Saturday, October 13, 2007

15-truck fiery pileup in California highlights folly of nuke waste transport plan

October 13th, 2007

Dear Readers,

One might recall, last April (2007), when a section of freeway near the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge collapsed after a gasoline tanker truck overturned and erupted into flames.

One might recall a fire in a tunnel near Baltimore, when a train burned for five days and the heat was estimated at more than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit, exceeding design limits for nuke waste transport casks. It's easy to forget, because it happened July 18-23, 2001, but we MUSTN'T forget. The same tunnel will probably be used to transport nuclear waste from Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant to Yucca Mountain. Over 1000 tons of High Level Nuclear Waste is currently being stored at Calvert Cliffs, requiring hundreds of individual shipments. Every other nuclear power station in America ALSO has many tons of nuclear waste stored dangerously OUTSIDE the "containment dome."

One might recall (if you were me) that the Department of Energy told me -- when I mentioned the tunnel fire at a hearing on Yucca Mountain, and said "how are you going to guarantee that all those nuke transport vehicles won't get involved in something like that?" -- that they would be tracking ALL THE OTHER TRAINS on all the other tracks that the nuke waste train would go near, so there could never be a combination of a nuke train and a fuel or hazardous / flammable waste train in a tunnel, on a bridge or overpass, or just simply passing each other at the same time. One would have to be very dense -- denser than D.U. -- to believe ANYTHING the D.O.E. tells you.

Today's fiery pileup in a California truck tunnel just points out, once again, that the nuke waste problem hasn't been solved. It WON'T be solved -- transporting waste will ALWAYS be hazardous, risky, leaky, and foolhardy. But sooner or later, we're going to do it anyway, because the waste HAS TO GO SOMEWHERE. But transporting the waste won't be safe, and it won't be easy.

In today's fire, chunks of concrete and steel fell from the ceiling -- a container of nuke waste could be crushed and breached. Today's pileup happened just THIRTY MILES from Los Angeles and closed one of the most important escape routes out of the city. Nuke waste transport routes cover hundreds of thousands of miles of old, dilapidated roadways. Bridges thought to be safe are collapsing around us, yet still the plan moves forward, as if there is no danger. As if the containers will be made MAGICALLY strong enough to survive anything that can happen. It's a pipe-dream. It's terrorism. Domestic terrorism by our own government against our own citizens.

But what ARE our options? We can't leave the waste on the coasts, subject to tsunamis. We can't leave it near population centers. We can't leave it in earthquake zones. We can't just leave it be -- it MUST be monitored for hundreds of thousands of years. It will cost a bundle. The costs have not been factored in to the price you pay for nuclear-generated electricity, no matter what the nuclear industry claims to the contrary.

What about Yucca Mountain, I hear some naive pro-nukers cry! "That will solve our problem once and for all!"

No it WON'T. It won't even solve our problem ONCE, let alone, for all time. Yucca Mountain probably will never be completed because 1) The people of Nevada have a say in their future, and they HATE IT. and 2) It's a scientific failure and a financial boondoggle, and 3) Even if built, it would only hold TODAY'S waste -- if that. It won't hold the waste the nuclear industry plans to make TOMORROW.

Nuclear power is a crime against humanity. To call it anything less is an understatement. Nuclear power's supporters, with almost ZERO exceptions, all make a living, or made a living, from within the nuclear industry.

Nuclear reactors generate about 20,000 pounds -- 10 tons -- of high-level radioactive waste EACH DAY in America alone -- 100,000 pounds of NEW "HLRW" worldwide every day.

The day MUST COME when this madness stops. Many pro-DNA people ("anti-nukers" is the term pro-nukers use, but we're really just "pro-DNA") believe that ONLY a severe accident will stop the juggernaut. But humanity cannot wait for that -- the cost -- trillions of dollars and hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of lives -- would be too great to bear. It would bankrupt America, or any country it happens to.

Sanity -- stopping nuclear power ENTIRELY and IMMEDIATELY -- is the only choice.

That, or hell on earth. If you think a 15-truck fiery pileup in a truck tunnel in California, or a 5,000 degree fire in Baltimore, Maryland, or leaky containers along routes that pass within a few miles of 200 million Americans are bad things, then you need to protest not just "new" nuclear power, but "old" nuclear power, too. A closed reactor is much less vulnerable to terrorism, human error, environmental catastrophes, and aging ("embrittlement") accidents than an operating reactor. AND, perhaps most important, it's no longer generating new nuclear waste.

Nuclear power was a dream of cheap energy that failed miserably. It's time to put the nightmare to rest.


Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA

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