3. Nuclear Power
3.1 The Politics of Energy
In 1981, there were 78 nuclear power plants operating or under construction, with 16 more on order. Outside the U.S., there were 182 operating reactor units with another 138 under construction.
One of the first things to remember in dealing with the politics of nuclear power is that using nuclear power to solve the energy crisis seems perfectly normal to the select few who will profit from it and perhaps not be affected by its dangers. This "privileged elite" must convince the workers who labor that a common good will come of it all, although the elite will keep control over the largest portion of the resulting wealth. It has been this way since the beginning of time. Near the top we find people at the next layer of power—the professionals. These are our educated. Intellectuals are usually glad to compromise ethics for the generous compensation given out by those at the top. (We might note that doctors fit into this category, as do many scientists, engineers, corporate executives, and so on.) There is always a "professional" ready to tell you why nuclear power is safe and desirable, just as the surgeon will insist that his surgery is safe and necessary. When "studies" show that "all is well," one might do well to note that many a drug has "passed inspection" and many pesticides have "been approved" all because of "studies." It is suspiciously easy to find scientists who will come up with just about any result desired by commercial interests.
There were biologists in laboratories funded for 20 years at $50 to $90 million per year to study the biological hazards of ionizing radiation, but little has been said on the possibility of death (which is certainly a "biological hazard"). But because cancer can begin for a variety of reasons, it is conveniently impossible to prove that a particular cancer or death was caused by radiation. This protects private and governmental polluters, because who can prove they have caused even one cancer?
It is certain that ionizing radiation can induce cancer in humans, and it can also be mutagenic—mutation-causing. It's hard to know what damage has already been done to future generations by the continued casual dumping of pollutants into the biosphere by "advanced" nations. Would we be as willing to accept nuclear power if we had to name 100 or 1,000 or 100,000 people each year to be executed by a firing squad in exchange for electricity? How different is it to give the go-ahead for nuclear power, when the same odds are at stake, and victims are like guinea pigs in an experiment?
Nuclear power appeals to the privileged elites that control all societies, because it is a centralized system, not a do-it-yourself technology like solar power—it allows them better financial control. Power is being centralized in other areas such as the auto industry, food growing/distributing functions, and so on. The energy source that best meets the need of the elite is that which guarantees dependence on a central source. (You'd probably see that centralized solar electric systems would be the first strongly promoted types of solar energy if the energy companies become involved.)
Although nuclear power is being pushed with a fervor, it is becoming outrageously expensive and many power plants are plagued with cost overruns, because the costs of the nuclear industry are rapidly escalating.
There is another, more subtle side to the financial coin with regards to the politics of energy known as "economic blackmail." People are taking whatever jobs are available because of their basic survival instinct. So, if a scientist does speak out, he may say something like "a solution for managing radioactive poisons will be found" instead of "radioactive poisons are hazardous to your health" (or "run for the hills!"). In fact, some have even gone so far as to say "don't worry if you get cancer—they're working on finding a 'cure' now!" Not very reassuring.
Use of nuclear power violates our most basic law, not to kill, because it implies premeditated random murder, committed by all the nuclear power plants. (In 1978, Honicker vs. Hendrie, a lawsuit challenging the "right" of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to commit premeditated random murder by licensing nuclear power plants, was filed.) We will discuss how nuclear power plants cause deaths and genetic damage in the population later.
Long ago the government teamed up with industry to perpetuate a fraud about the safety of nuclear power— one source likened this fraud to "making Watergate seem like a kindergarten picnic."
Whatever happened to our inalienable constitutional rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness? Nuclear power will commit crimes against innocent victims, now and in the future. We seem to have forgotten that these future people will be more highly-evolved human beings. It is quite unlikely that they would choose to be poisoned if they had the chance to decide for themselves!
We are becoming involuntary human subjects, being experimented on daily by chemical compounds in the atmosphere. Remember that in the mid-50s, the toxicity of low-dose radiation was "uncertain," so bombs were tested in our own country. Now people with cancer that lived near test sites and were told they were "safe" are suing the government. We are becoming more and more aware of the dangers of radiation. The crime goes from "experiment" to murder, and if this permission for random murder is granted, people risk loss of freedom, justice, and their lives.
It is ironic that when antinuclear activists are arrested at demonstrations, some people just see them as "protesters," when here they are trying to wake up a slumbering public, and save the lives of this generation and of generations not yet born—definitely humanitarian motives.
Up to 1969, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) and nuclear industries promoted the idea that radiation would do no harm to humans below a certain level. Since it is now known that there is no safe dose, the so-called "safe" standards for public exposure could have caused 32,000 extra cancer deaths per year (and that's assuming the public wasn't exposed to more than the "safe" limit). Chances are the exposure was, and is, higher. The genetic consequences after several generations could be between 100,000 and 1,000,000 extra deaths a year. The AEC and nuclear industry tried to ridicule and deny these statistics, but after a two-year study, a committee of the National Academy of Sciences agreed that there was no safe dose of radiation, though their estimate of the number of deaths was lower. Nevertheless, their estimates did admit to many thousands of deaths. (The official recognized statistic of the nuclear power industry is 0-3 possible cancers a year.)
When pressured further, the AEC and nuclear industry, instead of lowering the allowed radiation dose, then said that they "don't intend to give anyone the dose permitted by regulations anyway. "That's not very helpful when we can see from the history of pollution of any sort that polluters always pollute as much, or more, than is legal. When an industry doesn't want to lower a poison's legal limit, it is because it plans to give at least the presently permitted dose. Doses that exceed the "permitted" level because of some unforeseeable accident will not count because they fall into the category of "unplanned" or "abnormal" circumstances. So, whatever dose we get will be "O.K." as long as it's unplanned!
Often the nuclear power promoters will remind us that we're exposed to "natural" radiation from the earth. Perhaps so, but we can't very well move from the plant. That source of radiation is bad enough without that imposed by the nuclear power industry. They also say that there won't be more radiation than say, our X rays might give us; here, beware, for X rays are harmful since there's no safe dose of radiation.
We can already see how complex nuclear power is, but this is just scraping the surface. Let's see what else happens before, during and after nuclear power production.
3.2 The Dangers of Nuclear Power Problems BEFORE We Get to the Plant
When uranium is mined, two highly carcinogenic and radioactive substances are released: radium and radon. Radium, an alpha-emitter with a half life of 1,600 years, is a decay product of uranium which is found in uranium ore. Its particles of dust from uranium mines are swallowed, the radium is absorbed by the intestine and can cause cancer. Radon, a gas, can cause lung cancer if inhaled. Before the dangers of radon were known, 20% of all uranium miners in the United States died of lung cancer and a similar percentage was found among German and Canadian uranium miners.
After the ore is mined, it's ground, crushed, and chemically treated to extract the purified element. The waste ore, called tailings, is discarded outside the mill and left lying on the ground in huge mounds. To fuel a single power plant for a year can create a half a billion pounds of tailings. These tailings contain thorium (halflife of 76,000 years) and radium. If the radium is exposed to the air, it will give off radon gas for as long as 800,000 years. This radon gas is killing people now and can do so for at least the next billion years.
Until recently, hundreds of acres of tailings lay on the ground in Grand Junction, Colorado. In the mid-60s, tailings were used around town for cheap landfill and concrete mix, and this went into schools, hospitals, private homes, roads, an airport, and a shopping mall. In 1970, a local doctor noticed an increase of cleft palate, cleft lip, and other congenital defects among newborn babies in the area. Further investigation showed that parents of these children lived in houses built with tailings, and when tested, many of these buildings showed very high radiation levels. Soon after this, some people at the University of Colorado got funds from the former Environmental Protection Agency to study the correlation between low-level radiation and a rise in birth defects—a year later funds were cut off and they were told the government had to cut back on many programs for "budgetary reasons."
Next, uranium ore must be "enriched" so that its Uranium-235 content makes up 3% of its bulk, since only 0.7% of the uranium found in its natural state is of the U-235 variety. This process is extremely expensive and uses vast amounts of energy. It leaves radioactive tailings similar to those produced in milling the ore. In the United States, the federal government has to subsidize the enrichment process because it costs so much.
After enrichment, uranium ore is processed into small pellets. A typical 1,000-megawatt reactor has bundles of fuel rods that use 100 tons of uranium. (Workers exposed in making these pellets are susceptible to dangers of gamma radiation emitted from the enriched fuel.) The enriched uranium is now ready to undergo fission, during which hundreds of radioactive isotopes (all carcinogenic and mutagenic) with half-lives ranging from several seconds to 24,400 years are released. Even though symptoms haven't appeared, the doses already received by workers will result in thousands of cancer victims, and this random murder of workers is politely referred to as "health effects" by government regulatory agencies. Fifteen years of records from one of the two hospitals in Durango, Colorado, site of one of the nation's huge exposed radioactive mill tailings piles (a 1.5 million ton pile), show a rate of lung cancer four times the national average. Earlier in 1979, more than 30 radioactive sites were discovered in Denver and elsewhere in Colorado-remnants of the radium industry that flourished at the turn of the century. There are over 4,000 such radioactive sites in this country.
Workers at mines are exposed to higher levels of radioactivity, radon, and toxic materials than the public, and there are even infractions of the official "safe" dosages. Many workers are poorly informed on the dangers of the materials they are working with. Worker turnover is high and no follow-up is done on workers. Some long-range effects of exposure may not show up until years later.
After the uranium is mined, it must be transported to its final destinations. Our nation's highways and railroads are being crossed daily with radioactive materials and workers who handle these shipments are often exposed to radiation. Between 1974 and 1978, there were 328 transport accidents involving radioactive cargo—118 serious enough to release radiation into the environment. (This amounts to about three accidents every two weeks involving shipment of radioactive materials.) Nine out of ten occurred on public highways. (Even planes carrying nuclear weapons have crashed—there are over 30 such accidents on official record, but one source says this may be a fourth of the real number.) Civil defense and fire personnel are ill-equipped to handle nuclear emergencies.
Another problem with nuclear power is the choice of some of the power plant locations. There are quite a few nuclear reactors in geologically unsound areas. The South Texas nuclear plant is being built over the convergence of three earthquake fault lines and is built to withstand 90-mph winds in an area where hurricane winds have been known to greatly exceed that. The Diablo Canyon (California) power plant is three miles from an offshore earthquake fault, and other California plants have been built that are dangerously close to fault systems. Within a 200-mile radius of New Madrid, Missouri (the region hit by powerful quakes in 1811), nine nuclear power plants are situated. In New York state, the Indian Point power station is located within a mile of the Ramapo fault system, and this plant is only about 25 miles north of New York! The industry will say that power plants are designed to withstand earthquakes but in 1979 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission closed five eastern power plants because an error in the computer model used by the engineering company understated the stresses that the piping in the coolant systems of the reactors might have to withstand in the event of an earthquake. (We will discuss meltdowns, which can result with failure of the cooling systems, later.) About a month later, an earthquake struck Bath, Maine, with tremors being felt in a 200-mile radius, which includes three nuclear power plants.
Another problem with nuclear power is that the fuels used can be used to make bombs and are therefore vulnerable to theft, smuggling, and terrorist activity. Approximately two tons of weapons-grade enriched uranium and plutonium have already been stolen from nuclear facilities in the United States. These thefts, whether by nations, terrorist groups, or criminal elements will become a standard feature of a nuclear world.
3.3 Problems At the Power Plant
Once inside the plant, we can become concerned with the possibility of sabotage of the power plant, i.e., terrorist threats, or blackmail. Then come engineering defects and errors, which have been discovered; the problem of "human error" in the nuclear industry is a big one because the stakes are so high. Next, we have "routine emissions" and leaks such as: a mechanical failure that caused a plant to "burp" radioactive xenon gas into the atmosphere, or radioactive steam that spewed into the air for 27 minutes at another power plant. Hundreds of these "nonserious" accidents are on record over the years, and the space of this lesson does not permit coverage of all the mistakes. Suffice it to say there is a wealth of documented scare stories available.
Perhaps the best known failure was at Three Mile Island, when a series of accidents led to a buildup of pressure in the reactor and the release of radioactive steam into the atmosphere. The atomic core was difficult to cool, radiation leaked, and a hydrogen gas bubble inside the reactor could have become explosive.
Estimates were made that childhood cancers could increase up to 60% in the five years following this accident within a 200-rriile radius of the plant. If the worst had happened at Three Mile Island, at least 200 and perhaps up to 23,000 outside a 50-mile radius would have died of cancer.
The biggest danger in nuclear power is the possibility of a meltdown. Whether caused by a defect in design or construction, human error, or sabotage, it could release a reactor's deadly radioactive contents into the atmosphere, killing thousands of people and contaminating an area the size of Pennsylvania. Over the course of the next generation, genetic abnormalities and thyroid cancer would strike untold numbers of additional people.
A meltdown can occur if the coolant water at a reactor's core drops below the level of the fuel rods, which would become so hot that they would melt and then the whole mass of molten uranium would burn through the "container" (the concrete base of the plant) and 1/4 mile into the earth, triggering a tremendous explosion that would blow the containment vessel apart, releasing the radioactive elements into the atmosphere. After the blast thousands die immediately. More would did within two to three weeks of acute radiation illness. Food, water, and air would be so grossly contaminated that in five years there would be widespread leukemia, followed 15-40 years later by an upsurge in cancers. The genetic deformities that might appear in future generations are inconceivable.
The potential enormity of such a meltdown cannot be exaggerated. The Union of Concerned Scientists conducted a two-year study that projected 15,000 people could die of radiation-induced cancer from minor reactor accidents by the year 2000. In the same period, there's a 1% chance that a major nuclear accident will occur, killing nearly 100,000 people. There have already been some close calls.
We still haven't mentioned the "routine" exposure to radiation of nuclear power plant workers themselves. As with uranium miners, they are often not informed specifically of the dangers of radiation, only told in general terms that it can be dangerous. Workers wear badges that monitor the level of exposure to radiation, but this device registers only gamma radiation and disregards alpha and beta emissions, which can be swallowed or inhaled. Workers are permitted to receive 30 times as much radiation as the limit set for the general public. The nuclear industry keeps records of no more than five years after an employee leaves the job. This is obviously ineffective in pinpointing slower developing cancers or in spotting cancer in the offspring of victims. Unskilled or migrant laborers are often hired for high wages in areas of intense radiation. After they receive their six-month allowable dose at one facility (sometimes in only one day) they may be hired on at another power plant without ever being questioned about their previous radiation exposure. (When a pipe broke at the Indian Point plant and it was rendered inoperable for six months, 1,300 certified welders—almost every certified welder in the New York area—were needed to repair the damage. This is because within a few minutes, each worker would receive the dose of radiation "allowable" in a six-month period.)
Last year, statistics on 68 operating plants showed that their work forces were exposed to 35% more radiation in 1980 than in 1979 even though there was only one new plant. The doses these workers get can provoke genetic injury; with intermarriage with nonworkers, some genetic degradation of the population-at-large can result.
Studies have also shown increased cancer in areas around nuclear power plants. A nuclear power plant must release radiation into the environment in order to do its job. Low-level radiation, the alpha particles get carried away on dust or pollen by wind or water.
Every independent study in this country in the last 20 years (i.e., studies not conducted by the nuclear power industry) has shown that current standards of radiation are too high. Workers and the public have been deceived concerning "permissible" or "tolerable" doses of radiation. There will be injuries in proportion to the accumulated dose of radiation, down to the lowest doses, although radiation effects may not show up for as long as 30 years. (Remember, however, if genetic damage occurs, it is immediate.) Still, the nuclear power industry continues to claim that "no one's been harmed by radiation."
Radiation is insidious because it cannot be detected by the senses. We are not biologically equipped to feel its powers, or see, hear, touch, or smell it. Radiation harms us by ionizing—that is, altering the electrical charge of the atoms and molecules comprising our body cells. Of all creatures on earth, human beings are one of the most susceptible to the carcinogenic effects of radiation. There is also one flower that is very sensitive to small amounts of radiation, called the Tradescantia or spiderwort. Down to 250 to 300 millirems of radiation can change the genetic character of this plant so that it changes color—the stamen changes color—so they have planted them around nuclear power plants in Japan.
Within every cell there is thought to be a regulatory gene that controls the cell's rate of division. If our bodies are irradiated or we inhale a particle of radioactive matter into our lungs, this radiation can chemically damage a regulatory cell. It may continue to function normally, but one day, five to forty years later, instead of dividing to produce two new cells, it goes berserk and manufactures billions of identically-damaged cells. This type of growth is called cancer. Cancer cells can break from the main mass of the growth, or tumor, and enter the blood or lymph vessels, travel to other organs, and divide again uncontrollably to form new tumors. These cells are more aggressive than normal body cells. This is why there is no safe dosage of radiation—it takes only one radioactive atom, one cell, and one gene to initiate a cancer or mutation cycle.
In considering all these facts on radiation, we should remember one important fact, that all the nuclear industries are relatively young. Nuclear power has only been in commercial production in the United States for 25 years, and arms production for 35. Since the latency period of cancer is five to forty years and genetic mutations may not manifest themselves for generations, we can see that we have barely begun to experience the effects radiation can have upon us. (Madame Curie, who is known for her work with uranium, died later, not having known in time the dangers of the substance she worked with.)
The moment a plant begins operation, injury to humans, is guaranteed. Nuclides are released during so-called "normal" operations. Because the "regulatory" processes do not want to protect the public and licenses continue to be granted, it is clear that we cannot count on protection against victimization through the regulatory process. Even the Environmental Protection Agency said in 1975 that nuclear power will kill hundreds of people yearly even if everything goes perfectly. (This, again, is an underestimation of victims.) The Nuclear Regulatory Commission did admit in 1978 what others had already said, that there was no safe dose of ionizing radiation, and no "threshold."
In the meantime, we are injured in the form of mental anguish. People have already undergone a certain amount of "psychic numbing" by the shadow of potential nuclear war hanging over their heads, in which continual stress has caused them to try to "blank out" the fears. Most humans don't want electricity at the cost of death or injury to themselves or their fellow people.
Because uranium resources could be depleted at the turn of the century, the nuclear industry wants breeder reactors to ensure a future for nuclear power. These reactors are expensive, dangerous, and would require production and shipping of plutonium—a poisonous, carcinogenic material used in hydrogen bombs. The breeders would use up the wastes of the first generation of nuclear reactors and "breed" their own future fuel supplies by creating even more plutonium over time. Whether fueled by plutonium or thorium U-233, these substances will be produced and handled by the thousands of tons. These two substances are in the class of alpha-emitters, providing the same radiation as has claimed the lives of uranium miners by lung cancer. Plutonium is so toxic that current occupational limits allow a worker to inhale no more than 0.2 of a millionth of a gram over his lifetime (one must, of course, be suspicious of any "safe" dose).
Plutonium and uranium are the stuff from which atomic bombs are fabricated, and as we mentioned before, several tons can't be accounted for by the processors already.
Errors plague the production of breeders just as with the regular light water reactors—in the extreme, a breeder reactor can suffer a runaway nuclear reaction and conceivably blow itself apart. ("It could make Three Mile Island look like a tea party," said Thomas Cochran of the Natural Resources Defense Council.)
One-half pound of plutonium trapped in human lungs could cause billions of lung cancers. Yet there are waste sites of plutonium with leaking rusty barrels, and there have been plutonium spills, and it has been tracked around by workers, accidentally found on the ground and elsewhere in plants handling plutonium, and so forth. At one point, planes were carrying plutonium oxide into Kennedy airport until these flights were stopped, after some calculations figured that a crash causing plutonium dispersal could have killed the 8,000,000 residents of New York City at the time! Plutonium in the earth, under its mantle, doesn't pose a threat—it's the airborne plutonium that creates the inhalation hazard.
Let's stop a moment and see what responsibility the nuclear industry has taken to ensure our safety. The Price-Anderson Act was passed in the 1950s to absolve America's power companies of major responsibility in the event of a nuclear disaster. Without such a bill, the nuclear industry would have never gotten off the ground. (If insurance companies were willing to cover the risk, the premium required to ensure a nuclear power plant yearly could be roughly equivalent to the entire yearly costs of plant operation and maintenance.)
In cases of extreme nuclear accidents, we might also do well to question how quickly and effectively evacuations would take place. How would a city like New York be evacuated within hours?
If we have managed to make it through the production and power plant operation phases, we come to the final problem posed by the use of nuclear power: nuclear waste.
3.4 Problems After the Plant—Nuclear Waste
It may be noted that much ado is made about waste disposal, sometimes to divert peoples' attention from the fact that even without the waste, the reactors are killing people now. It's easier to promise people safety and "99.9% containment," and then catch them up in the emotions of the waste dumping issue than to admit this fact. This is not to say, of course, that waste disposal isn't also crucial. The entire cycle of nuclear power is serious.
What exactly is the cause for concern with nuclear waste? The General Accounting Office of Congress has said that by the end of the century there could be one-billion cubic feet of nuclear waste in the United States—enough to cover a four-lane highway coast to coast a foot deep.
The operation of nuclear reactors generates astronomical quantities of radioactive garbage of several types, the amount of radioactivity generated being in direct proportion to the amount of electricity produced. In one year a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant generates fission products (like Strontium-90 and Cesium-137) in a quantity equal to what is produced by the explosion of 23 megatons of nuclear fission bombs—or more than 1,000 bombs of the Hiroshima size! (Remember, the industry wants 300 or 400 such plants in the U.S.A. alone by the year 2000.) This means that every year we would generate the Strontium-90 and Cesium-137 garbage equivalent to a full-scale nuclear war, year after year until fuel runs out. If breeders are developed, we could have 1,000 to 2,000 plants, because they solve their own fuel shortage problem.
This is one of the few facts not disputed by the experts, how much waste would be produced—because waste is waste and its amount is determined by the law of physics. However, it cannot be destroyed—it must be stored. It carries the risk of cancer and genetic damage and must therefore be isolated. If released into the environment, it will contaminate land and water. Do we have a moral right to unload these poisons on future generations when it is obvious we ourselves do not know what to do with them?
Even after 1,000 years the waste will still remain dangerous isotopes. Plutonium takes about a quarter-of-a-million years, or more, to decay to relatively "safe" levels (and of course this "safe" is doubtful when agreement can't even be reached on what is "safe").
Remember that the Bering Strait was dry land 12,000 years ago. So if we're talking about plutonium and 250,000 years, we're dealing with a time period during which volcanos, earthquakes, changes in the continental plates a themselves, meteors, or who knows what else can shape or reshape our physical world. We're talking about hundreds of generations of humans into the future. We cannot even conceive of all the possible changes in their environment or evolution, and this is our legacy to them?
No one can honestly say that all that waste can be safely contained for such lengths of time. Who will be keeping watch all those years? Even languages change over time. What manmade storage containers can last all that time? There have already been numerous leaks at waste storage facilities and toxic waste dumps.
No matter how much waste is produced, it is the incredible toxicity of the waste that concerns us. Strontium-90 takes 300-600 years to decay to a relatively "safe" level. If ingested, it can lodge permanently in the bones, replacing calcium. Cesium-137 lasts about the same time, and seeks out the reproductive system. (Remember, the half-life is not the length of time which a radioactive material is dangerous—it may be dangerous for five to twenty half-lives.) Iodine-129 has a half-life of 17 million years. This concentrates easily in the food chain and in the thyroid gland. Some fission products are gases, generally even harder to contain than other forms of radioactive materials. Remember that the reactor vessel construction materials are also irradiated for the operating life of the reactor. As a result, a reactor can't be approached without special shielding for 1 1/2 million years, much longer than the lifetime of any manmade structure!
Who wants to store nuclear waste in their back yard? There are constant battles by citizens for their rights. There have already been numerous scandals, such as a company in Florida illegally dumping hazardous radioactive waste into an open dumpster, and, in another state, putting it illegally into a public dump. Soil and ditches have been found to be contaminated, and the U.S. has been dumping wastes off-shore around the country.
Leaking barrels in the Pacific Ocean have been photographed with giant mutant sponges clinging to their exteriors. A Texas waste facility located outside of Galveston was found to have barrels leaking deadly plutonium, and they had thousands of barrels over the legal 2,000-barrel limit.
We still can't even be sure the waste is being 100% contained on the way to these storage sites, and must hope that no transportation accidents occur. Assuming it arrives at the dump, we can ask ourselves how radioactive garbage buried in plastic sacks or rustable barrels in shallow trenches is contained or permanently isolated from the environment and people. Much waste is now buried that way, although as time goes on, awareness has increased on the importance of good containers (although we don't know if anything for sure resists all the ravages of time). In 1978, the Department of Energy asked the public for help in finding its buried radioactive wastes—since many records were misplaced or destroyed over the years, the DOE asked that anyone who knew where such work was once done contact them! (The sites were used for nuclear work from the 1940s through the 1960s.)
Some proposals for disposal of nuclear waste have included lowering it into deep geologic repositories or salt domes, into ice, under the sea, and so on—all of these are subject to possible geologic disturbances. Some scientists have suggested sending it to space (with the hopes that a departing rocket filled with waste does not return to earth by mistake). There have even been some people, devoid of any conscience whatsoever, who have advocated shipping our toxic wastes "abroad," where laws aren't yet as strict, and people might not be as aware of the dangers. (Definitely shaky foreign policy!) The nuclear power industry is plagued with moral problems from beginning to end. (It is interesting to note, by the way, that the American Medical Association, of all people, stoutly defends nuclear power. Perhaps they're anxiously awaiting all those radiated customers, who will be begging them for "cures.")
In the face of all this insanity, what does the nuclear power industry do when confronted with delicate issues? Like a good magician, it first attempts to divert attention from what's really happening. If its propaganda and tricks fail to work, however, it simply lies. The history of fraud and deceit in the nuclear power industry is long and full of "silenced concerns" and rigged or suppressed studies.
Usually whenever leaks are independently measured, for example, higher contamination is found than in the "official" measurements. It seems the fox is "guarding the chicken coop."
There have been cases where conscientious workers trying to bring violations to attention or inspectors at power plants have been harassed. (Inspectors in Texas reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that they had been threatened by construction workers.)
So, we must involve ourselves now in ridding the world of nuclear power and nuclear weapons. It is a matter of survival of the planet. A thirty-minute nuclear exchange could erase all life on earth forever. Helen Caldicott has said "we are talking about the most important issue facing the human race."
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the world spent $1 million a minute in 1980 on armaments and other military spending. If this money were spent on solving our energy problems, the world would be saved.
A Hygienic way of life and peace go hand-in-hand. Now let's return to positive energy, back to solar power, a ray of hope for mankind.
Home > Lesson 53 - Solar Energy And Your Health
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