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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: Safe, clean and abundant

Sunday August 16, 2009


Advocates of nuclear power say it is a solution to climate change and depleting fuel supplies.

NUCLEAR turns out to be five times safer than oil, 10 times safer than gas and 100 times safer than hydro-electric dams."

If this statement – published in a March 2005 Reader's Digest article titled "Our Nuclear Lifeline" – had been made by a nuclear industry insider, it could be dismissed as PR spiel.

But it came from James Lovelock, a prominent British environmentalist and author of The Ages of Gaia, who expounds the theory that Earth is a living organism that adjusts itself to make conditions comfortable for life.

As the world struggles to cap carbon dioxide emissions and greenhouse gases and deal with climate change, nuclear energy is becoming more and more appealing to even the environmentalists. Activists like Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore and Stewart Brand (editor of The Whole Earth Catalogue) share Lovelock's views.

A crane control unit is seen at the closed loading station to Chamber 8a of the Asse nuclear waste disposal centre in a unused mine near the German village of Remlingen. – Reuters

In the past, environmentalists who decide to support nuclear energy get short shrift. The late Rev Hugh Montefiore was forced to resign from the board of Friends of the Earth (he was chairman from 1992 to 1998) when he began promoting nuclear energy as a means to fight global warming.

But things are changing, claims Bruno Comby, founder of Environmentalists for Nuclear Energy (EFN), which was set up in 1996, has branches around the world, and count Lovelock and Moore as members.

"Being anti-nuclear in the environmental movement is very old-fashioned now," Comby says in a phone interview from France.

The Earth is in peril and something has to be done. That's something pro- and anti-nuclear folks agree on.

Fanned by climate change and dwindling oil supplies, there's now a nuclear renaissance. More and more countries are beginning to consider having nuclear reactors; even Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia and Malaysia have recently announced their nuclear plans.

Comby, 48, believes this is a good thing. "The world should embrace nuclear energy as soon as possible," he says.

Climate change is causing the sea waters to rise. This, in turn, affects world water and food supply. Worse still, oil is running out.

"We're burning huge amounts of gas, oil and coal which provide 85% of the world's energy today. If that energy disappears, civilisation as a whole will disappear," he says.

The only way for man to survive is to develop nuclear energy, fast, because it's the only form of energy that can replace fossil fuels adequately.

Comby considers himself a "fundamental environmentalist". He lives in an "eco house" in a Parisian suburb and has fought for the green cause for years. However, as a trained engineer, he finds many of the arguments against nuclear energy unfounded.

The burning of fossil fuels spews about 30bil tonnes of C02 into the athmosphere every year. That's about 800 tonnes of CO2 every second. In contrast, nuclear reactors produce almost no carbon dioxide, Comby says. (See Benefits of nuclear energy)

Detractors argue that the history of nuclear power development is rife with accidents, such as the Three Mile Island incident in the United States in 1979 and Chernobyl in1986. "The Chernobyl disaster was the result of Soviet (mis)organisation and mismanagement," says Berol Robinson, president of EFN's arm in the United States.

"Following orders from a distant authority, an experiment was conducted in haste, by inadequately trained personnel, on a badly designed reactor operating under known unsafe conditions," he claims.

Comby points out that when the Three Mile reactor melted partially, no lives were lost. In comparison, when a dam burst in Morvi, India, that same year, thousands of people were killed instantly.

The most dangerous energy comes from burning coal; explosions in coal mines can kill tens of thousands of people, he adds.

For Atomic Energy Licensing Board (AELB) director-general Raja Datuk Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, three words are of paramount importance if Malaysia were to become a fully-fledged nuclear reliant nation.

"I believe in safety, security and safeguards," he says when met at the AELB headquarters in Dengkil, Selangor. The AELB is under the purview of the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.

"If Malaysia is going into nuclear development, we need an organisation like the AELB to regulate that and ensure the safety of our people and environment."

Abdul Aziz is also mindful of what's happening in neighbouring countries.

"Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand are all planning to go nuclear between 2016 and 2021. We hope they will follow international norms. If our own government decides to pursue that, I will ensure that our nuclear power programme will not risk our people or our neighbours."

Abdul Aziz, who is one of 13 officials on the International Advisory Committee on Nuclear Security, feels that technology has moved far beyond the days of Chernobyl.

"Chernobly was during the Soviet era and the reactor manager had absolute say. There were no proper safety checks. They were performing experiments while providing power and there was no containment area.

"Nowadays nuclear plants operate differently. The technology has evolved such that if there was ever a meltdown, it would be contained. There will never be a meltdown because the reactors will stop before it occurs. That's why regulatory enforcement is so important," he says.

Abdul Aziz concedes that the disposal of radioactive waste is still a concern.

"In South Korea, which has had a nuclear programme for more than 30 years, the total amount of waste products is no bigger than the size of a room. New technology is being developed that burns the waste.

"Even the waste repositories, the latest being in Finland, are now designed to be placed underground. In fact nuclear is the only power industry that looks after its waste," he says.

What about the increased incidence of cancer among those exposed to radiation, especially those who work at the plants?

"Daily, we live with natural background radiation. Nuclear power is like the sun, you can protect yourself from it through shielding, time and distance, but you can't get rid of it."

Robinson, for one, believes the nuclear waste problem has been grossly exaggerated.

"The volume of nuclear waste is a million times smaller than the volume of coal ash," he says. "Nuclear waste disappears spontaneously through radioactive decay while coal ash doesn't. There is no other waste product in this world which is totally confined like nuclear waste."

Another complaint by the anti-nuclear lobby concerns the decommissioning of power plants.

Abdul Aziz believes technology and procedures can ensure safe use. "Before we even apply for a nuclear power plant, the decommission plan must be in place. The commitment can be for more than 100 years!

"If, after 60 years, the reactor reaches its 'lifespan', we will stop it and let it cool down. After 40 years we will dismantle it because it is designed as a series of separate entities, and we will dispose of it. Decommission technology is evolving."

What about the possibility of terrorist strikes on projected nuclear sites?

Some parties are concerned that nuclear waste may lead to "nuclear proliferation". Could unscrupulous parties steal the enriched uranium fuel or the plutonium waste produced in the power reactor to produce nuclear weapons?

Says Robinson: "It is a fact that neither the enriched uranium fuel nor the plutonium waste is suitable for making a nuclear explosion." Besides, there's strict security at nuclear power stations.

According to Abdul Aziz, after the Sept 11 attacks, security was stepped up against such possible sabotage, on an international level.

"In Australia for example, a canopy of steel cables, much like what one would see at a large football stadium, was constructed over a recently constructed plant to deter possible attacks by air planes."

Anti-nuclear activists say renewable energy such as solar and wind power can meet society's needs and are viable alternatives to nuclear. But Comby and Robinson do not agree, while Lovelock dismisses the notion of renewables replacing nuclear energy as "romantic nonsense".

"Of course we have to go into energy conservation and some amount of renewables," says Comby. "But it will not solve the problem on a global scale nor will it enable the survival of our civilisation. It's not enough."

If one were to replace one nuclear reactor with windmills, one would have to align them from Genoa in Italy to all around the French Mediterranean coast, which is about 800km long, he says.

Furthermore, renewable energies are "very dilute", he says. "Huge surfaces are needed but they only produce moderate amounts, which are also intermittent. The energy is available only when the wind blows, and that doesn't happen all the time."

According to Abdul Aziz, Peninsula Malaysia may be energy-deficient by 2019. The country could turn to hydro energy, which can come from the Bakun Dam in Sarawak. But the energy has to be channelled via under-sea cables, which involves high security risks.

"You'd think that solar energy would be good, but we have a lot of cloud cover, which would makes the supply of solar energy irregular," he adds.

The fact remains that humanity needs huge amounts of energy to power industry, which in turn powers the transportation system and runs our computers, light the streets and enable us to grow food.

"Nuclear energy answers our need in a sound, clean and safe manner", Comby says.

Related Stories:
'We are not afraid'
Benefits of nuclear energy
The Korean experience
Costly and unsafe

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

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