Beyond Nuclear

Posted by Trish Riley, May 7, 2009

Some interesting news from a think tank opposing nuclear power development:

Florida Reactors 20 Months Behind Before Ground Broken

Background: Two proposed Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors in Levy County, Florida, are on hold after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled that groundwork and excavation could not begin before Progress Energy’s construction and operating license proposal had been fully reviewed by the agency.

Our View: Progress Energy had hoped to “put the cart before the horse” in breaking ground for its new reactors even before the regulator had approved them. They have been rightly halted. The delay further underlines that any nuclear industry predictions about when new nuclear power plants might be operational are generally grossly optimistic. In reality, the industry track record is riddled with long delays and huge cost-overruns, providing two more compelling reasons to reject nuclear energy as an option when addressing the climate change emergency.

DOE tries to downplay genetic damage due to radiation exposure

Background: Flouting scientific evidence, radiation regulators from a variety of government agencies who spoke at the Department of Energy Investigator’s Workshop last month flatly denied that there is solid proof that parents exposed to radiation can pass damage to the genes of their unborn children. The workshop was part of the DOE’s Low Dose Radiation Research Program. By stating that any potential damage cannot definitively be linked to disease and that its mechanism remains unknown, regulators then justify the withholding of protection from the public and the environment.

Our View: According to the precautionary approach, a known mechanism is not necessary for protective action and inaction could result in unpredicted damage. Furthermore, studies show that radiation exposure of a parent can damage the genes of an unexposed child. These gene changes occur when reproductive cells (sperm or egg) are exposed to radiation and can result in miscarriages, stillbirths, congenital defects, premature death, chromosomal abnormalities and cancer. A study of unexposed children born to Chernobyl liquidators shows there is a correlation between this genetic damage and thyroid cancers.

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