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Thursday
Jun232016

Exelon to close three Illinois nukes in 2017 and 2018: Quad Cities 1 &2 and Clinton

The Chicago-based nuclear giant, Exelon Generation Corporpation, formally notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) that it will permanently close its Quad Cities Units 1 & 2 and Clinton nuclear generating stations in Illinois.  The two Fukushima-style reactors at Quad Cities, both GE Mark I boiling water reactors will close in 2018 and Clinton, a GE Mark III boiling water reactor will permanently close in 2017.

The Exelon formal filing to the NRC is just the latest in a trend of reactor closure announcements across the country at Fort Calhoun in Nebraska by the end of 2016, Diablo Canyon Units 1 & 2 by 2025 in California. This latest trend of closure announcements follows on the 2013 shutdowns at Crystal River 3 (Florida), San Onofre 2 & 3 (California), and Kewanee (Wisconsin). Vermont Yankee (Vermont) permanently closed in 2014. Additional closure announces have been submitted to the NRC for Fitzpatrick (NY) in 2017 and the Pilgrim (Massachusetts) and Oyster Creek (New Jersey) nuclear power stations in 2019.  More reactor units, like Pennsylvania’s infamous Three Mile Island nuclear power station, are still pending formal announcements to the NRC.

Nuclear power is rapidly becoming redundant where conventional utility-scale renewable energy generation and efficiency cost less. Nuclear power’s full-on-all-the-time operating mode is recognized as inflexible to these increasing competitive electricity markets. Operating costs and major repairs for an aging and inherently dangerous nuclear technology have simply become unaffordable at many reactors. The added cost of even more safety-related nuclear accident retrofits is one more straw on the industry’s bowed economic back. Add to the steadily rising cost of nuclear power, energy efficiency is not only its cheapest competitor it is the quickest to deploy to customers at residential, commercial and industrial levels. As a result, electricity demand in the United States has continued to drop in five of the past eight years due to advances in energy efficiency technology. 

 

Thursday
Jun232016

Diablo Canyon to close rather than extend operating license, sooner is necessarily better 

In a historic agreement announced June 21, 2016 between environmental groups led by Friends of the Earth, labor unions and the California electric utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE), the Diablo Canyon nuclear generating station in San Luis Obispo will permanently shutdown in 2025 rather than seek a twenty-year license extension. By the same agreement, the power from the nuclear generator will be replaced with safe, clean, renewable energy generation, advanced electricity storage systems, energy efficiency and conservation.  Diablo Canyon is the latest in a series of reactor closure announcements where the tanking economics of atomic-generated power simply don’t add up. Nuclear corporations are finding it more profitable to shutter reactors than operate them and replace them with increasingly more affordable solar and wind power.  As California's last remaining operating reactor, Diablo Canyon's closure will mean that the seventh largest economy in the world will be nuclear free.  At the same time, the loss of the profit motive coupled with utility reticence to invest in mounting safety and environmental issues make nuclear power even more dangerous. This prompts the call to accelerate the shutdown schedule.

The Diablo Canyon reactors were designed in the 1960s, built in the 1970s and originally only looked at the earthquake siting risks coming from the distant San Andreas fault line 45-miles away and one other “insignificant” fault line. Since then, that threaten the reactors’ safe shutdown have emerged around the two-units location from the nearby Hosgri, San Luis Bay, Los Oso and the Shoreline fault lines that run as close as one mile away.  Just such unanalyzed and unacceptable risks versus the enormity of potentially devastating consequences are being recognized in post-Fukushima Japan as reason enough to shutdown nuclear power stations and legally deny their restart as in the case for the Takahama nuclear power station.  The continued operation of Diablo Canyon amid a minefield of earthquake faults until 2025 places the California region and beyond in the same peril as the earthquake-induced nuclear catastrophe proved at Fukushima, Japan.

The environmental consequences of continued operation of Diablo Canyon add more reason to move up the date for a more prompt closure. The Diablo Canyon’s antiquated once-through reactor cooling system that draws in 2.5 billion gallons of water each day and discharges it super-heated into Diablo Cove is responsible for 80% of the marine environment damage from electric power stations along the California coast.  

For many more reasons, including capping the production of unmanaged high-level nuclear waste that is accumulating onsite and onto future generations, the fight must go on to shutdown Diablo Canyon sooner rather than later.

 

Thursday
Jun162016

Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant definitely closing: unanimous vote

The Board of the Omaha Public Power District confirmed the promised closure of its Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant in a unanimous vote today.  Ft. Calhoun will close by the end of the year. OPPD President and Chief Executive, Tim Burke, articulated what is becoming rapidly more apparent industry-wide: the costly nuclear plant cannot compete with cheaper sources of electricity.  These days, that source is rapidly becoming wind power.  "This is simply an economic decision. The economics have been going so fast the other way that we can’t seem to justify this anymore,” said 30-year board member John Green. But the financial headaches are far from over.  Once shuttered, the plant must be decommissioned, a process that it is estimated will take 35 years and cost at least $1 billion.

Tuesday
Jun142016

Orlando shooter worked for security firm that guards nuclear plants

As reported by USA Today, the perpetrator of the massacre in Orlando, Florida -- Omar Mateen -- had been employed by G4S since 2007.

G4S is connected to nuclear weapons and nuclear power security in the U.S., including at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Savannah River Site, Naval Base Kitsap, Nevada National Security Site (formerly the Nevada [Nuclear Weapons] Test Site, which includes the proposed Yucca Mountain high-level radioactive waste dumpsite), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (including its headquaters buildings in Rockville, Maryland, just outside Washington, D.C.), and URENCO USA (Uranium Enrichment Corporation, which operates a uranium enrichment facility in New Mexico). See below.

G4S is headquatered in the U.K. It is the largest private security firm in the world, with more than 600,000 employees working in 110 countries, the USA Today article reports.

The article reports G4S carried out two security checks on Mateen -- when it hired him in 2007, and again in 2013, the same year FBI agents questioned him regarding connections to terrorist groups. Mateen cleared both G4S security screenings, however, and continued working as an armed security guard for the company right up to his massacre of 50 people, and wounding of nearly as many more, at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

The article reports that G4S is conducting its own investigation, to determine whether company weapons were used by Mateen in carrying out the massacre. G4S also made the odd statement that Mateen was not on the company clock when he carried out the massacre.

Although Mateen's G4S employment was at a gated retirement community, the company is associated with security at numerous nuclear-related facilities in the U.S.

G4S's -- and U.S. government agencies', including the FBI's -- inability to detect Mateen's violent plans before he carried them out, begs the question: what security breaches may exist at U.S. nuclear facilities guarded by G4S-related companies and personnel?

Tom Clements at Savannah River Site Watch in Columbia, South Carolina, sent out the following email message in the aftermath of the Orlando massacre:

The Orlando shooter has been reported to have worked as a security guard with G4S security company.

G4S provided security at the DOE's Savannah River Site until late 2014 and then the company was taken over by a company named Centerra.

Centerra-SRS <http://sro.srs.gov/centerrasrs.html> appears to have
inherited G4S employees, according to an Augusta (Georgia) Chronicle article -
(http://chronicle.augusta.com/news/business/2014-11-25/srs-security-firm-bought-private-group%23):

"G4S Government Solutions said that there should be no changes to personnel or staffing due to the ownership change."

I have emailed SRS about this and if there will be any security review of Centerra-SRS or personnel.

List of sites where Centerra works:
http://www.centerragroup.com/federal-and-commercial-security.html

 

Selected Federal and Commercial Security Customers

 
     
  • Center for Domestic Preparedness
  • DOD Holston Army Ammunition Plant
  • DOD Lake City Army Ammunition Site
  • DOD Lake City Army Ammunition Site 
  • DOD Radford Army Ammunition Plant
  • DOE Savannah River Site 
  • DOE Strategic Petroleum Reserve
  • FPS Michigan
  • FPS Minnesota/Wisconsin
  • NASA Ames Research Center
  • NASA Dryden Flight Research Center
  • NASA Jet Propulsion Lab 
  • NASA Johnson Space Center
  • NASA Kennedy Space Center 
  • Naval Base Kitsap (WSB) (security)
  • Nevada National Security Site
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • URENCO USA
  • U.S. Department of Justice
  • U.S. Government Accountability Office
  • U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • William J. Hughes FAA Technical Center
Friday
Jun102016

U.S nuclear lobbyists want massive ratepayer bailouts for financially failing reactors

The Nuclear Energy Institute has admitted that 10-20 U.S. reactors are at risk of near-term closure, absent massive ratepayer subsidies to prop them up. Failure by numerous atomic reactors, across multiple states, to clear PJM's recent capacity market auction, has compounded their financial distress. Despite Exelon's announced closure dates for three reactors in IL, the revelation of an internal email shows that the company's lobbyists have not given up on a $1.6 billion ratepayer funded rescue package, perhaps during a special legislative session. Watchdog group Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago remains vigilant against the bailout. Exelon's economic malaise has now spread to Byron in IL, Three Mile Island 1 in PA, as well as three age-degraded reactors on NY's Lake Ontario shore. The Alliance for a Green Economy (AGREE) is rallying resistance in NY in opposition to the proposed nuclear bailout, which would undermine renewable energy funding. FirstEnergy faces the same challenges at Davis-Besse on Ohio's Lake Erie shore. Dr. Mark Cooper, an energy economist at Vermont Law School, predicted these reactor closures three years ago, based on a variety of factors, including age-degradation, economic non-competitiveness, and public resistance. PowerDC, Public Citizen, and DC Sun embody such resistance in the nation's capital, challenging Exelon's takeover of Mid-Atlantic utility Pepco, and its transparent scheme to gouge captive ratepayers to prop up failing reactors in other states. More