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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/12/19

As Reactors Shut in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Nuke War Rages in Ohio and New York

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As the nuke power industry slumps toward oblivion, two huge reactors are shutting in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

The shutdowns are a body blow to atomic energy. The soaring costs of the decayed US reactor fleet have forced them to beg gerrymandered state legislatures for huge bailouts.

Just two US reactors are still being built. Stuffed with $12 billion in interest-free federal loans, Georgia's Vogtle is nearing a staggering $30 billion in cost. Years behind schedule, the lowest possible costs of whatever electricity the two reactors there might produce already far exceed wind and solar.

Virtually none of the 98 US reactors now operating can compete with wind, solar, or methane. All but one are more than 20 years old, with serious issues of obsolescence and decay; some are more than 40, operating far behind their original design life.

Four decrepit, money-losing, upstate New York State reactors still run because Governor Andrew Cuomo is handing them $7.6 billion in bailouts. This year's price tag jumped more than $50 million, despite Cuomo's promise it would drop. Safe energy/consumer groups are fighting him in court.

Cuomo has otherwise agreed to shut two old reactors at Indian Point, which sit on an earthquake fault north of New York City.

But Illinois has voted billions to sustain three old reactors that can't compete with wind/solar and gas. New Jersey has also jumped in with hundreds of millions for money-losing nukes.

In Massachusetts, the Pilgrim reactor will shut this month. The New York Times says Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island Unit One will die in September, dropping the US fleet to 96. The industry wants to scam billions in bailouts for the Keystone State's other nukes, which are being vastly outstripped by renewables.

But the Ohio war over two geezer nukes rages full bore. Their owner, Akron's FirstEnergy, is bankrupt, trying to shed its cleanup responsibilities. Despite slipping millions in "lobbying" to key state officials, FirstEnergy has still been unable to shaft the state with its $300m/year nuke-bailout scam.

Designed in the 1960s, FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse opened near Toledo in 1977. A serious accident presaged the 1979 meltdown at its doomed clone, Three Mile Island Unit Two.

In 2002, boric acid ate Davis-Besse's infamous "hole in the head" to within an inch of irradiating the entire Great Lakes and north coast.

The leaks are still an issue. But Davis-Besse's owners sawed off the top of an abandoned Michigan nuke, cut through the containment building, and pasted it into the damaged reactor. The radioactive shield building is crumbling along with the rest of the nuke, from top to bottom.

East of Cleveland, Perry opened in 1986, just after the first earthquake that damaged a US nuke. To this day, no operators have been forced to run a reactor caught amidst a seismic shaking.

The utility and its backers are betting on Ohio's gerrymandered legislature to gouge some $300 million from the tax/rate-paying public. A bevy of "free market" Republicans wants at least $150 million per year for the nukes, and another $150 million or more for various unclear activities, including about $8.5 million yearly for company president Chuck Jones.

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Harvey is a lifelong activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, election protection, social justice, grass-roots politics and natural healing, personal and planetary.He hosts "California Solartopia" at KPFK-Pacifica and "Green Power & Wellness" atprn.fm. (more...)
 

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