GREENS OPPOSE PUSH FOR NUCLEAR
The Green Party of the United States (GPUS) Eco-Action Committee rejects President-elect Barack Obama’s reckless support for new nuclear power plants, as such an agenda poses unacceptable health and environmental risks and would be fiscally irresponsible in the extreme.
All of the processes associated with nuclear power are dangerous, from the mining of uranium to the transportation and disposal of radioactive waste. Uranium mining is implicated in endocrine disorders and cancers among people working in or living near the mines, and clusters of childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer have been found in people living near nuclear power sites even when the plants have not had a major accident. (The number of "minor" accidents, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission calls "events," is staggering.)
Dr. Helen Caldicott, a physician who has devoted her life to researching the effects of the nuclear power and weapons industry on human health, lists some specific effects of carcinogenic elements associated with nuclear plants and uranium mining: iodine-131 – thyroid cancer; strontium-90 – breast cancer, bone cancer, leukemia; cesium-137 – sarcoma (malignant muscle cancer); plutonium-239 – liver cancer, bone cancer, testicular cancer, lung cancer and birth defects.
More nuclear plants would increase the risk of accidents. Japan has experienced deaths at its new reprocessing plant in Rokkosho, and the Mayak reprocessing plant in Russia has a long history of accidents, including one which killed at least 200 people and exposed hundreds of thousands of others to radiation. These, plus the thousands of deaths and devastation caused by Chernobyl’s meltdown, and the 15-year, billion dollar attempt to clean up the catastrophe at Three Mile Island, are sobering cautions.
Radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants remains toxic to humans for over 100,000 years. There is no way to store this waste safely. Already, all six of the “low-level” nuclear waste dumps in the U.S. have leaked. The plain fact is, there are no technological quick fixes to isolate nuclear waste from the biosphere for the durations of its hazardous life. Therefore, rather than producing more, it is essential that the generation of nuclear wastes be halted.
Enormous and long-lasting health and environmental dangers alone make nuclear power unfeasible. Cost in dollars is another factor, with each new nuclear power plant expected to cost at least nine billion dollars.
In a recent paper, “Forget Nuclear,” Amory Lovins, one of the nation’s foremost energy-policy analysts, states that nuclear energy costs twice as much per kilowatt hour to produce as wind and at least seven times the cost of implementing end-use efficiency technologies. He estimates that efficiency alone could reduce energy consumption by three times nuclear power’s market share, and that wind power alone could double the nation’s electricity output.
Because of the high risks and high costs involved, the nuclear power industry has taxpayers subsidize nuclear plants. In 2005, taxpayer subsidies to the industry were raised to 60-90% of the entire projected cost of nuclear projects. Yet, due to regulatory changes made in the 1990s, taxpayers have little say over the licensing of nuclear plants.
Rather than relying on more nuclear power , the Green Party of the United States calls for a moratorium on new nuclear power plants, the early retirement of nuclear power reactors, and the
phase-out of technologies that use or produce nuclear waste, such as nuclear waste incinerators, food irradiators, and all commercial and military uses of depleted uranium. We also oppose the export of nuclear technologies or their wastes to other nations.
It is possible to achieve energy independence, to effectively address climate change, and to reduce energy consumption by 50% in 20 years through the strategic use of alternative energies such as wind and solar, and through increased efficiency and conservation. (Greens also emphasize taking great care to minimize any negative environmental impacts, even from such "clean" technologies as wind and solar.)
Nuclear power is as inimical to the web of life on Earth as it has ever been. If the nuclear agenda is allowed to go forward, our continent will be poisoned by radioactivity for hundreds of generations. We have a grave responsibility to ourselves and the future to reject nuclear power as any part of a sane solution to our energy crisis.
GPUS Eco-Action Committee Members:
Wes Rolley CA
Deanna L. Taylor UT
Mato Ska CA
Harold Shepherd UT
Bryce Ruddock WI
Jean McMahon OK
Gini Lester IL
R.J. Korbachs NM
Derek Iverson CA
Gail Enterkin MN
Linda Cree MI
Audrey Clement VA
Douglas Campbell MI
Matt Abel MI