There's been a moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power stations for many years, and for many damned good reasons. Those reasons range from safety to economics with many environmental concerns in between, and are (mostly) based on numerous in-depth and qualified studies that had/have our best interests at heart.
Advocates of nuclear power have devoted a great deal of time and money trying to pick apart these solid and scientific arguments, while refusing to address the issues that really matter. These efforts have been mostly in vain for the past few decades, but recent developments exposing the dangers of fossil fuels have given this industry a new, stronger argument and position than they could have dreamed possible.
But we can't allow ourselves to be lulled into complacency and fatalism by their siren-song, and we absolutely positively cannot allow them to operate in the shadows. From NCWARN:
Federal regulators abruptly halted a public meeting Thursday after problems arose with Progress Energy’s application for new nuclear plants, then continued private discussions with company officials. Watchdog group NC WARN said the move violates federal policy, and today asked Rep. David Price to help ensure that all future meetings are held in the Triangle area, near the Harris plant.
The charge against NRC comes amid widespread criticism that the review process for proposed new reactors is heavily slanted against open involvement by public interest groups, or local and state governments. Thursday’s session was the first scheduled discussion of the technical aspects of Progress’ February 19th application, which is thousands of pages long.
The nuke industry has shielded their missteps from the public for years, very often citing "security" issues. Frankly, we've allowed them to get away with this virtually unchallenged for years. Whether it's because we "just don't want to know" or because of some sinister conspiracy to keep us ignorant (or both), we have to put a stop to this.
In a letter sent today to NRC, attorney John Runkle explained, “You essentially went into ‘closed session’ after some tough questions from the NRC staff that lengthy discussions did not resolve. Representatives from Progress Energy were the ones to suggest that issues be resolved ‘after the meeting.’ Nothing being discussed was proprietary or safeguards-related, so all of the meeting should have been public.”
The problems discussed involved site geology and the availability of cooling water. In the letter, Runkle insisted that NRC send him a recording or staff notes of the private meeting with Progress.
That's right, water. We don't have nearly enough of it, and nukes need/use a hell of a lot of it. We can conserve like crazy at home and at work, but these 9 billion dollar monsters will suck up every drop of that and need more. Much more.
In closing, I give you Jim Warren, who is (once again) leading the fight to do what's right:
“This is an early warning sign for the so-called Nuclear Revival,” said NC WARN’s Jim Warren today. “For Progress Energy to already be dodging difficult issues – until the doors are closed doors – does not bode well for the chance of completing a new design reactor safely or on budget. He noted that cost estimates for new plants have tripled in the past two years, and that project delays or cancellations are likely. In the 1980s, Progress and other utilities cancelled 60 plants in midstream due to what Forbes magazine called “the worst managerial disaster in business history.”
In seeking Rep. Price’s help, NC WARN noted that just last month, he criticized the NRC following a report by the agency’s Inspector General showing that Harris and 14 other plants have been in violation of fire safety regulations for 15 years. In a February 15th letter to NRC Chairman Dale Klein, Price said “… it seems clear that the agency’s credibility in the eyes of the public has been severely damaged,” and he urged Klein to spare no effort to demonstrate “that its actions are fully transparent.”
“The process is already rigged against the public,” Jim Warren added today. “We can’t tolerate any more secrecy. The NRC needs to come have these discussions in the vicinity of Shearon Harris – in front of the impacted population and news media – not behind closed doors in Rockville, Maryland.”