Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Get Wired!

Wired magazine offers a list of environmental heresies. (Hint: One of them is nuclear power.) Get used to this; I believe there is going to be a lot of rethinking going on as the current green bubble fades like the housing bubble and the internet bubble.

Discussions - 6 Comments

Sure, nuclear's great if you forget about those minor matters of nuclear waste (we still haven't gotten beyond the "let's throw it in a glorified hole in the ground and cross our fingers that it won't leak into the water table within the next 100,000 or so years!") and Price-Anderson, the taxpayer-funded - yet still inadquate - insurance scheme to cover the costs in the event of a disaster of one sort or another. If one is in favor of the energy industry operating within a truly free market, and not being artificially propped up with taxpayer-funded subsidies, you must be willing to engage in some serious cognitive dissonance to cheer on nuclear.

And I'm sure various terrorist groups and tomorrow's Timothy McVeigh just love the idea of the U.S. shipping its high-level nuclear waste all across the country from 100 or so nuclear plants to Yucca Mountain, located about an hour from the nation's fastest-growing city. Of course, that's assuming that the nuclear-cheerleading authorities involved with the project are able to convince even themselves that the operation would be able to do what is so absurdly claimed of it.

Where do we get uranium from? Don't we get it from holes in the ground? You must find it appalling that there is radioactive material in the ground, in the water, somehow, incredibly, out there being a natural aspect of life on Earth. Look out! Nature's a terror, Craig.

Dealing with nuclear waste is wiser than dealing with the world population we have and no energy.

Oh, you got me there, Kate!

Where did you get that line from, anyway - a nuclear industry lobbyist in DC? The comparison is ridiculous. There are plenty of natural things out there that I wouldn't want to absorb into my body or consume. Sure, eating a banana gives one a tiny dose of radioactive potassium and people rightly don't fear eating them, but find out how Marie Curie died and I doubt you'll think of naturally occurring radiation as something to joke about. Of course, one is always being dosed with naturally occurring background radiation, and yes, I'm willing to get x-rays, fly on planes and eat bananas, but I'm not going to get x-rays for fun and the considerably larger doses that pilots and airline attendants receive (let alone workers at nuclear plants) is essentially a work hazard that one should consider. Aside from this, some radioactive isotopes are fully man-made, and wouldn't be on this planet without our tinkering - a broad definition of "natural" is needed if you want to describe tritium, cesium-137 or plutonium-239 as such. The fact is that ALL radiation exposures, both natural and man-made, constitute a health risk roll of the dice, and could trigger a fatal cancer, but some exposures are considerably greater and more dangerous than others, and many of those, by virtue of stemming from man-made isotopes or nuclear activities (weapons and energy), can and ought to be avoided. Used nuclear fuel rods (often euphemistically called "spent" fuel rods) are more radioactive and deadly when they are finished in a reactor than when they go in. Exposure to those rods from a few feet away for even a few seconds equals death. If your exposure was, for whatever reason, from a greater distance, it would still not be anything to laugh about or shrug off.

"Dealing with nuclear waste is wiser than dealing with the world population we have and no energy."

If any wisdom can be wrung from that, it is lost if we just continue to produce more waste - and thus exacerbate the problem - while we simultaneously fail to find a serious way to deal with the waste that has a dangerous half-life of hundreds of thousands of years, that persists long after any of the electricity has been consumed. The hole-in-the-ground method doesn't cut it. Further, nuclear is not the only means by which energy can be produced.

If Yucca Mountain is ever opened, then I think all nuclear power proponents should be required to get all of their personal water supplies from the water reservoirs under and near the repository.

No, the line was off the the top, rapid-response and nearly thoughtless.

Nuclear energy is cost-effective and the latest plants are even safer than the older ones, from which we have had none of the predicted disasters. Nuclear energy is a good option, even with the risks.

We have a very good friend who likes to help build nuclear power plants and was at the one in Perry, Ohio since the building of it. He's moved to Georgia, to build one there and goes all over the country getting such plants started. I don't know much about nuclear power, but what I know I get from him. He's intimately involved, and if you think those who work with nuclear power are careless or thoughtless about radiation and safety, you can think again. Why would any company that builds nuclear power plants want one to be in any way a problem? My friend and the engineers he works with are always looking for safer and better ways to handle radioactive material. Who wants that stuff causing the kinds of problems you mention?

Modern industry, and life, is full of risks. There is a chemical plant a bit further away from my home than the Perry Power plant that could take out Northeast Ohio and its primary product is plastic foam for insulation. Don't we know that there is cancer risk from the byproducts of petroleum-based fuels? Even cell-phones and microwaves are a problem, apparently. Maybe, as with so many things, we just accept the trade-off in risks? If not, there are plenty of third-world countries where modern problems like nuclear power are not issues. I don't know what you would do there, but you could be safe from all of those things you mention, above, that worry you. You would only have the radiation from a banana or something comparable if you moved to, say, Cambodia or Kenya. I have it on the best authority that those places are pretty pristine and the people are only ill from things unrelated to modern pollution. It's an option.

I think I'm starting to better understand what Obama (You know, that Muslim guy) meant when he said we don't do nuance very well in the U.S. This is a shining example.

I try to point out some extreme risks (from nuclear waste, incl. the terrorism threat aspect) of radiation, and you twist it all into the straw man that I'm pushing for a completely risk-free world, that I want us all in mud huts, etc. Because of course those are our only two options, accept nuclear power (and the non-solution offered for its deadly waste) or live without electricity in Kenya or Cambodia, where they don't have any modern pollution problems (??). By the way, I question your "best authority" about Cambodia and Kenya, and what their people die from.

"I don't know much about nuclear power, but what I know I get from him [your friend who helps build nuclear plants]."

I'm not surprised by that in the least.

"He's intimately involved, and if you think those who work with nuclear power are careless or thoughtless about radiation and safety, you can think again. Why would any company that builds nuclear power plants want one to be in any way a problem?"

Good question. Of course, most of the individuals involved do want to keep things safe and minimize the risks. But we're not just talking about individuals at the power plants, we're talking about corporate entities, shareholders wanting dividends, and regulatory agencies that function more like marketing promoters than watchdogs of the industry. One thing to keep in mind is that corporations are, by their "nature", more concerned with their next quarterly earnings report than the long view. Reporting higher quarterly profits compared to the year prior is more vital than ensuring the safety and well-being of following generations. Read these items to get some idea of what I'm talking about. I trust that your friend wasn't involved with the mess at Davis-Besse (near Toledo).This guy is an expert in the field whose viewpoints on nuclear plants, waste and safety are very much worth considering.

From what I've read (long ago) the safety questions of microwaves have really been put to rest (long ago). Pregnant women and pacemaker folks should just keep their distance, from what I recall. Likewise, I think the cellphone issues have been settled; I'm significantly more concerned with the long-term solution to nuclear waste than using my cellphone.

But thanks for addressing my point about Price-Anderson (talk about a welfare program!). I also wonder if you live near a proposed transport route for the high-level waste to get to Yucca Mtn.

What is nuanced about your stand on this subject? I am sorry that I am not interested enough to argue with you in depth on this. I have other things to do and so am addressing this issue with you merely in a broad sense. No one has chosen to grapple with the topic in the depth suitable to your response, but that's not my fault.

In my non-nuanced way, I mean that we need sources of energy in America and among our best options is the nuclear power one. That, not because there are not risks involved; you are right about the risks. I still say there are no risk-free sources of energy. Going without energy is not risk-free, either.

I only mention Cambodia and Kenya because I have heard at length about the conditions there from family members. I am told that in Kenya, people outside of the biggest cities power their homes, (if at all, usually having nothing) with propane generators. My husband goes there because the charitable organization he volunteers with maintains an orphanage for the children of AIDS victims. No, he's not an authority on death in Kenya, though we read a lot about that country. In Cambodia, people burned their own waste to cook their food. In one place there people had never seen electrically generated light. My son was just there with a US Navy medical team, traveling around setting up medical camps to treat people, because Cambodia doesn't really have much of a medical infrastructure (or any infrastructure). So, I have been reading about Cambodia. It's a mess. In both places, people starve and the most common cause of death is diarrhea, from various causes.

Yes, I also find corporate "welfare" distressing, but have never argued for bigger government. Extend government, especially in the area of regulation, and private corporations end up participating in self-defense, to ensure survival(the jobs of management types being precious to themselves). Not that good government and government oversight is a bad thing. Good government in Kenya and Cambodia might do wonders.

About my friend, who really is an authority of the hands-on type, he does what he does partly from the kinds of concerns you raise about Davis-Besse. He has a strong conscience. He found that First Energy could influence regulators and was interested in working for a company that would build even better plants. Better, safer plants can be built.

Do what you will with this. I have to go be responsible.

Leave a Comment

* denotes a required field

No TrackBacks
TrackBack URL: