In an opinion column in the March issue of the Bay Journal, Bill Temmink suggests reconsidering nuclear energy options. I strongly disagree.
- He writes, “Nuclear plants in use today produce 100 to 2,000 times as much energy per acre as solar and wind do.” Many wind generators are erected in farm fields with crops growing around them; others are in offshore ocean regions. Solar panels are often placed on existing building rooftops. Nuclear facilities may produce power for 40–80 years,after which the sites stop producing: Three Mile Island and other previous sites still harbor radioactive waste and fuel residues. More locally, Fort Belvoir’s reactor in Virginia (shut down in 1973) occupies a waterfront site that remains unrestored for nearly half a century.
- Although the last “nuclear meltdown” in U.S.A. was 42 years ago, the last reported nuclear leak that got my attention was February 2021 in Gaithersburg, MD, at the National Institute of Standards and Technology reactor.
- He also writes that new nuclear technologies are “likely cheaper.” Definitely not. Cost overruns at Vogtle, GA, are threatening the viability of new units 3 and 4.
- Nuclear power, he writes, “uses less resources than any other power technology.” Not so. Hydroelectric power, used for more than a century, is much simpler than nuclear.
- “New nuclear energy technologies promise to be at least 10 times more efficient than those of the current U.S. nuclear fleet.” The industry claims a 25% efficiency rate now, waste heat from reactors being a serious nuisance byproduct. A theoretical efficiency of 250% is mathematically impossible.
Centuries from now, distant ancestors will be guarding our nuclear waste (some of which will remain dangerous for 100,000 years), and they won’t get a kilowatt hour of electricity from it. Nuclear energy will be deemed a blip in history that was ill-founded and dangerous.