Harvey Wasserman, editor of Nukefree.org and author of Solartopia, has written a blog inspired by the announced closure of the Kewaunee atomic reactor in Wisconsin. He begins by stating 'The US fleet of 104 deteriorating atomic reactors is starting to fall. The much-hyped "nuclear renaissance" is now definitively headed in reverse.'
He points out that Kewaunee may be but the first domino to fall, describing the impact of "low gas prices, declining performance, unsolved technical problems and escalating public resistance" at numerous other old, age-degraded, troubled reactors across the U.S., including San Onofre, CA; Crystal River, FL; Cooper and Fort Calhoun in NE; Vermont Yankee; Indian Point, NY; Oyster Creek, NJ; and Davis-Besse, OH.
But Harvey also points out the momentum applies to new reactors as well, such as at Vogtle, GA and Summer, SC, as well as overseas, in the wake of Fukushima, not only in Japan, but also India, and even Europe, led by Germany's nuclear power phase out.
Harvey writes about the flagship new reactors proposed in the U.S.:
"The two reactors under construction in Georgia, along with two in South Carolina, are all threatened by severe delays, massive cost overruns and faulty construction scandals, including the use of substandard rebar steel and inferior concrete, both of which will be extremely costly to correct.
A high-priced PR campaign has long hyped a "nuclear renaissance." But in the wake of Fukushima, a dicey electricity market, cheap gas and the failure to secure federal loan guarantees in the face of intensifying public opposition, the bottom may soon drop out of both projects.
A proposed French-financed reactor for Maryland has been cancelled thanks to a powerful grassroots campaign. Any other new reactor projects will face public opposition and economic pitfalls at least as powerful."
The Vogtle 3 & 4 reactors (proposed new Toshiba-Westinghouse "Advanced Passive" 1,100 Megawatt-electric (MWe) reactors, or so-called AP-1000s) were offered an $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee by the U.S. Dept. of Energy (DOE), announced by President Obama himself in Feb. 2010. Yet, the deal has never been inked. Apparently, Southern Nuclear is unwilling to pony up a mere few tens of millions of dollars, the secretive, small amount of "skin in the game" Obama's Office of Management and Budget has required in the form of a "credit subsidy fee" before the massive taxpayer-backed nuclear loan guarantee can be finalized.
Similarly, the Calvert Cliffs 3 proposed new French Areva "Evolutionary Power Reactor" (or EPR, a 1,600 MWe design) in Lusby, MD was a lead candidate for a federal nuclear loan guarantee. But Obama's OMB required an 11-12% credit subsidy fee on the $7.5 billion nuclear loan guarantee, amounting to $880 million of "skin in the game." In Oct. 2010, Baltimore-based Constellation Energy indicated it was unwilling to pay that much, and so withdrew its involvement in the project, leaving Electricite de France as the sole partner. But foreign ownership of an American atomic reactor is not permitted by the Atomic Energy Act, so the project appears in its last days, as EDF has failed to find an American partner to replace Constellation.
Another lead candidate for a federal nuclear loan guarantee was the South Texas Project Units 3 & 4, proposed new General Electric-Hitachi ABWRs (so-called "Advanced Boiling Water Reactors," of 1,300 MWe each). However, partners in the proposal included Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), as well as Toshiba, and the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC). TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe, which began on 3/11/11, spelled doom for the South Texas new reactors. The lead U.S. partner, NRG Energy of Princeton, NJ, largely and quickly threw in the towel.
Harvey, a senior advisor to Greenpeace USA and Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), will address "From Fukushima to Fermi-3: Getting to Solartopia Before It's Too Late" in Dearborn, MI on Dec. 7th at the official launch event for the new organization, the Alliance to Halt Fermi-3.