Friday, April 18, 2008

Greenhouse Free Nuclear Power – Follow France’s Lead

I was talking to a Democrat friend who expressed concerns about the world we will leave to grandchildren, very concerned about greenhouse gas emissions and global warming. I said that nuclear power emitted zero greenhouse gases. The response was that nuclear power was even more frightening.

I said that it did not pass the reality test for someone living in Laguna Beach which is only twenty-four miles from the San Onofre nuclear power plant. The response was concerned about nuclear waste.

I would follow the positive example of France, and suggest all those interested to read the Friday, February 29, 2008 article “The Case for Terrestrial (a.k.a. Nuclear) Energy” by William Tucker. I have never heard an explanation of what France does with all their nuclear waste.
■ “France has produced 80 percent of its electricity with nuclear power for the last 25 years. It stores all its high-level “nuclear waste” in a single room at Le Havre.”
■ “A spent fuel rod is 95 percent U-238. This is the same material we can find in a shovel full of dirt from our back yards. Of the remaining five percent, most is useful, but small amounts should probably be placed in a repository such as Yucca Mountain. The useful parts—uranium-235 and plutonium (a manmade element produced from U-238)—can be recycled as fuel.”
■ “In fact, we are currently recycling plutonium from Russian nuclear missiles. Of the 20 percent of our power that comes from nuclear sources, half is produced from recycled Russian bombs.”
■ “It is only cesium-137 and strontium-90, which have half-lives of 28 and 30 years, respectively, that need to be stored in protective areas. Unfortunately, federal regulations require all radioactive byproducts of nuclear power plants to be disposed of in a nuclear waste repository. As a result, more than 98 percent of what will go into Yucca Mountain is either natural uranium or useful material.”


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