Horrible reality of nuclear power

July 12, 2016
Jim Griffin

Jim Griffin

OPINION by JIM GRIFFIN

Diablo Canyon is finally shutting down. It should never have been built in the first place, especially over two earthquake prone fault lines. In fact, as we can see now, no nuclear power plants should ever have been built.

Sooner or later they always leak radiation, and nuclear fuel waste takes 250,000 years to decay into lead — a massive and mounting problem. Nuclear waste will be a huge issue at Diablo many years after the complex closes. It is true that there in no Co2 and no addition to climate change. But there is totally toxic radiation that no container material can outlast.

Nuclear power has always been a bad idea, good on paper but only if you ignore half the story. Horrible in reality.

PG&E is an especially bad player. Think of all the people poisoned in Hinkley, Calif. (Erin Brockovich) and many other places, and all the pollution and the gas line accidents. Think of the totally cowed  Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, corrupted and co-opted through a cozy relationship with PG&E and other big energy  corporations, who then get away with murder and receive a slap on the wrist for their crimes, if anything.

As long as PG&E and other major utilities exist as huge profit obsessed corporations they will  manipulate all types of energy sources and markets, along with the media and the politicians, keeping prices high and with everything tightly in their control.  The Diablo complex doesn’t begin to close for eight full years — more than enough time for PG&E to pull strings and grease palms to have the recent agreement/settlement gutted or greatly watered down. Watch and see.

In my opinion, “public” utilities should really be publicly owned and run democratically, co-operatively and transparently by and in the interests of consumers, not investors and fat-cat executives. This is the only way that renewable energy, alternative energy, energy storage, and all other possibilities can be developed and provided in a socially responsible way. And nuclear power ended forever.

Jim Griffin has lived in San Luis Obispo for five years. Jim has been a progressive political activist since his mid-teens, taking part in anti-war movements, the civil rights movement, labor union struggles, and other movements for human, civil, and democratic rights.


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52 Comments

  1. TaxMeAgain says:

    Again, nearly everything in this piece is not scientifically correct. Pretty sad.

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  2. truthinscience says:

    Mr. Griffin, It is sad to see just how misinformed and misguided you are, having not learned anything in the past 30 years of Diablo Canyon’s superior operating existence. The world of science and our planet’s degrading conditions for human life due to human-caused climate change are now clearly demonstrating that our only hope of recovering from damaging climate change is through keeping and extending existing nuclear power stations, as well as aggressively developing new nuclear power technology. Humans are supposed to be intelligent enough to continue learning throughout their lives, but you are demonstrating the opposite, not understanding the global picture. I recommend that you go back to school and concentrate on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education. Wake up to reality!

    (10) 16 Total Votes - 13 up - 3 down
  3. Gordo says:

    Well I hope when So Cal Edison announces its plan for two new hydro electric dams in the Sierras next year I don’t see this dumbass strapped to the front of a bulldozer. You want clean renewables, then get ready for hydro electric dams.

    We cannot feed the industrial needs of this state on wind and solar entirely anymore than we could fuel it with fairy dust and unicorn piss…

    I also hope Jim doesn’t object to the PG&E windmills planned for the hills behind Diablo. Remember Jimbo, its clean renewalble energy, no matter how many birds get slaughtered by the turbines!

    (7) 9 Total Votes - 8 up - 1 down
    • Rich in MB says:

      Gordo…
      Replacing the power isn’t in their thinking.
      The Radical Left is pushing a De-growth policy…they want less people and less power.

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  4. Slosum says:

    Jim can come peddle my bicycle powered generator, along with the Mothers for Peace. It’s “sustainable” as long as they keep peddling.

    (8) 10 Total Votes - 9 up - 1 down
  5. Pelican1 says:

    A nuclear power reactor is just a fancy way of boiling water.
    Stop with the fear mongering Jim.
    No one in the United States has become seriously ill or has died because of any kind of accident at a civilian nuclear power plant.

    (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down
    • Indy thinker says:

      Pelican… We need to refine your statement… There have been deaths at nuclear facilities. Both civilian and military sites have had industrial accidents. the ratio of death to megawatt produced is lowest at nuclear facilities (safest among power generation methods) but there have been fatal accidents. I am pro nuclear but just wanted it to be known.

      (2) 4 Total Votes - 3 up - 1 down
  6. r0y says:

    I’ve always been on the fence regarding nuclear power; indeed it is SUPER-EFFICIENT. Probably the best we’ll see in our lifetimes; yet, that waste product… spent fuel rods. I would love to launch them into the sun and be done with it, but we have a paranoia (rightfully so) about launching nuclear anything (let alone waste) into space on a rocket.

    Maybe one day, we’ll perfect a space elevator type thing, and start hauling that stuff up and out of here. Until then, it is a LOOOOOOONG time to turn that crap into lead. A lot can happen in hundreds of thousands of years, or so I imagine.

    I was mostly in agreement with the author until the child-like “evil profit” type ramblings started coming out. Pretty significant tell and an incredibly myopic view. Still, the OP raised the same old concerns, because they are the same old concerns. No matter how clean and efficient nuclear power generation is, there is still that nagging issue of waste.

    I’m also OK with using a large body of water as a heat sink… do not care about the marine environment for a whole mile of coast or whatever… we have millions of miles of coasts on the planet, and she’s pretty resilient.

    Hydroelectric is the way to go. Screw the fish.

    (-3) 17 Total Votes - 7 up - 10 down
  7. BeenThereDoneThat says:

    Love the comment………energy storage………please tell me on a MASSIVE scale how would this be achieved? The only way to…..store energy……is through batteries. Any idea how many you would need for the grid? Batteries are only way to store energy. The grid does NOT store energy. It ramps up and down on a as needed basis. Geez.

    (19) 25 Total Votes - 22 up - 3 down
    • kettle says:

      What like the Helms project, built by PG&E to store power from Diablo?. If you were paying attention you would know that the grid load changes but a nuke plant runs at 100% day or night. So you have to use it, store it or waste it.

      “Batteries are only way to store energy.” No, but you can pretend, if that’s what you are into.

      1,450 MW Pumped-Hydro Energy Storage System Lives In Swiss Mountain

      I am sure when the horseless carriages were becoming a thing, you all were fretting over where to park all of them (shakes fist at clouds).

      The world is changing faster than most of you realise.

      (-8) 18 Total Votes - 5 up - 13 down
      • Indy thinker says:

        Helms is water storage… Not power storage. The water flows down turning generators to supply energy when demand is high during the day and then pumped back up at night when the demand (and energy rates) are lower to start all over again.

        (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
        • kettle says:

          “The Helms Pumped Storage Facility (Helms) is the largest pumped hydroelectric storage project in California.

          Helms produces and stores up to 1,212 megawatts of electricity”

          Pumped Storage, it’s a thing.

          (0) 10 Total Votes - 5 up - 5 down
          • Indy thinker says:

            It’s not energy storage you narrow minded fool… How do you think that water gets back up to the higher elevation lake? It doesn’t rain every night. With the use of reversible electric pumps. Therefore energy is used to move it up and gravity helps make energy when it comes down. The only major difference is the cost of the kilowatt to move the water, cheaper late at night to pump it up (lower demand) and then generate power during the day where you sell at a higher price. There are only a handful of places on this planet that this could work effectively so this would not be a viable option to replace all our power generating methods. Kettle found some blurb on the internet about this process and thinks it will replace nuclear. Wrong again.

            (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
            • kettle says:

              From http://www.energy.ca.gov/tour/helms/
              Helms produces and stores up to 1,212 megawatts of electricity by moving water between Courtright Lake at a higher elevation and Lake Wishon at a lower elevation.

              “stores up to 1,212 megawatts of electricity”

              Not just some blurb and I never said it would replace anything.

              Now wtf with the insults? is that how you converse? “narrow minded fool”

              How mature of you.

              (2) 8 Total Votes - 5 up - 3 down
          • TaxMeAgain says:

            Helms is an amazing facility, but geographically unique and nearly impossible to duplicate anywhere else.

            (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • Extremely Stoic says:

        Not every place that uses energy has twin bodies of water that can be used in the way describes. For the most part, batteries ARE the only way to store energy. The water transfer thing is the exception

        (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
      • BeenThereDoneThat says:

        Wow you got me. You scoured the Internet to find ONE in use, so as STATED, do we store here ( U.S) to make simple for you. Answer…..no.

        Second 2000 foot elevation difference? So do we have or build? No your ilk are to busy tearing down dams and not building so give me a break

        And if I was paying attention about grid load changing? Do I really need to dumb down meaning of ramping up and down of power? Thought that was simple enough to understand. Guess to much credit given.

        (6) 10 Total Votes - 8 up - 2 down
        • kettle says:

          Yes, we store here (Kern County, others), but you can do your own research.

          Also “your ilk” Wtf resort to insults? Need to change the subject?

          (-5) 11 Total Votes - 3 up - 8 down
          • BeenThereDoneThat says:

            Change subject? Who wants the dams tore down? Liberals or conservatives? Subject addressed!!

            (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
            • kettle says:

              Wow, you have it all figured out, noble prize right there.

              You should run for office.

              (-3) 5 Total Votes - 1 up - 4 down
              • BeenThereDoneThat says:

                So you don’t want to address the truth? Your using water pumped up and flow down hill to PRODUCE, not store energy would require dams. What is the last dam build out west? What was the last dam or dams tore down out west? What’s wrong is your argument springing leaks everywhere?

                (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
                • kettle says:

                  I did address the truth, you pump it up when there is extra power, it is called pumped storage.

                  Try reading.

                  http://www.energy.ca.gov/tour/helms/

                  “Helms produces and stores up to 1,212 megawatts of electricity by moving water between Courtright Lake at a higher elevation and Lake Wishon at a lower elevation. ”

                  It stores power at night/ low load and was designed to do it.

                  (0) 4 Total Votes - 2 up - 2 down
                • BeenThereDoneThat says:

                  I understand the workings and don’t dispute that. What I dispute is the infrastructure required to build and getting that done out in the western coast states. Not happening.

                  (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
      • Perspicacious says:

        “What like the Helms project, built by PG&E to store power from Diablo?.”

        Are you saying the Helms Project was to store energy from Diablo? Or were you being facetious?

        (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
        • kettle says:

          It was part of the diablo sales pitch, store the excess at times of extra.

          “Pacific Gas & Electric Co. is celebrating the 30th birthday in August of the 1,212-MW Helms Pumped-Storage project on North Fork Kings River in California.

          “Helms and our Diablo Canyon (nuclear) power plant give us the unique capability to fully integrate a significant amount of clean energy into the power supply while still ensuring that we can meet the energy demands of our customers,” PG&E Senior Vice President John Conway said. “When it began delivering power 30 years ago, Helms played a key role for California and our customers. That role has only grown as our electric grid has evolved.””

          Conway said Helms’ ability to quickly ramp up and down plays a key role in integrating intermittent renewable resources such as wind and solar power into the grid.

          (-6) 8 Total Votes - 1 up - 7 down
          • Indy thinker says:

            Where does it say anything about “storing” energy? Do you read everything you see or just like the headlines that line up with your views?

            (5) 7 Total Votes - 6 up - 1 down
            • Perspicacious says:

              That is what I was getting at. The Helm’s project is a stand alone power generating plant and doesn’t store energy for anything. The only thing it “stores” is water in the two reservoirs.

              (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
              • kettle says:

                Try reading.

                http://www.energy.ca.gov/tour/helms/

                “Helms produces and stores up to 1,212 megawatts of electricity by moving water between Courtright Lake at a higher elevation and Lake Wishon at a lower elevation. ”

                It stores power at night/ low load and was designed to do it.

                (-1) 5 Total Votes - 2 up - 3 down
                • Indy thinker says:

                  For the last time, no energy is “stored”. The only thing stored is the potential energy from the water between two elevations. After using reversible electric pumps to move the water up PGE lets it fall back down the same pipes. No energy is set aside for later use. Its not boxed up and put it on a truck. There are no batteries at Helms… just hooked up straight to the grid.

                  (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
                • kettle says:

                  Indy thinker I know how it works.

                  Trucks? Batteries? I never said any of that, why are you talking about batteries and trucks?

                  No it’s Called “Pumped Storage” 1,212-MW worth of it.

                  Pump it up hill when there is extra grid watts, let it fall when you need the power.

                  ” potential energy from the water between two elevations.” Yes I know, that is how it works and stores unneeded grid power and we get it later back to the grid.

                  By your (and others) reasoning batteries don’t store power ether as batteries are chemicals packaged (lead and acid) just like helms is water.

                  (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
    • Rich in MB says:

      Well as the only one here living completely off the power grid from Solar and batteries…I can tell you…the average home in SLO would need about a $10K battery bank system to keep that home power hungry monster alive. People have no idea what living off Solar and Batteries actually means…and they would actually riot in the streets if they were forced to find out!

      (10) 12 Total Votes - 11 up - 1 down
      • Indy thinker says:

        Exactly why solar and wind will help, but not replace the present power generation methods.

        (3) 5 Total Votes - 4 up - 1 down
      • TaxMeAgain says:

        Ask a sailor. They have to have multiple sources of power because they are all off the grid. I have battery charging from the motor (which I rarely use), a solar panel, and from shore power (which I never use). Off the grid is hard. Don’t forget, however, that all your goods and services (gas, water, batteries, clothing, food, etc.) took energy to create. Even though you are off the grid, YOU still consume vast quantities of power.

        (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down

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