Nuking Utah, a cautionary tale

A couple members of the Utah Legislature have been working for several years to get a nuclear plant built down near Kanab.

It’s an insanely dangerous undertaking, and one that will suck up thousands of acre feet of Utah water that Utah doesn’t have to spare, although the people pushing the plant don’t seem concerned about that. They see development dollar signs, and those blind all to everything.

Perhaps, though, dollar signs are a good way to fight the idea.

I was reading this story (click here) about one of the new, supposedly cheap and very safe and secure, nuclear plants being built up in Finland. If this is the model that the Utah promoters are pushing, they have some explaining to do.

The story says, in part:

After four years of construction and thousands of defects and deficiencies, the reactor’s 3 billion euro price tag, about $4.2 billion, has climbed at least 50 percent. And while the reactor was originally meant to be completed this summer, Areva, the French company building it, and the utility that ordered it, are no longer willing to make certain predictions on when it will go online.

That certainly doesn’t make me feel better.

The counter-arguement will be, of course, that “we won’t make their mistakes. Utah’s plant will be built right.”

But we’ve learned, over the decades, that that sort of talk is pure fantasy. Contractors always try to cut corners, costs always rise, idiots screw up, things just plain go wrong.

And Utah already has a very troubled legacy of the nuclear industry. Our own government dropped bombs on us, showering us with radiation while assuring us it was harmless (and, yes, they knew they were lying.) The massive pile of uranium tailings in Moab that is slowly leeching radiation into the Colorado River is testiment to how well these things are handled, and the inevitable costs.

A safe, quick, economically justifiable nuclear plant is a great ideal. Problem is, it may never be achievable, and I’d rather not see Utah have to foot the bill for yet another failed experiment.

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2 Responses to Nuking Utah, a cautionary tale

  1. Neal Humprey says:

    I know two things from personal experience about nuclear reactors. First, a nuclear reactor electrical generating facility is an enormously complicated plumbing project. The reactor is the relatively simple part. When something goes down, it’s a pump, valve, or control system related to the plumbing. Yes, I’ve worked in a nuke facility.

    Second, public hysteria forced the Rancho Seco nuclear plant south of Sacramento to prematurely closed in 1989 after only 14 years on-line. The result, in less than four years the cost of a typical home’s electric use doubled. That plant was scheduled for decommissioning in 2008. Rancho Seco is now a park with great fishing in the former backup water supply lake. In fact, it was great fishing when the plant was hot.

    What I don’t know is how the United States Navy has managed to use over 100 nuclear reactors in ships/boats with over 5,000 years of on-line reactor time with zero accidents. ‘Sounds like the answer is two or three of those small reactors for every city.

  2. Pingback: The Energy Net » Top 100 Energy Stories (May 25th - 31st)

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