Atomic energy is the most expensive technological failure in human history.

Because it can’t compete with the massive rise of renewable energy, its death rattle has morphed into yet another of the industry’s periodic big budget PR campaigns meant to spark a “Renaissance.”  

But America’s dangerously dark, aging fleet of 94 reactors constantly leak dangerous radiation.  

They make climate chaos worse, kill downwind living beings, and dangerously deteriorate every day. 

And as the breaking news shows, a wide range of experts now warn that Russia might not hesitate to actually blow up the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, with six reactors and fuel pools that could blanket Europe with deadly radiation—-a catastrophic disaster that could be duplicated at any other atomic reactor targeted by a hostile power or terror organization.   

What follows are 108 reasons for the industry’s failure.  A second set will follow shortly:  
1.    Commercial atomic reactors regularly burn the planet at 325 degrees Celsius or more.

2.  They emit significant quantities of carbon and other greenhouse gasses during nuclear fission. 

3.  They emit additional quantities of carbon in the process of mining, milling, enriching and—-once it’s burned—-unsuccessfully attempting to dispose of radioactive fuel. 

4.  The industry’s biggest current lie is that it can help solve global warming; in fact the intense heat, carbon and radiation emissions from every individual reactor’s internal fire and eventual explosions worsen the crisis. 

5.  Special devastation comes where massive reactor heat and radiation emissions directly destroy our marine eco-systems..   

6.  Further oceanic devastation is now poised to happen if the industry is allowed to dump its accumulated radioactive liquid wastes into the Pacifica Ocean at Fukushima, Cape Cod Bay at Plymouth (MA), and elsewhere.   

7.  Nuclear corporations avoid at all costs any in-depth analysis of the economics of their reactors, which cannot compete with the ever-sinking cost of renewables, an avoidance central to Oliver Stone’s erroneous “Nuclear Now.” 

8.  Stone’s screed is nuclear power’s “Triumph of the Will,” denying the killing impacts of atomic radiation in a series of erroneous mi-statements that echo the legendary deceits of the tobacco, glyphosate, thalidomide, embryonic x-ray, uranium mining, atomic bomb fallout, DES and other impositions resulting in mass death under the criminal guise of “harmless doses.” 

9.   No credible assessment of the global nuclear power industry can guarantee that there will be no more explosions at any of its atomic power reactors. 

10.  Nearly all homeowners’ insurance policies in the United States specifically exclude coverage for any damage done by the radioactive fallout from an exploded atomic reactor.   

11.  Tangible, immediate threats posed by the Russo-Ukraine war to reactors at Chernobyl, Zaporizhzhia and elsewhere have escalated fears that they could be turned into de facto atomic weapons of mass destruction by means of sabotage, guerrilla attack, missile launches and other acts of war.   

12.  None of the 400+ commercial reactors now operating worldwide are fully insured against a catastrophic accident. 

13.  The disaster at Three Mile Island immediately turned a $900 million asset into a $2+ billion liability…and counting. 

14.  The disaster at Fukushima immediately turned six atomic reactors from a ~$60 billion asset to an essentially incalculable liability… and counting.   

15.  The projected clean-up phase at Fukushima now stretches into the decades, with no firm completion date or price tag.   

16.  The disaster at Chernobyl has thus far cost 1,000,000,000+…and counting. 

17.  The on-going clean-up at Chernobyl features a $2 billion sarcophagus built with the hope that radioactive clouds from the still-hot core of Unit Four can be somehow contained if it again explodes.   

18.  Russian troops recently pouring through the Chernobyl site seriously jeopardized the safe maintenance of a disaster area still extremely dangerous nearly forty years after its 1986 explosions. 

19.  The terrifying on-going crisis in Ukraine deepens the fear that minimal military action targeting any atomic power plant anywhere on earth could easily result in apocalyptic radiation releases, along with massive emissions of climate-unbalancing heat, steam and chemicals, at inestimable financial, ecological and human cost.   

20.  The October 5, 1966, disaster at Fermi I in Monroe, Michigan, eventually cost more than $100 million, and rendered the reactor a permanently useless radioactive hulk. 

21.  Other dirty, hugely expensive, sometimes lethal nuclear reactor, mining and waste storage disasters include Surry, Virginia; Windscale, England; Santa Susanna, California; Vendellos, Spain; Chalk River, Canada; Hanford, Washington; Khystym, USSR; Mutsu, Japan; Carlsbad, New Mexico; Kashiwazaki, Japan; Idaho Falls/SL-1, Idaho; Browns Ferry, Alabama; Bohunice, Czechoslovakia; Church Rock, New Mexico; Lucens, Switzerland; Tokaimura, Japan; Marcoule, France, among many others.  

22.  As part of the terrorists’ planning for the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, reactors at Indian Point, New York, were strongly considered as potential targets for mass destruction. 

23.  The potential financial, ecological and human health devastation caused by 9/11 hit on Indian Point remain essentially incomprehensible (IP has since been shut).  

24.  Every atomic reactor is a potential terror target that can be turned into an apocalyptic disaster with relative ease by even a small group of lightly armed saboteurs.   

25.  The six reactors at Zaporizhzhia, in Ukraine’s war zone, may be on the brink of a disaster that could blanket Europe in radiation, even worse than did Chernobyl. 

26.  The last eight reactors built in Europe and the US have been major economic catastrophes, involving years of delay and tens of billions in cost overruns. 

27.  Two unfinished reactors at VC Summer, South, Carolina have been abandoned at a cost of $10 billion, leaving two useless hulks rotting on a vast deforested lot. 

28.  The failed reactors at VC Summer, along with those at Vogtle, Georgia, helped bankrupt Westinghouse, once an icon of American industry. 

29.  The two reactors at Vogtle are opening (with major glitches) seven years late. 

30.  The Vogtle reactors were originally promised to cost $14 billion, got interest-free federal loans of $8.3 billion (Obama) and $2.7 billion (Trump), but are opening at a cost of $35+ billion and counting. 

31.  At L35+ billion and counting, two reactors under construction at Hinkley, England, are years behind schedule and billions beyond budget. 

32.  Single reactors at Flamanville, France, and Olkiluoto, Finland, have come on line years late while costing billions more than originally budgeted.   

33.  Finland's “state of the art” Olkiluoto reactor is continually being shut to open the grid for cheaper wind power. 

34.  None of the above reactors, and no new reactor under construction or just finished in Europe or the United States, can now or ever will compete with wind, solar, batteries or efficiency/conservation technologies.  

35.  The original “Peaceful Atom” promise of electricity “too cheap to meter” is still unfulfilled by an industry whose construction, maintenance, fueling and overall delivered electricity costs far exceed nearly all wind, solar, battery and efficiency systems.  

36  The publicized prices of energy delivered by nearly all atomic reactors hugely underestimate the real long-term costs involved with the unsolved problems of radioactive waste management and future catastrophes. 

37.  With the 1957 Price-Anderson Act, Congress exempted the owners of atomic reactors from liability for major catastrophes they might cause. 

38.  The utility industry had informed the government it would not build commercial reactors without being shielded from the consequences of reactor explosions. 

39.  The weapons industry still uses commercial nuclear power as a public relations “happy face” for Atomic Bombs, for an infrastructure that provides it with fissionable material, for help with waste management, and for a steady supply of trained personnel. 

40.  When the Price-Anderson Act passed, the industry assured Congress it would attract private insurance for commercial reactors within 15 years. 

41.  Some 66 years later, no private insurance company has come forward to provide full liability coverage against a major catastrophe at any commercial power reactor.  

42.  In a market economy, without a government-sponsored protection, all privately owned commercial reactors in the US would shut virtually immediately. . 

43. The real nuclear power debate turns on the individual viability of each distinct power plant as an “issue” unto itself. 

44.  Anyone purporting to support “nuclear power” must vouch for the safety of each America’s 94 distinct reactors. 

45.  No multi-billionaire reactor backer like Bill Gates or Elon Musk has personally stepped forward to financially guarantee the safe operations of any individual atomic power reactor.   

46.  Among the many individual and corporate reactor owners and investors, and among the industry as a whole, and amidst its government backers and regulators, no private citizen or private or corporate owner of any of the 94 licensed US reactors has stepped forward to renounce government protection from liability for a major catastrophe while personally assuming it themselves.   

47.  Virtually all homeowners’ or building owners’ insurance policies in the US explicitly reject any liability for any damage done by radioactive fallout or other impact from an accident at an atomic reactor (check your own).  

48.  No damage to you and/or your family from radioactive fallout from a commercial atomic reactor is significantly covered by any form of private insurance, with government exemptions that protect reactor owners explicitly written into law. 

49.  Such exemptions apply both to fallout from major accidents and to health-damage done by low-level and other emissions from regular operations at any atomic reactor.   

50.  In the industry’s early development stages, Sandia National Laboratories warned of a death toll in the thousands, with countless square miles forever contaminated in the wake of a nuclear accident.  

 51.  Oliver Stone’s “Nuclear Now” shows me welcoming the idea that extensive regulation might raise the price of nuclear-generated electricity, a development I indeed endorse in part as a counter-balance against the industry’s uninsured willingness to dump radioactive fallout onto an unprotected public.   

52.  Except for the last three brought on line here, all US reactors were built an average of 40 years ago. 

53.  Prior to those three, virtually all US reactors were contracted and constructed in the 1950s, 1960s and/or early 1970s. 

54.  Nearly all US reactors were designed pre-digital, ie before core computerization of the design and construction process. 

55.  Many core “computing devices” used to design many US reactors were slide rules, operating on engineering and construction standards that would never be accepted today. 

56.  Diablo Canyon Units One and Two were designed before the officially acknowledged discovery of a dozen or more earthquake faults dangerously near the cores. 

57.  Diablo Canyon sits less than fifty miles from the San Andreas Fault, about half the distance that Fukushima sits from the quake that destroyed it. 

58.  Prior to the earthquake and tsunami that destroyed the atomic reactors at Fukushima, tens of millions of Japanese citizens organized, testified, marched and risked arrest based on fear of a combined earthquake and tsunami, which in fact destroyed the plant.   

59.  Throughout the Atomic Energy Commission’s early decades, it vehemently denied that any commercial reactor could explode. 

60.  When Three Mile Island experienced a serious core melt, its owners denied for nine years, until a robot camera entered it, that the core had melted. 

61.  When Chernobyl exploded, the US industry continued to deny that any American-made reactor could explode. 

62.  More than 100+ as much radioactive cesium was released from Fukushima than had been released from Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined.   

63.  The actual impact of millions of gallons of Fukushima’s radioactive liquid wastes being poured into the Pacific remain unknown. 

64.  Major studies later condemned Tokyo Electric for its negligence in protecting the public from Fukushima’s fallout.  

65.  Parallel findings also condemned operator/owners at FermiI, Three Mile Island2 and Chernobyl4, where critical aspects of the catastrophes that overtook them were also widely predicted but officially ignored.   

66.  The three reactors that melted at Fukushima, and the fourth that was blown apart by a hydrogen explosion, where designed and largely manufactured by General Electric, which long denied they could ever explode.

67.  Scores of General Electric reactors continue to operate in the United States and worldwide. 

68.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Dr. Michael Peck, who served as site inspector for five years, has warned that Diablo may well be unable to withstand a credible earthquake.   

69.  In response to Dr. Peck’s warning, the NRC ignored his recommendations, transferred him to North Carolina, then welcomed his departure from the Commission altogether. 

70.  The Perry (Ohio) and North Anna (Virginia) have both been significantly damaged by major earthquakes. 

71.  Roads and bridges were damaged, making evacuation essentially impossible, in violation of federal requirements. 

72.  Hurricane Andrew (1991) passed directly over the Turkey Point (Florida) reactors, rendering impossible any chance of evacuation in the wake of a potential major radiation release, thus violating federal requirements. 

73.  A 1977 accident at Davis-Besse (near Toledo) provided a detailed de facto advance warning against what soon thereafter did happen at Three Mile Island.   

74.  Subsequent studies and legal actions have made it clear that the owners of Three Mile Island could and should have taken preventative action based on that 1977 incident at Davis-Besse and on a 1978 incident at Rancho Seco (near Sacramento) both with important pre-cursor warnings that should have helped TMI’s owners avoid the partial 1979 melt-down. 

75.  Despite extremely limited experience with barely a handful of marginally operable prototypes, promoters of Small Modular Reactors deny they could ever explode, as the originators of reactors at Santa Susanna, Fermi, Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima and elsewhere denied what in fact did happen. 

76.  In the wake of the massive financial failures at VC Summer, Vogtle, Hinkley, Flamanville, Olkiluoto and elsewhere, there are zero large light water reactors now under construction in the United States.  

 77.  No large light water reactors being proposed for construction in the US can garner sufficient private financial support to build or insure it; Wall Street is the ultimate bastion of post-nuclear thinking.   

78.  No large light water reactors beginning construction today would likely be finished in less time than Georgia’s Vogtle 3 & 4, which has required a decade (VC Summer has been abandoned). 

 79.  Potential deployments of fully tested, proven Small Modular Reactors are at least five years away. 

80.  Given the nuclear industry’s 60-year history of massive delays and cost overruns, another wave of lengthy delays and prohibitive overruns for SMRs is a virtual certainty. 

81.  Even under optimal circumstances, Small Modular Reactors cannot now and never will be able to compete in an open market with currently available solar, wind, battery or efficiency/conservation technologies, whose history has been defined by continually dropping costs and lessening deployment times.

82.  Even under optimal circumstances, if they did help fight the climate crisis (a bitterly contested assertion) Small Modular Reactors could not begin to do so for at least five years.   

83.  So those who argue that “nuclear power” can help solve the climate crisis in the near term are in fact arguing for the extended operations of a fleet of dangerously decrepit reactors that should be shut before the next one melts. 

84.  Except for the recently completed Watts Bar (TN) and Vogtle (GA) reactors, commercial US nuclear power plants average about forty years of age. 

85.  Are you driving a 40-year-old car?  On what level would you trust your family’s safety to one?  How would its operations and upkeep cost compared to recent models, especially hybrid or electric ones? 

86.  The most critical questions now defining “Nuclear power” as a larger issue are the safety, health, ecological, and economic realities at each existing, currently operating atomic reactor on an individual basis.

 87.  The “nuclear issue” in large part has narrowed to how long we will continue to operate these individual reactors based on their particular conditions, and when/where will the next one explode. 

88.  Anyone arguing for “nuclear power” must thus be prepared to take personal responsibility for the safe operation of any and all 94 currently operation US reactors.   

89.  All but three currently licensed large US reactors have been subject to four decades of constant bombardment from heat, pressure and radiation. 

90.  Under such uniquely intense long-term unnatural forces, the metals that form the vital reactor pressure vessels that contain the nuclear fission’s super-hot “corium” have metallurgically transformed, losing their resiliency and becoming “embrittled.” 

91.  If cold water is poured into an embrittled reactor core to stop a runaway reaction during a melt-down or other emergency, or amidst an independent malfunction, the core will almost certainly shatter, releasing massive quantities of steam and hydrogen, as at Fukushima. 

92.  Embrittlement has long been recognized as a dangerous threat to the safety of US reactors, but the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is notoriously laggard in its testing. 

93.  The core at California’s Diablo Canyon Unit One reactor was last tested in 2005, when the plant was ranked among the most embrittled in the US; results from a more recent test are still in process.   

94.  Standards for a “safe” level of embrittlement are arbitrary, with little or no meaningful test data to rely on. 

95.  Heat, radiation and pressure are also known to degrade concrete, with potentially dangerous deterioration now identified at Seabrook (NH) and Davis-Besse (OH), among others.

96.  Widespread concern over on-going maintenance at aging reactors has become particularly intense at Diablo Canyon, which has been allowed to rapidly deteriorate since a 2016 legal agreement to shut both reactors there by 2025.

97.  Diablo Canyon’s owner, Pacific Gas & Electric, has pleaded guilty to federal manslaughter charges stemming from deteriorated maintenance of gas pipes that exploded in San Bruno in 2010, killing 8 people and incinerating 19 homes. 

98.  PG&E also pleaded guilty to 84 federal manslaughter charges stemming from deteriorated maintenance of power lines that set off the catastrophic 2018 Camp Fire, which incinerated much of northern California. 

99.  PG&E has been embroiled in litigation over at least three other major fires (Zogg, Kincaid, Dixie) involving felony charges of faulty maintenance practices and at least four additional deaths.   

100.  Legal activists argue that as a convicted federal felon, PG&E should not be allowed to operate a nuclear power plant. 

101.  Bankruptcy protection has allowed PG&E to avoid paying tens of millions of dollars in reparations to legally certified victims whose health, homes and property were destroyed by fires set by PG&E’s negligent incompetence.   

102.  Similar bankruptcy and Price-Anderson protection would allow PG&E to escape compensating downwind victims from any upcoming explosions at Diablo Canyon. 

103.  Accelerated retirement schedules for long-time Diablo staff, which were accounted for in the 2016 shut-down agreement, have threatened the ability of PG&E to sustain competent nuclear operations at the reactors. 

104.  At Davis-Besse, boric acid ate nearly all the way through the reactor’s core protection, threatening a major disaster. 

105.  The boric acid damage was discovered by accident after Davis-Besse’s owner refused to perform the required maintenance procedures that would have found it much earlier, under far safer circumstances. 

106.  The crumbling shield wall at Davis-Besse threatens to drop major pieces of concrete onto key components, potentially leading to catastrophic results. 

107.  Three reactors at Oconee (SC) are downriver from a major dam that has shown structural defects threatening an “inland tsunami” that could seriously damage the reactors. 

108.  Two reactors at Prairie Island (MN) sit in the middle of the Mississippi River, and have been seriously threatened with flooding which is likely to worsen as global warming proceeds. ….



Harvey Wasserman wrote SOLARTOPIA! and THE PEOPLE’S SPIRAL OF US HISTORY, and co-authored KILLING OUR OWN:  THE DISASTER OF AMERICA’S EXPERIENCE WITH ATOMIC RADIATION.  Most Mondays at 5pm ET he co-convenes the Green Grassroots Emergency Election Protection zoom.  He is chair of the Pacifica/KPFK-Los Angeles local station board.