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Russia’s grandiose nuclear ambitions – expressed in its floating nuclear plant for the Arctic

Russian floating nuclear plant prepares for towing into Arctic seas,  Plant to support 50,000-person Chukotka region with power for oil and gas industries  Katie Toth · CBC News  Jul 10, 2019   Russia’s controversial nuclear barge is ready to travel through the Arctic seas — and observers across the globe are watching.

Greenpeace has called it a “floating Chornobyl.” 

But the Akademik Lomonosov, which will dock in the Eastern Siberian town of Pevek, also provides a small glimpse into Russia’s northern ambitions and the role of nuclear power in achieving them.

Russia’s atomic energy agency, the Rosatom State Atomiс Energy Corporation (ROSATOM), has said in news releases that the future floating nuclear power plant will be a key piece of infrastructure as it develops its Arctic shipping route. 

Meanwhile, the agency has started work on a fleet of nuclear-powered icebreakers to keep that route open. Its latest three ships can cut through three metres of ice, and each can produce 350 megawatts of power. 

It’s a lot more difficult to counter a catastrophe there than anywhere else on the globe.– Jan Haverkamp, Greenpeace

Rebecca Pincus, an assistant professor with the U.S. Naval War College, says Russia’s vision for itself as a global superpower in the 21st century hinges on the far North.

Russia’s grand strategy for the century is centred on developing Arctic resources,” Pincus said. “That economic engine [is] … integral to Russia relaunching its place in the world.” 

According to statements by ROSATOM, the plant will supply the 50,000-person Chukotka region with power and it will support “key industries” in this oil-and-gas rich region. 

‘It’s a classical Russian solution’

The choice to build a floating nuclear power station is “a fabulous little encapsulation of all the challenges Russia faces in developing its Arctic zone,” Pincus said. “Floating a nuclear power plant to a tiny little city in the Russian Arctic is colossally challenging, colossally expensive … it’s a classical Russian solution.”

………. Jan Haverkamp, a nuclear energy expert with Greenpeace, says his organization is right to be worried. The Lomonosov will be docking in one of the most remote places in the world.

The Lomonosov, prior to a paint job. Greenpeace is concerned about the plant and its isolated location, saying that it would be difficult to counter a catastophe in the remote region. (ROSATOM)

“It’s a lot more difficult to counter a catastrophe there than anywhere else on the globe,” he said.

Haverkamp is also concerned about the power being used to extract fossil fuels.

“Climate change is a given.… Opening up new fossil projects at the moment, when the world needs to be fossil-free in 2050, does not seem to make very much sense.”

Meanwhile, ROSATOM says this barge is only a small piece of a new future for floating nuclear power. It’s building a second generation of the floating nuclear units, and it’s in talks with several countries looking to buy nuclear barges of their own.

Emails to ROSATOM’s media contact were not returned before publication.

The barge will start getting towed to Pevek in August. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/north/russia-floating-nuclear-plant-1.5206448

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July 13, 2019 Posted by | politics, Russia, technology | Leave a comment

Tax-payer funding absolutely critical to Russia’s nuclear industry

State support pivotal to Russia’s nuclear sector, says report, WNN 12 July 2019

Russia’s nuclear power industry consists of 89 enterprises that are owned by the state-run joint stock company Atomic Energy Power Corporation (AEPC), or Atomenergoprom, its Russian name.

Since commissioning its first, five-megawatt, nuclear power plant, in Obninsk in 1954, Russia has been one of the world’s leading countries in nuclear power generation, S&P says, and the country plays an important role in all parts of the nuclear cycle, from mining to construction.

The report – What Makes Russia’s Nuclear Sector Competitive – says state support includes capacity-supply agreements, ad hoc equity contributions from the government, and low nuclear liabilities that accrue only after 2011……….

“We expect domestic nuclear capacity to increase only moderately because electricity demand in Russia is stagnating, given only modest GDP growth, a significant potential for energy savings, and the government’s intention to avoid raising electricity prices through additional increases in capacity payments,” the report says.

The key risks, according to S&P, concern international projects: tighter requirements for new builds, which are likely to mean potential delays – “as seen with” the Hanhikivi project in Finland; and, nuclear phase-out policies in Western Europe that “could weigh on exports in the longer run”.

“That said, we believe exports of fuel and enrichment services should be resilient in the next several years because Russia mostly exports to nuclear-supportive countries under long-term contracts,” the report says.

“Meanwhile, treatment of nuclear waste or decommissioning services could increase in importance,” it adds.

AEPC has “solid” profitability and financial metrics compared with international and local peers, S&P says, which provides “financial capacity” for new nuclear power construction, domestically and abroad.

Although Russia is involved in a “record number” of international nuclear power construction projects, the prime contractor is AEPC’s unrated sister entity Atomstroyexport, and AEPC is only directly involved in two projects, Hanhikivi in Finland (34%) and Akkuyu in Turkey (96%), the report notes.

AEPC covers all stages of the civil nuclear cycle,  from uranium extraction (about 13% of global production) through enrichment and fuel fabrication (about 36% and 17% global market shares) to electricity generation in Russia. It is the sole operator of nuclear plants with 29.1 GW, or 12% of Russia’s total installed capacity, and 18% of the country’s electricity production, at ten plants and 35 units in operation. http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/S-P-report-on-Russia

July 13, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, Russia | Leave a comment

USA. Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez move to declare climate crisis official emergency

July 9, 2019 Posted by | climate change, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Iran to breach nuclear deal limits: still far from producing a nuclear weapon

Iran Announces New Breach of Nuclear Deal Limits and Threatens Further Violations, NYT, By David D. Kirkpatrick and David E. Sanger, July 7, 2019

Iran said on Sunday that within hours it would breach the limits on uranium enrichment set four years ago in an accord with the United States and other international powers that was designed to keep Tehran from producing a nuclear weapon……….. The steps Iran has taken are all easily reversible. …..

In violating the limits on uranium enrichment, Tehran still remains far from producing a nuclear weapon. It would take a major production surge, and enrichment to far higher levels, for Iran to develop a bomb’s worth of highly enriched uranium, experts say. It would take even longer to manufacture that material into a nuclear weapon……..

The European strategy for the next few months, one senior diplomat involved in the discussions said, is to buy some time and hope to defuse the crisis. There is no immediate urgency about starting the process for “snapback” sanctions, and European officials, led by the French, hope to begin some kind of negotiation process that would make that unnecessary.

If Iran’s increase in the enrichment level is modest — say, to 5 percent, a level often used for fueling reactors — there would be no political momentum for sanctions, especially because European officials largely view President Trump as the instigator of the nuclear deal’s demise. ……

For a year after Mr. Trump withdrew the United States from what he called a “terrible” deal negotiated by his predecessor, Iran stayed within the accord’s limits. It pressed Britain, France and Germany to make good on their promises to compensate the country for oil revenues and other losses resulting from American sanctions. …….https://www.nytimes.com/2019/07/07/world/middleeast/iran-nuclear-limits-breach.html

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Iran, politics | Leave a comment

French government wants an independent audit of EDF’s Flamanville nuclear plant

Reuters 5th July 2019 The French government has requested an independent audit of EDF’s
(EDF.PA) Flamanville nuclear plant, which faces new cost overruns and
delays of up to three years after a regulator ordered repairs last month.
ASN, the French nuclear watchdog, said that state-owned EDF would have to
repair eight faulty weldings in the reactor’s containment building,
adding that it had rejected a request to delay repairs until 2024.
France’s Economy minister Bruno Le Maire told BFM television on Friday
that “incidents” at Flamanville, northern France, were
“unacceptable”, adding that he had asked a former executive with car
maker PSA (PEUP.PA), Jean-Martin Folz, to conduct an independent inquiry.

https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-edf-nuclearpower-flamanville/france-asks-for-independent-audit-of-edfs-flamanville-nuclear-plant-idUKKCN1U0268?rpc=401&

July 8, 2019 Posted by | Arclight's Vision, business and costs, France, politics | Leave a comment

Ohio Lawmakers Miss Deadline to Save Two Nuclear Plants, Vow to Keep Trying

FirstEnergy says it will continue decommissioning plants outside Cleveland and Toledo but can wait a few weeks longer for state aid   By Kris Maher, July 7, 2019 

A plan to rescue nuclear energy in Ohio is moving forward as lawmakers said they would continue working past a deadline on a bill aimed at keeping the state’s two nuclear plants running.

The oil-and-gas industry, environmental groups and renewable energy companies have lined up to oppose the legislation, as Ohio becomes the latest state to wrestle with balancing a diverse energy portfolio with clean-energy goals and local economic interests….. (subscribers only) 

July 8, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Britain’s nuclear power projects not economically viable, and adding to global warming

Nuclear power is helping to drive the climate crisis, Guardian, 3 July 19  Linda Rogers says the CBI has its head in the sand over nuclear reactors and Iain Climie wants politicians prepared to fund action to combat the climate emergency

Has the Confederation of British Industry got its head in the sand, or in the record levels of carbon-intensive concrete just poured at the Hinkley C nuclear site (Build more nuclear reactors to help climate crisis, says CBI, 28 June)? Nuclear power, apart from destroying biodiversity throughout its life cycle, produces up to 37 times the CO2 emissions of renewable energy sources, owing partly to the mining and refining of uranium. The impact of this process on people and the environment is not included in the rationale for nuclear power in the UK.

As the CBI looks for investment from abroad, UK taxpayers will pick up the bill for the likely time and cost overruns of new nuclear build under the regulated asset-based funding proposals so welcomed by the CBI. Nuclear has failed to achieve the investment needed so far because it is no longer seen as economically viable. Even Hitachi (one of the world’s largest multinationals) cannot magic Wylfa Newydd into a commercially viable business. In January this year, Hitachi announced it had failed to squeeze the UK government for the very high levels of subsidies desired by large investors upfront for Wylfa. Nobody can afford the costs or the many risks attached to building new nuclear power stations.
Linda Rogers

July 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, climate change, politics, UK | Leave a comment

Dark money and the planned nuclear power bailout in Ohio

Who paid all that money to buy all those nuclear bailout ads raining on Ohio? https://www.cincinnati.com/story/news/2019/07/02/who-paid-all-money-buy-all-those-nuclear-bailout-ads-ohio-house-bill-6/1443145001/

Josh Goad, Cincinnati Enquirer  July 3, 2019 If you’re an Ohioan with a TV or radio, you’ve probably heard about a nuclear power bailout bill that lawmakers are considering in Columbus. But what you can’t find out is exactly how much money is being spent on those ads – or who originally gave the money for them.


House Bill 6
 seeks to tax Ohioans 80 cents a month through their utility bill to bailout First Energy Solutions’ nuclear power plants in Northern Ohio. Critics say the bill, which also will boost costs for commercial and industrial customers, will discourage the use of renewable energy for businesses across the state. Proponents say the bill will help Ohio stay energy independent and keep badly needed jobs in the communities around the plants.

The bill, which has the backing of powerful House Speaker Larry Householder, triggered up to $8.3 million in ads and other campaign spending, published estimates show. For comparison, a record $45 million was spent in the 2018 Ohio gubernatorial race.

Yet an Enquirer analysis of ad purchases for and against House Bill 6 and reported to the Federal Communications Commission shows just $2.7 million in sales. The Cincinnati market, the state’s third largest, was the leader in ads on the bailout bill.

Why the gap between the $2.7 million hard figure and the $8.3 million estimate? Some broadcasters, including Cincinnati’s WCPO-TV, are choosing not to post billings for the ads – and under FCC rules, they don’t have to do so.

The big money behind the bill hasn’t been reserved for ads this year. Groups allied with Householder put $800,000 into ads for Ohio’s 2018 campaigns, boosting candidates who put Householder into the speaker’s seat. A couple of the winning candidates also are key sponsors of House Bill 6.

But donors behind the campaign money, and for many of the ads you’ve seen about the bill, can’t be pinpointed.

The money backing the bill primarily started with a 501(c)(4) or “dark money” organization called Generation Now that doesn’t have to list donors. Generation Now then gave to a political action committee, which must disclose donors. So while it’s clear which candidates got the “dark money” boosting the nuke plant bailout went, it’s uncertain who originally contributed it or the money that bought airtime.

Who runs Generation Now and is on its board isn’t clear. But the Columbus address of a longtime Householder adviser, Jeff Longstreth, is listed as the principal office in documents filed to the Ohio Secretary of State. So far, the 501(c)(4) hasn’t filed paperwork with the IRS – a step that such nonprofits seeking to stay in existence take. Paperwork that’s normally filed with broadcasters, listing the board members of groups airing political ads also is missing.

How much is being spent?

Generation Now has spent over $1.9 million on ads supporting House Bill 6, documents filed with the FCC show. This is out of around $2.7 million reported being spent on ads across Ohio on the proposal.

First Energy, which owns the plants being bailed out, backs the Ohio Clean Energy Jobs Alliance. The alliance has spent around $275,000 on ads in support of the bill and has stuck to Facebook for distribution.

The opposition to House Bill 6 has put $400,000 into its ads. The total from Ohio Consumers Power Alliance, American Energy Action and Ohioans Against Nuke Bailout compares to the roughly $1.3 million Generation Now has spent in Cincinnati alone.

Why isn’t all the spending being reported?

The FCC requires stations to make ad spending records available for the public record, but only if the ads are focused on a specific candidate or a national issue. State and local issues are not on the short list of requirements. 

Some stations choose to file everything for the sake of transparency. Others don’t.

FCC public inspection files show 41 stations in markets across Ohio – Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus, Cleveland-Akron, Toledo, Zanesville and Wheeling-Steubenville – were contacted by Generation Now or other interested parties because they are required to file such contracts by FCC rules.

But 13 stations, including every commercial TV broadcaster in Dayton, did not report how much Generation Now and other organizations spent on ads.

Where did the money come from?

‘Dark money’ is inherently difficult to track. While we don’t know the source, the money can be followed when it changes hands. 

Other than the money Generation Now spent in 2019 on ads, the nonprofit also donated over $1 million to the Growth & Opportunity PAC in 2018. The political action committee is based in Lexington, Kentucky, but operates throughout the Midwest.

According to documents filed with the FEC, the PAC only raised around $1.1 million in 2018. Almost all of that money would go on to pay for ads for Ohio Republican candidates during the midterm elections. Though Generation Now did not directly pay for those ads, it did provide the majority of funds necessary through three sizable donations to the PAC.

When the donations were made last year, Generation Now and the PAC had something in common: A treasurer from Dinsmore Agent Co, a subsidiary of Cincinnati-based law firm Dinsmore and Shohl.

Eric Lycan, the treasurer and former lawyer at Dinsmore’s Lexington office, would have overseen the donation. He still serves as the treasurer for both the organization and the PAC, and several documents filed to the FEC include his Dinsmore email address. 

The only Ohio-based organization that is easily traceable is Ohio Citizen Action, founded in Cleveland in 1976. Through its education fund, Ohio Citizen Action created the Ohio Consumers Power Alliance, who has paid for $8,000 in anti-House Bill 6 ads.

As nonprofits, Ohio Citizens Action and its education fund report their annual revenues to the IRS but not their donors. The last available filing for the education fund was for 2017, which was posted in January 2019. 

Where did the ‘dark money’ go?

Reps. Jamie Callender, R-Concord, and Shane Wilkin, R-Hillsboro, both primary sponsors of House Bill 6, directly benefited from the ads purchased by the Growth & Opportunity PAC.

Of the 22 Republican candidates that received either mail or radio ads, 19 would go on to win a seat in the House. Callender received more in ad spending than any other winning candidate, with $93,000 spent on seven different ad buys.

Householder also had nearly $50,000 worth of ads paid for by the PAC during his election to his Southeast Ohio seat. Another $25,000 was donated directly to Householder by FirstEnergy’s PAC.

Karen Kasler, of public radio’s Statehouse News Bureau, asked Householder earlier this year if House Bill 6 was a priority to him because of his connections to Eric Lycan and the Growth & Opportunity PAC.

It’s a priority bill for me because I’ve always cared about the energy in the state of Ohio,” said Householder. “I’ll tell you who’s paying for these ads: it’s working men and women from Ohio, who want to save their jobs and it’s Ohio corporations, headquartered in Ohio, that want to stay here. That’s who’s paying for it.”

Why is ‘dark money’ hard to track?

It can be as simple as Generation Now, and other dark money groups, not filing the appropriate paperwork to the IRS.  If a tax-exempt organization doesn’t file for three consecutive years, it loses its status. Since Generation Now was incorporated in January 2017, the three-year deadline is approaching. 

Though Householder says that hardworking men and women donated money to the organization, Generation Now doesn’t have a donation portal on its website.

While reaching out to Generation Now for comment, Curt Steiner, CEO of Columbus-based Steiner Public Relations, answered instead. He said that he represents Generation Now and that he couldn’t speak on why there is no donation portal. 

Why have the ads run recently?

Many of the ads about House Bill 6 played on Ohio’s airwaves talked about getting the bill passed before the end of June.

Some of the ads feature an ominous voice talking about what Ohio’s future might look like under the bill, others showcase somebody who talks about their life and what FirstEnergy has done for them.

So why the deadline for passage? FirstEnergy Solutions needed to know whether to place an order for $52 million worth of fuel for one of its nuclear power plants. It takes months for such an order to be filled.

Action on FirstEnergy Solutions restructuring plan, filed through the Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Ohio, has been posted four times, moves that a FirstEnergy spokeswoman described as “not unusual.” 

Senate President Larry Obhof, R-Medina, told Statehouse reporters on Saturday he isn’t worried about the delayed fuel purchase.

“I’ve had a number of conversations with (FirstEnergy) going back several months about what the timeline was and there’s always been a little bit of flexibility,” Obhof said.

Meanwhile, House Bill 6 is still awaiting a vote in the Ohio Senate.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Oyster Creek Generating Station is now in the hands of Holtec

Oyster Creek nuclear plant sale to Holtec is complete, App.com, Amanda Oglesby, Asbury Park Press,  July 2, 2019, LACEY Oyster Creek Generating Station is now in the hands of Holtec – International, which completed the purchase of the now-defunct nuclear facility on Monday.

Oyster Creek, before it shut down in September, was one of the nation’s oldest nuclear power plants. Camden-based Holtec plans to decommission this half-century-old facility and profit off the reactor’s nearly $1 billion decommissioning trust fund, money set aside for dismantling the reactor.

Under the agreement, Holtec subsidiaries Oyster Creek Environmental Protection International LLC will serve as owner and Holtec Decommissioning International will oversee decommissioning.

Holtec purchased the power plant for an undisclosed amount from Exelon Generation of Chicago.

Exelon had originally planned to take the plant down slowly over the course of 60 years in a process that would have allowed some of the facility’s dangerous radioactivity to degrade to safer levels. But Holtec’s proposal seeks to complete the decommissioning within a mere 10 years. The company says its new spent fuel storage systems enable hot, radioactive fuel to be removed from the plant’s cooling pool and placed into storage casks years earlier than originally planned.

Holtec is also applying to build an fuel storage facility in New Mexico, but is waiting on approvals. In the meantime, the spent fuel will be stored in steel and concrete canisters on the plant’s property in Lacey…….

Holtec has also applied to purchase other nuclear plants at Indian Point in New York, Palisades in Michigan, and Pilgrim in Massachusetts from Entergy Nuclear. Each has massive decommissioning trust funds that would be transferred to Holtecupon completion of the sales. …..this is Holtec’s first major expansion into the business of decommissioning.

Currently, Holtec is also developing small modular nuclear reactors….

Inside the cask

Casks hold dangerous radioactive elements like Cesium-137, Strontium-90 and Plutonium-239, fuel bi-products created inside reactors, which remain dangerous for generations.

Here’s what they do to people.

Chart

Cesium 137
Can burn skin, cause radiation sickness and damage tissue. In high doses, it can cause cancer.
Strontium-90
Is absorbed like calcium within the body and can lead to bone cancer, bone marrow cancer, and cancer in the tissues near bones.
Plutonium 239 and 240
Both remain dangerously radioactive for thousands of years. If inhaled, plutonium particles can scar the lungs, damage bones, liver and spleen and cause cancer.

A local residents group, the Concerned Citizens for Lacey Coalition, is demanding more answers from the company about its plans to quickly demolish Oyster Creek. Coalition member Paul Dressler worries about Lacey being a “guinea pig” for the relatively new and evolving process.

“We want to see transparency,” he said during a meeting with Press staff last week.

Dressler and coalition Chairman Ron Martyn, who live about five miles from the plant, want assurances that Holtec won’t abandon the project if money runs out before completion. They also want to see the regulatory agency that oversees plant decommissioning, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, come up with more stringent rules and best practices for this emerging practice.

“There are too many unanswered questions to go forward, and no one is stepping up to answer the basic business questions,” said Martyn. “It’s not fair to the community, it’s not fair to the state, to operate in such a vacuum.”………   https://www.app.com/story/money/business/2019/07/02/oyster-creek-nuclear-plant-sale-to-holtec-is-complete/1622164001/

July 4, 2019 Posted by | business and costs, politics, USA | Leave a comment

Delay in decision on Ohio nuclear bailout

Deadline is blown, but Ohio nuclear plant operators say there’s still time for bailout,  By  Jul 1, 2019 

July 4, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Oswego County happy with bribes from Exelon nuclear company

Oswego County reaches tax agreement with nuclear plants, WRVO,   3 July 19, Exelon, the company that owns and operates the nuclear power plants in Oswego County, has reached an agreement with the county on a $69 million tax agreement.

The Payment In Lieu Of Taxes (PILOT) agreement will provide a steady stream of revenue to the county through 2023. Each year, the Mexico Central School District will get $9 million, the county will get $4 million, and the Town of Scriba will get $500,000. That’s about $2 million more per year than under the previous PILOT agreement……

Oswego County Administrator Phil Church says the increase in payments is a victory for the county because the value of the nuclear plants go go down as they age……https://www.wrvo.org/post/oswego-county-reaches-tax-agreement-nuclear-plants

July 4, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

USA Bill to compensate “downwinders,” uranium workers, for radiation-caused illnesses

Bill Would Expand Benefits for Tribal Members and Others Exposed to Cold War Radiation   https://www.knau.org/post/bill-would-expand-benefits-tribal-members-and-others-exposed-cold-war-radiation,   JUL 2, 2019 A bill in the U.S. Senate would expand compensation for those sickened by Cold War-era nuclear weapons testing and uranium mining. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, many tribal members in the Southwest were left out of the original program.

The bill would amend the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act, or RECA. It provides restitution to many people known as “downwinders,” along with uranium mine workers throughout the West.

However, residents in some areas of the Navajo Nation, Arizona, New Mexico and other states aren’t covered, along with miners who worked during much of the 1970s. Many are tribal members who suffer from lung disease, cancer and other health problems they attribute to working in the mines and being exposed to radiation.

The current Senate bill would broaden eligibility for compensation and medical benefits. Navajo President Jonathan Nez and a group of former tribal uranium miners are pushing for its approval.

The U.S. tested nearly 200 atmospheric nuclear weapons between 1945 and 1962. About 30 million tons of uranium ore was mined on or near the Navajo Nation until the mid-1980s.

July 4, 2019 Posted by | health, politics | 2 Comments

FirstEnergy Solutions banking on a nuclear bailout in Ohio

FirstEnergy Solutions says will work with Ohio on nuclear bailout https://www.reuters.com/article/us-ohio-nuclear/firstenergy-solutions-says-will-work-with-ohio-on-nuclear-bailout-idUSKCN1TW3JQ  2 July 19

(Reuters) – FirstEnergy Solutions said on Monday it hopes Ohio lawmakers will pass a bill by July 17 to prevent the early closure of the state’s two nuclear power reactors but cannot buy fuel for the units at this time without legislative certainty.

FirstEnergy Solutions, a bankrupt subsidiary of Ohio energy company FirstEnergy Corp, had said it would shut the Davis-Besse and Perry reactors on Lake Erie in 2020 and 2021 if it did not get some financial help from the state for the money-losing plants by the June 30 fuel purchase deadline for Davis-Besse.

The Midwestern state’s House of Representatives passed a nuclear bailout bill in May, known as “House Bill 6” (HB6).

The Ohio Senate worked on its own version of HB6 over the weekend and was still working on it early on Monday, according to a legislative aide.

State legislators were now working toward final passage of HB6 by July 17, FirstEnergy Solutions said.

Should we receive the long-term certainty that comes with an affirmative vote within this timeframe, we will immediately re-evaluate our options,” FirstEnergy Solutions said in a statement, noting the company remains “on path for a safe deactivation and decommissioning” of Davis-Besse.

Given the expectation that the legislation will be passed in the coming weeks, we have communicated our commitment to doing everything possible to accommodate this process, which will come with increased financial burden associated with missing the June 30th fuel purchasing deadline,” it said.

The House version of HB6 would provide FirstEnergy Solutions with about $150 million a year from 2020 to 2026, according to local newspaper reports.

A version of the Senate bill last week also included subsidies for a couple of coal plants owned by Ohio Valley Electric Corp (OVEC) like the House version of the bill.

OVEC is owned by several utilities, including units of American Electric Power Co Inc and Duke Energy Corp.

Cheap and ample gas from shale fields like the Marcellus and Utica in Ohio has depressed electricity prices nationwide over the past several years, making it uneconomical for generators to keep operating some nuclear- and coal-fired power plants.

July 2, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Washington State officials not happy about re-classification of nuclear waste

State and top fed official at odds over Hanford high level radioactive waste, Tri City Herald,  ANNETTE CARY,

A top Department of Energy official is fighting what he says are misconceptions about a new policy on which Hanford and other nuclear weapons complex waste must be treated and disposed of to the stringent standards required for high level radioactive waste.

The DOE undersecretary for science, Paul Dabbar, said as of now there is no change proposed for waste handled as high level at Hanford.

“We’re proposing nothing here,” he said. “We don’t have any plans to propose anything in Washington state.”

But key state of Washington officials are not buying his explanation……..

When the new DOE policy on classifying high level waste was announced earlier this month, Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in a joint statement that all options would be considered to stop “this reckless and dangerous action.”

STATE: HANFORD WASTE COULD BE RECLASSIFIED

Bellon said after the meeting with Dabbar that he claimed the new interpretation for high level waste currently only applies to certain waste in South Carolina.

But there was no exclusion for Hanford in the policy change as announced by DOE in the Federal Register, she said.  “So as it stands, the Federal Register notice could be used to make substantial and potentially harmful changes to the ongoing cleanup at Hanford,” she said.

She and other state leaders “are concerned that the Department of Energy’s high level waste reinterpretation will be a mechanism for it to do less than what is legally required,” she said.

Congress has passed laws that define high level waste that results from processing irradiated nuclear fuel if the waste is “highly radioactive.”

At Hanford, chemicals were used to separate plutonium from irradiated fuel at huge reprocessing plants for the nation’s nuclear weapons program from World War II through the Cold War.

The fuel reprocessing left 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous chemical waste stored in underground tanks until it can be treated for disposal, which is now handled as high level waste. In addition, an estimated 1 million gallons of the processing waste leaked or spilled into the ground in central Hanford.

DOE’s change of policy would allow waste from fuel reprocessing to be classified as low level waste if it can meet radioactive concentration limits set for low level waste and could be safely disposed of at a site other than a deep geological repository, as required for high level waste……..

DOE now is moving forward with an initial look at whether up to 10,000 gallons of recycled wastewater at Savannah River could be classified as low level radioactive waste rather than high level radioactive waste. As high level waste it must be turned into a stable glass form and stored until the nation has a deep geological repository, such as proposed at Yucca Mountain, Nev.

If the waste is classified as low level, it could be turned into a concrete-like grout form and disposed of off site, possibly at the Waste Control Specialists site for low level waste in Texas.

Dabbar said risk would be reduced by disposing of the waste sooner………..

FUTURE OF HANFORD ADVISORY BOARD

Protecting the Columbia River from the radioactive sludge has been one of the priorities of the Hanford Advisory Board, a board with representatives of Hanford workers, local residents, local governments, environmental groups and others that provide advice to DOE and its regulators on environmental cleanup.

It is among the federal advisory boards that DOE will be evaluating after a June 14 order by the president that all federal agencies evaluate the need for each of its federal advisory committees and disband at least a third of them to reduce costs and improve government efficiency.

Dabbar has had no DOE conversations on which of the many DOE boards may be cut, he told the Herald.

The Hanford Advisory Board would be considered in conjunction with the umbrella board for different DOE cleanup sites, the Environmental Management Site Specific Advisory Board. https://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/hanford/article231846798.html

 

July 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Ohio nuclear bailout Bill: utilities and other big-ticket political players want favors

Why House Bill 6 to bail out Ohio nuclear plants is likely headed to passage: Thomas Suddes  https://www.cleveland.com/opinion/2019/06/why-house-bill-6-to-bail-out-ohio-nuclear-plants-is-likely-headed-to-passage-thomas-suddes.html By -30 June 19, Predictions aren’t this corner’s strong point, but here goes: The General Assembly, barring the unforeseeable, will force Ohio electricity consumers to subsidize two northern Ohio nuclear power plants. That may not happen this weekend, or this coming week. But it will happen.

The only suspense: How much per month the subsidy bill, House Bill 6, will force each Ohio electricity customer to pay to keep open Lake County’s Perry and Ottawa County’s Davis-Besse nuclear plants, built by what’s now FirstEnergy Corp., but owned by the utility’s FirstEnergy Solutions unit, which plans to become an independent company.

Ohioans required to pay subsidies wouldn’t just be FirstEnergy customers, but also every Ohioan who gets electricity from DP&L, Duke or American Electric Power (AEP).

Some HB 6 backers claim that because the bill (depending on the version discussed) would cut some renewable energy, etc., costs that Ohio consumers already pay, it could make the nuclear subsidy, at worst, a wash for consumers – maybe even net savings. (Voters might want to get that in writing.) Still, these factors make HB 6’s passage a decent bet:

* The Republican-run House has passed it – with some Democratic votes.

* The bailout is pending in the GOP-run Senate, which, after ending its Hamlet act, will pass the bill.

* Gov. Mike DeWine, a Cedarville Republican, favors a bailout.

* Nuclear bailouts are underway in Democratic-run Connecticut, Illinois, New Jersey and New York, arguably making bailouts cross-party.

The bill started in the House, led by Speaker Larry Householder, a Republican from Perry County’s Glenford. Politically speaking, he owes FirstEnergy big-time.

To pass HB 6, Householder crafted it to (a) appeal to as many House members possible and (b) persuade other electric utilities to support, or at least not fight, HB 6.

As to (a), the House-passed bill is said to net out the nuclear subsidy’s cost by stripping renewal energy, etc., mandates from current Ohio law. As to (b), the House-passed bill would help AEP, DP&L and Duke extend Ohio customers’ subsidies (now set to expire in four to six years) of two coal-burning power plants – one in Appalachian Ohio’s Gallia County, the other in Indiana.

Trouble is, the Senate’s (currently proposed) rewrite of HB 6 pulls the rug from under House tweaks – so much that AEP no longer supports HB 6, it told the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee. If that’s the bill senators send back to Householder, he’d have his hands full trying to win House agreement in Senate changes. Likelier, he’d call for a Senate-House conference, but Senate-House relations appear less than cozy right now.

Not that the Senate’s version is pro-consumer: “Fundamentally the bill remains a bailout of aging nuclear power plants, at public expense, for bankrupt FirstEnergy Solutions and its big Wall Street creditors,” Michael Haugh, of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel, told the committee Thursday. The Consumers’ Counsel is the state agency that represents Ohio’s residential utility consumers.

But facts don’t necessarily kill bills. Some General Assembly members are all but duty-bound to side with contributors. After all, if someone takes you to the prom, you’re more or less expected to dance with him or her. Same thing happens in Columbus. FirstEnergy and Ohio’s other electric utilities are generous contributors to Statehouse campaigns. Whether your name is Fido or Rep. John Doe, it’s never a good idea to bite the hands that feed you. So legislators don’t.

And if you think otherwise, look at the Ohio Revised Code. Or agricultural pollution in the Maumee valley. Or the looming (and likely successful) bid by big retailers and plastic bag peddlers to forbid local governments from banning single-use plastic bags. Legislators may respect Old Glory and motherhood. But campaign donors they revere.

That’s why, at the Statehouse, when utilities and other big-ticket political players want favors, things can suddenly get … “bipartisan.” That calls to mind what Louisiana kingfish Huey P. Long said. He likened the two parties to a limited-menu restaurant: “They’ve got a set of Republican waiters on one side and a set of Democratic waiters on the other side. But no matter which set of waiters brings you the dish, the legislative grub is all prepared in the same Wall Street kitchen.”

July 1, 2019 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment