This article contains many facts that are useful in the current war of words with the pro nuclear contingent. Use any of them in your own letters to the editor or posts to social media or conversations with legislators.
Matt Wilkinson”s “Black Swan” story might have been interesting if it weren’t comprised of a series of false premises (“Don’t be blindsided by another black swan,” April 15).
1. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not shutting down the Indian Point (IP) nuclear plants and does not have the power to keep them open. Entergy is closing all its northeastern nuclear plants because they are no longer economically viable in a competitive marketplace.
2. The assertion that IP provides “25% of New York City’s power” is false. According to Consolidated Edison, which transmits all the electricity in New York City and adjacent Westchester County, the average daily peak load in summer is 13,000 megawatts. A quarter of that would be 3,250 — something of a stretch for a plant with a maximum output of 2,069 MW.
3. Electricity is not automatically owned by the residents in the vicinity — it is a commodity that is sold. Entergy bought IP 3 from the New York Power Authority (NYPA), which had built and operated it, in 2001 with a 7-year agreement to buy all of the plant’s output. NYPA provides electricity — over ConEd’s lines — for municipal buildings, street lights, the subways, airports, public housing, and schools in New York City and Westchester County. At the end of 7 years, NYPA signed a new contract with decreasing purchases — the 2012 contract was only for 100 MW out of the 1,000 IP3 produced. When the contract expired it was not renewed because it was not needed.
4. ConEd, which built and operated IP2 until the sale in 2001, had a similar agreement. By 2018 the contract called for only 560 MW. That contract expired May 31, 2018 and was not renewed. For nearly two years, IP has provided none of the electricity used daily in New York City and Westchester County and the lights haven’t gone out, the airports haven’t shut down and the subways did not stop for lack of electricity.
5. The assertion that nuclear power has “experienced only one fatal accident” is a lie. The Department of Labor maintains a list updated biweekly of claims by nuclear workers for medical or death benefits: (www.dol.gov/owcp/energy/regs/compliance/weeklystats.htm ).
As of April 12, 2020, Department of Labor paid out $17,866,563,237 for 318,958 claims from 127,065 individual workers. Some of these claims stem from common industrial accidents. Many were the result of exposure to radiation.
6. The paltry figures Wilkinson cites from Chernobyl came from the former government of the Soviet Union, which was trying desperately to hide the catastrophe. According to the Ukrainian government, more than 60,000 died in the effort to control the blaze and entomb the reactor. Another 3.5 million residents were exposed to excessive amounts of radiation. And cancer takes time to develop, a fact he conveniently ignores.
7. Two days after the tidal wave struck Fukushima the USS Reagan aircraft carrier and its battle group anchored 2 miles offshore to provide emergency aid to the stricken Japanese coast. They were unprepared when the reactors blew, washing the fleet with a cloud of Cesium 137 gas and contaminating its entire desalination water system from the highly contaminated water running through the smoldering, melted reactors. So far, more than 415 of the sailors and family members based in the area have developed radiation related medical issues, including brain cancer, bone cancer, and leukemia. Some have died. ( https://bit.ly/3b8Cp9L )
8. How environmentally friendly is a plant which kills more than 2 billion (with a B) fish annually through its once-through cooling system, which is a major reason for the decline in fish stocks in the river? It has leaked millions of gallons of tritiated water containing Cesium, Plutonium, and other radioactive particulates into the Hudson River, a source of drinking water for seven river communities. Is that environmentally friendly? It dumps 30 billion BTUs of heat into the river hourly — the equivalent of the heat released by an atomic bomb every two hours, 24/7/365 — which significantly alters the ecology of the river.
How friendly is that? In a warming world, how would more such heat generators affect water systems in the drying west?
Nuclear power is dying out because it is economically losing to cheaper, more efficient power systems. To many people, its virtues are not worth the risk or the cost. That’s called capitalism.
Cortlandt Manor, New York