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The Seattle City Council passed a resolution instructing Seattle City Light to take a hard look at the operation of the Columbia Generating Station nuclear power plant (WPPSS-2). May 31, 2016

Statement to the Seattle City Co
uncil Energy Committee
By Roger Lippman, May 24, 2016

As a Seattle voter, I encourage your support for the resolution directing City Light to carefully evaluate the operation of the WPPSS-2 nuclear reactor (now going under the sanitized name Columbia Generating Station).

I will summarize concisely the problems I see with the continued operation of the nuclear reactor, which provides a small fraction of the electricity used in the city and the state.

I hope that City Light will study these issues and come to the conclusion I have: the plant should be shut down.

The plant is:

Too expensive. Its production costs are higher than the market value of electricity produced in this region. A recent economic study demonstrates that regional ratepayers would save over $200 million annually if the plant were to be shut down. Also, the cost of decommissioning is increasing faster than the rate of inflation, so shutting it down sooner saves money, since it eventually had to be shut down anyway, no matter what.

Dangerous. This reactor is a similar design to the Fukushima reactor and subject to a similar breakdown from unpredictable catastrophes. Japan had a nuclear energy program that was respected for operating within anticipated safety concerns. Unfortunately, it was the unanticipated, perhaps unforeseeable risks that they didn’t anticipate or foresee. The same must be said about WPPSS-2.

Earthquake danger. The risk of an earthquake at that location is twice what was understood when the plant was built, so it is under-engineered. Structures currently built in the area must meet much higher seismic standards, but the nuclear power plant has not been retrofitted to meet those higher standards. Indeed, it probably would be uneconomic to do so. If it costs too much to make it safe to operate, should it be operating?

Unnecessary. There is plenty of surplus power available in the state. We have seen the absurd situation of cheap, safe wind turbines being shut down so that the expensive, dangerous nuclear plant can continue to operate. It's time to transition to clean, safe energy. It's also time to invest in retraining nuclear workers for what is surely the wave of the future – solar and wind power, which create a lot more jobs than nuclear power.

The City of Seattle needs to take a strong position in support of shutting down this dangerous, unnecessary power plant. We need to provide regional leadership.

Roger Lippman

Statement to the Seattle City Co
uncil, May 31, 2016 :

At the Energy Committee hearing last Tuesday, I outlined the primary reasons that the WPPSS nuclear plant should be shut down:

Too expensive
Inherently dangerous
Earthquake risk
Its power is not needed
We need to transition, and retrain our work force, to a safer, more democratic  energy supply system

Others added the fact that no one knows what to do with the radioactive waste produced by the reactor.

Producing power at more than its market value is not a smart way to pay off the capital cost of the facility. It just hides the costs in the overcharge to the utility customers.

A study by Phillip Lusk, referred to by others here, shows a cumulative loss to City Light of about $100 million over the past 17 years.

Every dollar wasted on overpriced nuclear power takes money and time away from better alternatives that are available right now, such as our state’s plentiful resources of solar and wind.

Seattle’s City Council and utility were instrumental in stopping the construction of WPPSS 4 and 5. WPPSS 1 and 3 died of their own economic weight, but it took longer, and we’ll still be paying for them for years to come. Now, it’s time to see some bold leadership here to stop the wasteful operation of WPPSS 2, the last of the failed legacy of WPPSS and Bonneville.

Roger Lippman


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