Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Beware The Spin And Deception Surrounding New Love Affair With Nuclear Power

Politicians have discovered this election year that fear of rising gasoline prices somehow makes discussion of building nuclear power plants politically tolerable.

Aside from the accidents at Three Mile Island and other nuclear generating facilities, these politicos are conveniently forgetting about the thorny issue of where to safely store these plants highly-dangerous radioactive waste that is measured in the tons.

Safely means stored far from where people live, breathe the air and drink the water.

And nowhere near where terrorists might choose to plot or attack.

The only proposed nuclear waste site in the US that could take some of the existing tonnage is in Yucca, Nevada, where the good folks living there have blocked the waste facility's construction for many years.

Sure it's NIMBYism, but you can see their logic.

And is it moral to demand that a certain type of plant be built in one area, but the potentially catastrophic end product be shipped and stored forever somewhere else?

Turn the situation around? Would folks in Northern Wisconsin, for instance, want to accept nuclear waste shipped in perpetuity, say, from Nevada, or elsewhere?

I thought so.

Taxpayers and consumers should also know that the federal government is estimating that the construction of the waste storage facility is approaching a cost of $100 billion - - an increase of 38% since the previous estimate in 2001 - - and the facility wouldn't be able to accept all the waste generated from existing plants, let alone the 45 that Sen. John McCain wants fast-tracked.

This is the problem with throwing out complex ideas in the middle of a political campaign, especially one at the Presidential level.

What is definitely a serious issue - - energy policy - - turns into the most superficial matter instead, as battling camps need a fresh photo op and news release to look organized and to feed the 24-hour news cycle.

In this campaign, nuclear power is little more than the flavor of the day, a cheap and superficial gimmick.

1 comment:

Vincent A. Orlando said...

Actually, much of nuclear waste can be recycled or "reprocessed" as is the case in France. This can reduce the waste footprint 1000 fold (Fairly, P., Feb. 2007, IEEE Spectrum).