Activists plant cherry trees in Fukushima anniversary memorial at nuclear plant

Memorials protest Duke Energy’s plan to build new nuclear reactors in NC, SC, FL

Media release - March 7, 2013
Raleigh, NC March 7, 2013 —Greenpeace activists planted cherry trees outside of Duke Energy’s nuclear power plant near Raleigh in a memorial to the Fukushima nuclear meltdown that happened two years ago. Activists also created cherry tree memorials at the sites of planned nuclear reactors Duke hopes to build in South Carolina and Florida.

The activists planted the cherry trees outside the front gate of the Shearon Harris nuclear power plant in New Hill, NC, about 20 miles from Raleigh, where Duke is attempting to build a new reactor. They held a placard reading “Duke: Remember Fukushima. End Nuclear Power.”

Photos available at  http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09/sets/72157632920796853/

“The nuclear disaster at Fukushima two years ago reminded the world there’s no such thing as a safe nuclear power plant. While other countries have responded by investing in cheaper, safer wind and solar energy, Duke Energy insists on going down the dangerous path of nuclear power. Duke should remember Fukushima by canceling its plans to build new nuclear reactors,” Greenpeace Nuclear Power Analyst Jim Riccio said.

Monday, March 11 will mark the second anniversary of the day that the Japanese earthquake and tsunami were exacerbated by the manmade triple meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Tens of thousands of people in Japan still cannot safely return to their homes as a result of the disaster.

Greenpeace also released a report today outlining Duke’s risky nuclear plans, including dangerous parallels to Fukushima, which is available here:  http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/media-center/news-releases/Two-Years-after-Fukushima-Duke-Energy-still-making-risky-nuclear-bets/

Unlike many other companies and countries that have deserted nuclear ambitions since Fukushima, Duke is plowing forward with its three proposed projects, which are located at the Harris plant; in Gaffney, SC about 50 miles from Charlotte; and in Levy County, Florida.

Costs for the three proposed new reactors are soaring over their budgets, with the latest projections ranging from two to six times higher than original projections at all the locations. (1)

Laws in all three states allow Duke to charge its ratepayers for nuclear construction costs before the reactors are ever completed. Consumers throughout Duke’s service territory are revolting against having to pay in advance for over-budget, risky nuclear plants. A bipartisan group of Florida state senators – including former nuclear supporters – is now decrying the law there and calling for its repeal. (2)

“The most offensive part of Duke’s nuclear gamble is that it expects consumers to write a blank check for plants that will put them at greater risk of a Fukushima-like disaster,” Riccio said.

Risks that echo Fukushima plague Duke’s existing fleet of nuclear power plants: Duke recently retired the Crystal River nuclear plant near Tampa, FL due to a cracked containment dome. (3) The two reactors at Duke’s Brunswick plant near Wilmington, NC have the same General Electric design that melted down in Japan. And Duke’s Oconee nuclear plant in South Carolina is vulnerable to a meltdown if a dam looming over the plant fails. According to calculations from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the risk to Duke’s Oconee reactors from a dam failure is far higher than the odds were of an earthquake-induced tsunami causing a meltdown at the Fukushima plant. (4)

NOTES TO EDITOR:

Photos of today’s memorials available at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/greenpeaceusa09/sets/72157632920796853/

Report on Duke’s risky nuclear bets and Fukushima parallels available at: http://www.greenpeace.org/usa/en/media-center/news-releases/Two-Years-after-Fukushima-Duke-Energy-still-making-risky-nuclear-bets/

(1) http://www.iaumc.org/console/files/oFiles_Library_XZXLCZ/2011NuclearPower-EstimatingCosts_QFZL5NXD.pdf

(2) http://www.tampabay.com/news/florida-legislators-hope-to-fix-controversial-advance-fee-law/1275992

(3) http://www.tampabay.com/news/business/energy/duke-energy-announces-closing-of-crystal-river-nuclear-power-plant/1273794

(4) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/19/nuclear-plant-flood-threat-leak_n_1983005.html

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CONTACT:

Kat Clark, Greenpeace press officer, 415-308-0487 

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