Tag Archives: high-level radioactive waste

NRC approves radwaste rule; ends reactor licensing moratorium. Magwood phones it in.

PrintThe Nuclear Regulatory Commissioners today approved its controversial replacement for its “waste confidence” rule that was slapped down in 2012 by a federal court and also approved a resumption of new reactor licensing and license renewal activities.

The new replacement rule essentially gives up on the notion of “confidence” that a permanent high-level radioactive waste repository will be built in any foreseeable time frame and instead expresses the agency’s support for the concept that “continued storage” in the absence of a permanent repository–even for millenia–is just A-OK with them. Continue reading


NRC rejects effort to move radwaste from pools; Macfarlane issues strong dissent

Fuel pools at GE Boiling Water Reactors like this one are often overcrowded and located outside containment, leaving them poorly-protected.

Fuel pools at GE Boiling Water Reactors like this one are often overcrowded and located outside containment, leaving them poorly-protected.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has again sided with the nuclear power industry   (where have you heard that one before?) and rejected efforts by environmental/clean energy groups and five U.S. Senators to move high-level radioactive waste out of overcrowded, dangerous and poorly-protected fuel pools as soon as it is cool enough to be placed in dry casks.

Not only did the NRC Commissioners take this unconscionable vote, they said this was their last word on the subject and they would refuse to ever again consider the issue.

But the vote wasn’t unanimous: NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane, who has spent her career studying radioactive waste issues, issued a strong dissent to the decision, essentially arguing that the NRC staff hasn’t done its homework.
Continue reading

Nuclear Newsreel, Thursday, April 17, 2014

Nuclear Power

New confirmation. New study: wind, solar power is cheaper than new nuclear. A new European study confirms what by now almost everyone except the U.S. Congress and White House seem to know: renewables are cheaper than new nuclear power–20% cheaper, even if construction of natural gas backup plants were to be required. Renewables alone, according to the study, are 50% cheaper than new reactors. “Wind and solar systems will dominate the power system in increasingly more countries,” Patrick Graichen, head of Agora Energiewende [which commissioned the study], said in an e-mailed statement. “The battle for the cheapest CO2-free power mix is decided.”

Osetr whole smokedThe Entergy Corporation’s ongoing problems, chronicled well in these pages by Tim Judson on Tuesday, may not be entirely of its own making; it’s certainly not the only utility challenged by renewables and gas in the merchant electricity market. But Entergy does have a way of making things worse for itself. The latest: their idea to monitor the fish intake at the Indian Point reactors–an issue currently before the courts–by tying frozen sturgeon to the intake screens.

-Continue reading>

Nuclear Newsreel, Monday, April 14, 2014

Japan's Rokkasho reprocessing plant. Photo by Greenpeace

Japan’s Rokkasho reprocessing plant. Photo by Greenpeace

Nuclear Power

Babcock & Wilcox, best known for designing the Three Mile Island reactors, cuts back on its Small Modular Reactor program because it can’t find investors. Because, really, who would want one?

NRC respect for judicial process in action: the agency approved a new uranium mine in South Dakota even before a legal hearing challenging the mine was held. That may be a new low for the agency; in this editorial the Rapid City Journal notes: “By issuing the license before testimony is heard, the NRC invites cynicism in the uranium licensing process. Mining opponents can’t be faulted for believing the process has been corrupted, and that the NRC is controlled by the uranium industry that it’s supposed to regulate.”

Is Rick Perry cheerleading for a high-level radwaste dump in Texas? Apparently so. An excellent examination of the Governor’s actions in support of a new dump–and some bigtime Perry contributors–from The Texas Observer. If he’d do that to Texas, imagine what he could do to the entire country if ever elected president….

Continue reading

Nuclear Newsreel, Thursday, April 3, 2014

Nuclear Power

Another day, another poll–this one from Gallup–showing Americans support renewables & conservation, oppose more nukes. You’d think politicians, who are supposedly expert at reading polls, might have figured out which side of the issue to be on by now. But they haven’t.

Eight hour Alert over after smoke seen at Exelon’s Fukushima-clone Quad Cities nukes. Cause not yet known.

First inspectors re-enter New Mexico’s WIPP nuclear waste site after leak; however, no information has yet been revealed on what caused radiation releases on two occasions in the past two months.  Meanwhile, an expert witness in the original WIPP licensing hearing writes in the Santa Fe New Mexican that the problems at WIPP are greater than has been let on so far. Dr. Richard Hayes Phillips concludes:

Many years ago, at a public hearing in Albuquerque, WIPP proponents argued that if the WIPP site should fail, the site could be cleaned up by “overcoring” the barrels of radioactive waste, removing both the barrels and the contaminated salt, and “hauling it away.” Members of the audience responded, spontaneously, almost in unison, by asking: “Where is away?”

There is no “away.” There is no other repository ready to receive the waste from WIPP. This is why so many of us had urged the DOE to leave the waste above ground, in double containers, where it could be readily monitored for any leakage and be readily retrieved if necessary. The task now before us monumental. How to retrieve the waste at WIPP without further compromising the integrity of the site is a challenge of epic proportions.

What says “good for business” better than a high-level radwaste dump? Texas Gov. Rick Perry may be the first Governor ever who likes high-level radwaste so much he wants to open a new dump in Texas.

Excellent piece from excellent paper: There’s a lot of gall in Duke Energy’s latest move suing over unbuilt reactors.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR) released a new study yesterday stating that it does not expect large numbers of people to contract cancer and other diseases from exposure to Fukushima radiation–certainly not enough to impact the country’s current cancer rate. But the committee did note a “theoretical possibility” of increased thyroid cancers among exposed children, who are more vulnerable to radiation expsoure.

In a quick analysis of the report, Dr. Ian Fairlie, co-author of The TORCH report--what we believe is the most reliable study on Chernobyl effects–for the most part agrees with UNSCEAR’s estimate of the collective dose from Fukushima radiation, but calculates that means approximately 5,000 people will die as a result of exposure from the accident. Even if that’s not enough to increase the cancer rate, it’s still a lot of people.

One half of the new "Safe Confinement" at Chernobyl.

One half of the new “Safe Confinement” at Chernobyl.

Despite the continuing difficulties in Ukraine, work at the Chernobyl disaster site continues. That’s probably because the funding is coming from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and not the country’s looted coffers. The first half of the New Safe Confinement, which is designed to last 100 years and thus allow full decommissioning of the site, has been completed and soon will be rolled over the existing and hastily constructed sarcophagus.

Good-bye and Good Riddance! Electricite de France (EDF) and Exelon have reached a deal that enables EDF to leave the U.S. nuclear power business. EDF is half-owner of Constellation Energy’s five operating reactors, which Exelon obtained when it bought Constellation last year. EDF joined with Constellation in the mid-2000s to build new Areva EPR reactors in the U.S. at Calvert Cliffs, MD and Nine Mile Point, NY, two projects that ended poorly for the company. EDF was denied a license for Calvert Cliffs-3 and has officially withdrawn the license for Nine Mile Point-3.

Clean Energy

Writing for CleanTechnica, Chip Martin warns that utilities claim to love solar power so much that they’re planning to smother it to death. Actually, the utilities involved don’t really solar at all, they’re just constantly looking for new ways to prevent its widespread adoption and the accompanying threats to their profits and very existence.

Inside Washington

Yesterday we noted that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (R-OR) had introduced a new tax extenders bill without including production tax credits for renewables, and said that he was likely to introduce those as amendments to the bill. Well, this morning Wyden introduced a new version of the bill, and those tax credits are back in it, with a two-year extension. We’ve heard the credits have bipartisan support, and now expect them to pass the full Senate. But what happens to the legislation in the House is anyone’s guess at this point.

Michael Mariotte

April 3, 2014

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2014/04/03/nuclear-newsreel-thursday-april-3-2014/  

You can now support GreenWorld with your tax-deductible contribution on our new donation page here. We gratefully appreciate every donation of any size–your support is what makes our work possible.

Comments are welcome on all GreenWorld posts! Say your piece above. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.

If you like GreenWorld, you can help us reach more people. Just use the icons below to “like” our posts and to share them on the various social networking sites you use. And if you don’t like GreenWorld, please let us know that too. Send an e-mail with your comments/complaints/compliments to nirsnet@nirs.org. Thank you!

Note: If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail daily, send your name and e-mail address to nirsnet@nirs.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it.

Nuclear Newsreel, Friday, February 14, 2014

Nuclear Power

The mindset over at the Tennessee Valley Authority is just impossible to fathom. The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports that TVA will spend $160 million for replacement steam generators at Watts Bar-2–before the reactor is even built! Construction at Watts bar-2 began more than a generation ago–back in the 1970s–and the reactor still isn’t finished. But the original steam generators have flaws that have caused leaks at other reactors and have aged while waiting for construction to be completed. TVA decided it would be too expensive to replace them now, before starting up the reactor. So it’s planning to get the reactor running with faulty steam generators, and then planning to replace those generators in just a few years. If, of course, the existing faulty generators don’t rupture by then. Citizens of Tennessee have to hope for the best….

Of course, TVA won’t include the replacement steam generators in its initial construction costs, making them look lower than they otherwise would. “Nuclear power is always sold as the cheapest power until it isn’t,” said Stephen Smith, executive director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, an anti-nuclear group based in Knoxville. “It’s not cost competitive when you have these billion-dollar cost overruns that we’ve already experienced at Watts Bar 2 and now we’re having a look at what will probably be a half billion dollar replacement project in the not too distant future.”

Arnie Gundersen and the remnants of Fukushima Unit-3

Arnie Gundersen and the remnants of Fukushima Unit-3

Tepco has finally admitted what Fairewind and NIRS have been saying for nearly three years now: the Fukushima Unit-3 fuel pool is in much worse shape than the Unit-4 pool which caused so much concern late last year. In this new video from Fairewinds, Arnie Gundersen explains the problems that will face Tepco–and the world–when clean-up of this mess begins. 50 tons of rubble fell on top of and into the pool.

Sometimes state legislatures do stupid things, Part 1. Washington state legislature approves creation of task force to examine feasibility of new nuclear power in the state. Most of Washington’s electricity comes from hydropower, just three percent from the one reactor in the state–the remnant of the legendary WHOOPS collapse of the early 1980s. That happened when the Washington Public Power Supply System (WPPSS) tried to build five reactors at once and couldn’t do it; only one was completed. The other four were abandoned at various levels of construction and WPPSS defaulted on billions of dollars of bonds–in fact, still the largest such bond default in U.S. history. Renewables other than hydro account for relatively little of Washington’s supply–there should be more. As Tom Buchanan of Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) says here: “There are other options. We think that carbon free and nuclear free go hand in hand.” He said renewable energy sources including wind and solar, along with continuing energy conservation are the way forward. We agree.

Sometimes state legislatures do stupid things, Part 2. The Texas legislature will examine the feasibility of offering up some part of the state to be an “interim” high-level radioactive waste site. A potential permanent site, at Deaf Smith County, was dropped in the 1987 “Screw Nevada” radioactive waste bill and isn’t likely to be revived. But there’s a lot of wide-open space in west Texas, so some legislators think a “temporary” radioactive waste dump could bring in a few extra bucks. Better watch out Texas: those “interim” sites aren’t exactly fail-safe and could quickly become permanent when it’s clear that no one else will take the lethal waste. Or as Tom “Smitty” Smith of Public Citizen puts it here: “It’s idiotic to even consider disposing of high-level radioactive waste in Texas. Other states have rejected having high-level radioactive waste dumped on them. It’s all risk and very little reward for Texans.”

Electricite de France (EDF) is overwhelmed by nuclear reactor upkeep operations, reports Bloomberg. Adding to the financial pressures on the world’s largest nuclear utility (yesterday, we posted that EDF is trying to raise its wholesale nuclear power rates), EDF is finding that maintaining and attempting to upgrade its 58-reactor fleet is costing twice as much and taking 50% more time than projected. Add to that the utility’s woes in attempting to build the way-over-budget and way-behind-schedule Flamanville EPR reactor and the European Commission’s initial finding of illegal subsidies that may scuttle EDF’s proposed Hinkley Point complex in the UK, and you get the picture of a utility, that despite posting record profits last year, is scrambling for its life to get out of a self-imposed nuclear collapse.

Clean Energy

The Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration says that coal plants will be retired much more quickly, at least through 2016, than previously projected. That’s the good news. Oddly, EIA projects coal retirements will slow rapidly after that.

Distributed resources, including combined heat and power systems and solar PV, could make up a full third of the U.S. power grid by the end of this decade. And while rooftop solar isn’t a huge part of that this decade, its rapid growth suggests that the percentage of power provided by distributed generation will continue to increase rapidly every decade.

Inside Washington

This one isn’t exactly energy-related but it’s a must-read anyway. The two best people writing on economic issues these days are Paul Krugman of the New York Times and Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone. In this piece, The Vampire Squid Strikes Again: The Mega Banks’ Most Devious Scam Yet, Taibbi reports on a little-known piece of some 1999 legislation that is fundamentally transforming the American economy–and not for the better. The subtitle gives some indication of the issue: “Banks are no longer just financing heavy industry. They are actually buying it up and inventing bigger, bolder and scarier scams than ever.” And, indeed, the article notes that the mega-investment bank Goldman Sachs is now in the uranium business. What could possibly go wrong?

Michael Mariotte

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2014/02/06/nuclear-newsreel-friday-february-14-2014/

Comments are welcome! Say your piece below. Start a discussion. Don’t be shy; this blog is for you.

Note: If you’d like to receive GreenWorld via e-mail daily, send your name and e-mail address to nirsnet@nirs.org and we’ll send you an invitation. Note that the invitation will come from a GreenWorld@wordpress.com address and not a nirs.org address, so watch for it.

Nuclear Newsreel, Monday, January 13, 2014

People are the same all over, aren’t they? Nobody wants radioactive waste dumps: Czech Republic suspends repository survey at Kraví Hora.

DOE_Solar_DeploymentThis is about a week old, but very important. From Joe Romm at ClimateProgress (an often useful blog to follow): 60 Minutes hit job on clean energy ignores the facts. This not only provides the facts, and context, but includes some great graphs. One is reproduced to the right.

How right-wing extremist group ALEC wants to reshape U.S. energy policy in 2014: more coal, less renewables. ALEC is a well-financed, corporate-sponsored organization devoted to spreading extreme right-wing legislation across the U.S. Last year they took aim at state renewable energy standards across the U.S., and fortunately, failed in every effort. Their goals for 2014 appear a bit more modest, but it will require citizen action in targeted states to defeat them once again. They would set our nation’s energy policies back decades.

From Daily Kos: Peak water is here. Electricity generation (i.e. nukes & coal) are largest water users in US. If we indeed have reached “peak water,” that is a truly scary thought. Electricity generation and agriculture are, by far, the largest water users in the U.S. And water obviously is needed to grow food. But electricity generation can change. Nuclear power is the largest user of water, per megawatt generated, of all generation sources; coal is second. Solar and wind use very little. Energy efficiency even less. Those advocating for more nuclear power rarely even acknowledge that water use might be an issue. And no one has ever done a study showing what the impact of building say, 100 new reactors in the U.S., would have on water supplies. This is a major issue for the American Clean Energy Agenda (ACEA), of which NIRS is a part. Expect to see more on water and nukes this year in GreenWorld.

This is the future: Ford and SunPower are about to make the utility grid irrelevant for charging electric vehicles. Some anti-nuclear and anti-fossil fuel activists have been reluctant to fully endorse electric vehicles for fear that they would drive up electricity demand and require new reactor or fossil fuel construction. That’s certainly a meme some utilities have been eager to promote. but have no fear. The future will be electric vehicles powered by solar modules, and Ford & SunPower are already working to make that happen.

Ontario’s bill for refurbishing 10 aging reactors is coming due. And it’s massive.

Permalink: https://safeenergy.org/2014/01/13/32/