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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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Wednesday
Mar152017

Toshiba CEO signals Westinghouse Nuclear is worthless, offers option to pay for sale of company

Nuclear power is and always will be really risky business. And to confirm that, the Toshiba–Westinghouse Nuclear crisis is widening and bankruptcy looms large.

Reuters reports Toshiba is “actively considering” a host of desperate financial actions to shore up against the approaching financial tsunami with the writedown of $6.3 billion in losses for nuke projects bogging down deeper and deeper in South Carolina and Georgia. The V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 and Vogtle Units 3 and 4 continue to fall further behind scheduled completion with still out-of-control construction costs. The corporate emergency actions now include paying another nuclear corporation to take on the majority of  share of its 2006 acquisition in Westinghouse Electric and  to financially “rehabilitate” the parent company by selling at least 50% of its holdings in its lucrative micro-memory chip business, NAND.

CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa went public to protect Toshiba from collapse of its Westinghouse Nuclear Division indicating that the “sale” option might actually be Toshiba offering to pay another nuclear corporation to take on a majority share. Korea Electric Power Corporation is being cited as the only likely player.  

In a wave of sell offs, Toshiba management has further announced it is considering the loss of ownership control of its global NAND business in semiconductor flash memory systems for computer servers, mobile devices, car navigation and more. Toshiba has been the leader and innovator in the semiconductor industry since 1984.

Toshiba has repeatedly postponed the announcement of its 3rd Quarter 2016 (April to December) Westinghouse losses. Those results were first due out on February 14, 2017 then pushed off to March 14, 2017. The announcement is now further delayed until April 11, 2017. The current delay is blamed on Toshiba’s failure to obtain an independent audit investigating “inappropriate pressure by certain senior managers” including former Westinghouse executive Danny Roderick who allegedly pressed hard to have  the Summer and Vogtle project losses understated. Additional accounting is also being required of Toshiba’s failing Stone & Webster nuclear construction business for those same projects. CEO Satoshi Tsunakawa's plan to protect Toshiba as parent company by selling off the majority share of its failing Westinghouse Nuclear Division increasingly appears more like offering free tickets to a tar pit party.  

Both the NAND and nuclear power operations are strategically important to Japan. Hence, the Abe government has entered into the negotiations.   

Moveover, back here in the United States, the Toshiba-Westinghouse debacle threatens a financial earthquake under the $8.3 billion federal nuclear loan guarantee that the U.S. Department of Energy put up for the two Westinghouse AP-1000 reactors still under construction at Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear power station. A bankruptcy puts U.S. taxpayers at risk for picking up much if not most of the cost of a default. The Vogtle loss with a Westinghouse bankruptcy could be up to 15 times more taxpayer money than was lost in the Solyndra solar loan guarantee default.

Saturday
Jan282017

Toshiba (aka Westinghouse Electric) abandons new reactor construction business

The nuclear retreat continues as Toshiba Corporation announced on January 27, 2017 that it is abandoning the nuclear power construction business following an acknowledged $6+ billion loss on its Westinghouse Electric nuclear division.

Toshiba stubbornly vows to fight on to finish four Westinghouse AP1000 pressurized water reactors under construction in South Carolina and Georgia as the projects continue to fall further behind schedule under skyrocketing costs. The Westinghouse nuclear construction projects are at the heart of the nuclear divisions' collapse.

Toshiba chairman Shigenori Shiga is expected to resign by February 14, 2017 along with Westinghouse Electric’s chairman Danny Roddrick.

Tuesday
Jan172017

Taiwan approves legislation to terminate nuclear power by 2025

Taiwan's Parliament passed legislation on January 11, 2017 to abandon nuclear power generation and replace it with renewable energy from the sun and wind.  The legislation establishes feed-in tariffs requiring the electric utilities to purchase reliable renewable energy power from private companies. There are currently three nuclear power stations in Taiwan. A controversial fourth nuclear power station for two GE Advanced Boiling Watger Reactors  at Lungmen that have been under construction since 1999 was halted in 2014 and mothballed by nuclear power opponents following the Japan's Fukushima nuclear catastrophe.
Wednesday
Jan112017

Thanks & spanks for Cuomo’s conflicted approach to New York’s nuclear power failure

A landmark deal finalized between NY Governor Andrew Cuomo and Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc. to close the Indian Point nuclear power station by 2020 and 2021 is making tons of headlines for good reason.  The negotiated closure of the aging two-unit nuclear power station just 25 miles from New York City is the light at the end of the tunnel for a potential radiological disaster that could trap millions of people under its cloud. It also brings to closure a marathon of ten-year legal battle costing state taxpayers and ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars in lawyer fees for a controversial federal 20-year relicensing and the even longer ongoing violation of the Clean Water Act where the nukes’ cooling water system has been sucking the life out of the Hudson River and then polluting it with billions of gallons of super-hot water discharge. All good, but on the other hand, Governor Cuomo just orchestrated a scandalous $8 billion bailout for four dangerous and otherwise uneconomic atomic power plants in upstate New York that indentures his constituents to skyrocketing electric rates and sets up a potential Fukushima disaster on the Great Lakes.

On the one hand, shutting down Indian Point units 2 & 3 is long overdue. Unit 1 closed in 1974. Many are not losing sight of “sooner is better.” The phase-out approach provides Entergy with an uncontested 6-year operating license renewal from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and not the 20-year license extension it originally applied for in 2007. Given an energy emergency, the State and Entergy can agree to extend operations in 2-year increments to 2024 and 2025 but not beyond. Indian Point workers get retraining and relocation into other energy facilities in the state. The State will step up its own safety oversight in the interim. Thousands of tons of nuclear waste in high-density storage underwater will get moved to more secure onsite “dry cask” storage.

On the other hand, Governor Cuomo’s atomic shellout faulter for Nine Mile Point 1 & 2, FitzPatrick and Ginna nuclear power stations forces New York residents to pay a staggering increase in electricity rates for aging nuclear power plants otherwise no longer economical to operate.  Given that Governor Cuomo’s main concerns for closing Indian Point justifiably focus on the saving the Hudson River and protecting the safety of the metropolitan residents of New York City, bailing out these four reactors (three being Fukushima-style reactors) for continued operation raises some troubling questions of the State’s unequal protection under the law for its upstate New York residents and the equally precious water resources of the Great Lakes.

At the center of his argument for these particular nuclear power plants cashing in on the state’s “Zero Emission Credit” subsidies, the Governor contends that the closure and replacement of the upstate atomic reactors would mean more fossil fuel emissions that add three million tons of greenhouse gases and a public health cost of $1.4 billion. In fact, Governor Cuomo has to actually ignore the global trend that renewable energy from solar and wind is already outpacing fossil fuels in new generating capacity. Most recently, a November 2016 Stanford University and German Aerospace Center joint study even focused on “Alternative Renewable Energy Scenarios for New York” to replace these very same nuclear power stations with renewable energy. The study examined six scenarios; two nuclear and four renewable energy options. Scenario 1 modeled the subsidization of FitzPatrick, Nine Mile Point and Ginna with Zero Emissions Credits to keep them operating till 2050. Scenario 2 subsidizes the nuclear power stations to operate till 2028 then replacing them with wind and solar. Scenarios 3 through 6 shutdown the nuclear power plants as soon as possible and replace by varying combinations of renewable energy (onshore wind, utility-grade and rooftop solar).  To quote the study’s conclusion, “In sum, in all cases, examined, subsidizing the three upstate nuclear reactors to stay open increases both CO2 and costs relative to the renewable scenarios.” In fact, the study concluded that keeping the nuclear power plants open increases the cost of electricity by billions of dollars and significant greater carbon emissions than switching to a mix of renewable energy.

Indeed, as reported in Crain’s New York Business, if Cuomo was to instead close the upstate reactors as soon as possible right along with Indian Point and replace them with a mix of wind and solar power, he could save New Yorkers $6.5 billion in dirty, dangerous electricity bills over 12 years and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  

While Governor Cuomo deserves much of the credit for successfully negotiating the early closure of Indian Point, he is squandering that political capital at great expense and risk by propping up the rest of New York’s failing nuclear energy industry.

Monday
Jan092017

Entergy to close Indian Point nuclear plant in landmark agreement

See the Riverkeeper/Scenic Hudson/NRDC press release, posted at the Riverkeeper website. A link to the 169-page agreement is included.