Call for Pilgrim power-down ignores energy realities
Dan Hurley - Those of us who work in the industry understand that nuclear energy is not perfect – but it is certainly a proven energy source.
The Pilgrim nuclear power plant was the subject of a recent Patriot Ledger editorial, in which the newspaper advocates the plant being powered down.
The complexity of this issue is underscored in the writer's acknowledgement that Pilgrim is a vital part of the local economy – as reported, "in these challenging economic times, even more so."
Indeed, the writer further notes that Pilgrim generates 14 percent of Massachusetts electricity and that it is one of the region's larger employers.
It is precisely for these reasons that Pilgrim should not be powered down. Given the fragile economic conditions of this region, plus the battle over the future of energy, it seems unwise and premature to even consider shutting down such a significant source of energy, particularly when there is nothing on the immediate horizon to replace it.
Yes, it is likely that the power plant will go offline at some point. But calling for it to be powered down at this point is unwise.
From my vantage point as president of the union which provides the skilled workers to the nuclear power plant, I can attest to both the intricate training of the workers who are there and to the plant's safety record.
Those of us who work in the industry understand that nuclear energy is not perfect – but it is certainly a proven energy source. If the desire of those in power is to replace it with another form of energy, let's first take inventory of the total Pilgrim record. Let's remember that Pilgrim has provided reliable and safe energy to the region for four decades.
We do not seem to have a cohesive national, or even regional, plan to replace nuclear energy. We cannot seem to agree on something as simple as the so-called pipeline that would increase the supply of oil.
Gas prices are well above $3 per gallon, and anyone who has lived in this region for more than several winters understands the cost of home heating oil. Our energy is a finite resource and it just doesn't make sense to shut down one source before introducing a substitute.
Nuclear energy is reliable and it is clean. It does not produce gaseous emissions such as greenhouse gases, which are harmful to the population, or to the environment.
Instead of calling for the powering down of the plant, why not call upon the NRC and our leaders both regionally and locally to take a more comprehensive look at our energy needs, and in the meantime do what needs to be done to see that Pilgrim remains a viable and strong source of energy?
I know that we will continue to do our part. Let's not be short-sighted and alarmist at our own peril.
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