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Questioning whether nuclear energy can truly be classified as “clean”

OF NUCLEAR INTEREST: Proposed clean energy updates, Wicked Local Plymouth, 9 Aug 17,  Last year, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection proposed adding six new regulations as well as amendments to existing regulations designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the commonwealth……

One of the six updates that may be of particular interest to South Shore residents is the Clean Energy Standard. The CES essentially requires sellers of electricity to purchase increasing amounts of “clean” energy for use by their customers, and is designed to increase the percentage of electricity sold to consumers that is generated by clean energy sources.
Which generators qualify as a “clean energy source,” according to the CES? As written, eligibility is determined using an emissions-based threshold and is limited to generators built after 2010. This includes large hydroelectric generators, nuclear power plants, and certain fossil fuel plants.

While we commend the state’s efforts to promote energy efficiency and clean energy, we strongly believe that clean energy sources need to be defined, not just by emissions in Massachusetts, but the total impact caused by the technology. This is especially true for environmental impacts, including associated pollution with mining and operations, pipeline emissions, and ultimate transportation and management of waste products.

Nuclear waste in Massachusetts, for example, is currently stranded on the Cape Cod Bay shoreline with no repository or solution in sight. This exceptionally dangerous waste will remain a threat for hundreds of thousands of years, and dealing with it over time requires enormous investment in energy for transport, security, and problem solving. Not exactly the definition of “clean.”……

MassDEP is scheduled to announce final regulations this month. Let’s hope that Massachusetts stays the course, and older nuclear plants are not eligible under the CES. Such an action would divert credits and incentive away from truly clean energy advancement and technologies, and shackle our region to serious and unresolved problems for years to come.

Karen Vale-Vasilev manages Jones River Watershed Association’s (JRWA) Cape Cod Bay Watch program. JRWA has its offices on the banks of the river in Kingston, eight miles from Pilgrim.


August 11, 2017 - Posted by | environment, USA

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