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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
May162013

Lingering death for fast reactor as Monju suspended

"Japan’s nuclear watchdog will indefinitely suspend the use of the Monju prototype fast-breeder reactor over the operator’s disregard for safety that continued even after the Fukushima nuclear crisis raised concerns across the nation," writes Hideki Muroya in the Asahi Shimbun. "The Nuclear Regulation Authority's order will deal a further blow to Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling program, which has long been plagued by technical problems and scandals.

"In the latest case, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, operator of Monju, was found to have skipped inspections of nearly 10,000 pieces of equipment since 2010, including crucial devices in the safety and emergency systems at the plant, based in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture.

"The company also violated its own safety regulations, according to the NRA.

"'Even when the reactor is offline, things stand in such a state,' an NRA official said after an on-site inspection of the reactor in February. “We cannot possibly approve a restart.” Read more. (Picture shows a still from video footage inside Monju during the 1995 sodium fire).

Thursday
May092013

"Worst Week Since Fukushima: 4 Major Setbacks in 3 Days Are Latest Stumbles for U.S. Nuclear Power Industry"

Former NRC Commissioner Peter Bradford, and energy economist Mark Cooper, both of the Vermont Law School, as well as Dan Hirsch of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, held a telephone press conference yesterday on the subject of "WORST WEEK SINCE FUKUSHIMA: 4 MAJOR SETBACKS IN 3 DAYS ARE LATEST STUMBLES FOR U.S. NUCLEAR POWER INDUSTRY." An audio recording of the news conference has been posted online.

The four setbacks in three days include: 1) the cancellation of two proposed new reactors at South Texas Project, because they violate U.S. law against foreign ownership of nuclear power plants; 2) Southern California Edison's threat that if NRC does not allow it to restart operations at its crippled San Onofre nuclear power plant, it will permanently shutdown both reactors there; 3) Duke Energy's cancellation of two proposed new atomic reactors at its Shearon Harris nuclear power plant in North Carolina; and 4) Florida's amendment to its previously highly permissive "advance cost recovery" or "Construction Work in Progress" law, via which ratepayers have been gouged to pay for proposed new reactors, when there is no guarantee the proposed new reactors will ever actually get built or generate electricity.

Peter Bradford also added the May 7th shutdown of Dominion's Kewaunee atomic reactor in WI -- despite the 20 years of operating license still left to it -- as another example of the "worst week since Fukushima" for the U.S. nuclear power industry.

Tuesday
May072013

High noon for nuclear power: Dominion's Kewaunee atomic reactor permanently shut down!

Dominion's Kewaunee atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shoreline of northern WI near Green BayAs reported by Platt's, at 12 PM Noon Central time today, Dominion's Kewaunee atomic reactor was permanently shut down. Last October, Dominion announced its intention to permanently close Kewaunee by mid-2013. Dominion had attempted to sell Kewaunee, but found no buyers. Platt's reports "CMS Energy -- which sold Palisades, its only nuclear station, to Entergy in 2007 -- had considered buying the plant, but decided against it because of low gas prices and investor pushback."

Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Associates, Inc points out that Kewaunee still had an operating license for another 20 years, but Dominion is unable to operate the reactor economically. Gundersen also points out that the 60-year SAFESTOR plan prior to decommissioning means Kewaunee will not be dismantled and cleaned up until about a century after it commenced operations, in 1973.

Duke Energy's announcement in recent weeks regarding the fatally cracked containment at its Crystal River, FL reactor, and today's final SCRAM at Kewaunee, are the first permanent shutdowns of commercial atomic reactors in the U.S. in about 15 years. Kewaunee joins Zion 1 & 2 in IL, and Big Rock Point in MI, on the list of reactors on the Lake Michigan shore permanently shut down. Point Beach 1 & 2 in WI, as well as Cook 1 & 2 and Palisades in MI, are reactors still operating on the Lake Michigan shoreline. Lake Michigan is a headwaters of the Great Lakes, 20% of the world's surface fresh water, and drinking water supply for 8 U.S. states, 2 Canadian provinces, and a large number of Native American First Nations.

Tuesday
Apr302013

Four "new" reactor projects cancelled in Texas and North Carolina

Industry plans for four new reactor projects in Texas and North Carolina have collapsed.

Reports the Dallas News: "Plans to build two new reactors at the South Texas Project nuclear facility outside Bay City hit a road block Tuesday. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled that a partnership between NRG and Toshiba Corp. through the holding company Nuclear Innovation North America violated a U.S law prohibiting foreign control of nuclear power plants." The holding company will appeal. The case appears similar if not identical to the situation at Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland. There, Électricité de France was left as sole owner of a proposed third reactor after U.S. partner, Constellation Energy pulled out, leaving the French utility flying solo in the umbrella corporation they had created, UniStar. Foreign ownership and domination of a US reactor is prohibited under federal law via the Atomic Energy Act. Meanwhile, back at NRC Headquarters, federal officials are making a "fresh assessment" of the foreign ownership prohibition and how it might be modified for a voting paper to be handed over to the Nuclear "Railroad" Commissioners.

In North Carolina, the nuclear retreat continues apace. Duke Energy suspended its application for two new reactor units at its Shearon Harris site in North Carolina. The company said it saw no resource need for two new reactors based on the likely electricity needs of its customers for at least the next 15 years.  Although Duke continues to pursue plans for new reactors at Levy, FL and Gaffney, SC it has no firm commitment to either plant.

Monday
Apr292013

LA City Council tells NRC to put the brakes on San Onofre restart

A unanimous Los Angeles City Council has demanded the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) conduct extended investigations before any restart at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Writes Harvey Wasserman: "On April 23, Los Angeles’ 11 city council members approved a resolution directing the NRC to “make no decision about restarting either San Onofre unit” until it conducts a “prudent, transparent and precautionary” investigation. The city wants “ample opportunity” for public comment and confirmation that “mandated repairs, replacements or other actions” have been completed to guarantee the public safety." There is intense opposition to the re-start of the San Onofre reactors after faulty steam generators were installed at the plant and tubes began to spring leaks. San Onofre 2 and 3 have been shuttered since January 2012. San Onofre 1 is permanently closed.