[ RadSafe ] Sen Frist calls for nuclear power
jimm at WPI.EDU
Mon Nov 14 22:24:24 CST 2005
This is from today's Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Regards, Jim Muckerheide
ajc.com > Opinion
Put aside fears; seize its potential
By BILL FRIST
Published on: 11/14/05
Sometime in the next five years, if all goes according to plan, construction
workers will turn over the first spades of dirt for the foundations of a new
nuclear power plant. It will be a day America has awaited for far too long.
Meeting our energy needs in a cost-effective way while reducing our dangerous
dependence on foreign oil requires that we end the country's long nuclear
We're already paying the price for a burdensome regulatory process that has
prevented utilities from ordering a single new nuclear power plant in more
than 30 years. In part because we lack new energy generation capacity, metro
Atlanta residents will see their winter energy costs soar 56 percent this
coming winter. And this may only be the beginning.
Without nuclear power we will likely face another energy crisis. The federal
government's forthcoming official 30-year energy forecast, indeed, will
assume that we're going to build another six gigawatts of generating capacity
- roughly six new reactors. In July, furthermore, Congress passed legislation
that will provide utilities with incentives to build new nuclear facilities.
That will be a good start. Our 103 existing power plants have an exemplary
safety record and make the air cleaner. While nobody has firm intentions to
build another plant, three groups of utilities have begun serious planning
and the Bush administration has committed itself to making sure that at least
one reactor breaks ground by 2010. The groundbreaking might happen in
Georgia. The Vogtle power station near Waynesboro, where two reactors already
supply about 13 percent of the state's power, ranks among the most likely
sites for a new reactor.
The rebirth of nuclear power will mean changed attitudes, cleaner air and
greater energy independence.
The fact is that many fears about nuclear power in this country are
unfounded. Nuclear power plants have a sound safety record. Even when nearly
everything went wrong at Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island plant in 1979, no
injuries resulted and property damage remained confined to the plant itself.
A serious accident at the Soviet-designed reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine
killed scores of people and rendered about 20 square miles of land
uninhabitable; but the reactor's design, operation and construction bears no
resemblance to anything that's ever been built to generate commercial power
in the developed world.
While no system can be absolutely perfect, the reactor designs that power
companies will build in the coming years will make mishaps like Three Mile
Island's far less likely. Similar to air bags in a car, safety mechanisms
will deploy even when everything else goes wrong.
And nuclear power will yield enormous benefits. Other than hydroelectric
power, which we've already fully exploited in the United States, nuclear
power is the only practical way to generate electricity that doesn't cause
air pollution. Building one typical nuclear power plant reduces air pollution
as much as taking almost a million and a half cars off the road.
Even better, the raw material that nuclear power plants run on - Uranium-235
- is common in the United States. Nuclear power can be a major building block
in a comprehensive energy independence strategy.
The United States, indeed, can no longer afford to ignore such a promising
source of energy. Nuclear power is safe. It will make the air cleaner. And it
will provide the energy our economy needs.
- U.S. Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) is Senate majority leader.
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