The City Council resolution calls for considering replacing Northwest nuclear power with other sources of carbon-free emissions.
Seattle City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a resolution that calls for consideration of replacing nuclear power with alternative power sources that will not generate carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
Activists at Washington’s and Oregon’s Physicians for Social Responsibility and Heart of America Northwest sought the resolution.
Roughly 4 percent of Seattle City Light’s electricity comes from Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station in Richland, which is the region’s only commercial nuclear power plant.
That plant has a boiling-water reactor that uses nuclear fission to heat water into high-pressure steam. It began generating power in 1984 and has an operating license through 2043.
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The plant has the capacity to generate 1,190 megawatts of power, which is the third largest generating facility in Washington, behind two hydropower dams.
The resolution calls for Seattle City Light to use its positions as an Energy Northwest board member to consider the issues of “health, safety, reliability and cost” of the power plant “on an ongoing basis.”
Charles Johnson, who heads up a joint nuclear power task force with Washington’s and Oregon’s Physicians for Social Responsibility, said the vote by the Northwest’s largest utility sets an important precedent. He now plans to discuss similar measures with other utilities in the region.
The measure was sponsored by Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who on Tuesday called the resolution a step forward in “taking a stand against nuclear energy.”
Proponents of the plant have stated that the nuclear plant, in an era of increasing concern about climate change, represents an important source of carbon-free electricity.