The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

In America’s energy sector, solar power employs by far the most people

Finally going green is starting to pay off.  It’s a fact that  U.S. Solar Employs More People Than Oil, Coal, And Gas Combined!  U.S. solar now employs more workers than any other energy industry, including coal, oil and natural gas combined, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.

EcoWatch says that 6.4 million Americans now work in the traditional energy and the energy efficiency sector, which added more than 300,000 net new jobs in 2016, or 14 percent of the nation’s job growth. Within the Electric Power Generation sector, the report found that solar employed 374,000 people over the year 2015-2016, which makes up 43 percent of the sector’s workforce, while the traditional fossil fuels combined employed 187,117, making up 22 percent of the workforce.

“This report verifies the dynamic role that our energy technologies and infrastructure play in a 21st century economy,” said DOE Senior Advisor on Industrial and Economic Policy David Foster. “Whether producing natural gas or solar power at increasingly lower prices or reducing our consumption of energy through smart grids and fuel efficient vehicles, energy innovation is proving itself as the important driver of economic growth in America, producing 14 percent of the new jobs in 2016.”

January 23, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

With election coming, British government covered up serious missile test incident

see-no-evilflag-UKUK government covered up ‘disastrous failure’ in nuclear missile test: report, DW 22 Jan 17 A British newspaper has alleged that an unarmed nuclear missile veered off course and headed toward the US in a 2016 test. The Trident system is the country’s only nuclear weapon system and aims to deter threats. The British government covered up a failed test of a nuclear missile system last year, just weeks before lawmakers voted to renew it, “The Sunday Times” newspaper alleged on Sunday.

The newspaper cited an anonymous senior naval source who claimed that the unarmed Trident II D5 missile failed after being launched from a British submarine off the coast of the US state of Florida in June.

The cause of the failure was top secret, but the source said the missile may have accidentally veered towards the mainland.

“There was a major panic at the highest level of government and the military after the first test of our nuclear deterrent in four years ended in disastrous failure,” the source told the paper.

“Ultimately, Downing Street decided to cover up the failed test. If the information was made public, they knew how damaging it would be to the credibility of our nuclear deterrent.”

The source said an upcoming parliamentary vote on the Trident system on July 18 had made the failure “all the more sensitive.”……

January 23, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Pilgrim nuclear power station should be shut – NOW!

Pilgrim nuclear plantTime to pull the plug on Pilgrim Brookline Wicked Local  Jan 21, 2017 
 It is time to close Pilgrim nuke plant – now, not 2019. The plant’s abysmal safety record and the decision of the plant’s owner, Entergy Corp., to abandon the nuclear power business combine to raise overwhelming doubt about the wisdom of keeping the nuclear power plant operating one day longer than is absolutely necessary. Entergy’s plan to refuel the Pilgrim plant this year makes no sense in this environment. Our position on the nuke plant in Plymouth does not mean we are turning our backs on nuclear power. While we wish for the day when safe, renewable energy sources will light our homes and power our factories, we may well find that nuclear plays some role in our future energy mix. It is time, however, to turn off the reactor at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station and begin what is likely to be a contentious, lengthy and expensive – most likely more than $1 billion – decommissioning of the plant…….

Last year was not a good year at Pilgrim. Tagged by the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission as one of the three most troublesome plants in the country, it experienced a series of failures in 2016 that further eroded confidence in safety at the plant. During a routine inspection on Dec. 1, NRC employees said they found nine violations – three reported by the company and six discovered during the inspection. Specifically, the NRC said Entergy did not “maintain equipment availability, challenge unusual conditions, use prudent decision-making.”

The real hit came from another NRC inspection conducted by a team of 20 inspectors over a period of three weeks in December. After the first week, one of the leaders on that team wrote an email that was accidently sent to a leader of Cape Downwinders, a citizens group that wants the Pilgrim plant closed.

That email said the plant staff appeared “overwhelmed by just trying to run the station” and that there was a “safety culture problem” at Pilgrim. Jackson’s preliminary findings included failure by the staff to properly fix broken equipment, a lack of required expertise among plant specialist, failure of some staff to understand their roles and responsibilities and a team of employees who appear to be struggling with keeping the plant running.

At the request of Gov. Charlie Baker, Attorney General Maura Healey, the state’s congressionaL delegation and a score of state legislators and local officials, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said it would hold a meeting in Plymouth to hear the concerns about Pilgrim. No date has been set for the meeting.

Entergy announced last April that is would refuel the Pilgrim reactor this spring. The common industry practice is to replace one-third of a reactor’s nuclear fuel every two years, and that usually costs roughly $40 million. There may be a more compelling way for Entergy to spend $40 million.

Decommissioning Pilgrim could take as long as 70 years. A special fund to pay for that decommissioning is robust because Boston Edison put money into it. Entergy has not done that, saying there was enough money in the fund to satisfy regulatory requirements. But Entergy is going to have to pay some portion of the cost of making the plant and its environs safe for other uses. Shut the plant down now and save that $40 million.

While we understand that Entergy may have obligations to supply electricity to the regional power grid through May 2019, but there are solutions to that, even if the company has to spend money on it. It is time for the company and public officials, particularly the NRC, to shut Pilgrim down.

January 23, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Greenpeace Response to Trump Scrubbing Climate Change from White House Website

logo-greenpeace  20 Jan 17  In response to news that the Trump administration has removed all mentions of climate change from the official White House website, Greenpeace spokesperson Travis Nichols said:

“We know Donald Trump and his proposed cabinet of millionaires are climate deniers. We’ve known that for years. It is no surprise that on day one they would proceed with their business plan of officially denying science for profit. It doesn’t change the science or the fact that the world wants a clean energy future. If there’s money to be made, Donald Trump will likely continue to officially deny climate change until the boiling seas swallow Mar-A-Lago whole.

That’s why we have to resist. More people believe in climate action than voted for Donald Trump, and we will continue to resist as long as the official White House policy is climate denial.”

January 21, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

As climate deniers move into White House – Guardian news focus on climate change

trump-worldGlobal warning: ominous signs for climate in Trump administration – live With climate change deniers moving into the White House, the Guardian is spending 24 hours focusing on the issue. Right now we’re focusing on how warming temperatures will affect the Asia-Pacific region

  • Our partner, Univision News, is hosting a parallel event in Spanish today. Follow it here
  • The Tumblr community is joining us with personal posts about climate change. See them here
  • Here in Australia, there’s been a toxic debate about renewable energy. The fossil fuel industry, conservative media and the coalition government have been trying to link blackouts in South Australia, which have been caused by extreme weather, to the high proportion of renewables in that state.

    They’ve also been arguing that rising power bills around the country are a result of increases in renewable energy in the grid.

    But today, just as another extreme storm causes a large blackout in South Australia, we have polling from GetUp showing Australians have not been swayed by these arguments.

    Just over 17% of voters said they thought renewable energy was to blame for rising power prices.


January 20, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Pakistan vows nuclear retaliation if India attacks 19 Jan 17  Threat follows confirmation of Delhi’s military assault plans in times of crisis  by: Kiran Stacey in New Delhi and Farhan Bokhari in Islamabad Pakistani officials have threatened to use nuclear weapons should India invade, after India’s new army chief admitted to secret military plans for attacking its neighbour in the event of a crisis…….

January 20, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Ontario should close the Pickering nuclear station, NOT extend its license

New York to replace nuclear station with water power from Quebec  Angela Bischoff,    Outreach Director January 9, 2017 

New York State has reached a deal to shut down the 40-year-old Indian Point Nuclear Station, located less than 30 miles north of New York City, on the basis that it is too close to a large urban area.

To New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, closing the aging plant was the only reasonable option, despite the request by Indian Point’s owner for a 20-year license extension: “Why you would allow Indian Point to continue to operate defies common sense, planning and basic sanity.” The state government has so little faith in the wisdom of continuing to operate Indian Point that it has also demanded additional safety inspections and more independent review of plant operations.

Contrast that to the reaction of the Wynne Government to Ontario Power Generation’s (OPG’s) plan to seek a 10-year license extension for the Pickering Nuclear Station. Pickering is actually older than Indian Point. And there are twice as many people living within 30 km of Pickering than live within the same distance from Indian Point (2.2 million versus 1.1 million).

Despite a situation that should be ringing alarm bells at Queen’s Park – just as Indian Point raised alarms in the New York state capital – the Wynne Government is passively signing off on OPG’s request to extend the life of North America’s 4th oldest nuclear station (and one of its most expensive to operate) which is located right on Toronto’s doorstep.

It’s a study in contrasts, with one government actively seeking to replace an old and dangerous nuclear station with low-cost water power imports from Quebec, and the other clinging to a dinosaur that threatens the safety of millions of people.

If you think Ontario should learn from New York, close the Pickering nuclear station in 2018 when its license expires and replace it with low cost water power from Quebec, please sign our petition now.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | general | 1 Comment

Prince Charles writes a book on climate change

Will they ever let a man with a social conscience be king?  I doubt it

Prince Charles, a vocal critic of man-made climate change, has taken on the challenges and possible solutions in the book aimed at adults, according to reports.

He wrote the book with Tony Juniper, a former Friends of the Earth director, and Emily Shuckburgh, a Cambridge University climate scientist.

“His Royal Highness, Emily and I had to work very hard to make sure that each word did its job, while at the same time working with the pictures to deliver the points we needed to make,” Juniper told the Mail on Sunday.

“I hope we’ve managed to paint a vivid picture, and like those iconic titles from the 60s and 70s, created a title that will stand the test of time.”

Ladybird books traditionally targeted children but has recently found success with a range of humorous books for adults. Rowland White, a publishing director with Penguin, which produces Ladybird books, told the Sunday Times that Clarence House approached the publisher with the idea.

“It was a coincidence where we were thinking about a new series for adults after the huge success of the spoof books, but this time wanted some factual books by experts on science, history and arts subjects,” he said.

January 16, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Mich.’s reactor shutdown not sounding climate alarms

 Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News reporter January 13, 2017

January 14, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

France may reconsider compensation claims previously rejected, over Polynesian nuclear bomb testing

Further concern over French nuclear compo law Radio NZ 12 Jan 17 A French Polynesian member of the French National Assembly Jean-Paul Tuaiva has raised his concerns about the revision of the nuclear compensation law. A decree is about to be approved in Paris that will amend the 2010 law by loosening the criteria for claims to be accepted.

Tuaiva has asked the French government to reconsider compensation claims which had been rejected – a call already made by two other Assembly members…….

France tested its atomic weapons first in Algeria and then from 1966 to 1996 in the South Pacific in a programme which involved more than 100,000 personnel.

January 13, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Unresolved safety issues in Britain’s nuclear power plants

hackerflag-UKNuclear Power’s Overlooked Insecurity JAN 2017 Wednesday 11TH   Morning Star DAVID LOWRY questions whether enough is being done to ensure Britain’s nuclear power plants are protected from cyber attacks

JUST after Christmas, the Times’s science correspondent Oliver Moody provided a public and political service in exposing the worrying inadequacies of Britain’s nuclear safety and security regulator, the Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR).

But while the article concentrated mainly on safety concerns, there are several security issues unresolved.

In ONR’s latest annual report it records that: “There are areas where the duty holder’s security arrangements did not fully meet regulatory expectations.”

Regarding the Sellafield facility, it continues: “A requirement to improve processes in place for Cyber Security and Information Assurance (CS&IA) was identified. A contributory factor in this area was associated with a lack of resources within CS&IA capability.”

I raised these concerns at a nuclear policy roundtable seminar in the past month at the Politics Department at Cambridge University.

It was here where Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe made her final appearance as energy minister, before being moved to the Treasury two days later, to be replaced by Lord Prior of Brampton.

At a conference on December 6 to the International Conference on Nuclear Security in Vienna, hosted by the UN’s nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Baroness NevilleRolfe made a presentation in which she spent far more time promoting the British nuclear industry than addressing nuclear security…….

A report titled Outpacing Cyber Threats: Priorities for Cybersecurity at Nuclear Facilities, issued by the Washington DC-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) at the same IAEA conference, reveals that Britain’s nuclear sector has suffered two significant cyber security failures in the past: one in June 1999 at the Bradwell Nuclear Power Plant — when an employee intentionally “altered/destroyed data” — and in September 1991 at Sellafield — when a software bug led to “unauthorised opening of doors.”

The report asserts worryingly that: “The global community is in the early stages of understanding the magnitude of the cyber threat. In many ways, humans have created systems that are too complex to manage, in most cases, risks cannot even be quantified.”…….

January 11, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

High cost to pay a nuclear expert to oversee Point Lepreau ‘s problems

NB Power pays nuclear boss in U.S. dollars, fights to keep salary a secret Energy and Utilities Board asked to keep financial agreement for U.S. nuclear expert Brett Plummer secret By Robert Jones, CBC News Jan 10, 2017 A U.S. nuclear expert hired to fix problems at the Point Lepreau generating station is being paid differently — and likely substantially more — than other NB Power executives, but the utility is pushing to keep those details secret.”Public disclosure of amounts paid under these contracts would undermine the ability of NB Power to obtain competitive pricing for these services in the future,” the utility wrote in a request to the Energy and Utilities Board last week to keep the pay of Brett Plummer confidential.

Plummer, a U.S. navy-trained nuclear operator who spent several years at New Hampshire’s giant Seabrook nuclear plant, was hired by NB Power as its chief nuclear officer and vice-president nuclear in late 2015.

His job is to oversee attempts to improve Point Lepreau’s disappointing post-refurbishment performance.

Since coming back online in 2012 after a four-year refurbishment, Point Lepreau has encountered various problems and fallen short of its budgeted electricity production targets by more than 4,000 hours, or $200 million.

Paid at U.S. rate  NB Power did reveal Plummer has a deal to be paid at U.S. exchange and tax rates, which forces it to compensate him for Canada’s low dollar and New Brunswick’s high income taxes.

The specific amounts are so far a mystery although the utility has broadly hinted Plummer did not come cheap…….

January 11, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Renewable energy: China, India are leaving climate-denying nations -USA and Australia – behind

text-relevantInterview: U.S., Australia left behind as China, India leads clean energy advancement, January 6, 2017  While the U.S.-centric world questions renewable energy, China is leading the world in clean-power investment, driving the fledgling industry further and leverage future growth as the sane world looks to transition away from fossil fuels.

China’s domestic investment in renewable energy lifted to 103 billion U.S. dollars in 2015, outbound investment surged 60 percent year-on-year to 32 billion U.S. dollars in 2016, an Institute for Economics and Financial Analysis report showed Friday.

“This is a massive pivot by the Chinese to capitalise on technology control, industry leadership and to take their position global,” the report’s author, IEEFA’s Australasia director of energy finance studies, Tim Buckley told Xinhua.

China wants to “dominate” these industries in a positive way, Buckley said, deploying technology which is now considered the “best in the world” after years of investment.

“Chinese wind turbines are the best in the world, China produces 50-60 percent of the world’s solar modules, they are producing or installing probably half of the world’s dams as we speak,” Buckley said, adding Chinese hydroelectricity engineers are also world leaders.

China’s neighbor India has also showed ambitions on clear energy development.

Its latest national energy plan shows there will be no new coal fired power plants — other than those already under construction — over the next decade, which puts up red flags for Australia’s coal industry and Adani’s recently approved project in Australia’s Galilee Basin.

“When China is moving very very aggressively as a world leader, India is looking to replicate that and accelerate that trend as well and become the low cost manufacturer of this industry transformation, America and Australia risk getting left behind,” Buckley said.

As agreed at the COP21 Paris climate talks in 2015, the countries involved promised to ensure global warming is limited to a two degree Celsius rise through their respective emissions reductions targets. So, investment in new, clean energy technologies is critical.

Western governments such as Australia and the incoming regime of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump however are still championing fossil fuels.

Trump has named former ExxonMobil Corp. chief Rex Tillerson as his nominee for U.S. Secretary of State, while Australia’s ruling lawmakers have backed a 100 billion Australian dollar investment target to expand the local coal industry.

Buckley issued a wake-up-call to the U.S. (and Australia), stating following a mandate to move back to fossil fuels might have some short term opportunity, but it will come at significant cost to jobs, technology and investment in the future.

Buckley says Asia will pivot to renewable energy within the next decade for economic reasons, taking the lowest cost energy source going forward, which is solar.

“It’s technology driven, its policy driven, it’s unstoppable.”

Australia’s state governments are now filling the void from the lack of guidance from federal authorities to meet their self-imposed targets, the reduction in the cost of renewable energy is also making it commercially viable.

“The cost of renewables are dropping in double digit declines in cost per megawatt every year,” Buckley said.

“The cost of solar is now down to 80 or 90 Australian dollars per megawatt hour, the cost of wind is similar, only a year ago it was 30 percent higher.”

Green energy critics however contend the intermittent nature of renewables heightens energy security concerns. Australia’s government blamed the intermittent nature of renewable energy for the state-wide blackout in South Australia on Sept. 28 2016 following a violent storm.

Buckley — like previous statements by former State Grid Corp. chairman Liu Zhenya — said grid stability is not an issue, there is no technical barrier to the use of renewable energy, it just needs investment to prepare for future energy needs. Endit

January 9, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Radioactive threat at Hanford is spreading

radiation-warningRadioactive threat at Hanford shows need for short- and long-term action–and/article_a2a2f098-d3a2-11e6-a1c3-23a1636b600d.html  Radioactive contamination is spreading within one of Hanford’s processing plants. Editorial Board  Jan 5, 2017 

Someday the radioactive material at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation will be cleaned up.

Yet, that “someday” remains elusive as the federal government continues to fall short of its obligation to provide the adequate funding needed to safely remove the radioactive waste stored at Hanford. The Washington state Department of Ecology has concluded cleanup work at Hanford is 25 years behind schedule.

Why? Because federal officials don’t appear to see it as an immediate concern. It’s something that can be put off until, well, “someday.”  But that day might be sooner than some think. This week the Tri-City Herald reported that radioactive contamination is spreading within one of Hanford’s processing plants, and the situation could grow worse as the plant — unused since the 1960s — continues to deteriorate.

A report on the Reduction-Oxidation Complex recommends $181 million be spent on interim cleanup and maintenance of the plant, according to the Herald. The plant, referred to as REDOX, is not scheduled to be demolished until about 2032, or possibly later, because the nearby 222-S Laboratory will be needed for another 30 to 40 years to support the Hanford vitrification plant, which is where radioactive material is turned into inert glass logs.

The concern is that contamination could be spread outside the REDOX building by animals, a break in a utility pipe or a fire.

This is serious matter. So, too, is the 56 million gallons of radioactive nuclear waste stored in tanks. Sixty-seven of the tanks have confirmed leaks, and they are buried relatively close to the Columbia River.

 If — or, perhaps, when — that material leaches into the Columbia it will be a national disaster.  The federal government, which established the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in the 1940s to make plutonium for atomic bombs dropped on Japan, is ultimately responsible for cleaning up the radioactive mess left behind.

The millions needed to stop the spread of contamination of REDOX must be spent immediately. Moving forward, Congress and President-elect Trump must view the cleanup as a real priority, with specific dates established to meet targets. And they must stick to the plan.

If the federal government keeps waiting for “someday” it will be too late.

January 9, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment

Westinghouse problems – the final nail in USA’s nuclear industry coffin?

nuclear-costs1The Final Nail?
JANUARY 6, 2017 When first introduced, electricity from nuclear power was to be too cheap to meter.

Then, while the first nuclear power plants were being built, extensive delays and modifications resulted in large cost overruns. The utilities incurred these cost overruns, as the contracts were mostly cost-plus, where the construction companies were reimbursed for their costs.

By the end of the last century, 100 nuclear power plants providing 20% of America’s electricity had been built, but the sentiment in the industry was that nuclear power was too costly.

The constant changes and delays while building the first 100 nuclear power plants were attributed to construction being done on site where it was difficult to control events and costs.

It was thought that costs could be controlled by building major components in a factory and then shipping them to the site for installation.

It was believed that a factory environment would allow for the use of manufacturing disciplines and quality control that would keep costs under control.

At the start of this century, there was support for a nuclear renaissance, where new nuclear power plants of a new and safer design could be built at a reasonable cost, with major components being built in a factory.

The Fukushima disaster raised the specter of radiation danger once again, but the new generation of nuclear power plants would shut down safely and automatically if there was a problem.

As construction was started at the four new nuclear power plants, two in Georgia and two in South Carolina, there was great confidence that this time it would be different: Costs would be controlled and the plants would be built on schedule.

With last week’s announcement that Toshiba would take a multi-billion dollar charge against operations due to cost overruns, quality control problems and delays at the four nuclear power plants being built in the United States, it is now clear that nuclear power may be dead … at least for the foreseeable future.

Westinghouse, the Toshiba subsidiary building these new nuclear power plants, has experienced many of the same problems that occurred in the last century.

Toshiba’s stock fell 30% with the announcement confirming the problems at Westinghouse, and of problems with the construction of other nuclear power plants being built in other countries.

Whereas the utilities incurred the overrun costs in the last century, this time the contracts were written so that the construction companies and supplier of reactors incurred most of these extra costs.

Nuclear power was already dying a slow death in the United States as there was considerable doubt whether existing nuclear power plants would receive a second extension to their operating licenses. See Nothing to Fear for a description of why nuclear power is dying in the United States.

The problems at Westinghouse probably preclude any construction company or supplier of reactors from entering into contracts where they would be liable for cost overruns, and it’s doubtful that any utility regulator would allow any utility to assume such liabilities in the future.

This may have been the final nail in the coffin for nuclear power in the United States.

January 7, 2017 Posted by | general | Leave a comment