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Nuclear is Not the Answer to our Energy Needs

Indian Point

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Riverkeeper responds to Congressman Gibson’s plans for new nukes in NY

The nuclear power industry is desperate to salvage what’s left of the “nuclear renaissance” it was touting before the recession hit, and the new majority in the House is eager to support new nuclear projects.

Riverkeeper has three major concerns – first, new nuclear plants will produce nuclear waste that is highly toxic for thousands of years without a permanent solution to disposing of it. Virtually all the toxic nuclear waste produced by the U.S.’s 103 reactors is stored at the reactor sites, in water filled pools and “dry casks”. At Indian Point, two of these pools leaked radioactive water into the environment, contaminating the groundwater under the plant and leaching into the Hudson River. Indian Point already has 1,500 tons of waste stored onsite, and if it keeps operating for 20 more years, another 1,000 tons will be produced. It defies common sense to keep producing toxic waste without a plan to dispose of it, whether you’re talking about existing nuclear plants like Indian Point or new plants on the drawing board.

Second, we disagree with the federal government’s billions of dollars in loan guarantees and subsidies for new nuclear plants – without these federal guarantees, private financial firms will not take the risk of funding new nukes because they are prone to ridiculously long construction delays and cost overruns. We think the feds should re-allocate those billions to renewable energy research, so that wind, solar, and tidal power can get the support they need to become more of a permanent alternative to fossil fuel and nuclear plants. In order to do that, we need innovation in fuel cell and other storage technologies, so that the excess power generated by wind and solar can be stored until it’s needed. Let’s put the money where it will produce the biggest benefit – we believe innovation in renewables makes more sense than continuing to subsidize the nuclear industry.

Third, Riverkeeper disagrees with the notion that nuclear is “clean, green” power. The fuel that powers nuclear reactors is based on uranium, which must be mined and processed into fuel pellets. This is an energy intensive and polluting process that generates its own greenhouse gases – check out Amory Lovins’ piece on why nuclear is not the “green” answer to climate change, at:

See also, Environmental Groups Raise New Challenge to Indian Point Nuclear Waste Storage in NRC Relicensing Case.

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