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Wednesday
Aug162017

Japan editorial calls for nuclear phaseout

"First and foremost, a phase-out of nuclear power should define the foundation of the country’s new future perspective." That was the bold statement in an editorial in the August 14 Asahi Shimbun. Nuclear has become deeply unpopular in Japan since the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster (pictured.)

The editorial notes the global trend away from nuclear power and the need to conform to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. "A big wave of change is occurring on a global scale. For example, there are moves, mostly in advanced industrialized nations, for pulling the plug on nuclear power. There is also a trend for moving from coal-fired thermal power generation, given that the Paris Agreement has now taken effect for fighting global warming. Renewable energy options, such as wind and solar power, are spreading rapidly."

It further notes: "The forthcoming edition of Japan’s Strategic Energy Plan should no longer define atomic energy as a mainstay source of power. Minimizing dependency on nuclear power should be designated a priority issue instead of being left as a hollow promise." And the article concludes that: "Renewable energy sources have already replaced thermal energy and nuclear energy as the leading destinations of global investments into the electric power sector.

"Japan should quickly switch its energy policy instead of turning its back on the international trend."

Read the full article.

Tuesday
Aug152017

In desperate times, nuclear industry gets desperate

There’s nothing like the scuttling of yet another nuclear pipe dream (this time it’s the two halted V.C. Summer reactors in South Carolina, pictured) to send the nuclear evangelists scurrying to find a last ditch way to stay relevant. SC Senator, Lindsey Graham, who asked with breathtaking naivety “What the hell happened?” when confronted with the failure of Summer, has vowed to revive the project alongside Governor Henry McMaster. Maybe he missed all the obvious warnings from anti-nuclear groups and the numerous financial red flags. Meanwhile, a Columbia, SC man has brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of ratepayers who have been screwed out of more than $1 billion “for a project that may never generate a single kilowatt of electricity.” As light water reactor plans crumble, small modular reactors (SMR) continue to rear their ugly little heads, although they have been nothing more than paper plans for decades. In the UK where new nuclear plans are mired in myriad problems, British government ministers summoned the last surviving nuclear corporations to the table to pitch an SMR plan. And some are even trying to capitalize on the North Korea nuclear weapons alarm to suggest that abandoning nuclear power threatens national security (see our comments after the article.)

Tuesday
Aug152017

Money and time wasted and no new reactor designs to show for it

The majority of pro-nuclear boosters appear finally to have swallowed a dose of reality -- and have ceased clinging to the idea that "new nuclear power plants" and even "new reactor designs" will be the energy answer of the near future. The error- and omission-filled pro-new-nuclear propaganda piece, Pandora's Promise, was out of date almost as soon as it was released. Even its producers and stars have jumped ship and instead now clamor to keep old, economically failing and technically deteriorating nuclear plants going, just to justify a continued existence.

In a telling piece of research -- A retrospective analysis of funding and focus in US advanced fission innovation -- by Abdulla et al, a look was taken at how US spending has affected nuclear power development and new reactor design. Unsurprisingly, the authors noted that: 

"despite spending $2 billion since the late 1990s—no advanced design is ready for deployment. Even if the program had been well designed, it still would have been insufficient to demonstrate even one non-light water technology. It has violated much of the wisdom about the effective execution of innovative programs: annual funding varies fourfold, priorities are ephemeral, incumbent technologies and fuels are prized over innovation, and infrastructure spending consumes half the budget. Absent substantial changes, the possibility of US-designed advanced reactors playing a role in decarbonization by mid-century is low." [emphasis added.]

As the authors also explained in their conclusion: 

"In this paper, we do not seek to present a comprehensive diagnosis of the problems facing nuclear energy innovation in the US. Rather, we have reconstructed NE’s budget history and evaluated how close the office has come to achieving its advanced reactor mission. Our research shows that, as currently structured, NE has neither the funding levels nor the programmatic focus that it needs to deliver on its mission of developing and demonstrating one or two advanced reactor designs by mid-century. This comes despite multiple strategy roadmaps and billions of dollars of appropriations."

The only reasonable conclusion to draw is that enough money and time has already been wasted on a failed technology that has zero role to play in our energy present or future.

Friday
Aug112017

Annual Nagasaki commemoration at Lawrence Livermore focuses on N. Korea

As SF Gate reported: On August 9, 200 protesters gathered outside the gates of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to commemorate the 72nd anniversary of the bomb that decimated Nagasaki, just three days after another atomic blast did the same to Hiroshima. The gathering was heavy with emotion: indignation, outrage and fear over a potential nuclear build-up. The mood was set by verbal threats unleashed by President Trump a day earlier. Speakers included Hiroshima survivor Takashi Tanemori, and Daniel Ellsberg (pictured.)

On Tuesday, Trump said he would unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea, the likes of which “the world has never seen,” if Pyongyang continued to issue threats against the U.S. The president supplemented his public comments with tweets on Wednesday boasting that the U.S. nuclear arsenal “is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before” and that his first order as president was to “renovate and modernize” the weaponry.

It was the last thing the protesters — from elementary-school-age children carrying posters covered in glitter to the senior citizens in wheelchairs holding “raging granny” signs — wanted to hear. 

“We are here to stand with the survivors of that nuclear attack, but we are also here to stop the next nuclear war before it starts,” said Marylia Kelley, executive director of Tri-Valley CAREs, a small advocacy organization formed in 1983 by neighbors living near the Livermore laboratory, one of the nation’s hubs for nuclear weapons research. Read the full article.

Thursday
Aug102017

"Pushing the storage horse with a nuclear waste cart: The spent fuel pool problem" 

A must read in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists by Bob Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC  and renown published nuclear waste expert. Tens of thousands of tons of extremely dangerous highly radioactive nuclear waste is sitting in vulnerable, densely packed storage ponds at atomic reactors across the country. The consequence and cost to life, land and water from a nuclear waste pool failure, sabotage or military action is staggering to comprehend.