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The QueQue

The QueQue: Call for an end to nuclear power in San Antonio, Reactor safety and concerned scientists, CPS Energy plans and public opinion

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Arturo Ramirez Saldan in respirator.


Call for an end to nuclear power in San Antonio

It was a dank, dark, drizzly Luminaria-less night, but a dozen-plus protestors trudged past the Federal Building downtown Saturday night with a banner calling on the few squinting drivers and umbrellaed pedestrians to "Imagine a World Without Nuclear Disasters." They walked down César Chávez Boulevard before hanging a right on Navarro Street to take up a position on the sidewalk outside CPS Energy's offices. Every few minutes someone tried to get a chant going, "Sayonara nuclear power" being the clunker in the bunch, and members of Energía Mía lit candles to place on the curb in memory of not only the thousands that died following the 9-magnitude earthquake and resulting tsunami in Japan a year ago, but for the victims likely still to come from the radioactive contamination wrought by the triple meltdown and hydrogen explosions at the Daiichi nuclear complex at Fukushima. "I would like to see us go to a zero nuclear power position," said a bearded Allen Townsend, who has tracked energy issues since the 1970s. "My big concern is the waste. Some of that waste is like a 20,000-year half-life, and I don't think we can take care of something that long. That's mortgaging the future."

Former City Councilmember Maria Berriozábal, the lone council opponent to STP 1 and 2 when they were constructed in the 1980s, said she hopes the units now being reviewed for license extensions that could have them operating until almost 2050 instead of shuttering in the late 2020s fail the test. "They're old. They're shut down as we speak because of problems. And we've seen all the problems that we've had in other cities," she said. "We should just concentrate all of our efforts on the good job that CPS is doing on sustainable energy and just quit nuclear energy." Lamenting the health risks that come from nuclear, former elementary teacher Helen Villarreal agreed, adding that the United States is losing an opportunity to be a leader in the field of low-polluting energy sources such as solar, wind, biomass, and geothermal.

Radioactive contamination from what may be the world's worst nuclear disaster has blanketed the countryside around Fukushima and poured into the Sea of Japan, contaminating many domestic products and impacting the nation's export business. Radioactive fallout was even tracked to cities in the United States. While regulators insist the minute levels of radioactive cesium and iodine, for instance, don't pose a health risk here, two researchers publishing in the International Journal of Health Services found that 14,000 "excess" U.S. deaths — particularly among infants — may be linked the radioactive fallout from Fukushima. The gap represents the same sort of double-minded approach within the research community that still divides opinions about the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of 1986. An international collaboration of researchers have pinned the estimated fatalities linked to Chernobyl at 5,000 nearby and about 30,000 worldwide. However, reports filed by physicians in Ukraine and Russia published by the New York Academy of Sciences claim the death toll wrought by Chernobyl has already approached a million dead.

Reactor safety and concerned scientists

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