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Monday, March 21, 2011

What we can learn from Japan's nuclear accident

Two good articles.  First, on the high risks.

An earthquake-and-tsunami zone crowded with 127 million people is an unwise place for 54 reactors. The 1960s design of five Fukushima-I reactors has the smallest safety margin and probably can't contain 90 percent of meltdowns. The U.S. has six identical and 17 very similar plants.

Second, on the economics.
Instead, Americans should abandon nuclear power for its prohibitive and uncompetitive costs.
The wildly escalting costs of nuclear plants under construction in the U.S. are a perfect example. A pair of proposed nuclear power plants in Florida have "overnight" costs of $3,800 per kilowatt, but since nuclear power plants actually take eight years to construct, the total estimated project costs are closer to $6,800 per kilowatt (kW) of capacity. This figure is reinforced by an estimate for Progress Energy's two new units ($6,300 per kW, $8,800 per kW), and Georgia Power's new plants ($4,000 per kW, $6,335 per kW), both still incomplete.

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