It is pretty depressing that 29 years after Three Mile Island and 22 after Chernobyl, the nuclear industry has recouped its propaganda losses to the point that both candidates are obliged to pay lip service to the oxymoron of “safe nuclear power.” McCain is gung-ho for nukes, calling for building 45 new reactors over the next 30 years. Obama‘s support is more equivocal—he said June 20 that nuclear power is an option worth pursuing, while adding the caveat: “I don’t think that nuclear power is a panacea.” (Reuters, June 20)
McCain pitches nuclear power as a necessity to reduce greenhouse gases. (VOA, June 23) How convenient that Exxon is a top uranium supplier. (Locations of Uranium Milling Facilities, Nuclear Regulatory Commission) Despite some worrying signs, the same problems of massive cost and time overruns, general inefficiency and (with luck) citizen opposition will probably ensure that the long-awaited “nuclear renewal” remains an empty dream.
Meanwhile, activists in New York state are still trying to get the Indian Point nuclear plant—one of the nation’s oldest—closed, with post-9-11 safety concerns still mounting. In the latest embarrassment for plant owner Entergy, five out of 167 sirens failed in a test of the plant’s warning system June 23. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has fined Entergy $780,000 for missing deadlines to install the new siren system. (AP, June 23)
New Orleans-based Entergy is petitioning New York’s Public Service Commission to allow the spin-off of Indian Point to a stand-alone company. Opponents say the plan would enrich Entergy and its stockholders at the expense of New York consumers while allowing the company to avoid responsibility and liability for the plant. (AP, May 20) Entergy is also petitioning the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission for renewal of the plant’s license. The current licenses for the plant’s functioning reactors 2 and 3 expire in 2013 and 2015 respectively. (Mid-Hudson News Network, June 19)