An attractive French woman, serving as its spokesperson assured us that nothing is healthier, safer or more chic than those gorgeous power plants which are sprouting all over France like new spring frocks. Danger, when mentioned at all, was dismissed like last year's hemline, and the interviewer smiled approvingly as she continued to rhapsodize over this revival of global madness. Brushing off what nature has to offer, she cooed: “You don't have to wait anymore for the sun or the wind. Nuclear energy is something you can count on.”
Sure, especially when it comes to killing us.
According to 60 MINUTES nuclear power is back and big business has got it. Companies like Westinghouse and General Electric who make the reactors, have managed to spin the fracas over global warming to their advantage. And they easily get their message out because they own the networks. When last year they were calling global warming a hoax, this year they've jumped on board with Al Gore agreeing that it's real. But let's not solve it with that slow silly thing called conservation or natural alternative energy. Let's stop being scaredy-cats and go for the big one! The atom!
Nothing as trivial as truth deters these giant corporations or their political lackeys. The fact that no nuclear plant has been built in the US since 1979 when 3 mile island melted down, the fact that a few years later Chernoble did the same in Russia with even more devastating results, the fact that there is no way to get rid of the nuclear waste caused by every nuclear plant on earth, (no matter what lies you hear to the contrary), the fact that one meltdown has the potential to make global warming look like a day at the beach ….all these grotesque dangers do nothing to stem the giant misconception being perpetrated by these companies. Nuclear energy is clean, they scream. Sure, and, junk food is good for kids, the Patriot Act is really the Bill of Rights, a loaded gun makes the best toy, and Insurance companies care about sick people. Hitler said it best: The bigger the lie the more easily believed. The corporate world has learned that lesson well.
The Non Proliferation act of the 1970's says that countries with nuclear weapons pledge to cut back on them until they reach disarmament. The United States is signatory to that treaty. In 40 years, have we disarmed our nuclear arsenal? Of course not. In fact we're developing new nuclear weapons. The treaty says countries which do not own nuclear weapons will not develop them, but that all countries can develop nuclear power for energy. Iran is also a signatory of the Non Proliferation Treaty, so they have a right to develop nuclear reactors for energy, but not for weapons. The question is, can you separate the two?
Apparently not. Professor Daniel Hirsch, President of Committee to Bridge the Gap, one of the oldest most reliable information centers on Nuclear Energy in the Country puts it bluntly.
“Each reactor produces a hundred nuclear bombs worth of Plutonium a year. That's just a fact”.
So, let's stop pretending that there's a big step between producing nuclear energy and nuclear weapons. Ultimately, they are intertwined. If one is potentially lethal for the planet, so is the other. There are already 103 nuclear reactors in the United States. Many have been shut down because of leakage. That's why no new reactors have been constructed in this country since the 1970's. That's why such new construction is banned in California.
There's a move now to lift that ban. Senator Diane Feinstein is making noises like she's considering it. On Monday (April 16th) Republican Assemblyman Chuck Devore is scheduled to introduce a bill to lift California's moratorium on building nuclear plants. Sounds like it's time for the grassroots to get busy again. Apparently there's no rest for the weary.