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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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Wednesday
Apr302014

Public Citizen: "Exelon-Pepco Merger Requires Additional Federal Consumer Protections; Office of Consumer Advocate at FERC Needed"

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

April 30, 2014

Contact: Tyson Slocum (202) 454-5191
Karilyn Gower (202) 588-7779

"Today’s announcement of a debt-laden acquisition of D.C.-based Potomac Electric Power Co (PEPCO) by Chicago-based Exelon raises concerns about shifting risks from Exelon’s massive unregulated wholesale generation portfolio to Pepco’s captive ratepayers. Stronger federal consumer protections are required, including the establishment of an Office of Consumer Advocate at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). In addition, state and federal regulators must examine whether this transaction exposes ratepayers to too much risk.

As one of the largest operators of unregulated power plants in the regional market (PJM), Exelon is exposed to commodity price volatility risk. It appears as though Exelon is embarking on a strategy to mitigate that risk by expanding its control over captive ratepayers through the acquisition of local distributional utilities. The more captive ratepayers a large wholesale generator like Exelon has, the easier it is for it to find a guaranteed market to pass on higher wholesale costs. Therefore, this deal is all about shifting the operational risk away from Exelon’s shareholders and onto Pepco’s household consumers.

Part of Exelon’s wholesale operational risk stems from its nuclear power fleet. Exelon’s aging nuclear plants have been a drag on its profits, so adding more captive ratepayers through this deal will help Exelon shift its nuclear liability away from shareholders and on to ratepayers.

Exelon already controls captive ratepayers through its 2012 acquisition of Baltimore Gas & Electric, its existing captive ratepayers at Commonwealth Edison, and its acquisition of PECO in Pennsylvania.


With this proposed purchase, Exelon is essentially recreating a giant corporation. While Wall Street investors likely will cheer the risk-shifting away from Exelon’s shareholders and on to D.C. ratepayers, our concerns about the adequacy of consumer protections in the wholesale market require the adoption of additional reforms, including the establishment of an office of consumer advocate at FERC." (emphasis added)

[The year 2000 merger between Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) of Illinois and Philadelphia Electric Company (PECO), the largest and second largest nuclear utilities in the U.S., created the mega-nuclear utility Exelon. In 2011, Exelon merged with Constellation, adding Maryland and Upstate New York atomic reactors to its nuclear fleet.]

Monday
Apr282014

"U.S. expects about 10 pct of nuclear capacity to shut by 2020"

The infamous 2007 age-related degradation cooling tower collapse at Vermont YankeeReuters reports:

"Lower natural gas prices and stagnant growth in electric demand will lead to the loss of 10,800 megawatts of U.S. nuclear generation, or around 10 percent of total capacity, by the end of the decade, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a report issued on Monday.

About 6,000 MW of nuclear capacity will shut by 2020 in addition to six reactors totaling 4,800 MW that have already shut or plan to shut in that time period, the EIA said in its 2014 annual electric output study."

Those closures, or announced closures, include: Kewaunee, WI; Crystal River, FL; San Onofre 2 & 3, CA; and Vermont Yankee (photo, above left). In addition, Canada's Gentilly-2 atomic reactor in Quebec was permanently closed in Dec. 2012.

Monday
Apr282014

"Three Mile Island and Nuclear Hopes and Fears"

The New York Times Retro Report has published a 13 minute video about the Three Mile Island disaster. Unfortunately, it repeats the myth that "no one died at TMI." Beyond Nuclear debunked that falsehood in its recent Thunderbird newsletter, Three Mile Island: The Truth, on the disaster's 35th anniversary. Beyond Nuclear also created a website devoted to TMI Truth.

The Retro Report also handed the microphone to Pandora's propagandist Michael Shollenberger of the Breakthrough Institute. Beyond Nuclear has also debunked the propaganda of Pandora's Promise.

It also presented the supposed potential of thorium power, another false promise Beyond Nuclear and its allies have challenged.

No discussion of "Retro" and nuclear power is complete without a link to NIRS's "Nuke Retro: Salesman from the '70s," created by cartoonist Mark Fiore during the George W. Bush/Dick Cheney push for a "nuclear renaissance" a decade ago.

Friday
Apr252014

"U.S. welcomes Japan's pro-nuclear policy in joint statement"

While President Obama played soccer with a remarkable Japanese humanoid robot yesterday, robotic probes sent into the wrecked reactors at Fukushima Daiichi have quickly ceased functioning due to the high gamma radiation doses destroying their electronic circuitry.Kyodo News reports:

"The United States on Friday welcomed Japan's recently decided new energy policy that supports the use of nuclear power despite the devastating accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in 2011.

In a joint statement released after Japanese and U.S. leaders held a meeting in Tokyo a day earlier, the United States said it "welcomed Japan's new Strategic Energy Plan, which includes global, peaceful and safe use of nuclear energy and acceleration of the introduction of renewable energy."

The remarks are in contrast to the concerns the United States is said to have expressed when the previous government led by the Democratic Party of Japan, now the main opposition party, decided in 2012 on an energy strategy that seeks to phase out nuclear power."

This pro-nuclear U.S.-Japanese policy statement comes on the eve of the 28-year mark of the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe, and 37 months after the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe began. Although Prime Minister In a bid to secure the 2020 Summer Games for Tokyo, Abe assured the International Olympic Committee last year that the Fukushima Daiichi catastrophe was "under control." But his flippant words were contradicted just five days ago by a knowledgable insider, as reported by Reuters in an article entitled "Fukushima No. 1 boss admits plant doesn't have complete control over water problems."

Thursday
Apr242014

Standing in solidarity against dirty energy

The Cowboy and Indian Alliance's arrival into Washington, D.C. on horseback!TransCanada Pipelines, which wants to build the controversial Keystone XL pipeline across multiple U.S. states, for shipping dirty tar sands crude oil for export overseas, is also a major nuclear power utility. It owns a large share of Bruce Power, operator of the largest operating nuclear power plant in the world (the Japanese competition at Kashiwizaki-Kariwa is currently idled) -- Bruce Nuclear Generating Station, on the Lake Huron shoreline of Ontario, 50 miles from Michigan's Thumb.

Among the crazy, dangerous ideas Bruce Nuclear is pushing are: shipping 64 giant, radioactive steam generators, by boat on the Great Lakes, across the Atlantic, to Sweden, for "recycling" into consumer products; and hosting a "Deep Geologic Repository" for all of Ontario's so-called "low" and intermediate level radioactive waste (from 20 reactors), less than a mile from the drinking water supply for 40 million people in 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American/First Nations. TransCanada's Bruce Nuclear didn't get away with the former; but the fight is still on against the latter.

Another crime against health and the planet that Bruce Nuclear engages in is incineration of all of Ontario's "low" level radioactive waste, imported from 20 reactors, with untold radioactive releases into the environment. It's the radioactive ashes leftover that Ontario Power Generation wants to bury along the Lake Huron shore at TransCanada's Bruce Nuclear Generating Station.

TransCanada's Bruce Nuclear is also a shameless opponent to any competition from wind power or solar photo-voltaics.

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps will join with Reject and Protect/Cowboy and Indian Alliance (see photo, above left, showing the Cowboy and Indian Alliance's horseback arrival into D.C. on Earth Day!) opposing TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline on Saturday, April 26th on the National Mall in Washington. Another member of the very broad coalition of environmental allies who will be there is Honor the Earth and its director, Winona "No Nukes" LaDuke.

Kevin's placard will commemorate, on one side, the Enbridge oil pipeline spill into the Kalamazoo River, just upstream from his hometown of Kalamazoo, Michigan in July 2010 (the largest inland oil spill in U.S. history, 1.4 million gallons of Canadian tar sands crude -- see Pulitzer Prize-winning coverage on the "Dilbit Disaster" (diluted bitumin, another name for tar sands crude oil) by Inside Climate News here); on the other side of the placard, it will commemorate the Chernobyl nuclear catastrophe's 28-year mark (April 26, 1986 to April 26, 2014).

Along similar lines, Beyond Nuclear recently stood in solidarity with the Center for Biological Diversity, Public Citizen, more than a dozen other national groups, and scores of grassroots roots to protest the U.S. EPA's decision to allow BP to enter into federal contracts, despite the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster, as well as a very recent Canadian tar sands crude oil spill into Lake Michigan from a notorious BP facility in Whiting, IN.