Dear Alec Baldwin,
I really don’t know much about you except that your acting as a New York media mogul in 30 Rock is awesome. Yet, your acting as an expert on nuclear energy is—well—pretty weak.
In The Huffington Post on Sunday you discussed “The Misconception(s) of Nuclear Power.” Your first concern is safety, claiming that “Grave concerns linger to this day about how to safely dispose of nuclear waste. Since 9/11, security issues dominate much of the debate.” I’m going to go out on a limb and say that security issues have dominated the debate about nuclear power for much longer than that, but if it’s a plane crashing into a reactor you’re worried about, they’ve got it covered. Watch this. I should also mention that after 9/11 that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) responsibly took the initiative to increase patrols, add more physical barriers, implement tighter restrictions on access control sites, and enhanced emergency preparedness and response plans. A full background report can be found here. I can’t remember the last time a nuclear plant was attacked in the U.S. Oh yeah, it hasn’t ever happened.
Disposing of nuclear waste isn’t an issue either—at least not technologically.
Anti-nuclear extremists like you use the transportation of nuclear waste as a scare tactic when it’s a non-issue. Nuclear waste has been transported on roads and railways worldwide for years without a significant incident. Indeed, more than 20 million packages with radioactive materials are transported globally each year–3 million of them in the United States. Since 1971, more than 20,000 shipments of spent fuel and high-level waste have been transported more than 18 million miles without incident. Transportation of radioactive materials is just not a problem.
Furthermore, there are plenty of solutions to dispose of the waste. Admittedly, the current management of used nuclear fuel is not working (largely because of the government) in the United States and needs significant overhaul. Regardless, used nuclear fuel can be removed from the reactor, reprocessed to separate unused fuel, and then used again. The remaining waste could then be placed in either interim or long-term storage, such as in the Yucca Mountain repository. France and other countries carry out some version of this process safely every day. Furthermore, technology advances could yield greater efficiencies and improve the process.
You also say nuclear poses a significant health risk, saying that “[…] no level of exposure to ambient radiation produced every day at utility sites is healthy for humans, particularly pregnant women and young children.” It’s true that nuclear power plants emit radiation, but there’s probably more in your house. Perhaps this chart would do you some good. The truth is that the radiation from nuclear power plants is well under the legal safety limits set by the NRC, and there is no scientific evidence that local populations have been ill-affected from commercial nuclear power plants.
And lastly you claim that nuclear energy isn’t clean. To quote you, “The mining of uranium, like the excavation of any other resource that must be discovered, torn out of the ground and carted away, along with the handling of excess rubble, by heavy equipment, could not be any more polluting.” You know what the money phrase is in this quote, Mr. Baldwin? Like the excavation of any other resource. Think about it. Whether you like it or not, the world currently runs on fossil fuel. Until the nation changes its energy profile–which can be done with nuclear energy–almost any activity, even building windmills, will result in CO2 emissions. And if you’d like to learn the truth about “dirty uranium mining” you should read this paper.
If you’d like to respond, you can call me here at The Heritage Foundation. If I don’t answer, feel free to leave a voicemail.