Shut Down Indian Point Coalition

Shut Down Indian Point Coalition
This week 44 organizations called on NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Environmental Chair Costa Constantinides, as well as the other members of the Council, to co-sponsor Res. #694 to shut down Indian Point.

See letter and packet here.

We have learned that the Speaker needs to hear from organizations that there are lots of people who want Resolution 694 brought to a hearing and
a vote.

Please call the Speaker’s Legislative Assistant Robert Newman today at 212-788-2210 and ask that the Speaker bring the resolution to the floor for a hearing and vote as soon as possible.… Read More

A Fukushima Lesson Unlearned: NRC scraps public rulemaking on weak GE containments"> Thumbnail for 436880

The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) typically begins its narrative on the “lessons learned” from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe with Japan’s March 11, 2011accident. Not surprisingly, the agency has avoided addressing the most critical lesson recognized in the accident’s official investigative report by Japan’s National Diet. In their finding, the unfolding radiological catastrophe is “manmade” and the result of “willful negligence” of government, regulator and industry colluding to protect Tokyo Electric Power Company’s financial interests. Likewise, here in the US, addressing identical reactor vulnerabilities remain subject to a convoluted corporate-government strategy of “keep away” with public safety as the “monkey in the middle” going back more than four decades and, for now, three nuclear meltdowns later.

In the latest development, by a 3-1 vote issued on August 19, 2015, the majority of the four sitting Commissioners with NRC ruled not to proceed with their own proposed rulemaking and bar public comment and independent expert analyses on the installation of “enhanced” hardened containment vents on 30 U.S. reactors. In the event of a severe nuclear accident, roughly one-third of U.S. atomic power plants currently rely upon a flawed radiation protection barrier system at General Electric (GE) Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors that are essentially identical to the destroyed and permanently closed units at Fukushima Daiichi. The nuclear catastrophe has resulted in widespread radioactive contamination, massive population relocation, severe economic dislocation and mounting costs projected into the hundreds of billions of dollars.

A combination photo made of still images from video footage March 14, 2011, shows the explosion of the Unit 3 reactor at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power complex.

Fundamentally at fault, the GE Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactor “pressure suppression containment system” designed for internalizing such a nuclear accident is roughly one-sixth the volumetric size of pressurized water reactor containment designs like Three Mile Island. Under accident conditions, the reactor pressure vessel and the operation of the emergency core cooling system is depressurized into the “drywell” containment component which in turn routes steam, heat, combustible gases and radioactivity into the “wetwell” component where it is supposed to be quenched and scrubbed in a million gallons of water. The GE design was first identified as too small to contain potential accident conditions in 1972 by Atomic Energy Commission memos. The internal communications would eventually be released years later under the Freedom of Information Act after more GE reactors were granted operating licenses. The memos revealed that the undersized containment system is highly vulnerable to catastrophic failure from over-pressurization in the event of a severe accident. This long recognized chink in GE’s “defense-in-depth” armor was graphically confirmed with the global broadcast of the Fukushima explosions.

This combination photo shows smoke rising from Fukushima Daiichi 1 nuclear reactor after an explosion

This combination photo shows smoke rising from Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 after an explosion ripped apart the reactor building.

Fukushima further demonstrated that “voluntary” GE containment …read moreRead More

Nuclear advocates fight back with wishful thinking"> Thumbnail for 436039

The IEA/NEA’s new report doesn’t say what the NEA wishes it did.

It must be rough to be a nuclear power advocate these days: clean renewable energy is cleaning nuclear’s clock in the marketplace; energy efficiency programs are working and causing electricity demand to remain stable and even fall in some regions; despite decades of industry effort radioactive waste remains an intractable problem; and Fukushima’s fallout–both literal and metaphoric–continues to cast a pall over the industry’s future.

Where new reactors are being built, they are–predictably–behind schedule and over-budget; while even many existing reactors, although their capital costs were paid off years ago, can’t compete and face potential shutdown because of the very aspect of nuclear power that was supposed to be its economic advantage: low operating and maintenance costs that are proving instead to be too high to manage.

Not surprisingly, the nuclear industry is fighting back. After all, what other choice does it have? But two major new reports released this week by established nuclear advocates indicate that the only ammunition left in their arsenal is wishful thinking.

The first is a new study jointly produced by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and its sister organization in the OECD, the Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA): Projected Costs of Generating Electricity. It’s an update of a study last produced in 2010 and despite the headlines being pushed by the industry, which claim nuclear power is economically competitive with other generating technologies, it doesn’t actually say that at all. But perhaps that’s to be expected by an organization now headed by former NRC Commissioner William Magwood and devoted to the promotion of nuclear power.

As Jan Haverkamp of Greenpeace International explains,

You can see the NEA’s bias very clearly in slide 11 (part of the public presentation on the report’s release), where the title is: “Nuclear: an attractive low-carbon technology in the absence of cost overruns and with low financing costs”… which shows clearly where the problem is. To call this “attractive” but then sidelining two of the inherent financial issues with the resource is tendentious to say the least. Apart from not including costs like those for clean-up after severe accidents, an insecure cost idea of waste management, and a preferential liability capping scheme with government back-up.

Exactly. If you assume there are no economic problems with nuclear power, then it looks just great. The problem is that in real life, nuclear power’s financing costs are not low–they are extremely high because nuclear reactors are considered, for good reason, by investors to be very risky undertakings. One reason they are risky, and thus incur high financing costs, is that they are notorious for their cost overruns.

As if to slap its Paris-based companion the NEA in its face with cold reality, yesterday Electricite de France underscored new nuclear power’s fundamental economic problems, announcing that the EPR reactor it is building in Flamanville, France, is another year behind schedule and its cost is now projected at triple its original 2007 estimate.

The study …read moreRead More

Time for India to stop reprocessing spent nuclear fuel"> Thumbnail for 432006

Recent media reports suggest that all is not well within the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC). Scientists have reportedly written to the Prime Minister seeking intervention in the management of the Centre. Their complaints mostly revolve around internal matters such as harassment and promotions, but an important revelation should be of public concern. One scientist has reportedly alleged that his supervisor had directed that effluents from the reprocessing plant be released into sea with radioactivity levels much higher than permissible limits. Absent transparent inquiry, we cannot ascertain the veracity of this allegation, but there is a historical basis for taking this seriously and be concerned.

The post Time for India to stop reprocessing spent nuclear fuel appeared first on

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Ukraine’s nuclear giant attacks activists, not safety problems"> Thumbnail for 429040

The sprawling South Ukraine nuclear complex.

Life isn’t easy in Ukraine these days. There’s an ongoing low-grade war in the eastern part of the country that constantly threatens to explode as Russian troops continue building their forces in the region. In the rest of the country, there’s serious economic contraction–far worse to Ukraine’s economy, on a percentage basis, than the Great Recession that swept across the West several years ago. To top it off, Transparency International recently named Ukraine the most corrupt country in Europe, with police and other officials regularly demanding bribes from citizens. Efforts to curb that corruption are a major focus of the Ukrainian government.

Ending the kind of endemic corruption that prevails in Ukraine requires building a strong civil society. So the government might want to step back and examine itself, or at least its nuclear energy arm, Energoatom, which recently filed a lawsuit against the country’s leading environmental/clean energy group, the National Ecological Center of Ukraine (note: NIRS has long worked with the NECU).

The issue: a May 2015 press release from NECU that charged that Energoatom’s South Ukraine Unit-2 reactor does not meet safety standards. The nuclear giant wants NECU to retract the release and publish a statement on its website that some of the information in it was false.

Except that the South Ukraine Unit-2 reactor in fact does not meet safety standards. In April, Ukraine’s nuclear regulatory body reported that the 30 year-old reactor actually has 41 deviations from the safety rules and has refused to allow it to restart. In Ukraine, reactors are licensed for only 30 years (rather than the 40 years in the U.S.), so Energoatom wants a license extension for the reactor, an extension it can’t get with so many problems. And Energoatom apparently would rather go after NECU and other Ukrainian groups like Ecoclub (which also serves as the NIRS-WISE network office in Ukraine) for publicizing the problems and challenging the relicensing rather than own up to them.

As the NECU’s Irina Holovko stated, “If Energoatom is concerned about its reputation it would be wiser to directly engage with the public on its plans and their long term implications rather than trying to stifle civil society critique.”

Changing Ukrainian society will be a long-term process. The government could get a good start by reining in Energoatom and promoting transparency in the nuclear sector, as it needs to do in much of the rest of the country as well.

Michael Mariotte

August 28, 2015


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Rejection a huge defeat for Exelon, and loss of a regulated market to abuse CHICAGO—Exelon Corporation was handed a stunning defeat today when the Washington, D.C. Public Services Commission (PSC) rejected Exelon’s merger bid with East Coast utility PEPCO. The rejection denies Exelon a sorely needed new market in a regulated environment to help prop … Continue reading PRESS RELEASE: WASHINGTON D.C. PSC REJECTS EXELON’S PROPOSED MERGER WITH PEPCO …read moreRead More

Renewables as baseload power? Yes."> Thumbnail for 426969

Some specifications of Chile’s upcoming Copiapo 24/7 solar power plant.

As pointed out in the article itself, some environmentalists and clean energy advocates remain skeptical that a nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system is attainable; and we’ve had a few strong and interesting responses to my recent post The archaic nature of baseload power–or why electricity will become like long-distance. Check out the comments to that piece and add your own.

In that article, I laid out the obsolete nature of the 20th century electricity system, which relied on large “baseload” nuclear and fossil fuel plants located far from the largest electricity consumers sending (and wasting) electricity over long high-voltage transmission lines. Such a system simply makes no sense anymore given the cheaper, cleaner, generally smaller-scale, and more sustainable energy technologies of the 21st century.

But there is a kind of “baseload” power that does make some sense. And that’s the kind that doesn’t involve nuclear or fossil fuels.

It can be argued, of course, that any system that provides electricity 24/7 is “baseload” power–and I would make that argument. Thus, a rooftop solar system with good battery backup is, by that definition, baseload power.

But what I neglected somewhat in the original piece was that renewables are increasingly capable of providing large-scale “baseload” power as well. Spain has a 24-7 baseload solar plant, for example, although it has not yet been a stunning economic success. And now Chile has just given the ok for a new 260 megawatt solar plant–using a combination of photovoltaic and concentrating solar power technology–that promises to provide 24/7 baseload power. For 10 cents kw/h. That’s cheaper than any new nuclear power and most existing nuclear power. With no government subsidies whatsoever.

Big is not always bad. California’s Ivanpah concentrating solar power plant.

Yes, the system is not perfect: it does still require those long transmission lines. And yes, you can’t build these things everywhere–although you could build an awful lot of them on essentially unused land in the southwest U.S.–think Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico–and provide an awful lot of power to a lot of places. It’s been estimated that you could power the entire U.S. on solar power built on 10,000 square miles of unused Nevada land. Of course, back in the late 1980s, the Department of Energy figured out you could power the entire country on wind power from South Dakota. And some in Europe have envisioned powering the entire continent with solar power located in the Saharan Desert.

Great in theory, perhaps not so perfect in practice.

Meanwhile, wind power is edging ever closer to “baseload” status. New technology, and the ability to build taller windmills with longer blades, already has brought wind to 50% capacity factors in the Midwest and west Texas, and the industry believes it will regularly be reaching 60-65% capacity factors in just a few years. At that level, wind’s capacity factor starts to be very competitive with fossil fuels. And right now, wind is averaging less than 3 …read moreRead More

Weapons missing from LaSalle nuclear power plant armory"> Thumbnail for 426761

Two Sig Sauer 9 millimeter weapons were stolen from the armory at the LaSalle nuclear power plant located 65 miles southwest of the City of Chicago.

Exelon, the licensee who operates the nuclear facility, claims that the security of the site was not breached during the theft, which may imply that the person who stole the weapons is a worker at the nuclear power plant.

Exelon has notified the LaSalle County Sheriff’s Department and officials at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who will launch an investigation into the matter. The NRC has dispatched a senior inspector to the plant to oversee the case.

Officials from the power plant told reporters that the weapons were primarily used for training purposes and could have been stolen nearly a month ago, on July 27th, and may reveal why the theft was not made public earlier.

Source: NBC 5 Chicago

Source: ABC 7 Chicago

The post Weapons missing from LaSalle nuclear power plant armory appeared first on Enformable.

…read moreRead More