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  • Let’s Reduce Carbon Dioxide, but Let’s Not Include Nuclear Energy

    We take you to Knoxville, Tennessee:

    Several environmental groups are banding together in petitioning the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to stop TVA from operating a second reactor at Watts Bar nuclear plant.

    The Sierra Club, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Tennessee Environmental Council, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League and We the People Inc. on Wednesday asked the NRC for permission to intervene against TVA’s bid for an operating license at the Rhea County site.

    The groups contend the Unit 2 reactor could harm water resources, including the Tennessee River, and risk public health and safety because of fundamental weaknesses in the reactor’s four-decade-old design.”

    No nuclear reactor has ever harmed any water source in the United States. And just how, exactly, would the second reactor risk public health and safety? Would it be the radiation? Nuclear power plants do emit some radiation, but the amounts are environmentally insignificant and pose no threat. These emissions fall well below the legal safety limit sanctioned by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

    Indeed, less than 1 percent of the public’s exposure to radiation comes from nuclear power plants. The average American is exposed to 360 millirem of radiation a year. About 83 percent (300 millirem) of this annual radiation dose comes from natural sources, such as cosmic rays, uranium in the Earth’s crust, and radon gas in the atmosphere.

    Most of the rest comes from medical procedures, such as X-rays, and about 3 percent (11 millirem) comes from consumer products. The Department of Energy reports that living near a nuclear power plant exposes a person to 1 millirem of radiation a year. By comparison, an airline passenger who flies from New York to Los Angeles receives 2.5 millirem.

    Maybe a terrorist attack on a nuclear plant a la 24 would threaten human health and public safety. A successful terrorist attack against a nuclear power plant could have severe consequences, as would attacks on schools, chemical plants, or ports. However, fear of a terrorist attack is not a sufficient reason to deny society access to any of these critical assets.

    The United States has 104 commercial nuclear power plants, and there are 446 worldwide. Not one has fallen victim to a successful terrorist attack. Certainly, history should not beget complacency, especially when the stakes are so high. However, the NRC has heightened security and increased safeguards on site to deal with the threat of terrorism.

    The same groups claiming we need to rid the world of carbon dioxide emissions are the same groups petitioning against nuclear power, which provide 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, emissions free. The 104 plants operating today prevented the release of 681.9 million metric tons of CO2 in 2005, which is comparable to taking 96 percent of cars off the roads. Explain that.

    Of course, there is nothing wrong with raising reasonable concerns. But an efficient and fair mechanism must be in place so that these questions can be answered one way or another based on science and pure facts. These groups should not be allowed to use a system that was set up for real concerns to advance political agendas and make baseless claims that would halt the production of economically competitive projects.

    Posted in Energy [slideshow_deploy]

    12 Responses to Let’s Reduce Carbon Dioxide, but Let’s Not Include Nuclear Energy

    1. Peter Erickson says:

      ONE POUND OF U-235 has as much energy as 6000 barrels of oil. The allowed radiation release from a nuclear plant is less than the amount of allowed radiation released from a coal plant

    2. Monica from ACCCE says:

      That's why it's time to support clean coal technology. During the America’s Power Factuality Tour, we stopped by Duke Energy’s Edwardsport IGCC plant in Indiana and saw Duke’s clean coal technology project for ourselves. Once it’s completed (it’s on schedule for 2012), this IGCC plant will be one of the cleanest coal-based power plants in the world, producing 10 times as much power as the existing unit with 45 percent less carbon dioxide emissions per unit of energy produced. http://sn.im/factuality5

    3. J Shepherd, Atlanta, says:

      If it had not been for the environmentalists campaign against nuclear power in the 60's and 70's, the US would probably have 50-70% of our power currently generated by nuclear plants. Instead, half is generated buy coal-fired plants. Therefore, it is the environmentalists, by not offering a practical alternative to nuclear, that are mostly responsible for the pollution we now have from coal-fired plants. So they still don't want nuclear plants? What is their alternative..and don't tell me renewable sources, since current alternatives, no matter how much they are subsidized can't provide much more than 20-25% of our power needs

    4. Spiritof76 says:

      I am tired of requiring to provide rational arguments to irrational organizations and their members and to their stupid and frivolous arguments.

      I want to cut off electricity to these organiztions and their member homes. Let them power themselves with their green crap. Whilce we are at it, let us prevent them from filling up their SUVs with gas.

      People in this country need to realize that you can not have these people who are wedded to a dogma which is mostly anti-American to respect any rational fact on the subject any more than Ahmadenajod of Iran to listen to why Israel is a free country.

      We must free ourselves from these parasites. Our country is being forced into poverty by the actions of the environmental wackos who are really communists.

    5. Ken J, Phx says:

      Do all these so called activists (Haters of America) refuse X-Rays when they are ill or consumer products producing radiation when they are hungry? Use nuclear power and our own natural gas and oil to create jobs and solve our problem of dependence on foreign energy. Why do these people hate America so much?

    6. Engr. in TN says:

      I live in NE Tennessee 125 miles from Watts Bar, 100 miles from Oak Ridge, 25 miles from Nuclear Fuels, and 15 miles from Phipps Bend (a site that was under construction for a nuclear plant 20+ years ago when the US went stupid on how to produce electrical power).

      As an engineer that has worked in automotive plants (no closed), power plants, and chemical plants including one that has successfully operated an ultra clean coal gasification plant for over 25 years.

      My personal view – make megawatts with nuclear and stop wasting good coal in inefficient 50 year old technology, abolish the NRC as they add no value and are a barrier to clean safe sustainable green power production, give licensing and permitting to DOE and force them to stream line the process to maximum 180-day for a permit and license on standard designs, abandon the Yucca Mtn strategy for maximum re-cycle like we've taught the French, gasify coal (ie. melt it, not burn it) for other useful purposes like chemicals, migrate the auto fleet to plug-in hybrids, stop wasting our most energy dense hydrocarbons (oil and natural gas) running the roads and spinning turbines, conserve everywhere… allow the Sierra Club, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the Tennessee Environmental Council, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, We the People Inc., GreenPeace and others like them to happily co-exist in the dark and the cold doing their part to save the planet their way, but encourage them not to distract the rest of us while we work on intelligent solutions that make a difference and improve or at least sustain our standard of living.

    7. Marcel F. Williams says:

      These groups should be ashamed to refer to themselves as environmentalist.

      Commercial nuclear power has had the least deleterious impact on public safety and our environment in the history of this country. Increasing our nuclear power capacity could allow us to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas pollution and our petroleum imports– especially if the new plug-in-hybrid and electric automobiles become common place.


    8. Zack M in Eugene says:

      Understanding what we're facing involves an ability to grasp difficult to understand scientific concepts. Realizing why "renewable" energy can only provide a very small part of our energy needs, and efficiency will increase energy use according to the Jevons Paradox, are rather abstract concepts to grasp. Also familiarizing oneself with nuclear technology can be difficult. The truth is that technologies like the integral fast reactor solved all the problems greens associate with nuclear, but thanks to green pressure the project was terminated in 1994 by Clinton. The economic and environmental catastrophies we face, therefore, are ironically the fault of the greens.

    9. Pingback: Photomaniacal » Blog Archive » Setting the Watts Bar Too High

    10. Jim Knight, Port Lud says:

      When you consider the number of power reactors built to the "40 year old design" and the number of years they have operated, you get a couple of thousand years plus of operation without a serious environmental mishap. If a power reactor released as much radioactive material to the environment as a coal fired power plant, it would be shut down immediately!

      Considering the number of operating nuclear reactors in this area (nuclear powered submarines and aircraft carriers) and the number of people (sailors, pilots, submariners) who live for months at a time within a few feet of these reactors, perhaps it is time to take a new look at these smaller reactors as packaged units that could be shipped to a site, assembled, fueled and put online, similar to windmill power, but able to be located at, or near the point of use, reducing line losses.

      It is past time for cities like Los Angeles to start considering nuclear reactors for desalination with power actually a secondary consideration.

    11. Pingback: PA Pundits - International

    12. Detroit Automotive T says:

      Here's what I know is coming folks: Plug-in cars; and lots of them! That will require an electric power grid that cannot fail due to a cloudy day. So, rest assured, the car will soon be off the hot list for polluters; and the spot light will be on the power plant. Personally, I prefer Thorium instead of uranium for reasons that benefit all.

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