Grassroots Network of the Republican Party of Virginia

From the Free Lance Star


THANK YOU for your March 26 editorial "Captain Atom he ain't," which did a great job of describing President Obama's inconsistency regarding "scientific integrity" as it clearly explained important aspects of nuclear power in the United States.

Even without reference to nuclear power, Obama's duplicity surfaced in his statement about stem-cell use. Ideology, he said, should not limit scientific exploration; then, in the next sentence, he forbade the use of stem cells for cloning. I do not condone cloning, but all he did was move the ideology-based barrier back a few notches.

In any case, your editorial's comparison between Three Mile Island and Chernobyl is spot on. Few people recognize the superiority of U.S. nuclear design and regulation.

You note as the "downside" of nuclear power the question "What to do with the radioactive waste?" Dangerous stuff for sure, but we and many other countries have been living with it for about 60 years while achieving a great safety record. Not only is Yucca Mountain, the ill-fated disposal site for U.S. commercial nuclear fuel, a victim of politics rather than science, but there is another absurd non-scientific decision about nuclear power that is less well-known.

In our country we recycle many wastes; glass, aluminum, etc. But the recycling of nuclear waste is forbidden by an action of a former president, Jimmy Carter. Recycling releases plutonium and uranium from used fuel so that it can be used again in new reactor fuel. Carter worried that this very pure (bomb-grade) uranium and plutonium could be diverted to nefarious uses. He reasoned that if the U.S. banned nuclear-fuel recycling, other countries would follow us--thus eliminating a proliferation risk.

But no one else followed! France and Britain, among others, have been reprocessing nuclear fuel for decades under the watchful eyes of the International Atomic Energy Agency. Meanwhile, the U.S. still does not recycle commercial fuel.

Not only is this process a great example of recycling (more than 85 percent of the spent-fuel waste is returned to make new fuel), but also the process is a boon for waste disposal since it reduces the volume of the waste needing to be stored for centuries by 95 percent!

Yucca Mountain, if it ever escapes the political whims of Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid and President Obama, would serve the country for 20 times its current planned lifetime. This, in turn, would dispel the myth that there is "no solution" to radioactive-waste disposal.

Also: Virginians contribute more than $650 million each year to the federal government for nuclear-waste disposal. You should wonder where that money goes.

Thomas Crimmins, a consultant in the nuclear-power field, lives in Fredericksburg.

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