New Reactors

The U.S. nuclear industry is trumpeting a comeback - but only if U.S. taxpayers will foot the bill. Beyond Nuclear is watchdogging nuclear industry efforts to embark on new reactor construction which is too expensive, too dangerous and not needed.



NRC approves AP1000 design for new reactors proposed in Georgia and South Carolina

As reported by the New York Times, the five Commissioners of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission today approved the design certification for Toshiba-Westinghouse's so-called "Advanced Passive 1000" (AP1000, which is actually an 1,100 Megawatt-electric reactor) reactor design. This would allow construction of two new reactors at Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia, and two new reactors at Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina, to accelerate. The approval comes despite a major design flaw identified by nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, working on behalf of an environmental coalition opposing new AP1000s proposed across the Southeast. Both the Vogtle and Summer new reactor projects enjoyed ratepayer subsidies in the form of current "Construction Work in Progress" charges on electricity bills, something that is illegal in most states. In addition, the Vogtle project received an $8.3 billion nuclear loan guarantee, announced by President Obama himself in February, 2010. If actually built, this would be the first new reactor order actually constructed in the U.S. since October 1973. All other orders after that point were either cancelled outright, or abandoned midway.


NRC rules new reactor licensing proceedings can continue full steam ahead despite Fukushima

As reported by the Newburyport News, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has decided to proceed "full steam ahead" with the Seabrook license extension proceeding, despite a legal intervention by Beyond Nuclear and environmental allies to suspend the proceeding in the wake of the Fukushima Nuclear Catastrophe.

In addition, Beyond Nuclear at the Fermi 3 new reactor proceeding, and the Davis-Besse license extension proceeding, and environmental allies at many additional old and new reactor proceedings, including new reactor design certification proceedings, have been rebuffed by the NRC Commissioners in a parallel call for license and design certification proceeding suspensions in the wake of Fukushima. At the time of the Three Mile Island meltdown in 1979, the NRC effectively suspended any and all license proceedings for a year and half. Not so this time, in the aftermath of the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan.

General Electric, reactor vendor for the Boiling Water Reactor Mark 1 design -- which overheated, melted down, exploded, and breached containment three times at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan -- has two new reactor designs undergoing design certification, as well as numerous Combined Construction and Operating License Application (COLA) proceedings in the U.S. The new G.E. designs are the so-called Advanced Boiling Water Reactor (ABWR), and the so-called Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR). COLA proceedings are in progress for the ABWR at the South Texas Project, and for the ESBWR at Fermi 3 in Michigan. Beyond Nuclear is an official party to the interventions opposing the ESBWR design certification, as well as the COLA at Fermi 3.


Report out on "proposed new" yet already old zombie reactor at TVA's Bellefonte site in Alabama

It's not right to call it a proposed new reactor, considering it's already 43 years old. On August 10th, 2011, Fairewinds Associates published a report commissioned by Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) regarding the Tennessee Valley Authority's proposal to attempt to resurrect a long abandoned nuclear power plant project at Bellefonte, Alabama. Arnie Gundersen summarizes his report in a video posted on the Fairewinds website. SACE published a media release, which includes a link to the full report by Gundersen.


"Major offshore wind initiatives" viable alternative to risky new atomic reactors

Today, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiled large-scale plans for the rapid development of off-shore wind in the U.S. As stated in their media release: 

"Under the National Offshore Wind Strategy, the Department of Energy is pursuing a scenario that includes deployment of 10 gigawatts of offshore wind generating capacity by 2020 and 54 gigawatts by 2030. Those scenarios include development in both federal and state offshore areas, including along Atlantic, Pacific and Gulf coasts as well as in Great Lakes and Hawaiian waters. Those levels of development would produce enough energy to power 2.8 million and 15.2 million average American homes, respectively."

10,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2020, and 54,000 megawatts by 2030, shows that wind power is a viable alternative to proposed new atomic reactors. Beyond Nuclear, as members of environmental coalitions engaged in proceedings before Nuclear Regulatory Commission Atomic Safety (sic) and Licensing Boards, has made that very argument against the Fermi 3 new reactor proposal in Monroe, Michigan, as well as the Calvert Cliffs 3 new reactor proposal in Lusby, Maryland.


Company accused of fraud over new reactor project

Alternate Energy Holdings is facing fraud allegations stemming from its efforts to raise funds for a $10 billion nuclear power project in Idaho. The Securities and Exchange Commission charged AEH on Devember 16 with fraudulently raising money from investors across the country and Asia to build a $10 billion nuclear power plant. The accusations mark yet another example of the tumbling house of nuclear cards with almost every new reactor project facing financial or legal difficulties.

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