Nuclear Madness or Is It Just Hype?

My heart hurts thinking of the thousands stranded in the snow possibly drenched by radiation caused by an earthquake which was flooded by a tsunami devastating nuclear power plants in Fukushima, Japan’s  Dai-ichi facility.   Largely isolated initially from work on the Manhattan Project due to his religion and his pacifist political concerns, Albert Einstein came to support such research upon the ascendency of Adolph Hitler to power in Germany.  In December 1944 in a letter to physicist Niels Bohr, Einstein wrote when the war is over, then there will be in all countries a pursuit of secret war preparations with technological means which will lead inevitably to preventative wars and to destruction even more terrible than the present destruction of life.” It was likely his concern about nuclear proliferation for purposes of war that prompted him to write in his March 25, 1945 letter to FDR, not long before Roosevelt’s death, about the lack of integration between atomic scientist and cabinet policy makers.


There are some in the more conservative elements in society who do not believe that a Department of Energy is needed.  These are they who don’t appreciate that the productive and destructive power of energy sources particularly those directly involved in manipulating atoms should not be controlled by private entities alone.  Having worked in a secured facility where one is locked in until all materials with certain capabilities are accounted for, signed a pledge of my life to protect this for my nation and undergone personal scrutiny to a higher standard than we require of presidents or Congress, the tragedy of Japan says listen to Einstein and proceed with caution.


The truths of nuclear energy and its attendant chain reactions which few citizens seem to understand, demonstrates that once the genie is out of the bottle it cannot be put back.  Anderson Cooper on CNN questioned why workers in plants facing core melt downs were leaving not appreciating that all of these workers have a high probability of dying from radiation exposure. Time, distance and shielding are their safety valves and each had been breeched.  Unfortunately, fresh water which is needed for human sustenance is used to cool reactors and in these plants was now taking on radioactive.  Radioactivity within the body, depending on the atom from which it is generated, lingers affecting sperm, eggs, bone marrow, etc., i.e. future generations:  Uranium-238 (half life of 4.4 billion years) is used to breed Plutonium-239 (half life of 24,000 years) which is used to make the fuel rods.  These materials must be highly protected for if stolen, theoretically they can be used to make atomic bombs.   This makes these facilities future targets for terrorist attacks and their products useful in such fatal encounters.  This is a role for the Department of Energy which isn’t discussed or fully appreciated.


If one takes a map of fault lines in the world and looks at where power plants are built it is alarming.  The concern with Japan’s problem is whether a chain reaction in those plants built on fault lines will cause a further splitting of the earth and rupture in underground faults that may not be appreciated.  Our lack of aid and assistance to Japan in this their hour of need and nuclear criticality should be unacceptable to all.  This disaster has global implications which aren’t being dealt with by this administration and others for we are well past covering our own behinds.


Lessons not appreciated:  1) Saying nuclear plants are safe is like talking about safe sex.  You can’t guarantee total safety but must weigh the risk in making energy choices.  2) To promote nuclear energy as cheap is a lie for this industry will have to be even more heavily subsidized by tax payers to make it feasible.  3) Private companies engaged in nuclear energy production are going to want to be absolved of any liabilities for accidents or problems without necessarily having a full disclosure of their records which will be problematic.  4) Storage and handling of waste is and will be a major concern for after more than fifty years, we still don’t have a dedicated facility for such.  Maybe we should define the handling and disposition of waste before we continue to generate such.  5) As Japan has shown, if things go wrong as they often can, this energy will not be environmentally friendly.


Wake Up America!  Energy conservation and generation is everyone’s problem.  Continue to waste energy and watch fresh water become compromised, waste repositories hatched in our back yards and brown outs increase.  Cut out the lights, don’t run more than one television at a time, limit nonsense trips and be prepared for rate increases.  We’re damn if we do and damned by higher prices even when conserve.





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