Getting some perspective on nuclear power
By George Bullen 08/09/2012
I would like to respond to the article titled, “What we can’t see is hurting us,” by Grant Marcus in your issue dated July 12. The statements made as fact to support the arguments against nuclear power and fracking are incorrect. Working through the article from start to finish reveals an obvious intent on the part of the author to systematically deceive the reader to support the conclusions.
The cancer rates in the United States have not been increasing. They have been decreasing since 1990. To say they are increasing from “one in three to one in two” is simply false. A fact check of world cancer rates from a number of sources, including the National Cancer Institute and the Center for Cancer Research, shows cancer rates in the United States are approximately one in 286. Deaths caused by cancer have declined to one in 186. These declines are in spite of an aging population that had exposure to a wide array of contaminants such nuclear, DDT, asbestos and mercury that are now absent or reduced.
Further, the author states that cancers have “no name on it” and therefore it is difficult to assign blame to corporations and retrieve damages. In fact, we do know where cancer comes from and it does have a name. That is why cancer rates are declining in nations where antismoking measures have been implemented. The author’s argument implies that our cancer rates are in part attributable to nuclear power and fracking. Why then do nations with no nuclear power or fracking, such as New Zealand, have higher cancer rates than in the United States? And nations with lower cancer rates have heavy nuclear and fossil fuel industries. The highest cancer rates in the industrialized nations occur where people spend the most time in the sun, resulting in melanoma, or where there is a high percentage of the population that smokes, resulting in lung cancer. These two cancers are the highest contributors to cancer and deaths attributable to cancer.
Further, the author states that the nuclear industry and Pacific Gas and Electric do not have to pay attention to the dangers of pollution. In fact, there are 300 million pages of controlling laws and regulation that are written and rigidly enforced to govern the United States and European Union’s nuclear power industries. To say they have no accountability is simply untrue. It is not the corporate-built and -run nuclear power plants that have had recent problems as the author suggests. All the investigative reports attribute the escalation and subsequent damage resulting from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster to governmental controls and actions. Nor was the greatest nuclear power plant disaster in history a result of corporate greed but rather government arrogance and incompetence. The disaster at Chernobyl was an all-government operation.
The author escalates his arguments-supported-by-fantasy by stating that Japan has outlawed nuclear power and “PERMANENTLY lost 10 percent of their land mass and half of their coastline.” They have not outlawed nuclear energy but are scaling back building some new nuclear generating plants until a risk mitigation plan can be developed. The Asahi Shimbun Asian and Japan Watch reports that the worst plume of cesium reached 8 percent of the Honshu Island land mass. The levels considered of concern have subsided to less than .5 percent of the land mass and .2 percent (two-tenths of one percent) of the approximately 279,500 miles of coastline; nor is the effect “PERMANENT” with a cesium-137 half-life of 30 years.
My brother was born in Japan and I still have friends who live there. I cannot locate anyone or any news source that says that the Japanese are “waiting for the reactors to explode” as the author states.
I have no problem with anyone arguing his or her case in a public forum. When hyperbole reaches the level the author uses to support his anguish and obvious disgust for corporations, nuclear power and fracking, however, all credibility is lost. A reasonable person would suspect hysteria.
I am not sure about nuclear power generation. I am still researching fracking as a means to retrieve fossil fuel. I am not always comfortable with corporate or governmental operation of the means of power generation.
What I do know is that exaggeration and hysteria will not allow us to examine all the options available to us for power generation. Nor does it give credibility to any argument. The average people referred to in the article are smarter than the author gives them credit for. They are not duped by advertisement or by articles supported by wild exaggeration.