Harvey Wasserman: Today's melt-down anniversary confirms nuke revival as a form of Three Mile Island Insanity





[Harvey Wasserman's SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH, A.D. 2030, is available at www.harveywasserman.com. He is co-author, with Dan Juhl, of HARVESTING WIND ENERGY AS A CASH CROP: GUIDE TO LOCALLY OWNED WIND FARMING (danmar.us).]

Today's twenty-seventh anniversary of the disaster at Three Mile Island finds the nuclear industry pushing yet another lunatic attempt to revive atomic energy.

This periodic outbreak of industry-financed insanity usually precedes a major disaster, and always reflects a cynical denial of basic economic, public health and ecological reality. This year it also indicates a complete unwillingness to face the fact that renewable energy---especially wind power---has long ago left atomic energy in the radioactive dust.

At 4am on March 28, 1979, an "impossible" series of errors at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island Unit Two---which had opened exactly three months earlier---turned a $900 million investment into a $2 billion liability. The plant's owners lied repeatedly about the seriousness of the accident and its emissions. Escaping radiation poured into the surrounding countryside, quickly killing thousands of birds and insects. A plague of death, disease, malformation, stillbirth and spontaneous abortion followed among a host of nearby farm animals.

In the ensuing months, infant death rates soared, followed by cancers and an epidemic of radiation-related diseases among the human population. In the ensuing years, more than 2,000 central Pennsylvania families filed suit for compensation. But to this day they have been refused the right to a public trial in federal court. The heavily financed myth that "no one died at Three Mile Island" is high among the most lethal lies ever told by American industry.

The TMI catastrophe was preceded by a big industry push to revive reactor orders. Seven years later, another such push would again be interrupted by harsh reality, this time in the form of the apocalyptic meltdown at Chernobyl. Again, massive quantities of reactor-created radiation poured into the earth's bio-sphere. And once again, reactor apologists lied about the casualty count. The "official" death toll started at 31 and has inched higher, with acknowledgement of some 4,000 harmed or dying. But it's still absurdly low.

Nonetheless, 20 years after Chernobyl, 27 after TMI, the nuke industry is still pushing its worthless product. One could say atomic energy is "obsolete," but that would imply that it once worked well. In fact, the "Peaceful Atom" is human history's most expensive technological failure. Once sold as "too cheap to meter," atomic energy has been a trillion-dollar sink hole that will still extract payment centuries from now, when its wastes still seethe with lethal radiation.

A highly touted "new generation" of reactors does not exist except on paper, is completely unproven, and would take a decade to bring on line. Such plants would create huge quantities of waste heat and are no solution at all to global warning. Not one of them could be financed without massive government handouts. Their builders still demand federal protection from liability in case of a catastrophe---a cowardly loophole granted no other industry.

In the meantime, with its electricity being generated at 5 cents/kilowatt-hour and less, wind power has far outstripped anything nukes can do in the marketplace. A wind farm can be built in less than a year, with no need for a federal exemption from disaster liability. Worldwide, the industry is growing at more than 25% per year. It is immensely profitable, with players like Goldman Sachs, John Deere, Warren Buffett and even nuke-builder General Electric pouring in.

Advances in solar technology are leaving nukes behind. Photovoltaic cells (PV) generate electricity form the sun right on rooftops. They can be embedded in roofing shingles, window class and even forms of paint. They are slightly too expensive today in many areas, but are well within reach where transmission costs are an issue. Like wind, PV is clearly destined to become a high-growth, multi-billion money-maker.

Bio-fuels, tidal and wave energy, geothermal power and other forms of renewables are all coming of age. But nukes are just aging. The older today's reactor fleet gets, the more prone to disaster they become. The waste problem remains unsolved. The plants are horrifically vulnerable to terror attack. And after fifty years of operation, no private company is willing to insure against disaster.

Tragically, despite all the big money hype, another TMI/Chernobyl, from either terror or error, is all but inevitable.

So are the lies about this so-called "new generation" of reactors which exists only in the mind of nuke shills sucking up still more government billions.

The latest idiocy is George W. Bush's idea that nukes can generate hydrogen to fuel a new generation of automobiles.

This plan is every bit as credible as his attack on Iraq, his "reform" of social security, and the rebuilding of New Orleans.

Two decades after Chernobyl, 27 years after Three Mile Island, we have an answer to both global warming and the energy crisis. It's right where it always has been---with solar power, increased efficiency and the booming business of renewable energy.

Accept no substitutes!


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Alonzo Hamby - 4/1/2006

Who is Harvey Wasserman, and why on earth should we care about his ravings?
I thought HNN was a history site.