Today on a segment of his show about CLCPA Brian said that nuclear power is clean because it emits no green house gases. He said it was safe because there have only been two accidents, one in Russia. The program is already posted and you can listen to it now on WNYC.
This requires a major response. It has been clear for some time that Brian has avoided discussing nuclear topics – even when Indian Point’s last reactor closed.
When I checked the website for an address to send a reply, I found an email for the Community Advisory Board.
I suggest that we all send individual letters to the CAB and make a big deal out of this.
His average weekly audience is 969,300. We must respond and demand equal airtime.
I am writing my letter now and suggest that letters to Brian be posted to this thread as they are written. The language may be helpful to others.
Don’t wait, do it now!
Some ideas; pick one or something different and write a short letter. Don’t worry about making it perfect. This is the time for an outraged reader response.
Express shock and dismay at Brian’s naive viewpoint.
Stress the waste issue and costs of decommissioning.
How expensive nuclear power is compared to the per kwh cost of renewables.
Talk about the number of nuclear accidents world wide.
Mention experts and use some quotes and links. Doubtful if they will accept attachments.
Send an invitation to our forthcoming forums so Brian can get educated.
Contamination of the Hudson River and the fact it is a source of drinking water for 7 communities.
Or something entirely different.
Post ideas or letters to this thread. We are not looking for outstanding quality. We need quantity NOW.
Community Advisory Board
NYPR’s Community Advisory Board (CAB) is a volunteer group of interested listeners who meet monthly to gather public comments and advise the station as to whether the programming and policies of the station meet the specialized educational and cultural needs of the community.
You can email your feedback to the CAB at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Here’s the letter I sent to WNYC today:
Dear Citizen Advisory Board for WNYC,
On Brian Lehrer’s show for 2023, January 3, he offended a lot of your listeners, and I surely would have been one of them. He is very much in need of education about nuclear power.
First, he thinks it is clean because it emits no greenhouse gasses (GHG). But mining, milling, processing, enrichment and fabrication of uranium fuel are all GHG intensive.
I. About mining: UNDERGROUND mining of uranium requires a lot of GHG to (1) prospect, (2) drill and excavate, (3) prop up the walls of the mine, (4) fashion and install elevators, and (5) bring in rail to get the ore out. OPEN-PIT mining burns GHG for 1, 2, and 5 above. LEACHATE mining puts compounds in the ground to dissolve uranium ore (extreme acid or basic compounds), which chemically pollute and contaminate with radioactive isotopes the soil and groundwater. Then the ore is transported (in vehicles that burn fossil fuels) for . . .
II. MILLING: Milling uranium ore is GHG intensive. A lot of fossil-fuel power is needed to crush the ore, then the chemicals take over to extract the uranium part and bake it into “yellow cake” or UOX. This is a highly radioactive stuff that must be specially packaged (to manufacture packages requires GHG at the factory) for transport (in vehicles that burn fossil fuels) to the one and only processing plant in the USA at Paducah, Kentucky.
III. PROCESSING: To make yellowcake useful requires that the UOX be turned into a gaseous substance. Now here’s a really filthy process: the processing plant uses HF, fluoric acid. Maybe you remember from HS chemistry what a dangerous substance HF is. But tons of it are used in Paducah to create UF6, not just because it’s a gas, but because every UF6 molecules has EXACTLY THE SAME MASS every other UF6 molecule except for one little thing. 99.3% of the molecules contain U with a mass of 238 and 0.7% have U with a mass of 235. This presents a possibility for physical separation, and the necessity for same. 238U does not split and release energy when hit with a neutron, but 235U does. So you can’t get heat to boil water (or explosive bombs to kill people) from 238U atoms. You need to 235U at 5% for NPPs (and 90% for bombs). So once again the radioactive UF6 is packed up and sent to another venue for . . .
IV. ENRICHMENT: The largest buildings in the world were devoted to this process during the Cold War, and these buildings are huge today. They contain tens of thousands of gas centrifuge tubes for spinning out the 235UF6 from the 238UF6. The difference in mass of these two gasses is about 1%. It takes tens of thousands of centrifuge tubes to do this, each manufactured using GHG at the factory. Then, this stuff is liquified for transport (GHG again) to . . .
V. FABRICATION: Don’t know where, don’t know how, but the 5% 235U, 95% 238U ends up as tiny pellets the size of the last joint of your child’s little finger for packing into 10 ft. Tubes made of Zirconium alloy (nickel and some other metals) which are assembled into bundles suitable for a nuclear reactor vessel.
Oh, wait . . . What about all those buildings where these processes take place. Materials, transportation, etc. All using GHG.
So we get to the place where lots of filthy, anti-biological isotopes are released into the air, soil and water, but very little CO2. However, the CO2 that is released contains Carbon 14, a radioactive isotope that replaces the non-radioactive C in nature’s “carbon-unit” organisms (that’s you, me, elephants, whales, octopi, trees, flowers, butterflies, viruses, etc.).
Now let’s jump to the carbon footprint after the fuel is spent (SF) and it is removed from the reactor for storage, or disposal, or whatever happened to it. Like PFAs it never goes away, but unlike PFAs it last 100,000 years instead of 300 years.
This letter is way too long, so I’m just going to send a picture of an ISFSI (independent spent fuel storage installation) and ask you —¿What do YOU think is the carbon footprint of these concrete casks?
Sorry this letter is so long, but I get carried away by the ignorance of people who implement main-stream media. That nuclear power is clean — ¡what clap-trap!
And one visit to wikipedia shows that there are 5 major accidents, not just 2. READ ONE MORE BOOK FOR GOODNESS SAKE. Make it Atoms and Ashes: a global history of nuclear disasters by Serhii Plokhy. He has a chapter for Castle Bravo, Kyshtym (Google it — EASY for Neil Lehrer; and IT’S HIS JOB), Windscale, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.
If the news readers on WNYC haven’t read the books of Kate Brown, MIT prof., then they will surely make a ton of mistakes and pass them on to their listeners. Also for quick education go to beyondnuclear.org, nirs.org, and NEIS.org
Sincerely, Jan Boudart, 1132 W Lunt Ave, Chicago IL 60626, board member Nuclear Energy Information Service, NEIS.org, 415.301.1129.