Where's the outrage over wasting Exelon's massive power source at Zion?

The Madison County Record Apr. 24, 2011, 3:42am

To the Editor:

For the past two and a half years, I have been engaged in a continuing effort to engage others to refurbish and restart the Zion Station in Zion, Ill.

Zion Station consists of two modern, environmentally clean, safe, low cost, 3 Loop 1000+ megawatt Westinghouse-designed and built, nuclear fueled pressured water reactor (PWR) electricity generating plant, located on seismically approved ground.

With proper routine maintenance and upgrades, as happens to all machinery, both could be safely operated for 100 years or more.

Exelon has never explained why the two nuclear plants were unnecessarily and prematurely closed and placed in "safestore" in 1998 way before their time, when these two nuclear plants while "operating" neither spewed radioactive particles into the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.

Exelon refuses to this day to release its financial calculations as to its decision to shutter Zion Station in 1998, as well as two other financial calculations made, before Exelon transferred Zion to ZionSolutions for decommissioning on Sept. 1, 2010.

Also of importance is why Exelon never attempted to sell the Zion Plant to another party if Exelon was unable to operate Zion profitably.

The two nuclear plants were providing safe, environmentally clean, low cost electricity to the electrical grids, in a seismically approved location -- and not just to northeast Illinois -- helping to stabilize and possibly drive down the cost of electricity in rate payers monthly bills.

Regarding nuclear waste, this nation, after foolishly rejecting an ideal national depository to store high level nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, needs to start reprocessing nuclear fuel as is done in France, where 80 percent of that country's electricity comes from nuclear power. The radioactive waste from their 59 reactors over 30 years of operation is stored in a single room in Normandy as a result of reprocessing and reusing spent fuel.

Not surprisingly, U.S. anti-nuclear groups on Monday, April 4, condemned a plant roughly one-third finished on the Department of Energy's Savannah River site to build a plant where plutonium from weapons would be reprocessed into fuel for nuclear power plants.

When will the nuclear energy fear-mongering that once again reared its ugly head during the recent incident at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear complex in March ever end? It was the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan that destabilized the reactors and caused radiation leaks due to the destruction of backup reactor electric suppliers.

The 2,226 spent fuel rods now in Zion's cooling pool can withstand a tornado up to 360 miles per hour and missiles up to 4,000 pounds. Furthermore, Lake Michigan has never had a seisch (a wave) of more than 20 feet high.

When will saner heads prevail to educate the American people about nuclear energy, instead of those in the print and broadcast media who have little or no knowledge about nuclear energy.

Enough with the "Pie in the Sky" dream that wind and solar power will ever become viable mass producers of energy!

These facts about nuclear power should be taught to every high school student in the U.S.

1. One uranium fuel pellet, without being reprocessed and recycled, generates about as much energy as three barrels of oil (41 gallons each), two tons of coal, or 17,000 cubic feet of natural gas.

2. Uranium-fued electrical generating plants produce abundant, cheap, clean and safe energy.

3. About 20 percent of electricity in the U.S. comes from uranium fuel.

4. We depend on electricity to manufacture goods and provide services that assure safety, healthy living and conveniences in modern life.

May legislators and those in the energy field wise up before it is too late. Others nations are investing in nuclear energy while this nation sits on the sidelines. Since the time of Admiral Rickover, the Navy has had nuclear powered submarines, aircraft carriers and destroyers, all with a stellar record of safely.

Power is what drives the engine of our economy. An ever increasing amount of energy will be required in future years to fuel economic growth and to sustain the quality of life for future generations.

The Zion Station even now could be and should be refurbished and restarted, but time is running out.

Legislators should be outraged that Zion's massive source of energy is scheduled to be wasted forever!

Nuclear power is the way of the future. If this nation fails to act decisively and in a timely way, the decision-makers of today will reap the post-mortem blame for their shortsightedness and lack of common sense.

Nancy J, Thorner
Lake Bluff, Ill.

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