Nuclear Energy in Wisconsin

April 15, 2010 · 3 minutes read

I saw a sticker on the front of this week’s Isthmus, the free local weekly here in Madison. It reads:

Opposed to higher electricity bills?

Tell state legislators to KEEP our law governing new nuclear reactor construction in Wisconsin.

Oppose SB340 AB516

Call 608/250-9240 for more info or visit to write a letter to your legislator opposing new nuclear power.

I visited the site, and they oppose repeal of a current Wisconsin law which requires a federal facility (a la Yucca Mountain) before any new nuclear plants can be built in Wisconsin.

For various reasons, this is silly. I think it’s a real shame that so many years ago that various environmental and anti-war movements linked in their own minds nuclear power and nuclear weapons.

I am opposed to the latter, but recognize, as anyone who takes a reasoned look at the issue, that nuclear power is the only reliable, clean, and safe technology we have right now to generate electricity.

There has never been a single death associated with nuclear energy in this country. Despite the hysteria over Three Mile Island, that incident did show that the safeguards put in place, the layers of protection, worked. No one was killed.

Today technology is much better, and we could build even safer, cheaper, reactors.

The waste issue is an important one, but also one we can solve. In fact, it does make more sense in many ways to store spent fuel in various distributed sites rather than in a central repository.

Furthermore, the total volume and mass of the waste is tiny in comparison to the volume and mass of, for example, the carbon emitted into the atmosphere by coal and gas plants.

The hippy-dippy types like to think we can get all of our energy from wind, solar, and hydrodynamic technology. It can be a part of the portfolio, but those technologies will simply not meet our needs, and they also come with their own set of unintended consequences (wind farms killing huge numbers of birds, for example).

What this means is that for the past 20 years, we’ve been building coal plants instead of nuclear plants. The pollution from such plants is terrible, and the human cost to mine the fuel is also high – the average is around 30 per year, even with modern safety equipment.

With all of that in mind, I used the WPNJ links to send this to my state representatives instead of the anti-nuke screed they drafted for me:

I am writing as a supporter of nuclear energy. I came to this page through an ad in my local weekly opposing AB 516 / SB 340.

However, I think the view opposing nuclear energy is misguided and not supported by the facts.

It is our cleanest way of generating reliable electricity, and should be pursued aggressively to help limit our carbon emissions. There has never been a single death associated with nuclear energy in the United States.

Please do what you can to end the restriction preventing the development of new nuclear plants in Wisconsin. Don’t let irrational fears stop the best source of energy we current have available.

I suggest you do the same.