Despite a massive earthquake that caused radiation leaks at a nuclear power plant in Japan, one state lawmaker maintains that Kentucky shouldn’t give up on the prospect of using atomic energy.
For the past several years, state Sen. Bob Leeper, I-Paducah, has proposed a bill to repeal the state’s 27-year moratorium on building nuclear reactors. In the 2011 legislative session, the measure was approved in the Senate by an overwhelming majority but failed in the House.
The independent lawmaker says a power plant would generate thousands of permanent and temporary jobs for the area. But Associate Director of the Center for Environmental Policy and Management Lauren Heberlee says the there are too many risks involved.
“Pursuing nuclear reactors, nuclear energy in Kentucky doesn’t make any sense economically or environmentally. We don’t have any place to put the waste. We don’t have good infrastructure in place to monitor the quality of those kinds of facilities at this moment,” she says.
State law currently prohibits nuclear power plants from being built in the commonwealth until the federal government opens a permanent storage facility for nuclear waste.
Environmentalists have maintained their concerns about potential problems with storing nuclear waste and the worst-case scenarios of a meltdown, pointing out that western Kentucky has a history of earthquakes.