May 21, 2009: Investment in Nuclear Power Endangers Taxpayers

  • May 21, 2009
Leah Steinberg

For Immediate Release: May 21, 2009

Investment in Nuclear Power over Efficiency and Renewable

Energy Endangers Taxpayers, Ratepayers & Public Health

Twelve Wisconsin groups submitted a letter to the Governor and State Legislators today asserting that the substantive problems of long-term storage of radioactive waste and astronomically high lifecycle cost of make expanded nuclear power inadvisable for Wisconsin’s energy future.

In a letter to Governor Doyle and State Legislators, Physicians for Social Responsibility Wisconsin and eleven other organizations show that the liabilities of nuclear power make it a risky investment, both to the public health and the public pocket book.

The letter states, “Unlike renewable electricity sources, the by-products of nuclear electricity generation exist in the environment for hundreds of years and are highly toxic.” In Wisconsin alone, 1,365 metric tons of high level nuclear waste will be stored at nuclear reactor sites by 2011, and that 58,000 metric tons has already accumulated at sites throughout the US. Current EPA standards require that the environment and public be kept safe from exposure to stored radioactive waste for up to one million years.

The groups also show that the lifecycle costs of nuclear power and means by which plants are funded shifts the financial risk from the nuclear industry to ratepayers and taxpayers. From the failed multi-billion dollar taxpayer investment in Yucca Mountain to ratepayer surcharges funding on-site storage of radioactive waste – all these costs and more are borne by the ratepayer and taxpayer, not the nuclear industry or nuclear plant shareholders. The fifty year old nuclear power industry can not even claim lower cost per kilowatt of delivered electricity, with costs higher than traditional coal and gas fired plants, and higher than wind power.

PSR Wisconsin and its partner groups assert that conservation and efficiency in all sectors of the economy are better investments for Wisconsin’s energy future. A fraction of the billions of dollars spent by government to support the nuclear industry would be a significant investment in improved public health if put to work on energy conservation, replacing polluting coal-fired plants with truly renewable power and investing in a “smart,” distributed electricity grid.