These are the facts: Renewables have taken the lead in new power generation in America, comprising nearly half of all new generating capacity installed in the United States in 2012. In the first quarter of this year, nearly half the new capacity installed was solar. With its poor economics, enormous complexity, overly-large capital requirements, too-long lead times, and overall risk, US nuclear power is headed for contraction, not resurgence. Ultimately, I think the same will be true globally
The real reason to fight nuclear power has nothing to do with health risks, Quartz, By Chris Nelder, 17 June 13“……Nuclear’s long goodbye The simple fact is that, at least in the US, the nuclear industry is dying a slow death. The announced closure of four major facilities in 2013 alone amount to 4,246 megawatts of nuclear capacity—enough to power 2.7 million homes for a year—that are being retired.
Even while the nuclear industry is able to externalize its costs for insurance (which are federally limited), loan guarantees (which are federally backstopped), decommissioning (which is pushed onto ratepayers) and waste handling (which is pushed onto taxpayers), it still lost. If it had to stand on its own and pay its full insurance costs like every other energy source, we could never build another nuclear plant in America, because no private investors would be willing to take that kind of risk. It’s hard to imagine how the economics could be more tilted in nuclear’s favor (although I’m sure its proponents have ideas on that).
The reason nuclear is dying is economics, not tribalism, as Shellenberger and Nordhaus claim. Read more »
So there the disabled behemoth sits, awaiting a decommissioning project that will continue for decades, requiring continued regulatory oversight and inspiring never-ending debates about who should pay and how much.
The Unit 1 reactor, which was shut down in 1992, was supposed to be boxed up and shipped to a repository in South Carolina, but no one could figure out how to transport a 770-ton bundle of radioactive junk across the country. Instead, it remains where it is, encased in concrete, waiting for the transmutation of the elements to complete its ten-thousand-million-year-long conversion from deadly isotopes to stable lead. We won’t be free of it anytime soon.
So long, San Onofre (in like 700 million years) High Country News Judith Lewis Mernit | Jun 17, 2013“……We have come to the end of an era — the nuclear power renaissance I had set out to investigate a decade ago has come to nothing.
Yes, a handful of new reactors have been proposed and a couple are even under construction, interrupting a hiatus that lasted nearly a quarter of a century. And the same band of shiny, PR-minded techno-enviros continue to argue that nuclear power is the only solution to climate change (their latest effort, Robert Stone’s documentary “Pandora’s Promise,” is simply one long advert for dreamy advanced waste-free reactors that don’t yet exist). Read more »
“Emergency Action”: Lawmaker says nuclear waste is under threat from underground landfill fire near St. Louis http://enenews.com/emergency-action-lawmaker-says-nuclear-waste-is-under-threat-from-underground-landfill-fire-near-st-louis
Title: St. Louis-area lawmaker seeks removal of radioactive waste from Bridgeton landfill
Date: June 17, 2013
St. Louis-area lawmaker seeks removal of radioactive waste from Bridgeton landfill [...]
Bridgeton Landfill is part of the larger West Lake Landfill. Another area of West Lake contains nuclear waste from the Cold War era. Democratic State Rep. Bill Otto of St. Charles on Monday called for emergency action to remove the nuclear waste, citing the threat from the underground fire.
The Environmental Protection Agency says the radioactive material is not endangered by the fire and there are no plans to remove it.
US cities seek greater climate resilience http://www.smh.com.au/environment/climate-change/us-cities-seek-greater-climate-resilience-20130618-2of9f.html June 18, 2013US mayors pledged Monday to make their communities more resilient to increasingly severe floods, droughts, extreme storms and wildfires, which they said was more efficient and cost-effective than disaster clean-up afterwards.
Four dozen elected officials, from localities as diverse as Washington DC, Des Moines, Iowa and Santa Barbara County, California, released a one-page plan which laid out actions such as using more renewable energy and making buildings and infrastructure more energy-efficient.
The Resilient Communities for America Agreement was launched less than a week after New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a $US20 billion plan to prepare his city for rising sea levels and hotter summers.
The actions by local officials took place as anticipation builds that the White House is planning a series of executive actions in July to address climate.
Federal action can help, but local officials are at the front lines of natural disasters, said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie. Iowa’s biggest city saw severe flooding in 2008, a trio of “500-year” floods in 2010, a drought in 2012 and the wettest year in 140 years of record-keeping so far in 2013.
“These extreme events are becoming more and more prevalent, and local government is really where it happens,” Cownie said.
In short: Cost estimates for new nuclear plants are not credible. I have yet to find a single one that stood up to close scrutiny. And as far as I am aware, no nuclear plant has ever been built for close to its original cost estimate.
The real reason to fight nuclear power has nothing to do with health risks, Quartz, By Chris Nelder, 17 June 13 Chris Nelder is an energy analyst, consultant and speaker who has written about energy and investing for more than a decade.
Nuclear proponents are launching a full-court press for fresh investment in the technologyThe release of the new film Pandora’s Promise, another editorial from ardent nuclear champions Michael Shellenberger and Ted Nordhaus of the Breakthrough Institute, and Paul Blustein’s recent piece in Quartz, “Everything you thought you knew about the risks of nuclear energy is wrong,” are part of an effort to put a new shine on a technology that once offered, but failed to deliver, electricity “too cheap to meter.”
Missing from the entire debate about nuclear is the most important fact of all: Nuclear is dying due to poor economics, and the debate is already over as far as the market is concerned.
Shellenberger and Nordhaus have backed up their arguments with junk accounting on nuclear energy’s costs. This is where the discussion must depart from mere boosterism and descend into the deep, dark world of energy economics—a subject that Blustein did not even address. Read more »
Uranium One cutting 26 staffhttp://www.mining.com/uranium-one-cutting-26-staff-43352/Michael Allan McCrae | June 15, 2013 Bowing to miserable prices for its product, Uranium One (TSE:UUU) is letting go of 26 employees.
The company’s Willow Creek Mine will see 16 people cut. The Casper operation will lose the other 10.
Donna Wicher, the company’s senior vice president of Americas, told the Wyoming Staff Tribune that the company is adjusting to the market.
“The price is so low that we have to sell our uranium at these low prices, and that’s not good,” said Wichers.
“We need higher prices in order to make a profit that we need to develop new well fields.”
Uranium One operates in situ recovery at its Willow Creek Mine in Wyoming. It also has additional exploration projects in Arizona, Colorado, and Utah.
Uranium is in the dog house after the spot price hit a seven-year low last week. In January Uranium One’s board approved a deal to be taken private by the the Russian firmJSC Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ) for C$1.3 billion, a move that was oppos
Nuclear Plants, Old and Uncompetitive, Are Closing Earlier Than Expected , NYT By MATTHEW L. WALD June 14, 2013 Washington — When does a nuclear plant become too old? The nuclear industry is wrestling with that question as it tries to determine whether problems at reactors, all designed in the 1960s and 1970s, are middle-aged aches and pains or end-of-life crises.
This year, utilities have announced the retirement of four reactors, bringing the number remaining in the United States to 100. Three had expensive mechanical problems but one,Kewaunee in Wisconsin, was running well, and its owner, Dominion, had secured permission to run it an additional 20 years. But it was losing money, because of the low wholesale price of electricity.
“That’s the one that’s probably most ominous,” said Peter A. Bradford, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and a former head of the Public Service Commission in New York. “It’s as much a function of the cost of the alternatives as it is the reactor itself.”
While the other three, San Onofre 2 and 3 near San Diego and Crystal River 3 in Florida, faced expensive repair bills because of botched maintenance projects, “Kewaunee not only didn’t have a major screw-up in repair work, it didn’t even seem to be confronting a major capital investment,” he said.
This is a turnaround because until recently, the life expectancy of reactors was growing. When the Nuclear Regulatory Commission began routinely authorizing reactors to run 20 years beyond their initial 40-year licenses, people in the electricity business began thinking that 60 was the new 40. But after the last few weeks, 40 is looking old again, at least in reactor years, with implications for the power plants still running, and for several new ones being built…….
Two to watch are Vermont Yankee, in Vernon, just north of the Massachusetts border, and Indian Point, in Buchanan, N.Y., 30 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. The states of Vermont and New York are seeking to close them. If they remain profitable, the owner of all three units, Entergy, seems likely to fight tooth and nail to keep them open, but Vermont Yankee’s profitability does not seem certain. It could join plants like Maine Yankee, or Zion, near Chicago, in retirement and decommissioning…While utilities in the last few years have announced plans for more than a dozen new reactors, beyond the five now under construction only another four or so seem possible in the next few years.
And all the others are getting older…..http://www.nytimes.com/2013/06/15/business/energy-environment/aging-nuclear-plants-are-closing-but-for-economic-reasons.html?ref=business&_r=0
During times of economic stress, the nuclear industry has a tradition of rushing forth to proclaim a new technology just around the corner will sweep current problems aside. Unfortunately, these visions have an equally long tradition of expensive failure, most often at taxpayers’ expense. The Department of Energy’s efforts to spend taxpayer dollars on Small Modular Reactors will simply continue this legacy of failure and must be rejected.
Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors Taxpayers for Common Sense February 27, 2013 Download: Golden Fleece: Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Nuclear Reactors (pdf)
The Department of Energy (DOE) is asking Congress to provide hundreds of millions in subsidies to commercialize small modular reactors (SMR). First proposed in the 2011 budget, the Administration has committed to providing more than $500 million dollars for licensing support and research and development for these downsized nuclear reactors. A fraction of the size of conventional-scale reactors, SMRs would be manufactured by assembly line and transported by truck, ship, or rail to their destinations. With designs ranging in size from one-third the size of a large-scale plant down to the size of a hot tub, SMRs will also produce significantly less power: 300 megawatts electrical (MWe) or less compared to 1,000 MWe for a typical commercial-scale reactor.
SMRs will likely never be a good investment, but in the current fiscal climate taxpayers must be especially concerned with any dollars DOE doles out. High-risk, high-cost, and highly questionable, small modular reactors don’t just look like bad investment they are a ridiculous waste. For a range of reasons, subsidies for SMRs equal nothing more than another handout for the nuclear industry. Read more »
Nuclear Power, Part 2: Nukenomics , By Ned Madden, 14 June 13 TechNewsWorld “……..President Barack Obama, who has received throughout his political career significant campaign contributions from the nuclear industry, has consistently been an outspoken advocate for nuclear power.
In Feb. 2010, Obama pledged $8 billion in loan guarantees needed to build the first U.S. nuclear reactors in nearly three decades. Obama’s $27.2 billion FY 2013 budget request for the DoE included $770 million for nuclear energy, with $65 million for cost-shared awards to support first-of-a-kind SMRs, and $60 million for nuclear waste R&D.
Of course, what can be given can also be taken away.
An FY 2014 budget put forward by the administration in April 2013 cut funding for a key plutonium reprocessing facility in South Carolina that transforms weapons-grade plutonium into usable commercial nuclear reactor fuel, and which is a component of the United States’ international nonproliferation efforts. The budget included only $503 million — $183 million less than was provided under last year’s continuing resolution, when Congress failed to pass a budget.,,,,http://www.technewsworld.com/story/78268.html
Nuclear Power, Part 2: Nukenomics , By Ned Madden, 14 June 13 TechNewsWorld Can the nuclear industry stand on its own two feet financially? It all depends on whom you ask. “There are plenty of cost estimates out there regarding what a new nuclear power plant will cost — unfortunately, those estimates are speculative. It has been decades since anyone has tried to build a nuclear plant in the United States,” said the Cato Institute’s Jerry Taylor.
There’s no denying that safety and effectiveness are both critical concerns when it comes to nuclear power, and that’s just as true for investors in the technology as it is for those who rely on the energy it generates.
Part 1 of this three-part series describes a new generation of small modular reactor designs whose promise is undeniably compelling. What’s less certain, however, is whether they are feasible as a free-market business proposition without current levels of government-backed investment.
That’s the question at the heart of what’s sometimes called “nukenomics,” and it’s a complicated one.
Even giant corporations in the nuclear energy industry are cautious about the fiscal viability of the nuke space. Construction cost estimates for new nuclear power plants are highly uncertain.
Risky Business Read more »
Golden Fleece Award Goes to Department of Energy for Federal Spending on Small Modular Reactors http://www.taxpayer.net/library/article/golden-fleece-award-goes-to-department-of-energy-for-federal-spending-on-sm $100 Million in “Mini Nuke” Corporate Welfare Already Doled Out, Another Half Billion Dollars Or More in the Pipeline for Major Corporations that Could Pay for Own R&D, Licensing
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The federal government is in the process of wasting more than half a billion dollars to pay large, profitable companies for what should be their own expenses for research & development (R&D) and licensing related to “small modular reactors” (SMRs), which would be about a third of the size or less of today’s large nuclear reactors. In response, the nonpartisan group Taxpayers for Common Sense today handed out its latest “Golden Fleece Award” to the Department of Energy for the dollars being wasted on SMRs.
Titled “Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors,” a related TCS background report is available online here……
In making the Golden Fleece Award, Taxpayers for Common Sense highlighted the following issues: Read more »
Savannah River Nuclear Development Site
Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors Taxpayers for Common Sense February 27, 2013 Download: Golden Fleece: Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Nuclear Reactors (pdf) ”…..Federal Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors Federal support for SMRs is provided through a subsidy program for commercial nuclear power that can be traced back to the 1950s when federal subsidies for nuclear power reached astronomical levels. Not only did the government develop reactor and enrichment technology for the private sector, it also assumed legal responsibility for nuclear waste disposal, something never done for any other industry. In addition, the government issued multimillion-dollar development grants for many reactor technologies (most since abandoned) and distributed research reactors around the world. Read more »
Report says drilling is creating radiation problems in Ohio Ohio,com.By BOB DOWNING June 14, 2013 The FreshWater Accountability Project Ohio (www.FWAPOH.com) today released a report on the presence and dangers of radiation present throughout the horizontal hydraulic fracturing (fracking) industry that is extracting minerals in Ohio.
The report, authored by Dr. Marvin Resnikoff, a longtime expert on radioactive waste management and since 1992, on radiation hazards from oil and gas drilling, details the serious problem associated with bringing up long-buried radium and other naturally-occurring hazards from thousands of feet underground.
The radiation is associated directly with the “hottest” areas of gas and oil productivity in deep shale layers and is an inevitable and burgeoning waste problem.
Resnikoff points out that much of the highly-radioactive solids such as rocks and soils pulled up during drilling, and contaminated muds and sands are cheaply disposed of in municipal landfills in Ohio, irrespective of actual radioactivity content, for 1/100th of the cost of disposal of comparable low-level radioactive waste from nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation in the nation’s three facilities for that purpose.
n Ohio, he stated, “It is evident that environmental concerns are trumped by the economics beneficial to the unconventional shale drilling industry.” Similarly, Dr. Resnikoff identified evidence that the Patriot water treatment facility in Warren, Ohio, which delivers pretreated water to the Warren public water treatment plant, is likely sending radium-laden water into the Mahoning River watershed. “On a daily basis, Patriot does not test for gamma emitting radionuclides and for radium-226,” he observed.
The expert also performed calculations showing that transport of radioactive liquid waste by tank truck greatly exceed federal thresholds which require specific tank design, minimum insurance under federal regulations of $5 million per shipment, and signage to be prominently located which identify the load as radioactive material.
The report notes that all three sets of federal regulations are being routinely violated which means State of Ohio regulations are clearly inadequate for this hazardous material, and possibly illegal…… http://www.ohio.com/blogs/drilling/ohio-utica-shale-1.291290/report-says-drilling-is-creating-radiation-problems-in-ohio-1.405891
Although significantly smaller than traditional reactors, SMRs will still require significant insurance in the event of an accident. New nuclear reactors are currently covered by the Price-Anderson Act for accidents valued at over $12.6 billion. Price-Anderson may fall dramatically short in the case of SMRs
Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Modular Reactors Taxpayers for Common Sense February 27, 2013 Download: Golden Fleece: Taxpayer Subsidies for Small Nuclear Reactors (pdf)
“……..Current Applicants Seeking Federal Subsidies
Five small modular reactor projects have applied for support from DOE to date, but none of the five different reactor designs have been licensed by the NRC. NRC and DOE aim to award the first design certification license by 2018 and final construction/operating license by the early 2020s. Currently, all five projects are in the pre-application phase with NRC working towards initial design certification.
All but one SMR project would develop an integral pressurized light water reactor (iPWR) while the other would develop a fast neutron reactor (FNR)…… Read more »
Nuclear Power, Part 2: Nukenomics By Ned Madden, 14 June 13 “………The Energy Policy Act of 2005
The federal “open wallet” strategy for nuclear energy was fully apparent in the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 2005, which not only extended Price-Anderson through 2025, but also provided the nuclear industry with financial incentives to build new nuclear power plants. Among other incentives, the act provided a production tax credit of 1.8 cents per kilowatt hour for up to 6,000 MWe of capacity from new, qualified advanced nuclear power facilities for eight years.
The first application for a new reactor eligible for this incentive was submitted in September 2007 for an expansion of the South Texas Project.
Later, under an amendment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Section 406, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorized loan guarantees for “innovative” technologies that avoid greenhouse gases. These technologies include carbon capture and storage, renewable energy, and advanced nuclear reactor designs such as pebble bed modular reactors.
One result is that tax reductions of $4.8 billion were made available for nuclear power……..
‘Golden Fleece Award’
In February, Taxpayers for Common Sense handed out its “Golden Fleece Award” to the DoE for the dollars being spent on SMRs.
Why the dubious honor?
The DoE has already provided nearly $100 million for SMRs, while their commercial viability remains in question, the group charged. In addition, DoE has committed up to $452 million over the next five years to fund up to two separate demonstration projects.
If DoE believes there is a “need and market” for SMRs, the mature and profitable nuclear industry should bear the full risk and cost of making SMRs a reality, Autumn Hanna, TCS’s senior program director, told TechNewsWorld.
“In these tight budget times, federal taxpayers cannot afford to provide additional subsidies to the nuclear power industry,” Hanna explained.
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