As a counterpoint to the often repeated claim among anti-nuclear activists that the nuclear industry has not started building any new plants, I want to quote from a MarketWatch.com article reporting on the Shaw Group’s most recent earnings report:
J.M. Bernhard Jr., chairman, president and chief executive officer of Shaw, said, …
“We enter fiscal year 2009 with a very strong backlog of unfilled orders, the majority of which are with regulated electric utilities, national and international oil companies, and the U.S. government. Additionally, new nuclear power plant projects, for which we signed contracts in 2008, but we have not yet included in backlog, continue to progress with the state regulatory authorities and the NRC. We continue to forecast release of major portions of the nuclear work in 2009.”
The nuclear plant construction industry was a giant when I was in high school. It got knocked down by a few unanticipated obstacles and has spent the past thirty years tied down by restrictions imposed by a number of parties including the federal, state and local governments, financial investment community, the anti-nuclear community, the environmental community, internal members of the utility industry, significant swings in the competitive landscape caused by oscillating fossil fuel prices, and simple burn-out among leaders of the industry who got tired of fighting.
The giant is still lying down but it appears that it is stirring and getting ready for another go in the market. As far as I am concerned, it is time for Gulliver to realize that the Lilliputian’s strings must be pulled out, even if a few of them get trampled along the way. The analogy might seem a bit confusing even to those who know the story of Gulliver’s Travels. After all, the groups that I mention are not exactly powerless. The reason I introduced it was because I view fission technology as essentially unstoppable as soon as the brains of industry recognize just how powerful it is compared to all of those puny obstacles to its growth and development.