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Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant can and should close today

Diablo nuclear power plantLies, damned lies and the nuclear industry! Media With Conscience News,  Ace Hoffman 26 June 16 

Three important nuclear power events occurred in the past seven days — one in Nebraska and two in California — which together show just how doomed and unworkable nuclear power really is.

In Nebraska, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Board of Directors unanimously decided to shut down Fort Calhoun Nuclear Power plant because its cost of operation could not be justified against the current and expected future price of natural gas, solar and wind power (but mainly natural gas). Certainly natural gas prices are at an unnatural low compared to the price of oil and nuclear power, and that might change over the coming years, but natural gas prices cannot go up too much if they are to stay competitive with renewable energy prices — which are going to continue to plummet over the next few decades.

Solar panels thinner than a human hair have been developed in the labs. They don’t use many natural resources to make. Solar panels as flexible as a human hair have also been developed. They can be placed virtually anywhere. Wind turbine output keeps going up for the exact same land requirements, which of course, are already minimal to begin with. Power requirements of all the major household appliances keep coming down as better motors, coolers and pumps are developed. The future is bright for renewables, and getting brighter.

All this spelled doom for Fort Calhoun, a “small” (478 megawatts, the smallest operating reactor in the United States) lone reactor that cost about $178 million dollars to build when construction began in 1966, and now costs over $250 million annually to operate. It was “simply an economic decision” to close the facility according to the operators.

Being so old and run-down, it went offline yesterday suddenly, for a turbine issue, (its speed controller failed). But no matter how often a nuclear power plant goes offline without warning, regulators and operators still assure the public they are necessary for “baseload capacity.”

Lies, damned lies and the nuclear industry strike out again

In California, an apparently momentous decision was made regarding Diablo Canyon’s pair of massive nuclear reactors (~1,100 megawatts each), which first went online in the mid-1980s and were originally scheduled to close by this year, but were granted a 10-year extension a few years ago for no apparent reason at all.

After years of threatening to try to extend their license another 20 years to 60 years and beyond, its operator, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) announced that they would only run out their current license (good to 2024 and 2025 for units 1 and 2, respectively) and then be shut down permanently. The decision was made in cooperation with several environmental organizations (FoE, NRDC and A4NR) in some sort of secret backroom arrangement — an arrangement which has some good points, but has some very bad points, too.

First and foremost among the good points is, of course, that the plant will shut down. And second is that it will be replaced with renewable energy and increased energy conservation.

But first and foremost among the bad points is not only that it will take 10 more years, and not only that the decision is potentially reversible, but also that the aforementioned environmental groups apparently have lost interest in shutting the plant down earlier. That means another two million pounds of high-level nuclear waste will be generated in the meantime, with their approval. And worst of all, it means that if the San Andreas earthquake fault does what it’s been threatening to do for decades, and is actually considered late in doing, southern California will be ruined financially and environmentally. Not to mention the dozens of other faults that could shake the plant to smithereens any day of the week.

Additionally, while Fort Calhoun’s operators have promised to help the employees of that plant find other work (probably installing solar panels on rooftops, making new interconnections to the power grid, building wind turbines and so forth), Diablo Canyon has promised to take more than a third of a billion dollars of ratepayer money to do the same. As if it was the ratepayers who chose to make the workers work in a dying industry with high-paying jobs. As if there aren’t other nuclear power plants around the country that are having trouble finding workers, for those who want to stay in a dying industry. And as if there won’t be plenty of renewable energy jobs they can find for themselves.

In short, the deal stinks so badly, one activist in the Diablo Canyon area described it as being “sold down the river.”

n both cases, a major part of the decision was based on the fact that the electricity generated by Fort Calhoun and Diablo Canyon (and virtually every other nuclear power plant in the country) can be replaced immediately with other power sources, without the lights going out or reliability of the grid falling below set point levels. This is as it must be: Nuclear power plants require the rest of the grid to be operating or they themselves must shut down.

That’s why, when a massive power outage struck the northeastern United States in 2003, all the nuclear power plants in the area automatically shut down and could not help keep the grid up. They require about 30 megawatts of continuous power to operate, and as much as 100 megawatts during restart once they shut down for any reason. It took many days for the nuclear power plants to come back online even after the rest of the grid was restored. So much for the reliability of the “baseload” power system!

Diablo Canyon can and should close today. Even its owners have now admitted that its electricity output can be replaced entirely by renewables (although that might take a couple of years to accomplish, it would free up about 1500 workers (1200 PG&E employees, 200 subcontractors, and miscellaneous high-paid executives) to start installing solar panels and wind turbines. Its total output could be replaced in a matter of months.

Meanwhile, the nuclear waste at San Onofre is no longer being generated (SanO closed permanently in 2013 after a leaky steam generator could not be repaired). But the lies and damned lies continue spewing forth unabated from that complex as well. Last night, the quarterly Citizen’s Engagement Panel met once again, supposedly to engage with citizens but in fact, to push the utility’s agenda of cheap, ineffective, dangerous solutions to its nuclear waste problem — which it will have for 500,000 years unless something is done about it.

The meeting was attended by some high-powered outsiders from the Department of Energy and a former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chairman, Dr. Allison Macfarlane. Earlier in the day several localized meetings were held with these outsiders for additional discussions. It all looks very cooperative on paper, but in reality it’s nothing but the regular dog-and-pony shows the nuclear industry and the NRC have been putting on for decades.

Time was, speakers at an NRC hearing were sworn in, swore to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. That ended about 20 years ago, and now we have a non-governmental body making nonsense plans and decisions which will affect the local population for decades to come, will solve nothing, will obstruct real solutions (more on that in a moment), and will push the utilities’ agenda down everybody’s throats (literally, when the waste escapes its escarpments)………http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/59553-nuclear-industry.html

June 27, 2016 - Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA

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