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New Nukes in the Northwest

by Denis DuBois
Examiner, June 7, 2009

A quarter century after WPPSS became what was then the largest municipal bond default in U.S. history, the Washington Public Power Supply System (now known as Energy Northwest) is trying again. It has been researching new nuclear options for a year and wants to step up the activity.

The Associated Press reported this week that it obtained a letter from the power consortium to its 25 member utilities asking who wants to pitch in to research the idea of building new nuclear power plants in the Pacific Northwest.

Nuclear power already has proven to be valuable for the region, CEO Vic Parrish told the AP.

Whoops! Consumers are still paying for the WPPSS debacle, AP says. Bonneville Power Administration still owes roughly the full $6.4 billion for construction of Columbia Generating Station and two unfinished plants. About 30 percent of its standard wholesale power rates go toward paying the nuclear debt. Plans for two other WPPSS plants were abandoned.

Energy Northwest stores its spent fuel in dry canisters on site. A federal repository for spent nuclear fuel remains uncertain. Reprocessing, which remains illegal, only addresses fuels, and not the tons of non-fuel radioactive waste -- everything from contaminated conveyor belts to rubber gloves -- that must be canned and buried until a better solution can be found.

Related Pages:
New Nukes in the Northwest

Denis DuBois
New Nukes in the Northwest
Examiner, June 7, 2009

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