Back to the Future

Nice sunrise today on the Hag veranda


When I was a kid in the 70′s, everybody listened to KGON, the local FM rock station, and it was avowedly liberal: pro-pot, anti-Nixon, anti-war, with a great cast of hippie-ish DJ’s that became like family.  As Archie and Edith wistfully sang, “Those Were the Days.”  They had a feature in the morning, “Nukes in the News,” which poked fun at the near-daily shutdowns, cost overruns, and other problems that always plagued that particular branch of corporate welfare, and this was before Three Mile Island and “The China Syndrome.”  Somehow, back then people understood, and it was uncontroversial to say on the airwaves, that Nixon was a crook, drug laws were stupid, wars were pointless disasters, and nuclear power was about the dumbest idea anybody ever thought of.   All these things are of course still true today, but few in our media understand this, and fewer recognize that the fact that such plain truths are still contested, much less denied, is a searing indictment of the way these bozos have screwed up doing their jobs over the last few decades.

President Obama announced recently that part of our efforts to combat global warming would be to “invest” in “new” nuclear power.  This cuckoo idea has been a favorite of such “liberal” rags as the NYT and WaPoo, and of course involves large corporations scooping up copious amounts of taxpayer dough, so it’s the sort of idea any politician might find attractive.  But honestly, just because the media was born yesterday doesn’t mean actual Americans were, and will never support nuclear power in their communities, and all it will take is the first plant going up amid protests and doubling and trebling of its budget that this idea will slither into the swamps from which it emerged, along with the reputations of the feckless politicians who supported it.

Forty years of nuclear power fiascoes has taught us a number of things, President Obama, so please take note:

1) The private market will never risk its money on nuclear power, owing to the 50% default rate and ruinous risks.

2) There is still no permanent place to store waste that will remain toxic for 100,000 years.

3) There will be accidents, given the appalling safety record of the industry, and

4) There is ZERO public support for this demented waste of money.

Those who would forget history are doomed to repeat it, and too bad Obama didn’t listen to KGON.  Whenever government takes a big leap into nuclear power , it always turns out the same, just ask the bonkers former Republican governor of Washington, Dixy Lee Ray (KGON called her Risky Delay).  This outspoken anti-environmentalist plunged her state into a decade-long financial and public relations disaster with her wanton embrace of the aptly named WPPSS (Washington Public Power Supply System), which set out to build seven nuclear plants based on wildly overstated demand projections; only one ever went briefly online, and the rest were mothballed, abandoned, or aborted after Bechtel and the like made off with billions in state funds.

This time, the giveaway is even more flagrant, since the federal government is proposing to take on all the risk without even participating in any of the potential upside like Dixy did; whatever fake “profits” the corporate welfare queen, in this case Southern Companies, makes by overcharging its customers for “new” nuclear power it will get to keep to buy lead-lined private planes, US Senators, and such.  Ain’t bipartisanship grand?

Had KGON not long ago been bought out by Clear Channel and vanished into prerecorded obscurity, they would undoubtedly be dusting off “Nukes in the News.”

UPDATE: Alert Hag reader Jebbie reports that one of the WPPSS plants is still operating, # 2.  What an interesting name.  A later google search also revealed that there were only 5 WPPSS plants, not seven.  CHNN regrets the error, and will fire whoever was responsible when the hangover wears off.


  1. nailheadtom says:

    You meatballs that keep stressing the sensible solutions presented by the Euros for problems like health care seem to forget that they’re big on atomic electricity. France, the darling of the nouveau Yankee left, produces 80% of the electricity it generates to make brie and Camembert with nukes and 30% of all electrical power in the socially advanced EU is nuke. The US already produces almost 20% of its electricity with nuclear plants. And of course resource barren Japan relies on the splitting atom for 35% of its power in 53 reactors. The problems with nuclear power aren’t technical or even economic, they’re political. The Yucca Mountain Development Act was passed by the Congress and signed by President Bush in 2002 making development of Yucca Mountain the Law. Until Congress amends or changes the law, the Secretary of Energy is charged with pursuing development of Yucca Mountain as the Nation’s geologic repository. But neo-Mormon Harry Reid and others in almost totally federally owned Nevada have balked at using the area for waste disposal. You might say that they’re being greedy, trying to keep land they don’t even own from being legally developed to complete the nuclear industry that supplies so much of our energy. Pretty self-centered of them. And, as they say, here in the US, more people have been killed at Rolling Stones concerts than in nuclear events.


    • cocktailhag says:

      Somehow I knew you’d be a nuke lover, too, Tom, in addition to your many other charms. Is there any way the government could hand over money to corporate America that you wouldn’t like?

  2. dirigo says:

    Yucca may be a big fraud.

    This is from a New York Times review of a book on Yucca by John D’Agata:

    “After D’Agata explains the failed experiments and damning evidence that makes it impossible to believe Yucca can safely hold nuclear waste for anything close to the 10,000 years Congress is seeking, he spends pages trying to discover who settled on that figure anyway. Eventually he learns that the waste would really need to be stored for a million years or more, but that a panel recommended 10,000 years because it sounded more feasible. ‘It’s theatrical security,’ he’s told. ‘The preparations that are being made by the Department of Energy have no real chance of succeeding.’ The plans are merely a symbol of control.”

    – Charles Bock
    – “American Wasteland”
    – Review: “About A Mountain”
    – John D’Agata
    – NYT, 2/28/10

  3. retzilian says:

    I meant to put this on the previous comment section, but here is a project you might want to investigate, Hag. I think this guy could use your talent. He’s renovating an old “castle” here in Cleveland (and it’s not really a castle, just a big stone house) to its 19th century splendor. He’s been doing it for a few years. He bought the place after there was a fire that did some damage, but there are still a lot of beautiful woodwork and authentic architecture remaining.

    Supposedly the place is haunted. There were some mysterious deaths in the house, and a couple of the families that bought it after the original owner died moved out rather fast. But, I don’t believe in ghosts.

    If you get a gig here in Cleveland to restore the Franklin Castle, I’ll see that you have a great time here!

    • cocktailhag says:

      Wow, what a neat place. I’ve always loved French second empire for its sheer over-the-top-ness.
      I don’t believe in ghosts, either, but you don’t really need them when you’re remodeling…. things go bump in the night anyway.

  4. retzilian says:

    The most haunted house in Ohio!! (This is a chilling story. Ha!)

    • cocktailhag says:

      Mmmm. Interesting stuff. Sadly, places that old here are few and far between, and they’re disappointingly modest. There wasn’t any big money to build grand houses until later, and most were wood Victorians near downtown that have vanished. (Along with their ghosts, presumably…)

  5. Well, let me say that the majority of the French reactors (34 of 59) are nearing the end of their design life, having been given an extension — in 2002 — to operate for another 10 years.

    From an engineering standpoint, nuclear reactors cannot be made inherently safe, because materials science has not advanced to the point where the mechanical components in contact with the reaction itself — the pressure vessel, pumps and associated piping — can be fabricated to endure direct exposure to the nuclear reaction, particularly to the fast neutron radiation which it produces, for an indefinite period of time. The solution has been to over-engineer these components, and to put a sunset clause on their operation.

    Keeping them operating beyond their design life is, however, politically tempting, because shutting them down to replace these components is likely to be technically difficult, time-consuming, and enormously expensive. This, if the vaunted French dirigisme blinks, can turn out to be awfully dangerous.

    Tom probably doesn’t know any of this, because he’s an idiot, but because he’s also an asshole, I doubt it wouldn’t matter if he did.

  6. nailheadtom says:

    Tom has run his angle grinder on the main steam lead inches from where it leaves the reactor but that doesn’t mean he has any engineering expertise on the subject. You guys have probably made rod changes and absorbed thousands more millirems than he has so chances are you’re qualified to make the decisions on nuclear power. But even nuclear power isn’t going to save Europe:

    • cocktailhag says:

      Mmmm. That’s persuasive. I guy who’s never worked an day in his life writing in a paper that’s never earned a dime in its life, telling us all about perfidious freeloaders. Next?

      • nailheadtom says:

        You’re talking about Barak Obama, right? Or is it Karl Marx? Whoever, it doesn’t matter what the message is, if you dislike the messenger, then the message is invalid. So if I tell you not to step in front of that speeding dump truck, be sure to ignore me.

    • That doesn’t sound like a rebuttal to me. It sounds more like a lie, followed by a pissant change of subject. You’re a nuclear fabricator only in one sense, Thomas.

  7. mikeinportc says:

    You meatballs that keep stressing the sensible solutions….
    Not very sensible here.
    My father occasionally serviced the office machines (mostly the ones for making blueprints) at Nine Mile II (Oswego, NY) , while it was under construction. One day he asked some of the guys working on it why it took so long, and was so expensive .They said that it, and every other nuclear power plant in the country, was built to the specs of the original, (Connecticut Yankee?) and then modified after the fact. In other words, much of it was built, then rebuilt to updated specs. Why? Nobody knew.

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