The Ten Deceptions Part II
(3) Deception Three is that storage at Yucca Mountain is “fatally flawed,” and not a suitable place for long term nuclear waste storage.
The trouble with the activists is that it would not matter if the best place upon the earth was chosen and we could prove it was so. They would still find nit picking reasons why we could not store nuclear waste there.
They are not happy with any place or storage system of any nation on the earth. Not only do they attack the United States, but they are creating problems for Canada, France, Japan, Denmark, Sweden and other nations.
They seem to leave China alone for some reason, even though it is building more nuclear plants than any nation. We never see them throwing their bodies in front of trucks transporting nuclear materials or holding protest marches over there.
France has had a very successful nuclear program which began with the oil crisis in the 70’s. Around 75% of their electricity is now generated by nuclear reactors in 2001. Not only this, but they export energy to Great Britain, the Netherlands and Germany at very competitive prices. But this successful non polluting source of clean energy is now under attack by activists who insist that there is no safe storage. These people would raise hell even if we put the waste on the moon or shot it into the Sun.
France will be in a world of hurt if the activists succeed in their goal of shutting down their nuclear power plants for they have few natural resources of coal and oil and without their nuclear energy they would sink into a great depression. Their pollution levels would raise through the roof as they switch to the necessary imported fossil fuels.
Let us pick on Yucca Mountain and see what their gripe with this is.
You would think that after 14 years of study and 4.5 billion spent, that the conclusion reached by nuclear scientists that Yucca is a suitable location would be accepted, but the activists have proven here that one can find fault with most anything.
Ernest Moniz, a former professor at MIT, is in charge of science at Yucca Mountain. Moniz said that scientists who have been examining the site’s geologic characteristics have found no reason to delay construction of the repository. “We’re pushing it hard. The science case is building up nicely. If we have to delay in the end, we’ll delay. But I see no reason not to push forward.”
So what are the problems activists see with storage at Yucca Mountain?
Several things – first, the nuclear waste will have to be transported from the power plants to Yucca mountain.
Even though there are many chemicals just as toxic transported every day without fanfare activists single out the transporting of nuclear materials as if there were some boogieman on the horizon.
But is the cause of this great concern logical since there has not been one death attributed to nuclear waste in transport since the nuclear age began? I haven’t even been able to find any serious vehicle accidents connected with it.
If the mind is not in use here what is?
Pure emotional reaction to a phantom enemy.
Following this gut reaction they will sometimes throw themselves in the path of oncoming trucks carrying the nuclear material, depending on the good will of the driver to stop and risk being surrounded and stalled by activists.
This tactic is quite similar to that used by the bad guy in the movies who pulls a knife on the girl and demands the good guy lay down his weapon or the girl gets it. Because of his harmless spirit, the hero lays his weapon down in hope of saving an innocent life.
Activists have created the most delays, however, by filling the public with fear that Yucca mountain is a dangerous place to store nuclear waste. They claim that earthquakes, seeping water or geothermal heat will somehow rip open the stainless steel containers buried in 1000 feet of rock and release the waste material imbedded in hardened ceramic glass. Then they fear this ceramic material harder than most rocks will somehow become pulverized and work its way up through the 1000 feet of rock to the surface or down through an additional 1000 feet of rock to the water table below.
Serious scientists see virtually no danger of such a thing happening for many thousands of years, even if there were numerous large earthquakes.
Consider this, many rocks just laying around in your neighborhood or back yard have been in solid form near the surface for billions of years without being pulverized by the many earthquakes which have occurred in our long history.
And consider this. 1.8 billion years ago a natural nuclear reactor was formed in what is now the republic of Gabon in Africa. Water pockets in a uranium deposit acted as neutron traps and at least four reactor zones went critical at that time producing 20 kW of thermal power over a period of 500,000 years. There were 12,000 pounds of fission products and 4,000 pounds of plutonium that were exposed to the environment.
The interesting thing is that even though this massive radioactive material was not buried thousands of feet in rock as we seek to do today – that all these thousand of pounds of waste just sat there undisturbed by the hundreds of passing earthquakes over the entire 1,800,000,000 years. That’s 7200 times the 250,00 years goal set by the activists.
This was a random spot picked by nature. There was no 1000 feet of rock for burial, no stainless steel canisters and no sealing the plutonium in ceramic glass. The plutonium just laid there without disturbing the environment for 7200 x 250,000 years.
Plutonium is heavier than gold and even if it were to somehow get in our water it would not flow with it, but settle in the ground. Tests have proven this.
What would happen if the activists were successful in preventing the burial of waste in Yucca mountain or any other sensible disposal method?
The next step would be to convince the public that the waste stored at the various 110 nuclear power plants around the United States is not acceptable and that their licenses, which are shortly coming up for renewal, should not be approved.
If this were to happen we would then be forced to build many new coal fired plants greatly increasing greenhouse gas emissions along with other pollutants.
Would the nuclear activists be happy then? Of course not. Their real attack is on our economic system and they will not be happy until all the coal burning plants are shut down and every man, woman and child assumes the lifestyle of the Amish.
It is sad that these same people who are demanding we reduce greenhouse gasses are fighting tooth and nail the best and brightest hope of reducing those gasses – that source of hope is nuclear power.
Oct 29, 2001
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