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ARTICLE ARCHIVE

Nuclear Power

Nuclear power cannot address climate change effectively or in time. Reactors have long, unpredictable construction times are expensive - at least $12 billion or higher per reactor. Furthermore, reactors are sitting-duck targets vulnerable to attack and routinely release - as well as leak - radioactivity. There is so solution to the problem of radioactive waste.

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Thursday
Jul152010

Urgent alert: act now to block $25 billion MORE in nuclear loan guarantees on FY2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill!

Call your U.S. Representative as soon as possible via the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Urge them to do all they can to block $25 billion in additional nuclear power loan guarantees scheduled to be voted on by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water tomorrow, Thursday, July 15th at 2pm.

Thanks to everyone who, over the past several weeks, responded to our numerous action alerts and contacted their U.S. Representative to "declare independence from a nuclear industry bailout" by urging opposition to the $9 billion in new nuclear loan guarantees snuck onto the Fiscal Year 2010 emergency supplemental spending bill (a bill primarily intended to provide additional funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as disaster relief). Unfortunately, the House passed the measure late at night on Thursday, July 1st -- ironically, at the 11th hour, as they were rushing to leave town for the 4th of July congressional recess! This happened despite an outcry from national environmental as well as taxpayer groups, and opposition expressed by nine Members of the House -- led by U.S. Representative Donna Edwards (D-MD) -- to the nuclear power industry money grab. This $9 billion represents an "advance" into FY2010 of a part of the $34 billion increase in the nuclear power loan guarantee funding requested by the Obama administration earlier this year. The U.S. Senate has yet to act on the $9 billion "advance" proposal (so call both your U.S. Senators via the Capitol Switchboard and urge that they block it!).

The big stink we raised about that $9 billion "advance" may have led House Appropriations Committee leaders to decide not to include the additional $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees requested by the Obama administration in the FY2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill unveiled in late June. But pro-nuclear power Democrats on the Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee -- namely Chet Edwards (D-TX), Chaka Fatta (D-PA), and Marion Berry (D-AR) -- made a stink of their own, leading to the postponement of the bill's mark up session in late June. A coalition of environmental groups urged House Appropriators at that time to strip the $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees from the bill. (Luminant has proposed building new reactors in Edwards' district; Fattah represents Philadelphia, a hometown to Exelon, the largest nuclear utility in the U.S., which hopes to build new reactors; Berry is from the host state to the "Arkansas Nuclear One" twin reactors, owned by Entergy, the second biggest nuclear utility in the U.S., which hopes to build numerous new reactors in the Southeast).

But now the FY2011 Energy and Water Appropriations bill is back on the front burner, and unfortunately does contain the $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees. The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water is scheduled to meet on Thursday, July 14 at 2pm Eastern time to vote on the FY2011 spending bill, including this major increase in nuclear loan guarantees. A dozen national environmental groups wrote House Appropriations Committee Chairman Dave Obey (D-WI) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) today, urging the $25 billion in nuclear loan guarantees be removed from the bill.

Please call your U.S. Representative right away via the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Urge them to block this pre-emptive bailout to the already heavily subsidized and filthy rich nuclear power industry. If your Member serves on this subcommittee, it is especially vital that you call them. If your Member serves on the full House Appropriations Committee, urge them to weigh in with their colleagues on the subcommittee. And if your Member does not sit on the Appropriations Committee, urge them to protect the American taxpayer by weighing in with their colleagues who do serve on the committee.

You can also track down your House Member's DC fax number to fax in a handwritten letter, or their website to submit a webform or email, via the Library of Congress website. But be sure to act right away!

In February, President Obama himself announced the awarding of $8.3 billion in nuclear loan guarantees for new reactors at the Vogtle nuclear power plant in Georgia. This leaves another $10.2 billion in new reactor loan guarantee funding at the Dept. of Energy, likely poised to be awarded to the new French Areva "Evolutionary Power Reactor" proposed at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland. In addition, in May the Energy Secretary awarded $2 billion in loan guarantees for a new Areva uranium enrichment facility targeted at Idaho. DOE has committed another $2 billion towards a new uranium enrichment facility proposed by U.S. Enrichment Corp. in Portsmouth, Ohio. This initial $22.5 billion in nuclear loan guarantees was originally appropriated at the end of 2007.

The additional $9 billion approved by the House two weeks ago would likely go towards new reactors at the South Texas Project. The added $25 billion now proposed could go towards yet more new reactors targeted at Summer nuclear power plant in South Carolina -- new reactors that Friends of the Earths' South Carolina organizer Tom Clements has helped lead opposition against. None of these new reactor designs have yet received final design certification from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, nor construction and operating licenses. In fact, numerous serious design flaws have been documented with the new reactor proposals, as the price tags continue to skyrocket. The Congressional Budget Office has put the financial risk of a default on loan repayment, leaving taxpayers holding the bag, at over 50%. Just two days ago, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported that the Dept. of Energy loan guarantee program is still flawed, and has inappropriately supported nuclear power over renewables and efficiency. The risks of large-scale radiological releases remain to be seen.

Monday
Jul122010

Is the AP1000 rust prone and at risk of catastrophic radioactivity releases? Arnie Gundersen says yes!

Image compliments of Arnold Gundersen, Fairewinds Associates, Inc.See the story in the New York Times Green blog. And see Arnie's power point on the subject at the Fairewinds Associates, Inc. website. This fatal design flaw on the most "popular" (among nuclear utilities anyway!)new reactor design in the U.S. -- with 14 on order, all targeted at the Southeast -- raises serious safety concerns about the nuclear power relapse, and the tens of billions of dollars of taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantees proposed to pay for it. Also see the April 21, 2010 press conference and related background documents that first raised the red flag on this issue. And see the Oct. 2009 NRC press release admitting another major design flaw with the AP1000, a structurally unsound shield building vulnerable to earthquakes, hurricanes, and tornadoes. If the AP1000 is "the best" new reactor design out there, awarded $8.3 billion in loan guarantees by President Obama last February and in line to potentially recieve a whole lot more, we'd hate to see the runners up!

Thursday
Jun172010

Anti-nuke workshops at U.S. Social Forum in Detroit June 24th

Beyond Nuclear and anti-nuclear allies are holding four workshops at the U.S. Social Forum in Detroit, MI on Thursday, June 24th. The four workshops include: Nukespeak (a Nukes 101 overview); Uranium Mining; Reactors; and Radioactive Waste. Read workshop descriptions here. 10-20,000 people are expected to attend the U.S. Social Forum from June 22 to 26.

Tuesday
Jun152010

Obama's post-Gulf oil catastrophe call for "clean energy" tacit push for taxpayer-backed atomic expansion

Although President Barack Obama did not say the words "nuclear power" in his first ever Oval Office address to the nation on June 15th, his call for an accelerated "transition to clean energy" in response to the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history -- the worsening oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico -- represents a tacit push for the expansion of atomic energy. This would only take place by transferring the financial risks and even direct costs (not to mention the radiological risks) squarely on the backs of taxpayers. Obama said "Last year, the House of Representatives acted on these principles by passing a strong and comprehensive energy and climate bill –- a bill that finally makes clean energy the profitable kind of energy for America’s businesses." He failed to mention that the 2009 Waxman-Markey climate-energy bill would carve out up to 30% of federal "Clean Energy Deployment Administration" funding and support -- loan guarantees, outright loans, and other subsidies -- for new atomic reactors and other nuclear facilities such as uranium enrichment plants. Obama also failed to mention that the Kerry-Lieberman "climate" bill in the Senate -- more of a dirty energy subsidy bill, including, ironically, support for expanded offshore oil drilling -- contains a long list of taxpayer giveaways to the nuclear power industry, as revealed in analyses by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Physicians for Social Responsibility. The Kerry-Lieberman bill would include the $36 billion expansion of the nuclear loan guarantee program funding requested from Congress by Energy Secretary Chu for the Fiscal Year 2011 budget, $9 billion of which the Obama administration is trying to rush onto the Fiscal Year 2010 budget by attaching a rider onto the emergency supplemental war funding and disaster relief bill currently before the U.S. House Appropriations Committee. Also not mentioned in Obama's speech was the Bingaman energy bill, passed by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last summer: its version of the federal "Clean Energy Deployment Administration" is significantly worse than the House version, allowing for unlimited loan guarantees for nuclear power, without congressional oversight -- granting the Department of Energy veritable blank check writing authority for the nuclear relapse. Contact the White House comment line at (202) 456-1111, or fill out its web form at http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact; urge President Obama to stop seeking to expand atomic energy at taxpayer risk and expense.

Saturday
May222010

Vermont Yankee now leaking Sr-90 into soil

Entergy Nuclear has now admitted that the bone-seeking radioisotope Strontium-90 has been discovered in soil near underground leaking pipes at its Vermont Yankee atomic reactor on the bank of the Connecticut River. Several years ago, Sr-90 was also detected leaking from the high-level radioactive waste storage pool at Entergy Nuclear's Indian Point atomic reactors on the bank of the Hudson River in New York State. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates warns that Sr-90, which is highly soluble in water, can concentrate in bones and cause leukemia, and thus is the most hazardous radioisotope yet discovered leaking into the environment at the 38 year old reactor just across the Connecticut River from New Hampshire, and just several miles upstream from Massachusetts. Other leaking elements discovered into the site's groundwater and soil include tritium, cobalt-60, cesium-137, manganese-54 and zinc-65. Raymond Shadis of the New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution is very skeptical that Entergy Nuclear's assurances that all Sr-90 contamination at Vermont Yankee has now been accounted for and cleaned up.