The Case for Nuclear Power


Published For The Corridor

Spring 2010

The window of opportunity for Long Island and nuclear energy closed with Shoreham. However, with LIPA’s 110 Smart Grid proposal on the table, it behooves us to be aware of energy and delivery alternatives.

Mr. Dacimo is a Long Island native and the Vice President of Entergy at Indian Point in Buchanan, NY. He is a world-renown expert on the topic and passionate about it’s validity.

Is nuclear power controversial? Sure, however sound science recognizes the major advantages it brings to the table.

The reality is that nuclear power is safe, reliable and secure. In the United States nuclear power generates 20% of our electricity, coal supplies approximately 52%, natural gas 15%, hydro electric 8% and oil 3%.

In New York state we have six nuclear power plants which generate over 50% of our base load power. These plants avoid emitting millions of tons of CO2, a prime contributor to global climate change, into the air we breathe, while providing long term, secure, high-paying jobs to the local economies. By contrast, France generates more than 80% of its electricity with nuclear power plants, utilizing an American-designed reactor.

As the demand for electricity grows, and it will grow, based on our love for air conditioning, computers, Ipods etc., there will be a continual need for more power.

Solar and wind power are highly desirable but what do you do when the sun is not shining or the wind not blowing? Current storage technology in the form of batteries, still has a long way to go. Are we going to risk our future on untried, yet-to-be-invented technology? Certainly a full push on research and development in this area is vital but to depend on the potential results is fool-hardy.

Although it is a fact, many ‘quasi-environmentalists’ refuse to admit that today’s nuclear plants have a smaller carbon footprint than a solar or wind plant when reviewed over its life cycle. (UK Office of Science and Technology)

Staunch credible environmentalists like James Lovelock and Patrick Moore, Co-founder of Greenpeace, have indicated strong support for nuclear as part of our overall energy mix.

Nuclear power is one of the safest industries to work in, as per the United states Department of Occupational Health and Safety. No one has ever died in the U.S. civilian nuclear industry related to a reactor accident.

Do you know if you had been standing at the fence next to the 3 Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant during the term of it’s accident you would have been exposed to approximately 100 millirem of radiation. The average American receives approximately 360 millirem of radiation annually just from natural background radiation. A couple of round trips across the United States in an airliner clearly exceeds the dosage that anyone at the fence at TMI would have received.

Anti nuclear people often bring up the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union. The reactor at Chernobyl was a completely different design, without a containment structure—that type of design does not exist nor would it ever be built in the US.

Some people have been concerned about the security of our nuclear facilities in this age of terrorism, aka man made disasters. Nuclear plants in the US are among the most highly protected or “hardened” facilities in the US. Without revealing details they are tested on a regular basis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission utilizing former US Special Forces personnel.

As for used nuclear fuel waste generated by the US nuclear industry over the last forty years, in terms of volume it is only the size of a football field, 15 feet deep. Compare that to your local landfill. Nuclear waste disposal is a political problem not a technical problem.

Energy that is safe, clean, abundant and affordable is by its’ very nature a fundamental building block of any robust economy. Nuclear power by virtue of it advantages must be considered as a significant portion of any energy mix in the future.

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