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Letter: Nuclear energy is too expensive to matter

The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition describes itself as “a national grassroots organization that supports the increased use of nuclear energy to ensure an affordable, environmentally clean, reliable and safe supply of electricity.” The Union of Concerned Scientists says CASE was “founded and is solely funded by the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry trade association.” In addition to Concord Mayor Jim Bouley, new CASE members include a Lockheed Martin director and an Anheuser Busch VP. Other members of this “grassroots organization” include corporations that build and operate nuclear power plants.

Bouley’s point, that nukes “must remain a topic of our region’s energy discussion” (Monitor Forum, Aug. 3) is well taken. But before we accept industry P.R. at face value, a reality check is in order.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013, released last month, is a good reference. Writing in the foreword, former Nuclear Regulatory commissioner Peter Bradford says the promise of a nuclear renaissance was “hard to resist” just a few years ago, when 31 applications for new reactors were pending at the NRC. “It is all in ruins now,” says Bradford, now on the faculty at Vermont Law School. “The 31 proposed reactors are down to four actually being built and a few others lingering on in search of a license, which is good for 20 years. . . . Operating reactors are being closed as uneconomic for the first time in 15 years.” Once touted as “too cheap to meter,” nuclear energy is now too expensive to matter. We need to look elsewhere for alternatives to fossil fuels.

ARNIE ALPERT

Canterbury

Legacy Comments5

to be educated the readers should google ITER in France - 36 Nations are collaborating on the worlds solution to abundant clean energy

Thats a big if, one heck of a dice roll. The former Soviet Union never thought it would happen, but Chernobyl is their reality check. And Japan, a place we all think of as an example of doing high tech right, has their own reality check. More than 1 actually. The lesson is, yes it CAN happen here. 3 Mile Island SHOULD be the dodged bullet we learn our lesson from, but no. Industry money stuffed in to the pockets of politicians wins out over reality. If this country had any sense at all we'd be doing all we can to get all nukes off the grid.

The main problem with nuclear energy is the fear the subject brings up (think Hiroshima, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl). Few, if any, think of nuclear powered aircraft and submarines, which have been accident free since inception. Now, if that same naval nuclear technology could be brought forth, such as modular nuclear power plants, a source of power that works day and night, wind, or no, and no aerial pollution. WOW.

There are and never were any nuclear powered airplanes. (They tried.) There have been fatal nuclear accidents aboard nuclear submarines. Scaling up naval reactors is not simply a matter of making them bigger. No modular reactors have been built and regardless of any technical problems they might present, they lose economies of scale. (They'd be more expensive per MW.) Nuclear energy is not and never will be completely safe, but it will always present the possibility of catastrophe.

I seem to have left of the word 'carriers' after 'aircraft'. Nope, never were any nuclear aircraft. However, my point is that nuclear reactors which don't use superheated steam pose far less threat of nuclear release. AND, unless new technology is used for power plants, before global warming requires burning fossil fuels to power air conditioners, we may keep increasing atmospheric CO2 until it is irreversible. Not a health prospect for the next human generation.

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