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Complexity outewighs

Smith, ‘11

[Gar, environmental journalist, editor of Earth Island Institute's weekly "eco-zine" The-Edge, Summer, “Don’t Mini-mize the Dangers of Nuclear Power,” http://www.earthisland.org/journal/index.php/eij/article/dont_mini-mize_the_dangers_of_nuclear_power/]

And that’s just a partial list. The problem with nuclear power is simple: It’s too complex. When things go wrong – as they inevitably do, because humans are fallible – the consequences can be deadly. The Fukushima disaster has severely hobbled the atomic industry’s hopes for a big-ticket nuclear renaissance. So the American Nuclear Society has proposed a mini-renaissance based on “Small Modular Reactors,” or SMRs. Cheaper, quicker to build, and small enough to fit in a garage, SMRs could power homes, factories, and military bases. South Carolina’s Savannah River National Laboratory hopes to start building SMRs at a New Mexico plant and is taking a lead role in a GE-Hitachi demonstration project. Even as Japanese engineers were working to contain the radiation risks at Fukushima, an international SMR conference in South Carolina in April attracted representatives from Westinghouse, AREVA, GE, the International Atomic Energy Agency, China National Nuclear Corp., Iraq Energy Institute, the US Army, and many US utilities. But SMRs still depend on designs that generate intense heat, employ dangerous materials (highly reactive sodium coolant), and generate nuclear waste. SMRs also retain all the risks associated with supplying, maintaining, safeguarding, and dismantling large nuclear reactors – only now those risks would be multiplied and decentralized. The planet can’t afford nuclear energy – be it mega or mini. As Dave Brower observed 30 years ago: “Is the minor convenience of allowing the present generation the luxury of doubling its energy consumption every 10 years worth the major hazard of exposing the next 20,000 generations to this lethal waste?

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