Nuclear Energy Stirs Up Trouble at Yucca Mountain

The use of nuclear plants to generate energy has become more common throughout the US and the rest of the world. Due to its lighter carbon footprint, many have began to embrace the concept of nuclear energy. While it may seem more eco-friendly, the byproducts of nuclear fuel can be harmful to nearby populations and can also be used to make nuclear weapons, prompting a potential attack on the nation’s safety and security. In attempt to satisfy the public, it has been proposed that the spent nuclear fuel be stored in large rock formations in more remote areas. However, after the proposal to store nuclear fuel in Yucca Mountain was accepted, members of local communities surrounding Yucca Mountain came forward, expressing their concern about living so close to the dangerous byproducts of nuclear energy. Derrick Broze of Mintpress News addresses these concerns in his article, The Battle Continues to Stop Yucca Mountain From Becoming a Nuclear Waste Dump. After discussing with locals from tribes nearby the mountain, Broze shares the idea that the locals feel as if they are being put at risk of harmful sicknesses and diseases by living in an area contaminated by nuclear waste. This “unfair” decision to dump waste into what these tribes call home are “purely political”, according to environmental groups, and target a small population in an effort to please the rest of the public. Despite the remote location of Yucca Mountain, the ‘not in my backyard’ mindset remains relevant, causing controversy over nuclear energy to become even more explosive.

Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Site

Photo courtesy of: http://www.history.com/topics/us-states/nevada/pictures/nevada/yucca-mountain-nuclear-waste-site

Derrick Broze, author of the article, uses the idea of communicating with the public in order to strengthen his argument. Broze relies on very few facts or statistics to support his claim, making his humanistic and personal appeals that much more important.

Throughout the article and discussions with those living close to Yucca Mountain, it becomes apparent that the tribes are afraid they will be forced to “suffer” from the effects of the byproducts of nuclear energy. The use of the word “suffer” causes the audience to sympathize with the local tribes and worry for their health ad wellbeing. Using a word with such a negative connotation gives the reader a greater understanding of how the locals feel, increasing the likelihood that the audience will support the author’s claims. In addition, the concept of hope is often referred to. The attempts to put a halt to the transformation of the mountain into a dump site is an ongoing battle and while the tribes continue to fight the plan, they must also have hope that their home will not be destroyed. This emotional appeal allows readers to relate to the locals and may impact their view on the concept of nuclear energy. Ian Zaparte, a local near Yucca Mountain goes as far to say that dumping nuclear waste into the mountain is “an act of genocide.” The use of a word as harsh as genocide reminds readers of past events that have resulted in loss and tragedy and emphasizes the seriousness of the issue. Broze also uses photos to supplement his article, depicting many photos of locals and heavy machinery found throughout the lands occupying Yucca Mountain. These pictures give the audience insight to what this population is undergoing and how it is affecting them. The emotional strategies Broze uses are the basis of his argument and provide a better understanding of the risky situation currently occurring.

 

yucca man

Photo courtesy of: http://sites.coloradocollege.edu

In an effort to establish the credibility of his argument, Broze refers to the work of many environmental and anti-nuclear groups. For example, Beyond Nuclear, Greenspace, Center for Health, Environment and Justice, and the International Society for Ecology all teamed up the write a letter to president Obama claiming that the decision to dispose of nuclear energy byproducts in Yucca Mountain was “purely political.” By including the efforts of opinions of accredited environmental groups, the audience is more likely to believe and support Broze’s argument.

While the author is able to successfully communicate the opinions and voices of the locals, there seemed to be an emotional disconnect accompanied by the lack of logic and concrete evidence. When reading this article, I pretended to have no viewpoint on the topic and wanted to see if the author could convince me that dumping waste in Yucca Mountain was a bad idea all around. However, after finishing the article, I had no desire to rush off to Nevada and picket the dumping of nuclear waste. While Broze used many emotional appeals, they were quite weak and did not strike a chord with me. For example, the photos in the article pictured locals smiling. This confused me as a reader because while the locals were expressing their fear of suffering, the pictures portrayed an entirely different idea. This contradiction interferes with the punch that emotional appeals often packs and is less effective in convincing the audience that dumping waste in the mountain is a bad idea. In addition to the absence of strong emotional appeals, the article presents little to no evidence or facts to support the argument. Almost all of the article is based off of the claims of locals. While this testimony is important to include, the skills of argument should be balanced and provide an array of techniques to convince readers. Performing a study on the effects o nuclear byproduct waste would have given hard evidence as to whether the waste is dangerous. It is difficult to deny proven facts, making it important to include studies and research that will allow for an irrefutable argument. In order to successfully convince the audience that dumping nuclear energy waste is extremely hazardous, Broze needs to stick to the facts and provide readers with a happy medium of evidence and emotional appeals. Doing so will eliminate confusion and allow for the argument against nuclear energy to stand its ground.

Link to the article

 

Additional resources:  http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear-power/nuclear-plant-security/nuclear-reprocessing#.VtT-_1LCnzJ

http://cleantechnica.com/2016/02/26/greenpeace-launches-scientific-investigation-fukushima-disasters-effect-pacific-ocean

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