Thursday, January 20, 2011

High Stakes Energy: Our Lives, Our Fortunes

*******An Open Letter to President Obama*******
******* Congress, the 50 Statehouses: *******

(Updated several times since January, 2011)

It's been bruited about that many of you are
considering endorsing a "Clean Energy Standard"
which includes the expansion of nuclear power
and "clean" coal.

I beg you to reconsider:

There is nothing "clean" about nuclear power. Every
nuclear facility releases toxic radiation into our
air and water on a routine basis. Nuclear reactors
generate highly toxic radioactive waste for hundreds
of thousands to millions of years, depending on the
isotope. They pose a constant threat of catastrophic
meltdown, particularly as they age, due to reactor
embrittlement fracture (Neutrons hitting the primary
containment metal vessel wall, weakening it over time).
Also, as we've seen, partial core melts have happened
around the world because of design flaws and human error.

Yucca Mountain is NOT a geologically stable permanent
radwaste repository: it sits atop an earthquake fault,
Bow Ridge, active within the past ten years, eight other
faults exist nearby; a significant Richter Scale quake
occurred during the 2002 Congressional summer session
deliberating about Yucca Mt. Around the same time, proposed
security escorts for so many shipments from 104 reactors was
taken off Congress's agenda: too expensive.

Three Mile Island (1979) and Chornobyl (1986) are
not the only serious nuclear technology accidents
the world and the U.S. have experienced. There were
Windscale in England (1957), and the Kyshtym nuclear
chemicals fire in the Russian Ural Mountains,
also 1957. Both of these involved large releases of
radionuclides requiring mass destruction of contaminated
animal and plant life, predating the even more serious
Chornobyl disaster. Detroit Fermi's core partially melted,
its plant now decommissioned/recommissioned. Other
examples exist here and abroad, of course....Japan's loss
of secondary containment at its Daiichi reactor complex
in Fukushima Prefecture, along with several core melts is
beyond our worst nightmares coming true.

The world seems to forget that Russia and the United
States both have nuclear powered submarines sunk deep
in the oceans, their sailors permanently entombed. Salt water
is corrosive; over time, these submarine reactors will leak.

"Clean" coal is an oxymoron. Even if carbon could be
captured, which is by no means clear, burning coal
still releases Mercury, generates poisonous coal ash,
and entails destructive mountain top removal.

Carbon is not the only pollutant we must be concerned
about; low carbon doesn't mean "clean". Nuclear power
is far less effective than renewable energy, energy
efficiency and 21st century technologies such as
smart grids and distributed generation at reducing
carbon emissions. In fact, carbon emissions associated
with the nuclear fuel chain are two to six times higher
per kw of electricity produced than solar and wind

Nuclear power is NOT cost effective; even Wall Street
has refused to back nuclear power expansion, the upper
Northwest's WPPSS financial collapse in the 1980's is
just one example. The Price Anderson Act insures
nuclear reactor operators/owners with a laughably
small amount in the event of a meltdown or other

Perhaps you haven't yet made final decisions on these
critical issues. If not, please do not endorse a
"Clean Energy Standard" that includes expanding nuclear
power and coal in 2011 and beyond. Please take the time to
examine these issues more closely. If you do, you will
find that nuclear power and coal do not merit the United
States' further, future support.

Best Regards,
Best Wishes,
Amber Ladeira
Forest Park, IL

P.S.: Some of the above-stated language, especially the
carbon and coal-related remarks, was suggested by
NIRS in Takoma Park, MD and NEIS in Chicago. I added
whole paragraphs and paraphrased certain sentences. My
thanks to them and other groups around the country for their
unflagging energy and devotion to working toward
a safer, greener world worthy of leaving to our

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

"Cherry Picking" Among the Sour Grapes

Shakespeare, even before Emerson, noted that
convention and consistency (custom, tradition)
is often the enemy of sense, sensibility and
solutions. They and others validate a part of my
philosophy: I "Cherry Pick".

At times, when that becomes obvious during a
conversation, those who practice it often earn
opprobium,being accused of yes, cherry picking.
But why NOT pick and choose? Must a theory,
practice or expert's "wisdom" be adopted whole
cloth? There are flaws in everyone's logical
ability, to say nothing of accurate, factual
knowledge, so pick out the best and leave the rest.

After all, in every vineyard, some of the grapes
are bound to be sour.