Washington, D.C. A colorful cast of characters from atomic robber baron Montgomery Burns of The Simpsons to ghosts of nuclear power’s past, present, and future, as well as depictions of solar power, wind energy, and energy efficiency staged street theater near the front entrance of the U.S. Department of Energy today. The performance, by a coalition of national and regional environmental groups, protested against $20.5 billion in federal loan guarantees for building new atomic reactors and uranium enrichment facilities that Energy Secretary Steven Chu has indicated he could soon award to nuclear corporations. The street theater was held as part of the international “Don’t Nuke the Climate” action day, with over 200 events being held in 10 countries, intended to block nuclear power multi-nationals from exploiting the Copenhagen, Denmark climate negotiations to resuscitate their moribund industry at public expense.
“Despite industry hype, the environmental movement continues to oppose new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. More than 850 organizations worldwide have signed a statement reading ‘We do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate crisis. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power,'” said Michael Mariotte, Executive Director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service. A list of signers is posted at www.nirs.org.
“Two of the reactor designs that the Department of Energy is on the verge of financing with taxpayer-backed loan guarantees are not yet even certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission,” said Allison Fisher, Organizer at the Public Citizen Energy Program. “The French Areva Evolutionary Power Reactor design proposed for Maryland’s Chesapeake shore has been reprimanded by safety regulators in Finland, Britain, and even France itself for significant design flaws.”
“It is clear that issuing ‘conditional’ nuclear loan guarantees for as yet unlicensed reactors would be premature and highly risky for U.S. taxpayers,’ said Kevin Kamps, Radioactive Waste Watchdog at Beyond Nuclear.
“We urge the Obama administration to reject authorizing any more loan guarantees that could be applied to the construction of new nuclear reactors,” said Ben Schreiber, Climate and Energy Tax Analyst at Friends of the Earth.
The nuclear power industry has applied to the Energy Department for an additional $100 billion worth of loan guarantees for new reactors, in addition to the $18.5 billion already authorized two years ago.