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Sweden’s Vattenfall AB’s 44-year-old Ringhals-1 shut down, as energy prices fall

Cheap Energy Just Shut Down a Nuclear Reactor  (Bloomberg) 1 April 20, — The latest victim of the global slump in energy prices is an old Swedish nuclear reactor that will stay offline until at least the end of summer. Electricity prices in the Nordic market were plunging even before the coronavirus began to cripple economies and hurt demand worldwide. That’s because of the build-up of a huge surplus of future supply in the form of water in the r eservoirs and snow-pack in the mountains. Vattenfall AB’s 44-year-old Ringhals-1 facility will be switched off until at least the end of September, the operator said in a statement with the Nord Pool exchange. It was already down for maintenance since March 13.

Vattenfall AB’s 44-year-old Ringhals-1 facility will be switched off until at least the end of September……
As European prices slump, weighed down by lower demand and the slide in fuel and carbon costs, more plants will struggle to make enough profit. In the U.K., margins at some gas-fired plants could drop as much as 30% year-on-year if demand recovers slowly, according to Aurora Energy Research.

April 2, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Sweden | Leave a comment

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) may exempt some nuclear stations from work-hour controls

NRC to Consider COVID-19 Exemptions for Nuclear Plant Work-Hour Controls Patel ,  POWER senior associate editor (@sonalcpatel@POWERmagazine). 30 Mar 20, 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on March 28 told industry that it is prepared to grant requests from individual nuclear generators for exemptions from work-hour controls specified in its rules to help provide more flexibility to the sector as it grapples with workforce issues related to the COVID-19 public health emergency.

The objective of the exemptions from Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR 26.205(d)(1)-(7)) is to ensure that the “control of work hours and management of worker fatigue do not unduly limit licensee flexibility in using personnel resources to most effectively manage the impacts of the COVID-19 [public health emergency (PHE)] on maintaining the safe operation of these facilities,” NRC Director of Nuclear Reactor Regulation Ho Nieh wrote in letters sent to the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), Entergy Nuclear, and Florida Power and Light over the weekend.

Nieh wrote that the exemptions will apply narrowly—only to nuclear plants whose staffing levels are affected by the pandemic. Licensees must also show they can no longer meet the work-hour controls outlined in the rules, and they can institute site-specific administrative controls for pandemic fatigue-management for personnel as outlined in the rules.

Alternative fatigue-management controls, for example, should ensure employees do not work more than 16 work-hours in any 24-hour period and not more than 86 work-hours in any 7-day period, excluding shift turnover; a minimum 10-hour break is provided between successive work periods; 12 hour shifts are limited to not more than 14 consecutive days; and a minimum of six days off are provided in any 30-day period.

Nuclear licensees that cannot meet the rule’s requirements should notify the NRC in writing, including by email, no less than 24 hours before they would be out of compliance with the rules, Nieh said. The NRC plans to consider requests on a case-by-case basis and, if approved, provide exemptions for a period of 60 days. “If the COVID-19 PHE condition does not improve before expiration of the exemption, then the NRC may consider an additional exemption period,” he added.

(This story is being updated; check back later for more details.)

March 31, 2020 Posted by | employment, USA | Leave a comment

USA nuclear industry uses coronavirus to gouge $billions of tax-payer money

March 30, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

EDF, French company building Hinkley Point power station, shifts workers’ costs to UK govt

Coronavirus: EDF to furlough Hinkley Point workers after reducing site numbers, Edward Thicknesse CITY A.M. 29 Mar 20,  Hundreds of workers at EDF’s Hinkley Point C nuclear plant are being furloughed after the firm decided to cut the number of workers on site by more than half.

In an attempt to cut costs, the Telegraph reported that many of the site’s workers are being moved onto the government’s employee retention scheme, which guarantees them 80 per cent of their wages.

In an attempt to cut costs, the Telegraph reported that many of the site’s workers are being moved onto the government’s employee retention scheme, which guarantees them 80 per cent of their wages.

Although some of the 2,000 or so workers moved off the nuclear site in Somerset will continue to work in back office roles, the requirement to pay the majority will now shift to the government.

Those initially set to be moved onto the Treasury scheme are contractors working on the site, not EDF employees.

The French firm said: “Hinkley Point C has reduced the number of workers on its site to enable safe working. The project has not asked for any additional Government support and the majority of workers will remain in employment”.

It is understood that contractors are furloughing 500 or so employees, with the intention to bring them back onto payroll as soon as possible.

EDF has not issued a statement on whether it expects the coronavirus pandemic to impact the project’s timeline. …..

EDF’s decision to reduce its workforce came after the government came under pressure to suspend all non-essential construction work over safety concerns.

Politicians of all stripes, from London mayor Sadiq Khan to Tory ex-minister Iain Duncan Smith hit out against the government’s decision not to pause all such work for the duration of the crisis.

March 30, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, France, UK | Leave a comment

Vogtle nuclear power plant construction – “Essential workers”, as the company wants to build in a hurry

Coronavirus could disrupt normal refueling practices for nuclear facilities as staffing concerns grow, Utility Dive, By Iulia Gheorghiu , March 26, 2020  

“………Nuclear construction

Various states have included construction work in the categories of essential work when issuing directives to keep people at home.

With pandemic plans in place, Southern Company construction is continuing on the Vogtle units in Georgia. Vogtle construction has not encountered major changes from the novel coronavirus, CEO Tom Fanning told Bloomberg.

Southern announced a non-manual worker for the construction of Vogtle units 3 and 4 was being tested for coronavirus two weeks ago.

“I completely understand that [Southern] wants to finish as soon as possible,” Buongiorno said, given the delays and cost overruns of the construction. (Professor Jacopo Buongiorno, director of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems.)…

March 30, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear stations having difficulties with staffing; one station has workers positive for Covid19

Coronavirus could disrupt normal refueling practices for nuclear facilities as staffing concerns grow, Utility Dive, By Iulia Gheorghiu March 26, 2020, The nuclear sector has sprung into action to screen employees for signs of the novel coronavirus and prepare for potential disruptions to their typical refueling practices in light of pandemic-related travel restrictions……..


March 30, 2020 Posted by | employment, health, USA | 2 Comments

Government under pressure to suspend non-essential construction work (such as building nuclear plants)

Government under pressure to suspend non-essential construction work, CITY A.M. 29 Mar 20,The government is facing growing pressure to halt non-essential construction work as it tries to grapple with the coronavirus outbreak.In a Downing Street briefing on Tuesday, health secretary Matt Hancock said construction workers could and should continue to work so long as they are two metres apart.

“The judgment we have made is that in work, in many instances, the 2m rule can be applied,” he said.

However critics say public health should be prioritised over the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.

Former Tory cabinet minister Iain Duncan Smith joined those calling for a temporary suspension of work. He told the BBC: “I think the balance is where we should delete some of those construction workers from going to work and focus only on the emergency requirements.”

The confusion over who is able to work came after Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s announced a nationwide lockdown in a televised address on Monday night.

The PM said people should only leave their homes to shop for basic goods, fulfil medical needs, to exercise and to travel to work when “absolutely necessary”. However the types of work considered necessary has not yet been made clear…..

March 30, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

USA nuclear industry exploits coronavirus, seeking tax-payer funds

March 24, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

America’s economic plan for Covid19 directs money to big corporations

Democrats are balking at the Senate GOP’s version of the bill because it is far too top-heavy with financial assistance to corporations and lacks sufficient assistance for working families.

The main sticking point, however, is a $500 billion slush fund included in the bill, which was originally a $208 billion slush fund until the lobbyists dogpiled the process. This money would be disbursed by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, presumably at the behest of Trump, with no oversight.

The Virus of Capitalism Has Infected the COVID-19 Fight,  Truthout, 23 Mar 20, ……..  Under vastly different circumstances, perhaps it would have been possible to argue for a different path of action than dramatic physical-distancing measures, following from the idea that to develop a herd immunity to COVID-19, a certain number of people have to contract it and recover (assuming we are even capable of developing an immunity, which is not yet confirmed). To even countenance this idea, however, we would need a robust and fully functional health care system to aid in the recovery process.

In point of fact, the U.S. health care system lags far behind much of the developed world. Even countries with strong systems, such as Germany, are at risk of being subsumed by COVID-19 for the same reason the U.S. system is perhaps days away from collapse: The for-profit commodification of health care itself has thoroughly denuded the ability of those systems to react to this crisis.
“Germany is home to one of the most modern, richest and most powerful health-care systems in the world,” reports Der Spiegel. “The coronavirus is mercilessly exposing the problems that have been burdening the German health-care system for years: the pitfalls of profit-driven hospital financing. The pressure to cut spending. The chronic shortage of nursing staff. The often poor equipping of public health departments. The lag in digitalization.”
Yet the absence of a health care infrastructure capable of absorbing and treating thousands of patients — even “low-risk” ones — did not stop Captain Capitalist from going on TV and suggesting that maybe it’s about time workers started feeding the beast again. The machine is groaning for lack of lubrication, see. Can’t shut it down and be kind to each other, share our vast yet vastly imbalanced resources, and simply be for awhile until this thing runs its course, saving lives every step of the way. There’s no money in it.
On Sunday night, in yet another Twitter rant, Donald Trump indicated he may be edging toward ignoring the advice of the experts and lift the social distancing strictures intended to thwart the spread of COVID-19:

Why? Money.

There’s money to be made elsewhere, to be sure. “Over the past few weeks, investment bankers have been candid on investor calls and during health care conferences about the opportunity to raise drug prices,” reports Lee Fang for The Intercept. As media outlets focus on individuals hoarding toilet paper and hand sanitizer, the real money hoarders are leaning into this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to peel massive profit from a desperate land.
Partnership for America’s Health Care Future (PAHCF), a major health care industry lobbying group that is stoutly opposed to Medicare for All, launched a multimillion-dollar ad campaign last week to push back against any effort to fix our broken for-profit system. This comes on the heels of insurance industry efforts against waiving costs for COVID-19 treatments.
Meanwhile, mayors and governors are screaming at Trump to use the Defense Production Act, a law that allows the president to essentially nationalize privately held portions of the means of production in order to churn out needed materials. Those mayors and governors need ventilators, masks and coronavirus test kits. They needed them a month ago. Trump has invoked the law, but he steadfastly refuses to actually use it.
Why? Because we have reached the apotheosis of Ronald Reagan’s most rancid gift to the nation: “Government is the problem.” This pestiferous ethos, voiced during Reagan’s first inaugural address, has become holy Republican writ over the course of the last 40 years.
Now, in Trump, it has its greatest champion. Trump is refusing to let government influence business, even in this moment of life-and-death crisis, because the advisers who have his ear worship at the altar of Reagan. For them, right-wing ideology and the profit margin are more important than your life, or mine.
Of course, there is also an angle to be played. “In declining to actually make use of the Korean War-era production act that he invoked last week,” reports The New York Times, “Mr. Trump is also avoiding taking personal responsibility for how fast the acute shortages of personal protective gear and lifesaving equipment are addressed.”

And then there is the currently stalled $1.8 trillion COVID-19 relief bill, which hit the reef in Congress over the weekend. Democrats are balking at the Senate GOP’s version of the bill because it is far too top-heavy with financial assistance to corporations and lacks sufficient assistance for working families.

The main sticking point, however, is a $500 billion slush fund included in the bill, which was originally a $208 billion slush fund until the lobbyists dogpiled the process. This money would be disbursed by Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, presumably at the behest of Trump, with no oversight.
“The Treasury Department would have broad discretion over where the money would go,” reports The Washington Post. “President Trump already has said he wants the money to be used to rescue the cruise ship and hotel industries, making his preferences clear, but at a press conference on Sunday refused to say whether his own hotel properties would apply for the funding.”

Natch. These fellows never, ever, ever miss an opportunity to loot the till.

And therein lies the rub. The priority of the people (for the most part) is to stay safe, to get well if they fall ill, and to do what must be done to eventually return to some semblance of a normal life. The priority of the capitalists is to get the money machine going again, to take full advantage of the crisis in the name of profit, and to defend their well-staked financial turf from any reforms that may be proposed in the aftermath.

U.S.-style capitalism is also a virus, and it has infected every aspect of this situation. Worker safety, insurance coverage and costs, medical preparedness, and vital supplies — even the bill intended to rescue the country from some final financial calamity: All have been perverted and disrupted by the profit motive that never, ever, ever sleeps.

March 24, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Canada pushing Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, but the outlook for uranium/nuclear industry is bleak

Nuclear power, and Canada’s uranium industry, are struggling to find their place in a green energy future, CIM Magazine, 23 Mar , 2020 NuScale Power submitted its small modular nuclear reactor (SMR) design to the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission for a pre-licensing vendor design review. This came just over a month after the leaders of three Canadian provinces – Ontario premier Doug Ford, New Brunswick premier Blaine Higgs and Saskatchewan premier Scott Moe – signed a memorandum of understanding to develop SMRs in their respective provinces.

 …….Canada entering into a collaboration with the United States to secure supply lines for several critical minerals, uranium included reinforces that idea.
That would be good news for the uranium industry, as Canada is the world’s second-largest producer of the fuel source for these powerplants. But Cameco, the country’s largest uranium company, suspended production indefinitely at its flagship MacArthur River/Key Lake mine in July 2018, and the spot price of uranium is one-third of what it was back in 2011. That was before the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi reactor in Japan, when an earthquake and tsunami triggered the release of radioactive materials.
In 2018, supply and demand became more balanced, but only as a result of “substantial production cuts, cuts to some secondary supplies, reductions in inventories and an increase in demand for uranium,” said Rachelle Girard, vice-president of investor relations for Cameco. “Despite these improvements, it is no secret that today’s uranium market remains discretionary.”
Many nuclear reactors in Japan remain shut down following the Fukushima meltdown and countries such as Germany and South Korea are proceeding with nuclear phase-out programs in favour of alternative sources of energy, such as natural gas. The IEA agency projects that without a major turnaround in plant construction and refurbishments, nuclear power generation will continue to decline, making the share of energy required from renewable sources even larger than it would otherwise be……..
“The main problem with nuclear… is that it’s too slow and too costly,” said Gordon Edwards, co-founder of the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility. “It takes too long to get new nuclear implanted. You’re looking at 10 to 20 years, even with one of these small modular reactors – and the cost is prohibitive. Other [options] are both much faster and much cheaper, the first and foremost of those being greater energy efficiency.”……..
shifting public sentiment might help lower resistance to nuclear projects, other trends are not as encouraging.  The average age of the nuclear fleet in advanced economies is 35-years-old, according to the IEA, and 25 per cent of that existing nuclear capacity is expected to shut down by 2025.
Canada has invested in multiple programs aimed to promote the use of nuclear energy domestically and internationally. “… Canada is also a participant in “Mission Innovation,” a global initiative to accelerate public and private clean energy innovation, and unveiled its “SMR Roadmap,” a 10-month engagement process with the industry and end-users, in December 2018.  …..

March 24, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium | Leave a comment

UK’s nuclear regulated asset base (RAB) financing passes all financial risks to electricity customers

Times 15th March 2020 David Lowry: I read with incredulity the claims of Horizon nuclear chief Duncan Hawthorne that his company, which is really a Japanese shell company with no products, could build nuclear plants offering power at half the currently projected cost from the Hinkley Point C plant being built.
Making these outlandish claims on the anniversary of the disaster at the
Fukushima Daiichi reactors in Japan on March 11, 2011 — costs $250bn
(£200bn) and rising — suggests Horizon has not learnt the full lessons
of that. The regulated asset base (RAB) financing mechanism Horizon
advocates transfers all financial investment risk to electricity customers
before a single unit is delivered to a home, allowing the foreign nuclear
company to build plants without having to pay attention to keeping costs
under control. This is an extraordinarily one-sided proposal. Surely even
this nuclear-friendly government cannot fall for it.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, UK | Leave a comment

Proponents of Small Nuclear Reactors need a reality check – about the STAGGERING COST

a reality check is in order. A handful of small reactors is under construction but they have been subject to huge cost overruns and delays. William Von Hoene, senior vice-president of Exelon ‒ the largest operator of nuclear power plants in the US ‒ says that no more large reactors will be built in the US and that the cost of small reactors is “prohibitive”.

Rolls-Royce sharply reduced its small-reactor investment to “a handful of salaries” in 2018 and is threatening to abandon its R&D altogether unless the British government agrees to an outrageous set of demands and subsidies.

March 10, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

A sceptical look at NuScam’s small nuclear reactor plans

Recent experience supports skepticism. Westinghouse worked on an SMR design for a decade before giving up in 2014. Massachusetts-based Transatomic Power, a nuclear technology firm, walked away from a molten salt SMR in 2018, and despite an $111 million dollar infusion from the US government, a SMR design from Babcock & Wilcox, an advanced energy developer, folded in 2017. While the Russians have managed to get their state-funded SMR floating, its construction costs ran over estimates by four times, and its energy will cost about four times more than current US nuclear costs. 
Eventually, every nuclear conversation turns to radioactive waste and safety. SMRs using a pressurized water reactor will continue to generate highly radioactive spent fuel, yet no country has a permanent solution for how to safely store this kind of waste.  ……..
small modular reactors suffer from many of the same problems as large reactors, most notably safety issues
“It would be irresponsible for the NRC to reduce safety and security requirements for any reactor of any size.”

The Smaller Is Better Movement in Nuclear Power, Are miniature reactors really safer? Mother Jones  LOIS PARSHLEY, 8 Mar 20, 

Huge computer screens line a dark, windowless control room in Corvallis, Oregon, where engineers at the company NuScale Power hope to define the next wave of nuclear energy. Glowing icons fill the screens, representing the power output of 12 miniature nuclear reactors. Together, these small modular reactors would generate about the same amount of power as one of the conventional nuclear plants that currently dot the United States—producing enough electricity to power 540,000 homes. On the glowing screens, a palm tree indicates which of the dozen units is on “island mode,” allowing a single reactor to run disconnected from the grid in case of an emergency. 

This control room is just a mock-up, and the reactors depicted on the computer screens do not, in fact, exist. Yet NuScale has invested more than $900 million in the development of small modular reactor (SMR) technology, which the company says represents the next generation of nuclear power plants. NuScale is working on a full-scale prototype and says it is on track to break ground on its first nuclear power plant—a 720-megawatt project for a utility in Idaho—within two years; the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has just completed the fourth phase of review of NuScale’s design, the first SMR certification the commission has reviewed. The company expect final approval by the end of 2020. The US Department of Energy has already invested $317 million in the research and development of NuScale’s SMR project.

Continue reading

March 9, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors | Leave a comment

Government advisers warn Britain against costly new nuclear reactors

Times 7th March 2020, Net Zero Report.  Plans for nuclear plants in Britain face fresh uncertainty after government advisers warned against backing costly new reactors. The nuclear industry wants the government to commit to a funding system to back the construction of reactors, including EDF’s proposed Sizewell plant in Suffolk.

However, the National Infrastructure Commission, set up in 2015 to provide impartial advice to the government, reiterated concerns in a report about backing more nuclear plants. It noted that there had been cost reductions in renewable power technologies such as wind and solar over the past ten years, but “costs of building and running nuclear power stations have not
fallen consistently, even in countries that have built fleets of similar reactors”. Given the potential for other non-intermittent technologies to complement renewables, it said that this “weakened the case for committing to a new fleet of nuclear power stations”.

March 9, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Deceit and Dark Money -Ohio’s nuclear subsidy saga 

Dark money dominated Ohio’s nuclear subsidy saga ENERGY NEWS NETWORK, Kathiann M. KowalskiMarch 5, 2020  

FirstEnergy Solutions paid nearly $2 million to at least one group, but most other data remains hidden.

After-the-fact filings show that FirstEnergy’s generation subsidiary paid nearly $2 million to Generation Now, one of the special interest groups that orchestrated ads, political donations and other efforts behind Ohio’s nuclear and coal bailout.

But legal loopholes make it harder to find out the total spent and who else was behind xenophobic advertising, dueling voter petitions, alleged intimidation and other claims of foul play. And none of those actions fully disclosed who was behind them.

The scant public filings that are available show additional connections to FirstEnergy Solutions (now Energy Harbor), as well as the law firm of an outspoken legislator who has long fought the state’s clean energy standard, and others with high-level political influence.

House Bill 6 gutted Ohio’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards while putting ratepayers on the hook for nearly $1 billion in subsidies for nuclear power plants, plus an additional amount for aging coal plants. Multiple groups spent heavily to promote HB 6 and prevent a referendum on the law following its passage.

In some cases, nonprofit and for-profit organizations funded each other or shared the same spokesperson. Groups active in the HB 6 campaign also had links to some of the same lobbyists and consultants who acted for companies that stood to benefit from HB 6, or unions with workers at their plants. But only limited amounts of funding could be traced.

ON ORIGINAL – INTRIGUING INTERACTIVE DIAGRAM HERE _ shows interrelationships of individuals and groups Continue reading

March 7, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Reference, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment