Nukewatch Quarterly Spring 2016
After two previous attempts failed, the Republican-controlled state Assembly and Senate finally succeeded in repealing a 33-year-old statute that prevented new reactor construction in the state.
Moved by the 1979 Three Mile Island reactor accident and the precautionary principle, the 1983 law required that a federal dump site for high-level radioactive waste be up and running before new reactors could be built. The statute also required the state public utilities commission (PSC) to certify that the cost of electricity from a nuclear generator would be less “burdensome” than that from other sources.
With heavy majorities now in both state houses, the statute’s pre-conditions were derided as “out of date” and “unnecessary,” even though a federal solution to high-level waste disposal is as far off as it was in 1983. In spite of spirited opposition from environmentalists and even proponents of the original law, it was ousted largely along party lines.
As John Dunn of Mauston, Wisc. said in a letter to state senators, with repeal, the PSC will not have to consider decommissioning costs of retired nuclear reactors when weigning the comparitive costs of various electric generation systems. But the PUC does have to consider the decommissioning costs for wind generation.
Decommissioning of the Kewaunee reactor on Lake Michigan, which was closed in 2014, is reportedly going to take up to 40 years