|The Week That Was
October 14, 2000
NEW ON THE SEPP WEB
Dr. Gilbert Ross makes a strong case against banning DDT, by listing the statistics of death from insect-borne diseases. The case becomes even stronger when one considers also the loss in economic output from sick individuals. Can we really overcome world poverty without DDT?
A DEFENSE OF NUCLEAR ENERGY
Clinton Bastin. (Letters to the Editor Science 289, p. 1141, 18 Aug. 2000)
"The analysis for "A Nuclear Solution to Climate Change?" (May 19, pages 1177-1178) is diminished by inclusion of the myth - popular in the United States - that efficient use of nuclear resources is a proliferation threat. Quite the contrary, destruction of weapons materials in spent nuclear fuel by their use for production of electricity in fast, so-called breeder reactors is an essential component of good non-proliferation practice. Depleted uranium at US enrichment plants, which was used by the Department of Energy to produce plutonium for weapons, would also be destroyed in fast reactors. The electricity produced from existing nuclear by-products would be equivalent to that needed by the US, at present use rates, for hundreds of years.
The nuclear solution in this [May 19] article would recover less than 1% of the energy from uranium. Spent fuel would be disposed of in a geologic repository. Depleted uranium - millions of tons of weapons source material - would accumulate indefinitely.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards are required for plutonium-239 in spent fuel in a geologic repository. However, virtually no one accepts the IAEA contention that planned satellite surveillance can be reasonably assured for 10,000 years. Moreover, the time required for significant decay of plutonium-239 is not 10,000 but 240,000 years. Neptunium-237, which has been used by the US Department of Energy (DOE) in a nuclear explosive, would require safeguards for millions of years.
Since safeguards for these periods of time are not credible, spent fuel must be reprocessed to permit permanent disposal of unwanted fission products, i.e., high-level radioactive waste. Disposal of this waste is essential for viability of nuclear power and is a requirement of virtually all nations. Reprocessing only in well-designed, managed and safeguarded facilities operated by nations with large nuclear power programs, and immediate fabrication of weapons materials into fuel assemblies for their destruction through production of electricity, provides greatest assurances against proliferation threat from nuclear power.
The DuPont Company completed designs for such facilities in 1978, based on its world-best experience in reprocessing at the DOE Savannah River Plant, and the experience of others. Among many important features of these designs was the elimination of accumulations of separated plutonium. Unfortunately, these designs were rejected by leaders of DOE in order to support national laboratory reprocessing concepts that had led to earlier problems - failures and proliferation - and poorly focused research on "proliferation-resistant" fuel cycles. During this same time period, political decisions were made that led ultimately to cancellation of US fast reactor development.
US nuclear policies based on best science and best applications of science will result in nuclear power being used as the solution for climate change and other energy and environmental problems.
Clinton Bastin provided leadership for the initial US Government program for disposition of commercial spent fuels, as well as for successful US Atomic Energy Commission reprocessing and radioactive waste management programs. He was a lead technical consultant to US national security agencies on nonproliferation issues.
ARE ENGLISH SPARROWS THE VICTIMS OF UNLEADED GASOLINE?
According to the Sept 11, 2000 Independent (UK), circumstantial evidence strongly suggests that unleaded petrol is killing the sparrows in cities. British sparrow authority Denis Summers-Smith believes that additives like MTBE or benzene are the villains. He calls for an investigation "if for no other reason than as an application of the precautionary principle."
No further comment needed.
The Weather Channel had a special on global warming on Oct 10 called "Hot Planet". [That should tell you something]
Then they conducted an e-poll :...."Do you think that human influence
is a factor in global warming?"
Nevertheless, the vote so far is 62% NO, 34% YES, the rest Undecided.
The Greens are becoming anxious, sending out urgent messages, asking us to vote "yes."...
If you want to vote, link to http://www.weather.com/newscenter/specialreports/hotplanet/index.html or just to http://www.weather.com/ and choose "hot planet"
SEPP IS MOVING ..EFFECTIVE OCT 21
NEW ADDRESS AND TELEPHONE