History 105 D
Is It Time to Revive Nuclear Power?
Twenty years ago, the worst nuclear plant accident in the nation occurred at the Three Mile Island plant. The nuclear industry has been waging a coordinated campaign to revive nuclear power in the United States. We are being told that nuclear energy is safe, clean (the answer to global warming) and an economical way to produce electricity. None of these claims withstand scrutiny.
It is well known that nuclear power production creates the deadliest and longest living wastes known to man. The technology to safely dispose of this waste has yet to be developed and it is becoming increasingly clear that safe storage is simply impossible to achieve. Nuclear plants only seem safe because government safety standards and Nuclear Regulatory Commission oversight has been too lax. There are problems at U.S. nuclear plants just about every day, ranging from incidental to serious. Some of these problems are close to home. At a plant in Perry, Ohio (near Cleveland), partly owned by Duquesne Light, the zirconium tubes covering the uranium fuel pellets are perforating, causing potentially dangerous radiation leaks within the reactor. The leaks are exposing plant workers to extra radiation and increasing the likelihood that more radiation would be released into the atmosphere in case of a serious accident. There is a new concern about nuclear power. In states (including Pennsylvania) where electric deregulation has occurred, nuclear plants will have to run practically all the time to be competitive. Unlike other generators, nuclear plants are not designed to operate continuously. Safety is likely to be a casualty of the bottom line. Nuclear power is not the clean energy its apologists claim. The smelting process used to make commercial grade fuel for nuclear plants contributes to greenhouse gases. Secondly, in addition to the waste problem, nuclear plants...