USA’s nuclear ‘renaissance’ wel; and truly fizzled out
Nuclear power: why US nuclear ‘renaissance’ fizzled and plants are closing Four nuclear plants have closed this year and dozens are at risk of early retirement, as the industry faces low-cost competitors and renewed doubts about the wisdom of nuclear power. Christian Science Monitor, By David J. Unger, October 10, 2013 A funny thing happened on the way to a nuclear renaissance: For the first time in 15 years, operating nuclear plants are being forced to close, and energy companies are scuttling plans for new plants and upgrades to existing ones. In addition to four closures of nuclear plants so far this year, two other US nuclear plants are at a crossroads, and dozens more at risk of early retirement.
It points to the thwarted promise of a nuclear industry that 10 years ago seemed on the verge of revival, until derailed by cheap energy alternatives, listless energy demand, and renewed safety and regulatory concerns, especially after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident……
both public opinion and market forces are working against the renaissance that industry backers have been predicting.This week, a former chair of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission called for shutting down the Indian Point nuclear power plant nearNew York City and the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, Mass., citing safety concerns.
“Severe accidents have happened and they will happen,” said former NRC chair Gregory Jaczko,at a panel discussion in Boston sponsored by the Samuel Lawrence Foundation, a California-based advocacy group critical of US nuclear power.
“It doesn’t mean that Pilgrim is going to have an accident tomorrow or even in my lifetime, but ultimately we can’t rule out the possibility of that happening,” he said Wednesday. Dr. Jaczko resigned from the five-member regulatory body last year, after wrangling with other commissioners over the industry’s response to Japan’s nuclear disaster at Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant.
“Safety has to be: Eliminate the possibility of severe accidents,” Jaczko added. “It doesn’t matter how low the probability is; it is an unacceptable consequence.”……
“It’s absolutely crystal clear that the primary factor driving the collapse of the nuclear renaissance is economics,” said Mark Cooper, a senior research fellow at the Vermont Law School’s Institute for Energy and the Environment, in a telephone interview. “The aging reactors are getting too costly to run given the alternatives available to us.” In a July 2013 report, “Renaissance in Reverse,” Mr. Cooper identifies 38 other US nuclear reactors at risk of early retirement due to competition from cheaper energy sources……. Only 38 percent of Americans now favor promoting the increased use of nuclear power while 58 percent are opposed, according to a September poll by the Pew Research Center. It’s the highest level of opposition to promoting nuclear since the question was first asked in 2005.
As a consequence, even existing power plants face renewed opposition and regulation. Entergy Corp., the owner of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, N.Y., is seeking to renew the nearly 40-year-old plant’s license from the NRC. That plant, now operating with an expired license, is up against opposition from local officials who are trying to block continued use of Hudson River water for cooling purposes.
If, in fact, that practice now conflicts with the state’s coastal management program, Entergy would have to build expensive cooling plants that would probably not be economically viable…..
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