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Stop Sizewell C anti nuclear campaigners taking their fight to London, and the UK government

Campaigners fighting to stop a new nuclear power station being built on
the Suffolk coast have taken their battle to Number 10 Downing Street.
Ahead of the Chancellor’s spending review and Budget, the Stop Sizewell C
group visited key locations in the capital with its message and campaign
video on a digital Advan.

 East Anglian Daily Times 20th Oct 2021

October 23, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Sizewell C nuclear station – a white elephant that will irreversibly damage the environment

Campaigners protesting the building of Sizewell C have responded with
frustration to EDF’s £250 million package of funding to mitigate the
impacts of the proposed site. The biggest concern for those against the
project was the money put towards environmental causes – £78 million for
an independent environmental body to enhance the landscape of the area and
£22 million for investment in landscape impact mitigation and creation of
wildlife and habitat areas.

“It’s notable that by far the biggest sum –
£100 million – is for environmental projects,” said Alison Downes from
Stop Sizewell C. “This work will have to be ongoing for decades – through
the life of the station and potentially decommissioning – to make any
significant difference.”

“The environmental funding is simply a
recognition of the long term and irreversible damage they will do to the
environment,” said Pete Wilkinson of Together Against Sizewell C. “The
rest is a measure of the damage to this community EDF intends to inflict
for what will be a huge white elephant on our eroding, heritage coast.”

 East Anglian Daily Times 15th Oct 2021

October 18, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

Opposition to UK’s plans for nuclear fusion

ANTI-NUCLEAR campaigners have hit out at the UK Government’s plan to
create a prototype nuclear fusion power plant that is being developed with
hopes to sustain moves away from fossil fuels.

The Scottish Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) has said that this latest effort to extol the
virtues of nuclear fusion as a “low carbon” source of energy is to keep the
industry “alive” due to the UK being a “nuclear weapon state”.

 The National 15th Oct 2021

October 18, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, technology, UK | Leave a comment

Vale Sister Megan Rice – an anti-nuclear hero

Catholic sister who spent 2 years in prison for nuclear weapons protest dies at 91, Catholic News Service   13 Oct 21,

ROSEMONT, Pa. (CNS) — Sister Megan Rice, whose yearslong crusade against nuclear weapons included serving two years behind bars for a felony, died Oct. 10 at the Rosemont residence of her religious order, the Society of the Holy Child Jesus. She was 91.

Colleen Carroll, director of communications for the order, said the cause of death was congestive heart failure.

“It is incredible to consider how the bravery of this small, smiling, unassuming woman in standing up to the entirety of the U.S. military-industrial complex could bring so much awareness to the devastation our nation’s idolatry of nuclear weapons inflicts on people here in the U.S. and around the world,” Johnny Zokovitch, executive director of Pax Christi USA, said in a statement.

“All of Pax Christi USA grieves at her passing, but we give thanks for her witness, for her life and for the challenge that she issued by standing up nonviolently for a better world for all of us,” he said.

Sister Rice’s bold campaign against nuclear weapons launched her into the spotlight and caused her to become the issue’s ad hoc spokeswoman.

In July 2012, at age 82, she and two other members of Transform Now Plowshares breached security to stage a protest at the self-styled “Fort Knox of uranium,” the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The facility creates and houses materials for making nuclear weapons.

The three activists cut through fences and reached the warehouse that stores bomb-making uranium. There, they splashed blood on the wall, hung banners and spray-painted messages condemning nuclear weapons.

The action sparked national shock and outrage, led to a congressional investigation of the security at Y-12 and sent Sister Rice and her companions, Michael Walli, then 63, and Greg Boertje-Obed, then 57, to prison.

On Feb. 18, 2014, in U.S. District Court, Sister Rice, of Washington, was sentenced to 35 months in prison on each of two counts — one count of depredation of property and one count of sabotage.

Sister Rice toured the country to protest the United States’ nuclear arsenal as the star of the film. She also spoke to a congressional hearing and at the United Nations in New York City on the issue of nuclear disarmament.

And she continued her activism through vigils, marches, prayers and visits to classrooms.

“It’s illegal to deal in weapons of mass destruction — immoral and illegal,” Sister Rice declared during an April 8, 2018, event at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, where the documentary was being screened.

“We’re not being taken to the international court of justice and indicted the way Iran or some other place would,” she said.

……….In the 1980s, Sister Rice got involved in the anti-war movement, participating in protests against a variety of American military actions, military sites and nuclear weapons installations.

She was arrested more than three dozen times in acts of civil disobedience, including her anti-nuclear weapons activism.

October 14, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, PERSONAL STORIES, USA | Leave a comment

Morrison’s decision on AUKUS and nuclear submarines was made with no debate in the Australian Parliament

Our PM, Scott Morrison, struts the world stage, vilifies China (some of it deserved), but in the process is locking in Australia’s subservience to US foreign policy while guaranteeing increased US troop access and US spy stations on Australian territory for the future. Add to this the crippling cost of procurement of nuclear powered subs and the possible return of Donald Trump to ‘guide’ our nation into the future.

This sabre rattling at an external enemy will allow Morrison some catch up in the polls while the ALP is wedged. The huge crime here is to make a decision without debate in the Federal Parliament.

Times change, but some things regarding the nuclear industry and international political posturing remain the same.

Local anti-nuclear activists who chose to make a difference… By Ian Cohen October 7, 2021    Following the Nuclear Disarmament Party’s close loss with front man Peter Garrett in 1984, nuclear issues were at the forefront of people’s minds. We extended our influence far beyond our Shire. The pending arrival of nuclear armed warships sent the local region into overdrive. Benny Zable from Nimbin rolled out his ‘radioactive’ barrels for street theatre. Dean Jefferys based in Brunswick Heads came with his ultralight, Hoss (Ian Hoskens) of Main Arm with his megaphone voice and me with my surfboard.

September 1986 heralded the arrival of the largest assembly of international ships in Sydney Harbour’s history. Many were nuclear armed.

Our north coast contingent was vital to the success of the protest actions. Driven by a reckless, but heartfelt, desire to impact on the nuclear arms race and send a direct message to US President Ronald Reagan and USSR’s Yuri Andropov.

The mad concept of surfing the nose of a nuclear armed warship was mine, but Sydney Morning Herald photographer, Robert Pearce, from a media barge directly in front of myself and the warship, captured the image of a vulnerable surfer hanging onto the nose of a nuclear armed destroyer that went global.

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October 9, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear, politics | Leave a comment

A powerful contradiction to Australia’s planned AUKUS and nuclear submarine developments

Ed. note. Here I summarise the points in this well-researched letter: Diplomatic Repercussions –  Geopolitical Tensions and Australian National Security(Why the decision makes Australias national security worse not better)  – We now have No Submarine Program at All.  – But Is Nuclear the Best Stealth? – Can we Build them at Osborne?  -Time to re-evaluate our Submarine Program? –The worst option is to do as we have now done. – Conclusion – This decision  should be re-visited


The submarine decision, especially within the context of the new ‘AUKUS’ grouping, but even taken on its own:

Worsens rather than improves Australias own national security, making us (more of) a nuclear target than we have ever been, and extending the targeting potentially from joint facilities to Australian cities and naval bases.

Worsens rather than improves regional security, adding impetus to regional arms racing, and increasing the likelihood that other Governments may decide they would like to have submarines fueled by HEU 

Leaves Australia currently with no replacement program for the Collins Class submarines

Makes no sense even within its own restricted terms of reference because it does not offer a submarine with the best stealth

—Requires a submarine  that may not be possible to construct even in part at Osborne. 

Letter Sent 5 October to Cabinet Security Cttee, Senate, Reps, DFAT, re Nuclear Subs, AUKUS,



Dear Prime Minister Scott Morrison, other decision-makers on the Australian nuclear submarines project, Cabinet National Security Committee, AUKUS:


The decision to establish a new diplomatic/military grouping, AUKUS, deepens confrontational tendencies in the Indo-Pacific region and is hence destabilizing, and worsens rather than improves Australia’s national security. It helps to ‘paint nuclear targets on Australia’s backside’.

The decision to equip Australia with nuclear submarines fueled with highly enriched uranium is both destabilizing and proliferative even if technically within the letters of the NPT.  The decision to go with HEU fueled subs in particular opens a proliferation ‘pandoras box’.

The decision to ‘go nuclear’ with submarines has been justified on the supposed technical superiority of nuclear over conventional subs. However a look in detail at the real – world technical and operational characteristics of advanced conventional and nuclear subs shows clear technical superiorities on the part of advanced conventional submarines exactly where we are being told nuclear subs are superior – in the area of quietness and non-detectability. The technical case for nuclear over conventional submarines is not established.

No analysis, and no thought, has been given as to what are Australia’s real security needs, and into whether submarines of any description fit into it.

The decision leaves Australia with currently NO replacement program for the Collins Class subs.        

The Submarine Decision and AUKUS

The decision to cancel an existing, well – established, contract with the French Naval Group for a diesel version of the Suffren class attack submarine has not met with universal acclaim, particularly from the French.

At the same time, the  closely related decision to establish a new military/diplomatic grouping to be known as ‘AUKUS’ (Australia-UK-US) has also raised questions as to its  geo-strategic impact, and contributed further to the deterioration of our relations with China, and possibly with Russia, with potentially catastrophic implications for Australias national security and the safety of all Australians.

It has quite reasonably been suggested that the establishment of ‘AUKUS” cements Australia into an ‘Anglo-sphere’ that is intrinsically limited in scope (how for example, does it relate to the ‘quad’ of India, Australia, Japan, US?), that excludes other nations that have strong Indo-Pacific interests and are allies (including France itself, now snubbed and smarting), and above all, that deepens confrontational attitudes in the region, especially with China.

It is by no means clear that the decision to substitute nuclear powered submarines is even the best decision on technical grounds, or that nuclear powered submarines are necessarily superior in the respects that might be important to Australia and particularly in extreme stealth – to conventionally powered submarines, either the existing Collins class, the erstwhile projected French submarine, or to an evolutionary successor to Collins.

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October 5, 2021 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, opposition to nuclear | Leave a comment

Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker, activists oppose spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Kudankulam

Tamil Nadu Assembly Speaker, activists oppose spent nuclear fuel storage facility in Kudankulam, India Today, 4 Oct 21, 

Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Speaker M Appavu and activists have opposed the spent fuel storage facility located on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project site.

Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly Speaker M Appavu and several activists have raised objections against the setting up of a spent fuel storage facility on the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Project site.

Appavu, who is also the MLA from Radhapuram district, stated that if there is any mishap, southern parts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala will face severe impact and requested the Centre to create the ‘Away From Reactor’ storage facility at the unused Kolar Gold Mines in Karnataka or Thar desert.

“The facility should be located in an area that is uninhabited”, stated Appavu while cautioning about increasing Chinese presence in Sri Lanka posing a threat.

Once Sri Lanka was a friendly nation, now China has a port there and its dominance is increasing with the port being used for military purposes. So, I request the Union government to use the abandoned Kolar mine fields”, said Appavu.

Environmental activist Soundarrajan claimed that the issue is of far more importance as AFR is not the solution here but construction of Deep Geological Repository.

However, to construct a DGR itself will take a minimum of 20 years of study and construction. A DGR must be built in such a way to withstand 24,000 years of geological impact as the amount of time taken for the nuclear waste to decay.

Activists are worried that Kudankulam having 6 nuclear plants and 3 AFR storage would become a ticking bomb and cause a much bigger disaster than Fukushima or Chernobyl…………..

October 5, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Nuclear test veteran joins the fight against a nuclear waste facility at former gas terminal in Theddlethorpe

A South Holland nuclear test veteran has joined the fight against plans to
build a waste facility in the county. Moulton man Doug Hern is among
thousands of British servicemen and their families who are paying the price
for being exposed to atomic and hydrogen tests in the 1950s. Now he is
putting out a warning over plans to construct a nuclear waste facility at a
former gas terminal in Theddlethorpe.

 Spalding Today 2nd Oct 2021

October 4, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, UK | Leave a comment

25 September Protest against UK university’s Nuclear Futures Institute, as nuclear suffers a new setback

DANGER – NUCLEAR COLLEGE! News / By Stop Wylfa 23 Sep 21,

Members and supporters will meet at Bangor Town Clock on the High Street at 1.45 Saturday afternoon, September 25 before moving ahead to Pontio to hold an artistic and symbolic protest against Bangor University’s Nuclear Futures Institute.

Nuclear power’s crebibility has suffered another setback this week from the direction of the first chairman of the Climate Change Committee, Lord Turner. A prominent businessman and ex-chairman of the Financial Services Authority and the Pensions Commission, Lord Turner said he has changed his mind about nuclear power, saying it is no longer needed.

Today, Thursday Serptember 23, the Ser Cymru professor for Nuclear Policy and Regulation at Bangor University, Laurence Williams OBE will present evidence to the Welsh Affairs Committee at Westminster regarding the Wylfa site alongside a number of other individuals who are members of the “nuclear village”. This is a totally onesided and undemocratic session which does not consider any anti-nuclear views. The Committee should convene another session to include campaigning movements such as PAWB, CND Cymru and Greenpeace. it would also be a simple matter to invite Lord Turner to explain his new position on nuclear power.

September 25, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, spinbuster, UK | Leave a comment

Bipartisan House group asks Biden to stop Canada’s Great Lakes nuclear storage plans

Bipartisan House group asks Biden to stop Canada’s Great Lakes nuclear storage plans, The Hill, BY SHARON UDASIN – 09/17/21 01:20 PM EDTRep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.) is calling on the Biden administration to stop the Canadian government from storing nuclear waste in the Great Lakes Basin. 

 The Nuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), a nonprofit established by the Canadian government, recently unveiled plans to construct a site that “would permanently store more than 50,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste” in the town of South Bruce, Ontario, Kildee’s office said.

South Bruce, located within the Great Lakes Basin, is about 30 miles east of Lake Huron.

Kildee in a release from his office described high-level nuclear waste as “the most dangerous form of nuclear waste,” and said that if an accident involving such waste occurred in the Great Lakes region, it could take a catastrophic toll on public health in surrounding U.S. and Canadian communities.

“The Great Lakes are central to our way of life, and permanently storing nuclear waste so close to our shared waterways puts our economies and millions of jobs at risk in the fishing, boating and tourism industries,” Kildee said. “People in both the U.S. and Canada depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, which could be contaminated if there ever was a nuclear waste incident.”

Kildee is offering a bipartisan resolution asking President Biden to work with the Canadian government to stop the plans for the storage. The resolution is co-sponsored by 11 Democrats and nine Republicans from states surrounding the Great Lakes.

“From recreational activities to economic opportunities, the Great Lakes are integral to our daily lives, and a spill of hazardous materials would be devastating to communities across the state,” one of the co-sponsors, Rep. Peter Meijer (R-Mich.), said in a statement. “We must continue to urge our Canadian allies to find an alternative storage site for nuclear waste.”

Tribal Chief Tim Davis, of the Michigan-based Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe, added his concerns, noting his community’s ongoing work “to eliminate the continuing threat of nuclear waste being deposited into Mother Earth so close to the largest fresh water repository on Earth.”……….

September 19, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics international, USA, water | Leave a comment

New Mexico backs Texas in opposing nuclear fuel storage

New Mexico backs Texas in opposing nuclear fuel storage
APN News, By SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, 17 Sept 21, ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Top New Mexico leaders say they’re open to “most anything” that would prevent spent nuclear fuel and other high-level waste from being stored indefinitely in the state, including legislation like a measure recently adopted by Texas to prevent the shipping and storage of such waste.

The renewed criticism this week of planned temporary storage facilities in West Texas and southeastern New Mexico came as federal regulators just granted a license for the proposed operation in Texas.

Interim Storage Partners LLC plans to build a facility in Andrews County that could take up to 5,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel rods from power plants and 231 million tons of other radioactive waste.

In New Mexico, Holtec International is awaiting approval of its license application for a facility that initially would store up to 8,680 metric tons of uranium. Future expansion could make room for as many as 10,000 canisters of spent fuel over six decades.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, a Democrat, and other top officials already have submitted comments in opposition to the multibillion-dollar proposal on their side of the state line and to the Texas project. New Mexico also is suing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, claiming it hasn’t done enough to vet Holtec’s plans.

Lujan Grisham’s office said it would be open to exploring legislation and to seeking funding that could boost efforts by New Mexico regulators to push back administratively……..

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has a similar stance and tweeted this week that “’Texas will not become America’s nuclear waste dumping ground.”……..

September 18, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Texas to fight on against dumping of spent nuclear fuel in Andrews County

In a statement before the NRC’s announcement this week, Hadden said opponents would “keep fighting” even if the new license were issued. She said legal challenges remain, and she expressed hope that Texas’ attorney general would fight to protect people. A county commissioners’ body in Andrews County, Texas, also backed a resolution against high-level nuclear waste storage this year, local CBS affiliate KOSA reported

Nuclear waste in the oil patch? Feds spark clash with Texas  E and E News, By Edward Klump | 09/15/2021 A site in West Texas now has a federal license to store spent nuclear fuel, setting up a potential showdown with state leaders who oppose the prospect of attracting high-level radioactive waste from across the country.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced the license for Interim Storage Partners LLC to build and operate an interim storage facility in Andrews County, Texas, on Monday — just days after Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill seeking to restrict nuclear waste storage in the state.

Yesterday, Abbott tried to use the new license in the Permian Basin oil patch to hammer President Biden, though an application for the site was filed in 2016, and the Trump administration didn’t kill the project.

“The Biden Admin. is trying to dump highly radioactive nuclear waste in west Texas oil fields,” Abbott said on Twitter. “I just signed a law to stop it. Texas will not become America’s nuclear waste dumping ground.”

David McIntyre, an NRC spokesperson, declined to comment on the governor’s criticism but said in a statement this week that the “licensing decision was made according to the applicable federal statutes and regulations after thorough, multi-year technical and environmental reviews.”

The drama is being watched by the electricity sector, as nuclear power plants continue to store spent fuel on-site without a permanent U.S. repository. Yucca Mountain in Nevada has failed to garner enough sustained support to be an option (E&E Daily, July 22). In the meantime, backers of the Interim Storage Partners, or ISP, site in West Texas and a separate project in eastern New Mexico from Holtec International have pursued interim storage proposals that could last for decades.

The NRC said this is the second license it has issued for a consolidated storage facility for spent nuclear fuel. The first was in 2006 for a different facility that wasn’t built. A decision on Holtec’s application for a site in Lea County, N.M., is expected in January, according to the nuclear safety regulator. Opposition to Holtec’s plan has been bubbling up in New Mexico, as well.

It remains to be seen how the West Texas proposal will proceed from here. ISP could directly challenge Texas’ stance, or it could take a more conciliatory, wait-and-see approach before seeking to move ahead.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, in response to a question from E&E News yesterday, said its “role is to NOT issue authorizations under TCEQ purview as directed in the bill language” if permits are requested for a high-level radioactive waste facility in the state such as the ISP site.

In a statement yesterday, ISP noted that the “proposed facility would be located adjacent to Waste Control Specialists’ existing low-level nuclear materials disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas.” ISP is a joint venture of Waste Control Specialists and Orano USA, along with some support from a technology provider called NAC International. A revised license application was submitted in 2018.

ISP said the federal authorization was based on a through, multiyear review. The venture didn’t indicate its next move or provide responses to questions posed by E&E News.

“The extensive analyses concluded that this facility’s commercial interim storage and transport operations satisfy all environmental, health, and safety requirements without negative impact to nearby residents or existing industries,” ISP said in its statement.

Critics have noted safety worries for people who live in West Texas, as well as concerns about transporting nuclear waste across the country.

“There were no surprises in NRC’s announcement, by Twitter, about approving the license for deadly nuclear waste storage in Texas,” Karen Hadden, executive director of the Sustainable Energy & Economic Development Coalition, said in a statement to E&E News. “There was no acknowledgement of the overwhelming opposition throughout Texas. Just the federal government steamrolling our state to benefit a private company.”

‘Really interesting times’

In a statement before the NRC’s announcement this week, Hadden said opponents would “keep fighting” even if the new license were issued. She said legal challenges remain, and she expressed hope that Texas’ attorney general would fight to protect people. A county commissioners’ body in Andrews County, Texas, also backed a resolution against high-level nuclear waste storage this year, local CBS affiliate KOSA reported……….

September 16, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

Protests against nuclear storage plans that could kill the tourist industry

Protesters warn nuclear storage plans could kill tourism as council moves
forward with talks. Protesters are unhappy after county councillors agreed
to talk to the government company behind a potential nuclear waste disposal
site in Lincolnshire. Lincolnshire County Council’s Environment and
Economy Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday morning agreed to join a working
group to look at Radioactive Waste Management’s (RWM) potential plans for
a Geological Disposal Facility in Theddlethorpe. Campaigners against the
plans who gathered outside the council before the meeting, however, are not
happy with the decision and have said moving the plans forward creates
uncertainty for local businesses and residents.

 Lincolnite 14th Sept 2021

Protesters warn nuclear storage plans could kill tourism as council moves forward with talks

September 16, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, opposition to nuclear, UK, wastes | Leave a comment

Protests as France sends latest shipment of used nuclear fuel to Japan 

Protests as France sends latest nuclear shipment to Japan from environmental group Greenpeace protested against a shipment of reprocessed nuclear fuel that was set to leave France for Japan on Wednesday for use in a power plant.

The load of highly radioactive Mox, a mixture of reprocessed plutonium and uranium, was escorted by police from a plant near the port of Cherbourg to the dockyard in the early hours of the morning.

A handful of Greenpeace activists waved flags and signs with anti-nuclear logos as they camped out on Tuesday night to wait for the heavy-goods truck transporting the high-security cargo.The Mox from French nuclear technology group Orano is destined for a nuclear plant in Takahama in Japan and is the seventh such shipment from France since 1999.
Japan lacks facilities to process waste from its own nuclear reactors and sends most of it overseas, particularly to France.

The country is building a long-delayed reprocessing plant in Aomori in northern Japan.

“Orano and its partners have a longstanding experience in the transport of nuclear materials between Europe and Japan, in line with international regulations with the best safety and security records,” Orano said in a September 3 statement.

The fuel is being shipped by two specially designed ships from British company PNTL.

September 9, 2021 Posted by | France, Japan, opposition to nuclear, wastes | Leave a comment

Groups call for no US nuclear bailouts

Billions for nuclear squanders vital climate opportunity

240 organizations ask Congress to eliminate nuclear subsidies from the budget 29 Aug 21, Beyond Nuclear was among 240 organizations who have signed a letter sent to the House and Senate Majority and Minority leaders urging them to omit nuclear bailouts from the federal budget and instead direct funds toward investment in carbon-free, nuclear-free clean energy.

This moment is our opportunity to launch a wholesale transformation of our economy and our energy systems to save our country and the world from the rapidly advancing climate crisis. Yet, legislation now before Congress would provide billions of dollars in subsidies to aging and uneconomical nuclear power plants, an effort that will cause us to miss the narrow window of opportunity we have left to act effectively on climate.

If the events of the last year have taught us anything, it is that we must marshal our national resources to address structural inequities and injustices that undermine our safety, health, economic security, and sustainability. We can achieve the goals of racial, economic, environmental, and climate justice upon which the Biden administration and Congressional leaders have promised to deliver—but not if we continue to invest billions of dollars in nuclear power and other false solutions.

Both the energy legislation proposed for the larger reconciliation package (S.2291/H.R.4024) and the bipartisan infrastructure bill would grant up to $50 billion to prop up old, increasingly uneconomical nuclear reactors for the next decade. The electricity generated by these reactors will need to be replaced by renewable energy in the coming years anyway, so every dollar we spend to prolong their operation has an opportunity cost in terms of dollars, jobs, and environmental pollution.

As a July 2021 report by Dr. Mark Cooper finds, the best investments to phase out greenhouse gas emissions in the electricity sector are the same in the short-term, medium-term, and long-term: renewable energy, efficiency, storage, and grid modernization. Money slated for nuclear bailouts would be much better spent on these resources instead.

Nuclear power is part of the climate problem, not the solution

Nuclear power is too dirty, too dangerous, too expensive, and too slow to solve the climate crisis, and the industry is rooted in environmental injustice and human rights violations. Bailing out nuclear power plants misdirects resources while perpetuating climate injustice. A whole suite of energy sources that will be the backbone of a 100% renewable, zero-emissions energy system–wind, solar, demand response, and energy efficiency–are already less expensive than currently operating nuclear reactors, and will only become more so over the next decade. Many more technologies that will enable the transition to a reliable and resilient, renewable energy economy–battery storage, smart- and micro-grids, offshore wind, and more–are on the same downward cost trajectory.

This is already happening in real time, even in conservative states. In 2020, Iowa’s only nuclear power plant closed, but the state brought more new wind generation online than the nuclear plant ever generated. Similarly, wind power plants in Texas already generate more than twice as much electricity as the state’s four large nuclear reactors; in each of the last four years, new wind generation has equaled the output of one of those reactors. 

Within three years after California’s San Onofre nuclear power plant unexpectedly retired in 2013, new solar power in the state exceeded what the nuclear plant produced. California has also shown that phasing out nuclear power is an integral part of the transition to a zero-emissions electricity system. The state’s largest utility is in the process of phasing out the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant by 2025, through a comprehensive community and energy transition that includes expanding energy efficiency and solar to exceed California’s targets for emissions reductions and renewable energy growth.

It is often said that states are the laboratory for national policy. If so, there is already abundant evidence at hand of the climate justice costs of subsidizing old nuclear reactors. Over the last five years, four states have granted up to $14 billion in subsidies to aging reactors–ratepayer dollars that could have been invested instead in renewable energy, efficiency, and other climate solutions.

In New York, consumers will pay up to $7.6 billion in subsidies to aging nuclear reactors by 2030, under a program instated in 2016. Yet, a study at the time showed that a state-of-the-art energy efficiency program could have effectively replaced those reactors with equivalent reductions in statewide electricity consumption by 2030, at a net savings to consumers of $3 billion. In effect, the state would have had more than $10 billion more to invest in climate solutions had it chosen efficiency over nuclear in 2016.

Further, New York has since upgraded its renewable targets and implemented energy efficiency standards that negate the original rationale for the bailout, yet consumers are locked into paying for it anyway. The federal government must learn from these experiments and not repeat the same mistakes.

Climate Justice 

We need to invest in a transition to efficient, renewable, clean energy technologies that can scale up as rapidly and affordably as possible to reduce emissions as aggressively as possible. Not only does nuclear energy fail to meet any of those criteria, investing billions of dollars in subsidies for old reactors directly funnels public investment away from environmentally just, equitable, and sustainable solutions to the climate crisis. This is why the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council included programs that procure nuclear power on a list of measures that do not benefit environmental justice communities in its May 2021 report to the Biden administration.

Moreover, subsidizing aging nuclear reactors does nothing to make nuclear power safer from the environmental hazards of climate change. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) habit of relaxing safety requirements has only worsened since the COVID-19 pandemic. NRC has refused to take any actions to protect nuclear workers from the novel coronavirus, nor even to require its licensees to provide any reporting of infection, testing, and hospitalization rates among their workforces. On top of that, NRC has canceled hundreds of required, scheduled safety inspections, security drills, and emergency preparedness exercises, for up to two years. Nuclear power is becoming more dangerous, not less, in the face of climate and public health challenges that will grow in the years to come.

Environmental Justice

In addition to the climate costs of proposed nuclear energy subsidies, subsidizing nuclear reactors will result in the creation of more radioactive waste without mitigating any of the significant environmental justice, climate justice, economic justice, and nuclear weapons proliferation impacts. By the time a single pound of nuclear fuel goes into a reactor, uranium extraction, processing, and enrichment have already generated thousands of pounds of long-lasting radioactive wastes, which are either dumped in piles or ponds, or (in the case of depleted uranium) stored in cylinders or barrels in the open air, very often in Indigenous communities.

Both nuclear subsidy proposals seek to expand uranium mining in the U.S. through tying subsidies to domestically sourced fuel. Neither infrastructure package includes respecting restrictions on mining of uranium on Indigenous peoples’ lands, regulations to mitigate the environmental impacts of uranium mining, nor remediation of the more than 15,000 abandoned uranium mines in the U.S. Indigenous peoples disproportionately bear the burdens of uranium extraction, from widespread leakage of radioactive and toxic waste into groundwater and exposure to radioactive dust and gases.

Tribal governments and impacted communities require prompt and thorough reclamation and cleanup of mines, mills, and uranium processing facilities, through a federal program that is tribe-/community-driven, inclusive, transparent, and funded at the scale of the problem. This is a national crisis and must be treated as such. The restoration and protection of safe drinking water for all communities must be an infrastructure priority. Doing so would create thousands of jobs, improve community health, and enable communities to live sustainably and in harmony with the natural environment for generations to come.

Economic Justice

Subsidies for nuclear power would not only be unjust and counterproductive for climate and environmental justice, they would also be unjust and counterproductive for creating jobs and building a thriving, equitable economy. All of the proposed subsidies (up to $50 billion) would likely go to reactors owned by only eight corporations and located in only 19 counties across eight states. Despite the size of this extraordinarily inequitable investment of taxpayer dollars, these subsidies would not create a single new job. Worse, allocating $50 billion to old reactors instead of renewable energy, efficiency, and other clean electricity infrastructure would prevent the creation of more than 60,000 new jobs.

Under S.2291/H.R.4409, all merchant reactors would be eligible for the subsidy, regardless of whether they actually need them to continue operating. Because the bills only consider the profitability of individual nuclear power plants, they do not protect U.S. taxpayers from paying uneconomical subsidies when cheaper alternatives and more strategic investments are available. 

The bill does not require independent verification of nuclear corporations’ claims about the emissions impacts of potential reactor closures. It does not consider states’ renewable energy and energy efficiency targets and programs, with which these subsidies could interfere. It does not consider alternatives, such as whether renewable energy would be more affordable. Neither bill plans for how to phase out and replace uneconomical nuclear reactors with renewable energy sources by the time their respective programs expire.

According to Dr. Cooper’s report, investing in renewable energy, efficiency, and other real climate solutions will employ many times more people and reduce far more greenhouse gas emissions than subsidizing nuclear power. This is especially true because nuclear corporations have over $60 billion already set aside to fund decommissioning and cleanup of their power plants when they close. These nuclear decommissioning funds can and should be used to defray job losses when reactors shut down.

We cannot perpetuate false solutions that prolong our reliance on dirty energy industries and have any hope of ending the climate and environmental justice crises those industries create. Providing billions of dollars in subsidies to nuclear power will only put short-sighted economic interests ahead of human lives, racial justice, the health of our environment, safe drinking water, and a thriving, equitable economy. We hope we can count on you to reject all proposals to subsidize nuclear energy and to make investments that will create a just and equitable transition to safe, clean renewable energy.

Download the original letter and read the press release.

August 30, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment