Thursday, September 10, 2009

Looking for a Few Good Anti-Nuclear Arguments

3.3.3 We’re always on the lookout for interesting anti-nuclear editorials. These days, the arguments have thinned out considerably – perhaps the fear factor enabled by Three Mile Island and Chernobyl has finally been beaten back by the pummeling of time, maybe the inability to deny the efficacy of nuclear energy in climate change discussions has just knocked the wind out of opponents. So we’re always interested in new arguments.

So, color us giddy when the Pottstown (Penn.) Mercury gave us this:

Every dollar directed to dangerous, polluting, and costly nuclear power in the energy bill is a dollar that won't be available for safer, more sustainable solar and wind power, which can be produced far sooner. Removing hundreds of billions in nuclear power giveaways (past and present), solar and wind power would be far cheaper without the risks.

This is about loan guarantees, which the author(s), billed as the Alliance for a Clean Environment board of directors, don’t seem to understand represents no outlay from the government – loan guarantees back loans that companies then get from banks. Yes, the government is on the hook if a loan defaults, but as we’ve mentioned before, it behooves the nuclear industry not to allow that to happen. (Oh, and wind in particular is having no trouble at all these days. Solar may well have hit a rough patch.)

If, as looks more likely, the energy bill will amp up support for nuclear energy with loan guarantees, it will be due to the way that private industry will be bearing most of the cost – appealing to Democrats and Republicans alike. And you get the benefits of more nuclear plants.

Why should taxpayers pay to transport and/or store the nuclear industry's growing piles of deadly high-level radioactive wastes for hundreds of thousands of years? EPA established a million year health standard. Yucca Mountain, an environmental and financial debacle, was estimated to cost $100 billion ($30 Ratepayers, $70 Taxpayers). If completed, it couldn't even hold all the waste produced by that time.

Well, no, Yucca Mountain was neither a financial nor an environmental debacle. After all, it met the EPA’s million-year standard (which, let’s face it, enters science fiction territory) and it was foiled, at least for now, by politics more than any other factor. Used nuclear fuel sits quietly and without issue at nuclear plants, which isn’t ideal, but causes no environmental issues.

Well, we could go on and on. but you probably know enough yourself to tackle this one. The quality of argument here strikes us as moderate – spinning the fact set as negatively as possible without indulging in outright falsehood. Well, there’s this:

The 9/11 Report revealed terrorists' plans to strike nuclear plants. Prevention is imperative, yet the nuclear industry refuses to guard against air strikes or missiles, leaving regions like ours vulnerable to unthinkable disaster.

That’s false and fear mongering. See here for what we mean.


You can visit Alliance for a Clean Environment here. (They may want to update their site a bit – it’s pretty 20th century.) Their focus is on three counties in Pennsylvania (Montgomery, Berks and Chester) and while they don’t like nuclear, their reach is broader – Occidental Chemical seems a  bete noir for them.

State elected officials have ignored the well documented and researched evidence of harm which ACE has repeatedly supplied both to elected officials and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Well, keep it up, ACE. The work is valuable even where we disagree.

The Occidental Chemical company. Chemical plants are as foreboding to us as cooling towers are for others. It’d be nice if industrial structures in general weren’t so often – hulking or inhuman.


Bill said...

Over at the Oil Drum, Michael Dittmar has been arguing that (I) new nuclear capacity can't keep up with retirements, that (II) uranium production can't keep up with demand, and now that (III) uranium resources are wildly overstated.

As a result, the known uranium resources could be guessed as ≤ 2 million tons, corresponding to a resource life-time of just 30 years at the current consumption rate.

Such an evaluation would certainly discourage the idea of constructing new standard light water reactors with a presumed life-time of 60 years.

The Future of Nuclear Energy: Facts and Fiction Part III: How (un)reliable are the Red Book Uranium Resource Data?

David Bradish said...

If you're the Bill Hannahan who's been tearing Dittmar's argument up over there, well done!

Bill said...

No, I'm the other Bill.

Bryan Kelly said...

May I suggest that you Tweet your posts?