10.01.2008 0

Its Time to Turn Nuclear Waste into Renewable Energy

  • On: 10/07/2008 16:51:01
  • In: Energy Crisis, Global Warming Fraud, and the Environment
  • The Lone Star State is taking a bold stand in what has been an oft-times futile effort to bring a large measure of sanity, commonsense, and savings to the alternative energy debate. With eight new plants on the drawing board, Texas could soon lead the way in an American renaissance of nuclear power. Its highly vocal detractors notwithstanding, it’s a critical renaissance far too long in the making.

    Since 1979, no new nuclear plants have been built in the United States. The incident at Three Mile Island that same year clearly contributed to this halt in construction, as did the tragedy at Chernobyl some seven years later. Yet, it may have been a decision two years before Three Mile Island that contributed most significantly to the cessation in the construction of nuclear plants. And in view of subsequent developments, ALG News believes it is time to reverse that decision.

    As one of the earliest acts of his Administration, President Jimmy Carter in April 1977 issued an Executive Order deferring indefinitely the commercial reprocessing and recycling of plutonium. Each nuclear reactor produces about 500 pounds of plutonium a year, imbedded in fuel rods. And, Mr. Carter, citing the danger of plutonium in the proliferation of nuclear weapons, banned its extraction, leaving no alternative but the stockpiling of nuclear waste.

    Critics immediately began bandying about the threat of nuclear waste being “radioactive for 10,000 years.” The building of additional nuclear power plants on U.S. soil became increasingly controversial. And the nuclear industry went into hiatus. Meanwhile, production of nuclear power continued abroad. And today, France, Great Britain, India, Japan, and Russian all have thriving, and safe, nuclear power industries.

    In fact, not only are the industries thriving and safe, they are also efficient. And one significant reason for this is that they all have active plutonium reprocessing and recycling plants that not only help resolve the problem of disposing of nuclear waste, they also help provide alternative energy solutions.

    Plutonium extracted from depleted rods in European, Indian, and Japanese plants is used to produce additional electricity. In France, for example, the volume of used nuclear material is reduced by about 96% by recycling usable fuel, including plutonium, back into their reactors. While this slightly increases the cost of the additional electricity generated, it eliminates the need to safely store plutonium, thus saving money on the back end.

    So, for the United States, building new nuclear plants – and building in reprocessing and recycling capacity is a win-win situation. But, the hour is late. And the need is great. According to Steve Winn, CEO of the New Jersey-based NRG power company (one of the companies proposing to build in Texas), “All the manufacturing capacity is in France and Japan. So rebuilding the U.S. labor forced is going to be a challenge ….”

    Texas is preparing to take the lead in helping to meet this challenge. Now, one of its most famous adoptive sons has the opportunity to hasten the Lone Star State’s renaissance by issuing an Executive Order reversing 31 years of misguided policy by once again allowing America’s nuclear industry to turn nuclear waste into renewable energy. We urge President Bush to do so now.

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