SACE in the News: Defending Clean Air and Questioning TVA on Bellefonte Nuclear Plant

Asthma Inhaler

Asthma Inhaler

SACE’s Federal Policy Director, Jennifer Rennicks recently penned an op-ed titled,“Stand up for clean air” in her hometown paper, the Asheville Citizen-Times. While one may be tempted to wonder who doesn’t support clean air, The Environmental Protection Agency and the Clean Air Act have become public enemy #1 for some members of Congress. In her piece, Rennicks astutely makes the connection between clean air and quality of life for many kids heading back to school:

According to the American Lung Association, asthma is the most common chronic childhood disorder, affecting more than 200,000 children in North Carolina. Asthma is also the most common cause of school absenteeism, accounting for nearly one-third of all missed school days. Missed school for a child often means missed work for parents or caregivers, and may bring the added burden of doctors’ bills. Therefore, developing an action plan to manage asthma and minimize its impact is an important step for these children and their families to ensure a successful academic year.

Raising Safety and Financial Issues in TVA’s Bid to Complete Bellefonte Nuclear Plant

On August 9, 2011 SACE released a report titled “TVA’s Bad Nuclear Bet: Gambling BILLION$ on Bellefonte Reactors.” The reports details the financial and safety risks to TVA ratepayers that come with TVA’s attempt to complete the nearly forty-year-old Bellefonte site in Alabama. Unfortunately, at their August meeting, the TVA Board voted to move forward with Bellefonte. A number of news articles before and after the TVA Board vote showcase the obstacles that TVA faces in completing the plant.

According to TVA, completing Bellefonte will cost $4.9 billion. An article by Bloomberg Businessweek mentioned the potential for significant cost overruns, “Fairewinds Associates Inc., chief engineer Arnold Gundersen, who prepared a report for the alliance on problems with TVA’s projected $4.7 billion reactor, has said the cost of the pressurized water reactor could more than double.”

And a CNN article cited the safety issues at Bellefonte, “The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy warns that not only is there ‘compromised radiation containment in the unfinished reactor’ at Bellefonte, but it would be a ‘financial gamble’ to get any of the Bellefonte reactors back online. ‘The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has serious concerns about TVA’s push to complete the mothballed, abandoned Bellefonte reactors,’ Steven Smith, the group’s executive director, said in a statement.”

Perhaps, an editorial by the Knoxville News-Sentinel best sums up why Bellefonte is a bad bet. It reads in part:

SACE’s report alleges the foundation of the plant has deteriorated. In 2009 a vertical tendon, a steel band that helps maintain the structural integrity of the concrete containment vessel, failed. TVA plans to use the reactor design originally planned for Unit 1 nearly four decades ago — Babcock & Wilcox Mark-205. Only one Mark-C 205 has ever been operational worldwide, and that German reactor was online for only 13 months in the mid 1980s. SACE also raises questions about seismic and flooding possibilities, as well as worries about cost overruns.

You can voice your concerns about Bellefonte by contacting the TVA Board directly. Attempting to complete Bellefonte is a mistake and TVA ratepayers would be better served by investing $5 billion in renewables and energy efficiency programs that provide clean, safe energy at a predictable cost.

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