12 November 2009

Clean Water, Clean Air

When I hear the "Green Jobs, Green Jobs" mantra I wonder about a couple things.

First and foremost is whether or not the so-called green jobs really are "green" or if they're simply being repackaged - like changing the name of Kellogg's Sugar Smacks to Honey Smacks... without changing the nearly 50% sugar content (see Consumer Reports - Health.org)...

I also wonder how we're going to convince the public to buy/use green alternatives since they're bound to be more expensive (I've a suspicion that the greenwashed products will be even more expensive than the actual green products since it's marketing behind the green, instead of an actual product revision... but that may just be my cynicism surfacing).

Even when there are real green alternatives, there is often great resistance to implementing them.

I listened to a MNPR story this morning about the proposed Prairie Island power increase.

Xcel Energy has made the decision to increase production at the Prairie Island plant - beyond what the plant was built to safely produce - instead of choosing to use renewables to meet increased demand, because it was CHEAPER.  In reality, the expansion of nuclear power is only cheaper when you close your eyes to the environmental effects - the unsolvable environmental effects.

The most chilling aspect of this increase is the increased waste problem. Nuclear waste isn't like other waste. It isn't feasibly recycled; it cannot be filtered out of the air or the water; it lasts as near to forever as matters to any who are alive now...

The proposed increase in power at the Prairie Island facility would not only cause significant stress on the structure of the power plants (think - higher pressure, higher heat, pipe corrosion, pipe cracks...), but also would generate many more casks of spent nuclear waste. This potentially increases the risk to anyone living near or downriver from the power plant.

Currently waste casks sit on a concrete pad next to the plant, on an island in the Mississippi River which is the source of drinking water for many communities downstream. There currently is only a small amount of leakage of radioactive materials into the air and water - in an amount that is deemed by some to be safe for human exposure. Others have concerns that the monitoring may be insufficient, and still others wonder if any additional exposure to radioactive materials, beyond what occurs naturally, is really safe. The proposed increase of power is expected to increase the radioactive discharges into the air and the river by 10 percent.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission has already approved this "uprate" at Xcel's other nuclear plant at Monticello. The federal government is expected to approve it. Next on the docket is the Prairie Island decision.

It's up to the Minnesota government to stop this risk. We should be telling our representatives and senators to vote no on this expansion. Make a real commitment to our health, and our planet's health. Keep us safe from this kind of risk. There are alternatives to nuclear power and its deadly waste.

No comments: