The nation's electric utitlies have collectively paid the U.S. Department of Energy $31 billion to "take away" their radioactive waste. But of course, there is still nowhere for it to go - a problem that is likely to persist indefinitely. Given the lack of a waste dump or other "solution," the utilities are suing the DOE to try to suspend fees they pay the government for nuclear waste storage. But the DOE wants to keep collecting its annual fees because, as the agency telllingly admits to Automated Trader, "they'll eventually develop a long-term storage solution. And when they do, it's likely to be expensive."
On Tuesday, March 1st, the environmental coalition resisting the Davis-Besse atomic reactor's 20 year license extension defended its contentions before a Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety (sic) Licensing Board at the Ottawa County Common Pleas Court in Port Clinton, Ohio near the nuclear power plant. Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps defended the coalition's contention that FirstEnergy had severely underestimated the costs and casualties that would result from a severe accident and catastrophic radioactivity release at the problem-plagued reactor. Phyllis Oster, a Beyond Nuclear supporter from Bowling Green, Ohio who resisted the reactor's construction in the first place four decades ago, has provided standing to Beyond Nuclear to take part in this proceeding. Toledo attorney Terry Lodge, on behalf of Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, defended the coalition's wind and solar photovoltaics alternatives to the 20 year license extension. Green Party co-chair Anita Rios, a lifelong Toledo resident, testified about her concerns for her family living downwind of Davis-Besse. The court room was packed with concerned citizens, as reported by the local newspaper. The Toledo Blade also covered the hearing, as did Toledo's NBC affiliate. The coalition's media release also helped generate coverage by a number of area National Public Radio affiliates, including Michigan Radio-Ann Arbor, WDET in Detroit, and Kent State NPR in Ohio.
The upcoming 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster is a brutal reminder of the dangers of nuclear power, proliferation and terrorism, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev said on Tuesday. "The true scope of the tragedy still remains beyond comprehension and is a shocking reminder of the reality of the nuclear threat," Gorbachev said in an essay published by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a watchdog organisation on nuclear security. Nuclear Power Daily
Old Dominion Electric Cooperative has pulled out of plans to share in the construction of a third reactor at the current North Anna site in Louisa, Virginia. According to news reports, leadership at Old Dominion felt that "participating in this proposed nuclear project does not fit with our long-term plans." Old Dominion owns an 11.6 percent interest in, and shares the power generated by, North Anna's existing Units 1 and 2. This is not the first bump in the road for Dominion Power. It has already balked at the capital costs, predicting these would slow progress on the project. And the company has already rejected one design from GE Hitachi - a boiling water reactor - switching to a pressurized water reactor design by Mitsubishi last May.
Tom Henry at the Toledo Blade has given advance coverage of tomorrow's Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Board oral argument pre-hearing in Port Clinton, Ohio, near Davis-Besse atomic reactor. Beyond Nuclear, along with allies Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio, have submitted four contentions against First Energy Nuclear Operating Company's proposed 20 year license extension: (1) wind as an alternative; (2) solar photovoltaics as an alternative; (3) wind and solar combined as an alternative; and (4) severe underestimation of the casualties and costs that would result from a catastrophic radioactivity release. On February 18, 2011, the ASLB ruled in favor of FirstEnergy's motion to strike, and ordered the environmental coalition to "strike" long sections of its "Combined Reply" rebuttal against the utility's and NRC staff's attacks upon its intervention. This included a backgrounder about Davis-Besse's many close calls with disaster over the past 34 years, compiled by Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps. According to various federal government spokespeople, from the NRC to the Department of Justice, Davis-Besse's hole in the head fiasco of 2002 was the worst incident at a U.S. atomic reactor since Three Mile Island Unit 2's 50% core meltdown in 1979.