Nuclear Power — The Unforgiving Technology

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6/23/2016: Diablo Shutdown Mark End of Nuclear Era  By Harvey Wasserman  (from As worldwide headlines have proclaimed, California’s Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) says it will shut its giant Diablo Canyon reactors near San Luis Obispo, and that the power they’ve been producing will be replaced by renewable energy. PG&E has also earmarked some $350 million to “retain and retrain” Diablo’s workforce, whose union has signed on to the deal, which was crafted in large part by major environmental groups. On a global scale, in many important ways, this marks the highest profile step yet towards the death of U.S. nuclear power and a national transition to a Solartopian green-powered planet. Read more…
6/21/2016: Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station Will Be Decommissioned  (from NRDC.ORG) diablo-canyon-nuclear-power-station-wikimedia By 2025, the reactors at the Diablo Canyon nuclear facility—the last of its kind in California—will begin the decades-long decommissioning process. And, for the first time ever, reactors will be retired with a plan already in place to prevent fossil fuels from filling the gap they leave in the grid. NRDC and fellow environmental organization Friends of the Earth led the negotiations withPacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the northern California utility that owns the reactors near San Luis Obispo. Over several months, the parties reached a deal (subject to approval by state regulators) that would replace the reactors’ output with a combination of renewable energy, efficiency gains, smarter grid management practices, and storage technology. Read more…  
8/25/2014: Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station Secret document details federal safety inspector’s alarm over plant’s vulnerability to earthquakes WASHINGTON, D.C. – In an explosive document   kept secret for a year, a former federal inspector charges that the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant [near San Luis Obispo] California is more vulnerable to earthquakes than initially known and should be shut down until Pacific Gas & Electric Co. can prove its safety. The Associated Press reported today that Dr. Michael Peck, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s former senior resident inspector at Diablo Canyon, in July of 2013, filed an extraordinary and sharp dissent over the agency’s decision to let the plant’s twin reactors keep running despite the failure of both PG&E and the NRC to conduct a rigorous safety analysis and take action to address newly identified seismic risks. Diablo Canyon  sits on the central California coast, near San Luis Obispo, in close proximity to faults that seismic studies show could trigger an earthquake stronger than the reactors and internal equipment were built to withstand. Peck asked that his dissent, known as a Differing Professional Opinion, be made public, but the agency has not released it. Despite the agency’s requirement that Differing Professional Opinions are to be ruled on within 120 days of filing, the NRC has not ruled on the opinion. Friends of the Earth has posted the document on our website at: read more…  
Ongoing Catastrophic Nuclear Power Emergency in Japan, March 2011 to Present (and for hundreds of years to come)

PBS Video about beginning and early weeks of crisis  

NoNukes Fukushima Page

DIABLO – California’s Last Nuke Standing

Mothers for Peace Spokeswoman Linda Seeley explains the many risks posed to California by the continued operation of PG&E’s aged two-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo, and why, like San Onofre was recently, it should be shutdown permanently – NOW. This is another in the ‘Preview Interview’ series from the forthcoming EON documentary SHUTDOWN: The Case of San Onofre – “The Nuclear Free California Movement Rides Again.”  Published July 30, 2013.

June 7, 2013  San Onofre, California, nuclear plant to be shut down and decommissioned 

Industry minister says nuclear energy too risky for quake-prone Japan, must end quickly Oct. 20, 2012

POWER — A Song from No Nukes Concert in New York City

This song was prophetic, predicting in its way both the successes of wind and solar energy and the nuclear disasters that would arrive in the coming decades. (Leaks of radioactive waste, “poison power,” at Hanford, WA, are a slow-moving and under-noticed calamity on a par with the much more dramatic recent nuclear meltdown crisis that began in Fukushima, Japan.)

(Some browsers may require that you click the start button twice.)

  Poison Fire: Eco-philosopher Joanna Macy speaks on the spiritual challenges of nuclear power and nuclear weapons 

more about Joanna Macy

Barbara Ford on Fukushima, Fallout, and the Spiritual Challenge of Nuclear Disaster


CNN story on the changing face of solar energy — (May 12, 2010)

The new look in solar energy is mirrors rather than photovoltaic panels. The two technologies, working together, may supply one quarter of the world’s electricity by 2050.  Also see Renewable Energy World web site, and Duke study finds solar power cheaper than nuclear (July, 2010). So much sun energy falls of the deserts of the world that a single square of desert approximately 250 miles by 250 miles (less than 1% of the world’s deserts) could produce all the power the world needs today.  See the Desertec web site   for more info.

Alec Baldwin on the Human Costs of Nuclear Power on Huffington Post April 11, 2010 .

Chernobyl 25 years later: distorted reality, and unanswered questions a report from Greenpeace International. (2011) .  

nukey-poo:   Toxic Radioactive Waste at Fernald, Ohio (Oct. 2009) When nuclear power advocates claim that nuclear energy is cheap, they do so because they exclude the costs of both the beginning and the end of the nuclear energy process:  both uranium mining/smelting and toxic waste guarding (there is no safe way to “dispose” of it).  The linked news story is about nuclear waste from 50 years ago.  We will only have to take intensive care of it for another 249,950 years.   What a bargain! .  

Geothermal Success Stories (Oct/Nov 2008): The Philippines generate 28% of their electricity from geothermal field

Utilities putting new energy into geothermal sources (L.A. Times)

Geothermal Energy — Clean Power From the Earth’s Heat A 43-page report from the U.S. Geological Survey (2003)

Solar energy takes off in Calif. — New York Times Article 2/1/08


STILL TRUE IN 2010: Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, Graham Nash, Keb’ Mo’ and Ben Harper…

joined in this adaptation of the classic Buffalo Springfield song, “For What It’s Worth,” to help stop a $50 billion loan guarantee package for building new nuclear power plants that was slipped into the 2007 Energy Bill. The Fall 2007 campaign mounted by and allied environmental non-profit organizations gathered over 120,000 signatures, including those of the activists and artists listed on the scroll above. After a media conference and lobby day featuring Bonnie, Jackson, Graham and several environmental organizations along with public pressure on key Senators, Congress defeated the proposed loan guarantees, handing the safe energy movement a huge victory on the road to a green-powered Earth. Check ’em out at .

Ten Strikes Against Nuclear Power Three pages tell the whole story.  —  From Coop America.

Blighted Homelandclick image above to view audio slideshow

Four L.A. Times articles on the impact of uranium mining on the Navajo people.

Book based on this series:

Yellow Dirt: An American Story of a Poisoned Land and a People Betrayed 

by Judy Pasternak

Yucca Mountain   —   A Poem for Ed Abbey   —   by Maía

I envy your anonymity…

somewhere in the stone-blue shadow of a butte,

a kangaroo rat kicking up

your ornery dust.

If anybody knows, nobody’s telling

where your bones feed creosote.

Your ash rides the mustang wind

over Nevada, the Colorado Aquifer whispering

not far below the waste dump.

The Ghostdance Fault

running under Yucca Mountain

Nuclear Waste Depository,

90 miles northwest of Las Vegas,

inside treaty lands of the Western Shoshone Nation,

shimmied a little last Wednesday…

an inch-of-column story

buried on the back pages.

Just to let us know who the place belongs to.

I heard the whoop and sob

of your laughter.


Note: Ghostdance Fault is an active earthquake

fault. The depository is set to accept waste

transported  through 45 states by 2017.


What are some of the safe alternatives to nuclear power? MIT issues new report on Geothermal power (Jan 2007) More on geothermal energy

half-hour talk show on NPR 6/2/2006 NEW PROPOSALS TO REVIVE THE NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY How many Yucca Mountains will we need to handle giant new quantities of long-term deadly waste?  Recycling spent power plant fuel will create unmanageable quantities of nuclear weapons material.  How much will it cost to keep this material out of the hands of terrorists? Cheap electricity, anyone?

Alternative Energy Sources: Australia Pioneers Energy from Hot Rocks more on Hot Rock Energy more on geothermal energy

Nuclear Power: No Solution to Climate Change A 2005 Study by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service and the World Information Service on Energy

Letter to the Editor of the L.A. Times regarding the allegedly economical costs of nuclear power 6/23/05 (they did not publish the letter, but the questions won’t go away just because they choose to ignore them)

UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT NUCLEAR POWER COSTS Dear Editor, Times staff writer Ralph Vartabedian asserts in his June 22nd [2005] article that “Existing nuclear plants already produce electricity more cheaply than coal or natural gas.” Later in the article it becomes clear that this is only true because the insurance costs and waste disposal costs of nuclear power plants have been shifted to taxpayers.  And since nuclear power plants are giant radiation-bombs-waiting-to-happen, some unknown but probably quite large amount of security costs is almost certainly being shifted to the taxpayers. too.  Not mentioned in the article are other costs of nuclear energy, such as cancer among uranium miners and the costs of decommissioning the giant plants when their 30 year life-span (governed by metal fatigue) is over. There are many safer alternatives to nuclear power, including conservation innovations, wind, solar, biomass and geothermal.  If we are going to use heavy infusions of tax dollars to subsidize and fund our energy choices, citizens have the right to choose more sustainable and less dangerous energy paths. To be more specific on the cost issue, I would seriously like to know if Mr. Vartabedian’s cost figures include the discounted present value of storing and guarding nuclear waste for 250,000 years!   I think the idea that we are going to be able to just dump our radioactive waste in a cavern somewhere in the desert and then forget about it is a fantasy, and a high stakes gamble with the health of future generations. How cheap is nuclear energy if leaking waste dumps in future centuries sicken people with cancer and leukemia?  (The Hanford, WA, nuclear waste storage site near the Columbia River already leaks today.)  Since nuclear power creates a range of problems that last for centuries — and even millennia — we need to re-think the way we calculate costs . Dennis Rivers
The Nuclear Guardianship Library   —  An archive of articles from many perspectives on the long-term, responsible care of nuclear materials. The SAFE ENERGY HANDBOOK — addresses dangers of nuclear industry and presents overview of safe energy technologies already available.  (This is an HTML version of a handbook published by Plutonium Free Future.) Click here to order printed copies of handbook, and/or t-shirts and prints. The Safe Energy Handbook is also available online in:   Francaise:  Manuel de l’energie sans danger Español:  Manual de Seguridad Energetica Japanese (HTML 3.2) Slovak A Background Briefing on Radioactive Pollution   —  A 26-page review of problems associated with radioactive pollution from nuclear power, weapons and waste — by Wendy Oser and Molly Young Brown, M.Div. Citizen Action Guide USA for the Abolition 2000 campaign to outlaw nuclear weapons   —  A resource kit for people in the United States who want to campaign against nuclear weapons.  Contains statements, petitions, resolutions for schools, cities and counties, and informative articles and declarations concerning the dangers of nuclear weapons and the pressing need to build a world-wide agreement to outlaw them. Paths beyond violence:   The Citizen’s Coalition to Reaffirm and Extend the Geneva Conventions   —  In a world overwhelmed by violence, the Geneva Conventions represent one of the few examples of long term cooperation to limit the violence of war.  With the recent introduction of Depleted Uranium bullets and anti-tank projectiles, the violence of war now includes the radioactive poisoning of civilians, which has take place in Bosnia and is taking place today in Iraq.  You are invited to join this noble effort, which began in the 1860s by reaching out to many kings and princes, and today needs to include all citizens of all countries. >>> One objection to nuclear power is that it requires superhuman levels of honesty, consistency and reliability from a vast network of just plain human beings.  The story below reports the latest trouble at Sellafield, England, site of the disasterous 1957 Windscale nuclear fire
Feb. 22, 2000: UK Nuclear Fuel Scandal Widens (from the Environment News Service)
>>> For many years, advocates of nuclear energy have argued that nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are two separate issues. In fact, the two have always been intertwined behind the scenes. The story below documents the explicit linking of  U.S. nuclear power plant to the production of tritium for nuclear weapons.  The big question is: how many other countries will convert their nuclear power plants to atom bomb factories?…
Dec. 12, 1999: U.S. Civilian Reactors to Produce Nuclear Weapons Material (from the Environment News Service)
>>> March, 2000:  Improvements in local infant health observed after nuclear power reactor closings…
Abstract of journal article:  Between 1987 and 1998, operations ceased at 12 U.S. nuclear power reactors. One of these, Rancho Seco, is located in a densely populated area. After the reactor closed in 1989,  significant decreases in mortality (all causes and from congenital anomalies) and cancer incidence were observed for fetuses, infants, and small children. These trends contrast with a  worsening of infant health status after the plant opened in 1974. The data suggest that a relationship between nuclear emissions and adverse health effects exists, especially since fetuses  and newborns are most sensitive to radiation. Because Rancho Seco released low levels of radionuclides into the local environment, the issue of health effects of prolonged, low-dose  radiation exposure is raised. The matter becomes increasingly important as operators of several dozen aging U.S. reactors must soon decide whether to extend their operating licenses. From:  Environmental Epidemiology and Toxicology (2000) 2, 32-36.

Links to major sources of anti-nuclear information and action:

Rocky Mountain Institute Library of articles on nuclear energy and alternative energy paths. Nuclear Information & Resource Service   (Washington, DC).  NIRS is an information and networking center for citizens and environmental organizations concerned about nuclear power, radioactive waste, radiation, and sustainable energy issues. Greenpeace (Amsterdam) presents the latest information on campaigns around the world to limit the spread of nuclear contamination. Earth Island Institute (San Francisco, Calif.) reports on world-wide ecology issues (including nuclear waste and power). Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (Santa Barbara, Calif.) features articles and position papers on nuclear weapons control and nuclear waste disposal. A longer list of links to web sites with information about nuclear and safe energy issues.