Rickety Reactors, Slumping Safety Standards, 'Renaissance' Rollback? – NUKE NEWS Update – May 10, 2013

Babies Rebel - An anti-nuclear postcard by a prescient Japanese artist published 3 decades ago by the Abalone Alliance


[Updated]
The Beginings of a ‘Nuclear Renaissance’ Rollback
In this edition:
NRC and CPUC Taking Hits
New Nukes Canceled
Stopping Mobile Chernobyl Plans in the U.S.
As Radiation Rises, Safety Standards Slump
Summer Without San Onofre
Reporter Peeves Peevey
Fukushima Foul-Ups
U.S. and Japan’s Nuclear Schizophrenia
Markey Slams NRC
The Girls of Atomic City
and more…

Overview – The Post-Fukushima Follies
by James Heddle, Mary Beth Brangan – EON

The stories covered in this update, some encouraging, some depressing, make clear the chaos that reigns in the post-Fukushima environment and indicate some gains for the forces of nuclear sanity.

On-going foul-ups at Tepco’s Fukushima Daichi disaster site demonstrate the irremediable dangers of nuclear power technology and the incompetence and irresponsibility of its operators. Yet industry advocates for a ‘nuclear renaissance’ continue to push domestically and internationally for hefty government and ratepayer subsidies (in the absence of private investor interest). The nuclear industry is advising compliant government agencies to merely lower safety standards as radioactive waste accumulates and radioactive contamination of the global environment increases. And, as Japan’s radioactive Fukushima debris begins to reach North American shores, the corporate/government response is the same as with the PB oil spill in the gulf – before the public knows about it, use prison labor to scoop it up, cart it away to Hanford and cover it up.

Nuclear Schizophrenia
In Japan, nuclear schizophrenia divides an anti-nuclear populace from elements in the ruling elite that not only want to restart its currently idle reactors, but want Japan to develop its own nuclear weapons capability.

In the U.S. nuclear schizophrenia takes the form of the Obama administration upgrading its own European nuclear arsenal, while threatening war on Iran and North Korea for allegedly doing the same thing. The EPA is raising permissible levels of radioactive exposure by as much as 27,000 times for Iodine 131 in water, as well as allowing radioactive waste to be put into municipal garbage dumps, and other severe reduction of safety standards, virtually guaranteeing that 1 in 6 children will get cancer if exposed. At the same time a court has ruled that an 83-year-old nun (and two others) be imprisoned for 20 years for their symbolic protest at America’s main uranium facility in Tennessee.

Former Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Gregory Jaczko has gone on an interview campaign saying all 104 U.S. decrepit nuclear power plants are unsafe and should be decommissioned ASAP, while the supine NRC backs off enforcing its recent ruling that operators retrofit their plants with venting to avoid hydrogen explosions like the three that devastated Fukushima because the industry says it will be ‘too expensive.’ (There are 23 U.S. reactors of the exact design as the Fukushima design which exploded because of these faulty vents.)

Nuclear waste on the road


Radioactive Shellgame
Senators Wyden, Murkowski, Feinstein, and Alexander are pushing legislation for “consolidated interim storage” of high-level radioactive waste (HLRW). that, according to Nuclear Information and Resource Services (NIRS) “would rush unprecedented numbers of shipments of irradiated nuclear fuel onto the roads, rails, and waterways.” That’s because they know that most of America’s aging, rickety nuke plants have more highly radioactive ‘spent fuel’ stored on-site than Fukushima. It should be stored in hardened dry casks and left in place until there’s somewhere else to put it permanently, but utilities say that, too, ‘would be too expensive.’ So the good Senators obligingly propose that the industry’s high level waste be trucked around the country to ‘interim storage’ sites, only to eventually be moved again. This risks serious accidents and leaks on public roads and railways, over waterways, etc.

Whistleblowers, Duct Tape, Tarps, and Broomsticks
In California there’s the unfolding San Onofre saga, a microcosm of the death throes of the zombie-like nuclear industry. Though California’s energy management agency, the Independent System Operator (ISO) says the state’s anticipated summer energy load can be met even with San Onofre shutdown, and clean energy advocates have shown that there is excess energy generating capacity without nuclear energy, Southern California Edison is still pushing to restart one of its damaged San Onofre reactors at partial power. This, despite public opposition and whistleblower revelations of ‘gross’ problems, serious restart risks, and pictures of leaking pipes jury-rigged with plastic and broomsticks.

A flaccid NRC can’t find its regulatory backbone in the face of public outrage and SoCal Edison’s parent corporation is whining that it will permanently mothball the plant, take its marbles and go home.

Fuelled with ratepayer and taxpayer dollars - Image: Beyond Nuclear



CWIPs, Worker Deaths, Shutdowns and License Application Withdrawals

One of the many devious ways the zombie nuclear industry has devised to suck the blood out of the body politic as it staggers toward oblivion is a strategy called ‘Construction Work in Progress,’ or CWIP. Beyond Nuclear explains it this way: “a law, fortunately existent only in a handful of U.S. states, that allows a utility to charge ratepayers higher rates to cover future costs of a yet-to-be-constructed reactor, even if that reactor is never built.”

That’s because, as Beyond Nuclear goes on, ‘The only way to build new atomic reactors in the U.S.,’ reports Peter Bradford in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, ‘is to gouge ratepayers.’

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists’ (BAS) U.S. coverage features former U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner, Union of Concerned Scientists board member, and Vermont Law School professor Peter Bradford’s “How to close the U.S. nuclear industry: Do nothing,” which concludes that, without massive taxpayer or ratepayer infusions, almost all proposed new reactors will not happen, and currently operating reactors will permanently shutdown by mid-century, unless the NRC rubber-stamps 80 years of operations (as opposed to the current, already risky 60).

Maybe Amory Lovins is right in his long-standing prediction that ‘nuclear energy will die of an overdose of market forces.’ Perhaps that’s why Duke energy recently announced closing its Crystal River nuke and withdrawing its license application for two new nukes in North Carolina. Competing with low fracking-gas prices and simultaneously paying for maintenance, means unprofitable nuke plants.

But lest we lapse into a sleep of premature complacency, a recent spate of worker fatalities at U.S. nuclear facilities and ongoing radiation releases from Fukushima are a grim reminder that nukes are a clear and present danger to humans and other living things. There is still much to be done to insure the deadly, tyrannous technology’s demise and adequate managing of its intensely radioactive waste. Much of the waste will be deadly for many hundreds to many hundreds of thousands of years.

Today’s Update includes print and video and has the following sections:
Campaigns to Support
California – San Onofre and CPUC Developments
Rising Radioactivity, Sinking Safety Standards
Fukushima/Japan
US Nuclear Developments
General Stories

Campaigns to Support
Edison proposes to restart a defective nuclear reactor as early as June 1st. Let’s tell them ‘NO!’
Sign the Petition Vote in the Poll
Without fixing the problem first, SC Edison admits that the reactor could not run safely for more than 11 months at 100%; but says it can run at 70% power for 5 months. If this proposed experiment fails, we won’t know until radiation releases from containment out into the environment again. This time, a cascading event with thousands of already weakened tubes could rupture.There is no way to anticipate a rupture when it is under power, and if that happens, it will be too late. Southern California could become a vast wasteland.
Edison’s proposition is completely unacceptable!
Sign the Petition Vote in the Poll


From Donna Gilmore, Founder, SanOnofreSafety.org
Friends of the Earth has an automated process for us to send comments to the NRC regarding the NRC plan to approve reducing San Onofre safety standards. If the NRC approves the reduced safety standards, it will potentially lead to an early restart of the defective San Onofre Unit 2 nuclear reactor. We must tell the NRC to reject Edison’s experimental restart plans and demand a public hearing before any decisions.

Go to SanOnofreSafety.org for Friends of the Earth Comments link and NRC Comments link, and more details. The direct link to Friends of the Earth action is here The direct NRC link for making comments is here. However, it is “down for scheduled maintenance all day Saturday”.


Tell the CPUC “Lift Ban On Video Coverage of San Onofre Investigative Hearings!”
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is not just your average, run-of-the-mill corporately-captured ‘regulatory agency.’ With its lax safety culture, budgetary mismanagement and recent spy scandals, it seems to be in a class by itself – a ‘fiefdom,’ as one state legislator recently termed it, of its president Michael Peevey, former CEO of Southern California Edison, the very company it will be holding investigatory hearings on next week. Maybe that has something to do with why video cameras have been banned from the hearing. See our post: CPUC Bans Video of San Onofre Hearings and learn where to write to express your outrage.


From the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS)

STOP A MOBILE CHERNOBYL! NO FUKUSHIMA FREEWAYS!

This year Congress will consider legislation that could establish “centralized interim storage” sites for high-level radioactive waste. Such a plan would do nothing to solve our nation’s pressing permanent radioactive waste problem, but would launch the transport of thousands of casks of lethal radioactive waste on our roads, railways and waterways.
We’ve stopped this nonsense before, it’s time to stop it again.
Send a letter to Congress here.
Resources and More Information: http://www.nirs.org/radwaste/hlwtransport/mobilechernobyl.htm

For nearly twenty years, the nuclear power industry has had a singular goal for high-level radioactive waste: get it off their property and ship it to someone else’s.
Why? Because as long as this waste–the same toxic stew of irradiated nuclear fuel that spread across the globe from Fukushima and Chernobyl–remains at their reactor sites, the nuclear utilities are liable for any damages. Once the waste is moved from their property lines, we, the taxpayers, become liable for the devastation a nuclear waste accident could cause.
[Part of the set-up to transfer responsibility for disposal of high level radwaste from corps to taxpayers. Eds.]

From Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network – FFAN.us
Sign the FFAN.us petition
Keep harmful radioactive waste out of our children’s food, whether conventionally grown or organic! Say Bye Bye Becquerels!

Fukushima Fallout Awareness Network or FFAN, (which EON is a member of) filed a petition with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to drastically reduce the amount of radioactive cesium permitted in food, from a ridiculous 1200 Bq/kg, to 5 Bq/kg . The Bq (Becquerel) is a measure of radioactivity. This week the FDA officially accepted the petition into its process, which means they are now accepting comments.
Our petition asks for a binding limit of 5 Bq/kg of cesium 134 & 137 combined, in food, nutritional supplements and pharmaceuticals.
Read more here
CLICK HERE TO SIGN PETITION

Shutdown San Onofre for Good
Should Edison shut down San Onofre?

[ cast your vote in a poll on this issue here ]

Operators of the San Onofre nuclear plant may decide to retire one or both reactors by year-end if regulators deny or delay a request to partially restart the plant, as outage costs surpass $700 million and uncertainties mount.

Edison International executives made the announcement Tuesday in regulatory filings and on a conference call with analysts.
“Without a restart of Unit 2, a decision to retire one or both units would likely be made before year-end 2013,” said Ted Craver, CEO of the parent company to Southern California Edison, majority owner and operator at San Onofre.

The San Onofre plant has been shut down for more than a year since the discovery of rapid deterioration in its new steam generators. CHARLIE NEUMAN • U-T

[Please go to this page and vote on the issue. Here’s where the poll stands as we post: ]

As of May 10, 2013

View of Chernobyl power plant taken from the roof of a residential building in Pripyat, Ukraine. Photo Taken by Jason Minshull.

From NIRS – Nuclear Information and Resource Service
URGE YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TO CO-SPONSOR HR 1700–

BILL TO IMPROVE NUCLEAR EMERGENCY RESPONSE, INCREASE EPZ TO 50 MILES
May 7, 2013

Dear Friends,

The emergency planning issue for nuclear reactors is heating up in the wake of NIRS’ Petition for Rulemaking to expand Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs) and a recent Government Accountability Office report warning that people outside the current 10-mile EPZs don’t know what to do in the event of a nuclear accident, but likely would evacuate anyway. You can read the GAO report on our Nuclear 911 page here.

Last week, Rep. Elliott Engel (D-NY) introduced HR 1700, a common sense bill to address emergency planning issues. New York Democrats Nita Lowey and Charles Rangel, and New Jersey Rep. Donald Payne, are initial co-sponsors. You can read this short bill here (pdf).

The bill would require the President to designate a single Federal agency to be responsible for coordinating response to a nuclear accident, and to develop clean-up standards to be applied afterwards. The bill would also effectively establish a 50-mile Emergency Planning Zone.

Currently, several government agencies have a role in emergency planning, with no clear-cut agency in charge. And the provision about establishing clean-up standards is a jab at the EPA, which recently released draft guidance that drastically relaxes such standards (we’ll be sending an Alert for you to be able to comment on this important issue very soon!).

Please take a moment to send a quick letter to your Representative, asking him/her to co-sponsor HR 1700. The more co-sponsors we can get, the greater the chance this bill could move–there is no reason this need be seen as a partisan issue. 

Because the emergency planning issue is receiving major political attention, we will soon be sending you a separate Alert that will enable you to contact your local county and city officials asking them to pass resolutions in support of NIRS Petition for Rulemaking to expand Emergency Planning Zones and improve emergency exercises to include scenarios involving natural disasters affecting or initiating nuclear accidents.

It should probably go without saying, but emergency planning improvements are obviously not a substitute for nuclear reactor shutdowns. However, as long as reactors are still operating, all of us deserve the best possible emergency response. Right now, we’re not getting it. Your actions will help move our nation in the right direction.
Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service
www.nirs.org
nirsnet@nirs.org

The 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the worst nuclear accident in 25 years, displaced 50,000 households after radiation leaked into the air, soil and sea

From Mark Crispin Miller
News From Underground

TO:
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) Senator Dianne Feinstein (D- CA)
Senator Ron Wyden (D- OR) Senator Jeff Merkley (D- OR)
Senator Maria Cantwell (D – WA) Senator Patty Murray (D- WA)
Senator Mark Begich (D- AK) Senator Lisa Murkowski (R- AK)
Senator Mazie Hirono (D- HI) Senator Brian Schatz (D- HI
US Senate switchboard: 
1-866-220-0044

Dear West Coast Senators:
We the undersigned are deeply concerned about the radiation danger from the ongoing disaster at the Japanese nuclear complex at Fukushima-Daiichi. We are asking you to conduct a thorough investigation of the continuing damage to West Coast states, and the potential danger of another catastrophe.

This would include a detailed inspection of the facility by a team of experts who are independent of the nuclear industry, as well as ongoing monitoring of West Coast and Hawaii water, air and food for radiation. We are especially concerned about making sure the site is safe in case of another huge earthquake, which is not unlikely.

Another big concern is pollution of the Pacific Ocean from ongoing discharge of radioactive water from the plant. Already, radioactive fish are migrating to the West Coast. Mammals at the top of the oceanic food chain are exhibiting strange symptoms, such as the epidemic of sea lion strandings in California.

We appreciate Senator Wyden’s visit to the site in April 2012, and his subsequent letter of concern to appropriate officials. Evidently there has been no followup. The danger is being ignored. Your investigation would bring much needed attention.
Although the initial meltdown of three reactors, from the earthquake/tsunami of March 11, 2011, occurred over 2 years ago, the complex is still highly unstable, and leaking radiation constantly into the air and water. The Pacific Ocean is more and more contaminated. West Coast marine mammals are dying by the thousands, and West Coast babies are sick. The FDA is not testing food for radiation, although many fish are contaminated, and there have been reports of milk, mushrooms, seaweed being radioactive. Nor is the air along the coast being checked by official agencies.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which runs the facility, has admitted that the disaster was caused by negligence on their part, yet they continue to be in charge of the containment/cleanup process. There are serious mishaps almost daily: pipes break, rats chew through wires and cause power outages, pumps break, containment tanks leak radioactive water into the environment, huge beams fall into fuel pools, etc.

So far, they have been handled, but if any of these problems gets out of control, there will be another nuclear explosion, the facility will have to be abandoned altogether, and the reactor cores and spent fuel pools will emit so much radiation that the West Coast might have to be evacuated. Another 8.0-9.0 earthquake could have the same result, and there are many earthquakes in the region of magnitude 6.0 -7.0.

Meanwhile, TEPCO is secretive, severely limiting access to the complex by journalists and by any experts who are not beholden to the nuclear industry. TEPCO has been accused of doctoring photos and videos to hide cracks in the aging concrete buildings and containment tanks. The workers are overexposed to radiation, underpaid, and must be rotated out after a few months, to be replaced by others with little experience of the facility.

The Japanese government has been accused of lying about the radiation in the area and health problems, and seems more concerned with declaring “normalcy” and safeguarding the nuclear industry than with safeguarding the health and safety of the people.

The financial drain on TEPCO and the Japanese is huge. They are responding to emergencies, dealing with health problems, coping with radioactive fisheries and produce, compensating victims, and working on the daunting task of dismantling the spent fuel pools, which are the most vulnerable to radioactive fire and explosions.
This is an international problem. Many say it is THE most dangerous situation on the planet at this time. It especially affects the residents of West Coast states. Your investigation is urgently needed, to shed light, bring attention, and help find technical and financial solutions.

Thank you.

From Carol Wolman, MD
Dear Friends,
We now have a contact in the office of CA Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is willing to receive FAXes of the signatures and comments from this petition, and pass them on to the Senator. The need for intervention from outside Japan is becoming more and more urgent, as the situation at Fukushima deteriorates.

The leaky fuel pools and growing amount of contaminated ground water have sparked a lengthy and alarming article in the NY Times today. I’ve copied the whole thing below, as it covers the situation in depth, highlighting the ineptness of TEPCO, the utility company that owns the plant and is managing the cleanup. Although the Japanese government nationalized the facility a year ago, this amounts to pouring public money into the cleanup. Evidently the government is unable to change the haphazard, somewhat incompetent way TEPCO is proceeding, putting the Pacific Ocean at risk of massive radioactive pollution. This directly affects the six states whose Senators are being petitioned. Sea mammals are dying along the West Coast in droves, which makes one wonder how much damage has already been done, and what could remedy it.

We must do something before it’s too late. Please continue to push this petition- let’s get some big numbers. A Senate investigation would call proper attention to the dangers.

Sign petition here.
Peace, Carol Wolman, MD

California – San Onofre and CPUC Developments

EON/WEM Video Series SHUTDOWN: The Case Against San Onofre

Installments of the on-going EON/WEM video series SHUTDOWN: The Case Against San Onofre are on our YouTube Channel playlist here.

EON SHUTDOWN Playlist - 28 videos and growing

San Onofre insider says NRC should not allow nuclear restart
ABC Channel 10 News – Team 10 speaks with former NRC employee, insider
SAN DIEGO – For the first time, a source from inside the San Onofre nuclear power plant has come forward to warn that restarting the power plant is too dangerous.

“There is something grossly wrong,” said the inside source, a safety engineer who worked at San Onofre and has 25 years in the nuclear field. Read more.

The source, who requested anonymity, is not alone in concerns over the safety San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).

Photo shows plastic bags, tape, broomsticks used to fix San Onofre leak

[On YouTube. ]

San Onofre Nuclear Plant Investigation Finds Leaky Pipe Held Together With Tape, Plastic Bags, Broom Handles

by Beth Buczynski, 05/06/13

As Japan’s Fukushima nuclear disaster demonstrated, no nuclear plant is ever completely safe. In January 2012, the San Onofre nuclear generating station (SONGS) in Southern California was closed due to the discovery of a radiation leak and other damaged components. It has now been over a year, and Southern California Edison (SCE), which operates the station, has asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for permission to bring the plant back online. Unfortunately for them, a shocking photograph published by local ABC affiliate 10 News has cast doubt over whether SCE’s request should be granted. The image,

California faces another summer without San Onofre plant
California energy operator officials say they expect to get by without blackouts. Southern California Edison says it might retire the nuclear plant by year’s end.
By Abby Sewell, Los Angeles Times
May 7, 2013
California energy officials are preparing for another summer without the San Onofre power station while facing the growing possibility that the nuclear plant will never return to service.

The nuclear plant, one of only two in the state, was powered down more than a year ago when a small amount of radioactive mist leaked from one of the thousands of tubes in the plant’s steam generators.

Southern California Edison officials said in financial statements last week that if federal regulators do not agree to the utility’s proposal to restart one of the plant’s two units at partial power, they might elect to retire the plant completely by the end of the year.
“There’s just a general limit of how much we can continue to rack up these costs without certainty of cost recovery,” Edison International Chief Executive Ted Craver told analysts.
So far, the mothballed plant has cost Edison more than half a billion dollars, and the tab continues to grow. More

Edison may retire both San Onofre nuclear units

“There is a practical limit to how much we can absorb that risk,” said Edison CEO Theodore Craver in a conference call of Wall Street analysts, according to the AP.

Fate of Nuclear Energy in Southern California May Dim
Ken Silverstein

Southern California may not go dark this summer. But the future of the nuclear power plants that provide the power there are in doubt. During a conference call, Edison International said that the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, or SONGS, may retire both of its reactors along the Pacific coastline. more

With nuke near death, consumers staring at $3B tab

By Dan McSwain U-T San Diego
A company spokeswoman said Friday that discussion of fixing the plant was “premature.” Yet her CEO is talking openly about permanent shutdown. more

New inquiry at San Onofre focuses on nuclear commission

By Morgan Lee – UT San Diego
Yet another investigation has been launched into the outage at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station — this time about the conduct of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Joseph A. McMillan, assistant inspector general for investigations at the NRC’s Office of the Inspector General, confirmed the probe on Monday. The Inspector General performs investigations to prevent and detect fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, with its authority extending to possible criminal statutes and misconduct by employees. more

Electric supply seen as adequate for summer
By Mark Glover – Sacramento Bee
The Folsom-based California Independent System Operator, which operates the state’s wholesale electricity transmission grid, is projecting an adequate supply of power for most of California this summer.

However, ISO’s “2013 summer assessment” said the prolonged shutdown of the 2,200-megawatt San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station “continues to heighten reliability concerns in Southern California this summer.

Consequently, ISO said power reliability risks to southern Orange and San Diego counties are “marginally more challenging” this summer, but still within planning standards.
“We ask consumers to … conserve electricity to ensure enough power for everyone,” said the ISO’s Steve Berberich.

Read more here

From Donna GilmoreSanOnofreSafety.org
2013 ISO Summer loads and; resource assessment

Here’s a link to ISO’s press release on this issue. It says “…the summer assessment notes the reliability risks to southern Orange and San Diego counties are “marginally more challenging” this summer, but still within planning standards”. PDF

Here’s the link to the larger document

Page 35 of the CAISO 2013 summer assessment has these two key paragraphs. Nowhere in the report does it assess the risk of a major radiation release at San Onofre. A very real possibility with Edison’s plan to restart a defective nuclear reactor.

“The slowly improving economy, which resulted in moderate peak demand growth, matched with the availability of 3,393 MW of new power generation since June 2012 show an overall positive summer outlook for 2013 to meet a broad range of supply and demand conditions. However, there is a risk of localized customer outages under extreme conditions in the southern Orange County and San Diego as a result of the voltage deficiency caused by the shutdown of SONGS.

To address these concerns, a mitigation plan is being implemented to convert the retired Huntington Beach units 3 & 4 into synchronous condensers, install 80 MVAR capacitors at Santiago and Johanna, and a 160 MVAR capacitor at Viejo, split the Barre – Ellis 220 kV lines from the existing two circuits to four circuits, closely monitor the construction of new generation resources in Los Angeles, and dispatch demand side resources during peak days. Even with these measures in place the southern area is still susceptible to reliability concerns and will require close attention over summer operations – particularly during critical peak days and in the event of wildfire conditions that could potentially force transmission out of service.”

NRC inspectors find violations at San Onofre
May 9th, 2013, 4:45 pm – posted by MORGAN COOK – Orange County Register [ Subscription only ]
A routine inspection of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station turned up five violations that were “more than minor” but of “very low safety significance,” according to a report released Thursday afternoon by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
A team of 13 inspectors conducted the on-site examination of the station’s Unit 2 and 3 reactors between Jan. 1 and March 24, according to the report. Southern California Edison was not cited for the violations, according to the report. Edison has 30 days to challenge the NRC’s findings.
Edison officials could not be reached for comment Thursday afternoon.
Among the problems NRC staff identified during the inspection was an “adverse trend” in “external corrosion” at SONGS, Lara Uselding, an NRC spokeswoman, wrote in an email Thursday afternoon.
“The staff made this determination based upon plant records … combined with independent observation of plant conditions by inspectors, Uselding said. More

Legislators take steps to rein in California Public Utilities Commission
By Steven Harmon – Bay Area News Group – MercuryNews.com
SACRAMENTO — Legislators on Wednesday moved to rein in the Public Utilities Commission, taking the highly unusual step of wiping out its $1.4 billion budget to force the regulatory agency to justify how it spends its money.

The PUC, which one lawmaker called a “fiefdom,” would also be stripped of its ability to start nonprofit organizations that generate programs that hike rates without the approval of the Legislature under language approved by the Assembly budget subcommittee on resources and transportation….

…Assemblyman Bob Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys,… said “Too often, it seems the PUC feels impervious to the actions of the Legislature. Today is a reality check for an out-of-touch leadership at the PUC.” More

What, me worry? - Calls for Michael Peevey to be replaced as PUC president have not elicited a public response from Gov. Jerry Brown

Peevey’s Priority: Senate Hearing or Napa Winery?
CPUC president Michael Peevey answers questions from the Investigative Unit after snubbing lawmakers for a conference in wine country

By Tony Kovaleski, Liz Wagner, Jeremy Carroll and Kevin Nious
| Friday, May 3, 2013 |

View more videos at: http://nbcbayarea.com.

The embattled president of the California Public Utilities Commission recently ignored the call to answer tough questions by state senators in Sacramento and instead decided to attend a conference at an exclusive Napa resort and a reception at an upscale winery in St. Helena, both of which were captured on hidden camera by the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit.
Michael Peevey was asked to appear before the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review subcommittee on April 25 to justify keeping the job he has held for the past decade. The senate hearing was in response to growing conflict over a confidential report, uncovered by the Investigative Unit, which raises questions about the CPUC’s commitment to safety and its relationship with utility companies the agency regulates. Peevey’s Priority: Senate Hearing or Napa Winery?”>More

Calls for Michael Peevey to be replaced as PUC president have not elicited a public response from Gov. Jerry Brown. Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/2013/05/05/5395671/californias-public-utilities-commission.html#storylink=cpy

California’s Public Utilities Commission faces legislative heat
By Melody Gutierrez
mgutierrez@sacbee.com
Published: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 – 12:00 am | Page 3A
Last Modified: Sunday, May. 5, 2013 – 8:58 am
Legislators are turning up the heat on the California Public Utilities Commission, withholding money and lambasting the state agency over the past few months for failing to prioritize its core mission of ensuring safe and reliable utility service.

Calls for Gov. Jerry Brown to replace the commission’s top leader, Michael Peevey, have gone unanswered, even as new allegations of mismanagement surface. Peevey’s appointment is through Jan. 1, 2015.

Among the issues highlighted during multiple hearings on the commission in the Senate and Assembly were findings from a state audit that exposed lax financial controls, a scandal involving a covert recording of a private meeting and an unanswered demand that Peevey testify in a legislative hearing.

“The only way this commission is going to change the culture of complacency is to change the leadership,” said Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, who has led the charge to oust Peevey since the 2010 San Bruno gas pipeline explosion killed eight people and injured 60 in his district.

Read more here

Rising Radioactivity, Sinking Safety Standards

Image - BeyondNuclear.org

From Beyond Nuclear
Environmental resistance continues against federal rollbacks on radiation protection standards
Beyond Nuclear

This is must reading to understand how standards are now being set for ionizing radiation. And how the EPA is part of the current rollback of standards.
The NCRP (National Commission on Radiation Protection, a nuclear industry funded group) has been hired to coordinate this U.S. rollback of standards for ionizing radiation to levels that are currently allowed in Fukushima! We think this is both because of the ongoing fallout from Fukushima hitting the U.S. as well as the probability of a major radiation release from our aging and poorly maintained nuclear facilities whose owners don’t want to pay for safety repairs. And it certainly would be convenient for the nuclear industry when it puts thousands of tons of radioactive waste onto trucks, trains and boats onto our highways, railways and waterways.
EPA spokesperson Paul Kudarauskas, of the EPA Consequence Management Advisory Team actually said “People are going to have to put on their big boy pants and suck it up.”

Obama Approves Raising Permissible Levels of Nuclear Radiation in Drinking Water. Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket
Rollback in Nuclear Radiation Cleanup
By Global Research News

Civilian Cancer Deaths Expected to Skyrocket Following Radiological Incidents
by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER)

The White House has given final approval for dramatically raising permissible radioactive levels in drinking water and soil following “radiological incidents,” such as nuclear power-plant accidents and dirty bombs. The final version, slated for Federal Register publication as soon as today, is a win for the nuclear industry which seeks what its proponents call a “new normal” for radiation exposure among the U.S population, according Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). More

Can’t Win? Change the Rules!
April 24, 2013 Podcast from Fairewinds
The US and Japan are trying to raise acceptable radiation exposure limits. “If you can’t decrease the water level, you elevate the bridge,” says pediatrician and author Dr. Helen Caldicott. On today’s podcast, Arnie and Helen discuss the associated health risks of various types of radioactive releases, how regulators and the nuclear industry are downplaying those releases, and the current state of the Fukushima clean up. “The recovery of the site will go nowhere as long as Tokyo Electric is in charge,” says Arnie.

NRC Delays Action on Vent Plan While to Study Options
By Brian Wingfield and Jim Snyder on March 20, 2013

U.S. nuclear regulators delayed action on a recommendation that utilities install radiation filters at 31 U.S. reactors, a victory for the industry that estimated the proposal may cost as much as $20 million per unit.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission yesterday said its staff should consider other approaches that would block release of radiation during an accident. The standards, developed in response to the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, must be in place by March 2017, according to a commission statement. more

Markey: NRC’s Delay of Fukushima Safety Measure is Irresponsible
Commissioners vote to delay action on key improvement that would protect Massachusetts residents

WASHINGTON (March 19, 2013) — Even as engineers struggle with a power outage at the damaged Japanese Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that has left nuclear fuel storage pools without fresh cooling water, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission today released the results of their vote to delay requirements to install systems to filter radiation from vents used to release high-pressure hydrogen gas in the event of an accident. The failure of such vents during the Fukushima meltdowns led to the damaging hydrogen explosions that occurred.

Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Congress’ leading voice on nuclear safety, today said that this vote by the NRC to reject its own staff’s recommendations to install these systems would mean the Pilgrim nuclear power plant in Plymouth, Mass. and Vermont Yankee, among other plants around the country, may never be required to install this key safety improvement.

“The NRC has abdicated its responsibility to ensure public health and safety in New England and across the country,” said Rep. Markey. “Instead of following its top experts’ safety recommendations, it chose to grant the nuclear power industry’s requests for more studies and more delays, and even after the study is completed there is still no guarantee that the NRC will ever make this commonsense requirement mandatory.”

… In May of 2011, Rep. Markey released a report entitled “Fukushima Fallout” that also found that the NRC has not factored modern geologic information into seismic safety requirements for nuclear power plants, and has not incorporated its technical staff’s recommendation to do so even though the new information indicates a much higher probability of core damage caused by an earthquake than previously believed. In fact, the NRC has continued to process applications for license extensions for many nuclear reactors, including those in major metropolitan areas, even in the absence of upgraded seismic safety requirements. more

Makah Reservation, WA — Add eco-disaster cover-ups to corporate austerity and privatization
Wayne Madson Report – May 8, 2013 [ Subscription required, but our friend Wayne Madson deserves our support. ]
Corporate disaster management: Cause it, bury it.
Corporations, in league with federal and state governments, have established a new protocol to deal with major environmental disasters. Using the twin weapons of secretive clean-ups and public relations media blitzes, corporations have a new weapon to add to their other programs of austerity and privatization to seize control of the planet from the people who inhabit it.

With radioactive and toxic debris from the March 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami, and Fukushima nuclear disaster beginning to wash ashore in large amounts along with coasts of Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia, state and federal officials, along with private contractors, have instituted the very same protocol for covert clean up instituted by British Petroleum, the federal government, and Gulf coast state governments for the Deepwater Horizon oil deluge in the Gulf of Mexico. Just as debris and dead marine life is constantly scooped up by heavy equipment along the beaches of the Gulf, often in darkness during the wee hours lof the morning, debris from the Japanese quake and tsunami are being secured by contractors and prison labor as soon as beached debris or large debris items soon to wash shore are spotted by observers.

…There is a major effort underway by the U.S., Japanese, and state of Washington governments, in addition to TEPCO and Fukushima reactors manufacturer GE, to secure and carry off from beaches like Shi Shi Beach (above) radioactive debris from the Japanese quake before environmentalists and the news media can take readings.

WMR has learned that prisoners serving time in two local state prisons in Clallam Bay and Forks, both on the Olympic Peninsula, are being pressed into service for beach cleanup.

Sources on the Makah tribal reservation at the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula report that the bulk of debris has been spotted far out to sea by local fishermen. However, beginning last year, debris from Japan, including a bottle of sake and a can of insecticide began washing ashore on native beaches. [ Read more: Subscription required, but our friend Wayne Madson deserves our support. ]

What if the Fukushima nuclear fallout crisis had happened here?
Interactive map of US nukes – NRDC

Interactive map here.

But be sure to take note that, as Steven Starr comments:

…these [NRDC} maps are based upon the assumption that there is a single plume that travels as would the fallout from a mushroom cloud generated by a nuclear detonation. In other words, a single release, not an ongoing venting from a meltdown or spent fuel fire, which as we know lasts for days and changes with the wind patterns.
See the IRSN image of the spread of cesium-137 from Chernobyl at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lwxNfy79gl4

Fukushima/Japan

Is Japan Developing a Nuclear Weapons Program?
Huge reprocessing plant could be used to stockpile plutonium for the future manufacture of nuclear weapons.
By Peter Symonds Global Research, May 07, 2013

The Wall Street Journal published an article on May 1 entitled “Japan’s nuclear plan unsettles US.” It indicated concerns in Washington that the opening of a huge reprocessing plant could be used to stockpile plutonium for the future manufacture of nuclear weapons.

The Rokkasho reprocessing facility in northern Honshu can produce nine tonnes of weapons-grade plutonium annually, or enough to construct up to 2,000 bombs. While Japanese officials insist that the plutonium will be used solely to provide nuclear power, only two of the country’s 50 nuclear power reactors are currently operating.
more

Current Challenges and Progress At Fukushima Daiichi
May 3rd, 2013 |

TEPCO’s testing of the ALPS system intended to remove all contamination except tritium continues but now it is not expected to be out of the testing phase until fall 2013 at the earliest. TEPCO also admitted that the system is not completely removing contaminants as expected and the radiation levels around the equipment was rising. Right now neither issue was halting work but could become a problem over time if not resolved.

This throws a huge problem into the contaminated water problems. TEPCO currently has no plan do deal with this issue. They have begun building more tanks on site and still hope to use the groundwater bypass system but that has not been approved or fully implemented. The radiation increases around ALPS could cause a bigger problem down the road if the system becomes a high radiation area. This would restrict access and make repairs dangerous. more

Gray and silver storage tanks filled with radioactive wastewater are sprawling over the grounds of the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant
Kyodo News, via Associated Press

By MARTIN FACKLER
Published: April 29, 2013
TOKYO — Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain.

Japanese Anti-Nuke Street Art

Fuel-Rod Cooling Halted by Rats at Crippled Japan Nuclear Plant
Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant halted cooling of a spent fuel pool at the site on Monday to remove two dead rats, the third time cooling equipment has gone offline in five weeks because of rodents.
By Risa Maeda and Mari Saito
TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant halted cooling of a spent fuel pool at the site on Monday to remove two dead rats, the third time cooling equipment has gone offline in five weeks because of rodents.

Plant operator Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) said it halted cooling of the No. 2 unit pool, which stores spent uranium fuel rods at the Fukushima Daiichi site, for a few hours to remove the rats and install a net to stop further such intrusions.

Last month, Tepco lost power to cool fuel rods for 29 hours, an outage it later blamed on a rat that had shorted a temporary switchboard.
Two weeks later, workers attempting to install a net tripped the system again. more

Overview of active cesium contamination of freshwater fish in Fukushima and Eastern Japan.
Mizuno T, Kubo H.
Source – The Center for Risk Research, Shiga University.
Abstract
This paper focuses on an overview of radioactive cesium 137 (quasi-Cs137 included Cs134) contamination of freshwater fish in Fukushima and eastern Japan based on the data published by the Fisheries Agency of the Japanese Government in 2011. In the area north and west of the Fukushima Nuclear plant, freshwater fish have been highly contaminated. For example, the mean of active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of Ayu (Plecoglossus altivelis) is 2,657 Bq/kg at Mano River, 20-40 km north-west from the plant. Bioaccumulation is observed in the Agano river basin in Aizu sub-region, 70-150 km west from the plant. The active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of carnivorous Salmondae is around 2 times higher than herbivorous Ayu. The extent of active cesium (quasi-Cs137) contamination of Ayu is observed in the entire eastern Japan. The some level of the contamination is recognized even in Shizuoka prefecture, 400 km south-west from the plant.

POINT OF VIEW/ Katsuno Onozawa: Government’s lethargic response stresses Fukushima mothers
April 30, 2013
THE ASAHI SHIMBUN
As concern over nuclear accidents and radiation lessens, people have begun to go so far as to talk about restarting idle reactors.
Now, in the third year since the onset of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, an event we were told would change our values and the way we live, there are still evacuees who cannot return home.

Is concern over nuclear accidents already fading away? Or are people consciously trying to forget?
The Asahi Shimbun asked Katsuno Onozawa, a doctor of psychosomatic medicine, who has taken part in children’s health consultations in Fukushima Prefecture.
* * *

I regularly join children’s health consultations organized in Fukushima, Koriyama and other cities by a group of physicians gathered from across the country at the behest of a Fukushima NPO (nonprofit organization).

What shocked me the first time I participated in January of last year was the gap between what the newspapers and TV news were reporting and the reality in Fukushima as attested to by the mothers who came for consultations.

Wanting to protect their children from radiation, they pleaded with the prefectural and city governments and local doctors, but none would take their side.
They just said things like, “It’s safe. You don’t have to take any special action. There are lots of radiation-phobia mothers, and we can’t deal with them all.”

They worry that they have to continue living amid high radiation levels due to their inability to evacuate the prefecture for financial or other reasons.

But even other mothers said things to them such as, “The prefecture and city say it’s safe, so it’s OK,” and, “It’s strange of you to express alarm, even though you’re staying.” Even spouses differed, with husbands telling their wives they worry too much.

These women are isolated in their communities and families as they conceal their discomfort. Many reproach themselves, thinking, “Maybe I’m the one who’s strange,” and become depressed.

It seemed they were meeting disapproval simply for coming to the consultations. I was at a loss for words because of these mothers’ situation, and I could not sleep at night because I was so enraged at the government’s heartless response.


US Nuclear Developments

4 Major Setbacks In 3 Days Are Latest Stumbles For U.S. Nuclear Power Industry
May 8, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/
Reverse Renaissance? Experts Point to 6 Reactors on the Chopping Block and Passage of Anti-Industry Florida Law; Beleaguered Industry’s Woes Start With Bad Economics… and Go Downhill From There.

WASHINGTON –Call it the “renaissance in reverse.” Not only is the U.S. nuclear power industry mothballing plans for planned reactors in North Carolina and Texas, it also is now pulling the plug (or threatening to do so) on existing reactors in California. All of that and the passage of anti-industry legislation in Florida happened last week (April 28th-May 3rd), easily the worst single week for the U.S. nuclear power industry since the March 2011 meltdown of nuclear reactors in Fukushima, Japan.One day after the closure by Dominion Resources of the Kewaunee Power Station reactor in Wisconsin, three experts held a phone-based news conference today to comment on the recent string of adverse developments for the troubled nuclear power industry….

Between Tuesday to Thursday of last week, the following things happened:
On Tuesday, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ruled that a partnership between NRG Energy Inc. and Toshiba Corp. to build the pair of proposed South Texas Project reactors violates a U.S. law prohibiting foreign control of nuclear power plants. (See here and here.)

In March, the NRC failed to strike down a similar finding that the proposed Calvert Cliffs-3 reactor project in Maryland is dominated by foreign companies. (See PDF.)

Southern California Edison CEO and President Theodore F. Craver told investors Tuesday that one or both reactors at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) face permanent shutdown if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) does not move immediately to permit the damaged reactors to go back online without a prior hearing to determine if it is safe to do so. Costs related to the shutdown are now pegged at $553 million, including $109 million spent on inspections and repairs and $444 million for replacement power. Other estimates indicate the San Onofre debacle could cost consumers up to $3 billion. (See here and here.)

Duke Energy announced Thursday that it will abandon plans for two nuclear reactors at the Shearon Harris nuclear plant in North Carolina. Duke will seek to make Progress Energy customers, instead of corporate stockholders, pay for this blunder – and will likely try to add a mark-up, with profit, on top of the $70 million spent. (See here.)

This February, Duke announced that it would not repair the damaged Crystal River reactor in Florida. (See here.)

Also Thursday, the Florida Senate sent a bill to the governor revising a 2006 law allowing utilities to charge for nuclear reactors that may never be built. To date, the “advance cost recovery” provision has permitted Florida Power & Light Co.andDuke Energy(formerlyProgress Energy Florida)to collect more than $1.4 billion from customers.Even with the new legislation, the Sunshine State’s six million ratepayers will have to count on the state’s Public Service Commission to rein in industry abuses on advance cost recovery financing. (See here.)

More

Worst Week Since Fukushima
May 8, 2013 / Committee to Bridge the Gap – CBG
Statement by Daniel Hirsch

Rather than the nuclear revival hoped for by the industry, the gearshift has been thrown hard in reverse. Instead of a proliferation of new plants, existing reactors are getting shut down long before their licenses expire. And this is due largely to short-sighted safety shortcuts by the industry and its compliant regulators. They have been their own worst enemies.

The poster child for this revival-in-reverse is San Onofre, located between Los Angeles and San Diego, with 8.5 million people living within 50 miles. Last week, Southern California Edison announced it could permanently close both units if the NRC didn’t soon grant its request to allow restart of the crippled Unit 2 without a prior hearing to determine if it is would be safe to do so. Ironically, it was precisely the same effort to bypass full safety review that led to the failure of the steam generators in the first place. More

Natural gas glut crimps nuclear power
By David J. Unger, Correspondent / May 8, 2013 / Christian Science Monitor
Natural gas has already been blamed for shuttering of coal plants and slowing wind and solar financing. Evidence suggests nuclear is also falling victim to the glut of cheap natural gas. The closure of a nuclear plant in Wisconsin Tuesday is exhibit A.

A nuclear plant in Wisconsin closed Tuesday, after nearly four decades of power generation. Earlier this year, owners of a plant in Florida opted for retirement over rehabilitation. The fate of the San Onofre nuclear plant in California hangs in the balance. More

83-year-old nun gets 20 year sentence for ‘symbolic’ nuclear facility break-in
By Stephen C. Webster – Raw Story
An 83-year-old nun who broke into a Tennessee depleted uranium storage facility in 2012 and splashed human blood on several surfaces, exposing a massive security hole at the nation’s only facility used to store radioactive conventional munitions, was convicted Wednesday and sentenced to a term of up to 20 years in prison.

The only regret Sister Megan Rice shared with members of her jury on Wednesday was that she wished 70 years hadn’t passed before she took direct action, according to the BBC. She and two other peace activists, 64-year-old Michael Walli and 56-year-old Greg Boertje-Obed, were convicted of “invasion of a nuclear facility” in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, even though investigators admitted they did not get close to any actual nuclear material. more

Nuclear Power Taking Its Hits
The safety of the United States’ aging fleet of nuclear power plants questioned.
Bill Chameides – Scientific American

…Not so fast says Gregory B. Jaczko. At a recent conference on nuclear power, Jaczko questioned the safety of the existing fleet of U.S. nuclear power plants …. As the New York Times put it, his remarks indicated that “all 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced by newer technology.” Jaczko also predicted that many of the reactors would not even make it to the end of their 20-year extensions, let alone chug along another 40…. more

Ex-Regulator Says Reactors Are Flawed
By MATTHEW L. WALD NYT Published: April 8, 2013
WASHINGTON — All 104 nuclear power reactors now in operation in the United States have a safety problem that cannot be fixed and they should be replaced with newer technology, the former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Monday. Shutting them all down at once is not practical, he said, but he supports phasing them out rather than trying to extend their lives. more

Duke shelves Harris nuclear plant expansion plans

Citing slow growth in power demand, Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) has suspended plans to expand the Harris nuclear plant in Wake County, N.C., with two new units.
Utah Bill designed for ratepayers to pay upfront for new nuclear reactors.

The bill is basically an admission that nuclear power plants are far too expensive, and far too risky an investment, to be bankrolled through the private capital market.
Utah Bill designed for ratepayers to pay upfront for new nuclear reactors.

Duke Energy seeks $174M for nuke projects next year
News Service of Florida – OrlandoSentinel.com
4:06 PM EDT, May 7, 2013

Duke Energy Florida wants to collect $174.6 million next year from its customers for a proposed nuclear-power complex in Levy County and for a now-useless upgrade project at its permanently closed Crystal River nuke, according to documents filed last week with the state Public Service Commission.

Duke, which formerly operated as Progress Energy Florida, wants to pass along $106 million in costs for the Levy County project and $68.6 million in costs tied to the Crystal River project.

If regulators approve the proposal, Duke residential customers who use 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity a month would be billed $5.62 in nuclear charges in 2014, up from $4.73 a month now, company spokesman Sterling Ivey said in an email.

Such costs have been highly controversial, touching off recent legislative and legal battles. more

Demise of New Harris Nukes is an Important Public Victory toward a Clean Energy Revolution
— News Release from NC WARN

– May 3rd, 2013
… after Duke-Progress wasted $70 million and eight years that should have been used to help slow global warming
Durham, NC – Duke Energy’s cancellation yesterday of licensing efforts to build two nuclear reactors at subsidiary Progress Energy’s Harris nuclear plant is good news – but it comes with a taint.

The Shearon Harris failure perfectly typifies why the US nuclear “renaissance” is making global warming worse. It is tragic that, against our vigorous warnings, Duke-Progress threw away eight years and $70 million – while blocking widespread advances in energy-saving programs, solar and wind, and combined heat and power, which together could allow phase-out of all fossil-fueled power in the Carolinas and help avoid the soaring electricity rates that are hammering families, small businesses and local governments. more

Nuke plant security checks wouldn’t have caught fish, NRC says

The goldfish tested positive for radioactive cobalt and radioactive manganese, Mitlyng said. According to FirstEnergy, both fish died shortly after they were taken into custody early last week, but not from radiation.
By Rachel Morgan Rmorgan@timesonline.com | Posted: Tuesday, May 7, 2013 12:30 am
NORTH PERRY, Ohio — The radioactive water in a container holding two goldfish placed in an Ohio nuclear power plant last week came from the same underground steam tunnel in which the fish were found, officials said Tuesday. more

Arkansas Nuclear Plant Death Is Probed

By CASSANDRA SWEET – WSJ
Federal inspectors Monday began probing an accident at an Arkansas nuclear-power plant that left one worker dead, eight others injured and prompted a reactor to shut down.
No radiation leaked from the Arkansas Nuclear One plant, located about 76 miles from Little Rock, according to the facility’s operator, Entergy Corp. ETR -1.03% more

Another U.S. nuclear worker found dead — Third death at nuke plant this month

High noon for nuclear power: Dominion’s Kewaunee atomic reactor permanently shutdown!
As reported by Platt’s, at 12 PM Noon Central time today, Dominion’s Kewaunee atomic reactor was permanently shutdown. Last October, Dominion announced its intention to permanently close Kewaunee by mid-2013. Dominion had attempted to sell Kewaunee, but found no buyers. Platt’s reports “CMS Energy — which sold Palisades, its only nuclear station, to Entergy in 2007 — had considered buying the plant, but decided against it because of low gas prices and investor pushback.” more

General Stories

Long-term operations set to dominate nuclear agenda
By Jason Deign on May 8, 2013 – Nuclear Insider

With European new-build programmes stalling, long-term operation of existing plants offers a simple and relatively cheap way to keep nuclear going for the greater good.

Cost and schedule overruns at Flamanville 3 in France and Olkiluoto 3 in Finland; Horizon handing its new-build programme to Hitachi in the UK; one thing seems certain about building new reactors in Europe: while possible, it is a complicated task.

In the meantime, there are plenty of existing reactors out there. While consideration needs to be given to the risks of aging infrastructure, there is no clear limit to how long they could be kept running with due care and attention.

And if building new plants is so tricky, would it not make more sense to focus on extending the lifespan of existing assets?

“You don’t have to invest,” says Dr Alexey Lokhov, nuclear energy analyst at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency and the author of a 2012 report called ‘The Economics of Long-term Operation of Nuclear Power Plants.’

“Or you invest only to do refurbishment; those are small amounts compared to new-build. And you already have a licence, so you don’t need to ask for a new licence. Extensions of licences are usually easier than getting a licence for a new reactor. New build is always complicated.”

Unsurprisingly, in his report Lokhov concluded it was cheaper to extend the lifetime of an existing nuclear power plant (NPP) by a few years than build a new one.

Continued operations and benefits of economies of scale

“The study found that in nearly all cases the continued operation of NPPs for at least 10 more years is profitable even taking into account the additional costs of post-Fukushima modifications,” surmised the report.
Washington’s Nuclear Hypocrisy
By Michael Walker, April 29, 2013 foreign Policy in Focus
In April 2009, President Barack Obama gave hope to nuclear disarmament activists around the globe. Speaking in the Czech Republic, he affirmed “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” It was, and remains, the most laudable of objectives. Unfortunately, it is becoming increasingly difficult to believe that the president is truly committed to eliminating these terrifying weapons of mass destruction….

…It was reported over the weekend, for example, that the United States intends to spend around $10 billion enhancing its Europe-based nuclear weapons. This plan, which would involve turning the bombs into guided weapons that could be fired by F-35 warplanes, would represent “a significant upgrade of the U.S. nuclear capability in Europe,” according to one expert. More

Boondoggle Starring Ed Asner
Sierra Club video narrated by Ed Asner on Florida Power and Light’s planned new nuclear reactors at its Turkey Point power plant in Miami. It’s a massive boondoggle that risks the health and safety of millions of people living in South Florida. Financing is guaranteed by a Florida law that requires consumers pay $billions in advance for the full cost of the new nuclear reactors even if they never go on line. The reactors will degrade already threatened Everglades National Park and Biscayne National Park by sucking 90-124 million gallons of fresh water out of these ecosystems every day.

Book Review
The Girls of Atomic City
By Scott Martelle – Truthdig.com
“The Girls of Atomic City: The Untold Story of the Women Who Helped Win World War II”
A book by Denise Kiernan

In the fall of 1942, residents of a rural swath of east Tennessee began receiving official notifications that their homes and farms were no longer theirs and that they would have to move. The new owner was the U.S. government, which swept up some 59,000 acres of land and in a matter of months built an instant city of 75,000 people so secret it wasn’t even listed on maps. Its purpose? To process uranium for the world’s first atomic bomb. More

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