First I would like to say that I am opposed to Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power and Nuclear Waste, and I have worked hard over the years to stop the building of nuclear power plants starting with Wolf Creek in KS in the late 1970’s. I am happy to say that I worked with many others to help shut down San Onofre nuclear power plant in CA in 2013. I am opposed to “Nuclear” on all levels for spiritual and ethical reasons. My ancestors have told me to leave the Earth in good shape, in a better way for the generations to come after us. My ultimate goal is to find a way to do that. The only way to do that is to stop making more nuclear waste of all types and find the safest possible solution.
This all started with the making of the atomic bomb in 1944. People of the world never want nuclear weapons to be used again. We now have to look to see all of the effects the world is still experiencing because of that action. In the very early 1950’ s it didn’t take long for the US Government and the military to introduce the propaganda program called the “friendly nuclear atom” which has turned out unfortunately for all living creatures on our planet to be anything but friendly. It was stated by those pushing nuclear power that it was going to be “safe and too cheap to meter”. It was noted that there was “one minor problem, and that was the nuclear waste and how and what to do with it.” But “don’t worry we’ll have it figured out before these nuclear power plants reach the end of their life in 40 years.” That, too, has proven to be completely untrue! The cost of nuclear power is the highest in the world, and the problem of the nuclear waste has not been solved. Now, 70 years later, the world has millions of metric tons of high-level nuclear waste, and a large portion of it we are now finding out is High Burn up fuel or HBF. Which is much hotter in temperature and many times more radioactive, which will need to be cooled for a longer time, and stored for an even longer time frame.
We now find ourselves with stockpiles of nuclear weapons and over 450 nuclear power plants in the world. All of the nuclear power plants in the world are either completely full or will be full soon of nuclear waste. Nuclear waste will have to be stored for many thousands of years. Here lies the problem. The nuclear industry tells us that the new nuclear technology for building new power plants has improved exponentially. But of course we must use caution because the world’s history with nuclear safety has not been a good one! At this time it must be asked how many more nuclear accidents can the world afford? I say none. At the same time I believe that nuclear power plant technology has improved somewhat with new designs and techniques, but still there is no answer to the nuclear waste problem.
Some questions that need to be asked:
- What are we going to do with all the nuclear weapons and nuclear waste?
- Is nuclear necessary at all?
- Should we stop making anymore nuclear waste?
- Is it really safe to store nuclear waste in populated areas?
- Are we going to let every nuclear power plant become a nuclear waste dump?
- How safe is it really to put large stockpiles of nuclear weapons & waste underground in one area or even in several regional areas for long periods of time?
- Will the safe storage of nuclear waste ever be accomplished, and how safe would it really be?
- Is the real solution to reduce the volume and the radiation risk of nuclear waste, and is this possible?
- Can renewable energy keep up with our power needs?
Answers and solutions that need action now. They are:
- Shutdown and stop making more nuclear weapons and nuclear waste now is a must.
- I believe it will be proven that it is not safe to store large amounts of these materials together in the same areas for long periods of time, and that is not the legacy I choose to leave for the future.
- The reduction of volume of this nuclear material and radiation levels is the only satisfactory answer for the world’s future and this is the legacy I would choose for us.
- This will only be done in my opinion by fourth generation nuclear power plants that use nuclear waste and nuclear weapons as fuel. These new plants should be used until this waste is consumed and depleted and is no longer a danger to life on earth and then shut down forever. This concept, of course, has to be proven to everyone’s satisfaction before it is put in place.
- Renewable energy sources and conservation can and will keep up with our power requirements for the future.
I know that many will disagree with me and have different solutions, and that is good. The purpose of this article is that we do not overlook any real ways to solve this problem. We must remember that we made this trouble for ourselves and it is up to us to make it go away. But to just bury our heads in the sand with our nuclear waste, will that give us the outcome the world needs?
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this–you haven’t.” Thomas Edison
Gene Stone, Residents Organized For a Safe Environment (ROSE)
Drawing by Jerry Collamer