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Fear and loathing in USA over nuclear wastes

Stored fuel requires guards and other continuing expenses, which are significant if there is no reactor nearby. Those expenses eventually fall on federal taxpayers because the Energy Department has defaulted on contracts it signed in the 1980s to begin accepting the wastes for burial in 1998. As a result, financial penalties the federal government must pay to the nuclear utilities for failing to dispose of the waste now amount to hundreds of millions of dollars a year.

wastes-1Quarrels Continue Over Permanent Repository for Nuclear Waste By  June 27, 2013 WASHINGTON — As more nuclear reactors across the country are closed, the problem of what to do with their waste is becoming more urgent, government officials and private experts said at a conference here this week.

To address the problem, a bipartisan group of four senators introduced a bill on Thursday that would provide for temporary, centralized storage, even as House leaders remained focused on trying to revive plans for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository that the Obama administration has declared dead.

Nuclear waste is accumulating in steel and concrete storage casks at reactor sites around the country. But the casks — sealed boxes of many tons — cannot be sent to any repository because they are not compatible, said Jeff Williams, director of the Energy Department’s Nuclear Fuel Storage and Transportation Planning Project.

In addition, a growing number of the sites no longer have an operating reactor or the associated fuel-handling equipment, so they have no way to move the highly radioactive fuel to another storage package.

Experts say the amount of orphaned nuclear waste is mounting. Nuclear utilities have announced the retirement of an additional four reactors so far this year, which leaves three more sites without an operating reactor. Before that development, the Energy Department counted nine such sites, with about 2,800 tons of fuel in 248 casks and was hoping to establish a pilot-scale interim storage plant for that fuel. Continue reading


June 28, 2013 Posted by | Reference, USA, wastes | 1 Comment

America’s nuclear industry disintegrating

nukes-sad-Activists See U.S. Nuclear Industry Starting to Crumble By Matthew Charles Cardinale ATLANTA, Georgia, Jun 27 2013 (IPS) – 

“……According to Glenn Carroll, coordinator of Nuclear Watch South, a grassroots organisation that raises awareness about nuclear issues, the four closures bring the total number of nuclear reactors in the United States down to an even hundred, from 104 at the beginning of the year and 114 at the industry’s peak.

“[The nuclear industry] is crumbling under its own weight.”
— Glenn Carroll

“There haven’t been any new reactors built in over 30 years. A small number of them are under construction, and none of them are going well,” Carroll told IPS. “They’re expensive…and meanwhile, solar and wind are…garnering small wins every day.”

“[The nuclear industry] is crumbling under its own weight,” Carroll said

A gradual deterioration

Just a few years ago, dozens of proposals for possible new nuclear reactors existed. Today, two nuclear projects in Georgia and South Carolina are the only ones still going forward, Carroll noted.

“If there are four reactors being built instead of 44, your economy of scale has just evaporated,” Carroll pointed out, adding that Georgia would be “strapping itself” to rising costs for parts for the plant.

“They’re going to be essentially hand-crafted. No company is going to be set up to create these parts,” she said.

Carroll predicted that other reactors would soon be slated for closure, including those at Vermont Yankee in Vernon, Vermont and at Indian Point in Buchanan, New York. In both cases, state governments have sought to shut down the plants.

Meanwhile, billionaire investor Warren Buffett has completely divested from the nuclear industry. Earlier this month, one company owned by Buffett, MidAmerican Energy, has abandoned a proposal to open a new nuclear facility in Iowa.


June 28, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

Chernobyl’s Children

YouTube  Chernobyl’s Children

Seattle TV: Children now sicker than ever from Chernobyl disaster — Contamination to go on for centuries to come — Many with heart and digestive problems Local program helps children receive treatment years after Chernobyl
Source: KING 5 News
Date: June 25, 2013 a 
h/t moxnews

For most of us, the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster is history. But the reality is its effects linger for thousands still living around the site, which will be contaminated for centuries to come.

Two decades ago, a program was started locally to help those in Belarus receive treatment, and now Hope for Chernobyl’s Child is continuing that mission in Renton.

[…] organizers say children now are sicker than ever from Chernobyl’s lasting effects.

Transcript Excerpts

Many have heart and digestive problems and they’ll be treated by doctors who donate their time
Now over the years the Hope for Chernobyl’s Child program has helped over 350 kids and organizers say they’re sicker now than ever and they’re still looking for more doctors to help provide care

Watch the broadcast here

June 28, 2013 Posted by | Resources -audiovicual | Leave a comment

£10bn financial guarantee for Britain’s new nuclear power plants

nukes-hungryflag-UKNuclear power gets £10bn financial guarantee boost,   28 June 2013    and  Ministers respond to warnings that UK is on brink of power blackouts with support for French generator EDF to build Hinkley Point nuclear power plant

The government has responded to warnings that Britain is on the brink of power blackouts by announcing £10bn in financial guarantees to thenuclear power industry – a concession aimed at paving the way for the building of the first new reactor in the country for a generation.

The support for French generator EDF, which is in negotiations to build the Hinkley Point nuclear power station, was announced by the Treasury chief secretary, Danny Alexander, as the centrepiece of a £100bn package of infrastructure investment covering 2015-20, including new roads, schools and affordable homes.

Michael Fallon, the energy minister, insisted the substantial guarantees represented a commercial loan, not a subsidy, saying: “This is big-scale financing, not available in the markets.” …

EDF had already prepared the site next to the two existing stations, but would not commit to the project unless the government guaranteed a minimum price for the electricity the new reactor would produce…….

June 28, 2013 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Man made greenhouse emissions caused Australia’s hottest summer

Manmade Emissions Led to the Heat Wave That Baked Australia Motherboard, By Jason Koebler, 27 June 13 Scientists are 90 percent sure this year’s Australian heat wave couldn’t have happened without manmade influence. Photo: CIA

Surprise, surprise: The record-breaking heat wave that plagued Australia earlier this year with temperatures that reached up to 121 degrees was almost certainly caused by humans, according to a new study.

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters by scientists at the University of Melbourne and Australia’s ARC Centre of Excellence for Climate Systems Science, highlights how humans have heightened drought effects on the continent. According to the authors, “human contribution to the increased odds of Australian summer extremes like 2013 was substantial, while natural climate variations alone, including El Niño Southern Oscillation, are unlikely to explain the record temperature.”


The so-called “angry summer” was easily the hottest on record, with temperatures hitting more than 27 degrees above average in some parts of the country during the first week of January. When it was happening, meteorologists with the Australian government said that though “Australia has always experienced heat waves … the event affecting much of inland Australia has definitely not been typical.”…..”The model experiments also show that these types of extreme Australian summers will become more severe and more frequent in the future, with further global warming,” she said. ”Extreme summers occur 8 times more frequently in the climate model simulations that include human influences, such as greenhouse gases, compared to the climate model simulations with only natural climate variations.”

June 28, 2013 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, climate change | Leave a comment

Much more powerful solar cells on the way

sun-championSolar Cells That Could Produce More Power Than Uranium  27 June 13 New research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology into graphene, one of the thinnest and most conductive photovoltaic materials in existence, could lead to the production of highly efficient solar panels that, weight-for-weight, could be capable of producing more energy than reactor-grade uranium.

In a paper published in the journal Nano Letters, MIT scientists describe the stacking of two atom-thick nanomaterials, graphene and molybdenum disulfide, to create a one-nanometre (billionth of a metre) thick solar cell capable of converting sunlight to energy at two percent efficiency.

Lead author of the research, Jeffrey Grossman, the Carl Richard Soderberg Associate Professor of Power Engineering at MIT, says while this is a very low number compared to conventional photovoltaic efficiencies, the solar cell is so thin that pound-for-pound the new material produces up to 1,000 times more power than current solar technology. Continue reading

June 28, 2013 Posted by | renewable | Leave a comment

IAEA chief confident of nuclear energy’s future

Nuclear industry has learnt its lessons: IAEA chief The global nuclear industry has learned its lessons from the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in Japan in 2011 and can look to the future with “confidence and optimism,” said the United Nations nuclear energy chief….“Nuclear power is a tried and tested technology,” Mr Amano  THE HINDU 27 June 13


June 28, 2013 Posted by | 2 WORLD, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Exelon tries (unsuccessfully) to blame wind energy for nuclear power’s commercial failures

nuke-bubbleExelon Still Blaming Wind PTC For Nuclear Challenges, Exelon Still Wrong About It Think Progress, By Adam James, Guest Blogger on Jun 27, 2013 Exelon recently shelved plans to expand nuclear capacity at their LaSalle and Limerick plants, taking a $100 million hit and once again reverting to the tired old strategy of blaming subsidized wind. The specific target of their ire is the Production Tax Credit (PTC). For wind, that is, not the one that they happily collect for nuclear.

Exelon is (again) wrong about the PTC, as anyone who read our last post already knows.

First, let’s look at the big picture. Wind power has been a tremendous boon for North America. Costs have fallen 90 percent since 1992, the domestic content of wind turbines has dramatically risen, and 75,000 people are employed in the industry. This growth is directly tied to the continued extension of the Production Tax Credit. Wind power is cheap and carbon free, making it good for consumers and the climate alike.

However, Exelon has decided that wind power is bad for their business. The argument they’ve been making is that because wind can collect tax credits for producing energy at times when demand for electricity is very low, electricity prices become negative as the generator pays consumers to take electricity. This hurts their other generators, like nuclear plants, who then have to sell at a loss. Buried in the story about Limerick and LaSalle is a very important point though: negative prices didn’t occur once in springtime.

We debunked this tale before, but I’ll recap the highlights here:……

June 28, 2013 Posted by | renewable, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

New Mexico protests against uranium mining

La Jicarita: Protesters in Santa Fe Say No Uranium Mining  27 June 13 La Jicarita: Albuquerque and Santa Fe activists joined an inter-tribal delegation to protest the planned resumption of uranium mining in New Mexico. With organizing help from (un)occupy Albuquerque, the June 25 action began at the New Mexico Mining Association offices, then moved to the New Mexico Mining and Minerals Division where the contingent confronted division director Fernando Martinez in a polite but insistent impromptu dialogue. Moving on to the offices of the Uranium Producers of America, the protesters found the occupants had moved out (not in search of larger premises, we hope). Ending up at the Santa Fe plaza, the activists took part in a call to free imprisoned AIM activist Leonard Peltier and an Idle No More-led round dance around the town’s monument to the Indian Wars. Click on the links between the pictures below to hear the words of participants in these events.

Read the full article here.
Reporter Eric Schultz also included audio of many of the speakers, well worth a read, and a listen.

June 28, 2013 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear power – it’s just not cost effective

nuclear-costs1Activists See U.S. Nuclear Industry Starting to Crumble By Matthew Charles Cardinale ATLANTA, Georgia, Jun 27 2013 (IPS) -“……. The costs of nuclear power According to Mark Cooper, a senior research fellow for economic analysis at the Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, history has proved that nuclear power is not economical.

The industry likes to say once you build them, they just hum along and they’re cash cows, producing low cost electricity, and then the industry takes that claim and uses that as a pillar [on which] they try to build the case for new nuclear reactors,” Cooper told IPS.

The nuclear industry maintains that once construction is complete, plants are inexpensive to operate and “last forever”, according to Cooper.

“The reality of old reactors does not support those claims,” he argued, and “the construction costs for new nuclear reactors go through the roof.”

He said one-fifth of reactors built before 2013 that received commercial licenses have retired early and called the 60-year life span of reactors “inconsistent with reality”.

“When [reactors] age, they have the tendency of being more and more costly to keep online,” he added. “When they break, they are too expensive to fix,” he said, citing over two dozen reactors that have closed down for those reasons.

Subsidised construction

In his speech on global warming earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama pointed to nuclear reactors under construction in Georgia and South Carolina as examples of new clean energy supported by his administration.

As reported by IPS in 2008, Obama has long been supportive of – and received campaign contributions from – the nuclear industry, beginning with his term in the U.S. Senate.

However, through charges applied to their monthly energy bills, taxpayers in Georgia and South Carolina are shelling out in advance to heavily subsidise nuclear projects in those states, even as Georgia Power and Scana are guaranteed profits because of decisions made by their legislatures and public service commissions.

“At the great pain imposed on ratepayers in Georgia and South Carolina, they can finish those reactors,” Cooper said, but “those reactors will tell us nothing about building another one because they are so incredibly subsidised.”

He believed that other states would not adopt such an approach that shifts risk to taxpayers, predicting, “Summer in South Carolina and Vogtle in Georgia will be monuments for folly, not launch points for the future.”

June 28, 2013 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment

The Center for Public Integrity exposes MOX nuclear facility in South Carolina

‘Nuclear Waste’ series targets seriously troubled project Center for Public Integrity, By Bill Buzenberg 27 June 13   In four superb reports this week, The Center for Public Integrity’s national security team tells the disturbing story of how billions of dollars are being wasted on a specialized nuclear plant that was supposed to produce fuel for nuclear energy and reduce weapons grade plutonium. Not only could this failing enterprise end up costing as much as $20 billion, it may also create more nuclear weapons material instead of less. The Center’s Nuclear Waste series kicks off what will be an ongoing investigation into the world’s faltering efforts to control these most dangerous nuclear explosives……. Read this entire four-part series to see public service investigative journalism at its best

June 28, 2013 Posted by | general | Leave a comment