Responding to Hellman and Nusser
by Art Goodtimes
Apr 05, 2012 | 1271 views | 3 3 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
NUCLEAR … Given Jeremy Hellman’s almost 40 years as a nuclear engineer and manager, it’s no wonder he takes issue with my critical view of an industry that has given us, not energy “too cheap to meter,” as promised, but disasters too catastrophic to measure. Of course, in his mind, Chernobyl isn’t “relevant”. But for those in Belarus who still are living with the many-thousand-year effects of that “black swan” event (or Fukushima) as well as those of us wondering where the atomic nightmare will strike again, the incredible cost of nuclear power gone awry (not once but multiple times) should give all citizens pause … Hellman dismisses the Price-Anderson Act as “hypothetical”, because taxpayers haven’t had to make good on its unlimited-pay-out insurance policy (thank the goddess). But without Price-Anderson, there would be no nuclear industry in this country. The atom’s dirty little secret is that nuclear power produces energy too expensive to insure. Forget that 60 years of technological advance has yet to solve its malingering waste problem. Ignore its reactors’ inherent vulnerability to terrorist attack … Decades after it began, the industry still hasn’t cleaned up its proliferation of past radioactive waste sites around the country, as the recent New York Times piece – on the 683 abandoned mine sites on the Navajo reservation alone – documented. “Two days of exposure at the Cameron site would expose a person to more external radiation than the Nuclear Regulatory Commission considers safe for an entire year,” writes Leslie MacMillan. But as yet there are no warning signs or even fencing at the Cameron site – a situation duplicated all over the West and another hidden cost of an industry unwilling to face up to its dark underbelly. So far the Department of Energy has paid out $60 million on assessment and cleanup, but cleaning up all the sites would cost “hundreds of millions of dollars” according to Clancy Tenley, a senior Environmental Protection Agency official … Nor does Hellman mention the $1.5 billion taxpayers have paid out to 23,408 former uranium miners (or their families) who weren’t apprised of the dangers of mining uranium and perished prematurely to cancer and related illnesses. These are all costs that need to be calculated into any true cost accounting of the nuclear energy option … Hellman may say renewable energy is “wonderful to think about” but deeply flawed to meet the increasing demands of the modern world, but I believe it’s the only way into the future, if we expect our species to survive for seven more generations. Renewables, efficiency and reduction of use – those are the keys to a resilient future energy policy … And as for Rachel Nusser’s commentary, I realize Nucla and Naturita have bet all their chips on a new uranium mill. We know the hard times our West End neighbors have endured, as long as I’ve lived here, and we want to root for their economic success. But Nusser lost me in the second sentence when she wrote, “The energy consumed by man is created by non-renewable sources such as oil, gas, nuclear, and renewable resources [sic]” … Yes, it’s true “Up Bear Creek” is an opinion column, not an environmental impact statement, sagely weighing the pros and cons. Those have been done. I’ve read them. And what I present here is the conclusion I’ve come to, as a Green Party elected official, after 40 years of investigating this industry … And yes, it’s also true all energy production has impacts. The point is, when weighed apples to apples, the nuclear risk and its harm to the environment and to the human race – men and women – is clearly the most dangerous and expensive of all energy alternatives.

KAREN CHAMBERLAIN … Folks from all across the Western Slope flocked to Carbondale’s Thunder River Theatre Company last weekend, where Valerie Haugen and Lon Winston organized the second annual Karen Chamberlain Poetry Festival. Bards from all over the Western Slope dazzled audiences with riveting performances by Aaron Abeyta of the San Luis Valley and Bob King of Greeley’s Colorado Poets Center, Pike’s Peak Poet Laureate Jim Ciletti, Seth & Collette of Denver with their “Triangle Man”, the soft-spoken warrior Janice Gould, the well-played David Rothman, Grand Junction’s Wendy Videlock, Fruita’s Danny Rosen, the incomparable Jack Mueller of Log Hill Village, Uche Ogbuji, Kit Muldoon, Stewart Warren, Chris Ransick, David Mason, Carol Bell, Debbi Brody, Rachel Kellum, Julie Cummings, Eric Walter, Hildegard Guttendorfer, Western State’s WordHorde, Francie Jacober, Kit Hedman, Kim Nuzzo, John Macker, Celeste Labadie, Peter Anderson, L. Luis Lopez, Sandy Munro, the River City Nomads and more.

ADRIENNE RICH … Last week the nation lost one of its great poets. Rich’s Diving into the Wreck (1973) was one of the seminal poem sequences of modern America. As a young man, I was deeply moved by this book. In the section titled, “From the Prison House,” speaking of violence against women, Rich wrote, “underneath my lids another eye has opened” and this eye sees “the violence embedded in silence …”


This eye

is not for weeping

Its vision

must be unblurred

though tears

are on my face

Its intent is clarity

It must forget nothing…

-Adrienne Rich

-from Diving into the Wreck

Comments-icon Post a Comment
April 08, 2012

I suppose earthquakes caused by fracking, and drilling, and the effects of this on life and environment are ok. Or how about the newest catastrophic deep water drilling leak, and explosion outside of New Zealand being fine and not worth attention by those opposing nuclear energy. Maybe the consistent levels of leaking oil sludge at ALL deep water drilling sites are appropriate because enough money is distributed to high political figures, and capitalistic organizations, is expectable? Is it ok for the people living with these travesties to be overlooked, or placed at a lower level to those effected by negative and detrimental nuclear energy results? Like I have said...all sides in this contested issue need to be brought to light. Not only one sided biased views. Facts are facts....let's get them straight from all angles....not just to voice our own opinions.
April 08, 2012
First off, I am not from Naturita Art, and thus do not have any "chips in the basket" as is claimed...and I also feel there is more potential in the west end for alternative energy, than that of a uranium mill. Yet, that said, I apologize if I lost Art in my article. Maybe too many big words, and facts. To say that nuclear energy is more detrimental than that of the alternatives sources we consume hands down more, is to be one-sided and biased. The dirty little secret...and you said it load a clear Art...is that money trumps, as well as greed, ignorance, and power. So, bring some viable facts to the table before making assumptions. I also have compared and contrasted both sides....have studied and received my degree in geology...social science....political science. Perhaps due to my residing in Naturita, you felt it necessary to assume I am ignorant, or....something. Sorry to burst your bubble. Anytime you'd like to communicate on a factual basis, without biased one-sided rants....let me know. An open debate to really get the facts out should be a priority.


Rachel Nusser
April 16, 2012

i'm always open for a good discussion. however, in my column on the watch's op-ed page, after 30 years in the newspaper biz, i get to express my opinions. it's what columnists do.

you certainly don't have to agree, but come to the happy belly deli in norwood, and we can have breakfast and chat some time.

no one was ignoring other energy sources and their issues -- from fracking to deep-sea drilling, but somehow you must have missed my suggestion for the future (which involved neither of these).

you quote me as saying "chips in a basket" -- which i didn't say. and you suggested that renewables are non-renewables in your first commentary -- which did very much confuse me.

i explain above that the facts you state are true -- all energy sources have impacts. my point is -- weighing each of them with true-cost accounting, nuclear seems to me the most dangerous and the most expensive.

nothing you've said so far suggests otherwise.

best, artg