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Virginia Jobs Could Go Nuclear

Posted on October 29, 2008

The construction of a nuclear power plant will create new Virginia jobs.

The French nuclear-support firm Areva and Northrop Grumman Newport News are teaming up to build a plant that makes components for holding nuclear plants’ dangerous and useful fuel. Creation of the plant is expected to create 540 jobs in Virginia.

Gov. Tim Kaine praised the $363.4 million project as “a positive step toward reducing greenhouse gases and reducing our dependence on foreign oil,” according to an article by The Free Lance-Star.

Nuclear was considered the up-and-coming power source during the 1950s and ’60s, but that move was slowed by anti-nuclear activists and the 1979 partial core meltdown of the Three Mile Island reactor-though no deaths or injuries came from the episode. Since that incident the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has reported not a single “significant precursor” event-or a malfunction that increases the likelihood of damage to a core by more than a thousandth of 1 percent.

The last construction of a nuclear plant in the United States began 35 years ago, and no plant has come on-line since 1996. Today nuclear power provides under 20 percent of the U.S. consumption of electricity, while France draws 78 percent of its wattage from nuclear reactors.

“Departing from musty orthodoxy, some greens now support nuclear energy, as they should: It’s spectacularly ‘clean,'” the article notes. “To equal the energy output of 1 ounce of enriched-uranium fuel, a city would have to burn 4 tons of coal. By one estimate, the burning of fossil fuels each year kills 20,000 Americans.

“Many Greens,” the article adds, “think they have a good grip on the likely trajectory of the planet’s climate over the next 100 years. If we keep burning fossil fuels at current rates, their climate models tell them, we’ll face a meltdown on a much larger scale than Chernobyl’s, beginning with the polar ice caps.”

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