August 7th, 2008
02:08 PM ET
13 years ago McCain's nuclear plan: Doable, but risky

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="Sen. McCain gave a press conference in Michigan Tuesday after visiting a nuclear power plant."]
NEW YORK ( - John McCain's call for the nation to make a big push into nuclear power to become more energy independent can certainly be met, if the country is willing to pay more for power and tolerate the safety risks.

Earlier this week McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, said he wants to build 45 more nuclear power plants in this county. That would add significantly to the nation's current fleet of 104 active plants, which produce about 20% of the nation's power.

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Filed under: John McCain
soundoff (215 Responses)
  1. Rob

    Another stupid and old fashioned McOld idea. The man is so so lost in the 70's. We can use clean coal , wind and solar to provide our electricity. We do not have to glow in the dark or have babies with two heads to have an electric supply.

    August 7, 2008 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  2. Mike

    McGeezer brags about being on a Nuclear Submarine. Now in the news we see the Nuclear Sub that has travelled the World leaking Radio Active Fuel everywhere it went. Put your glow in the dark foot in your mouth McBush

    August 7, 2008 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  3. Joe

    In 1979 Tree mile island came within 1 hour of total melt down. Had it melted down it would have killed tens of thousands of people and created a 40 mile radius no-man land that would be uninhabitable of hundreds of years.
    The radioactive waste produced by nuclear power plants today will still be lethal in 250,000 years.
    Nuclear power is extremely short sighted and very foolish.

    they also make great targets for terrorists!

    August 7, 2008 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  4. Voice of Reason

    I remember WPPSS back in the day. (go google it or look it up in the Wikipedia) The risks here arent risks of the Three-Mile_island sort, They are more of the Enron sort.

    WPPSS was a project to build several Nuclear power plants in Washington State. It was (not coincidentally) the LAST time anyone tried to build a Nuclear power plant in the US... Why? Because they werent financially viable – even with the huge amounts of cash Uncle Sam poured into them. The largest bond default in history... Does this ring any bells?

    That was the Fiasco when we tried to build 2 or 3 plants back in the 80s when environmental regulations werent even as strict as they are today. 45 plants ?!?! Can you imagine? You thought Enron was bad? You thought the dot-com bubble burst was bad? You thought the Home-Mortgage crisis was bad?

    Maybe we could use T Boone Pickens as a body-double for McCain and nobody would notice...

    August 7, 2008 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  5. Mikey

    To all you you who support nuclear power:

    Please respond with your zip code, so we can find 45 communities that want to host these plants. I am not completely opposed to nuclear, but already live too close to Indian Point for comfort.

    I suppose we are going to ship the spent fuel rods all the way to Yucca mountain from wherever the plants are?

    So let's start the list of sites:
    Crawford, TX
    Kennebunkport, ME
    McCain house #1 town
    McCain house #2 town
    McCain house #3 town
    McCain house #4 town
    McCain house #5 town
    McCain house #6 town
    McCain house #7 town
    McCain house #8 town
    Cheney hometown
    Cheney current town
    Cheney vacation house town

    August 7, 2008 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. J

    Nuclear waste can be reprocessed, which greatly reduces it. France does the best of my knowledge, we currently do not.

    August 7, 2008 06:28 pm at 6:28 pm |
  7. Shotta Nic


    August 7, 2008 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  8. Peter (CA)

    If there is method that France has used that has worked, then it should be explored. I would not automatically say we need any set number, like 45, until we look at all our options, including solar and wind.

    But, waste disposal is tricky. The last location I heard about was in Nevada, next to the Colorado River. Not smart. This part has to be tightly, tightly regulated because we sure cannot trust a utility with an Enron mentality to do the right thing. Maybe that is why it works better in France.

    August 7, 2008 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  9. Voice of Reason

    Wow. Just did more reading... McCain calls nuclear power, "...efficient and inexpensive..."? Nuclear poewr (at the best of times) costs us about 7 cents per kilowatt hour. Wind energy (after istallation) costs about 1 cent per kilowatt hour.

    It takes about 6-8 Billion dollars to build a new Nuclear plant. Splitting the diff at 7B, let's see... that's $315Billion to build 45 plants. That same money if applied at producing wind power at the cost of around $1200 per installed Kilowatt would create 262,500,000 kilowatts of power for the grid...

    That is 262 GigaWatts of power capacity.
    at 1/7th the production cost.
    with no uranium mining or refining involved.
    no security or terrorism risks
    no Yucca mountain (go google THAT one... have fun!)

    McCain's plan only shows an inability to see past the party line, and do the math. This is the 'tire pressure guage' thing all over again but at a much bigger scale (maintaining your tire pressure will reduce America's fuel woes 2-3 times more than all of McCain's proposed offshore drilling).

    Wake up and think, America!

    August 7, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  10. Annette, Washington, DC

    No nuclear plants, if McCain is in

    August 7, 2008 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  11. McLAME

    The waste will be around for MILLIONS OF YEARS.

    McLAME will die of OLD AGE in less than 10.

    Do the math people.

    August 7, 2008 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  12. Anonymous

    Voice of reason:
    What happens when the wind does not blow? I guess you can sit in the dark with your candle and work new math problems or come up with new Mcsomething names...

    August 7, 2008 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  13. chad

    I noticed your math calcualtions did not include the cost of windmills or number of windmills required to equal the power of 1 nuclear power plant. In addition, I didnt see a plan for when the wind does not blow to turn all those windmills - better invest in candle stocks.

    August 7, 2008 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  14. dan

    There is no safety risk.
    Bulid breeder reactors like the French to minimize waste.
    Best energy source ever.
    I'm a democrat and I think they have their energy policy all wrong.

    August 7, 2008 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  15. Joshua College Station Texas

    More expensive? More risky? Yeah, let's do it!


    Nuclear waste is nearly impossible to "throw away". Unless we jettison it into space, it is always with us. Nuclear waste contaminates everything it touches. More reactors mean more waste, and will only compound the existing problem. Has McCain proposed where to store the waste? No one wants it, not Nevada, not Utah, not Wyoming or Idaho, not Arizona where McCain hails from, now any other state. Many states won't even allow it to be transported across their borders.

    Oh, and nuclear waste kills. It fundamentally changes the nature of the molecules that are contacted by it. Radiation particles knock pieces out of adjacent molecules, causing them to become free radicals, which can then knock pieces out of molecules adjacent to them, in an unending chain reaction. Irradiated organic systems break down because their cells are irreparably damaged and contaminate even new cells as they are formed. Even inorganic non-nuclear items have the potential to become contaminated and contaminate other things in turn. The ability to contaminate doesn't decline with the number of items the nuclear or non-nuclear irradiated material touches. So, metal and concrete storage tanks, plastic and metal observation cameras, accidentally irradiated ground water and soil, even the air surrounding nuclear material are contaminated by it, essentially forever (thousands of lifetimes), and can contaminate other things in turn.

    McCain's arguments for nuclear bank on the ignorance of the average American about what is at stake in relying on it. Romney says only left-wing environmentalist extremists don't want nuclear. But that is bogus. Nuclear can only work if there is a clear plan for waste disposal, which is the concern that has prevented new facility construction over the past 30 years. No one has been able to find a place to put it! Everyone wants unlimited power, but they all want the waste to go in someone else's backyard.

    August 7, 2008 07:11 pm at 7:11 pm |
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