It looks like today will be the second day of news covering John McCain's trip to the Michigan nuclear power plant to push his plan to encourage the building of up to 45 new ones by 2030. I almost choked last night when touted his 'experience' with nuclear power while on board an aircraft carrier. That was no experience at all. He did not work with the power plant. He flew a damned plane off the flight deck and landed it again. I definitely do not want to see new plants built until three crucial, to me at least, questions are answered. The safe operation of the plants is really the least of the issues. I have read some accounts of new designs developed in France which have both a longer life than the first generation of reactors which are now at the upper limit of their life expectancy and have an extremely safe operating history. However the problems for me comes at the beginning and end of the process: how the fuel is mined and processed, and how the spent fuel is disposed of. I have read too many reports of workers, many Native American, who were lured by the promise of good pay into jobs which destroyed their health and the health of their families. Many are still fighting for medical benefits. Worse is the problem of ground water contamination in the southwest from the processing of uranium. I want to see very strict health and environmental standards in place with very high escrow accounts from the companies to prevent the past practice of declaring bankruptcy and leaving the problems for others to clean up. On the other end, we have never come up with a good way to handle waste that will be deadly for centuries. Even if the government finally managed to open Yucca Mountain (now 10 years behind deadline) I doubt that it would handle the waste from 45 new plants plus all of the old ones. For some of the problems, including allegations of fraudulent geological studies, start with Wikipedia. Also consider the problems of transporting the spent fuel to the site. The news has covered several train crashes since 2000 alone where people living nearby had to be evacuated because of toxic chemical spills. Do we really want the equivelent of 'dirty bomb' rolling through our towns and cities?
By the way, take a look at C.A. Rotwang on TPM Cafe today. He says the same about the problem of nuclear fuel waste and has a nice link to Paris Hilton's response to McCain anti-Obama ad featuring her. Love the satire and didn't think she had it in her.
My now deceased ex-husband had what became a tiresome and trite comment for whenever someone seemed to be indecisive or dawdling or simply wasn't moving fast enough for him: "Do SOMETHING, even if it's wrong!!!" The news coverage of the candidates' energy policies has brought it back to me. The candidates seem to be responding to a similar attitude among the American public. I get the impression that my fellow Americans want someone to do something to fix whatever is wrong and they want it NOW. They don't care if it won't work at all, or if the fix is only temporary, or if the fix will in fact make things worse. It is a kind of snatch and grab mentality much like the 'I've got mine; f**k you' mentality I mentioned a couple of posts ago. McCain reads this mood and proposes everything under the sun without any thought to the hows, whys, or even the oughts of his proposals and the news media cover Obama's alleged shifts on off-shore drilling as though he was a weather cock in a gale.