Op Eds

TMI-Alert's Eric Epstein and nuclear activist Gene Stilp discuss, with the Patriot-News editorial board, nuclear power, electrical deregulation, alternative energy and their challenges to PPL's application to construct a new nuclear reactor at Bell Bend near Berwick, Pa. 





By Marlene Lang 


Think you are the only one who can't manage to set aside a nest egg? Don't feel lonely. Your neighborhood nuclear power plant may be busily creating a remedial savings plan of its own. 

Twenty-six plants nationwide showed shortfalls in the funds they are required by federal law to set aside for dismantling the reactors someday and cleaning up after themselves. The closely watched Three Mile Island plant was not on the shortfall list. 

Every year the Nuclear Regulatory Commission checks on the state of so-called "decommissioning funds." Most years there are only a handful of plants running short of having those estimated costs laid up, usually four or five one official said. Those billions set aside for close-down and clean-up don't just pile up under a mattress, of course; the money is invested in the stock market. According to an Associated Press report, some $4.4 billion in decommissioning funds was lost in the downturn, even as the actual costs for shutting down plants has risen by $4.6 billion because of (I love this part) rising energy costs – and labor costs. 


June 4, 2009

Beyond Nuclear addresses internet security issue

Background: Imagine someone with a laptop computer in a Wi-Fi cafe practically anywhere on the globe, connecting to the internet and getting a view of the virtual layout from within 50 yards of just about any nuclear power plant in the United States. Now imagine that their purpose is to plan and execute a malicious attack that jeopardizes the lives of tens of thousands - even millions - of US citizens. All this is possible using state-of-the-art high resolution satellite photography found on the Web.


OpEd from Beyond Nuclear:

Background: On October 6, 2006 North Korea exploded its first nuclear weapon. This past week, it has conducted a flurry of underground nuclear tests and missile launches provoking international indignation. Satellite surveillance also suggests it may have restarted its Yongbyon reactor (and possibly its reprocessing plant) - despite the very public June 27, 2008 destruction of the reactor cooling tower - viewed by many as window dressing. Formerly a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, North Korea exercised its right to the three months' notice of withdrawal allowed under Article X of the Treaty, pulling out in early 2003.


 Three Mile Island Alert Security Consultant Scott Portzline recently directed a statement of

concern to the Secretary of Homeland Security: 


Dear Secretary Napolitano, 

There now exists a very serious compromise of security at our nation’s 

nuclear power plants. Due to the very high quality of satellite images, terrorists 


By Marlene Lang


We all know trash ain't cheap.  

Electricity users have long paid a "garbage fee" on that portion of their power produced by nuclear reactors – a fee of one tenth of a cent per kilowatt-hour. The pennies go into the Nuclear Waste Fund. Since the fund was set up in 1982, about $30 billion has accumulated. 

The money has gone unused as politicians and scientists debate what is the best the location for a national dump where the radioactive waste will rest for thousands of years. 

Congress in 2002 designated Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the nation's – and possibly, the world's – nuclear waste repository site. But not every one thought the desert outside of Las Vegas was such a great location. Then-governor of Nevada Kenny Quinn vetoed Congress and the power-volley continues. 

Obama cut Yucca Mountain out of the budget and in response, a group of Republicans has sponsored a bill that would give the Nuclear Waste Fund back to the utilities and customers, if Yucca is not built and soon. 


By BROCK VERGAKIS, Associated Press Writer

Tue May 5, 5:06 pm ET

SALT LAKE CITY – Despite having their own radioactive waste dump, three states have shipped millions of cubic feet of waste across the country this decade to a private Utah facility that is the only one available to 36 other states, according to an Associated Press analysis of U.S. Department of Energy records.

The shipments are stoking concerns that waste from Connecticut, New Jersey and South Carolina is taking up needed space in Utah, unnecessarily creating potential shipping hazards and undermining the government's intent for states to dispose of their own waste on a regional basis.


As part of a course in Engineering and Public Policy Carnegie Mellon, graduate student Katie Bastine and fellow students are gathering input from communities that are home to nuclear power plants. 

Three Mile Island Alert will post the results of the survey as they are made available.

To link to the survey web site, go to: www.epp.cmu.edu/httpdocs/undergraduate/summaries/Nuclear/index.html


Here is a response from the former editor of Middletown's hometown newspaper:


 1. As an outside observer, what is your impression of the nuclear power plant?

It scares me and I wonder when something will go wrong, and if  people will know about it, if and when it does. 




April 24, 2009


 By Russell Dupree


 Three Mile Island and the Vigilant Professor

    Thirty years ago, April 1, 1979, on the rooftop of a building at the University of Southern Maine in Portland, a nuclear radiation recording device went from being relatively quiescent to rapidly recording extremely high levels of beta radiation, 100 times the normal background levels.

    The equipment had been set up by USM physics professor Charles Armentrout a few days earlier as a teaching project for his students to see if any fission products from the Three Mile Island power plant accident could be detected in Maine. It was a rainy Sunday, five days after the partial meltdown at the power plant just southeast of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.