The New York Times has reported on the economics that have not only led to the Kewaunee atomic reactor's (photo, left) announced closure in Wisconsin, but also other pressures and forces on reactors, from Entergy's Indian Point near New York City to Vermont Yankee, Duke's Crystal River in Florida, Exelon's Oyster Creek in New Jersey, and Southern California Edison's San Onofre. The article speaks of "[t]he industry’s renewed glimpse of its mortality" and states "the nuclear industry may be nearing its first round of retirements since the mid-1990s." Kewaunee's closure will be the first at an American atomic reactor since several (Yankee Rowe, Massachusetts; Zion 1 & 2, Illinois; Big Rock Point, Michigan; Millstone Unit 1, Connecticut) in the mid to late 1990s.
From The Washington Post: "Dominion Resources Inc. said Monday that it plans to close and decommission its Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin after it was unable to find a buyer for the nuclear power plant".
As nuclear power continues to crumble under the weight of its own disastrous economics, Dominion CEO, Thomas F. Farrell II, becomes the latest industry CEO to lose confidence in the nuclear business. "This decision was based purely on economics," Farrell said. Dominion also operates the two North Anna, VA reactors, where a proposed third reactor plan looks fragile at best. It also operates Millstone, CT and Surry, VA.
Reuters also reported on this story, stating that more atomic reactors could follow suit, their bad economics forcing their closure:
"Especially vulnerable under this scenario would be small, old single reactor sites."
According to Reuters, other units that could be slated for prompt permanent closure because they fit the Kewanee economic profile include Exelon Corp's Oyster Creek in New Jersey, Xcel Energy Inc's Monticello in Minnesota, and Entergy Corp's Palisades in Michigan, Vermont Yankee in Vermont and Pilgrim in Massachusetts.
In fact, an increasingly vulnerable and deteriorating nuclear industry under the mounting capital costs and uncertainties arising from Japan's Fukushima disaster tallies into a larger list of single unit sites under 1000 Megawatts electric in the United States that can be targeted for closure. More.
A new World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012, authored by Mycle Schneider with Antony Froggatt and Julie Hazemann, maps the continuing global decline of nuclear power. The report shows that nuclear's future rests not on new construction, but that "Plant life extension seems the most likely survival strategy of the nuclear industry at this point" - a good reason to continue to block reactor license extensions. The report noted that: "Only seven reactors started up, while 19 were shut down in 2011." By July 2012, "only two were started up, just compensating for two that were shut down so far this year". Other highlights:
China is spending five times more on renewables than nuclear post-Fukushima with no new nuclear construction since 3/11; nine reactors have been listed as "under construction" for more than 20 years; four countries - Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Taiwan - will phase out nuclear power and five more to date - Egypt, Italy, Jordan, Kuwait and Thailand - have abandoned plans to develop, or re-develop nuclear power; new builds have been canceled in Brazil, France, India and the US; certification of new reactor technologies has been delayed numerous times; in the US, of the 28 license applications received, 16 were subsequently delayed and eight were suspended indefinitely or officially canceled; of the 59 units under construction in the world, at least 18 are experiencing multi-year delays, while the remaining 41 projects were started within the past five years or have not yet reached project start-up dates.
On October 10th, Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps debated Timothy Maloney, a proponent of so-called "thorium (nuclear) power," at a meeting of the Nepessing Group of the Sierra Club's Michigan Chapter, at Mott Community College's Regional Technical Center in Flint. The Nepessing Group of Michigan represents Sierra Club members in Genesee, Lapeer, and northern Oakland counties.
Kevin's research in preparation for the debate depended on: a Beyond Nuclear backgrounder compiled by Linda Gunter; "Thorium Fuel -- No Panacea for Nuclear Power," by Dr. Arjun Makhijani of Institute for Energy and Environmental Research and Michele Boyd of Physicians for Social Responsibility (2009); a Science Friday program entitled "Is Thorium a Magic Bullet for our Energy Problems?" featuring Dr. Makhijani (May 4, 2012); "Thinking about Thorium" by Dr. Gordon Edwards of Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility (Sept. 16, 2012); "Thorium Reactors: Back to the Dream Factory," by Dr. Edwards (July 13, 2011); and "What is the Thorium Cycle?" by Dr. Edwards (1978).
The Thorium-232/Uranium-233 nuclear fuel chain shares many similarities with the Uranium-235 and Plutonium-239 nuclear fuel chains, including the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation, the risk that reactors could unleash catastrophic amounts of radioactivity (particularly from intentional terrorist attacks or acts of warfare), the unsolved (unsolvable?!) radioactive waste problem, the astronomical expense of RDD (research, development, and demonstration) for "thorium reactors," and the environmental ruination downwind and downstream (as well as up the food chain and down the generations) from reprocessing facilities.
Entergy Nuclear's ironic motto, "The Power of People" (see left), has backfired, with concerted pressure intensifying against its dirty dozen atomic reactors across the country. In New York, hearings have begun on the State's and environmental groups' opposition to Indian Point's license extensions; the Alliance for a Green Economy and Beyond Nuclear have followed up their emergency enforcement petition with a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request against the FitzPatrick Mark I; and Beyond Nuclear has been invited to speak in Stony Point on October 21st, and on Long Island on October 27th. A lawsuit has been launched against the Pilgrim Mark I near Boston, objecting to Entergy's impacts on Cape Cod Bay. And at Vermont Yankee, the drum beat of citizen actions continues, as oral arguments at the federal court of appeals against the Mark I's extended operations are scheduled for next month.