If nuclear power plants are safe, let the commercial insurance industry insure them. Until these most expert judges of risk are willing to gamble with their money, I'm not willing to gamble with the health and safety of my family. - Donna Reed
Nuclear Reactors are Expensive
The expense for constructing nuclear reactors is prohibitive and their cost to operate is increasing over time. In 2003, MIT did a study that estimated that nuclear energy had an overnight cost of $2,000 per kwh. They suggested Federal funding to target a few areas that could reduce costs to $1,000 per kwh over the the next decade. President Bush and Congress approved a far larger package of federal grants than MIT suggested as part of an effort to manufacture a "nuclear renaissance." Today, the overnight cost of nuclear energy has skyrocketed to $5,000 - $6,000 while the costs of renewable energy sources have declined by 30%.
Nuclear Reactors are not the answer to a changing climate.
While fossil-fuel energy sources have severe public health and environmental impacts, building new nuclear reactors can take over 10 years before they start producing electricity for the power-grid. The billions required to construct new nuclear reactors could be used to build wind turbines, solar arrays, and other renewable energy sources that would have an immediate impact on carbon emissions and public health. Most recently, Germany resolved to end their dependence on nuclear energy by 2022 and have successfully vastly expanded their renewable energy industry. The significant investment required to build a nuclear reactor could better be used to pursue a sustainable and renewable energy future.
Nuclear Reactors are Insured by Taxpayers
If a Fukushima-Level accident occurred in the United States, taxpayers would be responsible for over $200 billion in costs from the aftermath. Utility companies, under the Price-Anderson Act, would only be responsible for ~$12.6 billion of the costs after a serious nuclear accident. Even if Congress retroactively pushed the full burden of cleanup on a utility company, they would be unable to cover the costs and taxpayers would be forced to step in. The reason that commercial insurance markets refuse to cover nuclear reactors is because they understand the risks involved. If they will not, why should we?
Nuclear Reactors are not "Green"
Nuclear Reactors produce waste that remain radioactive for thousands of generations. The United States has no responsible solution for dealing with nuclear waste and decommissioned nuclear reactors require decades of clean-up to mitigate their impact on surrounding areas. A consolidated waste storage plan (pictured above) in Yucca Mountain neither has the consent of local populations nor the confidence of geologists that the waste can be secured for the long-term. In addition, the transport of nuclear waste across the country to Yucca Mountain would represent an ongoing security and environmental risk. Read more about nuclear waste here.
Nuclear Reactors Continue to Pose Risks
Nuclear Reactors pose catastrophic risks for surrounding populations. With a rapidly changing climate, current U.S. nuclear reactors reliance on fresh water increases their vulnerabilities to drought and warming temperatures in some regions. The ongoing risk posed by natural disasters (hurricanes, earthquakes) escalates the probability of accidents associated with these expensive reactors. We must secure an energy future that does not force our people and environment to live under the shadow of a potential nuclear meltdown.