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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Decommissioned sites need MORE protection against wildfires, not less!

text-relevantIn Light of Fast Moving Wildfires; Evacuations, US Senators call on NRC to Stop Waiving Emergency Response Measures at Decommissioned Nuclear Sites (to no avail) miningawareness51 July 15

http://cdfdata.fire.ca.gov/incidents/incidents_current

wildfire-nukeDespite calls by Senators in 2014 to stop elimination of emergency response measures at decommissioning nuclear reactors: “In June 2015, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) approved elimination of off-site emergency planning for San Onofre, even though they know the waste is extremely dangerous. This means fewer emergency planning staff, reduced funding and less radiation monitoring. … The San Onofre fire staff has been reduced. The nuclear plant’s fire and rescue vehicles will be donated to new homes soon, according to Patrick Baughman, San Onofre fire marshal. San Onofre now has an agreement that makes the Camp Pendleton Fire Department the primary firefighting force for the nuclear plant. No details were provided about how this may affect ratepayers and local emergency services in this Southern California Edison July 9, 2015…” Read the rest here: http://sanonofresafety.org/emergency-planning-resources/ Learn more here: Sanonofresafety.org

Unfortunately, the Dry Cask Storage is not the miracle solution which the Senators and many others wish for. (See more at post bottom. [in original] )…..

Unfortunately, the Dry Cask Storage is not the miracle solution which the Senators and many others wish for. This is especially true due to the thin, flimsy nature of the inner, unvented, casks, which are also of questionable quality, and are set out unprotected on parking lots. Furthermore, Holtec requests NRC exemptions which impact safety and quality on a routine basis! For more info, do a search for Holtec within our blog, and consult Sanonofresafety.org Although most of the focus has been Holtec, the other licensed dry casks do not appear better. A Manhattan-like project for nuclear waste is needed. In the meanwhile, there appears need for adding more spent fuel pools to reduce crowding, and reinforcement of the existing ones, and somehow covering them (vented) against earthquake seiche. The spent fuel must spend some time in the pools anyway. A solution must be quickly implemented. https://wordpress.com/read/post/feed/4410547/767161082

August 1, 2015 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Canada’s pro nuclear government keeps mum about the dangers of radioactive strontium 90

The government puts labels on cigarettes and warns of the danger to health. People have the right to know and the right to smoke cigarettes if they choose. People have the right to know what is in their milk and decide whether or not they want to drink it.

Could it be that the Canadian government’s involvement in the mining, processing and selling of uranium to other countries, its selling of nuclear technology to the world as well as its profiting from Canada’s own nuclear power plants and nuclear research reactors, makes it not want to draw attention to the dangers of radioactivity?

Canada’s Land of Milk and Strontium 90, Enviro reporter,  February 28, 2013 
diagram-Strontium-90We live on the Pacific Northwest coast of Canada. By many accounts, our area was particularly hard hit by the radioactive fallout that came directly over to us, in the jet stream, from the triple meltdown and hydrogen explosions at the nuclear power plant at Fukushima Daiichi, Japan, in March of 2011.

In Seattle, it was reported that the air was so contaminated after the accident that people were breathing in five “hot” radioactive particles a day!

The fallout was found to come down heavily in the rain that is so frequent in this rain forest we call home. Initially Simon Fraser University, in British Columbia, detected Iodine 131 in the rainwater on Burnaby Mountain They also found it in the seaweed on the shores of North Vancouver

Eventually we learned that the Air Monitoring Stations on Vancouver Island had picked up Radioactive Iodine 131 at levels 300 times higher than normal background.

A lab in Washington State found levels of radioactive xenon gas 40,000 times higher than normal levels.

So we knew the fallout had reached us. And we knew that there were at least 200 other radioactive substances that came along with the fallout from the nuclear plant accident. What we didn’t know was the level of contamination.

We learned that in California the tuna, milk, pistachios, naval oranges, prunes, wild mushrooms, strawberries, seaweed, beef, kale and spinach had been shown to be contaminated with radioactivity. However, having watched the jet stream patterns, we saw that our area in south western British Columbia was often missed by the atmospheric airflow from Japan.

After the initial study came out from Simon Fraser University, no more radioisotope studies were conducted by the researchers at that university So we set about trying to find out if anyone else was testing for radioactive fallout in Canada. Continue reading

August 1, 2015 Posted by | Canada, radiation | Leave a comment

Nuclear industry lobbying for tax=payer funding as a ‘carbon emissions cure’

U.S. nuclear operators try to save plants with carbon emission rule, Reuters, WASHINGTON | BY VALERIE VOLCOVICI , 31 July 15, The U.S. nuclear industry has made a last-minute push to urge the Obama administration to protect the country’s 100 nuclear units in its forthcoming carbon rule and prevent the early retirement of several plants.

cartoon-climate-con

Representatives of the Nuclear Energy Institute met on July 21 with White House officials who are currently reviewing the final version of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan. The industry contends the original version of the plan, released in mid-2014, fails to encourage states to keep some “at risk” plants from closing.

NEI and other industry officials said the final plan, which is expected as soon as Monday, should provide incentives for states to renew operating licenses and ramp up generation at nuclear plants.

The industry said eight plants – producing about 8,000 MW of generation – struggle to compete in competitive electricity markets. The lobby group argued that the loss of even one of these zero-carbon emission plants would be “a major blow to carbon reduction efforts.”

The details were posted on the White House Office of Management and Budget website.

The Clean Power Plan is the centerpiece of President Barack Obama’s climate change strategy, which seeks to slash power plant carbon emissions to 30 percent below 2005 levels by 2030……..

August 1, 2015 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

US State and federal agencies agree on plan to demolish southern Ohio uranium plant

Demolition plan OK’d in southern  Ohio uranium plant cleanup, WT,  By KANTELE FRANKO – Associated Press – Friday, July 31, 2015

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) – State and federal agencies have agreed on a plan for demolishing huge buildings and other facilities from a Cold War-era uranium plant in southern Ohio.

radioactive trashIt is the latest development in the lengthy decontamination and decommissioning process for the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, which was built in the 1950s and produced enriched uranium for defense and commercial uses until 2001. Its shutdown left old buildings, chemicals and radioactive areas that must be addressed……..the structures slated for demolition include the three process buildings, each with more than 30 acres under one roof. The cleanup plans allow for recycling of equipment and building materials if that can be done in a safe, cost-effective way…….. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jul/31/demolition-plan-okd-in-southern-ohio-uranium-plant/

August 1, 2015 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Canada’s Nuclear Regulator doesn’t like Bureau d’audiences publiques

nuclear-lobby-put-downCanada’s nuclear regulator slams Quebec uranium review, Resource Clips, by Greg Klein | July 30, 2015 A recommendation against uranium mining in Quebec has come under fire from the federal agency that regulates uranium mining and nuclear energy in Canada. In a July 27 letter to Quebec environment minister David Heurtel, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission criticized the province’s BAPE commission for “conclusions and recommendations that lack scientific basis and rigour.”

Earlier this month, following a year-long review, the provincial government-appointed Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement suggested Quebec “could decide to suspend uranium mining either temporarily or permanently.” Should the province decide to allow mining, BAPE recommended conditions including consensus-building and additional research that the bureau said would require years to complete……..

“BAPE’s recommendation not to proceed is based on the perceived lack of social acceptance and not on proven science.”

Quebec has no uranium mines. The former Parti Québécois government imposed a moratorium on uranium exploration in March 2013 following the James Bay Cree Nation’s opposition to Strateco Resources’ Matoush project. Saying it had spent $123 million on Matoush, the company launched legal action against the province and has since delisted from the TSX.

As the BAPE inquiry began last year, the Quebec Mineral Exploration Association called for the replacement of chairperson Louis-Gilles Francoeur, whom the association called a “former environmental journalist.”

A decision on BAPE’s recommendations will come from Quebec’s environment minister, who’ll review the report with a committee.

August 1, 2015 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

US Nuclear plants doing Problem Evaluation Reports on ‘complex and urgent’ situation of water seepage

Gov’t: Erosion is “undermining foundation” of major dam upstream of US nuclear plants — “Extensive network” of seepage paths found — “Water flowing through from multiple sources & multiple directions” — Nuclear plants doing Problem Evaluation Reports on ‘complex and urgent’ situation (VIDEO) http://enenews.com/govt-erosion-undermining-foundation-major-dam-upstream-nuclear-plants-extensive-network-seepage-paths-discovered-water-flowing-multiple-sources-multiple-directions-nuclear-plants-doing-proble?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

TVA’s Boone Dam repair announcement, Jul 30, 2015 (emphasis added):

  • 2:30 — The location of this sinkhole and the presence of the sediment… really raised the possibility of a safety concern with the dam… The initial investigation showed that we had internal erosion. A phenomenon called ‘piping’ where voids from water flowing through the dam — more of a stream-like effect — than just seepageInternal erosion is one of the leading causes of dam failures around the world. So we knew that we had to do something here to protect the safety of the public… particularly downstream risk… Around the clock inspectors [are] keeping surveillance on the dam [and we have] sensors to monitor movements that might occur in the dam itself.
  • 4:00 — One of the key findings so far is that water is flowing through the foundation from multiple sources, and in multiple directions. It’s actually seeping through porous rock — rainwater upstream, through porous rock, through the dam
  • 9:15 — There’s still a lot of unknowns as we move into the project.
  • 21:30 — There’s only 3 companies in the world that do this kind of remediation.That’s the complexity we’re talking about.
  • 24:00 — Reporter: You said that water was coming from multiple sources and moving in multiple directions. To the people who are watching… I would think they would think that seems like an impossible task to do. There are some… in this community who think… that Boone Dam can’t be fixed… Is there a possibility that these solutions that you’re proposing won’t work?

TVA’s Boone Dam Investigation and Analysis Summary: [There is] “internal erosion,” in which voids develop within a dam and/or its foundation because of the action of flowing groundwater… one of the leading causes of dam failures… March of 2015, TVA discovered a well-developed, complex network of groundwater seepage paths coming from sources other than the reservoir… surface runoff flows underneath the dam and is a leading contributor to the observed seepage and sinkhole… Further investigation has confirmed that deterioration of the cutoff trench has occurred as seepage flows continue to undermine the foundation of the embankment dam… If left unaddressed, continued internalerosion may lead to enlargement of the network of voids at which time a large influx of water into the voids could cause rapid acceleration of internal erosion and eventual breaching of the dam. Due to the complex and urgent nature of the situation at Boone Dam, TVA has complemented its own dam safety engineers with nationally recognized experts… In its current state, the dam cannot be relied upon to serve the functions for which it was constructed. In the unlikely event of a dam failure, risks to the public wouldinclude: … loss of critical infrastructure [and] potential loss of life… [We are] engaging local and state emergency management officials… developing specific plans to address potential emergencies and conducting mock exercises to execute those plans. TVA has also initiated efforts to reinforce downstream facilities in a way that will minimize potential risks from an unlikely failure of Boone Dam.

TVA’s Boone Dam Weekly Update, Jun 23, 2015: Our investigation has shown that more water is seeping through the foundation of the dam than would typically be expected.  A contributor to the seepage is the high water table from the area just east of the dam.  Both sources of seepage and subsequent erosion have created an extensive network of seepage paths beneath the dam… TVA Dam Safety experts [are] working to understand the extent of the seepage and erosion

Sequoyah Nuclear Plant – NRC Integrated Inspection Report (pdf), Feb 4, 2015: For the five operability evaluations described in the problem evaluation reports (PERs) listed below, the inspectors evaluated the technical adequacy of the evaluations… The inspectors completed five samples [including] PER 952079 – Functional Evaluation of Boone Dam Sinkhole.

Watts Bar Nuclear Plant – NRC Integrated Inspection Report (pdf), Feb 9, 2015: The inspectors reviewed the operability evaluations affecting risk-significant mitigating systems listed below [including] PER 952103 for the discovery of a sinkhole and tailwater sediment at the Boone Dam.

Watch today’s TVA press conference here

August 1, 2015 Posted by | USA, water | Leave a comment

Will USA’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission allow the nuclear lobby to set radiation standards?

If a pro-hormesis model is allowed to take hold, it will change things forever…

It could give the nuclear industry an excuse to release more radiation from nuclear power plants; an excuse for gov’t quackagencies to allow even more radiation in food and water; allow doctors to give you more radiation…

It allows you to be exposed to low-level radiation because “it’s good for you.”

ALERT: NRC may rule radiation exposure is healthful, Heal Fukushima July 27, 2015  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission may decide that exposure to ionizing radiation is beneficial – the radiation from nuclear bombs, nuclear power plants, depleted uranium, x-rays, and Fukushima. It has opened a proceeding to consider adopting this “radiation is good for you” model. Continue reading

July 31, 2015 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Failure of USA’s small scale reactor in Antarctica – costly and cancer-causing

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

This is quite an old article, but I find it remarkable because, for once, it mentions the enormous cost of security measures needed for small nuclear reactors in remote areas.

That is what is being proposed for Australia – by both the thorium enthusiasts, and the overseas companies desperate to keep the nuclear industry alive by selling  small reactors to Australa (or, even more insidiously, by providing them to Australia “for free”, in exchange for South Australia importing radioactive trash, as outlined by nuclear proponent Oscar Archer )

the PM-2A’s purpose was to test whether reactors could be built in remote locations using prefabricated parts.

After the reactor was closed down, the US shipped 7700 cubic metres of radioactive contaminated rock and dirt to California, but passed through Dunedin, with a population of 124,000, the second largest city on New Zealand’s South Island, where it stayed for four days, raising local concerns, the New Zealand news site stuff.co.nz.

Russia has found that the logistics of even finding customers for its ANPP’s outweigh even the logistics of operating the plants. Russia has staked a financial bonanza on prospective orders for the plants, but there are, simply, no takers. And if there were, the logistics of securing such a plant against terrorists or accidents in remote areas would require at least the staff of a stationary plant.

smr-aUSTRALIA-copy


Small-scale US nuclear reactor blamed for spiking cancer rates, casting pall over Russia’s FNPP fetish 
AMSTERDAM – A small nuclear power plant operated the United States at Antarctica’s McMurdo Sound has been implicated in dozens of cases of an unusual cancer in personnel who worked at or near the station between the years 1964 and 1973, US and New Zealand media have indicated. March 7, 2011 by Bellona  Continue reading

July 31, 2015 Posted by | ANTARCTICA, Reference, technology, USA | Leave a comment

September – expected decision on closing Quad Cities nuclear plant

Decision of possibly closing Cordova Exelon plant expected in September, WQAD, JULY 30, 2015, BY  The decision of whether to close the Quad Cities nuclear plant, Exelon, is expected in September of 2015.

This possibility came out during a conference call with analysts on Wednesday, July 29, 2015, according to a report by Crain’s Chicago Business. The company’s CEO Chris Crane said he didn’t see a way to keep the Cordova, Illinois plant open given the lack revenue from customers.

Click here to read the full conference call transcript. 

According to the report, it would take a state law that charges utility customers more to keep the company afloat.  Crane said the company’s six plants are losing money partly due to the low cost of natural gas.

According to Bill Stoermer, Communications Manager for the Cordova Exelon plant, no decisions regarding any of the Illinois nuclear plants have been made……….http://wqad.com/2015/07/30/decision-of-possibly-closing-cordova-exelon-plant-expected-in-september/

July 31, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

$10 billion bonanza to save Exelon nuclear plants in Illinois?

New power rules may preserve Exelon nuclear plants in Illinois, St Louis Post Dispatch,    By Scott DiSavino Reuters , 30 July 15, New rules for U.S. electricity providers could save two money-losing nuclear power plants in Illinois from shutting down and may amount to a $10 billion bonanza to U.S. power producers.

A system of rewards and penalties is part of a requirement approved last month by federal energy regulators that applies to a power auction next month.

It may benefit some costly nuclear reactors in the PJM power region, which stretches from New Jersey to Illinois, that have had a tough time competing against the growing use of wind turbines and power plants fired with cheap natural gas.

That is particularly true for two plants operated by Exelon Corp., the biggest U.S. nuclear power plant operator. It has warned it might be forced to shut its Quad Cities and Byron nuclear plants in northern Illinois, unless the reactors’ revenues increase.

 Other generators expected to benefit from the new requirements, including those with nuclear plants located far away from the Midwest wind farms, include Dynegy Inc., NRG Energy Inc., Public Service Enterprise Group Inc. and Talen Energy Corp.

Thanks to the growth of alternative power sources and abundant gas from shale formations, PJM power prices have fallen an average of 20 percent over the past five years to around $50 per megawatt hour compared with the prior five years…….

The rule creates a niche for nuclear plants, which run consistently, unlike breeze-dependent wind turbines, and do not need potential upgrades to withstand harsh winter temperatures like gas plants.

Under so-called capacity performance requirements, generators will receive higher fees to keep plants available but face stiff penalties if their units don’t deliver power when needed during system emergencies. Fines for an average 100-megawatt plant would be around $350,000 an hour………

If analysts’ estimates are correct and all ten of Exelon’s reactors in northern Illinois are selected to provide capacity in the auction, the company could receive around $600 million for those reactors during the 2018-2019 delivery year………

Exelon has lost close to $1 billion over the past five years on its nuclear operations — about $350 million at Quad Cities alone. It expects those losses to continue, based on forward power prices, Dominguez said.

Even if Byron and Quad Cities clear the auction, Dominguez said they still face the risk of shutdown unless federal, state and regional policy makers find ways to compensate generators for the environmental and reliability benefits that non-carbon emitting nuclear plants provide.

In the meantime, extra revenues from the capacity auction could keep the money losing reactors operating for a few more years until possible new carbon standards are available. http://www.stltoday.com/business/local/new-power-rules-may-preserve-exelon-nuclear-plants-in-illinois/article_e4007591-df54-5795-9b5f-de5a1e6ab3f8.html

July 31, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Exelon should shut down those uneconomic nuclear reactors – says former CEO

Former Exelon CEO says Exelon should shut those reactors Green World, Michael Mariotte
July 28, 2015 “………..Last Friday, we linked to one interview he gave recently where he said he would have been quicker to close Exelon’s uneconomic reactors than the current Exelon regime–which still hasn’t closed them and is still floundering around trying to get someone, anyone, to order ratepayers to bail them out. So far, unsuccessfully.

Yesterday, E&E Publishing ran another interview with Rowe,  which expands on his thoughts and surely caused unpleasant abdominal pains and teeth-gnashing in Exelon’s executive suite and boardroom. You see, Rowe is one of those retired execs whose stature has only grown since he left the company and his thoughts carry weight, especially in Illinois. And he’s still got some clout, perhaps more than Exelon itself these days: for example, he’s actually friends with Chicago Mayor and former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, unlike the current Exelon suits.

So here’s what Rowe said about Exelon’s uneconomic reactors:

I’m living in a fairy world because I don’t have the numbers and I’m not responsible for them anymore. But in my opinion, you shut those three plants down. You say they have become uneconomic just like some old coal plants are uneconomic. And in a world that’s driven by unfriendly market prices and unfriendly public policy, you shut them down………

As for the idea that EPA’s Clean Power Plan should encourage nuclear power:

…I don’t think it’s EPA’s job to encourage a new nuclear world. I think that would be one of the most expensive solutions it could pursue……

Rowe, unlike the current short-sighted and economically-challenged management at Exelon, understands electricity markets and finances and, also unlike Exelon’s current management, is not afflicted with the kind of greed mentality that insists they should get whatever they want just because they want it. Rowe understands that is not how the world works. Rather than trying to force the world to adapt to Exelon, as the current regime is attempting, Rowe’s history was one of trying to steer Exelon through the real world that was presented. http://safeenergy.org/2015/07/28/former-exelon-ceo-says-exelon/

July 31, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

USA’s government ignoring the continuing disaster of Fukushima

Fukushima Continues Out of Control – Obama Silent on Risks, DC Clothesline – #Airing Out America’s Dirty Laundry”  July 28, 2015 by Suzanne Hamner  The propaganda “ministry” of the federal government works feverishly and incessantly to focus attention on “issues” they design in order to keep Americans from investigating issues that pose real threats to the citizenry. It’s a well-oiled machine that Joseph Goebbels and Joseph Stalin would envy since it is from the Goebbels and Hitler model, with a littleStalin thrown in, this administration copied and perfected. To further confuse the public and keep emotions stirred, dog and pony shows occur in both chambers of Congress to the point it becomes hard to tell the difference between Republican, Democrat, GOP establishment, liberal, RINOcommunist and socialist.

Despite the attempt to redirect attention away from the important issues to “contrived” ones, reports surface daily indicating multiple crises are imminent. One can almost guarantee the US government agencies, politburo (Senate and House), and the Liar-in-Chief are clueless as to action to be taken, if any can be taken at all, to quell the coming tide. Case in point remains the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant disaster of March 2011.

In April 2015, Melissa Dykes reported the media propaganda arm of the administration pushed the idea that radiation from Fukushima was “low risk” and “you could swim in the ocean for six hours every day for a year and receive a dose more than a thousand times less than a dental x-ray.” Melissa called “BS” then, as did the rest of us, and continuing reports coming out of Japan indicate the media, controlled by this administration, is lying. However, what’s a little radiation that could kill millions when that “racist” Confederate Battle Flag is stirring up trouble and sodomites are denied rights (rolls eyes).

presentation by Fairewinds Chief Engineer and nuclear expert Arne Gundersen claims there is plenty to generate concern. The catastrophe is far from over despite the Japanese Government and Tokyo Electric Power Company push to decommission the Fukushima plant in 30 years. The closest cousin to the Fukushima disaster remains Chernobyl in Ukraine. The government there is waiting close to 100 years to decommission Chernobyl. Why the rush on Fukushima? The answer is more about politics and money than science.

According to Gundersen, problems exist at Fukushima that will last decades.

  • Three of the nuclear cores at Fukushima Daiichi are in direct contact with groundwater, a problem “nuclear power designers and engineers never anticipated.
  • Units 1, 2, and 3 were destroyed allowing the formation of holes and cracks; which withcontainment units breached, groundwater is allowed to come in contact with the nuclear cores.
  • 23,000 tanker truckloads of radioactive water have leaked into the Pacific Ocean” with groundwater continuing to leak in and out at a rate “at least 300 tons per day;” so far more than 1500 days have passed and no end is in sight.
  • The ice wall is a complete failure meaning Cesium, Strontium and Plutonium from Fukushima will bleed into the Pacific for decades due to unmitigated groundwater flow.
  • Constraints of the press by the Japanese government’s secrecy act continue to hide the full human, financial and environmental costs of the disaster.
  • Levels of Strontium-90 concentrations outside the destroyed plant spiked 1000 % in three months from April 2015 to July 2015.

According to Natural News:

Censored and heavily redacted emails [PDF] from US government scientists and officials reveal that there were major concerns among American policymakers shortly after the devastating Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011 that there would be widespread radiological contamination and spikes in thyroid cancer rates.

“I would like to raise another issue which now merits expeditious, near term action. There is a short time window … during which it will remain possible to … measure I-131 that members of the public may have ingested,” said an email sent to John Holdren, senior adviser to Pres. Obama on science and technology, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, DOE/NRC officials, and others whose names were redacted on March 23, 2011, 12 days after the disaster on March 11, according to a recently released trove of email documents, per a Freedom of Information Act request.

“Collecting this data … would be very valuable,” said the email.

[Using the Ctrl-F function, ability to readily access this cited email confirms the above.]

Nuclear science experts were clearly concerned that radioactive fallout from the disaster would not merely spread to the US West Coast but cause a spike in thyroid cancer rates there, as well — though none of those concerns were publicized by reports or expressed publicly by the Obama administration at the time[Emphasis mine.]………..http://www.dcclothesline.com/2015/07/28/fukushima-continues-out-of-control-obama-silent-on-risks/

July 31, 2015 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Problem for Modular Nuclear Reactors – they’re just as costly as the old ones

text-SMRsPrefab Nuclear Plants Prove Just as Expensive Modular method has run into costly delays and concerns about who will bear the brunt of the expense., WSJ,  By  REBECCA SMITHJuly 27, 2015

Building nuclear reactors out of factory-produced modules was supposed to make their construction swifter and cheaper, leading to a new boom in nuclear energy.

But two U.S. sites where nuclear reactors are under construction have been hit with costly delays that have shaken faith in the new construction method and created problems concerning who will bear the added expense.

“Modular construction has not worked out to be the solution that the utilities promised,” said Robert B. Baker, an energy lawyer at Freeman Mathis & Gary LLP in Atlanta and former member of the Georgia Public Service Commission, the state utility authority.

The new building technique calls for fabricating big sections of plants in factories and then hauling them by rail to power-plant sites for final assembly. The method was supposed to prevent a repeat of the notorious delays and cost overruns that marred the last nuclear construction cycle in the 1980s.

It hasn’t worked. Georgia Power Co., a unit of Southern Co. that is building one of the nuclear power plants, reports that construction is three years behind schedule, although it is making steady progress.

“The promise of modular construction has yet to be seen,” said Joseph “Buzz” Miller, executive vice president of nuclear development for Georgia Power. The Georgia plant’s delay will increase the project’s financing costs, potentially adding $319 annually to each residential bill, according to the public interest advocacy staff of the state utility commission. The utility is seeking to recover $778 million in total added financing costs from vendors. It hopes customer bills won’t rise more than 8% to pay for the plant.

Georgia Power expects to spend $7.5 billion for its 46% share in the Vogtle power plant, which is adding two nuclear reactors adjacent to an existing plant near Waynesboro, Ga. That tab is $1.4 billion higher than the spending limit state regulators approved in 2009.

The cost of the V.C. Summer plant that South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. is building near Jenkinsville, S.C., now stands at $6.8 billion for the company’s 55% stake, up $1.1 billion from a 2012 estimate. The company recently agreed to trim its profit margin on the project if regulators approve a revised construction schedule and cost estimate. The commission heard testimony last week but has yet to rule………

U.S. utilities proposed building more than two dozen reactors five years ago before the shale-gas revolution drove down the price of natural gas and made plants that burn gas a more attractive option for the power industry. Last month, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it was folding a division to manage construction of new reactors back into the division from which it was pulled a few years ago, acknowledging a nuclear renaissance hasn’t materialized. Write to Rebecca Smith at rebecca.smith@wsj.com  http://www.wsj.com/articles/pre-fab-nuclear-plants-prove-just-as-expensive-1438040802

July 29, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

New and very dangerous nuclear bomb in USA’s arsenal

missile-risingThis new nuclear-armed US bomb may be the most dangerous weapon in America’s arsenal, Business Insider,JEREMY BENDER, 27 July 15  The US just introduced a new type of bomb into its already extensive arsenal, and it may just be the most alarming US weapon yet, Zachary Keck writes for The National Interest.

The new bomb is the B61-12. On its surface, the bomb does not appear to be as dangerous as other weapons in the US arsenal. Although the B61-12 is nuclear-armed, it has a yield of 50 kilotons — tiny compared to the largest nuclear bomb that the US possesses, which has a yield of 1,200 kilotons.

But as Keck notes, that difference in explosive power doesn’t tell the entire story.

“What makes the B61-12 bomb the most dangerous nuclear weapon in America’s arsenal is its usability,” Keck writes. “This usability derives from a combination of its accuracy and low-yield.”…….http://www.businessinsider.com.au/this-bomb-may-be-the-most-dangerous-in-us-arsenal-2015-7

July 29, 2015 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Even USA’s nuclear lobby has doubts about “next generation” nuclear reactors

Could Next-Gen Reactors Spark Revival In Nuclear Power?, National Geographic  By Wendy Koch, JULY 24, 2015 Tech titans like Bill Gates are helping fund a new generation of commercial nuclear reactors,………..These are complex systems…They look good on paper but could be difficult to realize in practice.

Gates'-travelling-Wave-Nucl
Matthew McKinzie  
“These are complex systems,” says Matthew McKinzie, director of the nuclear program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group that prefers solar, wind and energy efficiency—rather than nuclear—as climate solutions.

“They look great on paper but could be difficult to realize in practice,” he says of the advanced reactors. “A lot of projects in the past have led to disappointment.” He says reactors that don’t use the light-water design common in today’s nuclear power plants will need prototypes for testing and their private funds aren’t enough to cover the cost.

In addition, “molten salt is corrosive and messy to work with,” says McKinzie, who holds a doctorate in experimental nuclear physics..

Russ Bell, senior director of new plant licensing for the Nuclear Energy Institute says many new reactor designs are safe and “extremely innovative,” but since they need to be prototyped, it will take 20 to 25 years to bring them to market……

Bill Gates has visited China several times to seek its cooperation in developing a next-gen reactor. He chairs TerraPower, which has designed a traveling wave reactor that runs on depleted uranium and produces very little nuclear waste……

“It’s American technology. I personally want the United States to get it first,” says Leslie Dewan. Her company, Transatomic, plans five more years of experimental and design work before aiming to build a 20-megawatt prototype.

“We’ve been talking with the national labs about it,” she says, noting the Department of Energy has a new loan guarantee program for advanced nuclear reactors. “There’s really good buy-in from DOE for developing a wide range of technologies.”

Even if all goes well, Dewan says, it will take at least a decade to develop a commercial molten salt reactor.

July 29, 2015 Posted by | technology, USA | Leave a comment

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