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Position on Nuclear Power

Western North Carolina Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility 

The Western North Carolina Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility is opposed to nuclear power. Nuclear power facilitates the creation of nuclear weapons.

Nuclear power plants produce long-lived radioactive waste with no safe disposal, contributing to the toxic degradation of the environment.

The whole nuclear power fuel cycle, from uranium mining to radioactive waste, threatens human health.

Why The Western North Carolina Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility Opposes Nuclear Power


1.  Not needed.  Could provide all the world’s energy from Photovoltaics (PV) alone, could provide all world’s energy from wind alone, could provide all the world’s energy from geothermal alone.  In addition we have hydropower (dams), hydro kinetic energy, micro-hydro,  tidal energy, wave energy, biomass  energy, and more.  Have plenty of storage options:  pumped hydro, batteries, green hydrogen,  gravity storage, compressed air storage, liquid air storage, thermal storage, and more.

2.  Nuclear power is connected to nuclear weapons because nuclear power requires nuclear scientists who would be able to switch to nuclear weapons research if needed.  Nuclear weapons are desirable for political power, not just for military power. Japan is a virtual nuclear weapons state, with lots of nuclear scientists and lots of separated plutonium from its reactors.

3.  Nuclear power is connected to nuclear weapons through its fuel.  Enrichment for reactor fuel is the same technology as enrichment for weapons. LEU and HEU.  The issue with Iran.

4.  Nuclear power is connected to nuclear weapons through its spent fuel.  Plutonium is the other explosive nuclear material and it only comes from reactors.  Reactors always  produce explosive Pu.

5.  HEU and Pu are both risks for nuclear terrorism.  They have to be guarded.  World has 540 tons of separated plutonium and it takes about 10 pounds for a bomb.  World has 1250 tons of HEU and it takes about 60 pound for a bomb.

6.  Reactors create long lived highly radioactive material as they produce short lived electricity.  400,000 tons of highly radioactive spent fuel is stored above ground in the world.  Not only is this an environmental disaster, it is a tempting target for nuclear terrorism or war.

7.  Reactors always have the potential for catastrophic accident.  Can’t just turn off reactor.  Reactors at Fukushima shut down automatically when the tsunami occurred but they need to be constantly cooled after shut down which failed at Fukushima.  Reactors MUST HAVE COOLING at all times or they melt down.  A problem in a real war or environmental catastrophe.

8.  Reactors produce heat in a world suffering from climate change.  They heat cooling rivers and lakes.  If cooling rivers and lakes are warmed up by climate change, the reactor can’t run.

9.  Nuclear power is ridiculously expensive.
May 8, 2022  A financial report from one of the owners brought its total cost to $30.34 billion. That amount doesn’t count the $3.68 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid to the owners after going bankrupt, which would bring total spending to more than $34 billion.  1000000 kW x 24 hours a day x 365 days a year x 40 years = 350,400,000,000 kWh if never shut down
$35,000,000,000/350,400,000,000kwh = $0.10/kwh if the plant was never, ever shut down and it cost $0 to operate!!  Electricity sells for about $0.11/ kWh.

10.  Nuclear power is immoral because it is not needed, produces high level radioactive waste threatening human civilization, and is connected to two fissile materials threading human civilization.
Pretty strong arguments.  It is not needed to fill the world with highly radioactive waste and promote the education and  technology that leads to nuclear weapons proliferation. One pillar of the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, (NPT) needs to change.  The NPT continues to promote “peaceful nuclear technology” which should be narrowed to eliminate nuclear power.

 

MANY REASONS TO OPPOSE NUCLEAR POWER


WNCPSR is opposed to nuclear power. Nuclear power facilitates the creation of nuclear weapons. Nuclear power plants produce long-lived radioactive waste, with no safe disposal, contributing to the toxic degradation of the environment. The whole nuclear power fuel cycle, from uranium mining to radioactive waste, threatens human health.

1. Radioactivity Issues
2. Nuclear Weapons Proliferation
3. Reactor Safety
4. Health and Mortality
5. Environmental Issues
6. Cost Issues
7. Sufficiency of Renewable Energy


1. Radioactivity Issues

A. Nuclear Reactors Produce Dangerous Radioactivity

Fission, splitting atoms, produces many different new highly radioactive materials. According to Posiva Oy, the pro-nuclear corporation responsible for the burial of spent fuel in Finland, fresh spent fuel has radioactivity of 5 million mSv/hour. Posiva Oy also informs us that exposure to 8000 mSv will kill a person. Fresh spent fuel will kill a person in 6 seconds! 8000/(5 million) = 0.0016 hours = 5.76 seconds. After 40 years the radioactivity is only 3000/mSv/hour and it would take 3 hours of exposure to get a lethal dose. After 100 years, 70mSv/hour. Almost 5 days for a lethal dose!
After 10,000 years the radioactivity is 0.3 mSv/hour, 13 hours exposure would give an average annual radiation exposure of 4 mSv. Radiation doses that aren’t immediately lethal but can cause cancers and other health problems later in life.

B. No Plan for High-Level Radioactive Waste Storage in US

About 88,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors remain stranded at reactor sites, and this number is increasing by some 2,000 metric tons each year. These 77 sites are in 35 states and threaten to become de facto permanent disposal facilities.

Mar 6, 2023
https://beyondnuclear.org/4643-2/
Reuters ‘Texas nuclear waste storage permit invalidated by US appeals court’ by Clark
Mindock

August 25, 2023 Printed and reprinted in several news media outlets: Reuters by Clark Mindock

https://finance.yahoo.com/news/texas-nuclear-waste-storage-permit-004544928.html

Channel 4 Investigates:Nuclear Waste in New Mexico: March 1, 2023 Re: Interim Storage Issues:
https://www.kob.com/new-mexico/4-investigates-nuclear-waste-in-new-mexico/

From Environmental Project: ‘NRC issues a license for Holtec to store nuclear waste in New Mexico. State officials respond’ by Hannah Grover: Re: Interim issues
https://nmpoliticalreport.com/2023/05/10/nrc-issues-a-license-for-holtec-to-store-nuclear-waste-in-new-mexico/

‘Western Shoshone land ownership contention in opposition to Yucca dump’ and Press
release from Native Community Action Council. Sept 22, 2022 From Beyond Nuclear:
Co-founded by PSR’s very own, Dr. Helen Caldicott
https://beyondnuclear.org/ncac-western-shoshone-land-ownership-contention-in-opposition-to-yucca-dump/

‘A bit of background on Yucca Mountain’ January 20, 2022 Beyond Nuclear
https://beyondnuclear.org/a-bit-of-background-on-yucca-mountain/

Ian Zabarte’s long fight for Western Shoshone justice. ’Trespassers on Native Land’
January 3, 2021 by Beyond Nuclear International
https://beyondnuclearinternational.org/2021/01/03/trespassers-on-native-land/

C. Waste Transport Isn’t Safe

There is no safe manner to transport the highly radioactive nuclear waste from reactor sites to our currently non-existent repository. No one wants to have this high-level radioactivity transported through their city by rail or barge. Additionally, transporting to -non-existent- temporary storage would mean transporting twice.

‘Train derails on way to load nuclear waste’ Brattleboro Reformer: Reprint by Beyond Nuclear: http://beyondnuclear.org/train-derails-on-way-to-load-n-waste/

2. Nuclear Weapons Issues

A. Nuclear Power Facilitates the Development of Nuclear Weapons in Two Ways

Highly Enriched Uranium and Plutonium are the only explosive materials for atomic bombs. Atomic bombs are needed to trigger Hydrogen bombs.
Enriched Uranium. Nuclear reactors are fueled with enriched uranium. Enriching to reactor fuel levels requires the same processes as enriching to bomb grade.
Enrichment processes are necessary for reactor fuel and can be used to make the material for bombs.
Plutonium. Plutonium for the other kind of atomic bomb is only produced in nuclear reactors. Nuclear reactors always produce plutonium which can be used to make
bombs.

B. Impossible to Permanently Ban Nuclear Weapons With Continued Use of Nuclear Power

Several major leaders from around the world have stated that nuclear reactors are in use to insure there is a steady supply of materials for the production of nuclear weapons arsenals.
In Japan, where it is prohibited to use military force internationally and where nuclear weapons are not in production, a senior Liberal Democrat politician Shigeru Ishiba’s stated “Japan should never let go of nuclear power plants. Because having nuclear power means that we can manufacture nuclear weapons within a certain period of time and it can be a deterrent”.
In addition, former DOE (Dept. of Energy) secretary under Obama, Ernest Muniz
stated:“a strong domestic supply chain is needed to provide for nuclear Navy requirements. This supply chain has an inherent and very strong overlap with
commercial nuclear energy.”
https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=2018-13-swps-stirling-
and-johnstone.pdf&site=25


It is stated in “The Nuclear Sector Deal” that “the sector is committed to increasing the opportunities for transferability between civil and defense industries”
https://www.sussex.ac.uk/webteam/gateway/file.php?name=2018-13-swps-stirling-
and-johnstone.pdf&site=25.


‘Nuclear Weapons” National Nuclear Security Administration Needs to Ensure Continued Availability of Tritium for the Weapons Stockpile.’ GAO-11-100 October 7, 2010

https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-11-100.

‘The link between nuclear energy and nuclear weapons’ Nuclear Monitor Issue: #509-510 11-05-1999
https://www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/509/link-between-nuclear-energy-and-nuclear-weapons

Tritium and nuclear weapons: https://peacemagazine.org/archive/v03n2p14.htm

C. Weapons Proliferation Iran? Saudi Arabia?
Turkey?

Iran was found to be secretly enriching uranium and avoiding International Atomic Agency policing. Iran belongs to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and has
legally developed the ability to enrich uranium for reactor fuel but not for weapons.

Same technology is used for both. Iran could conceivably withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty and enrich to explosive levels. Saudi Arabia would like to enrich reactor fuel for the same reason. Turkey has stated that it will develop nuclear weapons if Saudi Arabia does.

3. Other Safety Issues

A. Enabling Nuclear Terrorism

Nuclear terrorists seek highly enriched uranium for the simplest type of atomic bomb. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima, made of highly enriched uranium, had never been tested. If enrichment for nuclear reactors continues, it is only a matter of time before terrorists acquire enough highly enriched uranium to make a bomb.

B. Targets for Terrorists and War

If bombed, the reactor itself will distribute high level radioactive fallout similar to that from the catastrophic accidents at Chernobyl and Fukushima. Decades of highly radioactive spent fuel is stored above ground on most reactor sites making these high-level radioactive  waste disposal sites immensely attractive targets in war or for a terrorist nuclear weapon. If attacked, harmful radioactivity will become airborne.

C. Possibility of Catastrophic Accidents

The exclusion zone surrounding the Chernobyl reactor accident is 1000 square miles, 18 miles in every direction. People can’t live there because of the
radioactivity. The Fukushima exclusion zone was initially 207 square miles and has been decreased
to 143 square miles but few have returned to live there.

D. No One Will Insure a Nuclear Power Plant

So the Government does. Price Anderson Act.

E. Aging Plants

As of June 15, 2023, 87 of the 92 commercially operating nuclear reactors in the U.S. have had their licenses extended from 40 years to 60 years. Furthermore, 16 reactors have applied for subsequent license renewal (SLR), which would authorize units to
operate for another 20 years beyond the 60 years of the initial license and the first renewal.

4. Health and Mortality Issues and the Nuclear
Industry

A. Cancer in Children near Nuclear Power Plants

Thyroid Cancer Rates near NYC – area nuclear plant soaring. May 9, 2019. Journal of Environmental Protection.
https://radiation.org/journal-articles/

Childhood leukemia near Nuclear Power Stations
https://www.ianfairlie.org/news/childhood-leukemias-near-nuclear-power-stations-new-article/

NH #588 Increased Child Leukemia Rates near Nuclear Reactors:Listen on the Nuclear
Hotseat podcast. Libbe Halevy here in interview with Dr. Ian Fairlie:
https://nuclearhotseat.com/podcast/child-leukemia-near-nuclear-reactors/

B. Uranium found in babies near uranium mining

High Levels of Uranium Found in Babies, Oct. 8, 2019, AP New York Post
https://newyorkpost.com/2019/10/08/high-levels-of-uranium-found-in-navajo-women-and-babies/

Indigenous Nuclear Genocide: Uranium Mining on Native Lands:

https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/nuclear-hotseat-hosted-by-libbe-halevy/id458213762i=1000437643685

C. Little girls and women at higher risk of cancer from radionuclides

https://www.genderandradiation.org

D. Health and Mortality in Nuclear Workers

Low-dose ionizing radiation increases the mortality risk of solid cancers in nuclear industry workers. Molecular and Clinical Oncology a meta analysis.
https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29725540/

Cancer mortality after low-dose exposure to ionizing radiation in workers in France, the United Kingdom, and the United States(INWORKS) cohort study CCBYNC loeb access
https://www.bmi.com/content/382/bmj-2022-074520

E. Tritium Health Consequences:

5. Environmental Issues

A. Daily Dumping of Cooling Water

Every day nuclear reactors extract many tons of gallons of cold water from oceans & fresh water. This water is used to cool hot fuel rods from nuclear reactors. The water is subsequently released back at temperatures estimated at levels of up 7 to 20
degrees warmer.

Ocean and animal species harms associated with cold water intake and warm water
releases:
https://www.nirs.org/wpcontent/uploads/reactorwatch/licensedtokill/LiscencedtoKill.pdf

B. Cancers

Small species can ingest radionuclides. These radionuclides can work their way up the food chain into larger species. When ingested by humans or other animal species remain hot in the body and can increase the risk of cancers such as leukemia, thyroid

cancer and other cancers. Little girls and women are at higher risk of cancer due to radionuclides. Studies show the footprints from man-made radionuclides from the nuclear industry can be positively traced to the nuclear industry. There are many more man made radioactive elements than natural.
https://www.genderandradiation.org

Tritium, Dr. Helen Caldecott posted this from NIRS ‘TRITIUM from Nuclear Power Plants: It’s Biological Hazards’

https://www.nirs.org/radiation/tritium/

C. Large Scale Dumping

Current plans to dump 100,000 gallons of waste water from San Onofre Reactor to Pacific Ocean https://sanonofresafety.org/

Japan is releasing 1.25 million tons of treated wastewater contaminated by the wrecked Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the Pacific Ocean. In addition to tritium, more dangerous isotopes with longer radioactive lifetimes, such as ruthenium, cobalt, strontium, and plutonium, sometimes slip through the ALPS process, something TEPCO only acknowledged in 2018. The company now says these additional nuclides are present in 71% of the tanks. "These radioactive isotopes behave differently than tritium in the ocean and are more readily incorporated into
marine biota or seafloor sediments," says Ken Buesseler, a marine chemist at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

‘OPENING THE FLOOD GATES OF FUKUSHIMA’ By Sarah Hachman and Associate Professor Tilman Ruff AO, (Founder of ICAN, University of Melbourne. Excellent links included.

Discharging radioactive water from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is avoidable, risky and potentially illegal
https://pursuit.unimelb.edu.au/articles/opening-the-flood-gates-at-fukushima

Prof Tilman Ruff AO, —founder of ICAN: https://www.portrait.gov.au/people/tilman-
ruff-1955

The Japanese government has already started to discharge all 1.34 million tones of wastewater from the triple Fukushima Daiichi nuclear meltdowns into the Pacific Ocean. It will continue to accumulate.
This decision is not only harmful to humans and environmental health but also, in our opinion, is in direct violation of international law. (Something the Japanese government disputes)

6. Cost Issues

A. Too Expensive

Lazard, a leading investment and asset management firm, uses Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) to estimate the average cost of various forms of energy. Lazard found that utility-scale solar and wind is around $40 per megawatt-hour, while nuclear plants average around $175 July 25, 2022

Proponents of nuclear power argue that nuclear power is base-load power (available 24/7) and renewable energy is intermittent and not available all the time, so very expensive nuclear power is necessary for grid reliability.

Recent developments in storage makes that claim incorrect. Storage prices are decreasing rapidly. A wide
variety of storage is available: pumped hydropower, batteries of many types, gravity storage, compressed air storage, thermal storage, vehicle-to-grid storage, hydrogen storage, and others.
https://www.vox.com/energy-and-environment/2019/8/9/20767886/renewable-energy-storage-cost-electricity

https://apnews.com/article/georgia-nuclear-power-plant-vogtle-rates-costs-75c7a413cda3935dd551be9115e88a64

B. Government Subsidies Are Keeping Old Reactors Going

Nuclear energy subsidies brought through the DOE (Department of Energy) come from U.S. tax dollars. Energy subsidies allocated toward renewable energy would be a healthy peaceful direction for the US energy sector. Renewables like solar, wind and
water can -and do- provide tens of thousands more good jobs than the nuclear industry. https://www.ewg.org/news-insights/news/federal-energy-subsidies-what-are-we-getting-our-money

C. Decommissioning is Expensive and Environmentally Troubling

To fully decommission a power plant, the facility must be deconstructed and the site returned to greenfield status (meaning the site is safe for reuse for purposes such as housing, farming, or industrial use). Nuclear reactor operators must safely dispose of
any onsite nuclear waste and remove or contain any radioactive material, including nuclear fuel as well as irradiated equipment and buildings.

https://www.eia.gov/todayinenergy/detail.php?id=33792

Decommissioning a nuclear power plant is:
▪ Expensive $1 billion maybe https://www.reuters.com/article/
idUS178883596820110613

▪ Time consuming
▪ Challenging to dispose of all the radioactivity!
▪ Easy to Postpone - SAFSTOR, the plant is closed and awaits cleanup at a later time. The NRC gives utilities 60 years to complete decommissioning. The owners may understand that by this time, they may be long gone, hence they have no need to
concern themselves.

7. Renewable Energy is Sufficient and Affordable
All global energy can be supplied by renewables. (See the seventy reference articles in the links below. There is ample evidence that renewable sources can provide 100% of global energy needs.

Abstracts of 70 Peer-Reviewed Published Journal Articles From 25 Independent Research
Groups With 142 Different Authors Supporting the Result That Energy for Electricity,Transportation, Building Heating/Cooling, and/or Industry can be Supplied Reliably with 100%
or Near-100% Renewable Energy at Different Locations Worldwide. June 28, 2022

https://web.stanford.edu/group/efmh/jacobson/Articles/I/CombiningRenew/100PercentPaperAbstracts.pdf

‘Can Nuclear Energy Help Meet US Climate Goals?’ June 2023
https://www.samuellawrencefoundation.org/post/first-friday-series-june-2nd-2023

Watch on YouTube https://youtu.be/qeAlU9Eb7dQ?si=udLz-gVcmjNFNJy1

Mission Statement

PREVENTING WHAT WE CANNOT CURE: Physicians for Social Responsibility is the medical and public health voice working to prevent the use or spread of nuclear weapons and to slow, stop and reverse global warming and the toxic degradation of the environment.

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