By Ben Shulman-Reed

As the United States (US) energy economy entered the 21st century, the atomic power industry declared that this century is the beginning of an alleged Nuclear Renaissance. In response utilities and energy corporations placed orders for 30 brand new allegedly ‘safer and more modern reactors’ named the AP1000. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) was so convinced that the Nuclear Renaissance would occur that it built a brand new mega office building to hold all the extra staff the NRC anticipated it would need to regulate these new reactor designs. Colleges and universities around the country also ramped up their nuclear engineering degree programs in anticipation.

Now all but two of those 30 proposed nukes have been cancelled. All preliminary preparations were over budget, behind schedule, not cost competitive compared to renewables, and then due to conservation and new digital components, the electric demand simply failed to materialize. The Nuclear Renaissance is now dead except for two lone plants called Vogtle 3 and 4 near Waynesboro, Georgia. Although the ongoing construction and operation of these two Georgia atomic power reactors makes absolutely no economic sense, they continue to be supported and moved forward by a pro-nuclear Georgia Public Service Commission that has the two plants on life support.

Using federally funded loan guarantees and forcing current ratepayers to pay for these outmoded nukes in their current electric bills years before they will ever, if ever, generate electricity, the Georgia ‘good ole boys’ continue to support the business interests of their cronies instead of their own constituents: the citizens of Georgia.

While these cost overruns have made national headlines, no one seems to be asking the important question: are these atomic power plants – first designed more than 20-years ago –even safe to operate if they should ever be completed. For the past eight years, Fairewinds chief engineer Arnie Gundersen has worked with environmental groups all around the southeaster US in their campaigns that prove this AP1000 reactor design simply is not safe. Bottom line: Not only is Vogtle too expensive, but the AP1000 reactor is simply not be safe to operate if it is built.

In August, Arnie and Maggie were invited by the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (BREDL) to present this material showing the inherent risks of the AP1000 reactor to citizens’ groups gathered in Decatur, Georgia (GA) adjacent to the DeKalb County Courthouse and as an invited guest speaker at Paine College in Augusta, GA. Listen now!

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