FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Taking Down Big Nuke

Oregonians can rejoice that we are no longer threatened by the kind of nuclear meltdown disaster occurring in Japan. This did not happen by chance and citizens from other states might benefit from thinking about this.

Portland General Electric Company’s Trojan Nuclear Plant, downriver from Portland, began service in 1975. Throughout the late 70s, opposition to nuclear power grew in Oregon. There were various attempts to curtail nuclear development through public education, civil resistance at Trojan, legislative action and ballot measures.

In 1980, a ballot measure written by Chuck Johnson and me, and actively supported by a statewide coalition of nuclear power opponents, qualified for the ballot and passed by a margin of 52%. It required an operating nuclear waste repository and a vote of the people before another nuclear plant could be sited in this state. Since the nuclear industry was unable to meet either of these reasonable requirements, no additional nuclear plants were built in Oregon.

A determined band, headed by Lloyd Marbet, continued to work at shutting down the Trojan plant for another 15 years before PGE finally threw in the towel at the close of 1995. The reactor was moved to the Hanford Reservation and the cooling tower demolished. Nevertheless, the highly radioactive spent fuel removed from the reactor during Trojan’s years of service still remains on the site.

It is important to note:

1. The nuclear industry would never have voluntarily quit. They had to be beaten by citizen activism to protect Oregonians from the disaster we warned would eventually happen and which now is happening in Japan.

2. Governments will not protect their people from this danger. They are too easily bribed by the nuclear industry (yes, bribed is a harsh word, but even legal bribery is not good for the citizenry).

3. It is true that the nuclear industry has a good record of avoiding really serious accidents over the past 60 years of its existence – only a dozen or so – a point repeatedly brought up by proponents. However, as we are seeing in Japan, when a disaster does happen it creates a mess with global consequences.

4. The nuclear industry has required subsidy after subsidy of your tax dollars since day one of its existence. If those subsidies had not been forthcoming, there would have been no nuclear industry. Now the Obama administration, despite its cuts to nearly every non-defense program, is proposing new subsidies for this industry.

The people must decide whether they want to make the devil’s bargain that nuclear power represents. There are energy alternatives other than fossil fuels: wind, solar, biofuels and others. It will be objected – correctly — that none of these can substitute for oil and coal. However, that is true whether or not nuclear is added to the mix. The fact is, we are going to have to learn to use less energy and use it more wisely no matter what we do. Oil is running out, coal creates too much greenhouse gas pollution to continue to use it if we want to survive, and nuclear suffers from the same problems today that it did when I became an anti-nuclear activist in 1974. There is no place to put the radioactive waste that makes environmental sense and the technology is too dangerous in case of earthquake damage, tsunami or terrorist attack.

We, the people, will shoulder the costs for nuclear development, the costs when the inevitable accidents occur, and the radiation poisoning that will result. Is this a reasonable price to pay for convenience?

PETER BERGEL is the Executive Director of Oregon PeaceWorks in Salem, OR. He directed the 1980 campaign to pass ballot measure 7, which resulted in a nuclear plant construction moratorium.

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail