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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
Apr072016

When "FirstEnergy says PUC vote assures Davis-Besse operation for several years," Beyond Nuclear begs to differ

This still images comes from a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission video. The yellow arrow shows a sub-surface crack in Davis-Besse's concrete containment Shield Building wall. The cracking was revealed during an October 2011 reactor lid replacement. The cracking grows by a half-inch, or more, in length, every time it freezes out, due to Ice-Wedging Crack Propagation, due to water locked in the walls by FENOC's 2012 "White Wash" weather sealant of the Shield Building exterior, 40 years too late.In an article entitled "FirstEnergy says PUC vote assures Davis-Besse operation for several years," Nucleonics Week reporter Michael McAuliffe quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps:

A coalition of anti-nuclear and environmental groups including Beyond Nuclear was also critical of the PUC decision.

“PUCO’s $4 billion bailout to FirstEnergy will mostly go towards padding the pockets of company executives and shareholders, not to critically needed repairs of safety systems, structures, and components,” Beyond Nuclear spokesman Kevin Kamps said in a March 31 statement.

[FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company, FENOC, spokesman] Colafella said “there are currently no major capital improvements needed at Davis-Besse.” But the coalition said that among needed plant maintenance is repairing a shield building which has a multitude of cracks. The shield building protects the reactor from impact by external objects.

Kamps questioned whether Davis-Besse will be able to remain in operation for the eight years covered by the plan and said in an April 4 interview that FirstEnergy does not “plan on plowing much of their bailout back into maintenance, and the NRC didn’t require it.” More.

Thursday
Apr072016

Resistance continues against nuke industry mega-money grabs

"Burning money" graphic art by Gene Case, Avenging AngelsFrom FirstEnergy's problem-plagued Davis-Besse in OH, to Dominion's Millstone twin unit power plant in CT, nuclear utilities are seeking many billions of dollars in public subsidies to prop up dirty, dangerously age-degraded, and uncompetitive atomic reactors. Exelon is now the country's largest electric provider, after its hotly disputed takeover of Pepco; it simultaneously plans to gouge Mid-Atlantic ratepayers, while also lobbying the states of IL and NY for multi-billion dollar bailouts. For its part, Entergy -- despite its welcome announcement of FitzPatrick's closure date -- seeks public subsidy even for its cash cow Indian Point, with a likely lawsuit up its sleeve, if it doesn't get what it wants. But ratepayers and environmental groups across the country are uniting to urge elected officials to protect them from the risks of such 21st century nuclear robber barons. More.
Wednesday
Mar302016

"Inviting disaster": Karl Grossman interviewed by RT on aging atomic reactors like Indian Point

Investigative journalist Karl Grossman, a Beyond Nuclear board memberRT has interviewed investigative journalist Karl Grossman (photo left) on the risks of age-degraded nuclear power plants like Indian Point near New York City, where rusted and even missing bolts are but the latest safety scare.

Entergy Nuclear's Indian Point Units 2 and 3 reactors, some 25 miles up the Hudson River from the New York City limits, are both operating on expired operating licenses, compliments of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's lax rules. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is leading the charge for Indian Point's shutdown.

So too is New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office has sued NRC over its false Nuclear Waste Confidence policy. (Beyond Nuclear is an official party in the NY v. NRC II proceeding currently before the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.)

Karl describes the potentially "catastrophic" risks of running reactors not 40 years, but 60 and even 80 years, including with power "uprates" -- operating aged reactors harder and hotter, to make more electricity, to make more money.

Karl points out that the answer is to shut these old nuclear power plants immediately, to eliminate the Chernobyl- and Fukushima-like reactor risks, and to stop the generation of radioactive waste. The electricity can be replaced with renewables like wind and solar, which are here today.

Karl serves as a Beyond Nuclear board member.

Friday
Mar252016

Entergy to permanently shut down FitzPatrick on Jan. 27, 2017

NRC file photo of Entergy's FitzPatrick atomic reactor in upstate NYEntergy Nuclear, in an official regulatory communication with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), has committed to permanently shut down its James A. FitzPatrick atomic reactor in Scriba, NY (six miles northeast of Oswego, NY on the Lake Ontario shoreline, photo at left). The closure date is set at Janurary 27, 2017.

FitzPatrick is a General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactor. Having fired up in 1974, it is the same vintage, and identical in design, to the GE BWR Mark Is that melted down and exploded at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan in March 2011.

Although the reactor risks will cease, by definition, as soon as the last of the irradiated nuclear fuel is removed from the reactor core, the risks will continue in the high-level radioactive waste storage pool, as well as at the dry cask storage installation for irradiated nuclear fuel. Beyond Nuclear, and hundreds of other groups representing all 50 states, have long called for emptying of the vulnerable storage pools, and expedited transfer in Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS) dry casks. (Irradiated fuel must cool for at least five years -- even longer for High-Burnup -- in the storage pool.)

Starting on January 28, 2017, long-term decommissioning challenges to "clean up" (that is, transfer to another location, such as licensed radioactive waste dumps out west) the radioactive contamination of the site and structures will present themselves. Beyond Nuclear has called for the empty pools to be preserved, as an emergency contingency for cask-to-cask transfer operations in the years, and perhaps even decades, of on-site storage ahead.

Sunday
Mar202016

Bradford in BAS: When the unthinkable is deemed impossible: Reflecting on Fukushima

Peter A. Bradford, adjunct professor, Vermont Law School, and former Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner, Maine Public Utility Commission Chairman, and former New York State Public Utility Commission Chair, as well as Union of Concerned Scientists board member, has written a column in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (BAS) that begins:

Nuclear power requires obedience, as well as massive subsidy and the suppression of competition from other forms of low-carbon energy. These are not attractive platform planks in market-oriented democracies, so subterfuge in the service of political clout is also needed.

Abhorrent prerequisites need not lead to political defeat these days. Raise enough money. Scare enough people. Demonize and hamstring enough alternatives. Hornswoggle enough regulators. Procure celebrity endorsements. Rhapsodize new designs transcending today’s shortcomings. Just don’t make fools of your backers, or befoul their living rooms.

That is where Fukushima fits in. A few times in the six-decade history of nuclear power, some event once deemed impossible has taken place—shifting the ground under politicians and investors and forcing the abandonment of plants well along or already built. [More.]