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ECONOMIC CONCERNS

$$$ Economic Benefits $$$

Pilgrim's Economic Contribution to Plymouth
                    Source: Patriot Ledger -August 24, 2005

  540 permanent employees with $42 million annual payroll

  130 contractors with payrolls totaling $10 million a year

  $1.5 million in tax payments to Plymouth

  $2.4 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 division.
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 hikes.

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 follows:
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 renewal.

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," he said.

MPG Newspapers- Sept 5, 2002

Pilgrim's Potential Economic Contribution to Plymouth  - if it is not re-licensed

Employees: If 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.

Taxes: Tax 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.

Maine Yankee, Wiscasset end property-tax dispute  Portland 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 Installation.

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 future."

Staff Writer Justin Ellis can be contacted at 791-6380 or at: jellis@pressherald.com

 

$$$ Economic Costs $$$

If there is an accident or terrorist attack, will insurance help me recover?

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?

Boston Edison 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.

What do 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.

Lessons learned from decommissioning experience in Connecticut.

Connecticut Yankee rate increase upheld 11/26/2005

By JOSH MROZINSKI, Middletown Press Staff

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.

The 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 decommissioning process.

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 period.

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

2.  Insurance:
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 nukes?

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 cycle.

Summary

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 Power 

Update: Public Citizen, Eye on Energy - December 2004

The 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.

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2004 Federal Energy Bill - S. 2095 -nuclear Giveaways
See Public Citizen
http://www.citizen.org/cmep/energy_enviro_nuclear/electricity/energybill/2003/articles.cfm?ID=11140

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 [Sec.924-925]

  • 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]
     

Hidden costs, dangers of nuclear power
My View: reader commentary - CapeCodOnline.com
 

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 down-sides.

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 Act."

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.

CapeCodOnline 4/29/04

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Outside view: Huge costs of nuclear power
By Helen Caldicott
Outside View Commentator (Note: highlighting added by website for readers convenience)

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.

The true 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 carbon dioxide.

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 body.

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.

But the 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 diseases.

The incubation 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.

Iodine 131, 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.

Strontium 90 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.

Cesium 137, 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.

Plutonium 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.

Nuclear power 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.

 

 

pilgrimwatch.org