LeRoy Collins Commentary 15

Commentary #15
30 November 2006

Jumpstart U.S. Nuclear Industry

Bob, thanks for thinking of me re the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition(CASE). You asked for my thoughts.

As a former nuclear submarine officer in the U.S. Navy, it is easy for me to favor the expansion of nuclear energy in this country. I put together the training program for the first nuclear power station in FL, i.e. the Turkey Point reactors (2) in South Dade County, when I was Assistant to the President of Florida Power and Light Company during 1966-68….just before we moved to Tampa. So I say that nuclear power’s lack of support for the past 30 years outside the U.S. Navy, has been a colossal public blunder. It's about time we jump-started that industry.

But I was surprised to see that Dr. Patrick Moore, an early operative of Greenpeace, is so prominently portrayed in this CASE appeal, alongside former NJ Governor Christie Whitman. Why, I recall when Greenpeace would gather small boats to create a nuisance and impede our new nuclear submarines from going to sea for sea trials...hardly patriotic, and a shameful part of the political agenda espoused by actress Jane Fonda and her protesting cognoscenti in the turbulent 1960s. Greenpeace helped stoke the media rabble AGAINST nuclear power, which cast the USA in a very unfavorable light worldwide, so much so that we have been denied the opportunity to take nuclear powered ships to Japan and New Zealand for the past FIFTY YEARS!

As a result of such hyped stupidity, this country painted itself into the corner of prolonged dependency upon foreign oil. It is going to take another decade to get another nuclear power plant operating in the U.S. even if someone files for a construction/operating license tomorrow. In the meantime we must try other ways to rid ourselves from the oil addiction which is causing us to fund the very wellsprings of terrorism in the Middle East we are fighting today.

Just today I attended a huge power-generation convention in Orlando, which brought in customers/vendors/executives from throughout the world, who are addressing the power shortage forecast in the foreseeable future. Nuclear is a fairly minor component for the future, because the up-front capital requirements are so huge, and the licensing requirements are so intimidating…..partially because of the influence of Greenpeace and its minions in our past. Competing with a nuclear revival are coal gasification, wind turbines, solar, biofuels, liquefied natural gas, etc. etc. Nuclear is still my favorite, but its resurrection is fraught with lots of negative public relations from the past, most of which was erroneous.

The real titans of the American nuclear industry were put to pasture over a generation ago by the shrill diatribes in The China Syndrome and other scare tactics by those who wanted attention (albeit unqualified to criticize), and foist upon a public which did not know any better. The public media failed us then, and is doing more of the same now, e.g. re the Global War on Terrorism.

If you think CASE is a viable forum to jumpstart civilian nuclear power, that is OK for me. All I am saying is be cautious of the Charletons out there as CASE moves forward. Thanks again for thinking of me, and being patient with my spleen-venting. /s/ Roy


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