Tomorrow is the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that heavily damaged four of the six nuclear reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi in Japan on 11 March 2011, also known as 3/11. The broken reactors at Fukushima continue to leak radioactive substances into groundwater, the sea, and the air, where it is carried across oceans to the U.S. and elsewhere. And it could still get much worse: if the No. 4 reactor pool, still suspended in the air, collapses and causes the disintegration of spent fuel rods from all the other reactors there, Tokyo, 200 miles away, will have to be evacuated. Fukushima’s GE reactors are the same GE Mark I design as Southern Company’s Plant Hatch 1 and 2 only 100 miles from here at Baxley, GA, and about 200 miles from Atlanta and Charleston. Hatch is leaking radioactive tritium into our groundwater again. Five more reactors within 500 miles of here are also GE Mark I.
Among the 311 or so facebook pages and websites about Fukushima or against nuclear power is this concise one, Unplug Nuclear Power, which offers a simple action anyone can take tomorrow:
On 3/11, we will mark Fukushima day by using as little utility supplied electricity as possible. This direct Action is designed to punish the utility companies for continuing to push for nuclear power even after the Fukushima disaster has proven that it is just too dangerous. On that day, we will punish them in the only way that they understand, by denying them our money. There will be four levels of participation, go to the website, www.unplugnuclearpower.com for a more complete description. Also, be sure to join the Event. Finally, if you are in a group our organization that can endorse this Action, please let us know.
As Jeremy Rifkin so concisely spelled out, nuclear power is over as a business model worth investing in. As Rhone Resch spelled out last year, solar power is worth investing in but Georgia’s 1973 Territorial Electric Service Act makes that difficult. And Georgia Power and its parent the Southern Company don’t want to change that law, and why should they while they have a monopoly and are busy soaking up money through their three-legged nuclear regulatory-capture boondoggle for building new nukes at Plant Vogtle on the Savannah River, already 19 months late and around a billion dollars over budget.
Building big centralized baseload nukes is a bet-the-farm risk (Moody’s phrase) especially now that solar is at grid parity in India and Italy without subsidies and Deutsche Bank expects the same to be true in the rest of the world by 2014.
The way Southern Company got to be the biggest electric utility in the country was by Fukushima economically taking down TEPCO in Japan and e.on in Germany. Duke is now the biggest in the U.S. since it bought Progress Energy of Florida. And one of Duke’s first moves after the merger was to permanently close the broken Crystal River nuke. Even TEPCO, owner of Fukushima Dai-ichi, is busily building solar plants inland and tsunami-proof windmills offshore.
It’s time for Georgia Power and Southern Company to halt the Vogtle nuke boondoggle and get on with solar power in Georgia and wind off the coast. Solar and wind are going to win and Georgia Power and SO can stop dragging Georgia back and instead lead the way for Georgia to benefit in jobs and profits from exporting energy that an Arizona State University study spelled out two years ago.