Ann Darling: Nuclear power should not be linked with words like ‘clean’ or ‘green’

Published: 10/14/2019 7:00:11 PM

I got behind on my reading and am just now going through your series on climate change and climate activism. I’ve learned a lot. Thank you.

I’m writing because I’ve been trying to get your writers and editors to think twice when you see mention of nuclear power in association with adjectives like clean or green. I see I have to keep on trying.

Buried in your article Sept. 19 extolling the green virtues of Holyoke Gas & Electric, I found this: HSG&E “provides an enormous advantage when looking to improve the city’s commitment to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The source of energy HG&E draws from are around 90 percent carbon-free, including nuclear and hydro.”

To begin, creating no greenhouse gasses during the actual generation of energy is not the litmus test for clean and green. Good science demands that we also ask, is the power source sustainable? Does the extraction of the fuel pollute the planet? Does the waste from producing the energy pollute the planet?

In the case of nuclear power, the answers are all these questions is a resounding no. Uranium is a finite source of fuel. Its mining consumes tremendous amounts of water and leaves radioactive tailings that are still being cleaned up and have poisoned mostly Native American communities for decades.

The radioactive waste generated during power production, the most toxic thing known to humankind, is with us forever, and there is no good way to neutralize or segregate it. Let’s not forget the link to nuclear weapons. The radioactive waste is used in weapons.

Yes, during electricity generation, nuclear power facilities don’t emit greenhouse gasses. Thinking that nuclear power is, therefore, a good or useful thing to address climate change is short-sighted and just plain bad science. If we have learned anything, it should be that we have to consider all the consequences of a means of power production before we adopt it.

I call on HG&E to divest of nuclear power and on the Gazette to think more incisively and critically about this. I challenge you to run a series on nuclear power generation and its supposed “greenness.”

 Ann Darling


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