Saturday, September 22, 2007

Is it a lack of clear thinking or pure greed that explains nuke-power proponents?

September 22nd, 2007

Dear Readers,

Below are two articles about nuclear power. The
first article is a pro-nuke puff-piece of the
highest order (and odor). After three paragraphs
of unrelated attacks to set his tone, Tom Still
begins his assault in earnest. But even when he
gets down to business, his arguments are
"reductio ad absurdum." For example, in his
opinion, were it not for "a political dilemma
perpetuated by decades of fear-mongering" there
would be a perfectly sound solution to the
nuclear waste problem, because (in his opinion)
Yucca Mountain is "infinitely better" than
on-site dry cask storage. When choosing between
two evils, one of them cannot possibly be
"infinitely" better than the other! My response,
which was posted at the WTN web site, appears below the article.

In the second article shown below (bottom),
Republican Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. is
recommending what California has had for decades,
but which California Republicans are trying to
overturn. (Other Utah Republicans oppose
Huntsman, as well.) Huntsman does not want
nuclear power plants in Utah "until technology is
developed to reprocess safely the plant's
radioactive waste on site." That is saying "NO"
to transportation of highly-radioactive waste,
and to the generation of that waste, because,
even after nearly 70 years of research, such
technology DOES NOT EXIST. (The Roy Process, IF
it could be developed, would reduce the nuclear
waste stream, but would not eliminate it.)

Huntsman claims he would not oppose nuclear power
if the waste problem were solved, and a few other
problems, but I suspect he is one of the millions
of people around the country -- and around the
world -- who smell a rat. After all, if it isn't
one "kiss of death" which makes nuclear power
illogical, it's another. If you ignore the waste
problem, there is still the terrorism
problem. If you ignore the terrorism problem AND
the waste problem, there is still the rotten
economics. If you ignore the economics, the
terrorism, and the waste problems, you'll still
have to grapple with the childhood
leukemias. And the adult leukemias, and the
cancers, and the birth defects, and the heart
disease -- and if you manage to ignore all of
that, you've still got clean alternatives that
only need a government push to succeed -- instead
of the periodic Putsch provided by nuclear's
proponents, such as by Republican Chuck Devore of
Irvine, who suddenly embarked on a campaign to
build new nuclear power plants in California,
before he had the facts. And facts, provided by
such groups as the Committee to Bridge the Gap, have not swayed him.

California's Republican lawmakers, spearheaded by
Devore, are planning a ballot initiative so that
California voters can abolish our current ban on
new nukes until the waste problem is
solved. Their plan is in full swing, starting
with flooding the state with pro-nuke Op-Eds and
articles in major papers, such as one written
recently by Christine Todd Whitman, former head
of the Environmental Protection Agency,
proclaiming nuclear power to be both "safe" and
"emission-free." This is, of course, the same
Christine Todd Whitman who proclaimed, while she
was head of the EPA, that the air around 9-11's
"Ground Zero" in New York was not toxic in any
way -- although now, some 70% of the ground-zero
clean-up workers are suffering from lung
problems. (And by the way, it wasn't nearly as
toxic as a REAL "Ground Zero" will be after a
nuclear attack.) She is not to be trusted.

What's really happening is simple: There are so
many other worries in the world today, that the
pro-nukers see it as a good time to slip in their
evil agenda while most "activists" are too busy
-- and too poor -- to fight it. And, having
successfully kept from the public eye the
near-meltdown at Davis-Besse in 2002, and the
near-Genpatsu-Shinsai (nuclear meltdown brought
on by an Earthquake) in Japan during the summer
of 2007, they feel the time is right for
proclaiming once again that "nuclear is the new
green." And it doesn't hurt that tens of
thousands of nuclear workers are retiring each
year, freeing them up to write books, articles,
and nasty flames on the Internet.

And then there's people like Patrick Moore and
Stewart Brand, formerly environmentally-friendly,
who are now shills for the nuclear
industry. Their dance cards are full, and
undoubtedly their wallets, too. Both are now
paid speakers for the Nuclear Energy Institute,
which is awash with blood and money.

Tomorrow Ken Burns' seven-episode series on World
War II, called The War, will begin on public
broadcasting networks around the country. (I
hope that Mr. Burns would do a fair documentary
on the nuclear debate!) In an interview on
MS-NBC, Mr. Burns stated that the impetus for
producing his new documentary was 2-fold: First,
that he had heard (as had I) that American WWII
veterans -- "The Greatest Generation" are dying
at the rate of 1,000 PER DAY (my own father, a
American soldier in that war, died last
year). Second, Ken Burns heard about a study
indicating what he felt were "too many" of
America's graduating high school seniors think we
fought World War II WITH the Germans AGAINST the Russians!

The greatest of evils come directly from such
grotesque misconceptions. Dogma and historic
fiction are powerful controllers of human
behavior. The payback for decades of
under-funding education in America is at
hand. Mass-ignorance is no less dangerous than
mass-hysteria. If the nuclear proponents win, millions will die.



Tom Still Doesn't Get It:

(Note: Regarding the WTN's boilerplate "no mass
duplication or distribution" comment, there is no
copyright violation when one is presenting
DANGEROUS political commentary by SUBVERSIVE
PROPAGANDISTS like Tom Still for dissection and
discussion. Also, if strictly observed, the WTN
command violates the Fair Use doctrine. -- Ace)

Pro-nuke article by Tom Still:

Republicans aren't alone in ignoring or distorting science for political gain

By Tom Still • 09/19/07 • © WTN Media. For
personal use only. No mass duplication or distribution.

Madison, Wis. - It has been six years since
President Bush imitated Pope Urban VII and all
but crippled federal support for human embryonic
stem cell research, a 21st century version of the
Vatican's gagging of Galileo for claiming the Earth revolved around the Sun.

Bush was wrong about stem cell science then and
he's wrong now - and the nation may someday pay a
price for ceding the high ground in this
ground-breaking field to medical researchers around the world.

Just as Galileo wasn't the first scientist to
come under scrutiny or be muzzled, however,
neither is Bush the only politician at home or
abroad guilty of shunning science and technology
that conflicts with personal beliefs. In fact,
entire political movements have been built on little more than that.

Going anti-nuclear

Consider the political left's stubborn refusal to
re-examine nuclear energy as a potential antidote
to global warming. Yes, the slow but steady
conversion to biofuels, wind energy, and solar
energy will combat climate change and replace
waning supplies of some carbon-based fuels. But
it will be years before many of those renewable
technologies are commercially scaled, even if
federal research funding grows at a Manhattan project pace.

Nuclear energy technology - now in its safe and
efficient "third generation" - is available
today, leaves no carbon footprint and could help
reduce U.S. reliance on foreign oil. Here's the
answer to your next question: Storing nuclear
waste is not a scientific problem, but a
political dilemma perpetuated by decades of
fear-mongering. The repository at Yucca Mountain
would be infinitely safer than leaving nuclear
waste in above-ground casks, which is the status quo.

When Bjorn Lomborg wrote "The Skeptical
Environmentalist" in 2001, he turned the
environmental community on its head by noting
that many apocalyptic predictions had proven
false. Opponents of animal testing, crop
biotechnology, and forest-management practices
have been cornered by the facts on many
occasions, yet their political friends continue
to shout down the science as if it really doesn't matter.

Again, none of this is new. The left still
lionizes Rachel Carson's 1962 book, "Silent
Spring," as one of the literary anthems of
environmentalism. But the underpinnings of
Carson's book were refuted almost instantly by
scientists such as UW-Madison's Dr. Ira L.
Baldwin, a professor of agricultural bacteriology
who questioned her hypothesis that the pesticide
DDT was linked to cancer in humans.

Carson claimed (incorrectly) that few carcinogens
exist naturally, and that manmade substances such
as pesticides are "elixirs of death" - even in
tiny quantities - because humans have evolved "no
protection" against them. To Carson, there was "no `safe' dose."

In a scientific review of "Silent Spring,"
Baldwin acknowledged that some pesticides could
be harmful, especially if misused, but added that
dosage matters a great deal. He also noted that
"mankind has been engaged in the process of
upsetting the balance of nature since the dawn of
civilization." Society must measure costs versus
benefits, Baldwin wrote, as scientists, doctors,
and farmers combine to fight "an unrelenting war"
against insects, parasites, and disease.

Historical lens

Time has confirmed that Baldwin, not Carson, was
right. Recent studies indicate most human
carcinogens are natural, and the dosage of any
carcinogen is far more important than whether
it's natural or manmade. Meanwhile, how many
people have suffered and died from malaria
because even the emergency use of DDT was banned?

As former U.S. Surgeon General Richard Carmona
testified earlier this year when asked about the
Bush administration's sneering at science,
"Anything that doesn't fit into the political
appointees' ideological, theological, or
political agenda is often ignored, marginalized, or simply buried."

That's a statement that could apply to liberals
and conservatives today as in the time of Galileo.

Recent articles by Tom Still

• Tom Still: State congressional delegation pulls together on patent reform

• Tom Still: High-end exports can distinguish
Wisconsin in China's emerging markets - for now

• Tom Still: Tapping a hidden resource: Academic R&D in the UW System

• Tom Still: New report shows Wisconsin making
headway in building a new economy

• Tom Still: Medical diplomacy should survive the Thompson campaign

Tom Still is president of the Wisconsin
Technology Council. He is the former associate
editor of the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison.

The opinions expressed herein or statements made
in the above column are solely those of the
author, and do not necessarily reflect the views
of Wisconsin Technology Network, LLC.

WTN accepts no legal liability or responsibility
for any claims made or opinions expressed herein.

Here's what I posted at the WTN web site:

Interesting that the statement is made, below the
article, that the views expressed don't
necessarily represent the opinions of WTN -- but
WTN could have chosen not to publish such trash
in the first place -- trash where the devil in
the hand (dry cask storage) is called "infinitely
worse" than the devil in the bush (Yucca
Mountain). Infinitely? It IS worse, but
"infinitely" is pure hyperbole! They both are
horrific solutions to an intractable
problem. The physics of radioactive decay make
ALL solutions other than stopping the
manufacturing of nuclear waste far too risky.
Yes, we're stuck having to do SOMETHING, but not
making MORE waste is the #1 thing we need to do!

Back in the day, when we were told nukes would be
"too cheap to meter" by the Atomic Energy
Commission (forerunner of the DOE and the NRC),
we were also told we could probably just rocket
the waste into outer space. Columbia and
Challenger and 1000 other rocket failures --
including SNAP-9A -- proved that solution was not
going to work, and no other solution has worked, either.

Way back in 1978 the NRC ADMITTED that there is
no known threshold for radioactive waste -- no
safe dose. This was re-affirmed in the most
recent National Academy of Sciences' BEIR VII
report. Yet now, nearly 30 years later,
pro-nukers still believe a little radiation is
good for you because, they say, it "stimulates
the immune system." THAT is junk science! But
it allows all releases to be ignored as "safe" as
long as you dilute the waste stream with enough
clean water, clean air, and clean dirt. But all
that really does is spread the poisons around and hide the deaths it causes.

As for cost, think of the cost of the 1100 square
miles of once-fertile cropland now laid waste by
Chernobyl -- AND the "exclusion zone" should
really be much larger than that. The place is a
mess; the animals there are deformed, their DNA
damaged permanently. And the animals weren't
told about the exclusion zone and constantly
walk, run, crawl, and fly into and out of it,
spreading the poisons and the deformities still
further. Winds continue to carry the poisons
around the globe. And the half-billion dollar
new sarcophagus France offered to build will only
hold for a few decades, and then they'll need
another, and another, and another.

And our plants are hardly immune to meltdowns,
even if they can't have one exactly like
Chernobyl's. Just study Davis-Besse's nearly
catastrophic accident in 2002, or the true
details of what happened at Three Mile
Island. Between the two, Davis-Besse was more
nearly a meltdown, but both came within a hare's
breath of the ultimate failure of technology.

Think too of the cost of cancer, leukemia, heart
disease, birth defects, and a thousand other
ailments -- all caused by radiation.

The reason nuclear appears economical is because
the plant operators -- mega-corporations -- don't
pay for the illnesses, pay but a piddling amount
for the waste problem, will pay but fractions of
a penny on the C-note after an accident, and
didn't pay for the research that developed the
nuke technology in the first place. Human
suffering is the major cost, we all will pay that.

Lastly, calling the current generation of nukes
the "third generation" is just an artificial
place-keeper: There are several generations
operating now; the GE Mark-1 Boiling Water
Reactors are particularly dangerous, with their
(chock-full) spent fuel pools located dangerously
ABOVE THE REACTOR. But the other types we
currently use are also anything but safe and
clean. The whole cycle releases radiation AND
greenhouse gases -- the mining, the processing,
the transport of the waste, and the 1000 or so
workers at each plant, who drive to work each day
(nuke plants are notoriously labor-intensive ways of generating electricity).

The only scientifically-sound thing to do with
nukes is shut them down and admit it was a big,
big mistake -- the worst mistake in history.

Here is the URL for the Tom Still article:

One should also read the excellent comment by
Gregory Francis Bird and other comments, which appear at the WTN web site.

Governor of Utah smarter than the average bear:

At 12:35 AM 9/22/2007 -0700, wrote:
09/22/07 **** RADIATION BULLETIN(RADBULL) **** VOL 15.222
Send News Stories to with title on subject
line and first line of body

> 19 Deseret Morning News: Guv opposes nuclear plant in Utah
>Safety issues must be resolved, Huntsman says
>By Lisa Riley Roche and Jasen Lee Deseret Morning News
>Published: Sept. 21, 2007 12:31 a.m. MDT
>Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. said Thursday that he will oppose a nuclear
>power plant in Utah until technology is developed to reprocess
>safely the plant's radioactive waste on site.
>"That's a deal-breaker," the governor told the Deseret Morning News
>in an interview the day after an interim legislative committee
>discussed a proposal that would allow utilities to recover the cost
>of building a nuclear power facility even before it begins
>generating power.
>Huntsman successfully led Utah's fight to stop a high-level nuclear
>waste facility from being built on Goshute Indian land in Tooele
>County. That facility would have stored high-level waste generated
>by nuclear power plants around the nation.
>The governor said he is also concerned about the liability issues
>surrounding a nuclear power plant, especially if a Utah facility
>were to have an accident similar to the 1979 accident at Three Mile
>Island in Pennsylvania.
>"This is a long-term proposal at best, I think, because you've got
>to look at the risk involved, and there is enormous risk potential,"
>Huntsman said of the proposal discussed Wednesday by the
>Legislature's Public Utilities and Technology Interim Committee.
>No action was taken on the proposal, and the committee chairman,
>Rep. Michael Noel, R-Kanab, said Thursday that the legislation
>circulated at the meeting was intended only as a starting point.
>As drafted, the bill would allow utilities to seek the cost of
>building a nuclear power plant from ratepayers, even before the
>plant begins generating electricity ? and in some cases, even if the
>facility is never completed.
>Noel said it was "unfortunate" the governor opposes the proposal.
>"The only way we can meet our needs is through nuclear power," Noel
>said. He said the amount of waste a Utah plant would generate is
>"minuscule," and it's unfair to compare that to what the site on the
>Goshute land would have brought to the state.
>"You're talking about bringing waste in from outside the state in
>massive quantities and storing it," the lawmaker said, calling it
>disingenuous to balk at a plant here, when the state sometimes uses
>nuclear power generated out of state through the power grid.
>Critics of a nuclear plant in Utah praised the governor's stand.
>"Gov. Huntsman wisely understands that building a nuclear reactor
>here is inconsistent with state policy and jeopardizes the successes
>that we've had in preventing other states from dumping their waste
>here," said Vanessa Pearce, executive director of HEAL Utah.
>Pearce, whose organization supports environmental issues, said
>utility ratepayer dollars "are better invested in technologies that
>can be brought online this year than they are invested and tied up
>in technologies that won't be available" for some time.
>Huntsman has not ruled out nuclear power as an option to meet the
>state's long-term energy needs. He describes it as part of a mix of
>new energy sources that also includes wind and solar power, as well
>as developing technology to make coal-fired plants cleaner.
>"You have to consider all the options out there, including nuclear,"
>the governor said, noting that was the recommendation of his own
>blue-ribbon task force on climate change. "It's only realistic if
>you want to look at it as a hard-headed realist over the next
>generation or two."
>But until nuclear waste can be recycled and rendered safe on-site ?
>and the liability issues are dealt with ? Huntsman said he's not
>ready to back a plant in Utah, preferring to focus instead on other
>"These are all issues of great concern to the people of this state
>that will either be addressed effectively over time, or this need
>will be overtaken by alternative forms of energy," he said.
>The governor said his concerns are not unique to Utah. "Concern
>about where you put waste is such a pervasive one in this country,
>you're not going to see a lot of movement on nuclear power until
>such time as this is addressed."
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