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August 13, 2012

Sierra Club's No Nukes Activist Team Focuses on San Onofre

NuclearFlip through any world history textbook, and you'll see how nuclear power can cause catastrophic damage to land, human health, and our food supply. But despite this, nuclear energy is still being harvested all over the country.

According to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, there were 104 operating nuclear power reactors in the U.S. as of March 29, 2012. Unfortunately, not all of these reactors are regulated at the same level, and some exist under extremely lax protections. As reactors and tubes ware, communities are put at risk of exposure to radioactive material. This exposure can cause burns, reduced organ function, or even death. While facilitators are allowing the production of radioactive substances, some are failing to protect the environment and the health of families and communities nearby.

The bottom line is: Nuclear energy is risky, dirty, dangerous, slow, and expensive. It's unnecessary too -- clean, renewable energy sources like wind and solar are more efficient, cheaper, and safer.

A group of Sierra Club activists have formed the Sierra Club No Nukes Activist Team and recently launched a campaign devoted to replacing nuclear power with clean, renewable energy. The campaign, aptly named the "Nuclear Free Campaign," launched in late June. Their goals include stopping the construction of new reactors, phasing out and shutting down old reactors, ending uranium mining and promoting cleanup of toxic mine sites, and ending irresponsible and dangerous nuclear waste disposal and nuclear fuel storage.

One of the first fights the group will face is to keep San Onofre, a nuclear power plant in California, offline. San Onofre has long been troubled by crises including damaged reactors and escaped radiation. Although its reactors have been shut down one-by-one and the plant hasn't produced power since January -- and Southern California hasn-t experienced any electricity shortfalls -- the Associated Press reported it could open back up as soon as this year. The risk of reopening this plant is too huge to take, especially considering it has already faced numerous failures, allowed radiation to escape into the atmosphere, and threatened the health of nearby communities.

Japan, a country that has seen firsthand the destruction that nuclear energy can cause, turned off all of its nuclear power earlier this year, leaving the country without a working nuclear plant for the first time in four decades.  Even though the first of these plants is now back online, Japanese public sentiment is turning away from this harmful source of energy.

The Sierra Club's Nuclear Free campaign will help the U.S. follow in Japan's footsteps and turn to cleaner forms of energy.

To get involved in the Nuclear Free campaign, check out the Sierra Club Activist Network page.

 -- Leslie March, Hillsboro, Oregon -- No Nukes Team

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