After withdrawing last Friday its license application for planned reactors 3 and 4 at its Bellefonte, AL site, TVA has now abandoned the two incomplete reactors there, Bellefonte 1 and 2. The Tennessee Valley Authority has announced it will consider "declaring as surplus and entertaining the sale of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant site." Bellefonte 1 and 2 began construction more than 40 years ago until the project was halted in 1988 after squandering $4.6 billion. TVA also holds the record for the longest reactor construction time at Watts Bar 2, which, if the reactor is indeed started this summer, will have taken 43 years from start to finish.
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.
Southern Alliance for Clean Energy reports that plans to build two new reactors in Alabama, at Bellefonte have been abandoned. The decision to ditch two AP1000 "new" reactors comes as nuclear energy becomes an ever less appealing financial option and as renewable energy soars.
The SACE press release reads:
"Dealing yet another blow to the nuclear power industry, today the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) finally announced they were abandoning plans to build two new Toshiba-Westinghouse AP1000 nuclear reactors at their Bellefonte site in Hollywood, Alabama. The utility will file a motion with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Atomic Safety and Licensing Board (ASLB) to withdraw their combined operating license application (COL), which they had originally filed in October 2007."
Perhaps TVA did not fail to notice the ballooning costs at two other reactor construction sites in the South. As the SACE press release pointed out:
"While the costs of solar, wind and energy efficiency have plummeted in recent years, costs for new nuclear reactors have skyrocketed. In the U.S. the four under-construction AP1000 reactors (two at Southern Company’s Plant Vogtle in Georgia and two at SCANA’s V.C. Summer plant in South Carolina) have experienced massive cost overruns and significant construction delays. Both projects are at least 39-months delayed. Recent developments before the Georgia Public Service Commission have led to total estimated project costs increasing from approximately $14 billion in 2009 to nearly $22 billion. Read the full press release.
As reported by Syracuse.com, Entergy Nuclear's top executive in charge of its fleet of merchant nuclear power plants, William Mohl, has admitted that its remaining atomic reactors are under increasing pressure, due to loss of economies of scale:
"We don't have any immediate plans (to change direction) on Indian Point, but you start to have to think about what will you do down the road if you have a single asset in the Northeast,'' he said. "You just have less economies of scale. We're looking at that and what we need to do in that regard.''
Although his context was Entergy's two unit Indian Point nuclear power plant near New York City, in light of Entergy's recent rapid-fire decisions to close FitzPatrick in upstate NY (as early as a year from now, but hopefully sooner), and Pilgrim in MA (in mid-2019, but hopefully sooner), the same logic applies at Entergy's age-degraded, problem-plagued Palisades atomic reactor in MI as well. More.
As reported by WRVO, Entergy has re-affirmed the FitzPatrick atomic reactor's permanent closure, in about a year from now. This, despite NY Governor Cuomo, U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), and local state legislators, striving to keep FitzPatrick operating. State Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski) has even tried to persuade another operator to step in and take over FitzPatrick, such as Exelon, which runs the nearby Nine Mile Point nuclear power plant.
That idea is most ironic, as Chicago-based Exelon has been busy for many months, begging the State of Illinois legislature for a $1.8 billion bailout, to keep five uncompetitive reactors in its home state afloat. Exelon is even attempting to take over Mid-Atlantic utility Pepco, in order to funnel its ratepayers' money -- from D.C., Maryland, and other jurisdictions -- back to its failing IL reactor fleet. More.
The nuclear dominoes continue to fall with the latest announcement coming from embattled Entergy as the company announced it will close its FitzPatrick plant in upstate New York. The closure is slated for late 2016 or early 2017. The plant is the latest victim of the notoriously poor economics that have plagued the nuclear sector for some time. Entergy has already closed its Vermont Yankee reactor and announced it will also shutter its Pilgrim plant near Plymouth, MA.
The announcement that FitzPatrick will close is particularly welcome given the reactor, a GE Mark I boiling water reactor and the same design as those at Fukushima, is the only U.S. plant not to voluntarily install a hardened vent on its notoriously weak containment. This means that if the reactor were to undergo a severe accident the plan would be to vent the radioactive and explosive gases and extremely hot steam into an adjacent building, blowing the doors off at ground level and releasing radioactivity into the atmosphere. While the news of the reactor's impending shutdown is welcome, residents around Oswego and far beyond remain in peril for at least another year or more while the deeply flawed and dangerous reactor continues to operate.