The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Diablo Canyon’s nuclear shutdown – a planned process, an example for Indian Point Nuclear Station

poster renewables not nuclearNuclear reactors in California and New York State are on different paths, PRI  Living on Earth July 24, 2016  Writer Adam Wernick  The Diablo Canyon nuclear power station in California, which was built in an earthquake zone 30 years ago, is now scheduled to close by 2025. But not far from New York city, the operators of Indian Point, an even older reactor with a history of problems, are resisting calls to shut down.

The plans for Diablo Canyon and the conflict over Indian Point illustrate starkly different views about the future of nuclear energy in the US. One side continues to see nuclear energy as safe, clean and crucial to the nation’s energy future; the other sees an outdated, dangerous energy source that can and should be replaced by renewable sources of energy.

In New York, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission recently extended Indian Point’s license to operate, and Entergy, the company that owns it, claims the reactor is still safe.

Opponents of the plant disagree. Indian Point is only about 30 miles away from midtown Manhattan, they point out. A major accident at Indian Point would endanger millions of people and could become a trillion dollar disaster.

“It is the most precariously located reactor, from a demographic point of view, if there were an accident,” says Arjun Makhijani, the president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research. “And Indian Point has had plenty of problems. It has had a history of tritium leaks. It has had a history of transformer fires. For a reactor situated like Indian Point, I think it’s pretty egregious that it has had so many problems and is still operating.”……..

out on the West Coast, a different scenario is playing out. Pacific Gas & Electric has begun the process of shutting down its controversial Diablo Canyon reactors and replacing them with renewable energy sources by 2025.

“I have to congratulate them. I think this is a very, very historic achievement,” says Arjun Makhijani.

Diablo Canyon is located in a seismic zone and information about the geology of the region and the seismic activity continues to evolve. There are questions as to whether the reactors could withstand a worst-case-scenario earthquake.

“There’s a fault much closer to these reactors — just offshore — than was previously known, and renewables and efficiency are cheaper — so they are seeing the handwriting on the wall,” Makhijani says.

In addition, California now is requiring its utilities to transition to 50 percent renewables, mainly solar and wind, by 2030. But unlike in New York State, there is no worry that California can replace the power from the Diablo Canyon nuclear complex with renewables.

“If you plan a shutdown the way the Diablo Canyon shutdown is planned, [in which] there are explicit targets in the agreement, then you can build up your efficiency, you can build up the jobs that go with that and you can build up renewables,” Makhijani says. “Planning a shutdown is the best way forward for what is really a 20th century technology.”

Indeed, Makhijani believes the future for all nuclear energy has passed. Existing plants will be phased out one way or another as they become more and more expensive to operate, while renewables, efficiencies and storage become so cheap in combination.

“In such a circumstance I think nuclear power will go away,” he says. “The question is how fast, and whether we can do it in an orderly way. I think the Diablo Canyon agreement is historic because it is showing an orderly way to go from an old, centralized, inflexible model to a new model that is more democratized, renewable, more dispersed and more resilient.”………..

July 25, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

General Electric’s dreams of commercialising small nuclear reactors could be fading away

The company has long supported nuclear energy and is making big bets on next-generation reactors, but backlash against atomic power and a lost opportunity in the United Kingdom may stall development efforts.

…….The current environment complicates plans by General Electric (NYSE:GE) to usher in a new age of nuclear power with its partner Hitachi in a nuclear joint venture called General Electric Hitachi. The future the company envisions — with smaller, cheaper, less wasteful, and safer reactors — might be fading away. Are General Electric’s nuclear ambitions doomed? The Motley Fool,Jul 23, 2016

July 25, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear power not clean, not carbon free- California is wise to phase it out

climate and nuclearThere are good reasons for California to phase out nuclear power, Huffington Post, Johann Saathoff,MP German BundestagCoordinator of energy policy for the Social Democratic Party in the German Bundestag  07/22/2016 “…….While electricity from nuclear power stations may be carbon-free at the time of production, looked at in overall terms it is anything but that and it is certainly not clean.

Nobody asks or calculates how much CO2 was released in the building of the power station. Nobody considers how CO2 is released through the mining, processing and enrichment of uranium and through its transportation.

And nobody in the world knows at this point where and how radioactive waste can be safely stored for the millennia to come, how much CO2 will have to be used in the process and what the costs will be in terms of the second energy bill, as in the case of fossil energy sources.

Considered in overall terms – even assuming no incidents – the actual costs of nuclear power per kilowatt hour and CO2 emissions are incalculable.

What is certain, however, is that unlike renewable energies, nuclear power is not carbon-free. For this reason alone a renaissance of nuclear power would be irresponsible. It would also be irresponsible because of the danger of accidents (particularly in earthquake-prone areas) and the unsolved question of the final storage of nuclear waste. Nuclear power is also not clean; discharges of hot water cause considerable damage to the environment – to say nothing of the enormous environmental damage caused by the extraction of uranium……..

July 23, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Solar energy on track to become the cheapest power globally

Solar-Energy-WorldSoon solar will be the cheapest power everywhere  : Chris Goodall, The Ecologist,  July 22, 2016 Solar is already the cheapest available power across large swathes of the tropics, writes Chris Goodall – its cost down 99.7% since the early 70s. Soon it will be the cheapest electricity everywhere, providing clean, secure, affordable energy for all.

Towards the end of last year, Shell CEO Ben van Beurden made a little-noticed remark. He said that solar would become the “dominant backbone” of the world’s energy system.

He didn’t give a date for his prediction, or indeed define what ‘dominant’ means, but he accepted that the sun will eventually provide the cheapest energy source across almost all of the world.

This is what my new book, The Switch, is about. Just how long will it take to wean the world off fossil fuels using just the forces of the free market rather than quixotic governments? What technologies will we need to complement the intermittent power of the sun?

In some ways, van Beurden’s thought is an obvious one. The light and heat coming from the sun provides a continuous stream of about 90,000 terawatts of energy to the planet. (Don’t worry about the unit of measurement. The important thing is that this number is six thousand times the requirements of the entire world). Continue reading at ENN affiliate, The Ecologist.

July 23, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Record 11 year low for uranium price

Uranium Price Falls to 11-Year Low, Economic Calendar,  July 21, 2016, Despite bullish forecasts for uranium in the years ahead, the commodity continues to languish in the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. Shortly after the earthquake in Japan caused the disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, uranium prices crashed on the expectations, and reality that countries around the world would shun nuclear power as a source of energy…..

Although uranium analysts changed their sentiment from negative to positive, uranium prices till floundered. This is because, in reality, the ramp-up of nuclear power plants was much slower than anticipated and at the same time stockpiles of the commodity remained high. Ahead of the nuclear disaster, there was a ramp up in global uranium production with the price of uranium reaching a record high of $70 a pound, which spurred increased investment and production increases around the world. After the nuclear disaster, uranium demand came to a virtual stand still, leaving an oversupplied market.

Now, these stockpiles are being worked down, and there is little incentive for new production. In fact, many companies have slashed production as weak pricing has impacted the economics of uranium mining. On Monday, according to Ux Consulting, uranium prices fell to an 11-year low. Uranium is also finding new competition for an energy source thanks to the increase in availability and decrease in the price of natural gas….

July 23, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Canada’s Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair demands independent investigation in to nuclear unsafety allegations

flag-canadasafety-symbol-SmNuclear Safety Warnings Demand Independent Review: Mulcair
Anonymous letter listing concerns about Canadian nuclear generating stations can’t be ignored, says NDP leader. By Jeremy J. Nuttall Today | Federal NDP leader Tom Mulcair is demanding an independent investigation into allegations of safety problems at nuclear power generating stations in Ontario.
Mulcair criticized the Liberal government’s decision to allow the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) to investigate itself in the wake of a scathing anonymous letter citing serious safety failures.

The letter was reportedly sent to commission president Michael Binder weeks ago and to media outlets this week.

It alleges CNSC management withheld information from commission panels holding licensing hearings for two nuclear plants in Ontario. The CNSCregulates the use of nuclear energy in Canada.

But Mulcair said the letter’s serious allegations should trigger an independent investigation by the government……

July 22, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

The Sustainable Development Goals report 2016

flag-UN-largeThe Sustainable Development Goals report 2016  Department of Economic and Social Affairs (United Nations)20 July 2016

On 1 January 2016, the world officially began implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development—the transformative plan of action based on 17 Sustainable Development Goals—to address urgent global challenges over the next 15 years.

This agenda is a road map for people and the planet that will build on the success of the Millennium Development Goals and ensure sustainable social and economic progress worldwide. It seeks not only to eradicate extreme poverty, but also to integrate and balance the three dimensions of sustainable development—economic, social and environmental—in a comprehensive global vision.

July 22, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

We need proven renewable energy technology, NOT General Atomics’ small nuclear reactor gimmickry

Laurel Kaskurs, 15 July 16  With all the generous subsidies General Atomics has received thanks to its friendly military industrial complex Congressional friends in the area, I would have hoped they might repay the taxpayers for their generosity by working on something that does not put people and the environment at risk for plutonium contamination, which is a very real possibility whenever you talk about burning spent fuel.

questionFirst of all, if this is designed to burn spent fuel down to just 3% of what it was before, then why do you say you could burn the spent fuel from the EM2? There are all different kinds of spent fuel with different grades of uranium and plutonium left. So are you claiming it works for any of these? What about the fact that the spent fuel at San Onofre, Pilgrim, and many other commercial nuclear power plants is leaking and already unsafe to transport?

Some dry cask containers contain damaged fuel rods and the DOE will not touch them. Is this really being designed to solve a nuclear waste problem, because it sounds like a way the nuclear industry will just cling in desperation to so they can keep producing more nuclear waste.

I would like to know exactly what fuels General Atomic has designed this SMR to run on. If it’s traditional nuclear fuel, every step of the uranium fission process is extremely carbon intensive, from mining, milling, construction, the ceramic making, and each step of the fuel cycle creates heaps of radioactive waste we have no way to dispose of.

If it’s actual spent fuel we are talking about, how do you propose we transport the spent fuel from their leaking dry casks that sit rusting on a seaside cliff to these little fast breeder reactors? If they are for remote locations, how will emergency personnel get there if an emergency happens? Accidents involving plutonium mixed fuel are far more dangerous than those involving uranium fuel, and those are downright deadly! (I would love to post links to back up everything I am telling you, but the site [San Diego Union Tribune ] will not allow me to).

What we need is not more atomic pipe dreams producing separated plutonium as waste. That is what SMRs amount to. There are triple renewable hybrid plants, like Stillwater in Fallon, NV that produce zero waste and can compete with SMRs to deliver flexible power to the grid by using geothermal storage to convert heat from daytime sunlight to keep the lights on at night while Solar and solar pv handle the load all day. It’s not a theory on paper. It’s an operational power plant designed by Enel Green Power and I read about it in a renewable energy magazine.

That is where our government subsidies should go. Not to another plutonium making weapons contractor that is decades away from a prototype.  For the sake of the DNA of future generations, we can not keep draining the economy by subsidizing an industry that kills us slowly with cancer and genetic instability. If you want to solve the climate problems, the time is now, with proven renewable technology, not 2030 with an atomic fantasy.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear chicken games between USA and Russia

United States “playing nuclear chicken with Russia”, “Helen Caldicott, the 1985 Nobel Peace Prize nominee, has warned about the danger related to the decisions made during a recent NATO summit. SOURCE: SPUTNIK TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2016 “The decisions reached at NATO are hardly believable considering current world politics and the state of play between Russia and the United States, both heavily armed nuclear nations… as they practice nuclear war exercises and ‘games’ adjacent to their respective borders,” she told Sputnik.

The two-day summit in Warsaw on Friday and Saturday approved the deployment of four battalions on Russian borders, made up of about 4,000 troops.

“Surely, the politicians and military personnel in Washington must realize that they are playing nuclear chicken with Russia,” said Caldicott, founding president of Physicians for Social Responsibility, and added:

“Large increases in NATO troops and equipment in countries once an integral part of the Soviet Union (and) anti-missile bases in Romania, Poland, Turkey and Spain, are extremely provocative to Russia which is clearly concerned for good reason.”

Sputnik noted in its report that Caldicott is the author of numerous books, including “The New Nuclear Danger: George W. Bush’s Military Industrial Complex,” and that the Smithsonian Institution named her “one of the most influential women of the 20th century.”

July 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Teresa May has the opportunity now to stop the Hinkley nuclear boondoggle

text Hinkley cancelledMay can make a point at Hinkley , The Times,  alistair osborne, 14 July 16      that’s it then: Theresa May is now in charge of Britain’s nuclear button. So why waste the chance to make an immediate impact? She should press it pronto and blow up Hinkley Point C.

What better start could she make than that? No project better sums up the doomed Cameron/Osborne alliance than the overpriced Somerset nuke, built as it is on little more than a giant Franco-Sino bribe. Or rather not being built, given its myriad financial and technical deficiencies. At a stroke, Mrs May could deliver the nation the warmest of nuclear glows, distance her regime from her predecessor’s… (subscribers only)

July 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE now patron of Stop Hinkley Nuclear Campaign

Stop Hinkley Campaign Gains Vivienne Westwood As Patron   Dame Vivienne Westwood DBE has announced that she will become a patron of the Stop Hinkley Campaign as a result of EDF Energy’s plans to build two large new nuclear reactors at Hinkley Point in Somerset.

The French Trade Unions have declared that they remain convinced the Hinkley project should be postponed until a litany of problems has been solved, and there is increasing speculation that the project will be ditched after the Brexit vote. Now the Stop Hinkley Campaign is re-doubling its efforts to ensure that this foolhardy scheme is cancelled as soon as possible.

Fashion designer and activist, Vivienne Westwood said: “Hinkley Point C is not a solution to the climate change problem. It will simply trap us into the same system that gave us fossil fuels. We need a different sort of economy – a fair economy founded on true human values, and cheap and infinite sustainable energy.”

She continued: “Climate change is a global emergency, we can’t wait around while the big utilities build expensive and dangerous nuclear plant, which is late and over-budget. We need to start building a sustainable energy system now.

It is perfectly feasible, quicker and cheaper, to replace all the proposed nuclear stations by reducing our energy consumption.”

Stop Hinkley spokesperson Roy Pumfrey says: “Vivienne Westwood is a welcome addition to our growing list of patrons. She will be helping us to spearhead a drive for new members. Unlike Government Ministers, she understands that nuclear power is seriously damaging our efforts to tackle climate change. The campaign against the white elephant Hinkley Point C project is going from strength to strength.”

July 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Hungary says shuts reactor at Paks nuclear plant due to malfunction BUDAPEST, JULY 14, Hungary shut the first reactor block of the Paks nuclear powers plant on Thursday due to a malfunction in the control equipment, the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority said.

The block automatically stopped due to the malfunction, its safety was not threatened and it remains safe, it said in a statement on its website.

July 15, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Nuclear power’s reality – a horrible industry

Horrible reality of nuclear power JIM GRIFFIN Diablo Canyon is finally shutting down. It should never have been built in the first place, especially over two earthquake prone fault lines. In fact, as we can see now, no nuclear power plants should ever have been built.

Sooner or later they always leak radiation, and nuclear fuel waste takes 250,000 years to decay into lead — a massive and mounting problem. Nuclear waste will be a huge issue at Diablo many years after the complex closes. It is true that there in no Co2 and no addition to climate change. But there is totally toxic radiation that no container material can outlast.

Nuclear power has always been a bad idea, good on paper but only if you ignore half the story. Horrible in reality.

PG&E is an especially bad player. Think of all the people poisoned in Hinkley, Calif. (Erin Brockovich) and many other places, and all the pollution and the gas line accidents. Think of the totally cowed  Public Utilities Commission (PUC) and the Nuclear Regulatory Agency, corrupted and co-opted through a cozy relationship with PG&E and other big energy  corporations, who then get away with murder and receive a slap on the wrist for their crimes, if anything.

As long as PG&E and other major utilities exist as huge profit obsessed corporations they will  manipulate all types of energy sources and markets, along with the media and the politicians, keeping prices high and with everything tightly in their control.  The Diablo complex doesn’t begin to close for eight full years — more than enough time for PG&E to pull strings and grease palms to have the recent agreement/settlement gutted or greatly watered down. Watch and see.

In my opinion, “public” utilities should really be publically owned and run democratically, co-operatively and transparently by and in the interests of consumers, not investors and fat-cat executives. This is the only way that renewable energy, alternative energy, energy storage, and all other possibilities can be developed and provided in a socially responsible way. And nuclear power ended forever.

Jim Griffin has lived in San Luis Obispo for five years. Jim has been a progressive political activist since his mid-teens, taking part in anti-war movements, the civil rights movement, labor union struggles, and other movements for human, civil, and democratic rights.

July 13, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric and Gas Co. (SCE&G) increase budget for new nuclear plant

hungry-nukes 1Santee Cooper works toward fixing costs to complete nuclear station, Berkely Independent  Staff Report Saturday, July 9, 2016

The Santee Cooper Board of Directors has authorized the utility to proceed with securing an option that fixes the costs to complete two new units at V.C. Summer Nuclear Station located in Jenkinsville, northwest of Columbia.

The fixed price option could give greater cost and schedule certainty to customers of Santee Cooper and South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. (SCE&G), joint owners of the new nuclear project.

The state-owned utility’s board also approved the sale of $831 million in revenue obligation bonds, primarily to finance the ongoing nuclear construction project. A portion of the proceeds will be used to refinance existing utility debt……..

Santee Cooper owns 45 percent of the nuclear expansion project, and SCE&G owns 55 percent. The two utilities negotiated an amended EPC Agreement with Westinghouse Electric Co. LLC in October, featuring terms that incentivize schedule adherence and shift financial risk to Westinghouse for any additional delays in the current scope of work. The amended EPC Agreement also offers a fixed price option, and Santee Cooper’s authorization to proceed is contingent upon SCE&G receiving approval this fall of a related petition being considered by the South Carolina Public Service Commission.

Exercising this option will increase Santee Cooper’s budget for the nuclear project by about 20 percent……..

The 2016BD bond sale included $508 million in tax-exempt series B bonds and $323 million in taxable series D bonds. The series B issue includes $91.3 million in refunding bonds, which provide $9 million in net present value savings. The term “tax exempt” means exempt from federal and South Carolina income taxes for South Carolina residents under current law……

July 10, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Things are getting tougher for fossil fuel industries

The Sun Is Setting On Fossil Fuels Markman ,

Things are getting a lot tougher for the embattled carbon fuels industry. That’s according to a new Bloomberg research piece predicting a slow, inevitable death for the widespread use of crude oil.

To be sure, fossilized dinosaur goo has been under siege for a while. The politics of climate change coupled with spills, fires, explosions and other self-inflicted wounds have made industry survival challenging. Weak commodity prices have made it all much worse. In the past, the industry has persevered. The difference this time is that competing energy sources are finally starting to make economic sense.

Take solar. Prices for solar panels are plummeting. The cost of solar panels has declined 95% since 2008, and the trend is accelerating. While that makes it very difficult to be in the business of making panels, it’s a dream scenario for large utility businesses building out capacity. That’s exactly what has been happening. There has been more corporate investment in solar in the first quarter of this year than all of the other energy sources combined.

 The math is simple: Solar is getting cheaper every day, and it is renewable, so there is no need to worry about supply chain bottlenecks, environmentalists or politics. Plus, it’s a virtuous circle. Falling prices lead to greater demand, which leads to economies of scale, network effects, and still lower prices for panels. It’s the sunshine version of Economics 101.

Meanwhile, the math for fossil fuels has been predictable and grim. Prices for coal can’t fall fast enough. There is no demand for new supply. In the developed world, environmentalists have squashed debate. Coal’s share of U.S. electricity production has gone down 17% since 2005. This comes even as companies like General Electric (GE) use Big Data analytics to make the idea of cleaner coal a reality. In the developing world, economic upheaval in China has meant less demand, leaving most producers waiting for India to come on line with new coal-fired power plants. Good luck with that in the current world political climate.

Oil and gas has not fared much better. U.S. oil and gas drilling rig counts sit at a 40-year low as investment grinds to a noisy halt. And, while prices for oil have rebounded from their recent moribund lows, there remains little appetite for new investment because most believe it’s just a matter of time before prices resume their downward trek.

It’s the very same deflation dilemma solar panel makers face, which, if you think about it, is weird because oil doesn’t really compete with most energy types. It’s mostly used for transportation – powering cars, planes and ships.

Bloomberg’s New Energy Outlook suggests the peak of the fossil fuel business will come as early as 2025, just nine years away. That’s the year researchers expect a tipping point as electric cars eat into excess demand for oil and renewables finally kill the growth potential of coal and natural gas. That’s not to suggest these energy sources will go away; they won’t. They’ll just begin a gradual decline that suddenly steepens, like horseback riding shrank dramatically but did not disappear after the automobile went into mass production.

This development should produce a reliable list of winners. I’m not that crazy about solar stocks right now, as the industry is still wracked by the margin-depleting force of commoditization. But there are other plays. Refiners thrive with low feedstock prices, and the future will bring plenty of that. Tesoro and Valero are key operators in the United States. Utilities companies have been aggressive investors in renewables, especially solar and wind. Southern Co. is an all-of-the-above company with scale. And Tesla has a battery technology that will finally allow the cost-effective storage of solar power. Put all these on your watch list.

July 6, 2016 Posted by | general | Leave a comment


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