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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Rich in MB

….and let PE&E take all that Tax money and high paying jobs with them as the left runs clean sustainable, Non-CO2 releasing power out of town. What will be interesting to see is how once the left gets what they want..where will they find the money to fund their social welfare and Government pensions? I see another Tax increase coming to save the schools that will suffer, but remember, it’s all for the Children. Letting Mothers against Progress win on this Nuke issue means that the Tax Paying Citizens of the County Lose.


Russ J

Just look to LA’s DWP for transparency and efficiency. Union wages that pay non-skilled positions over 100K. Union slush funds hidden from the public for so called “training programs”.


How about the wonders of government healthcare.


Private industry can f things up a-plenty, but the government can’t produce squat.


Moderator

Personal attacks deleted.


Hey adults, please comment about the subject at hand, not about each other.


ddc1983

While I empathize with the fears and reservations expressed in this commentary, the reality is that there are more opinions here and very few facts. The fears that these sorts of articles elicit are unfortunately the result of uninformed views and lack of technical knowledge. Nowhere in this article, or in industry statistics, is there any evidence that “nuclear power plants should [n]ever have been built.” As someone concerned with both the environment and the local central coast community, I’ve researched nuclear power thoroughly and noticed a few things that stand out in this article that I’d like to address.


Nuclear power provides safe, clean, low-cost and emissions-free energy with a minimal amount of land requirements and therefore a relatively minimal effect on the environment. These are easily verifiable facts, the details of which are readily available to the public through the NRC and the various plants’ Safety Analysis Reports, though it certainly helps to have a technical background to understand some of them. As a side note, the amount of land required by solar panels to generate the same amount of power as Diablo Canyon (and only during the day…) would be more than 100 times greater.. which is clearly an impact on the environment.


The Diablo Canyon site, while indeed located near fault lines, has been subject of some of the most exhaustive seismic studies in the US; it has accordingly been structurally designed by top civil engineers to withstand earthquakes of the highest magnitude. Meanwhile, the nuclear industry shares operating experience among all plants throughout the country. This means that a technical item that affects one plant, however trivial – for example, a tendency for a motor oil reservoir to leak over time in a certain climate zone – is reviewed by all plants. Only the airline and maybe aerospace industries even come close to the widespread level of technical scrutiny that nuclear power plants go through.


Fears of radiological release or nuclear accidents, while they certainly sound terrifying, are tantamount to fears that the sky is falling. The extremely remote and improbable chances of such disasters can be attested by the excellent track record the 50+ year nuclear industry in the US has. Some people might cite 3-mile island as an example; to those people, I suggest reviewing the facts of the incident. The emergency systems functioned as they were intended, and in the 30 years since then the industry has been driven to significantly greater safety protocols. Plant staff is constantly postulating increasingly remote accident scenarios and making sure these situations can be mitigated. It would be like designing a car to be able to withstand a sniper attack and a bomb blast at the same time.


On the issue of nuclear waste, it’s pretty well known that spent fuel is loaded into dry casks and stored in very robustly designed locations. What is understated is that this waste is completely contained, and completely mobile. Compare that to anything that uses fossil fuels – gaseous emissions are completely the opposite: uncontained and uncontrollable. By contrast, the dry casks can be moved to other locations, they take a very small footprint, and there has been a lot of research in recent years for ways to utilize these for alternate means of power generation in the future.


I mentioned before that I can empathize with the fears of nuclear power, mainly because I have a similar fear of air travel. I prefer driving if I can… a far less safe way to travel. While it’s not totally unreasonable (there are accidents, after all), statistics show that flying is the safest way to travel, and the advancement of technology in the past several decades speaks for itself, as does the huge reduction in accidents. In reality, nuclear power is even safer than air travel, with a track record for safety that remains unparalleled for industrial facilities.


Moderator

You are encouraged to submit an opinion piece to one of the emails on the right.

Posting 700 word comments with a anonymous account, not so much industry guy.


Shocked in MB

It is fascinating to see a correlation between activists and their form of employment. Read the bio’s on Mothers for Peace. All of them are either unemployed or Teachers or have some kind of a social services job.


Is it because those occupations (or lack thereof) leave too much free time, or is it that they choose to do these jobs because of their mindset?


What is a scraping-by, hard working, goal oriented, Progressive activist called?


An oxymoron


Rich in MB

Don’t be Shocked…this is SOP for the left. They wage war on an issue through propaganda and fear and then when they “win” everyone looks around and says “hey…how did that happen? Where did all the industry tax base go?” Up next…the per mileage tax on cars.


Moderator

Please comment about the subject at hand, not about each other.


Also Rich in MB, we get you don’t like some people, enough already.


Extremely Stoic

Nothing more than an unhappy guy with an overactive imagination. Unhappy people die sooner than their counterpart. Sorry Jim.


ConfedOfDunces

An old hippy without a cause. As he quickly glosses over acknowledgment that there is no climate change perhaps he should pause and consider changing his perspective.


SLOnative

The key word he used is “prone”. I remember that first fault that was discovered was defined as a “5,000 year old, in-active fault.”. Who are we going to extort when PG&E moves out of the county?


Rich in MB

Maybe they can turn Diablo into a Cash for Clunkers project?


kettle

Pg&e will get far more $$$ without some silly recycle program, 30 more years of profit, on the way.


kayaknut

And the alternative the massive amounts of electricity our society needs and that we have become dependent on? One that can actually be completed reasonably?


Indy thinker

As long as you read your cal coast news during the day while your solar panels work or pray for lots of windy nights to push your windmill around. The alternative is more gas and coal plants that can run on cloudy days and nights but now your pumping out pollution.


Yes, nuclear reactors are radioactive … so are bananas and concrete sidewalks.

Remember that the government was supposed to build some repository to receive the country’s nuclear waste and failed us miserably.


kettle

So nuclear reactors, bananas and concrete are the same when it’s about being radioactive? Logical fallacy talking points.


Try harder with the independent thinking http://m.likesuccess.com/quotes/17/835222.png


Indy thinker

Understand what your talking about before jumping on the soap box. Try reading stuff not written by far left rhetoric thinking


Rich in MB

They just don’t understand the Science…

Mush like the MMGW Cultists, the Anti-Nuke folks play on emotion and fear rather than facts and science. It’s the trend in America today…just look at El Trumpo and HiLiary.