Sunday, February 1, 2009

No to Nukes, Part 2: Debunking an Urban Myth

Someone sent us an email after reading our “Fuggitaboutit!” post immediately below, saying Hawaii already has nuclear power thanks to nuclear-powered submarines based at Pearl Harbor. He added:

“Surely you remember that a nuclear sub powered Kauai’s grid after (Hurricane) Iniki.”

This “submarine to the rescue” urban legend needs an asterisk: It never happened. True, a plan was floated for a sub hook-up to Kauai’s grid after Hurricane Iwa devastated it on November 23, 1982 – not Iniki, which struck on 9/11, 1992. Here’s a New York Times report a week after Iwa:

“Plans to use the nuclear submarine Indianapolis to provide power for Kauai were dropped after three portable generators arrived from California.”

Once these legends start rolling, they pick up all sorts of extraneous tidbits. A website devoted to the attack submarine Indianapolis has a photo of the sub entering a Kauai harbor “to provide assistance after hurricane Iwa passed through the area on 1 May 1982.” And so it goes….

A Better, Cleaner Way

Do nuclear submarines at Pearl Harbor make civilian nuke power in Hawaii more acceptable? We think that’s also bogus. How can we even consider going down that path when Hawaii’s renewable energy resources have barely been tapped?

We won’t belabor the case for ocean thermal energy conversion here; we’ll know within a few years whether OTEC is all that it’s cracked up to be – see also our first post to this site -- and if it is, goodbye to fossil fuel imports for electrical generation here within a generation.

Then there’s solar power using photovoltaics, just now coming into their own, with even greater promise thanks to advances in power storage capabilities. Jay Fidell’s “Think Tech” column in today’s Advertiser is definitely worth your time.

So let’s put this suggestion floating around the State Legislature to rest. Building nuclear power plants in Hawaii is a ridiculous idea.
NOTE: The Honolulu Star-Bulletin reports today the bill to study nuke power has been killed. Be prepared for its return next year.


Anonymous said...

Your main point needs to be repeated and reinforced again and again, and again to wit. . . .Hawaii has an abundance of alternative energy resources that it should be looking to and nuclear should be last on anyone's Hawaii list. Scamon

Doug Carlson said...

Thanks, Scamon. Once we make major cuts in Hawaii's fossil fuel imports and it's obvious renewable energy is the only way to go, it won't even get on the list. That's the hope, at any rate.