Nuclear Power Today: The Pressing Issues

Nuclear power has been a hotbed topic for most of the past 50 years. After the catastrophic disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima, public awareness of the dangers and shortcomings of nuclear power generation were at all-time highs. However, we’ve seen a worrying trend of disinterest in the past few years which is important to rectify. Nuclear power issues are more important than ever.

Most of our current concerns aren’t related to new plants. In fact, after the japanese disaster, very few (if any) nuclear plants are being built in America. That’s some victory, but it’s only one part of the equation. Many older plants are also now slated to be decommissioned. That’s good news in theory, but the reality is much more complicated.

 

The problem here is that once the public hears the word “decommissioned”, that’s generally as far as their thoughts actually go. In reality, a nuclear power plant can be even more dangerous after it’s been relegated to the junkyard than when it is fully operational.

That’s because when a nuclear power plant is in operation, it’s strictly monitored, and kept up to safety standards. While current regulations are far from perfect, they are at least followed systematically and with some degree of regularity. The process of decommissioning, on the other hand, is really not so well-planned. There isn’t a standardized procedure across the board, and there’s a startling lack of clarity in terms of the actual process of shutting the site down, containing radioactive waste, and transporting it to a site for disposal.

 

Plants in the decommissioning process have a track record of leaks, spills and scares. They’re also extremely vulnerable to attack or exploitation by terrorist forces or other security threats. When we take our eye off the ball, it moves quickly. See the attached article below for a incisive write-up of how one plant, Pilgrim in CT, is (or isn’t) dealing with the process of being decommissioned. It’s an important wake-up call for all concerned citizens, and an excellent piece to share among friends who may not be as attuned to these issues as you are yourself

 

The biggest things we need to speak up about are:

 

-protecting our decommissioned and in-process plants from security threats and risks

 

-demanding environmental scrutiny of the decommissioning and decontamination process

 

-asking real questions about how waste will be contained and transported once the plant is shut down

 

Your voices can be the difference between a transparent, functional process of decommissioning and a messy disaster that takes years to clean up, and which could cause untold (and still worse, unknown) damage to public health, land, and drinking water. If you know of a plant in your state that is in the process of being decommissioned, and want to find out more about what you can do to make a difference, get in touch at the Take Action page. We’ll connect you with others in your area to help you work effectively.

To read more about the waste crisis, see the article “Pilgrim’s Progress: Inside the American Nuclear Waste Crisis” from the New Yorker (readable freely online). If you live near a nuclear power site and want to reduce radiation levels inside your home, see this.

Cell Radiation 101: What You Need To Know

Most manufacturers don’t want to talk about cell phone radiation. It’s a real health concern for nearly every American. Yet the FCC refuses to investigate it properly, or force a real scientific study to be done on its health impacts and potential risks. We find it extremely worrying that most of the top brass at the FCC and other government regulatory agencies is made up of telecommunications executives, not scientists. Once you know that the former head of Verizon runs the show, it all starts to make sense why we don’t get a lot of public awareness on cell phone safety and radiation.

 

Thankfully, European safety authorities have studied it, and that’s why they have much stricter radiation standards in place. If they didn’t have standards in place, you can bet emissions levels from smartphones in particular would be astronomically higher. The EU and the WHO have both flagged cell radiation as a possible carcinogen, in advance of further research.

 

We’ve been reading the studies conducted in Europe, along with reporting from independent journalists who have made the effort to research our situation here in America. Here’s what we know: cell phone radiation poses a real and present cancer risk, even if we haven’t had the technology around long enough to conduct a standard cancer-risk trial. We also know that most other countries are setting stricter standards for radiation levels than we are here, telling us that they know something we don’t. In fact, if you look carefully at Apple’s legal documentation for its iPhones, you’ll find that the company admits that the phones only meet regulations for radiation at 5 mm away from the body. Most Americans press their phones right up to their skulls, which means that the radiation levels they’re exposed to are actually much higher than the maximum “safe” threshold recommended. The fact is, we here in the US are refusing to study cell phone radiation because our regulatory agencies are staffed with former executives, and our elected officials are bought out by telecommunications lobbyists.

 

So, here’s the real truth. You’re at risk of high levels of radiation whenever you use your cell phone close you your head, or when you keep it powered on while it’s in your pocket. According to the world’s top health experts, there are serious concerns about what the long-term health effects will be from that exposure.

 

Here’s what you can do to reduce your exposure

Keep your phone off when it’s in your pocket. Any time when your phone is directly touching skin or in close proximity, you’re being exposed to high radiation levels, usually higher than rated for safety. Always turn your phone off if you’re on a walk, or switch to airplane mode if you have a smartphone. Use a wool sleeve or other barrier to keep radiation from your body if you need to have your phone on while it’s in your pocket. It’s always better to use a backpack or keep your phone in your briefcase when it’s on but you’re not actually using it.

 

Always, always, always make calls using a headset. Stick with old-school wired earbuds, not bluetooth headsets, since wireless headsets are just trading one kind of radiation for another. The brain is obviously one of the most susceptible internal organs to radiation, so it’s super important to keep it safe.

If you’re a smartphone user and often make calls at home, consider getting a compatible dock. You can use the hands-free and speakerphone features to make all your calls with your phone at a safe distance.

 

To recap: cell phones are clearly some sort of hazard, but the research is still out on just how dangerous their radiation is. Try to minimize your exposure at all times, especially around your head. We’ll keep you posted on any new updates, but in the meantime, you should search for “cell radiation WHO report” to learn more about the current science.