I read a severe critique of the United States nuclear power industry in the July 1 Lincoln County News. Unfortunately, our nuclear power industry is in decline as new construction has stopped and our reactors age. The US nuclear industry has an enviable safety record. Despite the frightening headlines going back 50 years, the Three Mile Island core meltdown, and other failures, no event has resulted in any deaths. There are few industries that have that kind of safety record. Based on a decade of work at Maine Yankee and my insider knowledge of nuclear plant operation I chose to build my home down-wind and within sight of the plant. I was close enough to occasionally snowshoe to work when my car was buried in one of our blizzards.
As nuclear workers many of the several hundred employees received several times the radiation exposure limit allowed for the general public. We have our Facebook page and many of us remain in contact. As we age, we still are a healthy, active, and engaged group. Herman Lovejoy, featured on the front page of the local newspaper last week as a “Character of the County”, was and is a well-liked and respected member of our team. He exemplified the can-do attitude, the Maine work ethic, and the positive and friendly attitude of most of our employees. We were proud of our plant. As the largest nuclear plant in 1972 we set many world records for length of runs and power generation.
Everyday Maine Yankee operated at full power it replaced coal plants that would burn 100 freight cars of coal and generate 10 freight cars of fly ash and tons of CO2.
Other countries are building new nuclear plants. In their strategic plans they need gigawatts of clean, reliable, and cheap power to increase their economic and military strength. China comes to mind. They have 51 operating plants, 17 under construction, 38 planned and 78 proposed for a potential total of 168 plants. In their quest to overtake the U.S. and become a dominant world power they recognize the shortcoming of green power. It is a niche industry. It can exist only with subsidies, is expensive, unreliable, and must have a large expensive ready reserve. As we prioritize Green Energy and spend billions on solar, wind, and carbon capture schemes China is growing stronger. The danger to the U.S. is to be left with an old unreliable electrical grid supplied by intermittent generation at excessive costs leaving us without the economic power to counter the China’s of the world. It is difficult to envision the U.S. maintaining our place in the world if our priorities do not change. The danger for us is to be a country without nuclear power and to be left behind.
Joe Grant, Wiscasset