What decommissioning looks like: "high taxes, giant casks of dangerous radioactive waste"

A new series on nuclear power on the USA Today newspaper network, includes an indepth story in the Asbury Park Press about the future for the New Jeresey region around the closed but not yet decommissioned Oyster Creek Generating Station.

"With decommissioning, nuclear jobs will dry up. Property taxes are expected to spike," says the article. "And, for the foreseeable future, the town's 30,000 residents will be left with the plant's dangerous legacy — the stored canisters, or casks, containing radioactive waste."

And, as Holtec rushes to decommission the plant, Beyond Nuclear's Paul Gunter, warns in the article:

“Decommissioning… has been pretty limited to date," said Paul Gunter, director of the Reactor Oversight Project at Beyond Nuclear, a group that advocates abandoning nuclear power in favor of other power sources. "It’s not like we have experience in this."

Read the full article.


12 years late, overbudget and delayed again: The Flamanville Fiasco

It was supposed to be the "flagship" new reactor design and a French nuclear feather in EDF's cap. Instead, the EPR -- absurdly dubbed the Evolutionary Power Reactor during its short aspirational tenure in the US -- has proven to be both a dinosaur and a loadstone around the neck of the French utility.

Now, the Flamanville-3 EPR, already "under construction" for 12 years on France's Normandy coast, and wildly over-budget, will have its startup date (if that ever arrives) delayed again due to faulty welds which EDF hoped to get away without repairing. Instead, the ASN -- the French nuclear safety authority -- has ordered EDF to repair 8 of the welds, which traverse the containment vessel and were a clear safey liability. Given the welds are reasonably inaccessible they will be both difficult and expensive to fix, resulting in more delays and further cost over-runs. The costs for the project have now topped $12.4 billion, almost four times the original estimate of $3.3 billion when it began.

More here and here.


There have been victories: stopping Shoreham was one of them

Writes Karl Grossman on Counterpunch today:

“Shoreham Action is One of the Largest Held Worldwide,” was the headline in The New York Times about an event which happened 40 years ago this month. The article told of how “more than 600 protesters were arrested” on June 3, 1979 at the site of the then under-construction Shoreham nuclear power plant and “15,000 demonstrators gathered” on the beach fronting the plant in the protest of it.

That action was important in stopping the Shoreham plant from going into operation—and preventing the Long Island Lighting Company from building a total of seven to 11 nuclear power plants on Long Island.

The Shoreham site, which was where the first plant was to go up, is 60 miles east of Manhattan. There were to be three nuclear power plants at Shoreham and four, to its east, at Jamesport, and several in between. In addition to these plants on the north shore, LILCO also eyed building a nuclear power plant in The Hamptons on Long Island’s south shore, in Bridgehampton.

With the anniversary of the 1979 protest at Shoreham, on Facebook and in email-communication, that action 40 years ago was heralded as a turning point for this area—and indeed it was.

Read the full article.


US Supreme Court upholds Virginia's uranium mining ban

On June 17, 2019, the US Supreme Court decided 6-3 to uphold the state of Virginia’s right to enforce its ban on uranium mining. The Court found against Virginia Uranium’s request to go forward with the Coles Hill uranium mine in Virginia where a Commonwealth law, established in 1982, placed a moratorium on uranium mining. The corporation alleged that “under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause, the Atomic Energy Act (AEA) preempts state uranium mining laws like Virginia’s and ensconces the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as the lone regulator in the field,” arguments rejected by two lower courts and now by the Supreme Court as well.

Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote the lead opinion, stating: “Virginia Uranium insists that the federal Atomic Energy Act preempts a state law banning uranium mining, but we do not see it.” He was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh. Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, gave a separate concurring opinion.

The win was celebrated by state officials, including Virginia attorney general, Mark Herring, who said: “This is a big win for the health and safety of Virginians and our environment. Our ban on uranium mining has protected our citizens, communities, local economies and waterways for more than 30 years.”

Walter Coles, on whose land the uranium deposit sits, remained defiant, claiming he and the company would continue to “pursue other challenges.” It remains open to speculation just how many countless millions of dollars the company has already spent attempting to get permission for the mine which, as Virginia governor, Ralph Northam pointed out “poses unacceptable threats to our natural resources.”


New Mexico governor opposes "temporary" radioactive waste storage in her state

The Associated Press is reporting that "New Mexico's governor said Friday she's opposed to plans by a New Jersey-based company to build a multibillion-dollar facility in her state to temporarily store spent nuclear fuel from commercial reactors around the U.S.

"In a letter to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said the interim storage of high-level radioactive waste poses significant and unacceptable risks to residents, the environment and the region's economy."

Beyond Nuclear is actively engaged in opposing this "centralized interim storage" dump, known as CIS. More details about our on-going legal fight to stop Holtec and its CIS plans are in this earlier story, here.

Read the rest of the article.