Archaeologists estimate that prehistoric man began learning to control fire about 790,000 years ago.
The U.S. National Academy of Sciences estimates it will take 3 million years for the radioactive waste currently stored in the United States to decay to background levels.
The United States currently produces about 3,000 tons of nuclear waste a year, and the amount in storage would cover a football field one foot deep. A U.S. Energy Department report in 2008 estimated it will cost more than $96 billion to dispose of nuclear waste at the repository in Nevada, even if no other plants are built.
In the history of nuclear power, there have been at least 20 major nuclear reactor incidents since the first partial meltdown of a power plant in Ottawa, Canada, in 1952. Four of those have occurred in the United States.
Those are just the major ones.
There have been other smaller incidents, as well as some that may not have been reported by the government or the military. (Do you really trust them to tell us the truth?)
Nuclear power plants emit a degree of radioactivity outside the plant as a matter of operation, even without an accident. There is contradictory evidence of whether living near a nuclear power plant contributes to cancer, with some studies indicating it does and others indicating it doesn't.
To clear matters up, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last year embarked on a $5 million study to begin studying cancer rates. It's not expected to be completed for three years.
There certainly have been advances in safety, security and efficiency since the world began using nuclear power as a commercial energy source back in 1954. But by its nature, nuclear power is still not green, it's still not cheap, and it's still not completely safe.
So it's difficult to get too excited about Congressman Chris Gibson's goal of siting a nuclear power plant in the 20th Congressional District.
Given the uncertainty surrounding nuclear power with regard to cost and health issues, as well as issues related to the removal and disposal of highly radioactive waste products, we wonder how exactly the congressman hopes to realistically get a plant built in our area.
Raise your hand if you'd be comfortable having one built in your town. Keep ‘em up so we can count everyone. OK. Got it.
For those living in one of the 20th Congressional District's state parks, you probably don't have to worry. It won't go in the Adirondacks or the Catskills.
They can't even get everyone to agree on putting 10 windmills on top of Gore Mountain to supply electricity to 12,000 homes. A nuclear power plant? Puh-leeze.
That leaves the areas outside the Blue Line, from Glens Falls almost to the city of Poughkeepsie and out to Delaware County, covering Saratoga Springs and Hudson along the way. Do you honestly think some town around here is going to let them put a nuclear power in their backyard without a fight? Why do you think that when pressed during the campaign, Congressman Gibson wouldn't suggest a possible location for it? Perhaps because he wanted to actually get some votes.
Despite all the negatives, there are some up sides to nuclear power plants.
A nuclear power plant could theoretically reduce electricity costs. But so could wind, solar, hydro and other "green" energies. However, all those energy savings from a nuclear power plant don't figure in the potential $5 billion cost of construction, the negative impact on the environment and the local economy, and the growing cost of waste disposal.
OK, so what else is good about this idea?
Well, since approval and construction would take as long as 20 years, some of us would be dead by the time it's built. If you don't have grandchildren, it's not your problem.
For supporters of hydrofracking, nuclear energy makes them look like Al Gore in comparison, another positive, at least for them.
And the possibility of hosting a nuclear power plant might compel some of those stubborn Washington County towns to finally put in planning and zoning. That would be good. But they should be doing that anyway.
Our new congressman surely can find better uses for his time and efforts than pursuing a campaign pledge of nuclear power over other safer, cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternatives.
A nuclear power plant isn't needed in the 20th Congressional District, isn't wanted and won't ever gain acceptance.
It's time to drop it.
Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Editorial Page Editor Mark Mahoney and citizen member Mike Wild.