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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

July 4, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Nuclear energy: no use for process with such dangerous waste

No new nuclear — we’re still cleaning up the first mess

Sid Morrison’s guest column [“Nuclear power could be part of the solution,” Opinion, July 1] was a smooth but arrogant dismissal of the choice America has already made about expanding nuclear energy.

Americans don’t trust nuclear, economically or environmentally. We’re still paying for the Washington Public Power Supply financial disaster and people are still dying in Belarus, the Ukraine, Russia and parts of Europe from the Chernobyl meltdown.

Citizens need to know that even after 65 years, there still isn’t a long-term solution to disposing of hazardous nuclear waste. Nuclear plants cost $6 billion to $8 billion and can take 15 to 20 years to construct to produce electricity that costs 60 percent more than electricity generated from coal.

Add in the full costs for nuclear-waste disposal, decommissioning and insuring the plants against meltdown and terrorists attacks and it is simply not economical. Hanford nuclear reservation, in our own backyard, is the most contaminated nuclear site in the world, excluding Chernobyl, and cleanup is eight years behind schedule and projected to cost $50 billion, 20 times the original estimate. When all costs are considered, nuclear energy remains the most expensive and dangerous way to generate electricity.

Morrison talks about the need for citizens to be informed and on that, he is absolutely correct

— Mark Quinn, Olympia

Nuclear power is great, except for one minor problem

Sid Morrison’s guest column on nuclear power did a great job of extolling the benefits and need for nuclear power. I think we should get right on it — er, that is, after we deal with that pesky business of it producing prodigious amounts of deadly waste that last for a zillion years and cannot be disposed of safely.

— Harold R. Pettus, Everett

Would you store nuclear waste in your backyard?

I have some questions for Sid Morrison after reading his column promoting the use of more nuclear power in Washington.

First, you say we need nuclear power because we can’t “conserve our way out of the need for more power to meet future demands.” In 2002, the Tellus Institute released a study showing that the Northwest can meet all of its growing need for electricity by increasing energy efficiency and investing in new sources of renewable power generation. What evidence do you have to back up your position?

Second, you describe “tired attempts to link commercial nuclear power to vastly overblown cost and risk factors.” Does Whoops, the joint venture of 23 publicly-owned utilities, ring a bell? Have you been to the Hanford nuclear reservation lately?

Third, if you think nuclear waste is not a problem, can we store it in your backyard?

— Robert Pregulman, Seattle

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