By Harvey Wasserman
s the nuke power industry slumps toward oblivion, two huge reactors are shutting in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.
The shutdowns are a body blow to atomic energy. The soaring costs of the decayed US reactor fleet have forced them to beg gerrymandered state legislatures for huge bailouts.
Just two US reactors are still being built. Stuffed with $12 billion in interest-free federal loans, Georgia’s Vogtle is nearing a staggering $30 billion in cost. Years behind schedule, the lowest possible costs of whatever electricity the two reactors there might produce already far exceed wind and solar.
Virtually none of the 98 US reactors now operating can compete with wind, solar, or methane. All but one are more than twenty years old, with serious issues of obsolescence and decay; some are more than forty, operating far behind their original design life.
Designed in the 1960s, FirstEnergy’s Davis-Besse opened near Toledo in 1977. A serious accident presaged the 1979 meltdown at its doomed clone, Three Mile Island Unit Two.
In 2002, boric acid ate Davis-Besse’s infamous “hole in the head” to within an inch of irradiating the entire Great Lakes and north coast.
The leaks are still an issue. But Davis-Besse’s owners sawed off the top of an abandoned Michigan nuke, cut through the containment building, and pasted it into the damaged reactor. The radioactive shield building is crumbling along with the rest of the nuke, from top to bottom.
East of Cleveland, Perry opened in 1986, just after the first earthquake that damaged a US nuke. To this day, no operators have been forced to run a reactor caught amidst a seismic shaking.
[…]FirstEnergy burns huge quantities of gas, oil, and coal but hypes its “emissions free” nukes that spew Carbon 14, heat, and radiation. The industry does not want to mention or pay for its thousands of tons of radioactive waste.
Such details are loudly overlooked by a mutant choir trumpeting nukes as “zero emission.” All reactors spew deadly isotopes along with climate-killing heat and some Carbon 14. They stand in the way of the wind, solar, batteries, and LED efficiency that comprise our only route to saving the climate.