Women. Power. Peace.

Nuclear Power Primer

Do I need to be an expert on nuclear power to be involved?
You do not need to be a nuclear expert to have an opinion on the enormous ratepayer and taxpayer expense of nuclear energy and the deadly components of this industry. Safety, security, costs, waste, proliferation of bomb making materials - everything and anything should be mentioned.

Can you give me a little background on this?
Georgia utilities are trying to get federal approval to build up to two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle. The first step is for the Southern Company to file for an Early Site Permit. If the permit is issued, concerns such as water, land, public health, and safety cannot be brought up again even if new information is learned. For example, the new reactors will require tens of millions of gallons of water above and beyond the tens of millions Vogtle is already pulling from the Savannah River - this issue cannot be revisited again once an “early site permit” is granted.

If the NRC approves this permit, the Southern Company and its utility partners in Georgia can use this permit at any time for up to 20 years (with a possible 20 year extension) in any future applications with the NRC.

Arguments against nuclear power expansion at Plant Vogtle:

Please feel free to use this background info provided by WAND member Sara Barczak with the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). Thank you, Sara!

1. The Savannah River basin is already suffering; building more nuclear reactors will only make this situation worse.

2. Since the Early Site Permit (ESP) process allows a company to potentially ‘bank’ a site for up to 40 years (the 20 year ESP could get a 20 year extension), the NRC should have to look not only at Georgia ‘today,’ but the Georgia we are likely to live in 40 years from now.

3. Water Use & Supply: -Vogtle’s 2 existing reactors require huge amounts of water with only 1/3 of what was withdrawn being returned to the Savannah River [~64 million gallons per day (mgd) withdrawal with consumption of ~43 mgd]. That’s more water than many towns and cities in Georgia use!

4. Doubling the number of reactors on site will only make this worse. This excess use of water threatens municipalities, industries, agriculture, recreation, and aquatic species.

5. If there is an extended drought—even a drought 20 or 40 years from now, severe consequences could occur within the Savannah River basin.

6. The water discharged from nuclear Plant Vogtle is already hotter than what is withdrawn; more reactors will only make this situation worse.

7. Temperature changes negatively affect the fish, plant, and animal life that depend on the river. The water intake systems at nuclear power plants can kill fish and fish larvae, among other organisms; having more reactors on site will only make this worse.

8. High-level radioactive waste created (used nuclear fuel) has no place to be stored or disposed, nor is it likely that a ‘solution’ will be found in our lifetimes; building more nuclear reactors will only make this situation worse.

9. Existing and future projected waste will remain onsite at Plant Vogtle for generations and generations, threatening indefinitely the health of nearby communities and the environment. Yet the NRC in previous cases has refused to even address or consider this very important issue!

10. Security Nuclear plants are vulnerable to terrorist attack and sabotage; building more nuclear reactors will only make this situation worse by providing more targets.

11. Plant Vogtle is also very close to the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site, which stores a large portion of the nation’s weapons grade plutonium and other dangerous materials. If an accident or successful terrorist attack occurred, the full impacts to human health and the environment in this region would be immense.

12. A 1982 Congressional report estimated that if a meltdown occurred at just one of Vogtle’s reactors it could cause 39,000 peak* early injuries, 4000 peak cancer deaths, and 200 peak early fatalities with costs over $60 billion; building more reactors will only worsen these terrible impacts and put more people’s lives and health at risk. (*Peak means highest calculated value from the study – it does not necessarily mean worst case.)

13. We must produce electricity through less dangerous energy supplies such as energy efficiency & conservation, solar, wind, and biopower.

To find out more:

For more information on nuclear power, visit Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

For the NRC’s information on the Vogtle application process, click here.

For more information on nuclear energy basic: Five Myths About Nuclear Energy.

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