TVA nuclear – will it ever end?
March 25, 2013
In a one syllable word, “no” and that is by choice and not by chance. Although chances are that there never will be a disaster like the tsunami that crippled Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission continues to use it as a benchmark for safer nuclear plant construction and operation.
Does this mean lower cost of operations? Of course not, increases in these costs making our nuclear reactors safer have multiplied construction and maintenance costs by ten or more in some cases. The Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant in Omaha, Nebraska that was inundated by Missouri River floodwaters several years ago may never become operational again. Even so, the danger of the nuclear fuel or fuel waste will last a thousand years.
Nuclear proponents fail to mention long-term peripheral costs, just the costs of construction and operational maintenance. The upshot of it is that nuclear power is more costly than any present energy source including solar, wind, biodegradable, coal, natural gas, or hydro.
Nuclear “kicks the gas can down the road” for 500 generations and we unwisely leave those costs to them. Nuclear still incorrectly is considered the cheapest form of energy.
TVA over and again has proved how much more nuclear energy costs by a $20 billion debt owed by TVA (oops, I mean (ratepayer’s) for failed nuclear fits and starts began 30 or 40 years ago. And the question must be asked, “If nuclear is so cheap, why hasn’t industry picked up the subsidy slack and started building them for profit?” Nuclear simply is a poor risk that investors avoid.
The risk is not contained in a risk/reward equation alone; the danger to humans is constant and subject to becoming more dangerous at any moment for a thousand years. Somehow the so-called cheap electricity never comes; cooling water is too hot, disposal of fuel wastes, a problem for 50 years, never has been resolved and we seem no closer to the answer than at the start; repairs get more expensive and more extensive to make reactors safer. The nuclear danger is never farther than a moment away. Can generations of humans be relied on to never make a mistake or to keep an ever-watchful eye on our nuclear disasters in the making?
TVA should be moving like Germany toward the complete cessation of the manufacture of nuclear energy. Maybe in some future year the nuclear waste problem will be solved. All we are doing now is exacerbating the problem by adding more and more ever potent waste.
Nevertheless, nuclear disasters will come as sure as this is written and the sun rises tomorrow. We have to stop fooling ourselves that nuclear is cheap and safe when it is just the opposite.