MYROLE RTM1- Featured GrASS on 25 Jan 2011, 330pm

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Dear Friends,

We here at GrASS need your help to help us gather the below mentioned items to help us raise funds for our shelter and other independent pet rescuers.

The items are:

Scrap Paper
Old Newspapers
Old Magazines
Unwanted uncooked/raw Acidic Fruits ( Oranges, pineapples, lime,lemons)
Unwanted uncooked/raw fruits
Unwanted uncooked/raw Vegetables
Brown Sugar
Rice Bran
Red Earth
Glass Jars/Plastic containers with lids
Cardboard boxes (any other cardboard materials)
Aluminium Cans
Expired Food Products

For more ways on how or what items you can donate to help please visit HERE

Monday, August 17, 2009

Article: Costly and unsafe

Sunday August 16, 2009

The threat of another Chernobyl and the question of where to dump the waste are key arguments against nuclear power.

AS mankind begins to come to terms with the fact that oil will run out in the not-too-distant future, nuclear power advocates trumpet a solution that is "clean, efficient, safe and, in some cases, environmentally friendly.

However, nuclear power nay-sayers stand on solid ground, too.

Elizabeth Wong, the Selangor Exco for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and the Environment, says nuclear energy is not a safe option for the future.

"Contrary to the claims of the nuclear industry and the federal government, nuclear energy is neither safe nor inexpensive. It is also not a solution to climate change. Nuclear power usage has environmental, health, and security risks that make it an undesirable substitute for fossil fuels.

People sit under a giant banner reading "Stop EPR, not in Penly, not anywhere" as they demonstrate on Dieppe beach against the construction of a pressurised water nuclear reactor (EPR) in nearby Penly, northwestern France. – AFP

"Nuclear advocates focus on the apparently low operational unit cost of nuclear energy. This sidesteps the total life-cycle costs incurred in the construction and decommissioning of plants, and disposal of waste."

Wong strongly advocates using solar energy instead.

"It is estimated that nuclear power costs between US$0.15 (52 sen) and US$0.21 per kilowatt hour, whereas solar costs around US$0.20. But the costs for nuclear are rising, whereas for solar it's dropping. Solar power does not present the problems of toxic waste containment, inflated capital costs, and the political and security risks associated with nuclear power," she says.

"Besides, nuclear plants take at least 20 years to construct. "You do not have to wait decades for a solar plant to earn revenue. It starts earning in year one. You do not need teams of highly trained technical specialists to maintain it, nor do you need to worry about complicated anti-terrorist security measures, or the danger of a catastrophe. One large solar farm in Germany is staffed by one man and two dogs!

"In fact, a solar panel factory in Kedah produces some of the cheapest solar energy in the world, and another major player, Q-Cells, will have its factory in Selangor. But this is all being exported. Federal policy should take advantage of this bargain in our own backyard. Stimulating demand for solar will also reduce its price by allowing producers to reap economies of scale."

Wong looks at alternatives for energy.

"Energy efficiency makes economic and climate sense. By making our existing systems more efficient and getting new buildings to commit to stricter standards we can eliminate or greatly reduce the need to build new power plants to fuel our inefficient consumption. This saves money for the consumer and taxpayer."

The Green Building Index (GBI) launched by the Pertubuhan Akitek Malaysia (PAM) and the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia (ACEM) earlier this year should become a standard for all buildings in Malaysia, she says, because it recognises and rewards advances in energy efficiency through better technology and smart design.

"We should also look at restructuring the set-up of our existing energy sector, which favours independent power producers at the expense of Tenaga Nasional and taxpayers. We currently run at about 50% over-capacity to compensate for fluctuations in demand and interruptions in supply."

Wong's views are echoed by Datuk Dr Ronald McCoy, one-time president of International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War.

"I think climate change is almost irreversible; the thing now is not to make it worse. To say that we should use nuclear technology just because we have it is a potentially fatal argument." In fact, McCoy challenges not just the technology, but the urgency of such an undertaking.

"We're told that Tenaga Nasional Bhd has 40% electricity reserves. That's quite adequate for years to come. We have Bakun Dam, which has not been commissioned yet. So what reason is there for us to have nuclear energy?

"The most famous nuclear accidents like Chernyobyl and Three Mile Island occurred due to human error. Malaysia does not have a good reputation when it comes to construction and maintenance. We built a stadium in Terengganu and, what happens? One year later, it collapses. We cannot afford an accident in a nuclear reactor – it'll be disastrous.

A plutonium pellet.

"If we have an explosion like Chernobyl, radiation will destroy a large part of the country and the people. In Chernobyl, the radiation reached as far as Scotland from the Ukraine. If we have an accident here it'll affect Singapore, the Philippines, Indonesia and Thailand," McCoy adds.

Gurmit Singh, chairman of the board of directors for the Centre for Environment, Technology & Development, Malaysia (CETDEM) reckons that if the same amount of money poured into nuclear weapons development had been spent on renewable energy, we would definitely make "breakthroughs" in five to 10 years.

"Nuclear was not developed for the generation of electricity but for weapons of mass destruction. The concept of 'atoms for peace' was a clever way for former US President Dwight Eisenhowever to allow the military to continue working on nuclear energy."

Gurmit says there have been real breakthroughs for solar power, especially in Germany. "It's time we put our act together and commit more resources to renewable energy."

Wong would rather that the government examine other "more natural" energy sources.

"The potential for wind power is more viable in East Malaysia and parts of the east coast of the peninsula.

"The Federal Government should undertake a comprehensive energy policy review that integrates cost issues, demand and supply management, technologies that are robust for the present and future, and development pathways that do not compromise the health and safety of Malaysians now and in the future."

Wong notes that nuclear plants tend to go over-budget as a matter of course. "Nuclear plants famously incur cost overruns and construction complications, resulting in major delays. The first generation of reactors in the United States cost over 200% more than originally estimated. Subsequent generations have often taken longer than the baseline 20 years to construct."

The so-called "next generation" nuclear plant in Finland is now three years behind schedule, and 50% over its original budget, due in part to major construction mistakes on safety significant structures. Even pro-nuclear commentators have described it as a "farce", she notes.

Plants do not always measure up to their projected efficiency. One plant in Britain produces only 37% of its projected load; even newer generation plants can fluctuate between 40% and 75% efficiency.

But the key argument against nuclear energy is safety – that of plant workers, the environment and the public.

There is the problem of nuclear waste disposal, followed by the need to decommission a plant once it ceases operations.

Both are expensive and thorny issues which even the United States has not been able to resolve. Thus many defunct reactors and waste barrels sit decaying out in the open, Wong adds.

"Because the half-life of nuclear materials can stretch into hundreds of thousands of years, if one is responsible, then an equally long-term solution needs to be found. But what business or government is able to plan that far ahead?"

There's also the danger of radiation exposure leading to cancer.

"The US National Academy of Sciences has concluded that there is no safe level of radiation. Even at low exposures negative health impacts such as cancers can result. Nuclear contamination can occur not just with the fuel material, but also with the water pumped through to cool the plants. This is often sluiced back into rivers and enters our human and natural water systems.

"Nuclear reactors can generate up to 35 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste per reactor each year. What will happen to this waste? Will it be dumped in Malaysia, exported to pollute another country, or sold as material for nuclear weapons? Will the government's desire for nuclear energy inadvertently facilitate nuclear weapons proliferation? How will security and health be guaranteed when nuclear materials are transported to and from a power plant?

"All societies with nuclear power have faced tremendous financial and political problems in disposing nuclear waste. Nobody wants a waste depository in their backyard. But I believe that it is morally right to say that we would not want any such facility anywhere.

"Even in South Korea, there has been strong opposition to nuclear waste disposal. Environmental groups claim that the South Korean government spends more than US$8mil a year on pro-nuclear public relations."

McCoy adds: "Radioactive waste is my main objection to nuclear energy. No country in the world has a safe method of disposing it. Radioactive waste is going to last thousands of years. Plutonium, one of the substances used to produce nuclear energy, has a half-life of 24,400 years. That means in 24,400 years the radiation from plutonium will be halved. That means 244 centuries. We're talking about radioactive waste forever.

"It's collecting all over the world in 31 countries with nuclear reactors in open casks just out there because we can't dispose of it. People have said we must bury it underground. The Americans indicated that they'll bury the waste in the Yucca mountains in Nevada. The people in Nevada said, 'No way are you going to do this in our state' and now President Obama has stated that Yucca is not an option."

Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan renewable energy was supposed to the 'fifth fuel' developed in Malaysia, and nuclear wasn't even on the table, Wong says.

"Where is the concrete push to take us into the solar and renewable age? If only the same amount of political will, funds and commitment displayed currently to introduce nuclear is diverted to alternative renewable energy such as solar, I dare say, we would be able to implement a comprehensive retrofitting of solar panels exercise in most homes in the country.

"Nuclear energy is a Cold War-era technology. Its development as a civilian energy source was tied to the attempt to legitimise nuclear weapons. The nuclear energy industry has been facing declining prospects in the nuclear nations, with few new plants commissioned. They are thus keen to persuade other nations that they have a future.

"Where are the guarantees that reprocessing in Malaysia won't lead to legal or black-market trade in weapons-grade plutonium? Is it ethical for Malaysians to enjoy ever more electricity by possibly fuelling militarisation? Shouldn't we opt for safer and non-violent alternatives?" she asks.

CETDEM will hold a public forum on nuclear energy this Tuesday, 7.30pm to 10pm, at the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Kuala Lumpur. All are welcome.

Related Stories:
'We are not afraid'
Benefits of nuclear energy
The Korean experience
Safe, clean and abundant

This article was taken from: The Star Online: Lifestyle: Focus 16 August 2009

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