Yesterday the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) voted to give Southern Company a combined operating license for two new nuclear reactors at the Vogtle plant site in Georgia. This is the first of a new generation of nuclear reactors to be licensed by the NRC. The NRC vote on the new nukes at Vogtle was 4 to 1 with the NRC’s Chairman dissenting.
It’s not often that Greenpeace agrees with the NRC Chairman. But Chairman Jaczko was right to dissent. Neither the NRC nor the nuclear industry has yet addressed the lessons learned from Fukushima. Without a “binding commitment” to do so from Southern Co. they should not have been granted a license.
The Chairman’s vote reflects the post Fukushima reality. US reactors are not designed to deal with a meltdown and need years work to make them less dangerous. As former NRC Commissioner Victor Gilinsky wrote in the NY Times, government regulators thought a meltdown was impossible. They were wrong.
Rather than expand the use of this dangerous and stupidly expensive technology, our government should stop subsidizing nuclear corporations’ bad investments and instead develop plans to phase out nuclear power and better secure the deadly radioactive wastes. As former Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, “We should aim for a society that can function without nuclear energy.”
Sadly, the federal government is putting the American taxpayer on the hook for billions of dollars to build new nuclear reactors that corporations would never risk building themselves. They have ignored the warnings of default from the non partisan Congressional Budget Office and the warnings from Wall Street that nuclear power is a “bet the farm” risk.
Once again the federal government is providing bailouts for corporations while sticking taxpayers with the tab. New nuclear power is an economic meltdown waiting to happen and the American taxpayer is on the hook for the financial fallout.
You can read more of Greenpeace’s views on the expansion of nuclear power in U.S. News & World Report’s Debate Room