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NRC to Suspend Nuclear Plant Licensing; Kucinich: Are we are witnessing the end of nuclear?


From Dennis Kucinich

Washington D.C.(August 8, 2012) – Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) who has led the effort in Congress to ensure the safety of nuclear power plants, today issued the following statement after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced it will suspend licensing and relicensing of nuclear power plants until the NRC can find a way to deal with nuclear waste disposal.

“We have had half a century to find a good solution to the problem of nuclear waste, and we are no closer now than we were in the 1960s. That is because there is no ‘good solution.’ We will never be able to find a risk-free method of storing nuclear waste.

“In the 1960s, there was an economic justification proposed for trying to find a solution. We thought nuclear power could be produced at a cost that was ‘too cheap to meter.’  ‘Too cheap to meter’ has become too ‘expensive to use.’ We thought nuclear reactors could be built on schedule and on budget, yet cost overruns exposed ratepayers to huge losses. We thought nuclear accidents could be avoided by design and operation precautions or, at the very least, could be contained. Yet the Fukushima disaster has shown the risks inherent in nuclear energy production.

“Over the last half century we have learned that all those rosy assumptions were false. Today, there is no economic justification for nuclear power. Wall Street and banks have turned away from nuclear power plants. Not even proposed, massive government loan guarantees could change the economics. The price of natural gas has fallen so far that nuclear industry CEOs have admitted that new nuclear reactors can not be competitive. And the price of electricity produced by wind and solar power is dropping every day. On-shore wind can now produce electricity at a rate that is competitive with coal, and solar power will be there soon.

“We should not be wasting money on extremely expensive nuclear reactors. We should not be taking chances on re-licensing the aging reactors that already exist. Germany has recognized the danger inherent in nuclear energy production and is closing down all its nuclear reactors. Like Germany, we should be using our scarce resources to maximize wind and solar energy, which have no ‘waste’ problems.”

As a member of the Ohio Senate, Congressman Kucinich was instrumental in blocking the site of nuclear waste dump in Ohio. Spent nuclear fuel from Iowa, Indiana, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Missouri would have been shipped to Ohio under the proposal that Kucinich helped defeat. As a Member of Congress, Kucinich has strongly opposed establishing a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, citing the danger posed by the frequent shipping of spent nuclear fuel on our nation’s highway.

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What Germany is doing sounds GREAT, and all countries should do the same thing, for those that have nuclear industry. But, and with that said, isn't suspending the "licensing and relicensing of nuclear power plants until the NRC can find a way to deal with nuclear waste disposal" better than what we've had so far?  After all, like Kucinich said, it's hasn't been possible to do that for a half century. So, it's very improbable for the NRC to finally find solutions other than suspending the "licensing and relicensing of nuclear power plants".

I don't know how often they're relicensed though. If it isn't on a yearly basis, but rather every decade, f.e., then recently licensed or relicensed plants won't be stopped before a long period of time; unless all of the licences are immediately terminated. If the licensing and relicensing is yearly, then they'll all stop operating very soon. If I understand correctly, then licensing is for new plants and relicensing is for plants that've already been licensed and operating for some period of time. Not issuing new licenses would therefore mean no new plants will be constructed or operated. And I hope that relicensing had to be done ... like yearly.

Kucinich proposes the ideal solution, but I have an impression that what the NRC is proposing is better than nothing.  Since Wall Street and banks have turned away from nuclear-generated power though, Washington should therefore have incentive to just do as Germany's doing.

It's good to learn that Kucinich stopped the plan for dumping nuclear waste in Ohio. That's definitely good news.

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