Atomic energy not the answer

Once upon a time, nuclear energy was just a domineering question mark. Its variables, limits and potentials were only a matter of speculation, without any variables to draw from, and the more curious nations resembled first time bike riders. Their neighbors, the tropical agriculturalists, tentative Easterners and cross-eyed Westerners would watch to see how they fared from their respective living rooms, while somewhat interested, but not enough to dip their toes in.

They saw single speeds, hybrids and city bikes, noting how they fared in traffic and the durability of the paint. There would be mental notes when they fell, with crossed fingers at the intersections. Inevitably, in the face of an accident, the mantra rose that it wouldn’t ever happen to them.

The kids have grown and we’ve seen that. For all of our concerns with the nuclear activity on adjacent shores, we’ve turned blind eyes to our own. Nuclear plants in this country resemble the aforementioned bikes, sans kickstands, breaks, or an adjustable steering wheel. From the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona to our very own South Texas Nuclear Generating Station, the plants, as well as their surrounding areas, have almost certainly been accompanied with their own respective time bombs. The magic question isn’t if they’ll find themselves in jeopardy, but when.

If a reason is needed to re-evaluate our nuclear stance, you’d only need to turn to the 1984 incident in Athens, Ala., which resulted in a six-year outage in the area, and was immediately followed by another incident in the same area the following year.

Or Plymouth, Mass. in 1986, yielding an emergency shutdown of the plant and a shadow that still looms over the area. Or Chernobyl, Ukraine; Idaho Falls; Leningrad Oblast or Oak Harbor, Ohio.

Most recently, the three-fold disaster in Japan demonstrated the unforgiving nature of nuclear slip-ups, killing three workers, and rendering parts of the country unlivable for at least the next couple of years.

Even still, there are opponents to a shut down, with their reasons in tow. “Nuclear energy is more efficient;” “It’s less wasteful in the long run;” “Once the ball’s rolling, the increase in productivity is exponential” and, maybe the most recurrent of all, “Nuclear energy is the future.”

But whose future, exactly? More than negligent, it is stupid to say that these factors, along with countless others, justify the potential disarray our entanglement with nuclear endeavors entails.

After the incident on Three Mile Island in 1979, during which radioactive gases and iodine were released into Dauphin County, Pa., the public’s nuclear endorsement dropped to 43 percent. Last year’s “accident” in Fukushima knocked the bar even lower, so that “64 percent of Americans opposed the construction of new nuclear reactors.”

It’s a start, but if these are the magnitudes required to raise awareness, it’d be a tragedy to find out what would result in a unanimous approval.

With more than 100 nuclear plants still operating in the nation, it’s a terrible method for punctuating progress.

Bryan Washington is a sociology freshman and may be reached at [email protected].


  • re:Atomic energy not the answer

    For 30+ years we had it your way and look where it got us. More green house gas emissions and greater reliance on the middle east.

    You've done more to support Exxon than your own environmental causes. Does Exxon pay you to fight nuclear energy? They should, environmentalist like you have been their greatest supporters.

  • I would think Coal and gas burning plants are far more harmful to the environment. It really comes down to risk. Which is more acceptable, a coal-burning plant nearby that releases harmful emissions and toxic chemicals into the groundwater, every day in relatively small amounts, or a nuclear plant that has a certain probability of having a catastrophic meltdown that will render portions of the surroundings completely unlivable for years, just once in 50 years of operation?

    For base-line electricity generation nuclear plants rock, though they can't be easily shutdown or turned on during peak demand times. Solar and wind power won't be providing good base generation until someone figures out a way to store the energy they produce and draw energy from elsewhere to smooth out the kinks they produce.

  • If you consider the type/amount of waste Nuclear Plants produce vs. how much energy is generated, they are among the greenest options for power generation. Our (USA) ability to store and reprocess the waste will only continue to improve. People really need to reconsider Nuclear Energy- Europe has and it works really, really well for them.

  • Thank you for this excellent analysis on the dangers of nuclear energy.

    Nuclear energy is FILTHY! Nuclear energy pollutes the oceans, drinking water, ground water, drinking wells, air, food, fish, grass, meat, vegetables, etc. with nuclear radiation that nuclear power plants are allowed to vent… and through problems/meltdowns.

    Nuclear radiation also can cause cancer, birth defects, miscarriages, increases in childhood leukemia, thyroid cancer, it's linked to autism, learning problems… and on and on….

    Right now there are 5,000,000 pounds of nuclear waste in the USA alone! And after 50+ years of nuclear energy, there's still no solution for the nuclear waste, and there's still nowhere to put it!

    Nuclear energy provides less than 9% of the energy in the USA. That could easily be replaced with truly green and clean renewable energy or conservation.

    To learn more about the true dangers of nuclear energy, I high recommend www dot enenews dot com

    The more you learn about nuclear energy, the more you won't like it.

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