Working in a nuclear power plant is safer than working in a bank.
Environmentalist and nuclear energy advocate Dr. Patrick Moore cited this conclusion from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics safety information at a nuclear energy forum held at Jackson State University Tuesday.
Moore is well known for being the “sensible environmentalist.” A member of Greenpeace for 15 years, Moore fervently protested nuclear energy until he had a change of heart.
Moore realized that nuclear technology can be used for good or evil but is not itself inherently evil. Car bombs are made of diesel oil, fertilizer and cars, Moore said, but that doesn’t mean we should ban those ingredients.
Since hydroelectricity is only possible in certain geographic regions, nuclear energy is the best proven low-cost and reliable clean energy source for most areas, Moore said.
Moore was the featured speaker at a forum on current nuclear energy policy and the future of advanced nuclear technology for Mississippi and the United States.
The forum was sponsored by Advance Mississippi, a non-profit that supports economically friendly energy policy and fosters energy education.
The panel was moderated by Glen McCullough Jr., Advance Mississippi chairman, and also included Dr. Sam Aceil, Alcorn State University energy program director; Dr. Motice Bruce of the Mississippi Development Authority’s Energy Division; and Donna Jacobs, senior vice president with Entergy Nuclear.
People need baseload energy sources, or reliable energy sources that can provide round-the-clock energy without interruption. The only reliable baseload energy technologies available today are based on fossil fuels, such as coal, natural gas or oil; water; and nuclear fuel, Moore said.
In the energy debate, the terms “renewable,” “sustainable” and “clean” are frequently used. Moore thinks “renewable” resources like wind and solar, get too much attention because they are not also “sustainable.”
Energy generated by solar and wind power is intermittent and unreliable, he said. These facilities are only being installed where there are subsidies and mandates. We “squander billions on technologies that don’t make economic sense,” Moore said, noting that hospitals cannot be run on solar or wind-generated power. “Our heads are in the sand.”
Nuclear energy critics often focus on safety fears. Moore said he changed his mind about nuclear energy after his fears about radiation and waste were gone.
For transportation and storage, nuclear waste is put into containers comprised of 80 tons of steel and concrete, Moore said, and the radioactive material can be kept from getting into the environment for 1,000 years.
Moore said the nuclear industry is “one of the safest industries in the world.”
The 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear facility in the Ukraine occurred because the plant’s safety system was intentionally turned off for an experiment. The experiment went wrong, leading to 56 deaths and the relocation of thousands of residents.
Despite the 1979 reactor core meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania, no one was harmed. The plant’s concrete containment structure performed its function: Preventing radiation from escaping into the environment.
Solutions to the technology problems have been found, Moore said, but problems remain in the political arena: “Nuclear (energy) is a political football that is used for partisan politics on both sides of the isle.”