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Wednesday
Oct082014

Hinkley Point C will be the most expensive nuke ever, if completed

It could be described as the precedent for a new age of electricity “robber barons” even though the project is likely never to be completed. The European Commission announced that it has approved United Kingdom public subsidies to  support the French government utility EDF to construct two European Pressurized Reactors at Hinkley Point C in Somerset, England. The initial price tag is now estimated to be £24 billion ($30.6 billion) already up from last year’s estimate of £16 billion. True to atomic power form the latest estimate only marks the figure from which the skyrocketing cost will be launched and likely to become the most expensive nuclear power plant ever built if the project is not abandoned first.   

The anti-nuclear/pro-renewables Austrian government immediately countered that it will sue in the European Court of Justice to reverse the decision. Likewise, Germany's government is also considering taking legal action

International energy analysts are citing the new figures to be enough to finance the deploymet of 7 Gigawatts of new offshore wind farms as compared to the 3.3 Gigawatts that France is proposing to build at Hinkley.

The European Commission deal awards EDF with a 35-year power contract for Hinkley Point C electricity as compared to the 15-year contracts that renewable energy projects now receive. The deal further establishes a guaranteed minimum revenue or “strike price” to EDF from indentured UK ratepayers of £92.50 per megawatt hour in what amounts to approximately twice the current wholesale price. By the end of the 35-year contract in 2058 there is no reliable measure of how much nuclear power will cost.

During a subsequent paralimentary debate in Germany following the decision,  Environmental Minister Barbara Hendricks declared that the European Commission's decision was "utterly wrong." She observed that  nuclear power is clearly not competitive compared to renewable energy "or else, prices wouldn't need fixing for 30 years."

Wednesday
Oct082014

Look what the nuclear industry copy cats dragged in

As referenced on our Just the Facts page, a series of articles using in some cases identical, and often near-identical, message points have appeared in publications across the country. Clearly pulled from a nuclear industry handout, we're calling them out. In the meantime, we took a look at the authors' phraseology. Here are some examples:

1. Reprocessing as "recycling."

"France uses recycling to obtain 80% of its electricity from nuclear power". Paul Steinmeyer, The Day, September 14, and The Hartford Courant, September 16.

"France uses recycling to obtain 80% of its electricity from nuclear power." William B. Reed, Montgomery Advertiser (September 13) and Huntsville Times (September 18.)

"France successfully recycles its used fuel to produce 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power." Ivan Maldonado, The Tennessean, September 21.

"France recycles used fuel from its 54 nuclear plants to obtain 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power." Howard Shaffer, Concord Monitor, September 24.

"Today France – which obtains 75 percent of its electricity from nuclear power. . . " Henry B. Spitz, Cincinnati Enquirer, September 25.

"Nearly 75 percent of France’s electricity is produced from used nuclear fuel that has been recycled." Barry Butterfield, Lincoln Journal Star, September 27.

"France today generates 80 percent of its electricity needs with nuclear power, much of it generated through recycling." William F. Shugart II, Forbes magazine, October 1.

2. "Used fuel" is "valuable," not "waste."

"Used fuel should not be confused with nuclear waste. It contains tens of billions of dollars worth of valuable plutonium and uranium." Steinmeyer.

"Still referred to as waste, used fuel contains valuable nuclear materials."  Reed.

"Often mistakenly referred to as nuclear waste, used fuel contains valuable nuclear materials." Maldonado.

"Recycling is a way to re-use the valuable resources in used nuclear fuel to produce more nuclear-generated electricity." Spitz.

“Those countries realized that spent fuel is a valuable asset, not simply waste.” Shugart.

3. No link between reprocessing and nuclear weapons production.

“No country has ever developed the capability to produce nuclear weapons from the recycling of used nuclear fuel.” Shaffer.

“The fact is, no nuclear materials have ever been diverted from recycling for weapons production.” Reed.

“The reality is that no nuclear materials ever have been obtained from the spent fuel of a nuclear power plant.” Shugart.

Wednesday
Oct082014

The fantasy of a better nuclear mousetrap: uranium metal fuel

An article in the MIT Technology Review, asserted that a new, improved reactor fuel (pictured) might be able to off-set the obvious expense of nuclear energy which is also too slow to address climate change. The author's lead -- "slowing climate change will most likely require a vast expansion of carbon-free nuclear power" -- caught our attention. Read the  Beyond Nuclear response. We drew upon our Advisory Board, and particularly upon input from Dr. M.V. Ramana of Princeton University, to set the record straight, including the observation that "the fuel proposed by the Lightbridge company, and cited in Talbot’s article, has potentially disastrous flaws in that it uses uranium metal (rather than uranium oxide), which could swell and cause fuel failure. There can also be very high temperatures at the center of the fuel."

Tuesday
Oct072014

Coalition asserts Fermi 3 transmission corridor violates NEPA

Atomic reactors and their electrical transmission lines are inextricably interlinked, yet NRC staff has failed to undertake a NEPA review of the proposed new Fermi 3 transmission line corridor's environmental impacts.The environmental coalition intervening against the proposed new Fermi 3 reactor has re-asserted its nearly three-year old challenge, directly to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission's five Commissioners themselves, that the inextricably interlinked transmission line corridor needed to export the electricity to the grid is still in violation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The coalition's Toledo-based attorney, Terry Lodge, filed a Petition for Review with the NRC Commissioners by their ordered deadline. The petition defends not only the contention's merit, but also its separation from the NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) panel's request to the Commissioners for permission to undertake a sua sponte review. More.

Tuesday
Sep302014

Beyond Nuclear on Harvey Wasserman's "Green Power and Wellness" radio show

Harvey Wasserman, author of "Solartopia"Beyond Nuclear's Cindy Folkers and Kevin Kamps, along with David Kraft of Nuclear Energy Information Service in Chicago, appeared on Harvey Wasserman's (photo, left) "Green Power and Wellness" radio program on Sept. 30th, in an hour-long discussion entitled "Nukes v. Global Warming v. Renewable Energy." Listen to the audio recording here.