nuclear power

In just over a week Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is set to close. It means the end of a long-running debate over the plant and nuclear energy in the Green Mountain State, but it could also mean the start of some economic challenges for the area surrounding the plant, including parts of New Hampshire's Monadnock Region.

Jim Richmond via Flickr Creative Commons

After thirty years of no new nuclear construction, two projects are underway in the south, as some argue this carbon-emission free energy source is vital due to climate change. But concerns over safety issues remain, as well as new challenges from a booming natural gas industry. We explore the problems and prospects of nuclear energy with a New York Times reporter who has been following the debate over nuclear. 

Guest:

The nuclear power plant on the banks of the Connecticut River has been touted as a renewable energy source and criticized for its safety record. In recent months, both supporters and opponents have been turning out in force to debate the plant’s economic, environmental, and safety impacts, as legal battles continue in both federal and state arenas.

Guests

John Dillon - Reporter for Vermont Public Radio.

The Palisades nuclear power plant in Michigan had five unplanned shutdowns last year. It's one of the area's biggest employers, and its safety record is one of the worst in the country. Now it's trying to prove to federal regulators that it can meet their standards.

On the shores of Lake Michigan, the Palisades Power Plant is tucked in between tall sand dunes in Covert Township, Mich., at the southern edge of Van Buren State Park.

Jim Richmond

Anti-Nuclear groups are angered by a decision of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to exclude them from the re-licensing process for the Seabrook Nuclear Plant. 

A number of groups filed for intervener status so that they could file objections to the plant's extension of its operation to 2050. The coalition of environmental organizations planned to argue that renewable energy resources, such as wind power, could ultimately replace nuclear power. But the NRC ruled that their argument lacked merit, because that replacement power isn't available now.

The nuclear industry is celebrating the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission's decision to give the go-ahead for a utility company to build two new nuclear reactors in Georgia, the first license to be granted for a new reactor in the U.S. since 1978. But last year's accident at reactors in Fukushima, Japan, still clouds the future of nuclear power, as does the cost of new power plants.

Southern Co. will build the reactors at its Vogtle site in Georgia, where two older reactors already operate.

Former New Jersey Governor and EPA head Christie Todd Whitman is now leading a national effort to expand nuclear power, calling it the best clean energy source to replace fossil fuels. But her efforts come at a difficult time for the nuclear industry,  given fears stoked by the Fukushima disaster in Japan last spring and criticisms from some suggesting that danger it can bring is not worth the energy it can provide. 

Guest

Jim Richmond via Flickr Creative Commons

Seabrook Nuclear Plant officials says the plant is continuing to operate safely.

The vote of confidence came during the Seabrook’s annual required press briefing.

Spokesman Alan Griffith said the failed cooling system pump that prompted the plant’s shutdown in October has been fixed. But he said engineers continue to assess possible deterioration of concrete under one plant section, an electrical tunnel.. Griffith says a core sample turned up what is called Alkalide silica reaction, or ASR .