TOURING 'NUCLEAR ENERGY' ON THE WWW


This selection of Web sites has been organized into:

anti-nuclear power; pro-nuclear power; government agencies; 'fun and interaction;' FAQ sites; Chernobyl; Inside a Nuclear Plant; and issues.


FUN AND INTERACTION

The Nuclear Control Institute
Animation on the first page morphs a nuclear power plant into a mushroom cloud. The NCI is an anti-proliferation group formed by scholars. Even if the fear of nuclear proliferation doesn't entertain you, this award-winning site will. Its newest feature is a point-by-point rebuttal of FRONTLINE's report on Americans' fear of nuclear energy. (And also check out the FRONTLINE producer's response.) Back at the main NCI site, there's lots of dancing buttons and nifty animation. It entices you to read and has persuasive and intelligent arguments. However, the debate over reprocessing and whether it really increases risk of spreading plutonium and proliferation is still ongoing. (See articles by two nuclear scholars on the reprocessing issue). For animated scenes of a house being demolished by a nuclear explosion, go under Graphics and click on the black button at the bottom of the page that says "Plutonium on the Internet." The site is so masterfully done, you'll believe almost anything it says and after a few minutes it may be impossible to see any distinction between nuclear power plants and nuclear weapons.

Seattle Times Series "50 Years From Trinity"
Here is a chronicle of the nuclear age. Epic newspaper stories are perfect for the web when they're broken down into short features. The focus is nuclear weapons, not power, beginning with the first atom bomb test in Trinity, New Mexico. It's a good way to review history. Take the atomic age quiz and in another section calculate your radiation exposure.

Student Chapter of the American Nuclear Society at University Texas-Austin
This group put up this straight-talking site that dispels a lot of myths about nuclear power and tries to set the record straight. The authors are passionately concerned about misinformation. Use the interactive worksheet to calculate your annual radiation dose. Scroll down to the bottom of the home page to find bullet points about irradiated foods, the real death toll at Chernobyl, and the properties of plutonium. There's a nice graphic for the section on how nuclear plants work, but the explanation is a little dense.

World Nuclear Association
Another site you can feel good about reading (because it's not too heavy on propaganda) is one by the non-profit World Nuclear Association. Literally everything you wanted to know about uranium is here: origins, mining, processing, locations. What's so special about this site is its unique features. There's a fun and easy-to-use nuclear power quiz that gives lots of feedback on correct and incorrect answers. The conversion calculator page offers handy tables that instantly convert volume, distance and weight into many different units. Bookmark this page and come back to it when you're making travel plans or cooking. The conversion table for uranium weight is less useful to the average person, but this site has something for everyone.


CHERNOBYL

International Conference: One Decade After Chernobyl.
The authors of this report include the World Health Organization and the UN. This site offers information about what scientists know about Chernobyl's effects ten years after--such as data showing 30 to 50 decontamination workers died while containing the accident. (Over the years the number has been widely reported as in the "hundreds" or "thousands.")

Chernobyl Children's Project
This online art gallery displays work from the young victims of Chernobyl who have cancer and other illnesses. It's created by a charitable group in Ireland. Browse a video clip (be patient with the download), photographs, poems, and paintings created by children. A warning, however. It's bleak. Fourteen-year-old Natasha explains how "when I look in the mirror I can foresee my own radiation death." The site doesn't include any scientific information. Also missing is a section dealing with the children's psychological and physical recovery.

Facts and Documents on Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster
This site is an index of links put together by a virtual guide named Alexander Artsyukhovich. The links connect to Russian and Eastern European agencies. Several get you secret documents from the Soviet-era government about Chernobyl (in Russian). Under the Black Box.com link, there's a section on health effects on farm animals in Belarus, including eye mutations in pigs. It's all from a book called Chernobyl: Insight from the Inside by V.M. Chernousenko. Another excerpt from the book tells the story of the "rectifiers" - the groups of workers who came from all over the country to clean up the reactor.


ANTI-NUCLEAR

N-Base Nuclear Information Service
This is an ambitious site run by independent activists from the northern U.K. islands. The main focus of their information-rich service is to provide up-to-date news on reprocessing spent nuclear fuel in the U.K. and a European perspective on the world's civil nuclear industry. The group has assembled a huge database of newspaper and magazine clippings, some of which they share on site. For example, you can read about recent accidents in Japan, which countries are transporting waste products to other countries, and international manufacturing collaborations. Full access to the database and all their briefings papers requires a subscription. Partially funded by Greenpeace, the group expresses its position in a non-confrontational way and the result is interesting reading.

Greenpeace USA
Greenpeace's Stop Plutonium page is colorful and easy to read. It presents their position that transporting spent fuel in ships to other countries is bad and should be stopped.

Greenpeace International
Under the No Nukes Campaign section a very friendly index shows icons for topics such as reprocessing, spent fuel, reactors, weapons, etc. (One factoid that raises a red flag is that reprocessing spent nuclear fuel creates 189 times as much waste!?) Unfortunately, sources for information are rarely provided. But a good place to learn about the Greenpeace position regarding all things nuclear.

Union of Concerned Scientists
Take the Junk Science Quiz at the bottom of the home page to get warmed up, then go back to the top page and click on the "Energy". When the next page appears, go to the bottom to find legislative updates on energy policy, arms control and plutonium. A large selection of briefing papers are available for ordering, and a few are offered online. Rather than definitively stating its position against nuclear power, this site instead offers a briefing paper on various alternatives to nuclear power, like geothermal energy, biomass, and wind. A useful section called "What You Can Do" includes a list of policymakers to contact.

Nuclear Information and Resource Center
This anti-nuclear group describes itself as a "network center" for people concerned about radiation hazards from nuclear energy production and proliferation. The site features a web-board, or message center, for posting and reading notes. "Nuclear Monitor Online" is the group's electronic newsletter. Several explanatory fact sheets focus on issues like "hot waste," and the two popular types of reactors and how they wear out. For a treat, a Java-applet crossword puzzle is tucked away near the bottom of the first page. Its clues are not particularly energy-oriented, but it's fun just the same.

The Nuclear Waste Citizens Coalition
This organization brings together 16 different anti-nuclear groups to educate and protest waste disposal and reprocessing. The website is plain but offers position statements and explanatory papers about the history of waste transportation, a chronology of reprocessing, and current status of reprocessing. One intriguing paper is titled "Some of the Links between Military and Civilian Nuclear Waste."

Sierra Blanca Legal Defense Page
Some residents of this small town near the Rio Grande believe they have a case of environmental racism on their hands. This mostly Hispanic town has organized to oppose a nuclear waste disposal site. The site offers Q&A's in both Spanish and English. There's an arresting photograph of female activists with radiation symbols painted on their breasts. The message seems clear: Women who live in counties with reactors have a dramatically higher incidence of breast cancer. This site takes the position that living downwind of a normally functioning plant creates all kinds of health problems and deformities. Although the group says its statistics are from the National Cancer Institute, you might want to check out the National Cancer Institute's actual data at the following link

http://www.ratical.com/rat_haus.html
One part of this inspirational/spiritual website is dedicated to "providing information about the health costs of manmade low level ionizing radiation." There are scientific studies under a section called Committee for Nuclear Responsibility, but several are about the health effects of indiscriminate use of medical X-rays back in the '50s. A large amount of anti-nuclear material can be found in this section of the site.


FAQs

University of Missouri-Rolla American Nuclear Society.
Here's a FAQ with no fancy bells and whistles. Topics include Radiation, Safety, Risk, Importance of Nuclear Power. As one would expect from a university chapter, extensive references are included at the bottom of the site. Answers are bite-sized and get you to the point quickly. If you still have questions about nuclear power after exploring the exhaustive topics, you can send in your questions right from the site; an answer is promised.

Fast Facts from Dr. Bernard Cohen and Others.
Answers to questions based on work by radiation physicist Bernard Cohen. A nice stop for people who are interested in the price of uranium and how we can get it from seawater. Straightforward text, nothing fancy. This site sells information not propaganda. Links to energy and sustainability. FAQ pages are useful.

FAQs on Nuclear Energy.
By the same author as above. Did you know a uranium atom is worth ten million times more energy than a carbon atom (fossil fuel)?

This FAQ answers questions you might want to know. Such as - can a nuclear power plant blow up like a nuclear weapon? Is plutonium the most poisonous substance on Earth?


INSIDE A NUCLEAR PLANT

University Texas -Austin
A good, basic graphic diagram on the elements of a nuclear plant

Uranium Information Centre
To really grasp the basic mechanisms of a nuclear reaction online, you have to go to Australia. Down near the bottom of the page "What is Uranium?" gives the best overview of what uranium is and how it works inside a reactor, with a nice graphic of a reactor system and clear explanation. It's a great first stop if you're fuzzy about fission.

There's even more to impress. Go directly to www.uic.com.au/nfc.htm to learn about the fuel cycle in a nutshell. The authors did a great job with the illustrations and friendly text. Closing the nuclear fuel cycle through reprocessing waste is a fascinating technology, but it's banned in the U.S.

The Virtual Nuclear Tourist.
This site is best thought of as a museum. You can actually see more here than at a real facility, since the most interesting parts of a working system are shielded. Originally composed music follows you through your visit. The overall organization is a bit confusing, so go directly to Table of Contents to get the overview. See photos of reactors types from all over the world. An excellent animated fission graphic waits for you under Design/Basics. Like a museum, you can spend hours and often forget the way back to rooms you want to revisit. This was made single-handedly by a nuclear engineer/photographer, who gives his background and credentials, but it isn't funded by any interest. An award-winning site.


PRO-NUCLEAR

The Berkeley Center for Toxic Waste management
This is a forum for faculty members to work on technical, social and political aspects of nuclear and toxic waste management. Most of its site concerns the workings of the group, but scroll down to Data and you'll find useful information about decommissioning nuclear power plants and the various radioactive waste categories and their disposal methods. There's also a list of plants in the U.S. that have special licenses to store waste on site. Text can sometimes sound academic, so you have to be patient. Also many of the other pages under Data are under development like reprocessing and repository.

Nuclear Energy Agency
The ambitious site for the Nuclear Energy Agency has the feel of a giant library. But a little poking around reveals its policy oriented, bureaucratic style. The NEA is a group comprised of 27 countries to promote peaceful uses of the atom. If you like reading position papers and other evidence of group-think over nuclear power generation, then you'll have plenty to do here. One position paper to check out is the "Ethical and Environmental Basis for Geological Disposal." There are free and for sale publications indexed on the site.

The Nuclear Energy Institute
Here's where you'll find a unified voice for the U.S. nuclear power industry. A non-profit association, the NEI stays abreast of the latest regulatory and Congressional activities involving nuclear power, such as the ongoing questions of where to store spent fuel. This site was organized with a designer's eye, and it is easy to navigate and inviting. Various rooms include basics about the power of the atom, the environmental benefits of nuclear power (an often-ignored topic), safety strategies, and other uses of the atom besides power. Visit the press room to learn that NEI spokespersons are available around the clock. While there, browse through a wide array of information sheets about particular aspects of NP.

American Nuclear Society
Nuclear power news of all kinds. A highlight of this well-organized site is a news wire called Answer, which gives instant access to the latest articles related to nuclear power from Associated Press, Fox, and The Washington Post. ANS is a professional society formed in the '50s to promote scientific, educational and engineering uses of the atom. Read their code of ethics to see that nuclear scientists DO have a soul. Other pages keep track of ANS activities at large.


GOVERNMENT AGENCIES

Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
Skip the many layers of the DOE website and come here for government and legislative information about waste storage and transportation. Congressional testimony and speeches from DOE program officers are available in full-text, along with current events in the world of waste management. In the resources section legal buffs can read the full text of 100 waste management bills under consideration by Congress plus the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. Anyone who's looking for some basic information will be frustrated by the bureaucratic feel of the text. Information of wide interest is buried under main headings. Dig under Waste Acceptance, Storage, and Transportation to find two useful sections on how spent fuel is stored in the U.S. (with photos): Storage and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel, and Transportation of Spent Nuclear Fuel.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission
The oversight organization for America's nuclear power industry is apparently quite happy to share their internal reports with the public. For a little intrigue, visit the Reactors section where you can read daily reports from plants around the country including various mishaps, like a potential contaminated employee and valve and pump break-downs. Maybe it will either scare you into thinking nuclear power is too complex for humans, or reassure you that the myriad of regulatory mechanisms is working well...? The NRC also shares its "Plant Watchlist" with the public, a compilation of power plants that make the agency nervous. For basic information on individual reactors (location, size, age, etc.) go to www.nrc.gov/AEOD/pib/states.html.

Yucca Mountain
What to do with all our nuclear waste? The Yucca Mountain, Nevada, repository looks like it might be the final resting place for American spent reactor fuel. For a basic overview of this mega-project, read the EPA's fact sheet . Here you can also download the National Academy of Sciences summary on safety standards, albeit in WordPerfect. For a virtual photo album of the Yucca Mountain Project construction site, go to www.ymp.gov/. (This site's designers helpfully offer options on the size versions of photos/download time you prefer). You might start by reading the interview with the Yucca Mountain project manager, who is more than a little beleaguered by anti-nuke forces as well as the bureaucracy.

Integral Fast Reactor
Take a glimpse of what might have been the cutting edge in reactor design--the Integral Fast Reactor. Developed at Argonne National Laboratory in the mid-'80s, this reactor would not only have generated electricity, but would have produced the fuel to run it, recycle the fuel and take care of the waste. The Clinton administration announced termination of the IFR project in 1994. (See the FRONTLINE interview with the IFR's developer Dr. Charles Till)

Los Alamos National Laboratory
Here is a repository of expert information about radiation and health. How exactly does radiation harm you? A mini-library of PDF files are here for downloading. Primers on radiation, the cell cycle, cancer and risk assessment are so effectively written, you'll feel like you've learned a lot of information in a short amount of time. Click on the section Human Radiation Experiments to read about the recently declassified experiments conducted on humans several decades ago, including subjects who were injected with plutonium.


ISSUES, IN BRIEF

NEA Decommissioning Brief No.1
This web page is a FAQ on one subject: decommissioning nuclear power plants. Succinct in delivering the what, why, and how of shutting down a nuclear plant.


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