Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Response to Marie's Nuclear Response: A Couple More Thoughts

Not sure if this response is "legal," from a blog etiquette perspective, but here goes:

Fair points, as always, Marie, but I respectfully disagree.

First, as Jerry Taylor, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute noted in 2006, "It's not as if Greenpeace killed the industry. Guys in pinstripe suits on Wall Street killed the industry." Construction costs are still very high, regardless of the new nuclear technology.

Second, another cost has increased, not decreased: waste disposal. It is not likely siting will be easy, and if there is no place to put nuclear waste, I can't see the investment being worthwhile. I simply can't imagine the NRC granting an operating permit until a plan for disposal of the new nuclear waste is in place. As an example, consider the French, who “love” nuclear energy, yet are still facing a similar problem:

Nuclear waste is an enormously difficult political problem which to date no country has solved. It is, in a sense, the Achilles heel of the nuclear industry. Could this issue strike down France's uniquely successful nuclear program? France's politicians and technocrats are in no doubt. If France is unable to solve this issue . . . then "I do not see how we can continue our nuclear program."

Finally, I have not worked a lot with the NRC, but from what I did see, I don't think that the NRC has the resources to handle one or more major new projects -- particularly under a completely untested regulatory regime, by staff who (at least in large part) have never handled a new nuclear construction project. I simply believe that there are better options, with similar upside and less downside, than nuclear energy.

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