another energy-related leak, this one radioactive

Posted on: Sun, 05/30/2010 - 13:34 By: Tom Swiss

As advocates of nuclear fission use the Gulf oil drilling disaster to claim that nuclear is a safe alternative, we ought to keep in mind the latest news from the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant, where a leak containing thirteen different radioactive substances was found on Friday -- in a pipe in a hole workers dug to find the source of an earlier leak.

Vermont Yankee officials admitted that they had misled state regulators and lawmakers regarding the use of underground pipes to carry radioactive substances.

According to the plant's owners and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the public faced no danger. Whether you believe that the NRC is providing better oversight to nuke plants than the Minerals and Mining Service was to offshore oil drilling, is for you to decide.

Radioactive tritium was discovered around the plant in a monitoring well back in January. According to watchdog group Beyond Nuclear, there is evidence of 15 radioactive leaks at 13 different reactor sites between March 2009 and April 2010, and at least 102 reactor units have had had recurring radioactive leaks into groundwater from 1963 through February 2009.

Controlled nuclear fusion, and "energy amplifier" designs using thorium, may eventually provide practical and safe nuclear power. But waste, safety, fuel limits, and weapons proliferation concerns make uranium and plutonium fission poor choices. We should instead focus our resources on making good use of that large fusion reactor that Providence has located just 93 million miles away.