News / Science & Technology

New Nuke Facilities Being Built but Old Questions Remain

New Nuke Facilities Being Built, But Old Questions Remaini
February 19, 2014 5:18 AM
In the midst of the current debate over whether to build the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada into the United States and the efforts to develop solar and wind power, nuclear energy is hardly being discussed. However, the Nuclear Energy Institute - an industry lobbying group -- says the number of nuclear power plants in the United States is growing. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
New Nuke Facilities Being Built, But Old Questions Remain
Bernard Shusman
In the midst of the current debate over whether to build the Keystone oil pipeline from Canada into the United States and the efforts to develop solar and wind power, nuclear energy is hardly being discussed. However, the Nuclear Energy Institute - an industry lobbying group --   reports the number of nuclear power plants in the United States is growing.
The big news is new facilities. Four are currently being constructed: two each in South Carolina and Georgia. The Nuclear Energy Institute said there are 12 additional applications to build nuclear power plants.  
Steve Byrne, of South Carolina Electric and Gas, said that for his company, nuclear was a good option.
“Coal was in disfavor. The price of natural gas relatively high, so nuclear made a lot of sense to us. So we were a company that already operated a nuclear facility, had a tremendous site for adding new nuclear capacity, so we made the decision to go nuclear,” said Byrne.
South Carolina currently has seven operating reactors. Georgia has six, plus the two new ones under construction. 
Stephen Kuczynski, chairman and CEO of Georgia’s Southern Nuclear Operating Company, pointed out the long-term soundness of a nuclear plant.
“We see these as 60-year assets. Nuclear plants are high construction, but very low operating. But if you look at that over a 40-to-60-year period, it’s a very economical option," said Kuczynski.
Several plants have closed because they were not competitive with other power sources -- mainly cheaper natural gas. NEI favors a diversity of power sources for the nation, but NEI head Marv Fertel warned that this is not happening. 
"We are going all to gas because it’s cheap and it’s a good thing. But we are going all reliant on that and because of policies, we are driving renewables. So we are driving coal out because of environmental requirements and demands, and we are driving nuclear out for reasons that make no sense. And that’s not good for this country. We’re going to pay a price in reliability, a price in affordability, when the whole thing crashes,” warned Fertel.
Opposition to nuclear power is strong, with some surveys showing more than half of Americans are against building more nuclear plants primarily because of safety concerns.  
Phillip Museguus, of the anti-nuclear group Riverkeeper, said that in terms of economics and costs, nuclear doesn’t really make sense.   
"There are better ways to generate power; there are safe and cleaner ways.  When you look at the price of natural gas in the U.S. economy, that is forcing many nuclear plants to close. Four nuclear facilities have closed in the past year and a half, so for the existing reactors, the economics are not good,” said Museguus.
Some 40 years ago, anti-nuclear groups like Riverkeeper began worldwide protests, but the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011 gave them more ammunition.
The industry refutes claims that nuclear power is unsafe or susceptible to terrorism.
“What we’ve done is we spent a fortune on security since 9-11. Nuclear plants, if you talk to the FBI or anybody else would tell you, are the most hardened targets in America. Our problem right now is that we think that adding more security in some areas makes no sense and what we need to do is look at the effectiveness of what we have," said Fertel. 
As for the disposal of nuclear waste, that remains a contentious issue in the United States -- with Congress so far unable to agree on a solution.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs