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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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Tuesday
Jul162013

Former NRC commissioner says illusion of nuclear revival "in ruins"

Former NRC commissioner, Peter Bradford (pictured left),  penned a column which appeared last week in the British daily, The Guardian, showing how the rhetoric and obedience on which the alleged nuclear "renaissance" depended was an illusion that "is all in ruins now.” The only four US reactors under construction are “hopelessly uneconomic,” Bradford wrote. "For various reasons, in many nations the nuclear industry cannot tell the truth about its progress, its promise or its perils. Its backers in government and in academia do no better," he wrote, describing the willingness of the media to lap up the propaganda. Read the full article.

Tuesday
Jul022013

Paducah uranium enrichment facility suffers radioactive contamination incident 4 weeks after permanently shutting down

Paducah (uranium enrichment) Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Photo credit: U.S.E.C./U.S. Department of EnergyDespite being permanently shutdown on June 1st, the Paducah facility experienced a radioactivity contamination accident on June 28th, according to a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) incident report dated July 2nd. The radioactivity contamination accident stemmed from a water leak. Given the mountain of radioactive materials at Paducah, such radioactive contamination risks to the facility, the environment beyond, and the people who live there (some directly across dirt roads from the fence line, in a community already showing signs of significantly elevated cancer incidence and death rates) will continue far into the future, despite the facility's welcome permanent shutdown.

Friday
Jun142013

Wind outcompetes nuclear at Exelon's LaSalle, IL & Limerick, PA reactors

As reported by Hannah Northey at Greenwire, Exelon Nuclear has blamed low wind power prices for its decision to cancel power uprates at its LaSalle, IL and Limerick, PA atomic power plants.

The American Wind Energy Association kicked Exelon out of AWEA for its scapegoating of wind power for its own financial woes, as well as its opposition to an extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind.

Wednesday
Jun122013

Prohibitively expensive cost of safety repairs at age-degraded atomic reactors leads nuclear utilities to simply shut them down

"Burning Money" image by Gene Case, Avenging AngelsBloomberg has reported:

"Edison International (EIX)’s decision to abandon its San Onofre nuclear plant in California is the latest blow for an industry already facing questions about its long-term survival.

Edison, based in Rosemead, California, announced June 7 it will permanently shut the plant’s two reactors, trimming total U.S. operating units to 100 from 104 at the beginning of the year and 110 at the peak in 1996. The announcement brings to four the number of units permanently removed from service this year, the most in any year since the nation embraced nuclear power.

Other facilities are nearing the end of their projected lifespans and may need costly renovations while cheap natural gas has siphoned off market share. Potentially expensive regulations to bolster safety in response to a triple meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant in 2011 have raised the concerns of investors...

The last wave of U.S. plant closures was in the late 1990s, when falling gas prices helped tilt economics in favor of retiring rather than attempting large-scale repairs. Six reactors were closed from 1996 to 1998, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission data, and peaked in 1996 when Haddam Neck in Meriden, Connecticut; Maine Yankee in Wicasset, Maine; and Unit 2 at the Zion plant in Illinois shut...

“The decision to shut down rather than retrofit the San Onofre nuclear plant shows the changing economics of the power market,” Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Chicago-based advocate of cleaner energy, said in a telephone interview. “We suspect other nuclear plant owners may start reaching the same decision.”

In fact, Dominion Nuclear made just such a decision, to permanently shutdown its Kewaunee atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shoreline of Wisconsin last month. 

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on October 22, 2012 that Dominion, referring to its losing battle to remain competitive in a deregulated electricity market, could not afford the needed safety repairs at Kewaunee:

'We looked at all alternatives to keep the unit operating, but we could not make the reductions in the cost without it affecting safety,' [Dominion spokesman Richard] Zuercher said." (emphasis added)

As Howard Learner stated above, such market realities begs the question, which reactors will close next? On Feb. 8th, Entergy's brand new CEO, Leo Denault, when asked why several reactors in his fleet were so financially strapped, admitted in an interveiw with Reuters that:

"...some plants are in the more challenging economic situations for a variety of reasons, including 'the market for both energy and capacity, their size, their contracting positions and the investment required to maintain the safety and integrity of the plants.'(emphasis added)

Wednesday
Jun122013

San Onofre 2 & 3's closure raises doubts about nuclear power's future

Image by J. DeStefano, 2012As reported by Bloomberg, "Edison International (EIX)’s decision to abandon its San Onofre nuclear plant in California is the latest blow for an industry already facing questions about its long-term survival."

The article, entitled "San Onofre Seen as Latest Setback for U.S. Nuclear Power," reports:

“The decision to shut down San Onofre is another sign that the economics of nuclear are under pressure given the low cost of alternative sources,” Travis Miller, a Chicago-based analyst for Morningstar Inc. (MORN), said in a phone interview. “Just five years ago, nuclear power plants looked like a gold mine.”

The article also reported:

“The decision to shut down rather than retrofit the San Onofre nuclear plant shows the changing economics of the power market,” Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, a Chicago-based advocate of cleaner energy, said in a telephone interview. “We suspect other nuclear plant owners may start reaching the same decision.”