Enviro Nuclear: Maybe Not Such a Great Idea
posted by January 25 at 11:57 AMon
As the Washington Post reported yesterday (via Grist), drought conditions produced by climate change could force nuclear power plants to scale back or shut down later this year, “because drought is drying up the rivers and lakes that supply power plants with the awesome amounts of cooling water they need to operate.” Of the nation’s 104 nuclear reactors, 24 are located in areas experiencing the most severe levels of drought, and all but two are located on lakes or rivers, relying on submerged pipes to draw billions of gallons of water for cooling and condensing steam. If the plants do shut down, replacement power will cost ten times as much as nuclear. Nuclear plants are not designed for the wear and tear of repeatedly stopping and starting. Whatever you think of nuclear power, it’ll be pretty hard to argue that it’s a panacea for climate change if, you know, it doesn’t work.
Where are the two major Democratic candidates on nuclear power? Obama supports continued use of nuclear power; his sixth biggest contributor is a company called Exelon, which owns and operates more nuclear plants than any other company. Although Clinton has said she’s “agnostic” about nuclear, she is also on the record as being “very skeptical that nuclear could become acceptable in most regions of the country, and I am doubtful that we have yet figured out how to deal with the waste,” adding, “we should not be putting a heavy emphasis on nuclear.”