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Thursday
Aug102017

"Pushing the storage horse with a nuclear waste cart: The spent fuel pool problem" 

A must read in The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists by Bob Alvarez, senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC  and renown published nuclear waste expert. Tens of thousands of tons of extremely dangerous highly radioactive nuclear waste is sitting in vulnerable, densely packed storage ponds at atomic reactors across the country. The consequence and cost to life, land and water from a nuclear waste pool failure, sabotage or military action is staggering to comprehend.

Tuesday
Aug082017

North Korea now making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say

As reported by the Washington Post, U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that the North Korean regime has succeeded in crossing another threshold toward full nuclear weapons status. It is the miniaturization of nuclear warheads, to fit in the nose cone of an ICBM. The North Korean regime also recently conducted successful tests of Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles with ranges capable of reaching much of the United States, according to some estimates. The North Korean regime also already has more nuclear weapons than previously thought, up to 60. This news comes two days after the 72nd commemoration of the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima, Japan, and one day before the 72nd commemoration of the U.S. atomic bombing of Nagasaki. The last hurdle remaining, the article reports, is an ICBM nose cone capable of withstanding the heat of re-entering the Earth's atmosphere, which U.S. intelligence agencies estimate will be accomplished by late next year.

The article quotes Siegfried Hecker, "director emeritus of the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the last known U.S. official to personally inspect North Korea’s nuclear facilities...who visited North Korea seven times between 2004 and 2010 and met with key leaders of the country’s weapons programs."

“The real threat,” Hecker said, “is we’re going to stumble into a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.”

The article reports "The options said to be under discussion [within the Trump administration] ranged from new multilateral negotiations to reintroducing U.S. battlefield nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula, officials familiar with internal discussions said." (emphasis added)

As recently reported by Mark Hertsgaard in The Nation, we need to get Trump's finger off the nuclear button! (Take action -- urge your U.S. Senators and U.S. Representative to support the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017, introduced in January by Senator Edward Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, and Representative Ted Lieu, a Democrat from California.) And, we need to abolish nuclear weapons, before they abolish us! See Beyond Nuclear's Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Proliferation website sections for more info.

Thursday
Aug032017

Nuclear Free Future: Vermont Yankee, Nuclear Waste, Mobile Chernobyl

As hosted by Margaret Harrington on Channel 17/Town Meeting Television (Burlington, VT):

Description

Chris Williams, Vermont organizer for the Citizens Awareness Network, talks about the Vermont Yankee/North Star proposal which gives the Paris, France based company Areva the contract to segment, package, and transport to offsite disposal the reactor pressure vessel and internal reactor components of the VY Boiling Water Reactor.

Kevin Kamps, radioactive waste watchdog of Beyond Nuclear, discusses the Nuclear Waste Amendments Act of 2017, which U.S. Representative Peter Welch from Vermont voted for in committee on June 28. He also talks about Waste Control Specialists and irradiated fuel shipments through most states.

Watch the recording.

Tuesday
Aug012017

New U.S. reactor construction collapses because it's “prohibitively expensive”: the fight for justice continues

South Carolina electric utilities have scrapped finishing construction for two half-built Westinghouse reactors admitting that nuclear power is “prohibitively expensive.” The abandonment of the V.C. Summer Units 2 and 3 in Jenkinsville, SC comes with an estimated $11 billion in sunk costs and still projected six years from completion. The cancellation adds to the growing number of tombstones for once championed “milestones” in an atomic power revival. The inability to control the “cost-of-completion” and “time-to-completion” is the fundamental economic failure behind this recent collapse of the nuclear industry. In fact, these same reasons were featured in a 1985 Forbes magazine cover story “Nuclear Follies” describing the development of commercial atomic power as “the largest managerial disaster in U.S. business history where only the blind and the biased can say the money was well spent.”

There is not one nuclear power project in the United States that has ever been built on budget and on time, only more or less grossly out of proportion. The country is littered with the abandoned hulks of the 20th Century’s "nuclear error” including Seabrook Unit 2 in New Hampshire, Shoreham in New York, Midland in Michigan, the “Whoops” reactors in Washington, Bellefonte in Alabama, Marble Hill in Indiana and Zimmer in Ohio. These sites stand as monuments to nearly 100 more cancelled construction projects.   

The recent collapse of V.C. Summer 2 &3 now weighs heavier on the only remaining new reactor construction in the U.S. at Vogtle units 3 and 4 in Waynesboro, Georgia. With the bankruptcy of Westinghouse Electric and still mounting financial trouble for its Japan-based parent company Toshiba, Southern Company and Georgia Power were handed the dubious oversight and management of construction by the U.S. Department of Energy for the two Westinghouse reactors still being built there. The fate of the Vogtle boondoogle is still uncertain even with Toshiba giving $3.7 billion to Southern Company to contractually cut loose of the project and spread the cost out over more owners. Just how much and how long it will take to complete the untested design remain inescapable questions.  Southern Company's new projected cost-of-completion for Vogtle has balloned to $25 billion.  Southern is under pressure to tell the Georgia Public Service Commission by end of 2017 whether it plans to go forward with completion of the Vogtle expansion.  The decision could come as early as the end of August 2017.

The repeated and predictable economic failure of atomic power sends an ever direr warning of the shear folly in wasting billions more dollars and decades longer only to predictably fall short in the challenge to abate climate change. Again, nuclear power is exposed as an unreliable partner in any “energy mix” with renewable power from the wind and sun, energy efficiency and conservation. Nuclear power, new and old, only serves to divert and deplete necessary resources and squander the precious little time that remains.

The collapse of the nuclear industry further lay bare the economic and environmental justice struggles still ahead to hold corporations accountable to greed, fraud and desecration.

Accolades are much deserved to the environmental and consumer protection groups that have been involved from the beginning with the proposed Summer and Vogtle expansions. These same organizations are now demanding ratepayer restitution and protection from still more fleecing.

As Tom Clements, South Carolina’s advisor to Friends of the Earth (FoE) puts it, “The decision to abandon the V.C. Summer project is of monumental proportion and is a full admission that pursuit of the project was a fool’s mission right from the start.” According to Clements, the abandonment of construction now portends a fight for economic justice where, “Rather than applauding the decision this is a time for reflection and to prepare for formal proceedings before the PSC that will review how this debacle happened and how to refund ratepayers money due to a string of imprudent decisions.”

Sara Barczak with the Southern Alliance for Safe Energy (SACE) is wondering how much longer it will take Southern Company to pull the plug on Vogtle 3 and 4. Still she continues the call for “stopping the forced draining of customers’ wallets” there. Indeed, as Barazk observes for V.C. Summer, “A very costly door has closed on the so-called nuclear renaissance” and the awaited announced cancellation of Vogtle 3 and 4. 

Wednesday
Jul262017

Beyond Nuclear on Thom Hartmann: Is Fukushima still melting down?

Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps appeared on Thom Hartmann's "The Big Picture" to discuss the discovery, 6.5 years later, of melted core at Fukushima Daiichi Unit 3, as well as Tokyo Electric Power Company's threat to simply release 770,000 metric tons (around 200 million gallons) of very highly tritium-contaminated wastewater directly into the Pacific Ocean.

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