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Sunday
Aug172014

NEIS urges IL state legislature to oppose Exelon's attempt to scam EPA carbon rule for massive bailout

"Nuclear Illinois" map produced by NEISAs reported by the Chicago Tribune:

"Exelon has asked the Environmental Protection Agency to change its proposed emissions rules to ensure that all of its nuclear power plants and other nuclear facilities across the U.S. remain financially viable. 'We're the largest clean-energy producer in the country. We've ridden that horse for a long time,' said William Von Hoene, Exelon's senior executive vice president and chief strategy officer, noting that 'if nuclear is not preserved in this country, there is no way we can meet those carbon rules.'"

Exelon's is the biggest nuclear utility in the U.S., with 11 still operating, and 3 permanently closed, atomic reactors in the State of Illinois alone (map, left).

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) begged to differ, issuing a press release. NEIS urged the IL state legislature to oppose the bailout sought by Exelon, warning that the company seeks to scam EPA carbon rules to subsidize nuclear power in Illinois and the nation."

NEIS stated:

"Exelon’s scheming to garner subsidies for unprofitable nuclear plants in Illinois uses the recent EPA carbon standards rule as a fig leaf for the enormous rip off it represents.  It should be opposed by the Legislature.

Exelon’s nuclear plants have been paid for numerous times over by ratepayers: through the rate hikes that built them; through the estimated $6-$11 billion in “stranded costs” awarded them when Illinois went from a regulated to a market-based system; and in the $21 billion [Citizens Utility Board] reports these plants have earned Exelon in the last decade alone."

NEIS has prepared a petition. Its goal is to collect 1,000 signatures to turn in to President Obama, the EPA, and IL state legislators.

What can you do? Take action! See Beyond Nuclear's recent action alerts and backgrounders!

Thursday
Aug142014

Cost overruns and schedule delays at proposed new reactors in GA, SC, and TN

Aerial image of Vogtle nuclear power plant in GA, showing the operational Units 1 and 2, as well as the construction site for the proposed Units 3 and 4. Photo credit: High Flyer.We told them so. As the environmental movement warned 14 years ago, when the nuclear relapse was hatched by the Bush/Cheney administration, proposed new reactors at Vogtle 3 & 4 in Georgia, Summer 2 & 3 in South Carolina, and Watts Bar 2 in Tennessee are suffering major cost overruns and construction schedule delays.

Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) has published an update on Vogtle 3 & 4, which currently are suffering a 21-month schedule delay, and $1.4 billion cost overrun. The delays could well get worse, at a staggering cost increase of $2 million per day of delay!

Similarly, as reported by SRS Watch, delays of up to three years, and cost overruns topping $500 million, are afflicting the Summer 2 & 3 proposed new reactors in SC.

Note that those April 1st projected opening dates for the new reactors at Voglte and Summer, listed in the updates above, are no April Fool's joke. GA and SC ratepayers are already being gouged for the new reactors' troubled contstruction, on their electricity bills.

Vogtle 3 & 4's financial risks also now implicate federal taxpayers, in the form of a $6.5 billion loan guarantee, likely to soon grow to an $8.3 billion loan guarantee. This is compliments of the Obama administration. So, if Vogtle 3 & 4 default on their loan repayment, federal taxpayers will be left holding the bag. This is 15 times more taxpayer money at risk than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee scandal. And that risk, of Vogtle 3 & 4 defaulting on its loan repayment, was judged, years ago, by the likes of the Congressional Budget Office and Government Accountability Office, as a much greater risk than Solyndra defaulting on its loan repayment.

Vogtle 3 & 4, as well as Summer 2 & 3, are Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors. They are experimental, never having been built before anywhere in the world, although AP-1000s are also under construction in China.

The proposed new reactor in Tennessee, that is also suffering cost overruns and schedule delays, is the Tennessee Valley Authority's long-mothballed Watts Bar Unit 2.

To add to the irony, the existing reactors at Vogtle, Units 1 & 2, were the poster child for cost overruns in the last generation of reactor construction, coming in at 1,300% their originally estimated cost!

And the operational Watts Bar Unit 1 took 23 years to build, from 1973 to 1996!

Friday
Aug082014

Environmental coalition presses case for NEPA review of Fermi 3 transmission corridor

Although atomic reactors and their transmission lines are inextricably interconnected, NRC staff failed to include them in its FEIS for the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor, a violation of NEPAOn Aug. 7th, Terry Lodge, Toledo-based attorney for the environmental coalition intervening against DTE's proposed new Fermi 3 reactor in southeast MI, has filed a final reply brief requested by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizen Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Sierra Club, Michigan Chapter.

Lodge's reply rebuts July 28th filings made by DTE, NRC staff, and the Nuclear Energy Institute. All three sought to block the NRC's Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) from undertaking its own review of NRC staff's alleged failure to perform an environmental assessment on the impacts from building nearly 30 miles of new transmission lines to serve Fermi 3. This includes an 11 mile stretch through undeveloped areas, including forested wetlands. These could serve as critical habitat for endangered or threatened species.

In addition, ancient Native American burials, deserving of protection under law, very likely are located along the targeted transmission corridor pathway, as well.

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires such a review, interverers have argued since Jan. 2012. And it appears the ASLB, as well as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, agree with them.

DTE and NRC staff also filed replies by the August 7th deadline, attempting to rebut the environmental interveners' July 28th filing.

Now the NRC Commissioners will take the matter behind closed doors, to decide whether or not they will grant the ASLB permission to review NRC staff's alleged NEPA failures, as the licensing board overseeing the Fermi 3 combined Construction and Operating License Application has requested.

Thursday
Aug072014

Tell EPA: Don't Nuke the Climate!

As reported in Beyond Nuclear's weekly email bulletin on June 5th, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) unveiled President Obama's proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions causing the climate crisis. Most unfortunately, the Obama administration is attempting to use the proposed new carbon cutting rules to throw a lifeline to sinking atomic reactors.

During the week of July 28th, EPA held a small number of public meetings -- in Washington, D.C., Denver, Atlanta, and Pittsburgh -- to gather public comments on its proposed carbon reduction policy.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) put out talking points, one more focused on the nuclear power implications of EPA's proposed carbon rule, and one more general, for use by those making public comments. Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) did as well.

Synapse Energy Economics, Inc. has provided analysis, posting slides, as well as the recording of its July 23, 2014 webinar, providing analysis on "111(d): Next Steps for States."

Beyond Nuclear is thankful to our various colleagues for preparing these analyses and talking points on such complex subject matter, as well as to Sara Barczak of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) for compiling -- and alerting us to -- them.

What can you do? Provide your own public comments to EPA by its Oct. 16th deadline. Tell EPA: Nukes don't save the climate! Email to <A-and-R-Docket@epa.gov> and include Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2013-0602 in the subject line of your email message.

You can also attend the climate rally in New York City on Sept. 21st and join the Carbon-Free, Nuclear-Free contingent!

Wednesday
Aug062014

Beyond Nuclear in Space

The solar-powered Rosetta space probe made a successful rendezvous this week with a comet more than 300 million miles from the Sun -- a distance at which nuclear-proponents have for decades insisted solar energy would never work; that nuclear power was necessary.

An article, written by Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Gtrossman and posted on Enformable, describes the Rosetta mission as a "'demonstration' that in space as on Earth solar power is an alternative to dangerous nuclear power." Grossman has long investigated the use of nuclear power in space, authoring "The Wrong Stuff: The Space Program's Nuclear Threat to Our Planet" and writing and narrating the TV documentary "Nukes in Space: The Nuclearization and Weaponization of the Heavens" (www.envirovideo.com). The book and TV program reveal how accidents involving the use of nuclear power in space have already occurred including the fall back to Earth of a U.S. satellite with a SNAP-9A plutonium-238 radioisotope thermal generator on board in 1964.
The European Space Agency states on its website,“The solar cells in Rosetta’s solar panels are based on a completely new technology, so-called Low-intensity Low Temperature Cells. Thanks to them, Rosetta is the first space mission to journey beyond the main asteroid belt relying solely on solar cells for power generation. Previous deep-space missions used nuclear RTGs, radioisotope thermal generators. The new solar cells allow Rosetta to operate over 800 million kilometres from the Sun, where levels of sunlight are only 4% those on Earth. The technology will be available for future deep-space, such as ESA’s upcoming Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer...ESA has not developed RTG i.e. nuclear technology, so the agency decided to develop solar cells that could fill the same function.” NASA has begun to follow ESA’s lead.  It went with solar power for its Juno mission to Jupiter that is now underway. Launched in 2011, energized by solar power, the Juno space probe is to arrive at Jupiter in 2016.