“The nuclear power industry requires government help to stay afloat.”
Subsidies to nuclear power reactors are among the most obvious instances of the federal government acting as a wealth pump for large corporations. Now, companies that operate these expensive and dangerous power plants are looking for additional wealth pumping from state governments. If those of us who support cleaner, cheaper and much less dangerous power can’t stop them, our state governments will have less to invest in education, clean energy and other beneficial work because more will go to extending the life of a failing nuclear power industry.
We might start by looking at the Price-Anderson Act. It was first passed in 1957 and has been renewed as needed since. It puts a cap on the amount of damages for which a commercial reactor can be held liable. For 2017, that amount is $450 million per reactor. (Read the linked Wikipedia article for details.)
It seems like a big number, but it is pretty small when compared to what is possible. In December of 2016, the Japanese government estimated the cleanup costs for the Fukushima nuclear reactor disaster at $190 billion. That’s “billion,” not “million.” For an equivalent disaster in the United States, insurance would cover $0.45 billion, leaving the government to cover the other $189.55 billion.
The Fukushima reactors are located in a thinly populated area of Japan. Something like 185,000 people were evacuated. In the United States, reactors that might melt down are located upwind of New York City (metro area population over 20 million), Chicago (9-1/2 million) and Detroit (4.3 million in 6 counties, 5.3 million in 9 counties), to cite just 3 examples in which fallout would be orders of magnitude more damaging than at Fukushima…