Make us your home page
Letters to the editor

Wisdom of nuclear power remains questionable

At Progress Energy’s Crystal River station, both coal and nuclear power are used to generate electricity. The company is seeking to build two new nuclear reactors a few miles away in Levy County. The initial estimate of the cost for those plants is $17-billion.

Times (2002)

At Progress Energy’s Crystal River station, both coal and nuclear power are used to generate electricity. The company is seeking to build two new nuclear reactors a few miles away in Levy County. The initial estimate of the cost for those plants is $17-billion.

Nuclear power is sensible option | March 17, editorial

Wisdom of nuclear power questionable

Having been heavily involved in renewable energy over the past eight years, I feel that I must challenge this editorial. The following sentences are at issue:

"Why should customers pay up front? The simple answer is a state law sought by Progress Energy allows it."

Placing the entire cost, currently estimated to be $17-billion, on the backs of already overburdened consumers is not the only "simple" answer. Progress Energy needs research and development help from big oil, the sleeping federal government and state funds.

"Permanent storage of spent fuel is still unresolved, though it can be kept on site for the foreseeable future."

These extremely dangerous spent fuel rods cannot continue to be scattered across the nation in rusting barrels ripe for terrorists to make dirty bombs. Yucca Mountain was to be the final resting place, but the government is not showing the leadership to make it happen. Lastly, transporting this waste has not even been addressed. Hauling it through populated areas either by rail or truck is unacceptable. The answer may be that we need numerous other Yuccas.

"The growing energy needs of the state and Tampa Bay cannot be met by energy efficiency alone. And renewable technologies, such as solar thermal or biomass, are not yet reliable for base-load generation and may never be."

This just is not true! The Sunshine State, where the sun is in abundance, must address solar.

I will end this by adding that my hope is for a grander and brighter country whose leaders are not ruled by special interests, and who align their thinking with the future of our nation, our state and our children.

Jack Bechtold, New Port Richey

Nuclear power is sensible option | March 17, editorial

The way to go

You guys are dead-on right about the necessity of looking at nuclear power as the short-term solution to our oil obsession and its ancillary evils. A little more outside-the-box thought needs to be added.

The "evil" French have been running mostly on nuclear power for some time. A view of plant construction similar to theirs is needed: smaller plants with quicker startup times, orchestrated distribution, an eye on export. This coupled with a resurrected electric and hybrid car industry will do much to get us off Middle East oil entirely.

The biggest roadblock of many may be Americans' internalized fears of the Cold War and its nuclear eves of destruction. But the quicker we all have plug-in hybrids running on a buck and a quarter of electricity that's equivalent to a gallon of gas, the better we will be.

Dale Friedley, St. Petersburg

Nuclear power is sensible option | March 17

Nightmare memories

Ghosts of the past confronted me when I saw this editorial. I lived within the 12-mile ring surrounding the Three Mile Island power plant. My wife and I dined within a mile of the plant the night that all went wrong. For the next two weeks life was hell. We listened to conflicting news and government briefings. Families deserted their homes in panic.

We were told that all was well and we were not in any danger. But the pregnant wife of the lieutenant governor fled the area. We coped by staging luggage at the front door ready to join the exodus when we determined that we had to evacuate.

Later, as things returned to "normal," we learned that the only reason the government did not order a general evacuation was they had no plan on how to do it!

A sensible option? My wife, my children and I live with a threat of elevated risk of cancer. An ongoing major problem is the half-life of the poisons that are sealed within TMI. Scientists tell us that these things remain deadly for approximately 5,000 years. Look at a photo of the ruins of the Roman Empire. They are only about 2,000 years old.

From experience, we know the various levels of government did not have a clue! Who will protect us and future generations from these poisons?

Patrick J. Conrey, Spring Hill

Nuclear power is sensible option | March 17

The 'accident' that wasn't

Your editorial about nuclear power was excellent and, as you point out, it's a sensible option. Perhaps in time it may be the only reasonable and available alternative to fossil fuels that are becoming more scarce and expensive, plus polluting to our air.

I suggest, however, that you no longer use the word "accident" when referring to the Three Mile Island nuclear plan. A definition of that word includes "any unfortunate occurrence involving injury, loss or death."

In 1979, I was a professional electrical engineer at an adjacent major utility company. Two days after the "incident," several of us experienced and knowledgeable engineers inspected the facility on site and found absolutely no problem or damage of any kind at this nuclear generation plant. Those operators of the electrical facility — and we in the business — were absolutely baffled by the negative press at the time and its inference of danger to the people in a wide area around the plant. It was apparently all made up to create an exciting news story. Even 30 years or so later, this nonoccurrence continues to show up in the press. Because of our concern, in 1979 my company sent a number of Geiger counter operators into the area and found absolutely no detectable radiation in the air. None!

It would seem after all this time that a nonevent should be put to rest and never mentioned in a news story, or surely never appear in an editorial.

Harry J. Fisler, PE, Oldsmar

Nuclear power is sensible option | March 17

Payment is a problem

I agree with your editorial that in the long run Florida needs to build nuclear power plants if we are going to break our dependence on foreign oil and polluting coal. Solar energy production would be the best of all worlds, but that is still a long way from being practical.

What concerns me is the way Progress Energy is proposing to finance new electric plants. Asking the rate-paying public to pay some of the up-front costs of construction makes sense given the spiraling costs of construction materials, but we should not be forced to pay all the costs. I don't see anywhere in statements from Progress Energy that the owners are going to contribute any money to pay for these new power plants which they will own outright after we make the final payment for them.

Last year, Progress Energy made more than $500-million in profits. They are predicting substantially higher dollar payouts for 2008. Progress Energy is telling us to tighten our belts for the next 10 years. Who is telling the owners of Progress Energy to tighten theirs?

Fred Jacobsen, Apollo Beach

Nuclear power is sensible option | March 17

Give customers a share

As other readers have pointed out, it is patently unfair for an industry (Progress Energy Florida) to collect surcharge fees far in advance of a projected expansion (a nuclear plant). There is just something quite un-American about having the customers prefinance a company's expansion.

Here's a more democratic idea: Why not set up each monthly surcharge as a future partial stock share in the company? After all, if we're having to help pay for the new plant, we ought to have a little investment piece of the project (like a spoonful of sugar to help the medicine go down)!

Elizabeth Noone, St. Petersburg

Get over green thinking | March 15, letter

Let's all work together

The letter writer seems content making these now tired, adolescent implications about Democrats not being adults, as well as the apparent folly of pursuing alternative energy sources.

True, the "green" energy quest has much work to do. And current energy sources should be maximized, albeit with protection of air and water resources in mind. What about increasing CAFE (corporate average fuel economy) standards by 5-10 mpg, for starters? Solar energy, too, could be invested in more.

Doesn't the writer see the current astronomical increases in fuels costs, with "responsible adult" Republicans, like Dick "Halliburton" Cheney, or George "Texas oilman" Bush? It takes chutzpah to belittle Democrats when the top two Republicans in the White House seem content to watch oil companies like Exxon Mobil scoring record profits.

The writer should spend more time working with all Americans toward achieving energy independence, rather than making divisive, smarmy comments about Democrats, who, by the way, pay the same for gas as Republicans.

Ron Thuemler, Tampa

Arthur C. Clarke, 1917-2008 | March 19

A man of soaring vision

Thank you for the nice obituary for one of my favorite authors, Arthur C. Clarke.

Mr. Clarke's novels and essays had a profound influence on me during my formative years. I can credit a Christmas gift of his novel, A Fall of Moondust, when I was a teenager as being the inspiration for my lifelong interest in astronomy and other sciences. His science fiction tales often dealt with humanity's first halting steps out into the solar system, establishing a foothold on the moon, Mars, and in one novel, Titan, one of the large satellites of Saturn. These were positive, exciting possible futures for mankind.

Mr. Clarke showed that we could solve our problems and face our future using reason and science as our guides, instead of the closed-minded dogmas of the past. His soaring vision and rational thought will sorely be missed by millions of readers around the world.

Greg Simpson, St. Petersburg

Creeping commercialism

Now that big business has successfully converted Christmas into one big merchandise event oriented to make-or-break budgets, can Easter be far behind?

It seems that it has become a celebration of hams and marshmallow eggs. Is anything sacred anymore?

D.G. Murray, New Port Richey

Wisdom of nuclear power remains questionable 03/21/08 [Last modified: Thursday, October 28, 2010 9:45am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours