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And then there is nuclear.
Nuclear energy originates from the splitting of uranium atoms in a process called fission. Fission releases energy that can be used to make steam, which is used in a turbine to generate electricity.
Luminent (part of the TXU/Oncor/Luminent trio owned by Energy Futures Holdings Corp) produces electricity with nuclear fission at Comanche Peak in the North Central Texas town of Glen Rose..
Although production of electricity in nuclear plants does not produce the air emissions caused by burning fossil fuels, the main problem of producing electricity by nuclear fission, of course, is the waste.
Electricity produced in nuclear power plants generates one of the most toxic wastes humans have been able to produce to date.
And… the major problem of nuclear waste is what to do with it.
There are no long term viable solutions for waste storage because the time period for storage is so incredibly long, on the order of thousands of years.
So will we blithely go along using this "nuclear" electricity at will and once again, leave these problems to our children and grandchildren?
Will they say, "Thanks, Dad and Granddad; you are the true heroes""
Probably not. .
In addition to an insurmountable storage problem for nuclear waste, immense quantities of water are required to produce electricity in nuclear power plants.
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "Water pollutants, such as heavy metals and salts, build up in the water used in the nuclear power plant systems. These water pollutants, as well as the higher temperature of the water discharged from the power plant, can negatively affect water quality and aquatic life.
Regardless,The Energy Report 2008 prepared by the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts states, "Uranium mining potentially could contaminate groundwater and surface water with heavy metals and traces of radioactive materials."
The Bad News
1. We don’t have the slightest idea how to safely store the wastes produced, much less how to store them for thousands of years. We are not certain that we will not be polluting ground water as well as air and soil with its storage. It is iniquitous to build more plants until we can safely store the waste we have already created.
2. We are using enormous quantities of water to produce this electricity in a time when we know we will be facing water shortages.
3. For every three units of energy produced by the reactor core of a U.S. nuclear power plants, two units are discharged to the environment as waste heat. Nuclear plants are built on the shores of lakes, rivers, and oceans because these bodies provide the large quantities of cooling water needed to handle the waste heat discharge. This increases the danger of water pollution and danger to wildlife.
4. The cost of building nuclear plants continues to climb,. Starting at $5.8 billion dollars, the cost of building a nuclear plant in Bugaria has risen to $11.8 billion in mid 2010. In the same time period, the British minister of state for energy, Charles Hendry, said he expected the cost of each new plant in Britain to be about $9.3 billion.
5. Safety is still an issue, not only in Texas but worldwide. Look at the Russian wildfire in mid 2010 and the feat that nuclear contaminants would be airborne..
6. In a nation that has had a taste of terrorism, we are opening ourselves up to true potential disasters from terriorists.
The Good News
1. Nuclear plants, assuming there is no disaster, are long lasting.
2. Air emissions associated with burning fossil fuels are not associated with nuclear fission. However, these emissions are associated with the uranium mining and uranium enrichment processes as well as the transport of the uranium fuel to the nuclear plant.
Do you need an energy consultant, energy auditor,