Since I wrote my article, Get Ready for The Nuclear Energy Spin Assault , I've had numerous people-- lefties, sock puppet nuclear energy bloggers, right wingers all tell me that we can't do without nuclear energy. They cite France!. Don't give me that nonsense. It feels like I'm being told to pick between energy arsenic or cyanide.
If you support the use of nuclear energy you are either a part of the program to sell nuclear energy or you are a success story of the nuclear energy sales program which aims to convince you and legislators that we have to do the same thing that Japan did-- build massively expensive, incredibly high risk nuclear reactors that cost ten times as much to decommission as they do to build, that have a repeate history of costing hundreds of thousands if not millions of lives.
The NY Times cites one study, done in 1997:
"...Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island described a worst-case disaster from uncovered spent fuel in a reactor cooling pool. It estimated 100 quick deaths would occur within a range of 500 miles and 138,000 eventual deaths.
The study also found that land over 2,170 miles would be contaminated and damages would hit $546 billion.
That section of the Brookhaven study focused on boiling water reactors -- the kind at the heart of the Japanese crisis."
We're talking damage costs of half a trillion dollars if the power used to pump water covering spent fuel is lost. That could be caused in the US by a power grid outage, a malware attack by something like the stuxnet worm that was used to set back the Iranian nuclear program by years, or by terrorist acts. We spend billions on TSA and homeland security to prevent terrorist attacks. What would we continue to build reactors that now have a repeat, horrible record of inflicting loss of life and huge financial costs?
Some argue that we have no choice-- that nuclear energy is our only viable option. I say that idea is a key part of the PR offensive the Nuclear energy industry is using to sell, to propagandize and even brainwash the public and legislators into believing.
The truth is there are many sustainable, renewable approaches to energy that could be developed and that are being developed in other countries, where the toxic energy corporations do not hold such political power and sway.
There are many nations where renewable energy is now or is on course to providing 40-45% of energy needs. Those nations include Canada, Brazil, Portugal, Ireland, Denmark, Britain. Of course, they do not have democracies impaired by a corrupt Supreme Court that produced the Citizens United decision that allowed the Koch brothers to plague American energy policy and literally put hundreds of thousand or more at risk. Do you consider such a statement over the top or inflammatory? Consider that Germany has just ordered a number of its oldest reactors to be shut down.
This is not one of those discussions that Fox gives "fair and balanced "coverage to, even when one side is screamingly more truthful. Well, for the American MSM, that's exactly what it's becoming. And worse, we are dealing with cultural issues here. The Japanese have a culture where saving and maintaining "face" is important. That keeps the people from questioning and challenging authority figures. It makes it more difficult, even impossible for the US department of state to even call for Americans to leave Japan for safety reasons.
We have seen enough of nuclear energy to know that it is not an acceptable source of energy.
Personally, I believe that the safest form of energy is bottom up energy. If the US issued tax credits for installing solar energy and wind energy on people's homes, buildings and businesses, then millions could get their energy directly. Some would get ALL of their energy. Some would generate more than they needed and could actually feed energy into the grid and make money. If Obama offered $36 billion in loan guarantees for people investing in renewable energy for their homes, then millions could borrow the money and recoup their investment in a short time. With smart strategies, the money could go to US manufacturers. Big energy companies, the coal mining industry and natural gas drillers would not like this. They would fight it.
There is a major impulse, on the part of legislators, to attempt to use centralized solutions, ie., big industry, single sources. We've seen again and again how too big companies and industries dominated by a few big players reduce efficiencies, dominate and control markets and enable catastrophic mistakes to occur, like the financial industry's centralized management of mortgages and credit.
There are far better, more efficient, less costly, ecologically safer ways for the US to secure reliable, steady sources of energy. There are major forces working at getting people to not even consider those options. They are engaging in PR and charm offenses to keep those options off the table, just as the private health insurance industry was so effective at keeping single payer health care off the table. My article, Get Ready for The Nuclear Energy Spin Assault discussses how this is already happening.
Just to give you a further flavor of the "spin" being applied to the nuclear meltdown story, today, the NY Times reports that radiation levels in Tokyo are now 20 times normal levels, but MSNBC, which is partially owned by General Electric, one of the largest builders of nuclear power plants, had scrolling news statements that the levels in tokyo were up slightly (I don't recall the exact words.) You be the judge whether that's an accurate "spin."
Ironically, as one commenter on my "spin" article pointed out, the oil industry benefits from blocking the production of more nuclear plants. They could be a strange bedfellow/ally in what Believe is the fight we must now wage to prevent the building of further nuclear plants and, following Germany's example, shutting down the most at risk plants.
The truth is out there. It is being mightily challenged by political and diplomatic correctness, intentional spin and outright lies by a huge industry that is facing at the best, from my perspective and the worst from theirs, total extinction. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is one agency that I'd like to see retire because it is no longer needed.