In River Lockhart’s letter titled “To close Diablo, or not to close Diablo” (6/7), the writer asks the question: Should we shut down Diablo or not? I say no, and here is why: Shutting down the current reactor merely leaves the waste problem for the future. Building a new reactor using Integral Fast Reactor designs resolves the problem by using the waste from the current reactor to fuel the new reactor. Building IFR-based reactors of multiple generations at every existing reactor site not only reduces the waste trail, it increases the safety at each site. IFR-based reactors have passive safety advantages that essentially prevent the possibility of a meltdown, so bringing these types of reactors online while phasing out existing reactors maintains the alternative energy advantages of nuclear power while addressing the public safety concerns. There are economical, modular reactor designs that can be built at a factory and transported to the operating site before being fueled. Allowing the long-term operation of these existing sites maximizes the investment already made into infrastructure, further reducing the long-term cost.
In response to Lockhart’s second question, yes, we are the ones constantly saying that we need to fix this world for our children. Reducing our dependence on fossil fuels is a critical part of that fix. About 75 percent of electricity consumed in the United States is generated using fossil fuels. Shifting electrical generation to nuclear energy frees up those fossil fuels for use in industries that still require fossil fuels, allowing us more time to develop technology that might replace fossil fuels completely. More efficient, effective electrical generation can offset fossil fuel use in non-commercial transportation, reducing non-stationary source pollution, allowing industry to thrive without excessive regulation, thereby creating and maintaining jobs in the United States for our children.
We certainly need to do something for our children and future generations. While there are pros and cons to every solution, nuclear energy is the most efficient, effective alternative energy source available today. We are 20 years behind in implementing modern nuclear technology due to ignorance, fear-mongering, and political pandering. The faster we get back on track, the more hope we have of fixing the “wreck” we created.