Economic Contribution to Plymouth
Source: Patriot Ledger -August 24, 2005
permanent employees with $42 million annual payroll
contractors with payrolls totaling $10 million a year
million in tax payments to Plymouth
million paid out for state and local emergency planning
Nuke plant still top taxpayer
By Brian Falk, MPG Newspapers- Sept 5, 2002
PLYMOUTH (Sept. 5) - The top 10 taxpayers in Plymouth sent a
combined $17 million to town hall last year - more than 20 percent
of the town's overall tax revenue, according to the town finance
However, most of that money, $13 million, came from just one source:
former Pilgrim nuclear plant owner Boston Edison. While Edison will likely remain the top taxpayer in town thorough
July 2007, utility deregulation means its payments in lieu of taxes
drop to just $1 million in 2008 - almost a 16 percent cut from
Plymouth's current tax levy of $76 million.In other words, unless new development in town contributes $12
million in additional annual tax revenue before 2008 - the
equivalent of 100 new K-marts - Plymouth would have to decide five
years from now between drastic cuts in town services or huge tax
The Pilgrim nuclear plant has been the
town's biggest taxpayer since the early 1970s, sometimes exceeding
25 percent of the town's total tax levy. Nuclear plant revenue will
continue to dominate the tax rolls even after deregulation takes its
toll on town coffers, but current plant owner Entergy Nuclear's
negotiated payments will never come close to Edison's old share of
the overall tax burden.Last year, Entergy paid just over $2 million in combined real estate
and personal property taxes, a distant second behind Edison.
Perhaps a sign of Plymouth's fiscal
future, the third highest taxpayer last year was developer Pinehills
LLC, with a $413,095 bill. The Pinehills may climb even higher on
the list over the next 10 years as development progresses on its
3,000-plus acres of residential, commercial and recreational space.
Utility companies took fourth and fifth place on the taxpayer list
last year. Commonwealth Electric paid $396,690 and Verizon New
England was taxed for $290,118. The rest of the top 10 list went as
6) Bure LLC (Home Depot Plaza): $248,917
7) Partylite Gifts: $159,622
8) J. Cohen Trust (Stop & Shop Plaza): $156,304
9) Plymouth Hotel Associates (Sheraton): $146,212
10) Plymouth South Associates (K-mart): $128,493
Though its payments drop sharply in
2008, Edison will still be a major source of revenue for the town
through 2012.Prior to the 1997 state law that deregulated utilities, the nuclear
plant was valued at more than $700 million, with Edison paying
around $15 million a year in taxes. Deregulation put the plant's
value on the open market, which knocked down Edison's property
assessment and tax payments considerably.
To give communities like Plymouth time to cope with deregulation,
the state required that Edison negotiate a schedule of payments in
lieu of taxes with the town. Per that agreement, Edison will send Plymouth $13 million a year
through fiscal 2005, which ends in June 2005. In fiscal 2006 and
2007, Edison will pay $12 million and $11 million respectively. Starting in fiscal 2008 (July 2007) Edison's annual payments drop to
$1 million, and stay at that level through fiscal 2012. The utility
comes off Plymouth tax rolls altogether in July 2012.
Entergy, which bought the plant from Edison in 1999, also has a tax
payment deal with the town, locking the plant's assessed value at
$155 million through 2012 - the year its license comes up for
With just five calendar years
remaining to make up $12 million in tax revenue, town finance
director Patrick Dello Russo said Plymouth needs to maintain
conservative budgets, encourage economic growth and look for new
sources of non-tax revenue.
Following the recommendations and
fiscal models provided by a consultant, RKG Associates, Dello Russo
said, will help Plymouth address the challenge of 2008. "We are aggressively working to keep the RKG model updated," he
said, "but there's a lot of work to be done." While many Massachusetts towns and cities are struggling with sudden
budget shortfalls this year, Dello Russo pointed out that Plymouth
will be alone in 2008 and must plan accordingly.
"Nobody else has to deal with this,"
MPG Newspapers- Sept 5, 2002
Economic Contribution to Plymouth - if it is not
Pilgrim is not re-licensed, a large work force will be required to
decommission the reactor and guard the spent nuclear fuel on site.
For example Ray Shadis, analyst for the New England Coalition, reported
that during Maine Yankee
operations, 480 workers were on site and that five years into
decommissioning there were 430 on site; meaning that there is
replacement and attrition, not instant dismissal of all workers. He
explained that on closing, Maine Yankee found workers leaving so quickly
for jobs elsewhere that the company had to institute a "Golden
Handcuffs" program, bonuses to
retain needed workers.
payments to Plymouth depend on its property valuation. If Pilgrim is not
re-licensed, not generating electricity, its property valuation does not
necessarily have to plummet. In appraising the plant Plymouth should not
disregard the income potential of a radioactive storage site. The
radioactive waste will remain on site until a federal repository is
available - many years down the road. Therefore it is necessary to
determine how much Entergy is willing to pay to store waste anywhere by
looking at the fuel storage market. That amount should rightfully be
added to the property valuation. A precedent based on this theory
occurred at Maine Yankee, argued by Attorney Peter L. Murray, Harvard
University Law School.
Yankee, Wiscasset end property-tax dispute
Herald April 8, 2005
Maine Yankee and Wiscasset have reached a
settlement in the longstanding dispute over property taxes on
the land where the decommissioned nuclear plant once stood.
Maine Yankee will pay the town $19.8 million in property taxes
and impact fees over a span of almost 20 years. Beginning with a
payment of $1.75 million for 2003, the company's taxes will
steadily decline to $600,000 in 2022. Both sides say the move is
necessary to avoid litigation and halt rising legal costs.
"This has taken an extraordinary amount of energy
and focus by all of us," said Wiscasset Town Manager Andrew
Gilmore. He cited the work of the selectmen, consultants and
officials from Maine Yankee in reaching the settlement. As part
of the deal, the amount of property taxes paid could change
depending on the uses of Maine Yankee's land or new investments
during the next two decades, Gilmore said. It's impossible to
know if the agreement favors one party over the other.
Maine Yankee had paid property taxes of $682,000
in 2003 and wanted its assessment lowered to $4.3 million, which
would have dropped its annual payment to $71,000. The town's
appraisal team, on the other hand, had set Maine Yankee's worth
at more than $200 million for 2003, which would have resulted in
a tax bill of about $3.5 million. That assessment took into
consideration the company's Independent Spent Fuel Storage
The fuel storage site holds 60 airtight
steel-and-concrete canisters that contain about 600 tons of
high-level radioactive waste. It is now the only active part of
Maine Yankee's operations. Eric Howes, spokesman for Maine
Yankee, said the company took issue with the assessment,
believing it was not a fair value for an industrial property.
Maine Yankee challenged the assessment, first by
requesting a property tax abatement from the town in 2004. When
that failed, the company took its request to the state's
property tax board.
Within the past six months, the two sides began
working on a compromise. Howes said it became clear to both that
the case eventually could make its way through Superior Court
and possibly all the way to the Maine Supreme Judicial Court.
"The settlement avoids the cost of future
litigation and the uncertainty of future litigation," Howes
said. Under the agreement, Maine Yankee will also drop an
application to the Maine Department of Environmental Protection
for a property tax exemption on the fuel storage facility. Maine
Yankee, which began producing electricity in 1972, has worked
since 1997 to decommission the plant and remove buildings around
Bailey Point. One of the last structures was the nuclear reactor
dome, which was demolished last September.
Howes said most of the decommissioning work
should be finished this spring. Storage and removal of the
radioactive waste is the responsibility of the U.S. Department
of Energy. Gilmore said settling the issue now adds some
certainty to the tax base of the town, which at one time
received $12 million annually in property taxes from Maine
Yankee. "Maine Yankee at one point paid 90 percent of
(Wiscasset's) taxes," Gilmore said. "Even after decommissioning,
this shows how closely tied one taxpayer is to our economic
Staff Writer Justin Ellis can be contacted at
791-6380 or at:
$$$ Economic Costs
If there is an
accident or terrorist attack, will insurance help
The industry says nuclear power is safe.
The President says nuclear power is safe. Insurance companies disagree.
Check your own home or auto policy. They specifically exclude nuclear
accidents. If you survive a nuclear accident, you will not get one cent
for your contaminated home or car. You won't be able to sue the utility
or company that built the facility because Congress has limited their
liability with the Price-Anderson Act. If Pilgrim had an accident or was
attacked resulting in a major release of radiation, homeowners and local
businesses would receive merely a few pennies for every thousand dollars
their property is worth.
Decommissioning Costs, will there be enough?
Company, Pilgrim's original owner, prepaid at the time of the sale to
Entergy $396 million for decommissioning the reactor at the end of its
original license in 2012.
these costs include? NRC regulations on decommissioning funding do not
include the cost of removal and disposal of spent fuel or of
non-radiological structures and materials beyond that necessary to
terminate the license. When asked, the NRC spokesperson Diane Screnci,
"had no estimate on the amount of money needed to store fuel, safeguard
site etc from time plant ceases operations and off site spent fuel
storage becomes available." Clearly in the post 9/11 environment as long
as spent radioactive fuel remains on site security measures and
emergency planning equivalent to those required for operating reactors
must be provided.
learned from decommissioning experience in Connecticut.
Connecticut Yankee rate increase
By JOSH MROZINSKI, Middletown Press
HADDAM -- A Federal Energy Regulatory Commission judge ruled on
Tuesday that Connecticut Yankee Atomic Power Plant can maintain a
rate increase instituted to help pay costs associated with
decommissioning the plant.
increase has the effect of increasing the amount collected for the
plant from $16.7 million annually to $93 million annually.
Connecticut Yankee plans to collect the new rate through 2010 by
charging the consortium of electric companies that shared in the
cost of building and operating the nuclear power plant. These
companies will continue to pass the rate increase along to their
customers throughout New England.
Decommissioning of the plant started in 1998.
When FERC initially granted the increase on Aug. 30, 2004, the state
Department of Public Utility Control appealed.
State officials have claimed that at least $200 million in cost
overruns was caused by Connecticut Yankee’s mismanagement of the
In addition to finding that the entire $831 million rate increase is
justified, Administrative Law Judge Bruce L. Birchman found that
Connecticut Yankee has been acting prudently.
During a Community Decommissioning Advisory Committee earlier this
month, Connecticut Yankee Vice President Ken Heider said that the
growing costs of providing security around the plant’s fuel storage
pad, weakened stock market investments and the federal government’s
failure to open a facility for nuclear waste has made
decommissioning more expensive then anticipated.
"We’re very pleased with the ruling. It affirms that not only did CY
manage its decommissioning activities appropriately, but it is also
appropriately managing its groundwater cleanup program," Heider said
in a statement.
Bechtel Power Corporation which had been hired to conduct the
decommissioning was fired in 2003.
Is nuclear power really cheaper?
The industry claims that nuclear power is
a cheap way to generate electricity. However, the figures that they give
are running costs only. When building costs, huge decommissioning costs
and radioactive waste storage costs which will still be being paid
hundreds years later are taken into account nuclear becomes far more
expensive than any other way devised to generate electricity.
The U.S. government heavily subsidizes
Nuclear Power - your tax dollars at work.
Subsidies – What We Pay
1. Electric Deregulation:
One of the most recent handouts to the nuclear industry came via
electric energy "deregulation." In 1997 Massachusetts passed its
Electric Deregulation Act. The legislation allowed full recovery of
stranded costs, industry’s bad investments, over a 10-year transition
We, the ratepayers, got to pay Boston Edison’s huge debts – debts mainly
from building its nuclear power plant. Pilgrim is costing Massachusetts
ratepayers an additional billion dollars in stranded costs that appear
on our monthly bills – hidden on the wire charge. Wouldn’t your house be
cheap if someone else paid your mortgage?
Boston Globe, 09/04/99
The Price Anderson Act is a taxpayer backed insurance scheme that limits
the liability of nuclear reactor owners in the event of an accident. The
act was originally enacted in 1957 as a temporary measure to help the
fledging nuclear industry. Almost ½ century later, is there any
justification for continuing to subsidize a mature industry?
Under the act, reactor owners are only required to carry $300 million in
primary insurance - the maximum amount available from private insurance. A second level of premiums in the event of an
accident is capped at approximately $100.6 million per reactor, and for an
industry wide total of about $10.8 billion.
But according to a 1982
study, a worst case accident at a nuclear reactor would result in 24.8
billion to $590.4 billion in damages in today’s dollars. Chernobyl is
currently estimated at more than $350 billion. Duxbury: total
real and personal property assessed value for FY 2004 was $2,875,209,840.
The huge discrepancy between the coverage
available under Price Anderson and the calculated costs of a severe
accident allows the industry to be off the hook and the public
ultimately holding the bag.
3. Waste Disposal/ Back-End Costs:
Besides picking up the excessive cost of insurance, we also pick up the
tab on the mounting stockpile of deadly radioactive waste that is
generated. All other industries are responsible for their waste. Why not
Back in the '50s, the U.S. government pledged that the public would own
the nuclear industry's toxic trash heap. We, not the nuclear industry,
have paid for futile searches for a site to put the stuff. Up through
fiscal year 1999, the latest figures available, DOE says we have spent
$6.3 billion. The total cost of dealing with 70,000 metric tons of high
level waste, the maximum currently allowed in one repository, is
estimated at $49.2 billion. It will come out of our pockets. And, we
will continue to pay to guard the toxic waste until it becomes
“harmless” - in a few million years.
4. Transportation Accidents of Nuclear Waste: Even if a place is
eventually found, we can expect nuclear road accidents – accidents that
we will pay to clean up. DOE calculated $620 million to clean up after
not even a worst case scenario. The economic costs of a severe nuclear
waste transportation accident were calculated at $20 billion to $271
billion. DOE studies predict one accident out of 343 shipments, and
considering that collecting the nation's nuclear garbage will take
around 90,000 shipments, more than 260 accidents are anticipated.
5. Decommissioning Costs
The amount of money required to set aside to clean up a nuclear reactor
after it closes is woefully inadequate. Massachusetts Electric
Deregulation Act assured Boston Edison Company would receive $466
million to cover cleaning up the plant when it ceases operations,
scheduled for 2012. The decommissioning trust fund stayed with Pilgrim
after the sale from Boston Edison to Entergy.
If the fund is short, we will be forced to choose. Live with the
contamination and consequent health problems or pay more money out of
taxpayer dollars to clean up the mess. Entergy Nuclear Generation
Company, the owners of Pilgrim, is a limited liability company. There
are no deep pockets to go to when the money is short.
6. External Costs
Also not factored into the price of nuclear electricity are the external
costs of nuclear power. These include costs resulting from environmental
damage and from human disease and deaths occurring from routine and
accidental releases that happen during each phase of the nuclear fuel
Nuclear power has never been economically viable without huge subsidies.
We should not be wasting money on a technology that is not sustainable
in either economic or environmental terms. Despite these facts,
according to a July 2000 report by the Renewable Energy Policy Project,
the U.S. government has spent approximately $150 billion on energy
subsidies for wind, solar and nuclear power--96.3% of which has gone to
nuclear power. It is time for a change in policy.
In the NEWS
Taxpayers Pay Huge Subsidy to Nuke
Public Citizen, Eye on Energy - December 2004
large omnibus spending bill that passed the House and Senate in November
contains $170.6 million for research and development of nuclear power –
$74.6 million more than the administration requested. In particular,
Nuclear Power 2010, a program in which taxpayers cover half the cost
for industry to apply for licenses to build new reactors, received $49.6
million – nearly five times more than the administration’s request. Generation
IV to develop the “next generation” of nuclear reactors, received
$39.7 million, which is $9.1 million more than the administration’s
request. Of the $39.7 million, $24.8 million is earmarked for the
project to build a reactor at INEEL that co-produces electricity and
hydrogen. The Advanced Fuel Cycle Initiative to develop
so-called “proliferation-resistant” and less polluting reprocessing
technologies was appropriated $67.5 million – almost a 50% increase from
the administration’s request.
Federal Energy Bill - S. 2095 -nuclear Giveaways
See Public Citizen
H.R.6 was blocked by a Senate filibuster, fall 2003. The new bill
contains over $3.8 billion in subsidies for the nuclear industry –
despite nuclear reactors being known terrorist targets and lack of real
progress on dealing with nuclear waste.
Nuclear Provisions in HR 6 Reauthorization of the Price-Anderson Act,
extending insurance subsidies to cover new nuclear power plants built in
the next 20 years [Sec.602]
Authorization of more than $2 billion for
nuclear energy research and development, including the Department of
Energy’s (DOE) Nuclear Power 2010 program to construct new nuclear
plants, and its Generation IV program to develop new reactor designs
Authorization of $1.1 billion for a
nuclear plant in Idaho to generate hydrogen fuel, a boondoggle that
would make a mockery of clean energy goals [Sec.651-655]
Allocation of $865 million for research
and development of nuclear reprocessing technologies, which reverses the
long-standing U.S. policy against it and needlessly augmenting security
and environmental threats [Sec.924 and 926]
Weakening of constraints on U.S. exports
of bomb-grade uranium [Sec.630]
Authorization of $30 million to fund
“in-situ” leaching mining projects, which would encourage a method of
uranium mining that could pollute drinking water in New Mexico [Sec.631]
NRC requirement to make final decision on
uranium enrichment plant license applications within two years;
de-emphasis of “environmental justice” issues in licensing proceedings;
and reclassification of depleted uranium as “low-level” radioactive
waste—all of which benefits Louisiana Energy Services, which wants to
build a new uranium enrichment plant in New Mexico [Sec.637]
Weakening of whistleblower protections
that were passed in the House energy bill by excluding DOE and Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC) employees and extending the deadline for
final decisions on whistleblower claims from 180 to 540 days [Sec.632]
costs, dangers of nuclear power
My View: reader commentary -
By Robert R. Holt,
April 29, 2004
The editorial, "New life for
nukes," in the April 18 Cape Cod Times looks suspiciously like
boiler-plate from the nuclear power industry. It consistently
presents a rosy picture of nuclear power as a clean,
nonpolluting alternative to carbon-based fuels and their ominous
increases in greenhouse gases, concealing or minimizing its many
Perhaps there is a place for new
types of nuclear power plants in a rational energy plan for the
future; I am skeptical but willing to listen. A puff-piece like
this editorial does nothing to advance the argument, however. It
treats the industry's desire to renew the licenses of aging
plants built before 1979 as a commendable effort to help reduce
our dependence on fossil fuels.
Yet, in light of the fact that we
know very little about the cumulative effect of many decades of
irradiation on the steel of reactor vessels and other hardware,
such renewals amount to an enormous experiment with people's
lives and property. There is evidence that metals crystallize,
become brittle, and lose structural strength under prolonged
irradiation such as they get in a nuclear generating plant, with
an increasing risk of catastrophic failure.
You might think that the nuclear
industry would worry, but their lobbyists have made sure that
Congress has fixed things so that they will have very little
liability if anything goes wrong. The industry does not play by
the same rules other sources of energy have to follow.
Commercial underwriters will not insure nuclear power plants, or
anyone else, against loss of life and property in case of an
accident involving radiation contamination. (Look at your
homeowners policy...it excludes damage from radiation.) So
Congress has repeatedly passed legislation relieving the nuclear
industry of major liability and placing the burden of paying for
the consequences of a major accident on the federal government -
meaning, ultimately, the taxpayers. All of us should keep that
in mind when the nuclear power industry starts wooing us with
bright assurances of new, "inherently safe" designs: don't
believe the promises unless they come with a commitment to give
up the public insurance scheme known as the "Price-Anderson
The editorial dismisses the
enormous, still unsolved problem of what to do with nuclear
waste by simply saying "the government plans to bury waste at
Yucca mountain in Nevada." Not a word about the many problems of
that site, which have caused Nevada's citizens and politicians
to reject those "plans."
Not a word, either, about a wholly
neglected form of waste emitting radiation and radioactive gases
and dusts, which amount to far more than the spent fuel: the
"tailings," from uranium mining. It is said that something over
90 percent of the radioactivity of uranium ore remains in these
leftovers after the prized uranium has been processed. Yet they
accumulate in unprotected piles, for the wind and the rain to
carry into the atmosphere and groundwater. Why? Because taking
seriously their threat to the environment and human lives for
hundreds of thousands of years would cost a great deal of money.
Under free market conditions,
without subsidies and governmental promotion, using nuclear
fission to generate electric power would never have gotten off
the ground in the first place, and would collapse today. What is
desperately needed is to put a substantial fraction of the tax
money currently being lavished on the producers of fossil fuels,
as well as on nuclear energy, into the intensive development of
renewable sources. Wind is only the most obvious; many others
(including wave power, tidal power, ocean thermal, slow-flow
stream power as well as conventional waterpower, geothermal,
solar thermal, photovoltaic, biomass, and thermal
depolymerization) already exist or are in developmental stages,
and they are far from exhausting the possibilities.
The most that can be said for
nuclear power is that it may continue to help substitute for
fossil fuels as they are phased out while the renewables are
coming on line. But for the long haul, nuclear power plants -
both fission and fusion - are too dangerous and too expensive to
be used at all.
Meanwhile, let us not forget that
the problem of disposing of the many forms of radioactive waste
safely and permanently is not only unsolved but is steadily
getting worse. Do we want our descendants to curse us for
refusing to face it? Robert R. Holt of Truro, a former
consultant to People Against Nuclear Energy of Middletown,
Penn., is author of two published papers on nuclear energy. He
is also a retired professor at New York University.
Outside view: Huge costs of nuclear power
By Helen Caldicott
Outside View Commentator (Note: highlighting added by website for
Washington, DC, May. 21, 2005
(UPI) -- There is a huge propaganda push by the nuclear industry
to justify nuclear power as a panacea for the reduction of
global-warming gases. At present there are 442 nuclear reactors
in operation around the world. If, as the nuclear industry suggests,
nuclear power were to replace fossil fuels on a large scale, it
would be necessary to build 2,000 1,000-megawatt reactors.
Considering that no new nuclear plant has been ordered in the United
States since 1978, this proposal is less than practical.
Furthermore, even if we decided today to replace all
fossil-fuel-generated electricity with nuclear power, there would
only be enough economically viable uranium to fuel the reactors for
three to four years.
economies of the nuclear industry are never fully accounted for. The
cost of uranium enrichment is subsidized by the U.S. government.
The true cost of the industry's liability in the case of an accident
in the United States is estimated to be $560 billion, but the
industry pays $9.1 billion -- 98 percent of the insurance liability
is covered by the federal government. The cost of decommissioning
all the existing U.S. nuclear reactors is estimated to be $33
billion. These costs -- plus the enormous expense involved in the
storage of radioactive waste for a quarter of a million years -- are
not included in the economic assessments of nuclear electricity.
It is said
that nuclear power is emission-free. The truth is very different.In
the United States, where much of the world's uranium is enriched,
including Australia's, the enrichment facility at Paducah, Ky., requires the electrical
output of two 1,000-megawatt coal-fired plants, which emit large
quantities of carbon dioxide, the gas responsible for 50 percent of
global warming. Also, this enrichment facility and another at
Portsmouth, Ohio, release from
leaky pipes 93 percent of the chlorofluorocarbon gas emitted yearly
in the United States. The production and release of CFC gas is
banned internationally by the Montreal Protocol because it is the
main culprit responsible for stratospheric ozone depletion. But CFC
is also a global warmer, 10,000 to 20,000 times more potent than
In fact, the
nuclear fuel cycle utilizes large quantities of fossil fuel at all
of its stages -- the mining and milling of uranium, the construction
of the nuclear reactor and cooling towers, robotic decommissioning
of the intensely radioactive reactor at the end of its 20- to
40-year operating lifetime, and transportation and long-term storage
of massive quantities of radioactive waste.
Contrary to the
nuclear industry's propaganda, nuclear power is therefore not
green and it is certainly not clean. Nuclear reactors
consistently release millions of curies of radioactive isotopes into
the air and water each year. These releases are unregulated because
the nuclear industry considers these particular radioactive elements
to be biologically inconsequential. This is not so. These
unregulated isotopes include the noble gases krypton, xenon and
argon, which are fat-soluble and if inhaled by persons living near a
nuclear reactor, are absorbed through the lungs, migrating to the
fatty tissues of the body, including the abdominal fat pad and upper
thighs, near the reproductive organs. These radioactive elements,
which emit high-energy gamma radiation, can mutate the genes in the
eggs and sperm and cause genetic disease. Tritium, another
biologically significant gas, which is also routinely emitted from
nuclear reactors is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen composed of
two neutrons and one proton with an atomic weight of 3. The chemical
symbol for tritium is H3. When one or both of the hydrogen atoms in
water is displaced by tritium the water molecule is then called
tritiated water. Tritium is a soft energy beta emitter, more
mutagenic than gamma radiation, which incorporates directly into the
DNA molecule of the gene. Its half-life is 12.3 years, giving it a
biologically active life of 246 years. It passes readily through the
skin, lungs and digestive system and is distributed throughout the
The dire subject
of massive quantities of radioactive waste accruing at the
442 nuclear reactors across the world is also rarely, if ever,
addressed by the nuclear industry. Each typical 1,000-megawatt
nuclear reactor manufactures 33 metric ton of thermally hot,
intensely radioactive waste per year. Already more than 80,000
metric tons of highly radioactive waste sits in cooling pools next
to the 103 U.S. nuclear power plants, awaiting transportation to a
storage facility yet to be found. This dangerous material will be an
attractive target for terrorist sabotage as it travels through 39
states on roads and railway lines for the next 25 years.
long-term storage of radioactive waste continues to pose a problem.
Congress in 1987 chose Yucca Mountain in Nevada, 90 miles
northwest of Las Vegas, as a repository for the United States'
high-level waste. But Yucca Mountain has subsequently been
found to be unsuitable for the long-term storage of high-level waste
because it is a volcanic mountain made of permeable pumice stone and
it is transected by 32 earthquake faults. Last week a congressional
committee discovered fabricated data about water infiltration and
cask corrosion in Yucca Mountain that had been produced by personnel
in the U.S. Geological Survey. These startling revelations,
according to most experts, have almost disqualified
Yucca Mountain as a waste
repository, meaning that the United States has nowhere to deposit
its expanding nuclear waste inventory.
To make matters
worse, a study released last week by the National Academy of
Sciences shows that the cooling pools at nuclear reactors, which
store 10 to 30 times more radioactive material than that contained
in the reactor core, are subject to catastrophic attacks by
terrorists, which could unleash an inferno and release massive
quantities of deadly radiation -- significantly worse than the
radiation released by Chernobyl, according to some scientists. This
vulnerable high-level nuclear waste contained in the cooling pools
at 103 nuclear power plants in the United States includes hundreds
of radioactive elements that have different biological impacts in
the human body, the most important being cancer and genetic
time for cancer is five to 50 years following exposure to radiation.
It is important to note that children, old people and immuno-compromised
individuals are many times more sensitive to the malignant effects
of radiation than other people.
I will describe
four of the most dangerous elements made in nuclear power plants.
which was released at the nuclear accidents at Sellafield in
Britain, Chernobyl in Ukraine and Three Mile Island in the United
States, is radioactive for only six weeks and it bio-concentrates in
leafy vegetables and milk. When it enters the human body via the gut
and the lung, it migrates to the thyroid gland in the neck, where it
can later induce thyroid cancer. In Belarus more than 2,000 children
have had their thyroids removed for thyroid cancer, a situation
never before recorded in pediatric literature.
lasts for 600 years. As a calcium analogue, it concentrates in
cow and goat milk. It accumulates in the human breast during
lactation and in bone, where it can later induce breast cancer, bone
cancer and leukemia.
which also lasts for 600 years, concentrates in the food chain,
particularly meat. On entering the human body, it locates in muscle,
where it can induce a malignant muscle cancer called a sarcoma.
239, one of the most dangerous elements known to humans, is so
toxic that one-millionth of a gram is carcinogenic. More than 440
pounds is made annually in each 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant.
Plutonium is handled like iron in the body, and is therefore stored
in the liver, where it causes liver cancer, and in the bone, where
it can induce bone cancer and blood malignancies. On inhalation it
causes lung cancer. It also crosses the placenta, where, like the
drug thalidomide, it can cause severe congenital deformities.
Plutonium has a predisposition for the testicle, where it can cause
testicular cancer and induce genetic diseases in future generations.
Plutonium lasts for 500,000 years, living on to induce cancer and
genetic diseases in future generations of plants, animals and
humans. Plutonium is also the fuel for nuclear weapons -- only 11
pounds is necessary to make a bomb and each reactor makes more than
440 pounds per year. Therefore any country with a nuclear power
plant can theoretically manufacture 40 bombs a year.
therefore leaves a toxic legacy to all future generations, because
it produces global warming gases, because it is far more expensive
than any other form of electricity generation, and because it can
trigger proliferation of nuclear weapons.