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February 16th, 2010
01:00 PM ET

Obama announces $8.3B for nuke plants

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="President Obama speaks during a visit to an IBEW training facility in Lanham, Maryland, on Tuesday."]

Washington (CNN) - President Obama announced $8.3 billion in loan guarantees Tuesday for two nuclear reactors to be built in Burke County, Georgia.

No new nuclear power plants have been built in the United States in three decades.

The new reactors are to be part of an expansion of an existing nuclear facility near Augusta, Georgia, operated by Atlanta-based Southern Co.

The loan guarantees will help create 3,500 on-site construction jobs and 850 permanent operations jobs, administration officials claimed. The reactors will help provide power to over 550,000 homes and 1.4 million people, it said.

"This is only the beginning," Obama said during a visit to an International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers training facility in Lanham, Maryland. "We'll continue to provide financing for clean energy projects ... across America."

The president acknowledged that construction of new nuclear facilities will meet with some political resistance. Nuclear development has traditionally been opposed by more progressive elements of the Democratic Party. FULL STORY

Filed under: Politics
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. A. Smith, Oregon

    What Big Oil and the Republican Party does not want YOU to know about Coal fueled Power Plants:

    They Release More Radioactive Radiation into the atmosphere than Nuclear Plants by a factor of 100x and possibly as much as One Thousand Times!!!

    Nearly everyone realizes that 4 million tons of coal burned each and every year by a typical commercial coal power plant results in millions of tons of pollution into the atmosphere in many forms, the Nitrous Oxide compounds remain in the atmosphere for many years and are much more deadly as a greenhouse gas than CO2.

    ONE which is rarely if ever discussed is the fact that radioactive radiation is routinely one of the pollutants that is released from the coal smoke stacks. YES, radioactive elements, Uranium, thorium, and a host of additional radioactive elements. How much Radiation, compared to that released by a Nuclear Powerplant?

    The respected US Oak Ridge National Laboratory gives statistics on the levels of radioactive material given off by a coal fired plant. They estimate that to run an average 1000 megawatt coal-fired power plant, you need to burn about 4 million tonnes of coal. That 4 million tonnes of coal contains 5.2 tonnes of uranium, 12.8 tonnes of radioactive thorium, as well as 0.22 tonnes of radioactive potassium-40!!!

    Along with this it was found by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements (NCRP), that for 1982 the total release of radioactivity from 154 typical coal plants in the United States was approximately the equivalent of the radioactivity in 3200 household smoke detectors. They also found that the radiation exposure from an average 1000 MW power plant comes to 4.9 person-sieverts a year for coal-fired power plants and 0.048 person-sieverts a year for nuclear-fired power plants.

    This factor of 100 just looks at the nuclear fired power plant by itself. It doesn't include the complete nuclear fuel cycle, which starts with ore mining, goes to fuel processing and operation of the reactor, and finishes with waste disposal. In that case, the radiation dose from a nuclear-fired power plant increases to 1.36 person-sieverts a year.

    Yes, neighbors of a COAL Plant are receiving at least 100 Times the radiation dose compared to a 1980's built Nuclear Power plant!

    Taking the entire Nuclear fuel from mining to use cycle to recycle or waste disposal, Coal Plants expose people to at least 5 times more radiation than the 1980's designed Nuclear Power Plants.

    The new 3rd. Generation plus nuclear reactors being designed and built now are much more fuel efficient and this would likely translate to far lower radiation being released compared to those in the 1980's study. Likely 1/1000 less radiation compared to the typical Coal Fueled Power plant!!!

    And Nuclear Power plants do not spew out billions of tons of CO2 and Nitrous Oxide compounds into the atmosphere!

    February 17, 2010 at 7:19 pm |
  2. Harry in Texas

    Thank goodness we are finally moving in the right direction. Less dependence on foreigh oil can only be good. We can solve the issues surrounding spent fuel, but it will take Congress working together. Wait a minute....we probably won't be able to solve the issues...never mind!!

    But maybe we can after all. The nuclear industry is big business, and big business controls the propaganda emanating from the media, so the mindless majority of the American public can be swayed by the messages from big business. The party of "No" should be on board with this since they are but the puppets of big business anyway.

    February 17, 2010 at 11:22 am |
  3. Richard, Kankakee, IL.

    There are only about 2000 people in the whole U.S. who know how to operation nuclear facilities at the moment how is that going to create thousands of new jobs? This is nothing but a giveaway to big business, and the selling-out of the American People who will end up paying for the two facilities, we are broke right now where is he getting this money from and what gives him the right to give our money away to rich companies like Bush did?

    This is just Corporate Welfare!

    February 17, 2010 at 9:18 am |
  4. mike-sey

    After listening to Bobby Kennedy and Ms.Whitman debate the issue, I can only come down on Ms.Whitman's and the pro-nuke side. Mr. Kennedy has become a hysterical tea-partier on the subject throwing out questionable assertion after questionable assertion in an effort to drown out any alternative. When it comes to windpower, someone should harness his flapping lips. But I wouldn't want to live near the resulting wind farm because of the excuciating noise.

    February 17, 2010 at 8:53 am |
  5. Richard, Kankakee, IL.

    Obama just refuses to learn that no one wants either a nuclear power plant in this back year, or to store or have nuclear waste transported across the country encase there were an accident that could cause a very nasty spill and kill thousands of Americans. No matter how safe they say it is you can not breathe in, eat or even touch these type of materials with out them either giving you cancer or out right kill you in a few days if not months or years depending on your level of exposure to these hazardous materials. It takes thousand of years for these spent materials to be safe again for human if spilled the radiation is nothing more then a true monster waiting to kill someone.

    This is nothing more then a giveaway at best, or an earmark for Big Business at worse. Haven't we given them far too much of our money over the last 15 months. Nuclear power plants are a disaster waiting to happen, it cost 10 billion per plant and 6 to 10 year to build one plant. For the cost of building two of those nuclear power plants we could build and supply 30% of the nations power, through building solar and wind-turbine farms, add in wave and tidal technology, and we could supply 50% of our energy over the next 10 years.

    February 17, 2010 at 7:59 am |
  6. ronvan

    We have to start somewhere if we are to ever try and get off of our oil addiction! Lets see how many "do gooders", "know better", groups show up to try and stop this. I would rather see solar, wind & geothermal, but how many want to argue over any thing to try and help this country!

    February 17, 2010 at 7:48 am |
  7. A. Smith, Oregon

    The current 3rd Generation Plus commercial nuclear powered reactors produce very little high level radioactive waste. The French reprocessing facility's upon extracting all usable elements are coming up with mere GRAMS left over of high level waste. A tiny, tiny amount compared to a very large amount which is recycled back into new fuel rods.

    The problem of co-existing high level radioactive waste came from the previous 50 years where un-prudent measures were used to rapidly create weapons grade materials which resulted in large amounts of high level radioactive waste.

    To place this into perspective, if ALL of the previous commercial nuclear power reactors were of the new 3rd. generation plus designs, 90% of ALL their high level radioactive waste now stored in temporary facility's would be non-existent.

    Yep, 90% more efficient in nuclear fuel usage. And during their 40 year operating lifetime, reactors have very little downtime relating well over 90% of the entire 40 years is fully online, 24 hrs a day 7 days a week pouring a full Giga watt of electrical energy into the grid.

    China recently purchased 3 US designed 3rd generation nuclear reactors which only take 3 years to build and have a passive emergency shut-down system built into them should any emergency occur, gravity feeds the coolant into the reactor chamber, no pumps nor valves are used or needed for that purpose.

    American should be building its own nuclear fuel reprocessing site to reclaim the utmost from spent fuel rods and leave as little high level radioactive waste as is scientifically possible. There is a limit to Uranium deposits around the world and America needs to realize Uranium is not a renewable resource but limited and heavily mined by many nations for their own use around the world.

    February 17, 2010 at 12:10 am |
  8. robinsoncom

    The US federal govt should not be giving loans, but offering corporate tax incentives for private energy companies, not matter what the energy source, nuke, geothermal, solar, oil, nat gas, whatever. We need to stop giving away tax dollars collected by force from the citizenry. Let the marketplace decide what is the best energy to invest in by getting the govt out of the way!

    February 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
  9. Glenn Koons

    Obama's own wacky enviro Dem supporters will flail at this decision. It is not a big deal because where will the waste go? He already shut Yucca Mt. for waste. This guy is just a poseur and he knows people want nuclear plants. It will take more than this and note he gave a speech before union people not the free enterprise people who really could make this type of energy reliable and done safely with good tech. At least it is a start and I hope the Pubs regain Congress to do more with building, drilling. We know that the Dems will not since they are radical wussy enviros.

    February 16, 2010 at 1:06 pm |