Circulated by Sierra Club Members (denoted with asterisk), Environmentalists, Safe Energy Activists and others.
As America’s 93 aging, decrepit, obsolete, embrittled and under-maintained commercial nuclear power reactors become increasingly dangerous and ecologically destructive, we urge the Sierra Club to escalate its opposition to atomic energy, to work harder to shut existing reactors and to expand its efforts to promote and protect a rising global green energy industry under heavy assault from fossil-nuclear promoters.
Nuclear power reactors add significantly to global warming through direct heat emissions, CO2 emissions in the mining, milling and production of radioactive fuel.
Their harmful effects on the planet’s rivers, lakes and oceans is catastrophic, as is their impact on marine life.
No windmill ever killed a fish.
Their routine radioactive emissions damage the health of human beings and other living beings.
When atomic reactors open, infant death rates rise; when they shut, infant death rates drop.
Their periodic melt-downs and explosions harm countless living creatures and cost enormous sums of money.
More than a dozen US reactors are downstream from dams which could possibly break and send tsunami-like waves into the nuclear cores, for which there is no real preparation or effective protection.
Despite billions of dollars spent over the decades, all atomic reactors produce radioactive wastes that cannot be safely or economically managed despite more than sixty years of industry promises that it would do so.
The electricity commercial reactors generate is now far more expensive than that produced by renewables and efficiency, with the ratio continuing to expand as renewables improve in performance while atomic reactors worsen.
Battery and other technologies have long since bridged the alleged gaps created when “the sun doesn’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow.”
Accidents and refueling outages cause numerous periods when atomic reactors generate no electricity.
The huge time and expense required to build new reactors, with their inevitable delays and overruns, levy huge opportunity costs upon renewables which are far cheaper and quicker to build.
Existing US reactors are all more than 30 years old, with worsening dangers of major disasters. Most were designed pre-digital, ie on slide rules.
All existing reactors are increasingly embrittled, making them increasingly vulnerable to explosions in case of a melt-down.
No commercial reactors are being subjected to the rigorous inspections by independent engineering teams that are prudently demanded when the reactors periodically shut for refueling.
Like the reactors themselves, the atomic workforce is aging, leaving a serious gap in future staffing needs.
The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is responsible for maintaining safety at America’s commercial reactors, is corrupt, inefficient and deep in the pocket of the industry it is meant to regulate, with catastrophic implications for the public health, safety and long-term economy.
While the economic performance of commercial atomic has continually dropped, the technological revolution in wind, solar, battery and efficiency technologies has soared, making them far cheaper than atomic energy and fossil fuels.
Despite the promises of the 1957 Price-Anderson Act, limiting liability for the owners of atomic reactors when they explode, no private insurers have stepped forward to guarantee the safety of any of the 93 US atomic reactors.
Despite baseless assurances from the atomic industry, humans and animals were killed by radiation spewing from the 1979 melt-down at Three Mile Island Unit Two, as documented in KILLING OUR OWN: THE DISASTER OF AMERICA’S EXPERIENCE WITH ATOMIC RADIATION by Robert Alvarez, Norman Solonon, Ellie Walters and Harvey Wasserman (now freely available on the internet).
The definitive independent study of the downwind health effects of the Chernobyl catastrophe (Yablakov et. al.) estimates that more than a million deaths resulted from the accident’s fallout.
Anyone doubting the seriousness of the Chernobyl catastrophe might consider watching the HBO series on it, which accurately portrays the irresponsibility of Soviet nuclear authorities.
The four explosions and three melt-downs at Fukushima released more than 100X as much radioactive cesium as did the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Though long-believed to be dead, the melted Chernobyl core appears to be once again burning dangerously.
- Atomic reactors are radioactive fires directly heating the Earth at 571 degrees Fahrenheit.
- So far they’ve delivered five super-hot apocalyptic explosions (one at Chernobyl, four at Fukushima) with innumerable other close calls … past, present & future …
At Chalk River, SR-1, Three Mile Island, Church Rock, Davis-Besse, Chernobyl, Fukushima, and all other nuke “incidents,” the only absolute certainty is that government and industry officials are lying, as Jacques Couteau once warned : “A common denominator in every single nuclear accident – a nuclear plant or on a nuclear submarine – is that before the specialists even know what has happened, they rush to the media saying, ‘There’s no danger to the public.’ They do this before they themselves know what has happened because they are terrified that the public might react violently, either by panic or by revolt.”
According to Mikhail Gorbachev, such lies about Chernobyl – and its devastating impacts – were the primary cause of the demise of the Soviet Union. (To get a sense of the accident, watch the devastating 5-part HBO series at https://www.hbo.com/chernobyl.)
It is impossible to meaningfully calculate the human, climate, political, or financial costs of the next major reactor disaster in the US or anywhere else on this planet.
As they badly age, and are undermaintained, the likelihood of more atomic reactor explosions rises significantly.
In 1952, Harry Truman’s Blue Ribbon Paley Commission Report on the future of energy predicted that the US would be powered by renewables, and that there would be 15,000,000 solar-heated homes in the US by 1975.
But in December, 1953, Dwight Eisenhower announced a “Peaceful Atom” program that would come through the bomb-producing Atomic Energy Commission, which proceeded to squander the hundreds of billions of dollars that might otherwise have given us a green-powered economy, avoiding much of the climate crisis.
The 1957 promise of the Price-Anderson Act that commercial reactors would get private disaster insurance remains unfulfilled.
No nuclear proponent (including Bill Gates or James Hansen) has volunteered to personally insure the reactors they advocate.
You are personally liable for the loss of your family, health, and home (check your homeowner’s policy) should they be destroyed by reactor fallout.
In a true free-market energy economy with zero subsidies to fossil, nuclear, or renewable energy, renewables would quickly prevail.
The most meaningful nuke power debate now centers not on future construction, but on the deteriorating safety of each individual aging reactor, any one of which could be melting as you read this.
- The gargantuan radioactive, heat, and toxic chemical emissions from 93 US reactors and some 440 reactors worldwide directly devastate our oceans, lakes, rivers, and air whenever they operate.
California’s Diablo Canyon reactors killed all the abalone at Avila Beach before it even opened.
Numerous US atomic reactors operate downriver from major dams whose collapse could release tsunami-equivant waves of water capable of destroying them.
The melted cores of Fukushima Units One, Two and Three have yet to be definitively located or neutralized.
The billions of gallons of radioactive liquids accumulated and still being leaked at Fukushima directly threaten the Pacific Ocean.
Fukushima Unit Three was laced MOX (plutonium-based) fuel and may have suffered a fission explosion.
Fukushima emitted more than 100 times more radioactive cesium than did the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The nuclear industry cannot account for the climate impacts of the heat generated by the explosions at Chernobyl and Fukushima.
All atomic reactors directly emit radioactive carbon 14, a devastating global warmer.
All atomic reactors cause massive carbon emissions in fuel production.
All atomic reactors will cause massive carbon emissions in the decommissioning process.
Decommissioning atomic reactors might well cost more in each case than the original cost to build.
Reactor wastes will stay hot for a quarter-billion years.
The financial and carbon costs of managing reactor wastes are inestimable.
Decommissioning funds, allegedly set aside to dismantle shutting reactors, have been looted throughout the world, leaving reactor corpses to smolder for centuries to come.
Due to heat and carbon emissions, the certain climate impacts of operating reactors far exceed those of wind, solar, batteries, and increased efficiency.
The combined deployment of wind, solar, batteries, and efficiency can provide all of humankind’s electricity long before any new reactor buildup.
Renewables and efficiency are far cheaper, cleaner, safer, more reliable, quicker to deploy, and create more jobs per dollar than any further investments in any form of atomic power reactor.
There are no proven prototypes of fusion, thorium, or small modular reactors indicating any chance they could solve the climate emergency as quickly, cheaply, or reliably as renewables.
Thorium reactors are estimated to function at 1115 degrees Farenheit.
Fusion reactor, if one ever is put into commercial operation, would likely operate at around 100 million degrees.
The accident at Three Mile Island turned a $900 million asset into a $2 billion liability within minutes.
The cost of the Chernobyl catastrophe, still proceeding, exceeded $1 trillion.
The disaster at Fukushima immediately destroyed capital assets evaluated at some $60 billion in net present value (6 reactors x $10 billion each).
Except for war, the disaster at Fukushima represents the biggest single immediate destruction of tangible invested capital in human history.
Heightened energy costs due to post-Fukushima nuke shutdowns and Japan’s failure to convert to renewables are in the trillions and rising.
After years of construction, having generated not a single electron of electricity, South Carolina’s two V.C. Summer reactors have been abandoned at a cost of more than $10 billion.
At least one top South Carolina utility executive involved with the V.C. Summer fiasco has gone to prison for misleading the public on construction progress.
After years of construction, Georgia’s two new Vogtle reactors, still inoperable, have cost nearly $30 billion in sunk capital, more than double the original cost estimate.
There are no other new large atomic reactors credibly proposed or under construction in the US.
No new reactor built in the US can expect to compete with renewables and efficiency.
Despite full amortization, all the 93 US reactors currently licensed to operate produce power that costs more than wind and solar when carbon emissons, decommissioning, waste storage, health impacts and likely future accidents are factored in.
Building enough large new reactors in the US to theoretically combat global warming would take decades and cost trillions.
But trying to do so would come with no guarantee that those reactors would actually reduce global warming, because of the heat, carbon, toxic wastes, radiation, and periodic explosions they would create, while costing huge opportunity costs for moving ahead with renewables instead.
No effective mass evacuation is possible from an explosion at any American reactor.
Former New York governor Andrew Cuomo shut two Indian Point reactors near New York City by characterizing their evacuation plan as “swim to New Jersey.”
- Four obsolete, dangerous, money-losing reactors are operating in New York state only because of a $7.6 bailout.
- One of the bailed-out NY reactors, Nine Mile Point, opened in 1969, and, like many other old US reactors, was designed pre-digitally.
The average age of a licensed US reactor is now over forty.
A $1 billion bailout for two ancient, deteriorated reactors in Ohio was bought with a $61 million bribe to the speaker of the Ohio House of Representatives, who then spread around much of the cash to buy the votes he needed for the bailout.
Among those implicated in the Ohio nuke bribery scheme is Sam Randazzo, who as chair of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission granted numerous regulatory “favors” to the state’s nuclear utilities.
Nuclear industry thugs physically assaulted signature gatherers circulating a petition to repeal Ohio’s nuke bailout with a public referendum, which polls showed Ohio voters would have overwhelmingly approved.
Money-losing, climate-killing reactors are being kept open throughout the US with similar bribes to corrupt state legislatures.
Reactors throughout the US are dangerously embrittled, meaning key internal components will shatter when a melt-down requires pouring in cooling water, threatening massive hydrogen explosions, as at Fukushima.
The exploding reactors at Fukushima were designed by General Electric, with many duplicate models now operating in the US.
Among the most embrittled US reactors is California’s Diablo Canyon Unit One, which is surrounded by a dozen earthquake faults, including the San Andreas, just 45 miles away.
Diablo Canyon is half as far from the San Andreas fault as was Fukushima from the epicenter of the earthquake that destroyed it.
Concrete used to construct New Hampshire’s Seabrook reactor is now crumbling.
The concrete shield wall at Ohio’s Davis-Besse is crumbling and could collapse onto critical safety components, leading to a catastrophic disaster.
Boric acid ate almost entirely through a critical safety component of the Davis-Besse reactor before workers discovered the problem by accident.
When atomic reactors open, nearby infant death rates rise.
When atomic reactors shut, nearby infant death rates drop.
The 1979 meltdown at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island Unit Two killed downwind humans, animals, and plants.
The nuke industry compares TMI’s emissions to a single x-ray imposed on all area residents, thus confirming that pregnant women were exposed to doses definitively linked to childhood cancers as early as the 1950s.
Epidemiological studies conducted by central Pennsylvania residents involving more than 500 households showed definitive human health impacts from the TMI accident’s radioactive fallout.
A three-person Baltimore News-American team reported mass deaths and malformations among farm and wild animals downwind from TMI.
Central Pennsylvania farmers reported crop and tree die-offs after the TMI accident.
Chernobyl’s fallout caused an apocalyptic wave of aborted pregnancies, infant still-births, childhood cancers, birth defects, malformations, and mutations.
Fukushima’s emissions are harming humans throughout Japan, as shown in particular by studies of widespread thyroid problems.
Radioactive hot spots caused by Fukushima’s fallout are being confirmed throughout Japan.
All atomic reactors kill billions of fish and other marine creatures with heat, radiation, and toxic chemical emissions.
Construction at Diablo Canyon destroyed the abalone population at Avila Beach before the reactors ever operated.
No wind turbine or solar panel ever killed a fish (not even the ones that fly).
Fossil/nuclear cooling towers, automobiles, and high-rise buildings kill millions of birds; feral cats have killed billions.
The global average for bird kills at wind farms dropped radically when old-style turbines at Altamont Pass, California, were replaced with bigger, monopole designs, as demanded by the region’s environmental movement.
Bird kills at modern wind farms plummet when one of two or three blades is painted black.
Solar panels installed atop reservoirs and aqueducts, such as the water supply network in California, can radically curtail evaporation, saving billions of critical gallons over time (solar panels also operate more efficiently when they are cooled).
Cooling water shortages threaten reactor operations all over the world.
All atomic reactors heat the rivers, lakes and ocean from which they draw cooling water.
Reactors in France and elsewhere have been forced shut due to river water on why they rely for cooling has become too hot to do so.
Feedwater pumps at the South Texas Nuclear Plant recently froze, threatening a major disaster.
The wind turbines that recently froze in Texas were not up to the specifications of other wind turbines worldwide (as in Wisconsin and Colorado) that could easily have withstood that cold wave had their deployment been properly calibrated.
Energy losses in Texas from frozen nuke and fossil fuel facilities far exceeded those from the frozen wind turbines.
Nuclear power’s failed promise of electricity “too cheap to meter” has been realized by west Texas wind farms that offer electricity at night free to customers who can run their televisions, washing machines, battery chargers etc without cost.
Solar panels installed on rooftops avoid transmission losses suffered by all central generating stations, making them far more efficient than those installed in deserts and other remote locations.
The National Renewable Energy Lab estimates there are more than 4.9 million square meters of rooftop space suitable for photovoltaic panels in the US.
- Constant breakthroughs in solar, wind, battery, and efficiency technologies continue to steadily drive down their costs, while operating, maintenance and construction costs at atomic reactors continue to rise in the industry’s half-century-long “reverse learning curve.”
Inherent technological problems and continuing fuel supply challenges constantly escalate the costs for fossil/nuclear generators.
Atomic reactors were originally meant as a public relations ploy to ease the acceptance of the nuke weapons industry and to expand the domain of the Atomic Energy Commission, which both promoted and regulated them.
Despite treaties and denials, nations around the world now buying new reactors are certain to use them to generate fissionable material for nuke weapons, as have India, Pakistan, etc.
Nuke reactors are de facto pre-deployed nuke weapons of mass destruction for rogue nations and terrorists.
No terrorist will ever credibly threaten to blow up a city by bombing a windmill or solar panel.
The Green New Deal and Solartopian Revolution are ton taget to put the fossil/nuclear industry out of business, avoiding incalculable costs in climate-killing heat, radiation, toxic pollution, and more.
Retraining the fossil/nuke workforce will provide millions of safe, secure jobs for decades to come.
The branding of atomic reactors as “safe” or “clean” or “carbon free” is a false flag operation designed to cover up the technology’s inability to match wind and solar’s true compatibility with the natural ecology.
For these and many more reasons, we strongly support the Sierra’s continued opposition to atomic energy.