The first new nuclear reactor in the United States in 20 years went live on Wednesday in Tennessee, in what at least one nuclear expert is calling the “last gasp of a dying industry.”
The Watts Bar 2 reactor, which began construction decades ago but faltered, only picking up again in the last four years, is now producing electricity for 650,000 homes and businesses, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.
At $4.7 billion, the project is “arguably one of the most expensive, most over-budget, oldest reactors to be started in human history,” Friends of the Earth senior strategic adviser Damon Moglen toldCommon Dreams on Thursday. “It’s a testament to the failure of the nuclear industry, rather than the resurgence.”
“It’s the last gasp of the nuclear industry trying to prove they are still alive in the sense of opening new reactors,” Moglen said. “There is just absolutely no justification for the stunning sums of money and time and energy poured into this reactor” instead of renewable, cost-competitive energy.
The unit “illustrates the problem faced by nuclear power in the United States and suggests why nuclear power won’t play much of a role in the future,” Dave Lochaum, director of the Nuclear Safety Project at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Common Dreams.