#Kentucky is the third-largest #Coal producer in America and those associated with the industry want a revival which was promised by politicians of both the parties but has not materialized. As a result, the industry is in dire straits. Fox News reports that Donald Trump did promise to bring back the coal jobs, but patience appears to be running out for the people of Kentucky, as the state plans to open its doors to nuclear power.
The need for an alternative
The coal mining sector in Kentucky has problems of employment. Figures have dropped from 31,000 in 1990 to just over 6,300, and coal-fired power plants that provided 93% of the state's electricity three years ago is now providing 83%. Added to that is the fact that older plants are making way for natural gas.
Moreover, banks do not want to extend loan facilities for coal-fired furnaces and, obviously, the need for alternate options arise. Therefore, the Republican-controlled state legislature wants to lift the decades-long moratorium on nuclear power.
As per the National Conference of State Legislatures, 15 American states have restricted construction of new nuclear power facilities and Kentucky is one of these. Wisconsin was also on the list but it removed the ban last year. Incidentally, the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates there are 61 nuclear power plants in the U.S., which account for 99 nuclear reactors in 30 states.
Given this background, it remains to be seen if Kentucky can enter the age of nuclear power.
Kentucky’s problems with the nuclear industry
History reveals that Kentucky faced problems in the past with the nuclear industry. During the 1960s, nuclear energy was emerging as a new concept and Kentucky wanted to cash in on that. It wanted to attract players to set up facilities in the state and created infrastructures to store the toxic waste.
Subsequently, between 1963 and 1977, radioactive waste was dumped on a large scale at the site but there was no sign of any nuclear reactor. The site has since been closed but the cleanup was an expensive affair because there was contamination of the surrounding soil, surface water, and groundwater.
Under the circumstances, if Kentucky does get to lift the ban, the setting up of a nuclear power plant in the state would be a time-consuming affair and could lead to more complications with regard to obtaining environmental clearance, among others.