At the end of next month a long shadow will withdraw from the American landscape. A hundred miles west of Philadelphia along the banks of the Susquehanna River, the dark and silent silos of Three Mile Island’s Unit 2 reactor hang lifeless and gray in the Quaker wind. Shut down since the infamous near-disaster of 1979, Unit 2 has been nothing more than a dark landmark, a quiet reminder, a mausoleum for the American nuclear industry for the last four decades. But just across the drab-looking complex sits its twin, reactor Unit 1, faithfully serving as the region’s power backbone for the last forty-five years undaunted and unmarred by incident. Both reactors as well as the station as a whole will close forever as Fall begins to trickle across America this year.
We know the story well—the pump failure, the inability to cool the rising reactor, a faulty valve allowing critical coolant to escape, the fuel’s eventually inferno and resulting meltdown; the hysteria, speculation, and political wrangling which followed has largely shaped the American conscience when it comes to weighing nuclear energy. Now flash forward to our present political, societal, and cultural miasma in which the fate of nuclear energy is vehemently lunged at from both sides of the spectrum. Where does the legacy of Three Mile Island fall now—to the forgetful shadows of collective despise or does it still, somewhere beneath all the misappropriations and colloquial revisionist history, offer a redemptive lesson?
The answer, as it usually does in the human perception of history, lies somewhere in the middle. It’s unavoidable that the American nuclear industry is in trouble—Obama-era politics and the 21st century surge of natural gas from shale, along with the dark cloud of global warming and reactive energy policies, has greatly diminished both the profitability and public perception of nuclear energy. In an era where liberals and conservatives are equally screaming for clean energy, a curious mass hallucination has prevented nuclear energy (the largest and most reliable form of non-carbon producing energy on earth) from being included in the CO2 reduction agenda. Naturally this has deepened the already malignant opinion of the industry in the public eye.
But the industry is not going the way of silent capitulation. Emboldened by the Trump administration’s rollback of restrictive policies, the owners of several of the country’s most prominent nuclear power plants have sought help from both state and federal government in the form of subsidies, rate hikes, and most importantly, to be included in the discussion of clean energy.
The latter initiative belies a crucial flaw in our ability as a collective populace to see beyond propaganda (it’s a well known fact that we’ve long lost the ability to see with our own eyes). Despite Hollywood and leftist smear campaigns, empirical evidence provides that nuclear energy is the cleanest form currently known to man. Wind, solar, and hydro-power combined would be but a small boulder next to the mountain of energy nuclear can produce. And it’s consistent—the sun can disappear forever, the wind can die in the air, the lakes can evaporate and nuclear energy misses not one beat.
The technology within the industry is changing as well. After decades and decades of analog instrumentation, the notoriously slow power plants are making the transition to digital technology. With a galaxy of analog instruments populating their control rooms, the conversation to digital technology will not be an easy one. Luckily, Otek has stepped up to the challenge of help reinvigorate the industry with our award-winning technology. Our New Technology Meters (NTM) and our Solid State Analog Meter (SSAM) were specifically designed with analog obsolescence and cyber security in mind—and was also the driving force in why we pushed to become a Class 1E company. The NTM models use cutting edge technology and comply with NEI 08-09 cyber security mandates; the SSAM classifies as cyber security exempt by the grace of being designed without any critical digital components such as microprocessors. A large part of the digital transition comprises financial considerations and Otek has molded its technology to address those and other challenges facing the nuclear industry.
So as we wave goodbye to Three Mile Island let us not forget that even though its shadow may be long, its edges are wreathed with light.
For more information on Otek’s commitment to the nuclear industry or its vast catalog of products, please call our office at (520) 748-7900 or email our sales team: firstname.lastname@example.org