corporate criminals

Nuclear Power Plant by drawing by Tom FergusonNov. 6, 2017. My name is Stephen Wingeier. Wouldn’t it be great if all Georgia citizens had the day off to participate in their democracy today? Luckily for me, Monday is my day off. But by holding this so-called “public hearing” during the workday, you are excluding the vast majority of Georgians.

Long after Monsanto Corporations’s own secret studies revealed the toxicity of DDT, they kept right on selling it. Long after the tobacco industry did secret studies proving that cigarettes are carcinogenic, it kept on pretending cigarettes were safe. And long after the plastics industry secretly knew it was poisoning its workers, it kept right on poisoning them. None of these corporate crimes was halted until government regulators stepped in.

This is the role of the Public Service Commission in our democracy.

We’ve heard about the benefits of expanding Plant Vogtle. But surely Georgia Power and its partners are secretly aware of the catastrophic meltdowns at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima, and literally thousands of undisclosed accidents and close calls around the nation over 70 years of nuclear electricity production.

Secretly they know about the federal government’s tax-funded payments to uranium miners suffering radiation sickness.

Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear island and annex - October 2017 © Georgia Power Company
Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear island and annex – October 2017

 

Secretly they are aware of the routine radioactive releases that all nuclear power plants unleash on their neighbors, that the Savannah River is contaminated with tritium and other byproducts of Plant Vogtle, and that the plant’s neighbors in the community of Shell Bluff suffer higher rates of cancer and other radiation-related diseases than the rest of Georgia.

Secretly they know that 20 tons of radioactive waste are generated every year at every nuclear power plant, deadly poisonous for thousands of years, with no safe way to dispose of it after 70 years of production.

Secretly they know that Plant Vogtle sits directly on the earthquake fault responsible for the largest quake in North American history, back in 1886, and that an earthquake caused the disaster at Fukushima, Japan.

Secretly they know that at a time when Georgia is undergoing its third drought in 20 years, their new reactors will suck as much water from the Savannah River each day as the cities of Atlanta, Savannah, and Augusta combined.

Georgia Power clearly knows that 30% of its generating capacity goes unused, and electricity demand is falling, because those numbers appear in its own federal filings.

And of course they know that nuclear power is not only toxic, dangerous, and unnecessary – it is also the most expensive method ever invented to generate electricity. So expensive that it never could have made a profit in 70 years without massive taxpayer subsidies. So expensive that Georgia Power could not find a single private investor willing to take a chance on financing it. So expensive that the final cost of each volt of nuclear electricity will not be known for thousands of years, when the decayed remnants of radioactive waste are finally declared harmless by our distant descendants.

Safe, clean, carbon-neutral energy sources are now cheaper than nuclear. So why are Georgia Power and its partners still pursuing this project? And why has the Commission elected to regulate them allowed it to continue?

I’ll tell you what it looks like from outside your bubble of paid lobbyists, mercenary lawyers, and pseudo-grassroots citizen groups funded by the nuclear industry – how it appears to those of us who have nothing to go on but the facts listed above. It looks like Georgia Power sees the end of the nuclear cash cow rapidly approaching, and is determined to cash in one last time. It looks like they have contributed handsomely to the candidates for Public Service Commission who will aid and abet them. And it looks like you gentlemen have given them free license to take money from schools and retired people and small businesses to pad their profit margin to an unprecedented degree.

It looks like nuclear technology is not primarily for generating electricity after all, but for generating corporate profits.

It looks like the Public Service Commission we elected to protect our health and safety is instead protecting those corporate profits.

Nuclear power will soon be left behind with the flint-tipped spear and the steam locomotive. But your decision at the end of these hearings will be remembered in the history books of our time. Please, serve the public that elected you, not the industry you are legally mandated to regulate. Cancel the Plant Vogtle expansion.

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Image credit: the feature image of the drawing of the nuclear power plants was created by © Tom Ferguson; the photo of Vogtle Unit 3 nuclear island and annex - October 2017 was provided by © Georgia Power Company.
Stephen Wingeier

Stephen Wingeier

Stephen Wing is the author of two books of poems, the “Earth Poetry” chapbook series, and Free Ralph!, a comic novel with an environmental theme. He has published numerous essays on ecology and evolution, hosts an “Earth Poetry” workshop each season, and is the creator of Gaia-Love Graffiti, a line of original bumper stickers. He serves on the boards of the Lake Claire Community Land Trust and Nuclear Watch South. Visit him at www.StephenWing.com.