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Climate Change

Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time. Funding diverted to new nuclear power plants deprives real climate change solutions like solar, wind and geothermal energy of essential resources.

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Tuesday
Jun042019

Re: Biden's climate plan

As reported by the Washington Post:

...Biden’s plan embraces two specific energy technologies that some of the 2020 rivals have eschewed.

One is a method of skimming heat-trapping carbon dioxide from smokestacks called carbon capture. Biden is vowing to boost existing tax breaks for the nascent carbon-capture sector, though environmentalists dismiss the technology as only a way of extending the life of the fossil-fuel industry.

The other is nuclear energy, a long-standing form of power generation that today constitutes the largest portion of low-carbon electricity in the United States. But the industry faces an uncertain future as cheaper forms of power, such as natural gas and renewable energy, eat away at its market share.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is calling for a complete phaseout of nuclear energy over concerns of radioactive waste storage and the risk of meltdowns. Biden instead wants to put money toward developing the new generation of small modular nuclear reactors in addition to addressing safety concerns.

Biden’s plan also does not mention a potential ban on fracking and has already been criticized by some environmentalists for not going far enough.

“This plan embraces dangerous nuclear power, environmentally-harmful biofuels, and foolish dreams of carbon capture and sequestration that will lock in our continued dependence on fossil fuels,” said Erich Pica, president of Friends of the Earth Action, an environmental group, in a statement. “Like most candidate climate plans, it barely addresses agriculture and the U.S.’s international obligations as the world’s largest historic emitter.”

Wednesday
Feb132019

The Battle Lines Have Been Drawn on the Green New Deal

As reported by Naomi Klein at The Intercept.

Klein provides compelling comparisons and contrasts between the New Deal of Fraklin Delano Roosevelt, and the Green New Deal of Democrats U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of NY, and U.S. Senator Ed Markey of MA:

It’s also a reminder that the New Deal was a process as much as a project, one that was constantly changing and expanding in response to social pressure from both the right and the left. For example, a program like the Civilian Conservation Corps started with 200,000 workers, but when it proved popular eventually expanded to 2 million. That’s why the fact that there are weaknesses in Ocasio-Cortez and Markey’s resolution — and there are a few — is far less compelling than the fact that it gets so much exactly right. There is plenty of time to improve and correct a Green New Deal once it starts rolling out (it needs to be more explicit about keeping carbon in the ground, for instance, and about nuclear and coal never being “clean”). But we have only one chance to get this thing charged up and moving forward.

And Klein is clear that nuclear power is a false solution to the climate crisis:

The Green New Deal will need to be subject to constant vigilance and pressure from experts who understand exactly what it will take to lower our emissions as rapidly as science demands, and from social movements that have decades of experience bearing the brunt of false climate solutions, whether nuclear power, the chimera of carbon capture and storage, or carbon offsets. (emphases added)

Thursday
Feb072019

God's River, by filmmakers Gabriela Bulisova and Mark Isaac

GOD’S RIVER is a short documentary film created by Mark Isaac and Gabriela Bulisova as part of their work in Ukraine supported by a Fulbright grant. Energy producers and environmentalists agree that climate change has significantly reduced the flow of the Southern Bug River, the longest river entirely within Ukraine. But the two camps differ dramatically on how to respond. The state-operated nuclear conglomerate, EnergoAtom, proposes to raise water levels behind Alexandrivsky Dam, flooding a portion of Buszky Gard National Park. But a unique coalition of veterans, academics, environmentalists and Ukrainian nationalists opposes the plan because it will threaten endangered plants and animals, submerge archaeological digs, and destroy Gardove Island, a place that is sacred to Cossack heritage. While some urge compromise, others claim concessions could permanently kill the river. Returning soldiers from the Donbas region forthrightly embrace the struggle as an extension of the war effort. If the Ukrainian Parliament approves the plan, they have pledged — along with their allies — to occupy Gardove Island, where a Cossack church once stood, and protect it “by all means necessary, including radical ones.”

Wednesday
Feb062019

South Carolina Spent $9 Billion to Dig a Hole in the Ground and Then Fill it Back in

As reported by Akela Lacy in The Intercept.

How effective is nuclear power as a climate solution, if it costs too much, and takes to long?! (not to mention its own insurmountable risks)

Wednesday
Jan032018

Current risk of winter hurricane harkens back to White Hurricane of 1913, in vicinity of proposed DUD

In the Washington Post, meteorologist Jason Samenow has published an article entitled "East Coast prepares for most severe winter weather yet as monster storm takes shape," which reports:

The rapidly intensifying storm will hammer areas from north Florida to Maine with ice and snow and could resemble a winter hurricane in places by Thursday. Some blizzard warnings have already been issued and more could come. (emphasis added)

This harkens back to the White Hurricane of 1913, a most severe winter blizzard responsible for the largest loss of life on the Great Lakes in history. Some of the worst took place in Goderich, Ontario, Canada, on the shoreline of Lake Huron. Horrifically, a 40-foot tsunami like wave crashed into the port and town, drowning many. 

It just so happens that Goderich is not far down the road from Kincardine, "home" to the largest nuclear power plant in the world, Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, with a total of nine reactors (one permanently shutdown prototype, and eight still operable reactors) on the Lake Huron shore. 

Bruce is also targeted for the permanent burial dump for all of Ontario's "low" and "intermediate" level radioactive wastes, from a total of 20 reactors. The most reactors in any U.S. state, by comparison, was IL, with 14. Three of those have since permanently shut down, taking IL's current number of reactors down to 11 operating. The Ontario Power Generation DGR (short for Deep Geologic Repository) would be just over a half-mile from the water's edge. 

At 2013-2014 Joint Review Panel proceedings on the OPG DGR license application, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps orally testified that the DUD (short for Deep Underground Dump) would be at risk of such tsunami-like waves coming in off of Lake Huron, inundating the burial dump, leading to potentially catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity into the drinking water supply for tens of millions of people downstream.

But such blizzard ("hurricane")-generated waves are just one natural disaster scenario at the site.

There is also the risk of seiches, which are wind-blown flooding events along the Great Lakes shores.

 

But there are also Great Lakes/fresh water tsunamis on these inland seas.

 

See

 

http://michiganradio.org/post/ever-heard-great-lakes-tsunami-scientist-says-they-happen-about-100-times-year

 

and

 

http://michiganradio.org/post/scientists-want-create-warning-system-freshwater-tsunamis

 

which mention nuclear power plants, and the radioactive wastes stored there, as in dry casks, as of particular concern. Thus, it's not just OPG's DUD that would be at risk. So too are atomic reactors, and on-site radioactive waste storage.

 

There are dozens of atomic reactors with on-site radioactive waste storage ringing the shores of the Great Lakes in the U.S. and Canada. See a 2013 map by Anna Tilman of International Institute of Concern for Public Health and John Jackson of Great Lakes United, to see just how many nuclear facilities line the shorelines of the Great Lakes, at risk of natural disasters -- and worsening extreme weather events due to climate destabilization due to global warming.

 

By the way, as shown on the map (in the upper right hand corner), Goderich itself was under consideration for Canada's high-level nuclear waste (irradiated nuclear fuel) DGR/DUD, as well. Since 2013, however, it has been removed from the target list. However, two municipalities near Bruce in Kincardine are still under consideration. So are other sites within the Great Lakes basin, including on its shorelines. This DGR/DUD would be for high-level radioactive waste/irradiated nuclear fuel from all 22 atomic reactors across Canada, not only in Ontario, but also in Quebec and New Brunswick. Such a DGR/DUD would also be vulnerable to natural disasters and worsening extreme weather events, if located on the Great Lakes shores.