News / Science & Technology

New Nuke Facilities Being Built but Old Questions Remain

New Nuke Facilities Being Built, But Old Questions Remaini
X
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

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid