Zion’s ‘Swan Song’ premature and lacks common sense

March 21, 2011


Note:  I wrote this article as a commentary for the Chicago Tribune, recognizing that the probability of it being accepted was near zero.  It was rejected, but I was able to reach members of the Tribune’s editorial staff to let them know how I perceived its editional and article about The Zion Station in northern Illionis, both published on Sunday, March 20th.

My Commentary:  “Zion’s ‘Swan Song’ premature and lacks common sense”

I have been accused of beating a “dead horse during the past several years, given my countless letters to media publications and my numerous overtures to IL legislator in Springfield imploring them to take another look at the dual Zion Nuclear Plant while divorcing themselves from the “pie in the sky” energy sources wind, solar, and ethanol.

Zion, when in operation before its two units were prematurely shuttered before their time in1998, never spewed radioactive particles into the air, nor leaked radioactive particles into Lake Michigan.  Exelon’s given reason for closing the two units was financial in nature.  But If true, why has Exelon refused to release financial evaluation reports.  If profitability was the issue why didn’t Exelon attempt to sell Zion to any party to operate

To the contrary, they were providing safe, environmentally clean, lowest cost electricity to the electrical grids (2100 MW’s) in a seismically approved location, not just to Northeast Illinois, helping to stabilize and possibly drive down the cost of electricity in rate payer’s monthly bills from 1972 until 1998.

Exelon’s stated reason for closing the two Zion units was financial in nature.  But If true, why has Exelon refused to release financial evaluation reports?  If profitability was the issue, why didn’t Exelon attempt to sell Zion to another party who might have succeeded in managing an efficient and profit-making plant?

Knowledge gained through research and contacts with nuclear energy experts would seem to permit me to comment unabashedly on the Trib’s editorial of Sunday, March 16, “Revive Yucca,” as well as the article written by Tribune reporters Julie Wernau and Lisa Black, “Nuclear waste generating new fears,” on the same date.

Credit is to be given to the writer of the Tribune’s Yucca Mountain editorial.  Yucca Mountain should never have been discredited as a safe repository to entomb nuclear waste, nor the procedure developed to transport spent nuclear waste to Yucca Mountain   Unfortunately Yucca Mountain became a “hot potato” politically and radioactive rods of spent nuclear fuel must continue to be stored in large water-filled pools.  The same fate awaits the spent nuclear fuel at the Zion Plant.

Statements made in both the Tribune editorial and the Zion-focused article written by Trib reporters, however, led me to conclude that the writers of both had no understanding of what was meant by a reactor core meltdown or that reprocessing nuclear waste is done in other countries but has been rejected here in America. 

According to an article written by David Warren on March 16, “Fukushima,” he urged the media to use caution  when applying “meltdown” to a nuclear reactor.  Warren spoke of the “meltdown watch” on a Fukushima  nuclear power plant wherein there has been no meltdown, the chances of one are not high, and the effects of such a meltdown would be relatively modest.

It was Tribune reporters Wernau and Black’s who “Matter of Factually ” mentioned that 2.2 million pounds of spent Nuclear fuel at Zion must be dealt with.  

Requests were made of the Tribune to contact David Hollein of Barrington Hills, who was Project Engineer for all Nuclear Plants constructed here in Illinois.  Why David Hollein?  Because he is author of a publications on Nuclear Waste Storage, Spent Nuclear Fuel Reprocessing, and Long Term Nuclear Waste Storage used in corporate and public presentations throughout the world. 

The name of Jay Lehr, Ph.D, Science Director at  Chicago’s Heartland Institute here in Chicago, was also shared with the Tribune as a font of sound and factual information about Nuclear Energy.  Jay Lehr was called upon to comment about the “Fukushima event on numerous radio and TV programs in the week following the earthquake and tsunami which led to the damaged plants.

 To my knowledge, neither David Hollein or Jay Lehr were ever contacted by the Tribune to add credibility to published articles about nuclear energy and The Zion Station, which means so much to me.

I am in sync with the Tribune in that the Japan nuclear event has caused this nation and the world to reconsider the safety of its reactors now in use and the advisability of constructing additional Nuclear Plants.

I do not agree, however, that the Fukushima event was a “nuclear disaster” as described in the Trib’s editorial.   The authentic disaster remains with the aftermath of all the damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami, as  whole towns were swept over and thousands of lives were lost with likely thousands more deaths resulting.

As anticipated, the Japan nuclear accident is being  blown out of proportion by reporters who have no knowledge of nuclear energy or the terms used to explain nuclear happenings.  The damaged Fukushima reactors have been a God-sent -made-for-agenda-movement for the political Left, fear-mongers and anti-nuke individuals who haven’t wasted time in spreading their false and harmful rhetoric to discredit Nuclear Energy. 

Nuclear power represents a wave into the future.  This nation must catch the wave by building new nuclear plants without delay, and by saving older plants like Zion from decommissioning, or America’s energy needs, lacking foresight and a common sense approach, will be inadequate to supply future energy needs.




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