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Critics Blast DOE Nuke Loan as Championing 'Technological Albatross'

Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the loan of $6.5 billion for the construction of two new reactors at Georgia plant

- Lauren McCauley, staff writer

The Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating nuclear site in Waynesboro, Georgia. (Photo: NRCgov/ Creative Commons/ Flickr)The U.S. Department of Energy Wednesday announced their approval of a $6.5 billion federal loan to fund the construction of two reactors at the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating nuclear site in Waynesboro, Georgia, which critics say further cements the Obama administration's allegiance to a dying and dangerous industry.

The Vogtle plant is the first nuclear power plant to be built from scratch in this country in more than three decades.

While Department of Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz touted the loan as a "major milestone in the Administration’s commitment to jumpstart the U.S. nuclear power industry," critics blasted the news saying the White House is championing a failed industry.

In an interview with Common Dreams, Tim Judson, Executive Director of of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), said the Obama administration has an "irrational commitment to subsidizing the failed nuclear renaissance."

"This is the real pitfall of what he calls the 'all-of-the-above' energy policy," Judson added.

Paul Gunter, Director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear, agreed, saying in an interview with Common Dreams: "For an industry in decline with a repeated history of financial failure and unmanaged safety and waste problems, it's really disappointing that President Obama has continued to drag this technological albatross around."

Both Gunter and Judson emphasized the fiscal recklessness of the loan saying it is putting "taxpayers on the hook" for risky and untested technology in a dying industry. According to Judson, the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor model being built is untested, posing a "real risk of nuclear accident."

"The nuclear industry is a false solution to the climate change issue," Gunter continued. "Throwing more resources into that false solution not only delays us in addressing climate change, it may even preclude us from addressing it."

According to the reports, two loan guarantees totaling $6.5 billion will be offered to Georgia Power, a Southern subsidiary, and Oglethorpe Power Co., a partner on the project. A separate agreement guaranteeing $1.8 billion is still being negotiated with a third Vogtle partner, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia.

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