Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 2 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 8/7/16

Wake Up: These Unneeded Instruments Can Wreak Mass Destruction

By       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     (# of views)   3 comments
Author 31246
Message Ralph Nader
Become a Fan
  (79 fans)

Reprinted from Common Dreams


(Image by (Photo: Hope Abrams/cc/flickr))   Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has recently advanced a clean energy plan which mandates that New York transition half of its energy needs to renewables by 2030. By regressive contrast, New York's Public Service Commission (PSC) has approved enormous subsidies for three aging nuclear power plants...Ginna, Nine Mile Point and FitzPatrick...located in Upstate New York. Estimates of the costs of these subsidies range from $59 million to $658 million by 2023, with specialists such as Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group predicting that costs could grow to $8 billion. New York consumers will be covering the tab via their utility bills.

Ginna and Nine Mile Point are owned by the Exelon Corporation, and Exelon has plans to purchase the FitzPatrick plant. You can be sure that Exelon is frothing at the mouth for this huge bailout that was approved without adequate public scrutiny. Approval of this plan gives New York State the not-so-honorable distinction of being one of the first states to bail-out the aging nuclear industry in our increasingly green energy age. The long-coddled nuclear industry is hoping that other states will follow suit.

Unfortunately, subsidizing the nuclear industry in the United States is nothing new. Since the first nuclear plants opened back in the 1950's, taxpayers have assumed nearly all of the financial risk. One of the most telling warning signs about the real cost of investing in nuclear power is that fact that Wall Street will not finance the construction of a nuclear plant without a full loan guarantee from the U.S. government. The reason for such caution by financial wheelers and dealers is the long history of delays, cost over-runs and reactors that never came online. Whether the plants open or not, obeisant politicians pass many of the nuclear boondoggle costs to the taxpayers.

- Advertisement -

Atomic energy is also uninsurable in the private insurance market. Under the Price-Anderson Act of 1957, taxpayers must cover almost all of the costs if a catastrophic nuclear accident should occur. Think of the devastation caused by Chernobyl, Fukushima and Three Mile Island. Three Mile Island, which experienced only a partial meltdown in 1979, cost approximately $1 billion to clean up.

The case to preserve the New York nuclear power plants is that they are an "emissions-free power source." There are, however, much better, more affordable and safer low-carbon options that would replace the need for nuclear energy in New York. These options were not even discussed or evaluated. A more sensible approach would have been for the PSC to present some alternative scenarios, so that citizen taxpayers could compare the risk and costs of a massive nuclear bailout against significant investments in other energy-generating options like wind and solar, in addition to energy conservation measures.

Consider the absurdity of the complex and expensive nuclear fuel cycle itself. It begins with uranium mining which produces radioactive tailings and dust, followed by the fabrication and refinement of fuel rods, the risky transport of these rods to the plant where they are installed, and then firing up the reactor so it goes critical with a huge amount of radioactivity. The end goal? To boil water to generate steam to turn turbines to produce electricity!

What other method of boiling water has to have specific population evacuation plans?

There is also the significant problem of spent fuel rods which are stored in pools at nuclear plants. No permanent storage sites exist for these deadly radioactive wastes, which pose national security risks, and which must be kept for thousands of years.

It's notable to point out that the Indian Point nuclear plants in New York, which are located near an earthquake fault just 30 miles from Manhattan, were excluded from the PSC proposal. Even cautious Governor Cuomo and Hillary Clinton, when she was a Senator, have acknowledged the imminent danger that Indian Point poses to the Greater New York City area and urged its closing. The 5 PM rush hour in New York's metropolitan area is bad enough without adding the chaos of a panicked mass evacuation of millions of people.

- Advertisement -

So what about those who live within the fallout zone of these three upstate plants that will be the recipients of billions of dollars of taxpayer money? Why is Governor Cuomo trying to close Indian Point while saving these other plants? One explanation could be right out of the classic nuclear industry handbook...hold the state hostage by threatening that the lights will go out if they don't pony up.

The public was given just 14 days to comment on the bailout proposal. Despite pushback from anti-nuclear activists, the nuclear industry prevailed. Is two weeks enough time for a thorough public debate on the merits of bailing out the costly, risky, dirty nuclear power industry? Shame on the indentured PSC and Governor Cuomo!

Next Page  1  |  2

 

- Advertisement -

Must Read 2   Supported 2   Valuable 2  
Rate It | View Ratings

Ralph Nader Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Ralph Nader is one of America's most effective social critics. Named by The Atlantic as one of the 100 most influential figures in American history, and by Time and Life magazines as one (more...)
 

Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

The Corporate Supreme Court; Time For Impeachment

Time to Topple Corporate Dictators

Ralph Nader: Only the Super Rich Can Save Us!

The Fukushima Secrecy Syndrome -- From Japan to America

President Obama Treats Tax Dodging GE's Immelt Better than Consumer Protecting Elizabeth Warren

My Friend Barack