Why Must Nuke-Power Lemmings Again Flock to the Radioactive Sea?

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CommonDreams.org

Why Must Nuke-Power Lemmings Again Flock to the Radioactive Sea?

by
Harvey Wasserman

It's baaaaaack. The fifty-year multi-trillion dollar failure of atomic energy has resumed its lemming-like march to madness.

Why?

Isn't the definition of insanity the belief that if you do the same thing again and again you'll somehow get a different result?

The first commercial reactor opened in Shippingport, Pennsylvania in 1957. America was promised electricity "too cheap to meter."

That was a lie.

America was promised there'd soon be consensus on a safe way to dispose of high-level radioactive waste.

That was a lie.

America was promised private insurance companies would soon indemnify reactor owners---and the public---against the consequences of a catastrophic meltdown.

That was a lie.

America was promised these reactors were "inherently safe."

Then America was told no fuel had melted at Three Mile Island.

Lie and lie.

Then they said nobody was killed at Three Mile Island

Another lie.

They said it took six years for acid to eat through to a fraction of an inch of the steel protecting the Great Lakes from a Chernobyl at Davis-Besse, Ohio. That's a lie too.

Now they say they say nukes are economically self-sustaining.

But de-regulation stuck the public with the capital costs, and hid the true amortization for the long-term expenses of rad waste disposal, plant decommissioning, on-going health impacts and likely melt-downs by terror and error.

Now they say nukes can fight global warming. But they ignore huge radon emissions from uranium mill tailings, huge CO2 emissions from fuel enrichment, and huge direct heat that results from nuke fission itself, not to mention the long-term energy costs of decommissioning and waste handling.

All reactors are pre-deployed weapons of mass radioactive destruction for any willing terrorist. Had the jets that hit the World Trade Center on 9/11/2001 hit nukes instead, the death toll and the (uninsured) economic losses would be beyond calculation.

It could be happening as you read this.

They say a new generation of nukes will be "inherently safe," which is exactly what they said about the last one. Limited construction experience with this "new generation" already shows massive cost overruns. There is no reason to believe these will be any safer, cheaper, cleaner or more reliable than the last sorry batch.

They say more reactors won't be a proliferation problem. But they want war on Iran which wants the Peaceful Atom to give it nuke weapons like those in India and Pakistan.

They say the green alternatives won't work, but wind power is the cheapest form of new generation now being built. The Solartopian array of wind, solar, bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal and increased conservation and efficiency are attracting billions in investments all over the world. The immensely profitable green energy industry is growing at rates of 25-35%.

Meanwhile, "there isn't enough money in the federal till to change Wall Street's calculation of the financial risks" for new nukes, says Philip Clapp of the National Environmental Trust.

It is impossible to embrace both nuclear power and a free market economy.

Nuke power cannot exist without massive government subsidies, government insurance, government promises to deal with radioactive waste, government security, government blind eyes to basic safety and environmental standards.

A terrorist reactor attack would mean the end of our political rights and the beginning of martial law, killing all the basic freedoms which have defined the best of this country.

America is again being told this can't happen here. It is another lie.

Yet Clinton, Obama, Pelosi, McCain, Lieberman and other mainstreamers flock to the nuke madhouse. Al Gore says new nukes must prove themselves economically (they can't) but that there'll be a "small part" for reactors in the future, and that the waste problem will be solved.

There's a move to reverse California's ban on nuke construction pending a solution to the waste problem. (California has four active reactors near major earthquake faults).

Environmental Defense doesn't think "any options should be taken off the table."

But in 1952 a Blue Ribbon Commission told Harry Truman the future of America was with solar power.

Then Dwight Eisenhower embraced the "Peaceful Atom", sinking America in the most expensive technological failure in human history.

In 1974 Richard Nixon responded to the Arab Oil Embargo by promising a thousand US reactors by the year 2000. The No Nukes movement and soaring oil prices kicked in, and the industry tanked.

So Jimmy Carter started us up the road to Solartopia ... until Ronald Reagan ripped the solar panels off the White House roof and forced us into Death Valley.

Now Gore has sold the world on the dangers of global warming. But will it just be another excuse to throw more good money at more bad reactors?

Clearly, there will be no easy end to this madness. But atomic energy's bio-economic clock has clearly run out.

Basic sanity, ecological truth and the smart green money are all on our side.

Our challenge is to put them in charge before more Three Mile Islands or Chernobyls---or a nuclear 9/11---irradiate the asylum.

Harvey Wasserman is author of SOLARTOPIA: OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030 (www.solartopia.org). Read more of his columns at www.freepress.org .

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