What would happen to this nation’s economy if Philadelphia became uninhabitable? Abandonment of the nation’s fifth largest city would have an economic impact rivaling that of the Great Depression.
Building yet another expensive, unnecessary, and dangerous nuclear power plant in Southern New Jersey is the height of irresponsibility. While a Chernobyl or Fukushima type disaster is highly unlikely, it is still possible. So why is PSE&G proposing to do so? Especially when there are more cost-effective and safer alternatives.
If a severe accident occurs in such a plant, whether it is by cutting corners on design, by operator error, or by inflicted terrorism, it is conceivable that a 50-mile zone around the plant would need to be permanently evacuated. This would include the City of Philadelphia and the most densely populated areas of South Jersey.
Yet, PSE&G is moving forward to add a fourth ticking time bomb at their power generation site in Salem County. Yesterday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved a permit to build a fourth reactor at that site.
Nuclear energy profiteers dismiss the Chernobyl accident as a combination of operator error and antiquated technology. They say the Fukushima accident can’t happen here because we don’t (yet) have earthquakes and tsunamis in South Jersey. But that’s not the point. Despite all the safeguards put in place, accidents do occur. Usually due to unforeseen circumstances. That’s why they’re called “accidents.”
The question that needs to be answered is: “Is the risk of continued reliance on nuclear energy worth the risk of long-term irreversible environmental damage and the cost of human suffering?” Perhaps at one time in the not-too-distant past, that question could have been answered in the affirmative. But not any more. The cost of renewable energy has been dropping and it is now competitive with that of dirty fuels, including nuclear.
The fourth Salem plant is not yet a done deal. There are still numerous approvals from local, state, and federal regulators that need to occur. But now is the time to write to our officials and let them know that nuclear power is the wrong answer. It is neither safe nor cheap, and we need not burden our children and grandchildren with these ticking time bombs in their back yards.