The Galena Nuclear Project: Pursuing Low Cost Energy in Bush Alaska
by Marvin L. Yoder
PageTurner, Press and Media

"Finding a long-term solution for the high cost of energy remained elusive."

Galena is a small Alaskan city established in 1918 when lead ore was discovered at the site of a tribal fishing camp. During WWII, a military field was built adjacent to the civilian airfield. The end of the Cold War caused the partial shutdown of military operations at this airbase in 1993, with a complete shutdown in 2010.The author picks up Galena’s history from that time when the high cost of fuel transportation initiated discussions regarding various systems to meet the city’s newly-reduced electrical and heating requirements.

Yoder documents the early involvement of Howdeshell (environmental coordinator for the local tribe) and Rosinski (a nuclear energy attorney) with others researching a nuclear licensing process that eventually involved the author. Early in 2003, the Galena city leadership learned about the Toshiba 4s fast reactor that burned reprocessed nuclear waste. This generator was air-cooled and buried underground for decades of unmanned operation. The Toshiba 4s (4th generation) fast reactor was not eventually chosen for the Galena location, due to small unit needs and prohibitive upfront costs.

Yoder is well-qualified to write this book after having spent twenty-five years working as an administrator/manager in a number of local governments in Alaska. In that role, he was directly involved with municipal utilities, such as water, wastewater, solid waste, and electricity, and his background adds authoritative depth to this book. He also spent ten years as the city manager for Galena. The author presents the history and arguments well, both pro and con, for small (battery-like) nuclear generators. Sarah Palin’s comments as a gubernatorial candidate are also helpfully included. A timeline and list of acronyms would have been useful, also. Overall, this is a highly informative work, and the reader will learn much about the nuclear technology that has been proposed over the past two decades.

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