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South Texas Nuclear – Is It Really Watertight? If The Dam Fails Can They Shut The Doors Quickly Enough?

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August 31st NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE) Zoom in of image shows the huge main cooling reservoir-dam at the South Texas Nuclear Power Station site – green spot top center of image – apparently still intact as of August 31st, though the nearby waterways continue(d) to rise.

The STP site has mainly flat topography with few gentle slopes. Elevations across the site range from 15ft (4.6 m) NGVD29 to 30ft (9.1 m) NGVD29 with plant grade of 28ft (8.53 m) NGVD29.https://www.nrc.gov/docs/ML1425/ML14259A195.pdf

If you read, or even just glance, through the US NRC’s flooding walkdown summary, below, then you will quickly get ideas as to to what the “one thing after another” that Raihan Kondker was “working tirelessly to manage” at South Texas Nuclear Power Station, according to the article…

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September 3, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Texas Waters Run Brown After Hurricane Harvey; South Texas Nuclear Dam Still Holding as of August 31st

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From NASA: “On August 31, 2017, the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite captured this image of the Texas coast and the Houston metropolitan area. Note the brown rivers and bays, full of flood water from Hurricane Harvey. Along the coast, muddy, sediment-laden waters from inland pour into a Gulf of Mexico that also was churned up by the relentless storm.

NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE). Caption by Michael Carlowicz.
Link to original story on Earth Observatory and link to original images:  https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=90866
Instrument(s): Terra – MODIS


NASA Earth Observatory image by Jesse Allen, using data from the Land Atmosphere Near real-time Capability for EOS (LANCE) Zoom in of higher resolution image showing the huge dam at the South Texas Nuclear Power Station site apparently still intact as of…

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September 3, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Potential for nuclear disaster at South Texas’ nuclear reactors

WARNING: “Credible threat of severe accident at two nuclear reactors” due to Hurricane Harvey — “Clear potential for major disaster” — Plant “could be overwhelmed by raging flood waters” — Officials refuse to provide public with information   http://enenews.com/warning-credible-threat-of-severe-accident-at-two-nuclear-reactors-due-to-hurricane-harvey-clear-potential-for-major-disaster-plant-could-be-overwhelmed-by-raging-flood-waters-of

By ENENews Reuters, Aug 29, 2017 (emphasis added): [W]atchdog groups called for the [South Texas Project nuclear] facility to shut due to Tropical Storm Harvey… The groups expressed concern about workers at the plant and the safety of the general public if Harvey caused an accident at the reactors… When asked if the plant would shut if flooding worsened, [spokesman Buddy Eller] said “We are going to do what’s right from a safety standpoint.”… Eller said 250 “storm crew” workers were running the plant… Personnel from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) are also at the plant, assessing storm conditions.

teleSUR, Aug 29, 2017: Groups Warn of Nuclear Accident… In the midst of Tropical Storm Harvey’s drenching onslaught, energy watchdogs are sounding the alarm over the continued operation of two nuclear reactors in East Texas that are running at full capacity despite what they claim is the clear potential for a major disaster… [The nuclear plant] risks being flooded as water pours across the region, threatening the embankment wall shielding the power plant… Beyond Nuclear is one of three groups calling for an immediate shutdown of the twin reactors in case the embankment wall surrounding the plant is breached, which could lead to electrical fires and “cascading events” could result in an accident that threatens major core damage… Some fear the threat of a new Fukushima-style disaster.

Common Dreams, Aug 29, 2017: The South Texas Project nuclear power facility in Bay City, Texas could be under extreme threat from historic flood waters, groups warned… energy watchdogs groups are warning of “a credible threat of a severe accident” at two nuclear reactors… [They] are calling for the immediate shutdown of the South Texas Project (STP) which sits behind an embankment they say could be overwhelmed by the raging flood waters and torrential rains… Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the STP operator have previously recognized a credible threat of a severe accident initiated by a breach of the embankment wall that surrounds the 7,000-acre reactor cooling water reservoir,” said [Beyond Nuclear’s] Paul Gunter… [Harvey] was declared the most intense rain event in U.S. history… [B]reach of the embankment wall surrounding the twin reactors would create “an external flood potentially impacting the electrical supply from the switchyard to the reactor safety systems.” In turn, the water has the potential to “cause high-energy electrical fires and other cascading events initiating a severe accident leading to core damage.” Even worse, they added, “any significant loss of cooling water inventory in the Main Cooling Reservoir would reduce cooling capacity to the still operating reactors that could result in a meltdown.” With the nearby Colorado River already cresting at extremely high levels and flowing at 70 times the normal rate, Karen Hadden, director of SEED Coalition, warned that the continue rainfall might create flooding that could reach the reactors… “Our 911 system is down, no emergency services are available, and yet the nuclear reactors are still running… This is an outrageous and irresponsible decision,” declared [Susan Dancer of the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy]. “This storm and flood is absolutely without precedent even before adding the possibility of a nuclear accident that could further imperil millions of people who are already battling for their lives.” As Harvey hovers over the coastal region, heavy rains are expected to persist for days

Beyond Nuclear, Aug 29, 2017: The NRC and South Texas have refused to provide any public information on the status of the water level within in the reservoir…

See also: Nuclear Worker: “Imminent flood coming” near nuke plant from Hurricane Harvey… “Potentially catastrophic”… Running out of food… Working tirelessly to manage problems… Area turned “upside down” (VIDEO)

September 1, 2017 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear workers sticking to their posts at South Texas Nuclear Reactors

As Harvey Raged, Workers Stayed at Nuclear Plant’s Controls, Bloomberg, By Mark Chediak

August 31, 2017,
  • Despite heavy rain, South Texas Project runs at full capacity
  • Biggest challenge is finding workers who can return to plant

As Hurricane Harvey bore down on them, workers remained at the controls of Texas’s biggest nuclear power plant, keeping the lights on for 2 million customers even while some of their own homes were flooded.

Teams of employees have been stationed at the South Texas Project power plant since early Friday. While the site is 90 miles (145 kilometers) southwest of Houston and avoided the worst of the deadly storm, it had to cope with heavy rain and flooding on nearby roads that made it difficult for people to get around.

Plant technicians and engineers were organized into special storm-team crews, working rotating 12-hour shifts, washing clothes in the showers and sleeping on cots set up before Harvey hit. Throughout the storm, the concrete-domed twin reactors have continued operating at full capacity, providing electricity for Texans who can still get service amid a historic flood.

“Really, it’s a matter of getting the sleep you need so you are prepared and ready for the next shift,” said Bob Tatro, a 30-year veteran at the plant and a shift manager for a storm crew that’s kept the plant operating……..

Despite as many as 10 inches of rain on Monday, the nuclear plant near the Gulf of Mexico hasn’t been threatened by the rising waters in nearby tributaries, Eller said. Winds from Harvey never reached hurricane force at the site, which would have required the plant to shut down, he said. There was no flooding at the facility, which is near a wildlife nature preserve.

Workers have been making sure the site’s storm drains are clear and there is enough potable water, said Kurt Moorefield, a shift manager who has been at the plant since Friday.

‘Biggest Issue’

“The biggest issue is finding other employees who can safely make it back to the site,” Eller said. Some workers’ homes have flooded and the company was focused not only on keeping the plant running but helping to assist employees displaced by the storm, he said……..

About 250 operators, engineers, maintenance and other support staff have been stationed at the 2,700-megawatt plant since the storm hit. Additional workers were trickling in to provide help as the weather permitted, and the company was looking to transition back to normal staffing levels, Eller said……..https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-08-30/as-harvey-raged-workers-slept-on-cots-to-keep-nuclear-power-on

September 1, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Houston flooding and the danger to South Texas’ nuclear reactors

As Historic Flooding Grips Texas, Groups Demand Nuclear Plant Be Shut Down https://www.commondreams.org/news/2017/08/29/historic-flooding-grips-texas-groups-demand-nuclear-plant-be-shut-down#

This storm and flood is absolutely without precedent even before adding the possibility of a nuclear accident that could further imperil millions of people who are already battling for their lives.”

byJon Queally, staff writer, 29 Aug 17, As record-breaking rainfall and unprecedented flooding continue to batter the greater Houston area and along the Gulf coast on Tuesday, energy watchdogs groups are warning of “a credible threat of a severe accident” at two nuclear reactors still operating at full capacity in nearby Bay City, Texas.

Three groups—Beyond Nuclear, South Texas Association for Responsible Energy, and the SEED Coalition—are calling for the immediate shutdown of the South Texas Project (STP) which sits behind an embankment they say could be overwhelmed by the raging flood waters and torrential rains caused by Hurricane Harvey.

“Both the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the STP operator have previously recognized a credible threat of a severe accident initiated by a breach of the embankment wall that surrounds the 7,000-acre reactor cooling water reservoir,” said Paul Gunter, director of the Beyond Nuclear’s Reactor Oversight Project, in a statement by the coalition on Tuesday.

The groups warn that as Harvey—which on Tuesday was declared the most intense rain event  in U.S. history—continues to dump water on the area, a breach of the embankment wall surrounding the twin reactors would create “an external flood potentially impacting the electrical supply from the switchyard to the reactor safety systems.” In turn, the water has the potential to “cause high-energy electrical fires and other cascading events initiating a severe accident leading to core damage.” Even worse, they added, “any significant loss of cooling water inventory in the Main Cooling Reservoir would reduce cooling capacity to the still operating reactors that could result in a meltdown.”

With the nearby Colorado River already cresting at extremely high levels and flowing at 70 times the normal rate, Karen Hadden, director of SEED Coalition, warned that the continue rainfall might create flooding that could reach the reactors. “There is plenty of reserve capacity on our electric grid,” she said, “so we don’t have to run the reactors in order to keep the lights on. With anticipated flooding of the Colorado River, the nuclear reactors should be shut down now to ensure safety.”

Last week, the STP operators said that safety for their workers and local residents was their top concern, but that they would keep the plant operating despite the approaching storm.

Susan Dancer, president of the South Texas Association for Responsible Energy, said that as residents in Bay City—herself included—were being forced to leave their homes under manadatory evacaution orders, it makes no sense to keep the nuclear plant online.

“Our 911 system is down, no emergency services are available, and yet the nuclear reactors are still running. Where is the concern for employees and their families? Where is the concern for public safety? This is an outrageous and irresponsible decision,” declared Dancer. “This storm and flood is absolutely without precedent even before adding the possibility of a nuclear accident that could further imperil millions of people who are already battling for their lives.”

As Harvey hovers over the coastal region, heavy rains are expected to persist for days even as the storm system creeps toward to Louisiana in the east.

But no matter how remote the possibility, said Gunter, “it’s simply prudent that the operator put this reactor into its safest condition, cold shutdown.”

August 30, 2017 Posted by | climate change, safety, USA | Leave a comment

Plans to expand South Texas nuclear plant are shelved, as the economics of nuclear get worse

global-warming-nuke2 Nuclear power is no solution to climate change. Nuclear proponents conveniently omit the carbon emissions at all stages of the nuclear fuel chain – from uranium mining through to burial of wastes and dead reactor – and even some emissions from the reactor’s operation itself.
Fission may fizzle as nuclear power reacts to economics, Houston Chronicle, Ryan Holeywell, 3 April 15  financial-disaster-1 “…….As cutting carbon emissions becomes a priority for government and business, proponents of the nuclear power sector say their technology is the perfect way to fill a void as coal plants close under the weight of new environmental rules.
But they also acknowledge that in the age of cheap natural gas, the economic headwinds might be too strong to allow a nuclear renaissance.
While officials at the South Texas Plant tout the important role of nuclear energy to the country’s energy mix, NRG has shelved plans to help finance the expansion of the facility from two units to four.

“The economics of new nuclear just don’t permit the construction of those units today,” NRG spokesman David Knox said………

to add nuclear power to states’ renewable portfolio standards.

Those rules require electric producers to generate – or buy from other generators – a certain amount of electricity from renewable sources. In Texas and most other states, eligible sources include wind, solar and biomass power, but not nuclear……..

Another hurdle for nuclear power is the largely flat U.S. electricity demand, held down by a sluggish economic recovery and increasing energy efficiency of houses and appliances.

For now at least, the industry struggles to overcome the obstacles…….

Krancer argues that federal tax credits for wind power make it difficult for nuclear to compete on a level playing field in competitive electric markets.

That message falls flat among most environmental advocates. The Sierra Club, for example, says the 2011 Fukushima disaster triggered by an earthquake and tsunami in Japan shows nuclear is still too risky.

And, the organization says, the lack of a long-term federal plan on nuclear waste disposal leaves safety questions unanswered.

The Sierra Club also contends that the billions of dollars it costs to build nuclear reactors would be spent more wisely on developing renewable sources like solar and wind.

The economic hurdles facing nuclear plants are especially acute in Texas and other deregulated electricity markets, said Julien Dumoulin-Smith, a utilities equities analyst at investment bank UBS…….

John Coequyt, director of the Sierra Club’s federal and international climate campaign: –  “All the environmental groups understand: nuclear isn’t a good solution to climate change. It’s too expensive and it’s too slow.”

 

April 4, 2015 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

South Texas nuclear reactors – fire on Jan 8, relicensing hearing on Jan 15

NRC-jpgFire at South Texas Project Nuclear Reactor Site – Just Before Re-licensing Hearing, Herald Online,  January 11, 2013  By Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition  AUSTIN, TEXAS, JAN. 11, 2013 — /PRNewswire-USNewswire/– A fire that shot 50 foot flames into the air erupted January 8th in the main transformer at the South Texas Project site near Bay City, Texas, about 90 miles southwest of Houston. Reactor 2, which was out of commission for five winter months in 2011-2012, has not been operating since the fire.

The fire occurred just one week prior to a hearing on re-licensing the two South Texas Project reactors, which will be held January 15th from 2-5 pm and 7-10 pm at the Bay City Civic Center, 201 Seventh St…… “Any nuclear reactor is at risk from fires, explosions, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, earthquakes, lack of cooling water and terrorist attacks, as well as accidents due to human error and mechanical failure,” said Karen Hadden, Director of the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development (SEED) Coalition.

“This is like a used car deal – made fourteen years in advance. Why not wait until 2025 to see what shape the reactors are in before even considering re-licensing? The reactors, now 24 and 25 years old, are licensed to run 40 years – until 2027 and 2028. It’s time to plan for their replacement, not court disaster by giving aging reactors twenty additional years.”

The NRC Event report and hearing information are online at www.NukeFreeTexas.org.

January 11, 2013 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Uranium Mining in the Coastal Bend – Part 2 | KIII TV3 South Texas | Local News

Uranium Mining in the Coastal Bend – Part 2

KIIITV News 13 Nov 08 Some residents in the coastal bend believe uranium mining has contaminated their ground water supply. Environmentalists who support their claim want a moratorium to halt the mining…………….

The coastal bend is one of the nation’s top producers for uranium. In Ricardo, Garcia Hill residents blame the uranium mining industry for contaminating their ground water. They claim their water has dangerous levels of radioactive elements. Levels substantiated by the EPA. And that’s devastating to folks like Humberto Garcia, a life long resident.

Garcia says, “They should have checked into it to make sure it was safe and safe for the people around here.”

State leaders, like Coastal Bend State Representative Yvonne Gonzalez-Toureilles heard those complaints. She sponsored a bill that became law last year requiring ground water be restored to its original condition before mining began. Now the tough thing is to sort out the quality of the water before mining………………..Opponents are critical of state agencies that regulate the uranium mining industry. They claim companies are allowed to skirt environmental laws and not return ground water to original standards…………..residents living near uranium mining think their water should not be sacrificed for power needs of nuclear plants.

Uranium Mining in the Coastal Bend – Part 2 | KIII TV3 South Texas | Local News

November 13, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Plan to revive Texas Consolidated Nuclear Waste Storage Facility

Texas Consolidated Nuclear Waste Storage Facility to Be Revived http://www.powermag.com/texas-consolidated-nuclear-waste-storage-facility-to-be-revived/03/29/2018 | Sonal Patel 

Waste Control Specialists (WCS) and Orano USA intend to revive licensing of a consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in Andrews County, Texas, where spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from reactors across the country can be stored until a permanent repository is developed.

The companies said on March 13, 2018, they intend to form a joint venture that will ask the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to resume its review of the CISF license application, which WCS originally submitted in April 2016. In that application, WCS requested NRC authorization to store up to 5,000 metric tons of uranium for a period of 40 years at its Texas Compact Waste facility.

In April 2017, however, the company requested that the NRC temporarily suspend all safety and environmental review activities as well as public participation activities associated with the license application. The company cited “a magnitude of financial burdens” that made pursuit of licensing unsupportable.

One issue was that the NRC’s estimate of the cost of the application review—$7.5 million—was “significantly higher” than WCS originally estimated. Costs associated with a public participation process and a potential adjudicatory hearing were also estimated to be “considerable.” WCS also said a cost-sharing agreement it had in place with one of its partners was “depleted” and it could not be “extended.” At the same time, WCS has faced significant operating losses in each of its operating years, and the cost of actively pursuing the project only serves to increase those losses, it said.

WCS said on its website in March that a joint venture with Orano USA—formerly AREVA Nuclear Materials—would leverage the French company’s decades of expertise in used fuel packaging, storage, and transportation. Scott State, CEO of WCS, noted that WCS’s proposed solution was an “industry-driven near-term solution” that will use “proven storage technology and procedures to expand the capabilities and operations at the WCS site to include consolidated interim storage of commercial used nuclear fuel.” Sam Shakir, CEO of Orano USA, in a statement said the WCS-Orano USA joint venture “will provide safety, flexibility and value for used nuclear fuel titleholders and reduce U.S. taxpayer liabilities for ongoing storage, while plans for a permanent federal repository continue.”

WCS’s Texas Compact Waste Facility in western Andrews County has been operational since early 2012. Owned and licensed by the State of Texas, it is the only commercial facility in the U.S. licensed in the past 40 years to dispose of Class A, B, and C low-level radioactive waste. It primarily serves Texas and Vermont, which are member states of the Texas Compact Commission, but it is also available to 34 other U.S. states that have no access to a compact disposal facility. However, irradiated SNF discharged from commercial nuclear reactors is classified as high-level radioactive waste.

A Boost for Consolidated Interim Storage

As POWER reported, the nation lacks a long-term nuclear waste strategy, and nearly a third of the nation’s SNF is in dry storage in about 2,080 cask or canister systems at 75 reactor sites scattered across 33 states. U.S. SNF pools have reached capacity limits, forcing nuclear generators to load about 160 new dry storage canisters each year.

Nuclear generators currently recover costs for SNF storage and management by suing the Department of Energy (DOE), which, under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), was contractually obligated to dispose of SNF by January 1998. The DOE, however, cannot fulfill its obligation because no permanent repository exists—or is even in sight. (For an in-depth look at the current state of nuclear waste management, see “A Break in the Nuclear Waste Impasse?” in POWER’s March 2018 issue.)

Beyond Yucca Mountain—the long-stonewalled Nevada repository identified by amendments to the NWPA in 1987—the law allows for only two other nuclear waste options: to build one or more interim storage facilities to temporarily consolidate SNF across the nation until a permanent repository is completed; or use federally monitored retrievable storage (MRS) facilities, in which the DOE could store nuclear waste from commercial nuclear plants pending permanent disposal or reprocessing.

While no MRS facilities have been proposed to date, only two private companies have filed NRC applications for an interim spent facility: WCS and Holtec, a Camden, New Jersey–based supplier of SNF management equipment.

Holtec Gains Recognition

Earlier this month, the NRC affirmed acceptance review of Holtec’s March 2017-submitted license application for its proposed CISF in Lea County, New Mexico, which it calls “HI-STORE CIS.” The NRC said it could issue a 40-year license by July 2020 or earlier for the CISF that could store up to 10,000 canisters in the below-ground storage system.

On March 26, Holtec International reported that its HI-STAR 100MB cask, which could serve to transport hundreds of multipurpose canisters in storage across the U.S. to its proposed HI-STORE CIS facility in New Mexico, won an international competition for deployment in China.

Holtec’s vice president of Business Development, Joy Russell, said in a statement on March 12 that Holtec’s HI-STAR transportation systems have been used for 12 years now. In 2006, the 1976-closed Humboldt Bay Power Plant south of Eureka, California, became the first plant to feature subterranean storage. Ameren’s Callaway plant deployed the first canister based on Holtec’s HI-STORM UMAX storage system, which it plans to use at the New Mexico CISF. In January 2018, a seismically hardened version of the HI-STORM UMAX canister was lowered into a fortified cavity at the San Onofre nuclear plant.

“The successful deployment of under-ground-storage technology and Holtec’s actions licensing the HI-STORE CIS facility are true demonstrations that consolidated interim storage is achievable,” Russell said.

—Sonal Patel is a POWER associate editor (@sonalcpatel, @POWERmagazine)

March 28, 2018 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Forget the climate argument: in Central Texas, wind energy means JOBS

In Central Texas Where Wind Power Means Jobs, Climate Talk Is Beside the Point, Wind turbines bring jobs, tax dollars for new schools, income security for farmers and energy independence. To these Texans, climate change has little to do with it. BY MEERA SUBRAMANIAN, INSIDECLIMATE NEWS
DEC 26, 2017 “………..
 Wind’s Ascent

Wind energy development in Nolan County dates back to 2001, when the first wind farmswere constructed in the area. A perfect confluence of events led to the growth of the industry since then.

There was a supportive state government, led by Republicans George W. Bush and then Rick Perry, pushing for wind by putting the regulatory and infrastructure pieces in place to make it successful. The state’s nearly autonomous electric grid meant no troublesome cross-border or federal approval was needed to get wind electricity from places like Sweetwater to the green-leaning urban markets clamoring for renewable energy. And then there were the Texans themselves, ever eager to use their land and diversify their revenue sources, especially as recurring droughts killed off the cotton and the livestock, and oil fields were either going dry or failing to pay for themselves. At the same time, federal incentives came (and went, and came again) in the form of production tax credits that helped the wind industry offset large investment costs.

If Texas were a nation, it would be the sixth-largest wind energy producer in the world. The bulk of that power is coming from the Nolan County region. And so the reddest parts of Texas are responsible for supplying upwards of 12 percent of the state’s energy needs every month with clean, green kilowatts. Occasionally, as happened one day in the blustery month of October this year (a time when those energy-sucking A/C units are switched off and electricity usage is low), it provided more than half of the electricity to the state’s power grid.

The Lure of Wind Industry Jobs

As the wind industry grew through the early 2000s, so did a desperate need for skilled labor. What emerged was the 2008 launch of TSTC’s Wind Energy Technology program, where James enrolled in 2010 and where he returned to teach in 2013 after working in the field for a couple of years.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, wind technician is currently the second-fastest growing job in America (beat out only by solar photovoltaic installer). By the end of last year, there were more than 100,000 jobs related to the wind industry nationwide, at least one-fifth of them in Texas. When the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) launched a seal of approval for wind technician programs in 2011, TSTC was one of only three schools in the U.S. to receive it.

The students James teaches are a slice of the next generation of wind workers for an industry that, at least in this part of the country, has already established itself. They include veterans and women, those leaning politically right and left, environmentalists and climate change skeptics, the civically engaged and those who never vote. The clean energycomponent seems to be a bonus for some, but it was not the primary reason they chose this field. There is the laid-off gas worker who noticed all the wind turbines on the horizon and thought there must be an opportunity there. The English major who couldn’t find a job and remembered how much she liked the outdoor work on her family’s farm in the Texas panhandle. The two veterans who liked the element of risk and heights and the sweet spot of job independence and camaraderie………..

wind energy had bolstered the local economy.

“In pre-wind, our county taxable value was $500 million,” Ken explained. “In 2008, it was $2.8 billion,” a five-fold increase that translated to new schools and grand expansions at the local hospital. That’s money for the town, but also a steady income for local landowners, some of whom earn up to $1,000 per month from having a single commercial turbine on their property—and most of the region’s world-class wind farms are dotted across private land. Many say they’re “not sure they’d even have the ranch today if the wind didn’t come on,” Ken told me……..

complementary industries are the ecosystem that wind power belongs to—and its reach is growing. Repowering, which vastly increases efficiency by either replacing old turbines for more powerful ones or upgrading components, means more megawatts with the same footprint. It also means a whole new category of jobs. While I was there, evidence of these peripheral industries was everywhere. I watched 80-foot blades swapped out for ones twice as long. (The production tax credits helped these efforts, too.) I visited Global Fiberglass Solutions of Texas, which was setting up shop in an old aluminum recycling plant to process the decommissioned blades—which were being amassed in a 10-acre field—into building panels and other materials…….

The best places for wind are often the places that are struggling to keep rural communities alive.

What was happening in Nolan County proved that the debate about how we generate our kilowatts doesn’t have to be about climate change. It could be about embracing whatever clean energy options are available to help make small-town America economically viable. In this deeply red place, it was the embodiment of President Barack Obama’s all-of-the-above strategy. At the close of 2016, 86 percent of the country’s onshore wind turbines were located in Republican districts, according to the 2016 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report. Indeed, Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and John Thune of South Dakota were some of the primary advocates responsible for keeping the PTC in place in the final version of the tax overhaul bill, which was signed Dec. 22…….. https://insideclimatenews.org/news/26122017/wind-energy-jobs-booming-texas-clean-renewable-power-climate-change

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

Details of South Dakota nuclear-missile accident released

– Associated Press – Saturday, November 4, 2017

RAPID CITY, S.D. (AP) – Bob Hicks was spending a cold December night in his barracks 53 years ago at Ellsworth Air Force Base near Rapid City when the phone rang.

It was the chief of his missile maintenance team, who dispatched Hicks to an incident at an underground silo.

“The warhead,” the team chief said, “is no longer on top of the missile.”

 http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/nov/4/details-of-south-dakota-nuclear-missile-accident-r/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

Hicks eventually learned that a screwdriver used by another airman caused a short circuit that resulted in an explosion. The blast popped off the missile’s cone -the part containing the thermonuclear warhead -and sent it on a 75-foot fall to the bottom of the 80-foot-deep silo.

The courageous actions Hicks took that night and over the next several days were not publicized. The accident was not disclosed to the public until years later, when a government report on accidents with nuclear weapons included seven sentences about it. The report listed the accident as the nation’s first involving a Minuteman missile.

Fifty-three years after he responded to a nuclear-missile accident near Vale, Bob Hicks returned to the site of the former accident and also visited the Minuteman Missile National Historic Site near Wall.

Further details were reported publicly for the first time, drawn from documents obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests by the Rapid City Journal and others, and from Hicks himself, who is now 73 years old and living in Cibolo, Texas.

When Hicks was sent to the accident on Dec. 5, 1964, he was only 20 years old, and the cryptic statement from his team chief was the only information he was given.

“That was enough to cause me to get dressed pretty quickly,” Hicks recalled.

The trouble began earlier that day when two other airmen were sent to a silo named Lima-02. It was 60 miles northwest of Ellsworth Air Force Base and 3 miles southeast of the tiny community of Vale, on the plains outside the Black Hills.

Lima-02 was one of 150 steel-and-concrete silos that had been planted underground and filled with Minuteman missiles during the previous several years in western South Dakota, where the missiles were scattered across 13,500 square miles. There were hundreds more silos in place or soon to be constructed in North Dakota, Missouri, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska, eventually bringing the nation’s Minuteman fleet to a peak of 1,000.

The original Minuteman missiles, called Minuteman I, were 56 feet tall and weighed 65,000 pounds when loaded with fuel. The missiles were capable of traveling at a top speed of 15,000 miles per hour and could reach the Cold War enemy of the United States, the Soviet Union, within 30 minutes.

Each missile was tipped with a thermonuclear warhead that was many times more powerful than either of the two atomic bombs that the United States dropped on Japan during World War II. One government agency reportedly estimated that the detonation of an early 1960s-era Minuteman warhead over Detroit would have caused 70 square miles of property destruction, 250,000 deaths and 500,000 injuries.

The two airmen who visited the Lima-02 silo on Dec. 5, 1964, were part of a young Air Force missile corps that was responsible for launching and maintaining the missiles. The two airmen’s names are redacted – as are many other names – from an Air Force report that was filed after the accident.

Continue reading

November 4, 2017 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Now comes the hard question for Texas and Louisiana – should communities move from flood prone areas?

This is a long article , but very good, and well worth reading in its entirety

 

‘It’s Not Going To Be All Right’  In flood-prone coastal Louisiana, towns have started to ask a question Texans may face soon: When should we all just leave?  Politico By ANNIE SNIDER, September 01, 2017 HOUMA, La. — If Houston gets serious about preventing massive damage the next time it floods, it may need to learn a lesson from its neighbors in this oil and gas town, just 15 miles up the road from Louisiana’s historic bayou communities.

This town’s residents—roughnecks, shrimpers, shipbuilders and small-business owners—aren’t typically the joining type. And yet dozens have recently begun showing up for an unusual discussion group underwritten by the state and federal government, and dedicated to a question very difficult to grapple with: What happens when the next hurricane hits, sending bayous rising and inundating the most flood-prone homes, and people start moving here?

Permanently relocating people is the third rail of disaster planning, the aspect no one—especially politicians—wants to talk about. Local zoning and development decisions have encouraged millions of people to move into floodplains, and federal insurance policies and disaster aid have bailed them out time and again. But as these storms become increasingly costly, and climate change promises to make them more so, it becomes harder to avoid the bigger topic: There are places where people simply shouldn’t live anymore.

Relocation is politically toxic; handled centrally, it is disruptive and interventionist, the kind of move that foments revolutions. But as the state of Louisiana mounts a massive battle against the rising tide, planning and funding ambitious efforts to restore buffering wetlands and build levees and floodgates, it is also beginning to acknowledge to residents that even their best efforts will not be enough—and is asking them to think about what comes next.

With the help of $92.6 million in federal grant money, Louisiana’s Office of Community Development has launched a first-of-its-kind effort to help communities across the state prepare for the tumult to come. Rising waters and escalating flood insurance rates will drive thousands of families farther inland, the state predicts, leaving behind homes they’ve known for generations and places that have fundamentally shaped their identities. But those refugees aren’t the only ones who will experience change. Communities like Houma will experience their own jarring transition as they receive an influx of waterlogged neighbors. Houma sits high enough that it’s less likely to drown in a hurricane, and thanks to its industrial base, could more easily win additional levees and flood protection.

Top: The old Boudreaux Canal School, which has closed since the population of Chauvin has steadily dropped. Bottom: The cemetery at St Joseph Catholic Church, north of Chauvin along Bayou Petit Caillou. | William Widmer for Politico Magazine

“This is the first time that I can remember that a group came in and said it’s not going to be all right,” said Jonathan Foret………

The goal of the new planning effort, dubbed Louisiana’s Strategic Adaptations for Future Environments, or LA Safe, is to head off the worst-case scenario in which people move out of flood-prone areas only once they’ve lost everything, and arrive en masse in communities that aren’t ready to absorb them. It’s a scenario with precedent: After Hurricane Katrina, entire neighborhoods from south and east of New Orleans relocated to the affluent bedroom communities of Covington and Mandeville, north of Lake Pontchartrain, straining schools, clogging roads and leading to resentment among some longtime residents. As far away as Houston, residents complained about “Katrina refugees” sapping local resources…….. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/09/01/harvey-texas-louisiana-floods-relocation-215565?lo=ap_a1

September 2, 2017 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Arizona refuses irradiated fuel rods from SanOnofre: danger to communities in Southern California and the SouthWestern United States

ARIZONA REFUSES SPENT FUEL FROM SAN ONOFRE; DOCTOR’S GROUP CRITICIZES NUCLEAR WASTE SETTLEMENT PLAN, East County Magazine August 31, 2017 (San Diego) – Finding a safe place to store spent nuclear fuel from the shuttered San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations is a daunting task. Yesterday, East County Magazine reported on a settlement reached between Citizens Oversight and Southern California Edison that aspires to move the radioactive waste away from the beach at San Onofre over the next couple of decades.

One of the proposed sites   is in Arizona. But now officials at Arizona Public Services Company, which operates the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station west of Phoenix,  say they won’t take California’s nuclear wastes.

Such a move would require approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, APS says, but APS won’t be asking for that approval to store fuel from a reactor that’s not their own, AZ Central reports.…..

The settlement’s goal is to reduce the risk of a nuclear catastrophe in densely populated California by eliminating nuclear waste storage  just 100 feet or so from  corrosive sea water in an area at high risk of earthquake and in a tsunami risk zone as well.

But late yesterday,  Physicians  for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles warned that the settlement deal  “may dramatically increase health and security risks for communities in Southern California and the SouthWestern United States.”

The physicians group concludes that moving the radioactive fuel to a temporary and then permanent storage facility increases risks of a catastrophe through an accident or terrorist attack which could be “devastating,” said Denise Duffield, associate director of the organization.

The group agrees that Southern California Edison’s plan to bury waste on the beach is “inappropriate” given the risk of rising sea levels and the “daunting task of protecting it from terrorist attack in such an accessible location.”

Simply transferring such risk to people in other states is not the best solution, the doctors’ group argues, while noting that U.S. nuclear waste policy has been “broken for decades.”

Yucca Mountain in Nevada, long touted as a possible nuclear waste repository, has been found to be unsuitable due to water penetration that could lead to contamination of water supplies.  Two other potential sites mentioned by the physicians’ group have been a “low level” radioactive waste site in Texas and another in new Mexico near the Waste Isolation Pilot Project that recently failed dramatically with an underground explosion and fire that “resulted in plutonium being released into the atmosphere,” the  press release from the physicians’ group states.

The only “reasonable alternative” in the view of Physicians for Social Responsibility, would be an option also on the list proposed by Citizens Oversight.  That option would be to move the nuclear waste to an inland location on Camp Pendleton where it would be safe from sea level rise, away from public access, and easier to protect against terrorism.

The settlement  stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Citizens Oversight against the California Coastal Commission over its approval of a permit to store the dangerous wastes in underground containers near the shoreline at San Onofre.

Under the settlement, a plan must be established by 2035 including use of top experts in spent nuclear fuel transportation, nuclear engineering, spent fuel siting and  licensing, radiation detective and monitoring to advise  on proposed relocation.  The deal also requires regular reporting and oversight.

There is no guarantee the waste will ultimately be moved, however, if no location can be found that is acceptable from environmental and health standpoints, as well as economic feasibility, transportation concerns, and regulatory approval….. https://www.eastcountymagazine.org/arizona-refuses-spent-fuel-san-onofre-doctor%E2%80%99s-group-criticizes-nuclear-waste-settlement-plan

September 2, 2017 Posted by | USA, wastes | 1 Comment

Workers in Southern USA States now facing climate change health hazards

In Sweltering South, Climate Change Is Now a Workplace Hazard  Workers laboring outdoors in southern states are wrestling with the personal and political consequences of a worsening environment, NYT, By YAMICHE ALCINDORAUG. 3, 2017, GALVESTON, Tex. — Adolfo Guerra, a landscaper in this port city on the Gulf of Mexico, remembers panicking as his co-worker vomited and convulsed after hours of mowing lawns in stifling heat. Other workers rushed to cover him with ice, and the man recovered.

But for Mr. Guerra, 24, who spends nine hours a day six days a week doing yard work, the episode was a reminder of the dangers that exist for outdoor workers as the planet warms.

“I think about the climate every day,” Mr. Guerra said, “because every day we work, and every day it feels like it’s getting hotter.”……

 to Robert D. Bullard, a professor at Texas Southern University who some call the “father of environmental justice,” the industrial revival that Mr. Trump has promised could come with some serious downsides for an already warming planet. Professor Bullard is trying to bring that message to working-class Americans like Mr. Guerra, and to environmental organizations that have, in his mind, been more focused on struggling animals than poor humans, who have been disproportionately harmed by increasing temperatures, worsening storms and rising sea levels.

“For too long, a lot of the climate change and global warming arguments have been looking at melting ice and polar bears and not at the human suffering side of it,” Professor Bullard said. “They are still pushing out the polar bear as the icon for climate change. The icon should be a kid who is suffering from the negative impacts of climate change and increased air pollution, or a family where rising water is endangering their lives.”

The “environmental justice movement” has, in fact, caught on with major environmental groups, but it has far to go before it begins moving the dial in the nation’s politics. Professor Bullard envisions the recruits for his movement coming not only from the liberal college towns of the Northeast and Midwest, but also from the sweltering working-class communities in the Sun Belt, which he sees as the front line of the nation’s environmental wars.

Residents of working-class communities in the Sun Belt often cannot afford to move or evacuate during weather disasters. They may work outside, and they may struggle to cover their air-conditioning bills. Pollution in their communities leads to health problems that are compounded by the refusal of most Sun Belt state governments to expand Medicaid access under the Affordable Care Act…….. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/03/us/politics/climate-change-trump-working-poor-activists.html

August 4, 2017 Posted by | climate change, employment, USA | Leave a comment

USA nuclear industry finished, as South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. and partner Santee Cooper abandon projects

Nuclear power as we know it is finished  Chris Tomlinson
August 3, 2017   http://www.houstonchronicle.com/business/columnists/tomlinson/article/Nuclear-power-as-we-know-it-is-finished-11727465.php Let it be written that environmentalists didn’t kill the nuclear power industry, economics did.

South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. and partner Santee Cooper abandoned work on two new nuclear reactors this week, not because of public protests, but because the only way to pay for them was to overcharge customers or bankrupt both companies.

The decision comes after the main contractor, Westinghouse, has completed a third of the work at the V.C. Sumner Nuclear Station. Of course, the project has already bankrupted Westinghouse due to missed deadlines and costs spiraling out of control. Westinghouse parent Toshiba Corp. had to pay $2.7 billion to get out of it’s contract.

 The project was supposed to cost only $5.1 billion, but to actually finish the work would have cost $11.4 billion. By abandoning work, the utilities said they will save about $7 billion in charges they would have had to pass on to customers.

That leaves only one new nuclear project under construction in Georgia, where Westinghouse has also gone over budget and missed deadlines.  Georgia Power says it has taken over construction of the two new reactors at the Vogtle plant through Southern Nuclear.

Georgia power officials are reviewing the timeline and estimating the cost for completing the two new reactors, which if finished would be the first in the U.S.  in 30 years. Costs, though, are not as important to Georgia Power because it sells power in a regulated market. Georgia Power started charging customers for the reactors as soon as construction began.

By comparison, Texas has a competitive market, where power plants only make money when they produce electricity. Customers here don’t finance new plants for mega-corporations the way they do in Georgia, and that saves Texans money.

Once Georgia Power completes it’s review of the Vogtle reactors, company leaders will likely have a hard time justifying the increased cost to regulators. Because even if the reactors were not over-budget already, the all-in cost of the power generated by that plant is far higher than alternative sources.

Natural gas and wind from Texas are far cheaper, and new natural gas pipelines and two proposed direct current transmission projects will easily deliver cheap power to South Carolina and Georgia well below the cost of the new reactors.

Even existing nuclear power plants have a hard time competing with cheap natural gas and renewable energy, which is why all of them are begging for subsidies or a carbon tax that will reward the plants for not producing carbon dioxide.

President Donald Trump has promised to boost nuclear power, but he has yet to roll out a plan. So far he has talked about doing away with the Clean Power Plan and has rejected a carbon tax, both of which are vital for nuclear power’s future.

What the nuclear industry really needs is new technology. Scientists are working on smaller reactors that are less dangerous, but none of them are ready for commercial deployment.

There could be a future for nuclear power in the United States, but only if the technology can compete on cost with renewable sources and natural gas. That is the real challenge for the nuclear power industry.

Nuclear energy leaders need to spend less time lobbying for government handouts for out-dated, expensive technology and focus on innovation. The coal  industry thought they could win through manipulating politicians, and we all know how that ended up.

August 4, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, USA | Leave a comment