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Life on Earth depends on a healthy eco-system. California is headed in a troubling direction by shutting down a large, reliable, 24/7, sustainable, affordable source of emission-free power.

Those we voted in to represent and protect the health and safety of residents of our state are making dangerous and devastating decisions supporting the closing of Diablo Canyon Power Plant. The hope for clean air is being greatly compromised.

This power plant produces five times the amount of emission-free power as Hoover Dam. The loss of power produced by Diablo Canyon will have to be replaced by burning fossil fuels releasing tons of unhealthy and harmful emissions, unabated, into our atmosphere when the sun doesn't shine and the wind doesn't blow. Having to rely on burning fossil fuels to fill the gap is a big mistake.

Emissions from burning fossil fuels will be such a disaster to our ecosystem, to our health and for future generations. Diablo Canyon is designed and capable of continuing to safely provide emission-free power for many years to come.

Renewables, while essential in supporting the quest for clean air, cannot support a steady flow of energy to power our considerable needs, including the defense of our country.

What about the waste connected to renewables? What is not told openly to the public is the considerable environmental impact concerning the huge amounts of land needed for solar and wind installations. Chemicals used in manufacturing and broken-down installations such glass and metal, worn-out batteries all become hazardous waste. No source of power is without negative issues.

The question always arises when discussing nuclear power, what about the waste? Uranium 235 used in producing nuclear power is only 5 percent or less enrichment, of which only 3 percent is actually used to produce the power. This means the remainder of the fuel, 97 percent, is unused. This 97 percent can actually be recycled.

When the U235 atom is split it creates heat and fission fragments of different sizes and different half-lives. Those half-lives can last only seconds, minutes, hours, days, a few months, a few years. At the end of 10 years 90 percent of the radiation has decayed away. The nuclear Navy used fuel has been shipped safely to Idaho for many years without damage to the shipping containers or the fuel. Commercial-used nuclear fuel remains safely stored on site in huge steel and concrete canisters, which are designed for safe keeping for 100 years. What other industry knows where every bit of its by-product is stored safely under strict regulatory guidelines? No harm has been caused by shipping or storing of used nuclear fuel, whether military or commercial.

New nuclear technology is developing reactors that would recycle the used fuel remaining from current technology, thus reducing that which is presently being stored.

Do your own homework. Find the truth for yourself then contact your representatives and tell them you want them to grant Diablo Canyon credits for providing emission-free power. We need to preserve this vital source of clean energy.

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Ellie Ripley is with Californians for Green Nuclear Power in Arroyo Grande.

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