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The Unraveling Of Nuclear Energy

June 27, 2011: About three decades ago, the Swedes considered the risks of nuclear energy, added up the costs and did the math. What they found was that the astronomical amounts that the Swedish economy was paying in subsidies to produce electricity from nuclear energy far exceeded what they were getting out of it.

 

Swedes aren’t dumb, and voted in a national referendum to shut down and decommission all their nuclear energy reactors by 2010. The Swedish nuclear weapons program had already been terminated early on when Sweden signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty in 1968. With two units closed, one in 1999 and another in 2005, Sweden now operates three nuclear facilities, with a total of 10 reactors generating about 45% of the country’s total electricity. By the narrowest of margins of only two votes in 2009, the Riksdag, currently under a conservative spell, allowed for the replacement of existing reactors only, without any government subsidies, with no new construction permitted. Reactor replacements will not be needed until 2030, if ever, because the opposing parties who represent the desires of the clear majority of the population already vowed to overturn this legislation.

 

About a decade ago, Germany arrived at identical conclusions, and the country voted landmark legislation to replace all fossil and nuclear fuels with solar, wind, geothermal and biomass renewable energy by 2030. It was under the direction of Dr. Hermann Scheer, elected member of the Bundestag for 28 years and Alternate Nobel Prize Laureate, whom I had the great honor of inviting for a lecture at UCLA.

 

Germany is already producing 20% of its electricity from solar and wind. The same laws that were passed in Germany have already been approved by the 24 member nations of the European Union, and are being considered by some other 40 nations around the planet.

 

The US, French and Japanese nuclear programs are not any different. These programs exist only at the expense of hundreds of billions in subsidies in taxpayers' money, government loan guarantees, tax exemptions, culminating with the U.S. Price-Anderson Act: in case of a nuclear accident, the owner- operator of the nuclear plant is liable to pay damages of up to about $12 billion US Dollars. Any amount above that – well, did you guess right? – becomes public liability: want it or not, we, you and me taxpayers foot the bill and pay the damages, whatever they might be. Corporations pocket the profits, the clean up costs are socialized. What a deal. One single accident could total upwards of US$500 billion, and go up to US$1 trillion, no one can tell. National and international polls show the public’s opposition, and want their nuclear industries shut down. A recent landslide vote in Italy forced the Berlusconi administration to abandon plans to restart Italy’s nuclear program.

 

The worst has already happened, not once but at least one hundred incidents in the USA alone at nuclear power plants between 1952 and 2000. The US federal government requires that incidents resulting in the loss of human life or causing more than US$50,000 of property damage must be reported to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). In the above period, a total of US$20.5 billion in property and other damages were reported, including emergency response, environmental remediation, evacuation, lost production, fines, and court claims. At least three of these accidents involved partial core meltdowns.

 

The most serious of these was the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, with a price tag of US$2.4 billion in damages, and the earliest the Santa Susanna partial core meltdown in Simi Valley, California, in 1959. Cleaning up of this site is still ongoing, the final price tag and cancer effects on the local population is not known or has just been ignored. With little or no press coverage or debate, the Davis-Besse Nuclear Generating Station in Oak Harbor, Ohio, was the source of two of the top five most dangerous nuclear incidents in the United States since 1979, one of those in 1985, according to much later findings done in 2004 by the NRC. Read the full report here.

 

Source: by Tony Pereira, Culture Change.

 
 
 

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