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Friday
Jan182013

GSN: "Industry, Activists at Odds Over Security Risks of Interim Waste Storage"

TOW anti-tank missiles can be fired by vehicles, or even shoulder-fired. Large numbers of TOW missiles are reportedly loose and unaccounted for on the international black market.In a Global Security Newswire article entitled "Industry, Activists at Odds Over Security Risks of Interim Waste Storage," Douglas P. Guarino quotes Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps about the risks of high-level radioactive waste, including during both on-site storage, as well as during transportation. Kevin referred to a 1998 test conducted at Aberdeen Army Proving Ground in Maryland, which showed that even the so-called "Cadillac of dry casks," the German CASTOR, could not withstand an anti-tank TOW missile attack (TOW is an acronym which stands for "Tube-launched, Optically-tracked, Wire command data link, guided missile"). Most U.S. dry cask systems have much thinner metallic walls than the CASTOR. Kevin reiterated the call by over 150 environmental groups, for Hardened On-Site Storage of irradiated nuclear fuel, rather than a risky, rushed radioactive waste shell game on the roads, rails, and waterways.

Friday
Jan182013

GSN: "Watchdog Groups Add to Legal Criticism of Nuclear Waste Review"

Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of Institute for Energy and Environmental ResearchAs reported by Douglas P. Guarino at Global Security Newswire in an article entitled "Watchdog Groups Add to Legal Criticism of Nuclear Waste Review," a coalition of two dozen environmental groups (including Beyond Nuclear), as well as three states (Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont) are keeping the pressure on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to do a thorough Environmental Impact Statement on the on-site storage risks of high-level radioactive waste, not to mention the transport, off-site storage, and permanent disposal risks of irradiated nuclear fuel. The article quotes one of the environmental coalition's attorneys, Diane Curran, as well as one of its expert witnesses, Dr. Arjun Makhijani (photo, left).

Friday
Jan182013

Arnie Gundersen: "REPAIRS AT FOUR NUCLEAR REACTORS ARE SO EXPENSIVE THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE RESTARTED"

Fairewinds' nuclear engineer Arnie GundersenIn the most recent Fairewinds Energy Education weekly podcast, "REPAIRS AT FOUR NUCLEAR REACTORS ARE SO EXPENSIVE THAT THEY SHOULD NOT BE RESTARTED," Fairewinds' nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen (photo, left) lays out the case as to why the atomic reactors at Fort Calhoun, Nebraska on the Missouri River, Crystal River in Florida, and San Onofre Units 2 & 3 in southern California should all be permanently shutdown.

In the second half of the program, Arnie also discusses a recent letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu, and an accompanying press release, from U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), which expressed strong opposition to U.S. Department of Energy plans to "recycle" radioactive metals and other materials from its nuclear facilities (such as nuclear weapons complex sites, uranium enrichment facilities, national labs, etc.) into consumer products.

Thursday
Jan172013

Rating agencies: cracked Crystal River 3 may be down for the count

The magnitude of cracking in Crystal River's containment shellAs reported by SNL, Fitch and UBS have indepenently cast doubt on the likelihood, given the cost (into the billions of dollars), that Duke/Progress Energy's Crystal River Unit 3 in Citrus County, Florida will ever be repaired and returned to operations. Crystal River has been shutdown ever since severe cracking (see photo, left) was discovered in its concrete containment shell, nearly three and a half years ago. The utility accidentally cracked the containment itself, while attempting an in-house steam generator replacement.

The article reports that ratepayers will not be charged $388 million for replacement power, but "a settlement agreement with the Florida Office of Public Counsel and several interest groups...stipulates the parties will not oppose Duke's full recovery of all plant investment should it decide to retire the plant," meaning that the public could still get stuck with the bill for a disastrous engineering mistake the nuclear utility itself made.

Duke/Progress Energy has variously attempted to foist repair or cost recovery bills on its insurance provider, its ratepayers via the Florida Public Service Commission, and even the rest of the nuclear power industry.

Beyond Nuclear has helped lead environmental coalition efforts to block Davis-Besse's 20-year license extension, due to severe cracking in its concrete Shield Building.

Thursday
Jan172013

Forbes: "the nuclear renaissance may be largely over before it started"

"Burning Money" image by Gene Case, Avenging AngelsPeter Kelly-Detwiler, Contributor to Forbes, has published an op-ed entitled "New Centralized Nuclear Plants: Still an Investment Worth Making?" 

The Forbes contributor concludes that "the nuclear renaissance may be largely over before it started," with not only the vast majority of proposed new reactors in the U.S. being cancelled, but even paid-off old reactors like Kewaunee in Wisconsin being permanently shutdown due to crushing economics -- such as the expense of major, vitally needed safety repairs at the 40-year old reactor.

Kelly-Detwiler cites the "takes too long," "costs too much," and "bet-the-farm" nature of nuclear power for the "failure to launch" of the nuclear relapse.

If the op-ed's title is meant to imply that so-called small modular reactors might still save the day for the retreating nuclear power industry, it must be pointed out that the supposed justification for giant-sized proposed new reactors (such as the AP1000, at 1,100 MWe; the ESBWR at 1,500 MWe; the EPR at 1,600 MWe; etc.) was "economies of scale." Since small modular reactors represent the opposite end of the spectrum, it stands to reason these would be even more expensive than their super-sized, failed siblings.

In a classic February 14, 1985 piece entitled “Nuclear Follies,” 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. The utility industry has already invested $125 billion in nuclear power, with an additional $140 billion to come before the decade is out, and only the blind, or the biased, can now think that the money has been well spent. It is a defeat for the U.S. consumer and for the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program and for the private enterprise system that made it possible.” More.