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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Of course life is nearly always hectic, so its nice to be able to kick back and relax from time to time. I recently collapsed into the easy chair and happened upon a documentary about the aftermath of the earthquake, the resulting  tsunami and the disastrous disabling and subsequent explosions at the Fukishima  Nuclear Power complex. What we have to deal with there is huge area that is basically taken out off the books as far as human habitation is concerned. A larger region might be amenable to clean up but at phenomenal cost. Another TV documentary dealt with the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl power plant. The program showed how the former industrial city's town square is not being slowly reclaimed by the surrounding forest and in particular how a series of wolf packs are now living in the region and apparently producing pups. That human exclusion zone around Chernobyl will be there for generations. Ironically, because of this moratorium on human activity the entire region has reverted to what is in effect a wildlife sanctuary albeit a flawed one. In the US the nuclear power industry had been on long decline after the Three Mile Island incident. There was a renewed interest in nuclear power up until the March 2011 Fukushima disaster and sequelae. Here in South Carolina there are plans afoot to expand the V.C. Summer nuclear plant on the Broad River in Fairfield County SC near Jenkinsville. The proposed expansion will take about 40 million gallons of water out of the Broad River PER DAY to use for cooling. Now the plan is to actually pump the water from what is currently the cooling  reservoir but the reservoir is filled from the river. On the Savannah River in Georgia the Vogtle nuclear power plant is planning expansion from two units to four. This will obligate additional water withdrawal from the Savannah river at time when interbasin water transfer in Georgia is being discussed to as to satisfy growth in the greater Atlanta region.  As Steve Willis reminded us at the April membership meeting, these two potential water removal projects fly directly into the face of the plans to dredge nearly forty miles of the Savannah river to "improve" shipping access for deeper draft ships. With less fresh water flowing to the sea, the saltwater intrusion up the watershed will increase. On top of all these contraindications for nuclear power are these considerations. As part of the process to build a nuclear powerplant, the sponsoring Utility company can begin charging increased rates to current power users right now. The Utility is guaranteed to be able to charge users sufficiently to make a profit. On top of all that you as a consumer are not even getting stock in the company and if at some point the utility decides not to go forward with the plant you the consumer still have to pay the rate increases to cover their debt. Now a friend of mine often says as she views life, 'what's the worst that can happen?'. If you examine Chernobyl and Fukushima you can  see the worst that can happen if there is a serious accident and you can examine your power bill to see how you are paying right now to take on the additional risks. Is it worth it to you? Is it worth it to your descendents?

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