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Our local pro-nuclear propagandists
By Roger Lippman
January 23, 2018

The nuclear industry’s propaganda efforts continue unabated. Author Thomas Graham (Seeing the Light - the Case for Nuclear Power in the 21st Century) - is on the board of a nuclear fuel design company. His co-author Scott Montgomery is a pro-nuclear ideologue-about-town here in Seattle. It’s hard to imagine who will pay eight dollars to hear him advocate for more nuclear waste and for the most expensive, most dangerous form of electrical generation available.

The issue was pertinent in Washington state this year because various bills were introduced in the current state legislature to include nuclear power as a clean, safe energy source. Washington residents should encourage their legislators not to fall for this scam, which was embodied in Senate Bill 6253.

A generation ago, the Washington Public Power Supply System nearly bankrupted the state by trying to build five nuclear power plants. Four of them failed catastrophically, due to financing problems – they were billions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule before the plug was finally pulled. The fifth has been operating since, creating nuclear waste that no one knows what to do with. It is also generating the most expensive electricity around, raising the rates of anyone who gets power, through their local public utility, from the Bonneville Power Administration.

The nuclear industry propagandists cloak their efforts with concern about climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels. But every dollar spent on building a nuclear power plant takes money away from much cleaner, safer, and quicker energy solutions. Instead of windmills and solar plants that could come on line within a year or two, investment in nuclear envisions a solution a decade away, or, more likely, never.

Nuclear power has something almost unique in technology: a negative learning curve. This is well illustrated by the recent experiences in South Carolina and Georgia, where the only plants under construction in the US have been billions over budget and years behind schedule, with no end to the overruns or delays in sight. Actually, in South Carolina they have come to an end, since the plants were recently abandoned after a decade and around $10 billion spent. Incredibly, Georgia is pushing ahead under the same circumstances. Imagine how much clean energy could have been acquired from the money already spent, and how much more could be acquired with the good money yet to be thrown away in Georgia, before that project, inevitably, is abandoned.

For years, environmentalists, Wall Street financiers, and insurance companies have demonstrated why nuclear power should not be expanded. As I argued in a recent article, nuclear power, at least in the US, can't be expanded. Now, it is becoming all the more evident that it won't.

A version of this article appeared in the Seattle Times as a comment.

 


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