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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
Sep072017

Beyond Nuclear to co-present alongside Nukewatch & NIRS at MREA's inaugural MN renewable energy festival!

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, alongside John LaForge of Nukewatch and Diane D'Arrigo of NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service), will conduct a workshop entitled "Nuclear Power Realities and Climate Chaos" at the Midwest Renewable Energy Association's first ever Minnesota festival, "Clean Energy + Sustainable Living".

Here is the workshop description:

This workshop will discuss what it takes to site, approve, construct, and license new reactors, a time-consuming process which robs resources from conservation and efficiency efforts. Investing in nuclear power hinders the deployment of clean, renewable, safe energy systems required to confront climate disruption.

This year's workshop comes as South Texas Project nuclear power plant in Bay City, TX just dodged a radioactive bullet from Hurricane Harvey, and as Hurricane Irma bears down on the Turkey Point and/or St. Lucie nuclear power plants on Florida's Atlantic Coast.

John and Kevin have held down the anti-nucler power fort at the MREA's annual Custer, WI festival, for the past couple-three decades. Their workshops there are, by default, entitled "Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer," no matter what the question -- an homage to Dr. Helen Caldicott, Beyond Nuclear's founding president, who was a keynote speaker at the MREA festival in WI in 2007.

In 2014, NIRS executive director, Tim Judson, and NEIS (Nuclear Energy Information Service of Chicago) executive director, Dave Kraft, joined John and Kevin in WI, to rebut the nuclear power industry's attempt to "kill the competition" -- the strategy by the nuclear power industry to sabotage renewables and efficiency as unwanted competition.

And as they've done at the WI festival for a quarter-century, Kevin and John will hold down an info. table at this event, as well.

Thursday
Aug242017

Energy Department’s recommendations would bolster coal, nuclear power plants

Thursday
Jul062017

UCS: NRC's contradictory safety decisions

As posted by Dave Lochbaum of UCS (reposted here with permission):

Good Day:

Federal regulations require that nuclear power plants be designed to experience a loss of coolant accident (LOCA, where a pipe connected to the reactor vessel ruptures and drains cooling water) and a loss of offsite power (LOOP, where electricity from the offsite power grid is unavailable) should they occur separately or concurrently. All but one US nuclear power plant has two or more emergency diesel generators (EDGs) to comply with these regulations.

In 2008, the NRC received a petition for rulemaking seeking to decouple LOCA from LOOP. Plants would still have to be capable of mitigating a LOCA and of mitigating a LOOP, but would no longer be required to mitigate the LOCA/LOOP combo, if the petition was granted.

On January 26, 2017, the NRC staff recommended to its Commission that the petition for rulemaking be terminated. The staff cited numerous unanswered safety questions that would have to be resolved before they could justify decoupling LOCA from LOOP. The Commission voted unanimously to terminate the rulemaking.

But 22 days earlier, on January 4, 2017, the NRC staff decoupled LOCA from LOOP in reaching its decision to let Palo Verde Unit 3 operate for up to 62 days with one of two EDGs broken.

UCS's research also uncovered that the NRC sanctioned Palo Verde Unit 3 a decade earlier (February 2007)  for operating for 18 days with one of two EDGs broken. In imposing that sanction, the NRC staff coupled LOCA with LOOP, as federal regulations require.

The NRC's contradictory answers to the same nuclear safety questions are troubling, at least some of the time. UCS wrote a letter to the NRC's Inspector General outlining this checkered past and requesting that his office formally investigate the goings on to see whether different answers to the same questions comply with the agency's regulations, policies, and practices.

A link to the UCS letter and additional background about this matter was posted to our All Things Nuclear blog at http://allthingsnuclear.org/dlochbaum/nuclear-regulatory-commission-contradictory-decisions-undermine-nuclear-safety

Thanks,

Dave Lochbaum

UCS

Monday
Jun192017

Nuclear power on the 'front burner,' says Energy Secretary Rick Perry

As reported by CNBC, Energy Secretary Perry says the Trump administration is ready to expand support for so-called Small Modular Reactors (SMRs), which the Obama administration had already supported to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars of federal taxpayer funding.

Thursday
May042017

Trump reported likely to nominate nuclear industry picks to Commission

The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission was abolished by Congress in 1974 and replaced with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) when the blatant promotion of the atomic power industry undermined its safety oversight.  E&E Daily is reporting that President Donald Trump’s nominations for the two open Commissioner seats on the NRC are likely to be well-known nuclear industry political insiders Annie Caputo and David Wright. Paul Gunter at Beyond Nuclear was quoted in the publication, “‘I don't think the nuclear industry could flaunt its special relationship with the NRC any more brazenly,’ said Gunter. ‘I think the big concern here is that we have seen how the collusion of government regulator and industry can lead to these man-made accidents like we saw at Fukushima. ... It wasn't just a natural disaster, it was the fact that this collusion had walked away from many opportunities to fortify the nuclear industry in Japan.’"

In fact, the Japan National Diet’s own investigative report of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe documents that the nuclear industry’s “regulatory capture” was the root cause of that country's ongoing and still uncontained nuclear disaster.  Similarly, if the United States goal might ever be to really take industry promotion and protectionist politics out of nuclear safety, Caputo and Wright’s nominations must be disqualified for blatant conflict of interest.

It should be worrisome that Annie Caputo worked as the Congressional Affairs executive manager for Exelon Corporation, now the largest nuclear power corporation in the United States, from 1998 to 2005.  She is currently a Republican Majority Senior Policy Advisor for the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee where she has previously served as Majority Senior Policy Advisor for nuclear power proponent Oklahoma Republican Senator Jim Inohofe from 2009 to 2012. She also worked for the 113th Congress as a Senior Policy Advisor for Environment and Commerce Committee where  Majority leader Michigan Republican Congressman Fred Upton successfully led the January 2013 opposition to the NRC technical staff’s strongly worded and unanimously supported recommendation that the agency order the installation of engineered severe accident capable radiation filters on hardened containment vents for thirty-one U.S. Fukushima-style reactors.  In our view, this is one of Congress’ most egregious acts following the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster to promote industry financial interests that are contrary to U.S. public health and safety.  On both Congressional Committees, Ms. Caputo has prominently advocated for what amounts to the protracted political mugging and divisive licensing of a scientifically-unqualified Yucca Mountain high-level nuclear waste repository in Nevada.  

Trump’s other reported nominee to the Commission is David Wright, a retired Commissioner with the South Carolina Public Service Board (2004-2013) and another regulatory champion for nuclear power/waste generation and ramrodding the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository.  In 2011, Mr. Wright was elected President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) which sued to keep the Yucca Mountain project moving forward.  As well as NARUC President, Wright served many roles including as Chairman of NARUC's Subcommittee on Nuclear Issues and Waste Disposal. He has been Co-Chair Yucca Mountain Task Force (2005–2010) and National Chair of Nuclear Waste Strategy Committee (2006-2013).

He is the owner of Wright Directions LLC, a consultant group to the nuclear industry.

But more blatantly, Wright presently serves on the Leadership Council of the atomic industry’s promotion and advocacy group Nuclear Matters established to preserve the operation of economically failing and increasingly safety challenged nuclear power stations in the United States. 

The current three seated NRC commissioners are Republican Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki; independent Commissioner Stephen Burns; and Democratic Commissioner Jeff Baran.

ACTION ITEM: Call your U.S. Senators [ U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202) 224-3121 and/or "Find Your Senators" in the upper left at https://www.senate.gov/ ] and urge them to voice their opposition to the confirmation of Caputo and Wright’s as Commissioners to the NRC.