Will saner heads prevail post-Fukushima

I read with interest the Chicago Tribune’s editorial on Wednesday, April 20th,  After Fukushima.

The editorial theme centered on the future of this nation’s nuclear industry, noting that nuclear risks must be weighed against known costs of fossil fuel use.   

One statement particularly captured my attention, “The price tag for a new 1,000 megawatt facility; around $6 billion, and now likelier to rise than to decline.” 

With the above in mind, the Dual Zion Nuclear Plant (a 2,000 megawatt facility) right here in northern Illinois is scheduled to be wasted. Since it takes many years to satisfy the surrounding population, the seismic requirements, the lawyers, the environmentalists, etc., before one shovel of dirt is moved to begin excavation for a new nuclear plant, why tear down the Zion Plant?  It has already been paid for by ratepayers, along with its $1 billion decommissioning Trust Fund. 

As a Lake Bluff resident who can view The Zion Plant from Lake Bluff’s Sunrise Beach, and who has been engaged in a continuing effort over two-and-one-half years to rally others to assist in a mission to refurbish and reopen Zion, overwhelming sadness now prevails over activities now taking place at the Dual Zion Nuclear Plant since ZionSolutions was officially awarded the contract from Exelon Corporation in September of last to destroy Zion.

Let me remind readers that The Zion Station consists of two modern, environmentally clean, safe, 1000 + Megawatt nuclear power plants; that their Pressurized Water Reactors (PWR) were designed and built by Westinghouse ; that they are located on seismically approved ground; and that they were prematurely shut down in 1998 and put in “safestore.” 

With proper routine maintenance and upgrades, as happens to all machinery, both plants could safely be operated for a hundred years or more.  

Disconcerting is that Exelon Corporation never explained why its dual Zion Nuclear Plant was unnecessarily and prematurely closed down and placed in safe-store in 1998 way before their time, when the two plants, while operating, neither spewed radioactive particles into the the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.  

Exelon Corporation has likewise refused to release to this day its financial calculations as to its decision to shutter Zion in 1998, as well as two other financial calculations made between Zion’s 1998 closure and its 2010 transfer to ZionSolutions for decommissioning.

In a recent forum I attended in Lake Forest held by Senator Sussan Garrett D-29) on the status of Zion, many of the question directed to Patrick Daly, manager of ZionSolutions, centered around the safety of the spent nuclear fuel rods now in a cooling pool (2,226 in all), and the nature and safety of the 61 vertical concrete, reinforced air-tight containers filled with inert gas into which the rods will be placed in their transfer from wet to dry storage.  Daly related that when the transfer is completed, the 61 casks will rest on a pad at the south end of the Switch Yard — which will not be demolished — 1,300 feet from Lake Michigan on one-half acre of land, a distance further from the lake than the present cooling pond holding the spent rods.   

Most attending Garrett’s forum seemed be accept the responses given by presenter Patrick Daly of ZionSolutions as to the handling of high level radioactive material during the decommissioning process; that is, with the exception of one individual whose questions reflected his obvious dislike of Nuclear Energy as a power source.

This individual asked a series of questions based on virtually impossible “what if” scenarios such as terrorists breaching the air space to target Zion with a large amount of high explosives.

To readers who find the above scenario plausible, may I remind them that this nation does a pretty good job of protecting our seemingly vulnerable assets, the likes of which are found in virtually every state in the nation. These vulnerable assets can’t all be moved “someplace else”, so they’re not close to us.  Most of them are close to somebody.  

It is also well to remember that since 09/11/2011 we have been on high alert in this country to the possibility of terrorist attacks anywhere, and especially against high stakes targets.

Because of the recent March incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Japan, discussed also was whether what happened in Japan could ever occur at Zion.  It is unfortunate that excessive fear-mongering over the safety of Nuclear Energy has been making its rounds since the Japan incident, causing many Americans to become skeptical of nuclear energy as a power source.

It must be remembered that it was the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that destabilized the reactors and caused radiation leaks after the backup reactor electric suppliers were destroyed. 

At Zion the spent rods in the cooling pool are covered with 26 feet over water, and they can withstand a tornado up to 360 miles per hour and missiles up to 4,000 pound.  Furthermore, Lake Michigan has never had a seisch (a wave) of more than 20 feet high.  

When will saner heads prevail to educate the American people about Nuclear Energy?  Enough with the “Pie in the Sky” dream that wind and solar power will become future viable mass producers of energy!

All high school students should be taught these facts: 

1.  One Uranium Fuel Pellet, without being reprocessed and recycled, generates about as much energy as 3 barrels of oil (41 gallons) each, 2 ton of coal, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

2.  Uranium-fued electrical generating plants produce abundant, cheap, clean and safe energy.

3.  About 20% of electricity in the U.S. comes from uranium fuel.

4.  We depend on electricity to manufacture goods and provide services that assure safety, healthy living and conveniences in modern life.  

During Senator Garrett’s forum time and again my thoughts turned to another “what if” scenario. What if I were listening instead to a presentation about the steps needed to refurbish and restart Zion, instead of one that dealt with wasting Zion’s massive source of energy forever?

Other nations are investing in nuclear energy,while this nation sits on the sidelines.  Since the time of Admiral Rickover, the Navy has had Nuclear Powered submarines, Aircraft Carriers and Destroyers, all with a safety record.  

Power is what drives the engine of our economy.  An ever increasing amount of energy will be required in future years to fuel economic growth and sustain the quality of life for future generation.

When will my state legislators Senator Garrett and Representative Karen May and U.S. Senators Mark Kirk and Richard Durbin wise up?  Despite repeated contacts with Illinois legislators, none displayed interest in inquiring why Zion was prematurely closed back in 1998 and is now scheduled for destruction.    

The Zion Station even now could be and should be refurbished and restarted, but time is running out.

Nuclear Power is the way of the future.  If this nation fails to act decisively and in a timely way, the decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame for their shortsightedness and lack of common sense.

My interest in school reform stems from my years as a public school music educator. I therefore read with interest the Daily Herald’s Associated Press article by John O’Connor on April 15 titled, “Powerful unions key to education reform package.”

When considering the shallowness of the reforms, it is not surprising why Illinois Education Association President Ken Swanson, and other reform advocates, unions and education administrators, were united upon release to the media of the Education Reform legislation on April 13,

Illinois senators, who passed the legislation with a unanimous vote on April 14, are behaving as if they passed the “Magna Carta” and that the reforms will benefit the child in the classroom, when, in fact, the bill is merely a down-payment on what really needs to be done. Will reform proposals that curb tenure, layoffs by seniority and teacher strikes be enough to reverse the failures in urban centers like Chicago, where schools function as dropout factories? It isn’t very likely.

What is needed is education transformation, and not another round of tepid reform.

Bruno Behrend, Director, Center for School Reform at the Heartland Institute, says that tuition tax credits, vouchers and digital online learning should be expanded. He also notes that Rahm Emanuel ran on a “Parent Trigger” law that empowers parents with real power for the rapid reform of failing schools, another robust reform.

The fact is, the current education system is likely beyond “reform” and cannot be fixed because of an entrenched education cartel which directs money not to the children but to the powerful and protected interests that control the system.

Hopefully the voucher bill now being sponsored by Sen. Matt Murphy, a Palatine Republican, and Sen. James Meeks, a Chicago Democrat, will not receive the same fate as a similar bill did last year when it passed in the Senate only to fail in the House.

May legislators on the honest left and renegade Republicans still owned by the education cartel not fail this time around to give kids a fighting chance in life.

Nuclear power

Fear-mongering has become intense since the March Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex incident in Japan.

It would be economic suicide for the American people to become skeptics of nuclear power because of the incident in Japan.

Irresponsible of legislators here in Illinois was their acceptance of the Zion nuclear plant decommissioning without questioning the logic behind its destruction, which, before shutdown in 1998, neither spewed radioactive particles into the air nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.

Increasing future energy needs cannot be met through wind and solar power.

They are not viable mass sources of energy.

State and federal decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame if they fail to act decisively.Of importance here in Illinois is the lifting of the moratorium against building new nuclear power plants.

Nancy J. Thorner, Lake Bluff

 
Published at the American Thinker, Thomas Lifson, editor: 
More and more communities and state governors have begun to question the relationship between teachers, their elected boards, their superintendents and the unions which represent them, in the wake of Wisconsin’s union rampages.

 
Upon checking my Lake Forest, Illinois School Districts 67 and 115 websites, I found them difficult to navigate, with little transparency, and with information that was often out-of-date.  It was then that I began to request information missing from the websites through issuing Freedom of Information Act requests to the FOIA Officer of School District 115.
 
After sifting through hundreds of pages of FOIA responses, I was unprepared for what I uncovered in Lake Forest School District 115, funded by taxpayers in the upscale communities of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff.  Both communities have a rich historical background, bordering Lake Michigan and located 40 miles north of Chicago, IL.  Lake Forest includes estates and homes designed by distinguished architects like Howard Van Doren Shaw, David Adler, Arthur Heun, Henry Ives Cobb, and modernist George Fred Keck among others.  
 
Lake Bluff, my home town, has the appearance of a quaint New England town with a Gazebo located on its Village Green. Lake Bluff was proclaimed during the First World War as the “most patriotic small town in America for the efforts of the residents in supporting the Red Cross and purchasing an ambulance to send to France.”  A few miles north of Lake Bluff is the Great Lakes Naval Base.
 
What has been allowed to happen in Lake Forest District 115 — the high school district shared by Lake Bluff students — is alarming, given the insatiable wage and benefit appetite of unions representing teachers and superintendents and school board passivity in coping with reality.  
 
My transparency project opened a “can of worms” in my local school districts.  As to be expected, teachers in Lake Forest Districts 115 and 67 are paid extremely well.  Out of l69 full time and part-time administrators and teachers employed by District 115, 89 of them earn more than $100,000 per year and another twenty-one earn salaries of $90,000 to $100,000, with no obligation to contribute to their pensions.  
 
But far worse was what I discovered through countless days and hours of searching through FOIA documentsDr. Harry Griffith, superintendent of Districts 67 and 115, was the second highest paid superintendent in the State of Illinois in 2009-10 at $358,540, overseeing a student population of 3,873.  This was an upgrade from the year before when Dr. Griffith ranked 5th.  In a down economy, even residents in the upscale communities of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff are losing jobs and facing home foreclosures.
 
If this were the finale to my investigation, Dr. Griffith’s salary could be dismissed as just a rather lavish salary paid by wealthy school districts in two upscale communities.
 
Harry Griffith, however, has been able to negotiate a contract to receive benefits and perquisites which brings his total compensation for the 2010-11 school year to over $430,000.  Griffith’s compensation package amounts to more than the Chicago and Milwaukee school chiefs and the governor of Illinois!
 
Specific provisions provided in Griffith’s employment contract include:
 
1) bonuses every year of up to $19,000;
 
2) an additional $30,000 annual contribution paid into the annual Teacher Retirement System;
 
3) an insurance policy with a death benefit of $1 million;
 
4) 27 days of vacation time, plus regular holidays and 13 sick days;
 
5) free health and dental coverage for self and family totaling about $20,000 per year;
 
6) a term life insurance policy with a death benefit of $1 million; 
 
7) write-off of a loan of $75,000 to purchase a home in Lake Forest when moving from a position in Texas, despite failure to comply with the loan’s original intent; and
 
8) a paid automobile lease for a car of his choice, all gasoline purchased in Lake Forest, and all maintenance of the car and related insurance.
 
In addition, Lake Forest Boards 67 and 115 evaluate Dr.Griffith’s progress in accomplishing “District Goals” as set forth each year by the Board of Education and then awards Griffith a bonus.  But the Board and Dr. Griffith are able to delete or modify goals if determined that circumstance beyond control prevented the goals from being attained.
 
Could things get any worse for Lake Forest and Lake Bluff tax payers?  Yes it does! 
 
To complement Superintendent Griffith’s lavish salary and compensation package, the Boards of Education for Lake Forest School District 67 and High School District 115 agreed to a lucrative retirement package to carry Dr. Griffith into his sunset years.  Dr. Griffith’s Over-the-Top Retirement Package would seem to exceed the retirement packages of any other superintendent in the state of Illinois and perhaps in the nation when he retires at the end of the 2012 school year. 
 
Included in Dr.Griffith’s over-the-top retirement package
 
1) Upon retirement in June of 2012, Dr. Griffith will collect over $300,000 a year from the Teacher Retirement System in Illinois with guaranteed increases of 3% per year, plus a lavish annuity of hundreds of thousands of dollars that the school district purchased to augment his retirement income;
 
2) full cost of hospital, surgical, major medical, and dental insurance for Dr. Griffith and his family until October 31, 2015;
 
3) a continuation of Griffith’s term life insurance with a $1 million death benefit until his 65th birthday;
 
4) and the car leased by the district for Griffith’s use will be given to him on the day he retires.
Whatever happened to the gold watch?
 
In a bit of double talk, Dr. Griffith stated for the public record during the winter of 2010 that the School Boards had held administrative salaries flat for Districts 67 and 115 during 2008-09 and would continue to do again for 2009-10 at a local website, “Gazebo News,”  But Dr. Griffith received a 6% increase to his compensation package across the board for both years! 
 
How many other school districts are out of control throughout this nation where tax payer money is being spent, not for the kids, but for the financial benefit of teachers and administrators at a time when those in the private sector are being asked to make sacrifices?
 
As one who taught pubic school music before teacher unions were formed, I realize that teachers and superintendents must be paid a reasonable salary in order to insure that top students enter the field of education.  But how much is enough?
 
It is evident that Lake Forest School Districts 67 and 115 are out-of-control and not looking out for taxpayers.  What about your local school districts?  Is a transparency project warranted to search below the surface to find what is conveniently hidden beneath?
 
The ultimate responsibility for lavish contracts lies with the school boards and their members who negotiated and signed the contracts.  In the public sector, where taxpayer dollars are being used, there is no place for lavish financial compensations and rewards which outstrip those realized in the private sector.
Hat tip: 
I researched this article by applying a “10-Point Transparency Checklist” from Liberty Leader — a non-profit research organization located in Chicago, IL and  headed by CEO John Tillman — for the past several months ” developed to foster accountability in government at all levels.
on “Gouging Taxpayers in the Chicago Suburbs

 I read with interest a submission by U.S. Senator Mark Kirk’s office to “Illinois Review”:  “Kirk says nuclear waste in Zion plant is a danger to 30 million people.”   

Let me remind Senator Mark Kirk and Illinois Review readers that The  Zion Station consists of two modern, environmentally clean, safe, low-cost, 3 Loop 1000+ megawatt Westinghouse-designed and built, nuclear fueled pressured water reactor (PWR) electricity generating plant, located on seismically approved ground.

With proper routine maintenance and upgrades, as happens to all machinery, The Zion Station could  be safely operated for 100 years or more. 

 The belief that radioactive waste might somehow get into Lake Michigan to pollute drinking water, as suggested by Senator Kirk, is held by many.  IL Senator Susan Garrett (D-29) expressed the same sentiment at a recent forum held in Lake Forest on Saturday, April 9th, updating Zion’s decommissioning by ZionSolutions.     

It matters not that until the two nuclear plants were shuttered in 1998, while operating, neither plant spewed radioactive particles into the air not leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.

The 2,226 spent fuel rods now in Zion’s cooling pool can withstand a tornado up to 360 miles per hour and missiles up to 4,000 pounds.  Furthermore, Lake Michigan has never had a seisch (a wave) more than 20 feet high.

Regarding the safety of the rods now in the cooling pond, Zion could survive a loss of electrical power for up to 45 days, the time it would take for enough water to evaporate in the the cooling pond — if not replaced — before the rods would be exposed.  Twenty four feet of water cover the spend rods which have now cooled to a point where they can be safely placed in dry storage. 

Also of note, and not mentioned in Senator Kirk’s Illinois Review submission, is what will happen to the spend fuel rods when transferred from wet storage (the pool) to dry storage.   61 carefully designed, concrete reinforced air-tight containers filled with inert gas will hold the high level waste which will then be stored at the south end of the Switch Yard, 1,300 feet from Lake Michigan on one-half acre of land, a distance further from the lake than the present cooling pond containing the rods.

Since 09/11/2001, this nation has been on high alert to the possibility of terrorist attacks anywhere, and especially against high stakes targets.  Senator Kirk, as a Naval reserve officer, should know that this nation does a pretty good job of protecting our seemingly vulnerable assets, the likes of which are found in virtually every state in the nation.  These vulnerable assets can’t all be moved “someplace else”, so they’re not close to us. Most of them are close to somebody! 

Kirk suggested that there be a renewed effort to quickly build Yucca Mountain in Nevada to locate spent fuel to one secure repository.  Well and good, Senator Kirk, but aren’t you aware that Yucca Mountain has been placed off limits by the Obama administration after it became a political “hot potato”?   When the 2011 budget was passed several weeks ago, along went funding for Yucca Mountain.

As of now the 61 concrete canisters have been licensed for storage at Zion for 20 years.  It will then be the responsibility of the federal government to come and pick them up. 

It is way past time for Senator Kirk and other legislators to think about reprocessing nuclear fuel as is done in France, where 80 percent of that country’s electricity comes from nuclear power.  The radioactive waste from their 59 reactors over 30 years of operation is stored in a single room in Normandy.  The reprocessing of nuclear fuel here in the U.S. was foolishly banned by President Jimmy Carter during his administration. 

It is not the issue of safety at Zion, Senator Kirk, which should cause concern for the 30 million people you believe could be in danger.  It is the terrible waste of a valuable resource through the wasting forever of 2,100 MG of green, clean, safe, and cheap energy.  Legislators and citizens should be outraged.

The Zion Station even now could and should be refurbished and started, but time is running out. 

When will the nuclear energy fear-mongering end that once again has reared its ugly hear in the wake of last month’s Fukushima Di-ichi nuclear complex event?  It was the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that destabilized the reactors due to the destruction of backup reactor electric suppliers.

Nuclear power is the way of the future.  If this nation fails to act decisively and in a timely way, the decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame for their shortsightedness and lack of common sense.

Zion Station consists of Two Modern Environmentally Clean, Safe, Lowest Cost Electricity Generation, 3 Loop 1000 + Megawatt Westinghouse Designed and Built, Operating Nuclear Fueled Pressured Water Reactor (PWR) Electricity Generating Plant, Located on Seismically Approved Ground.

As a Lake Bluff resident, who can view the Zion Plant from her town’s Sunrise Beach. I have been engaged in a continuing effort over 2-1/2 years to engage others, and especially legislators, to heed her call to refurbish and restart The Zion Station, with almost zero interest in acting to save Zion. 

With proper routine maintenance and upgrades, as happens to all machinery, both could be safely operated for a hundred years or more. 

Exelon has never explained WHY the two Nuclear Plants were unnecessarily and prematurely closed and placed in “safestore” in 1998 way before their time, WHEN these two Nuclear Plants while “OPERATING,” neither spewed radioactive particles into the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan. 

Exelon refuses to this day to release its financial calculations as to its decision to shutter Zion Station in 1998, as well as two other financial calculations made, before Exelon transferred Zion to ZionSolutions for decommissioning on September 1, 2010. 

Also of importance is why Exelon Corporation never attempted to sell the Zion Plant to another party if Exelon was unable to operate Zion profitably?

The two Nuclear Plants were providing safe, environmentally clean, lowest cost electricity to the Electrical Grids, in a seismically approved location, not just to Northeast Illinois, helping to stabilize and possibly drive down the cost of electricity in rate payers monthly bills.   

Regarding nuclear waste, approved in 2002 by the United States Congress, the funding for the development of Yucca Mountain was terminated effective with the 2011 federal budget passed by Congress on April 13, 2011. This leaves the United States without any long term storage site for its high level radioactive waste. 

It is way past time for this nation to start reprocessing nuclear fuel like in France. The reprocessing of spent waste was rejected by President Jimmy Carter’s administration. In France, where 80% of that country’s electricity comes from nuclear power, the radioactive waste from their 59 reactors with over 30 years of operation is stored in a single room in Normandy.

Not unexpectedly, US anti-nuclear groups on Monday, April 4, 2011, condemned a plant roughly one-third finished on the Department of Energy’s Savannah River site to build a plant where plutonium from weapons would be reprocessed into fuel for nuclear power plants.

When will the Nuclear Energy fear-mongering end that once again reared its ugly head during the recent incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in March? It was the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that destabilized the reactors and caused radiation leaks due to the destruction of backup reactor electric suppliers. 

The 2,226 spent fuel rods now in Zion’s cooling pool can withstand a tornado up to 360 miles per hour and missiles up to 4,000 pounds. Furthermore, Lake Michigan has never had a seisch (a wave) of more than 20 feet high. 

When will saner heads prevail to educate the American people about Nuclear Energy, instead of those in the print and broadcast media who have little or no knowledge about Nuclear Energy.

Enough with the “Pie in the Sky” dream that wind and solar power will ever become viable mass producers of energy!

These facts about Nuclear Power should be taught to every high school student in the U.S. 

1.  One Uranium Fuel Pellet, without being reprocessed and recycled, generates about as much energy as 3 Barrels of Oil (41 gallons each), 2 ton of Coal, or 17,000 cubic Feet of Natural Gas.

2.  Uranium-fueled electrical generating plants produce abundant, cheap, clean and safe energy. 

3.  About 20% of electricity in the U.S. comes from uranium fuel.

4.  We depend on electricity to manufacture goods and provide services that assure safety, healthy living and conveniences in modern life.

May legislators and those in the energy field wise up before it is too late. Others nations are investing in nuclear energy while this nation sits on the sidelines. Since the time of Admiral Rickover the Navy has had Nuclear Powered Submarines, Aircraft Carriers and Destroyers, all with a stellar record of safely. 

Power is what drives the engine of our economy. An ever increasing amount of energy will be required in future years to fuel economic growth and to sustain the quality of life for future generations. 

The Zion Station even now could be and should be refurbished and restarted, but time is running out.

Legislators should be outraged that Zion’s massive source of energy is scheduled to be wasted forever!

Nuclear Power is the way of the future. If this nation fails to act decisively and in a timely way, the decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame for their shortsightedness and lack of common sense.

 

 As a Lake Bluff resident who can view The Zion Nuclear Power Plant from Lake Bluff’s Sunrise Beach and who has been engaged in a continuing effort to rally others to assist in a mission to refurbish and reopen Zion, I read with interest contributor Ed Collins’ report in the Lake Forester on April 14 entitled ” Garrett leads update at Zion nuclear site.”

I attended State Sen. Susan Garrett’s forum with a heavy heart and overwhelming sadness to learn first-hand of the activities now taking place at Zion since ZionSolutions was officially awarded the contract from Exelon Corporation in September of last year to decommission (destroy) Zion.

Let me remind readers that The Zion Station consists of two modern, environmentally clean, and safe nuclear power plants; that they are located on seismically approved ground; and that they were prematurely shut down in 1998 and put in “safestore.”

With proper routine maintenance and upgrades, as happens to all machinery, both plants could safely be operated for a hundred years or more.

Disconcerting is that Exelon Corporation never explained why its dual Zion Nuclear Plant was unnecessarily and prematurely closed down and placed in safes-store in 1998 way before their time, when the two plants, while operating, neither spewed radioactive particles into the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.

As Ed Rollins reported in his “Lake Forester” article, many of the questions directed to Patrick Daly, manager of ZionSolutions, centered around the safety of the spent nuclear fuel rods now in a cooling pool (2,226 in all), and the nature and safety of the 61 vertical concrete, reinforced air-tight containers filled with inert gas into which the rods will be placed in their transfer from wet to dry storage. Rollins related that when the transfer is completed, the 61 casks will rest on a pad at the south end of the Switch Yard, which will not be demolished, 1,300 feet from Lake Michigan on one-half acre of land, a distance further from the lake than the present cooling pond holding the spent rods.

Most of those in attendance seemed be accept the responses given by presenter Patrick Daly of ZionSolutions as to the handling of high level radioactive material during the decommissioning process; that is, with the exception of one individual whose questions reflected his obvious dislike of nuclear energy as a power source.

This individual asked a series of questions based on virtually impossible “what if” scenarios such as terrorists breaching the air space to target Zion with a large amount of high explosives.

To those readers who find the above scenario plausible, may I remind them that this nation does a pretty good job of protecting our seemingly vulnerable assets, the likes of which are found in virtually every state in the nation. These vulnerable assets can’t all be moved “someplace else”, so they’re not close to us. Most of them are close to somebody.

Because of the recent March incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in Japan, discussed also was whether what happened in Japan could ever occur at Zion. It is unfortunate that excessive fear-mongering over the safety of nuclear energy has been making its rounds since the Japan incident, causing many Americans to become skeptical of nuclear energy as a power source.

It must be remembered that it was the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that destabilized the reactors and caused radiation leaks after the backup reactor electric suppliers were destroyed.

At Zion the spent rods in the cooling pool are covered with 26 feet over water, and they can withstand a tornado up to 360 miles per hour and missiles up to 4,000 pound. Furthermore, Lake Michigan has never had a seisch (a wave) of more than 20 feet high.

Students at Lake Forest High School should be taught these facts:

1. One Uranium Fuel Pellet, without being reprocessed and recycled, generates about as much energy as three barrels of oil (41 gallons) each, two tons of coal, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

2. Uranium-fueled electrical generating plants produce abundant, cheap, clean and safe energy.

3. About 20 percent of electricity in the U.S. comes from uranium fuel.

4. We depend on electricity to manufacture goods and provide services that assure safety, healthy living and conveniences in modern life.

When will our legislators here in Illinois, including State Sen. Garrett and State Rep. Karen May, and those at the federal level wise up? The Zion Station even now could be and should be refurbished and restarted, but time is running out.

For the past two and a half years, I have been engaged in a continuing effort to engage others to refurbish and restart the Zion Station in Zion, Ill.

Zion Station consists of two modern, environmentally clean, safe, low cost, 3 Loop 1000+ megawatt Westinghouse-designed and built, nuclear fueled pressured water reactor (PWR) electricity generating plant, located on seismically approved ground.

With proper routine maintenance and upgrades, as happens to all machinery, both could be safely operated for 100 years or more.

Exelon has never explained why the two nuclear plants were unnecessarily and prematurely closed and placed in “safestore” in 1998 way before their time, when these two nuclear plants while “operating” neither spewed radioactive particles into the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.

Exelon refuses to this day to release its financial calculations as to its decision to shutter Zion Station in 1998, as well as two other financial calculations made, before Exelon transferred Zion to ZionSolutions for decommissioning on Sept. 1, 2010.

Also of importance is why Exelon never attempted to sell the Zion Plant to another party if Exelon was unable to operate Zion profitably.

The two nuclear plants were providing safe, environmentally clean, low cost electricity to the electrical grids, in a seismically approved location — and not just to northeast Illinois — helping to stabilize and possibly drive down the cost of electricity in rate payers monthly bills.

Regarding nuclear waste, this nation, after foolishly rejecting an ideal national depository to store high level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, needs to start reprocessing nuclear fuel as is done in France, where 80 percent of that country’s electricity comes from nuclear power. The radioactive waste from their 59 reactors over 30 years of operation is stored in a single room in Normandy as a result of reprocessing and reusing spent fuel.

Not surprisingly, U.S. anti-nuclear groups on Monday, April 4, condemned a plant roughly one-third finished on the Department of Energy’s Savannah River site to build a plant where plutonium from weapons would be reprocessed into fuel for nuclear power plants.

When will the nuclear energy fear-mongering that once again reared its ugly head during the recent incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in March ever end? It was the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that destabilized the reactors and caused radiation leaks due to the destruction of backup reactor electric suppliers.

The 2,226 spent fuel rods now in Zion’s cooling pool can withstand a tornado up to 360 miles per hour and missiles up to 4,000 pounds. Furthermore, Lake Michigan has never had a seisch (a wave) of more than 20 feet high.

When will saner heads prevail to educate the American people about nuclear energy, instead of those in the print and broadcast media who have little or no knowledge about nuclear energy.

Enough with the “Pie in the Sky” dream that wind and solar power will ever become viable mass producers of energy!

These facts about nuclear power should be taught to every high school student in the U.S.

1. One uranium fuel pellet, without being reprocessed and recycled, generates about as much energy as three barrels of oil (41 gallons each), two tons of coal, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

2. Uranium-fued electrical generating plants produce abundant, cheap, clean and safe energy.

3. About 20 percent of electricity in the U.S. comes from uranium fuel.

4. We depend on electricity to manufacture goods and provide services that assure safety, healthy living and conveniences in modern life.

May legislators and those in the energy field wise up before it is too late. Others nations are investing in nuclear energy while this nation sits on the sidelines. Since the time of Admiral Rickover, the Navy has had nuclear powered submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers, all with a stellar record of safely.

Power is what drives the engine of our economy. An ever increasing amount of energy will be required in future years to fuel economic growth and to sustain the quality of life for future generations.

The Zion Station even now could be and should be refurbished and restarted, but time is running out.

Legislators should be outraged that Zion’s massive source of energy is scheduled to be wasted forever!

Nuclear power is the way of the future. If this nation fails to act decisively and in a timely way, the decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame for their shortsightedness and lack of common sense.


High gas prices are proving to be a political disaster for President Obama.  With a 108% increase in gasoline prices since Obama took office ($1.84 per gallon to $$3.85), 70% of the American people have concluded that the nation is moving in the wrong direction.  Sixty-nine percent likewise favor tapping the nations own vast oil supply.

It has been estimated that a family will pay an average of $800.00 more for gas this year, with an added threat that gas prices could reach $6.50 per gallon.

At a recent town meeting in Nevada, Obama indicated there was no quick fix (silver bullets) to reduce gas prices.  The weak dollar has been privy to raising the cost of food (6.5% since early January), clothing prices, and the gas we pump.

But what are Obama’s solutions?   Instead of approving promising drilling leases and lifting the moratorium on drilling in the Gulf, Obama has asked 1) his Justice Department to appoint a task force to investigate the energy markets for any evidence of oil and gas price manipulation (No evidence was found during a spike in gas prices during the Clinton and George Bush administrations.) and 2) has invested billions in clean energy research to develop green technologies for commercial use that aren’t yet viable, and may never be.

Should taxpayer dollars be used to prop up industries and technologies?  Americans like their pick up trucks.  They don’t wish to drive around in orange cans.  The electric car now being foisted upon the America people couldn’t even exist abet for huge government subsidies awarded to compensate for its expensive production costs.

Technology evolves out of need, as when kerosene replaced whale blubber and oil then replaced kerosene.  This nation has the capacity to fix things through the private sector in a free market system where American know-how and ingenuity reign supreme.

Government can’t mandate change by rushing into production technology that is not yet ready or capable to replace what existed before.

Until new technologies can replace oil, coal and natural gas as producers of energy — this nation has an abundance of all three– they must continue as necessary sources of energy.

Never to be forgotten is nuclear power which is clean, environmentally safe, and which gives the biggest bang for the buck.   New Nuclear Plants must be constructed, existing plants must be brought up to date, and older plants like The Zion Station must not be wasted, but must be refurbished and reopened as massive and valuable sources of energy.

For in doing those who follow us will be able to enjoy a future where the quality of life equals that of today.  Without a sufficient supply of energy to power the economy, this nation will reap what it has sown today.

Friday, April 22nd, was Earth Day and also a religious a day for Christians all over the world.  As religious expression is personal in nature I wish to expand upon the concept of Earth Day, whose purpose since conceived in 1970 has gone from environmental education to environmental activism.  Earth Day, 2011, has become a  ”Green” movement to save the planet from Global Warming, man made and otherwise.

The flavor of the day is to vilify energy sources derived from fossil fuels.  The Chicago Tribune on April 22nd reported a controversy over the regulation of two so-called pollution-spewing, coal-fired power plants owned by Midwest Generation in Pilsen and the Little Village.

But where does the “Green” movement stand on Nuclear Energy, which is clean, safe, gives the biggest bang for the buck and which has been used since the time of Admiral Rickover in the Navy to power submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers without incident.

To the credit of the Chicago Tribune, it’s editorial on Wednesday, April 20, After Fukushima, centered on the future of this nation’s nuclear industry after Fukushima without giving a thumbs down to the Nuclear Energy industry.

Fear mongering has become intense since the March incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Complex, when in Japan the reactors were destabilized when a powerful earthquake and a 30-foot tsunami wave destroyed the backup reactor electric suppliers.  It would be economic suicide for the American people to become skeptics of Nuclear Power because of Fukushima.

One Uranium Fuel Pellet generates about as much energy as 3 barrels of oil (41 gallons each). 2 ton of coal, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

Irresponsible of legislators here in IL is their acceptance of the Dual Zion Nuclear Plant decommissioning without questioning the logic behind its destruction (a 2,000 megawatt facility), which, before shut down in 1998, neither spewed radioactive particles into the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.

Increasing future energy needs can not be met through wind and solar power.  They are not viable mass sources of energy.

State and federal decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame if they fail to act decisively.  The moratorium against building new nuclear power plants in IL must be lifted