US nuclear waste dilemma
Nuclear power, guns & global warming Dr. Helen Caldicott
But – let’s pretend that nuclear reactors really could reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
TIME: To do that, 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed within a few yeas to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation
A Massachusetts Institute of Technology Study on “The Future of Nuclear Power” projected that a global growth scenario for as many as 1500 one thousand megawatt-electric new reactors would be needed to displace a significant amount of carbon-emitting fossil generation. Average 115 built per year would reduce our CO2 use by only 16%.
When we talk about Small Modular Nuclear Reactors – that 1500 reactors needed translates to millions, (and these SMRs are already shown to be more costly than large ones,)
COSTS: historically and now, the costs of the nuclear industry are staggering. Cost estimates have increased in the past decade from $1,000 to $7,000 per kW installed. And that’s before additional costs – e.g new safety measures, decommissioning are added. U.S. Vogtle project originally budgeted at $660 million, by 2013 cost $9 billion. Rating agencies consider nuclear investment risky and the abandoning of nuclear projects explicitly “credit positive”.
Meanwhile – if the nuclear “climate cure” were to be pursued, the enormous costs and efforts involved would take away from the clean, fast, and ever cheaper solutions of energy efficiency and renewable energy.
The world faces a dangerous and ever more pressing problem – nuclear wastes.
The logical steps to deal with nuclear wastes are:
1. Stop making the stuff. Close down the commercial and military nuclear reactors that produce plutonium and other long-lived radioactive materials
2. Choose the “least worst” option to dispose of the existing nuclear wastes - (a) Interim storage of radioactive wastes into above ground containers (b) Deep burial underground permanent repositories.
The nuclear lobby, desperate to stave off the death of its industry, comes up with grand promises of new Generation IV systems, reactors that will reprocess, “recycle” plutonium wastes into Mixed Oxide Fuel (MOX) to fuel for other Gen IV reactors. At the end, highly toxic radioactive wastes are still produced.
And all this – despite the enormous costs, the very dangerous transport of plutonium, the risks of terrorism, the increased risks of weapons proliferation.
The nuclear lobby’s cries for Very High Temperature Reactors (VHTR)s, Super Critical Water Reactors (SCWR)s, Molten Salt Reactors (MSR)s, Gas Cooled Fast rectors (GCFR)s, Sodium Cooled Fast Reactors (SCFR)s, Lead Cooled Fast Reactors (LCFR)s – all desperate and conflicting cries for their own salvation, rather than any solution to wastes, costs, climate change, energy needs.
The worry is that the nuclear lobby might win, by manipulating governments and populations into buying their expensive and dangerous new toys – because nobody really wants a nuclear waste tomb in their area.
The trouble is – nuclear cemeteries, however unappealing, are still the least worst option.
The nuclear lobby is determined to keep both their thriving nuclear weapons industry and their failing commercial nuclear industry going.
A major impediment for them is the ever- growing piles of toxic radioactive trash, including the dead reactors themselves. So, amongst the many nuclear lies (about radiation being OK for health, about solving climate change, about cheap costs, about helping under-developed nations) – amongst these lies – the top ones today are the:
LIES ABOUT NUCLEAR WASTES
1. THE LIE about new nuclear reactors turning nuclear wastes now into valuable resources. “The new nuclear reactors will consume the former ‘wastes’,that we now call ‘valuable fuel resources’ ” .
This is supposed to happen through Mixed Oxide Fuel reactors (MOX) or through pyroprocessing as in Molten Salt fuelled Reactors(MSRs) such as Integral Fast Reactors (IFRs) But all in fact greatly increase the volume of radioactive waste.
2. THE LIE that new gee-whiz Thorium Nuclear Reactors do not produce wastes. They do, some lasting the mere 3 centuries, some lasting for many thousands of years
The Thorium lie is often linked to promotion of Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) . They sound sweet and harmless, but require plutonium and/or enriched uranium to function. That means that the conventional nuclear industry must keep going- to supply them – and hey presto! they will solve the waste problem!. Wrong! As they themselves produce and indeed become – radioactive trash.
Thorium reactors and SMRs are unlikely to ever happen, due to their exorbitant cost, technical problems, and public resistance.
BUT because communities are unwilling to host radioactive trash dumps, thorium promotes are touting their wares to governments – a cowardly escape from the hard decisions that are needed.
The hard decisions needed are:
1. Stop nuclear power in all its forms – stop making the stuff
2. Confront and deal with the necessary task of deep burial of the existing radioactive trash, with equitable and full community participation and understanding
Decisions on nuclear power, nuclear weapons, nuclear wastes are almost exclusively made by men.Yet the brunt of nuclear-caused cancer is suffered by women and children, as is the brunt of nuclear war, and of depleted uranium spread.
Opinion polls over many years, and in many countries, consistently show that women are opposed to nuclear power and nuclear weapons.
More women than men are concerned about health and environmental effects of the nuclear industry.
Yet they are consistently reassured by narrowly educated nuclear physicists, and other technocrats, that nuclear power is safe, and that they have nothing to worry about in regard to ionising radiation.
Decisions on nuclear power and ionising radiation. The nuclear power heirarchy is almost uniformly male, though the nuclear lobby tries hard to pretend that they have equal rights credentials by getting a few token women to show off. And, a favourite male trick, – put a woman in an untenable position .
A good example would be Maria Korsnick, who was made Chief Nuclear Officer, by Exelon Nuclear – the poisoned chalice given to a woman in these troubled times for the industry?
As the nuclear lobby is busy persuading the world that ionising radiation is OK really, the facts are different. The most recent National Academy of Sciences Biological Effects of Ionising Radiation ( BEIR VII) in studying the cancer risk, supplied tables that showed the clear difference between radiation effects on males and females.
This lifespan graph (By Ian Goddard, deriving data from those tables) shows increased cancer risk by exposure to a given amount of radiation. Note the high risk for infant and little girls.
The pink line shows the risk for girls, the blue line for boys. Look at left hand part of the graph. It covers from zero to 5 years, and includes pre birth. We see a striking difference between the blue line and the pink line. The nuclear regulators assume that the risk shown here at age 30– in the blue line- is the same for every individual regardless of age or gender, – this is marked by the green circle. Yet, even at ages 40 – 60 the cancer risk from radiation is significantly more for women, than for men. - Mary Olson
That’s just looking at cancer risk. Not even considering risks to reproductive system pregnancy, and genetic effects.
Nuclear power and sea level rise – All reactors on sea coasts endangered by sea level rise Over the next hundred years there will be significant sea rises, one meter or more, and many closed nuclear reactor sites could be flooded, including the stored nuclear waste. That could contaminate much of the coast lines for decades.
Nuclear power and water shortage – Climate Change is already bringing droughts and changed rainfall patterns. Even if the vloume of rain might be the same, or greater, with the warming planet – it’s not much help if it falls in the oceans, or if it falls intermittently – in flooding torrents.
As water becomes scarcer, and more expensive, nuclear power becomes a very uneconomic way to use it.
As temperatures rise, nuclear reactors will more and more often be forced to shut down – adding to the already well known diseconomics of nuclear power
I felt that I must go back to a “theme” for this month, because this one is such an important one.
The nuclear industry has put it over the world with a number of lies. Yet one by one, each nuclear lie has been exposed.
Nuclear power is not clean. It’s not cheap. It’s not safe. It’s not necessary.
Today – those nuclear promoters who in the past denied that global warming was happening – are now changing their tune.
The only seemingly valid argument for nuclear power is that it will “combat global warming” because nuclear is “emissions free. It is “low carbon”
But that’s just another lie.
Fukushima still out of control February-2014 The World is at a critical crossroads. The Fukushima disaster in Japan has brought to the forefront the dangers of Worldwide nuclear radiation.
The crisis in Japan has been described as “a nuclear war without a war”. In the words of renowned novelist Haruki Murakami:
“This time no one dropped a bomb on us … We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives.”
Nuclear radiation –which threatens life on planet earth– is not front page news in comparison to the most insignificant issues of public concern. While the long-term repercussions of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster are yet to be fully assessed, they are far more serious than those pertaining to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the Ukraine…..http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pz1j4IHcsP4
The nuclear power lobby and the fossil fuel lobby spend $billions in publicising their industries and in combatting established information on nuclear dangers and on global warming. This is done through “front groups” such as (for pro nuclear) the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition., (for climate denial) American Enterprise Institute.
It’s getting more difficult to spot these propagandists, because increasingly, they are using sophisticated Internet techniques. These have been beautifully explained in How to spot an astroturfer or an online fake -some of the organisations and techniques are summarised in the sidebar at right.
However, the words alone can help you to spot a fake. Look out for these two types of language:
BIG WORDS – in long complicated sentences – guaranteed to confuse the ordinary reader. The aim is to make you think that the writer is much smarter than you, and his opinion must be right. Amongst the big words, some quack science ones – like hormesis, adaptive radiation, and radiophobia Also,you are referred, by links, to obscure articles in even more complicated language.
SMALL WORDS and CLICHES – short positive ones, with no backup information, e.g. “clean -green-safe-cheap nuclear power”. Or negative cliches e.g. “hysterical- paranoid- emotional – irrational – delusional – extremists -alarmist – scare mongerer” applied to anti nuclear people, or those who want action on climate change.
Japan leads the way, with its new State Secrets Law enacted to punish whistleblowers. politicians leaking secrets. anyone publishing information designated as “secret”. It allows the government to cover up issues such as corruption in the nuclear industry. It punishes journalists who speak out, and effectively censors nuclear news in the media
It is well known that the USA encouraged Japan to adopt this law. As the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe becomes ever more of a global problem, the nuclear industry (?too big to fail) and its servant governments increase in suppression of civil liberties
With uranium mining, nuclear power, nuclear wastes, and nuclear weapons, – civil liberties are increasingly eroded. They must be, even when all seems to be going smoothly. Nuclear reprocessing, with plutonium as fuel, would necessitate taking away even more civil liberties.
A police state would develop, even with “peaceful” nuclear reprocessing. But imagine how fast we would lose civil liberties, in the event of yet another nuclear mishap – theft of plutonium, terrorist strike, accident. For a start, the public would not even be informed, (for fear of public panic). Very quickly, that police state would be turned into a martial law state.
China is now the world’s (only) poster boy for the nuclear industry. But what about Nuclear Power and Civil Liberties in China? The world, even Greenpeace, is curiously silent on this. No doubt because of the fate that would befall Chinese Greenpeace members, if they did get active on this.
China dumps its nuclear wastes in the lands of its ethnic minorities, such as Tibetans, and Uyghurs, with scant regard for their health. Chinese nuclear facilities are located in earthquake zones, in rural provinces. Swift repression follows any protest. There is no freedom of speech about China’s highly secretive nuclear industry.
But what is good will? How is it shown? The answer is in respect for one another. Respect means listening to the other’s point of view, and clearly saying your own point of view. It means discussion, argument – communication.
It can be difficult and time consuming. It often seems easier to just hit someone, show them who’s boss, as we have seen in countless Hollywood films – where might is right.
The world is pretty much at the crossroads now. Some Israeli and USA politicians threaten military strikes on Iran’s nuclear facilities. Iran threatens retaliation. North Korea continues to be a nuclear weapons worry and China, India, USA, Russia, UK ramp up their nuclear weapons. Threats, decisions for violent action – it all seems simpler quicker, easier – easier than communication, negotiation, diplomacy.
Nuclear disarmament would be a long-overdue step towards a more peaceful and secure future. It would also liberate a wealth of national treasure and scientific expertise that could be redirected toward the promotion of smart and sustainable carbon-free energy technologies.
However, as long as the U.S. continues to plan for “winning” a nuclear war, maintains plans for pre-emptive nuclear strikes, and works to expand its nuclear arsenal, other countries will have an incentive to pursue their own nuclear options. -excerpt from Nuclear Roulette: The Case Against a “Nuclear Renaissance”http://ifg.org/pdf/Nuclear_Roulette_book.pdf
- 1 NUCLEAR ISSUES
- business and costs
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- indigenous issues
- marketing of nuclear
- opposition to nuclear
- politics international
- Religion and ethics
- secrets,lies and civil liberties
- weapons and war
- 2 WORLD
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- Christina's notes
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- rare earths
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