In January, Exelon, the company that operates the two reactors at Cordova, submitted a request to the NRC to extend its operating license for an additional 20 years. Now it's in the process of scooping - or evaluating - the possible impact this would have on our community, and accepting public commentary and concerns.
At the meeting held April 8 at the Mark, T.J. Kim of the NRC explained that the initial licensing period of 40 years was based more on economic factors than safety or operational specifications. The Quad Cities units are part of an aging fleet of Boiling Water Reactors, built long before terrorism was even a consideration. In 1994 an unrelated NRC inspection found evidence of core-shroud cracking at Quad Cities, which caused them to re-evaluate their inspection process. Although the reactors have since been mended, there are many other costly repairs that are associated with the extension of an operating license. It is just not economically feasible for the community to operate a reactor beyond its original life span.
In the Quad Cities, we get only 23.6 percent of our power from nuclear; some comes from Cordova and some from a similar plant in Nebraska. Although the industry claims that nuclear power is safe, cheap, and clean, the facts would prove otherwise. Nuclear waste is anything but safe, cheap, and clean. For its 2004 budget, the Department of Energy has requested $590 million to continue working on the Yucca Mountain High-Level Waste Repository in Nevada; $430 million would come from taxpayers like you and me. Aside from the expense, there is also the fact that 100,000 truckloads and 20,000 trainloads of high-level radioactive waste would pass through 45 states for 38 years. Over 334, 000 people in Iowa and over 2 million people in Illinois live within 1 mile of the proposed transit route, and there is no plan for handling these shipments as of yet. An industry that produces mass amounts of dangerous waste as a general practice is not safe, cheap or clean.
And then there is the question of mathematics. Under current law, only 70,000 metric tons of waste would be stored at Yucca Mountain, 63,000 tons of that being commercial waste, and the rest being DOE waste. Yet by the time the repository opens, approximately 10 years from now, an estimated 107,500 metric tons of both commercial and DOE waste will have been produced. Obviously, Yucca Mountain will not be able to accommodate all of this, but it is the only site under consideration by the Department of Energy. And there will still be nuclear waste at 103 sites around the country, even if Yucca opens.
While there are no easy solutions to the problem of nuclear waste, there are safer, cheaper, cleaner alternatives. The first one is common sense: Stop making it, at least until we can come up with a realistic way to dispose of it. Implementing energy-efficiency standards and energy-conservation measures would actually provide a greater surplus of energy than any nuclear power plant could produce. New England has taught us that. In the 1990s, they were about 60-percent dependent on nuclear power. However, when seven out of eight reactors were shut down, they experienced no rolling blackouts because they had already begun to give incentives for energy efficiency and conservation.
I know that a lot of people think that Cordova has been a good neighbor over the years, and that the people working at the plant are honest, hard-working individuals just trying to make a living. But I would also like to point out that under de-regulation, the nuclear industry is employing fewer individuals every year. In fact, wind power offers more jobs per kilowatt hour of generation than any other energy technology.
The re-licensing of the Cordova Nuclear Power Plant is a decision that affects us all. The Quad Cities and America on the whole deserve responsible energy solutions to meet our needs and ensure a sustainable future for our children. Any industry that yields mass amounts of dangerous radioactive waste over the course of its operating life span does not fit these criteria. There are far superior technologies that have the potential to create more jobs and generate greater income for our area. It is imperative that the NRC take this into consideration within the scoping process. It is accepting comments via e-mail at (QuadCitiesEIS@nrc.gov). Get involved in your community and voice your concerns, because we are all in this together. We are all in the emergency-planning zone.
Support Our Protesters
When I see them lying in the street, their wrists being lashed with plastic as if they're bundles of produce, I hope the rest of the world is seeing them, too. The protesters do more for homeland security than Tom Ridge and all the border patrols combined. Cameras would serve this country well if they aim their lenses at these active citizens and record the statements they and their bodies are making within the context of a free society. They make not only a wonderful statement but a wonderful example. The streets of other countries should know that there is a movement here that has not disconnected itself from the plight of citizens in Iraq or in any country that is being bombed in the name of and with the money of the American people.
The polls in support of the war reflect mainly the success of indoctrination. Bush can stand up at a podium as if he's on the Jerry Springer show and say that he has just heard that Iraqi soldiers have cut the tongue out of a dissenter and "let him bleed to death in the middle of the town square." There is no source or verification - there doesn't need to be. It may or may not be true - it only needs to be glossy and gruesome and make his war seem holy.
Blair, whose name I have noticed is an anagram for "Liar-B," is taking the lesson from Liar-A, which is: Say anything. The sister of a soldier Blair claimed was executed by the Iraqi regime has denounced Blair. She says he lied and that she was told her brother was killed in action - on the spot. It was a twist of the knife that Blair felt compelled to give her and the world a more painful scenario. The mission, which he has accepted like a dutiful Oxford debating-team member, is to keep the public disgusted with the enemy and thereby continue to gain support. It also makes peace activists and protesters seem tolerant of barbarism. How could they want us to stop prosecuting a war against people who would do such things?
The horror stories have recently accelerated and will continue to do so. Protesters are protesting war, which allows and releases the worst in human beings. An enlisted man told me that a sergeant in the U.S. army who had trained him kept a bag of fingers he had cut off of dead Iraqi soldiers during the first Gulf war. That also may or may not be true, but any incomprehensible behavior - substantiated or unsubstantiated - is not proof of how terrible "these" or any people are; it's proof of how psychotic war is and how it encourages psychotic behavior. The self-righteous "A-ha"s out of Bush and Blair are manipulative and self-serving and are neither honest nor examined. If anything they make the case for peace activists who could respond to Bush and Blair: Yes, look what war does to human beings, not just to their bodies but to their minds and personalities. War is the atrocity and its legacy will last for generations. That's why people are lying in the streets in New York and San Francisco.
There never has been any doubt there is the beast in every human being. Pressure, stresses, oppression, experience, pathology, attack - all contribute to the beast taking over. Imagine the personalities of Limbaugh, Hannity, Savage, or DeLay if they were cornered in Basra. War will discharge the urges and behavior we hoped culture, constitutions, legal systems, spiritual leaders, art, and even commerce would keep in check. Bush in fact has shunned all of these because he himself does not want to be civilized or regulated by them. The protesters, on the other hand, want their country to be tempered by those universal structures and as much as possible keep the beast at least harnessed. Instead, advocates for peace are themselves being harnessed, cuffed, muffled, and insulted.
I think it would be wise for journalists to be embedded in the peace movement. I would like to see a journalist in a protest dressed not in battle fatigues with a helmet and a bulletproof vest but holding a sign and saying "we" when speaking about the group - United For Peace, Voices in the Wilderness, 9/11 Families for Peace, or Not in Our Name.
The expansion of the war has begun. Rumsfeld has given warning shots to Syria and Iran. Putin has said that the relationship between the U.S. and Russia is approaching its lowest point since the height of the cold war. This country at the moment is like the largest dinosaur on the plains - with its massive muscularity, stride and chops - it is however being ordered about by a tiny cluster of simple synapses, no dexterity of thought or imagination. Just thud and chomp. In contrast, the open hands of the activist patriot citizens are publicly hog-tied. The hands reaching out to restore a brotherhood and sisterhood to the rest of the unsettled world are being punished and vilified by the country they're trying to protect and regain.
Bill C. Davis
Albany, New York