Reasons to be Cheerful (part 2)

Washington Post

Washington Post

30 years ago today, on March 28, 1979, roughly 25,000 people lived within five miles of the giant cooling towers that became symbols of the nation’s worst commercial nuclear accident.

So quickly have people forgotten. The reactor was so badly damaged that it has never been restarted. It sits there as a silent memorial to the dangers of nuclear power. And now we have many people calling once more for nuclear power plants to be commissioned – your very own ticking time-bomb, in someone else’s backyard.

Some quick facts before we all get too carried away. A typical nuclear plant could cost up to $16 billion. Electricity utilities have applied to build 26 of them. Now I know that $416 billion doesn’t sound like a lot in these TARP days. But, that sort of money would buy a lot of wind, sun, tidal and geothermal power facilities.

Maybe the biggest concern with nuclear power should be its consumption of water. The electric-power industry already accounts for half of all water withdrawals in the U.S. They might soon be joining oil companies who have been buying up water rights here in the West. Gosh knows, they’ll need it since nuclear plants require more water than other form of power plant. Virginia Power, for instance, has water rights to draw one million gallons of water a minute per reactor. Some nuclear plants require twice that. It could be a case of “Water, water, every where, Nor any drop to drink!”

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