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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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Thursday
May042017

UAE won't start up new reactors for now

Four nuclear power plants being built in the United Arab Emirates by South Korea firm KEPCO are on hold. The delay is due to the fact that the local operating company is "not ready to run the reactors," according to Reuters. The first of the four reactors was due to be completed this month. More

Thursday
May042017

Westinghouse fallout: now UK Toshiba nuclear project on hold

A plan to build a nuclear power station in Cumbria has been put on hold while the company behind it carries out a strategic review, reports the BBC.

NuGen, which is overseeing the planned Moorside plant, was initially co-owned by French firm Engie and Toshiba. Three AP 1000 reactors were planned for the site.

Last month the Japanese technology giant announced it was taking 100% control and that has led to NuGen announcing the pause.

The £10m scheme, near Sellafield, has been dogged by uncertainty as it was rumoured Toshiba would withdraw from all nuclear operations outside Japan due to multibillion-dollar losses. More

Friday
Apr282017

Environmental groups win big against South Africa nuclear plants

Secret plans to build new nuclear reactors in South Africa that were never subjected to an open, transparent and public process, have been quashed by a judge in Cape Town in a major victory for anti-nuclear and environmental groups there. David Fig, a leading academic and advocate against nuclear energy, wrote this analysis for The Conversation. The opening paragraphs are below. Read the full article here.

On 26 April 2017, coincidentally the 31stanniversary of the Chernobyl disaster, the Cape High Court presented its judgement on the case brought by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities’ Environmental Institute. The two NGOs were challenging the way in which the state has determined that we should be purchasing 9600 megawatts of extra nuclear power. The judge, Lee Bozalek, used terms like ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘illegal’ to refer to the state’s behaviour and declared invalid the steps taken by the state. 

What has been deemed illegal are the state’s determinations that the nuclear build go ahead, its handing over of the procurement process to Eskom, the regulator NERSA’s automatic endorsement of the state’s plans, and the secretive agreement with Russia and two others with the US and South Korea on nuclear co-operation. Eskom’s request for information from nuclear vendors, a step taken to prepare the procurement, which ends on 28 April, is also invalid. 

Government will have to start again on all these procedures if it is serious about going ahead with the nuclear build. To do so legally, it will have to open up the process to detailed public scrutiny. The regulator will have to have a series of public hearings before the country can endorse its historically highest ever spend on infrastructure estimated at well over R1 trillion. The international agreements will have to be brought before the scrutiny of parliament.  Continued.

Thursday
Apr062017

Westinghouse bankruptcy sparks “negative outlook” for U.S. nuclear construction projects, threatens U.S. taxpayers with $8.3 billion default

Toshiba’s decision to declare bankruptcy for its Westinghouse Electric nuclear power manufacturer continues to send shock waves to global economies at home and abroad. Both Moody's and Standard & Poor’s financial services have downgraded Westinghouse Electric’s partner Santee Cooper and a joint construction project for the completion of V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 to a “negative” outlook.  Also known as South Carolina Public Service Authority, the power company is a 45% owner along with SCANA for the construction of the two unit Westinghouse AP-1000 power reactor project which is sinking deeper into cost overruns and farther behind scheduled completion.  Additionally, given that the bankruptcy is legally termed as an “event of default,”  the U.S. taxpayer at increased risk to absorb an $8.3 billion federal loan guarantee from the Department of Energy for the dubious completion of two more Westinghouse AP-1000 units construction in Georgia at Vogtle Units 3 and 4.

Bloomberg reports that the Trump Administration is concerned by the global security issues raised by China’s interest in buying out Westinghouse Electric from Toshiba and is considering directly blocking the sale, encourage an American buyer or an alternative  non-Chinese “friendly” bidder or where the U.S. government itself invests in a bailout much like President Obama did for the U.S. automotive industry. China is already revealed behind nuclear espionage for Westinghouse Electric trade secrets to manufacture its own reactor designs.  The financial collapse of Westinghouse is figured to be part of the scheduled talks between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Thursday
Mar302017

Nuclear Fool's Day?! Good and bad news after Westinghouse bankruptcy announcement

The bankruptcy announcement of the nuclear manufacturer of roughly half of the world’s nuclear reactors, Westinghouse Electric Company, sent a reverberating but much anticipated shockwave throughout the entire global industry. The bankruptcy announcement is followed by a blinkered announcement by the United Kingdom’s Office of Nuclear Regulation for  design approval of a Toshiba-Westinghouse AP-1000 pressurized water reactor project in England. NuGeneration Ltd is seeking to wade into the same financial tar pit that is swallowing whole reactor projects in the United States. NuGen wants a construction permit for three AP-1000 units for Moorside, England.

The bankruptcy filing is one more self-inflicted torpedo into the once lauded "nuclear renaissance" revealed as a relapse into the inherent financial failure of nuclear power. More specifically, the fate of four construction projects still stumbling forward in the United States is deeper in question.

As reported by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE), four new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 reactors in the American Southeast were supposed to be commercially operational by April 1, 2017: Vogtle Unit 3 in Georgia, and Summer Unit 2 in South Carolina, were scheduled to come online April 1, 2016; and Vogtle 4 and Summer 3 one year later. However, many billions of dollars of cost overruns, and years-long schedule delays, are the root cause of Japanese giant Toshiba's subsidiary, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Nuclear, declaring bankruptcy on March 29. Now, as stated by the chair of the GA Public Service Commission, "all bets are off," re: completion of all four reactors by the end of 2020, the current, delayed deadline.


As reflected in press statements by watchdog groups like Nuclear Watch South and SCAMA (a play on the name of nuclear utility SCANA), there is hope that the partially constructed reactors will be abandoned, and never operated. The good news is this would avert many decades of risk of catastrophic releases of hazardous radioactivity due to core meltdown(s), not to mention "routine" radiation releases; it would also avert the generation of thousands of tons of forever deadly high-level radioactive waste. The bad news is, ratepayers in both GA and SC have already paid through the nose for the partially constructed reactors. After nine rate hikes, nearly 20% of SC electric consumers' bill payments now go towards the Summer nuclear new build. Such advance cost recovery, or Construction Work in Progress (CWIP), "nuclear tax" surcharges are illegal in most states (for example, as decided by popular referendum in Missouri in 1976). In addition, Vogtle 3 & 4 were awarded an $8.3 billion federal taxpayer-backed loan guarantee by the Obama administration. If loan repayments go into default, the U.S. Treasury will lose that entire amount -- 15 times more money than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default. Critics, including Beyond Nuclear, have warned about this economic moral hazard with a radioactive twist since nuclear loan guarantees were first proposed, in Vice President Dick Cheney's Energy Task Force Report in May 2001.