Nuclear Relapse


By Eric Epstein


   PPL has announced it can cure global warming and make America energy independent. The problem is that the numbers don’t add up, and our cars don’t run on uranium pellets.   


PPL wants to build a new nuclear reactor, but needs a federal subsidy of $4.5  billion, or 80 percent of the projected cost of the project. This “nuclear loan” is guaranteed by the U.S. Treasury – that is, taxpayers. And the real cost, based on  overruns in Florida and Texas, is actually $10 billion! Which begs the obvious  question:  Which begs the obvious question: Why aren’t the shareholders of what Forbes Magazine in December 2007 called one the “best-managed” and “most profitable utilities,”  assuming the risk for a multibillion dollar slam dunk?

PPL’s operating nuclear plants were projected to cost $2.1 billion, but cost overruns resulted in a $4.10 billion price tag for rate payers, who will also be treated to a 32.5 percent rate increase on January 1, 2009. Don’t be fooled again by the same people who brought you electricity “too cheap to meter.” Ask your friendly nuclear power plant to answer four questions:


1.  Nuclear waste:

The Susquehanna Steam Electric Station (“the SSES”) produces 60 metric tons of high-level radioactive waste per year. This is nuclear garbage without a forwarding address sitting in a swimming pool in your backyard.  The SSES is home to hundreds of tons of spent fuel on the shore of the Susquehanna River which empties into the Chesapeake Bay. Not an ideal nuclear waste site.

When is PPL going to solve the problem they told us not to worry about 30 years ago? Think about it: Would you buy a house from a developer who promised to install a sewer line 30 years after you began flushing? 


2.  Greenhouse gases:


 Nuclear fuel production in America creates chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs). The enrichment of uranium in Kentucky releases large amounts of CFCs which are more damaging as a global warmer than carbon dioxide. CFCs remain the primary agent for stratospheric ozone depletion. The production and importation of chlorofluorocarbons was banned as part of a global treaty (the Montreal Protocol; 1987), and by the federal government (Clean Air Act amendments; 1990). CFCs  were supposed to be phased out, but the chemical can still be used until supplies run out.

From the moment uranium is mined, then milled, enriched, fabricated and transported, it releases large quantities of airborne pollutants. What is PPL’s plan to cut its nuclear greenhouse gas emissions?


3)  Water use:

Communities and ecosystems that depend on limited water resources are adversely affected by the SSES which draw 40 million gallons of water a day and returns the backwash at elevated temperatures. Last fall, 53 counties were placed on “drought watch, ” including Luzerne County where the SSES is moored. Yet PPL is exempted from water conservation efforts. Should nuclear power plants continue to be exempt from drought restrictions?


4. Cost of fuel:

The price for uranium ore rose every month in 2007, peaking at $120 per pound. Nuclear fuel sold for $62 a pound on the “spot market” Sept. 22, 2008, fell to $53 per pound a week later. This is the same “low-cost” fuel that sold for $7 a pound in 2001. America imports 84 percent of its nuclear fuel from “dependable foreign allies” like Russia and Kazakhstan as well as from Canada and Australia – when their mines aren’t flooded. Why is PPL transferring a foreign oil dependency for an expensive, foreign nuclear fuel dependency?


Memory is a funny thing: It only works when activated. It’s your wallet. It’s  your river. It’s your backyard. 


  Eric Epstein chairman of Three Mile Island Alert , Inc. TMIA a  safe-energy

 organization based  in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and founded in  1977. TMIA 

monitors Peach Bottom Susquehanna, and Three Mile Island nuclear generating