The Op-ed authored by Senator Bill Frist (R-TN) that appeared in yesterday's edition of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has kicked up a lot of dust in some letters to the editor as some anti-nukes came out swinging.
In many ways, I think radical environmentalists are getting so desperate, they're not bothering to see whether their arguments still make any sense. For instance, here's an excerpt from a letter by Alice Slater of the Global Research Action Center for the Environment (GRACE):
Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), who received tens of thousands of dollars from the nuclear industry during his last election, omits the astronomical cost of getting nuclear up and running. Nuclear power does not make economic sense.For starters, this ignores the fact that while nuclear requires higher up front capital costs, operating expenses are far lower due to the low cost of fuel. So, unlike natural gas-fired electric capacity, which has been rocked in recent months, nuclear has what we call forward price stability. If and when it gets added to our energy mix, it can displace natural gas in electric generation markets, and free that supply up for home heating and industrial uses.
But then, she writes this:
Many of the companies that own nuclear reactors are also making record windfalls off our current energy crisis. Frist is wrong to entrust them with our energy future.Now that's an interesting argument. So, is nuclear uneconomical, or is it the kind of generating capacity that allows utilities to make "record windfalls?" Like I said, they don't know whether they're coming or going. For good measures, she mentions the Rocky Mountain Institute and its research, something we've debunked again and again here at NEI Nuclear Notes.
And here's Ed Arnold of Physicians for Social Responsibility:
He has ignored the "elephant in the room." Nuclear power plants have been described as our most vulnerable risks to terrorism. Examples include: On Oct. 17, 2001, according to plant officials, the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania was put on the highest alert after receiving, as described by plant officials, a "credible threat" against it.What we see here is the use of actual facts to come to a conclusion that they don't support. So when Arnold says that nuclear plants are "most vulnerable" you ought to be asking who is making that claim.
In June 2003, the Central Intelligence Agency warned that "Osama bin Laden's operatives may try to launch conventional attacks against the nuclear industrial infrastructure of the United States in a bid to cause contamination, disruption and terror."
Nuclear power plants, the most vulnerable components of the U.S. electric power infrastructure, pose the greatest risk of catastrophic damage.
Our industry is well aware of the threats outlined in Arnold's letter, and has spent more than $1.2 billion for security upgrades since 9-11. And far from being most vulnerable, the FBI has concluded that nuclear power plants are "difficult targets." And finally, in a study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, nuclear power plants were classified as the "best defended" piece of America's energy infrastructure.