As the World Shuts Down Nuclear Power Plants, Alabama Revives an Old One

Alabama's Tennessee Valley Authority is trying to find an alternative to 18 coal plants which are currently providing power to the Yellowhammer state. They think resurrecting the Bellefonte 1 nuclear power plant that's lain dormant for 23 years is the answer. Huh.

In the wake of Fukushima, most entities have gone sour on nuclear power, and are trying to eliminate it completely. Countries such as Germany and Switzerland, and U.S. states like Texas and Maryland have pledged to do so in the next couple of decades. And the TVA has plenty of naysayers, such as the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League director Louis Zeller, who believes restoring the reactor is a waste of time and money.

Mr. Zeller and other skeptics say that beyond the obvious challenges the nuclear industry faces, the Bellefonte 1 project has inescapable flaws. The reactor is too expensive and too antiquated, they contend, and it lies in an earthquake zone.

But the authority is moving forward, estimating that Bellefonte1 could be up and running as early as 2020, half a century after it was conceived. Cost estimates for completing the reactor run $4 billion to $5 billion on top of the $4 billion that has already been invested.

But the TVA contends that restoring the Bellefonte1 plant is better than building a new one because it already has a construction license, which means less red tape and faster completion time. And facing pressure from the EPA to close down the coal plants, time is something they don't have much of. Residents are also big on the plant, as reviving the plant could provide 2800 new jobs. A bit backwards, sure. But is it wrong? We'll have to wait and see. [NYT]