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Monday, September 18, 2006

A Review of the Book "Insurmountable Risks"

The book by Brice Smith, "Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change," fails to make its case. The critical fallacy of the book is that it rejects nuclear power as a solution to global warming but replaces it with wind, efficiency, and coal. Mr. Smith is a very intelligent man so he has to know that sequestration is not a practical application for electric utilities to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions. Any reasonable person knows that utilties cannot and will not sequester their way to carbon dioxide elimination. The reduction and transportation equipment nullify this technique. A suitable storage location is another killer.

America has never used less electricity and never will under normal circumstances, so efficiency will not work. We are building more and larger houses and buying more electrical gadgets, not less. Utilities have a fidiciary responsibility to reliably provide the power we need to operate our society. The public has no such responsibility and they wallow in the pleasures of buying and using every kind of electrical gadget they can get their hands on. Have you been to Best Buy and Circuit City lately? Wind is not reliable because it does not blow 24-7, but citizens demand electricity 24-7 and utilities use the most reliable methods to provide it 24-7.

Mr. Brice uses the capital cost of construction and static cost of nuclear produced electricity in comparison to natural gas and coal (MIT & University of Chicago studies) to try to make his case. Unfortunately, he does not use life cycle cost analysis in his comparisons, thus ignoring the great financial returns during the 60-year life of an average nuclear plant. Utilties currently operating these plants are making money 'hand over fist' and Wall Street knows it. The section on costs and cancer deaths from accidents is pure fiction. Why not spend that time showing that the nuclear power industry has an excellent safety record and virtually no deaths have occurred in the U.S. during the entire history of the industry. This safety record buttresses a massive amount of emission-free-produced electricity to power the most developed and dynamic nation on the planet. And of course, there is the obligatory spent fuel section. Spent fuel is an opportunity, not a problem. So is the available U-238 , fission products and the highly enriched uranium and plutonium from warheads. They all can be reprocessed and recycled to make electricity.

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