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Relicensing

The U.S. nuclear reactor fleet is aging but owners are applying to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for license extensions to operate reactors an additional 20 years beyond their licensed lifetimes. Beyond Nuclear is challenging and opposing relicensing efforts.

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Tuesday
Apr222014

Opponents to 20 More Years at Davis-Besse Challenge New Flaws: Renewables Cited as Inevitable Replacement

Toledo attorney Terry Lodge speaks out against a 20-year license extension at the cracked Davis-Besse atomic reactor at Oak Harbor High School, OH in August 2012.On Earth Day, 2014, opponents to 20 more years at Davis-Besse called for the problem-plagued atomic reactor to be shut down by Earth Day, 2017, or preferably earlier, before it melts down and its severely compromised containment releases catastrophic amounts of hazardous radioactivity downwind and downstream into the Great Lakes basin. Davis-Besse's 40-year license expires on April 22, 2017.

Citing renewable sources of electricity, such as wind power and solar photo-voltaics (PV), as ready replacements, a coalition of environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear, filed comments by last night’s midnight deadline on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) regarding FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company’s (FENOC) proposed 20-year license extension.

At the same time, a coalition of official interveners resisting the license extension launched its latest salvo in the three-and-a-half-year-long NRC Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) proceeding. The coalition is represented by Toledo attorney Terry Lodge (photo, left). The filing deadline was also April 21st -- 60 days after a Shield Building wall gap, and rebar damage, were officially reported by NRC.

The coalition issued a press release.

ASLB filing:

MOTION FOR ADMISSION OF CONTENTION NO. 6 ON SHIELD BUILDING CONCRETE VOID, CRACKING AND BROKEN REBAR PROBLEMS

Exhibits: #1, NRC Preliminary Notice of Event or Occurrence (Feb. 19, 2014); #2, Toledo Blade article, “Davis-Besse Had Air Gap in Shield Building,” (Feb. 15, 2014); #3, Declaration of Victoria Clemons (April 14, 2014); #4, Minutes of Internal Meeting of Davis-Besse Oversight Panel (Oct. 18, 2001); #5, Minutes of Internal Meeting of Davis-Besse Oversight Panel (Oct. 29, 2002); #6, NRC Preliminary Notice of Event or Occurrence (Sept. 20, 2013); #7, NRC Request for Additional Information (April 15, 2014); #8, Expert Witness Report of Arnold Gundersen, 50-246-LA (2013).

DEIS comments:

1. Amory Lovins' "Nuclear power’s competitive landscape and climate opportunity cost," March 28, 2014 (TMI+35), Dartmouth College, NH

Amory Lovins on uncompetitiveness of old atomic reactors. At page 5 Lovin’s writes: "Reactors are promoted as costly to build but cheap to run. Yet as Daniel Allegretti ably described, many existing, long-paid-for U.S. reactors are now starting to be shut down because just their operating cost can no longer compete with wholesale power prices, typically depressed by gas-fired plants or windpower."

2. PJM Interconnect: 30% grid integration of renewables not a problem.

In fact, it was well known to PJM (Pennsylvania/Jersey/Maryland) Interconnect, covering 13 states and this nation's largest single electric grid, as published in this 2010 2010 ISO/RTO Metrics Report, posted at the website of the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, that wind power and solar PV are available in abundance and that there is no disruption or destabilizing of "baseload grid" associated with their integration. Replacement power was available in 2010, and is available now, and certainly in 2017.

On Dec. 27, 2010, the environmental coalition -- with University of Toledo professor emeritus Al Compaan as its expert witness -- contended that wind and solar PV, combined with compressed air energy storage, could easily replace Davis-Besse's 908 megawatts of electricity during the 2017-2037 period. In 2011, the ASLB agreed to hear the contention. But on March 27, 2012, the five-member NRC Commission, responding to an appeal by FENOC, unanimously overruled the ASLB, rejecting the renewables-as-alternative-to-license-extension hearing. Interveners reassert their contention and call for the NRC Commissioners' order to be reversed, because they are simply wrong. The coalition reserves the right to appeal the rejection of its renewables contention to federal court, once the ASLB proceeding has concluded.

3. Beyond Nuclear's Radioactive Waste Watchdog, Kevin Kamps, also submitted five comments to NRC: #1, Jan. 10, 2012 SB cracking contention's relevance to DEIS; #2, four 2012 cracking contention supplements' (Feb. 27; June 4; July 16; July 23) relevance to DEIS; #3, fifth cracking contention supplement's (Aug. 16, 2012) relevance to DEIS; #4, Dec., 2010 backgrounder, "Davis-Besse Atomic Reactor: 20 MORE Years of Radioactive Russian Roulette on the Great Lakes Shore?!"; #5, Aug. 2012 SB summary report, "What Humpty Dumpty Doesn't Want You to Know: Davis-Besse's Cracked Concrete Containment Snow Job". 

4. Joe DeMare's comments. Joe is a local resident near Davis-Besse. He is also an official intervener, as part of the environmental coalition, against the license extension. Joe is affiliated with the Ohio Green Party.

Friday
Mar282014

RMI: "Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape and Climate Opportunity Cost"

Amory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, RMITitiaan Palazzi, Special Aid, RMIAmory B. Lovins, Cofounder and Chief Scientist, and Titiaan Palazzi, Special Aid (photos, left), of the Rocky Mountain Institute in Snowmass, CO, presented "Nuclear Power's Competitive Landscape and Climate Opportunity Cost" at "Three Mile Island 35th Anniversary Symposium: The Past, Present, and Future of Nuclear Energy" held at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH, on 28 March 2014.

Lovins and Palazzi report that, when compared to nuclear power: (1) Efficiency and renewables are far cheaper; (2) Renewables can deliver similar or better service and reliability; (3) Renewables can scale faster;  and (4) For climate protection, efficiency and renewables are far more effective solutions than new nuclear build, which indeed is counterproductive.

Lovins and Palazzi's economic critique extends not only to proposed new atomic reactors, but even to existing, age-degraded reactors. They state "Reactors are promoted as costly to build but cheap to run. Yet as Daniel Allegretti ably described, many existing, long-paid-for U.S. reactors are now starting to be shut down because just their operating cost can no longer compete with wholesale power prices, typically depressed by gas-fired plants or windpower."

Lovins and Palazzi conclude that "efficiency is clearly cheaper than average nuclear operating costs, which exceed 4¢/kWh [4 cents per kilowatt-hour] at the busbar and 8¢ delivered. Thus overall, for saving coal plants’ carbon emissions, efficiency is about 10–50x more cost-effective than new nuclear build—or about 2–12x more cost-effective than just operating the average U.S. nuclear plant."

Regarding nuclear power's retreat, Lovins and Palazzi report:

"Nuclear power also has to run ever faster to stay in the same place as its 1970s and 1980s growth turns into a bulge of retirements. After the next few years, retirements will exceed all planned or conceivable global nuclear additions, even with all license extensions as shown here. Power reactors’ terminal decline will be over by about 2060—and in view of both competition and aging, this projection by Mycle Schneider [Mycle Schneider et al., World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2013] is more likely to overstate its longevity than its brevity."
They conclude their presentation by stating "Existing nuclear plants, a future idea whose time has passed, will simply retire; the only choice is how quickly and at what cost to whom. End of story." (emphasis added)
Tuesday
Mar252014

Opponents to 20 more years at Davis-Besse cite radioactive waste dilemma, renewable alternatives

Environmental coalition attorney Terry Lodge of ToledoThe environmental coalition opposing the 20-year license extension sought by FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company (FENOC) at its problem-plagued Davis-Besse atomic reactor on the Lake Erie shore east of Toledo has spoken out at NRC Environmental Impact Statement public comment meetings. The coalition issued a press release, focused on the unsolved dilemma created by Davis-Besse's ongoing generation of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste, as well as the renewables alternative (wind power, solar PV, etc.) to a risky, dubious 20 more years of atomic reactor operations.

The press release quoted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps: “The worsening cracking of Davis-Besse’s concrete containment, the corrosion of its inner steel containment vessel, the risks of its experimental steam generator replacement, and its recently revealed Shield Building wall gap are clear signs that this atomic reactor is overdue for retirement and decommissioning.”

The coalition includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don't Waste Michigan, and the Green Party of Ohio. Terry Lodge of Toledo serves as the coalition's legal counsel.

Monday
Mar032014

"Exelon Nuclear -- Holding Illinois Hostage Yet Again?"

Dave Kraft, Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of ILDavid Kraft, Director of Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) of IL, has published an analysis, "Exelon Nuclear -- Holding Illinois Hostage Yet Again?".

The Chicago business press has recently reported that Exelon has threatened to permanently close as many as five of its atomic reactors, unless the State of IL provides bailouts to keep them afloat. Specifically, those reactors are: two at Byron, two at Quad Cities, and one at Clinton.

Quad Cities Units 1 & 2 are Fukushima Daiichi twins -- GE BWR Mark Is.

NRC rubberstamped their 20-year license extensions years ago. As Dave's analysis mentions, Byron 1 & 2 have now applied for 20-year extensions as well. Despite the license extensions, the future of these reactors' operations is now quite dubious.

Dominion's Kewaunee atomic reactor in WI permanently shutdown a year ago, despite having already received a 20-year license extension rubberstamp from NRC.

Thursday
Feb202014

Coalition files Petition to NRC to strengthen reactor license extension rules due to significant new revelations on radioactive waste risks

Environmental coalition attorney Diane CurranA Petition for Rulemaking was filed on Feb. 18th by Washington, D.C.-based attorney, Diane Curran (photo, left), as well as Mindy Goldstein of the Emory U. Turner Environmental Law Clinic, to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The Petition seeks to re-open the License Renewal GEIS (Generic Environmental Impact Statement), in order to consider new and significant information about irradiated nuclear fuel storage impacts that was generated by the NRC Staff during the Expedited Spent Fuel Transfer proceeding, carried out under NRC's Fukushima "Lessons Learned" activities. Curran and Goldstein filed the Petition on behalf of three dozen environmental groups, including Beyond Nuclear.

One of these risks newly recognized by NRC Staff is the contribution of high-level radioactive waste storage pool risks to reactor catastrophes, and vice versa.

The filing urges that no reactor license extensions be approved by NRC until the Petition for Rulemaking has been integrated into NRC's safety regulations.

The coalition has issued a press release.