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Japan’s 2020 Olympic Games a public relations cover-up of the Fukushima fiasco, for the nuclear industry

Pay no attention to that radiological disaster behind the curtains  by Bo, 

The government of Japan is clearly intending that the 2020 Olympics will function as a public relations win in which the image of Japan, and especially of Northern Japan and Fukushima are cleansed of images of radiological contamination. Even as the Fukushima Daiichi site itself, and the traces where the plumes of its explosions deposited fallout throughout the area remain un-remediated, the public perceptions will be remediated. This is typical of the behavior of governments in the developed world that suffer radiological disasters. The disasters themselves are so difficult to clean up, and take decades to even begin the clean up, that money is allocated for extensive public relations efforts. These become tasks that CAN be completed and CAN be considered successful. They function both to advance the public image agenda of the governments, and also deliver a sense of agency when the overall tone of nuclear disaster remediation is one of lacking effective agency.

Towards that end, the Japanese government is planning to integrate Fukushima sites and perceptions into the upcoming Olympics media fest. The journey of the Olympic torch through every prefecture of Japan will begin in Fukushima, a symbolic rebirth intended to facilitate the repopulating of the local communities that were evacuated, many of which have had few returnees since the government has declared them “safe” and cut public funds to those forcibly evacuated.

The government is also planning to hold multiple Olympic events in Fukushima prefecture including baseball and softball events. “Tokyo 2020 is a showcase for the recovery and reconstruction of Japan from the disaster of March 2011, so in many ways we would like to give encouragement to the people, especially in the affected area,”said Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori last March.

This active rebranding of Fukushima as safe involves removing physical reminders of ongoing risk. The central government has recently announced that it will be removing 80% of public radiation monitors from the region. An argument can be made that the presence of these monitors is theatrical in that they only measure external gamma radiation levels, which are not the primary risk to residents (this comes from internalizing radioactive particles that blanketed the region in the fallout of the plumes of the explosions of March 2011), and that positioning these gamma detectors in midair produces low readings since the particles are primarily on the ground. However, they are a tangible, embodied reminder that risk remains.

While there is a clearly an active campaign to rehabilitate the image of the region leading up to the 2020 Olympics, an effort that will no doubt intensify as the event draws near, there is also pushback and resistance in the local and national communities. A recent sculpture unveiled at the JR train station in prefectural capital Fukushima City (about 80km from the Daiichi nuclear site) has been stirring up controversy.  A Guardian article explained:

“The statue, by Kenji Yanobe, depicts a child dressed in a yellow Hazmat-style suit, with a helmet in one hand and an artistic representation of the sun in the other.
Yanobe said his Sun Child, which was installed by the municipal government after appearing at art exhibitions in Japan and overseas, was intended to express his desire for a nuclear-free world.
The artist said he did not mean to give the impression that local children needed to protect themselves from radiation more than seven years after the Fukushima Daiichi plant became the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
He pointed out that the child was not wearing the helmet and that a monitor on its chest showed radiation levels at ‘000’.”

While some, including the mayor of Fukushima City, have praised the statue for emphasizing a hopeful future for local children, others have criticized the statue for suggesting that there is any danger to local children.

Regardless of how one interprets the sculpture, it does confront people with the fact that things are far from normal in the region. This, in spite of the central government’s strong efforts to implore people not to pay any attention to what is happening behind the curtains it has been raising.



August 20, 2018 Posted by | Japan, psychology and culture, secrets,lies and civil liberties, spinbuster | Leave a comment

South Korean government steadfast in its goal of phasing out nuclear power

S. Korean gov’t committed to nuclear phase-out policy goal, 2018/08/18   SEOUL, Aug. 18 (Yonhap) — The South Korean government is firmly committed to reducing the country’s dependence on nuclear power and will expand the use of renewable power sources…..

President Moon Jae-in is currently seeking to scrap the building of new reactors and phase out those already in operation.

During a meeting with ruling and opposition parties on Thursday, Moon was quoted by the Democratic Party as saying that the government is carrying out the phase-out drive “step by step,” expressing confidence that the present energy policy will not weigh down the national economy.

……. Seoul has emphasized that the course to denuclearize can lead to new business opportunities as there can be a lucrative market for safety dismantling nuclear reactors. It, moreover, said that the government will continue to support efforts by South Korean companies to win nuclear plant construction orders abroad.

August 20, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Korea | Leave a comment

UK’s “new nuclear” commitment not OK by all MPs. Waste disposal problem is the killer factor

The Government have issued a clear commitment to developing the UK’s capacity to produce nuclear energy in 2018.

But some MPs are reticent and believe the UK is being taken down the wrong path in its pursuit of a robust sustainable energy mix, writes Dods Monitoring’s Josh White. SNP MPs such as Drew Hendry and Alan Brown have encapsulated this sentiment in the Commons, often taking the Government to task on its decision to prioritise new nuclear over alternatives such as oil and gas and offshore wind.

In July, Hendry accused the Government of locking consumers into paying £20 to £40 more per megawatt-hour and called on it to end to its “obsession with outdated, expensive and risky nuclear”.

Does Hendry have a point? – At face value, there’s no denying that a higher strike price represents a poorer public investment, however, new nuclear stakeholders have argued that the reliability of nuclear energy sets it apart from other cheaper forms of low carbon energy production.

Whilst it is evident that the Government seeks to establish new nuclear as the core of the future UK energy mix, the success of the project will be contingent on finding a solution to the pressing issue of what to do with nuclear waste – a problem unique to nuclear energy.

Currently, the solution on thetable is to store radioactive waste in geological disposal facilities (GDFs) that would be built with community consent, bringing jobs and skills  to affected localities whilst also providing a long-term solution to the legacy of higher-activity waste.

The scheme failed to gain traction in 2008 when it was launched as part of the Managing Radioactive Disposal white paper, however, with the need to transition towards a sustainable energy mix greater than ever, the Government is hoping the initiative will attract
more support and uptake this time around.

Politics Home 15th Aug 2018

August 17, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Australian Aboriginal group win injunction to halt vote on nuclear waste dumping


South Australian Aboriginal group wins injunction to halt nuclear ballot, By Claire Campbell  

August 17, 2018 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, indigenous issues, opposition to nuclear, politics, wastes | Leave a comment

New Mexico State could still block Holtec’s nuclear waste dump plan, despite federal approval

State could block nuclear storage site near Carlsbad even if federally licensed, By Adrian C. Hedden / Carlsbad Current-Argus, N.M. (TNS), August 16th, 

State lawmakers maintained they will have a say in a proposed facility to store high-level nuclear waste near Carlsbad and Hobbs, despite an opinion issued by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas suggesting New Mexico will have a limited role in licensing the project.

New Mexico Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-36), who chairs the New Mexico Radioactive and Hazardous Waste Committee said Balderas’ opinion was informative but did not preclude lawmakers from preventing the facility from operating.

The committee convened in May to study the project proposed by New Jersey-based Holtec International, and held its third meeting on Wednesday at University of New Mexico-Los Alamos.

Opposed to the project, Steinborn said state lawmakers owe their constituents a full review of the proposal.

More: Who is Holtec? International company touts experience in nuclear storage

“I think it’s kind of a troubling deficiency in the government if the state doesn’t have to give consent to have something like this foisted upon it,” he said. “The State of New Mexico owes it to the people to look at every aspect of it.”

In Balderas’ response to multiple questions asked by Steinborn, he cited numerous past cases that Balderas said created a precedent that state governments have almost no role in federal licensing for nuclear facilities.

More: Attorney general: New Mexico has little say in Holtec proposal

He said the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has the sole authority to license the facility, and the state’s authority would likely begin once it went into operation, providing some recourse if something goes wrong.

“While it is abundantly clear that the state cannot license or otherwise directly regulate interim storage facilities, the Supreme Court has repeatedly held that state tort law can provide a remedy for injuries suffered as a result of nuclear plant operation,” Balderas wrote.

But Steinborn said he and the committee intended to make their voices heard well before the plant could go into operation.

He said even if the federal NRC does issue Holtec the needed license, the state could fight back by blocking utilities and infrastructure such as water and transportation access – cutting off the facility’s ability to operate. Continue reading

August 17, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Call for scrutiny of Florida electrical utility’s involvement in Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project

Citing ‘potential mismanagement,’ state senator asks for study of JEA’s nuclear power costs By Nate Monroe , 16 Aug 18

Central Florida state Sen. Debbie Mayfield has asked the Legislature’s auditing and accountability office to study JEA’s involvement in a faltering and increasingly expensive nuclear power project, citing it as an “alarming example” of “potential mismanagement” at the city-owned electric, water and sewer utility.

JEA’s involvement in the Plant Vogtle nuclear expansion project has largely simmered in the background this year as City Hall was embroiled in a contentious debate over whether it should sell the utility to a private operator. But the costs associated with JEA’s share of Vogtle — which could total $4 billion over 20 years — have concerned city and utility officials and credit-rating analysts.

JEA has told the Plant Vogtle co-owners it wants the project canceled, and utility officials are actively searching for ways to get out of the contract it has with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia, one of the co-owners

Mayfield, who represents a state Senate district that includes Brevard and Indian River counties about 150 miles south of Jacksonville, wants the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability Office to complete an in-depth study of JEA’s contract with MEAG, and to submit a report to the House and Senate leadership by Feb. 1.

“Citizens from the community have expressed concern over recent events and published reports that suggest serious issues surrounding the spending and operation decisions of the JEA,” Mayfield wrote in a Wednesday letter to the legislative auditors.

…….. JEA signed the Plant Vogtle nuclear power agreement in 2008, when industry analysts considered nuclear power to be on the upswing

…….In recent years, however, the fortunes of nuclear power have nose dived, stemming in large part from the availability and low cost of natural gas.The Plant Vogtle expansion is the only remaining active project of its kind in the nation and has experienced explosive cost overruns and delays in the completion dates.  Zahn said JEA’s decision to invest made sense in 2008 but that the structure of the contract has left JEA in a bad spot, especially as the cost has skyrocketed. ……..

Mayfield said in her letter that JEA initially projected a $140 million burden that over time has grown to $2.5 billion. Zahn pegged the overall cost — both JEA’s share of debt for the construction of the reactors and the cost of buying power for 20 years — at about $4 billion.

August 17, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Richard Glick unaware of his agency assisting in nuclear and coal bailout

Glick ‘at a loss’ over FERC role in Trump coal and nuclear bailout, The Democrat commissioner said he has no knowledge of FERC’s efforts to assist the Trump administration in supporting money-losing coal and nuclear plants. Utility Dive,     Gavin Bade

Federal Energy Regulatory Commissioner Richard Glick said Wednesday he has no knowledge of efforts at his agency to assist the Trump administration in bailing out money-losing coal and nuclear plants.

“I would like to know what they’re doing,” Glick said, referring to the FERC staff. “I think Commissioner [Neil] Chatterjee would like to know what they’re doing and so would Commissioner [Cheryl] LaFleur, so I just thought I’m kind of at a loss right now trying to figure out what they are doing.”

FERC later said that it was only providing technical assistance to ensure critical electricity infrastructure is protected, but Glick said even that role had not been communicated to him and other commissioners.

“The commission does provide technical assistance and has been doing that for a long time,”  he said on the sidelines of the Midcontinent ISO Market Symposium in Indianapolis. “Maybe that’s what [Pugliese is] doing. I honestly just don’t know.”

The comments from Pugliese, a Trump political appointee hired by then-Chairman Chatterjee last year, reignited concerns from former regulators that the agency may be falling under the political influence of the Trump administration and sparked calls from liberal groups for the chief of staff to resign…….. 

August 17, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Sweden’s Nuclear Code of Conduct under threat from populist political party

Populists May Rip Up Sweden’s Nuclear Code of Conduct, Bloomberg, By

  • Five party bi-partisan agreement from 2016 under threat
  • Energy system will be tested this winter after atomic closures

Sweden’s biggest ever cross-party energy deal was designed to provide stability for utilities for almost three decades, but the 2016 accord is now at risk of being ripped up after next month’s general election.

The Sweden Democrats, which some polls show could emerge as the biggest party, would revoke nuclear-plant closures central to the agreement if they came to power. The Christian Democrats, one of the accord’s co-signers, on Tuesday echoed that view and pressed for key parts of the deal to be renegotiated.

The agreement ended more than 30 years of bickering over nuclear power, extended support for renewable energy and stated that there should be zero emissions impacting the climate by 2045. It effectively boosted the lives of the nation’s six newest reactors until at least 2040, but didn’t address how the capacity of four older Vattenfall AB and EON SE units will be replaced. …….

August 17, 2018 Posted by | politics, Sweden | Leave a comment

Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) dismisses concerns about the  aging Pickering Nuclear Station

Ontario Clear Air Alliance 9th Aug 2018 Unsurprisingly, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) has approved
a ten-year extension to the  aging Pickering Nuclear Station’s operating

licence, meaning the plant can now operate until 2028.

It took the CNSC less than five weeks to review – and dismiss – dozens of submissions
pointing out the Pickering Station’s terrible location surrounded by
millions of people, the lack of thorough emergency planning despite 50
years of operations, and the absence of plans for better dealing with the
tonnes of radioactive waste stockpiled at the plant with nowhere to go.

Instead, the CNSC came down in favour of submissions such as one made by
Ontario Power Generation that claimed that no one had been harmed by the
massive radiation releases from the Fukushima accident and that “some
radiation” is actually good for you!

August 17, 2018 Posted by | Canada, politics | Leave a comment

Plaid Political leadership – an opportunity to lead for a nuclear free Wales

Nation Cymru 13th Aug 2018 , Plaid’s leadership contest is an opportunity to banish the nuclear
elephant in the room. Given the contempt shown by Labour for Wales after
twenty years of rule, and the systematic neglect by successive governments
in London, voters should be turning to Plaid en masse for the first time.

And yet what will they turn to find? A party in the middle of a leadership
contest. But if we must have a leadership contest, let’s turn it into a
positive and clarify, if not solidify, the party’s message and policies
with no compromises. The Plaid leadership contest is an opportunity to
banish the nuclear elephant in the room once and for all. Nuclear power has
to be and needs to be a central part of the debate during the leadership

If not now, when? This issue cannot be allowed to undermine the
party, its current or future leaders any longer; it has become Plaid’s
ball and chain. How can we welcome voters old and new to believe manifesto
promises or have faith in any single AM, MP or Councillor when the party is
simultaneously against and pro one of the biggest issues of our time?

Nuclear power is a great distraction from Plaid Cymru’s progressive
politics and progressive energy policies, a black hole sucking time and
resources Wales doesn’t have, denying communities and the country a real
chance of a sustainable and secure future. How can any party simultaneously
be pro-independence and seriously entertain or endorse any new nuclear

August 15, 2018 Posted by | politics, UK | Leave a comment

Senators deplore Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s plan to weaken protections on decommissioning reactors, and on wastes

A group of senators recently sent a letter to the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission (NRC) expressing concern over a draft proposed rule on nuclear
power plant decommissioning that has been presented to the commissioners
for review.

The rule includes proposed changes to emergency preparedness,
physical security, cyber security, funding assurance, financial protection
requirements and environmental considerations, among other issues.

Sens. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY),
and Kamala Harris (D-CA) said in their letter to NRC Chair Kristine L.
Svinicki that the rule would limit the general public’s opportunity to
participate in the decommissioning process.

They also wrote that the rule does not adequately address concerns about the long-term storage of spent
nuclear fuel and reduces financial protections, especially in case of an
accident, which increases financial risk for taxpayers and communities.
“By failing to propose a comprehensive set of decommissioning and cleanup
regulations, by automatically approving facilities’ exemptions from
safety, security and emergency planning regulations, and by continuing to
rubber-stamp the industry’s post-shutdown decommissioning activities
report, as currently drafted, this proposed regulation would abdicate the
NRC’s responsibility to ensure the safety of these plants,” the
senators wrote.

“This is more an absence of rulemaking than a rule that
will affirmatively guide plants and communities through the decommissioning

Daily Energy Insider 9th Aug 2018

August 13, 2018 Posted by | politics, safety, USA | Leave a comment

New Mexico State can’t stop Federal nuclear waste dump, but can oppose waste transport

Transportation Eyed for State Role   Nuclear watchdogs concur that the federal government doesn’t need New Mexico’s approval to award a license. But the state could do more to stop the project’s progress if leaders want to.

The cities of Albuquerque and Las Cruces, as well as Bernalillo County, have voted to formally oppose Holtec’s project. 

A proposed nuclear storage project in Utah, for example, received a license but never accepted waste after opponents there raised questions about transportation, as well as other concerns.

Holtec Nuclear Waste Project’s Opponents Seek Role for New Mexico Bloomberg, By Brenna Goth, August 8, 2018

New Mexico’s attorney general thinks the state can do little to stop Holtec International’s application to temporarily store high-level waste from commercial nuclear reactors, but that doesn’t deter critics of the project.

A state lawmaker and an environmentalist, who oppose the project to store the toxic trash in New Mexico before it is buried forever at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain or another site, said they believe the state—and not just the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission—can exert some influence over the Holtec project’s future.

New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas (D) recently assessed the state’s role in regulating Holtec’s plan to store the radioactive materials in rural southeast New Mexico near the the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP). An Energy Department facility that stores a different type of nuclear waste generated from weapons production, WIPP was subject to some state reviews before opening in 1999.

Holtec has an application before the NRC for a temporary place to keep nuclear waste from commercial power plants throughout the U.S. while the federal government develops permanent storage deep underground. There’s no timeline for permanent storage, as work on Yucca Mountain has long been stalled and has been met with

Intense opposition from Nevada lawmakers.

The plan to consolidate used fuel in New Mexico has drawn support for its potential economic impact and criticism for a range of health of safety concerns. Candidates running in November to replace Gov. Susana Martinez (R) have had conflicting views on the project.

But of all the factors that the NRC considers when awarding a license for temporary storage, “state approval is not among them,” said the attorney general’s July 19 letter, released to Bloomberg Environment under New Mexico’s public-records law.

Federal Law Governs Project

State Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D), who requested the attorney general’s opinion, told Bloomberg Environment the answers are “troubling.” Steinborn chairs a legislative committee on radioactive materials that has held hearings on Camden, N.J.-based Holtec’s proposal.

Steinborn said he’s “basically opposed” to the project given unanswered questions on the impacts to the state. He wants New Mexico to take an active role in the license review process and said the state can’t “put its head in the sand.”

Prior litigation shows the NRC can license the temporary storage facilities, said the attorney general’s letter, signed by Assistant Attorney General John Kreienkamp. Federal law pre-empts state laws when it came to nuclear waste regulation, he wrote.

The NRC, though, does provide protection against Holtec abandoning the site by requiring licensees to plan for and financially back eventual decommissioning. State tort law may help if people were injured or sickened by Holtec’s operations, the opinion said. ………

Transportation Eyed for State Role

Nuclear watchdogs concur that the federal government doesn’t need New Mexico’s approval to award a license. But the state could do more to stop the project’s progress if leaders want to, Don Hancock, director of the nuclear waste safety program and administrator at the Albuquerque environmental group Southwest Research and Information Center, told Bloomberg Environment.

Hancock, who opposes the proposal, said Holtec would need New Mexico’s cooperation elsewhere, such as help with moving nuclear waste through the state. A proposed nuclear storage project in Utah, for example, received a license but never accepted waste after opponents there raised questions about transportation, as well as other concerns.

“They do have mechanisms to do it outside the licensing process,” Hancock said of New Mexico officials.

The cities of Albuquerque and Las Cruces, as well as Bernalillo County, have voted to formally oppose Holtec’s project. Gubernatorial candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham (D) has spoken against it, while challenger Steve Pearce (R) said it could boost the state economically……..

states have limited authority to regulate projects such as what Holtec is proposing compared to other kinds of hazardous waste, Geoffrey Fettus, senior attorney at the nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council, told Bloomberg Environment. Fettus was an assistant attorney general in New Mexico in the 1990s and works on nuclear waste issues.

The Natural Resources Defense Council has recommended giving states more power.

The NRC is starting to review the environmental impacts of the Holtec proposal. The public can request a separate hearing on the plan through Sept. 14, which would put Holtec’s application in front of judges from the commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel.

August 13, 2018 Posted by | politics, safety, USA | Leave a comment

To the dismay of the global nuclear industry, China’s nuclear expansion has stalled

Why has China’s nuclear expansion programme stalled?  By Compelo Staff Writer, 9 Aug 18,  Completion of the first EPR and AP1000 reactors in China marks a major milestone, but, as Steve Kidd of East Cliff Consulting explains, the nation’s ambitious nuclear expansion programme is no longer on track. Many of the negative factors which have affected nuclear programmes elsewhere in the world are now also equally applicable in China. Despite many new reactors starting up, it is clear that the programme has continued to slow.

The most obvious sign of this is the lack of approvals for new construction starts. There have been no new approvals for approaching three years, so the number of reactors under construction has been falling sharply. Other indications of trouble are:

uncertainties about the type of reactor to be utilised in the future
the position of the power market
the structure of the industry with its large state-owned enterprises (SOEs)
the degree of support from state planners and the level of public opposition to nuclear plans.
where China now stands with its planned transition to advanced reactors and a fuel reprocessing strategy.

Over-supply and the AP1000 reactor

Start-ups of two imported Gen III reactor designs (Westinghouse AP1000 and the Areva EPR) are now happening at last, but the delays no doubt concerned the regulatory authorities. The problems with the AP1000 (at Sanmen and Haiyang) are the more serious, as this reactor was destined for most of the future sites in China. Although the units at both sites are now ready to enter commercial operation, this is unlikely to bring forward a flood of new approvals. China has suffered a severe dent in its confidence in the AP1000, not helped by Westinghouse’s US bankruptcy. The authorities now no doubt wish to see clear evidence of successful operation before authorising more units. There may be further reactors at the two existing sites, but there are many others that have been “ready to go” for several years now.

Another important reason for the slowdown relates to the size of nuclear programme China needs. Problems of power over-supply in particular regions are now pressing and connected to the continued construction of coal generating stations and the rapid expansion of wind and solar power. There are important questions to be resolved about how many reactors are needed to satisfy power demand and the price that can be paid for their electricity. Nevertheless, most of the Chinese nuclear companies want to build lots of new units and feel they are being held back by the authorities. The rapid expansion of wind and solar generating capacity has reminded the planners that there are alternative means of achieving environmental goals, while the Chinese hydroelectric programme is still enormous.

The shadow of Fukushima

The Fukushima accident still casts a significant shadow over the nuclear sector in China and regulators are clearly very cautious about having a big nuclear programme. Ultimately one person at the top of the regulatory authority has to take responsibility for safety and having 100 reactors in operation is far more burdensome than 20 or 40. South Korea’s apparent turning away from nuclear and the tardiness of Japanese reactor restarts are also unhelpful in inspiring confidence in the region.

China’s nuclear programme is now much harder to assess. The picture up to 2020 is fairly certain, as units under construction come into operation). The 58GW capacity target by end-2020 will be missed by perhaps 5GW, but more serious is another goal – having 30GW under construction by then. This would imply a programme of six reactors a year up to 2025, a similar level to 2015-2020. Almost all will have to be approved before the end of 2020. On recent trends, this looks unlikely and so it may be prudent to assume a programme of only 3-4 units per year beyond 2020. This means nuclear generating capacity of only 90GW or so by 2030, well below previous expectations. Beyond then it is difficult to judge, but the chance of China having a huge nuclear programme by 2050, perhaps consisting of 200-400 reactors, is much less than a few years ago. Estimates that China may move ahead of the USA in nuclear generating capacity by the mid or late 2020s now look wide of the mark. Even if 10-20 US units do eventually shut down by 2030, it could happen after then.

The dent in confidence surrounding the imported Gen III designs has been overcome, to some extent, by China’s development of the Hualong reactor, which satisfies the regulators’ insistence that all approved designs are at the Gen III level. Four units are now under construction in China (plus two in Pakistan). The two units being built by CNNC at Fuqing are on schedule to go online in 2020-2021, but CGN’s pair at Fangchenggang are apparently unlikely before 2021-2022. Whether Hualongs will replace AP1000s at any of its sites in China remains to be seen.

Big questions surround the CAP1400, the larger version of the AP1000, which China has developed, and the extent of the programme for high-temperature gas-cooled reactors (HTGRs) and small modular reactors (SMRs).

Approval of construction of the initial CAP1400s has been long-delayed and surely still awaits the regulator’s satisfaction with the AP1000. It appears that the HTGRs and SMRs will remain as marginal components of the main Chinese nuclear programme, but may offer useful additional export opportunities. The economics of the HTGRs are apparently questionable versus large LWRs, while there are lots of SMR designs around the world without anyone committing to build them.

Economic issues

Perhaps surprisingly, a big issue today affecting the Chinese nuclear programme is its economic viability. With nuclear power only currently representing 3-4% of China’s electricity supply, one would think that there is still plenty of room for dramatic growth. However, the slowing of the Chinese economy and the switch to less energy-intensive activities, together with over-investment in power generation capacity, means that there is now more than can be carried in the grids in some provinces. It cannot therefore be assumed that new nuclear units will run at the 80-90% capacity factors necessary to pay back the funds invested in their construction.

Tariffs that producers receive when they sell power to the grid are also under threat. The central government wishes to liberalise the Chinese power sector and make it more responsive to economic criteria and this may not help nuclear. The rising costs of building Gen III units are also a factor. Reactors may have to load-follow, which is not ideal in the technical or economic sense. Nuclear has to compete against other generation options…………

Power to the people
Many people used to believe that because China is a centrally-planned economy with a strong one-party government, public opinion did not matter much and any opposition to nuclear could be easily overcome. Nothing could be further from the truth. Public opinion matters a great deal in China and politicians fight shy of any issue that could inflame public opinion in any way. The last thing the Chinese government wants is people protesting on the streets – and this has already happened with two proposed fuel cycle plants. Both were quickly cancelled.

One particular public acceptance problem is inland sites for nuclear plants. Having imposed a moratorium on these for now (in fact to slow the nuclear programme down), the government has made a huge problem for itself by giving the impression that these sites are “second best” and maybe not as safe as the coastal sites (where all current Chinese reactors are located).

The threat in China is that nuclear may become no more than a niche, bridging technology, as a route to something better in the future.

This article originally appeared in Nuclear Engineering International.

Steve Kidd is an independent nuclear consultant and economist with East Cliff Consulting.

August 11, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, China, politics | Leave a comment

USA nuclear bailouts: Led by Secretary Perry, the administration continues to make false and misleading arguments 

Rick Perry Rejects Facts in Favor of Coal and Nuclear Bailouts, Union of Concerned Scientists, JEREMY RICHARDSON, SENIOR ENERGY ANALYST | AUGUST 9, 2018 

Much has been written on coal and coal miners since the president began campaigning in earnest in 2016. Since taking office, he has continued that dishonest and dangerous rhetoric—and has directed his agencies to do somethingAnything. Except, of course, anything that represents real solutions for coal miners and their communities, instead proposing (initially at least) to cut federal programs that invest in those communities.

The president continues to push for a misguided federal bailout of the coal industry—a blatant political payoff to campaign donors using taxpayer money with no long-term solutions for coal workers. The latest shiny object masquerading as reasoning? National security. But as we know, bailing out uneconomic coal plants only exacerbates the real national security issues brought on by climate change, while continuing to saddle our country with the public health impacts of coal-fired electricity—which hurt real people in real communities.

As is typical with this administration, substance and science and evidence are inconsequential compared to ideology, and their attempts to bail out money-losing coal and nuclear plants are no exception. Here’s a quick take on how we got here and what to expect next…….






Led by Secretary Perry, the administration continues to make false and misleading arguments about the purported need for keeping uneconomic plants from retiring early—and this issue will be with us as long as the current president is in office.  ……

At UCS, we’re going to continue the fight to hold the administration accountable and stop this misguided and disastrous proposal from being implemented. The facts are on our side—there is no grid reliability crisis and no grid resiliency crisis, but there is a climate crisis, and bailing out coal plants will only add to the climate crisis with real adverse consequences to the economy and public health. Stand with us.

August 11, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | 1 Comment

New York environmentalists and state politicians want to opt out of nuclear subsidy program

Environmental groups, state politicians want to opt out of nuclear subsidy program, 

After U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry came to Oswego County last week to praise the state’s support of nuclear power plants, several environmental groups and New York politicians sent a letter to state leaders saying the opposite.

The idea of using public dollars to keep financially struggling nuclear power plants afloat because they don’t emit carbon dioxide was never popular among some environmental groups that consider the facilities dangerous and dirty because of the radiation and nuclear waste they create. So when the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) voted two years ago to bail them with about $8 billion in fees on consumer’s energy bills, they left the door open to a potential compromise.

Then-chair of the PSC Audrey Zibelman said they would look at letting customers opt into a program to buy 100 percent of their energy from clean, renewable sources instead of paying into the system that supports the nuclear subsidies. Jessica Azulay with the Alliance for a Green Economy says it’s time for the state to make good on that promise.

“What this letter does that we filed with the governor and the chair of the Public Service Commission is to try to win the right for consumers to decide that they no longer want to pay this extra money toward nuclear energy and they want to instead adopt 100 percent renewable energy,” Azulay said. “We think that this is a really common sense approach – maybe a first step – in reversing the nuclear subsidies by allowing people to vote with their dollars and really create the pathway for renewable energy to accelerate in New York and phase out the nuclear reactors.”

To date, the nuclear subsidies have cost New York ratepayers about $650 million. A spokesperson for the PSC says the price would be even greater had the plants been allowed to shut down because they could have been replaced with fossil fuels that would have emitted carbon dioxide, setting back the state’s goals to lower carbon dioxide emissions 40 percent by 2030.


August 10, 2018 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment