Today I testified before the NH House Science, Technology, and Energy Committee, in support of HB 465 - a bill that would repeal RSA: 162 B (1). This section of the law is atomic cheerleading. Time to move into the future. This is the written testimony I submitted to the committee:
The Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy law (RSA: 162 B) was passed in 1955, just a few months before I was born.
The US learned we could harness the atom for bomb making during WWII. During the 1950’s the potential for what was then called the “peaceful atom” was all the rage. The atom was the way of the future; we were going to have atomic powered everything, even toasters.
As you know, it didn’t quite work out that way. It turned out that atomic energy was fraught with hazards. The waste is carcinogenic, and can be deadly for hundreds of thousands of years. The uranium mining process alone is a filthy business, polluting land and groundwater on mostly indigenous owned lands. We’ve never found a solution for the waste.
As the years have gone by, we’ve seen accidents at nuclear plants. Our neighboring state of Vermont has an old nuclear plant that has had fires, a collapsed cooling tower, and a number of leaks of radioactive materials. Our very own Seabrook Station has a problem with disintegrating concrete. There has also been at least one leak of radioactive tritium there.
The nuclear industry is based on a big lie: that nuclear power is safe. One need only look to the free market to see that borne out. The free market does not support nuclear power. In order to build plants, the industry relies on taxpayer-subsidized loans. Taxpayers subsidize the insurance for the plants, since no private company will insure a nuclear plant. Ratepayers (who are also taxpayers) pay for the outrageous cost of this power, and then pay again for the closing and decommissioning of the plant. A nuclear power plant is taxpayer subsidized from cradle to grave. To put it another way, it is socialized risk and privatized profit. Meanwhile the deadly waste is stored on site. Since all containers disintegrate eventually, this waste cannot be safely stored for indefinite periods of time. There is only one solution, and that is not to create any more waste.
Chernobyl. Fukushima. An accident at a nuclear plant imperils us all, imperils our planet. As the climate continues to change, the plants built in coastal areas are a danger with rising ocean levels. The big snowstorm last week shut the Pilgrim plant in Massachusetts down. It’s only a matter of time until that becomes a problem here in NH. We need to think carefully about the future, and act accordingly.
The Peaceful Atom is a relic of the 1950’s. It was an exciting new idea at the time, but now it’s a clunky old leaky behemoth. Those of you who are old enough remember that doctors told patients that smoking cigarettes was good for you back then. We know better now. Just as we know better about nuclear power.
The future is in clean, renewable energy sources. Countries all over the world are embracing that future, including countries that have been in thrall to the nuclear industry for decades.
It’s time to start moving into the future. I urge you to support HB 465, and repeal the clunky old atomic energy law. It’s enough that we’ll be storing radioactive waste for centuries here. This old law enables the dishonest profiteers of the nuclear industry to make an argument for extending the license of a nuclear plant that is already disintegrating. The state of New Hampshire should decide what the energy future of our state looks like, not greedy corporations who plunder and move on.
February 14, 2013