Wednesday, August 7, 2019
London, England (Heathrow Hell)
The Simple Evil of Nuclear Power
Having devoted the last few posts to complexity, I break the trend by paradoxically advocating for simplicity—in one area only—nuclear power.
I do so while continuing to explore the universal problem of dissociation.
All one needs to know to argue against further construction of nuclear plants is one fact:
Nuclear power plants create man-made, extremely radioactive byproducts.
These do not occur in nature.
The spent fuel rods from nuclear power plans consist primarily of cesium-137, strontium-90, and plutonium-239.
The latter, plutonium-239, has a half life of:
TWENTY-FOUR THOUSAND YEARS.
Talk about sobering, as well as about dissociation, when nuclear power gained popularity, in the 1960s or so, citizens of nations around the world using it compartmentalized the dangerous waste it created. They ignored it, sidelined it, kicked it down the road.
The thing about TWENTY-FOUR THOUSAND YEARS is that the entire history of organized civilization, as in the Indus Valley, the Aztecs, Mayans, Babylonians, Greeks and the like, only go back around FIVE THOUSAND YEARS.
In their short-sighted, profit-driven desire to provide power for human beings, those corporations that created nuclear power dissociated from one crucial element of it:
They’d be leaving a poison—an extremely dangerous, lethal contaminant—for future generations to deal with for five-times longer than the entire history of human civilization.
It’s an incredible thought!
If you define evil as intentional malevolence towards another human, it’s absolutely evil.
Luckily, kind of, it seems the nuclear power industry is, pun intended, running out of steam. The Chernobyl (Russia) and Fukishima Daiichi (Japan) nuclear disasters seeped into the consciousness of citizens around the world. It seems building them creates too many risks (are you kidding me) and have become too expensive.
Meanwhile, the ongoing controversy over high-level radiation waste disposal which also constrains growth in the industry, remains a lingering problem for the entire globe.
Due to historic activities related to nuclear power industry, numerous sites around the world contain or are already contaminated with radioactivity. In the United States alone, the Department of Energy states there are “millions of gallons of radioactive waste,” “thousands of tons of spent nuclear fuel and material,” and “huge quantities of contaminated soil and water.”
So, finally, after repeatedly arguing for dialogue and patience to deal with complex problems ranging from internal, psychological conflicts to global, inter-national ones, I suggest you need know only ONE problem associated with nuclear power to join the struggle to end it:
Unimaginable levels of high-level waste, lasting tens of thousands of years, and lacking any viable solution.
In other words, even though this power source has been around for nearly 50 years, no one, anywhere, has figured out how to store or dispose of it.
Years ago, there was talk of burying it in an immense underground cave in Nevada but a. Nevada’s citizens didn’t want it and b. the citizens of other states refused to have it moved through their areas.
A storage site in Fernald, Ohio has “31 million pounds of uranium product”, “2.5 billion pounds of waste”, “2.75 million cubic yards of contaminated soil and debris”, and a “223 acre portion of the underlying Great Miami Aquifer had uranium levels above drinking standards.” The United States has at least 108 sites designated as areas that are contaminated and unusable, sometimes many thousands of acres.
Finally, then, I offer simplicity!
Nuclear weapons is an entirely different topic, and an even worse form of evil.
Meanwhile, deciding about the pros and cons of nuclear power are simple.
There are no pros, particularly as above-ground sources of power, i.e. solar and wind, are becoming increasingly viable. Those, combined with conservation, should solve all electrical energy problems.
And, the con is so simple that I shall repeat it a final time:
Nuclear power creates highly radioactive waste products lasting TWENTY-FOUR THOUSAND YEARS.
End of discussion.
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Alan Karbelnig, PhD, ABPP