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Friday, March 23, 2012

Up Bear Creek / 15mar25012

Taking a hard look 
at nuclear energy

Moab, Utah  (photo by Goodtimes)

PIÑON RIDGE … Sheep Mountain Alliance’s Jennifer Thurston is right. The $11.6 million bond the state has set for the new Canadian-based Energy Fuels mill cleanup in Paradox Valley is way too low. What are state regulators thinking? Have they already forgotten the state’s financial disaster with insufficient bonding at Summitville? … The old uranium mill-site downstream of Naturita cost $86 million to clean up (taxpayers footing most of that). The Slick Rock mill-site cleanup, in our own county, cost $50 million. And Grand Junction’s mill-site cost $500 million … 

Paradox Valley (photo by Sue Williamson)
 There’s a hidden subsidy for you, all to the benefit of the One Percent’s uranium industry (whose production in Paradox will be sent overseas as export, not for our domestic energy needs). Imagine if we put just the cost of just those three cleanups into solar or wind? We’d have alternative energy for the whole Western Slope … And we’re just talking mill-sites. The hundreds of mines and adits still leaking radioactive elements into our watersheds would take many, many billions more to clean up … Which is why I’m so fried with the Democrats. They’re advocating subsidies for the uranium industry, just like the Republicans. And we haven’t cleaned up the messes from the last uranium boom … Want a campaign issue? Ask Obama and Udall and Bennett when they’re going to get off the “safe nukes” bandwagon, and stop making bundles of money for the likes of the Blues Brothers and their General Atomic investors.

New "Safe" Confinement structure under construction at Chernobyl
CHERNOBYL … And the true costs of the nuclear industry are never taken into account for “black swan” events, like Chernobyl, Fukushima or Three Mile Island … Lebanese-American risk management expert Nassim Nicholas Taleb identified a “black swan event” as one that is very rare, comes as a surprise to the observer, has massive impacts and is only rationalized as possible after the fact … 
Cover of Taleb's book
Right now in the Belaurus, French construction company Novarka is building the world’s largest movable structure – a steel rainbow taller than the Statue of Liberty – to slide over Chernobyl Power Plant’s Reactor #4. The temporary sarcophagus placed over the ruins of the reactor after it exploded in April of 1986 is falling apart. The new structure, designed in part by the Battelle Memorial Institute at the cost of $2.1 billion, is only expected to last 100 years. It’s needed to clean up the highly radioactive dust that is still contained within the deteriorating sarcophagus … Some 29 countries are paying for this new steel rainbow. While Belaurus estimates the black swan event at Chernobyl has cost that country $235 billion. But in the U.S., should such a black swan event happen at any of the 104 existing nuclear reactors located at 65 nuclear power plants (not including the two new Japanese reactors being built near Atlanta, Georgia, recently awarded an $8.3 billion loan guarantee by the Obama administration), the lion’s share of the liability for the event would be covered by U.S. taxpayers. Companies actually responsible for the disaster would only be liable for the first $12.6 billion, thanks to the Price-Anderson Nuclear Industries Liability Act (renewed for 20 years in 2005). After that, it’s up to Congress to come up with the money. And you know that this august body, dominated by industry lobbyists, will force U.S. taxpayers to pay the nuclear piper – one of the many “hidden subsidies” for nuclear power that’s rarely discussed in comparing the costs of nuclear energy versus other energy sources … In speaking of black swan events, we’re not even talking about “routine” accidents that you rarely hear about in the U.S. media, like radioactive tritium leaking into groundwater as happened at the Vermont Yankee plant two years ago last month at a cost of $700 million in property damage. According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 43 of the 65 nuclear plants have already leaked radioactive tritium into groundwater, inflicting billions of dollars in property damage … It’s hard to fight against jobs for folks in the West End of Montrose County who only see value in a renewed uranium industry. But when looked at critically on a world stage, nuclear power is very dangerous game that’s likely to cost our children’s children trillions of dollars in property damage and untold suffering and illness. Is the nuclear industry’s so-called “clean energy” really worth it?

SHORT TERM RENTALS… Some folks outside the Telluride Region were concerned that the discussion of imposing some new county rule limiting short-term rentals would apply to them. If we’re talking about the Wright’s Mesa and West End Zone Districts, the answer is no. I made sure of that before we even started the discussion a couple weeks ago at the county … However, if you live Downvalley or on the Mesas, the answer is maybe. A number of homeowner associations have said they do NOT want short term rentals happening in their subdivisions. I think we have to respect that … At the same time, as I argued in the county’s initial discussions on this issue, these are hard times. Within this capitalist system, every private property owner ought to have as many tools as possible made available to prevent further foreclosures – and I see short-term rentals as one of those possible tools … Short-term rentals will definitely be available in Norwood and our West End, but they may not be in Placerville and elsewhere in the R-1 School District. So, whichever way you come down on this issue, it’s important that your voice is heard at the county in the next couple months.


Photo by B. Thomas

Moss Spring

billowing clouds of cumulus
backlit in the moonlight

Jupiter chasing Venus
across a star-struck

Cloud Acre’s eye meal
of amaryllis
takes the breath away

So we talk more
this world and I
Blackbirds newly back

to Wright’s Mesa
The storm wind’s hurl & spin
flapping plastic

Six of us
hungry for bon mots
& lyric chatter

Inhaling margaritas
& sunshine
around a winter table

1 comment:

  1. great info art! love the poem - the first word that flew from my mind was "seductive".