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The Nuclear Retreat

We coined the term, "Nuclear Retreat" here at Beyond Nuclear to counter the nuclear industry's preposterous "nuclear renaissance" propaganda campaign. You've probably seen "Nuclear Retreat" picked up elsewhere and no wonder - the alleged nuclear revival so far looks more like a lot of running away. On this page we will keep tabs on every latest nuclear retreat as more and more proposed new nuclear programs are canceled.

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Wednesday
Feb072018

More reactor closures for fracturing nuclear industry 

Two of the latest announced casualties from the nuclear power industry's financial meltdown are both dangerous General Electric Mark I boiling water reactors. These reactors are identical to Japan’s three units at Fukushima-Daiichi that exploded into a radioactive catastrophe seven years ago in March 2011. There are now signs that the industry’s organizational structure itself is breaking up as well.

Nuclear energy giant Exelon Generation announced that the Oyster Creek nuclear power station will close in October 2018. Federally licensed until March 2029, Exelon had already cut a deal with the state New Jersey to retire on December 31, 2019 to avoid a state mandated cooling tower retrofit on the reactor's cooling system in order to stop cooking Barnegat Bay. The still earlier October 2018 shutdown is of course welcome but long, long overdue for the world’s first and oldest Fukushima-style reactor   A top Atomic Energy Commission safety inspector had first called for abandoning licensing and construction of all GE reactors in 1972 altogether after identifying a dangerous containment design flaw that ultimately demonstrated a 100% failure rate for the three units that experienced severe accident conditions.

Only days later, NextEra’s Duane Arnold nuclear power plant in Iowa announced it will be closing in 2025 after electricity contract talks found that their largest customer will not be renewing. Still, seven more years of dubiously safe operation is too long given the background story that three senior GE engineers publicly resigned their prestigious positions before Congress in 1975 because the reactor is not “a quality product.”

These recent closure announcements and economic failures are accompanied by an organizational fracturing in the industry itself, namely the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI).  Two large nuclear power companies, NextEra and Entergy, have quit the industry’s chief Washington, DC federal lobby and regulatory troubleshooting organization. NextEra is further suing NEI citing that NEI’s use of membership fees for policies that are “bad for the electricity industry as a whole."

The collapse of nucler power reveals its extreme cost and danger are only more real as the industry heads for the exits to abandon liability.

Wednesday
Jan312018

NY nuke bailout to go on trial as Judge whittles down petitioners

A New York Albany County Supreme Court Judge ruled on January 22, 2018 that five of 61 petitioners will go to trial to challenge the legality of the state’s 2016 Clean Energy Standard which mandated that electricity ratepayers will have to shell out a $7.6 billion over the next 12 years to bailout four aging and uneconomical upstate nuclear power plants. The Clean Energy Standard establishes so-called “Zero Emission Credits” (ZEC) for nuclear power plants despite the fact that the front end of the uranium fuel chain process emits significant amounts of carbon. Supreme Court Justice Roger D. McDonough agreed on procedural grounds with the NY Public Service Commission, NY Attorney General and the nuclear industry to dismiss 56 of the petitioners because they did not file properly within the statute of limitations to oppose the Clean Energy Standard. However, over the objections the State of New York and nuclear industry, Judge McDounough’s ruling allows the five remaining Petitioners (Hudson River Sloop Cleanwater, Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Goshen Green Farms, Nuclear Information and Resource Service and Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy) to go to trial on the cause for action on five of six complaints.  

The groups' amended petition sets forth six complaints to go to trial on the legality of the “zero energy credit” bailout of the four upstate nuclear power stations (Ginna, Nine Mile Point 1 & 2 and FitzPatrick). The amended complaint alleges, 1) the NY Public Service Commission (PSC) failed to follow the requirements of the State Administrative Procedures Act (SAPA); 2) the PSC actions were arbitrary and capricious and an abuse of discretion in declaring the nuclear power plants are “publicly necessary”; 3) the PSC Order contained a mistake of fact and violates SAPA code which requires the use of common language; 4)  the PSC actions are a violation of the State Environmental Quality Review Act; 5) the PSC violated the Public Service Law  by setting rates that are unjust, unreasonable, discriminatory and unduly preferential, and; 6) a specific portion of the PSC imposition of “zero energy credits” is an abuse of discretion and rationality  in accordance to law.

Judge McDonough ruled that the five remaining petitioners had adequately supported their cause for action for complaints 1-3, 5 and 6 and dismissed their compliant 4 for lack of petitioners’ standing.  

Beyond Nuclear was among the 56 petitioners dismissed from the proceeding. 

Thursday
Sep142017

Renewables are leaving nuclear in the dust

The new edition of the World Nuclear Energy Status Report has been released, with some key insights into the dwindling influence of nuclear energy worldwide. You can read and download the full 2017 report here. Here is a summary of findings in the Report about the worldwide status of renewable energy compared to nuclear energy:

Renewables Distance Nuclear

Globally, wind power output grew by 16%, solar by 30%, nuclear by 1.4% in 2016. Wind power increased generation by 132 TWh, solar by 77 TWh, respectively 3.8 times and 2.2 times more than nuclear's 35 TWh. Renewables represented 62% of global power generating capacity additions.

New renewables beat existing nuclear. Renewable energy auctions achieved record low prices at and below US$30/MWh in Chile, Mexico, Morocco, United Arab Emirates, and the United States. Average generating costs of amortized nuclear power plants in the U.S. were US$35.5 in 2015.

The World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2017 (WNISR2017) provides a comprehensive overview of nuclear power plant data, including information on operation, production and construction. The WNISR assesses the status of new-build programs in current nuclear countries as well as in potential newcomer countries.

The WNISR2017 edition includes a new assessment from an equity analyst view of the financial crisis of the nuclear sector and some of its biggest industrial players.

The Fukushima Status Report provides not only an update on onsite and offsite issues six years after the beginning of the catastrophe, but also the latest official and new independent cost evaluations of the disaster.

Focus chapters provide in-depth analysis of France, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Nuclear Power vs. Renewable Energy chapter provides global comparative data on investment, capacity, and generation from nuclear, wind and solar energy.

Finally, Annex 1 presents a country-by-country overview of all other countries operating nuclear power plants.

Wednesday
Sep062017

Amid nuclear setbacks, Virginia utility pauses plans for new reactor

As reported by Southeast Energy News. (Utility Dive has also reported on this news.)

The Southeast Energy News article reports:

“Dominion is clearly realizing its bet on more nuclear in Virginia was a colossal mistake and waste of ratepayer subsidies,” said Mike Tidwell, Executive Director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network [CCAN] and an outspoken opponent of additional reactors in Virginia.

Tidwell's CCAN joined with Beyond Nuclear, NIRS (Nuclear Information and Resource Service), Environment Maryland, Public Citizen, Baltimore-based Crabshell Alliance, and others to block Calvert Cliffs 3 (an Areva of France EPR, Evolutionary Power Reactor or European Pressurized Reactor), the proposed new reactor targeted at the Chesapeake Bay shore in Maryland.

Note that Dominion Nuclear had proposed building a Hitachi-General Electric ESBWR (so-called "Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor" -- Michael Keegan of Coalition for a Nuclear-Free Great Lakes has pointed out  that the supposed economic simplication simply means spending other people's money). The price tag for Dominion's North Anna Unit 3 is a whopping $19 billion.

As the Southeast Energy News article reports:

On one hand, estimates of future electricity demand suggest the possibility of demand growth, albeit not at a pace to justify what would be the most expensive single reactor construction project in the world to date: at least $19 billion. That is almost twice the latest estimates for each of the now canceled reactors in South Carolina [Summer Units 2 & 3; emphasis added].

The article also reports:

...neither GE nor Hitachi has a program underway to foster the size and depth of a supply chain for the pipes, valves, pressure vessels and other parts, along with the engineering skills, needed to complete one of its reactors on time and on budget. The ever-shrinking U.S. nuclear construction supply chain along with an aging workforce pose a significant obstacle to on-time, and on-budget construction, according to industry veterans.

Detroit Edison (DTE) has also proposed building an ESBWR, Fermi Unit 3. Given prevailing union wages in Michigan, Fermi 3 would likely cost more than $19 billion. This would mean that Fermi 3 would overcome North Anna 3, then becoming "the most expensive single reactor construction project in the world to date," to quote the Southeast Energy News article.

And given the lack of a supply chain, North Anna Unit 3 and Fermi 3's price tags would likely just skyrocket further. If Westinghouse has gone bankrupt (and parent company Toshiba of Japan itself is wobbly) trying to build Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000s (Advanced Passive 1,100 megawatt-electric reactors) at Summer 2 & 3 in South Carolina, and Vogtle 3 & 4 in Georgia, what will happen to General Electric and Hitachi?!

Beyond Nuclear has co-led a license intervention and legal intervention against Fermi 3 since 2009. Terry Lodge, legal counsel for Beyond Nuclear et al., will make oral arguments at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals -- the second highest court in the land, just under the U.S. Supreme Court -- on October 12th, culminating nearly a decade of resistance to Fermi 3. (The environmental coalition legally intervening against Fermi 3 includes Beyond Nuclear, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Don't Waste Michigan, and Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. Other groups opposing Fermi 3 include CRAFT and ATHF3 -- Citizens Resistance Against Fermi Two, and Alliance to Halt Fermi 3.)

Friday
Sep012017

Inside the Carolinas nuclear fallout: An expected surge in U.S. nuclear plant construction has hit a dead end with two S.C. projects shelved

As reported by the Charlotte (NC) Business Journal:

A surge in nuclear plant development was going to be the bedrock of Charlotte's quickly growing and innovating hub of energy industry companies. The growth had already faded. But events of the past month have left the nuclear renaissance sputtering to an ill-fated conclusion. [rest of article behind Pay Wall]