"The nuclear industry has attempted to sell the preposterous lie that nuclear power is clean. Although we cannot see, taste, or smell this toxic pollution, it radiates daily from nuclear facilities. Emissions of radioactivity, one of the few absolutely proven human carcinogens, are released daily, a hidden cost that cannot be measured in dollars and cents."
We created this myth, and we still tolerate it. Our plants have severe social, political and economical difficulties because of this myth.
We are created the vulnerability to these criticisms and deserve to receive them.
----- Original Message -----
From: Gene Cramer
Sent: Monday, August 20, 2001 2:04 PM
Subject: EnLG 2001aug19 AntiNuclear ARGUMENTS Back to a Future of Atomic Energy : Why not nuclear? Still a bad idea
Back to a Future of Atomic Energy : Why not nuclear? Still a bad idea
San Francisco CHRONICLE 2001aug19
In the search for solutions to California's energy woes, nuclear power is back on the table -- and so is the debate over whether it's good or bad. Alan Ross, a nuclear industry consultant, and Rochelle Beckner, president of the board of directors of TURN, give their views.
The "cheap, clean, and safe" cloak in which the Cheney-Bush energy policy attempts to wrap nuclear power is a lie. Nuclear power is not the answer to California's problems. It brings with it an entirely new set of environmental and safety problems.
The high energy prices and power shortages we suffer from stem in part from the nuclear push of more than 20 years ago. After a $3 trillion taxpayer investment, nuclear power currently provides little more energy than wood. At least 21 nuclear power plants -- almost 20 percent of the total number in the United States -- have been shut down due to safety hazards or abandoned because they were not financially viable.
These shutdowns have cost billions to ratepayers. Additional costs include expensive replacement parts, clean-up of abandoned sites and waste removal.
Cost overruns are another area where ratepayers get soaked. The government predicted that 75 nuclear reactors constructed between 1966 and 1977 would cost $45 billion. The actual cost of those plants was $145 billion.
The cost overruns for PG&E's Diablo Canyon were so great that the California Public Utilities Commission staff recommended that $4.4. billion of PG&E's $5.7 billion investment be disallowed. But the commission didn't follow that recommendation, instead reaching a closed-door settlement with PG&E that raised rates substantially and eventually led us to the current deregulation fiasco.
Given what we know about nuclear power, it is shocking that any politician would again attempt to go down such an expensive, polluting and dangerous path.
The nuclear industry has attempted to sell the preposterous lie that nuclear power is clean. Although we cannot see, taste, or smell this toxic pollution, it radiates daily from nuclear facilities. Emissions of radioactivity, one of the few absolutely proven human carcinogens, are released daily, a hidden cost that cannot be measured in dollars and cents.
High-level radioactive waste is stored on-site at California's nuclear plants. There are more than 500 containers of this deadly waste at nuclear plants across the country. These containers last only about a century, even though radioactive materials are dangerous for thousands of years.
The truth is that safe methods and repositories for radioactive waste do not exist.
For decades, the government has pushed hard to license the Yucca Mountain Facility in Nevada so it can pursue an unimpeded nuclear agenda. Still, after sinking millions of dollars into research, neither the federal Department of Energy nor anyone else has been able to find a safe way to bury or otherwise dispose of nuclear waste.
On March 28, 1987, equipment problems and worker error at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania resulted in a partial meltdown of the reactor core, releasing deadly radioactivity into the atmosphere. The full results of that radioactive release are not yet known, but what we do know is that larger and more dangerous accidents are possible, and become more likely as plants and equipment age.
The safety problems inherent in nuclear power are exacerbated by deregulation because inspections, equipment replacement, testing and other safety measures all add to the costs of nuclear power, costs that must be brought down to make it competitive under deregulation. To follow either of these paths -- nuclear power or deregulation -- could prove disastrous. The two combined are especially deadly.
The Bush-Cheney attempt to revive this expensive and dangerous technology offers no help for California or the rest of the nation.
Nuclear power is an experiment that failed for many reasons. It is not the solution to power shortages or overpriced power. Most important, it is a technology that leaves behind deadly radioactive waste for generations.
Rochelle Becker is president of the board of directors of TURN, The Utility Reform Network and a founding member of the anti-nuclear group Mothers for Peace.