Saturday, December 26, 2009

I Hate Clean Energy Posers

They're baaack...

And they're willing to kill for money.

One would think that after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl, the nuclear industry would be so disgraced that no-one would believe them.

...How soon we forget...

You probably didn't attend the Power-Gen International convention in Las Vegas. But guess who did. Guess who had conferences and round-tables. Guess who sponsored a show guide and ran numerous ads. Guess who threw money around like there's no tomorrow. That's right, that same industry that generally acts like there is no tomorrow (or more accurately, no problem they can create that people from tomorrow won't be able to fix) – the nuclear industry.

They want us to believe that nuclear power is as green as renewable energy. Can you say propaganda? Nuclear power is NOT renewable. In fact, today's nuclear plants use 60% more uranium than the world mining industry supplies. Michael Dittmar, from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology says; “without the access to the military stocks, the civilian western uranium stocks will be exhausted by 2013.” That's right, 2013.

Sure, we could mine in places like the Grand Canyon for uranium, but these mines will play out soon also.

Yes, we could build breeder reactors, but they have their own sets of problems. (Can you say weapons-grade plutonium?) Michael Dittmar states about breeder reactors; “Their huge construction costs, their poor safety records, and their inefficient performance give little reason to believe that they will ever become commercially significant.”

But the nuclear industry is not deterred. They smell money... I smell pork. And like the hideous PR campaign the pork industry tried to fool us with, the nuclear industry wants us to believe that they are the “other white meat.” Yeah... right.

The U.S. nuclear industry wants us to believe that France has it all figured out. But think about it. The U.S. nuclear industry is going to tell us France has it all figured out no matter how bad things are going in France. Think about it. The French don't have access to physics we don't have.

And about those new nuclear reactor designs: Can you say lipstick on a pig? They're trying to bait-and-switch us. They talk about new designs that may someday work. But if you check out what they have actually planned, it's just the same old reactors – made cheaper.

Nuclear power has three strikes against it:

  1. Nuclear power plants use more water than any other form of power generation. There isn't a place on the planet that won't have fresh water shortages in less than a generation. Here in the Western U.S., we already have water shortages. Why in the world would we want to exacerbate our water shortages when wind power and photovoltaic solar power generation use no water at all?

  2. Nuclear power plants and waste storage facilities are extraordinarily vulnerable to horrendous terrorist attacks, accidents, etc.. Not only are big generators subject to massive power failures, it makes no sense whatsoever to build as dangerous a target as this – when distributed power is so resilient and innocuous.

  3. And then there is the real deal killer; nuclear waste. One of Project Censored top 25 censored stories of 2010 is titled “Pools of Fire.” The article refers to a nuclear waste facility in North Carolina – one of the most lethal patches of ground in North America. Should the cooling system for the waste repository malfunction, the resulting fire would be virtually unquenchable and could trigger a nuclear meltdown. A recent study by Brookhaven Labs estimates that a pool fire could cause 140,000 cancers, contaminate thousands of square miles of land, and cause over $500 billion in off-site property damage. An MIT/Princeton report has stated; “The long-term land contamination consequences of such an event could be significantly worse than Chernobyl.”

    And, of course, this is not the only place at risk. There are a number of nuclear waste sites scattered around the country. With more nuclear power plants, there either will be more nuclear waste sites, or these sites will get even bigger. There is no ignoring the physics. More nuclear power equals more nuclear waste – and we don't have any reasonable idea of what to do with the tons that we already have.

Sure, there is the option of bringing back the nuclear waste repository at Yucca mountain in Southern Nevada. But that was a bad idea in the first place. That site was not picked for scientific reasons. It was picked for purely political reasons. Allison MacFarlane, geologist at George Mason University and a leading technical expert on nuclear waste disposal says about Yucca Mountain; “the area is seismically and volcanically active. More significantly, the repository would have an oxidizing environment – meaning materials would be exposed to free oxygen in the air. Neither spent fuel nor canister materials are stable in such an environment...”

Yucca mountain was simply an effort to force deadly materials nobody else wanted into the backyard of the least populated state. That's not leadership. That's not foresight. That's not an act of self-preservation. The nuclear industry and the nation's politicians just wanted to shove the nuclear waste problem under the rug – so that they could keep making more money.

Over 50 years ago, the nuclear power industry talked President Eisenhower and the American people into relying on power plants that would leave tons of extremely dangerous radioactive byproducts in the hands of future generations to deal with. The argument was; we'll figure something out. We didn't. Let's not make the same mistake again.

There is good news, however. For the first time, renewable power generation has exceeded nuclear power generation in the U.S. The price of renewable energy keeps dropping. We stopped the 150 coal-fired power plant construction fiasco. And even if they do build these nuclear power plants that they're planning, we can generate our own power – and without customers, they'll just have to shut them down.

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