My guest today is toxicologist Steven G. Gilbert, PhD, DABT, a regular guest who is helping us understand the toxicity of common chemicals we may be frequently exposed to. Today we’ll be talking about nuclear power plants and how they affect our health and the environment. Dr. Gilbert is Director and Founder of the Institute of Neurotoxicology and author of A Small Dose of Toxicology- The Health Effects of Common Chemicals. Dr. Gilbert received a Ph.D. in Toxicology in 1986 from the University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, is a Diplomat of American Board of Toxicology, and an Affiliate Professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences, University of Washington. His research has focused on neurobehavioral effects of low-level exposure to lead and mercury on the developing nervous system. Dr. Gilbert has an extensive website about toxicology called Toxipedia, which includes a suite of sites that put scientific information in the context of history, society, and culture. www.toxipedia.org
LISTEN TO OTHER SHOWS WITH STEVEN G. GILBERT, PhD, DABT
- Toxics in the Air We Breathe—Indoors and Outdoors—and How it Affects Our Health
- Toxic Solvents and Vapors
- How Pesticides Can Harm Your Health
- Why Do People Doubt the Science Behind Toxics?
- There is No Safe Level for Lead Exposure
- Fewer Chemicals Make Healthier Babies
- How Mercury Affects Your Health
- Persistant Bioaccumulative Toxicants
- How Endocrine Disruptors Disrupt Our Endocrine Systems
- The Dangers of Exposure to Radiation and How to Protect Yourself
- Toxics Throughout History—Exposure to Toxic Substances is Not New
- The Ethics of Toxics
- How to Determine Your Risk of Harm From an Exposure to a Toxic Chemical
- The Basic Principles of Toxicology
- Meet a Toxicologist
TOXIC FREE TALK RADIO
Why We Shouldn’t Have Nuclear Power Plants
Host: Debra Lynn Dadd
Guest: Steven Gilbert, PhD, DABT
Date of Broadcast: October 09, 2014
DEBRA: Hi, I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and this is Toxic Free Talk Radio where we talk about how to thrive in a toxic world and live toxic-free.
It’s Thursday, October 9th 2014. And it’s a beautiful early autumn day in Clearwater, Florida. And we are going to be talking about why we shouldn’t have nuclear power plants.
Actually, here, where we live, there’s a strange thing going on and I probably don’t have all the details, but we are now paying on our bill to build a nuclear power plant. And that’s not something that I think most of us want in this community. There are some problems with it, and maybe it’s not going to happen. But I just would not like to see another nuclear power plant.
So, my guest today is toxicologist, Dr. Steven Gilbert. He’s been on before. And in fact, you can go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and look for today’s show. And at the end of the description of today’s show, you can see all the shows that he’s already done.
We’ve talked about the basic principles of toxicology, how to determine your risk of harm from an exposure, toxics through history, the effects of toxics and then all kinds of chemicals. We have talked about endocrine disruptors, persistent bio-accumulative toxicants, how mercury affects your health, nano particles. Dr. Gilbert is just so knowledgeable about the whole field of toxics that I just have him on every month so that he can tell us more.
Also, he has a wonderful website called Toxipedia.org and there’s so much information there. I just found out today that they now have information about the toxic effects of various molds that you might find in your environment in addition to toxic chemicals.
He has a wonderful book called A Small Dose of Toxicology, which is free. You can go to Toxipedia.org and get that book for free. I do want to say that the easiest way to get is to just go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and click on the book cover. It will take you right to the page.
So, Dr. Gilbert, hello.
STEVEN GILBERT: Hi Debra. How are you doing?
DEBRA: I’m doing very well. How are you?
STEVEN GILBERT: Good. It’s a little foggy here in Seattle, Washington.
DEBRA: Foggy in Seattle, Washington. Well, isn’t that typical of autumn?
STEVEN GILBERT: Yes, it is. We are moving into a rainy season here.
DEBRA: Yes. We are moving out of our rainy season. I think it’s going across the country over to you.
So, tell us about nuclear power plants. Where do you want to start?
STEVEN GILBERT: Well, there are about a hundred nuclear power plants operating across United States. They generate about 20% of our total electric bills, power that we are generating. But I think you really have to ask how this came about and to look at the history of nuclear power and to understand its impact.
And the other thing I remember is a lot of the nuclear power plants are aging. There hasn’t been a new one built since the ’70s although there’s a couple under construction. I think Florida has got five nuclear plants. Those power plants are concentrated on the east coast.
So I think we have to ask. Are they safe to operate? What are we doing with the waste from them? Are they economically feasible to operate? And what are we doing for the future? How are we using this to combat climate change and to produce more and safer power?
DEBRA: Let’s start with the history. There’s a lot to talk about it. So let’s start with the history. How did the first nuclear power plant get to be built?
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, it started off in World War II actually. It was the beginning of this when the atomic bomb was developed. And then the nuclear power plants mostly reduced plutonium.
Hanford, Washington was one of the major sites as well as Savannah River. And they built nuclear plants. The sole purpose was to generate plutonium and extract plutonium.
So they used uranium. They mined uranium, uranium-235 and the tremendous amount of heat is generated from these power plants. What would you do with all that heat? So they thought immediately to capitalize on the investment that the military making a nuclear plant to reduce plutonium could generate electricity. It could just turn into Atoms For Peace Program, which Eisenhower promoted.
In 1951, the first power plant—actually it was in Idaho—produced a little bit of electricity and turned on four light bulbs. So it wasn’t until 1951 that nuclear power actually turned on light bulbs. It actually generated some usable electric power.
And from there, they tried to commercialize that. There were bills passed. And nuclear power has a long history of being subsidized by the government, first through the military and then through loans of power plant construction people and developing new designs and trying to make nuclear power feasible.
One of the most important was the Price-Aniston Act in 1957 that reduced the liability. So it made the companies not have the single liability in any accident that occurs. And this is huge. It’s the only industry in the United States where the government assumes the liability of commercial operation of power plants.
DEBRA: Wow. So the responsibility is separate from the person or the organization who’s actually taking the action.
STEVEN GILBERT: Correct. At one time, there are 253 power plants ordered. We are down to 100 operating power plants.
And remember all these are again power plants. In 2013, four plants were shut down across the United States and there are efforts to shut down more of them.
DEBRA: Are they being shut down because they are unsafe or just because they’re old?
STEVEN GILBERT: I don’t think the industry would say they’re unsafe, but they have problems with the operation. They have just become uneconomical to operate. They have problems with the condensers that generate the steams.
Just remember these power plants are really just how to boil water. All you do with nuclear power is boiling water.
DEBRA: Tell us how a power plant works, a nuclear power plant works.
STEVEN GILBERT: Nuclear power plants has a nuclear reactor. And that reactor uses uranium-235 as its fuel. And they produce neutrons. Those neutrons bounce off to uranium-235 and split it into other elements and those elements are radioactive.
For example, cesium and strontium are some of isotopes that are developed when uranium is split. And splitting those atoms, the fission creates enormous amounts of heat. So they turn the heat in the steam and there are various steams to do that. That steam is used to turn the generators and produce electricity.
So nuclear power plants are just one big boiling water reactor. It boils water to make steam to produce electricity.
And one of the problems that I just alluded to was that it produces a lot of waste. So power plants produce fuel rods and those fuel rods are very hot. They produce […] what to do with them.
One of the biggest problems is we do not have a way to deal with the waste produced by nuclear power plants. There was this one time going to Yucca Mountain, that was shut down and now the nuclear power plants, most of the waste products from this power plant is stored on site. And the question is how safe is that?
DEBRA: I understand what you are saying about the environmental effects and the long term effects and all those things about the waste. But how are nuclear plants affecting us as individuals as we go about our daily life?
STEVEN GILBERT: I think that if you are nearby one, you have the direct effects of that. You have the potential to be exposed to accidental […] plant like three mile […] if you’re around that plant in Fukushima or Chernobyl where they contaminated large spots of land. Hundreds of thousands of people even evacuated from the area. So there’s the risk of that.
There’s also, in all nuclear power plants, a little bit of radiation. So there’s some potential exposure to that. And there have been some studies showing that there’s increase in, for example, leukemia from being nearby a power plant. So that’s the direct effect.
I think we also have to look at the long term consequence of nuclear power, how these plants, what happens when they age.
They have to be disposed of. They have to be […] That’s the problem […] of energy.
And one thing that nuclear power proponents say is it’s green power, it’s carbon-neutral and carbon-free actually. It’s really not the case. It takes enormous quantity of energy to build the power plants. It takes enormous energy to use the uranium-235 and decommissioning these power plants takes another huge amount of energy. There’s actually more energy it took to build the plant, to decommission it because you have to cut it out half way and let it sit around for a while.
So nuclear power plants are not carbon-free and you have to be thinking about that as far as climate change goes and other ways to produce energy and electricity.
DEBRA: We need to take a break, but when we come back, we’ll talk a lot more about nuclear power plants and how they affect our health and the environment.
This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is toxicologist Steven Gilbert, PhD and his website is Toxipedia.org. He’s the author of A Small Dose of Toxicology, which I have many times said that everybody should read because it will give you some really just great basics about the field of toxicology. We’ll be right back.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You are listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is toxicologist Steven Gilbert, PhD and he’s the author of A Small Dose of Toxicology and has incredible website about toxics called Toxipedia.org, which you should go to and explore in great detail. Anyway, I always find something interesting when I go there.
STEVEN GILBERT: And I have a chapter on radiation if you want to learn more a little bit about nuclear issues and understand the health effects of radiation. There’s a chapter of that as well as a PowerPoint presentation about radiation.
DEBRA: I’m opening your book right now. Anyway, I will open your book while you talk. So tell us about the economics of nuclear power plants.
STEVEN GILBERT: The economics is really interesting. And this is where one of the biggest failures of the nuclear power industry is. In my view, it is around economics.
I’ll just read a little quote from 1985 from Forbes Magazine and Forbes Magazine was a big economic proponent magazine.
Remember that the US government subsidized these plants in the form of loan guarantees. I mentioned earlier the Price-
Anderson Act that provides liability insurance to these power plants.
But here’s a quote from Forbes Magazine in 1985 […] in 1979. It says:
“The failure of the US nuclear power program ranks, as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale. Only the blind or the biased can now think that the money has been well spent. It’s a defeat of the US consumer and the competitiveness of US industry, the utility that took the program and the private enterprise system that made it possible.”
And I would say the government’s involvement really is a [gambling] statement about the economic viability of nuclear power.
I’ll just give you one more example of this. Washington State, they had a […] program. They plan to build five nuclear power plants. They had a big bond issued with billions of dollars. And they shut down two of them. Two of them, they started to build and abandoned.
One of the nuclear power plants, the Columbia Generating Station was actually completed. The […] in Washington State are still paying for this. It was the largest municipal bond failure in US history, as well as in nuclear power history.
And now in west coast here, we have a new […] situation, small modular nuclear reactor. I encourage the listeners to pay attention to small modular thing. Again, they’re looking for government subsidies to keep this thing going. And building smaller nuclear power plants, they say, would be economically viable.
Very few other plants or the majority of plants that were built went over budget. So the many plants they built cost up to 200% more than they planned to build. So they planned to build the plant for a billion or it cost $2 billion. And then they are delayed in opening. This is what happened to a couple that are under construction in the United States right now. They are all delayed in opening operations.
So economically, the bottom line is it always surprises me […] people that promote capitalism and promote physical responsibility are tolerating an industry that cannot exist without government subsidies.
DEBRA: Yes. Government subsidies, that’s a whole big subject in itself, all the things that the government is subsidizing.
So you had said earlier that the last one was built in 1973 and there were just now some under construction like they are talking about building one nearby where I live, not in my backyard, but would be serving. It would change my power source to nuclear power.
I just like to interject here that even if you are on the grid that you can do—what are they called?—green power certificates or something like that where you can actually buy green power like solar or wind, different kinds, you can choose power. And it offsets your usage. So even though you are still using the grid power, somewhere in the world, you are paying for green power to be used. And that’s way that you can offset your use.
If you can’t go to solar or do something on your own property, then at least that’s something that you can do. So there are things that we can do to promote use of energy, technologies that are not nuclear. I just think that it’s a bad thing all around.
STEVEN GILBERT: I think Florida has got some great advantage. You got tremendous solar capabilities. And I think in Florida, they really needed to have better incentives putting solar power on homes.
I just put solar power on my house here in Seattle, Washington […] I generated over 3 megawatts of power and it sold over 1.75 megawatts back to our […] light.
DEBRA: I just love that.
STEVEN GILBERT: It can be very exciting to do that and be engaged in producing power. So you really do not need nuclear power. We can focus on conservation and alternative sources of energy generation. There’s a lot to dig on that.
DEBRA: Yeah, there are lots of things.
STEVEN GILBERT: Particularly if you look at the Fukushima, what happened to Fukushima, the three power plants melted down there, as well as dealing with the [wait].
DEBRA: Especially with Fukushima because that’s something that we are living with now. Earlier in my lifetime, we went through Chernobyl. Earlier than that, we went Three Mile Island. I can think of three off the top of my head just in my lifetime where there’s been massive amount of radioactive material going into the environment because of nuclear power plants.
And they are just not necessary, they are not necessary because we have other ways, other less toxic ways of producing energy. And it’s just an option that doesn’t need to be there.
STEVEN GILBERT: Right. And you got to remember the power plants, their accident rates are on a U-shape curve. The most vulnerable […] for nuclear power plants when they’re starting up is the first couple of years of operations. And then it goes through a quiet period where everything is working well. And then they age, so they increase probability of accidents.
Like the Fukushima power plants where old style GE Mark 1 reactor that have known problems with them. They locked the […]
They needed to shut them down. They’re very hot and they just continued to produce heat, which created the meltdown of the three reactors of Fukushima. And there’s also…
DEBRA: We need to go to break and when we come back, we are going to talk more about that because I want to hear about what’s going to happen as these reactors start aging.
So this is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. My guest today is Dr. Steven Gilbert. His website is Toxipedia.org. We’ll be right back.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You are listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is toxicologist Dr. Steven Gilbert, PhD. And he’s the author of A Small Dose of Toxicology and his website is Toxipedia.org.
So before the break, we were talking about what’s happening with the aging nuclear power plant. So let’s talk more about that, as they are starting to crumble.
What do you think is the future of nuclear power? Do you think that they will repair these plants? Do you think that they will continue to build more? Or do you think that everybody is going to decide it’s a bad idea and stop?
STEVEN GILBERT: I would like to think that people are going to come to the conclusion that this is a really bad idea. But I think more and more people are reaching that conclusion.
You’ve seen those nuclear power plants, the owners want to extend the license of these plants for another 20 years and can operate them beyond their designed capabilities. So hence when you expose a material to radiation, it becomes more brittle.
So the plants become more vulnerable to failure.
And failure can occur in a number of ways. For example, an earthquake, which also damaged the nuclear reactor in Fukushima. We just did an earthquake study of the Washington State reactor, the Columbia Generating Station and found that seismically it’s not fit to be operating because of danger of earthquake in that area.
And this has been well documented. We have a big cleanup operation for the Hanford nuclear site because the […] plant was replicated for earthquake potential and they never did that with the plants there. And the plants do get more vulnerable as they age.
Another vulnerability is also flooding […] the Mississippi, they knew the water is going to rise on there. There are some great pictures on the web where this plant just surrounded by water. Remember that Fukushima, that’s what really damaged that plant , the tsunami quake. That flooded the back of generators and shut the plant down.
So I think we got multiple vulnerabilities here. Aging is one of them. The plant in Vermont, the Yankee Plant in Vermont was leaking tritium into the groundwater and that’s from leaking pipes and they spent a lot of time trying to figure out where that is.
Vermont is trying to shut that plant down and the industry keeps it open.
Remember there are major capital investments in these old aging nuclear plants. So they are looking at the possibility of electricity they’re generating. But even that, you look at Columbia Generating Station in Washington State, when you look at the economics of that, it’s not economically viable given the cost of uranium, which fuels reactors.
And remember these reactors have been shut down for about two months, 40 days or so […] some time, every year and a half to be refueled and it has to deal with sourcing that uranium and then packaging the fuel rods. So that’s very expensive to do.
We determined in the Columbia Generating Station that we could save billions of dollars by abandoning this plant and moving to a different source of energy.
So I think in the long run, nuclear power is not viable and you can see that with the very few that are on order and just a couple being built in the United States. And these, like I mentioned, are over budget and behind times. So I don’t think they are viable.
The last data is trying to make them economically viable. They’re dealing with the waste with these small modular nuclear reactors.
DEBRA: And do you think that those small modular nuclear reactors will be the future?
STEVEN GILBERT: I don’t. I think they stem from the same problems. The industry proponents say that because they can manufacture, they create about 300 megawatts of power, they can be sited in different places where it’s cheaper to build.
But it is really not the case. They have the same vulnerabilities. They still need uranium to run them. They still have to deal with the waste. And waste is a huge problem.
So the waste that comes out of this plants, when you burn these fuel rod, it becomes very hot and contaminated with nuclear wastes. Cesium and strontium has been two of them and you have to put them some place.
So you pull them out of the nuclear reactor and they cycle […] fuel cycle and put new fuel rods with uranium-235. And they store them in a large pool, like a big swimming pool. The water dissipates the heat from the fuel rods and it keeps the neutrons from [creating] more reaction.
So, where do this stuff go? Because these are older plants, they continue to produce fuel […]. It’s like 55,000 tons of […] fuel.
And then, the problem is where to put it. So they store it in these ponds, in these swimming pools. And the old […] reactors, there are several [pools] up in the air.
And this is the big problem with Fukushima because the reactor number four had all their fuel rods out of the reactor. At the time, it seemed like a good idea to know that it is way up in the air. And that earthquake has damaged that fuel and leaked the water out of the big swimming pools, those fuel rods can burn. They can start burning the fused hydrogen and they can get an exposure from that and it actually could distribute more radiation from the fuel rods than in the reactor core.
So it’s a huge problem. So they take the fuel rods. They put them in dry cask storage. That’s one of their solutions, but they have no place to move these dry casks, no place to dispose of.
So I think that’s one of the vulnerabilities of the nuclear power. We do not know what to do with the waste and we are generating wastes that would be around for many generations. And I just think that’s irresponsible. You should not be burdening future generations with […] nuclear fuel that we do not know what to do with. And it creates hazard wherever it is.
DEBRA: One of the things that we have talked about a little bit on this show is that my basic foundation of thinking has to do with looking at nature and seeing how life works and how close we can come to that. And that’s really my standard. Can something be in the cycle of life?
And so when you have something like nuclear waste, which is extremely toxic, it’s extremely harmful to everything and it cannot go back into the cycle of life. It just piles up and piles up and piles up just like probably most people are more familiar with landfill problems where you have things like plastic that doesn’t biodegrade. I mean they put them in the landfill, but that doesn’t mean it’s going back into the cycle of life.
And the way that cycle of life works is if you imagine a tree and it produces leaves and the leaves then the leaves do what they do. They do photosynthesis and help the tree live and they provide shade and food and all kinds of things for their little local environment. And then the leaves fall off the tree and they go back on the ground and they build soil.
And so at every point, what’s going on is that elements of nutrients of life are exchanging forms with each other. And nuclear elements can’t do that. They don’t do that. And so what they do is that they harm life around them instead of going back into that cycle of life.
That’s what I’m most concerned about. I just think that anything that can’t participate in that renewable cycle of life is the things that we shouldn’t do.
We need to go to break. But when we come back, we will hear more from Dr. Gilbert about nuclear power plants. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. We’ll be right back.
= COMMERCIAL BREAK =
DEBRA: You’re listening to Toxic Free Talk Radio. I’m Debra Lynn Dadd and my guest today is toxicologist Dr. Steven Gilbert. And his website is Toxipedia.org and he’s the author of the book A Small Dose of Toxicology, which you can get for free on his website. Again, that’s Toxipedia.org.
And doctor, we are talking about nuclear power plants. During the break, I looked up what was going on with my nuclear power plant. And in fact, I thought I heard this as I was walking through the room and there was a television on, the other day. I actually don’t read the newspaper and all of those kinds of things, so I don’t always know what’s going on in the world.
But what happened is very recently this proposed nuclear power plant, the whole project was canned. So they are not putting it up. This one is done. And what I found was an article saying that one of our legislators or a representative has proposed that all the $54 million that have been collected from us for this nuclear power plant should be refunded to the public. And I’m very happy for that.
STEVEN GILBERT: I bet that never happens because the power companies already invested a lot of money in design and working on that thing. So they incurred a whole bunch of expenses that the […] often end up paying for.
The nuclear plants have also got this great thing where they can pay forward. So for years, before the plant is built, they actually start paying for it in the electric rates.
DEBRA: Yes, yes.
STEVEN GILBERT: It’s a very nice deal for the power companies. I want to mention one more thing, one more hazard about these power plants. It’s proliferation of the knowledge.
For example, Ukraine—and I think everybody is aware of the political problems in Ukraine […]—has 15 nuclear power plants.
And who do you want owning these power plants? They can produce radioactive wastes that could make bombs. You do not want terrorists or other people that have other issues controlling these plants. And you look around the world, you see North Korea, Iran.
Physicians for Social Responsibility produced a great report about nuclear famine with the example that India and Pakistan got into an exchange of nuclear weapons. Billions of people could die due to [agricultural] failure around the world.
So, I think just from that perspective, that’s another reason why nuclear powers not a good thing to do around the world.
DEBRA: I completely agree with you. Just on every level, it’s not a good thing.
Tell us more reasons why people should use solar or wind or other alternatives because they do exist. And why do you think—besides economically, is there some reason why everybody is going to these other types of energy that are obviously so renewable and less polluting and a much better idea.
STEVEN GILBERT: Well, one reason in my view is that the power companies control the grid. And maybe they want to make the investment to allow energy to put back in the grid. We are very fortunate here in Seattle that our power company is pretty progressive. It allows us to sell power back to them.
Many places—I believe Florida is an example—put a lot of barriers up to putting solar power back on to electric grid. Grid companies would focus on conservation and investing in the grid so that they could take power from individuals. But that’s decentralizing the power generation. And these power companies make money from selling electricity from large investments in coal-powered plants, coal-fired plants and nuclear plants in a large generating capacity.
So I think one thing that listeners can do is to contact your representative. Say you want better incentives for solar or wind power and move to renewables and get away from coal and nuclear power as a source of generating electricity.
We need entirely new model for generating power, which is individually. Look at what Germany has done in that regard. They shut most of their nuclear reactors, moving towards a more decentralized power production model. And that results to all of us getting involved.
Another thing we can do individually is conservation to move toward LED light fixtures. They really reduce the amount of watts.
And the solar power I have on the house, I actually have a new technology called eGate that lets me monitor power use and the power I generate from my solar panels. And I can literally watch when I turn on the light in the room how much power that light is consuming. It’s really opened my eyes.
DEBRA: That’s very cool. I love that.
STEVEN GILBERT: I’ll send it to you, Debra. So you have to take a look at that.
DEBRA: I like that.
STEVEN GILBERT: You really need to see that. And it really drives home the fact that these old incandescent lights are very energy-hogging and we can switch to a much reduction in power we use individually as well if we are making an investment to move towards solar.
DEBRA: I have a little gadget that I’ll admit that I’ve never used, but I just came across it the other day because it’s a technical thing and I am not a technical person. But I don’t even know if they are still sold. It’s called Kill-A-Watt.
And it’s a thing that you can put in. You unplug your cord and then you plug in this device and then you plug your cord into it and it will tell you how much energy you are using. But I like…
STEVEN GILBERT: Cool.
DEBRA: Yeah, it is. And so my idea was that I was going to go around and I was going to test the energy and everything in my house. I actually do save a lot of energy. I don’t use a lot of lights. I don’t even have overhead lights in most of my rooms. I just use little task lights.
STEVEN GILBERT: Very good.
DEBRA: I just got a new air conditioner that’s much more energy efficient and I’m about to get a water heater next week that is going from electric to gas. And so one by one, I’m replacing all these things and not looking at what the individual energy use is.
But I love the idea of what you just described, that you can turn something on and see how it’s really affecting in real time what’s going on with your energy use. If we had that awareness, if people—
I think a lot of it just has to do with, number one, not being aware of what is your energy, where is it coming from. Where is it coming from? And I would just ask everybody who’s listening…
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point that we need to be more aware of that because the power companies make money by selling electricity. So they don’t have a lot of incentives to reduce electric consumption. The whole business model is making money from selling electricity and we really need to move more towards conservation.
I really admire you for making the effort to reduce your electric consumption by changing some of your devices and monitoring its use.
DEBRA: Thank you. So we need to know, number one, where our energy is coming from. And anybody can just pick up the phone. When you stopped listening to the show today, just go straight to the phone and call them up and say, “What is the source of the power that you are selling me every month?”
And the number two is where are you using that energy? And there are all these things that we really need to be aware of like what’s our energy use, what’s our chemical exposure, how much money are we spending, how many fattening foods are we eating. We need to be looking at these flows that are going through our lives and control them, be aware of them and use them to our best advantage.
If you know that you are using a lot of energy and if you know that it’s causing pollution on the other end
this is something people think that electricity is so clean. It might be clean in your house, but it’s not clean on the other end.
STEVEN GILBERT: It’s really not. I think on the west coast, they were fighting about a coal train. They want to ship a lot of coal to China. China produces electricity from coal-fired plants. A lot of them do not have pollution control device on them.
There’s mercury and coal. And the mercury in the atmosphere ends up in the fish meat.
So we are very directly connected to the energy we produce in the coal production and the use of coal as an energy source just with the mercury that’s produced. We know how to stop that.
And there’s been huge effort by the US EPA trying to curb the pollution that comes from coal-fired plant, which I really admire.
But that’s been a huge uphill battle because the power companies again do not want to attach pollution control device to power plants because they don’t make any money from doing that. They want to build more power plants.
DEBRA: I think that the motivating factor—we have talked about effects in another show. But I think that there needs to be this huge shift that goes from money and profit being the determining factor about taking actions to having sustaining life to be the sole determining factor.
And we need everybody at every level of life, the individuals, manufacturers, retailers, government, doctors. Everybody needs to be saying, “What can we do to sustain life? And then how do we make money doing that?”
STEVEN GILBERT: We are not doing that when we produce nuclear power, which generates some hazardous wastes. Those hazardous substances in the world are generated in nuclear waste. Plutonium is a nuclear waste as well as cesium and strontium and a whole bunch of other isotopes.
So it’s generating some of those and they don’t know what to do with it. It’s going to be hazardous to future generations. We really need to be focused all the time on what is best for the future generations, for our children and grandchildren.
STEVEN GILBERT: And their children.
DEBRA: Yes. Otherwise, we’re not going to have a planet. They are not going to have a planet.
STEVEN GILBERT: They’re not.
DEBRA: I think that probably in our lifetime, you and I, Dr. Gilbert, probably life will be the way it is, the way it is now. I can project that. But I think for our children and grandchildren the world is not going to be the same.
STEVEN GILBERT: It’s not. Florida is hugely vulnerable to sea level rises, which is happening. There has been enormous flooding along the coast of the United States and around the world. And this is going to create great destruction in people and really a lot of suffering worldwide.
DEBRA: And there are so many things that we can do about it right now today to have a different future.
STEVEN GILBERT: Yeah.
DEBRA: Anyway, I want to thank you because we are almost out of time. Another great show you always have great information.
And again, Dr. Gilbert’s website is Toxipedia.org and you can also go to ToxicFreeTalkRadio.com and see all the other shows or listen to all the other shows that Dr. Gilbert has done as well as other shows that have been on, all the shows, all are in the archives. You can listen to every single show that we’ve already done and you are going to find out who’s going to be our next.
I’m Debra Lynn Dadd. This is Toxic Free Talk Radio. Be well.