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.


"...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.


Electricite de France has 9 reactors off-line as demand spikes during deep freeze

France must resort to importing electricity during a severe cold snap because 9 of its 58 reactors are shut down for various reasons. This calls into question nuclear power industry claims of being a reliable source of baseload electricity, and further shatters the myth that nuclear power in France operates without a hitch. As the Union of Concerned Scientists reported in its 2006 "Walking a Nuclear Tightrope: Unlearned Lessons of Year-plus Reactor Outages," nuclear power's un-reliability has plagued the U.S. time and time again. In a destabilized climate, such atomic outages will only increase as a safety precaution.


Post-mortem on South Texas Project new reactor deal "meltdown"

"Operation:CPS--The mysterious death of a done nuclear deal" by Greg Harmon in the San Antonio CURRENT provides an extensive analysis of the unraveling of the business partnership between the City of San Antonio's municipal utility CPS Energy and NRG Energy/Toshiba. The proposal to build two new Toshiba-Westinghouse "Advanced Boiling Water Reactors" (ABWRs) at the Bay City, Texas site near the Gulf of Mexico suffered a major blow when it was revealed in October that CPS Energy's cost estimate for the project was $4-5 billion too low, something that Dr. Arjun Makhijani and other critics had predicted years earlier, as Harmon reports:

"With CPS on the hook for its 50 percent of the project until a buyer is found or a resolution is negotiated with NRG and NINA, to date there is one clear winner: the opposition — especially the opponents who questioned the project’s cost estimates from the beginning.

In the spring of 2007, NRG had just raised its estimate for the STP expansion from $6 billion to $8 billion to stay in line with Toshiba. But on the steps of City Hall, anti-nuclear forces issued what has turned out to be a prescient warning to the City Council: Costs were likely to cruise at least $4 billion higher— to at least $12 billion and possibly up to $17.5 billion, according to work performed by Arjun Makhijani of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.

“We want [the City Council] to take their time to look at the real numbers … and to get the right information,” said SEED’s Hadden at the time, who added that it would be the ratepayers of San Antonio who would be stuck with the consequences of bad or manipulated math.

A second analysis later suggested the final figure could even top $20 billion. This soothsaying ability allowed members of Energía Mía and Southwest Workers Union to sing a re-tuned “Deck the Halls,” called the “We Told Ya So Jingle,” outside CPS Energy’s downtown offices this past December: Doctor Arjun Makhijani/ Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha/ He predicted costs arising/ Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha/ City Council didn’t listen/ Ha ha, etc./ See Toshiba’s eyes a’glisten/ Ha ha, etc."

Revealing the deep-rooted flaws in the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Loan Guarantee Program for new atomic reactors, DOE had selected the South Texas Project Units 3 and 4 as  a top candidate for receiving taxpayer-backed loan guarantees before the CPS "meltdown" came to light.

Thanks to Eliza Brown, Clean Energy Advocate at the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development (SEED) Coalition in Austin, Texas for calling this article to our attention.


Japanese survivor of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings dies of stomach cancer at age 93

Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who as fate would have it was present and injured in Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945, only to arrive back to his home in Nagasaki to experience the second atomic bombing on August 9th, has passed away. After his ordeal, he devoted his life -- as have many Hibakusha, survivors of the atom bombs -- to sharing his tragic experience with others, in hopes of the abolition of atomic weapons. While Yamaguchi is the only person officially certified by the Japanese government of having survived both atomic bombings, there are others who did as well. To advance the cause of nuclear weapons abolition, please sign yourself, your friends, and family onto the Mayors for Peace "Cities Are Not Targets" (CANT) online petition. Mayors for Peace, initiated by the Cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, has grown to nearly 3,500 cities in 135 countries. If your city has not joined joined, urge your city leaders that it does! Latent cancer deaths among survivors from radiation exposure during the atomic bombings are now grudgingly acknowledged by the atomic establishment, although this was not always the case. As Amy and David Goodman have exposed, William L. Laurence, science writer for the New York Times who was also on the payroll of the U.S. War Department, a propogandist for the Manhattan Project, and rode on the plane that destroyed Nagasaki, won a Pulitzer Prize for his atomic bomb reporting despite intentionally covering up the deadly radiation effects on human health, truth censored by the U.S. military when other journalists attempted to report it.