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By Moneth G. Deposa

SAIPAN, CNMI (Marianas Variety, April 12) – Senator Jude U. Hofschneider and Rep. Stanley T. Torres say the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands should consider nuclear energy for a cheaper and uninterrupted power supply.

On Friday, the two officials will make a presentation to their colleagues on the economic benefits of nuclear power.

"Our islands have been financially devastated by one economic downturn after another, and the disastrous results of the suddenly implemented exorbitant utility costs have caused severe hardships for individual families, and the crippling utility costs have caused businesses to close faster than you can say ‘I’ve been disconnected!," according to Hofschneider, R-Tinian, and Torres, Ind.-Saipan, in their letter to fellow lawmakers.

Slated for Friday at 10 am in the House chamber, the presentation will also involve the Tinian mayor’s consultant, Thomas Arkle Jr., and Jack Angello a staffer of Torres.

Hofschneider and Torres said "safe and sane nuclear power generation is upon us" and the commonwealth "must take action to gain entrance into the front door of this fast growing industry."

"Safe and reliable nuclear power offers isolated places like our islands a continuous and uninterrupted power supply, and we would be independent of Middle East turmoil and the high and continuously rising cost of fossil fuel," they added.

The lawmakers will seek the U.S. Department of Energy’s assistance.

Their presentation will focus on the Hyperion Hydride nuclear power, which costs less than carbon fuels for generation of electrical power.

One basic reactor installed in a new location to generate electricity will have a capital cost of approximately US$37 million, or about US$1,400 per kilowatt-hour of delivered electrical power.

Despite the 1979 Three Mile Island accident and the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, experts say there is renewed interest in safer designs for nuclear energy which could partially address dwindling oil reserves and global warming.

But the use of nuclear power remains controversial because of the problem of storing radioactive waste for indefinite periods, the potential for severe radioactive contamination by accident or sabotage, and the possibility that its use could lead to the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Proponents claim that these risks are small and can be lessened with new technology. They note that the safety record is good when compared to other energy forms and that it releases much less pollution than coal power.

Opponents claim that nuclear power is an uneconomic, unsound and potentially dangerous energy source and doubt that the costs and risks can be reduced through new technology.

Marianas Variety

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