Big Fat Radioactive Lie

SUBHEAD: Billionaires are hyping nuclear power as a magic cure for climate change.

By Emily Schwartz Greco 3 December 2015 in Other Worlds 

Image above: May 9, 2015 photo by Ricky Flores, shows the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan, N.Y. after a company spokesperson said a transformer failed and caused a fire at the Unit 3 nuclear power plant. The fire was extinguished and the unit shut down automatically according to the company. One of the Indian Point nuclear power plant‘s reactors was shut down Saturday after several control rods lost power, the plant owner said, marking the latest in a series of mishaps at the aging suburban New York plant just a few dozen miles from Manhatten. From (

Not long ago, no billionaire worth his cufflinks would be caught dead without hurling bales of money at our nation’s educational system. They bankrolled charter schools, high-stakes testing, and the splintering of big high schools into smaller academies. Their failure to make American kids learn more scuffed the luster on this enduring philanthropic fad.

Billionaires have landed, therefore, on a new mission. As Donald Trump might say, they want to make nuclear energy great again.

“If we are serious about replacing fossil fuels, we are going to need nuclear power,” PayPal co-founder and Facebook mega-investor Peter Thiel crowed in a New York Times op-ed shortly before negotiators from 195 nations gathered in Paris to seal an international climate pact.

Thiel, who personally invests in nuclear energy, made the self-serving demand that the U.S. government forge a “plan to fund and prototype the new reactors that we badly need.”

In other words: What does a guy like me with only $2.2 billion to my name gotta do to get my corporate welfare handout?

Bill Gates is also advocating heavy public investment in novel designs that these nuclear cheerleaders swear will be safer and cheaper than the 391 reactors that now generate about one in 10 watts around the world.

As the Paris climate talks got underway, the Microsoft co-founder launched an unprecedented multibillion-dollar “clean” energy fund, backed by the U.S., Chinese, and Indian governments, as well as other billionaires and some foundations. Don’t be surprised if it’s nuclear-friendly.

The crowd of rich men with tech cred dipping their toes in these radioactive waters also includes Amazon titan Jeff Bezos and Paul Allen, Gates’ fellow Microsoft co-founder.

But there are many reasons why governments, including our own, should resist their call to pump more tax dollars into nuclear energy. Namely:
Reactors are expensive, they’re very difficult to shield from terrorist and other security threats, and they’re prone to catastrophic accidents that have created ghost towns in Japan and the former Soviet Union. Furthermore, there are still no solutions for meeting the daunting challenges of safeguarding nuclear waste and cleaning up abandoned uranium mines.

And nuclear power takes too long to crank up. Remarkably, five of the 62 reactors under construction worldwide have been in the nuclear pipeline for three decades. It’s too slow to stop the climate crisis.
Besides — to a much greater extent than solar and wind power — nuclear energy emits its own carbon pollution. Those greenhouse gas emissions come largely through the use of fossil fuels in activities like reactor construction, waste transportation, and uranium mining.

More importantly, successful businessmen ought to be able to spot an uncompetitive industry when they see one.

Here’s what Lazard, an investment bank with $180 billion under management, has to say about today’s top energy options: Utility-scale “wind and solar are much cheaper than gas and coal, and less than half the cost of nuclear.”

Renewable energy’s competitive edge makes it no surprise that generation from solar power is now growing exponentially and wind power has been expanding by more than 20 percent annually for the past seven years around the world as nukes have fumbled. The total amount of global nuclear energy remained well below 1996 levels in 2014.

A total of four new nuclear reactors in Georgia and South Carolina are at least three years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget. That bodes badly for the save-our-nukes billionaire class because (sorry, guys) those power stations were supposed to be models for ramping up nuclear energy quickly without cost overruns.

I wonder what they’ll choose as their next losing battle.

•¨Columnist Emily Schwartz Greco is the managing editor of OtherWords, a non-profit national editorial service run by the Institute for Policy Studies.

Record levels of Fukushima radiation

By Admin on 3 December 2015 for ENE News - 

Record levels of Fukushima radiation detected off West Coast — Massive plume stretches for more than 1,000 miles — Reuters: Contamination is spreading off U.S. shores — Radioactive cesium reaches 11 Bq/m3 at multiple locations.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Dec 3, 2015 Higher levels of Fukushima cesium detected offshore — Scientists monitoring the spread of radiation in the ocean from the Fukushima nuclear accident report finding an increased number of sites off the US West Coast showing signs of contamination from Fukushima. This includes the highest detected level to date from a sample collected about 1,600 miles west of San Francisco. The level of radioactive cesium isotopes in the sample, 11 Becquerel’s per cubic meter… is 50 percent higher than other samples collected along the West Coast so far…

Working with Japanese colleagues, [Ken Buesseler, a WHOI marine radiochemist] also continues to independently monitor the ongoing leaks from Fukushima Dai-ichi by collecting samples… During his most recent trip this October they collected samples of ocean water, marine organisms, seafloor sediment and groundwater along the coast near the reactors. Buesseler says the levels of radioactivity off Fukushima remain elevated – some 10 to 100 times higher than off the US West Coast today, and he is working with colleagues at WHOI to try to determine how much radioactive material is still being released to the ocean each day.

Ken Buesseler, WHOI: “These new data are important for two reasons… the changing values underscore the need to more closely monitor contamination levels across the Pacific. Second, these long-lived radioisotopes will serve as markers for years to come for scientists studying ocean currents and mixing in coastal and offshore waters… [F]inding values that are still elevated off Fukushima confirms that there is continued release from the plant.”

Statesman Journal, Dec 3, 2015: Higher levels of Fukushima radiation detected off West Coast — Higher levels of radiation from Japan’s 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident are showing up in the ocean off the west coast of North America, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution reported today. And an increased number of sampling sites are showing signs of contamination… This year, Buesseler has added about 110 new sample results to 135 already on the project’s web site. They include the highest detected level to date, from a sample collected about 1,600 miles west of San Francisco.

Reuters, Dec 3, 2015: Radiation from Japan nuclear disaster spreads off U.S. shores… and contamination is increasing at previously identified sites… Tests of hundreds of samples of Pacific Ocean water confirmed that Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant continues to leak… The latest readings measured the highest radiation levels outside Japanese waters to date some 1,600 miles (2,574 km) west of San Francisco. The figures also confirm that the spread of radiation to North American waters is not isolated to a handful of locations, but can be detected along a stretch of more than 1,000 miles (1,600 km) offshore.

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