The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Not just pebbles

Apr 1, 2002

Cheney’s national energy report proposed to start construction of new nuclear power plants in the U.S. for the first time since the near disaster at Three Mile Island in 1979. The report also gave favorable mention to a new nuclear reactor design – called a “pebble-bed” reactor – that supposedly could be smaller, more efficient and safer than the reactors now in use.

Information recently obtained by the New York Times reveals that this supposedly new design isn’t really new after all. A similar reactor was built and used in Germany years ago – and failed. Nuclear experts outside of the energy industry are extremely doubtful that new reactors of similar design would be safe.

However, the pebble-bed design does seem to have one important thing going for it. It is being proposed by the Exelon Corporation of Chicago. And Exelon has contributed a whole lot more than just “pebbles” to the Republican Party – over half a million dollars in the two years before the 2000 presidential election and over a third of a million in the year following.

But do political contributions make a nuclear reactor design safe?