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Thursday
Jan142010

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists turns back Doomsday Clock

The board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has turned its Doomsday Clock back by one minute - from five minutes to midnight to six minutes. In a statement today, made during a live, web-cast conference, the board members stated: "We are poised to bend the arc of history toward a world free of nuclear weapons. For the first time since atomic bombs were dropped in 1945, leaders of nuclear weapons states are cooperating to vastly reduce their arsenals and secure all nuclear bomb-making material. And for the first time ever, industrialized and developing countries alike are pledging to limit climate-changing gas emissions that could render our planet nearly uninhabitable". The full statement can be found on the Bulletin's Web site.

Thursday
Jan142010

FPL halts two new reactors targeted at Turkey Point!

In what appears to be a major victory for anti-nuclear efforts in Florida, the state's Public Utility Commission  (PUC) has rejected Florida Power and Light's (FPL) request for a massive electricity rate increase, which would have largely gone to pay for two new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors at its Turkey Point nuclear power plant near Miami. This victory is all the more significant, in that the State of Florida had already empowered its PUC to approve "Construction Work in Progress," charging ratepayers on their bills in advance to build new reactors, many years before any electricity is actually delivered. However, the PUC has decided to refuse such charges.  FPL responded by halting its plans to pursue the two new reactors past the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing phase. Thus, continued anti-nuclear vigilance will be required, as FPL will undoubtedly try again to force its ratepayers to bear the financial burdens and risks of building new reactors, while offering little to none of the projected profits in return. David Kraft of Nuclear Energy Information Service in Chicago asserts that this decision could well set back the nuclear power relapse nation-wide.

Tuesday
Jan122010

'It’s like the inmates are running the jail'

Eartha Jane Melzer's article, "Group urges suspension of license process for new Fermi nuclear plant," in the Michigan Messenger reports on Beyond Nuclear's and environmental coalition allies' efforts to challenge the proposed Fermi 3 reactor in Monroe, MI based on quality assurance violations at Detroit Edison Company, "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) designer General Electric-Hitachi, and the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission itself. Responding to NRC's conclusion that Detroit Edison's "failure to establish a Fermi 3 QA program resulted in inadequate control of procurement documents and ineffective control of contract services performed by [subcontractor] Black and Veatch (B&V)," the environmental coalition's expert witness Arnold Gundersen, a nuclear engineer, concluded "That’s like having the inmates running the prison."

Monday
Jan112010

ESBWR design may soon dwindle to a single proposed new reactor in U.S.

Detroit Edison may be the only nuclear utility in the U.S. to continue standing by the General Electric-Hitachi "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" (ESBWR) design if Dominion Nuclear of Virginia abandons it. Dominion is reported to now be considering a new Areva EPR or Westinghouse-Toshiba AP1000 reactor, instead of an ESBWR at its North Anna nuclear power plant in Virginia. Beyond Nuclear has helped lead the environmental coalition effort to block a new ESBWR targeted at Detroit Edison's Fermi nuclear power plant in Monroe, Michigan -- most recently raising quality assurance contentions regarding the ESBWR design and the Fermi 3 new reactor license application. Dominion's cold shoulder would be an especially bad blow to the ESBWR design, given North Anna is the reference reactor for the design -- meaning it was supposed to set precedents for NRC licensing decisions for ESBWRs proposed across the U.S. However, about a year ago, Entergy and other nuclear utility coalition partners in NuStart decided to abandon the ESBWR proposed at River Bend, LA; Entergy also abandoned an ESBWR proposed at Grand Gulf, MS; and Exelon abandoned two ESBWRs targeted at Victoria County Station, TX. This begs the question -- what doesn't Detroit Edison get that these other nuclear utilities do about the problems with the ESBWR design? DOE also seems to understand the ESBWR's problems -- DOE has indicated it will not grant taxpayer-backed loan guarantees to ESBWR proposals at the present time.

Wednesday
Jan062010

"...why don’t we just nationalize the nuclear industry like the French?"

Roger Witherspoon's "Nuclear Power and the Bottomless Bank: Envisioning a Nuclear Future--Funded by Taxpayer Dollars" in EMagazine spells out the financial and radiological risks being pushed in Congress at the nuclear industry's behest.