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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 2/12/10

Beware the Nuclear Power Lobbyists

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Message Ralph Nader
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A generation of Americans has grown up without a single nuclear power
being brought on line since before the near meltdown of the
Three Mile Island structure in 1979. They have not been exposed to the
enormous costs, risks and national security dangers associated with
their operations and the large amount of radioactive wastes still
without a safe, permanent storage place for tens of thousands of

All Americans better get informed soon, for a resurgent atomic power
lobby wants the taxpayers to pick up the tab for relaunching this
industry. Unless you get Congress to stop this insanely dirty and
complex way to boil water to generate steam for electricity, you'll be
paying for the industry's research, the industry's loan guarantees and
the estimated trillion dollars (inflation-adjusted) cost of just one
meltdown, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, plus vast
immediate and long-range casualties.

The Russian roulette-playing nuclear industry claims a class nine
meltdown will never happen. That none of the thousands of rail cars,
trucks and barges with radioactive wastes will ever have a
catastrophic accident. That terrorists will forgo striking a nuclear
plant or hijacking deadly materials, and go for far less consequential

The worst nuclear reactor accident occurred in 1986 at Chernobyl in
what is now Ukraine. Although of a different design than most U.S.
reactors, the resultant breach of containment released a radioactive
cloud that spread around the globe but concentrated most intensively
in Belarus, Ukraine and European Russia and secondarily over 40% of

For different reasons, both governmental and commercial interests were
intent on downplaying both the immediate radioactively-caused deaths
and diseases and the longer term devastations from this silent,
invisible form of violence. They also were not eager to fund follow up
monitoring and research.

Now comes the English translation of the most comprehensive,
scientific report to date titled Chernobyl: Consequences of the
Catastrophe for People and the Environment whose senior author is
biologist Alexey V. Yablokov, a member of the prestigious Russian
Academy of Sciences

Purchasable from the New York Academy of Sciences (visit
nyas.org/annals), this densely referenced analysis covers the acute
radiation inflicted on both the first-responders (called
"liquidators") and on residents nearby, who suffer chronic radioactive
sicknesses. "Today," asserts the report, "more than 6 million people
live on land with dangerous levels of contamination--land that will
continue to be contaminated for decades to centuries."

Back to the U.S., where, deplorably, President Obama has called for
more so-called "safe, clean nuclear power plants." He just sent a
budget request for another $54 billion in taxpayer loan guarantees on
top of a previous $18 billion passed under Bush. You see, Wall Street
financiers will not loan electric companies money to build new nuclear
plants which cost $12 billion and up, unless Uncle Sam guarantees one
hundred percent of the loan.

Strange, if these nuclear power plants are so efficient, so safe, why
can't they be built with unguaranteed private risk capital? The answer
to this question came from testimony by Amory B. Lovins, chief
scientist of the Rocky Mountain Institute, in March 2008 before the
[House of Representatives of the U.S.] Select Committee on Energy
(rmi.org). His thesis: "expanding nuclear power would
reduce and retard climate protection and energy security...but can't
survive free-market capitalism."

Making his case with brilliant concision, Lovins, a consultant to
business and the Defense Department, demonstrated with numbers and
other data that nuclear power "is being dramatically outcompeted in
the global marketplace by no and low-carbon power resources that
deliver far more climate solution per dollar, far faster."

Lovins doesn't even include the accident or sabotage risks. He
testified that "because it's [nuclear power] uneconomic and
unnecessary, we needn't inquire into its other attributes." Renewable
(eg. wind power), cogeneration and energy efficiencies
(megawatts) are now far superior to maintain.

I challenge anybody in the nuclear industry or academia to debate
Lovins at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., with a neutral
moderator, or before a Congressional Committee.

However, the swarm of nuclear power lobbyists is gaining headway in
Congress, spreading their money everywhere and lunching, falsely
exploiting the concern with global warming fed by fossil fuels.

The powerful nuclear power critics in Congress want the House energy
bill to focus on climate change. To diminish the opposition, they
entered into a bargain that gave nuclear reactors status with loan
guarantees and other subsidies in the same legislation which has
passed the House and, as is usual, languishing in the Senate.

Long-time, staunch opponents of atomic power who are leaders in
countering climate change, such as Cong. Ed Markey (D-MA), have
quieted themselves for the time being, while the Republicans (loving
the taxpayer subsidies) and some Democrats are hollering for the
nukes. All this undermines the valiant efforts of the Union of
Concerned Scientists
, NIRS, Friends of the Earth, and other
established citizen groups who favor a far safer, more efficient,
faster and more secure energy future for our country and the world.

Just recently, a well-designed and documented pamphlet from Beyond
Nuclear summarize the case against nuclear power as "Expensive,
Dangerous and Dirty." The clear, precise detail and documentation
makes for expeditious education of your friends, neighbors and

You can download it free and reprint it for wider distribution from
www.BeyondNuclear.org. It is very well worth the 10 to 15 minutes it
takes to absorb the truth about this troubled technology--replete with
delays and large cost-overruns--that has been on government welfare
since the 1950s.
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