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Watts Bar

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The Tennessee Valley Authority is about to finally bring Watts Bar Unit 2 online, making it the first new nuclear power plant to open in the United States since 1996. It’s been a complete disaster from the very beginning of its construction, way back in 1973. This piece in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is a comprehensive discussion of all the problems: poor design from the beginning, incredibly high cost overruns, TVA coziness with Bechtel that granted the company the contract to finish it after the same company did the report saying it was financially feasible, TVA’s commitment to old styles of dirty energy and inability to adjust to newer and cleaner forms of energy, etc. It’s stories like this, on top of the potential Fukushima-type situation, that make me feel that nuclear just does not have a room in our energy future. It’s so incredibly expensive to get online and the process for doing so is so slow, especially compared to every other kind of energy production, that it’s really not a reasonable response to our very real problems.

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