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Obama’s nuclear greenwash just doesn’t wash

Don’t buy Obama’s greenwashing of nuclear power | Erich Pica |   guardian.co.uk, 10 March 2010, Last month, inspectors found dangerous chemicals in the groundwater near the Vermont Yankee nuclear reactor. The situation demonstrates that from the mining of uranium ore to the storage of radioactive waste, nuclear reactors remain as dirty, risky, and as costly as they ever were. If President Obama’s recent enthusiasm for nuclear reactors has led you to believe otherwise, you’ve bought in to the administration’s greenwashing of nuclear.
…. If President Obama’s recent enthusiasm for nuclear reactors has led you to believe otherwise, you’ve bought in to the administration’s greenwashing of nuclear.President Obama has justified his proposed $55 billion in taxpayer-backed loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors by misrepresenting nuclear reactors as the largest “carbon-free” energy source in the United States. That’s like saying McDonald’s should be put in charge of a nationwide obesity campaign because it’s the largest restaurant in the U.S. that sells salads.

The argument that nuclear is “carbon-free” conveniently omits the entire process of mining uranium, which produces greenhouse gases, along with other pollutants. In Virginia, where a study has just been commissioned to determine its safety, uranium is mined in open pits. This destroys topsoil and increases runoff, which contaminates drinking water with cancer-causing toxins.

The uranium-enrichment process also emits greenhouse gases and is highly wasteful. Eighty percent of the ore that goes through the enrichment process ends up as waste. And this is to say nothing of the lye, sulfuric acid, and other caustic agents that must be used to turn the uranium into reactor-ready fuel.

While on the surface, the steam billowing from the cooling tower of a nuclear reactor is less harmful than the toxic smoke that spews from a coal plant, nuclear reactors still create byproducts that are dangerous to human health and welfare. There’s also the huge problem of radioactive nuclear waste, which can stay hot for hundreds of thousands of years. Storing the radioactive waste isn’t just a security threat; there’s potential for radioactive chemicals to leak, as they are in Vermont and at other aging reactors around the country…..

Vermont Yankee shows us that there’s nothing new in nuclear that merits revisiting; clean and safe nuclear energy remains an “Atoms for Peace” pipedream. There may be a shiny green coat of paint on the cooling tower, but dangerous chemicals still leak from the pipes.

Don’t buy Obama’s greenwashing of nuclear power | Erich Pica | Environment | guardian.co.uk

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March 10, 2010 - Posted by | general | , ,

1 Comment »

  1. [...] folks at nuclear news have that article available, as well as a fantastic sidebar, The Very Secret Costs of Nuclear [...]

    Pingback by More Nuke News « Politics’n'Poetry | March 10, 2010 | Reply


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