Why the Resurgence in Nuclear Power?


 

Why the Resurgence in Nuclear Power?
 


29 March 2009 at 6:03:34 PM
salon

by T K Arnold

But before everyone lines up to drink the new-nuke Kool-Aid, let's take a step back and look at some facts Assemblyman DeVore might have overlooked in his zeal to promote nuclear power as a panacea for all our energy ills, real and imagined.

For starters, while safety standards certainly have improved dramatically since Three Mile Island ---- thanks in large part to standardized reactor designs ---- accidents still can happen. And even the slightest chance of an accident, the consequences of which would be absolutely devastating, isn't worth the potential benefits, in my book.

Nuclear power plants also could be targets for terrorist attacks, with potentially catastrophic effects.

Nor is building new nuclear power plants the cost-effective quick fix it's being made out to be. Time magazine reports that the first detailed cost estimate for a new plant, filed by Florida Power & Light for a proposed new plant off the Florida Keys, is a mind-boggling $12 billion to $18 billion. And as DeVore admitted during his KFI appearance, even if the current moratorium in California is overturned this year, it could take another 12 to 15 years for the state's first new nuclear power plant to become fully operational.

Nuclear power also relies on uranium as fuel, and uranium is a scarce resource. The supply of uranium is expected to last for no more than 30 to 60 years, depending on demand, which makes nuclear power no more sustainable an energy source than coal or other fossil fuels.

And, lastly, there's the matter of radioactive waste, which DeVore so earnestly insists is no longer an issue because in the new generation of nuclear plants it's being recycled. That's hooey. France only recycles 28 percent of its yearly fuel use, which leaves the lion's share in the same shape as U.S. radioactive waste, which must be stored for at least 10,000 years before it no longer poses a threat to public health and safety.


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