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[cdn-nucl-l] Fw: letter & photos RE: "Nuclear power is not safe" and "Nuclear power is not the answer"
----- Original Message -----
From: "Franta, Jaroslav" <email@example.com>
To: "'Editor of The Gazette'" <firstname.lastname@example.org>; "'Wayne
Lowrie, Gazette oped'" <email@example.com>
Sent: Sunday, April 22, 2001 5:34 PM
Subject: letter & photos RE: "Nuclear power is not safe" and "Nuclear power
is not the answer"
> Montreal Gazette
> 250 St-Antoine Street West
> Montreal, Quebec
> To the Editor:
> In his letter of April 18 ("Nuclear power is not safe") Mr. Franks
> dismisses decades of safe operation in western countries - even the
> notorious Three Mile Island accident didn't harm anyone - and says of
> nuclear energy, "been there, done that."
> But its clear from his incorrect statements that he hasn't in fact "been
> there." And speaking of being there, I have just come from a three-week
> inspection tour of Quebec's Gentilly-2 CANDU nuclear power station, which
> in great shape, thank you very much.
> Mr. Franks is clearly in need of a reality check: when there's a wind
> blowing just right, it takes only about seven hundred giant windmills to
> generate as much electricity as Gentilly-2. But when there's not much wind
> or when its so strong that the windmills must be stopped to protect them
> from damage, the amount of power produced is much less or none at all.
> unfavourable conditions are not uncommon and are responsible for a typical
> 75 per-cent reduction in a windmill's actual average electricity
> output relative to its capacity at peak performance. So to replace
> Gentilly-2 with 1 MWe (megawatt-electric) windmills that operate at 25% of
> capacity would actually require some 2,500 windmills. If these windmills
> have 50-metre-diameter blades, and they are spaced at 10 blade diameters
> 5 blade diameters, it takes 0.125 square kilometers per windmill, or 300
> square kilometers total land area to replace Gentilly-2. This is an area
> which is about the size of the entire Island of Montreal !!
> Mr. Franks is correct when he says that nuclear plants are expensive. But
> everything is relative, and the alternatives he suggests (wind, solar,
> are much more expensive on a per-kilowatt-hour energy production basis,
> largely due to their unreliability and consequent need for expensive
> power, and of course due to the extreme diluteness of the energy sources.
> Every human activity creates pollution, and in the cases of solar cells
> windmills, they collect energy that is so diffuse that they require huge
> areas and massive quantities of materials for construction and
> Manufacturing those materials produces millions of tons of pollution. It
> takes so much concrete to install a field of windmills that their
> emissions of carbon dioxide exceed that of a nuclear power plant of the
> average annual output.
> He is completely wrong when he says, "the lifespan of the average reactor
> 25 years." In fact the life of "the average reactor" is 40 years and there
> are already plans in the US and elsewhere to extend that to as much as 60
> years, following refurbishment of steam generators, turbines, and other
> components, and some utilities in Japan are even talking about eventually
> going to 80 years.
> Mr. Franks is obviously also unaware of the fact that nuclear power
> economics includes mandatory financing of decommissioning and waste
> (as opposed to mere "mothballing"), a cost which is cleverly omitted in
> case of solar or wind plants. The state of California faces a $100 million
> bill to remove and dispose of hundreds of windmills in the (previously)
> scenic Altamont Pass east of the Bay Area. In contrast, the U.S. nuclear
> power industry has deposited with the federal government more than $15
> billion for disposal of used nuclear fuel, and each plant has a fund of
> hundreds of millions that has been demonstrated to be more than adequate
> return a nuclear site to public use.
> Solar plants have a typical design life of only 20 years (as do windmills)
> and must eventually dispose of the toxic materials they are partly made
> cadmium and arsenic. These remain toxic forever - unlike the radioactive
> materials produced at nuclear plants, most of which decay away (that's
> radioactivity does - by definition) in a few hundred years. Much of the
> remaining, longer-lived radioactive material in spent fuel is unburned
> material which can eventually be recycled.
> In fact, by removing long-lived natural radioactive uranium from the
> and converting it to short-lived fission products inside nuclear reactors
> and generating electricity in the process), we are reducing overall
> environmental radioactivity of the earth in the long run.
> Remarkably, this is just the opposite of what coal plants do, because the
> uranium contained in the coal burned by these plants is simply spread all
> over the surface. The uranium is only present in trace amounts, but the
> quantities of coal burned are so enormous, that coal plants in many cases
> actually discharge much more radioactivity than a typical nuclear plant -
> and would be forced to shut down, were it not for the fact that they don't
> fall under the control of nuclear plant regulatory agencies.
> As for "renewables" like wind and solar, Robert Bradley, president of the
> Institute for Energy Research and Cato Institute scholar, states that they
> are "Not Cheap, Not Green." The California Energy Commission reported that
> the windmills in the Altamont Pass killed more than 30 golden eagles per
> year (an endangered species). The National Audubon Society launched a
> successful nationwide campaign to stop the installation of a huge field of
> massive windmills in "Condor Pass" in southern California - windmills that
> surely would have threatened this endangered species. And in Wyoming,
> windmill installers are already having trouble finding suitable sites that
> will not threaten raptors like bald eagles, hawks, and falcons.
> And speaking of a "blight on the landscape," apparently Mr.Franks hasn't
> the pleasure of seeing hundreds of windmills desecrating formerly scenic
> landscapes. Citizen opposition to wind sites is likely to grow in the
> future, because the best sites for wind energy production often coincide
> with scenic areas. These sites are in coastal areas (Martha's Vineyard,
> Outer Banks, the Texas Gulf, the shores of the Great Lakes, Pebble Beach,
> Big Sur, and Catalina Island) and mountain peaks and passes (the
> Trail, the Great Smokies, Glacier and Grand Teton National Parks). The
> Tehachapi Mountains in California once offered a scenic view but are now
> littered with thousands of windmills, power lines, and maintenance roads
> (see attached photos).
> In contrast to typical hilltop windmill eyesores, nuclear plants can be
> built almost anywhere: Gentilly-2 for example, is almost imperceptibly
> tucked away at the eastern end of the sprawling Bécancour Industrial Park.
> It is far less of a "blight on the landscape" than the monstrous disused
> grain storage silos in Montréal's Old Port - which some folks have
> a "cultural heritage site."
> And speaking further on environmental blight, one can't help but notice
> much fresher the air is on the Bécancour (south) side of the St.Lawrence
> River, than on the Trois Rivieres (north) side, which is constantly bathed
> in the foul stench from local pulp & paper mills -- no doubt supplying
> to the Gazette or some other newspaper printers.
> I find it particularly amusing that Mr. Franks almost manages to write
> windmills and vulnerability to ice storms in the same sentence, but in the
> end only sees power lines as being vulnerable. He must no doubt be puzzled
> about why Hydro Quebec built their first large windmill plant way out in
> hills of the Gaspezie instead of somewhere in Montreal. Odd, isn't it?
> -- maybe they too need powerlines to take advantage of the windiest
> Following the big ice storm of '98, many journalists were bitching about
> Hydro Quebec hasn't buried more of its transmission lines (to make them
> immune to the vagaries of the weather). They also sympathized with certain
> communities where HQ wants to run high-voltage lines across the St.
> River - local folks are demanding that they be buried in a tunnel under
> river, since they're so unsightly. Perhaps Mr. Franks might cleverly
> that those thousands of windmills should also be put underground -- a
> perfect place for them might be inside Montreal's metro stations -- where
> people get blasted with a rush of air whenever the train comes in to the
> A journalist wrote in the July 1 1999 issue of the Toronto Star that their
> proposed new windmills "will become immediate landmarks, with the city's
> skyline as their backdrop. Their spindly support towers will stand 55
> tall and their three propeller-like blades - each the length of a wing on
> Boeing 767 - will give the turbines a full height of 78.5 metres. 'What a
> beautiful thing it's going to be. It's a heck of a lot better looking than
> smokestack,' said Councillor Jack Layton (Don River), chair of the city's
> environmental task force."
> Maybe its "going to be.. a beautiful thing," but what happens when there's
> severe storm, or the ice storm we had in '98 ? Will people still think its
> beautiful, when 500-pound chunks of blades or ice start flying though the
> neighbourhood at 150 kilometres per hour - or whatever the blade-tip speed
> is ?
> Just as a reminder, during the winter a couple of years ago, the kevlar
> of the Olympic Stadium in Montreal ripped, sending a couple of tons of ice
> snow down to the floor below, where startled staff preparing an exhibition
> just missed getting hit... the removable roof has now been scrapped and
> replaced by a rigid fixed one... The Toronto windmills too might end up as
> nice, safe decorations with FIXED blades. Covered with solar cells, they
> might still produce some token electricity...
> Working on wind turbine construction and maintenance is hazardous. You've
> got big weights, revolving machinery, high heights, cranes, oil, grease,
> heat, limited space, wind, ice, high voltage, fire, and poor communication
> conditions. The potential for disaster is high indeed. An army of acrobats
> would have to risk their lives daily to service tens of thousands of
> windmills. Sure you would boost employment - but for trauma medics and
> undertakers, as well as mechanics.
> As for Ms.Gunter's nuclear arms proliferation bogeyman ("Nuclear power is
> not the answer," April 17), history clearly shows that even if commercial
> nuclear power had never existed, it would not have made one iota of
> difference for nuclear weapons development. All five major nuclear
> US, Russia, Britain, France and China - built weapons long before they
> powerplants. On the contrary, the availability of nuclear power has helped
> reduce the chances of nations battling each other over the world's
> fossil fuel reserves, and will increasingly be called upon to do so in the
> Fortunately, attitudes are changing. Environmentalists worldwide are now
> turning to nuclear power (the Western kind, anyway), and they have
> recognized its benefits and 40-year history of demonstrated safety. One of
> the fathers of the environmental movement, James Lovelock (author of
> A New Look At Life On Earth") now openly supports nuclear power. He states
> in the preface of the English-language version of Environmentalists for
> Nuclear Energy, "I hope that it is not too late for the world to emulate
> France and make nuclear power our principal source of energy. There is at
> present no other safe, practical and economic substitute for the dangerous
> practice of burning carbon fuels." Another environmentalist, Peter
> (Policy Counselor for Zero Population Growth) said in May 1999, "One can't
> favor environmental protection and not acknowledge that nuclear energy is
> big part of the picture. If governments are going to comply with clean air
> initiatives and the Kyoto Protocol, they will not be able to do it without
> nuclear energy."
> Jaro Franta
> Disclaimer: the opinions expressed in this communication reflect only
> of the author and do not represent those of his employer, AECL, or anyone
> Jaro Franta, P.Eng.
> AECL CANDU 6 Services
> *(514) 875-3444
> 1000 de la Gauchetière West, Suite 1440
> Montreal, Quebec
> Canada H3B 4W5
> Fax: (514) 875-3484
> * firstname.lastname@example.org