The corruption and collusion of Japan’s nuclear village led to numerous accidents before the Fukushima disaster.
And the corruption and collusion of Japan’s nuclear village was a root cause of the Fukushima disaster itself. On that point the Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission could not have been blunter: “The accident was the result of collusion between the government, the regulators and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties.”
A big part of the post-Fukushima spin is that lessons were learned from the nuclear disaster and improvements made. But the real lesson from this saga is that the nuclear industry – in Japan at least – has learned nothing from its catastrophic mistakes.
As Yotaro Hatamura says, an accident will surely happen again.
After Fukushima: Japan’s ‘nuclear village’ is back in charge, Ecologist Jim Green28th March 2015 Public opposition to nuclear power in Japan remains strong, writes Jim Green, but piece by piece, Shinzo Abe’s right-wing government has been putting the country’s infamous ‘nuclear village’ back in control – boosted by draconian press censorship laws, massive interest-free loans, and a determination to forget all the ‘lessons’ of Fukushima. Is another big accident inevitable?
Public opposition to reactor restarts (and the nuclear industry more generally) continues to exert some influence in Japan.
Five to seven of the oldest of Japan’s 48 ‘operable’ reactors are likely to be sacrificed to dampen opposition to the restart of other reactors, and local opposition may result in the permanent shut down of some other reactors.
Currently, all 48 of Japan’s ‘operable’ reactors are shut down – and the six reactors at Fukushima Daiichi have been written off.
However, slowly but surely, the corrupt and collusive practices that led to the Fukushima disaster are re-emerging. The ‘nuclear village’ is back in control……..
The Basic Energy Plan approved by Cabinet in April 2014 contains nothing more than a meaningless nod to widespread public anti-nuclear sentiment, stating that dependence on nuclear energy will be reduced ‘to the extent possible’.
There will be a lot written about Harry’s advocacy on behalf of Nevada, and for those efforts he deserves a standing ovation. His actions will resonate for generations. Our grandchildren’s grandchildren will have been kept protected from the threats of nuclear waste. They won’t know who to thank, so on their behalf: Thank you, Harry.
They have considerably to celebrate, and we — and our youngsters and grandchildren — have considerably to be thankful for, including a legacy that will attain far into future generations of Nevadans.
The senator’s list of accomplishments, from preserving the environment to assisting bring overall health care to millions
with his championing of the Reasonably priced Care Act, will absolutely frame his legacy. But his everlasting accomplishment story will surely be his good results in staring down the nuclear power business and maintaining Nevada totally free of the highly radioactive nuclear waste that outsiders wanted to ship from distant states and bury inside Yucca Mountain. Continue reading
Fukushima: Uranium and Plutonium Contamination of Large Areas of Oceans, Ground-water, Soils.By Edmondo Burr Global Research, March 29, 2015 Your News Wire Scientists have raised concern over the rate of radioactive contamination of the Pacific, due to the Fukushima nuclear accident.
- Expert : Plutonium-241 from Fukushima nearly 70,000 times more than atomic bomb fallout in Japan.
- Officials : Molten fuel now ‘particle-like’, contains ‘special’ nuclear materials.
- Gov’t Labs : Large areas of oceans contaminated by plutonium from events such as Fukushima; Build-up in biosphere expected; Considerable hazard to humans.
Energy News statement :
Detection of long-lived plutonium isotopes in environmental samples by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) — Plutonium isotopes 239Pu, 240Pu and 242Pu are anthropogenic radionuclides emitted into the environment by nuclear activities. Pu is accumulated in the human body and hence, poses a considerable hazard to human health. Due to the long half-lives, these isotopes are present in the biosphere on large time scales and a build-up can be expected. Therefore it is important to study the contamination pathway of Pu into the drinking water… a method to detect long-lived Pu isotopes by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry (AMS) is being developed. AMS requires only few milligrams of sample material… Consequently, more samples from different locations can be taken which is essential when searching for locally increased Pu concentrations as in the Pacific Ocean after the Fukushima accident… Samples from different locations in the Pacific Ocean and from the snow-hydrosphere are planned…
Statement by: Taeko Shinonaga, head of Radioanalytical Laboratory at Helmholtz Zentrum Munchen (research institution founded jointly by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Education & Research and Bavaria’s Finance Ministry), scientists from Technische Universitat Munchen (Germany), Verhandlungen der Deutschen Physikalischen Gesellschaft 2013 meeting (emphasis added)
Presentation by: Taeko Shinonaga, head of Helmholtz radioanalytical lab (pdf), Nov 2014: Comparison of activity between [nuclear bomb testing] fallout Pu particle and Fukushima origin Pu particle:…..http://www.globalresearch.ca/fukushima-uranium-and-plutonium-contamination-of-large-areas-of-oceans-ground-water-soils/5439271
A 2012 report prepared for the Washington State Wine Commission indicates that the state is the “second largest wine producer in the U.S., after California.” Internationally, Washington State is the third-largest exporter of food and agricultural products, according to state officials, with leading products including fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products, and seafood.
What is not on the Tri-Cities website, however, is a copy of the DOE report released last year that indicated trace amounts of the radioisotope tritium were found in wine samples collected near Hanford in 2013 “that could have potentially originated from the Hanford Site.” Tritium is considered one of the least-threatening radioisotopes because it generally passes from the body quickly, but it still can increase cancer risk because it releases radiation
ATOMIC WINE Wine Country’s Nuclear Threat, The Daily Beast , Bill Conroy. 03.28.15 A nuclear facility in Washington state’s prime wine country is leaching radioactive groundwater and is one natural disaster away from Fukushima 2.0. The Hanford Site, a former nuclear-weapons production facility located in southeastern Washington State near the Oregon border, is one natural disaster away from a Fukushima-like catastrophe, according to environmental groups who also claim the site—which sits near some of the state’s best vineyards—is leaking radioactive groundwater into the nearby Columbia River. Continue reading
Texas city opts for 100% renewable energy – to save cash, not the planet, Guardian, Tom Dart in Georgetown, 29 Mar 15 Georgetown, Texas decision not about going green: ‘I’m probably the furthest thing from an Al Gore clone you could find,’ says city official News that a Texas city is to be powered by 100% renewable energy sparked surprise in an oil-obsessed, Republican-dominated state where fossil fuels are king and climate change activists were described as “the equivalent of the flat-earthers” by US senator and GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz.
“I was called an Al Gore clone, a tree-hugger,” says Jim Briggs, interim city manager of Georgetown, a community of about 50,000 people some 25 miles north of Austin.
Briggs, who was a key player in Georgetown’s decision to become the first city in the Lone Star State to be powered by 100% renewable energy, has worked for the city for 30 years. He wears a belt with shiny silver decorations and a gold ring with a lone star motif, and is keen to point out that he is not some kind of California-style eco-warrior with a liberal agenda. In fact, he is a staunchly Texan pragmatist.
“I’m probably the furthest thing from an Al Gore clone you could find,” he says. “We didn’t do this to save the world – we did this to get a competitive rate and reduce the risk for our consumers.”
In many Texas cities the electricity market is deregulated, meaning that customers choose from a dizzying variety of providers and plans. In Houston, for example, there are more than 70 plans that offer energy from entirely renewable sources.
That makes it easy to switch, so in a dynamic marketplace, providers tend to focus on the immediate future. This discourages the creation of renewable energy facilities, which require long-term investment to be viable. But in Georgetown, the city utility company has a monopoly.
When its staff examined their options last year, they discovered something that seemed remarkable, especially in Texas: renewable energy was cheaper than non-renewable. And so last month city officials finalised a deal with SunEdison, a giant multinational solar energy company. It means that by January 2017, all electricity within the city’s service area will come from wind and solar power.
while west Texas is an oil driller’s paradise, it is also sunny and gusty, making it a perfect corridor for renewable energy.
The region bordering New Mexico is one of the prime solar resource sites in the USand the wind whistles across the plains to such an extent that, as Scientific American pointed out last year, the state is America’s largest wind power producer – as well as leading the nation in the production of crude oil and the emission of greenhouse gases.
Renewable energy also uses much less water than traditional power generation – a bonus in a state where half the land and more than nine million people are affected by drought conditions, though Briggs said that for Georgetown, water conservation was only a “side benefit”………
Outside, Jon Klopf, a barber, sat on a bench enjoying a splendidly sunny Thursday afternoon.
“They were just looking out for the cheapest deal. That’s just business,” the 50-year-old said. “I don’t really think we should be relying too much on oil, even though they have to right now. That don’t last forever.
“Sun will, though. Long as the sun comes up, the wind will blow.”http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/mar/28/georgetown-texas-renewable-green-energy
Gov’t Report: Plutonium at 1,000,000 Bq/m3 was detected in ocean off Fukushima — “Contaminated waters will be transported rapidly to east” across Pacific — This is “the most important direct liquid release of artificial radioactivity into sea ever known” — Scientists: “Remember, its not just cesium that’s released” http://enenews.com/govt-report-1000000-bqm3-plutonium-detected-ocean-fukushima-contaminated-waters-transported-rapidly-east-across-pacific-fukushima-crisis-important-direct-liquid-release-artificial-radioactivity?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29
Comparison between modelling and measurement of marine dispersion, environmental half-time and 137Cs inventories after the Fukushima Daiichi accident, Pascal Bailly du Bois (IRSN), Pierre Garreau (IFREMER), Philippe Laguionie (IRSN), Irène Korsakissok (IRSN), 2014:Contamination of the marine environment following the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (FDNPP) represents the most important influx of artificial radioactivity released into the sea ever recorded… The direct liquid releases from FDNPP represent the largest influx of artificial radioactivity into the sea ever occurring over a short period of time on a small spatial scale… Although controlled releases of liquid effluent from the Sellafield reprocessing plant can be compared in terms of total quantities, they have occurred over several years (1970-1980) instead of days, weeks and months as in the case of the FDNPP accident… [W]hatever the detailed current direction at the time of the accident is, water mass fluxes were governed by the generally strong Kuroshio and Oyashio currents that are stable at this scale… Contaminated waters will be transported rapidly to the east… Contamination of the marine environment following the accident at the FDNPP represents the most important direct liquid release of artificial radioactivity into the sea ever known…
Supplementary material for study: Database of seawater measurements (.xls spreadsheet)
Ken Buesseler (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and Mitsuo Uematsu (Univ. of Tokyo)(pdf): Remember, it’s not just cesium isotopes that were released… What about plutonium?… Surface ocean in June 2011 see slightly elevated Pu – from direct discharge?
See also: VIDEO: Fukushima corium found in Pacific — Flowing into ocean after hydrogen dissolves nuclear fuel — Scientist: We’ve actually seen plutonium floating on surface; “We have no control over this accident… they’ve got leaks everywhere”
Nation’s biggest nuclear firm makes a play for green money, Herald News By RAY HENRY -Saturday, March 28, 2015 1 The Associated Press The biggest player in the beleaguered nuclear power industry wants a place alongside solar, wind and hydroelectric power collecting extra money for producing carbon-free electricity.
Chicago-based Exelon essentially wants to change the rules of the state’s power market as the nuclear industry competes with historically low prices for natural gas. Dominion Resources Inc. recently closed the Kewaunee Power Station in Wisconsin for financial reasons, and Entergy Corp. likewise shuttered its Vermont Yankee plant.
Plans for a new wave of U.S. nuclear plants have been delayed or canceled, aside from three projects deep into construction at Plant Vogtle south of Augusta, Georgia; V.C. Summer Nuclear Station north of Columbia, South Carolina; and Watts Bar Nuclear Plant in eastern Tennessee. Electric utilities in those states do not face competition…….
Though it wants financial assistance, Exelon will not release detailed information about the cost of running the three Illinois plants in Quad Cities, Byron and Clinton that company officials say are most at-risk. An analysis by state agencies estimated the cost of producing power at those plants may exceed the payments they get, though they could not be certain.
Exelon and other around-the-clock plants sometimes take losses when wind turbines produce too much electricity for the system.
Exelon remained profitable overall, making $1.6 billion last year.
“If the question is, ‘Are they under economic threat?’ I don’t think there’s any question they are,” said Paul Patterson, a utility analyst for Glenrock Associates LLC, who referred to nuclear plant closures elsewhere as evidence. “Will they shut down? I think it depends at what plant you’re looking at.”
The Illinois proposal would reward nuclear plants. Under the system, electric suppliers would have to buy credits from carbon-free energy producers. Exelon says the plan would benefit nuclear plants, hydroelectric dams, and other solar and wind projects. http://www.theherald-news.com/2015/03/29/nations-biggest-nuclear-firm-makes-a-play-for-green-money/axrimv5/
According to the Haaretz news website, the Israeli prime minister claimed there was an “Iran-Lausanne-Yemen” axis, linking the venue for the nuclear talks with Iranian backing for Houthi rebels in Yemen, and said the deal posed a threat to humanity that must be stopped…….
Netanyahu made his remarks as negotiations in Lausanne approached the 31 March deadline for an understanding on the framework for a deal, and took on a new intensity. The UK foreign secretary, Philip Hammond, and his Russian counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, arrived at the Swiss lakeside town on Sunday evening to join the US secretary of state, John Kerry, and foreign ministers from Iran, France, Germany and China, as well as the EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini………
A possible solution is for the foreign ministers to make a joint declaration in Lausanne or in nearby Geneva, to be followed by the publication of an informal “factsheet” of agreed points, that could be officially deniable in Tehran. A former state department official said it could take several days to draft this, so experts could stay behind after the foreign ministers leave, to work on the document before Congress reconvenes in mid-April.
However, a European official at the talks said they were still mired in issues of substance, and had yet to tackle differences over presentation.
“We will remain at the negotiation table for however long it takes to get a good deal,” the Iranian deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araghchi. He added: “All the sides are strongly motivated to reach a compromise.” http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/mar/29/binyamin-netanyahu-denounces-iran-nuclear-negotiations
Plant Closure Opportunity: Hitting Those Clean Energy Notes The Energy Collective By Larissa Koehler, 28 Mar 15 When the door to one power plant closes, a window to more clean energy solutions opens.
It may seem logical that once a power plant closes, another one needs to be built to replace it – after all, we need to make up for its potential energy generation with more natural gas or nuclear-powered energy, right? San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is certainly trying to convince Californians this is true. Trouble is, EDF and other environmental groups, along with theCalifornia Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), aren’t buying it. And you shouldn’t either……..
a plethora of clean, efficient resources exist that can help us manage energy demand more effectively without turning to fossil fuels. For example:
- California can make much greater use of demand response programs. Demand response sends a signal to customers to voluntarily and temporarily reduce their energy use at times when the grid is most burdened – thereby preventing the need to ramp up fossil fuel resources to meet demand and reducing system costs and emissions.
- Incorporate time-of-use (TOU) electricity pricing. By charging lower energy prices to encourage use during off-peak times, or when renewables are available, California can integrate more clean energy resources and relieve strain on the power grid during peak times. In fact, EDF has demonstrated that if half of Southern California Edison’s residential customers adopted a voluntary TOU electricity price, they could replace two-thirds of SONGS’ lost capacity, saving $357 million per year – and the same trend would likely follow in SDG&E’s service territory.
- Bolster energy efficiency programs. Emphasizing the use of energy-efficient technology will lower demand, offset the need for expensive and dirty fossil fuels, and reduce system costs by avoiding additional power plant, transmission, and distribution infrastructure. For example, in 2010 and 2011, CPUC energy efficiency programs produced enough energy savings to power more than 600,000 households and offset 1,069 megawatts (MW) of electric capacity.
- Utilize increasing viable storage technologies. By storing energy at times when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing, and drawing on that energy when these resources are not available, storage provides a powerful mechanism to integrate more clean energy and greatly reduces the need for fossil fuels. As demonstrated by the CPUC’s storage mandate for utilities – as well as the fact that Southern California Edison already went above and beyond this directive– storage is a reliable and growing part of the solution.
EDF applauds the CPUC for issuing a clear statement on how the SONGS capacity should be replaced – making it apparent that SDG&E should commit to more than the minimum required procurement of energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, demand response, and other clean energy resources. And with SDG&E’s history of forward-thinking energy policy, they should embrace this opportunity for continued leadership. The key to California’s energy needs lies in a suite of solutions that are good for the grid, the environment, and the health of California’s citizens. The CPUC’s statement highlights an important priority for the state in the coming decades to address these needs. This should be the beginning, not the end, of Southern California’s push to adopt preferred resources. Diversifying the region’s energy mix opens the door to a clean, sustainable, and healthy future. http://theenergycollective.com/edfenergyex/2209746/hitting-those-clean-energy-notes
After Fukushima: Japan’s ‘nuclear village’ is back in charge, Ecologist Jim Green28th March 2015 “…….Many have called for TEPCO to be nationalised, or broken up into separate companies, but the LDP government has protected and supported the company. The government has also greatly increased financial support for TEPCO.
For example in January 2014 the government approved an increase in the ceiling for interest-free loans the Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund is allowed to give TEPCO, from 5 trillion yen to 9 trillion yen (€39.0-70.2 billion)
The government will also cover some of the costs for dealing with the Fukushima accident which TEPCO was previously required to pay, such as an estimated 1.1 trillion yen (€8.6 billion) for interim storage facilities for waste from clean-up activities outside the Fukushima Daiichi plant.
The government has also amended the Electricity Business Act to extend the period for collecting decommissioning funds from electricity rates by up to 10 years after nuclear plants are shut down. The amendments also allow TEPCO to include in electricity rates depreciation costs for additional equipment purchased for the decommissioning of the Fukushima plant………http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2810545/after_fukushima_japans_nuclear_village_is_back_in_charge.html
Part II: Nuclear Power Stations Need Testing for Concrete Damage – Comment Deadline Monday, March 30th, 2015 by miningawareness Deadline is on Monday, March 30th, 11.59 Eastern Time (DC) – one minute to midnight- for whether the US NRC should use proper methods to detect concrete degradation at Nuclear Power Stations: “The petitioner requests that the NRC amend its regulations to improve identification techniques against ASR concrete degradation at U.S. nuclear power plants. The petitioner suggests that the reliance on a visual inspection does not ‘adequately identify Alkali-Silica Reaction (ASR), does not confirm ASR, or provide the current state of ASR damage (if present) without petrographic analysis under current existing code.”http://www.regulations.gov/#!docketDetail;D=NRC-2014-0257 (Comment at link; can be anonymous.) It is critically important to also ask for ultrasonic testing for damage to the nuclear reactor pressure vessel, even though it is not on the docket. See:https://miningawareness.wordpress.com/2015/03/03/nuclear-reactor-cracks-widespread-disease-scourge-warns-nobel-in-chemistry-nominee/
The average age of US commercial nuclear reactors is 34 years with the oldest being over 45 years old (EIA, 2015). Even in the best of circumstances, concrete suffers age related damage. But, nuclear power stations suffer from extreme conditions. According to William et. al., for the NRC (2013): Continue reading
let’s look at how many states back in the 1980s had been willing to take the highly radioactive fuel rods off the hands of nuclear energy plant operators: zero. Not a one particular. In particular not Nevada, which currently had paid a human toll as the website of atmospheric atomic bomb detonations. No one gave much believed to the radioactivity in our sky — “don’t worry” — and, boy, had been we snookered.
The truth that two junior congressmen from Nevada would be open to filling a nearby mountain with radiation — placing not only Las Vegas’ economy, but the lives of our youngsters, grandchildren and generations of future Nevadans at threat — is beautiful.
Our delegation in Washington can definitely bicker more than other difficulties, but on Yucca Mountain, Nevadans anticipate solidarity, not betrayal, due to the fact absolutely nothing can be allowed to jeopardize our safe future.
Congressmen’s willingness to money in on Yucca Mountain endangers Nevadans, Herald Recorder , March 29, 2015 Two of our congressmen, who are the least skilled in our Capitol Hill delegation, have much to learn when it comes to watching out for the security, welfare and financial safety of Nevadans.
Cresent Hardy and Mark Amodei, a pair of Republicans, say they’d want Nevada to money in on the opening of Yucca Mountain as the final resting place for highly radioactive nuclear
waste if professionals are convinced it would be safe. If the feds and the nuclear power market genuinely want handle of Yucca Mountain, at least they can throw some money our way — perhaps to help fund education or enhance our public infrastructure.
In other words, they’re prepared to place Nevadans in harm’s way if the income is correct. In harm’s way, mainly because no one can be sure that the web site will remain safely benign when filled with this nuclear material. Hardy and Amodei definitely have signaled to Washington and the out-of-state nuclear energy industry that they’re open to bringing lethal nuclear waste to within 90 miles of Las Vegas.
We do not even know where to commence in showing how outrageous their position is…….. Continue reading
Why on Earth Did the Feds Approve a High-Pressure Gas Pipeline Near a Nuke Plant? Nuclear safety expert: “We’re talking tens of millions of people who could be endangered.” By Alison Rose Levy / AlterNet March 27, 2015 A gas explosion leveled two buildings in New York’s East Village this past week, with two neighboring structures damaged, one still at risk for collapse, and 22 people injured, four of them severely. The fire raged from early afternoon into the next morning with more than 250 firefighters responding. Just over a year ago, a gas explosion leveled two buildings in Harlem, killing eight people. The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet released its conclusions as to what caused the Harlem fire.
While fires, explosions, plane crashes and others disasters are considered newsworthy, drawing people and the media to the scene, the quiet dramas of government policy, approval and planning that set the stage for—or can prevent—disastrous events are every bit as riveting……..
Since March 3, 2015, three high-risk conditions have begun converging north of the New York metro area: the aging Indian Point nuclear power plant; a high pressure, high-volume gas pipeline; and an authorization by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to build a new segment of the pipeline in close proximity to the nuclear plant. In the few weeks since the authorization, apart from some felled trees in Yorktown Heights, there have been few visible signs that millions of New Yorkers may soon be living with the increased risk of a fiery, pipeline-triggered nuclear accident, 37 miles north of the City………http://www.alternet.org/environment/why-earth-did-feds-approve-high-pressure-gas-pipeline-near-nuke-plant
Radiation leak at Torness nuclear power station, Herald Scotland Rob Edwards Sunday 29 March 2015 An investigation is under way after a radiation leaked at the Torness nuclear power station in East Lothian, the Sunday Herald can reveal. According to the French state company that runs Torness, EDF Energy, radioactive tritium was discovered in water contained in part of the power station’s drainage system. The discovery was immediately reported to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and the UK government’s Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR)……
Dr Richard Dixon, director of Friends of the Earth Scotland, warned that Torness was “well into middle age and the cracks are literally beginning to show”.
He said: “This is the latest in a series of problems at Scotland’s two nuclear stations and shows that regulators need to be very vigilant if we are to avoid a serious release of radioactivity to the local environment while these plants continue to operate.”
The local liaison committee was told that reactors at Torness had to be unexpectedly shut down four times in 2014 because of a series of equipment faults. EDF Energy also operates a 39-year-old nuclear power station at Hunterston in North Ayrshire, where cracks and breakdowns were reported in October 2014.
Jason Rose, Scottish Green candidate for MP in East Lothian, thought that the number of leaks and shutdowns showed that Torness was well past its prime. “Those of us who have to live with a nuclear plant on our doorstep need assurances from EDF that more effort will be made to prevent these sorts of serious incidents,” he said.
“I remain extremely concerned that there will be no public scrutiny of plans to extend the operating life of the plant, and no effort by local or national government to prepare a smooth transition for workers and the economy. Local people should have a say in what happens next at Torness.”……http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/environment/investigation-under-way-into-radiation-leak-at-torness-nuclear-power-station.121878992
The case against the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant: Connie Kline By Other Voices http://www.cleveland.com/opinion/index.ssf/2015/03/the_case_against_the_davis-bes.html March 29, 2015 Aggressively lobbied by FirstEnergy Corp. and passed by the General Assembly in May 2014, Senate Bill 310, along with wind-turbine restrictions, decimated Ohio’s 2008 renewable-energy and energy-efficiency standards in order to force reliance on coal and nuclear power.
Not coincidentally, in August 2014, FirstEnergy filed a rate case which, according to the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel and the Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council, could cost ratepayers up to $3 billion over 15 years to “bail out” FirstEnergy’s old, failing, noncompetitive Sammis coal plant and Davis-Besse nuclear reactor. The utility is threatening to close both plants if the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio denies its application.
According to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts’ report, in 2012, Ohio was number 13 in the country for new wind capacity and private investment in wind; this has virtually ceased due to SB 310.
August and September 2014 polls showed that Ohioans overwhelmingly favor efficiency and renewable energy over coal and nuclear.
According to NOPEC, construction of the Perry and Davis-Besse reactors caused “electric rates in northern Ohio to soar, becoming the highest in the state and among the highest in the nation and cost ratepayers “approximately $9 billion.”
Forty-year-old Davis-Besse has been plagued by near-catastrophes since its inception.
● Because it was built in a flood plain, a 1972 Lake Erie storm caused massive flooding of the entire construction site including the pre-operational reactor.
● In October 1977, a relief valve stuck.
● Uranium fuel must be submerged in water (coolant) at all times to prevent a meltdown. In June 1985, Davis Besse had a loss-of-feedwater accident. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission closed the plant for a year.
● A June 1998 tornado caused loss of external electric power.
● In March 2002, neglected, leaking boric acid in the coolant water had eaten through more than seven inches of the steel reactor lid, leaving only a 3/16″ liner to prevent radiation release. The plant closed for two years, costing ratepayers $600 million. Davis-Besse was fined $33.5 million, the largest in NRC history.
● The corroded lid was replaced before restart in 2004, but in 2010, cracks were found in this new lid, forcing its replacement in 2011.
● To replace aging, deteriorating, damaged parts, an unprecedented four large cuts have been made through the Davis-Besse concrete shield building which prevents release of radiation. Starting in 2011, cracks and voids were discovered in the building’s concrete.
● Davis-Besse’s steam generators were replaced in 2011 and 2014. A new tubing alloy was used.
Unprotected exposure to used reactor fuel can kill a person in minutes, yet no disposal solution exists for this waste which must be isolated from humans and the environment virtually forever. Funding for the permanent, deep-geological radioactive waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada was canceled in 2011, making every reactor a de facto radioactive waste dump at the least environmentally suitable sites for potable water, in flood, erosion, and earthquake zones.
The industry claims that nuclear power does not contribute to climate change. In fact, the nuclear fuel cycle from mining and fabricating uranium to decommissioning reactors requires a significant amount of fossil fuel.
In January 2015, FirstEnergy commissioned a self-serving “study” by an industry group with a vested interest in the conclusion that Davis-Besse is economically beneficial. The study failed to consider energy efficiency or replacing Davis-Besse with renewable energy that typically provides more jobs per megawatt/hour than nuclear power. If Davis-Besse were truly a valuable asset, FirstEnergy wouldn’t be seeking up to $225 million a year in ratepayer subsidies to keep it operating.
According to the U.S. Department of Energy, nuclear power provides only 5 percent of Ohio’s generation. According to the World Nuclear Association, Davis-Besse’s lifetime capacity factor through 2012 was only 67.6 percent, one of the lowest in the country.
It’s time to stop throwing good money after bad and transition to safe, clean renewable energy. Davis-Besse should meet the fate of other U.S. reactors than have been permanently closed for safety and economic reasons.
Connie Kline, of Willoughby Hills, is former chairperson of the Ohio Sierra Club Nuclear Committee.
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