Veronique de Rugy’s argument in “No to Nukes” (July) that nuclear power should be abandoned because it is not cost-effective is absurd. The cost of delivered nuclear power is driven largely by the cost of building the plant, which in turn is based on capital costs and labor costs, which rise in proportion to construction times; these have been wildly inflated by government actions.
Prior to 1971, the average time from groundbreaking to commencement of operation for a nuclear plant was four years; now it is 15 years. The increase is due to the National Environmental Protection Act, under which nuclear power projects have been subjected to constant delays caused by government bureaucrats who change engineering requirements during construction and legal harassment by organizations whose openly stated objective is to wreck the nuclear industry by driving up its costs.
Furthermore, capital costs have quadrupled due to endless additional requirements imposed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) without rational engineering justification. As a result of NRC interference, it has become nearly impossible for the nuclear industry to initiate improvements that might reduce their costs.
Worst of all, in some cases the government has capriciously acted to revoke operating licenses for nuclear plants during construction, or even after they have been completed, thereby turning multibillion-dollar investments into total losses. In the face of the uncertainty created by such arbitrary destruction of private property, it is no wonder that few have been willing to invest in additional plants.
The reason no nuclear power plants have been built in the last 30 years is fear. Americans are fearful of anything involving the word nuclear. That’s why the medical scan originally called NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) was renamed magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Remove fear, and the playing field for nuclear energy would be reasonably level.
Palm Harbor, FL
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