When smooth nuke power promoter Don Gillespie hit the airwaves and pages of the local media with plans for an electricity generating nuclear plant near Bruneau along the Snake River, he didn’t spark much opposition—especially since Jeremy Maxand rolled out of the Snake River Alliance office for greener pastures.
With potential cooling towers on the horizon west of Boise near Payette, the nuclear battle is about to generate steam—especially since opponents are claiming citizens will pay for costly insurance and give investors a financial pass in the event of a Three Mile Island or China Syndrome event. AND the prime benefactor will be those pesky Californians who gobble up kilowatts made in Idaho…a new twist on “Buy Idaho?”
A GUARDIAN GUEST POST
By Jo Kirkpatrick, PhD
Anthropologist and Researcher
A proposed nuclear power plant being studied, northwest of Boise in Payette by Pacificorp would be upwind of Boise. Its radioactive emissions would travel directly toward the city.
If built, it could be Idaho’s third nuke plant, after the Bruneau proposal and a commercial nuclear power plant already scheduled for the Idaho National Lab. Currently there are no commercial nuclear generating facilities in the state, despite a bunch of reactors at the 800 square mile National Lab near Arco.
These private merchant plants sell to the highest bidders, so unless Idaho out-pays California (not likely), all this power can be sold out of state while our citizens pay the price of living near the plants. Nuclear power, contrary to Gillespie’s line, is the most expensive form of energy generation, with taxpayers paying the price of magnanimous subsidies, backed by the DOE and paid for by fat-wallet energy lobbies in Congress.
Here are some facts:
–Nuclear power, contrary to Gillespie’s line, is THE most expensive form of energy generation. Because of the Price Anderson Act, severe accidents are insured by the US government, by us, the taxpayers. The industry does not have to buy big accident insurance. This is a gigantic subsidy. Remember Three Mile Island? Here are the facts about the Price Anderson Act:
–Limited Liability: The Price-Anderson Act, enacted in 1957 as a temporary, 10-year measure to support the fledgling nuclear industry, limits the amount of primary insurance that nuclear operators must carry to $300 million and caps the total liability of nuclear operators in the event of a serious accident or attack to $10.5 billion. A serious nuclear accident, either caused by plant defects, or by a terrorist attack, could cost more than $600 billion in 2004 dollars, (much more today). Boise and all neighboring areas banned from habitation could not be replaced, nor the cancers caused by such an event, cured.
–That Act was renewed through 2025. Today, the nuclear industry claims new designs are “inherently safe.” Inherently safe, then, should mean inherently insurable; therefore, nuclear operators should be required to privately insure them.
–Another grand subsidy not found for any other type of energy generation to date except nuclear is the 2005 Energy Bill. It awarded taxpayer backing up to 80% of nuclear plant development with loan guarantees as well. See, for ex., this website page, “H.R.6, The Energy Policy Act of 2005”, for nuclear TAXPAYER GIVEAWAYS . The list on this page of subsidies is very long and the money is huge. The current energy bill is retaining these subsidies and adds more.
–Two other basic arguments against dotting the landscape with nukes: First, these plants are not “green” nor are they “clean” because they cannot be protected against aerial terrorist attacks—they are sitting ducks. A serious terrorist attack would spread radioactivity all over the state of Idaho and into all neighboring states. Second, the nuclear industry has not solved the problem of how to store or dispose of ionizing radioactive waste. Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada has seen to it that the Yucca Mountain Site, designated to store spent fuel rods’ ionizing rad-waste, doesn’t open because the citizens of Nevada don’t want this perilous repository in their midst. We should not be producing any more deadly radioactive waste for which there are no safe disposal solutions. Our citizens deserve truly green and clean energy development that is safe: wind, geothermal, and solar. The resources for developing these in Idaho are plentiful and a lot cheaper, and safer, than operating a nuclear power plant.
Idaho needs to learn more about the real costs and dangers of nuke power in Idaho. I recommend this recent book: Brice Smith. Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change. (Paper) RDR Books, 2006.
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