Cameron Wigmore, Green Party Member: Nuclear Energy Very Problematic

June 11, 2007

Nuclear Energy Very Problematic

This post is my reply to a pro-nuclear comment on a previous post of mine covering this issue.

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.

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 bigger 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


Psychols said...

Energy conservation is certainly the best solution but the reality is that we tend to increase our energy consumption, not decrease it. The industrialization of countries such as China and India is creating increased pressure on limited energy resources.

Nuclear power is not the only answer but I think it will have to be part of the solution. Wind and solar power technology are insufficient. Converting natural gas to oil, as is currently being done at Ft. McMurray is environmental folly. The problems with coal are too many to mention. Biofuel has promise but it too has both technical limitations and environmental consequences. Fusion technology is illusive and it may be decades or more before it becomes available.

I see no alternative but to bring nuclear fission plants online in Alberta and Ontario. It is not the perfect solution but it is better than most of the alternatives.

Cameron W said...

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...

Tritium danger underrated, report says
But regulators insist radioactive substance found in lakes near reactors is not a health risk

Psychols said...


I do agree that we all have an obligation to our children (and to their children) to reduce energy consumption but the reality is that the Ft. Mac tar sands are producing oil and it is all but impossible to stop it now. We are stuck with the challenge of providing the input energy necessary to extract the oil. Currently the oil companies burn natural gas (I believe 4 cft per barrel) which creates unnecessary GHGs and further reduces our natural gas reserves.

We also have all the coal plants built in the 90s to produce cheap electricity for Albertans (and Californians). It was a laughably naive idea, but it was implemented nonetheless.

I am suggesting that we need to reduce GHG producing energy as quickly as possible. Conservation is the best solution. Wind and solar are helpful but limited. Nuclear appears to be the only available technology to fill the gap - at least for the next decade or so.

Our disagreement is reasonably minor. You feel that we should be focused on reduction. I agree but suspect that we may only be able to reduce per capita consumption in the West. World energy consumption is probably going to rise. We therefore have to produce the cleanest possible energy.

Your concerns about nuclear waste products are legitimate. Even the best plants produce highly dangerous radioactive waste that must be placed into permanent storage where the risk of contaminating the ecosphere is minimized. It will be very expensive and it will require sustained public pressure on our lawmakers. I therefore do think the nuclear industry has to acknowledge your concerns and satisfy us that they can and will be adequately addressed.


Cameron W said...

Hi psychols,

Your reply is very reasonable, but I'm still unconvinced that nuclear is a smart choice.

You said, "Nuclear appears to be the only available technology to fill the gap - at least for the next decade or so."

This is my point also - it would exist only to fill the gap as we move towards the inevitable reductions in energy consumption. The argument for reducing GHG's is not sound, as Canadians will still continue to drive their vehicles, goods will still be shipped by truck instead of rail, and our buildings will continue to be largely inefficient.

If we build one or one hundred nuclear power generators the results will still be the same; we will have nuclear waste to deal with (or rather our descendants will), we will have to continue to support the unsustainable centralized grid electrical system (and in the USA there is a huge problem with crumbling grid infrastructure totaling many billions of dollars), we will continue to produce GHG's in other areas, and we will still run out of fossil fuels in a few decades at most, say the most optimistic experts. There's been no attention given to the problem of trying to run a nuclear power plant when fossil fuels are scarce.

Change is needed, sooner or later, and nuclear is only a stop gap that will delay a significant reduction in energy consumption.

People lived on less energy in the past, and people will live on less in the future. It's how prepare for the future that will help our descendants understand what kind of people we are.

Also, regarding GHG reductions, and on how socially irresponsible nuclear energy is,
see this link

Cameron W said...

The following is my comment from my previous post on nuclear...

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."

The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

I dismiss nuclear energy not because I 'dislike' it, or because I'm 'overestimating the capacity of renewables'. I dismiss it for all the reasons I've listed above and backed up with reputable documents, linked to above.

Growth limiting is bang on, but nuclear won't help us limit growth. This isn't an argument about extreme or moderate positions - nuclear is just plain wrong, and in the long run it will prove to be a disaster for our descendants.

The moderate position - one that most Canadians take - is to pursue a realistic energy policy, and if that means a significant reduction in energy consumption, then that's the way to go.

Our government needs the political will to start providing our country with a realistic plan.

Cameron W said...

Nuclear Power Can't Curb Global Warming - Report

US: June 18, 2007

WASHINGTON - Nuclear power would only curb climate change by expanding worldwide at the rate it grew from 1981 to 1990, its busiest decade, and keep up that rate for half a century, a report said on Thursday.


The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

If you cannot suggest a way to meet base load needs without nuclear, then perhaps it's the inefficient centralized grid system that is the problem.

The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

This is where we come back to efficiency and a reduction in consumption.

How much will society be wiling to reduce their energy consumption levels?

Are we as a society willing to redefine progress, and take a look at what 'well being' and 'quality of life' really means?

Why are we all so unhappy (according to many studies) while our levels of consumption and 'standard of living' is the highest in the world?

Why are so many poor countries reporting higher amounts of people who are content and happy, while their collective footprints are so very small compared to ours?

Why are so many pro-nuclear North Americans so set on continuing our levels of energy consumption, while alternative path (as explained in my previous posts, comments and links) continue to be available, and negative factors continue to be ignored?

Cameron W said...

Perhaps one might say that the unfortunate reality is that many people don't really want to do what's necessary, and governments lack the political will to do what's right.

If more people were better informed, I think they would likely agree with my opinions, but again many governments have refrained from supporting and promoting the facts. Instead they have mislead their voters in an effort to strengthen their level of control and power.

A government should respect and represent the people, and that is why I think a Green government would be able to set our society on the right path. Canadians can decide for themselves how slow or how fast change is needed, but they will need the facts, free from industry lobbyist spin, in order to make tough decisions.

To choose nuclear is to consider one's own luxuries more important than their descendants safety.

The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

Anon green, I will wait patiently for you to debate the points I've raised above. I've made a solid argument against nuclear energy, and you've chosen to avoid many of my strongest points.

I'm not flogging. I'm discussing the facts and making a strong case against nuclear.

I'm fully aware of reality. It has 'set in'.

The current leadership of the Green Party of Canada is very capable, very strong, and very in-tune with the realities that Canadians are facing.

There's a way we can move forward without nuclear energy. It can be done, and I have hope that our country and the people elected to represent us will recognize that nuclear is not an option.

I hope you decide to rethink your position on nuclear. I'm not sure why you would continue to hold a pro-nuclear position after reviewing the materials and the argument I've provided.

The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

Here is the post I've made at the old GPC blog forum:

- - -

Hi anon green,

Erich moved over to the new blog site at the new GPC website back in February. He likely doesn't pop in here much anymore. Neither do I.

Say, did you read the book Natural Capitalism? It is a good book and will answer some of your questions.

Again, more significant reductions in consumption, in part through energy efficiency, will be needed as we move forward.

I too would like to see a study on how we'd meet base load needs through reducing consumption and use of renewable energy sources.

How much would we need to reduce our consumption? How efficient would our electronic appliances need to be?

- - -

I've seen no studies that have disproved that it's possible to meet base load needs without nuclear... only studies showing that if we continue to increase consumption that we'll probably need nuclear. I want to see the numbers on how much we'll need to reduce our consumption for renewables to meet demand. Perhaps we'll need to decentralize our energy grid, instead of continuing to rely on our inefficient centralized grid distribution system.

The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

Your assumptions and opinions stated as fact show a possible tendency to be closed-minded and misleading on this issue.

I'd hoped that you'd actually reply to my questions posed to you in my previous posted comment(s).

The GPC does not just criticize. It offers solutions. This is also my method. Nuclear energy is not a solution; it is a problem, and my background data backs that statement up. You say it can't be done (opting out of nuclear and instead focusing on a reduction in consumption and renewable energies) but you have no studies proving that it cannot be done.

So in the end you've ignored the myriad problems with nuclear, and focussed instead on base load needs. Well, I recognize that is at the heart of the matter.

It seems that your opinion is that we need to produce ever more energy to meet the countries growing demand... but when does this end, as we both know it must? And where will we be without cheap abundant fossil fuels decades down the road when we need to continue to manage nuclear waste?

I instead see the realities of this problem, and choose to inform others about the other options available. It is a significant choice to follow a path of renewable energies and reduction in consumption levels, and our levels of luxury will likely be affected.

I will stay tuned to further research on this matter, and in the meantime I do hope you will review all of the reasons I've given that prove that pursuing nuclear energy is the wrong choice.

The Anonymous Green said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cameron W said...

So 'the anonymous green' has deleted all of his posts from this thread and likely others.

It's possible that somebody found out who they are and they didn't want to be held accountable for their actions, or they were embarrassed for losing the nuclear debate here on my blog.

Either way, anon green, I've enjoyed discussing the issues with you, and I hope you do continue to pop in once in a while to keep me sharp!

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...

Toward Sustainable Electricity Futures
Ralph D. Torrie and Richard Parfett


The output of Ontario’s nuclear power plants has dropped by a third since it peaked in 1994. It
will soon begin a further steep decline. By 2010 it will have dropped to 50% of its peak levels.
Sometime in the next 10-15 years, electricity production from nuclear power in Canada will drop
to zero. This projection assumes that the reactors that are still operating will continue producing
until they are 27 years old, more than five years longer than any CANDU has ever operated
without having to be shut down. It also assumes that the current reconstruction of one unit at the
Pickering A Station and two units at the Bruce A Station are successful and the rebuilt units
operate like new for another 13 years or more.

This steep decline in nuclear power capacity is the “flip side” of the rapid growth in nuclear
power that occurred in the 1970’s and 1980’s, combined with the premature aging and poor
performance that have characterized CANDU technology. The first commercial CANDU power
plants were the four unit stations at Pickering A and Bruce A; the Pickering Station had some
serious problems in the early years of its operation, but in general the early year performance of
the Pickering A and Bruce A stations was satisfactory. It wasn’t until they had been in operation
for ten years that the deterioration in their performance began to materialize. In the largest
nuclear shutdown in world history, these eight reactors were ‘laid up’ (taken out of service for a
long period) between 1995 and 1998, after only 18 to 23 years of operation, because of
accumulating safety and performance problems. Three of these old reactors are having their cores rebuilt– one at Pickering A and two at Bruce A. Ontario Power Generation has suggested
that it would like to rebuild the cores of the remaining three reactors at Pickering A.

Before the extent of the CANDU performance problems became apparent, Ontario Hydro had already committed to building 12 more reactors, and Hydro Québec and New Brunswick Power had also committed to one single-unit CANDU station each. By the spring of 1993, these fourteen reactors were all in operation, but none have been built or ordered since.

These 14 operating reactors are now approaching the end of their expected lifespan, and in the
absence of heroic efforts to rehabilitate these plants and perhaps even with such efforts, by
2019 the output of the Canadian nuclear program will decline to zero. While some argue that
this decline can be reversed or at least arrested by rebuilding the cores of all the reactors (an
operation called “retubing”), it would cost on the order of $15-$20 billion to do that. Moreover,
it is not clear how many more years of operation that would buy before the plants would once
again require multi-billion dollar reconstruction operations.
It is possible that the plants will not be able to operate for the unprecedented 26 years assumed
here. It is also possible that the newer reactors will not perform even as well as the older plants ˜
the Darlington Nuclear Station is the most recent CANDU power plant built and it has the worst
early year performance record in the history of the Canadian nuclear program. We also do not
know whether the reconstruction projects are going to work. Even if the rebuilt reactors perform
like new when restarted (as assumed here), we do not know how quickly their performance will
deteriorate with increasing age. As we have seen with the original Pickering A and Bruce A startups,
even if the rebuilt units work satisfactorily for the first few years after restart, that is no assurance that they will continue to perform as they continue to age. The essential fact remains
that by the year 2020 or sooner the output of Canada’s nuclear program will have declined to
zero in the absence of the risky, multi-billion dollar investments it would take to rebuild the cores
of all the reactors when they reach the end of their current life spans.
At the same time that the aging nuclear plants are reaching the end of their useful lifetimes, the
emissions of air pollutants and greenhouse gases from coal and oil-fired power plants are of
increasing concern. But our choice need not be between nuclear power and coal; it can be
instead a choice between the unsustainable energy options based on nuclear and coal, and more
sustainable options based on energy conservation, efficiency improvements, cogeneration,
renewables and other alternatives. Seen in this light the decline of the Canadian nuclear program
presents an opportunity for an orderly transition to a more sustainable electricity future.
The technologies that could facilitate a transition away from coal and nuclear power have already
been developed, In the scenario explored in this analysis we present one example of how they
can be combined to meet growing demands for energy services while at the same time reducing
and eventually eliminating reliance on centralized nuclear and fossil fuel power plants. The institutional, policy and business innovations that will be required to mobilize these technologies
on the necessary time scale will vary from province to province, and are not at present well developed. However, change in these areas can take place quickly provided that the possibilities, opportunities and benefits are appreciated and incorporated into policy decisions.

There are five key building blocks to a sustainable transition away from central coal and nuclear
power plants and toward a more sustainable energy future:

1. Improved efficiency of electricity use. This is by far the most important element of any
strategy for a nuclear phase-out and a sustainable, low-emission energy future.

2. A reduction over time in the use of electricity for heat. Electricity is really only essential for about 12-14% of total end use energy, but in all three of Canada’s nuclear provinces it provides a much greater share of energy use because it is used for space heating, water heating and even for industrial boilers. Electricity’s share of the heating market has peaked in all three of these provinces and continues to decline in the scenario presented

3. Industrial Cogeneration. All three of Canada’s nuclear provinces have significant numbers of energy intensive industrial establishments that are prime candidates for electricity cogeneration. In Ontario and New Brunswick, cogeneration is second only to improved efficiency in the size of the contribution it can make to a more sustainable and efficient
electricity supply and demand system.

4. Strengthen East-West Electricity Trade. Both Ontario and New Brunswick are adjacent to
provinces with large, already installed, hydroelectric capacity. There is a case to be made
for greater east-west electricity trade that would allow the Maritimes and Ontario to access this hydroelectricity.

5. New and Renewable Electricity. Over the scenario period (to the year 2020) there will be increasing contributions from wind, solar and biomass electricity. Indications are that growth in wind power will be particularly strong over this period.

These five elements were combined in different ways to produce a scenario for the electricity
systems in Ontario, Québec, and New Brunswick in which all central coal, oil, and nuclear power plants would be phased out by 2020. In general, as shown in Figure ES-3, efficiency improvements can contribute more than cogeneration and renewables combined On the other hand, the potential for cogeneration is at least twice as large as the potential from wind and solar and other renewables. Indeed, the possibility of an eventual transition to a sustainable electricity system depends utterly on the efficiency gains being put in place first.

The technologies employed in this scenario is feasible from both a technological and economic
perspective, but much more organizational and financial innovation is required to realize the potential. When a consumer flicks a light switch, a vast technological, organizational and financial infrastructure is instantaneously available. Multi-billion dollar capital investments and highly evolved business organizations with thousands of employees are dedicated to making it easy and economically efficient to buy and have instantaneously delivered a kilowatt.hour of central grid electricity. On the demand side of the equation however, business and financial organization for the easy, cheap delivery of energy efficiency is not so well organized.

Cameron W said...

Nuclear is not a solution to climate change (PDF)

Over the years, several studies have shown that investment in nuclear power does not adequately address the problem of climate change.1 For example, the Royal Society of Canada's Canadian Options for Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction panel found that "improved energy efficiency is the key to stabilising energy-related CO2 emissions over the next two decades."2

Nuclear power is not once mentioned as a viable energy alternative to fossil fuels. Moreover, a U.S. study found that every dollar invested in energy efficiency displaces seven times as much CO2 emissions as the same dollar invested in nuclear power.3

Cameron W said...

Fueling the Nuclear Arms Race - And How To Stop It

Anonymous said...

International Society of Doctors for the Environment, ISDE

The Directing Board of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE)

Understanding there is a potential and imminent shortfall of fossil fuels (oil and gas) to power industry, homes and transport. 1,2,3.

And that there is an urgent need to reduce the use of all fossil fuels due to their global impact on climate change. 4,5,6,7,8,9.

Having appreciated that there has been a call by some sectors of industry and some governments to resort to increased use of nuclear (fission) power. 10,11.

And that it has been widely reported that plans are already being prepared in some countries for the construction of new nuclear power plants. 10,12,13.

Noting that:

(a) Uranium, like fossil fuel, is a finite resource and according to the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) at present usage rates reserves will be exhausted in 85 years. 10,14,15,16,17.

(b) The total current share of world energy production by the nuclear industry is 2.1 - 2.5% (16% of electricity supply). 10,16,19,20,21.

(c) The construction of nuclear power plants is slow, economically expensive and energy intensive and will divert funds from the development of truly sustainable safe energy sources. 16,18,19,22,23,34.

(d) The operating lifetime of nuclear reactors has been less than expected [average less than 17 years in many cases] and decommissioning is dangerous and expensive and requires the disposal of much high level radioactive waste. 19

(e) Uranium mining and refining is carbon intensive and damaging to the environment. 16,22,24.

(f) Nuclear power plants leak low level radioactive material to air and water during operation. 22,23,24,25,27.

(g) Nuclear plants produce high level radioactive waste which is highly toxic indefinitely, for all practical purposes. 19,23,25,26,27,33,34.

(h) No long term safe storage for nuclear waste has yet been devised. 26,27,28,33.

(i) Careful consideration of the energy balance indicates that the construction of new nuclear power plants can only marginally contribute to the reduction in carbon emissions, and is unlikely to be feasible in the time-frame necessary to significantly reduce greenhouse-gas emissions. 20,23.

(j) The organisations which licence and control nuclear energy plants - the International Atomic Energy Authority [IAEA] and the various national liscencing authorities - are strong advocates for commercial nuclear power, thus creating a potentially serious conflict of interest. 18

(k) The World Health Organisation [WHO], charged with the protection of the health of humanity, is contractually bound to the IAEA so that it is effectively prevented from exposing or highlighting the health risks of nuclear energy. 36

Recalling that accidents can occur in any nuclear plant and that the consequences can be devastating and long-lasting for large areas and whole populations. 22,23,29,34.

Acknowledging that fission material from nuclear power plants can provide the material for nuclear weapons and can therefore promote their proliferation. 15,27,30.

Recalling that statistics exist that demonstrate that employment creation is greater and more widely distributed in the sustainable energy (wind, hydro, biomass etc.) industry. 15,27,31,32.

ISDE, representing 100,000 doctors in 40 countries around the world, therefore calls on governments and all relevant authorities, for Health as well as sound Social, Economic and Scientific reasons, to:

Desist from the construction of new nuclear power facilities. All existing plants should be decommissioned at the end of their natural life, and re-furbishment or upgrading should be prohibited.

Implement Energy Efficiency and Conservation measures.

Promote a mix of solar (thermal and photovoltaic), wind, hydroelectric and biomass energy production urgently.

Prevent wars due to the diminishing supplies of fossil fuel and uranium.

Dr Philip Michael 1 Mar 2007

Nuclear Energy: References

1 Global Environmental Outlook United Nations Environment Program [UNEP] ISBN 185383 5889

2 Hubberts Peak Kenneth F Deffeys Princton University Press ISBN 0-691-09086-6

3 The Association for the Study of Peak Oil (ASPO) Newsletters 1-21

4 Kyoto Protocols United Nations 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change

5 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2001 Climate Change 2001: Synthesis Report;a Contribution of Working Groups 1,2, and 3 to the 3rd Assessment Report of the IPPC [Watson RT & the Core Writing Team (eds)] Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, U.K.

6 Joint Statement by the Presidents of the Royal Society (U.K.) and the National Academy of Science (U.S.A ) 1992 Full transcription in Rachel’s Environment & Health Weekly issue 669

7 The Changing Climate Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution 22 Report HMSO 2000 ISBN 0 10 147492X

8 Union of Concerned Scientists, U.S.A.

9 Romano Prodi, President of the European Commission Speech to EU Conference on the Hydrogen Economy 2003 The Energy Vector of the Future Brussels 16 June 2003 Ibid 342 & 343

10 Towardes a European Strategy for the Security of Energy Supplies , European Commission, Green Paper 29 Nov 2000, Com 2000 769

11 International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) International Conference on 50 years of nuclear power; The Next Fifty Years June 2004, Moscow, Russia Statement of the Director General of the IAEA Dr Mohamed El Baradei

12 IAEA International Datafile, IAEA Bulletin 2002 44(2), 59

13 IAEA Daily Press Review 20/11/06 quoting Sydney Morning Herald "25 nuclear plants in Australia by 2050" The Hindu "China may back the US - India deal on civil nuclear energy" The Hindu "Pakistan played down a deal with China for building six nuclear reactors".

14 Associated Press In US "Virginia gave conditional approval on 21/11/06 for Dominion Virginia Power’s proposal to build new nuclear reactors at it’s North Anna site".

15 Power Down: Options & Actions for a Post Carbon World Richard Heinberg 2004 New Society Publishers ISBN 0-86571-510-6 Ch 1 P 19

16 Before the Wells Run Dry Ireland’s Transition to Renewable Energy Ed Richard Douthwait FEASTA 2003 Olav Hohmeyer (Prof at University of Flensburg & Head of Dept of Environmental Economics & Management at the European Centre for Economic Research, Mannheim, Germany) Switching the European Economy to Renewables p 88-100 Also Ian Hore-Lacy (Head of Communications, World Nuclear Association, London, and General Manager of the Uranium Information Centre, Australia) Renewable Energy and Nuclear Power Distributors Lilliput Press and Green Books Ltd, UK,

17 Nuclear Confusion David Fleming, Prospect Magazine, UK 24/6/05

18 Environmental Science: Towards a Sustainable Future 8th Ed Richard T Wright & Bernard J Nebel Pearson Education ISBN: 0-13-032538-4 p353-360

19 The Sceptical Environmentalist Bjorn Lomberg 2001 p 128 Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-521-80447-7

20 Can Nuclear Address Climate Change Dr John R Coulter July 2006 Doctors for the Environment Australia on

21 JanWillem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith on

22 Heat, How to Stop the Planet Burning George Monbiot with research assistance from Dr Matthew Prescott 2006 Allen Lane/Penguin Books hardback ISBN-13: 978-0713-99923-5 paperback ISBN-13: 987-0-71399924-2

23 Current Occupational & Environmental Medicine Joseph La Dou (3rd Edition) 2004 ; Lange Medical Books/McGraw Hill ch 38 p712

24 Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), USA Task Force to StudyTritium Leaks from Nuclear Power Plants Mar 20 2006

25 Dictionary of Environmental Science and Technology (2nd Ed) Andrew Porteus John Wiley & Sons ISBN 0-471-96075-6

26 Challenged Earth An Overview of Humanities Stewardship of the Earth Stephen F Lincoln, University of Adelaide, Australia Imperial College Press, London ISBN 1-86094-526-0

27 The Gaia Peace Atlas 1988 General Editor Frank Barnaby Pan Books, Cavaye Place, London SW10 9PG ISBN 0-330-30151-9

28 The New Gaia Atlas of Planet Management 2005 Eds Norman Myers & Jennifer Kent Gaia Books ISBN 1-85675-209-7

29 Silent Scourge: Children Pollution and Why Scientists Disagree 2003 Coleen F Moore Oxford University Press ISBN 0-19-515391-X

30 Red Sky at Morning America and the Crisis of the Global Environment 2004 Yale University Press ISBN 0-300-10232-1

31 LTI Research Group (ed) 1998 Long Term Integration of Renewable Energy Sources into the European Energy System Physica-Verlag, Heidleberg

32 Deutscher Bundestag (ed) 1991 Protecting the Earth - a Status Report with Reccommendations for a New Energy Policy Third Report of the Enquet Commission to the11th German Bundestag Protective Measures to Protect the Earth’s Atmosphere Vol 2, Bonne

33 The European Dream How Europe’s Vision of the Future is Quietly Eclipsing the American Dream Jeremy Rifkin 2004 Jeremy P Tarcher/Penguin ISBN 1-58542-345-9

34 Keys to the 21st Century Part 2 The Future of the Species & the Future of the Planet: Towards a Natural Contract Energy Alternatives Benjamin Desus (France) & Amulya Reddy (India) UNESCO Publishing/Berghahn Books 2001 ISBN UNESCO 92-3103646-7

36 Agreement between IAEA & WHO signed 28 May 1959 Articles 1.3 and 3.1 & 2 Andre Larivie, Resau Sortir du nucleaire Jan 2007;

Cameron W said...

Secrecy Shrouds Accident at Nuclear Plant

WASHINGTON, July 3 — A factory that makes uranium fuel for nuclear reactors had a spill so bad that it kept the plant closed for seven months last year and became one of only three incidents in all of 2006 serious enough for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to include in an annual report to Congress. After an investigation, the commission changed the terms of the factory’s license and said that the public had 20 days to request a hearing on the changes.

But no member of the public ever did. In fact, no member of the public could find out about the changes. The document describing them, including the notice of hearing rights for anyone who felt adversely affected, was stamped “official use only,” meaning that it was not publicly accessible. “Official use only” is a category below “Secret” and, while documents in that category are not technically classified, they are kept from the public...


...As laid out by the commission’s report to Congress and other sources, the event at the Nuclear Fuel Service factory was discovered when a supervisor saw a yellow liquid dribbling under a door and into a hallway. Workers had previously described a yellow liquid in a “glove box,” a sealed container with gloves built into the sides to allow a technician to manipulate objects inside, but managers had decided that it was ordinary uranium.

In fact, it was highly enriched uranium that had been declared surplus from the weapons inventory of the Energy Department and sent to the plant to be diluted to a strength appropriate for a civilian reactor. The factory is under contract to prepare such uranium for the Tennessee Valley Authority.

In a puddle, the uranium is not particularly hazardous, but if it formed a more spherical shape, according to the commission, it could become a “critical mass,” a quantity of nuclear fuel sufficient to sustain a chain reaction, in this case outside a reactor. According to the letter sent by the lawmakers, the puddle, containing about nine gallons, reached to within four feet of an elevator pit. The letter from the congressmen says the agency’s report suggests “that it was merely a matter of luck that a criticality accident did not occur.”

If the material had gone critical, “it is likely that at least one worker would have received an exposure high enough to cause acute health effects or death,” the commission said. A spokesman for the company, Tony Treadway, said the elevator was better described as a dumbwaiter, meaning it was far smaller than a passenger elevator.

Almost anywhere else, the commission would have disclosed the details. But in 2004, according to the committee’s letter, the Office of Naval Reactors, part of the Energy Department, reached an agreement with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that any correspondence with Nuclear Fuel Services would be marked “official use only.” The plant processes high-enriched uranium for Navy submarine propulsion reactors.

The memorandum that declared such correspondence to be “official use only” was itself designated “official use only.”

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...

Nuclear Still Not Safe - Chris Tindal blog post

(recent news relating to nuclear energy)