OUR DANGEROUS ENERGY ADDICTION: Nuclear Power Badly Flawed as Alternative to Filthy Fossil Fuels

By Moll, Marita | CCPA Monitor, December/January 2005 | Go to article overview

OUR DANGEROUS ENERGY ADDICTION: Nuclear Power Badly Flawed as Alternative to Filthy Fossil Fuels


Moll, Marita, CCPA Monitor


"It still amazes me that people don't know that their power comes from nuclear reactors. It amazes me that many people drive past the Pickering plant on their way to work every day, and don't know it is a nuclear reactor."

-Elizabeth Dowdswell, President, Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO)

We are addicted to a cheap and endless supply of electricity on demand. But electricity is by far the costliest form of energy. In order to produce it in large quantity, we currently burn fossil fuels, dam rivers, and split uranium atoms in nuclear reactors. By nature, these infrastructure mega-projects are heavily reliant on the public purse. Unfortunately, the steeper cost by far is paid by the environment-whether it is in flooding entire watersheds, polluting the atmosphere, or poisoning the ground.

Of course, hardly anyone thinks about that when they turn on the lights or turn up the air conditioning. We prefer to live in denial - albeit comfortable and well-illuminated denial.

In Ontario, much of our electricity is generated using fossil fuels like coal, crude oil, and natural gas. Coal-burning power stations send mercury, sulphuric acid, hydrochloric acid, chrome and nickel-all acknowledged carcinogens-into the atmosphere. One of the Ontario stations, Nanticoke, sent more than 7,640 tonnes of pollutants into the atmosphere during the year 2000. This station alone is responsible for 6% of all of the atmospheric pollution in Canada and 13% of all of the pollution in Ontario.

The Ontario government says it is committed to phasing out these coal-burning power stations. But letting the lights go out is hardly an option. A recent agreement to transfer hydro-electric power from Manitoba to Ontario and reopen negotiations to cooperate on a new dam in northern Manitoba is designed to fill some of the gap.

But nuclear power, which currently provides 50% of Ontario's electrical energy needs, is the real monster in Ontario's energy closet. As NWMO President Dowdswell observes, we refuse to admit it. A 2002 survey by Natural Resources Canada concluded that "Canadians do not understand how their electricity is generated, with most (78%) holding to the belief that their homes are powered by relatively 'clean' hydro-electric power. Whether this is a function of ignorance or denial, it is clear that, unlike vehicle pollution, the environmental consequences of electric power generation have not yet been firmly established in the public's consciousness."

We don't want to know about nuclear power. It has a dangerous history.

Most of North America lost its taste for nuclear power generation after the Three Mile Island accident. On March 28, 1979, a sequence of events, including equipment malfunctions, design-related problems and worker errors, led to a partial meltdown of the TMI-2 reactor core. Off-site releases of radioactivity were very small and there were no deaths or injuries to workers or members of the nearby community. But public fear and distrust resulting from this incident was so deep that there hasn't been a commercial nuclear power station built in the United States since then.

Lately, the nuclear industry has been hard at work cleaning up its image. The modern nuclear reactors are more reliable, with more built-in safety features than their aging cousins built in the '70s, say the experts. Nuclear has new supporters including prominent environmentalists. In an article in MIT's Technology Review, Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth Catalogue, accuses the environmental movement of having a quasi-religious aversion to nuclear power, which he suggests is now a mature industry unlikely to repeat the errors of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl and our best bet for atmospherically clean, low-cost fuel.

Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore and Gaia theorist James Lovelock wrote, in an op-ed for The Independent: "Even if [the Greens] were right about [the dangers of nuclear power], and they are not, its worldwide use as our main source of energy would pose an insignificant threat compared with the dangers of intolerable and lethal heat waves and sea levels rising to drown every coastal city of the world. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

OUR DANGEROUS ENERGY ADDICTION: Nuclear Power Badly Flawed as Alternative to Filthy Fossil Fuels
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.