That Old Black Magic

Radioactive water is still being generated by the thousands-of-gallons at Fukushima, and where it will all go nobody knows.  

Except we really do know.  It is seeping and will continue to flow into that great planetary toilet and food reserve, the Pacific Ocean. Even after the amount held in retaining ponds is processed to remove as much contamination as is possible, that, too, will end up in the ocean.

Much as the nuclear industry would like us to move on to a plutonium-fueled future,  it cannot escape the nagging evidence that there is no resolution in sight to the enormous risks from nuclear waste.

They can bury it deep, if a willing repository site can be found; and just hope that seismic changes in the planet won’t unexpectedly disgorge the grave in a spectacular fountain of death.  

They can make plans to “recycle” spent fuel for use in hotsy new reactor designs that promise to reuse much of the remaining energy in the form of plutonium; but stockpiling that dangerous substance as fuel will

further open Pandora’s box to terrorists.

It is a puzzlement.

Now, just to remind us that there is something even more deadly than guns out there to worry us, here are a few tales of nuclear waste and contamination that illustrate the grim legacy of our relatively brief worldwide infatuation  with nuclear energy.

In Japan the volume of waste water overwhelming collection tanks at Fukushima is expected to triple over the next three years.

This piece of news about fish caught inside the Fukushima Daiichi harbor brings the point home.

In the U.S., our own Nuclear Regulatory Commission faces the likelihood that existing waste storage facilities will be exhausted for space by 2015.

No matter how successfully proponents deflect attention from the gaping hole in the bottom of our nuclear energy boat, it will just continue sinking under the weight of its growing mountain of waste.

About Sue Prent

Artist/Writer/Activist living in St. Albans, Vermont with my husband since 1983. I was born in Chicago; moved to Montreal in 1969; lived there and in Berlin, W. Germany until we finally settled in St. Albans.

One thought on “That Old Black Magic

  1. The Megatons to Megawatts program ends in 2013. That’s the post Cold War program that down blended material from nuclear warheads into reactor fuel. We’re looking at a uranium supply shortfall of at least 20 million pounds per year out of about 175 million pounds.

    Some commodities analysts think that the spot price of uranium oxide will double in the next year or so. Ok, so fuel is only 10% of operating costs, and U3O8 only part of that.

    Nevertheless, there will be about a 10-12% shortfall. So does every plant throttle back 10%, or do 10% get shut down, or some combination thereof? I’d bet that the least profitable plants get the axe as margins get trimmed. Of course, it won’t happen to any particular plant until the next refueling.

    What’llyabet ENVY? If I were a crafty Entergy exec I would see the inevitable and try to drag things out towards the next refueling outage with no intention of refueling. Defer maintenance and upgrades and milk the thing while making noises about another 20 years.  

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