nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Two Niigata nuclear reactors run by Tepco clear new safety standards, a first for the company since the Fukushima crisis

6 & 7 kashiwazaki-kariwa npp 27 dec 2017.jpg
The Nuclear Regulation Authority gave its approval Wednesday to restart the No. 6 and No. 7 reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Niigata Prefecture, the first reactors operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. to formally clear the stricter safety standards
TOKYO (Kyodo) — Two nuclear reactors on the Sea of Japan coast have become the first run by the operator of the crippled Fukushima power plant to formally clear the stricter government safety standards imposed after the 2011 crisis.
The Nuclear Regulation Authority endorsed Wednesday safety measures for the No. 6 and 7 reactors at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa power station in Niigata Prefecture, paving the way for their restart by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., known as Tepco.
The two reactors are boiling-water reactors, the same as those that suffered meltdowns in the Fukushima crisis caused by the massive earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. No such reactor types had previously cleared Japan’s tougher safety standards since the disaster, partly as they are required to conduct major refurbishment for added safety.
The NRA’s endorsement of the two units gives impetus to the Japanese government’s push to restart idled nuclear power plants that were taken offline after the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
In addition to assessing technical requirements, the review by the NRA focused on whether Tepco is qualified to operate a nuclear power plant as it struggles with the scrapping of the Fukushima Daiichi complex — an effort expected to take until around 2051 — and in dealing with contaminated water around the crippled plant where radiation levels remain high.
Tepco, facing huge compensation payments and other costs stemming from the Fukushima crisis, has been keen to resume operation of its reactors to reduce dependence on costly fossil fuel imports for non-nuclear thermal power generation.
However, the process of restarting the two reactors straddling the municipalities of Kashiwazaki and Kariwa in Niigata could still require at least several more years as local governments need to give their consent to resumption.
Among them, Niigata Gov. Ryuichi Yoneyama has said it will take “at least three to four years” before deciding whether to give his approval to bringing them back online, citing the need to assess the causes of the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex.
The two reactors are the newest among the seven units at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant. The complex is one of the world’s largest nuclear power plants, with a combined output capacity of 8.2 million kilowatts.
In a move not seen in the screening processes for other utilities, Tepco agreed to a request from the regulator to provide a pledge to carry through the scrapping of the Fukushima complex, leading the regulator to soften its position.
Tepco filed for safety assessments of the two reactors in September 2013.
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December 27, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

2 residents file request for temporary injunction against Oi nuke plant restart

3 & 4 reactors Oi NPP.jpg
OSAKA — Two people from Fukui and Kyoto prefectures filed a request with the Osaka District Court on Dec. 25 for a temporary injunction against the restart of reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant.
Operator Kansai Electric Power Co. is aiming to turn the No. 3 and 4 reactors at the plant in Oi, Fukui Prefecture, back on in spring 2018.
The restart is already being challenged in four other court cases filed by residents; three in district courts and one that has reached a high court branch. All four are lawsuits, not requests for provisional injunctions. Therefore, even if the plaintiffs win their cases, the Oi plant restart cannot be stopped until the verdict has been finalized through the appeals process.
With the reactors’ projected restart just months away, the pair from Kyoto and Fukui prefectures decided to file for the temporary injunction, which would take effect immediately if granted.
Kansai Electric declined to comment on the filing, saying a copy had not yet arrived at their offices.

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

5 more minors in Fukushima Pref. at time of nuclear accident diagnosed with thyroid cancer

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FUKUSHIMA — Five more people in Fukushima Prefecture who were 18 and under at the time of the 2011 nuclear accident were diagnosed with thyroid cancer as of the end of September this year, a prefectural investigative commission announced at a Dec. 25 meeting.
Fukushima Prefecture established the commission to examine the health of residents after the March 2011 triple meltdown at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant. A total of 159 Fukushima prefectural residents who were aged 18 and under when the meltdowns occurred have now been diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
The commission stated on Dec. 25 that “it is difficult to think the cases are related to radiation exposure” from the disaster.

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , | Leave a comment

The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan clarifies goal of eliminating nuclear power in policy draft

CDP draft 25 dec 2017.jpg
In this file photo taken on Dec. 16, 2017, Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan leader Yukio Edano delivers a speech in Aoba Ward, Sendai
The Constitutional Democratic Party of Japan (CDP), the largest opposition party in the powerful House of Representatives, specified its goal of eliminating nuclear power by 2040 in a draft of its basic policy that was revealed on Dec. 24.
The draft states that the CDP seeks to stop the installation of new nuclear reactors as the necessity for such facilities “cannot be recognized,” and will not agree on reactivation of idled nuclear reactors unless the national government works out effective evacuation plans, for which the state can be responsible.
It then pledges to stick to its goal of decommissioning all nuclear reactors by 2040 in principle, reinforcing its goal of achieving a society without atomic power as early as possible, which the party declared in its campaign pledge for the lower house election in October.
With regard to constitutional amendment, the draft says the party will consider clauses that actually require revisions from the standpoint of putting the brakes on the authorities and protecting the rights of the people.
Under the policy draft, the party regards the Japan-U.S. alliance as the linchpin of Japan’s diplomatic and security policy and pursues the sound development of the pact, while proposing revisions to the Status of Forces Agreement between the two countries to reduce the burden of hosting U.S. military bases.
On the economic front, the draft states that the party will seek to set mid- and long-term targets of achieving fiscal health and strengthen the system of redistribution of wealth through a review of the entire tax system, including the consumption tax. The policy draft also includes the goal of raising the minimum wage to at least 1,000 yen an hour, enacting legislation to ban corporate political donations while promoting individual political donations. The party also aims to lower the minimum age at which people can run for public office by 5 years.
The CDP is also poised to incorporate its goal of phasing out nuclear power in a draft of its platform to be compiled by the end of this year. The party aims to demonstrate originality in its draft platform using phrases such as “bottom-up politics” and “grass-root democracy,” which CDP leader Yukio Edano pledged to carry out when the party was launched.

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Town of Futaba kicks off radiation cleanup with eye on 2022 revival

Decontamination work begins in Futaba Dec 25 2017.jpg
Decontamination work begins Monday in the town of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, to make it habitable again by spring 2022 under a government-led reconstruction project.
FUKUSHIMA – Cleanup work kicked off Monday to make radiation-tainted Futaba, one of the towns hosting the meltdown-hit Fukushima No. 1 power plant, habitable again by around spring 2022 under a government-led recovery project.
Cleanup and demolition crews are trying to decontaminate the town, which was tainted with fallout from the plant’s triple core meltdown after the March 2011 mega-quake and tsunami. The plant’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., is shouldering the cost.
The work at Futaba marks the beginning of a series of government-led projects to make areas designated as special reconstruction zones livable again, with an emphasis on new infrastructure.
About 96 percent of Futaba has been designated as “difficult to return to” zone, and an evacuation advisory is still in place for the entire town, which hosts the stricken power plant with neighboring Okuma.
The cleanup will be concentrated in the special reconstruction zone, which covers 555 hectares accounting for 11 percent of Futaba.
“The reconstruction efforts will help motivate residents to return to their homes,” Futaba Mayor Shiro Izawa told officials involved in the project.
“We want you to carry out the work while thinking about the feelings of the citizens awaiting the day they can return,” he said.
Overseen by the Environment Ministry, the first steps will involve removing the top layer of soil in the area near Futaba Station, trimming grass along the streets, and dismantling nearly 60 houses and public facilities.
Along with Futaba, seven municipalities in Fukushima Prefecture have been designated as zones that are difficult to return to.
The government is aiming to lift the evacuation advisory near Futaba station by the end of March 2020, when the Joban Line plans to fully resume operation.
Some evacuees from Futaba had mixed emotions about the start of the work.
A 69-year-old woman residing in a temporary shelter in Iwaki said that her house is in the special reconstruction zone but that she had given up hope of returning because she evacuated over six years ago.
“If this was two or three years after the disaster, I might have a choice to return. But my house became run-down and I got old. Realistically speaking, I don’t think I can live there now,” she said.
On the other hand, Masamichi Matsumoto, who also fled to Iwaki, welcomed the project, saying, “I’m glad that a step has been taken to rebuild the town for the future.”
He said it is unlikely many citizens will return, partly because a nearby facility will be storing contaminated soil collected from the cleanup work.
“But I hope that Futaba will become a town where people can visit some day,” Matsumoto, 54, added.

Decontamination work begins in Futaba Dec 25 2017.jpg

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Fukushima 2017 | , , , | Leave a comment

Net Neutrality, the Open Internet, and Nuclear Information – theme for January 2018

Before the Internet, information to the public was very much controlled by the established media – print, radio, television. With the world wide web came the opportunity for just about anyone to set up a site, just like this one, and to provide information on any generalist or specialised subject. (Of course, there are disadvantages – e.g. the new sites could lack the fact checking rigour expected of professional journalism).

From the point of view of examining nuclear issues, the Internet provided a timely opportunity to bypass the propaganda that is fed to the public via the mainstream media.  That has become more important now, as investigative journalists lose their jobs in the shaky world of commercial media.  The secretive nuclear industry has been having  a field day, or a field few decades, in handing out propaganda to mainstream journalists, who most often swallow it uncritically.

It was only  a matter of time before corporations worked to gain the same kind of control over the Internet, as they used to have over the media in pre-Internet days.

It’s in this context, that, on December 15th, the Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission voted to end the 2015 Open Internet Order which protects net neutrality in the United StatesNet neutrality requires all internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all data equally, without blocking, “throttling” or censoring services or websites.

There is opposition in Congress to this move. So – it’s early days, to find out what effect it will have.

Still, I think that this is the first clear salvo in what could become a corporate war against independent media. A second salvo just arrived – as Glenn Greenwald reported on Facebook now obeying USA government, in censoring Palestinians’ posts.

The nuclear lobby would love that. They have the money, the corporate and government connections, to make a renewed campaign to stifle the truth about nuclear power, nuclear weapons, and the real state of affairs in Fukushima, as the 2020 Olympic Games approach.

 

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Christina's themes, media | Leave a comment

Donald Trump’s Path to Nuclear War  – a 2017 Timeline

Timeline of Trump’s Path to Nuclear War https://www.globalresearch.ca/timeline-of-trumps-path-to-nuclear-war/5623937 By Walt Gelles Global Research, December 26, 2017 Donald Trump’s reckless policies, belligerence, volatile personality, and rejection of diplomacy have brought the world to the brink of war in Korea.  Such a war could rapidly turn nuclear, killing hundreds of thousands or millions of people, spreading deadly radiation across the planet, and likely involving China and Russia.  North Korea will never give up its nuclear and ballistic missile program under pressure, as it views the program as an indispensable bulwark against U.S. aggression.

December 27, 2017 Posted by | politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A recipe for global catastrophe? Nuclear power for Saudi Arabia

Financial Tribune (Iran) 26th Dec 2017 A lawmaker denounced the prospect of a US uranium enrichment deal with Saudi Arabia, predicting a “global catastrophe” should the oil kingdom mix
nuclear technology with its takfiri ideology.

In a recent talk with ICANA, Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh, a member of Majlis National Security and
Foreign Policy Commission, said, “Unfortunately, even human rights and international laws have not stopped the Saudi crimes in Yemen. Now, if Saudi Arabia is allowed the uranium technology, it would certainly use it in its military.” Takfiris are hardliners who accuse anyone, including Muslims, not following their extreme interpretation of Islam as infidels and apostates punishable by death.
https://financialtribune.com/articles/national/78650/us-nuclear-deal-with-saudis-could-lead-to-catastrophe

December 27, 2017 Posted by | politics international, Saudi Arabia, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New research shows that climate change is speeding up, and weather extremes worse than expected

Climate Change Is Happening Faster Than Expected, and It’s More Extreme
New research suggests human-caused emissions will lead to bigger impacts on heat and extreme weather, and sooner than the IPCC warned just three years ago.
BY BOB BERWYN, INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS DEC 26, 2017 IN THE PAST YEAR, THE SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS SHIFTED TOWARD A GRIMMER AND LESS UNCERTAIN PICTURE OF THE RISKS POSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE.

When the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued its 5th Climate Assessment in 2014, it formally declared that observed warming was “extremely likely” to be mostly caused by human activity.

This year, a major scientific update from the United States Global Change Research Program put it more bluntly: “There is no convincing alternative explanation.”

Other scientific authorities have issued similar assessments:

  • The Royal Society published a compendium of how the science has advanced, warning that it seems likelier that we’ve been underestimating the risks of warming than overestimating them.
  • The American Meteorological Society issued its annual study of extreme weather events and said that many of those it studied this year would not have been possible without the influence of human-caused greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)said recent melting of the Arctic was not moderating and was more intense than at any time in recorded history.

While 2017 may not have hit a global temperature record, it is running in second or third place, and on the heels of records set in 2015 and 2016. Talk of some kind of “hiatus” seems as old as disco music.

‘A Deadly Tragedy in the Making’

Some of the strongest warnings in the Royal Society update came from health researchers, who said there hasn’t been nearly enough done to protect millions of vulnerable people worldwide from the expected increase in heat waves……..

One of the starkest conclusions of the Royal Society update is that up to 350 million people in places like Karachi, Kolkota, Lagos and Shanghai are likely to face deadly heat waves every year by 2050—even if nations are able to rein in greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep the average global temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as per the Paris climate agreement.

There’s also an increasing chance global warming will affect a key North Atlantic current that carries ocean heat from the tropics toward western Europe, according to a 2016 study. It shows the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current weakening by 37 percent by 2100, which could have big effects on European climate and food production.

Melting Ice and Risks to Oceans and Ecosystems

The Royal Society report also notes:

  • An increasing risk that ocean acidification will rapidly and significantly alter many ecosystems and food webs;
  • A concern that crops grown in high-CO2 conditions could be less nutritious, leading to mineral deficiencies;
  • That the commonly accepted wet-areas-wetter and dry-areas-drier scenario has regional nuances with important implications for local water management and food production planning; and,
  • That scientists are finding more links between melting Arctic sea ice and weather extremes like heat waves, droughts and blizzards.

The U.S. Global Change Research Program, an interagency group whose work went through exhaustive peer review and emerged from the Trump administration’s political review mostly unscathed, also cited several emerging conclusions that are much clearer today than five years ago…..https://insideclimatenews.org/news/26122017/climate-change-science-2017-year-review-evidence-impact-faster-more-extreme

December 27, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, climate change | Leave a comment

France’s President Emmanuel Macron to save France’s nuclear export industry?

Final negotiations for Areva reprocessing plant in China, Les Echos, Frédéric Schaeffer, Correspondant à Pékin, 26 Dec 17Areva’s president was in Beijing on Thursday. Paris hopes to sign an agreement during Emmanuel Macron’s visit to China in early January. The contract would be around ten billion euros for Areva……

“There have been  comprehensive  discussions with many Chinese officials  in France and French in Planned over 10 years.  This project could be agreed upon  during the visit of Emmanuel Macron early January in the Middle Kingdom. “We are accelerating the final negotiations in view of the President’s  visit” ….”the visit of Emmanuel Macron will mark a key stage” – French nuclear officials

…. The stakes are crucial for New Areva, the agency resulting from the restructuring of the French nuclear industry and now refocused on the fuel cycle. This could be the key – with  a contract of ten billion euros. …. CNNC originally chose the coastal city of Lianyungang to locate the plant. But that announcement had sparked violent protests last year, forcing a halt to preliminary work. Since then, CNNC and the government have examined several coastal sites but have been careful not to make their choice known.https://www.lesechos.fr/industrie-services/energie-environnement/0301060536871-ultimes-negociations-pour-lusine-de-retraitement-dareva-en-chine-2141002.php

December 27, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, China, France, politics | 2 Comments

2017 – the year of the Trump – Kim nuclear standoff

‘Dotard’ vs. ‘Rocketman’: The Nuclear Standoff That Rattled 2017 http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/entry/dotard-vs-rocketman-the-nuclear-standoff-that-rattled-2017_us_5a3e8bdce4b0b0e5a7a27be6 Days after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, he received a stark warning from America’s outgoing leader.

 In their first and only meeting, Barack Obama told his successor that North Korea ― a volatile nation hellbent on nuclear proliferation ― would pose the biggest foreign challenge his administration would face.
Trump, who has dedicated much of his presidency to erasing Obama’s legacy, seemed to heed this advice, briefly. After rarely mentioning North Korea during his election campaign, he swiftly elevated the issue to his primary foreign policy concern (and later declared an end to Obama’s “era of strategic patience” with the rogue state).
But under Trump’s leadership, the past year has seen brewing tensions between Washington and Pyongyang soar to unprecedented levels with a specter of nuclear war. Economic sanctions in response to a series of North Korean missile launches escalated into a direct exchange of heated insults and threats between Trump and Kim Jong Un, the hermit kingdom’s hostile dictator.

Clashes between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un dominated headlines this year. 

North Korea’s Nuclear Strides

The Pentagon’s efforts to stave off conflict with North Korea have been marred by a string of “decisive failures” this year, according to new analysis published this month from the Brookings Institution, a Washington-based think tank.

“The United States and [North Korea] have engaged in bellicose rhetorical brinksmanship, making war between the two states seem increasingly likely,” wrote Katy Collin, a post-doctoral fellow at the Brookings Foreign Policy program. “Public acceptance of the possibility of conflict within the United States has ballooned. Mechanisms to head off escalation caused by misunderstandings do not exist.”

North Korea made remarkable technological advances to its internationally condemned nuclear program throughout 2017. It conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear teston Sept. 3, which the regime claimed was a hydrogen bomb loaded onto an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Subsequent analysis of seismic data revealed the test was approximately 17 times stronger than the blast that decimated the Japanese city of Hiroshima during World War II.

Pyongyang has also expanded the reach of its missiles this year: The entire continental U.S. is now believed to be within ICBM striking range. Experts have expressed concern at North Korea’s alarming progress, and worry that it is on track to outpace America’s abilities to defend itself and its allies in the region.

The regime’s most recent missile launch in late November exceeded 8,100 miles in range. As tested, such a rocket would be able to travel more than enough distance to reach Washington, D.C., or New York City, although it is unclear if it could transport a warhead that far.

“North Korea knows what they’re doing,” David Wright, a physicist and the co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told HuffPost at the time. “It’s hard to say if it’s six months or two years before they can deliver a nuclear warhead, but it’s heading in that direction.”

Donald Trump’s Fire And Fury

Yet Trump, undermining diplomatic efforts by his own Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, has repeatedly confronted North Korea’s provocations with aggravations of his own. He infamously vowed in August to meet the defiant country with “fire and fury,” prompting Pyongyang’s threat to launch a missile at the U.S. island territory of Guam.

Months later, Trump said the U.S. would “totally destroy” North Korea, which is home to an estimated 25 million people, if provoked. “Rocketman is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said in his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly, referring to Kim.

In an extremely rare personal address, Kim responded by pledging to “tame the mentally deranged U.S. dotard with fire.” Soon after, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho said the regime might detonate an H-bomb in the Pacific Ocean.

As hostilities boiled over, experts urged the “America First” leader to “stick to the script” and avoid making incendiary comments about North Korea during his 12-day trip through Asia last month. But Trump couldn’t help himself:

The president’s taunts “create an incentive for the North Koreans to stage provocations to show him up,” Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told HuffPost in November.

If the situation deteriorates into an acute crisis, such remarks from Trump could give North Korea the impression a military strike is imminent, Lewis added. “If that happens, my belief is the North Koreans would use their nuclear weapons first, in order to try to repel an invasion.”

A turbulent 2017 has stirred fears and uncertainty for the year ahead.

“Trump has been impatient with multilateral, diplomatic containment of nuclear proliferation,” Collin said. “While diplomacy, sanctions, and targeted engagement have been successful in preventing conflict on the Korean peninsula for decades, 2017 marks decisive failures in terms of North Korea’s nuclear capacities.”

December 27, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Japan’s $122 billion nuclear fuel reprocessing plant Rokkasho delayed yet again

 Japanese nuclear fuel reprocessing plant delayed yet again Nikkei Asian Review
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics-Economy/Policy-Politics/Japanese-nuclear-fuel-reprocessing-plant-delayed-yet-again

Age-related decay plagues Rokkasho project, stalled for 20 years, December 23, 2017 

TOKYO — The Japanese company building a reprocessing plant for spent nuclear fuel pushed back the planned completion date by another three years Friday, further clouding prospects for realizing the nuclear fuel cycle sought by the energy-poor country.

  Japan Nuclear Fuel said it now expects to finish the facility in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, in the first half of fiscal 2021, citing problems with aging equipment that forced the suspension of safety checks by the Nuclear Regulation Authority. The deadline has been postponed 23 times from the original target of 1997.

Executive President Kenji Kudo apologized Friday to Aomori Vice Gov. Ikuo Sasaki and said his company would work as one to follow the new timetable at all costs.

Sasaki warned that the series of problems at the plant, stemming from age-related deterioration and insufficient inspections, “could cause residents to lose trust in the facility’s safety.”

The reprocessing plant is meant to extract uranium and plutonium from spent nuclear fuel for reuse in reactors, making it a key link in the envisioned nuclear fuel cycle. Work on the Rokkasho facility began in 1993, but it has sat idle for more than two decades, and many parts are deteriorating with age. Rainwater leaked into a building housing an emergency power supply, and corrosion ate holes in exhaust pipes at a uranium enrichment facility.

The cost of the Rokkasho plant, including operating expenses, has climbed to 13.9 trillion yen ($122 billion), and repair costs may push the total even higher. The necessary funds are provided by the big power companies that are Japan Nuclear Fuel’s main shareholders, feeding growing criticism that the burden falls indirectly on consumers.

The government decided last year to scrap the Monju experimental fast-breeder nuclear reactor, another part of the fuel-cycle plan.

Kudo acknowledged the excessive number of delays and said he would accept the criticism levied at his company. “We want to complete [the facility] at the earliest possible date,” he said.

But it remains unclear whether three additional years will be enough to bring the plant in line with tough new standards imposed after the Fukushi

December 27, 2017 Posted by | Japan, reprocessing | Leave a comment

Shaky economics, as Georgia Public Service Commission decides to save the nuclear industry

Regulators Rescue Troubled Vogtle Nuclear Plant https://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/Regulators-Rescue-Troubled-Vogtle-Nuclear-Plant.html

Executives from Atlanta-based Southern Company defended their long delayed and way over-budget nuclear construction project, the Vogtle plant, before the Georgia Public Service Commission. But this time, Anthony Quinn won. The Georgia PSC commissioners gave Southern the ok to keep building.

The PSC had a choice: recommend cancellation of the huge project or let it proceed. But cancellation would require still another unpleasant discussion and decision: who foots the bill for the incomplete plant? Not the sort of decisions politicians like to make on their watch.

So the PSC ruled that power-generating alternatives to nuclear, such as combined cycle combustion turbines, would cost more than completing the plant (a conclusion that requires judgment about gas prices). And it made some modifications that will supposedly cut $700 million off what the plant will cost Southern’s consumers (that’s $18 million per year over the projected life of the plant, so no big deal.)

Economists warn decision makers to ignore sunk costs. But those sunk costs apparently did weigh on regulators. Explaining to the governor and to voters that the billions of dollars of plant investment made on their watch is now worthless… well, that’s a decision few regulators would choose to make.

The public reasoning behind today’s Georgia PSC decision involved assumptions about future energy costs, the company’s need for a diverse energy mix, and the desirability of adding low carbon emitting generating resources.

For all the attention this decision received, probably didn’t play a significant role. Nobody we’ve ever met could accurately forecast trends in energy consumption, power technology and costs at the same time over any reasonable planning horizon. To accurately forecast these over the 40-60 year projected life of the Vogtle plant turns an impossible task ridiculous. That is the key to the problem regulators faced today, and the reason why a decision to build a large nuclear plant is so risky.

Two Greentech Media journalists saw today’s PSC decision as an “infusion of hope for large-scale nuclear… and the last chance to prove the viability of the industry” in the U.S. The verdict of the financial community was far more muted. The common shares of Southern Company fell 1 percent.

How will an over-budget, late and marginally economic nuclear power generating facility encourage others to dive into the nuclear new-build game?

Georgia regulators cited other reasons to approve this project, including the need to reduce carbon omissions and to maintain America’s nuclear power generating capability. But the big question is why should the electricity consumers of Georgia, alone, bear the burden of meeting relatively high-cost national energy goals?

Given the size and risks inherent in building new nuclear projects, especially with relatively new designs, shouldn’t the risk be spread throughout the nation? There’s something bizarre about the electricity consumers of Georgia and South Carolina (where an identical project was recently canceled) incurring possibly $25-$50 billion of financial risk for the sake of the nation’s nuclear power generating capability.

Given the size and risks inherent in new nuclear projects, shouldn’t the risk be spread throughout the nation, if—as the regulators imply—the entire nation actually benefits? The electricity consumers in Georgia and South Carolina shouldn’t incur significant financial risk for the sake of the nation’s nuclear capability—especially when no other domestic utility management appears ready to follow suit.

As a supposedly patriotic gesture, we can certainly applaud the sentiment. But the economics remain shaky.

December 27, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

In America Renewable Energy is beating Fossil Fuels

Report: U.S. Renewables Outpace Fossil Fuels, Nuclear, https://solarindustrymag.com/report-u-s-renewables-outpace-fossil-fuels-nuclear, Joseph Bebon, ecember 26, 2017, The amount of U.S. renewable energy grew during the first 10 months of 2017 while electricity generation from fossil fuels and nuclear power declined, according to a new analysis from the SUN DAY Campaign.

Citing the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) “Electric Power Monthly” report (with data through Oct. 31), the group says U.S. renewables increased by 14.6% during the first 10 months of this year compared to the same period in 2016 and provided 17.7% of the nation’s electrical generation.

For the first time, solar has topped 2.0% of U.S. electrical output while wind exceeded 6.0%, reaching 6.14%, according to the SUN DAY Campaign. Hydropower accounted for 7.6% of total generation while biomass contributed 1.6% and geothermal 0.4%.

Thus, the group notes, solar and wind combined now account for a greater share of U.S. electrical generation than hydropower.

According to the group, U.S. electrical production by all renewable energy sources grew during the first 10 months of 2017, with solar up by 43.3%, hydroelectric by 13.8%, wind by 12.6%, biomass by 2.2%, and geothermal by 1.9%.

By comparison, electrical generation by oil dropped by 15.9%, natural gas by 9.4%, coal by 2.3%, and nuclear power by 0.6%, the SUN DAY Campaign concludes.

December 27, 2017 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Phony group in St Louis – “Coalition to Keep Us Safe” – attacks JustMomsSTL

Repugnant practices by Republic Services, http://www.stltoday.com/opinion/columnists/repugnant-practices-by-republic-services/article_eb94c468-c084-5e8c-bd30-4d85fdfd156a.html By Dr. Stuart Slavin, 26 Dec 17, 

Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, promised this month that he would arrive at a decision in January about how to remediate the West Lake Landfill. To citizens of St. Louis who are not familiar with the situation, here’s a quick summary.

Republic Services, the second largest waste-management company in the country, owns the West Lake and Bridgeton landfills in north St. Louis County near Lambert airport. The West Lake Landfill lies in a former quarry, and huge amounts of radioactive material dating to the Manhattan Project were illegally dumped there in 1973. Much of the waste is low-level radioactive material, but evidence exists that highly toxic radionuclides such as Thorium-230 and Uranium-235 are mixed in.

The landfill is unlined, sits on a porous aquifer in a floodplain less than two miles from the Missouri River, upstream from a main water-treatment plant supplying drinking water to St. Louis. It’s located in a region prone to tornadoes and periodic devastating earthquakes, both having the potential to cause significant disruption to the landfill.

 The Bridgeton Landfill lies adjacent and has a smoldering subsurface fire that’s currently 600 feet from the known radioactive portion of the West Lake Landfill. A smaller hotspot appears to be even closer. It’s uncertain what will happen if fire reaches the radioactive waste, though thankfully, an atomic explosion is highly unlikely if not impossible. Of greater concern is the possibility of a persistent low-grade fire involving the radioactive material and potentially, a toxic plume of smoke. Concern is great enough to have led St. Louis County to publish an emergency operations plan in 2014 in the event of a “catastrophic event” at the landfill.

At this point, the EPA is considering two possible interventions, and this is where Republic Services comes in. One option would be to “cap” the site — the option favored by Republic. The second would be to remove the radioactive waste, not favored by Republic because they fear they’ll be ordered to bear a good portion of the cost of this more expensive alternative.

So what is Republic doing? They’ve stepped up a disinformation campaign to deceive the public that the Russian government would be impressed by. They’ve set up a shill organization, Coalition to Keep Us Safe, posing as a grass-roots organization, to spread false information and advocate for the absurd solution of capping. Why absurd? Because the material will be radioactive for millions of years. Caps don’t last millions of years and, importantly, the landfills sit in unlined quarries over a porous aquifer. You can’t put a cap underneath the waste; by definition, it sits on top.

 The phony coalition website has earnest citizens of Missouri expressing their preference for capping so that the waste won’t be hauled on Missouri highways and rails. However, radioactive waste has been and continues to be safely hauled in Missouri.

The website links to several opinion pieces published in recent months that appear suspiciously coordinated. Several are written by women, all of whom attack the JustMomsSTL group that has battled to get the dumpsite remediated. All three assert that the JustMoms group is a front for or has questionable ties to the Teamsters. All have misleading titles like “Just Moms STL Has the Right Idea.”

 Two are written by women from Washington, D.C.; why would they care about this issue? One of the D.C.-based writers, Jean Card, had an opinion piece published in the Missouri Times that’s filled with untruths and attacks the JustMoms organization. Her business website www.jeancardink.com, lists “Persuasive op eds and letters to the editor” first in services she offers.

If this is what Republic Services is doing in the light of day, I worry about what it is doing behind the scenes. Lobbyists must be exerting strong pressure on Pruitt to choose capping. So what can St. Louisans do? First, recognize this problem is a threat to the entire region, not just to those who live near the landfill. Second, call Scott Pruitt at 202-564-4700. Tell him not to listen to the Republic Services lobbyists who must be knocking at his door. Let him know the only reasonable solution is to remove the waste.

Dr. Stuart Slavin is a professor of pediatrics at St. Louis University School of Medicine.

December 27, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA, wastes | Leave a comment