UWUA Local 304 Utility Workers Union of America AFL-CIO

There’s a new documentary out, crafted by none other than legendary film maker Oliver Stone. No stranger to taking on controversial subjects like he did in Natural Born Killers, Platoon, JFK, or Snowden. Mr. Stone’s latest work is a one-hundred-five-minute infomercial extolling the almost magical benefits of nuclear energy. The preview has all the elements of a classic horror movie with calm assurances of the destruction of our planet dubbed over imagery of smokestacks belching black, inky smoke into the air.  The name of this film is Nuclear Now, and it premiered April 28th of this year (click on the link for a preview).

One of our own members saw this developing ten years ago, and wrote an article that was published in the West Virginia State Journal back in 2013 that strongly rejected nuclear energy displacing coal.  Excerpts of that article appears below (click on the link above to read the article in its entirety):

“…Then there’s the nuclear revivalist, preaching the gospel of how safe, clean and
environmentally sound nuclear power is. Trouble is, every time these fortune tellers start
prognosticating about a bright, happy, wonderful future all powered by nuclear reactors,
a nuclear power plant explodes…
   …Only recently have there been any new permits issued for new nuclear power plants to
be built in the United States since the TMI (Three Mile Island) accident in 1979. There was talk about a
revival of nuclear energy just before Chernobyl, and a small revival was gaining steam
just before the tsunami destroyed Fukushima. These factors add up to an aging U.S.
nuclear fleet…
…One conveniently ignored fact about nuclear power is the billions if not trillions of dollars
wasted on the financing of projects that never got off the ground.
Marble Hill was to be a two-unit nuke plant in Indiana capable of producing over 2,000
megawatts of electric power. It was proposed in 1973 and terminated in 1984 after a
cost of an estimated $2.8 billion.
Bellafonte was another plant proposed in Alabama by the Tennessee Valley Authority
(TVA) in 1974. Construction was halted in 1988, after 14 years and $6 billion dollars
invested. TVA partially defunded construction to finish a second unit that had also been
halted decades ago at its Watts Bar facility.
One of the most glaring examples on the failure of nuclear power in this country is the
Shoreham plant on Long Island. The project was announced in 1965 as a 540MW unit
to be online by 1973 and cost $65 million to $75 million dollars. Plans changed in 1968
when it was announced the unit was being changed to an 820MW unit, and the price
tripled to $217 million dollars. Construction finally began in 1973 and completed amid
huge anti-nuclear protests that grew out of the TMI accident. Shoreham was finally
finished in 1984, but was never put in service.
There are other examples across the nation, from Washington State’s SATSOP project
to TVA’s Hartsville/Phipps Bend projects, but the reality is that no one knows how much
taxpayer, ratepayer and government, as well as private money went up in the smoke of
the promise of the good life with nuclear power…
…This brings us back to coal. Technology such as scrubbers for sulfur dioxide (SO2)
control and selective catalytic reduction (SCR) to remove nitrous oxide (NOX) make
coal cleaner than ever…
…On plants deploying NOX removal equipment, they’ve even recognized that the deNOX-ing process helps remove harmful mercury too…
…Emerging technologies such as carbon capture and coal gasification are paving the way
for coal into the 21st century…
…Coal is safer than nuclear, more reliable than wind, solar, or other renewable generation
currently available and, remains the most stable and reasonably priced fossil fuel
available in our country…”.

This is not to say that Mr. Stone’s work isn’t entertaining for its artistry and editing, because it is, but this documentary is proof of the lack of information people have in how power is produced and transmitted to them.

   Fossil plants add flexibility to the grid by being able to cycle up and down, whereas nukes are more likely to push renewables off the grid to allow the reactors to run at full capacity for which they are designed to do. If we are going to have energy independence, then we need the “all the above” energy strategy we were promised.

By all means, anybody in the power generation business should see this film, and do so with an open mind, but not so open that your brain falls out!