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An open letter to President Obama

An open letter to the President:
For many words of encouragement and inspiration in your State of the Union address, I wish to thank you. I found disturbing and wrong, though, the equating of nuclear power with clean energy.
This would be costly and dangerous if actualized in national policy, and I urge against it.
The goal you stated — 80 percent of America’s elecricity to come from clean sources by 2035 — is most desirable.
The cleanest electricity is that not used. Our country, and the southeast region and my state in particular, have far to go in availing ourselves of this beneficial source. We should set the Edison minds of today to work on making energy efficiency in lighting and appliances available, attractive and affordable to all, quickly.
But nuclear power is not a clean source. Routinely, as part of daily operations, the generators that produce it send radiation — cause of cancers, birth defects, and other illnesses — into our air and water. We can’t feel, see or otherwise perceive the pollution effect, but it is there.
The National Academy has warned us that no level of exposure to it is safe. We should, therefore, minimize unnecessary exposure to sources, not add to them through constructing more nuclear plants.
These plants leak tritium into waters near them, accidentally for sure, yet more than half of them, as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has acknowledged.
In many of the leaks, this pollutant, another cancer risk, had levels 50 to 750 times higher than judged maximally allowable by the EPA if drinking water is to be safe.
There are no technologies for properly sequestering tritiated water; its radioactive life is more than 200 years, and we need less of the facilities that make it as an unwanted by-product, not more.
Need I mention really bad accidents, like at Chernobyl. Human error being involved in almost all accidents, adding more nuclear generation plants only makes us more vulnerable, not safer.
Since the industry involved insists on taxpayer bailout in case of catastrophic accidents, this risk, gallingly, is all too clear.
Contrary to the purveyors’ claims, nuclear power is not carbon-free. Its generating facilities are enormously carbon-intensive to build as is the long chain, from mining and milling uranium ore, to gasifying, enriching, solidifying, pelletizing, assembling and transporting fuel rods to reactor sites.
Not to mention the need of guarding lethal fuel waste for tens of thousands of years once these rods have made electricity for a year or two.
Let our Sputnik moment be perfection and rapid deployment of the many benign fuel sources, from sun and wind, earth-warmth, the tides and others.
They being ample here, inexhaustible and not embargo-able, they will serve us well in a truly clean-energy future. A number of your Energy Department’s initiatives already go in that direction. I thank you for these. Please don’t redefine nuclear energy as clean, however —it is not so, is terribly costly and has many safety risks.