South Carolina's Nuclear Economy Oconee Nuclear Power Plant Photo Credit: Duke Power Co.
Energy Use in SC • Sandlappers' average energy use - ~62 billion kWh + 1.4 billion therms of natural gas • Combined total emissions – 35 million pounds of CO, 150 billion pounds of CO2 • 2005 – SC spends almost $10.2 billion on energy • 98% of energy consumed was imported from outside of SC • DOE estimates that $.70-.80/dollar leaves the economy and never returns Source: South Carolina Energy Office http://www.energy.sc.gov/Renewable%20energy/renewable_index.htm
Compare SC to the Rest of the Nation • 3rd among 31 states with nuclear capacity • Two sites in Top 100 largest: Oconee – 16; Catawba – 32 • Largest nuclear power producer in Southeast. • 9 other SE states use nuke energy. SC is the one state where nuclear is the leading fuel. • Oconee plant is only the second in history to get license extensions from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission Source: Energy Information Administration http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/at_a_glance/states/statessc.html
Myth #1 – It's Clean! • No particulate emissions emitted during generation... • But radioactive and hard metal wastes pollute land, air and water Waste tank at Hanford, WA. Photo credit: Dept. of Energy
Myth #2 – It's renewable! • Spent nuclear material can be reprocessed... • But reprocessing is extremely expensive, and entire spent loads cannot be reprocessed (current methods are not 100% efficient) • Millions of gallons of water are used every day at one nuclear plant • Radioactive contamination can render other natural resources – farmland, ground water, air - useless
Myth #3 – It's Cheap! • Licensing (and other regulations), insurance, hardware, initial construction, input costs & disposal make nuclear operations extremely expensive... • Energy rebates and tax breaks – local, state & federal – make the nuclear power industry affordable and profitable
Radioactive Waste • Low-level waste (LLW), aka waste incidental to processing • High-level waste (HLW) • “Accelerated cleanup” plan would allow DOE to reclassify HLW to LLW, thereby expediting cleanup. Grout mixed in to solidify waste. • HLW is usually a liquid sludge buried in storage tanks. Constituent elements include uranium, plutonium and tritium. • SRS – 32 million+ gallons stored in leaking, aging containers buried just above the water table
Why do we keep taking this stuff? • It's the law... “… the State Budget and Control Board … is designated as the agency of the State which shall … (4) assume responsibility for extended custody and maintenance of radioactive materials held for custodial purposes at any publicly or privately operated facility located within the State, in the event the parties operating these facilities abandon their responsibility, or when the license for the facility is ultimately transferred to an agency of the State, and whenever the federal government or any agency of the federal government has not assumed the responsibility.” - SC Code of Laws Section 13-7-30 • It's profitable. Other states pay us to take their nuclear trash.
Mixed Oxide (MOX) – weapons grade uranium used for commercial fuel Modern Pit Facility – recondition the plutonium pits in nuclear warheads Sources: “14 Sites fit Duke's nuclear needs.” The State (Columbia, SC). 20 February 2006. <http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/13915245.htm> The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability <http://www.ananuclear.org> Projects on the Table • Six potential new reactors in the Carolinas • Duke Power could choose SC for its first nuclear site in 30 years • SCE&G and Santee Cooper plan two new reactors at Summer
What can I do to help? • Write/call/e-mail/fax your federal legislators and ask them to oppose DOE budget requests for all new nuclear projects (energy, weapons; basically anything but cleanup) • Write/call/e-mail/fax your SC/state legislators and ask them to oppose rebates and tax breaks aimed at easing nuclear costs • Write/call/e-mail/fax the Governor and ask him/her to 1) oppose kickbacks to nuke energy and 2) provide incentives for conservation and renewable energy
Other Ways to Help • Write/call/e-mail/fax your county/city council. • Attend a public meeting or hearing session. • Letter to the Editor • Educate friends, family, co-workers & bosses, parishioners, neighbors on nuclear energy AND its alternatives. • Conserve your energy and buy renewable, if possible. • Call your energy company and ask them how long it will take them to phase out nuclear and phase in renewables.
Conclusions • South Carolina has a nuclear dependency • Nuclear proliferation – energy and weapons – is made cost-effective through policy (not through markets) • Radioactive waste poses a lethal threat to ecosystems (including people!) • Several new projects are being planned that will directly impact SC • Act now or watch nukes power the rest of our lives