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.



"District should reject Exelon-Pepco merger, energy think tank says in report"

Exelon has warned that, without massive ratepayer subsidies, several of its age-degraded atomic reactors in Illinois could face permanet shutdown. But Exelon's intent to gouge ratepayers isn't limited to its home state of IL. It is attempting to takeover a major Mid-Atlantic regional electricity provider, Pepco, and gouge its ratepayers as well.

As reported by the Washington Post, the Cleveland-based Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis has warned the Washington, D.C. Public Utility Commission against approving the Exelon Nuclear/Pepco merger, "in part because Exelon’s business model relies too heavily on an aging group of nuclear power plants."

In a bid to prop up its dirty, dangerous, and uncompetitive fleet of atomic reactors, Exelon would gouge Mid-Atlantic ratepayers on their electricity bills. At the same time, it would likely lobby to undermine progressive renewable power and energy efficiency strides already made in such places as Maryland and D.C.

The article reports:

“Exelon’s shaky financial position gives it an incentive to raise rates, as it has done four times with Baltimore Gas & Electric just since 2012,” Cathy Kunkel, an IEEFA Fellow and the lead author, wrote in an e-mail. “The merger would weaken D.C.’s control over its electric utility and jeopardize progress toward the city’s renewable energy goals.”

Dcist has also reported on this story.


Small modular reactors may never be viable

The latest great white hope of the nuclear power industry could meet a premature end, according to some observers. The Small Modula Reactor (SMR), touted as the next "new" design, is fading fast from view. The SMRs have faced funding challenges and competing energy sources and, because of their small size, have never been considered cost-effective. Boasts about improved safety also remain unproven. In fact, the cost reductions of the SMR could even compromise safety. According to a paper by Beyond Nuclear Advisory Board member, M.V. Ramana and his Princeton college, Zia Mian, the SMR cannot simultaneously address all of the shortcomings of nuclear power -- identified as poor economics, the possibility of catastrophic accidents, radioactive waste production, and linkage to nuclear weapon proliferation.

Scandal already surrounds the potential -- but now unlilkely -- development of the SMR at the Savannah River Site. Long-time anti-nuclear activist, Tom Clements of SRS Watch has exposed the diversion of hundreds of thousands of dollars from an SRS environmental management fund into the SMR program.

The SMR also remains impractical in addressing climate change. Even the lowball estimate by the nuclear industry lobbying arm, Nuclear Energy Institute, poses a daunting picture with a $1 billion per reactor price tag and 10-year lead time on licensing and construction. By then, the climate could be in cardiac arrest and a small reactor will do nothing to save it. More.



Japan to permanently close five more of its remaining 48 “operable” nukes

In the still growing wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear catastrophe, the Japanese nuclear industry has preliminarily announced they will permanently close five more atomic power plants. Now nearly four years after the multi-unit accident, Japan has maintained “zero nuclear” power generation. This most recent decommissioning announcement reduces the number of the country’s operable ---but still not operating---reactors down to 43.  All six units at Fukushima Daiichi have been permanently closed including Units 1 through 4 destroyed in the accident as well as the undamaged Unit 5 and Unit 6 (a GE Mark II). The Abe government is struggling to restart some number of the nation’s atomic reactors amidst broad anti-nuclear public and political opposition.

Two of the newly announced closures are Shimane Unit 1 and Tsuruga Unit 1, both GE Mark I boiling water reactors identical to  Fukushima Daiichi Units 1-5. The other three units, Genkai Unit 1 and Mihama 1 and 2 units, are aging pressurized water reactors. Company officials with Kyushu Electric, Kansai Electric, Chugoku Electric and Japan Atomic Power Company decided to decommission the units rather than comply with now required expensive safety upgrades. The formal decisions are expected to be made  in March 2015.

With the recent closure of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant here in the U.S., Beyond Nuclear continues to campaign for the prompt and permanent closure of the world’s remaining thirty operable GE Mark I and sixteen Mark II reactors.  Twenty-two GE Mark I and eight Mark II units are still operating in the United States.  The remainder of the Mark I units are in Taiwan (2), India (2), Switzerland (1), Spain (1) and Japan (2). An additional two Mark II units are operating in Mexico and six “operable” but shutdown units in Japan.


And fire makes four

The Tihange 3 nuclear reactor in Belgium was shut down on November 30 due to a fire. It is now the fourth Belgian nuclear reactor to be out of service, as another plant at Tihange and two at Doel have been shut down due to defects or security concerns. The Tihange 3 power station, situated 70 kilometres south-west of the German town of Aachen, shut down automatically after one of its transformers reportedly caught fire. The fire, which has since been extinguished, was caused by an explosion. Belgium is planning to phase out its nuclear fleet. The technical, safety and security problems appear to be accelerating the plan. More.


Exelon looking to close uneconomic nuclear reactors

Exelon is considering shutting down at least three of its uneconomic nuclear power plants -- at Clinton, Quad Cities and Byron. Exelon Corp. owns and operates 11 reactors at six nuclear energy facilities in Illinois. Exelon is trying to point the finger at "energy policies that benefit renewable wind energy" but in reality, nuclear -- especially single units -- is becoming steadily more uneconomical and impractical.