Marshall proposes nuclear power for bases

Buried deep inside the 650-page House Defense Authorization bill for 2010 is a line item that could bring a host of national security and energy issues to the forefront. The proposal would commission a study, due from the Pentagon by June of next year, to look at “the feasibility of developing nuclear power plants on military installations.”

The author of the proposal: Rep. Jim Marshall.

The bill recently cleared the U.S. House of Representatives. The Senate debates its own authorization bill this week.

While Marshall cautioned that “we’re simply studying the possibility of using military bases,” his proposal is a response to the military’s desire to make its installations energy independent from local power grids.

“It’s important to the military that they have clean, efficient, secure energy,” Marshall said. “And then the nice thing about military installations is that they can help address one of the concerns about nuclear energy, and that is security.”

Marshall, whose Georgia district encompasses Robins Air Force Base, is certainly aware of the political minefield that comes with any proposal that could build a nuclear power plant in his district.

No nuclear power plants have been built in the U.S. for nearly three decades since the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

“I know there’s controversy associated with nuclear power,” Marshall said. “I’m prepared to tackle the controversy if need be.”

As Marshall is quick to point out, the U.S. Navy operates some of its vessels, including submarines and aircraft carriers, using nuclear power.

To contact writer Thomas L. Day, call 744-4489.