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Nuclear Industry Must Remember that All Politics are Local

Rod Adams's picture
President and CEO, Adams Atomic Engines, Inc.
  • Member since 2006
  • 969 items added with 334,645 views
  • Mar 10, 2015
Copyright 2005 Jim Zimmerlin. All rights reserved

Copyright 2005 Jim Zimmerlin. All rights reserved

There aren’t very many people who can claim to more in favor of nuclear energy than I am. There are, however, many whose passion and amateur dedication to the technology equal mine. Unfortunately, both the nuclear industry and the regulatory agency that oversees the industry often overlook the fact that people who oppose nuclear energy do not represent the public, they only represent their own point of view.

Those of us who strongly favor the technology for all of its wonderful attributes, including reliable power, low and predictable fuel costs, moderate operating costs, and ultra-low emissions of air pollution and greenhouse gases do not always support the positions of the established nuclear industry. We question their ability to manage costs, we wonder why they sometimes make poor engineering decisions, and we resist when they tell us that they consider nuclear energy to be just another option — vice a superior option — for generating electricity.

Despite our differences and sometimes uncomfortable ways of challenging the industry, it is a mistake for the industry to spend all of its available marketing resources on ads aimed at the Washington, DC metro area and on former politicians who have a diminishing level of influence and name recognition.

Though the specific decision makers may live and work inside the Washington Beltway; those people listen to their constituents from the various states and legislative districts. They wouldn’t be doing their jobs as representatives if they didn’t.

Therefore, if people running nuclear-related businesses want more support, want to stem calls for additional regulatory burdens on what is already the safest energy industry in the world, and want the opportunity to build and develop additional facilities in welcoming communities, they should start investing more in local communities. Insufficient local effort contributed to the costly conflicts and eventual shutdown at San Onofre and to the state-imposed cost burdens that prevented Entergy from making a sufficient level of profit to keep operating Vermont Yankee.

Though there are other on-going and pending battlegrounds where nuclear facilities are at risk, one of the most immediately risky situations exists on the central coast of California where the last remaining plant — Diablo Canyon — is facing a focused onslaught of opposition that was encouraged by their successful effort to close the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.

As has been the case since before Diablo Canyon began operating, the hook in the battle is an exaggerated concern about earthquake risks.

Aside: Though buried in paragraph 20, the article above does contain a passage that doesn’t seem to bother other people as much as it does me. “When federal authorities approved construction of Diablo Canyon’s first reactor, in 1968, the company said there were no active faults within 30 kilometers, or 18.6 miles, according to Hirsch. Then oil company geologists reported finding the Hosgri, just offshore.” It’s also worth noting that one of the biggest plant opponents, Assemblyman Sam Blakeslee, has earned the nickname “Oil Man Sam.” End Aside.

Diablo Canyon circa 2007

Diablo Canyon circa 2007

A growing group of concerned, well-connected people has recently formed an organization named Californians for Green Nuclear Power. Here is a copy of a letter introducing that group to a Washington, DC public relations firm that has an existing relationship with the Clean And Safe Energy Coalition, CASEnergy.

Thank you for contacting me. I’m not sure how much you know of our organization, Californians for Green Nuclear Power.

I founded the group about one year ago. I acquired members by writing to persons who had published letters in the newspapers on central coast California supporting nuclear, or letters from people educated about energy and climate change.

I feel local support is where anyone should start to achieve change, but my impression is the industry and organizations supporting nuclear power do not agree. They seem Washington focused almost solely.

The chain of closing reactors, or ones that do not even get started, should be a red flag for the industry to think about another strategy, i.e., one NOT focused on local people.

The anti nukes seem the ones who have it right. They are dominated by grass roots organizations, or big organizations with chapters at the local level. Organizations like Friends of the Earth (so called) have endowments worth millions and they train and support and work with local anti nukes strongly.

It seems to work for them. They have a strong hand in closing the San Onofre plant. Now all guns are pointed at Diablo Canyon in California.

We are toiling full steam to keep Diablo Canyon open. But weh have seen not a shred of support from nuclear lobbies, nor anyone except the utility managers and employees who often say “thank you.”

We welcome their gratitude, that does not print brochures, pay for TV or radio spots, or even pencils. We made the long trip to Sacramento from Santa Maria last November to testify against claims that we feel are totally unsupported, i.e., Diablo Canyon’s Once Through Cooling greatly harms sea life and the fishing industry.

I called a local fishing executive and asked about damage. He said no problem and Diablo Canyon has caused the industry no harm whatsoever. I was the only person contacting this President of the Port San Luis Commercial Fisherman’s Association – the State did not, the Fishing and Wildlife Department did not, Friends of the Earth did not.

Does the industry and D.C. lobbies care if Diablo Closes. It seems they should, if only for environmental reasons.

That is what drives our group of retired nuclear scientists, engineers, academics and laypersons. We fear not nuclear reactors, but global warming and its ominous consequences, according to top scientists.

Please urge D.C. nuclear supporters and the industry in general to consider helping local plants and those like us, unfunded volunteers, trying to keep our plant open and producing clean, emission free electricity.

California should have a coast lined with nuclear plants for electricity, and to desalinate sea water to fight lack of water from global warming. (Yes, top scientists say our drought is essentially permanent and will get worse as the earth heats up.)

We are open we are grateful for any small or significant help. We have street rallies and get a lot of verbal support from citizens. Nobody before us has shown support or organized it for nuclear power. We pay ALL our expenses to the extent we can. Much goes undone.

Thank you for your interest. Any feedback or questions will be welcomed.

But I urge you to lobby the industry to build local support nationwide for nuclear power. We would, for example, be ready to help build local support groups in areas with reactors, current or planned, using methods we’ve found effective.

Just in case the industry does not recognize that it is in an ongoing battle with a pressing need for more allies, a coalition that includes Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club, NIRS, Public Citizen and Greenpeace have come together to create a new misinformation campaign aimed at convincing young people that it is possible and beneficial to strive for a nuclear-free, fossil fuel-free society powered by the wind, sun and falling water.

Arming some on the ground, local allies with printed matter, local TV spots, radio air time and a bit of gas money could be a cost effective way to resist the press by a loud, but unrepresentative group of skilled activists.

The post Nuclear industry must remember that all politics are local appeared first on Atomic Insights.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on Mar 10, 2015

Excellent Rod, thank you.

Californians for Green Nuclear Power website:

Mark Heslep's picture
Mark Heslep on Mar 13, 2015

powered by the wind, sun and falling water” … and trees and trash.

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