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Costs are killing the USA nuclear industry

 ”nuclear power is neither affordable nor worth the risk….. the very different natures of nuclear disaster versus coal pollution rightly makes people worried.

Expert: Nuclear Power Is On Its Deathbed A new report from a University of Vermont researcher says the cost of the safety measures needed for nuclear energy will eventually make the power source economically unviable USA News, By JASON KOEBLER March 30, 2012   After the Fukushima power plant disaster in Japan last year, the rising costs of nuclear energy could deliver a knockout punch to its future use in the United States, according to a researcher at the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment.

“From my point of view, the fundamental nature of [nuclear] technology suggests that the future will be as clouded as the past,” says Mark Cooper, the author of the report. New safety regulations enacted or
being considered by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission would push
the cost of nuclear energy too high to be economically competitive.

The disaster insurance for nuclear power plants in the United States
is currently underwritten by the federal government, Cooper says.
Without that safeguard, “nuclear power is neither affordable nor worth
the risk. If the owners and operators of nuclear reactors had to face
the full liability of a Fukushima-style nuclear accident or go
head-to-head with alternatives in a truly competitive marketplace,
unfettered by subsidies, no one would have built a nuclear reactor in
the past, no one would build one today, and anyone who owns a reactor
would exit the nuclear business as quickly as possible.”

That government backing of nuclear energy is starting to change after
the Fukushima meltdown. Even the staunchest nuclear advocates say that
with new technologies, nuclear power can always be made safer, but
nothing can offer a guarantee against a plant meltdown.

“In the wake of a severe nuclear accident like Fukushima, the
attention of policymakers, regulators, and the public is riveted on
the issue of nuclear safety,” the report says. “The scrutiny is so
intense that it seems like the only thing that matters about nuclear
reactors is their safety.”…

according to a report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, 80 percent
of America’s nuclear reactors are vulnerable to at least one of the
factors involved in the Fukushima disaster, including vulnerability to
earthquakes, fire hazard and elevated spent fuel.

Retrofitting existing reactors with the latest safety equipment is
extremely expensive, Cooper says.

“Regardless of what Congress does, the NRC has put on the table very
serious and important changes in how we look at safety after
Fukushima,” Cooper says. “There was one permit [for a new reactor]
issued recently, and there’s a second one expected in the near future.
Frankly, that’s about it. I don’t see any other reactors moving
forward. The economics are so unfriendly that I don’t think the rest
of the [proposals] are very active.”….
Cooper says the very different natures of nuclear disaster versus coal
pollution rightly makes people worried.

“Sometimes the industry says ‘If people understood it better, they
wouldn’t be as concerned,’” he says. “It’s a different kind of
disaster, and the industry has to start accepting it is different.
There’s a very wide impact in the aftermath of a nuclear
disaster—you’ve got large dead zones, large exclusion zones. These
problems you create, they strike a chord in human beings that is very
deep-seeded and real. It’s the nature of the technology.”

March 31, 2012 - Posted by | business and costs, USA

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