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  • A Letter to Alec “The Atom Bomb” Baldwin

    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.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to A Letter to Alec “The Atom Bomb” Baldwin

    1. john, jacksonville says:

      Alex, shut up and act. We don't want to hear your left wing thoughts.

    2. Neal, North Carolina says:

      I concur, Shut up and act!

    3. Dr. C., Atlanta, Geo says:

      Mr. Baldwin,

      Stop using your public image to show your abysmal lack of scientific knowledge and common sense.

    4. Thomas Gray, South, says:

      Mr Loris,,,, I wish I could hold my temper like you,,, Do these people not realize that the ore to manufacture wind and sular must be torn out of the ground also??. great job.

    5. Paul Gunter, Takoma says:

      Its really easy for nuclear apologists such as Mr. Loris to base his argument that nukes are safer and more secure than ever since 9/11 on a blurb from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's website. Not at all accurate however,

      Mr. Loris conveniently ignores substantially more detailed and publicly available NRC documents which reveal a much more troubling picture for populations living downwind of nuclear power plants in this country. He just didn't care to dig deep enough to find them.

      Take just the issue of aircraft vulnerability, for an example.

      A vintage federal laboratory technical report to the NRC back when all these nukes were still being built warns that none of them were designed, constructed or safety evaluated for aircraft impact hazards with particular emphasis on the consequences from the explosion and ensuing fire.

      As the report says, it was not then necessary to consider such remote possibilities. Pilots would make every effort to take corrective actions to avert a collision, and anyways, most nukes don't sit at the foot of major airfield runways. Deliberate collisons were not even contemplated.

      That concern is heightened and made even more obvious when you look at 32 units of the 104 operating in the United States today where the used nuclear fuel is being stored in tightly packed cooling ponds that are elevated 6 to 10 stories up in the reactor building literally on the roof behind little more than a sheet metal siding and roof. These are the General Electric Boiling Water Reactors like Oyster Creek in Lacey Township, NJ just 60 miles from New York City.

      A January 2001 technical report, which Mr. Loris apparently has not read, also authored by NRC additional states that there are "no significant structures" that would prevent the penetration of these storage pools jam packed with hundreds of tons each of highly radioactive and extremely hot nuclear waste by an relatively small aircraft. The report goes on to reveal that the resulting uncontained nuclear waste fire could spread a lethal radioactive cloud out to 500 miles with as many as 27,000 cancer fatalities. Reinforced cockpit doors, sky marshals, enhanced passenger and luggage screening now enforced for commercial airliners, all "enhancements" that NRC now cites and relies upon, don't apply to private aircraft potentially laden with high explosives that can take off from airfields within 10 miles of any US nuke. The next such aircraft attack could be launched and arrive at a nuclear power station within minutes of take off.

      Mr. Loris as the others fail to point out that even given these public technical reports exposing nuclear power plant vulnerability, particularly to aircraft attack, resurfaced as part of the NRC's recent 2007 proposed rulemaking seeking to exempt its currently operating flock from any further technical reviews on aircraft impact hazards analysis.

      They expect the unsuspecting public and the public interest community to forget about these previously published scientific reports and faithfully swallow what are now top secert documents with assurances that every thing is OK— our security should not rely upon blind faith given the level of detail that was previously made public–wouldn't you agree?

      Might I suggest that Mr. Loris and his commentors do their own homework, as Mr. Baldwin has, before casting these inane insults based on unsubstatiated claims designed to lull the post 9/11 public back to sleep. That is, if our mutual protection and national security are more in mind than the financial protection of the nuclear power industry's bottom line.

      I am happy to provide the Heritage Foundation with these supporting documents and direct you to other significant documents related to this current and unaddressed threat.

      Paul Gunter, Director

      Reactor Oversight Project

      Beyond Nuclear

      6930 Carroll Avenue Suite 400

      Takoma Park, MD 20912

      Tel. 301 270 2209

      paul@beyondnuclear.org
      http://www.beyondnuclear.org

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