Exelon Corporation

in general, the following link provides EXCELLENT information on nuclear energy & power plants (http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/fctsht.htm)

this part of the site is dedicated to the Exelon Corporation, who is headquartered in Chicago. Exelon is a huge component of the nuclear complex, and as such the military industrial complex. Exelon also has a large stake in the continuing oppression of indigenous and minority/poor people through its stakes power generation. this ranges anywhere from strip mining uranium on land stolen from native americans to the ownership & opperation of dirty-ass coal burning plants in poor neighborhoods in Chicago itself. in addition to being a super-powerful and nasty corporation, Exelon has also helped one President Barack Obama ascend to the throne of “leader of the free world” via massive campaign contributions. and you can bet, anyone who receives the amount of money Obama did from such a corporation will NOT be critical of the policy necessary to sustain the wealth and power of such a corporation.

from wikipedia: 

Exelon Corporation (NYSEEXC) is an electricity generating and distributing company headquartered in Chicago. It was created in October, 2000 by the merger of PECO Energy Company and Unicom, of Philadelphia and Chicago respectively. Unicom owned Commonwealth Edison. Exelon has 5.2 million electricity customers and, in the Philadelphia suburbs, 460,000 natural gas customers.

In June, 2005 Exelon had full or majority ownership of 19 nuclear reactors in 11 nuclear power plants.

On June 30, 2005 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the merger of Exelon and Public Service Enterprise Group Inc., a New Jersey utility. Under this merger, Exelon would have become the largest utility in the United States.[1] The two companies later broke off the agreement[2] due to pressure put on the NJ Board of Public Utilities by public interest groups, including New Jersey Citizen Action.[3]The merger sat pending in front of the NJBPU for nineteen months before Exelon concluded that they were fighting a losing battle.[2]

A shareholder resolution filed by one Exelon shareholder for the Company’s 2008 annual meeting criticizes executive pay levels at the Company.

 

nuclear plants/reactors

map of exelon’s nuclear plants/reactors in illinois: 

Exelon PowerLabs, LLC (a wholly owned subsidiary of Exelon Generation) operates at 4 locations nationwide. The Plattsburgh, NY and Madison, PA facilities specialize in Calibration; the Wilmington, IL facility specializes in Failure Analysis and Component Testing; while the Coatesville, PA location provides all services. The Quality System is ISO 9001:2000 Registered for both the Plattsburgh, NY and Coatesville, PA facilities. The Coatesville and Plattsburgh facilities are also ISO 17025 accredited through the American Association for Laboratory Accreditation (A2LA).

Operating since 1911, Exelon PowerLabs is recognized for its quality, technical expertise, and dedication to client satisfaction. With an extensive investment in laboratory test equipment, the labs annually disposition over 70,000 calibrations, perform over 300 failure investigations, and test over 900 components and products. They have evaluated or tested over 3,000 different components, products, and equipment.

 

In 2005, Exelon was required to pay a $602,000 fine for exceeding the permitted sulfur dioxide emission limit from April to October 2004 at its Cromby Generating Station in Chester County, Pennsylvania.[5]

Exelon and Illinois state officials waited for four years until 2006 before disclosing that Exelon’s Braidwood Nuclear Generating Station, a nuclear plant 60 miles southeast of Chicago, had spilled millions of gallons of water containing tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen, multiple times over a decade. Exelon officials eventually apologized and said the risks from the leak were “minimal”, with tritium levels in surrounding wells all found to be below regulatory limits. [6]

In 2009, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced its plan for a $65,000 fine against Exelon for permitting its contracted security guards that were guarding its Peach Bottom Nuclear Generating Station, a two-reactor nuclear plant located in Delta, Pennsylvania from sleeping on the job. The incidents did not come to light until a videotape of the security guards was leaked to news media. [7] As a result, Exelon terminated the security contract of the Wackenhut security firm that had been involved.

 

 

from sourcewatch

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Exelon

 

Exelon Corporation is an electricity generating and distributing company headquartered in Chicago. It was created in October 2000, by the merger of PECO Energy Company and Unicom, of Philadelphia and Chicago respectively (Unicom was the owner of Commonwealth Edison). Exelon has 5.2 million electricity customers and, in the Philadelphia suburbs, 460,000 natural gas customers.

In June, 2005 Exelon had full or majority ownership of 19 nuclear reactors in 11 nuclear power plants.

On June 30, 2005, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved the merger of Exelon and Public Service Enterprise Group, a New Jersey utility. Under this merger, Exelon would have become the largest utility in the United States.[2] The two companies later broke off the agreement[3] due to pressure put on the NJ Board of Public Utilities by public interest groups, including New Jersey Citizen Action.[4]The merger sat pending in front of the NJBPU for nineteen months before Exelon concluded that they were fighting a losing battle.[5]

A shareholder resolution filed by one Exelon shareholder for the Company’s 2008 annual meeting criticizes executive pay levels at the Company.

Contents

[hide]

Power portfolio

Out of its total 26,877 MW of electric generating capacity in 2005 (2.52% of the U.S. total), Exelon produces 66.7% from nuclear, 14.8% from natural gas, 9.5% from oil, 4.7% from hydroelectricity, 3.3% from coal, 0.6% from wind, and 0.2% from biomass. Exelon owns power plants in Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia.[6]

Exelon Nuclear

Exelon Nuclear has its headquarters in Warrenville, Illinois and is a business unit of Exelon Coroporation. It operates the largest nuclear fleet in the nation and the third largest in the world. Exelon’s ten stations — with 17 reactors — represent approximately 20 percent of the U.S. nuclear industry’s power capacity. The stations include: Braidwood Generating Station, Byron Generation Station, Clinton Power Station, Dresden Generating Station, LaSalle County Generating Station, Limerick Generating STation, Oyster Creek Generating Station, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Quad Cities Generating Station, Three Mile Island Unit-1, Zion Generating Station.[citation needed]

Exelon supports the belief that nuclear power has an imporant role in the future energy supply and has stated that “20 to 30 new nuclear plants will be needed by 2030 in order to address climate change and enhance energy security.”[citation needed]

Exelon intends to file a combined construction and operating license for a single unit in Texas by the end of 2008.[citation needed]

Exelon received approval in March for an early site permit at its Clinton Station in DeWitt County, Illinois — the first permit of its kind granted in the industry. The permit is valid for up to 20 years.[citation needed]

Peach Bottom’s sleeping guards

In 2007, whistleblower Kerry Beal told the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that guards at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station were sleeping on the job. He had previously brought his concerns to a plant supervisor, but was told to “be a team player.” [7]

Initially, the NRC “told the plant’s owner to investigate even though the accusation involved company managers.” The NRC’s Inspector General later ruled that asking the plant’s owner, Exelon, and its security provider, Wackenhut, to investigate themselves was a violation of NRC policies. Not surprisingly, neither Exelon nor Wackenhut “were unable to substantiate the claim. But, months later, 10 security officers were videotaped sleeping on duty.” The NRC then launched its own investigation and confirmed the charges, leading Wackenhut to fire the guards and Exelon to fire Wackenhut. [7]

Relicensing Three Mile Island

To overcome local opposition to the re-licensing of the Three Mile Island’s unit 1 reactor, Exelon agreed “to pay for an expanded community radiation monitoring system, increase charitable donations to community groups and continue its policy of not storing waste from other nuclear plants,” reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “The company also agreed not to oppose the decommissioning of the TMI Unit 2 reactor, destroyed in the 1979 accident when equipment malfunction and operator error led to a partial meltdown of the reactor core and an air release of radioactive material.” [8]

Existing coal-fired power plants

Exelon owned 3 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 895 MW of capacity. Here is a list of Exelon’s coal power plants:[6][9][10]

Plant Name State County Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions
Eddystone PA Delaware 1960 707 MW 4,128,000 tons 6,454 tons
Cromby PA Chester 1954 188 MW 1,129,000 tons 5,588 tons

In 2006, Exelon’s 2 coal-fired power plants emitted 5.2 million tons of CO2 and 12,000 tons of SO2.

Environmental record

In 2005 Exelon was required to pay $602,000 for exceeding the permitted sulfur dioxide emission limit from April through October 2004 at Cromby Generating Station in Chester County, Pennsylvania.[11]

Lobbying

According to lobbying disclosure forms, Exelon $1.2 million from April to June 2008, “to lobby on tax credits for renewable energy sources,” as well as “on telecommunications issues, trade cases involving uranium enrichment, energy policy, the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste disposal project, energy and water appropriations, and climate change.” In addition to Congress, Exelon lobbied the Office of Management and Budget, the departments of Energy, Justice and Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Government Accountability Office, Federal Communications Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission. [12]

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Exelon Corp., BusinessWeek Company Insight Center, accessed July 2008.
  2. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8419580
  3. Press Releases, PSEG website.
  4. NJCA in the News, New Jersey Citizen Action website.
  5. Press Releases, PSEG website.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Garry Lenton, “NRC broke rules in plant inquiry, report says,” The Patriot-News (Pennsylvania), September 9, 2008.
  8. Don Hopey, “Nuclear reactor owners rush to extend licenses,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, November 29, 2008.
  9. Environmental Integrity Project, Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants, July 2007.
  10. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  11. AmeriScan: June 30, 2005
  12. Exelon spent $1.2M lobbying government in 2Q,” Associated Press, September 24, 2008.

External resources

External articles

 

http://www.nirs.org/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are Federal Permissible Standards for TRITIUM Too Permissive?

 

 

Tritium (radioactive hydrogen) occurs naturally in rivers and oceans at average concentrations of from

 

 

3 to 24 picocuries per liter. 1, 2

 

 

A

 

 

picocurie, or one trillionth of a curie, emits 2.22 radiation particles and/or rays per minute.

A single particle or ray has a chance of injuring or mutating a cell in a way that can cause harmful health consequences.

 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s current regulations allow our drinking water to contain

 

 

20,000

picocuries per liter — that is, many times more than the amount found in nature.

 

Tritium is also created in every nuclear power plant in great quantities. Since no economically feasible technology exists to filter out tritium from the plant’s releases of waste liquids and gases, the federal government does not require that it be filtered. Monitoring equipment also does not exist that can accurately determine the amounts of tritium released to the environment.

 

Any exposure to natural or manmade radiation increases a person’s risk of genetic mutations, cancer and other lifeshortening diseases. The federal government has established legally permissible standards for radiation, but

 

 

permissible does not mean safe

.

 

________________________________________________________

 

 

 

 

(see original for citations)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nuclear Information and Resource Service

 

 

6930 Carroll Avenue, #340, Takoma Park, MD 20912

301-270-NIRS; fax: 301-270-4291;
nirsnet@nirs.org; http://www.nirs.org

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.nirs.org/factsheets/tritiumbasicinfo.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TRITIUM: HEALTH CONSEQUENCES

 

Nuclear utility Exelon and its subsidiaries have leaked and released millions of gallons of cooling water contaminated with radioactive tritium into the environment, threatening drinking water supplies. From what is currently known, leaks that occurred as early as 1996 were not discovered by the public until recently. While leaks were first revealed at Exelon reactors in Illinois, other leaks have been revealed at reactors in New York, Arizona, and New Jersey. Reports indicate that tritium is being detected in leachate from municipal landfills in Pennsylvania.

At this point, we do not know how many other communities are being affected. For further information and to keep up with the growing list of sites, please visit the NIRS website www.nirs.org.

 

 

 

Consequently, an estimated radiation dose based only on ingestion of tritiated water may underestimate the health effects if the person has also consumed food contaminated with tritium.

 

(Komatsu)

 

 

Tritium is primarily a byproduct of the nuclear power industry, which releases large amounts (megacuries) of tritium per year. (Dobson, 1979) Tritium has a half life of 12.3 years which means it will be dangerous for

 

 

 

 

at least

120 years, since the hazardous life for a radionuclide is ten to twenty times longer than its half-life. Much of the initial research on health effects of tritium was conducted in the 1970’s when an increase in nuclear power was seen as inevitable.

 

Existing nuclear power reactors have been releasing dangerous levels of tritium into our air and water for decades. The public is only now becoming aware of the magnitude of tritium’s hazards. Most studies indicate that tritium in living creatures can produce typical radiogenic effects including cancer, genetic effects, developmental abnormalities and reproductive effects. (Straume) Tritium can cause mutations, tumors and cell death. (Rytomaa)

Tritiated water is associated with significantly decreased weight of brain and genital tract organs in mice (Torok) and can cause irreversible loss of female germ cells in both mice and monkeys even at low concentrations. (Dobson, 1979)

Studies indicate that lower doses of tritium can cause more cell death (Dobson, 1976), mutations (Ito) and chromosome damage (Hori) per dose than higher tritium doses. Tritium can impart damage which is two or more times greater per dose than either x-rays or gamma rays. (Straume) (Dobson, 1976)

 

 

There is no evidence of a threshold for damage from 

 

 

 

 

3 H exposure; even the smallest amount of tritium can have negative health impacts. (Dobson, 1974) Organically bound tritium (tritium bound in animal or plant tissue) can stay in the body for 10 years or more. While tritiated water  may be cleared from the human body in about 10 days (Garland), if a person lives in an area where tritium contamination continues, he or she can experience chronic exposure to tritium. (Laskey) Tritium from tritiated water can become incorporated into DNA, the molecular basis of heredity for living organisms. DNA is especially sensitive to radiation. (Hori) A cell’s exposure to tritium bound in DNA can be even more toxic than its exposure to tritium in water. (Straume)(Carr)

Cindy Folkers, NIRS

 

 
, April 2006

ritium (3H) is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen; it gives off radiation in the form of a beta particle. Tritium will bind anywhere hydrogen does, including in water, and in plant, animal and human tissue. It cannot be removed from the environment once it is released. Tritium can be inhaled, ingested, or absorbed through skin. Eating food containing 3 H can be even more damaging than drinking  3 H bound in water.

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://nucnews.net/nucnews/2006nn/0602nn/060227nn.txt

Exelon pledges funds for water system near nuclear spill

By Hal Dardick
Chicago Tribune staff reporter
Published February 27, 2006, 10:46 PM CST

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/custom/newsroom/chi-060227exelon,1,3611637.story

An Exelon Nuclear official Monday pledged financial assistance to help a build a public water system for a Will County village near the site of a nuclear power plant where radioactive tritium was spilled.

Exelon is “committing financial resources to helping the village of Godley get the water it needs,” said Thomas O’Neill, vice president of regulatory and legal affairs.

O’Neill, interviewed after Monday night’s public forum on the spills, said his company would form a public-private partnership to build the water system. Exelon would cover costs not paid for by federal, state and local governments, he said.

Efforts about five years ago to build a water system in Godley failed for lack of funding.

The Godley Park District in 2002 found elevated levels of tritium in a shallow well. The finding came after it dropped a lawsuit accusing Exelon of contaminating local shallow wells with a diesel fuel spill at Braidwood Generating Station in Reed Township.

O’Neill said that while there is no evidence of tritium contamination in Godley’s wells, “We’re doing this to demonstrate goodwill.” Exelon also will cover the costs of bottled water for residents of Godley and unincorporated Reed Township near the plant, he said.

About 150 people attended the forum conducted by a Will County Board committee that is probing four tritium spills between 1996 and 2003 from underground pipes running from the Braidwood plant to the Kankakee River.

Last summer, evidence of tritium was discovered by the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency in a ditch between the plant and the village.

Exelon first told residents late last year contamination had spread to groundwater outside the plant’s boundaries. The state EPA later cited Exelon under state regulations for violation of groundwater standards.

In the weeks following public disclosure of the contamination, Exelon Nuclear officials announced the four leaks at Braidwood, two of which led to a new citation issued Monday by the state EPA. The citation notes groundwater contamination at or near two forest preserves in the area.

Some groundwater contains tritium at levels higher than the U.S. EPA deems safe for drinking. But elevated tritium levels were found in only one nearby private well—significantly below the level at which the EPA deems it unsafe for drinking.

Tritium, a byproduct of nuclear generation, can enter the body through ingestion, absorption or inhalation. Exposure can increase the risk of cancer, birth defects and genetic damage.

Exelon recently launched a program to test tritium-handling systems at all 10 of its nuclear plants,0 seven of which are in Illinois.

Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, at the request of U.S. Rep. Jerry Weller (R-Ill.), plans to inspect tritium handling systems at all Illinois nuclear power plants.

And U.S. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) said he would introduce legislation that would require nuclear companies to notify state and local officials when leaks of radioactive substances exceed federal limits. U.S. Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) has agreed to co-sponsor the legislation, Obama’s staff said Monday.

hdardick@tribune.com

 

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=14123

US: New Jersey Ratepayers Stop Big Utility MergerEnvironment News Service
September 18th, 2006
 

After two years of public hearings, litigation, testimony and negotiations and more than 11,500 letters, phone calls and emails to state decision makers, New Jersey consumers avoided higher electricity rates when Exelon walked away from its takeover bid to buy-out Public Service Enterprise Group, PSEG, a publicly traded energy and energy services company headquartered in New Jersey.

Critics of the merger said it would have raised rates in New Jersey by as much as $2.3 billion a year, reduced reliability and quality of service, and risked public safety, according to critics of the merger.

A diverse coalition of residential, consumer and industrial utility ratepayers joined to oppose the companies’ proposed marriage.

New Jersey Citizen Action, NJPIRG, Public Citizen, the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition, the Chemistry Council of New Jersey, the New Jersey Tenants Organization, the Service Employees International Union, New Jersey State Council, the Sierra Club of New Jersey and others worked to educate the public and decision makers about the damage to the state economy if such a monopoly were to be created.

“New Jersey ratepayers struggling with high energy costs have a huge weight lifted off their shoulders today,” said Suzanne Leta, energy advocate for New Jersey Public Interest Research Group. “This deal would have created an energy giant large and powerful enough to dictate electric rates with the potential to cost every ratepayer in the state hundreds of dollars more a year.”

In December 2004, Exelon filed its proposal to take over PSEG with the federal and state regulators. It was approved by federal agencies, but the states’ Board of Public Utilities (BPU) issued a standard of review aimed at protecting consumers. The board required the company to show the merger would provide positive benefits to the state in terms of rates, competition, employees and service.

During the fall and winter of 2005, the agency conducted a series of public hearings and joined the New Jersey Public Advocate, NJPIRG, the New Jersey Large Energy Users Coalition and others in filing testimony before Judge McGill detailing the harms the merger would bring to the state. This spring, Public Advocate Ron Chen urged Judge McGill to reject the proposal.

In May, members of the coalition worked to build support for a state legislative resolution calling on the BPU to reject the deal. Assemblyman Joseph Cryan led the effort, and by the end of June, a bi-partisan majority of the state assembly and 10 state senators had signed on as co-sponsors.

“We in New Jersey should be very proud that unlike any other state regulator or the federal agencies in Washington, who proved to be more interested in protecting corporate interests instead of consumer interests, we took a firm stand against the exercise of market power and anti-competitive prices,” said Ev Liebman, program director for New Jersey Citizen Action.

The discussions made clear that gaps separating the parties’ positions are insurmountable, Exelon and PSEG said in a statement, and the executives of both companies said they were “disappointed” that agreement could not be reached. Major differences included issues relating to rate concessions and market power mitigation.

The merger is part of a trend towards utility consolidation across the country and within New Jersey. PSEG is the state’s only remaining electric and gas utility that has not already been bought out by an out-of-state company.

 

http://www.corpwatch.org/article.php?id=10609

US: Nuclear Industry Powers Back Into Lifeby David TeatherThe Guardian
April 13th, 2004
 

 

Twenty-five years after the United States suffered its worst nuclear accident, the moribund atomic energy industry has begun to show signs of life. A consortium of seven of the biggest companies in the business, including a division of British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL), now says it intends to apply for the first licence to build a commercial nuclear plant in the US since the near disaster at Three Mile Island.

The consortium has not yet said where it intends to construct the plant, only that it will spend millions of dollars on developing the plans, at the invitation of the government.

A series of mechanical malfunctions and human errors led to a partial core meltdown at the Three Mile Island reactor in Pennsylvania on March 28 1979, causing it to spew plumes of radioactive gas into the atmosphere. For five days there were fears of catastrophe.

The accident and the anxiety it caused, plus the soaring costs of tighter safety regulations and the availability of cheap, clean natural gas were enough to halt the industry in its tracks. The final orders for new nuclear-fired plants were placed in December of that year. None ordered after 1973 was built.

Government officials say there was no effect on the health of local people from the Three Mile accident. The courts agreed: a class action lawsuit brought on behalf of 2,000 people was dismissed in 1996.

But doubts remain. Recent data from the Radiation and Public Health Project, a non-profit organisation, suggests otherwise. The group claims infant mortality in the local area increased by 47% in the two years after the accident. It also says that, 25 years on, cancer-related deaths among children under 10 are 30% higher than the national average.

Still, broader sentiment appears to have changed as America’s thirst for energy continues to increase. A number of factors are working in the nuclear industry’s favour. Power blackouts such as the one that blanketed the north-eastern US last summer, concerns about greenhouse gases from coal-fired plants and the shortage of natural gas that is pushing prices higher have combined to rehabilitate nuclear power. The costs of operating nuclear power plants have fallen.

According to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the industry’s future will depend upon its ability to argue that nuclear power, which produces no greenhouse emissions, is necessary to fight global warming.

“The principal motivation to reconsider the nuclear option is that nuclear power as an alternative to fossil fuel resources does not impair air quality and does not release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere,” said Professor John Deutch, of the MIT.

There are 103 commercial reactors still operating in the US, generating about 20% of the nation’s electricity. The US accounts for almost a quarter of the 435 nuclear power reactors in the world. The fleet of reactors in the US is ageing, however, and many are now applying for licences to extend their lives. By the end of this year, a third of the existing plants, built to last for 40 years, will have applied for licences to continue operating for another 20.

The consortium put together to apply for the new plant is made up of Exelon Nuclear, the largest operator in the US, with 17 reactors; Entergy Nuclear, the second largest US operator; Constellation Energy; the Southern Company, and EDF International North America, a unit of Electricit de France. General Electric and Westinghouse Electric, a unit of BNFL, are the associated manufacturers.

So far, all they have committed to is spending tens of millions of dollars of their own money as well as cash from the government to design a plant. They hope to submit an application by 2008 and have a decision from the nuclear regulatory commission by 2010.

“To protect consumers against spiking energy prices and for our own national security, we need to maintain fuel diversity in the energy industry,” said Chris Crane, president and chief nuclear officer of Exelon Nuclear. “Nuclear energy is safe, reliable and non-carbon emitting. We must keep the nuclear option open for the future.”

The licensing system was streamlined in 1992 to allow new plant to be built more quickly, but it has yet to be tested.

A number of utilities have applied for “early site permits”, part of the department of energy’s programme to breathe new life into the industry. Applicant companies have 20 years to decide whether they want to build.

The Bush administration’s stalled energy bill provides incentives for nuclear power and seeks the extension of liability against lawsuits in case of accidents. The administration is eager to lessen America’s reliance on other countries for its energy needs, particularly nations in the Middle East.

The industry cites statistics that it claims shows reactors are safer than they have ever been. The number of “scrams” – emergency shutdowns – has fallen from 1.6 for each plant annually in 1990 to 0.4 in 2002.

But there have been worrying incidents. The Davis Beese plant in Ohio run by FirstEnergy has been closed since early 2002 after it was discovered that an accumulation of acid had almost eaten through the six-inch steel reactor vessel.

Two other obstacles loom large. The first is what to do with nuclear waste. The second is what would happen if plants were targeted by terrorists.

The government is developing a plan to bury nuclear waste at Yucca mountain in Nevada, 90 miles north-west of Las Vegas, but faces opposition from nearby residents. The concerns don’t stop there. Moving waste across the country on trains is a security risk.

And New York residents note that one of the planes that crashed into the World Trade Centre in 2001 flew directly over the Indian Point plant on the Hudson river, 35 miles from midtown Manhattan.

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