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New Reactors, Same Old Risks

Making You Pay for the Next Chernobyl … in Advance!

by HARVEY WASSERMAN

Are you ready to pay for the next Chernobyls—in advance? Are you willing to have nuclear power prevent a solution to the climate crisis?

Twenty-two years ago today, an apocalyptic cloud rose up from Unit Four, in the heart of the Ukraine. For the next few hundred generations, you and your progeny will breathe its radioactive fallout, which was thousands of times worse than that released at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Conservative estimates of Chernobyl’s financial costs are in the $500 billion range. In downwind regions festering with cancer and birth-defected children, the ultimate death toll is impossible to estimate.

Another Chernobyl could be happening as you read this. And you are already on line to pay for it.

The so-called “reactor renaissance” is built on high-priced lies and public liability.

Not one of the 104 US reactors now licensed to operate, and not one of the new ones being hyped, can get insurance from private sources against another Chernobyl.

For a half-century—since passage of the 1957 Price-Anderson Act—your tax dollars have protected the reactor owners. Now they want you on the hook for another century or so.

Check out your homeowners’ insurance policy for its specific exclusions against liability for reactor-related radiation.

With an old reactor or new, a Chernobyl here will bankrupt the government…and YOU.

The first 9/11/2001 jet that flew into the World Trade Center passed, a minute prior, directly over the Indian Point nuke site. Had the terrorists targeted those one dormant and two active reactors, plus the three pools full of spent high-level fuel rods, the loss of life and property would have been beyond comprehension.

Billions of dollars in private money now pour into renewable technologies like wind and solar, which are the real solution to the climate crisis. Every dollar invested in increased efficiency saves seven times the energy a dollar invested in nukes can produce.

Last fall a grassroots movement stopped an attempt to grab $50 billion in federal loan guarantees (see nukefree.org).

Now nuke pushers want to load the Lieberman-Warner “Global Warming” Bill with still more taxpayer subsidies.

But from the start of the fuel cycle to plant decommissioning and waste management, reactor technology is a serious greenhouse gas emitter. The final “bootprint” is unclear because there’s no actual solution to the waste problem, and no firm price for final reactor decommissioning.

A French “new generation” project in Finland is already two years and $2 billion over budget. French nukes are gargantuan tax pits, Europe’s most notorious radioactive polluter, and an ecological and public health nightmare.

In Florida, ratepayers may be gouged for up to $24 billion for two new reactors that would destroy the Everglades, and still more billions for two more north of Tampa. The utilities involved don’t know what kind of reactors they want to build, can’t guarantee when they would come on line, or what they’ll ultimately cost.

All that money should be going to renewables, which can solve global warming NOW, rather than at some alleged, inscrutable, incalculable distance in the future. Wind, solar, tidal, wave, geothermal and a host of green “Solartopian” technologies are attracting huge quantities of private capital. Based on the natural bounty of our Mother Earth, they promise tangible, immediate economic and employment opportunity, not radioactive catastrophe.

Chernobyl proved that atomic energy’s most significant ability—by terror or error—is to spread radiation over large chunks of the Earth. While blocking the real solutions to climate chaos, nukes can bankrupt entire nations in a single moment. They can inflict birth defects and cancer on millions of humans with a single cloud.

Twenty-two years after, it’s time to ask the ultimate question about the last reactor catastrophe: In money, body and soul, do you really want to pay for the next ones?

HARVEY WASSERMAN, a co-founder of Musicians United for Safe Energy, is editing the nukefree.org web site. He is the author of SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, A.D. 2030, is at www.solartopia.org. He can be reached at: Windhw@aol.com