Nuclear power reactors produce a mixture of plutonium radio nuclides. There is no doubt that plutonium, deposited in the human lung is a powerful producer of lung cancer. Approximately five millionths of a single gram of reactor plutonium deposited in the lung will do it.
On August 6, 1945, the US government exploded a uranium bomb over Hiroshima, Japan. Over 100,000 people were killed instantly. Three days later, a plutonium bomb destroyed Nagasaki, immediately killing 70,000 people. Many thousands more have since died from the ongoing effects of radiation poisoning.
Plutonium, a by-product of nuclear fission technology is the deadliest substance ever made by humans. Because it is so toxic and can be used to make nuclear weapons plutonium-fueled reactors are an extraordinarily dangerous way to generate electricity.
All nuclear power reactors (both uranium- and plutonium-fueled) produce waste materials containing plutonium, as well as other radioactive substances that can be used to make nuclear bombs. Thus, every nation that has nuclear power is a potential nuclear weapons state.
How to make a nuclear bomb is no longer a secret. The hardest part of making a nuclear weapon is getting the plutonium. Four-fifths of the plutonium in the world today has been produced by commercial nuclear power reactors. This spread of plutonium through nuclear power has increased the number of potential nuclear weapons states to 44. The five declared nuclear weapons nations – the US, the Russia, the UK, France and China – are only one-ninth of the real "nuclear club."
Japan is acquiring one of the world's largest civilian stockpiles of plutonium by shipping its spent fuel halfway around the world to France and Britain and back for reprocessing into plutonium. Japan, therefore, has the potential to become a major nuclear weapons power in a short time. Other countries that have attempted to develop commercial Fast Breeder Reactors (FBRs) – including the US, Britain, Germany and Russia – have abandoned them.
The reprocessing of used reactor fuel also creates highly radioactive wastes. Even the nuclear industry estimates that the quantity of wastes requiring long-term isolation from the environment is increased nearly ten-fold as a consequence of reprocessing.
Finally, all nuclear power reactors and places where quantities of radioactive material are stored could be as dangerous as nuclear weapon explosions. If they become the object of terrorist activity, military bombardment or sabotage, radioactive material could spread on a vast and devastating scale.
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