Wood River Journal
November 8, 2006
This week the The International Energy Agency recommended that the US and the rest of the world increase construction of nuclear power plants to meet future energy demands. The IEA and the World Nuclear Association state that nuclear power costs to produce electricity are lower than coal or gas plants and nuclear power does not have carbon emissions. They state that by having nuclear power plants instead of fossil fuel plants, there are 2.4 billion less tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
The United States has one hundred and three nuclear reactors providing approximately twenty percent of our electricity. Since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 the safety standards for the operations of the plants has improved. However, there are many other concerns confronting us today regarding nuclear energy.
Today we have the threat of terrorists’ attacks. Recently scientists are pushing to have a registry of nuclear materials to help to identify the source of the nuclear material used in a bomb. Beyond finding the culprit, what purpose will this registry serve if a city, state, or water supply is contaminated for millions of years by a dirty bomb. It’s too late after the detonation. Plutonium-239 is used for nuclear weapons and for energy and has a half-life of 24,360 years. Uranium-235 is one of the easiest radioactivelements from which to construct a nuclear weapon and is used in weapons and also in nuclear power plants. It has a half-life of 700 million years. Presently we do not have a totally safe and viable method of storage or deactivation of nuclear waste.
We have the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a regulatory body but it assumes that all will follow the rules of the Treaty and will also join the NPT. Countries, such as North Korea and Iraq, have shown they are not bound by the NPT. Some feel that North Korea obtained its nuclear material for their bomb from their nuclear energy reactors.
Today we have renewable and alternative energy sources which include wind, solar, tidal, geothermal and bio-mass based power generation. Presently only 2% of our energy comes from these alternative sources. We need more funding for technological improvements of these energy sources. We need to encourage more usage of energy sources that we are presently not tapping into like wind and solar energy. We need more advances in hydrokinetic turbines that do not require dams and do not harm ecosystems. We need more alternative sources of power to supplement our present power supply or to replace it in order to curb our demand on present power supplies. What we do not need isthe development of more nuclear power plants whose waste could contaminate
and kill for millions of years. Idaho and other states continue today to have illnesses and deaths caused by nuclear testing from decades ago. Do we need more confirmation that we do not need more nuclear reactors?