The announcement of the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant closure has resulted in letters claiming nuclear as the “cleanest, cheapest and safest energy this state consumes … ” and “the dumbest thing we could do is to shut down a safe, reliable power plant believing green energy will save us” (“Closing Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant is a dumb decision,” Sept. 2).
Such comments ignore the toxic radioactive waste generated by nuclear plants. Already we face the issue of safe disposal of tons upon tons of radioactive materials accumulated over seven decades. These wastes, the major deterrent for further development of nuclear energy, present a legitimate hazard to humans, and a threat for future generations. Radioactive waste products must be isolated for an enormous length of time. They emit high-energy radiation that kills cells and causes cancer, genetic mutations and death to individuals exposed to large doses.
Any method of storing wastes demands stringent conditions: Safe isolation for at least 250,000 years; safety from terrorists or accidental entry; safety from natural disasters (landslides, floods, hurricanes, etc.); no contamination to ecosystems; geologically stable sites (no earthquakes or volcanic activity); and fail-safe handling and transport mechanisms. We have failed to meet these conditions anywhere.
D.D. Trent, San Luis Obispo