Letters to the Editor

Safe nuclear

April 5, 2011


To the editor:

Recently you published a letter from Beth Anne Mansur captioned “No to nuclear” (Public Forum, March 28). To Ms. Mansur and any others who may believe as she does, France uses nuclear energy to provide 75 percent of its electricity with no accidents, injuries or death.

The U.S. Navy placed its first nuclear-powered submarine, USS Nautilus, in service in 1955 and it proceeded to the North Pole under the Arctic ice! Since then, the Navy has built about 210 nuclear subs. Two have been lost but not due to nuclear accidents. Further, in 1961, 50 years ago this October, the Navy put into service the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise. She’ll be retired in the middle of this decade — with no accidents.

In 1975, the USS Nimitz was launched as the first of the “Nimitz class” nuclear-powered aircraft carriers. Nimitz and her subsequent nine “sister” ships will require replacement of their power plants about every 20 years, and the ship’s anticipated service lives are estimated at in excess of 40 years. Currently the Navy has logged about 6,000 “reactor years” of accident-free experience.

Ms. Mansur, to repeat, France’s mortality rate from nuclear power, as is America’s, is zero. Industry journals attribute 20 deaths to the wind energy industry. A Google search says solar power production mortality is about 40 in the U.S. Need I say more?


Richard Heckler 7 years ago

The letter writer has no idea how many cancer deaths are related to nuke power. Why? Because cancer does not show up immediately upon exposure to radiation. Yes the USA does a good job of protecting this heavily tax dollar subsidized industry.

The France situation is not so sweet either. Citizens in France are now confronted with the radioactive waste problem. Guess what? Nobody wants that radioactive waste with half lives of thousands of years in their back yards. Why would they?

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

No contemporary energy source is as environmentally irresponsible, imposes such a high liability on taxpayers, or is as dangerous as nuclear power. Industry efforts to "greenwash" nuclear energy make a mockery of clean energy goals. Although nuclear reactors do not emit carbon dioxide, promoting nuclear risks to reduce greenhouse emissions is the classic jump from the frying pan into the fire!

The Real Dirt on "Clean" Nuclear Energy

* The mining, milling and enrichment of uranium into nuclear fuel are extremely energy-intensive and result in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels.

* Estimated "energy recovery time" for a nuclear power plant is about 10 to 18 years, depending on the richness of uranium ores mined for fuel. This means that a nuclear power plant must operate for at least a decade before all the energy consumed to build and fuel the plant has been earned back and the power station begins to produce net energy. By comparison, wind power takes less than a year to yield net energy, and solar or photovoltaic power nets energy in less than three years.

* The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has calculated that collective radiation doses amounting to 12 cancer deaths can be expected for each 20-year term a reactor operates, as a result of radioactive emissions from the nuclear fuel cycle and routine reactor operations. This calculation assumes no unplanned accidents and does not consider radiation releases from high-level nuclear waste "disposal" activities. Nor are nonfatal health impacts related to radiation exposure counted in this tally.

* Thermal pollution from nuclear power plants adversely affects marine ecosystems. "Once-through" cooling systems in use at half the U.S. nuclear reactors discharge billions of gallons of water per day at temperatures up to 25 degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the water into which it flows.


Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Japan Radiation Detected in California Rainwater 181 Times Higher than Drinking Water Standards http://www.newsinferno.com/health-concerns/japan-radiation-detected-in-california-rainwater-181-times-higher-than-drinking-water-standards/

Is this rainwater falling on west coast produce farms? Something to think about...

Stephen Roberts 7 years ago

good point Merrill..

We can't fly ina airplane because there were accidents

we can't ride in cars because of accidents

we can't ride a bike because of accidents

great now we must stay inside and only be able to do things via the web but wait how will get electricity (because there may be accidents)??

Run Chicken little the sky is falling!!!!! Run run away...

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

We can't use gasoline powered lawn mowers because there have been accidents and the damage to the environment, like cancer, doesn't show up right away. Why does Merrill hate the environment?

Interesting note: Mansur is Merrill's wife, although I suppose his incessant spamming on this thread in her defense is not all that much different than his usual cut-and-paste.

Ken Lassman 7 years ago

OK, nothing is free of accidents, and we calculate those risks and make choices based on minimizing those risks. But it seems to me that the Fukushima incident has unveiled a potential fundamental flaw in risk analysis for nuclear power, and I'm not talking about tsunamis or earthquake preparation here.

My concern is that we seem to have underestimated the risks associated with the spent fuel rod pools. At the time of the earthquake, In reactor #4, all of the good fuel rods were being stored in the spent fuel rod pool, alongside the spent fuel rods, which are still quite hot, too. I believe that this was being done for routine maintenance of the containment vessel, that steel and concrete shell that encloses the heart of the reactor where steam is generated to produce electricity.

But when the water supply was interrupted by the earthquake and loss of the backup water supply system, the spent fuel pool went dry and fuel rods began to melt. This released hydrogen gas, which blew the concrete shell off the plant, and, voila! Unfettered release of large amounts of radioactivity into the environment.

Engineers have spent lots of time designing a containment vessel for preventing radioactive releases from the heart of the nuclear reactor, but it seems clear to me that if the fuel rods have been moved over to the spent fuel pool during maintenance, as was the case in reactor #4, then there is no containment designed there and a meltdown would result in extensive radiation releases, and contamination on the scale of Chernobyl.

Of course, this is of particular concern right now for a place such as Wolf Creek, which is 60 miles upwind of this area, is currently undergoing routine maintenance right now I believe, and has earned the "degraded" status from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, one of only 3 out of the US's 104 nukes.

So I guess I'd like this apparent achilles heel addressed head-on by the current risk assessment process that is going on in the US after Fukushima. I don't expect to hear much from the Wolf Creek bunch, but I do expect the higher ups to discuss this for reassurance.

I hope I'm wrong about the risk issue I'm talking about, and I'd love to hear an intelligent response from a nuclear expert addressing this issue.

Stu Clark 7 years ago

Do a Google on "drama at fukushima". High on the list is a PDF article describing an insider's (R. T. Lahey's) view of the situation. It's one of the few reasoned responses I've seen.

Ken Lassman 7 years ago

Thanks, CA, this is similar in quality to the Stanford slide show of late March. There is definitely hope in long term stabilization of the situation, although the latest reports from the NY Times indicates that the situation is perhaps worse than expected and faces many potential pitfalls before getting to stabilization, some of which could be potentially catastrophic.

My concern about the US nukes still revolve around the protocol of placing the fuel rods from the reactor core into the spent fuel pools when they are doing refueling/maintenance on the containment vessel, and the potential for another Fukushima Reactor #4-type accident. It seems that there are several potential pathways to a large uncontained radioactive release at any number of US nukes if the right unfortunate sequence of events occurred. Before Fukushima occurred, this was seen as unlikely, but now that it has happened, it seems that there's a real and present need for reviewing the probabilities. It doesn't take much imagination to see how this could happen even without earthquakes and tsunamis.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

No to nuclear

By Beth Anne Mansur, Lawrence March 28, 2011

To the editor:

How can the United States responsibly talk of continuing nuclear power in America? According to a newspaper report, due to the continued leaking radiation in Japan, “The crisis is emerging as the world’s most expensive natural disaster on record, likely to cost $309 billion dollars.”

A nuclear disaster in America would destroy our already weakened economy. We remain billions of dollars away from rebuilding the effects of Hurricane Katrina. We still have the BP oil spill to clean up. It will take years if ever for the environment to heal itself. A year after the spill we are no closer to figuring out what caused the accident. No matter how accident–free something appears on paper, in actuality, accidents happen.

It’s time to stand up and tell Congress “no more nukes.” Construction and insurance costs of nuclear plants are guaranteed by taxpayers, because they are considered too risky an investment for anyone else.

Safe, sustainable energy alternatives are ready for expansion. These contribute no poisonous waste, attract no terrorist threats, will create no grand scale catastrophe in case of human error, but they will create a mountain of much-needed jobs.

Isn’t it better to create jobs by improving our lives instead of creating jobs by cleaning up after the destruction of our lives?

Tell Congress it’s time to be responsible and it’s time to phase out nuclear power. It’s time to stop covering the backs and pocketbooks of their corporate friends, and work for a safer world.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

Why are you pasting your wife's letter when it was published a week ago? We get it. You hate the environment.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Numbers of deaths and cancer problems related to all of the known nuke accidents will never be known. The industry powers that be do not want the people to know these facts. Which is to say those unfortunate ones were and are expendable in the eyes of the government and the industry. Which is fine so long as none of those horrible deaths are related to any of us.

Richard Heckler 7 years ago

Water tainted by radiation dumped in ocean

Associated Press April 5, 2011

Workers used a milky bathwater dye Monday as they frantically tried to trace the path of radioactive water seeping into the ocean from Japan’s tsunami-damaged nuclear plant.


Radioactive water from Japan’s destabilized nuclear power plant leaks into sea

Associated Press

April 2, 2011

Highly radioactive water was leaking into the sea Saturday from a crack discovered at a nuclear power plant destabilized by last month’s earthquake and tsunami, a new setback as frustrated survivors of the disasters complained that Japan’s government was paying too much attention to the nuclear crisis.

Clark Coan 7 years ago

Why just talk about France? Why not talk about the former Soviet Union and the US? See this:

The UN's World Health Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency claim that only 56 people have died as a direct result of the radiation released at Chernobyl and that about 4,000 will die from it eventually...

Other reputable scientists researching the most radiation-contaminated areas of Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are not convinced. The International Agency for Research on Cancer, another UN agency, predicts 16,000 deaths from Chernobyl; an assessment by the Russian academy of sciences says there have been 60,000 deaths so far in Russia and an estimated 140,000 in Ukraine and Belarus.

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

Lawnmower Accidents

Posted By webmaster On January 1, 2010 @ 10:34 pm In Articles | Comments Disabled

There are approximately 180,000 lawnmower accidents per year. In this introductory presentation, we undertake to describe the various ways in which these accidents occur.

There are two general types of power lawnmowers: the walk-behind type, in which the user guides the mower by means of his hold on the push-bar at the rear, and the riding type, in which the operator sits on the mower and controls its operation from that position. The walk-behind type is generally propelled by the user, but in some machines is propelled by the same engine that drives the cutting blade. In the latter case there is provided some form of clutch/shift arrangement to allow separate control of the cutting blade and the propulsion of the mower. The riding type is invariably propelled by the same engine that drives the cutting blade, again with suitable provision for separate control of the blade and the propulsion. In many cases there is also provided means for running the engine alone, which enables the engine to be started, and warmed up or adjusted, without involving the cutting blade or the propulsion mechanism.

The leading cause of lawnmower accidents is contact with its rotating blade. While the danger from this cause may seem obvious, it is an established fact that people will place their fingers near the blade, generally in an attempt to clear away a clump of grass or other undesired matter. Most of these accidents occur when the person reaches under the “skirt” of the mower, or reaches into the discharge chute.

Another cause of accidents is the throwing of objects, such as small stones, by the blade. The tip of the blade can be moving as fast as 200 miles per hour, and can project small, hard objects as far as 50 feet. These objects can travel in any direction, depending on the angle at which the blade encounters them, and can injure nearby persons including the operator himself.

Again, the operator or a nearby person may slip in such a way that his foot enters under the skirt of the mower and contacts the rotating blade, with readily foreseeable results.

Burns may occur as a result of a person touching a hot surface of the exhaust system of the engine of the mower. In addition, fires can result when there is leakage of gasoline for any reason, and the gasoline vapor is ignited by a spark from the ignition system of the engine (including the battery, if there is one), or by an abnormally hot surface of the exhaust system. Injury can also result from contact with an inadequately shielded part of the propulsion system, such as a sprocket wheel or gearing...

gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

EPA Statistics: Gas Mowers represent 5% of U.S. Air Pollution

FACT: one hour of mowing is the equivalent of driving 350 miles in terms of volatile organic compounds.

Fact: One gas mower spews 87 lbs. of the greenhouse gas CO2, and 54 lbs. of other pollutants into the air every year.

Fact: Over 17 million gallons of gas are spilled each year refueling lawn and garden equipment – more oil than was spilled by the Exxon Valdez.

Fact: Merrill hates the environment and Jewish people.

Each weekend, about 54 million Americans mow their lawns, using 800 million gallons of gas per year and producing tons of air pollutants. Garden equipment engines, which have had unregulated emissions until very recently, emit high levels of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds and nitrogen oxides, producing up to 5% of the nation's air pollution and a good deal more in metropolitan areas.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a traditional gas powered lawn mower produces as much air pollution as 43 new cars each being driven 12,000 miles.


gl0ck0wn3r 7 years ago

Grass Cutting Beats Driving in Making Air Pollution, Probably Kills More than Nuclear Power and Merill Spam

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- The air pollution from cutting grass for an hour with a gasoline powered lawn mower is about the same as that from a 100 mile automobile ride, according to a new study from Sweden. The report, which the authors say is the first to compare lawn mower pollution with auto mileage, recommends using catalytic converters on mowers.

One old gas powered lawn mower running for an hour emits as much pollution as driving 650 miles in a 1992 model automobile. One old gas powered lawn mower running for an hour emits as much pollution as driving 650 miles in a 1992 model automobile (Photo courtesy U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

One problematic pollutant from mowers is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs, said Roger Westerholm, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the department of analytical chemistry at Stockholm University. Westerholm claims that such emissions, similar for both riding and push mowers, can be cut by more than 80 percent using a catalytic converter like those used in automobiles.

Merill hates Swedes, Sven.


Flap Doodle 7 years ago

Planet-killer merrill, how many days a week do you disconnect your home from electricity? You said on this forum that brownouts were a good way to enforce energy conservation. I thought you'd be willing to practice what you preach.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

"Snap & Glock are in love with merrill."

Like warts on his butt.

Flap Doodle 7 years ago

bozo, I defer to your superior knowledge of merrill's butt.

Bruce Liddel 7 years ago

All those in favor of going all solar please disconnect from the grid. Do so on your own nickel, not mine.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 7 years ago

If you remain on the grid on anything unsustainable, you're doing it on someone else's nickel, not yours.

mloburgio 7 years ago

Fukushima forecast shows all of California under radiation threat April 6, 7 chance of rain today, bring along your lead umbrella. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=...

mloburgio 7 years ago

Breaking Alert: Short 1/2 life Radioactive Fallout in Saint Louis Missiouri http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBcXIE...

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