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(The iconic company dated back to the 1800s, when it won the contract to produce and deliver the first major loads of commercial electricity from Niagara Falls to the American northeast using technology developed by the legendary Nikola Tesla.) The Westinghouse bankruptcy has driven its parent company, Toshiba, to the brink of bankruptcy as well.Toshiba has offered some .2 billion to help finish the South Carolina project, but many doubt the giant company could actually make good on the pledge.It would mark the definitive death of the dream of “too cheap to meter” radioactive energy, and end an era marked by massive cost overruns, soaring operating and maintenance expenses, a string of bankruptcies, two major meltdowns, an unsolved radioactive waste burden. Currently, 99 nuclear plants now operate in the United States.Five have shut in the last several years, with dozens more poised to follow, primarily due to their inability to compete with cheap gas, solar, and wind power.With massive hot water and steam emissions, plus carbon emissions in plant construction, waste management and the production of nuclear fuel, atomic reactors are a significant factor in unbalancing planetary weather patterns.Their cancellation, alongside the rise of green technologies like solar and wind power, bring the Earth a giant step closer to preservation.
As the head of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund recently put it: “We are quite convinced that if John D Rockefeller were alive today, as an astute businessman looking out to the future, he would be moving out of fossil fuels and investing in clean, renewable energy.” Even America’s Tea Party has developed a green wing promoting renewables.In the American northwest, construction of five reactors for the Washington Public Power System triggered the largest municipal bankruptcy in U. Though President Barack Obama provided the project with .3 billion in federal loan guarantees, the massive cost overruns, multi-year delays, Westinghouse’s bankruptcy and public anger over repeated rate increases have cast a long shadow.Worldwide, only China is still proposing to build large numbers of atomic reactors, a decision it will hopefully soon reverse.Diablo Canyon was retrofitted—probably illegally—with 2 million in replacement parts untested for seismic impact.Already under fire for illegal license manipulations and an avoidable gas explosion that killed eight in San Bruno in 2010, Pacific Gas & Electric has plunged into a legal, economic and political abyss that could soon doom California’s last reactors.
An angry grassroots movement has kept shut all 54 reactors that once operated in Japan. Big industrial windmills installed off the Fukushima coast are now thriving.