Beyond Nuclear letter to President Obama urges no more nuclear loan guarantees

A Nov. 16 environmental coalition letter to President Obama urges the administration not to expand the nuclear power loan guarantee program in its Fiscal Year 2011 budget request to Congress. Along similar lines, U.S. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the powerful Energy and Environmental Subcommittee in the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee, has urged Energy Secretary Chu to not rush nuclear loan guarantees to flawed new reactor designs.


New Senate bill would expand nuclear energy, advance reprocessing

A bill proposed by U.S. Senators Jim Webb (Democrat from Virginia) and Lamar Alexander (Republican from Tennessee) seeks to double nuclear power in the U.S. over the next 20 years, and relapse further into radioactive waste reprocessing, at taxpayer expense to the tune of $100 billion, not to mention radiological risk. But Environment America expressed immediate opposition, urging resources be directed to cleaner, safer, and cheaper energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity.


Obama administration wrestling with financial risk of new reactors

The high financial risks for U.S. taxpayers of new reactor loan guarantees have led the Office of Management and Budget to take a more cautious approach than the nuclear power proponent, U.S. Department of Energy, ClimateWire reports. Such caution is wise, given the litany of new reactor cancellations, suspensions, skyrocketing cost overruns, and licensing/construction schedule delays, as documented by Physicians for Social Responsiblity in "Nuclear Power: The Renaissance That Wasn't."


"Nuclear Retreat" continues as new reactor designs shown to be unsafe

In the space of just a few weeks, the two leading new nuclear reactor designs currently on the international market have been revealed to have serious safety deficiencies by nuclear safety authorities in four countries. Both the U.S.-Japanese Westinghouse-Toshiba AP-1000 design and the French European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) have been shown to be potentially unsafe. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last month that the AP-1000 containment design was structurally vulnerable to collapse from events like earthquake, tornadoes and severe storm damage. The NRC has already required the AP-1000 design to show it could withstand a major aircraft crash. The EPR, under construction in France and Finland, but also proposed for Britain, the U.S. and elsewhere, was found not to meet safety requirements for reactor control systems by the British, Finnish and French nuclear safety agencies. The U.S. and European agencies have demanded design modifications to both the AP-1000 and EPR reactors before declaring them “safe.” For more, read the Beyond Nuclear press release.


President Obama please take note - the clear case against nuclear

Jonathon Porritt, who chaired the Sustainable Develoment Commission in Britain that argued against nuclear expansion, makes a clear case in The Guardian as to why nuclear will derail meaningful efforts to employ conservation, energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. After making the case for the renewable route, Porritt concludes that making the nuclear choice instead will:

"undoubtedly slow investment in new renewables. It will reassure politicians that they don't have to do the heavy lifting required to put energy efficiency at the heart of any strategy. It will weaken efforts to move towards localised distributed energy solutions (why else do you think the industry and pro-nuclear civil servants fought so hard against feed-in tariffs for so many years?), and it will "lock us in" to today's hugely inefficient generation and transmission system for the next 40 years or so.

"And the tragedy is it won't make much difference anyway – even if the reactors do eventually get built after inevitable delay. If every OECD country follows this route, instead of pursuing the alternative mapped out above, then emissions of greenhouse gases will keep rising at a dangerously fast level, average temperatures will soar, the Greenland ice cap will melt far faster than anticipated – and all those shiny new reactors will be several metres under water. Oh, for a little bit of realism."