July 17, 2010

letter to editor verified, bounced yet again by Ottawa Citizen - this one on nuclear energy

Letters to the editor of the Ottawa Citizen, usually verified - now not published. Controlling the message.  My July letter on nuclear energy, in respone to their uninformed 'Suddenly Lights Out'; July 8, 2010:

Over many years the Ottawa Citizen's editorial board has maintained a steadfast belief in the superiority of nuclear energy, without providing any proof that alternative energy could not sustain us, or that nuclear energy could. Nuclear does not gear up and go by itself without massive, massive taxpayer funds in the billions of dollars. Nuclear energy production is always oversold as to its long-term reliability, when evidence clearly shows that these plants break down like all other things man-made. Nuclear plants can become catastrophically dangerous when they degrade - yet we seem to assume that society will be forever stable enough to deal with nuclear plant breakdowns, and that no unexpected disruptive event could occur to inhibit us from doing so (plague, war, earthquake, e.g.). Nuclear energy plants incur gigantic cost overruns to overhaul and maintain them - again, at our expense. I recall hearing the analogy that if every rooftop in the greater Toronto area had solar panels, there would be enough energy to power the entire province. True? False? Let's find out what we can do. The province should not so hastily decide not to subsidize production of solar energy. Costs and benefits must be weighed carefully. Power that travels vast distances, as electricity must do coming from distant nuclear generating stations, is extraordinarily inefficient - so much electricity is lost per kilometer travelled down electrical lines. Nuclear fuel is a finite energy source that will run out. We have never come up with safe storage solutions for lethally toxic nuclear waste byproduct. Faith in nuclear looks more like religious belief rather than knowledge based on fact. The age of oil is coming to an end. We cannot afford to make any errors in which ways we decide to go in searching for our long-term energy solutions.

                          - Diane V. McLoughlin

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