Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Alternative Energy: excerpt from The Dynamic Great Lakes
There are 37 nuclear power plants in the Great Lakes basin.
Plutonium, the most toxic substance known, is a by-product of
nuclear power plants. It is extremely hazardous because of its high
radioactivity: for half of its quantity to decay, it takes 24,360 years.
Our aging Nuclear Power Plants on the Great Lakes presently have
nowhere to store plutonium except on their property.
On the Palisades Nuclear Power Plant property on the shore of
Lake Michigan near South Haven, eight 100 ton casks stand on a
concrete slab only 150 feet from the waters of Lake Michigan.
The 16½ foot high casks are eleven feet in diameter and weigh
100 tons. They consist of a steel basket encased in 29 inches of
concrete and stand on a concrete slab. Palisades may eventually have
25 casks. Plutonium is so toxic that it could mean an end to life as
we know it in the Great Lakes region. Low-level radionuclides like
tritium escape into the ecosystem from these plants and like other
toxins, radioactivity magnifies through food chains. The nuclear
power plants are aging and must be phased out. Their radioactive
wastes pose an urgent problem that will have to be solved soon. No
one has solved the problem of how to store plutonium safely.
Uranium mining on the Canadian shore of the Lake Huron Basin
also poses hazardous waste problems.
The other nuclear power plants on the shores of the Great Lakes
also lack a sensible solution. Nuclear waste should be stored in a
permanent place where there is little or no chance of reaching water.
Former Attorney General of Michigan, Frank Kelly, stated the
storage of nuclear waste “the greatest threat to the Great Lakes in the
history of mankind.”
The Great Lakes’ value can’t be measured in dollars and cents
only, for who can measure the loss of health or put a price on the
beauty of a place?