Energy

Report: Stopping Construction On Newest US Nuclear Plant Will Cause Pollution

Halting construction on a pair of nuclear reactors in South Carolina will likely make air pollution worse, an environmental group reported Monday.

The Environmental Progress report argues that stopping the nuclear plant’s construction is the equivalent of adding 3.8 million cars to the road. The South Carolina plant would have generated 18 terawatt hours of electricity per year, enough to replace 86 percent of the state’s coal power.

“The fact that the Summer nuclear plant would replace 86 percent of South Carolina’s coal generation belies the claims by Sierra Club and FOE that nuclear energy is not needed,” Environmental Progress president Michael Shellenberger said in a press statement.

“The episode is yet more evidence that anti-nuclear groups are willing to increase dangerous air pollution and risk catastrophic climate change in service of an ideological agenda that rests upon pseudo-science,” Shellenberger said.

A South Carolina-based utility voted Monday to pull out of the $14 billion nuclear power project. The utility had been heavily pressured by environmentalists like The Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth to cancel the reactors.

The twin reactors were some of the last being built in the U.S., making their cancellation a huge blow to investment in other nuclear power plants. The U.S. nuclear firm Westinghouse filed for bankruptcy protection in late March and its owner, the Japanese company Toshiba, is considering formally listing it as a net loss. Toshiba says that Westinghouse has racked up a debt of $9.8 billion.

Another pair of South Carolina reactor at Vogtle managed by Westinghouse are also at risk, as they’re roughly three years behind schedule and $3 billion over their original budget. The Vogtle reactors are about 60 percent complete, according to Southern Company.

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