Nuclear Energy…SOOO 20th Century!
You’d never know it from the multi-million dollar propaganda campaign being waged by the ‘Nuclear Renaissance’ flacks, but nuclear power is on the way out – a victim of greed, stupidity, public opposition and a terminal dose of market forces. Southern California Edison’s June 7 announcement that it is permanently decommissioning its two faulty nuclear reactors at San Onofre, CA comes on the heals of two similar announcements by other investor owned utilities (IOUs) around the U.S.. That’s a recent total of 4 reactors down out of the existing U.S. fleet of 104. In fact, the economic and environmental logic of shutting down aging, rickety reactors and cancellations of nuclear building projects is taking the form of a global trend.
The [nuclear] industry’s role in electricity production is continuing to decline, according to this year’s World Nuclear Industry Status Report, a compendium of analysis and data by the activist and expert Mycle Schneider. The number of reactors peaked in 2002 at 444, compared with 427 today. The share of electricity they produce is down 12% from its 2006 peak, largely because of post-Fukushima shutdowns in Japan. As a proportion of all electricity generated, nuclear peaked in 1993 at 17% and has now fallen to 10%. The average age of operating plants is increasing, with the number over 40 years old (currently 31 plants) set to grow quite rapidly.
Leading off this edition of our blog, Mothers for Peace Spokeswoman Linda Seeley explains the many risks posed to California by the continued operation of PG&E’s aged two-unit Diablo Canyon nuclear plant near San Luis Obispo, and why, like San Onofre, it should be shutdown permanently – like, NOW.
This is another in the ‘Preview Interview’ series Part One: the forthcoming EON documentary SHUTDOWN: The Case of San Onofre – “The Nuclear Free California Movement Rides Again.” [ More related links and info on this issue below the video viewer. ]
Linda Seeley has been walking her talk for three decades, as the following clip from David L. Brown’s historic 1986 documentary A QUESTION OF POWER shows. Linda was there at Diablo in the ’80s for the largest mass non-violent demonstrations against the building of a nuclear plant in history up to that point. Then Governor Jerry Brown was there then, too, on the side of the Nuclear Free California Movement. The NFC Movement’s still here. The risks are still there. Linda is still walking her talk. Where is Gov. Brown on this issue, now? You can ask him right here. To date, Jerry Brown has refrained from so much as a comment on the issue of San Onofre,
Public Opposition to Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant – Historic Clip
Urban planner Torgen Johnson and his team have produced the following map. Torgen writes:
Attached is the Diablo map my office just completed.
It is intended to illustrate the grossly inadequate emergency planning assumptions for Diablo Canyon, and to open up the public dialog about the relative risks and benefits of the DCNPP facility. The red shaded areas represent the radioactive footprint of the fallout in Fukushima in only the first 25 hours of the ongoing disaster superimposed over Diablo Canyon. The footprint shown is only 20% of the Fukushima disaster. The other 80% of fallout was blown out to sea.
In the case of a severe accident at Diablo Canyon nearly all the fallout would be blown inland by prevailing winds. This needs to be shared with land and business owners in Santa Barbara and Ventura as well. The source of the footprint is LLNL.
Please share this map widely. [ Download PDF here. ] It prints full size at about 36″ x 38″
And Fukushima’s not over:
You Won’t BELIEVE What’s Going On at Fukushima Right Now
Posted on August 1, 2013 by WashingtonsBlog
Tepco Has No Idea How to Stabilize the Reactors
You’ve heard bad news about Fukushima recently.
But it’s worse than you know.
The Wall Street Journal notes that radiation levels outside the plant are likely higher than inside the reactor: Read more…
“Scientists say that radiation on the West Coast of North America could end up being 10 times higher than in Japan.”
What ‘nuclear renaissance?’
As Mark Cooper, Senior Fellow For Economic Analysis Institute For Energy And The Environment at the Vermont Law School notes in his recently published study, RENAISSANCE IN REVERSE: Competition Pushes Aging U.S.Nuclear Reactors To The Brink Of Economic Abandonment:
Over the last decade, as nuclear advocates touted a “nuclear renaissance” they made extremely optimistic claims about nuclear reactor costs to convince policy-makers and regulators that new nuclear reactors would be cost competitive with other options for meeting the need for electricity. These economic analyses rested on two broad categories of claims about nuclear reactors.
New nuclear reactors could be built quickly and at relatively low cost.
New Nuclear reactors would run at very high levels of capacity for long periods of time with very low operating costs.
Both of those claims have been proven to be totally false.
[ Read more -PDF here. ]
Austria to go 100 percent nuclear-free
This month, Austria went ahead with its plans to ban imports of nuclear power to the country. Electricity is to be labeled to ensure that no power from nuclear reactors is purchased from abroad. The EU is not pleased about the move, which has gone practically unnoticed in reports in English.
Does nuclear power produce no CO2 ?
by Dave Kimble, originally published by www.peakoil.org.au | May 11, 2006
Proponents of nuclear power always say that one of the big benefits of nuclear power is that it produces no Carbon dioxide (CO2).
This is completely untrue, as a moment’s consideration will demonstrate that fossil fuels, especially oil in the form of gasoline and diesel, are essential to every stage of the nuclear cycle, and CO2 is given off whenever these are used. [ This fine photo essay of carbon dependency at all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle speaks for itself. ]
As Washington’s Blog sums it up: Nuclear Is NOT a Low-Carbon Source of Energy
“Alternet points out:
Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School … found that the states that invested heavily in nuclear power had worse track records on efficiency and developing renewables than those that did not have large nuclear programs. In other words, investing in nuclear technology crowded out developing clean energy.
Building the [nuclear] power station produces a lot of CO2 ….
‘Greenpeace points out:
When it comes to nuclear power, the industry wants you to think of electricity generation in isolation ….. And yet the production of nuclear fuel is a hugely intensive process. Uranium must be mined, milled, converted, enriched, converted again and then manufactured into fuel. You’ll notice the [the nuclear industry] doesn’t mention the carbon footprint of all steps in the nuclear chain prior to electricity generation. Fossil fuels have to be used and that means CO2 emissions.
‘An International Forum on Globalization report – written by environmental luminaries Ernest Callenbach, Gar Smith and Jerry Mander – have slammed nuclear power as catastrophic for the environment:
Nuclear energy is not the “clean” energy its backers proclaim. For more than 50 years, nuclear energy has been quietly polluting our air, land, water and bodies—while also contributing to Global Warming through the CO2 emissions from its construction, mining, and manufacturing operations. Every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle—mining, milling, shipping, processing, power generation, waste disposal and storage—releases greenhouse gases, radioactive particles and toxic materials that poison the air, water and land. Nuclear power plants routinely expel low-level radionuclides into the air in the course of daily operations. While exposure to high levels of radiation can kill within a matter of days or weeks, exposure to low levels on a prolonged basis can damage bones and tissue and result in genetic damage, crippling long-term injuries, disease and death…. More…
The Hiroshima Myth. Unaccountable War Crimes and the Lies of US Military History
By Dr. Gary G. Kohls
This coming Tuesday, August 6, 2013, is the 68th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, the whole truth of which has been heavily censored and mythologized ever since war-weary Americans celebrated V-J Day 10 days later. Read more.
Science with a Skew: The Nuclear Power Industry After Chernobyl and Fukushima
Japanese translation is available.
It is one of the marvels of our time that the nuclear industry managed to resurrect itself from its ruins at the end of the last century, when it crumbled under its costs, inefficiencies, and mega-accidents. Chernobyl released hundreds of times the radioactivity of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs combined, contaminating more than 40% of Europe and the entire Northern Hemisphere.1 But along came the nuclear lobby to breathe new life into the industry, passing off as “clean” this energy source that polluted half the globe. The “fresh look at nuclear”—in the words of a New York Times makeover piece (May 13, 2006)2—paved the way to a “nuclear Renaissance” in the United States that Fukushima has by no means brought to a halt.
That mainstream media have been powerful advocates for nuclear power comes as no surprise. “The media are saturated with a skilled, intensive, and effective advocacy campaign by the nuclear industry, resulting in disinformation” and “wholly counterfactual accounts…widely believed by otherwise sensible people,” states the 2010-2011 World Nuclear Industry Status Report by Worldwatch Institute.3 What is less well understood is the nature of the “evidence” that gives the nuclear industry its mandate, Cold War science which, with its reassurances about low-dose radiation risk, is being used to quiet alarms about Fukushima and to stonewall new evidence that would call a halt to the industry.
Consider these damage control pieces from major media:
• The “miniscule quantities” of radiation in the radioactive plume spreading across the U.S. pose “no health hazard,” assures the Department of Energy (William Broad, “Radiation over U.S. is Harmless, Officials Say,” NYT, March 22, 2011).
• “The risk of cancer is quite low, lower than what the public might expect,” explains Evan Douple, head of the Radiation Effects Research Foundation (RERF), which has studied the A-bomb survivors and found that “at very low doses, the risk was also very low” (Denise Grady, “Radiation is everywhere, but how to rate harm?” NYT, April 5, 2011).
• An NPR story a few days after the Daiichi reactors destabilized quotes this same Evan Douple saying that radiation levels around the plant “should be reassuring. At these levels so far I don’t think a study would be able to measure that there would be any health effects, even in the future.” (“Early radiation data from near plant ease health fears,” Richard Knox and Andrew Prince,” March 18, 2011) The NPR story, like Grady’s piece (above), stresses that the Radiation Effects Research Foundation has had six decades experience studying the health effects of radiation, so it ought to know.
• British journalist George Monbiot, environmentalist turned nuclear advocate, in a much publicized debate with Helen Caldicott on television and in the Guardian, refers to the RERF data as “scientific consensus,” citing, again, their reassurances that low dose radiation incurs low cancer risk.4
Everyone knows that radiation at high dose is harmful, but the Hiroshima studies reassure that risk diminishes as dose diminishes until it becomes negligible. This is a necessary belief if the nuclear industry is to exist, because reactors release radioactive emissions not only in accidents, but in their routine, day-to-day operations and in the waste they produce. If low-dose radiation is not negligible, workers in the industry are at risk, as are people who live in the vicinity of reactors or accidents—as is all life on this planet .
- See more
Nuclear Infant Zombies?
The San Onofre Plant Seems To Be Dead. But Nukes Have a Strange Knack For Revival.
BY PETER DYKSTRA | JULY 29, 2013
Perhaps the oddest thing about nuclear power’s journey through American history is that we can’t seem to decide whether nukes are dying, being reborn, or walking around as zombies.
On the one hand, nuclear plants have had a bad-news few years. In June, Southern California Edison announced that it would permanently shut its trouble-plagued reactors at San Onofre, which powered 1.4 million homes in the region. By September, the plant will have laid off nearly two-thirds of its 1,500 workers. (The plant was already doomed by a legacy of breakdowns and failed fixes when the Fukushima disaster in Japan persuaded many Californians it posed a threat to the 8.5 million people who live within 50 miles of it.)
This spring, Dominion Resources closed its Kewaunee nuclear plant south of Green Bay, Wisconsin. The plant was in good working order, but falling energy prices made Kewaunee not worth the trouble. (Ironically, Dominion had just received a hard-fought renewal of its operating license for the plant.)
One the other hand, nukes remain central to America’s electric grid, pumping out about 19 percent of our national juice, and die-hard supporters still see nuclear power as a carbon-free cure for climate change.
The industry’s origins date to the 1950s, when “too-cheap-to-meter” nuclear energy was touted as a sidekick to the H-bomb and a mascot for the Cold War. Thanks to quiet, steady growth in the ’60s and early ’70s, approximately 35 plants were in operation by 1977, and construction had begun on 30 more. By then, however, a growing environmental movement was also targeting nukes with mass demonstrations at sites like Seabrook, N.H. and star-studded benefits like the 1979 “No Nukes” concerts.
Around this time, Wall Street also noticed that nuclear plants were not the financial performers they were cracked up to be. After the near-disaster at Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island, financial interests in new nukes went into cold shutdown.
As Forbes put it in 1985, “The failure of the U.S. nuclear power program ranks as the largest managerial disaster in business history, a disaster on a monumental scale. … It is a defeat for the U.S. consumer and for the competitiveness of U.S. industry, for the utilities that undertook the program and for the private enterprise system that made it possible.”
Chernobyl’s actual disaster seven years later put an exclamation point on the nuclear retreat.
But things began to rumble in the first years of the 21st century. More…
‘Nature reported in 2008:
“You’re better off pursuing renewables like wind and solar if you want to get more bang for your buck.”’
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