The Homer Simpson Energy Policy

by David Isenberg | December 26th, 2007 | |Subscribe

One of the classic rules of propaganda is that if you say something enough times, regardless of whether or not it is true some people will come to believe it.  With that in mind let us look at the newest conventional wisdom that has been increasingly circulating the past few years; especially in the aftermath of the recent climate change conference in Bali; namely, that the need to curb carbon emissions in order to prevent global warming means the world must rely more on nuclear power.

Yes, nice, clean, safe, nuclear power, as an advertisement from the Nuclear Energy Institute or the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, or even the International Atomic Energy Agency might put it. And no, I’m not picking on them. Like a character out of a Cecil B. Demille movie they are is just three of uncounted thousands –hmmm, in an internet age we better make that millions– parroting this new orthodoxy.

But before we think that advances in technology have made nuclear power so safe that even Homer Simpson can run a nuclear power plant perhaps we should pause to consider the world of reality, and not the one where Montgomery Burn’s Springfield nuclear power plant supplies our energy needs.


Incidentally, the Springfield plant was inspired by the Trojan Nuclear Plant of Oregon. It operated only sixteen years before it was closed by its owner and closed twenty years before the end of its design lifetime. Although its steam generators were designed to last the life of the plant, it took only four years before trouble was first detected in the form of premature cracking of the steam tubes. 

Consider a recent report, Nuclear Power in a Warming World put out by the Union of Concerned Scientists. There are lot of interesting things going on; most of which you would probably prefer not to know about. You might, for example, think that there has not been a serious nuclear power accident in the United States since the 1979 Three Mile Island incident and that there is nothing to worry about. But did you know that since 1979 there have been 35 instances in which individual reactors have shut down to restore safety standards and the owner has taken a year or more to address dozens or even hundreds of equipment impairments that had accumulated; the most recent being in 2002?

Or how about the fact that Congress is pressuring the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to cut its budget so that it spends fewer resources on overseeing safety.  This is happening at the same time that the NRC is being pressured to extend the licenses of existing reactors and license new ones. 

Given a record like this we don’t have to worry about the threat of a terrorist strike against a nuclear power plant. Given the lack of a strong institutional safety culture in the industry it is almost inevitable that eventually there is going to be a serious accident that is going to make Three Mile Island look like a picnic. 

But for the pièce de résistance consider this:

Today 104 reactors produce some 20 percent  of U.S. electricity. If demand for electricity in 2050 is roughly that of today—because energy conservation offsets increases in demand—another 100 reactors would be required to produce an additional 20 percent of U.S. electricity in 2050.  Because electricity production contributes roughly  a third of U.S. global warming emissions today,  those additional 100 reactors would reduce emissions by 6–7 percent relative to today. Recall that to avoid dangerous climate change, the United States and other industrialized nations will need  to reduce emissions at least 80 percent by mid-century, compared with 2000 levels (which are  comparable to today’s levels). Thus an additional  100 reactors would contribute roughly 8 percent  of the total required U.S. reduction (6–7 percent  of the required 80 percent), under the assumption  that efficiency and conservation measures could  offset any growth in electricity demand. (Without  additional conservation and efficiency measures, U.S. electricity consumption is projected to almost double by 2050.)

In other words, extrapolating current trends in terms of lack of safety oversight, we more than double our risk in relying on nuclear power for a payoff that will do nothing to stop, let alone reverse climate change.

Hmm, maybe Homer Simpson is making energy policy as well as helping to run Monty Burn’s power plant. Doh!


  1. gfv wrote,

    I appreciate the above post, only I wish the few grammatical errors were corrected. Perhaps it is my neurosis…

    for example: “Yes, nice, clean, safe, nuclear power, as an advertisement from the Nuclear Energy Institute or the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations, or even the International Atomic Energy Agency might put it. “- Imho this is not a sentence.

    or …”You might, for example, think that has not been a serious nuclear power accident in the United States since the 1979 Three Mile Island incident and that there is nothing to worry about.” – Imho between that and has should be the word – there

    I really appreciate the highlighted boxed piece de resistance..( I do not want to bother finding the accent aigu or accent grave keys on the keyboard)….
    and I question whether enough data is given…

    I see merchant power generator Entergy paying to increase the infrastructure for more christmas lights in my home town… I do not see them teaching the public about conservation.

    I do not see any allowance for increasing population thus increasing demand over the next 50 years….( 42).

    I also wish Mr. Isenberg has brought more to the fore regarding the vast lobbying campaigns that are the referred to NEI, INPO or even IAEA.
    The current “renaissance is nothing more than a Public Relations campaign as the NEI has an 8 million dollar contract with Hill and Knowlton and Entergy has a 5 million dollar contract with Busrson Marsteller… meanwhile you have fake non founders of Greenpeace Moore saying nuclear is the only way to go, as he gets paid to promote nuclear along with former NJ Governor Whitman..

    How do we combat the PR campaign?… The truth!

    Nuclear is neither safe nor clean nor green.

    unsafe- why must reactors have evacuation plans?… Because radiation is extraordinarily dangerous. Even the Presidentially appointed National Academy of Sciences has stated in the Biological Effects of Ionizing Radiation VII report that even minute quantities of radiation have been found to cause Cancers in solid organs. Why has no public interest group taken this case to litigation – that nuclear is allowed to continue?

    Not clean- What do you do with the waste? Also- to build these imagined 100 reactors that will barely touch the needed cuts in emissions will release vast quantities of C02- Reactors and Independent spent fuel storage installations ( aka dry cask storage) requires significant amounts of concrete and steel- both high C02 intense products…
    Add to this the rarely mentioned enrichment of uranium process. All uranium must be enriched before it becomes fuel for reactors… The process done in Paducah KY at the United States Enrichment Corp. releases cfc-114, a far greater heat trapper and ozone destroyer than C02.- not clean!

    not green- How do I phrase this? Three Mile Island didn’t shut the industry down. The fact that nuclear power is not able to sustain itself economically had a stronger effect on the demise thirty + years ago. Imagine building even a modest 10 new reactors ( although due to the Energy Policy Act of 2005 what you see now are builders scrambling to catch the first 6 new 1000 Megawatt reactors due to the Fed bailout of covering the intitial capitalization of up to 72+% of 6000 MW of new nuclear construction…. Ok so I have avoided the green issue. One accident will shut down all the 10 new ones,- all the 35 Boiling water reactors or all 69 Pressurized water reactors. How green would that be to destroy the environment in the event of an accident?

    Do not get me wrong- I believe Mr Isenberg has done a fine job. I appreciate the information. I believe more is needed to inform people to be able to respond to the PR expressed by the industry.

    Comment on December 26, 2007 @ 9:09 am

  2. GRLC, former H2 fan wrote,

    “One of the classic rules of propaganda is that if you say something enough times, regardless of whether or not it is true some people will come to believe it” — provided you have more money, and can shout down, those who are saying the opposite.

    No-one here doubts that government makes a lot more money on fossil fuels than it ever can on nuclear fuel. Deaths such as those of the campers killed by the New Mexico pipeline disaster are lucrative for government. They don’t usually occur 12 at a time, but in ones or twos, they have been occurring this very month, I suspect. Check out or /849fg .

    No-one ever suggests nuclear power is unsafe, or uneconomical, except in defense of power that is much much more dangerous and much less economical.

    Comment on December 26, 2007 @ 10:48 am

  3. Greg Reed wrote,

    People who complain about others’ propaganda are almost certainly in the process of disseminating their own, and Mr. Isenberg and his other commenter are both doing so on this page. The reason nuclear plants are expensive is much the same reason they need evacuation plans: Because the public is so terrified of a technology they don’t understand that they demand a level of perfection in its design, operation, and maintenance that would completely shut down any other industry. If the food industry met nuclear power standards, there would never be an e coli outbreak. If toy manufacturers met nuclear power standards, not only would there never be poison paint or choking hazards, but each toy would come with a certificate stating its every exact specification and would have been inspected by at least three people before leaving the factory. The fact that nuclear plants remain profitable despite this handicap is a testimony to just what an excellent source of energy it truly is. Nuclear power’s detractors have sought to “red tape” nuclear power out of existence for decades. Yet 104 reactors remain operational and profitable, as well as safe and clean, much to the detractor’s chagrin.

    The frequent shut-downs that are often cited by nuclear power critics generally fail to mention the underlying reasons for these actions. Every nuclear plant in the United States has two separate and independent “trains” of safety equipment. Each of these trains is capable of shutting down the plant and keeping it in a safe condition — all by itself. But nuclear plant operators are required to keep both trains fully functional for continued operation of the plant. Most of the instances when a nuclear plant is shut down, the cause has nothing at all to do with nuclear safety, as with a turbine trip or a flow control valve malfunction. Almost all of the rest result from the failure of one component within one of the plant’s trains of safety-related equipment. Regulator-imposed shut downs — the ones the really ruffle the feathers of nuclear’s opponents — are the result of an operator that is only operating marginally better than every other industry in the world. Such a degredation in standards from “exceptional” to only “very good” increases the risk of an accident from “infinitesimal” to “extremely unlikely.” When such operators return to the level of perfection demanded by the industry — a level of perfection completely unheard of in any other industry — the plants are allowed to return to operation.

    Three Mile Island (TMI) is often cited as an example of the danger of U.S. nuclear power. Of course, it is really the only example nuclear power’s critics have available to them. But what the nuclear power critics never mention is that the TMI event actually proved the safety of nuclear power plants. Every system worked just as it was supposed to work. Even when ill-trained operators did everything they could to break the plant (unknowingly, of course), the robust reactor vessel and containment building ensured that the only cost was economic. No person was injured during or after the TMI incident.

    In the “find a U.S. nuclear accident” contest, second place would have to go to Davis Besse for its reactor head corrosion fiasco. We will never know the extent of damage had the Davis Besse reactor head actually failed, because it didn’t. True to their form, nuclear’s detractors cite this as a “close call”. In reality, this event stands as testimony to the robust design of US commercial nuclear reactors. The Davis Besse reactor head was constructed primarily of carbon steel, with a 1/4-inch stainless steel lining on the inside. The purpose of this 1/4-inch stainless steel lining is to protect the carbon steel from corrosion by the boric acid that circulates inside the reactor. The degradation to the outside of the reactor head resulted when boric acid leaked from a control rod drive housing and collected on the outside of the reactor head, causing rapid corrosion of the carbon steel. So while detractors imply that the corrosion was only 1/4 inch away from breaching the reactor vessel, the truth is that the corrosion had already penetrated as far as it was going to. You see, there were two different materials involved: One that is susceptible to boric acid corrosion and one that is not. The stainless steel lining was as impervious to boric acid corrosion on the outside as it was on the inside. So the risk of an actual breach remained small. But even if the reactor head *had* been breached, I have every confidence that the containment building would have functioned exactly as designed, and that the public would have been protected. Why do I have this confidence? Because everything at a nuclear plant is tested and retested — continually, throughout the plant’s lifetime — to ensure that it will work properly when it needs to. Even the containment building. And the plants on the drawing boards today make today’s plants, robust as they are, look like wooden sailing ships by comparison.

    Nuclear power isn’t perfect, and no supporter who actually knows anything about it will claim that it is. Nuclear power’s opponents obtain all of their arguments by picking out and exaggerating the industry’s minuscule flaws. Sleeping security guards are seen as a harbinger of a reactor melt-down. Dry fuel storage casks — tested to withstand being struck by a speeding train! — are represented as crumbling tin canisters just waiting to tip over and spill their contents onto unsuspecting children. Unplanned shutdowns to fix minor equipment problems are cited as evidence of a decrepit and decaying machine. If solar or hydro or wind power were subjected to equal scrutiny, I guarantee they would fall far short of nuclear. (Just as a teaser, go ahead and investigate the energy consumed and waste generated in constructing solar panels.)

    A typical coal plant actually releases *more* radioactivity to the environment than a typical nuclear plant, because coal — like almost everything we dig up out of the ground — is radioactive. And why does no one seem concerned about the lung damage that results from breathing coal dust and fly ash? Or about the people who are killed every year in coal mining accidents? These are real dangers that already exist because of our coal-based electricity infrastructure. Why are we so willing to accept these actual dangers — to live with this actual environmental damage? We’re talking about the “risk” of nuclear, all the while ignoring the existing damage of coal. And make no mistake: Our choice is coal or nuclear. In the United States, no other means of generation stands ready to replace them on any significant scale.

    The processes of enriching uranium and constructing dry fuel storage casks consume a minuscule amount of energy compared to the vast quantities generated by the plants that these processes support. If we manage to shift our energy economy away from fossil fuels entirely, the energy these processes consume will also therefore be entirely carbon free. There is no reason that a uranium enrichment facility couldn’t be powered by electricity from a nuclear reactor, for example. There is no reason that uranium mining equipment couldn’t be powered by hydrogen that was electrolized from water by means of electricity from a nuclear power plant. Unlike any of the “alternative” energy sources touted by nuclear opponents, nuclear power stands ready to replace the vast majority of our consumed oil, methane, propane, and coal — and it stands ready to do this *today*. All we lack is the infrastructure and the will-power. The technology is ready, only waiting for our decision to use it.

    Mr. Isenberg seems to lean on his Simpsons reference a bit too heavily. The Springfield nuclear plant is a caricature of the public’s fears of an industry it barely understands. And so, as a strong supporter of both nuclear power and practical environmentalism, I agree wholeheartedly with Mr. Isenberg’s other commenter on one particular point: We must rely on the truth when forming our energy policy.

    Comment on December 26, 2007 @ 11:40 am

  4. GRLC, former H2 fan wrote,

    Greg Reed writes much that I agree with, but this seems wrong: “the public is so terrified”.

    If you follow the money, you can see why it is advantageous for government to blame the public for its, the government’s, very aggressive regulation of nuclear power — for instance, the time it now is estimated to take to get a new plant licensed is 42 months — but when the government does this, it is an example of blaming the victim, and of lying. It is not advantageous for us to follow the script.

    We have to pay the natural gas taxes, and we have to die when the pipelines fail, but we don’t have to like it, and many of us understand that uranium at $240,000 per tonne is not expensive compared to natural gas at $4 million per uranium-tonne-equivalent, inclusive of royalties, plus tax.

    Comment on December 26, 2007 @ 2:18 pm

  5. RobC wrote,

    Thanks to Mr. Reed for a clear response to the main points.

    gfv brought up the usual cliches about waste and CO2. Actually, the waste “problem” was fictitious and, like all fictitious problems, was easily solved by reversing the stupid decision not to reprocess spent fuel. The technology for dealing with spent-fuel waste has been known for decades. The valuable uranium and transuranic actinides make up 97% of the waste. Once they are removed, the remaining 3% will lose its toxicity naturally in some centuries and isolating it for that short time is no challenge at all. Second, present technology allows for the residual waste to be transmuted into other substances that can be safely handled in decades or sooner.

    Every objective study done to date has shown that nuclear ranks with windpower on life-cycle CO2 emissions and is way better than solar. See, for example, P.J. Meier, Life-Cycle Assessment of Electricity Generation Systems and Applications for Climate Change Policy Analysis, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 2002

    A point nuclear opponents never bring up is the part-time nature of non-nuclear alternatives to fossil fuels. The simple truth is that we won’t shut down all the homes and businesses when there isn’t enough wind and sunlight to power them. We won’t make people stay home in their cold, dark houses. If nuclear energy isn’t developed in a major way, the world will keep burning fossil fuels. Within fifty years nearly all the world’s people will live in severe hardship and the natural environment will have completely disappeared.

    Another point never discussed is simply the practicality of non-nuclear alternatives. Consider:

    According to DOE, the US uses 4 billion MWH/year, so the average power rate would be 456,000 MW.

    Average output for wind turbines is 35% or a little less [source], so large turbines (1.5-MW–rotor-tip height ~ 450 ft) would average .525 MW. The number of turbines required would be 870,000.

    For the US, an average insolation would be around 5.5 KWH/m^2/day [ source], or 2 MWH/m^2/year Allowing a generous 20% efficiency [source], the output would be 0.4 MWH/m^2/year. To provide all the electricity the US uses would require 10 billion square meters or 3861 square miles of solar panels. That would be a panel 1-1/2 miles wide running from San Diego to Boston.

    In comparison, assuming 1000-MW nuclear power plants, 571 would be required to provide all the electricity the US uses, compared with 104 that currently are in operation. What’s more, nuclear plants will still operate when the sun isn’t shining and the wind isn’t blowing.

    Comment on December 26, 2007 @ 10:18 pm

  6. John Busby wrote,

    Questions of safety, waste management and economic viability need to be posed, but the coming shortage of nuclear fuel will stall the so-called “nuclear renaissance” which will be still born. Half of the US reactors are fuelled by Russian ex-weapons diluted highly enriched uranium supplied as uranium hexafluoride gas. The Megatons to Megawatts agreement ends in five years time, while primary mining production in Canada and Australia which provides the other half as natural uranium is falling, 15% and 20% respectively in 2006 over 2005, and continues to fall. The other secondary supplies such as re-worked tailings, ore stocks and inventories also run out by 2013. The PR cannot cover up this catastrophic situation for much longer as the nukes “brown-out” the lights, first in France where a 78% dependence on nuclear will be seen to be insecure. Fortunately all this will happen in time to reveal it all as nonsense.

    Comment on December 27, 2007 @ 3:04 pm

  7. RobC wrote,

    John, you’ve been made the victim of misinformation. If you think about it for a moment you’ll realize that lowered uranium production is an inevitable consequence of using up warhead materials. If someone tells you the world will run out of uranium in five years he obviously can’t be trusted.

    Take a look at

    Not only is there enough uranium ore for many centuries, the uranium dissolved in the oceans is essentially limitless. But advanced fuel cycles will make high-grade ores of uranium and thorium last for thousands of years.

    Comment on December 28, 2007 @ 12:15 pm

  8. George Foss wrote,

    Considering who is running the Reactors (the power companies) and who is responsible for regulation (a “captured” US government agency), I wouldn’t trust the Nuclear Power as either a short or a long term solution.

    I wouldn’t say that 3 mile Island is the only example.

    The biggest expulsion of radioactive material in the United States occurred July 16, 1979, at 5 a.m. on the Navajo Nation, less than 12 hours after President Carter had proposed plans to use more nuclear power and fossil fuels. On that morning, more than 1,100 tons of uranium mining wastes — tailings — gushed through a packed-mud dam near Church Rock, N.M. With the tailings, 100 million gallons of radioactive water gushed through the dam before the crack was repaired.

    By 8 a.m., radioactivity was monitored in Gallup, N.M., nearly 50 miles away. The contaminated river, the Rio Puerco, showed 7,000 times the allowable standard of radioactivity for drinking water below the broken dam shortly after the breach was repaired, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The few newspaper stories about the spill outside of the immediate area noted that the area was “sparsely populated” and that the spill “poses no immediate health hazard.”

    The local newspaper blamed the publicity that followed the spill on “Jane Fonda and the anti-nuclear weirdos [who] have scared the hell out of people . . .”

    The nuclear-mining legacy of 30 years blows through the outlying districts of Shiprock, N.M., the Navajos’ largest city, on windy days. The hot, dry winds shave radioactive dust from the tops and sides of large tailings piles around the city. One of them is 70 feet high and a mile long. Until the mid 1970s, the Atomic Energy Commission assured the Navajos of Shiprock that the tailings were harmless. These tailings will be more radioactive after 600 years and still be a threat to health.

    How about Nuclear Waste that was secretly buried near Alaskan Natives Village sites? How about the soil from the Antartica Reactor spill that ended up under side walks in Long Beach California? (It’s against international treaty to pollute the South Pole). In 1976, the USS Towle was loaded with 7700 cubic metres of rock and dirt to be disposed of in California. Yes, California, not Nevada or Washington State Nuclear dumping sites.

    You want other examples?

    Diablo Canyon Nuclear reactor near San Luis Obispo had all the safety devices, ect. built (!) in the wrong location (mirror image) as no one noticed that the blue print was wrongside up! When this error was discovered, the “Nuclear Regulators” from the FEDS approved the plant to run. San Onefre had a big scandal as some “jumpers” (the repair men exposed to radiation) lied about making repairs and threw away the new parts.

    The management for Nuclear Plants follows Commercial Gas and Coal Plant policy, Let the required repairs accumulate and then perform maintenance/repairs when the plant “breaks down.” Even the late father of Nuclear Powered Navy, Admiral Rickover, said that the countries better interests (in terms of safety) would be served if the Navy ran the Power Plants and not the Private sector.

    When PG&E wanted to build a Nuke Plant around Monterey Bay area, they sent representatives to the local High Schools (the 18 years old were getting the vote) and I quote, “The Russians have been running Nuclear Plants for some time without protective shielding or containment buildings. They have never had an accident.” This was in 1976.

    Remember the Enrico Fermi breeder reactor near Detroit, MI? The reactor’s first 5% power test was minutes away from killing a major city’s population. Well even if it is downplayed by the Pro Nuke lobby as propoganda to fightened the populace, you didn’t have to use the Freedom of Information act to find out about it.

    Even a full scale commitment to Nuclear power isn’t going to alleviate fossil fuel useage or alleviate the world’s energy crisis.

    The original writer’s points are valid, the industries needed to support Nuclear power aren’t green. Increasing the number of Nuclear Reactors increase our risk of an accident.

    If the federal government hadn’t underwritten the insurance policies for Nuclear Power Plants, there would be Nuclear Power in the US. What underwriter for a commerical insurance agency would approve such a plant considering the risk and the liability?

    Maybe people are afraid of Nuclear Technology because of the individuals and agencies involved and their lackluster history.

    Ask a white cattle rancher at the Rio Puerco (Pig River) area who has reaped the “benefits” of our countries safety programs and policies about Nuclear Power. Or the Mines paying restitution. Ask about the money he lost from the cattle that drank the water. Or ask about the long-term abnormally high birth defect rate among his children or his Native American neighbors that occured subsequently to this spill. (Hopefully, after he hears your pro nuclear arguments he isn’t tempted to reach for his rifle, for your sake.)

    As to Mr. Reeds and other responses:

    As I first mentioned the largest Nuclear Spill at Church Rock on Rio Puerco, NM seems to be overlooked. After all it wasn’t in your back yard.

    To the commenter who said that Coal burning releases more radiation than a Nuke Plant, you over looked the amount of radiation and radon gas that mining, processing, etc, releases into the enviroment. Your smoke and mirrors argument doesn’t hold any more truth than the old “light match and you put more pollution into the air” PR compaign that the Nuke industry tried before. You can also say that lighting a cigarette puts more radiation into the enviroment. And, you would be wrong. “Low level” (a relative term) discharges of radiation from cooling systems leaks and other minor accidents were not accounted for by your argument. How much radiation is released from coal as opposed to back ground radiation?

    The Church Rock disaster of 1,100 tons or (2,200,000 pounds) of reactive waste and 100 million gallons of contaminated liquid into a major water supply for Gallup, New Mexico wasn’t included in calculation, was it. (Do you get your information from Rush?) No one was killed in the actual flood. But along the way it left residues of radioactive uranium, thorium, radium, and polonium, as well as traces of metals such as cadmium, aluminum, magnesium, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, selenium, sodium, vanadium, zinc, iron, lead and high concentrations of sulfates.[2] The spill degraded the western Rio Puerco as a water source. It carried toxic metals already detectable at least seventy miles downstream.[3] And it raised the specter that uranium mining in the Colorado River Basin may be endangering Arizona’s Lake Mead, and with it the drinking water of Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and much of Arizona.

    Except for the bomb tests, Church Rock was probably the biggest single release of radioactive poisons on American soil. Ironically it occurred thirty-four years to the day after the first atomic test explosion at Trinity, New Mexico.

    “Somehow,” complained Frank Paul, vice-president of the Navajo Tribal Council, “United Nuclear Corporation was permitted to locate a tailings pond and a dam on an unstable geologic formation. Somehow UNC was allowed to design an unsafe tailings dam not in conformance to its own design criteria. Somehow UNC was permitted to inadequately deal with warning cracks that had appeared over two years prior to the date the dam failed. Somehow UNC was permitted to continue a temporary dam for six months beyond its design life. Somehow UNC was permitted to have a tailings dam without either an adequate contingency plan or sufficient men and material in place to deal with a spill. Somehow UNC was permitted to deal with the spill by doing almost nothing.”

    Ironically the Church Rock dam was a “state-of-the-art” structure. Paul Robinson, an Albuquerque-based expert on mining issues, warned the Udall hearings that “UNC-Church Rock was the most recently built and the most carefully engineered tailings dam in the state.” Similar dams owned by Anaconda, Kerr-McGee, UNC-Homestake Partners, and Sohio were “disasters waiting to happen.”

    As to The food industry isn’t held to the level of safety of Nuclear Power because an incidence of E. coli, doesn’t have the potential to last hundreds years to thousands of years or longer. Additionally, the human body has the ability to resist and fight most food borne bacterial infections, in most cases. We have no such mechanism to fight radiation.
    Ask any Uranium mine worker who died at 5 times the rate for cancer than for the average population.

    The report by Gofman and Tamplin by acknowledged experts of the AEC doesn’t give much hope as to a responsible government.

    Gofman, a medical doctor and a nationally known health researcher, holding a number of prestigious awards for his work on heart disease.

    Most important of all–from the AEC’s standpoint–Gofman was an atomic loyalist. During the days of the test ban campaign he had served on the commission’s “Truth Squad,” which toured the country in the path of Linus Pauling and others, attacking their antitesting opinions.

    But soon after taking charge of the AEC’s radiation health program, Gofman was submerged in controversy. Summoned to Washington to “discuss radioactive iodine,” he found himself in the midst of a heated discussion about Harold Knapp, an AEC scientist whose study of fallout in southern Utah had shown levels of radiation far in excess of commission standards. The real purpose of the meeting, Gofman said later, was to find a way to suppress Knapp’s findings, which would, “in effect, make the AEC reports over the past ten years look untrue.” After dissecting Knapp’s research, Gofman and three other committee members could find nothing wrong with it. They recommended publication of his paper.

    AEC commissioner James Ramey responded by trying to cancel the entire Lawrence Livermore health program. He failed to kill the whole project, but did succeed in reducing its budget.

    Soon thereafter Gofman was joined in his research work by Dr Arthur Tamplin. Tamplin had come to Lawrence Livermore from the Rand Corporation. With his doctorate in biophysics he was a veteran of high-level research on the space program and nuclear weaponry. He had welcomed the shift to health work. “Instead of finding out better ways to kill people,” he remembered, “I was now finding ways to save their lives.”

    They began researching the anticipated health effects of Operation Plowshare, a peaceful atom offshoot. It was aimed at using nuclear explosions to dig canals, tunnels, harbors, fuel-storage caverns, river diversions, and the like.

    Inside the AEC, Gofman and Tamplin were coming to some hard conclusions. “By 1967,” they later wrote, “we had become thoroughly convinced that the entire approach to the handling of public health and safety aspects of nuclear energy development was erroneous.” They expressed their belief that projects such as those envisioned in Operation Plowshare would make “an irreversible contribution of pollution of the earth” and should be abandoned.

    For their trouble Gofman and Tamplin soon became known to the AEC hierarchy as “the enemy within.” In 1969 they lived up to that reputation by urging a tenfold reduction in the AEC’s maximum permissible radiation doses to the general public from nuclear reactors.

    The recommendation stunned backers of the peaceful atom. Gofman’s and Tamplin’s findings had enormous weight; they resulted from six years’ work by men recognized as experts in their field, conducting a major project initiated by the AEC itself.

    Before 1969 only a tiny handful of scientists had considered the issue of leaking reactors at all. The leaks in general came from the breakdown of fuel sheathing in the controlled but superhot reactor core. As cooling water flows around the core, it picks up radioactive isotopes, itself becomes radioactive, and carries that through the maze of pipes and valves around the plant.

    Some of the emitters then escape through the plant stacks as gases and particulate matter, in particular lethal isotopes of iodine, strontium, cobalt, carbon, cesium, and noble gases. Some–particularly tritium–are also flushed out with waste water and into local rivers and the oceans. Some neutrons and gamma radiation also penetrate the containment vessel that tops the reactor. Such releases are an ongoing aspect of normal power reactor operations.

    Both the scientific community and the public had been assured that reactor leakage would be virtually nonexistent, and at any rate would pose no serious health threat. Now John Gofman and Arthur Tamplin were saying otherwise. At a major symposium in San Francisco in October of 1969 they warned that emissions from commercial atomic power plants considered “acceptable” could in fact kill large numbers of people. “If the average exposure of the U.S. population were to reach the allowable 0.17 rads per year average,” they warned, “there would in time be an excess of 32,000 cases of fatal cancer plus leukemia per year.” And the deaths would occur “year after year.”

    Thus they recommended an immediate lowering of the legal exposure limit by a factor of ten, to 0.017 rads.

    The paper was greeted by a storm of outrage. AEC and industry supporters argued that Gofman’s and Tamplin’s fears were baseless. The tightening of standards, they added, would cost billions of dollars and was simply a financial impossibility for the fledgling industry.

    But the two scientists persisted in presenting their findings to the public. In the late fall of 1969, after testifying in front of a Senate subcommittee, Tamplin was ordered by his superior at Lawrence Livermore to submit all future public speeches and writings to the AEC for prior review. It was not for censorship, he was told, but only to give the commission time to respond.

    On that understanding Tamplin submitted a paper he had been asked to present at a Boston meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). It was returned to him heavily censored. When Tamplin protested, he was quickly informed that a strong contingent within the AEC had wanted to fire him outright, but that he would be allowed to deliver the paper if he went to the AAAS meeting on his own time, at his own expense.

    Soon John Gofman intervened on Tamplin’s behalf, and a compromise was reached. Tamplin went to the meeting under commission auspices. But he deleted from his paper a call for a five-year moratorium on reactor construction.

    Two weeks later seven of the twelve people on Tamplin’s staff were removed from his supervision. His project on estimating internal radiation doses from nuclear facilities was taken away from him. And the following June four more staff members were cut, leaving him one coworker. The actions were not political, said the AEC, but “were taken for reasons related to budgetary reduction allocations, of resources to programs of highest priority and a judgement of relative scientific productivity.” By 1975 Tamplin could hang on no longer, and he resigned.

    Two years earlier John Gofman had also resigned. His own budget had been slashed, his research and writings were being constantly subjected to AEC scrutiny, his public utterances open to commission harassment.

    By the early 1970s the stakes had indeed grown enormous. In 1969, when Gofman and Tamplin issued their call for stricter health standards, ninety-five reactors were already operating, under construction, or on order in the U.S. In 1976 the number would peak at 219. Richard Nixon would by then have labeled nuclear energy the keystone of “Project Independence,” designed to make the U.S. free of its need for foreign oil.

    “What surprised us beyond belief,” Gofman and Tamplin wrote in their book Poisoned Power, “was that from all over the country our colleagues in various aspects of nuclear energy, particularly nuclear electricity, expressed their shock and disbelief that such a massive cancer-plus-leukemia risk could conceivably accompany exposure to `the allowable’ Federal Radiation Guideline.” Indeed, twenty-five years after Hiroshima, a dozen after the first atmospheric test moratorium, “a whole new industry, nuclear electricity, was growing up in the country with all of its experts totally unaware of the true hazards associated with it.”

    Most states will litigate and fight not be chosen as sites for Nuclear depositories (Dumps). One doesn’t have to have the intellect of Homer Simpson to be puzzled by this. Essentially, not in my backyard.

    This above information isn’t “propaganda,” of course if this information contradicts your viewpoints or conservative political affliations, you can call it whatever you like. It is still fact.

    You can refer to name calling (as in “liberal”) if you disagree (a form of propaganda), but you cannot dispute one that Nuclear Energy as it stands is a seriously flawed technology.

    Comment on June 7, 2008 @ 1:48 pm

  9. coetsee wrote,

    Everyone has their favorite way of using the internet. Many of us search to find what we want, click in to a specific website, read what’s available and click out. That’s not necessarily a bad thing because it’s efficient. We learn to tune out things we don’t need and go straight for what’s essential.


    Comment on December 31, 2009 @ 9:11 am

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