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.



Nuclear utilities beg for bailouts to avert reactor shutdowns, Obama administration appears amenable

In a pair of articles, E&E's Hannah Northey reports that nuclear utility giants such as Exelon and Entergy are lobbying hard for changes to electricity marketplace rules that would enable them to keep uncompetitive atomic reactors operating. For its part, the Obama Dept. of Energy appears poised to do all it can to prop up its favorite dirty, dangerous, and expensive energy industry.

Northey quotes an Exelon spokesman as admitting not just Quad Cities (two reactors) and Clinton (one reactor) in IL are at risk of near-term shutdown, but a total of five reactors altogether, although he would not specify the other two.

Northey also quotes an Entergy official, who compares the risk of numerous additional near-term atomic reactor meltdowns to driving off a cliff.


Exelon considers closing two GE BWR Mark Is in IL

As reported by Crain's Chicago Business, Exelon -- the largest nuclear utility in the U.S. -- is considering shuttering its Quad Cities nuclear power plant, because it cannot compete on the wholesale electricity market. Quad Cities consists of two General Electric Mark I Boiling Water Reactors, identical in design to Fukushima Daiichi Units 1 to 4.

At the same time, Exelon is considering permanently closing its single unit Clinton nuclear power plant -- a GE BWR Mark III. A decade ago, Exelon was riding high at Clinton -- recipient of U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) rubber-stamp support for an "Early Site Permit" for a proposed new reactor at the site.

The Chicago Tribune has also reported on this story.


Westinghouse scraps Small “Marketless” Reactors

Westinghouse is scrapping a multi-million dollar and decade long investment in new Small Modular Reactors (SMR).  Company officials admit that there is no market for the foreseeable future for assembly line nukes.

Westinghouse had advertised its 225 MWe Small Modular Reactor (SMR) as simplified, passively safe and secure. Rather than typically build one behemoth power reactor, new individual reactor modules were to be added onto to the same control room and plugged into the turbo-generator-transmission system, shortening construction times and compartmentalizing the financial risk. Eventually, Westinghouse figured out that there are so few customers at the end of such an assembly line that it makes no economic sense to build the factory. Since the Department of Energy has snubbed Westinghouse twice now for federal taxpayer money, Westinghouse wasn’t willing to financially risk their own money.

The announcement comes as no surprise. Forbes reported nearly two years ago that the new mini-nuclear power plants were already priced out of the market. Additionally, with the nuclear industry still in the shadow of an unending Fukushima catastrophe, reactor safety design problems and regulatory failures make mini-nukes a challenge that Westinghouse admits it is not up to.


Indiana Senator drops nuclear incentives bill

From IndyStar: Nuclear power plants won’t be coming to Indiana any time soon, after all. A key state senator has pulled his bill that would have provided financial incentives to utilities to build nuclear plants. Sen. James Merritt, R-Indianapolis confirmed today he won’t hold hearings on his bill this session, and said construction of a nuclear plant is “probably more than a decade away.”

Another attempt at implementing Construction Work In Progress (CWIP) mercifully fails. CWIP fleeces ratepayers in advance, charging them for a nuclear power plant that may never be built. If built, it removes the financial burden of construction from the reactor owners. The upfront construction costs are one of the major deterrents to nuclear expansion and are usually only overcome at ratepayer expense. However, what makes the abandonment of this CWIP bill most interesting is that it was because of lack of interest from utilities who don't want to build uneconomical nuclear plants even if ratepayers front the construction costs.


Victory! Virginia Uranium backs off mine plan for now

Virginia Uranium, the company hoping to mine the Coles Hill site in Virginia, has suspended plans for the project. Despite investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in junkets to France and Canada for Virginia legislators and other lobbying efforts, the company was defeated by a large and diverse mass movement of opposition in the state.  Newly elected VA governor, Terry McAuliffe, has also expressed opposition to the plan which would have required the lifting of a long-standing moratorium against uranium mining in Virginia.

Opponents and critics, and even an analysis conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, raised serious doubts about the environment in Virgnia, both natural and regulatory. Citing its wet climate and recent episodes of violent weather, opponents vigorously opposed the plan. The threat to drinking water, wine country and farm land also provided a compelling reason to stop the project. No regulatory infrastructure exists in Virginia suitable to effectively monitor a project of this kind.

Virginia Uranium has said it will not walk away. However, for the time being, the company's retreat marks a resounding victory for grassroots organizing that brought in diverse allies and stakeholders across the board.