Clean energy at what cost?

Photo by Flickr user David Falconer

Photo by Flickr user David Falconer

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Nuclear power is something that has always been saturated with controversy. While it does have its benefits, it also comes along with a deadly price. Last week a federal judge was presented with this question, “In early 21st-century America, can a small state tell an $11.2 billion corporation to pack up its nuclear plant and go home?”  My answer to that is maybe.
In Vermont, there is a struggle that is going on between New Orleans-based Entergy and the state of Vermont itself. The struggle is over how the Entergy owned Vermont Yankee nuclear plant’s license is set to expire and The NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) feels that the plant should be able to up its agreement by another 20 years. The state of Vermont on the other hand, wants almost nothing to do with it.
Now don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t want any of the citizens that work at the Yankee plant to lose their jobs. But we need to look at history because if we don’t change our mistakes, we’re doomed to repeat ourselves. We are living in a day and age when technology updates every few months or so and it boggles me that we haven’t found a safer alternative.
I understand that the powers that be love nuclear power for the most part and that it is a much cheaper alternative. But not long ago on April 26th 1986, there was an explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine that contaminated the atmosphere with a large dose of radiation.
The effects from that explosion still live on today as the area (even with continued work) is infected with radiation primarily turning it into a wasteland. Millions and millions of dollars went into aid but the scars are still there. Between 1986 and 2004 there was an estimated 985,000 premature cancer deaths caused by the tragedy.
I know there will be people that will say it was a rare accident and that something like that could never happen again. My argument to that is what happened in Japan. On March 11 after a terrifying earthquake the Fukushima Daini Power Plant was flooded due to a tsunami which short circuited the already damaged plant. The power for the cooling systems was gone and the reactors started to overheat. Three of the reactors had meltdowns while reactor number four had several fires as the world watched what happened. The overall outcome in Japan was catastrophic and Fukushima will be closed down for good after the recovery process. Japan is now looking to become eco friendly, passing a bill to subsidize electricity from renewable energy sources. It will come into effect next July
This is exactly why I wouldn’t want a power plant to stay open. The sheer amount of catastrophic destruction speaks for itself. The people of Vermont deserve better than this because of what could happen. The government of Vermont no longer wants the plant there.
What they should do is give those plant workers a job that would be dealing with renewable resources. I know it is much easier said than done but that’s how life is. Would you risk your life working in a plant like this? Or would you like to help work on something much better? There are safe alternatives out there, we just have to care and work enough to find them.

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