Monday, March 21, 2011

What happens in a post Fukushima world?

I found two posts today that addressed the nuclear power situation and all of the considerations that arise after the Fukushima reactor failures in Japan. Let me change that wording, the human failures in dealing with a potential catastrophic technology.

Ralph Nader, whose OpEd I found thanks to a tweet from Marnie Glickman, writes very directly about the need to prevent another Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima situation. He does a very good job building an economic case against any more nuclear facilities, based on the costs will all be borne by the public either as rate payers or as tax payers, that that is slanted more to the latter.

He then goes on to list the things we need to do if one is planned for our back yard.
* 1. Demand public hearings in your communities where there is a nuke, sponsored either by your member of Congress or the NRC, to put the facts, risks and evacuation plans on the table. Insist that the critics as well as the proponents testify and cross-examine each other in front of you and the media.

* 2. If you call yourself conservative, ask why nuclear power requires such huge amounts of your tax dollars and guarantees and can't buy adequate private insurance. If you have a small business that can't buy insurance because what you do is too risky, you don't stay in business.

* 3. If you are an environmentalist, ask why nuclear power isn't required to meet a cost-efficient market test against investments in energy conservation and renewables.

* 4. If you understand traffic congestion, ask for an actual real life evacuation drill for those living and working 10 miles around the plant (some scientists think it should be at least 25 miles) and watch the hemming and hawing from proponents of nuclear power.

Nader provides a good good set of talking point for being anti-nuclear. He does not, however, deal with the fundamental problems that we need to resolve to eliminate the need or desire for engaging in such reckless search for solutions to problems that we may not even have.

For that, I had to turn to The Nuclear Syndrome posted by Lorna Salzman at another not mainstream media site. In fact, you have to scan down the page to find it. Salzman, like Nader who she once supported as a Green presidential candidate, has a long history of ecological activism and makes it clear that she knows just what is driving the nuclear renaissance in America.
Unless there is a clear, strong message from the American public that they are ready to cut their consumption by paying more for energy and supporting stringent mandatory energy efficiency standards, we will be outflanked by those who will raise the spectre of hardship and sacrifice if growth does not continue. If we do not reject growth, we are agreeing with them that any and all risks associated with nukes or oil or gas drilling are acceptable because these are just part of "progress", jobs and development. We need to cut to the chase: either we are willing to take the steps necessary to curtail energy use and growth, or we accede to the arguments of the nuclear power proponents. There is no other choice.
California Greens have a lot to think about. There are two major reactor site in the state: Diablo Canyon and San Onofre. There is a current effort to build a new energy park near Fresno that would be home to yet another nuclear installation. As I posted earlier, the Fresno Energy Group is actively trying to circumvent the California law that places a moratorium on new nuclear power plants until there is a solution for the problems of nuclear waste.

Are Greens going to limit themselves to being yet another, admittedly small, portion of a re-awakening anti-nuclear movement, following a path clearly laid out by Nader, or can we go beyond that with to push for a new, economic future that does not depend on tomorrows growth to pay for yesterday's excessive risk taking?

Nader outlines the actions that are necessary in any case. It is a clear way to slow down or stop future nuclear expansion. But the unique view that Greens bring to the table sounds much more like Salzman. Perpetual growth is a Ponzi scheme at best. Now is the time to stop what we have been doing and focus on a Green future.

1 comment:

Atlanta Roofing said...

There is damage. The extent and how much radioactivity may be leaking out is not known. The main source of radioactivity has been from pressure release from the primary containment. This has decreased and hasn’t been done recently, but there are other sources of radioactive release. The SFPs being a primary suspect.