New Reactors

The U.S. nuclear industry is trumpeting a comeback - but only if U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. Beyond Nuclear is watchdogging nuclear industry efforts to embark on new reactor construction which is too expensive, too dangerous and not needed.


Entries by admin (98)


"Prefab Nuclear Plants Prove Just as Expensive"

"Burning money" graphic by Gene Case, Avenging AngelsRebecca Smith has reported in the Wall Street Journal that the "[m]odular method has run into costly delays and concerns about who will bear the brunt of the expense."

Joseph "Buzz" Miller, Georgia Power's executive vice president for nuclear development, is quoted as saying "The promise of modular construction has yet to be seen."

The two proposed new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors, Vogtle Units 3 & 4, that Georgia Power is building are years behind schedule, and billions of dollars over budget. $8.3 billion in federal nuclear loan guarantees, awarded by the Obama administration at no cost to the nuclear utilities, would leave taxpayers holding the bag if the project defaults on its loan repayment.

That's 15 times the amount of taxpayer money at risk than was lost to the U.S. Treasury with the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default several years ago.

The article also reports: "Stephen Byrne, president of South Carolina Electric & Gas [SCE&G], recently told investors his company is in discussions with Westinghouse and CB&I [Chicago Bridge & Iron] about the cost overruns and who will bear the burden. Utilities want those added costs to be shared, getting vendors to pay for some of the added expense but vendors are examining the claims. 'We feel that there’s an opportunity for a settlement in the future,' he said."

The two AP1000s under construction at Summer nuclear power plant in SC have been financed by repeated "Construction Work in Progress" (CWIP) surcharges on ratepayer electricity bills over the past many years. Such a "nuclear tax" is illegal in most states.

These cost overruns and schedule delays were to be expected, based on the previous history of nuclear power in the U.S. and overseas.

In 1985, Forbes wrote "The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale."

In fact, ironically enough, Vogtle Units 1 & 2 were the poster children for cost overruns, coming in at 1,300% their originally estimated price tag.

And the Watts Bar Units 1 & 2 are the case studies in atomic reactor schedule delays. Watts Bar took from 1973 to 1996 to become operational. Watts Bar 2 began construction in 1972, and is still struggling to begin generating electricity, 23 years later!

Such problems extend overseas, as well. A decade-long delay, and huge cost overruns, at the Olkiluoto new reactor construction site in Finland have led to major lawsuits between the nuclear utility, TVO, and the bankrupt French reactor vendor, Areva, to determine who is liable.


Beyond Nuclear v. NRC: Appeals against Fermi 3 proposed new reactor filed at the federal Circuit Court for the District of Columbia 

Terry Lodge

The appeals lawsuit has been launched: Beyond Nuclear v. NRC challenges the proposed new reactor Fermi 3, targeted at the Lake Erie shore in Monroe County, MI.

On July 22nd, Terry Lodge (photo, left) -- a Toledo-based attorney serving as legal counsel in Beyond Nuclear et al.'s* intervention against the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor in Monroe County, MI -- filed the following documents at the federal D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals (the second highest court in the land, just beneath the U.S. Supreme Court):

1. Agency Docketing Statement;

2. Statement of Intent Regarding Deferred Joint Appendix;

3. Petitioner's Motion to Hold Petition for Review in Abeyance;

4. Petitioner's Corrected Nonbinding Statement of Issues (filed on July 23rd);

5. Underlying Decisions from Which Appeal or Petition Arises.

Thus, Beyond Nuclear et al. have filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), appealing the safety issue of Quality Assurance (QA) under the Atomic Energy Act, and the environmental issue of the transmission line corridor under NEPA (the National Environmental Policy Act).

Keith Gunter, a Beyond Nuclear launch partner, provides Beyond Nuclear standing in the legal proceeding, based on his residence in Livonia, MI, within the 50-mile Emergency Planning Zone of the proposed Fermi 3 reactor.

In addition to the appeals listed above, Beyond Nuclear, represented by D.C.-based attorney Diane Curran and Atlanta-based attorney Mindy Goldstein, has also appealed the NRC's Continued Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel Rule and Generic Environmental Impact Statement (formerly called NRC's Nuclear Waste Confidence policy), alleging violations of the AEA, NEPA, as well as the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).

Beyond Nuclear member Michael Keegan, a resident in Monroe, MI within the 10-mile Emergency Planning Zone of the proposed Fermi 3 reactor, has provided Beyond Nuclear legal standing on the Nuclear Waste Confidence appeal.

*The environmental coalition that intervened at the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) against Fermi 3 on March 9, 2009 includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter.


New reactor in Finland estimated to start up nine years behind schedule

As reported by NucNet, the Finnish nuclear utility TVO has revealed its latest estimate for grid connection of its Olkiluoto-3 reactor in Finland: 2018. That's nine years late, a major part of the reason that the original price tag has also soared. The new reactor is a French Areva EPR (European Pressurized Water Reactor).

And, as reported by Politico, another proposed new reactor project in Finland -- HANHIKIVI 1 -- may have suffered a serious setback, due to Finnish authorities' concerns about a potential Croatian partner's shadowy ties to Russian business interests.


Regulators OK Fermi 3, but DTE has no plans to build it

As reported by JC Reindl at the Detroit Free Press.

Beyond Nuclear and a coalition of environmental allies have opposed Fermi 3 since it was first proposed in Feb. 2007.


"Experts warned of nuke work overruns"

The Vogtle Unit 3 reactor pressure vessel, parked in front the Vogtle Unit 4 containment vessell bottom head, May 2013. Photo credit: Georgia Power.As reported by Matt Kempner in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the two new atomic reactors under construction at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Waynesboro, Georgia are "more than three years behind schedule," and costs for just one partner, Georgia Power (a subsidiary of Southern Nuclear) "is at least $1.4 billion, or 23 percent, over original projections." More.