The Green Party of the United States calls on all Americans to|
reject McCain's and Obama's reckless proposals for new nuclear
power plants. The nuclear agendas being pushed by both the
Republican and Democrat presidential candidates pose enormous
and unacceptable health and environmental
risks, and are fiscally irresponsible in the extreme.
All of the processes associated with nuclear power are dangerous,
from the mining of uranium to the transportation and disposal of the
radioactive waste. Uranium mining is implicated in endocrine
disorders and cancers among people working in or living near the
mines, and clusters of childhood leukemia and other forms of cancer
have been found in people living near nuclear power sites - even
when the plants have not had a major accident. (The number of
"minor" accidents, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission calls
"events," is staggering.)
Dr. Helen Caldicott, a physician who has devoted much of her life to
researching the effects of the nuclear power&weapons industry on
human health, lists some of the specific effects of the various
carcinogenic elements associated with nuclear plants and
with uranium mining: iodine 131 - thyroid cancer; strontium 90 -
breast cancer, bone cancer, and leukemia; cesium 137 - sarcoma
(malignant muscle cancer); plutonium 239 - liver cancer, bone
cancer, testicular cancer, lung cancer, and birth defects. Just
one-millionth of a gram of plutonium 239 is carcinogenic!
More nuclear plants would also increase the risk of accidents and
terrorism. Japan has experienced deaths at its new reprocessing
plant in Rokkosho, and the Mayak reprocessing plant in Russia has a
long history of accidents, including one which killed at least 200
people and exposed hundreds of thousands of people to
radiation. These, and the thousands of deaths, evacuation of 400,000
people, and devastation left by Chernobyl's meltdown, and the
15-year, billion dollar attempt to clean up the catastrophe at Three
Mile Island are sobering cautions.
Radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants will remain toxic
to humans for more than 100,000 years. There is no way to store this
waste underground safely. Already, all six of the
"low-level" nuclear waste dumps in the U.S. have leaked.
The plain fact is, there are no technological quick fixes that
can effectively isolate nuclear waste from the biosphere for the
durations of its hazardous life. Therefore, rather
than producing more of this waste, it is essential that the
generation of nuclear wastes be halted.
The enormous and long-lasting health and environmental dangers alone
make nuclear power unfeasible. Cost in dollars is another huge factor,
with each new nuclear power plant expected to cost at least nine billion
dollars. Amory Lovins, one of the nation's foremost energy-policy
analysts, argues that of all the low-to-no carbon
alternatives to coal, nuclear energy is the least cost effective.
In a recent paper, "Forget Nuclear," Lovins states that nuclear
energy costs twice as much per kilowatt to produce as wind and
at least seven times the cost of implementing end-use efficiency
technologies. He estimates that efficiency alone could reduce
energy consumption by three times nuclear power's market share,
and that windpower alone could double the nation's electricity
Because of the high risks and high costs involved in building and
maintaining nuclear power plants and monitoring the waste generated,
the nuclear power industry requires taxpayers to subsidize nuclear plants.
In 2005, taxpayer subsidies to the industry were raised to 60-90% of
the entire projected cost of nuclear projects! Yet, due to regulatory
changes made in the 1990s in anticipation of this new push for nuclear
power, taxpayers have little say over the licensing of nuclear plants.
Rather than building more nuclear power plants, the Green Party of
the United States calls for a moratorium on new nuclear power
plants, the early retirement of nuclear power reactors, and the
phase-out of technologies that use or produce nuclear waste, such as
nuclear waste incinerators, food irradiators, and all commercial
and military uses of depleted uranium. We also oppose the export of
nuclear technologies or their wastes to other nations.
It is possible to achieve energy independence and more effectively
address climate change through the strategic use of alternative
energies such as wind and solar, and through increased efficiency
and conservation, "with a goal of reducing energy consumption by 50%
in 20 years" (GPUS Platform). Greens also call for taking great
care to minimize any negative environmental impacts, even from
such "clean" technologies as wind and solar.
Nuclear power is as inimical to humans and the web of life on Earth
as it has ever been. If the nuclear agenda both major parties are
promoting is allowed to go forward, our continent will be poisoned
by radioactivity for hundreds of generations into the future. We have
a grave responsibility to ourselves and the future to reject nuclear
power as any part of a sane solution to our energy crisis.
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Statement drafted by the GPUS Eco-Action Committee, October 2008
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