I agree with much of Frank Baumann’s Dec. 16 letter to the editor in which he advocated we curtail our use of fossil fuels, and his recommendation to rely on nuclear energy as a primary energy source if, and only if, we rid that energy source of its inevitable waste product — one of the most durable toxic substances known to humanity. Our current technology enables us to use only a small portion of the energy available in uranium — as little as 10 percent by some estimates. The rest of the energy potential in “spent” nuclear fuel becomes “waste” and goes the way of many human waste products; “dig a hole and bury it.” Out of sight, out of mind.
As the saying goes, what goes around, comes around. “Spent” nuclear fuel doesn’t always stay in its hole, but finds ways to leach into our drinking water, our air and our soil. Nuclear waste deposits retain their extreme toxicity for centuries, if not millennia. That’s a legacy we must not leave to our children and their children.
There are reports that Chinese nuclear engineers have developed technology to use “spent” nuclear fuel to produce additional energy. Mr. Trump’s trade war with China impedes our access to that technology That reality leaves us with limited options: 1) change Trump’s trade policies to enable our access to Chinese nuclear energy technology or, 2) American nuclear engineers figure out how to replicate the technology China has developed.
Nuclear energy may be the salvation that enables us to avoid the worst of the disasters resulting from our fossil fuel addiction, but only after we make nuclear energy a far cleaner fuel source than our current technology achieves. We need to achieve this progress quickly; time’s a wastin’.