Nuclear power's adherents see a bright, clean future
supplying America's energy-starved consumers with abundant nuclear power
. Paul Guinnessy wrote close to a year ago at Physics Today
The US nuclear power industry has been virtually frozen since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, but in the US Congress 2005 energy bill, tax credits worth $3.1 billion, along with liability protection and compensation for legislative delays, were added for the industry. On 30 December 2005, for the first time in years, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) certified the design of a new reactor—the 1000-MW Westinghouse advanced passive (AP) reactor. Six US power-plant operators are preparing combined construction and operating license (COL) requests to the NRC that could restart construction in the next five years. NuStart Energy, a consortium of nine nuclear energy companies, submitted plans for a General Electric simplified boiling water reactor at the Grand Gulf nuclear station near Port Gibson, Mississippi, and an AP-1000 reactor at the Bellefonte nuclear plant near Scottsboro, Alabama.
According to representatives of the electric utilities involved, the US government and the reactor technology suppliers are paying for most of the $150 million the certification process costs. "The utilities are waiting to see if they can get any more subsidies out of the government," says Lyman, "so it's still premature to say if any of them will go ahead." A satisfactory means for disposal of their radioactive waste products has not yet been announced.
But the nuclear power industry believes the first new US order is only two years away. Says NuStart Energy president Marilyn Kray, "Our country needs these advanced nuclear plants."
Only last week Duke Energy Corporation filed an application this the Nuclear Regulatory Commission [NRC] to build two new nuclear generating plants
in South Carolina. And industry lobbying groups like the Nuclear Energy Institute
have been aggressively promoting nuclear power as "clean, efficient
" and that it "does not release carbon emissions
" into the atmosphere.
Other industry propagandists, such as the CASEnergy Coalition
promise they will "...be an important voice in the public dialogue over current and future energy needs, particularly in addressing how nuclear power can contribute to America’s energy security and economic growth
But it's not just the fevered greedy who are looking optimistically at rebuilding nuclear power resources. A recent article in the Voice of San Diego cites that even Californians [long opposed to any nuclear energy plant construction] are looking favorably at building new nuclear power plants
. Given this fevered pitch, combined with the fact that the Oilmen are still in the White House, and American consumers incessant thirst for electrified gadgetry, I think we can expect more efforts will be made, and successfully, to get the nuclear power industry up and running again.
Which means keeping a watchful eye on outfits like Duke Energy going into the nuclear power business shall be critical. Duke already comes with a tarnished record as a major coal-fired plant polluter. The state of North Carolina denied Duke Power
, in March 2007, an application to build a new coal plant and there is major litigation filed by the Environmental Defense Fund against Duke Power
before the US Supreme Court for past abuses. Employee rights advocates diligently monitor Duke Power's penchant for abuse and disregard for the environment, worker safety and economic equity
. Duke Power's close ties to Bushco officials is troubling as well.
Singling out Duke Power is not my objective here. This is still only one of many corporate entities that share similar shady histories and yet are likely to take major roles in a re-emerging nuclear power plant growth tide.
It makes me think of the 1970s film The China Syndrome
which was not, upon reflection, and anti-nuclear power screed [though industry PR flaks ranted otherwise]. It was actually a film identifying corruption between politicians and big business, shoddy construction short-cuts and lack of adequate impartial government oversight that the story to the film made as an expose.
For the record, as I've noted before, I have long lived in the shadow a nuke plant [now dismantled] fraught with unpublished problems. I am not completely opposed to thoughtful, planful, judicious use of this awesome source of energy. But I am mindful of the risks; the largest of which to me, is human folly. That is my fear when we talk about building new nuke plants. The other risks, elusive and unknown, I myself have already been living with. Would that our politicians and business executives had to do so as well.
SEE: The Atomic Revolution 1957 [courtesy of comic book researcher Ethan Pearsoff; Information about M Philip Copp, the artist behind the comic book in question. |IMAGE SOURCES: 1- The Atomic Revolution - comic by M. Philip Copp. 2- a page from myt diary, a sketch of what once had been Connecticut Yankee Nuclear in Haddam Neck, Connecticut.glmxaulc
Labels: industrial comics, nuclear power, propaganda, regulatory agencies