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.



Facade of energy independence falls off nuclear "renassiance"

The façade of “energy independence” has fallen off the so-called “nuclear renaissance” following findings and a precedent setting ruling of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on applications to build new reactor projects in the United States revealed to be dominated by foreign governments.

On August 30, 2012, a NRC licensing board ruled that because Baltimore, MD-based UniStar Nuclear Corporation is wholly owned (100%) by the French government, it is not eligible for a combined construction permit and operating license for France's Areva design of  the Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) in Lusby, MD.  The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as amended prohibits foreign ownership, control and domination of US nuclear power projects. In December 2010, Baltimore-based Constellation Energy pulled out of its partnership with the French-owned Électricité de France (EDF) because of the high wire financial risks inherent in nuclear power construction. Constellation was later bought out by the US nuclear giant Exelon Corporation who refused to renegotiate the partnership with EDF. The Calvert Cliffs Unit 3 project is the lead project or “reference application” for three other EPR constructions projects that were looking for a rubberstamp in Pennsylvania, New York and Missouri if Maryland got the OK.

The ruling follows an on-going legal intervention led by Nuclear Information and Resource Service representing joint interveners Beyond Nuclear, Public Citizen and Southern Maryland Citizens Alliance for Renewable Energy Systems. The NRC ruling gave UniStar an additional 60 days to come up with a U.S. domestic partner before closing the licensing proceeding. EdF’s front group has failed to find a U.S. partner for the two years since Constellation Energy fled the sinking project.  Over the next several weeks, UniStar will have the opportunity to appeal the board decision to the federal agency’s five member Commission which can overrule or modify the lower board’s ruling.

The EPR project (aka “European Problem Reactor”) is the reason that EdF cannot find a US corporate partner. The only two EPR projects under construction in Olkiluoto, Finland and Flamenville, France are years behind schedule, billions of Euros over budget and mired in mismanagement,  bad construction,  technical problems and  legal battles.

In December 2011, a NRC staff review of the South Texas Units 3 and 4 new reactor project similarly concluded that Nuclear Innovative North America’s (NINA) combined construction permit and operating license application did not meet the same Foreign Ownership, Control and Domination requirements of the Atomic Energy Act and related NRC law. The NRC staff determined that the Japanese corporation Toshiba owned approximately 85% of the new nuclear project and recommended a suspension of its review of the application. In February 2012, the NRC licensing board in this proceeding found enough wiggle room and dispute to rule in favor of the applicant for further evidentiary hearings on the ownership controversy.   


NRC issues ruling in Calvert Cliffs 3 new reactor application prohibiting foreign ownership: Demise of French nuclear misadventure in US almost complete

The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has ruled that embattled French governmental electric utility, Électricité de France (EDF) is ineligible to receive a Combined Operating License for the construction of the Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR) in Lusby, Maryland. The Order finds the new reactor applicant, UniStar, is a U.S. corporation wholly-owned by the French government.  The NRC had no choice but to recognize the violation of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 which prohibits control of US domestic nuclear power by foreign governments. But in a "second last chance" notice, NRC gave the UniStar and Calvert Cliffs 3 an additional sixty-days to come up with a domestic partner after which the NRC licensing board will close the proceeding.  Beyond Nuclear, which has opposed the third reactor and supports a nuclear phase out, views the decision as simply a delay in the inevitable cancellation of all French reactor plans on US soil.


Exelon cancels Texas nuclear plans and calls new nukes "uneconomical"

A new reactor project in Victoria, TX is dead. Exelon has withdrawn its application for an early site permit for the proposed plant. Exelon stated that construction of new merchant nuclear power plants in competitive markets are "uneconomical now and for the foreseeable futureIn 2008, Exelon announced a plan to develop two new reactors at the Texas site. But industry enthusiasm for new reactor construction has waned dramatically since then.  More.


Nuclear plants must go off line when needed most

Although electricity supply can be essential in an emergency, nuclear power plants can't help. Entergy shut down its Waterford, LA nuclear power plant near New Orleans on Tuesday in advance of Hurricane Isaac making landfall. In fact most nuclear plants are required to shut in advance of the arrival of hurricane-force winds of 74 mph or greater, rendering them a liability, rather than an asset during a natural disaster.


Edison poised to remove fuel from San Onofre reactor

The operator of the San Onofre nuclear power plant is preparing to empty the radioactive fuel from one of its twin reactors, writes the Associated Press. Tons of fuel inside the disabled Unit 3 reactor will be moved into storage in mid-September. The plant located between Los Angeles and San Diego has been shut down since January, after a break in a tube that carries radioactive water. Investigators later found unusual wear on scores of tubes inside the plant’s four steam generators. Removing the fuel comes on the heels of a decision to lay off 730 plant workers by year's end. Edison continues to claim it will repair Unit 2, an increasingly unpopular tact with ratepayers.