Opinion » Letters

We have to move toward shutting down nuclear




I am not a scientist like Edward L. Quinn, who had his viewpoint printed recently (“Nuclear power continues to be safe and reliable,” The Tribune, Nov. 10), about the safety and reliability of nuclear power generation. He also mentioned the low cost to ratepayers.

It does not take a scientist to discover the fact that nuclear generation is not safe, clean, or cheap. We have to look at the whole picture, from mining uranium; to processing it; transporting the high-level radioactive fuel to the 104 reactors dispersed across our country; building the reactors, cooling pools, security, and operation of these plants; and lastly, centuries of waste storage. Are we to have repositories in every state that produces nuclear waste?

Many of the plants seeking renewal of their operating licenses are more than 40 years old. It is not cheap to retrofit, maintain, update, and, in some cases, repair major faults and malfunctions.

If there is an accident, it can be catastrophic and the aftermath long-lived. As far as no one dying from the radiation exposure, it is too soon to tell how many cancers and defective births and miscarriages will be suffered by the people of Japan. It is difficult to prove that these tragic occurrences are the result of radiation exposure caused by the nuclear accident, but comprehensive studies have been done on low-level radioactivity, and it has been proven conclusively that even low-level doses can and do cause cancer. Unfortunately, many people were exposed to high levels of radioactivity and minute particles of radioactive elements.

Four months is not a long enough period of time to observe the health effects of this tragedy. Four years is a better window. Four years of putting our money and support behind new technology for clean energy generation (not nuclear) will go a long way toward getting us there. Most clean energy activists realize nuclear power plants can’t be shut down overnight, but it is necessary and responsible for us to take strong steps in that direction now.

-- Marty Brown - Atascadero

-- Marty Brown - Atascadero

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