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Lloyd Marbet, executive director of the Oregon Conservancy Foundation, lays out reasons for opposing nuclear power, while advocating for investments in power sources that protect the environment.

MARBETMcKenna Zandecki (My View, Aug. 9) asks "Why are Oregonians trying to stop nuclear energy?"

Nuclear power presents demonstrable "fears for public safety." The Trojan Nuclear Plant was closed by PGE due to reoccurring radiation leaks in its four Steam Generators. This was caused by an unresolved corrosion problem. It was so serious that on Dec. 23,1991, Joram Hopenfeld, a Nuclear Regulatory Commission scientist, issued a "Differing Professional Opinion" on the NRC allowing Trojan to operate with 428 flawed and unrepaired steam generator tubes.

The NRC kept this dissent from public disclosure, until Bob Pollard of Union of Concerned Scientists leaked Hopenfeld's dissent on Nov. 23, 1992, after Trojan had shut down due to yet another radiation leak. The cost of replacing Trojan's steam generators led PGE to permanently close Trojan.

All of Trojan's high level radioactive waste remains in temporary storage on its plant site in Rainier waiting for a federal waste repository. This is because Trojan was built and operated before the people of Oregon passed the1980 ballot measure law successfully protecting our state from further accumulation of high level radioactive waste.

According to Zandecki: "This law states that in order for any nuclear-fueled thermal power plant site to be issued a certificate, the site must have a federally licensed nuclear waste repository."

This is incorrect, the "site" has nothing to do with it. The law states "...the Energy Facility Siting Council must find that an adequate repository for the disposal of the high-level radioactive waste produced by the plant has been licensed to operate by the appropriate agency of the federal government."

Zandecki is also incorrect that "across the country, many nuclear plants have been safely disposing of their waste, without any federal agencies being involved to monitor this process."

No state in the United States has safely disposed of commercial high level nuclear waste. Under federal law this is the sole responsibility of the U.S. Department of Energy, with each state's commercial nuclear power plant temporarily "storing" high level nuclear waste on site in spent fuel pools or in dry cask storage.

Her assertion regarding NuScale choosing Idaho is also incorrect: the high level nuclear waste to be produced by its new reactor design will also fall under the same federal law.

Zandecki may wish "nuclear energy is extremely safe" but its long history of world wide operation speaks otherwise. The people of Oregon were wise to keep the final decision over the siting and operation of commercial nuclear plants in Oregon under voter approval. NuScale and other reactor designers are hard at work gaining taxpayer subsidies for their unproven reactor designs, and for a nuclear fuel cycle that is not clean or carbon free.

From the mining of nuclear fuel to uranium enrichment, construction of nuclear power plants to the final disposal of high level nuclear waste, decommissioning of nuclear plants and clean up of accidents that have occurred and will occur, there have been and will be significant carbon emissions.

It is only in the fissioning of nuclear fuel that the claim of reduced carbon emissions can be made, and sadly the Oregon law seeking to make Oregon "carbon neutral by 2040" only measures carbon emissions at the generating source.

For these reasons and more, Oregonians are "trying to stop nuclear energy" by investing in an energy future befitting Oregon's pioneering example of environmental protection.

Lloyd K. Marbet is executive director of the Oregon Conservancy Foundation. He lives in rural Boring.


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