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Sunday,
August 25, 2002

 



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Letters to the editor | Article published Sunday, August 25, 2002

Going nuclear is a destructive choice

As the U.S. nuclear industry tries yet again to retool its corroding image, it lies about nuclear power being a global warming "savior." In fact, the nuclear fuel cycle works to destroy the global environment, even when nuclear plants operate "safely."

The uranium enrichment plant in Paducah, Ky. - the country’s nuclear fuel factory - is, hands-down, the country’s largest volume producer of CFC-114, a refrigerant chemical that eats the Earth’s protective ozone layer, more than 400,000 pounds per year. This is at least 44 percent of the total U.S. CFC leakage, and is fully 7 percent of the leakage in the world.

But CFC-114 emissions are merely one example. The hidden costs of nuclear power to the environment and human health also include health effects on workers and the public at every stage of the fuel cycle; environmental damage during uranium mining; the dangerous difficulty of handling radioactive waste generated during enrichment and by reactors; the potential for devastating radiation leaks at power plants, and other kinds of waste from the Paducah plant. The manufacture of nuclear reactor fuel also produces mercury, arsenic, and cadmium, which are disposed of on and off site, and hydrochloric acid aerosols and chlorine gas, which are released into the air. Add to this list the occasional Three Mile Island or Chernobyl, and nuclear clearly remains the destructive energy choice it has always been.

The Davis-Besse crisis teaches us, again, that utility industry spin-masters lie relentlessly about every aspect of nuclear power. It’s time for the people to unplug nuclear utilities forever.

TERRY LODGE
Holland




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