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Letters to the Editor

Fortnightly Magazine - September 1 2003

Michael Burr describes, but that is occurring ("The Nuclear Non-Starter," June 15). Yes, there will be no new plants constructed unless capital costs together with operating costs yield a per-kilowatt price that is competitive. The question is, competitive with what? Today's coal-generated power is the low-price benchmark and hard to beat. New coal plants, however, will need to meet continually more stringent air quality requirements, and that will mean higher capital and operating costs. Natural gas, the current fuel of choice for power production, is already costly and projections indicate serious supply problems, and thus price runups.

The disposal of nuclear waste, while a political hot potato, is moving toward closure. The Yucca Mountain repository continues to progress, with the 49 states that are not Nevada looking forward to sending their waste to the site. A negative effect on new construction is hard to imagine given that the issue must be dealt with even if we never generated another nuclear kilowatt.

Finally, proliferation concerns have no place in the debate on nuclear power in much of the world. The global trade in commercial nuclear power technology has not led to nations acquiring weapons. They seem to be able to do that much more efficiently through non-power technology means.


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