Better Options Than Nuclear Energy

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Ironically, John Ritch wrote on April 26, the 19th anniversary of the Chernobyl meltdown, that nuclear energy is clean and safe ["The Key to Our Energy Future," op-ed]. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Even now wind and water continue to spread Chernobyl's deadly radioactive contamination; hundreds of children miles from the disaster are still born with horrendous abnormalities. Seven thousand children have defects that may kill them, including circulatory weaknesses known as Chernobyl Heart. Many more have thyroid cancer. The area around the plant will remain affected for about 48,000 years. Radiation levels at the time reached areas more than 1,400 miles away. Contrary to nuclear industry claims, no plant is ever failure-proof.

Ritch also left out the fact that

the uranium enrichment process needed for nuclear power uses large amounts of carbon dioxide, which causes global warming and is generated from coal-fired plants. Addi tionally, ozone-depleting chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) are used. CFCs trap 10,000 times more heat than carbon dioxide and are an internationally banned carcinogen.

Then there is waste: Ritch omitted the fact that nuclear waste remains deadly for thousands of years. Burying it under mountains will not change that; rather, it increases the chances of waste leaking into the water of future generations.

The only risk-free energy is from solar, wind, biomass, geothermal and hydrogen sources. Europe and Japan are leaving the United States behind in all those forms.

-- Rossana Baptista

Silver Spring


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