Nuclear Power: Lesser Energy Evil or Health and Homeland Security Nightmare?

A recent article in the New York Times, How Retiring Nuclear Power Plants May Undercut US Climate Goals, by Brad Plumer, June 13, 2017, discusses the difficult energy quandary faced by the US and countries around the world regarding nuclear. Relying on at least two sources connected to nuclear power plant owner, Exelon, the reporter explores second thoughts held by some pro-environment organizations with respect to closing nuclear power plants, which can’t compete economically with cheap natural gas produced by hydraulic fracking.

But what the article fails to address on any level, are the serious health consequences related to radioactivity exposure, not to mention, the spent fuel issue and homeland security threat posed by many, if not all, US nuclear power plants — most specifically, Indian Point on the Hudson River, a few dozen miles from Wall Street. The plant has been called “the biggest existential threat in the region,” and it’s the one described in Nixie Publishing’s new book, Fukushima on the Hudson by LA Smith.



[book excerpt] “We’re on a path to self-destruction, Bill. In a single century, we’ve ruined the earth in the name of ‘progress.’ The industrial revolution? The arms race? Energy development? It will be some miracle, Bill, if the human race endures.”
     “And so, what?”
     “And so, because your Congress won’t deal with the issue,” I begin, as the gusty wind whistles around us. “Won’t eliminate the threat posed to the city of New York at least, as it concerns that nuclear power plant, we will. We’re planning to do something.”
     “Sometimes doing nothing is better.”
     “Very good, Bill.” I give another a humorless laugh. “That could be the motto for all of Congress these days. Do nothing. It’s better.”
     “Sometimes it’s better to do nothing than to do the wrong thing.” He can’t help but sound frustrated. “That’s what I’m trying to say.” 
     Sweeping down the hill from beyond the bunker, a burst of arctic air swirls the top layer of snow into a gauzy cloud that drifts over to us. Beside me, Senator Halloran is shivering. Sliding his bare hands out of his coat pockets, he rubs them together in the cold air again and returns them to his pockets. It’s as if he can’t decide where exactly his hands should go. Should have brought thick leather gloves and a heavier coat. This is his state, after all and the coat he’s wearing is no match for the upstate cold. He should have known better, but he’s soft. Unfocused.
     “Do you think the North Koreans give a damn about their radioactive waste?” I ask him, eventually. “The Iranians? Hell, the Pakistanis? Russians? It spreads, Bill, a point I’m told you made in the hearing. Radioactivity can’t be contained. The country of France, as you probably know, is the second largest generator of nuclear power in the world after the US. Do you know where the French store their spent fuel rods?”
     He shakes his head and looks sad. Once a wounded little boy, today a longtime US Senator serving on a committee in charge of funding nuclear waste clean up programs and he can’t say what the French are doing with their nuclear waste.
     “After centuries of civilization, Bill, we humans have created a new kind of trash — trash with the lethal power to destroy us.” [end excerpt]



Just last month, here in the US, the first-ever shipment of liquid, radioactive waste travelled by truck from Ontario, Canada, through New York State, among others, to South Carolina. Liquid radioactive waste is considered even more dangerous than solid. Imagine the implications if this shipment were to be targeted in a terrorist event. Or if there were an accident on the highway. And why is the US importing dangerous radioactive waste from other countries, in the first place? Why isn’t this widely reported?

Following are links to a provocative news series on a related subject produced by Pulitzer-prize winning, investigative reporter, Doug Pardue, and published by the Post & Courier. It concerns South Carolina’s “nuclear graveyard,” the Savannah River site near Aiken, one of the most contaminated places on planet Earth.

Part 1:

Part 2: