American ingenuity, and our "can do" energetic spirit of forging ahead without solutions in hand built the west, but not without unforeseen and unanticipated costly mistakes. When we're working with nuclear, there can be no margin for errors. Even in the best case scenario, nobody has solved the problem of the radioactive waste. There is no such thing as safe nuclear power:
Advocates of nuclear power argue that after five decades, the technology has shown it can be operated safely, but opponents point to the Three Mile Island accident and the 1986 meltdown at Chernobyl for what can go wrong. Lochbaum noted that since 1952, when the first electricity-producing nuclear reactor opened, 40 of the 130 reactors that have operated in the United States have been shut down for safety reasons for more than a year _ a measure of the dangers of the technology.
We should be dismantling the old nuclear plants and moving toward clean renewable and sustainable energy. If Congress had supported the renewable energy resources industry (wind power, hydroelectric and biomass) with the same incentives it gave the nuclear industry, we wouldn't be facing the same energy, security and financial problems we are today.
I join with Melissa Kemp, a policy analyst at Public Citizen, an organization fighting new nuclear plants, who said "There have been direct subsidies of $115 billion to the nuclear industry, and just $5.5 billion for wind and solar. That doesn't make sense to me."
As we move into the last quarter of the Bush administration, the corporate faction of the Republican base will be building on the earlier giveaways they received in the Cheney energy plan: The first construction of new nuclear power plants across America in thirty years.
But Big Energy still isn't happy and wants more.
Big Energy wants to eliminate the remaining obstacles to the obscene profits they expect to enjoy from this unnecessary and dangerous enterprise while the Republican-controlled Congress can still deliver it. Last year, Congress provided the nuclear industry more than $3 billion in incentives and lowered or eliminated safety regulations by limiting damage awards from lawsuits in the event of nuclear accidents. Big "E" now wants cheap labor to build and run these plants.
When Republicans across the country kick-start the nuclear energy portion of the Bush-Cheney energy plan in the coming weeks, they will include in any immigration bill that comes out of Congress a provision that will enable them to hire foreign workers for the construction and running of nuclear power plants.
But what's worse, the generation that built and ran America's nuclear plants is aging and headed towards retirement, taking away decades of know-how that have kept the reactors operating safely.
...there may not be enough nuclear engineers around anymore to build and run them.
"This is a huge problem for the nuclear industry, because it goes without saying it can't afford to make a single mistake," said David DeLong, a research fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's AgeLab.
DeLong said 28 percent of the 58,000 workers in the U.S. nuclear-power industry will be eligible to retire within five years, representing a huge loss of institutional memory. He said New Mexico's Sandia Laboratories and the Tennessee Valley Authority are both looking at urging potential retirees to stay on their jobs longer.
At the other end, America isn't producing enough new nuclear engineers to fill the ranks of the retirees.
The Defense Science Board says the number of engineers produced at U.S. universities has declined 10 percent since the Cold War ended in 1990. That poses national security concerns because the military will need a new generation of engineers to design and run the successors to America's long-range nuclear strike systems like the Peacekeeper and Trident missiles.
Foreign born, from Saudi Arabia, or China?:
German authorities are changing 150 locks at a nuclear power plant after its owner said they had lost keys to a security area.
...in spite of intensive searches and questioning it had not been able to recover 12 keys for its Philippsburg plant after discovering they were lost in March.
"This has never happened anywhere in Germany before," the ministry spokesman said. "The keys have simply disappeared."
There are answers, alternatives, for how we can proceed into a safe, healthy, wealthy and non-xenophobic future in America and everywhere else around the world. But it's not with this current Congress, neither side of the aisle.
Filed under: Nuclear, energy, immigration bill, global warming