The gathering concern about our dependence on fossil fuels for electric power generation causes legislators to re-examine the use of nuclear power. At present there are 104 commercial reactors at 65 nuclear plants in the US. With no new plants for thirty years, in February President Obama announced $8.33 billion government loan guarantees for the construction and operation of two new nuclear reactors at a power plant in Georgia. In the negotiations for a federal energy bill there have been proposals for twenty new nuclear plants.
Locally, the push for new nuclear plants is of interest to the Pittsburgh region because of the presence of Toshiba-owned Westinghouse Electric Company headquarters in Cranberry.
The following is an explanation of the Sierra Club’s position on nuclear energy:
“Although nuclear power produces less CO2 than fossil alternatives, nuclear power is not safe, affordable, or clean with currently available technology and practice. Mining uranium risks workers’ health and creates toxic residues. All current plant designs are complex, prone to accidents and have severe security vulnerabilities. Nuclear waste transportation, storage and disposal problems remain unsolved. The industry is heavily subsidized by public payments, incentives and liability shielding everywhere it operates, dependencies that dramatically increased in the 2005 Energy Policy Act. The nuclear fuel cycle increases weapons proliferation and risk among nations and non-state entities.
The Sierra Club will continue to oppose nuclear power unless these deficiencies are eliminated. While it is possible that a different approach to nuclear power might substantially address these issues, the likelihood is remote given the decades of research and investment already made. Clean energy resources are sufficient to address climate change and are cheaper than nuclear power. In addition, the huge investment to bring additional nuclear facilities online would siphon capital from much more cost-effective uses of financial resources, especially investments in efficiency.”