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Inhumanity, racism, sheer immorality, in the decisions to nuclear bomb Hiroshima and Nagasaki

August 10, 2020 Posted by | Reference, Religion and ethics, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

“The Good Energy Collective” – a new nuclear front group getting the nuclear lobby into USA government


US / New Policy Group Calls For Nuclear-Specific Staff In White House By David Dalton, 6 August 2020 

Advanced reactors ‘should get similar incentives to renewables’  A new policy research organisation has called on the next administration in the White House to establish a climate office and include a nuclear-specific staff position.
The US-based Good Energy Collective said the moves would be in line with recommendations in a plan put forward by Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, and the Evergreen Action group, established by staff of the Democratic governor of Washington, Jay Inslee. The Good Energy Collective urged the new administration to include advanced nuclear energy as a part of the climate response and set a clear mandate for adoption of the technology.

It said advanced nuclear energy should be integrated into climate legislation and incentives should be similar to those for renewables, including loan guarantees, production and investment tax credits, access to public land, and federal power purchase agreements.

The nuclear industry should create new business and finance models for new nuclear technologies and ensure a “robust commercialisation pathway” to bring advanced reactor designs to market.

“Nuclear energy will be needed to reach ambitious climate goals, but we must first reconstruct the technology for a new era complete with modern, socially-grounded approaches,” the Good Energy Collective said.

“Smart policies and better nuclear governance can help quickly shift the sector to a new, more sustainable pathway. Better governance will require a step-change by the administration, congress, and the nuclear industry.”

August 10, 2020 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear crime seems to have actually still been worth it for South Carolina fraudsters

Executive admits fraud in fleecing ratepayers and shareholders  By Linda Pentz Gunter

“It looks like crime might well pay after all.”

That was the weary and only slightly tongue-in-cheek conclusion drawn by longtime anti-nuclear campaigner, Tom Clements recently, after a former South Carolina nuclear utility executive pled guilty to fraud in federal court.

Clements is the director of Savannah River Site Watch, but his activism has, for decades, extended well beyond the perimeter of that vast nuclear site.

For years, Clements and others have followed — and attempted to stand in the way of — the forced march of South Carolina ratepayers toward nuclear fiasco. When it finally unraveled in late July, there was only cautious cause for celebration.

On July 23, Stephen Byrne, the former COO of SCANA, the South Carolina utility originally in charge of the construction of two new nuclear reactors in the state, pled guilty in a massive nuclear conspiracy that defrauded ratepayers, deceived regulators and misled shareholders.

Byrne is charged with lying about progress on two Westinghouse AP 1000 reactors under construction — and since abandoned — at the V.C. Summer site, where costs ballooned to more than $9 billion.

The lies — or “intentional misrepresentations” as court documents described them — were necessary to make the case that the two new reactors would be finished on time, thereby qualifying the company for $1.4 billion in future federal tax credits.

But when Clements did the math, Byrne still came out ahead. “One of the court filings says Byrne earned $6.3 million from 2015-2017,” Clements said. “The project originally started with a filing with the SC Public Service Commission in 2008 and ended in July 2017. His plea agreement says he will pay a $1 million fine, though the judge could make it higher.”

So yes, crime still pays.

And so did South Carolina ratepayers. They were bilked of at least $2 billion until the project faltered and finally collapsed. A class action law suit and decisions by judges will see millions returned to ratepayers.

Ironically, the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry’s lobbying group, gave Byrne the opportunity to explain exactly how ratepayers could be fleeced in advance to save money. In this 2012 NEI video, Byrne describes how Construction Work in Progress (CWIP) would allow the utility to collect funds from ratepayers in advance rather than waiting for construction completion — which has now, of course, not happened, even though customers paid for two new reactors that failed to materialize.

Byrne, who began cooperating with investigators about two years into the now three year-long investigation, could face jail time and a fine, but will likely testify against his co-conspirators to reduce his punishment.

For the time being, the judge has let him go home without even requiring he post the $25,000 bond. Sentencing could be years down the road. Clements believes Byrne “should face prison time” and that he “must fully reveal the criminal role of others in the conspiracy that has been so disastrous for ratepayers.”

Two other top SCANA executives could also be in the FBI’s crosshairs by now — former CEO Kevin Marsh and former chief financial officer Jimmy Addison.

Early warning signals of trouble to come sounded in February 2020, when Byrne and Marsh were charged with civil fraud by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The agency said the pair “lied and deceived shareholders, regulators, and the public regarding the construction of two new nuclear units at the V.C. Summer site, which the company abandoned amid massive cost overruns in July 2017,” according to reporting in Energy and Policy.

The thoroughly duped — or possibly hopelessly biased — S.C. Public Service Commission, had earlier “allowed SCE&G to raise its electric rates nine times to finance the doomed V.C. Summer Nuclear Station project,” reported the Charlotte Observer.

But by January 2019, the PSC had changed its mind, saying that “SCE&G intentionally misled the commission about a failing nuclear reactor construction project to win electric rate hikes.”

Clements joined other protesters outside the Columbia, SC courthouse where Byrne pled guilty to his offenses. “As he scurried into the federal courthouse, Byrne refused to tell us if he would apologize for his crime against ratepayers,” Clements said.

He, along with other South Carolina activists, and with support of Friends of the Earth, had consistently opposed the state law (CWIP, described in the NEI video), that had allowed the utility to fleece ratepayers in advance of completion of the reactors. The groups had also contested approval of the two-reactor project before the SC PSC since 2008.

As Clements watched Byrne enter the courthouse, finally forced to face up to his crimes, he basked, for a brief moment, in the glow of the celebratory light at the end of the tunnel.

“I’m glad there is going to be a little bit of justice,” Clements told the Post and Courier. And in an email, he wrote: “Nukes bring fraud, graft and corruption wherever they go. The next charges here will be more serious, I think.”

The Post and Courier described the nuclear debacle as “one of the worst economic calamities in South Carolina history”.

But while there may eventually be a day of reckoning — and sentencing — until then, South Carolina ratepayers could keep right on paying.

That is because, when SCANA went bankrupt over the Summer debacle, Dominion Energy took over. Dominion, says Clements, “will file a rate-hike request next month and the cost to ratepayers for the nuclear construction debacle will go up.”

August 10, 2020 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear blackmail in Illinois — Beyond Nuclear International

Ratepayers robbed of renewables as well as cash

Nuclear blackmail in Illinois

Exelon stranglehold on energy legislation runs long and deep

By David Kraft, 9 Aug 20 

The recent Illinois lobbying corruption scandal involving Exelon Corporation, its subsidiary Commonwealth Edison and Democratic House Speaker, Michael Madigan, demonstrates the extent to which nuclear “power” is about more than electrons.

The FBI arrests of the Ohio House Speaker and five others in a $60 million bribery/corruption scheme; the $10 billion Exelon nuclear bailout in New York; the questionable circumstances surrounding Exelon’s 2016 PepCo merger; and the South Carolina $9 billion SCANA fraud case, suggest that this may be a national pandemic.

All of this was summarized nicely in a recent New York Times opinion column, “When Utility Money Talks,” (8/2/20).

However, the situation in Illinois with Exelon, and its subsidiary ComEd, has been longstanding and particularly egregious.

For decades, Exelon’s stranglehold on Illinois energy legislation, in cooperation with the currently investigated Mr. Madigan, has stuck Illinois with more reactors (14) and high-level radioactive waste (>11,000 tons) than any other state. It has also severely stifled expansion of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and hampered the Illinois energy transformation to renewables needed to deal with the worsening climate crisis.

For decades, the Illinois environmental community has seen renewables expansion thwarted because no significant renewable energy buildout could occur without concessions to either Exelon or ComEd, and without Speaker Madigan’s approval. The most recent instance was the 2016 $2.35 billion bailout of three uncompetitive Exelon reactors.

This “nuclear blackmail” politics has forced environmentalists wanting to see new legislation pass that would expand renewables, into a reluctant and grudging alliance with Exelon, but on Exelon’s terms, with capacity market “reform” rewarding both renewables and ten of the company’s operating reactors.

If passed in its presently proposed form, this new legislation would provide yet another nuclear bailout under the disguise of “market-based reform.”

To ratchet up the pressure to enact this nuclear prop-up even more, Exelon CEO Chris Crane, in Exelon’s 2Q quarterly earnings call with analysts, once again dangled the prospect of closing up to six reactors if this market-based-bailout is not granted in 2021.

Under the current ongoing FBI corruption investigation, this reluctant alliance of necessity has turned disastrous, given the political toxicity of any current association with either ComEd or Exelon.

It is just and reasonable that ComEd executives (and the so-called “bad apples” who “retired” already), should be penalized and prosecuted for their misdeeds, even if they are reportedly “cooperative.”

However, a $200 million “settlement” penalty for a $34 billion corporation, which for decades has gouged billions from Illinois ratepayers through admittedly corrupt illegal practices, is a slap on the wrist.

Further, the $200 million penalty agreement provides no restitution for the decades-long societal damage done via nuclear pay-for-play.

Illinois rate payers deserve restitution from these and any predatory, corrupt companies that would engage in such activities. This may require explicit legislation. How can one logically or ethically assert that ill-gotten gains (e.g., the 2016 $2.35 billion nuclear bailout) are still “good for the public” when bribery and corruption were used to get them?

Last Fall, a spokesperson for Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker stated, “The governor’s priority is to work with principled stakeholders on clean energy legislation that is above reproach.”  Gov. Pritzker – your moment of truth has arrived.

We urge the governor and the legislature to begin the restitution process by repealing the $2.3 billion 2016 nuclear bailout. Further, and as others like Crain’s Joe Cahill have suggested, Crane must step down completely from all functions at Exelon.

The legislature should also enact explicit utility ethics legislation, with transparent oversight of utility contracting and philanthropic giving activities, to insure that this kind of corrupt behavior is not repeated.

And if Crane’s threat of imminent reactor closure is true, then community just-transitions legislation to protect those negatively impacted communities should be a priority of the legislature.

As NEIS has maintained — and advocated since 2014 — it’s the reactor communities (and equally adversely affected coal mining and power plant communities) that need state support and bailouts when plants are threatened with closure, not profitable private corporations like Exelon.

Finally, we support the FBI’s continued investigation into the activities of Speaker Madigan, his associates, and other legislators if necessary, to ferret out the remaining political corruption that has abetted this corporate larceny.

This is the only way to send a significant and lasting message that nuclear pay-for-play in Illinois is over.

David Kraft is the director of Nuclear Energy Information Service


August 10, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

No. The U.S. did not need to drop a second nuclear bomb on Japan

August 10, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Las Vegas Sun presents numerous arguments against nuclear testing in Nevada

When it comes to nuclear tests in Nevada, numbers just don’t add up,   Sunday, Aug. 9, 2020 

On the anniversary of a meaningful day in history, we present this argument opposing the Trump administration’s idea of resuming live testing of nuclear weapons near Las Vegas.

75: Years ago, to the day, when the last atomic bomb was dropped in anger.

110,000-210,000: Estimated death toll of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, respectively.

2,000-plus: Nuclear tests that have been conducted since the end of World War II by the U.S., Russia and six other countries.

1,021: Number of detonations that occurred in 928 tests conducted in Nevada, with some tests involving more than one device.

100: Number of above-ground detonations in Nevada from 1951 to 1962.

65: In miles, the distance between Las Vegas and the Nevada Test Site (now the Nevada National Security Site).

74: Yield, in kilotons, of the largest above-ground device detonated at the Nevada Test Site, which occurred in 1957. The bomb delivered the equivalent of 74,000 tons of TNT.

35: Combined yield, in kilotons, of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

5: Number of men who were positioned below a nuclear explosion in July 1957 for a government film designed to prove to the public that above-ground testing was safe. The film was part of a larger, years-long campaign to convince Nevadans and our neighbors not to worry about the effects of testing.

11,000: Number of cancer deaths stemming from above-ground testing in Nevada, as estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2003 report. That number is disputed, however, with some researchers saying the death toll may have been many times that based on how far the fallout would have traveled. One study estimated the minimum number of dead at 145,000.

1.3: Yield, in megatons, of the largest detonation at the site, part of the “Boxcar” underground test of 1968. That’s the equivalent of 1.3 million tons of TNT.

20: According to one estimate, the above-ground tests in Nevada sent 20 times more radioactive material into the atmosphere than was released during the Chernobyl catastrophe.

$2 billion: Amount Congress would eventually pay to Nevadans and downwinders exposed to radiation from test blasts.

1.6 trillion: Gallons of groundwater contaminated by radiation from below-ground tests, according to one estimate. That equates to 16 years worth of Nevada’s allotment of water from the Colorado River.

28: Years that have passed since the United States placed a moratorium on nuclear testing.

0: Number of detonations currently needed to ensure that stockpiled nuclear weapons are safe, secure, reliable and effective. Modern computers and physics equipment have made live testing unnecessary.

0: Number of Southern Nevada’s congressional delegates who support resumption of nuclear testing at the site. Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen, and Reps. Dina Titus, Susie Lee and Steven Horsford, all spoke out in opposition. In a prepared statement, Rosen said Nevadans “do not want to return to a time when the ground shook and radiation exposure was a fact of life,” and that “any actions that could place Nevadans’ health and safety at risk should be off the table.”

0: Number of tests that would be allowed at the site under legislation introduced by Titus and recently approved by the House. “I did not introduce this ban lightly, but it was necessary to prevent President Trump from recklessly threatening Nevadans’ health and potentially restarting a global arms race,” Titus said in a prepared statement.

0: The number of reasons we can find to support Trump’s plan.

August 10, 2020 Posted by | Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Purpose of nuclear bombing of Nagasaki? to test a new weapon – an immoral purpose

Harry Truman and the nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Frank Jackson, 9 Aug 20 Whether the bombing of Hiroshima   or the entry of the Soviet Union into the war was the crucial event in causing the Japanese surrender can never be conclusively settled (Hiroshima at 75: bitter row persists over US decision to drop the bomb, 5 August). However, very little is said about the motives for the second bomb, on Nagasaki three days later. Few argued that it was necessary to reinforce the message of Hiroshima. Rather, the military and scientific imperative was to test a different bomb design – “Fat Man”, an implosion type using plutonium, as opposed to the uranium of Hiroshima’s “Little Boy”. To my mind that, destroying a mainly civilian city for such reasons, makes it even more of a war crime, if that is possible, than the bombing of Hiroshim.a

August 10, 2020 Posted by | USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Trump administration keen for nuclear power, – so is Joe Biden

August 10, 2020 Posted by | election USA 2020, politics | Leave a comment

Nuclear testing: ‘Why do we need to start a new arms race?’

August 8, 2020 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

Anti-nuclear protests at Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base

Anti-nuclear protests at Kings Bay  By GORDON JACKSON  ST. MARYS   7 Aug 20, 

Organizers of an annual protest against nuclear weapons at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay expected a large crowd to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, to help hasten the end of World War II.

Five people ended up standing outside a base gate Thursday holding signs with anti-nuclear weapons messages.

Glenn Carroll, coordinator of Nuclear Watch South, said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic compelled many who were planning to attend to stay home for health concerns. But Carroll said her trip from Atlanta to join others with concerns about nuclear weapons Thursday was worth the time.

“Our mission is to stop the arms race,” Carroll said. “It’s a security risk and phenomenally expensive. This has become a business model and it’s deadly.”

Kings Bay is home to six ballistic missile submarines and two guided missile submarines. The base employs more than 9,000 civilian workers and active-duty sailors.  Supporters say the ballistic missile submarines are a vital deterrent to nuclear attack.

Teresa Berrigan Grady said her sister was among those arrested for trespassing on Kings Bay property in April 2018 and spray painting slogans, hanging banners, crime scene tape and other acts of vandalism.

“Thank God they were non violent,” she said. “They did highlight you cannot secure this base with this kind of power. It’s called an illusion of security.”

Grady said the military’s priorities “are all messed up” by continuing to develop powerful nuclear weapons.

“There is nothing they can do but kill,” she said.

She also expressed concerns about the length of time the growing stockpile of nuclear waste will need to be contained.

Carroll said she and others will continue to share their concerns about nuclear weapons. While Carroll said she’s anti-nuclear, she’s not anti-military.

“We need a defense,” she said. “We don’t need a weapons system unmatched on this planet.”

August 7, 2020 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, USA | Leave a comment

Another Hiroshima is Coming…Unless We Stop It Now 

Today, an unprecedented campaign of propaganda is shooing us all off like rabbits. We are not meant to question the daily torrent of anti-Chinese rhetoric, which is rapidly overtaking the torrent of anti-Russia rhetoric. Anything Chinese is bad, anathema, a threat: Wuhan …. Huawei. How confusing it is when “our” most reviled leader says so.

The target is China. Today, more than 400 American military bases almost encircle China with missiles, bombers, warships and nuclear weapons. From Australia north through the Pacific to South-East Asia, Japan and Korea and across Eurasia to Afghanistan and India, the bases form, as one US strategist told me, “the perfect noose”.

In the Sydney Morning Herald, tireless China-basher Peter Hartcher described those who spread Chinese influence in Australia as “rats, flies, mosquitoes and sparrows”. Hartcher, who favourably quotes the American demagogue Steve Bannon, likes to interpret the “dreams” of the current Chinese elite, to which he is apparently privy. These are inspired by yearnings for the “Mandate of Heaven” of 2,000 years ago. Ad nausea.

To combat this “mandate”, the Australian government of Scott Morrison has committed one of the most secure countries on earth, whose major trading partner is China, to hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of American missiles that can be fired at China.

Another Hiroshima is Coming…Unless We Stop It Now
by JOHN PILGER   6 Aug 20, When I first went to Hiroshima in 1967, the shadow on the steps was still there. It was an almost perfect impression of a human being at ease: legs splayed, back bent, one hand by her side as she sat waiting for a bank to open.

At a quarter past eight on the morning of August 6, 1945, she and her silhouette were burned into the granite.

I stared at the shadow for an hour or more, then I walked down to the river where the survivors still lived in shanties.

I met a man called Yukio, whose chest was etched with the pattern of the shirt he was wearing when the atomic bomb was dropped.

He described a huge flash over the city, “a bluish light, something like an electrical short”, after which wind blew like a tornado and black rain fell. “I was thrown on the ground and noticed only the stalks of my flowers were left. Everything was still and quiet, and when I got up, there were people naked, not saying anything. Some of them had no skin or hair. I was certain I was dead.”

Nine years later, I returned to look for him and he was dead from leukaemia.

“No radioactivity in Hiroshima ruin” said The New York Times front page on 13 September, 1945, a classic of planted disinformation. “General Farrell,” reported William H. Lawrence, “denied categorically that [the atomic bomb] produced a dangerous, lingering radioactivity.”

Only one reporter, Wilfred Burchett, an Australian, had braved the perilous journey to Hiroshima in the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing, in defiance of the Allied occupation authorities, which controlled the “press pack”.

“I write this as a warning to the world,” reported Burchett in the London Daily Express  of September 5,1945. Sitting in the rubble with his Baby Hermes typewriter, he described hospital wards filled with people with no visible injuries who were dying from what he called “an atomic plague”.

For this, his press accreditation was withdrawn, he was pilloried and smeared. His witness to the truth was never forgiven.

The atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was an act of premeditated mass murder that unleashed a weapon of intrinsic criminality. It was justified by lies that form the bedrock of America’s war propaganda in the 21st century, casting a new enemy, and target – China.

During the 75 years since Hiroshima, the most enduring lie is that the atomic bomb was dropped to end the war in the Pacific and to save lives.

“Even without the atomic bombing attacks,” concluded the United States Strategic Bombing Survey of 1946, “air supremacy over Japan could have exerted sufficient pressure to bring about unconditional surrender and obviate the need for invasion. “Based on a detailed investigation of all the facts, and supported by the testimony of the surviving Japanese leaders involved, it is the Survey’s opinion that … Japan would have surrendered even if the atomic bombs had not been dropped, even if Russia had not entered the war [against Japan] and even if no invasion had been planned or contemplated.”

The National Archives in Washington contains documented Japanese peace overtures as early as 1943. None was pursued. A cable sent on May 5, 1945 by the German ambassador in Tokyo and intercepted by the US made clear the Japanese were desperate to sue for peace, including “capitulation even if the terms were hard”. Nothing was done.

The US Secretary of War, Henry Stimson, told President Truman he was “fearful” that the US Air Force would have Japan so “bombed out” that the new weapon would not be able “to show its strength”. Stimson later admitted that “no effort was made, and none was seriously considered, to achieve surrender merely in order not to have to use the [atomic] bomb”.

Stimson’s foreign policy colleagues — looking ahead to the post-war era they were then shaping “in our image”, as Cold War planner George Kennan famously put it — made clear they were eager “to browbeat the Russians with the [atomic] bomb held rather ostentatiously on our hip”. General Leslie Groves, director of the Manhattan Project that made the atomic bomb, testified: “There was never any illusion on my part that Russia was our enemy, and that the project was conducted on that basis.”

The day after Hiroshima was obliterated, President Harry Truman voiced his satisfaction with the “overwhelming success” of “the experiment”.

The “experiment” continued long after the war was over. Between 1946 and 1958, the United States exploded 67 nuclear bombs in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific: the equivalent of more than one Hiroshima every day for 12 years. Continue reading

August 6, 2020 Posted by | AUSTRALIA, Reference, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

NuScam’s (sort of) small nuclear reactors rejected by Utah Taxpayers Association

Critics of planned nuclear power project urge Utah cities to pull out before it’s too late, Utah Taxpayers Association warns it believes proposal is too costly, not transparent   DeseretNews, By Amy Joi O’Donoghue@Amyjoi16  Aug 4, 2020   SALT LAKE CITY The Utah Taxpayers Association and a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission are urging cities that have signed on to a planned nuclear power plant in Idaho to get out while they can before costs become too great.

NuScale’s Small Modular Reactor is planned for construction at the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls and would provide 720 megawatts of power, or enough energy for 720,000 homes.

The Carbon Free Power Project is promoted as the next generation design for nuclear power, featuring 12 distinct modules, with the first scheduled to come online in 2029 with the 11 others following the next year.

The project is a collaborative effort involving the U.S. Department of Energy, NuScale and the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems, a political subdivision of the state of Utah. ……

there are several off-ramps in those phases for cities to exit, one of which is coming up Sept. 14. That deadline prompted the taxpayers association to urge cities to get out now before they get trapped into paying millions for a technology it says is unproven.

“Small modular reactor power is just not cost competitive,” said Rusty Cannon, vice president of the taxpayer group, adding participating cities and districts should hold a public vote to withdraw from the project……..

Peter Bradford, a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said enthusiasm over new developments in nuclear technology that turned out to be flawed have cost ratepayers and taxpayers in multiple states billions of dollars.

He said that of 31 projects pending before the commission in 2009, only two remain — with the rest canceled or indefinitely postponed.

“The stranded costs of nuclear plants paid off by customers in the 1990s exceeded $50 billion nationwide,” he said. “Each period of abject failure is followed by an array of new proposals.”…….

The project is backed heavily by the U.S. Department of Energy, which gave NuScale a competitive award of $226 million in 2013 to develop the technology. Two years later, the federal agency gave NuScale $16.7 million for licensing preparation……..

Cannon and Bradford also criticized the municipal power association for not being transparent enough because its briefing meetings are exempt from the Utah open meetings law and are closed………

August 6, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, opposition to nuclear, politics, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, USA | Leave a comment

USA could save millions of lives, by combating global heating

US could avoid 4.5M early deaths by fighting climate change, study finds    BY REBECCA BEITSCH – 08/05/20

The U.S. stands to avoid 4.5 million premature deaths if it works to keep global temperatures from rising by more than 2 degree Celsius, according to new research from Duke University.

The same study found working to limit climate change could prevent about 3.5 million hospitalizations and emergency room visits and approximately 300 million lost workdays in America.

“The avoided deaths are valued at more than $37 trillion. The avoided health care spending due to reduced hospitalizations and emergency room visits exceeds $37 billion, and the increased labor productivity is valued at more than $75 billion,” Drew Shindell, a professor at Duke University, told lawmakers Wednesday.

On average, this amounts to over $700 billion per year in benefits to the U.S. from improved health and labor alone, far more than the cost of the energy transition.”

Shindell, who conducted the study alongside researchers at NASA, unveiled the findings during a House Oversight Committee hearing on the economic and health consequences of climate change.

The study aimed to show the benefits to the U.S. if the nation sticks with the goal of the Paris Climate Accord, which President Trump has formally moved to leave. The U.S. cannot officially exit the agreement until Nov. 4 — the day after the presidential election.

Shindell encouraged committee members to transition away from fossil fuels, a move that would help ease climate change while also spurring health benefits from reduced air pollution.

The benefits could be seen in the relatively short term.

“Roughly 1.4 million lives could be saved from improved air quality during the next 20 years. As we’ve seen with the coronavirus lockdowns in many places, air pollution responds immediately to emissions reductions,” he said.

“Our work shows that action now means benefits now.”

Democrats have introduced a number of bills to combat climate change, but they’ve failed to get much traction.

The House passed a $1.5 trillion green infrastructure package in July, but the Republican-led Senate isn’t expected to take it up.

Just one day earlier, the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis unveiled its road map for solving the climate crisis.

Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) said lawmakers need to focus on tackling the problem despite the current coronavirus pandemic.

“Handling one crisis does not negate our responsibility to face another.”

August 6, 2020 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Bribery scandal haunts Exelon – casts doubt on future of Exelon’s Illinois Nuclear Plants

August 6, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, secrets,lies and civil liberties, USA | Leave a comment

Utah Taxpayers – NuScam nuclear power project costly and public kept in the dark

New Information Disclosed in Meeting Closed to Public Points to Major Budget Commitments, Delay Risks in UAMPS Power Project

by Tax Watchdog | Aug 4, 2020    “We Need Public Hearings and We Need Public Votes”: UTA Calls for Full Transparency and Accountability Ahead of September 14th Deadline; Parallels Seen to Ohio, Illinois and South Carolina Nuclear Controversies Where Public Was Kept in the Dark.

SALT LAKE CITY – August 4, 2020 – Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) and NuScale Power held an “online town hall meeting” on July 21st, but there was just one problem: due to a quirk in Utah’s open meeting laws, the town was not invited. Not only did UAMPS/NuScale fail to be transparent in terms of the meeting about their controversial small modular nuclear reactor plans, but they also failed to disclose new and troubling information that emerged during the behind-closed-doors virtual session, according to the nonprofit Utah Taxpayers Association (UTA). UTA and Peter Bradford, a former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) member, warned that potentially higher costs, project delays, and other risks could be costly for UAMPS members and ratepayers.

A total of 34 municipalities in Utah, Idaho, New Mexico and California (see full list below) are participating in the UAMPS small modular nuclear project. Ratepayers will be locked into more than $100 million in commitments by a September 14th deadline and billions of dollars of risks later on if UAMPS members do not opt out of the project. The need for openness is particularly important while the nuclear industry is currently facing major credibility problems with scandals in Ohio, Illinois, and South Carolina.

On July 21st, UAMPS and NuScale held a so-called “online town hall meeting,” which was not made open to the media under a special Utah exemption for UAMPS for open meeting requirements. A video copy of the UAMPS/NuScale event was acquired after the fact. (The timecodes shown below refer to various points in the video.)

Rusty Cannon, Vice President, Utah Taxpayers Association, said: “The UAMPS project will lock in 27 municipalities in Utah and several in surrounding states for a share of billions of dollars in costs and unclear risk in the pursuit of a cluster of small modular reactors (SMRs) touted by Oregon-based NuScale Power, which repeatedly has delayed timelines and increased costs associated with its SMRs.”

Cannon added: “This risky project with massive cost escalations is being conducted largely out of the public eye. Most recently the public was barred from a late July online ‘town hall meeting,’ the content of which has since come to light and which raises serious concerns about what has not been disclosed to the general public. The Utah Taxpayers Association urges elected officials involved with UAMPS to disclose all relevant information to the public so decisions can be made in the open and city officials can be held accountable. We are urging city councils in Utah that are subscribed to the project to vote in a public meeting before the September deadline to withdraw from the project.”

Also speaking at today’s news event was Peter Bradford, a former member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission who served as chair of both the New York Public Service Commission and the Maine Public Utilities Commission. He has been an expert witness in many cases involving nuclear power economics, and he has taught Nuclear Power and Public Policy at the Vermont Law School as well as Energy Policy and Environmental Protection at the Yale School of the Environment.

Peter Bradford said: “There is the very real possibility of large rate increases to the customers in these communities due to inadequate safeguards in this project. It is difficult to understand the case for taking on this risk given the certainty of cheaper clean energy alternatives as clearly shown by recent purchases of firm combinations of renewables, energy efficiency plus storage elsewhere in the West. The cost of lack of transparency plus unwise and secretive deals has resulted in the nuclear energy industry becomingembroiled in multiple debacles. UAMPS members and ratepayers should   take heed and avoid making the same mistakes.”

Just what is UAMPS and NuScale failing to disclose to the public?

  • RAPIDLY ESCALATING CONSTRUCTION COSTS. NuScale’s website currently explains to the public: “The estimated construction cost for the first NuScale 684 MWe (net) plant is about $3 billion.” However, during the July 2020 “town hall,” UAMPS contractor Bob Squires (MPR Associates) calls the project a “roughly $5 billion nuclear power plant development project with first of a kind technology.” (3:47:24)  Even worse: NuScale’s 2020 Amended Budget & Plan of Finance projects a total cost of approximately $6.1 billion.
  • MAJOR MISSED DEADLINES. In 2008, NuScale explained: “With timely application for a combined construction and operating license (COL), a NuScale plant could be producing electricity by 2015-16.” In 2019, UAMPS publicly announced that the NuScale nuclear power plant would begin construction in 2023, “with the first 60 MW module becoming operational in 2026 [and] [o]ther modules would come on-line soon thereafter.” However, during the non-public July “town hall,” Glenn Neises, nuclear director, Burns & McDonnell, announced for the first time that completion is now projected for June 2030, and the first module is not expected to become operational until June 2029. (3:22:25) And things could get even worse. Warning of possible new delays, Neises said: “I’d also like to stress that this is the current schedule and expect it to change as we see changes in funding, engineering moves forward, and as licensing advances.” (3:22:25)
    • LOW-BALLED ENERGY PRICE. Doug Hunter, UAMPS CEO, said an undisclosed Economic Competitiveness Test (ECT) determined the UAMPS project power that could be generated would cost $55/MWh in 2018 dollars. (24:30) The UAMPS/NuScale estimate contrasts sharply with other independent utility projections (PacifiCorp’s estimate of $95/MWh  and Idaho Power’s estimate of $125/MWh). Doug Hunter confirms this in answering a question as to why large investor-owned utilities are not pursuing this project: “Right now they’re still relying on existing capacity, most of them, to fill in energy with renewables because that happens to be the lowest IRP.” (2:28:20)
    • DEPENDENCE ON UNPREDICTABLE FEDERAL SUBSIDIES. Mason Baker, UAMPS chief legal officer, admitted during the “town hall” that project organizers are now banking on a “massive increase” in the federal government’s contribution to UAMPS, a jump from $60 million to $1.4 billion. (48:30) UAMPS now acknowledges taxpayer subsidies are necessary to achieve the $55 per MW/h price point. (53:50) In effect, U.S. taxpayers are being asked to subsidize roughly 25 percent of the UAMPS SMR project to artificially hold down energy costs. However, taxpayer subsidies of this sort are both objectionable on their merits, entirely unpredictable as to passage, and subject to being withdrawn at any time.
    • The Utah Taxpayers Association also noted that no town or city of more than 100,000 has opted into the UAMPS SMR project, which has not been successful in securing investments in it by investor-owned utilities. It is not apparent that any UAMPS member so far opting into the SMR project has been able to afford to do its own independent financial evaluation of the project, and, instead, may be over relying on assurances from the promoter, NuScale. Committing a municipal government to a long-term contract of this magnitude could result in massive sunk costs and higher rates and taxes on citizens.
  • The following are the UAMPS members currently subscribed to the SMR project: Utah (Beaver City, Blanding, Bountiful, Brigham City, Enterprise, Ephraim City, Fairview City, Fillmore City, Heber City Light & Power, Holden Town, Hurricane City, Hyrum City, Kanosh Town, Kaysville City, Lehi, Logan City, Monroe City, Morgan City, Mt. Pleasant City, Murray City, Oak City, Paragonah Town, Parowan, Payson City, Santa Clara City, South Utah Valley Electric Service District, Spring City, Washington City, and Weber Basin Conservancy District); Idaho (Idaho Falls Power and Salmon River Electric Cooperative, Inc.); California (Lassen Municipal Utility District and Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative); and New Mexico (Los Alamos County). The total size of the subscriptions is 160.4 megawatts, with 133.4 megawatts going to the state of Utah.

    The Utah Taxpayers Association is a non-profit 501(c)(4) organization that works to limit state and local taxes, making Utah an attractive place to live and do business.

    Important note:
     The Utah Taxpayers Association has no position on nuclear energy.  The Association’s interest in this matter is limited to the extent to which public business of interest to ratepayers/taxpayers is conducted in an open and transparent manner in order to ensure maximum accountability to the public.

August 6, 2020 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment