About 10 miles down the road from my house is a nuclear power plant. The plant is currently under consideration to build a third tower that would provide energy to NJ and NY and , in times of crisis, PA. The project would provide several hundred jobs once completed and several thousand jobs while under construction. The proposed completion date for this project is 2012.
While Sen McCain has proposed this type of growth and supports building as many as 45 new nuclear plants by 2030, Sen Obama , in his energy plan, cites concerns over security, storage of fuel rods and weapons of mass destruction as reasons not to pursue it aggressively. Sen Obama’s “not in my backyard” approach to nuclear energy is counter to the history of the American nuclear energy program and the strict oversight rules that the NRC and it’s facilities must comply with on a daily basis.
Obviously security will always be an issue with nuclear power plants. They are inviting targets to anyone wishing to hurt us. Prior to 9/11 these plants were more open and available to the public. Since 9/11, nuclear plants across the country, including the Susquehanna facility in my backyard, have aggressively pursued new security measures. Early warning systems for events are constantly checked and rechecked and security is constantly tested.
Storage of spent nuclear material is an extremely controversial issue. Like Sen Obama, no one wants it in their backyard. What many people don’t realize is that it is already stored there. Even if you do not live near a nuclear facility, hospitals in your area may be storing radioactive material from certain procedures. The waste from radioactive dyes is kept on site for the same reason spent fuel rods are kept on site, there is no other place to put it. Sen Obama dismisses the Yucca Mountain site as a possibility and offers only more research as the answer to the storage question. But will research in this area take place under a President who outlines the “not in my backyard” mentality in his energy plan?
Finally, the ironic part of Sen Obama’s nuclear concerns. When the US went into Iraq, we did so based on information that said Sadaam had or could have weapons of mass destruction. Since then President Bush has been called a liar and war monger because WMDs were never found. In Sen Obama’s energy plan he cites nuclear material as a source of material for WMDs. The US recently shipped something like 550 metric tons of nuclear material out of..wait for it…IRAQ. http://www.cbc.ca/world/story/2008/07/05/saddam-uranium.html. So under Obama’s energy plan nuclear material is considered useful to terrorists but under his “get the hell out of Iraq, we never should have been there” foreign policy nuclear material is not a threat?
Nuclear power is only one aspect of Sen McCain’s energy plan but it is one that shows a clear difference between him and Sen Obama. The boost economically of building new plants or towers, as in the case of the Susquehanna facility, would be enormous. The shift away from foreign oil would be priceless. But only Sen McCain is willing to pursue this strategy immediately. Sen Obama wants committees to act on this issue before he does.
Do we really want another committee hearing on what America should be doing or do we want more energy and less dependence on foreign oil now?