Written by Arnie Gundersen
Since early 2019 we’ve been hearing about the Green New Deal, a program that did not initially include nuclear power. Then suddenly, after an extensive lobbying effort by the atomic power industry, we heard: Ocasio-Cortez: Green New Deal ‘Leaves the Door Open’ on Nuclear.
How Green are the atomic power reactors proposed by the nuclear power industry? Fairewinds has produced a two minute animation showing that carbon reduction via atomic power reactors is a nuclear industry marketing ploy.
Let’s look at the history of atomic power and the way governments and the atomic weapons and power industries have worked together to promote nuclear power. Nuclear physicists discovered the nuclear chain reaction in 1938, and power has been produced using the atom since the 1940’s beginning with the Manhattan Project for the creation of the atomic bomb. Splitting the atom and creating nuclear weapons and power are old technologies that began more than 80 years ago! During that 80-year timespan, Americans and ratepayers in other capitalist countries were told that using nuclear power as a source of electricity would be “too cheap to meter” if taxpayers would only subsidize more research.
Now we see impending financial collapse of almost all of the US nuclear power plants due to green energy! Solar, wind, wave, battery storage, and even newer technologies have proved that electricity can be created anywhere in the world in a manner that creates jobs, saves billions of dollars, and makes the air we breathe, the food we eat, and the water we drink much safer for all of us.
Instead of admitting nukes cannot compete with renewable energy, the atomic industrial complex is now proposing dozens of new designs that it claims on paper will compete in timeliness to successfully impact the growing climate crisis, including atomic reactors utilizing thorium and molten salt and new designs like Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), Micro-reactors, Traveling Wave, etc. Once again, the atomic power industry, which is the handmaiden to the nuclear weapons manufacturers, is sending lobbyists to convince your Congressional representatives that the atomic future will be different than the past. Lobbyists now claim that society will be so much better off when taxpayer funds bail out the aged, dangerous, and non-performing nukes and if the atomic power and weapons lobbies are given even more research subsidies.
Since the early 1960s there have been 250 applications to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and its precursor the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) to generate electricity for profit using atomic power reactors. None of these 250 proposed atomic reactors have been built on time or within budget. You did not misread; truly, every single proposed nuke went millions and then billions of dollars over budget and have started generating electricity years later if at all.
If a baseball player was at bat 250 times and struck out 250 times, would he still be playing baseball? Yet, the atomic lobbyists marketing nuclear power want us to pay them for more chances to use our money and strike out one more time.
Renewables, storage and conservation already have a well-proven track-record of lower costs, more jobs, and environmental compatibility than any of these newly imagined nukes will ever have – I say newly imagined because I have spent my career life as a nuclear engineer. When I first began my career, I drank the Kool-Aid and believed that nuclear power reactors were the solution to the world’s energy shortages and that atomic power created from the same technology as the atomic bomb was as safe as the nuke power industry claimed. As the 5 commercial meltdowns during the last 40-years have proved, especially the 3 major meltdowns that included explosions at Fukushima, nuclear power is simply not a safe method of generating electricity. The impact of the devastation from three simultaneous meltdowns at Fukushima Daiichi to the social culture, environmental legacy, personal health, and financial welfare of Japan in 2011 is not a legacy that should be passed onto future generations.
Why then is the US Congress, including AOC – one of the brightest members of this new Congress and the creator of the Green New Deal (#GND) – “leaving the door open" for the same old atomic power marketing ploys? For more than 80-years, we have witnessed the economic failure, ratepayer bailouts, subsidized atomic meltdown insurance, and actual catastrophic meltdowns.
When will they ever learn?
Leaving the door open??? Say it ain’t so, #Ocasio!