Letters to the Editor

Desal at Diablo

Last weekend, Gov. Jerry Brown warned on national TV that the severe drought is devastating our water supply, and we must urgently respond by shutting down fossil-fuel power plants and switching to renewable energy.

While we all favor solar power, I’m afraid the antinuclear activists may force us to shut down the last non-carbon-dioxide-emitting, safe nuclear plant in California before we can close a single fossil-fuel plant.

Waste heat from a nuclear plant is the cheapest and non-CO2-emitting method of desalinating seawater.

Diablo Canyon can be refitted to use its waste heat to drive a large desalination plant within a few years.

The world’s largest desalinization plant, Al-Jubail II in Saudi Arabia, makes 250 million gallons per day of water (280,000 acre-feet per year) using waste heat from a nuclear power reactor about the same size as Diablo Canyon. China is also building one.

Back in 2004, professor Lisa Sloan, of Earth sciences at UC Santa Cruz, predicted that a severe drought would occur in the American West because of climate change. Last month, Sloan said, “I think the actual situation in the next few decades could be even more dire that our study suggested.”