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

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

China to Open Stock Markets to Pension Funds

In unprecedented move, government to soon allow local pension funds to invest up to $94 billion in domestic shares More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs