domingo, 21 de novembro de 2010
Environmentalist touts nuclear power
A co-founder of environmentalist group Greenpeace told an audience at the Clinton School of Public Service on Monday that nuclear power is a solution for the country’s energy troubles.
Patrick Moore worked with Greenpeace and its predecessor from 1971 to 1986, leading efforts that stopped American testing of hydrogen bombs and protested the killing of whales and baby seals.
Moore, now co-chairman of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, left Greenpeace in 1986 because he didn’t agree with some issues it supported. The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition is a national organization that advocates clean energy.
“The one serious mistake [Greenpeace made] was that we lumped nuclear energy in with nuclear weapons,” said Moore, who is from Vancouver, British Columbia. “The movement assumed that everything nuclear was evil. Anything radioactive, we didn’t want to have anything to do with.” He was swept up in that belief at Greenpeace, Moore said. But with his science education, he began to realize after he left the group that Greenpeace was wrong about nuclear energy, Moore said.
To improve the environment, generate inexpensive power and reduce carbon emissions, Moore and his coalition encourage the United States to emphasize renewable energy — hydroelectric, biomass, geothermal and nuclear power. Other sources termed renewable, such as solar and wind energy, aren’t feasible because they are very expensive and cannot generate aroundthe-clock electricity, Moore said.
John Bethel, executive director of the Arkansas Public Service Commission’s general staff, said it is reasonable for the country to consider the possibility of building more nuclear plants to generate electricity.
“Nuclear power certainly could be helpful if you’re trying to address carbon emissions,” Bethel said in a telephone interview before Moore’s speech.
Entergy Arkansas has operated two nuclear power units near Russellville — with a combined generating capacity of more than 1,800 megawatts — for more than 30 years. About 25 percent of Arkansas’ electricity is supplied by the two nuclear units near Russellville, while 43 percent is generated by coal plants, said Moore, whose trip to Little Rock was sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington, D.C.
Historically, nuclear plants have had high costs for construction, but ultimately have lower energy costs over the life of the plant, Bethel said.
The cost of building a 1,000 megawatt nuclear plant is about $6 billion, Moore said, which he acknowledged is expensive. But within about 30 years, the plant would pay for itself because of the cheaper electricity it would produce, Moore said.
Many people believe the problem of storing nuclear waste from plants is a reason not to pursue building nuclear plants, Moore said. But it isn’t a problem at all, Moore said.
“The used nuclear fuel is being stored safely and securely at existing nuclear sites, not harming anyone and not threatening anyone,” Moore said.
The used nuclear fuel rods still have 95 percent of their capacity and efforts should be made to recycle the used nuclear fuel to power new plants, Moore said. France already is doing that, Moore said.