Use of Atomic Energy Plants

May 09, 1988

In response to Richard Wilson's column "In Chernobyl Recovery, a Lesson We Must Learn" (Op-Ed Page, April 28):

Harvard Prof. Richard Wilson erroneously alludes to the fact that nuclear power "provides enormous fundamental environmental advantages." The only advantageous aspect of nuclear power is directed to those in the United States who are trying to profit from and protect their $150-billion investment. It should also be noted that $10 billion more has been subsidized by the U.S. government, a sum of which could be used to perfect coal-burning facilities and research solar energy strategies.

Although carbon dioxide emitted into the air, Wilson says, produces the "greenhouse effect," many scientists, who are not receiving paychecks from the nuclear industry, regard the worldwide clearing of forests as the chief cause of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere. Therefore, the "greenhouse effect" would not be halted by removing or restricting the burning of coal or other fossil fuels.

Moreover, the most misleading facet attributed to nuclear power in Wilson's article is that "far less waste is generated" than at coal-burning energy facilities. Wilson, echoing much of the propaganda used by nuclear investors whose main concern is their pocketbook and not humanity, makes it appear as if the amount of tonnage waste should be evidence enough to persuade one to side with the nuclear industry.

But what Wilson forgets to mention is that there is a basic, qualitative difference between conventional industrial waste and nuclear waste. This overlooked difference is radiation. There is no process to eliminate radioactivity.

As soon as a nuclear reactor produces a radioisotope, the earth must live with it until it completes its radioactive decay, usually only a couple thousand years or so.

Coal, on the other hand, does not involve the possibility of catastrophic accidents that threaten to wipe out the human race, whereas nuclear energy does indeed jeopardize our existence.

The only way to stop the nuclear menace and to protect the human race from this nightmare is to immediately shut down all nuclear plants.

While we burn coal, we have time to develop safer, more effective means of producing electricity.

Harvest the sun!


Yorba Linda

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