Check out the Interactive Nuclear Map from the Sierra Club Nuclear Free Campaign.
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Read more to find out about the different categories shown on the map.
Operating Nuclear Reactors
There are currently 100 operating reactors and 15 shuttered power reactor sites. In addition to being allowed to have routine radioactive releases to the air and water, all have had numerous accidents and radioactive spills. All are high-level radioactive nuclear waste storage sites. The fuel pools of operating plants are overcrowded with as much as 5 times as many irradiated fuel rods (high-level waste) as they were designed to hold. Dry casks holding older fuel are aging dangerously. The Sierra Club’s position is that the first solution to waste is to stop making it. Safer Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel is urgently needed. For a more detailed analysis see Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in the U.S.: Reducing the Deadly Risks of Storage.
Proposed New Reactors
No utility will build a new nuclear power plant without massive government subsidies. Subsidies include limiting liability for accidents. In 2011 the U. S. Congress authorized $56 billion in subsidies for new reactors. In states that have Construction Work in Progress (CWIP), ratepayers are charged for expenses as the plants are being built, whether or not they ever generate electricity. The public is taking the financial risks, but the utilities will take the profits. Subsidies for outdated, expensive and dangerous nuclear power are stealing money that might otherwise be given to develop 21st-Century renewables and efficiency. Nuclear Power: Still Not Viable Without Subsidies.
Reactors under Construction
In his June 25, 2013 speech on global warming, President Obama pointed to nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina as examples of new clean energy supported by his administration. These reactors have received billions in loan guarantees, CWIP and other subsidies, and have experienced cost overruns and construction delays. Credit Agencies Eyeing Plant Vogtle Cost Overruns
Mark I, II and III Reactors
These reactors, built by General Electric, have their high-level radioactive nuclear waste (irradiated fuel rods) stored in elevated pools. These pools are not located within a primary radiological containment structure and are vulnerable to earthquakes, sabotage, and aging. A boil-down or drain-down of the cooling water could spark a fire in the irradiated fuel, as seen at Fukushima. They are particularly vulnerable to loss of power and failure of emergency generators. Catastrophic Risks of Mark I Fuel Pools
Reactors Granted 20-Year License Extensions
Nuclear reactors have an engineered lifespan of 40 years. Even during their initial years of operation, nuclear reactors have all experienced emergency alerts, leaks, spills, accidents, unplanned shutdowns and worker exposure to radioactivity. Cement and steel become embrittled with continued exposure to radioactivity, making them less stable as time passes. By extending these licenses, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has caved in to the profit motives of powerful corporations and is failing in its assigned task of protecting the public. Future generations will be saddled with increasing amounts of high-level radioactive waste. 20-Year Reactor License Extensions Just Assumed
Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)
SMRs are proposed new reactors that would produce less than 300 megawatts of electricity. The fact that SMR designs are not yet certified, and that they have similar engineering problems to larger reactors, does not stop a failing industry from promoting their technology as new and improved. Don’t let the word “small” fool you. These SMR’s create large amounts of radioactive waste just like the big plants. Proposals have been made for SMRs in numerous locations, with lures of exaggerated numbers of jobs. The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is planning to build four SMRs at the site of their failed Clinch River breeder reactor in Oak Ridge, TN. The U. S. Dept. of Energy projects spending $452 million on SMRs through 2017 — money that would be better spent on clean, safe renewables. SMRs No Solution
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