This commentary is from Marlboro resident John Greenberg.
It’s often difficult to know where to begin to correct John McClaughry’s inaccuracies. I’ll just take them in order.
1) “…fission products would contaminate the continent…” The Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents both released enough radiation that small amounts were detected even in the United States – an ocean and a continent further away.
2) “…reckless security could allow proliferation of bomb material…” India, Pakistan and North Korea all have bombs derived from civilian nuclear programs.
3) “…uranium mining was destructive to the environment…” Nuclear mining is destructive, both to miners and to the environment.
4) “…eventually generating about a quarter of the country’s electricity…” In fact, for decades it was about 20%. “Nuclear power’s share of total annual electricity generation in the United States has remained steady at about 20% since 1990.”
5) “as needed 24/7”. But the grid does not need electricity 24/7; it needs enough supply to meet demand at all times, plus reserves. The demand is not constant. No one should assume that all the electricity used is used efficiently, as this is very far from the case. Moreover, there are now companies whose entire function is to move the demand for electricity from a time when supply is low to a time when it is high. They make money, and their customers who do the load shifting also make money, and so do the utilities.
6) “The six-decade-old design served its purpose well…” At least one of the Fukushima reactors that melted DID was a virtual design twin of the Vermont Yankee; the others were quite similar.
7) “The future of nuclear power today was first defined 10 years ago…” and since then there have been four reactors planned in the United States, two of which have been abandoned and two are years late and at a cost that is double the already high initial price. Over $40 million has been invested so far, without generating a single kilowatt. The costs were borne primarily by ratepayers and ratepayers, not utility investors.
8) “In November 2021, his (Biden’s) energy department put $1.5 billion behind Bill Gates’ Natrium reactor…” Oh the irony! Is this the same John McClaughry who constantly denounces renewable energy subsidies? And why doesn’t McClaughry mention the billions in taxpayer subsidies that have gone to those four reactors I just mentioned. Or the Price-Anderson giveaway that offers free insurance to the entire industry? Or the first subsidies for the production of nuclear fuel? Or the Russian uranium that powers about half of America’s nuclear weapons?
9) “….Dr. James E. Hansen. Hansen is the revered guru of climate catastrophe… “It’s interesting that McClaughry is perfectly willing to believe and quote Dr. Hansen’s position on nuclear weapons (on which Hansen has no expertise), while at the same time , he has spent years questioning Hansen’s climate change catastrophizing (of which he has expertise). news, which McClaughry hopes you won’t notice.
10) Finally: “by the end of this decade, there will be small nuclear reactors ready for commercialization…”. First, promises, promises. In the 1970s, the NRC assured critics of the Vermont Yankee that a solution to nuclear waste disposal was imminent. Apparently it was a very long block.
Second, scientists tell us that we should be generating largely greenhouse gas-free electricity by 2035. Historically, nuclear weapons have taken at least 10 years to be built. You do the math. Meanwhile, solar, wind and other technologies are ready to start and be built as we speak, around a fifth of the projected cost of new nuclear (or less) and are widely held back by the likes of John McClaughry.