Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2013-2014
By Lisa Kasenow
Cancelled, unused and destroyed reactors give the lie to industry boosters who speak of its “24/7 reliability.” Shutdowns, fires, explosions, leaks, meltdowns and hugely expensive re-builds add up to a record of nuclear malfeasance. The industry has been such a financial failure that Forbes magazine thundered from its Feb. 11, 1985 cover, “The failure of the US nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale. …only the blind, or the biased, can now think that most of the money has been well spent. … The scale of the US nuclear power program’s collapse is appalling: 75 plants cancelled since 1978, including 28 already under construction…” By 1999, a total of 121 reactors had been cancelled, squandering about $50 billion in 1995 dollars.* Lisa Kasenow sent Nukewatch an outline of the more recent financial disasters:
1. Ten partially-constructed nuclear power reactors have been cancelled. All 10 were scrapped more than 10 years after they had been ordered, and half were cancelled 18-22 years into construction. Three possible terminations — Tennessee Valley Authority’s Bellefonte 1 & 2, and Watts Bar 2 — are still under construction today, even though these reactor orders date from 1970.
2. Nuclear power units scratched before construction work had begun number 117, and in most cases the cancellations occurred years after the reactors were ordered.
Of the 117 reactors abandoned after being ordered, half of them were stopped 4-10 years after being ordered, and 20% were halted 8-10 years after the order was made.
The TVA wins the gold medal for nuclear wasted money, because it’s responsible for the abandonment of 10 and possibly 11 federally permitted reactors. Bellefonte 1 & 2; Hartsville A1, A2, B1 & B2; Phipps Bend 1 & 2; Yellow Creek 1 & 2 and possibly Watts Bar 2.
3. There are 21 fully-constructed and licensed commercial reactors that no longer supply electricity. These 21 commercial reactors were in operation for an average of 17 years each. Of these, 14 have high-level radioactive waste (used fuel) on site.
The longest operating time for one of these reactors is 34 years, while the shortest was under one year. More than half operated for less than 20 years. Twenty-eight percent were operational for less than 10 years. Three Mile Island Unit 2 operated for one year. Pathfinder in South Dakota ran for 30 minutes. Shoreham operated for less than one year and then closed.
* Arjun Makhijani, The Nuclear Deception,1999, p. xiv.
— Lisa Kasenow is a retired physics, chemistry & biology teacher and fulltime anti-nuclear activist in Florida.