An Interview With One Of The Country's Leading Critics Of Nuclear Power

01/14/08 Robert Lorei
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Karl Grossman is a professor of journalism at SUNY at Old Westbury. On his blog he's recently written:

"The Move to "Revive" Nuclear Power There’s again a move on 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 that’s happening again.

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

Currently, the big pitch as the global warming crisis is acknowledged (after years of the vested oil interests denying it): nuclear plants don’t emit greenhouse gasses and contribute to global warming.

In reality, the overall nuclear cycle—which includes uranium mining and milling, enrichment, fuel fabrication to disposal of radioactive waste—has 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 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 that numerous environmental and safe-energy groups and thousands of individuals have signed on to 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, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.”

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

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 of the 103 nuclear plants now operating in the U.S. 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 it has been eying U.S. atomic plants, every one is a target—and potential nuclear weapon for terrorists. 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 of the Nuclear Policy Research Institute.

How would the scores of would-be new nuclear plants be financed? You and other taxpayers are 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 in taxpayer subsidies for new nuclear plants.

Renewables Are Ready is a 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."

For more information, find his article on the attempt to revive nuclear power at Fair.org, KarlGrossman.blogspot.com.

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