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Poison Pill

Five years ago, Congress had a fit of conscience regarding nuclear power. The power plants, each with the potential to spew deadly radioactivity into air and water, were a potential problem to more than the four-and-a-half million people living within 10 miles of the 110 plants operating in the United States. They were a threat to almost 22 million people living within 20 miles of the plants.

That was the new economic reckoning in 2002, anyway.

So they decided that a program that distributes anti-radiation potassium iodide pills to those 4.5 million folks should be expanded.

Now, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission isn't fond of the idea according to a recent USA Today article.

It makes the over-extended and leaky plants seem, somehow, dangerous when the government is in the business of doling out pills to protect people from thyroid cancer. Huh. Don't say?

So they are leaning on the White House to use a loophole in the original bill to kill the measure and instead consider alternatives to the pills, including providing uncontaminated food and relying on evacuations to protect a public at risk of exposure.

That Massachusetts Dem Ed Markey told the paper that potassium iodide "is a simple, cheap, proven drug that can save countless lives, especially children, in the event of a nuclear release."

Sure there's that. But what about the reputation of nuclear power. I mean, they've got issues. Considering the recent cooling tower collapse at Vermont Yankee, every little bit helps.

Maybe it'd be worth hashing it out at:

energy talk: conoco

Now here's a fun game I like to call Nuke Beach...

First, open up this map of Matagorda County, home to South Texas Project, where our two existing nuke plants are hard at work. You'll see STP there just northwest of Matagorda when you zoom in.

Then open the University of Arizona's interactive sea-level-rise modeling program in a new window. Find the same locale. Go ahead and play with sea-level rise panel at right. See if you can drown 'em with Global Warming projections.

I couldn't do it with the current sea-level rise projections associated with Global Warming. However, a few feet of rise does put STP beachfront. Up go those property values for a power plant built on sand.

While South Texas Project's two nuclear reactors (soon to be four?) probably won't be swept into the Gulf of Mexico anytime soon, let's suppose the climate pessimists are right about one thing (as the insurance companies seem to confirm by their retraction of flood coverage across the U.S. coasts) and the super storms arrive. For that we have to use our biological computer: ye old noggin. As they say: Imagine.

Still look like the best possible location for two new nuclear plants as CPS is saying? Maybe a raft of potassium iodide boxes could keep things afloat…

Posted by Greg Harman on 11/6/2007
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