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Opening Arguments

Let's nuke the problem

One of the tragedies of exaggerated environmental fears has been the abandonment of nuclear power as a part of our energy strategy and our resulting overdependence on much dirtier coal-fired plants. Now, it seems that high gas prices and Middle East unrest are finally increasing support for nuclear power, even among some groups among whom oppostion has been strong. Common sense at last?

Posted in: Science


Mike Sylvester LP
Mon, 08/29/2005 - 8:22am

This is a topic that is very near and dear to me.

I spent six years as a Reactor Operator on a nuclear submarine in the United States Navy. After getting out of the Navy I spent a couple of years as an equipment operator in a civilian nuclear power plant in Nebraska. I have eight years experience working in nuclear power plants.

I strongly believe that nuclear power is a good source of energy and is very safe. The nuclear power industry has been nearly destroyed by the United States government and its excessive regulations. The regulations are so bad that I decided to make a career change in 1998. I do not think we will EVER build a new nuclear power plant with the current government regulations.

They have destroyed it in two ways.

The first way is through excessive (INSANE) levels of government regulation. The nuclear power plant I worked at (The Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power Station) is a perfect example.

In 1978 (Before The Mile Island) the plant employed about 80 people. Most of these people were equipment operators and security guards. The plant was operated in a very safe manner and had no accidents or problems of any kind.

Today, that same plant employs about 550 people. The plant makes the same amount of power that it did in 1978, it just costs a whole lot more to produce that power. The plant hired about 470 people just to comply with government regulations after Three Mile Island.

That is our government at work...

The second problem is dealing with nuclear waste in the form of spent fuel rods. These fuel rods are radioactive and must be safely disposed of. The United States government knew this would be a problem. So the United States government decided to tax all nuclear power plants in the country and collect enough money to fund a disposal facility. The idea was that the government would dispose of the waste and the nuclear power plants would pay for it through taxes.

Many years ago (Around 1990) the government collected enough money in taxes to make the premier disposal facility in the world. This facility was to be built at Yucca Mountain.

The disposal facility is STILL not operational. The government has not been able to get it running. This has forced all the nuclear power plants in America to find ways to store their own spent fuel rods. The nuclear power plants have to store their spent fuel rods because the government has 100% failed to do what they promised to do.

Nuclear power plants currently keep their spent fuel rods in reinforced "swimming pools" on site.

When I worked at this plant one of my jobs was to occasionally operate a crane and move spent fuel rods. Believe it or not the spent fuel rods do glow, they give off a bright blue "glow."

Now President Bush wants to spur the growth of nuclear power plants. I am all for nuclear power. That being said, President Bush's proposal will not do much to spur the growth of nuclear power.

The new Energy Bill will provide well over a billion dollars of direct subsidies to power generation companies to convince them to build new nuclear power plants. This is absurd.

If we want new nuclear pwoer plants we need to MINIMIZE government regulation. We need to do nothing more then that. The Free Market should dictate which power generation facilities succeed and which ones fail, not the government.