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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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Monday
Jan092017

Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant to Close by 2020-2021

As reported by the New York Times.

However: 

...Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, cautioned that nothing had been finalized.

“There is no agreement — Governor Cuomo has been working on a possible agreement for 15 years and until it’s done, it’s not done,” he said. “Close only counts for horseshoes, not for nuclear plants.”

(As reported by Westchester Magazine, "We should find out the fate of our next-door neighbor soon; Cuomo is scheduled to deliver the third of six regional State of the State speeches in Westchester on Tuesday.")

And the NY Times article added:

The agreement also provides for flexibility if the state cannot find a replacement for Indian Point’s energy: The deadlines in 2020 and 2021 can be pushed to 2024 and 2025 if both the state and Entergy agree.

Even three to four (let alone seven to eight) more years of operations at Indian Point 2 & 3 is very risky. Consider the report, commissioned by Riverkeeper, Inc., and written by Dr. Ed Lyman of UCS on the third anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, entitled "Chernobyl on the Hudson? The Health and Economic Impacts of a Terrorist Attack at the Indian Point Nuclear Plant." Using government computer models, Dr. Lyman calculated that "depending on the weather conditions, an attack could result in as many as 44,000 near-term deaths from acute radiation syndrome or as many as 518,000 long-term deaths from cancer among individuals within 50 miles of the plant." Dr. Lyman estimated property damages could range from $1 to 2 trillion (yes, with a T!), and that "Millions of people would require permanent relocation." 

Of course, a "mere accident," as due to age-related degradation (there have been a large number of breakdowns at the four decade old reactors), or a natural disaster, could also unleash such a radioactive catastrophe. A U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission report listed Indian Point as the most vulnerable nuclear power plant in the U.S. to an earthquake. Fault lines were discovered very near Indian Point in recent years. 

Also, each year of operations at Indian Point kills a billion fish and other aquatic life in the Hudson River, due to the reactors' once-through cooling system. And annually, around 40 tons of additional high-level radioactive waste is generated there. Indian Point's irradiated nuclear fuel pools have been leaking, into the soil, groundwater, and Hudson River, for years, even decades.

The NY Daily News quoted NY State AG Schneiderman:

“If we can shut down Indian Point under an agreement that enhances public safety and kick-starts investment into safer and more reliable renewable energy sources, that will be a major victory for the millions of New Yorkers who live in the region,” he said.

The Daily News also quoted [f]ormer Westchester Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, a longtime proponent of closing the plant, [who] said: "It's about damn time. The plant isn't safe, it isn't economical and it's falling apart."

More media coverage.

Thursday
Dec082016

Beleaguered Entergy will close Palisades nuclear plant in 2018

The Palisades nuclear power plant in Covert, MI, will close in October 2018, its owner, Entergy, has announced. The notorious reactor has been beset by critical safety issues for decades, long neglected, ignored, or given a pass by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In July, nearly two dozen security workers at Palisades were placed on paid leave after inconsistencies in fire inspection records were found. Despite constant opposition from Beyond Nuclear and others, the NRC has consistently refused to close the plant, even though the Palisades reactor vessel has become brittle after decades of use. More details on this page, and comments from Beyind Nuclear, to come as the news unfolds. Read more.

Monday
Oct242016

Yet another long overdue atomic reactor permanent shutdown: Fort Calhoun, NE switched off for good today!

Floodwaters on the Missouri River in spring and summer of 2011 lapped against safety significant buildings at Fort Calhoun atomic reactor in Nebraska, upstream of the state's largest city, Omaha.As reported by Cole Epley in the Omaha World-Herald, the Omaha Public Power District's (OPPD) Fort Calhoun atomic reactor permanently shutdown today, four and a half months after the nuclear utility's management proposed it, and the utility's board of directors voted in agreement.

Although OPPD emphasized Fort Calhoun's inability to compete with less expensive sources of electricity (including Nebraska's abundant wind power) as the reason for its decision, Fort Calhoun has also suffered serious safety problems for the past several years.

This included a close call with catastrophe, during historic floods on the adjacent Missouri River in the spring and summer of 2011. (This earned the atomic reactor the nickname "Port" Calhoun, as flood waters lapped against safety related systems, structures, and components! See the photo, above left.) It also included a fire, that smoldered within the plant for days, remarkably without response, also in 2011. The consequent two and half year shutdown cost Nebraskans several hundred million dollars (Fort Calhoun is publicly owned).

As soon as the irradiated fuel is removed from the core, Fort Calhoun can no longer suffer a reactor meltdown, by definition. In addition, no more high-level radioactive waste will be generated. That is the good news. The bad news is that the irradiated nuclear fuel already generated there, since 1974 -- currently stored in the indoor "wet" storage pool, and outdoor dry casks -- must be isolated from the living environment for the next million years.

Wednesday
Sep142016

Old, nonworking nukes for sale

After spending more than 40 years and $5 billion on an unfinished nuclear power plant in northeastern Alabama, the nation's largest federal utility is preparing to sell the property at a fraction of its cost, reports NBC News. 

The Tennessee Valley Authority has set a minimum bid of $36.4 million for its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant and the 1,600 surrounding acres of waterfront property on the Tennessee River. The buyer gets two unfinished nuclear reactors, transmission lines, office and warehouse buildings, eight miles of roads, a 1,000-space parking lot and more. 

Two cooling towers can be seen in the reflection of a pond outside of the Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, in Hollywood, Alabama. Brynn Anderson / AP

Initial bids were due Monday, and at least one company has publicly expressed interest in the site with plans to use it for alternative energy production.  Read more.

Friday
Aug262016

Resources on just economic transitions when atomic reactors permanently shut down

Some resources (in backwards chronological order) on just economic transitions, for atomic reactor workers, municipalities dependent on their tax revenues, low-income households vis-a-vis electricity cost, etc., when atomic reactors permanently shut down:

Joint Proposal, between Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), environmental groups (Friends of the Earth (FOE), Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility, Natural Resources Defense Council), and unions (including International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW), for the closure of the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant at the end of its 40-year operating license in 2024-2025, and its replacement with energy efficiency and renewable sources of electricity, June 21, 2016.
http://www.pge.com/includes/docs/pdfs/safety/dcpp/JointProposal.pdf

Beyond a Band-Aid: A Discussion Paper on Protecting Workers and Communities in the Great Energy Transition, Arjun Makhijani, Ph.D., President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER), Takoma Park, MD, June 10, 2016.
http://ieer.org/wp/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/beyond-a-band-aid-just-energy-transition_2016_LNS-IEER.pdf

[Note that this discussion paper is mostly focused on the phaseout of fossil fuel industries in Maryland. However, nuclear power is touched upon. Even though it is Maryland- and fossil fuels focused, the concepts can and should be applied to atomic reactor shutdowns nationwide.]

April 23, 2016. NIRS and AGREE submit extensive comments to New York PSC that show how NY can meet its 2030 carbon emissions goals without nuclear (and thus without nuclear subsidies).

October 22, 2015. NIRS/AGREE analysis finds FitzPatrick reactor can be replaced with clean & renewable energy at a lower cost. Press release; full analysis

THE NEED TO FORMALLY ESTABLISH A PLANNED ECONOMIC MITIGATION FUND FOR REACTOR COMMUNITIES IN ILLINOIS, David Kraft, Director, Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS), Chicago, IL, May 7, 2015.
http://neis.org/wp-content/uploads/THE-NEED-TO-FORMALLY-ESTABLISH-A-PLANNED-ECONOMIC-MITIGATION-FUND-5-5-15.pdf

In addition, there must be some great resources coming out of Germany. After all, the fourth largest economy in the world is phasing out both nuclear power (completely, by 2022), and is decreasing greenhouse gas emissions by 85% (as compared to 2005 levels) by mid-century, through the expansion of renewables like wind and solar, as well as maximized energy efficiency. An Oct. 15, 2015 National Geographic article entitled "The Will to Change," in an issue entitled "Cool It" about the climate, appropriately gave much of the credit for the German energy transformation to the anti-nuclear movement.