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Nuclear power isn’t the answer

Michael Subialka | Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Recent media attention has been focused almost exclusively on the Bush administration’s stance regarding the military actions in Iraq, but as educated taxpayers, it is up to us to be well-informed about all of the issues relevant to the upcoming election. As Bush seeks to grant the U.S. nuclear industry over $3 billion in energy subsidies, we must question if nuclear power is really the best means of securing a safe, reliable and affordable energy future.Unfortunately, nuclear power is none of the above things. First, the safety of nuclear power is questionable. The waste products created by these power plants are extremely dangerous and highly toxic; in fact, no acceptable disposal method currently exists for the waste products created by nuclear fission. U.S. Office of Technology Assessment analysis shows that approximately 90 percent of all cancers are preventable and that by limiting our exposure to radioactive sources we can reduce our risk of premature cancer death.Additionally, as the accidents at Chernobyl (a catastrophe that will ultimately result in approximately 450,000 premature deaths and cost over $500 billion) and Three Mile Island demonstrate, nuclear power is not reliable. This is even more disturbing when we consider that the government has limited the liability of nuclear industries to approximately one percent of such a catastrophic disaster. Who would be left to foot the bill?Finally, it is not even certain that nuclear power is economically viable. When all of the taxpayer subsidies are taken into account, nuclear is actually the most expensive type of power available on the market. Furthermore, the largest expenses stemming from nuclear power will come in the future: it is estimated that the decommissioning of a plant actually costs more than the initial capital investment necessary to construct it.Despite all of this, the Bush administration continues to rely on an energy policy based on radioactive nuclear power. It is time for us to demand more from our tax dollars. It is time for us to look beyond dangerous nuclear power to a cleaner and safer tomorrow.

Michael SubialkasophomoreKeenan HallApril 13