With the shutdown for maintenance at the Takahama nuclear reactor, Japan is now operating at under 20% of its nuclear capacity. Takahama will be shut for four months but it is up to the local authorities whether or not it is then allowed to restart. If all local authorities refuse restarts, there will be no nuclear reactors operating in Japan by April 2012. Only 10 of Japan's 58 reactors are currently running. There is growing public opposition to the continued use of nuclear energy in Japan. A group of women (pictured) recently protested with a sit-in at the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry in Tokyo.
California's Secretary of State approved a ballot initiative November 18 that seeks the closure of San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station and the Diablo Canyon plant.
As drafted, the latest initiative parallels existing state law prohibiting the creation of new nuclear plants until the federal government finds a solution to dispose of radioactive nuclear waste and reprocess spent fuel rods. If enacted, the initiative would essentially shut down the state's two remaining nuclear plants by stopping them from creating additional waste until a federal solution arrives. San Clemente Times
The Washington Post's journalist Chico Harlan goes on a 6-hour tour of the desolation surrounding the the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster site.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer has reported that a fire, cutting power to ventilation in the reactor control room at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant near Toledo, prompted owner/operator FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) to notify federal and state officials of an emergency alert status for several hours last week. The fire was caused by a faulty valve in a pipe carrying purified water to the reactor core, which leaked onto an electrical switchbox, causing an electrical arc and fire. Luckily, the reactor has been shut down since October 1st for major repairs, including the removal of the plant's 82 ton, corroded, second reactor lid. Severe corrosion on the reactor's original lid in 2002 represented the most infamous close call to a disaster at a U.S. atomic reactor since the 1979 meltdown at Three Mile Island. A giant hole cut in radiological containment structures for the reactor lid "transplant operation" revealed a 30 foot long crack in the reinforced concrete shield building, as well as additional cracks in the shield building. Despite this, FENOC hopes to persuade the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission to allow it to restart Davis-Besse by the end of November. Beyond Nuclear has joined forces with Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio in an intervention opposing FENOC's proposed 2017 to 2037 license extension at the now 35 year old reactor. On Halloween, while Beyond Nuclear performed an "I Have a Scream!" protest against radioactive waste at Energy Department headquarters in Washington, D.C., our environmental coalition allies performed a solidarity action in Toledo against Davis-Besse. A week earlier, they held a press conference about the cracks, calling on the Toledo City Council to pass a resolution urging Davis-Besse's permanent closure, which the Cleveland Plain Dealer covered.
Today's Washington Post editorial headline above got it spot on. A high-profile hearing before the U.S. House Energy and Commerce government oversight subcommittee has shined a bright spotlight on the "Solyndra solar scandal," but nary a word about much more risky nuclear loan guarantees was uttered. The Washington Post has run three articles and an editorial in the past two days in its print edition: yesterday's "Solyndra made demands of Energy Department" and "Upton sought loan for now-ailing solar company in Michigan"; today's front page above the fold "Energy chief defends agency"; and today's lead editorial "No fun in the sun." Hopefully, the magnifying lens being taken to the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default will also be applied to already approved, and future proposed, nuclear loan guarantees! See Beyond Nuclear's nuclear loan guarantee website section for more information, as well as our summary backgrounder on U.S. Representative Fred Upton's (R-MI, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman, photo at left) nuclear power industry cheerleading (see the section entitled "Handing over the keys of the U.S. Treasury to the nuclear power industry").