jueves, octubre 25, 2007

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October 24, 2007

by Karl Grossman

There’s again a move to “revive” nuclear power. Every decade or so those with a vested interest in this deadly dangerous technology have sought to get the public to swallow the nuclear pill–-and it’s happening again.

That promotion has consistently been based on falsehoods. For example, in a heavy push years back–-during a gasoline shortage that included long lines at the pump–-the claim was that if we had nuclear power, somehow this wouldn’t happen again. In fact, only 3 percent of electricity in the United States is generated with oil. Nuclear power has nothing to do with oil and gas.

Currently, as the global warming crisis is acknowledged (after years of the vested oil interests denying it) the big pitch is: Nuclear plants don’t emit greenhouse gases and thus don’t contribute to warming. In reality, the overall nuclear cycle–-which includes uranium mining and milling, enrichment, fuel fabrication and disposal of radioactive waste–-produces greenhouse gas emissions that play a significant part in global warming.

As Michel Lee of the Council on Intelligent Energy & Conservation Policy notes: “The dirty secret is that nuclear power makes a substantial contribution to global warming.” The claim that it doesn’t “is a fiction that has been a prime feature of the nuclear industry’s and Bush administration’s PR campaign.”

As a petition being circulated by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service, which numerous environmental and safe-energy groups and thousands of individuals have signed onto, declares: “we do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, leaner, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.”

The last order for a nuclear plant in the United States not subsequently cancelled was in 1973. The 1979 Three Mile Island accident and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster gave the lie to the nuclear establishment’s claim that a catastrophic mishap was extremely unlikely–-despite a PR campaign since then trying to deny the impacts of these events.

Fortunately, a majority of Americans remain strongly against nuclear power, realizing how lethal it is. Indeed, a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission report, “CRAC-2,” projects consequences of a major accident at each the 103 nuclear power plants now operating our country, estimating “peak early fatalities” as high as 100,000, “peak early injuries” even higher, and property damage as much as $300 billion.

Post-9/11, with al-Qaeda acknowledging that it has been eyeing U.S. atomic plants, every one is a target–-and a potent nuclear weapon for terrorists.

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Moreover, “It doesn’t take an accident for a nuclear power plant to release radioactivity into our air, water, and soil. All it takes is the plant’s everyday routine operation, and federal regulations permit these radioactive releases,” stresses Kay Drey of Beyond Nuclear.

How would the scores of would-be new nuclear plants be financed? You and other taxpayers would be expected to pay heavily. Some $15 billion in taxpayer subsidies have already been arranged and an energy bill now before Congress authorizes $50 billion more for new nuclear plants.

“Renewables Are Ready” is the title of a 1999 book written by two staffers of the Union of Concerned Scientists. Today, they are more than ready. Wind, solar, hydrogen, bio-fuels, geothermal and other safe, clean renewable power can, along with energy efficiency, easily provide the energy we need. The resources are vast. Researchers at Stanford Universitysolar power––seven times the existing electric capacity in the United States from all sources. And renewable energy technologies are now highly developed–-on the shelf and ready to be widely utilized.

But those who push nuclear power would threaten us with losing out lives and money–-unnecessarily. They must be stopped.

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at SUNY/College at Old Westbury (N.Y.), is author of “Cover Up: What You Are Not Supposed to Know About Nuclear Power,” and TV documentaries, including, “The Push to Revive Nuclear Power.”

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