Guest Blog by Debbie Attias
Last weekend, a group of cyclists and local activists got together for a picnic at Biscayne National Park. This wasn’t just any picnic, though…. From this park, you can see Turkey Point, Florida Power & Light’s nuclear power plant. Our picnic in sight of this plant was part of a nationwide “Dirty Energy Hunt” organized by 1Sky to form a national photo petition from dirty energy sites, such as coal and nuclear power plants, as well as protests on beaches where oil from the recent Gulf oil spill is beginning to wash up. These photos are a visual reminder to U.S. Senators that we are not happy they have included incentives and support for such sources of (dirty) energy in proposed federal energy bills.
My friend and activist Andrea Cuccaro from 1Sky Florida and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy organized this event, and also has a lot to say about nuclear power, clean energy, and why now is the time to act.
Here is what she had to say:
“We want to urge U.S. Senators to maximize incentives for renewable energy in the current energy policy they are reviewing, and remove incentives for new drilling, new nuclear, and new coal technology. For years, 1Sky has urged leaders to reduce greenhouse gases in time to meet requirements outlined by scientists to prevent the worst effects of climate change, to create millions of jobs in the clean energy sector and to transition us away from dirty energy to the renewable power economy.”
New nuclear reactors are one of the most expensive energy options on the market today, costing far more than most renewables and significantly more than energy efficiency. In a December 2009 Miami town hall regarding newly-proposed reactors for Turkey Point, Dr. Jerry Brown, founding Professor of Global and Sociocultural Studies, Florida International University, said “Back in 1985, Forbes magazine, in an article on nuclear follies, portrayed nuclear power as the largest management disaster in business history, it said only the blind or the biased can now think that most of the money has been well spent, it is a defeat for the U.S. consumer, for the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program, and for the private enterprise system that made it possible. Due to the 219 percent cost overruns of the first 75 and first generation plants, the industry collapsed.”
Yet, we hear about this energy option a lot because it’s lucrative for utility companies selling it- construction of new power plants requires heavy subsidies from taxpayers, which private companies are not shy about demanding from the government. However, should utility companies decide to cancel a construction project that has been funded for years- which happens often- taxpayers never see their money back. Florida power and Light has requested permission to build two new reactors at Turkey Point in the near future, and hundreds of Miami citizens involved with Citizens Allied for Safe Energy and Tropical Audubon Society have shown up in order to protest both the impending health hazards and early cost recovery schemes for projects that harm the public interest in terms of high monetary costs, health hazards, and dangers to our surrounding environment.
Scientists worldwide have identified possible links among high rates of leukemia and cancer to residents, including children living near reactors and transmission lines. Waste leaks from Turkey Point in the 1980’s went unreported, but ecological damage was observable in mutated shrimp populations nearby. The Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design for proposed new reactors here in Florida and nationwide is not even certified by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and currently has design flaws with the safety shield building. Additionally, a recent report identifies more design flaws that could make it susceptible to rust and leakage.
For these reasons and many more, investing in new nuclear energy appears to be the most illogical and nonsensical choice for our future, yet current energy policies being discussed in the U.S. Senate contain loan guarantees that could fund up to twelve new nuclear power plants around the country. 1Sky urges Congress to jumpstart a clean energy future by limiting greenhouse gases that are exacerbating climate change, and focusing on investments in renewable energy – not for new nuclear power, new oil rigs, or “clean” coal, which is only experimental has many high costs of its own, and still emits plenty of carbon.
Learn more about the Dirty Energy Hunt Project here.