Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant Update

27 Jun

Common Dreams is reporting that the berm around Fort Calhoun nuclear plant has breached.

The story continues to be spun, suppressed, and misreported. I agree with many of the commenters who think this particular event may not be particularly dangerous. The coverage of the story is a bigger story. The dangers of building nuclear plants in floodplains along rivers (essential cooling water source) and the accumulation of residential growth and population in close proximity to nuclear plants is a big story. The essential unsafe nature of nuclear engineering, the problem with “mothballing” plants, disposing (where you gonna dispose of stuff that will be dangerous for thousands of years?) of waste, the collateral damage to public health by the occasional radioactive emission when an “event” occurs; these things are or should be a big story.

Dahr Jamail has an update story on Fukushima at Aljazeera. Thanks to my friend Pat Rasmussen at Temperate Rainforests for passing that one on.

There is an essay out about a spike in infant mortality that suggests Fukushima may have had some public health impact here on the Left Coast.

This is complicated stuff, but the handwriting is on the wall for those who want to read it: nuclear power is not safe or clean.

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3 Responses to “Fort Calhoun Nuclear Plant Update”

  1. astrowright June 27, 2011 at 5:00 pm #

    Need to disagree with you here, Mike. I strongly encourage you to dig a little deeper into the science and stats. If you look at the actual health risks of radioactive elements and nuclear powerplants compared with other chemical carcinogens we’re more confortable with, what should be a big story is the epidemic of underground storage tank leaks underneath every gas station in this country. (Read: BTEX, MTBE, xylenes, benzene, and other volatile organics that regularly leach into groundwater.) Or, how about the regular roll-call of annual deaths by people who mix cleansers under their sinks thinking it’ll “clean more” and unwittingly release toxic fumes? (Let’s not get started on coal mining deaths.) All deaths attributable to nuclear powerplants in even the most dubious way shrink to zero compared with the firing squad of other chemical threats we accept with a smile. Somehow, we’re cool with all of these other risks, which actually kill thousands of people a year, yet nuclear continues to get the bad rap. -Look at the numbers, and look at the science. Nuclear is one of the most effective and safest power production methods ever invented. -Throwing gasoline on the already flaring ignorant fear firestorm of “nuclear power” is irresponsible. I know is sells papers and gives you webpage “hits,” but c’mon. Buck the popular trend and let’s get some in-depth reporting here. If people were really worried about nuclear, they’d be protesting all of the polonium-210 that saturates cigarettes…

    • mikewmd June 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

      we can agree to disagree. I have no problem with the environmental problems that you list. I agree with you, these are serious problems. I am no fan of petroleum. The comparison you suggest breaks down when you start thinking about toxicity over time and the half life issues of nuclear energy and waste.

      • astrowright June 28, 2011 at 3:27 pm #

        Mike, agreed – and this is where the conversation should really begin. Long-term storage of nuclear material is possible, as is material reprocessing. What you call “toxicity over time” could also reasonably be called “a wonderfully long-lived energy source.” To describe is as the former exclusive of the latter is little more than at best, spin, and at worst, propaganda. (If it’s not the radioactivity but the metal toxicity that is the primary concern, though, bear in mind that all igneous rocks contain frightening concentrations of stable toxic metals.)

        The logical opposition to using nuclear energy falls apart when considering energy density, efficiency, and longevity. The risk of environmental worst-case scenarios should not be enough to stifle the use of our most effective power supply. If the media waved the risk of driving cars in everyone’s faces the way nuclear power gets hammered, everyone would call for banning cars… and tens of thousands of people *actually die* annually on the roads, as opposed to the zero annual deaths due to nuclear powerplants.

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