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Do the research: Uranium doesn't solve problem Print

by Lilias Jarding, Ph.D. (Editorial)
Fort Collins Coloradoan
September 4, 2008

Mike Fox had it all wrong in his Aug. 21 editorial. He repeated a lot of uranium industry propaganda, but apparently didn't do his research. So here's some information to help him further consider the issues.

First, nuclear power is many times more expensive than the alternatives. It's also riskier, and nuclear power plants take longer to build - at least 10 years, compared to 18 months for a wind farm.

This isn't just some wild environmentalist talk. The major financial agencies (Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch, etc.) won't invest in nuclear power because, they say, it has unique risks. Quoting their July 2007 letter to the federal Department of Energy - "We believe these risks, combined with the higher capital costs and longer construction schedules of nuclear plants as compared to other generation facilities, will make lenders unwilling at present to extend long-term credit to such projects in a form that would be commercially viable."

The only way nuclear power will come back is if government funds it - our tax dollars. Hopefully, we'll remember this when we vote in November.

Second, uranium mining and all nuclear industry activities are dangerous because they emit radiation that's artificially concentrated. Ask the Colorado Medical Society, which passed a resolution against uranium activity in our area. Research going back to the 1920s shows that radiation damages cells - which can lead to cancer. The scientist who discovered that radiation causes cell damage won a Nobel Prize. Scientific studies have proved a link between a variety of nuclear activities (including uranium production and the Three Mile Island accident) and increased cancer.

I don't think we need another 80 years of research on this. I think it's settled that nuclear industry activities cause cancer - which can cause death.

Third, in situ leach mining has contaminated people's drinking water. That's what the research says (George Rice. Effects of URI's Kingsville Dome Mine on Groundwater Quality: Final Report. Kleberg County URI Citizen Review Board, July 2006). In situ mining purposely contaminates water in order to get uranium out of the ground. In our area, everyone from a local well driller to the U.S. Geological Survey says the water that a uranium company proposes to mine in is currently safe drinking water.

Fourth, of course nuclear power emits greenhouse gases - significant amounts - from uranium exploration to mining, milling, transportation, enrichment, power plant construction and decommissioning, and all the way to nuclear waste storage. Think about all those trucks, cranes, backhoes, drilling rigs and bulldozers. Then there are materials manufacture, chemical manufacture and electricity use. So let's retire that sad old lie that nuclear power doesn't add to global warming. It does.

And fifth, uranium is a nonrenewable resource. Period. If the nuclear industry gets its wish and nuclear power makes a worldwide comeback, uranium will begin to run out in 2015 because uranium resources (worldwide) will begin to be depleted. That is only eight years from now. This is according to the World Nuclear Association, a nuclear industry trade organization - also not wild environmentalists (by a long shot).

Does it make sense to invest hundreds of billions of dollars in nuclear power - an expensive, risky nonrenewable energy source - when we could be investing in cheaper, safer renewable energy? Not to me. I've done my research.

Lilias Jarding, Ph.D., lives in Fort Collins.

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