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Our Opinion: Powerful record supports nuclear plant extension

Our Opinion: Powerful record supports nuclear plant extension

News Tribune editorial

March 19th, 2012 in News

Are municipal officials and environmentalists the only energy users?

You might think so, based on the turnout at a public hearing Wednesday on extending Ameren Missouri's license to operate the Callaway Nuclear Plant. The utility is seeking to renew its license from its expiration in 2024 until 2044.

Although attendance was sparse, it was equitable.

In favor of extending the license were a Holts Summit alderwoman and Fulton's city administrator, who said he was speaking as a private citizen, but indicated Fulton's government supported the extension.

Both proponents characterized the utility as a good corporate citizen and said the relationship has aided their communities.

Opposing the extension were a representative of an environmental group and an anti-nuclear activist.

An inquiry on the News Tribune Facebook site drew four positive comments and no negative feedback.

Respondents cited "quality jobs," "reliable energy" and a "great track record of safety."

Those respondents include people with experience in energy careers who voiced an appreciation for alternative energy, as well as an understanding of its limitations.

A 30-year employee of the Callaway plant wrote: "The current administration is desperately trying to put coal plants out of business with regulation and red tape. I don't think solar panels and windmills will cut it though, so nuclear and coal are probably the choice for now - that is if you want the lights to come on when you flip the switch."

And a 25-year employee of the state Division of Energy wrote: "I know there have been many alternative fuels tried and tested. Green is good if you have the infrastructure to mass produce and deliver when needed. It isn't there. Coal and nuclear are our only choices, unless we plan to significantly change our lifestyles."

Opponents contend the 1,600-page renewal application is too voluminous to digest within the standard 60-day comment period, scheduled to end April 24.

That is a valid concern, as is the ongoing problem of how to dispose safely of nuclear waste.

But the Callaway Nuclear Plant has provided safe, clean affordable energy since it began operations in 1984.

In a nation with a voracious appetite for energy, Callaway's application for an extension deserves support.