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.



Swan SONGS as Edison opts to permanently close San Onofre

Image by J. DeStafano, 2012Southern California Edison has decided to permanently shutter its Units 2 and 3 San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) reactors in Southern Cal! Congratulations to all who fought so hard for this great victory! Read the Edison press release.

"This is very good news for the people of Southern California," said [a] statement from Friends of the Earth president Erich Pica. "We have long said that these reactors are too dangerous to operate and now Edison has agreed. The people of California now have the opportunity to move away from the failed promise of dirty and dangerous nuclear power and replace it with the safe and clean energy provided by the sun and wind." 

Beyond Nuclear has compiled comprehensive media coverage on, and other reactions to, the San Onofre 2 & 3 closures at its Nuclear Retreat page.


Davis-Besse Intervention Looms Large as San Onofre Units 2 & 3 Terminated Because Of Faulty Steam Generators

Arnie Gundersen, Chief Engineer at Fairewinds Associates, IncOn May 20th, an environmental coalition, including Beyond Nuclear, petitioned to intervene against the steam generator replacement proposed at FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse atomic reactor in Oak Harbor, Ohio. The coalition's intervention petition, expert witness Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc's expert testimony, Gundersen's Curriculum Vitae, and a coalition press release are posted at this link.

Today, the coalition issued a media release, pointing out the similarities between their intervention at Davis-Besse, and the Friends of the Earth (FOE) intervention at San Onofre, CA. Earlier today, Southern California Edison threw in the towel, and announced the permanent shutdown of San Onofre Units 2 & 3, due to the fatal degradation of their replacement steam generators. Gundersen (pictured, above left) serves as FOE's expert witness at San Onofre.


Palisades springs yet another leak into the control room: Failure of moisture barrier violates agreement with NRC 

MI Radio image showing location of chronically leaking SIRWT above Palisades' control roomBeyond Nuclear and Michigan Safe Energy Future--Shoreline Chapter issued a media release on June 6thupon learning of yet another leak into Entergy Nuclear's Palisades atomic reactor control room (see image, left). The leakage has been a recurring problem for over two years now.

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps stated: “When I raised the SIRWT [Safety Injection Refueling Water Tank] leak into the control room at Entergy’s public open house in South Haven on May 14th, and on an NRC [U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission] Webinar May 23rd, I was told by company and agency spokespeople that that issue was a thing of the past, that an installed moisture barrier had taken care of the problem. But as William Faulkner famously said, ‘The past is never dead. It's not even past.’ If Palisades can’t even prevent basic leakage through the ceiling of the control room, which has now been going on for over two years, what does that say about its reactor and radioactive waste safeguards? Entergy’s use of buckets, tarps, and ineffective sealant against this leak into the safety-critical control room begs the question, is it prepared to prevent large-scale radioactivity releases into the environment from a long list of severely age-degraded, critical safety systems, structures, and components?”

The leak, which was detected on June 3rd, was made known to the public in an NRC document released on June 6th.


Resistance grows against so-called "small modular reactors"

The Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE) hosted a Webinar on May 30th focused on concerns regarding so-called "small modular reactors," the nuclear power establishment's latest desperation move to try to gouge ratepayers and/or taxpayers. The giant proposed new reactors (1,100 Megawatts-electric to 1,600 MW-e) haven't worked out too well, so the nuclear power industry and its friends in government have decided to try the opposite extreme of the spectrum.

But as Beyond Nuclear board member Kay Drey of St. Louis points out, at 200 to 300 MW-e, these proposed "small modular reactors" are not all that small. The now permanently shutdown and dismantled Big Rock Point atomic reactor in northern MI, for example, was "just" 70 MW-e, yet still unleashed severe radioactive contamination into its surroundings. As another example, Fukushima Daiichi Unit 1 -- the first atomic reactor to meltdown and explode after the 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami in northeast Japan (and evidence has mounted that the earthquake alone plunged Unit 1 into meltdown mode, even before the tsunami hit an hour later) -- was "only" 480 MW-e, by comparison.

The SACE Webinar featured Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research; Autumn Hanna, Senior Program Director at Taxpayers for Common Sense; Tom Clements, Southeast Nuclear Campaign Coordinator with Friends of the Earth; and Sara Barczak, High Risk Energy Choices Program Director with Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. SACE has posted the audio recording, as well as the slide show, for the presentation.

SMRs would be even more expensive, per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, than super-sized reactors. SMRs would be heavily to entirely subsidized by taxpayers and/or ratepayers. SMRs are being targeted at such places as the badly contaminated, former nuclear weapons production complex at Savannah River Site, South Carolina; however, other locations, such as in Missouri, have also been targeted with SMRs.

SMRs would inevitably involve "break-in phase" dangers, from errors in design and construction, to unforeseen "bugs" in the systems, to operator inexperience. And SMRs would leave unresolved nuclear power's half-century old, "insurmountable risks," from disastrous accident potential, to the unsolved radioactive waste problem, to the many downsides of the uranium fuel chain.

The proposed new reactor targeted at Iowa, just canceled by Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy, was an SMR (see entry immediately below).


Warren Buffett finally sees the light: MidAmerican Energy cancels proposed new "small modular reactor" targeted at Iowa

Des Moines Register graphicAs reported by the Des Moines Register, Warren Buffett's MidAmerican Energy has finally pulled the plug on a proposed new "small modular reactor" it was hoping that the ratepayers of Iowa would pay for, through "Construction Work in Progress" (CWIP) surcharges on their electricity bills. A powerful coalition, including AARP, Green State Solutions, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, and others can claim credit for this environmental victory against nuclear industry greed, after a protracted three year long battle at the Iowa state legislature.