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Should Hawaii use Nuclear Power for its Energy Needs?

Sen. Fred Hemmings
District 25
(Kailua, Lanikai,
Waimanalo, Hawaii Kai)


It is incredible that Hawaii does not utilize nuclear energy as another means of supplying one of our most basic needs: clean, efficient energy.

Due to the lack of innovation and courageous leadership in years gone by, Hawaii ranks first among all states for dependence on fossil fuels, while simultaneously being the state with the most potential for energy diversity.

It just doesn’t make sense.

What further exacerbates the lunacy of not having nuclear energy in Hawaii is that, at any given time, Hawaii hosts a number of nuclear reactors. We know that nuclear submarines and warships in Pearl Harbor have safely utilized nuclear energy for more than 50 years. Hawaii’s dependence on fossil fuels, especially oil, is disastrous for our economy and for our independence. Japan, France and many U.S. states safely utilize nuclear energy to meet their needs. What is important to know, besides the safety record of nuclear energy, is that much nuclear waste is now being recycled.

Under the leadership of Gov. Linda Lingle, a goal has been set for Hawaii to be 70 percent weaned from fossil fuels — oil and coal — by the year 2030. This is a huge step in the right direction. Nuclear energy could “bust down the doors” of energy independence. Combined with renewable sources, such as wind, solar and thermal, Hawaii could be 100 percent fossil fuels independent by the year 2020.

Besides being self-sufficient for our electric needs with nuclear energy, we could also use excess capacity at low demand times to energize all our ground transportation, making us the first state where electric cars are the norm.

Opponents of nuclear energy use unfounded scare tactics and, sadly, in Hawaii, decision-making often yields to the most strident, uninformed and loudest opposition.

Nuclear energy has a great track record. There is no logical reason for not utilizing this energy source to propel Hawaii into the 21st century as a clean, energy-independent and self-sufficient state.

Jeff Mikulina
Executive Director
Blue Planet Foundation


Hawaii’s only safe nuclear option is located 93 million miles away — the sun. Let’s keep it there.

Given our small islands and diverse indigenous resources, nuclear power just doesn’t make sense for Hawaii. Even in a perfect world free of accidents, nuclear’s environmental, financial, logistical and opportunity costs are simply too high.

Today, splitting atoms for energy is by no means clean. The mining, production and disposal of nuclear fuel is messy and energy intensive. The dual threats of accidents and persistent radioactive waste make it difficult for nuclear power to pencil out economically. That’s one reason the nuclear industry enjoys a vast subsidy through a taxpayer-backed liability cap. No one wants to own that risk, so the public holds the bag.

Logistically, nuclear is the wrong technology for Hawaii. Siting such a facility would be nearly impossible, and the required evacuation area surrounding the plant will surely exceed the boundaries of the island itself. And what would we use for power when the nuclear facility has to go off-line for maintenance and refueling?

Recent blackouts have demonstrated that big power plants and big transmission lines are vulnerable; whereas distributed and diverse energy sources make our power grid more robust against Mother Nature’s whims.

The bottom line is we don’t need nuclear. We can do much better for Hawaii.

We are blessed with a host of clean energy resources, from wind to solar to ocean energy. So ample, in fact, is solar power that each rooftop statewide receives an average of about 15 gallons of gasoline equivalent in the form of sunlight daily. We are the Saudi Arabia of sun — and of wind and ocean energy, for that matter. Let’s choose to tap these safe, sensible, clean, decentralized and indigenous sources of energy to power our economy.

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Comments, page 1 of 2 1 2 Next »
Mar 15, 2011 07:19 am
 Posted by  Kim Chee

I guess recent events in Japan "buries" this debate forever.

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Mar 15, 2011 10:36 pm
 Posted by  armjoint

I would hope so, except that Obama said TODAY (3/15/2011) that nuclear power is SAFE. That's how dumb he really is.

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Mar 19, 2011 03:17 am
 Posted by  eric

Nuclear power IS safe. I can't explain it all in 500 characters to make my point. They key is, Hawaii has so many other options, and money is already an issue. Nuke plants cost millions. Integrate solar panels on building and houses, maybe geothermal, ocean waves. Too risky w/ tsunamis and earthquakes for nuclear. Undersea transmission lines for all islands. Much cheaper and safer. I work in nuclear power, but I say no for hawaii. Great for the subs, but not for the land.

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Mar 20, 2011 11:34 am
 Posted by  Canadian Beaver

I have visited your beautiful state with my family twice. You have something very special and it is obvious that people have a deep respect for the value of preserving the environment. Nuclear energy may make sense in some places but recent events in Japan make it clear that mother nature ALWAYS has the last say in these matters. From my very limited knowledge you are vulnerable to earthquakes, tsunamis and the like. PLEASE do not risk all that is Hawaii by developing nuclear power.

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Mar 23, 2011 08:16 pm
 Posted by  heatherbell808

Please NO, personally I believe having nuclear power plants aren't with the risk. I mean look at Japan, if something like that were to happen to Hawaii, all of the biodiversity would be gone severely damaged. Nuclear power plants don't even power that large of an area anyways, maybe 2/3rds of Kaneohe Bay. It just doesn't seem worth it in the end. Hawaii has to much to lose than gain from Nuclear power. There has to be better alternative uses of energy that are efficient and help the economy.

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Jun 22, 2011 06:28 pm
 Posted by  eldergeek

Where does one even start with a sensible reply to "BluePlanets" opinion. PV and wind enjoys much more tax payer subsidies. No one is suggesting putting 35 year old technology to work generating hawaii's power requirements. And, there are inherent risks to EVERY energy generation solution. Using solid fuel reactors cooled by water will always be very risky. Using liquid fueled reactors involve much less risk and can easily fulfill baseline power needs.

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Jul 28, 2011 12:50 am
 Posted by  SmartEnergy

Oahu uses at most 1200 MW of power at one time. 2 reactors could easily handle most of this load. So you build three, rotate them for maintenance purposes, and your energy independence problem is solved. I love how blue planet guy didn't even address the fact that the Navy has been operating nuke plants safely here in Hawaii for over 50 years. Unfortunately, nuclear plants require an educated labor force that can't go on strike whenever they feel like it. That could be a problem....

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Nov 11, 2011 05:37 pm
 Posted by  MistressOfTheSea

I am a 1,000% in support of Jeff's position!!!

Only politicians are the ones behind the "nuclear mess". Because of "GREEDINESS" their eyes comes out of their sockets with anticipation of the amount of $$$$$$ they can put in their pockets!!

NO 2 nuclear power in Hawaii!!!!

Hawaii is "Perfect" the way it is!!!

NO to the Starving for money => "Greedy" Politicians!!!!!

It's about time to start the Preservation of our "Natural Resources". Let Hawaii be the #1 state on that too!!!

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Mar 14, 2012 10:55 am
 Posted by  TheFutureIsNukes

It really goes to show how little most of you know of nuclear energy. Just because you don't understand something, doesn't mean you have to be afraid of it. Gasoline and other fossil fuel are just as dangerous, but more so if you account for the fact that we get complacent with it. You don't hand a child a gallon of gas and some matches. Nuclear power is to be respected. Small modular reactors are about 1000 times more safe than the first generation reactors.

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Mar 14, 2012 12:35 pm
 Posted by  TheFutureIsNukes

On a second note. I would like to mention that 26 years later, the Chernobyl area has become a wild life refuge. The Russian timber wolf has come back in large numbers due to the vacancy of that area. So it goes to show that just our presence destroys this beautiful world, and not necessarily our tools. So if you want to preserve this planet, look to population control.

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