Monday, September 09, 2013

Every Single Reactor in the U.S. Should Be Shut Down

Or so says a former chairman of the NRC.  From AlterNet:

The third thing to know is that everybody lies about it. The power plant designers lie, the builders lie, the utility companies lie, the regulators lie, and the politicians lie. 


So far this year, power companies have announced plans to  close five reactors. Most recently, Entergy relented on its mission to keep its creaky Yankee nuclear plant in Vermont operational over the state government’s clear objections. 

At least 37 more reactor closures could follow, according to Mark Cooper, a senior fellow for economic analysis at Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment. 

Can environmentalists celebrate this nuclear downsizing trend? 

Nope. Most experts aren’t attributing this rash of reactor closures to any newfound safety concerns among the industry’s leaders. Instead, they’re blaming the fracking boom.

More here.

A really smart friend of mine asserted to me a while back that the technology for nuclear energy is really good in this day and age, and that some sort of accident is highly improbable.  I told him that's why some environmentalists had been flirting with supporting nuclear energy for a while in the 2000s.  Then Fukushima happened, and I'm not sure what those environmentalists are thinking now--I'm certainly not getting much support for the notion in my liberal internet reading these days.  But, as I told my buddy, even though the chance for an accident might, on paper, remain infinitesimally small, nuclear reactors operate in the real world, within a capitalist system, where balancing safety against the bottom line is common practice.

That is, nuke power plants may very well be really safe.  In theory.  But do we really want to trust the same kind of people who brought us the BP Gulf oil spill to stick to the theory?  Especially when the consequences for failure are potentially FAR worse than spewing crude oil at sensitive habitats or pumping toxic chemical dispersants all over the fish, shrimp, and oysters we eat?  The margin for error on this stuff is so small as to be meaningless: if a nuke power plant fails big, we're screwed.  And we've got foxes guarding the hen houses.

 Nuclear power is, in the end, one of the worst ideas we've ever come up with.