Greenpeace, Ontario nurses show sad ignorance of nuclear facts

Nuclear energy should be in our future.

We need to pursue nuclear energy.

Today, an “urgent appeal” was issued by Greenpeace and the collective of Ontario nurses to the provincial government, to defer discussions meant to result in the construction of new nuclear power stations in Ontario.

What sad, ignorant fools they are.  Nuclear energy – though not a definitive long term solution – is an excellent intermediate measure that can be used very safely while we find better, more usable energy sources – and learn to stop being such energy hogs.

I have a great deal of respect for nurses generally, but I’m disappointed by their position on this matter. They’re nurses, not nuclear scientists.  They haven’t the expertise needed to contribute meaningfully on nuclear energy.

Greenpeace, on the other hand, I have no respect for at all.  They give those of us who really care about sustainability a bad name.  They’re political, not environmental, activists.  I think they’re motivated more by anarchist tendencies than by any particularly sanguine or informed desire to “save the planet.”

Recent events at the nuclear facility in Fukushima have given sundry Machiavellian groups, like Greenpeace, fodder to come at nuclear energy again.  Greenpeace is well known for this kind of lame tactic.  The Ontario nurses are new players in this, apparently.  Too bad they’re on the wrong side.

The argument they pose is that, based on the dangerous situation in Japan, we need to stop building nuclear power stations in Ontario.  They talk about significant risks, environmental harm, human error, and such.  But as all those who have a hidden agenda, their arguments are deeply flawed.

Here are some facts that are important because they undermine their arguments completely.

The earthquake in Japan measured 9 on the Richter Scale.  What most people don’t know about the Richter Scale is that it’s non-linear.  That is, a magnitude 9.0 earthquake is 10 times stronger than a magnitude 8.0 Earthquake.  The strongest earthquake ever measured in Ontario measured 6.1, in 1935.  That’s just about 800 times weaker than the Japan earthquake.  According to the US Geological Survey, “several million earthquakes occur in the world each year.”  And Ontario is definitely not known for its earthquakes.  The point is this: the odds of an earthquake occurring in Ontario that is powerful enough to significantly damage one of our nuclear reactors is infinitesimal.  So whoever thinks that Ontario reactors will meet an end similar to those in Fukushima are wrong, and whoever advocates for this position is a liar.

The risk of death associated with nuclear accidents is absurdly small.  Consider the information here. These are indisputable facts, mind you, not the rants of self-absorbed do-gooders.  Nuclear energy is as safe as anything else.  And if you’re looking to address causes of premature death, virtually every other possible source exceeds that of death by nuclear accident.

Another flaw in the arguments against nuclear power in Ontario has to do with the reactors themselves. While the Fukushima BWR (boiling water reactor) design is quite respectable, the CANDU design is better; indeed, it was designed expressly to fail safely, as they say.  So again, the shrill cries of the anti-nuclear advocates are just plain wrong – they’re comparing apples and oranges.  It’s like saying a Ford Pinto is the same as a Lamborghini Diablo because they’re both cars.

Sure, there is “nuclear waste” produced by reactors.  But it doesn’t have to be waste.  The Yucca Mountain storage facility, which likely won’t be built now, was intended to store American nuclear waste.  While one might argue the wisdom of putting that much nuclear waste in one place, it does form a huge heat source, heat that can be used to generate massive amounts of electricity, and that would last for several thousands of years.  That would be a tremendous way to generate “clean” energy.

Furthermore, there are kinds of reactors that can be used to generate even more power from already-spent nuclear fuel, and as a by-product, produce much-needed radioactive isotopes for medical purposes.  I already wrote about this.

So the complaints of the anti-nuclear movement are again unfounded insofar as the technology involved is concerned.

In the end, the real problem isn’t nuclear energy or the technologies needed to generate it.  The real problem is a “people problem,” one of ignorance and self-serving political agendas, of people too worried about the incomprehensibly remote accidents and not worried enough about the far more massive and serious problems facing the world today: starvation, terrorism, genocide, rampant petroleum consumption, irrecoverable waste, and – at the root of it all – the pathetic ignorance of a few loud-mouths who have nothing better to do than cause trouble.


2 thoughts on “Greenpeace, Ontario nurses show sad ignorance of nuclear facts

  1. Well, I see lots of flawed arguments in your article…
    1. Ontario is not known for its earthquakes, that is true. But earthquakes is not the only danger. There are many other possible forms of damage. Is Ontario immune to terrorist attacks?
    2.It is true that there have been only few death caused by nuclear reported in past, but it seems you have forgotten that nuclear does not kill instantly. It is very hard to count and report deaths and suffering that lasts for generations. Also, you have apparently forgotten about Chernobyl disaster. Only about few dozen deaths are attributed to this accidents while unofficial sources report from thousands to about one million. (One million of people!) It is very hard to estimate what was the real affect of the disaster. Cancer rates increased significantly in many European countries, especially cancer rates for children.
    3. Do you mean that if you drive Lamborghini Diablo you are immune to accidents? You can not kill yourself? What a childish argument… CANDU reactors might be thousand times better than Fukushima BWR, but they are not perfect. No technology is. There is always a possibility of accident.
    4. Nuclear storage facilities do produce heat and they also produce radiation. Nobody really knows how to deal with it in long run and still there are many idiots who say: let’s produce more. Our children or great-grandchildren will eventually figure out how to deal with it. Or maybe not, but we will not be here anymore so who cares?
    5. The real is problem is the money involved in nuclear industry and its tremendous lobbying power.

    • Wow, you’re awesomely misinformed! Please think this through.

      1. I was riffing off what was obviously the case. That is, the only reason Greenpeace & the nurses decided to mount an offensive at this time is because of the Fukushima incident. Remove the the motivation and their argument becomes vacuous.

      Terrorism? Really?
      It doesn’t matter whether it’s an earthquake or a terrorist act that causes an incident. If the reactor is sufficiently robust, it will survive.
      The Fukushima reactors are OLD, but they were designed per the best earthquake info they had in the 1960’s (Unit 1 came online in ’71 I believe, so it’s design was at least a few years older). The reactors actually handled the earthquake quite well even though a mag 9 earthquake generates 476-ish megatons. Where’s a terrorist going to get hold of that kind of explosive force?
      Fly a plane into it? They thought of that.
      Derail a train into? They thought of that.
      Use a suitcase nuke? They thought of that.
      Not to mention that CANDU reactors are WAY more robust than the BWRs used in Fukushima.

      And if we used thorium reactors, the risk would be even less, and the benefit even greater.

      If a terrorist gets into the plant and wrecks some vital piece of equipment, they just SCRAM the reactor. BTW, that’s what they did at Fukushima. It was only the tsunami that damaged the electrical systems and backups. I note that even if all the systems failed and there was NOT billions of litres of water around the plant, they would have been able to run a power cable to the plant much more quickly and thus avoid the danger they’re now facing.

      So terrorists would have to find a way to cause massive, near-simultaneous faults in several critical systems, including essentially isolating the plant long enough to let the failure cascade into something massive. Ya, right. Look at terrorist acts and you’ll see that’s not how they operate.

      You’re also assuming that any new reactors would be no more robust – regardless of their type – than extant ones. Wrong assumption.

      So stop with the terrorism. You’re just trying to sensationalize.

      2. I didn’t forget about Chernobyl. I ignored it. No way a reactor would ever get built today that was as pathetic as Chernobyl. The USSR was responsible for that, by allowing the reactor to be constructed because they didn’t much care for either the population or the environment. That sort of thing just can’t happen today.

      Again, stop with the sensationalism. It’s boring.

      3. You’re the childish one by choosing to interpret my remarks in the most meaningless possible way.
      You said it: “There is always the possibility of accident.” That’s what “accident” means. If we give up nuclear power because of the risk of accident, then shouldn’t we also give up driving? The risk of deadly accident is FAR higher in a car than in a nuclear plant.

      It would be nice if you bothered to think through the logical implications of your rants.

      The Diablo/CANDU is a meticulously designed, high-performance machine. And it’s not Lamborghini’s fault if you drive your Diablo off a cliff or into a crowd of schoolchildren. I’ll let you try to understand that analogy yourself.

      4. You’re right: people who think we should generate more nuclear waste on a whim are morons. But where do you propose we get our base load capacity WHILE we try to figure out how to be more effective, efficient, and consume less energy?

      And anyways, I wasn’t writing about the hypothetical future production of waste. I was only talking about the stuff we already have. I would rather see it get used for something, than just lying around in storage. The radiation risk is the same whether we just store or, or store it and use the heat. There’s a net benefit there. Or can’t you count?

      5. Right. The nuclear lobby. They’re so much more powerful than, say, the petroleum lobby, or the tobacco lobby, or the Big Pharma lobby. There’s plenty of other sources of governmental corruption that are doing WAY more damage than anything the nuclear lobby has done.

      …is that all you got?

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