element, the decay rates of the whole group are approximately predictable. The "half-life" is defined as the amount of time it takes for half the atoms to decay, in repeated tests of carefully measured, pure samples of an isotope. It is important to understand that the OTHER half of the sample will then take the SAME amount of time for HALF of THOSE atoms to decay. Thus, after about 20 half-lives, still about a millionth of the radioactive isotope will remain, along with a dirty little rainbow of daughter products, each decaying their way around the periodic table, in big and small leaps, stopping only when they become stable elements such as lead.

The moment of decay is of particular interest, because various particles and / or rays shoot out from the decaying atom, damaging other atoms. For example, a NEW electron can be ejected from the core of an atom, simultaneously changing one of the core's neutrons
into a proton and converting the atom into the next element UP in the Periodic Table of the Elements. (For example, converting an
radioactive isotope of hydrogen (element 1) that has two neutrons and one proton, into a stable isotope of helium (element 2) with one neutron and two protons.) The ejected NEW electron may be traveling as much as ~95% the speed of light when it is ejected. It is called a beta particle (sometimes it's called a beta ray). Another type of radioactive decay shoots off TWO protons and TWO neutrons in one clump -- which is called an alpha particle (sometimes it's called an alpha ray) and is ejected with as much as ~5% the speed of
light. Still other types of radioactive decays shoot off high energy photons, which are called gamma rays or x-rays. Some radioactive decays shoot off gamma rays along with beta particles or alpha particles.

It is mainly the shooting particles or energy rays that do the damage
to biological systems. Your body is made of highly complex molecules
-- in fact, the truest wonder of life is that it is so very, very
complex. The most complex molecule known, the biggest, most intricate, most amazing molecule of all (a triple crown of molecular development) is YOUR DNA, and you have trillions of copies of it, and
EACH ONE needs to remain exactly the same as all the others. No easy trick with RADIATION around! But it's not just your DNA that needs to be protected. Each of the 50,000+ DIFFERENT kinds of molecules your body manufactures for its own use all need to be protected, too. Many of the molecules your body makes are thousands of individual atoms in size, and if any ONE of those atoms is damaged, the molecule is ruined. Information -- perhaps vital information -- is

Radioactive decays are thousands of times STRONGER than the CHEMICAL
and ELECTRICAL BONDS which hold your body's various molecular
structures together. When a radioactive decay occurs it can destroy thousands of proteins your body carefully created, or it can damage the RNA -- the creators of those proteins -- or it can damage a copy of the DNA chain itself.

It is now absolutely certain and well-known that radiation causes
cancer, leukemia, heart disease, birth defects, and thousands of
other ailments. Recently, even some official regulatory bodies have accepted the theory that there is NO THRESHOLD below which radiation is not damaging and CANNOT cause "health effects."

But the RATE of health effects in the population, and the degree to
which a general degradation of YOUR body should be considered a
problem (even if it doesn't kill you outright) is the subject of
cover-ups, lies, debates, pseudo-debates, and a thousand other tricks, trials, and tribulations.


6) Won't Yucca Mountain solve the nuclear waste problem?

Or couldn't we just rocket it to the sun? No, neither solution is
adequate. Yucca Mountain is a scientific boondoggle AND at least 15 to 20 years away if it ever opens. The problem is simple to state, but very hard to solve: How can you build a device which will
successfully contain something for millions of years, when the thing
you wish to contain can destroy any container you build to contain
it? Radioactive decays destroy steel, diamond, gold, glass, every
alloy known or conceived by physicists and chemists, and -- of course -- radioactive decays destroy all biological systems.

The rocket solution is STILL brought up TIME AND AGAIN by
otherwise-sane "rocket scientists" and their promoters. But it's a
lousy idea because rockets fail WAY too often, including because of
prior rocket failure's high-speed, microscopic, deadly SPACE DEBRIS
in Near Earth Orbit, which the waste would have to successfully pass through. Also, there is WAY too much nuclear waste to expect much of it to get "up there" safely before a truly catastrophic accident occurs, not "vaporizing" (as in "rendering harmless through the process of incineration") but "particle-izing" the waste ("going
particulate" is the actual technical expression). Why does such a lousy idea keep coming up then? Because rationally, all OTHER choices have ALSO failed to pass scientific muster.

Besides, Yucca Mountain, even if built would not be nearly big enough for all the waste we will generate in the coming decades, it's barely going to be big enough to hold the current amount we already have!


7) Science will surely cure cancer some day, and isn't that the main
danger from radiation?

First of all: DON'T bet YOUR life that science will cure cancer any
time soon! Most "progress" has been in identifying cancers early,
and identifying environmental risks you CAN individually address. Many laws, in fact, which PURPORT to protect us from CARCINOGENS specifically exclude the regulation of RADIOACTIVE carcinogenic substances!

There are thousands of different kinds of cancers that have been
identified and further sub-categories are being discovered all the time. Cancer research is alive and well (and needs more
funding). But its successes have been few.

Second of all, cancer ISN'T the only disease radiation CAUSES or
ENHANCES, because radiation causes the random destruction of your
body's sub-cellular structure, and the creation of thousands -- or
even hundreds of thousands -- of "free radicals" with EVERY atomic
breakdown. Understanding how radiation impacts cells is closer to the root of the problem than merely declaring that radiation causes specific cancers, such as "thyroid cancer" and then handing out KI (Potassium Iodide) after an accident. Science isn't anywhere near solving any of the THOUSANDS of diseases associated with free radical creation in your body.

DNA damage to multiple (future) generations is a bigger threat to
civilization than the combined radiation-induced threats from cancer, heart disease, leukemia, and every other radiation-induced ailment combined! And there is no pill that protects your fetus. Mothers and fathers of the world MUST understand this: Radiation sickens, weakens, and kills YOUR babies! It makes them less like you, and it makes them like you less.


8) Doesn't the nuclear industry protect humans from all its radioactive waste?

NO THEY DON'T! Tritium, for instance, is routinely released from ALL operating nuclear power plants. Some kinds of nuke plants release 20 times (or more) more than other types. Is it ALL okay? Not at all. Tritium standards are absurdly lax. For example, in America the Environmental Protection Agency standard for drinking water is 20,000 picoCuries of tritium per liter. But if you drank water at this level consistently (and you might be doing so right now and not even know it), the water portion of YOUR body would also reach this level, and your body will silently experience tens of thousands of
ADDITIONAL radioactive decays every second of your life, above and
beyond all your OTHER EXPOSURES. These additional radioactive decays
will EACH create thousands of "free-radicals" (which can damage your DNA) or they might damage your DNA directly. Sounds bad? Of course it is -- but the EPA basically feels that it's bad ONLY above 20,000 picoCuries per liter and PERFECTLY OKAY below that! A more realistic figure, that would probably merely bring the protection standard in
line with that of other chemical assaults we must invariably put up
with (engine fumes, coal power plant fumes (see below) etc.), might be 50 picoCuries per liter -- or maybe 5.

But 20,000 picoCuries per liter of drinking water is just ABSURDLY
HIGH and allows U.S. nuclear power plants to release about 1,000
Curies of tritium each year, on average. Any year they release more is forgiven and averaged into prior years, if possible, or future
years, if prior releases exceeded even the standard "forgiveness"
rate. Get it? No matter what they release, it's simply duly noted
(but the information is seldom released to the public) and the
regulatory toadies forgive the nuclear industry for their trespass
into YOUR life.


9) Isn't our other choice coal, and isn't that even worse?

Coal is pretty bad stuff -- and there's 500 years' worth in the
earth, laying around the planet waiting to be mined, whereas there
is probably less than FIFTY years' worth of uranium!

Coal plants emit Uranium and Thorium -- radioactive heavy metals --
into the atmosphere in quantities MUCH greater than a properly
operating nuclear power plant does. BUT -- and this is a BIG, BIG, BUT -- they DON'T create or release FISSION PRODUCTS in comparable quantities. Fission products -- the daughter elements of atomic decay -- include cesium, strontium, and a deadly rainbow of other radioactive elements, which are created when the radioactive fuel is "burned" in the reactor. These elements get into biological systems in a way that heavy metals generally don't do (although heavy metals are very bad). Fission products BIOACCUMULATE in plants and animals which we then eat. Many fission products are chemically similar to elements that are essential for life. Therefore our bodies readily absorb fission products at specific sites such as our thyroids, gonads, bone marrow, and other organs.

Additionally, a coal-fired power plant will never be the target of a
serious terrorist who is intent on doing the most harm for his or her
"investment." A coal-fired plant will not leave extremely toxic
waste -- the word "extremely" being key here. A coal-fired plant
creates waste, and it is unhealthy -- both the part which is released
into the atmosphere AND the part that isn't. BUT these waste streams pale in comparison to a nuclear power plant's. As proof, just consider what the major fear is from coal, according to all the
politicians in Washington these days, and everyone else besides: CARBON DIOXIDE! NOT the heavy metals or even the URANIUM
that is also released by coal-fired power plants! In truth, it
would be GOOD to reduce ALL emissions from coal plants. But hasn't CARBON SEQUESTRATION been proven to work -- its ONLY REAL PROBLEM is that it REDUCES THE EFFICIENCY of the coal plant -- so you burn MORE coal to get the SAME POWER OUTPUT?

Or is there ANOTHER CHOICE? You bet there is! Solar energy
works. Wind power WORKS. Wave energy, tide energy, in-stream river power (no dams) -- these ALL work. Yes, I would rather see a hundred coal plants be built than the 30 or so nukes that could produce the same electrical output, BUT those are NOT the real choices.


10) Don't some people say that a little radiation might actually be
GOOD for you?

Hmmm... WHO have you been picking this stuff up from? Ask yourself
that. The only people I've ever found who actually believe that the
debris from, for example, a 1963 NASA nuclear space probe, which
dispersed plutonium all over the world, is like a VITAMIN to our
bodies are invariably directly associated with USING RADIOACTIVE
SUBSTANCES IN THEIR WORK. In other words, their jobs depend on the
public believing that low levels of radiation is probably HARMLESS,
and may even actually be GOOD for you.

In reality, NO level of radiation is beneficial and all medical
radiation is given after a supposedly careful cost-benefit analysis has been done for the patient. In other words, the risk of getting cancer from a USELESS and UNNECESSARY CT scan is utterly
unfair: That same risk from a CT SCAN that resulted from a proper
initial diagnosis, is fair, regardless of whether a tumor is actually found in any individual case.

When your regular dentist uses their x-ray equipment as part of your regular check-up, that's considered a "fair use." (I would argue that the equipment is much more ionizing than it needs to be.) But when the dentist sends you to another expert, and that expert takes NEW x-rays of the same tooth, from the same angle, rather than using your dentist's original x-rays, that's an UNFAIR use, but it happens ALL THE TIME.

Some people get cancer because of dental x-rays, but it's considered
okay, not because dentists pretend it doesn't happen (though some do,
in fact, do that), but because the dentists believe that, for the
population at large, the benefits outweigh the dangers.

But what if low-level radiation (LLR) is significantly WORSE than
calculated by the "experts," who, invariably, base their guestimates
of the danger on faulty HIROSHIMA and NAGASAKI bomb studies of people
who have been called the "healthy survivors" by more realistic observers?

(Note: Males in the northern hemisphere are said to piss out about a million atoms of plutonium every DAY of their LIVES, mostly Pu-238 (with a half-life of about 87.75 years), just from that one 1963 NASA space probe accident (let alone all the other poisons we must
ingest). The chance of getting bladder cancer is about one in 30 for American men (it's about one in 90 for American women). Some portion of that is undoubtedly due to radioactive poisons.)


11) Aren't we desperate for energy?

Yes, we ABSOLUTELY are desperate for energy. CLEAN energy.

Every study ever done has shown that as populations get more and
cheaper, CLEANER energy, they achieve an improvement in living
standards "across the board." Death rates go down, disease rates go down, birth rates even go down -- as babies live to age five and
beyond, families tend to have LESS children, not MORE! Cheap, clean
energy allows the FREE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS via the Internet and cheap
exchange of goods via every other transportation method. As living
standards go up, the environmental degradation that occurs per human
life goes DOWN because people don't, for example, have to burn down trees for cooking or for heat when electric stoves and heaters
powered by renewable energy are available instead. The environmental benefits continue to increase as the available cheap, clean energy increases, until / unless the society reaches a certain "critical" level of affluence and misbehavior, and does not properly REGULATE itself (such as by having gas-powered lawn trimming devices, when electric, renewable-energy-powered devices could be used instead.)

PROPER energy regulation IS the key to success! But you can't have
proper regulation if government dishonestly, ignorantly, and
stubbornly supports nuclear power, against all logic and reason.


12) What about reprocessing? Can't we just "recycle" the waste?

Reprocessing is nothing like recycling aluminum cans!! It's a filthy process that Jimmy Carter banned when he was president, and it should STAY banned. It involves grinding up hot, poisonous nuclear reactor cores and spilling a little at every step. The process gobbles up enormous amounts of energy, and uses up enormous amounts of chemicals that are spilled into the environment along with many of the "fission products" which "poison" the reactor cores. What they want is the mainly unspent U-235, and a few other isotopes of Uranium and Plutonium, especially Pu-239. What they DON'T want is a rainbow of radioactive isotopes of every element in the Periodic Table -- but it's what they've got. So, France, which currently reprocesses reactor cores, pours enormous amounts of radioactive and chemical waste into the North Sea (as do several other countries) and that waste is then spread throughout the planet. THAT's their idea of "reprocessing" nuclear waste, and they want to bring this awful concept to America in the form of something called GNEP, which stands for Global Nuclear Energy Partnership because America will be the cesspool of the planet, accepting nuclear waste from anywhere. (Transported, usually, by boats, which will sometimes be lost at sea -- guaranteed.)

But the WORST thing about reprocessing the "waste" from nuclear reactors is that you can ALSO separate out some isotopes which can be used in DIRTY BOMBS, and in -- you guessed it -- ATOMIC BOMBS.


13) Are nuclear power plants responsible for nuclear weapons proliferation?

One can start with the simple fact that WITHOUT NUCLEAR POWER PLANTS, THERE WOULD BE NO NUCLEAR WEAPONS. Hydrogen bombs all use tritium in addition to plutonium and / or uranium, and both the plutonium and the tritium always come from nuclear power plants. Tritium has a half-life of about 12.3 years. You need to keep making more tritium or, after a batch has decayed to too low a grade to be useful, you have to remove it from your nuclear warhead and re-isolate the tritium isotopes you have left over. But you won't be able to refuel as many warheads as before, if you aren't making more tritium.

The main plutonium isotope needed for nuclear bombs is Pu-239, which is ONLY created in nuclear reactors. If you don't isolate it from other plutonium isotopes, it's pretty much USELESS as bomb-making material. If you let it decay for a few years, it ALSO becomes useless as bomb-making material until it has been reprocessed.

So if you want to remove nuclear weapons from the face of the earth, you MUST shut down the reprocessing plants, which are enormous and dirty death-machines which specialize in Weapons of Mass Destruction, AND the nuclear power plants, where many of the raw materials that can be turned into nuclear weapons are made.


14) Why does the industry keep going, if it's SO bad?

I dunno. Why DOES murder-for-hire keep happening, since it's SO bad? Why does war keep happening?

The nuclear industry relies on lies and obfuscations to hide its true effect on humanity from curious or prying eyes. ANYONE who begins to understand the truth is immediately labeled an "activist" even if they base every comment they ever make on scientific principles which the pro-nukers cannot and WILL NOT ANSWER. People who are labeled "activists" are soon kicked out of their jobs, so that they can no longer be considered experts who are current in the field. They are ridiculed, and destroyed financially.

The "debate" over nuclear power -- the one a democratic people SHOULD have had -- NEVER HAPPENED, and next thing we knew, there were more than 100 operating nuclear power plants in America alone. One that was gutted by fire more than 30 years ago, on March 22, 1975 (and nearly melted down, but didn't, or you would know its name) was reconstructed and restarted recently (June 2007). How? Because the Tennessee Valley Authority, which owns the Browns Ferry site, is as corrupt an organization as you will find on the face of the earth.

What keeps the industry going is government contracts, government subsidies, government insurance, and tax breaks. The government feeds BILLIONS into the industry, financing the "research and development" of new reactor designs, and the training the commercial reactor operators through the military reactor program. Research reactor institutes are often controlled jointly by the industry and by the government. It's self-perpetuating.

But the biggest break the industry gets is, of course, the fact that if you or your children or loved ones get cancer or leukemia, it COULD be due to anything, NO MATTER HOW CLOSE you live to a reactor, and no matter how many people around you SEEM to be dying as well. To make matters worse, after a meltdown, most people with reactor-caused illnesses will never be paid a red cent by any insurance company, the reactor owners or operators, or any local, state or federal entity. Check your homeowner's insurance policy if you have one. Reactor accidents are specifically excluded! And you need look no further than the nuclear industry's under-funded, federally-mandated minimalist insurance policy known as The Price-Anderson Act to KNOW that no citizen will be paid their due if they survive after an accident. You'll get fractions of a penny on the dollar if you live to collect anything at all. You'll be called stupid for living so close to a reactor, or paranoid for thinking that accident "X" miles away caused YOUR cancer. "X" could be a little as 11 miles or less!


15) Is the threat from terrorism real?

YES, IT'S REAL. There have been NUMEROUS threats from terrorists against OUR nuclear power plants. Books by scientists, written more than 30 years ago, which were ignored then and are ignored now, warned America of the threat. The threat is worse now: The militants are at least as determined as ever, the targets contain MORE radioactive materials than ever, the populations around the reactors are vastly greater, and the explosive power and penetrating power of the weapons that might be used are both SIGNIFICANTLY greater. But the reactors are the same, only older!

A half-dozen armed guards per reactor won't stop ANY determined foe. Similarly, the Transportation Security Administration is incapable of guarding the skies completely, especially from RENTED BUSINESS JETS which could be easily hijacked and flown into a reactor or its spent fuel, with devastating results.

The Pentagon does NOT patrol the airspace above each reactor and even if it did, they couldn't stop the wide variety of incoming flying
objects that can exist -- missiles, small and large planes, etc.. They can't stop boat-launched small nuclear weapons attacks against our coastal reactors. They couldn't stop 9-11; not even close.

The military has NOT built anti-aircraft missile embankments around the nuclear power plants or even established permanent "no-fly" zones around the plants. And even if they did, it probably wouldn't help against a determined, 9-11 "inspired" foe.

Shutting the reactors down permanently improves the survivability significantly. Nothing else makes any sense at all.


16) Are people who oppose nuclear power simply opposed to ALL technology?

No usually, and not in this case. Most of them are just like everyone else. They like baseball, they want their car to be first off the line at the light, they like rock and roll music.

But there is ONE big difference: They've studied up on some of the issues presented here. So they've decided -- on their own -- that nuclear power is a silent killer, and that its corporate and government proponents are liars, cheats, scoundrels, and -- yes -- murderers.

But that is no reason to hate "technology." Nuclear technology is generally 50-year old, has-been stuff anyway. Renewable energy is where all the exciting, great work is being done these days. In
fact, most people who oppose nuclear technology think that GOOD technology can and MUST enrich and lengthen our lives.

The author of THIS document has been a computer programmer for more than 25 years. He has programmed everything from lasers to classroom lessons, robots, mice, and joysticks. It's easy to label someone "anti-" and figure they just have an ax to grind. But the reality can be quite different. The author considers himself not only "pro-technology" but "pro-DNA," instead of the more common phraseology: "anti-nuclear." The term pro-DNA is correct because the damage to our DNA is the most dangerous thing we have to deal with regarding radioactive poisons in our midst. DNA damage is also among the hardest problems to detect. This essay is a demand for scientific, humanitarian, democratic and financial JUSTICE, nothing more, nothing less.



Turn off the nukes, turn on the sun. Please pass this around and
send a copy to your Congressperson!

Thank you for reading. Please address comments directly to the author.

Russell "Ace" Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

Cameron W said...

Reasons Not to Glow
On not jumping out of the frying pan into the eternal fires

by Rebecca Solnit
Published in the July/August 2007 issue of Orion magazine

Chances are good, gentle reader, that you are going to have to sit next to someone in the coming year who will assert that nuclear power is the solution to climate change. What will you tell them? There’s so much to say. You could be sitting next to someone who hasn’t really considered the evidence yet. Or you could be sitting next to scientist and Gaia theorist James Lovelock, a supporter of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy™, which quotes him saying, “We have no time to experiment with visionary energy sources; civilisation is in imminent danger and has to use nuclear—the one safe, available, energy source—now or suffer the pain soon to be inflicted by our outraged planet.”

for full article click on link above

Cameron W said...

Quake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan shut, leak worse than thought

An earthquake-wracked nuclear power plant was ordered closed indefinitely Wednesday amid growing anger over revelations that damage was much worse than initially announced and mounting international concern about Japan's nuclear stewardship.


...That did little to calm anger over the company's slow revelations of damage at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant, which generates 8.2 million kilowatts of electricity. The plant, like much of the nuclear industry in Japan, has been plagued with mishaps, such as a radioactive leak in a turbine room in 2001.

On Tuesday, the utility shocked the nation by releasing a list of dozens of problems triggered by the quake, after earlier reporting only the transformer fire and a small leak of radioactive water.

The new list of problems included the transformer fire, broken pipes, water leaks and spills of radioactive waste. It also said the leak of radioactive water into the Sea of Japan was 50 percent bigger than announced Monday night.

"We made a mistake in calculating the amount that leaked into the ocean," the company said in a statement. Spokesman Jun Oshima said the amount was still "one-billionth of Japan's legal limit."

Even that list had to be revised. Tokyo Electric said later Wednesday that about 400 barrels containing low-level nuclear waste had tipped over at a storage facility at the plant during the quake, revising an earlier figure of 100.

The impact from falling knocked the lids off about 40 barrels, spilling their contents onto the floor, spokesman Tsutomu Uehara told reporters in Tokyo. Uehara said no radiation had been detected outside the facility.

Concerns about nuclear safety echoed across Japan, which depends on 55 reactors for about 30 percent of its electricity needs.

"Japan has a dense population so the human damage would be major here. There would be many deaths," Hideyuki Ban, a director of the civil group Citizen's Nuclear Information Center, told reporters. "I think that a quake-prone country should phase out its use of nuclear power."

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German Mishaps Put Nuclear Power under Scrutiny

The company at first said it was just a small fire. But the blaze at Vattenfall's Krümmel reactor has since become a political wildfire. Now, Germany's pro-nuclear energy politicians have gone into hiding.


Nuclear power has received a tremendous boost since climate change has made Germans suddenly fearful about the future. Regional politicians like Oettinger, Roland Koch of Hesse and Edmund Stoiber of Bavaria, as well as CDU General Secretary Ronald Pofalla, have become increasingly vocal proponents of extending the shelf life of nuclear power plants. But during the last two weeks or so, amid thick clouds of smoke enveloping a nuclear power plant in Krümmel and reports of technical failures, human error and corporate incompetence, opponents of nuclear power see their arguments gaining credence once again. Suddenly the Social Democrats, especially Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, see themselves justified in taking the position that nuclear energy is a "risky technology." "German nuclear power plants are the safest worldwide," Gabriel said acerbically last week, "aside from the occasional explosion or fire."


The reason for the change in thinking is clear. Whereas most of the some 130 reactor incidents reported annually in Germany are minor and go unnoticed, smoke pouring out of a transformer as happened in Krümmel tends to attract attention. It took the fire department hours to extinguish the blaze. Even worse, the plant operator's claim that a fire in the transformer had no effect on the reactor itself proved to be a lie.

In short, the incident has made it clear that nuclear energy is by no means the modern, well-organized high-tech sector portrayed until recently by politicians and industry advocates. Indeed, the frequency of problems occurring at Germany's aging reactors is on the rise. Just as old cars will eventually succumb to rust, the country's nuclear power plants, built in the 1970s and 80s, are undergoing a natural aging process.

The problems are complicated by maintenance and supervision issues among aging and unmotivated employees. A dangerously lackadaisical attitude has taken hold that is making Germany's nuclear power plants increasingly unsafe. Most incidents to date have proven to be relatively minor, and yet each new incident becomes yet another link in a chain of problems with the potential to end in a serious accident.


Vattenfall has now come under increased scrutiny. "We are taking a careful look at what's happening in Germany," says Peter Rickwood, a spokesman of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). After an incident at the Forsmark nuclear power plant in Sweden last year, in which two backup generators broke down and the reactor had to be operated "flying blind" for 20 minutes, Vattenfall submitted a report to the IAEA that clearly glossed over the seriousness of the situation. The same pattern seems to have emerged in the Krümmel incident, as well as at the Brunsbüttel plant, where the reactor was temporarily shut down because of a "network problem." In both cases Vattenfall's report assigns the lowest problem classification -- "N" for normal -- to the incidents.

This blatant effort to downplay problems at the reactors has even led to ill will against Vattenfall management among employees. "Our people working in the nuclear power plant are not permitted to say anything, but they are furious," says Uwe Martens, the managing director of the Hamburg branch of the services union Ver.di. Indeed, Thomauske chose to blame others at the lower end of the hierarchy for the Krümmel incident. According to Thomauske, a "misunderstanding" between the reactor manager and the shift manager led to the inadvertent opening of valves. Another unanswered question is why up to 25 people were congregated in the reactor's operating room at the time of the accident.


Some of these problems are attributable to constant repairs at the plants, repairs that are also long overdue at German nuclear power plants. In a 55-page report, Germany's Reactor Safety Commission (RSC), which advises Gabriel's environment ministry, writes about "containing the aging processes" and that some age-related problems are only being discovered by chance. According to the RSC, these problems are difficult to correct, partly because "suppliers and manufacturers are no longer in business."

The 31-year-old Neckarwestheim I reactor -- along with the Biblis A reactor, Germany's oldest reactor still in operation -- is one of a group of nuclear dinosaurs where problems have become the rule rather than the exception. When a fire broke out in a major incident in October 2005, the reactor had to be shut down manually. The state environment ministry in Stuttgart had imposed a €25,000 fine on the plant's operator shortly before the incident. It had taken the operator, EnBW, about 20 days to discover a leak of radioactively contaminated water into the Neckar River, and another nine days to report the problem.

For years the Philippsburg 2 nuclear power plant, which went online in 1984, was repeatedly started up again after maintenance work and shutdowns without the emergency cooling system being correctly filled. Nevertheless, a court in the state of Baden-Württemberg, where Philippsburg is located, turned down a request by the state government for tightened safety regulations as being "too vague."

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