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The Nuclear Alternative - New plants could be part of energy solution

For environmental and geopolitical reasons, the U.S. must reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Traditional coal-fired plants are dirty and contribute to foul air problems in North Texas and elsewhere. Coal gasification, a cleaner technology, is relatively untested on a large scale. Wind and solar power are clean but insufficient. Natural gas is becoming more expensive.

Not so long ago, the mention of nuclear energy still drew reminders of Three Mile Island, memories that muted a dispassionate discussion of the power source's pros and cons.

But it's time for long-standing opposition to nuclear power to give way to reality.

NRG Energy's just-announced plans to build two nuclear power units at its South Texas Project near Bay City could be what it takes for this state to come to grips with its air quality problems and growing power needs.

For environmental and geopolitical reasons, the U.S. must reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Traditional coal-fired plants are dirty and contribute to foul air problems in North Texas and elsewhere. Coal gasification, a cleaner technology, is relatively untested on a large scale. Wind and solar power are clean but insufficient. Natural gas is becoming more expensive.

NRG's announcement reopens the nuclear power option. TXU, which plans to build 11 traditional coal-fired plants, also says it will "continue to investigate ... the expansion of its Comanche Peak nuclear power facility." There was a time when neither company would have broached the nuclear debate. But now... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Not so long ago, the mention of nuclear energy still drew reminders of Three Mile Island, memories that muted a dispassionate discussion of the power source's pros and cons.
 
But it's time for long-standing opposition to nuclear power to give way to reality.
 
NRG Energy's just-announced plans to build two nuclear power units at its South Texas Project near Bay City could be what it takes for this state to come to grips with its air quality problems and growing power needs.
 
For environmental and geopolitical reasons, the U.S. must reduce dependence on fossil fuels. Traditional coal-fired plants are dirty and contribute to foul air problems in North Texas and elsewhere. Coal gasification, a cleaner technology, is relatively untested on a large scale. Wind and solar power are clean but insufficient. Natural gas is becoming more expensive.
 
NRG's announcement reopens the nuclear power option. TXU, which plans to build 11 traditional coal-fired plants, also says it will "continue to investigate ... the expansion of its Comanche Peak nuclear power facility." There was a time when neither company would have broached the nuclear debate. But now the "pros" are growing, and many of the "cons," including around safety concerns, have diminished.
 
Opponents say building a nuclear plant is too expensive and finding a suitable site and disposing of nuclear waste are too difficult. These are legitimate questions, but not insurmountable.
 
Even after Three Mile Island tainted the industry, companies built nuclear power plants. The building, however, came to a virtual halt a decade ago, in part because on-again, off-again federal and state policies and contentious regulatory reviews discouraged new investment. The last new nuclear plant in the U.S. began generating power 10 years ago in Tennessee.
 
But with new federal incentives in place and better energy understanding, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission expects a wave of nuclear plant proposals. Even under the best of conditions, lengthy regulatory reviews make it likely that additional nuclear power is several years away. That's all the more reason for Texas and the nation to seriously consider this power alternative now.


Source: http://www.dallasnews.com/...

JUN 25 2006
http://www.windaction.org/posts/3206-the-nuclear-alternative-new-plants-could-be-part-of-energy-solution
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