Tuesday, June 13, 2006

The Nuclear Conspiracy

The Toronto Star reports that Ontario premier, Dalton McGuinty, is to announce to his government today that Ontario will get more nuclear power plants.

This followed his ‘power-broker friendly’ speech to the Bilderberger conference over the weekend, singing Ontario’s praises and revealing his nuclear power plans, truly music to the ears of those present at Bilderberg as this kind of talk supports their raison d’ĂȘtre. Their agenda is all about raping the planet in the continual quest of ‘dirty energy’ for profit and has little to do about cheap, alternative environmentally friendly energy sources which would benefit us all.

With Tony Blair also trumpeting the same nuclear tune in tandem with French President Jacques Chirac at their meeting which was concurrent with that of the Bilderbergers in Ottawa last weekend, let's dispell a few commonly bandied beliefs that originate from their quarter over the supposed benefits of nuclear energy.

The main arguments in favour of nuclear energy are that once the initial costs of plant construction have been met then the supply of nuclear energy is plentiful and cheap and that a functioning plant emits little or no greenhouse gasses unlike their coal and oil-fired counterparts. These arguments do not hold water.

Mining and milling

One area of the nuclear production process that is often conveniently disregarded is the hazardous and wasteful process of accessing the Uranium in the first place.

Uranium is widely distributed in the earth’s crust but there are few places on earth where its concentrations are rich enough for it to be used as an ore. Even where those concentrations do exist, a ratio of ore to usable uranium is typically 0.01 to 0.2 per cent. Therefore a great deal of material has to be extracted through mining to obtain enough raw uranium, unlike coal mining where a high proportion of what is extracted is usable.

This not only makes the extraction process costly but environmentally unfriendly as 1,000 tonnes of rock will have to be extracted to provide just one tonne of ‘yellowcake’, or usuable bright yellow uranium oxide, while the ‘tailings’, or 999 tonnes of waste, which has been disturbed and is also radioactive, is left in the open, to be washed and blown into the environment by the rain and wind. These tailings remain radioactive indefinitely and in the instance of Uranium 238, contain all thirteen of its radioactive decay products forming a cascade of heavy metals with a wide varietyof decay lives:

The decay sequence of uranium-238

The sequence starts with uranium-238. Half of it decays in 4.5 billion years, turning as it does so into thorium-234 (24 days), protactinium-234 (one minute), uranium-234 (245,000 years), thorium-230 (76,000 years), radium-226 (1,600 years), radon-222 (3.8 days), polonium-218 (3 minutes), lead-214 (27 minutes), bismuth-214 (20 minutes), polonium-214 (180 microseconds), lead-210 (22 years), bismuth-210 (5 days), polonium-210 (138 days) and, at the end of the line, lead-206 (non-radioactive).

An ‘in-situ leaching’ process is used for extracting uranium from deeper deposits and this involves the use a large quantities of sulphuric and nitric acid as well as ammonia which is left in situ only to be pumped back to the surface some five to twenty five years later to reveal about a quarter of the uranium from the saturated rocks. One can imagine the massive amount of disturbed radioactive material left behind in the ground, not to mention the acids and toxic materials which will manifest themselves in the local environment and aquifers.


The extracted uranium oxide has then to be enriched as the usable uranium 235, that which provides the fission chain reaction necessary in nuclear power plants, and only accounts for about 0.7 per cent of the ‘yellowcake’, 3.5 per cent being the required concentration. During this process of enrichment the yellowcake is treated with fluorine to form uranium hexafluoride with 85 per cent of it coming out as waste in the form of depleted uranium hexafluoride which can then be made into depleted uranium (DU) metal for use in armour-piercing shells. DU weapons, as we know, have wreaked havoc among those who have been subjected to their effects in Iraq. But it does provide a handy little income for the processing industries.

What is Depleted Uranium?

The misnamed 'Depleted' Uranium is left after enriched uranium is separated from natural uranium in order to produce fuel for nuclear reactors. During this process, the fissionable isotope Uranium 235 is separated from uranium. The remaining uranium, which is 99.8% uranium 238 is misleadingly called 'depleted uranium'. While the term 'depleted' implies it isn't particularly dangerous, in fact, this waste product of the nuclear industry is 'conveniently' disposed of by producing deadly weapons.
Depleted uranium is chemically toxic. It is an extremely dense, hard metal, and can cause chemical poisoning to the body in the same way as can lead or any other heavy metal. However, depleted uranium is also radiologically hazardous, as it spontaneously burns on impact, creating tiny aerosolised glass particles which are small enough to be inhaled. These uranium oxide particles emit all types of radiation, alpha, beta and gamma, and can be carried in the air over long distances. Depleted uranium has a half life of 4.5 billion years, and the presence of depleted uranium ceramic aerosols can pose a long term threat to human health and the environment.
Campaign against Depleted Uranium.

But the vast amount of DU is kept as solid state uranium hexafluoride and rather than being stored in sealed containers for final disposal in an underground location, cost considerations have caused it to be dumped willy-nilly in ‘temporary’ cool storage.

It is only after this enrichment process that we see the final fissionable ceramic pellets of uranium dioxide which are then displayed for our visual consumption as the ‘neat’ energy solution. No mention is ever given of the wholly costly, wasteful and dangerous road that has led to their creation.


But the trail of environmental hazards is not yet over. Once these fuel pellets have been eventually spent in the production of providing power for steam-raising in the power station, they have to be disposed of, but only after they have cooled off, allowing the various isotopes present to decay in water for between 10 and 100 years, 60 being the norm.

After this ‘cooling-off’ period, official policy is currently undecided as to their final fate. But whatever solution is adopted, we are left with an almost infinite legacy of lingering danger. One option is to pack them using robotic control into containers lined with lead, steel and pure electrolytic copper and then bury the containers for millions of years. Whichever secure method of disposal is considered, the amount of energy and cost required to produce such impregnable containers is roughly equivalent to the cost of building the reactor in the first place.

This cost is conveniently overlooked by politicians while selling their masters desire for their revenue earning pet projects, while we, the consumer will pick up the tab.

Accidental emissions

Of course none of this so far includes the possibility of yet another potential hazard; the Chernobyl effect.

Although safety is generally of a high order in the nuclear industry, the rather boring and routine nature of safety procedures has been described as being conducive to working ‘asleep at the wheel’. With governments keen to commission nuclear plants for political reasons and to make up for oil and gas, too much haste could lead to insufficient training and safety measures being implemented. The outcome of any major nuclear disaster could be incalculable both in environmental and financial terms and it has been accepted that a catastrophe could be so great to be beyond the capacity of the world’s insurance companies.

The Nuclear Installations Act of 1965 required that a plant's operator must pay a maximum of £150 million in the ten years after the incident. The government would cover any excess and pay for any damage that arose between ten and thirty years afterwards. Under international conventions, the government would also cover any cross-border liabilities up to a maximum of about £300 million. Although these figures reflect the monetary values of the 60s, even adjusted to today’s figures they are a gross under-estimate of the kind of compensation required. If an easterly wind were to blow radioactive material towards London from a destroyed Bradwell nuclear power station in Essex, it is estimated that the bill would more likely top £300 trillion rather than £300 million!


What we have gleaned so far paints an entirely different picture to that coming from the insincere pronouncements from Blair, Bush and other proponents for nuclear energy.

In conclusion we can summarise:
  • Extraction of uranium is uneconomic and leaves in its wake ‘tailings’ that leave exposed, large amounts of radioactive and toxic material that adversely affect the environment.
  • The enrichment process further lays waste more radioactive and pollutant material, some of which for the sake of commercial expediency is put to wrongful use in the deployment of DU weapons
  • The spent fuel provides a million-year disposal headache as well as using as much energy to create facilities to store it safely as it does to build the reactor it fuelled
  • Human husbandry of nuclear facilities is not fool-proof and any disaster from a nuclear facility would far exceed that from any other alternative energy-generating plant
  • In addition:
  • Rich uranium sources are limited. The poorer grades would require much greater processing to achieve the required purity which means more energy expense and resultant pollution in their preparation
  • Reactors can have a full power lifetime of 24 years, but many never reach that age. During that life span they require regular maintenance and the intense corrosion from the radioactive contents makes maintenance during their final years impossible.
  • The de-commissioning process, particularly of large reactors, is at present, a grey area. The amount of Corrosion Residuals and Unidentified Deposits (aptly named CRUD) can produce about 1,000sq.m. of dangerous radioactive and toxic waste, all to be disposed of as well as the reactor itself which must be cut into small pieces and placed in those lead/steel/copper lined containers. The total cost in financial and energy terms of this is estimated to double that of the costs and energy required to build the plant in the first place.
  • Nuclear power production is, at every stage, either directly or indirectly a large user of fossil fuels and therefore a large contributor to greenhouse gasses, the very pollutant that nuclear energy is designed to cull, producing at least a third of the greenhouse gasses for the equivalent power output from a conventional gas or coal-fired power plant.
Yet Blair, Bush, Chirac et al pursue this Illuminati prompted course.

During the last century Nicola Tesla conjectured that it was possible to ‘pluck’ electrical energy from the vacuum of space and today the theoretical basis for that conjecture is an established part of the physics literature. On that basis it would seem that our efforts should be concentrated on harnessing this and other more well-known, relatively free sources of abundant energy rather than threatening mother earth with the enormous risks involved in producing it from nuclear fission and in the process leaving the land a radioactive cesspool.

Tesla’s papers were consficated by the FBI as there can be no measure of control, manipulation and financial gain for those who run our lives if they were to allow us to adopt low-cost environmentally-friendly energy resources.

But just to demonstrate how desperate Blair is in ensuring the proliferation of nuclear power stations in this country, he has stated that the licensing and planning regime will be streamlined to cut upfront investment costs and accelerate building. With these new powers up the government's sleeve, you might have grave difficulty in staving off the planners should you find that a nuclear power plant is to be built on your doorstep.