Posts Tagged environment
There was a horrible accident in Kenya this week. More than 100 people were burned to death, and hundreds more were injured when a gasoline pipeline began leaking and then exploded. My heart goes out to the victims, and their families, and to all the people of Kenya who are dealing with the worst industrial disaster in their history. Eyewitnesses reported seeing burning people leaping into a nearby river trying to extinguish the flames that engulfed them. Rescue workers had to place a net across the river to catch the charred bodies of the dead so they would not wash down stream. The death toll continues to grow, and most of the 100+ injured including many children are not expected to survive.
The pipeline runs through Sinai, a Nairobi ghetto of corrugated tin and cardboard huts. When the pipe began leaking hundreds of people gathered around to scoop up the spilled gasoline. As the crowd grew a spark from a cigarette butt or some other heat source ignited the fuel. The blast incinerated scores of people nearby. Flames cascaded down on nearby huts then raced through the crowded slum. Read the rest of this entry »
Government Experts Say There Are No Environmental Impacts That Would Prevent Indian Point Nuclear Plant From Operating for 20 More Years.
The environment would remain safe if Indian Point nuclear plant operates for another 20 years. That’s the opinion of a team of scientists and engineers on the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Operating licenses for the two reactors at Indian Point nuclear plant in New York will expire in 2013 and 2015. Entergy, the plant’s owner has applied for a license renewal to allow the plants to operate for an additional 20 years. A major portion of the application is this detailed study of the environmental impact of allowing the plant to continue operation. Read the rest of this entry »
This is a follow up to the podcast titled “Water Wars in New York” on May 27, 2010 in which I discussed how NY State is using their authority to issue Water Quality Certificates to wage war against the Indian Point Nuclear Plant. In case you missed that show, New York is holding the plant’s 20 year license renewal hostage by refusing to issue a Certificate of Water Quality unless the plant agrees to install expensive cooling towers. The plant has argued that the cost of cooling towers, approximately $2 Billion, is excessive and disproportionate to the environmental benefit that would be derived. In fact, the plant has identified an alternate technology that would provide greater environmental benefits at about one-tenth of the cost of installing cooling towers. Thus far those arguments have fallen on deaf ears. Read the rest of this entry »
This has been a deadly year for fossil fuels in the United States. In February five workers lost their lives in an explosion at the Kleen Energy natural gas power plant in CT. Then in April 29 coal miners perished in a mining accident at the Massey Energy coal mine in West Virginia. Of course that was followed by the disaster on the Deepwater Horizon oil platform that killed 11 workers and caused a massive oil spill that is contaminating hundreds of miles of coastline.
With events like these (and others similar events around the world), and our growing reliance on huge quantities of imported oil and natural gas, it is time for America to expand its domestic supply of uranium.
On this show I was joined by a panel of experts who discussed efforts underway in Virginia to unlock the vast potential of uranium resources that have been discovered there. My guests were:
- Aaron Ruby from the Virginia Energy Independence Alliance
- Patrick Wales, the project manager and geologist for Virginia Uranium, Inc, and
- Lisa Stiles, a nuclear engineer with many years experience in the nuclear industry, and a former president of NA-YGN and the International Youth Nuclear Congress.
Topics we discussed included why allowing safe uranium mining in Virginia is so important, the huge untapped Coles Hill uranium deposit, uranium mining safety, and the many benefits that developing the Coles Hill mine would bring to an economically depressed region.
In April of 2009, after a long fight with well-funded anti-nuclear groups, the Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant in New Jersey was granted a 20 year license extension. At the time, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission called Oyster Creek’s application “the most extensive license renewal to date.” It’s worth noting that the NRC commissioners voted 3 to 1 in favor of the license extension, the only dissenting vote was from Gregory Jaczko who was subsequently appointed NRC Chairman by President Obama and continues to serve in that position.
Anti-nuclear groups viewed the plant’s license extension as a temporary setback, and they are again trying to shut down the plant. They have been unable to show any safety or environmental basis for their cause, so they are taking another approach – trying to force the owners to make enormous plant modifications they hope will make the plant too expensive to operate. They have succeeded in getting a bill in front of the New Jersey state government that would force the plant to install cooling towers, something that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. They argue that the plant’s cooling water intake from Barnagat Bay kills fish and a forcing the plant to use cooling towers would reduce the number of fish killed by the plant’s cooling water system. The anti-nukes are trying to get the State to require cooling towers as a condition of renewing the plant’s water discharge permit.
A similar tactic was attempted by the anti-nuclear group Riverkeeper in New York against the Indian Point nuclear plant. That case went all the way to the US Supreme Court. In the end Riverkeeper’s claim was denied.
Local newspapers are predicting large crowds will be on hand Monday, December 14 at the State House Annex in Trenton where the hearings will take place. This will be an interesting case because similar bills are before both houses of the NJ legislature, and lame duck Governor, Jon Corzine opposed the plant’s license renewal.
These attempts to portray nuclear plants as evil fish killers are laughable. All central station power plants use large quantities of cooling water. They pull the water in and discharge it back a few degrees warmer. Environmental permits already specify how much the plants are allowed to heat the water, and I’ve known of times when power plants have reduced power because they were approaching the water discharge thermal limits, particularly in the heat of the summer. Also, many plants like Indian Point were forced years ago to install multi-million dollar fish catching systems on the water intakes to gently redirect the fish away from the intake screens to safety in the warm discharge water.
I for one am tired of hearing the newspapers and television news refer to anti-nuclear organizations as “environmental” or “public advocacy” groups.” It is easy to argue that ill-informed anti-nuclear activism has resulted in serious damage to the environment and cost many lives by slowing down the growth of nuclear energy. Air and water pollution caused by the alternatives, burning fossil fuels, has far more impact on our health and environment. Let’s stop calling groups like Riverkeeper, New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, and the Radiation & Public Health Project “environmentalists” and “public advocates”. Instead, let’s call them what they are: anti-nuclear groups.
Let’s also acknowledge it’s quite possible to be both pro-nuclear AND pro-environment. In fact, the two go hand in hand.
the leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people
The study compares the impact to natural habitats in the United States of various types of new energy development. They refer to this as the “land use intensity” of energy, and it is measured in energy produced for a given land area. Specifically, they estimated the amount of land that will be needed for the USA to meet energy demands by the year 2030 for various energy sources. The group is concerned that the build out of new energy sources to meet growing demand and combat climate change could cause what they refer to as “energy sprawl” with detrimental impact to natural habitats. It turns out, there is a lot to worry about!
The results? It takes on average 72 square kilometers of land to provide one megawatt of energy for one year when wind turbines are used. Solar energy is better at 15 to 37 square kilometers, depending on the technology used. Nuclear energy has the lowest impact on land use of ANY energy source. In fact, nuclear energy has about one sixth the impact of solar thermal generation, and one thirtieth the impact of wind generation.
It takes just 2.4 square KM, or about one square mile to provide one megawatt of electricity for one year when that energy is derived from nuclear energy. This is a great example of how the incredible energy density of nuclear energy provides benefits to society.