One of the mantras that some people in the nuclear industry have repeated to themselves so often that it has become a fundamental part of their belief system is that “the media” bears a lot of responsibility for the 30 year hiatus in building new nuclear power plants. That could be the subject for many debates, but I will let you know right now that I think it is a bogus argument.
Even so, it is refreshing when a disinterested member of the fourth estate says good things about nuclear power. It is kind of like reading positive commentary about a sports team that you follow or about a friend who has done good work. Mike Thomas, a writer for the Orlando Sentinel, published a column on March 30, 2008 titled How I learned to quit worrying and love nuclear power that made me smile for a whole day. Here is an excerpt that I hope will encourage you to visit and read the whole column:
I would much rather live down the street from a Westinghouse AP1000 than a coal-fired plant.
But the most compelling reason for this new facility can be found at the Crystal River nuclear plant. (Aside: The new facility that Mike is referring to is a planned two-reactor project by Progress Energy in Levy County, Florida.)
There, at the bottom of a pool about the size of an Olympic swimming pool, you can see all the radioactive fuel rods created by 31 years of operating the plant. And there is room for more.
Producing an equal amount of energy from coal would create millions of tons of pollution, ranging from toxic mercury to greenhouse gases, spewed up the smokestack and dispersed around the globe and into the atmosphere. Nuclear power forces you to confront your mess.
And even the small amount there is of it could be cut by more than half if this country decides one day to reprocess and reuse old fuel rods.
Hopefully, like this proposed Progress Energy plant, that day will be coming soon enough.
In the two days since the column was published, it has generated at least 36 comments, most of which have also made me smile. It is really encouraging to see how many of the comments were added by knowledgeable nuclear professionals who are proud of what they do and want to share their enthusiasm with the world. Those comments might be derided by the committed anti-nukes as self interested, but I think that they will have a far more important impact on the vast majority of people who are uncommitted and open to new information.