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New Nuclear Plants Too Risky to Build and Too Costly to Operate

June 21, 2006

New Nuclear Plants Too Risky to Build and Too Costly to Operate

AUSTIN – Environmental groups today decried NRG Energy Inc.’s plans to build two new reactors at its South Texas nuclear plant site. The costs for the reactors are expected to reach $5 billion and will expose Texans to the risks and radioactive wastes of nuclear power.

Nuclear power is extremely costly and relies on taxpayer subsidies, creates radioactive waste with no long-term disposal solution, and poses security and public health risks.

“Thirty years ago, we were promised that nuclear energy would produce energy ‘too cheap to meter,’ but the costs are still mounting,” said Tom “Smitty” Smith, director of Public Citizen’s Texas office. “Nuclear plants are too costly to build, too risky to operate and the wastes are still too hot to handle.”

The existing Texas reactors built at the site more than twenty years ago cost more than six times the projected estimates and had so many critical flaws that construction was halted and parts of the plant were rebuilt to address serious safety concerns.

Nuclear power continues to be dependent on taxpayer handouts for survival. From 1947 to 1999, the nuclear industry was given more than $115 billion in direct taxpayer subsidies. The management of nuclear waste and the requirements for reactor decommissioning require billions more in additional   funds. In comparison, federal government subsidies for wind and solar power totaled only $5.7 billion over the same period – 25 times less than nuclear subsides.

“Pollution from uranium mining, the dangers of reactor accidents and the legacy of radioactive waste are all serious concerns,” said Donna Hoffman of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

“Nuclear madness has arisen again, risking our health and safety,” said Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition. “Radioactive waste can be converted to materials to make nuclear weapons. We should lead by example and not fuel the international weapons race by creating more of it.”

The predicted increase in energy demand can be met more safely and effectively by renewable sources and efficiency measures than through building new nuclear plants.

“Renewable energy and energy efficiency are a viable alternative to nuclear power and conventional fuels, and can meet the country’s energy needs without the burdens of carbon emissions or radioactive waste,” said Luke Metzger of Environment Texas.

The flaws of nuclear power include cost, waste, security, safety, and proliferation. To learn more, click here.