People ask me, "Where does all that nuclear subsidy money go? I've never seen any of it." Well, some of it goes to research that may or may not have an impact on the real world. But more of it goes for activities that nobody but a nuclear advocate would think up. No other community, with such a commendable record for safety and reliability, would keep thinking up ways to make themselves look bad. Nukies themselves started it with the Price-Anderson Act, which assumes that only nuclear power could suffer an accident so horrendous that it would overwhelm all the resources of the world's insurance companies and require the government to cover the losses. Then, they set up a program that involved several nations in a coordinated, billion-dollar research effort over several decades, to determine the consequences of the worst realistic accident or terrorist act. That program proved that the worst we could expect would result in "few if any deaths off-site." In other words, there is no substantive basis for the Price-Anderson Act.
"You don't understand," I'm told. "We need that law so that, in case of an accident, people don't sue the supplier of every little widget in the plant." Well, we shouldn't have to create an apocalyptic myth to accomplish that simple task. What I do understand is, that the tougher and more mysterious a task is, the more grant money you get.
But the topper is this one: When Bill Richardson was Secretary of Energy, a council of economists was set up (yes, economists!) that studied "some previously discredited reports" (their words) by people like Ernest Sternglass, Steven Wing, and Alice Stewart. Despite valid evidence to the contrary, they decided that radiation was killing workers in DOE facilities and persons living as far as several hundred miles downwind of A-Bomb tests. Richardson made great publicity from this, stating that although his predecessors had covered up this information, he was going to compensate these "cold war heroes" for their involuntary suffering. He then sent out teams of eager investigators to visit retirement communities and old age homes, and ask former nuclear employees there if they were suffering from any health symptoms. If any of the symptoms could possibly be attributed to the radiation they were exposed to fifty years previous, they were urged to apply for the new program, where they would get a minimum of $150,000.
I don't know whether these bounty-hunters had a quota, or were rewarded for bringing in large numbers of "victims," but there were several consequences from this program. The congresspeople who voted to hand out this largess gained support from this new special interest group, but the "victims" themselves were generally turned down when the facts were examined, because the radiation levels in question were not significantly above the natural background and other radiation sources we all encounter in daily living. Despite this, the taxpayers were still tapped for over a billion dollars so far, with more to come. And the nuclear enterprise was labeled by Congress an "ultra-hazardous activity" despite insurance statistics to the contrary. I presume that the money spent in this program is included in "subsidies to nuclear" to compare with subsidies to wind, solar, and other energy sources.
Now, I learn that there is a move by some senators to lower the eligibility barrier still further, to admit greater numbers of "victims."
And this is just ONE example. There's the case of a critic asking about terrorist-driven aircraft, right after 9/11. The nuclear spokesman replied that we had never previously considered such a problem. When a number of us pointed out that, in fact, the issue of aircraft collisions has been specifically dealt with, our spokesman replied, yes, but we had not thought about terrorist-driven aircraft.
Do you know any other industry that pays so much to shoot itself in the foot?