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Subsidies

The nuclear industry has been heavily subsidized throughout its 50+-year history in the U.S. It continues to seek the lion's share of federal funding since it cannot otherwise afford to expand.

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Friday
Nov242017

NY Says There's Nothing Unlawful About Nuke Subsidy Plan (but legal challenges continue!)

As reported by Law360's Keith Goldberg:

Law360, New York (November 20, 2017, 6:15 PM EST) -- New York utility regulators told the Second Circuit on Friday that the state's plan to subsidize struggling nuclear power plants is well within its authority to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and that challengers of the plan can't use the Federal Power Act or the Constitution's commerce clause to limit that authority.


A coalition of independent power producers wants the Second Circuit to revive its suit claiming that the zero-emission credits, or ZECs, offered by New York's Public Service Commission for three nuclear plants owned by Exelon Corp....
[The rest of the article is behind a pay wall.] 
Beyond Nuclear has joined with its members and supporters, as well as environmental friends and colleagues, in New York State to challenge the legality of NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo's ZEC (so-called zero emissions credits, as if routine radiation releases from every stage of the uranium fuel chain, as well as the generation of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste, are not emissions!) pro-nuclear scam in court, as well.
Thursday
Oct052017

Powering America: Consumer - Oriented Perspectives on Improving the Nation’s Electricity Markets

Wednesday
Aug022017

How Exelon will keep getting bailout money in Illinois—whether it needs it or not

Tuesday
Jun202017

Beyond Nuclear joins opposition to extending production tax credits for new reactors years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget

"Burning Money" image by Gene Case of Avenging Angels. It was featured on a 2003 Nation magazine cover, accompanying an article by Christian Parenti about the nuclear power relapse.Beyond Nuclear has joined in coalition with a dozen more organizations, sending a letter to U.S. House of Representatives leadership, Re: Opposition to H.R. 1551 – amending tax credit provisions for “advanced” nuclear power.

Learn more about H.R. 1551 here. Please note the U.S. Senate version of this bill is S. 666 -- an appropriate bill number, given its diabolical nature!

H.R. 1551 has already passed the U.S. House -- it must be stopped in the U.S. Senate!

The groups are protesting efforts to reward nuclear utilities, and even reactor vendors and uranium mining companies, for the failures at such new reactor construction sites as Vogtle 3 & 4 in GA, and Summer 2 & 3 in SC. (Please note this update: Summer 2 & 3 in SC were, thankfully, cancelled on July 31, 2017!)

These proposed new reactors are each billions of dollars over budget, and many years behind schedule. And yet, this legislation would extend production tax credits for new nuclear generation, because the half-built reactors are going to miss their deadline for taking advantage of the subsidy. The subsidy was first enacted in 2005 under the Energy Policy Act signed by George W. Bush. Many of these same environmental coalition groups opposed the production tax credits 12 years ago, and opposed numerous other nuclear power subsidies to boot!

Extending the production tax credit could cost U.S. taxpayers many billions of dollars, if the new reactors are ever actually completed, and generate electricity.

Monday
May082017

Beyond Nuclear media statement, re: MPSC public comment mtgs. about Entergy Palisades's closure

News from Beyond Nuclear

For Immediate Release, May 8, 2017

Contact: Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear & Don’t Waste Michigan (Kalamazoo chapter), (240) 462-3216, kevin@beyondnuclear.org 

Media Statement by Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear/Don’t Waste Michigan, re: Michigan Public Service Commission public comment meetings about Entergy Palisades atomic reactor’s closure

[The entirety of this media statement was also read into the official record as a public comment]

(MPSC public comment meetings will take place from 3-5pm, and 6-8pm, Monday, May 8, at the Van Buren Conference Center, 490 S. Paw Paw St., Lawrence, Michigan)

Lawrence, MI—“In spring 2006, Palisades’ previous owner, Consumers Energy, urged the Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) to approve its sale of the atomic reactor to Louisiana-based Entergy Nuclear. Consumers listed several ‘significant future capital expenditures [that were] required,’ including: ‘Reactor vessel head replacement; Steam generator replacement; Reactor vessel embrittlement concerns.’

Consumers executives explained to concerned local residents and environmental group representatives that Entergy Nuclear, a company with a large atomic fleet, experienced nuclear workforce, and economy of scale, could afford to make the repairs that Consumers could not. MPSC, as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), swallowed the bait and switch, hook, line and sinker.

Entergy had no intention of undertaking these major, expensive safety repairs. Each abandoned fix represents a distinct pathway to reactor core meltdown, and potential catastrophic release of hazardous radioactivity into the Great Lakes environment.

The lid (reactor vessel head) replacement is now ten years overdue, even though the 2002 cautionary tale of the Hole-in-the-Head fiasco at Davis-Besse, on Ohio’s Great Lakes shore, was the nearest-miss to a reactor disaster in the U.S. since the Three Mile Island Unit 2 meltdown of 1979.

The steam generators have badly needed replacement, despite previous replacements in 1991, after only 20 years of operations at Palisades – a uniquely bad performance in the U.S. nuclear power industry. Despite degraded steam generator related permanent shutdowns at San Onofre Units 2 and 3 in California, due to major associated safety risks, Entergy has refused to perform the vitally needed job, 11 years after Consumers told MPSC it was needed.

Most infamously, Palisades has the worst neutron radiation-embrittled reactor pressure vessel (RPV) in the U.S. The 46-year old RPV is very vulnerable to pressurized thermal shock (PTS), meaning it could simply fracture through-wall. There would then be no contingency to cool the core, and a meltdown would follow. If the containment then failed, like happened at three Fukushima Daiichi reactors, then large-scale radioactive liquid discharges would flow into groundwater and Lake Michigan, and radioactive gas clouds, and particulate fallout, would contaminate Van Buren, Allegan, Kalamazoo and other counties downwind, depending on which way the wind was blowing.

A coalition of dozens of Michigan environmental groups has warned about the RPV embrittlement risks not for years, but for decades. The concern served as the primary contention against the 2011 to 2031 license extension at Palisades; opponents also raised legal objections to regulatory rollbacks in 2014 to 2015. However, despite decades of documented danger, NRC ultimately rejected all challenges, enabling the dangerously embrittled Palisades reactor to continue operating.

In addition to all the serious safety risks listed above, as documented by Union of Concerned Scientists and others, Palisades also has had a uniquely bad plague of control rod drive mechanism (CRDM) seal failures, and even through-wall leaks of highly radioactive, primary coolant water. This epidemic of CRDM failures has continued from 1972, right up to the present.

Scandalously, the NRC has allowed all these high-risk problems to persist, for years and decades, despite the agency’s mandate to protect public health, safety, and the environment. In the case of RPV embrittlement, NRC simply weakened its safety regulations, in order to enable Palisades to keep operating for years and decades to come, despite the risks. Associated Press investigative reporter Jeff Donn cited PTS regulatory rollback as a top example of NRC collusion with industry, in a June 2011 four-part series.

The Japanese Parliament concluded, a year after the still ongoing Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe began, that the root cause was collusion between the regulatory agency, nuclear industry, and government officials. NRC, Entergy Palisades, and U.S. Representative Fred Upton (Republican-St. Joe, MI, and U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman for many years, until just recently, with direct oversight on nuclear power safety matters) have exhibited just such potentially catastrophic collusion right here in southwest Michigan, to all of our peril.

But the Michigan Public Service Commission has colluded with Consumers Energy and Entergy too, to keep the dangerously age-degraded Palisades atomic reactor operating.

MPSC not only allowed the sale from Consumers to Entergy to proceed, but also sweetened the deal, by approving a scandalous raid on the Palisades decommissioning (facility dismantlement and radioactive contamination cleanup) fund, to the tune of $316 million. A third went to Consumers, a third went to Entergy, and a third went back to ratepayers. But it has severely depleted the fund, likely irreparably.

In a 2005 document, Consumers reported that it would cost $868 million (expressed in year 2003 U.S. dollars) to decommission Palisades, although it was not clear if this referred to decommissioning costs after 40 years of operations (by 2011), or 60 years of operations (by 2031). In a 2006 report, Consumers declared that $597 million (expressed as 2006 dollars) had accumulated in the decommissioning fund. Given this admitted shortfall in the decommissioning fund of at least $271 million, it is shocking that the MPSC approved an additional $316 million raid, worsening the shortfall that much more.

The only recourse now is either to accept a woefully inadequate cleanup, leaving significant, hazardous radioactive contamination behind in the soil, groundwater, Lake Michigan sediments, and food chain, or else gouge ratepayers yet again, to make up for the many hundreds of millions, or even billions of dollars of shortfall. After all, the 67 Megawatt-electric (MW-e) Big Rock Point reactor, Palisades’ sister nuclear plant in Charlevoix, Michigan, cost $366 million to decommission. So how can the 800 MW-e Palisades reactor be decommissioned for a mere $426 million (the figure reported by Entergy as the accumulated total in the decommissioning fund, by the end of February 2017)?

Remarkably, despite MPSC’s scandalous approval in 2007, of the highest Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) executive director Tim Judson had ever seen, Entergy Palisades has still managed to lose money, to not keep its head above water. NIRS’s Judson is a noted watch-dog on nuclear power economics, as well as outspoken opponent of old atomic reactor bailouts at ratepayer expense.

Thus, MPSC has given new meaning to ‘public service’ – serving the public up for dinner, to Consumers and Entergy Nuclear. To begin to correct such disservice to the public, MPSC should terminate the exorbitant Palisades PPA.

The gouging of ratepayers, and the high-risk to residents downwind and downstream, must end. Palisades must be closed, as announced, by October 2018 at the latest, 11 years later than it was supposed to in the first place (Palisades’ initial 40-year operational license extended from 1967 to 2007). Palisades must be shutdown, before it melts down.

A just transition for the workforce and local host communities is a top priority, as is safety, security, environmental and health protection, during post-shutdown decommissioning. So too is the management of the irradiated nuclear fuel (high-level radioactive waste) stored on-site, which is why we have long called for Hardened On-Site Storage (HOSS), as close as possible to the point of generation, as safely as possible.

Regarding replacing Palisades’ electrical output, the carbon-free, nuclear-free approach is the way to go. Energy efficiency is the lowest hanging fruit. Renewable power, such as wind power and solar power, is the way of the future, if we are to have a future. Efficiency and renewables are safe, secure, clean, and affordable, as opposed to dirty, dangerous, and expensive fossil fuels and nuclear power.”

--30—

Kevin Kamps serves as Radioactive Waste Watchdog at Beyond Nuclear. Beyond Nuclear aims to educate and activate the public about the connections between nuclear power and nuclear weapons and the need to abolish both to safeguard our future. Kamps also serves as a board of directors member for Don’t Waste Michigan, representing the Kalamazoo chapter, and as an advisory board member for Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination.