I thought the following article from the San Franscisco Chronicle was interesting to share with you since we can all read the handwriting on the wall about Turkey Point. I have read a lot about Davis-Besse in Ohio and Block mentions that particular Nuclear Reactor. (Hit on letter above to resize)
Nuclear power is not today's solution for global warming
Jon Block -- Tuesday, October 2, 2007
"Nuclear power plants are not as safe as they should - and could - be."
For the past year, former Environmental Protection Agency head Christy Todd Whitman has been working as a paid spokesperson for the nuclear power industry. As part of the industry's multimillion-dollar public-relations campaign to promote new nuclear plant construction, she recently wrote an Open Forum piece for this paper touting nuclear power as a key solution for global warming.
Whitman's prescription for our nation's energy future is misguided. Her glowing description of nuclear power's benefits ignores serious issues of nuclear plant safety, security against sabotage and terrorist attack and waste disposal. To effectively address global warming, we need to deploy solutions that achieve the largest emissions reductions with the least cost and risk. Nuclear power today does not meet these criteria.
While the United States has strong safety regulations, they are not consistently enforced by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), the federal oversight agency. In 2002, for example, after several deferred inspections, operators of the Davis-Besse reactor near Toledo, Ohio, discovered that boric acid had eaten a football-size hole in the reactor vessel. If it had gone undetected for another several months, it could have caused a worse accident than the 1979 core meltdown at Three Mile Island. Unfortunately, this was not an isolated incident. Regulatory complacency for the past three decades permitted the deterioration of U.S. reactor safety systems to reach the point where, on 38 occasions, it took more than a year to restore requisite safety levels.
This lack of meaningful nuclear industry oversight is potentially life-threatening. A major accident could kill thousands of people and contaminate large regions for thousands of years. Congress needs to ensure that the NRC enforces its own regulations before additional nuclear power plants are built. Whitman would do well to acknowledge this need and call for improved oversight, because a nuclear accident would derail any increase in nuclear power capacity.
Nuclear plants also pose serious security risks. Nuclear plants store highly radioactive waste in fuel pools and above-ground canisters. Both are potential terrorist targets. A large aircraft flown into a fuel pool could cause a fire that would release sufficient radioactivity to contaminate tens of thousands of square miles. Above-ground canisters could be hit with grenade launchers, which are readily available. On-site storage needs to be made more secure. --snip--
The most sensible strategy to reduce global warming is to quickly deploy the cleanest, fastest, lowest risk solutions first. Conservation and increased efficiency by energy producers and consumers are the cheapest and quickest measures by far. Likewise, a wide range of renewable energy resources, including wind, solar, geothermal and tidal power, have enormous potential and are inherently safe-and they would encourage economic development. Prudence dictates that we pursue many options to reduce global warming. As a part of that effort, nuclear power research should continue, but with a focus on enhancing safety security and waste disposal.
Jon Block is the nuclear energy and climate change project manager at the Union of Concerned Scientists.