Climate Change

Nuclear power is counterproductive to efforts to address climate change effectively and in time. Funding diverted to new nuclear power plants deprives real climate change solutions like solar, wind and geothermal energy of essential resources.



Entergy Watch: Pilgrim Coalition urges NRC to require Mark I atomic reactor to shutdown during historic winter storm

NRC's file photo of Pilgrim, albeit on a calm, sunny day.As reported by Wicked Local Plymouth, in the lead up to what is being reported as an historic winter storm about to hit the Northeast, Pilgrim Coalition and Cape Cod Bay Watch are calling on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to order Entergy's Pilgrim atomic reactor shutdown, "arguing that a prolonged power outage, flooding, high winds, and snow and ice could cause several serious problems at Pilgrim."

However, as of 2:30 PM, NRC's "Current Power Reactor Status" report shows that Pilgrim is operating at 83% power. All other reactors in the Northeast are also operating, either at, or very close to, 100% power levels.

In a press release, Pilgrim Coalition spokespeople stated:

“This is predicted to be a historic storm with severe consequences,” said Pine DuBois, Executive Director of Jones River Watershed Association. “Winds are supposed to pick up Friday night during high tide and continue through the even higher tide Saturday morning. Near hurricane gusts will be out of the east, hitting Pilgrim head-­‐on. At other times during high winds, Pilgrim’s water intake pumps have failed.”

“Entergy could not keep the lights on during the Super Bowl -­‐ can we be sure they’ll provide enough power to Pilgrim during the storm?” duBois added.

According to Karen Vale, Campaign Manager at Cape Cod Bay Watch, “This historic storm emphasizes that rising sea levels and frequent, more severe storms make Pilgrim’s continued operations increasing risky. We hope that the NRC will close Pilgrim until the threat of the storm passes.”

As Beyond Nuclear's Freeze Our Fukushimas campaign has warned, no matter the cause (earthquake and tsunami, or historic winter storm at high tide), any prolonged loss of power to atomic reactors can lead to meltdown and catastrophic radioactivity releases. Entergy's Pilgrim is an identical twin design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4, a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor.


Dr. Paul Epstein dies; made link between climate change and spread of disease

Dr. Paul Epstein, a public health expert who was among the first to warn of a link between the spread of infectious disease and extreme weather events, adding a new dimension to research into the potential impact of global climate change, died on Sunday at his home in Boston. He was 67. (View Dr. Epstein here on Democracy Now in December 2010). Dr. Epstein, who was a physician and associate director of the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard Medical School, did not view nuclear power as an answer to global warming. Here is his post-Fukushima response to the question of nuclear energy use in an interview on Climate Central:

"We need to look at the life cycle: from the mining, transport, milling and then processing the fuel rods, and then transport again to the nuclear power plants, and finally what we do with the waste. All of these are plagued by three things — safety, security, and storage. All three have unanswered questions. Well, now we know safety is not assured. Security is not assured. We haven’t solved the issue surrounding permanent storage of these spent fuel rods that are an extreme hazard. And then there’s the timeline: nuclear plants take 10 years and cost $12 billion to build. It’s not an infinite renewable resource, it’s a finite resource. It’s frightening what is happening in Japan, it’s frightening the impact on the marine environment, and the local impact in Japan. This is a dreadful accident and it certainly highlights the need to look at all these impacts.


TransCanada Pipelines also a nuclear utility!

Congratulations to environmental allies who have successfully pressured the Obama administration to postpone -- and hopefully ultimately cancel -- TransCanada Pipelines' proposed Keystone XL Pipeline for Canadian tar sands crude oil. Climate activists have described the proposed 1,700 mile long pipeline from Alberta, Canada to Texas as the fuse on a carbon bomb that would explode into the Earth's already overtaxed atmosphere. But tar sands crude oil isn't the only "dirty, dangerous, and expensive" energy source TransCanada dabbles with. According to its website, it also owns 48.8% of the 3,000 Megawatt-electric (MW-e) Bruce A nuclear power plant, and 31.6% of the 3,200 MW-e Bruce B nuclear power plant. Bruce -- a 9 reactor and radioactive waste complex located in Ontario on the shore of Lake Huron just 50 miles from Michigan -- is the largest nuclear power plant in the Western Hemisphere, and the second biggest in the world. TransCanada entered the nuclear power business despite warnings by NIRS in late 2002 about serious financial and environmental risks. (A primary bone of contention over the Keystone XL pipeline is its proposed route over the irreplacable Ogallala Aquifer; the Waste Control Specialists radioactive waste dump in Texas also threatens the Ogallala.)


NRC to keep flooded Ft. Calhoun on close-watch list

The Wall Street Journal reports that due to past violations involving flood protections and automatic shutdown systems, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) will keep Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant in Nebraska on a close-watch list. Most of the plant is under two feet of flood waters on the historically flooded Missouri River. There is currently about a ten foot safety margin between the flood waters and what the nuclear power plant is prepared to withstand -- but only because NRC busted them for their inadequate preparations late last year. "They are receiving heightened oversight because of inadequate procedures to protect their intake structure and auxiliary building from a flood...and other past performance issues," NRC spokesman Victor Dricks said.


"Flirting with Catastrophe: Atomic Power in a Destablized Climate"

An op-ed by Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps has been published by Counterpunch. Prompted by historic floods in Nebraska threatening atomic reactors on the Missouri River, as well as historic wildfires in New Mexico threatening plutonium-contaminated wastes at the Los Alamos nuclear weapons lab, it describes how the location of atomic reactors on seacoasts, rivers, and the Great Lakes makes them vulnerable to worsening severe weather caused by the accelerating climate crisis. Beyond Nuclear has prepared two backgrounders on this issue: "Far from 'solving global warming,' atomic energy is too risky to operate in a destablizied climate," and "Climate chaos and nuclear power." Previously, Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter also wrote "Natural Disasters and Safety Risks at Nuclear Power Stations." The vulnerable locations of the 104 operating U.S. atomic reactors are mapped in Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet "Routine Radioactive Releases from Nuclear Power Plants in the United States: What are the Dangers?"

A recent op-ed in the New York Times by Heidi Cullen of Climate Central, "Sizzle Factor for a Restless Climate," reveals that extreme weather such as the current heat wave across most of the United States will become the norm if we don't solve the climate crisis. IEER's Insurmountable Risks: The Dangers of Using Nuclear Power to Combat Global Climate Change, written five years ago by Dr. Brice Smith, debunked the Nuclear Energy Institute's false myth that nuclear power is any kind of solution to the climate crisis.

Adding a one-two punch at Counterpunch, Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman also published an article entitled "What Could Truly End the Space Program: A Nuclear Disaster Overhead" in the same weekend edition.

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