What is the greater danger to our environment — safely stored nuclear waste or millions of additional tons of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere? Should we continue to burn coal and natural gas to produce our electrical power or should we be promoting more nuclear power?

Safely stored? Yes, spent nuclear fuel has been stored in dry casks in the U.S. since 1986. There have been no radiation leaks and no human injuries or deaths. Compare that to the millions of tons of coal that have been burned in the same time period. How much air pollution, asthma, emphysema, and cancers have been the result — not to mention the carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere at the same time?

There are two approaches to long-term solutions to nuclear waste: reprocessing and deep, geological isolation. France has decades of experience with reprocessing nuclear fuel to extract more energy. Finland broke ground this year on the Onkalo deep geological spent nuclear fuel repository.

Solar and wind power are great! But there is just no way those renewable sources of power are going to meet even the cautious goals of stopping global warming by 2050. Obviously, solar generation only works when the sun is shining and the wind cannot be relied upon as was shown in early September when the usually windy North Sea became calm for nearly a week. Billions of dollars worth of wind turbines went off-line and Britain had to start up old coal-fired power plants to prevent a nationwide blackout.

Is nuclear power safe? Just last year alone more Americans died in auto accidents (38,800) than have ever been killed by radiation from nuclear power plants. Compared to automobiles, nuclear power plants are very, very safe.

As we learn from experience, nuclear plants are being designed and built with ever greater safety features. Consider the small, modular reactors (SMRs) being built to install in Wyoming. They will be mass-produced (cutting costs), sealed at the factory, and designed to be fail-safe: this is, if something goes wrong, they shut down automatically.

The choice is not nuclear power versus renewables, but nuclear power versus fossil fuels.

Ellis Burruss


(23) comments


I want a small nuclear power source to put in my basement.


I am holding out for Mr Fusion in my DeLorean.


It is a high upfront cost among other reasons being everyone wants the plant to be a 'new design' instead of using the proven French design. It takes forever to get a design thru the AEC and that then drives all the other costs with the delays.


Do my eyes deceive me? Mr. Burress, one of the leading Libby's in our county touting Nuclear Energy?? There is hope for us yet. This is the most common sense thing I've heard in a while from a liberal. Well written Mr. Burress! Right on!!


Trek, Please grow up.


Well said and we need to remember that earths climate ups and downs have been with us for eons and no doubt will continue to be...nonetheless all reasonable efforts should be undertaken to reduce carbon emissions ...the Unreasonable ideas put forth by the lefties are simply an attempt to control the populace and should be thwarted at the ballot box...this country is making great progress w/o the intererference of the control freaks


One thing I failed to mention - all it would take is one large Volcanic (Mt. St. Helens style) eruption and everything will be reversed. For a while anyway.


Why did you want to mention that?


I had hoped we would make it through the day without these two totally incorrect concepts being presented, but no such luck. First, TrekMan, a large volcanic style eruption will NOT reverse everything. Second, while the earth climate does change, right now the cycle says it should be cooling but it is heating. That's like saying the sun rises and sets every day but then one day the sun starts setting in the morning. It's not normal. People die every day, too, but when someone dies and has a bullet hole in their head, it is worth investigating. Get it?




An update. https://s.yimg.com/ny/api/res/1.2/xJOgkI0R7aOhwgf28MAbUA--/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTcwNTtoPTQ0Ni4yOTU2NTIxNzM5MTM-/https://s.yimg.com/uu/api/res/1.2/FuD0iiK0NVnXaIPXxk0NQg--~B/aD0zNjQ7dz01NzU7c209MTthcHBpZD15dGFjaHlvbg--/http://media.zenfs.com/en-US/homerun/science.mashable/ac677afbb9bcb00f3f824a858468cc40


Note that large batteries or other types of energy storage (pumped hydro, thermal energy) can offset the periodic nature of wind and solar. Nuclear is not the ONLY answer, but it certainly deserves to be in the mix. The main problem is the huge upfront capital cost for current reactors.


You bet. Aside from a few inaccuracies in this LTE, it is correct that nuclear would be a great way to offset base load electricity generation that we currently get from coal. I mean, we get it from things like hydro as well, but that resource is close to being tapped out. The reactor in Wyoming won't be built in a factory but hopefully they will be in the future. Biden just announced a new SMR project to be built in Romania by a US company (NuScale) as well. I'm wondering who this letter is trying to convince.


" I'm wondering who this letter is trying to convince."

I'm my experience, the anti-nuke folk are as impervious to evidence as the the-election-was-stolen-from-Trump folk.




You might enjoy this even though I can't find the link. I think I read this at Panda's Thumb and I think it was at least 15 years ago. Someone was expressing his frustration about discussions with creationists. Facts and evidence couldn't seem to get thru. If memory serves, his specialty was with chelonians. It occurred to him that creationists' resistance to evidence was analogous to shells and so he coined the term Torticans to describe them.


🐚 🐌


public; I've had better luck with anti-nuke people. The argument against these days tends more towards the waste, and explaining to them that the main issues are political rather than scientific is a good start. Thirty years ago people thought that we were all going to die because of TMI, but that is not on the forefront of arguments anymore. Probably because nuclear has been so successful for so long.


That's encouraging.


As long as you're not near Chernobyl, but yes I agree nuclear should make up some of the base. Hydro, not so much. More use of solar and geothermal at the owner's property so we can greatly reduce the need of centralized power plants, absolutely. What can be better than using the sunlight that hits your own property to generate the electricity you need and using the groundwater under your property (or if you don't have ground water, then using a closed loop system) to heat and cool your house thus eliminating the need for oil, propane or natural gas heating.


I was anti-nuke after Chernobyl and 3 Mile Island, but a lot of progress and global warming has happened since those worst case scenarios.


Well stated Mr. Burress. If we want to wean society from fossil fuels, we must have sustainable, reliable, and constant sources of power. Nuclear fits the bill.



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