-by Harvey Wasserman
The Biden Administration is now talking about slipping big money to support nuke power. To be clear: there is no grater threat to the future of the human race than the ~430 atomic reactors worldwide and the 93 or so here in the US. They are old, decrepit and grow more dangerous every day. And the “new ones”-- fusion, thorium, small modular, breeders-- will take years to develop, suck up billions of our dollars, never work and never come close to competing with green energy. Meanwhile renewable stalwarts like wind, solar, batteries and increased LED efficiency are booming.
Obviously, the atomic idiots have gotten to the Administration and its spineless corporate Democrats. So let’s remind the White House of a few inconvenient truths:
Atomic reactors are radioactive fires directly heating the Earth at 571 degrees Fahrenheit.
So far they’ve delivered five super-hot apocalyptic explosions (one at Chernobyl, four at Fukushima) with innumerable other close calls … past, present & future ...
At Chalk River, SR-1, Three Mile Island, Church Rock, Davis-Besse, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and all other nuke “incidents,” the only absolute certainty is that government and industry officials are lying.
According to Mikhail Gorbachev, such lies about Chernobyl-- and its devastating impacts-- were the primary cause of the demise of the Soviet Union. (To get a sense of the accident, watch the devastating 5-part HBO series.
It is impossible to meaningfully calculate the human, climate, political, or financial costs of the next major reactor disaster in the US or anywhere else on this planet.
As they badly age, more atomic reactors will explode.
In 1952, Harry Truman’s Blue Ribbon Paley Commission Report on the future of energy predicted that the US would be powered by renewables, and that there would be 15,000,000 solar-heated homes in the US by 1975.
But in December, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower announced a “Peaceful Atom” program that would come through the bomb-producing Atomic Energy Commission, which proceeded to squander the hundreds of billions of dollars that might otherwise have given us a green-powered economy, avoiding much of the climate crisis.
The 1957 promise of the Price-Anderson Act that commercial reactors would get private disaster insurance remains unfulfilled.
No nuclear proponent (including Bill Gates) has volunteered to personally insure the reactors they advocate.
You are personally liable for the loss of your family, health, and home (check your homeowner’s policy) should they be destroyed by reactor fallout.
In a true free-market energy economy with zero subsidies to fossil, nuclear, or renewable energy, renewables would quickly prevail.
The most meaningful nuke power debate now centers not on future construction, but on the deteriorating safety of each individual aging reactor, any one of which could be melting as you read this.
The gargantuan radioactive, heat, and toxic chemical emissions at (with the April 30th shutdown of Indian Point) 93 US reactors and some 440 reactors worldwide directly devastate our oceans, lakes, rivers, and air whenever they operate.
The billions of gallons of radioactive liquids accumulated and still being leaked at Fukushima directly threaten the Pacific Ocean.
Fukushima emitted more than 100 times more radioactive cesium than did the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The nuclear industry cannot account for the climate impacts of the heat generated by the explosions at Chernobyl and Fukushima.
All atomic reactors directly emit radioactive carbon 14, a devastating global warmer.
All atomic reactors cause massive carbon emissions in fuel production.
Reactor wastes stay hot and deadly for a quarter-billion years.
Since nobody knows how to deal with reactor wastes, nobody can firmly estimate their future climate impacts.
The ultimate financial costs of managing those reactor wastes cannot be meaningfully calculated.
Decommissioning funds, allegedly set aside to dismantle shutting reactors, have been looted throughout the world, leaving reactor corpses to smolder for centuries to come. The certain climate impacts of operating reactors far exceed those of wind, solar, batteries, and increased efficiency.
The combined deployment of wind, solar, batteries, and efficiency can provide all of humankind’s electricity long before any new reactor buildup.
Renewables and efficiency are far cheaper, cleaner, safer, more reliable, quicker to deploy, and create more jobs per dollar than atomic power.
There are no proven prototypes of fusion, thorium, or small modular reactors indicating any chance they could solve the climate emergency as quickly, cheaply, or reliably as renewables.
The accident at Three Mile Island turned a $900 million asset into a $2 billion liability within minutes.
The cost of the Chernobyl catastrophe exceeded $1 trillion.
The disaster at Fukushima immediately destroyed some $60 billion in net present value (6 reactors x $10 billion each).
The disaster at Fukushima represents the biggest single immediate destruction of tangible invested capital in human history.
Heightened energy costs due to post-Fukushima nuke shutdowns and Japan’s failure to convert to renewables are in the trillions and rising.
After years of construction, having generated not a single electron of electricity, South Carolina’s two V.C. Summer reactors have been abandoned at a cost of more than $10 billion.
At least one top South Carolina utility executive involved with the V.C. Summer fiasco will go to prison for misleading the public on construction progress.
After years of construction, Georgia’s two new Vogtle reactors are still not operating, despite more than $28 billion in sunk capital, more than double the original cost estimate.
There are no other new large atomic reactors credibly proposed or under construction in the US.
No new reactor built in the US could compete with renewables and efficiency.
Despite full amortization, all the 93 US reactors currently licensed to operate produce power that costs more than wind and solar when decommissioning, waste storage, and likely future accidents are factored in.
Building enough large new reactors in the US to theoretically combat global warming would take decades and cost trillions.
But trying to do so would come with no guarantee that those reactors would actually reduce global warming, because of the heat, carbon, toxic wastes, radiation, and periodic explosions they would create.
No effective mass evacuation is possible from an explosion at any American reactor.
New York governor Andrew Cuomo shut two Indian Point reactors near New York City by characterizing their evacuation plan as “swim to New Jersey.”
New York governor Andrew Cuomo has kept four ancient, dangerous, money-losing reactors operating with a $7 billion bailout.
One of the bailed-out NY reactors, Nine Mile Point, opened in 1969, and, like many other old US reactors, was designed pre-digitally.
The average age of a licensed US reactor is now over forty.
A $1 billion bailout for two ancient, deteriorated reactors in Ohio was bought with a $61 million bribe to the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, who then spread around much of the cash to buy the votes he needed for the bailout.
Nuclear industry thugs physically assaulted signature gatherers circulating a petition to repeal Ohio’s nuke bailout with a public referendum, which polls showed Ohio voters would have overwhelmingly approved.
Money-losing, climate-killing reactors are being kept open throughout the US with similar bribes to corrupt state legislatures.
Reactors throughout the US are dangerously embrittled, meaning key internal components will shatter when a melt-down requires pouring in cooling water, leading (at least!) to massive hydrogen explosions, as at Fukushima.
The exploding reactors at Fukushima were designed by General Electric, with many duplicate models now operating in the US.
Among the most embrittled US reactors is California’s Diablo Canyon Unit One, which is surrounded by a dozen earthquake faults, including the San Andreas, just 45 miles away.
Diablo Canyon is half the distance from the San Andreas fault Fukushima was from the epicenter of the earthquake that destroyed it.
The concrete is crumbling at New Hampshire’s Seabrook reactor, among others.
The shield wall at Ohio’s Davis-Besse is crumbling and could collapse onto critical safety components, leading to a catastrophic disaster.
Boric acid ate almost entirely through a critical safety component of the Davis-Besse reactor before workers discovered the problem by accident.
When atomic reactors open, nearby infant death rates rise.
When atomic reactors shut, nearby infant death rates drop.
The 1979 meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island Unit Two killed downwind humans, animals, and plants.
The nuke industry compares TMI’s emissions to a single x-ray imposed on all area residents, thus admitting that pregnant women were exposed to doses definitively linked to childhood cancers as early as the 1950s.
Epidemiological studies conducted by central Pennsylvania residents involving more than 500 households showed definitive human health impacts from the accident.
A three-person Baltimore News-American team reported mass deaths and malformations among farm and wild animals downwind from TMI.
Central Pennsylvania farmers reported crop and tree die-offs after the TMI accident.
Chernobyl killed more than a million humans.
Chernobyl’s fallout caused an apocalyptic wave of aborted pregnancies, infant still-births, childhood cancers, birth defects, malformations, and mutations.
Fukushima’s emissions are harming humans throughout Japan, as shown in particular by studies of widespread thyroid problems.
Radioactive hot spots caused by Fukushima’s fallout are being confirmed throughout Japan, making it criminally irresponsible to proceed with the summer Olympics there.
All atomic reactors kill billions of fish and other marine creatures with heat, radiation, and toxic chemical emissions.
Construction at Diablo Canyon destroyed the abalone population at Avila Beach before the reactors ever operated.
No wind turbine or solar panel ever killed a fish (not even the ones that fly).
Fossil/nuclear cooling towers, automobiles, and high-rise buildings kill millions of birds; feral cats have killed billions.
The global average for bird kills at wind farms dropped radically when old-style turbines at Altamont Pass, California, were replaced with bigger, monopole designs.
Bird kills at modern wind farms plummet when one of two or three blades is painted black, making them more visible.
Solar panels installed atop reservoirs and aqueducts, such as the water supply network in California, can radically curtail evaporation, saving billions of critical gallons over time (solar panels also operate more efficiently when they are cooled).
Cooling water shortages threaten reactor operations all over the world.
Reactors in France and elsewhere have been forced shut due to riverine water becoming too hot to cool them.
Feedwater pumps at the South Texas Nuclear Plant recently froze, threatening a major disaster.
The wind turbines that recently froze in Texas were not up to the specifications of other wind turbines worldwide (as in Wisconsin and Colorado) that could easily have withstood that cold wave.
Energy losses in Texas from frozen nuke and fossil fuel facilities far exceeded those from the frozen wind turbines.
Solar panels installed on rooftops avoid transmission losses suffered by all central generating stations, making them far more efficient than those installed in deserts and other remote locations.
The National Renewable Energy Lab estimates there are more than 4.9 million square meters of rooftop space suitable for photovoltaic panels in the US.
Constant breakthroughs in solar, wind, battery, and efficiency technologies continue to steadily drive down their costs.
Inherent technological problems and continuing fuel supply challenges constantly escalate the costs for fossil/nuclear generators.
Atomic reactors were originally meant to put a happy face on the nuke weapons industry and to expand the domain of the Atomic Energy Commission, which both promoted and regulated them.
Despite treaties and denials, nations around the world now buying new reactors will use them to generate fissionable material for nuke weapons, as have India, Pakistan, etc.
Nuke reactors are de facto pre-deployed nuke weapons of mass destruction for rogue nations and terrorists.
No terrorist ever threatened to blow up a city by bombing a windmill or solar panel.
The Green New Deal and Solartopian Revolution will ultimately put the fossil/nuclear industry out of business, avoiding incalculable costs in climate-killing heat, radiation, toxic pollution, and more.
Retraining the fossil/nuke workforce will provide millions of safe, secure jobs for decades to come. To make it all do double-duty, the national retraining center can be built in Joe Manchin’s back yard, West Virginia, where thousands of coal miners can begin new lives in brave new world of renewable energy.
Indeed, the Solartopian workforce needs to be unionized…and it needs to happen in an actual democracy.
Then we can REALLY see you in in Solartopia.