2009/05/21: Waste, cost make nuclear power a bad risk, coalition says

The Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice has joined 11 other public interest groups in warning the legislature and governor that lack of a plan for long-term storage of highly radioactive waste and astronomically high costs should eliminate nuclear power from plans for Wisconsin’s energy future.  Read the letter.

In a letter to Governor Doyle and state legislators, Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin and eleven other organizations show that the liabilities of nuclear power make it a risky investment, both to the public health and the public pocket book. The letter came two days after a report from WISPIRG, the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, on the high costs of new nuclear reactors.

Citizens Utility Board, Clean Wisconsin, Coulee Region Progressives, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Education Fund, Nukewatch, Peace Action Wisconsin, Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin, Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Wisconsin Environment,and WISPIRG joined WNPJ in signing it.

"Unlike renewable electricity sources, the by-products of nuclear electricity generation exist in the environment for hundreds of thousands of years and are highly toxic," the letter said. "In Wisconsin alone, 1,365 metric tons of high-level nuclear waste will be stored at nuclear reactor sites by 2011, and 58,000 metric tons have already accumulated at sites throughout the US.

Current EPA standards require that the environment and public be kept safe from exposure to stored radioactive waste for up to one million years. The letter warns that Wisconsin's granite formations may become a target to locate a nuclear waste site.

The letter also shows that the lifecycle costs of nuclear power and means by which plants are funded shift the financial risk from the nuclear industry to ratepayers and taxpayers. From the failed multi-billion dollar taxpayer investment in Yucca Mountain to ratepayer surcharges funding on-site storage of radioactive waste – all these costs and more are borne by the ratepayer and taxpayer, not the nuclear industry. The fifty–year old nuclear power industry can not even claim lower cost per kilowatt of delivered electricity, with costs higher than traditional coal and gas fired plants, and higher than wind power.

The coalition says that conservation and efficiency in all sectors of the economy are better investments for Wisconsin’s energy future. A fraction of the billions of dollars spent by government to support the nuclear industry would be a significant investment in improved public health if put to work on energy conservation, replacing polluting coal-fired plants with truly renewable power and investing in a "smart," distributed electricity grid.

Much more on nuclear issue on WNPJ Environmental Work Group webpage.