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Nuclear is the way to go

Losing Diablo Canyon won't clean up our air or our energy sources

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Life on planet Earth depends on a healthy ecosystem. The state of California is headed in a troubling direction by shutting down a large, reliable, 24/7, sustainable, affordable source of emission-free power. Those who we voted to represent us and protect the health and safety of the residents of our state are making dangerous and devastating decisions by supporting the closing of Diablo Canyon Power Plant.

The hope for clean air is being greatly compromised.

This power plant produces five times the amount of emission-free power as Hoover Dam. The loss of power produced by Diablo Canyon will have to be replaced by burning fossil fuels that will release tons of unhealthy and harmful emissions, unabated, into our atmosphere when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. Having to rely on burning fossil fuels to fill the gap is a big mistake. Emissions from burning fossil fuels will be such a disaster to our ecosystem, to our health, and for future generations. Diablo Canyon is capable of continuing to safely provide emission-free power for many years to come.

Renewables, while essential in supporting the quest for clean air, cannot support a steady flow of energy to power our considerable needs—including the defense of our country.

What about the waste connected to renewables? What is not told openly to the public is the considerable environmental impact that comes from the huge amount of land needed for solar and wind installations. Chemicals used in manufacturing and broken-down installations (glass and metal), worn-out batteries, all becomes hazardous waste. No source of power is without its negative issues.

The question that always arises when discussing nuclear power: What about the waste? The uranium 235 that's used in producing nuclear power is only 5 percent or less enriched, of which only 3 percent is actually used to produce the power. This means the remainder of the fuel, 97 percent, is unused. This 97 percent can actually be recycled.

When the uranium 235 atom is split, it creates heat and fission fragments of different sizes and different half-lives. Those half-lives can last only seconds, minutes, hours, days, a few months, a few years. At the end of 10 years, 90 percent of the radiation has decayed away. The Navy's used nuclear fuel has been shipped safely to Idaho for many years without damage to the shipping containers or the fuel. Commercial used nuclear fuel remains safely stored on-site in huge steel and concrete canisters, which are designed for safe keeping for 100 years. What other industry knows where every bit of its byproduct is stored safely under strict regulatory guidelines? No harm has been caused by shipping or storing of used nuclear fuel whether military or commercial.

New nuclear technology is actually developing reactors that would recycle the used fuel remaining from current technology, thus reducing that which is presently being stored.

Do your own homework. Find the truth for yourself, then contact your representatives and tell them you want them to grant Diablo Canyon credits for providing emission-free power. We need to preserve this vital source of clean energy. Δ

Ellie Ripley from Arroyo Grande is with Californians for Green Nuclear Power. Send your comments through clanham@newtimesslo.com or write a letter to the editor and email it to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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