Big fat nuclear plant smokestack with white smoke billowing out against a blue sky

Testimony before the Ohio legislature on House Bill 6, Ohio’s nuclear and coal plant bailout bill which ironically also cuts off funds for renewable energies.

Is Ohio's legislature declaring a state of atomic socialism?

It seems poised for a Soviet gouging of some $3 billion over the next ten years to bail out two dirty, dangerous, decayed Chernobyl-ready atomic reactors that are falling apart. Neither can compete in the free markets so many Buckeyes profess to love.

The legislature proposes this $3 billion bailout while trashing some $4 billion in private capital. That money wants to build thousands of wind turbines and create tens of thousands of jobs, generating safe clean energy far cheaper than those radioactive "mistakes by the lake." The fast-rising turbines would lower electric rates and bring in private development capital, not drain it out of the public pocket.  

The astonishing turn to Soviet nuclear economics comes as FirstEnergy's top executives pocket some $25 million in annual "salaries" while they spent $3 million to "lobby" the Legislature.

So about 10% of the proposed bailout directly rewards the rich execs who drove FirstEnergy into bankruptcy.

But where is the plan to inspect the crumbling reactors the legislators want us to fund?  Is Ohio some sucker who buys obsolete jalopies without checking the brakes, radiator, tires or cracked block? Lacking expert appraisals, how is a bailout to be evaluated? What future repairs will these reactors need? What's their true dollar value?

Davis-Besse is America's #1 bet to become the next Chernobyl. Designed in the 1960s to last 40 years, it's now 42. It's hosted two of America's five worst atomic incidents. It's likely embrittled and cracked. Its owner loves to defer necessary maintenance. Boric acid ate into its reactor head. The containment was breached to glue on a new one. The radiation shield building is literally crumbling.

Perry is the first US reactor damaged by an earthquake. Who wants to bet on when the next one hits?

The NRC always says reactors are "safe." But FE is in bankruptcy, and these are its two prime capital assets. Without inspecting them, how do we know their net present value? Who would fund them without knowing their market price?

Perry and DB spew heat, chemicals and radiation. Their cooling towers kill birds. Their effluents poison and fry millions of marine creatures. They unbalance our Great Lakes.

Sooner or later, hundreds of workers MUST be retained for years of decommissioning.

The rest can be retrained to build and run wind farms that will last decades. California's "Retain and Retrain" program at Diablo Canyon's two soon-to-shut reactors won over the IBEW, state and environmental groups. Ohio must be next.

But a single infamous sentence in the Ohio code blocks our wind farm bonanza. Indiana, Michigan, New York and Pennsylvania all have similar winds, but far more turbines. Their lesser setbacks cause zero health or ecological damage. Ours block $4 billion in private investment but demand $3 billion in bailouts.

The North Coast is flat, windy, covered with transmission lines. The tower sites are near the cities. The farmers want the income. Mid-lake hosts the world's strongest winds, set in shallow fresh water near our cities.

Private atomic socialism-for-the-rich is dooming our state. 

Let the markets work. Fully inspect those obsolete radioactive junk heaps before Soviet bailouts stick us with two more Chernobyls. Lift the setback clause. Retain and retrain the workers. Welcome the green on-rush of private capital, secure jobs, cheap energy and modern zero-emission wind and solar.

True capitalists of Ohio unite…you have only your atomic lemon socialism to lose.  


Harvey Wasserman, of Bexley, attended the 1975 "Toward Tomorrow Fair" at the University of Massachusetts that first envisioned a totally Solartopian green-powered Earth.