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Spotlight

San Francisco Bayview
April 18, 2007

Global Warming and Nuclear Power
Janette D. Sherman, M.D.

The nuclear/ governmental forces are at it again, by pouring big money into advertising campaigns to lure us into the nuclear mess of the 1970s.

The nuclear industry is using the issue of global warming, which is real and urgent, to push nuclear power, which is costly, polluting and not needed.

The government, using our tax money, is giving millions to private corporations so they can file paperwork to get approval – from the government – for new nuclear power plants. Is Dracula guarding the blood bank?

Perhaps topping this list of bad proposals is to build a 1,600-megawatt nuclear reactor in Fresco. Yes, Fresno, as in the San Joaquin Valley, as in one of the biggest and most important agricultural areas in California, as in an area already plagued by pollution. Moreover, the plant is to be located west of downtown, an area of low-income families.

 

Fresno Nuclear Power
Opponents of nuclear power mocked up this photo predicting Fresno's future if a proposed plant is built. The defeat on Monday of a bill to lift the ban on new nuclear plants in California has at least temporarily derailed the plan.

Photo: Mike Rhodes, Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility

The Westside Economic Development Action Plan, devised in November 2004, spells out the problems of poverty, land degradation, traffic, lack of opportunities etc. Does anyone think that building a nuclear plant in that area will help the people who live there?

Fresno’s California State University already has the answer to nuclear power. In conjunction with Chevron Energy Solutions, the university is installing solar panels atop 10 metal shelters that will cover 700 parking spaces. These panels will supply 20 percent of the university’s base demand for electricity, equivalent to the power used by 1,000 homes. Moreover, the panels will supply needed shade in an area that receives a lot of sunlight.

Sunlight, yes: the readily available and nonpolluting resource that generates power. The cost to install the solar system at Fresno State is $11.9 million, while the cost to build the nuclear plant is estimated at $4 billion. Simple math reveals that 336 such solar arrays can be built for the cost of one proposed nuclear plant. If each array can support the electrical needs of 1,000 homes that is a lot of electricity!

What happens when the sun does not shine? Solar panels require light, not necessarily bright sun, and the power is stored in batteries and available 24 hours a day.

Flying over much of California, one can look down up acres and acres of flat roofed buildings. There is the concept of “distributed utilities,” meaning that the power supply comes not from a central source, such as a large coal-fired or nuclear power plant, but at the site.

Approximately 20 percent of power generated is lost in transmission. Think of those big towers and cables snaking across the landscape, losing power with every mile.

By installing solar power on individual buildings, the power is produced where it is needed. Moreover, the owner of the solar panels is freed from dependence upon big, often monopolistic, electric companies. By investing in solar, we solve some of the global warming problem and avoid the terrible financial and environmental costs of nuclear power.


Janette D. Sherman, M.D., is a physician and toxicologist, specializing in chemicals and nuclear radiation that cause cancer and birth defects. She is the author of Chemical Exposure and Life’s Delicate Balance: Causes and Prevention of Breast Cancer.

Dr. Sherman has worked in radiation and biologic research at the University of California nuclear facility and at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory at Hunters Point in San Francisco. From 1976-1982, she served on the advisory board for the EPA Toxic Substances Control Act. Throughout her career, she has served as a medical-legal expert witness for thousands of individuals harmed by exposure to toxic agents. Dr. Sherman’s primary interest is the prevention of illness through public education and patient awareness. She can be reached at www.janettesherman.com

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