Nuclear energy is the largest clean energy source in the United States, producing more carbon-free electricity than all other sources combined. 2017 figures show that nuclear energy generates more than 56 percent of America’s emission-free electricity. That is nearly three times the amount generated by hydropower, more than 3.5 times the amount generated by wind, and more than 18.5 times the amount generated by solar.
As to why nuclear power holds great future promise, consider these three reasons as noted by the NEI in Three Reasons Why Nuclear is Clear and Sustainable.
- Nuclear energy protects air quality
- Nuclear is a zero-emission clean energy source.
- It generates power through fission, which is the process of splitting uranium atoms to produce energy. The heat released by fission is used to create steam that spins a turbine to generate electricity without the harmful byproducts emitted by fossil fuels.
- According to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the United States avoided more than 14,000 million metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions between 1995 and 2016. That’s the equivalent of removing 3 billion cars from the road.
- It also keeps the air clean by removing thousands of tons of harmful air pollutants each year that contribute to acid rain, smog, lung cancer and cardiovascular disease.
- Nuclear energy’s land footprint is small
- Despite producing massive amounts of carbon-free power, nuclear energy produces more electricity on less land than any other clean-air source.
- A typical 1,000-megawatt nuclear facility in the United States needs a little more than 1 square mile to operate. NEI says wind farms require 360 times more land area to produce the same amount of electricity and solar photovoltaic plants require 75 times more space.
- To put that in perspective, you would need more than 3 million solar panels to produce the same amount of power as a typical commercial reactor or more than 430 wind turbines (capacity factor not included).
- Nuclear energy produces minimal waste
- It’s about 1 million times greater than that of other traditional energy sources and because of this, the amount of used nuclear fuel is not as big as you might think.
- All of the used nuclear fuel produced by the U.S. nuclear energy industry over the last 60 years could fit on a football field at a depth of less than 10 yards!
- That waste can also be reprocessed and recycled, although the United States does not currently do this.
- However, some advanced reactors designs being developed could operate on used fuel.The case against nuclear power, much like the liberals’ argument against President Trump and in support of the climate change hoax is based on a combination of lies and ungrounded fears.
A sane perspective of nuclear power
CA author, screenwriter, newspaper columnist and author of 8 books, Burt Prelutsky, displays his usual political wit as he comments via a recent blog post — SCIENCE VS. SCIENCE FICTION – upon reading a nuclear power article published in the June 3, 2019 edition of New American. Currently Mr. Prelutsky writes a daily witty political commentary from his home, available only through subscription at email@example.com. Shared with permission is the following:
“It had never made sense to me that the greenies who despise fossil fuels and pretend that wind and solar could actually bear the burden of powering a large industrial nation never adopted nuclear power as the one sensible option.
After reading “Nuclear Power: The Promise vs. Irrational Fear” by Steve Byas, I am more mystified than ever. For one thing, France gets 75% of its power from its nuclear plants and is the largest electricity exporter in Europe, whereas it had been a major importer until the late 1970s when they began building a number of nuclear plants.
Although Byas points out that interested parties have done their part to make certain that fossil fuels retain their dominance for purely financial reasons, pop culture has played a major role in demonizing nuclear power.
In the 1950s and ’60s, between movies and comic books, nuclear power was constantly transforming normal human beings into mutants who either had super powers like the Incredible Hulk or into tiny versions of themselves, as in “The Incredible Shrinking Man.” Most times, it turned them into creatures with one eye or a multitude.
You would also hear theories about core meltdowns at nuclear plants burning holes through the earth all the way to China. It was the premise of a hit movie, “The China Syndrome,” which, not too surprisingly, was a pet project of Jane Fonda.
The fact that such a thing could not occur, due to safety features and the laws of physics, did nothing to prevent nuclear power being treated as the boogeyman of the modern age.
Even though the notion that the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki would turn the two cities into eternal wastelands has been debunked doesn’t seem to have changed any minds. Both cities are booming today and although the initial bombs killed several thousand people, the fear that future generations would be genetically mutated has proven to be irrational.
There have been a few leaks over the years, most notably at Three Mile Island (the U.S.), Chernobyl (Russia) and Fukushima (Japan), but nobody has died of radiation poisoning.
In the case of Fukushima, where the plant was wrecked because an earthquake at sea created a tsunami, the rumors began immediately that not only would millions of Japanese succumb to radiation, but the Pacific Ocean would be turned into a polluted body of water and that a cloud of nuclear dust was headed to our Pacific Coast. None of those things happened.
In fact, according to studies, nuclear workers who have been exposed to small doses of radiation were found to have a reduced risk of getting cancer.
As for nuclear waste, even the NY Times has reported that it is extremely compact. According to Byas, all the nuclear waste in America created over the past 60 years would fit in a single Walmart and could be safely stored in concrete casks and pools, becoming less radioactive over time.
There was even a place to safely store it at a place specifically built for it in Nevada called the Yucca Mountain waste disposal, a huge cave that is surrounded by several hundred feet of solid rock, guaranteeing the stuff would be safely contained even in the unlikely event that any of it somehow leaked out of its concrete casks.
The only reason that it has never been used for the purpose it was built, at great taxpayer expense, is that Sen. Harry Reid, the former majority leader of the Senate, decided to demagogue against it in order to excite the passions and fears of Nevada’s voters.
Gas and electricity, we should all be reminded, are potentially dangerous, but who among us regrets using them as sources of energy.
Turning our collective backs on the gift of nuclear power makes as much sense as banishing dogs because occasionally one of them comes down with rabies or bites a kid, although I’m willing to wager that 99 times out of 100, the kid was asking for it.
It’s bad enough that we have been frightened out of building more nuclear plants by corrupt politicians, the fossil fuel industry, lousy movies and stupid comic books, but the final straw should be that we’re taking a back seat to France. Let that sink in…France!”
Is radiation fear justified?
Why is it that many patients worry about an increased risk of cancer from a chest X-rays?
Edward Teller, known as the “father of the hydrogen bomb, often lamented that Americans had an over-concern about the effects of radiation, noting that one actually received more radiation by simply being next to other people than by leaning against a nuclear reactor.
In his book “Underexposed: What if Radiation Is Actually Good for You?”, Ed Hiserodt made the case that not only are low levels of radiation not dangerous, but such lower levels can actually provide positive health benefits to humans.
Dr. Jay Lehr and Tom Harris in an article posted on May 28, 2019, “Time to Expose Radiation Fraud For What It Is,” rate the unsupportable concept that even the smallest amount of radiation could lead to the production of cancer cells in the human body “as one of the many scientific frauds throughout history. This heinous fraud has yet to be effectively unveiled at the cost of advances in medicine, human health, and energy.”
The article goes on to explain the misguided hypothesis which points to the consequence of what is called the Linear No Threshold (LNT) model, the idea that there is no threshold below which a potentially dangerous substance causes significant health problems. Dr. Edward J. Calabrese, Professor of Toxicology at the University of Massachusetts, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, Amherst has dedicated much of his professional life to exposing this terrible misconception born of an outright fraud of a single scientist and a few collaborators, supported by hundreds of unwitting followers.
Scientist, Dr. Herman Muller, even won the 1946 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for his claimed discovery that the smallest element of radiation could lead to the formation of cancer, allowing for no safe threshold of radiation. Muller’s story is one of unbridled ambition, self-serving manipulation and a scientific community and Nobel committee that failed to demand accountability, because the Linear Dose Response Single Hit model (LNT) developed by Muller was based on the flawed assumption that he had induced gene mutation in common fruit flies by bombarding them with X-rays. Muller was untruthful in subsequent publications, misrepresenting the findings of a key study in order to support the LNT. As a result, radiation medicine has been held back ever since. It has also contributed to unwarranted fear of nuclear energy.
Author Dr. Jay Lehr recognized the importance of radiation dose rates in the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Because of a commitment to LNT, the Japanese government mandated that people be moved unnecessarily miles from their homes. That led to an estimated 2,200 premature elderly deaths due to stress. Not a single radiation illness or death occurred, because there was never enough radiation lasting long enough in the prevailing winds to cause either.
The deception over radiation doses and cancer continues to this day. This has led to over-regulation, depriving patients of improved medical treatment, and continuing unwarranted fear of nuclear energy. Accordingly, the cost of nuclear power plants has tripled in recent years brought on by unnecessary safety precautions over the belief in the LNT concept of requiring zero radiation leaving a nuclear power plant.
As with concerns over man-made global warming, it is time for the radiation hoax to likewise be exposed, so nuclear power and its great potential can be realized.