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.



Exelon to close three Illinois nukes in 2017 and 2018: Quad Cities 1 &2 and Clinton

The Chicago-based nuclear giant formally notified the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that it will permanently close its Quad Cities Units 1 & 2 and Clinton nuclear generating stations in Illinois.  The two Fukushima-style reactors at Quad Cities, both GE Mark I boiling water reactors will close in 2018 and Clinton, a GE Mark III boiling water reactor will permanently close in 2017.

The Exelon formal filing to the NRC is just the latest in a trend of reactor closure announcements across the country at Fort Calhoun in Nebraska by the end of 2016, Diablo Canyon Units 1 & 2 by 2025 in California. This latest trend of closure announcements follows on the 2013 shutdowns at Crystal River 3 (Florida), San Onofre 2 & 3 (California), and Kewanee (Wisconsin). Vermont Yankee (Vermont) permanently closed in 2014. Additional closure announces have been submitted to the NRC for Fitzpatrick (NY) in 2017 and the Pilgrim (Massachusetts) and Oyster Creek (New Jersey) nuclear power stations in 2019.  More reactor units, like Pennsylvania’s infamous Three Mile Island nuclear power station, are still pending formal announcements to the NRC.

Nuclear power is rapidly becoming redundant where conventional utility-scale renewable energy generation and efficiency cost less. Nuclear power’s full-on-all-the-time operating mode is recognized as inflexible to these increasing competitive electricity markets. Operating costs and major repairs for an aging and inherently dangerous nuclear technology have simply become unaffordable at many reactors. The added cost of even more safety-related nuclear accident retrofits is one more straw on the industry’s bowed economic back. Add to the steadily rising cost of nuclear power, energy efficiency is not only its cheapest competitor it is the quickest to deploy to customers at residential, commercial and industrial levels. As a result, electricity demand in the United States has continued to drop in five of the past eight years due to advances in energy efficiency technology. 



Diablo Canyon to close rather than extend operating license, sooner is necessarily better 

In a historic agreement announced June 21, 2016 between environmental groups led by Friends of the Earth, labor unions and the California electric utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PGE), the Diablo Canyon nuclear generating station in San Luis Obispo will permanently shutdown in 2025 rather than seek a twenty-year license extension. By the same agreement, the power from the nuclear generator will be replaced with safe, clean, renewable energy generation, advanced electricity storage systems, energy efficiency and conservation.  Diablo Canyon is the latest in a series of reactor closure announcements where the tanking economics of atomic-generated power simply don’t add up. Nuclear corporations are finding it more profitable to shutter reactors than operate them and replace them with increasingly more affordable solar and wind power.  As California's last remaining operating reactor, Diablo Canyon's closure will mean that the seventh largest economy in the world will be nuclear free.  At the same time, the loss of the profit motive coupled with utility reticence to invest in mounting safety and environmental issues make nuclear power even more dangerous. This prompts the call to accelerate the shutdown schedule.

The Diablo Canyon reactors were designed in the 1960s, built in the 1970s and originally only looked at the earthquake siting risks coming from the distant San Andreas fault line 45-miles away and one other “insignificant” fault line. Since then, much greater earthquake risks that threaten the reactors’ safe shutdown have emerged around the two-units location from the nearby Hosgri, San Luis Bay, Los Oso and the Shoreline fault lines that run as close as one mile away.  Just such unanalyzed and unacceptable risks versus the enormity of potentially devastating consequences are being recognized in post-Fukushima Japan as reason enough to shutdown nuclear power stations and legally deny their restart as in the case for the Takahama nuclear power station.  The continued operation of Diablo Canyon amid a minefield of earthquake faults until 2025 places the California region and beyond in the same peril as the earthquake-induced nuclear catastrophe proved at Fukushima, Japan.

The environmental consequences of continued operation of Diablo Canyon add more reason to move up the date for a more prompt closure. The Diablo Canyon’s antiquated once-through reactor cooling system that draws in 2.5 billion gallons of water each day and discharges it super-heated into Diablo Cove is responsible for 80% of the marine environment damage from electric power stations along the California coast.  

For many more reasons, including capping the production of unmanaged high-level nuclear waste that is accumulating onsite and onto future generations, the fight must go on to shutdown Diablo Canyon sooner rather than later.




Ft. Calhoun definitely closing: unanimous vote

The Board of the Omaha Public Power District confirmed the promised closure of its Ft. Calhoun nuclear plant in a unanimous vote today.  Ft. Calhoun will close by the end of the year. OPPD President and Chief Executive, Tim Burke, articulated what is becoming rapidly more apparent industry-wide: the costly nuclear plant cannot compete with cheaper sources of electricity.  These days, that source is rapidly becoming wind power.  "This is simply an economic decision. The economics have been going so fast the other way that we can’t seem to justify this anymore,” said 30-year board member John Green. But the financial headaches are far from over.  Once shuttered, the plant must be decommissioned, a process that it is estimated will take 35 years and cost at least $1 billion.  More


Ft. Calhoun latest nuclear plant to announce closure

The Ft. Calhoun, Nebraska nuclear power plant must close by the end of the year, says Omaha Public Power District’s chief executive, Tim Burke, who says the plant is just too expensive to run.  Ft. Calhoun has been plagued with problems including a fire, and in 2011 was famously surrounded by flood waters from the Missouri River.  Earlier this month, Exelon announced it would close two Illinois nuclear plants -- Quad Cities and Clinton -- if the state failed to prop them up.  The Oyster Creek reactor in New Jersey and the Pilgrim reactor in Massachusetts are both scheduled to close in 2019. Meanwhile the Tennessee Valley Authority has given up on its two planned Bellefonte reactors and is instead putting the incomplete plant up for sale.  TVA spent a reported $5 billion plus on the project but the sale price -- if indeed there are any buyers -- is estimated at $36.4 million. More on Ft. Calhoun. More on Bellefonte.


Xcel mulls early closure for Prairie Island nuclear power plant

Excel Energy is conducting a study that will determine whether or not it keeps its Prairie Island Nuclear Power Plant running or files for early closure.  Citing economic concerns, Excel may close the Red Wing, MN plant earlier than its current 2034 shutdown date.  News reports cited "unexpected increases in costs that could reach $900 million from 2021 to 2034," as a significant reason for considering early closure, a common lament from an industry that has become too expensive and dangerous to remain relevant as the renewable energy revolution overtakes it.