PRESS RELEASE- San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) to close permanently #goodnews


SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON PLANT - NARA - 542593

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA EDISON PLANT – NARA – 542593 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Media Relations (626) 302-2255
Investor Relations Contact: Scott Cunningham (626) 302-2540
Southern California Edison Announces Plans to
Retire San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
Company Will Continue its Work with State Agencies on Electric Grid Reliability
ROSEMEAD, Calif. (June 7, 2013) — Southern California Edison (SCE) has decided to permanently
retire Units 2 and 3 of its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS).
“SONGS has served this region for over 40 years,” said Ted Craver, Chairman and CEO of Edison
International, parent company of SCE, “but we have concluded that the continuing uncertainty about
when or if SONGS might return to service was not good for our customers, our investors, or the need to
plan for our region’s long-term electricity needs.”
Both SONGS units have been shut down safely since January 2012. Unit 2 was taken out of service
January 9, 2012, for a planned routine outage. Unit 3 was safely taken offline January 31, 2012, after
station operators detected a small leak in a tube inside a steam generator manufactured by Mitsubishi
Heavy Industries (MHI). Two steam generators manufactured by MHI were installed in Unit 2 in 2009 and
two more were installed in Unit 3 in 2010, one of which developed the leak.
In connection with the decision, SCE estimates that it will record a charge in the second quarter of
between $450 million and $650 million before taxes ($300 million – $425 million after tax), in accordance
with accounting requirements.
After months of analysis and tests, SCE submitted a restart plan to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) in October 2012. SCE proposed to safely restart Unit 2 at a reduced power level (70%) for an
initial period of approximately five months. That plan was based on work done by engineering groups
from three independent firms with expertise in steam generator design and manufacturing.
The NRC has been reviewing SCE’s plans for restart of Unit 2 for the last eight months, during which
several public meetings have been held. A recent ruling by an adjudicatory arm of the NRC, the Atomic
Safety and Licensing Board, creates further uncertainty regarding when a final decision might be made on
restarting Unit 2. Additional administrative processes and appeals could result in delay of more than a
year. During this period, the costs of maintaining SONGS in a state of readiness to restart and the costs
to replace the power SONGS previously provided would continue. Moreover, it is uneconomic for SCE
and its customers to bear the long-term repair costs for returning SONGS to full power operation without
restart of Unit 2. SCE has concluded that efforts are better focused on planning for the replacement
generation and transmission resources which will be required for grid reliability.
“Looking ahead,” said Ron Litzinger, SCE’s President, “we think that our decision to retire the units will
eliminate uncertainty and facilitate orderly planning for California’s energy future.”
Litzinger noted that the company has worked with the California Independent System Operator, the
California Energy Commission and the California Public Utilities Commission in planning for Southern
California’s energy needs and will continue to do so. 2 of 2
“The company is already well into a summer reliability program and has completed numerous
transmission upgrades in addition to those completed last year,” Litzinger said. “Thanks to consumer
conservation, energy efficiency programs and a moderate summer, the region was able to get through
last summer without electricity shortages. We hope for the same positive result again this year,” Litzinger
added, “although generation outages, soaring temperatures or wildfires impacting transmission lines
would test the system.”
In connection with the retirement of Units 2 and 3, San Onofre anticipates reducing staff over the next
year from approximately 1,500 to approximately 400 employees, subject to applicable regulatory
approvals. The majority of such reductions are expected to occur in 2013.
“This situation is very unfortunate,” said Pete Dietrich, SCE’s Chief Nuclear Officer, noting that “this is an
extraordinary team of men and women. We will treat them fairly.” SCE will work to ensure a fair process
for this transition, and will work with the Utility Workers Union of America (UWUA) and the International
Brotherhood of Electric Workers (IBEW) on transition plans for the employees they represent.
SCE also recognizes its continuing safety responsibilities as it moves toward decommissioning of the
units. SCE’s top priority will be to ensure a safe, orderly, and compliant retirement of these units. Full
retirement of the units prior to decommissioning will take some years in accordance with customary
practices. Actual decommissioning will take many years until completion. Such activities will remain
subject to the continued oversight of the NRC.
SCE intends to pursue recovery of damages from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, the supplier of the
replacement steam generators, as well as recovery of amounts under applicable insurance policies.
For updates, please visit http://www.SONGScommunity.com, or follow us on Twitter at
http://www.twitter.com/SCE_SONGS and on http://www.facebook.com/SCE.
San Onofre is jointly owned by SCE (78.21 percent), San Diego Gas & Electric (20 percent) and the city
of Riverside (1.79 percent).
About Southern California Edison
An Edison International (NYSE:EIX) company, Southern California Edison is one of the nation’s largest
electric utilities, serving a population of nearly 14 million via 4.9 million customer accounts in a 50,000-
square-mile service area within Central, Coastal and Southern California.

 

The Naked Truth About Nuclear Accident Insurance


By Miles Benson, Link TV
MAY 8, 2013, 12:00 PM

Going without insurance is described as “going naked” in insurance industry lingo. Going without insurance for the worst hazards in the nuclear power industry is business as usual.

One need not look back very far to see the problem. In March 2011, the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster, triggered by an earthquake followed by a tsunami that overwhelmed all of Japan’s safeguards, melted down three reactors, displaced 160,000 people and caused an estimated $250 billion in damages and other still-unfolding economic consequences.

Naked AmericaToday, in the United States, we have 104 operating nuclear plants producing electricity. The owners, operators, and government regulators who oversee them say an event like Fukushima will not happen here. And even if it did, they insist, there is enough liability insurance in place to cover the damages. The actual amount of that insurance coverage: just $12.6 billion.

You don’t need an advanced degree in calculus or risk analysis to see that something doesn’t add up, and to start feeling a bit…naked. But when it comes to nuclear insurance, naked is the fashion designed for the American public.

A catastrophic accident in the US could cost way more than $12.6 billion. A worst-case scenario study in 1997 by the Brookhaven National Laboratory estimated that a major accident could cost $566 billion in damages and cause 143,000 possible deaths. Another such study, by Sandia National Laboratories in 1982, calculated the possible costs at $314 billion. Adjusted for inflation, that would put both estimates close to the trillion dollar range today. So $12.6 billion wouldn’t cover much.

After Fukushima, which was only the second worst such accident behind the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown in the former Soviet Union, the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission and its staff scrambled to reappraise the adequacy of their own safety regimens for nuclear power plants. And they re-examined the sufficiency of the limited insurance available to indemnify the American people against property damage, loss of life and other economic consequences of nuclear accidents. Then the NRC hastened to publish the “lessons learned” from the Japanese catastrophe to show they were on top of things. Though the previously existing US system had been described as virtually fail-safe, federal regulators found that improvements were possible after all and ordered that they be made.

But one not so small thing remained unchanged, post-Fukushima: the tightly capped insurance system. Of course, raising the amount of insurance required to operate nuclear plants would be expensive. The nuclear industry, which provides 20 percent of all of the country’s electrical power, is not eager to incur additional expenses like higher insurance premiums for more coverage. Oh, but the nuclear power industry doesn’t actually pay premiums on most of the insurance coverage that supposedly is available (more about that later.)

Three Mile IslandFirst, a little history. After solving the scientific and technological issues of splitting the atom, the biggest problem the nuclear industry faced in its infancy was obtaining accident insurance coverage. Without insurance, investors were unwilling to provide start-up capital. But the insurance industry was nervous. After all, this was back in the 1950s, and who knew then how safe — or dangerous — this new power source might turn out to be? So insurers were refusing to assume unlimited levels of liability.

But President Dwight D. Eisenhower was determined to develop “Atoms for Peace,” and he worked with a cooperative Congress to remove all roadblocks. Their solution to the insurance obstacle was a new federal law, the Price-Anderson Act of 1957, which simply imposed federally-decreed limits on liability from accidents at non-military nuclear facilities. The law, amended several times since then, allowed the creation of insurance pools to cover accidents. Today the plan has two tiers. The first tier is a $375 million insurance policy for which each nuclear plant must pay premiums ranging between $500,000 and $2 million a year, depending on plant size and other factors. If a plant has an accident and $375 million is not sufficient to cover resulting damages the second tier kicks in and all the other plant operators around the country must chip in up to $111 million each to indemnify victims until the $12.6 billion cap is reached.

By the way, if you live near a nuclear plant, or even many miles away, you cannot buy your own private insurance policy to protect your home against nuclear accidents, thanks to the Price-Anderson law.

The nuclear industry and the insurance industry both understood the hard realities of the risk. In testimony to the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on May 24, 2001, John L. Quattrocchi, then senior vice president for underwriting at the American Nuclear Insurers pool, put it bluntly: “The simple fact is there is always a limit on liability — that limit equal to the assets of the company at fault.”

Meanwhile, corporations that own nuclear plants have devised spin-off schemes, erecting legal firewalls to protect the parent company if their limited-liability subsidiary actually operating the plant goes under as the result of an accident. US Nuclear Reactor

Pennsylvania’s Three Mile Island nuclear power plant suffered a partial meltdown in March, 1979. Victor Gilinsky was the senior sitting member on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission when that accident happened. According to Gilinsky, now retired, “There is no insurance for an extreme event.”

Now, as scientists warn of climate change, rising sea levels, stronger hurricanes and a host of other environmental threats related to global warming it might not be unreasonable to re-examine protections afforded the public. Small-scale accidents at nuclear plants continue to happen. A big one, like Fukushima or worse, may have a low probability level. But it isn’t impossible.

True, nuclear plants contribute little or no greenhouse gas emissions to the overburdened atmosphere compared to the coal-fired plants that add so much to global warming. But there is another factor to consider when weighing the nuclear option. Originally licensed for 40 years of operational life, most US nuclear plants are approaching or have already exceeded that period. So far, 73 such plants have been given 20-year extensions, and with retrofitting and extensive upgrades, some are expected to function to an age of 80 years.  Lets all keep our fingers crossed.

 

 

Miles Benson is a correspondent for Link TV’s Earth Focus. He has a distinguished career as a daily print journalist. From 1969 till his retirement in 2005, was a correspondent for the Newhouse Newspaper group, which included 30 daily newspapers. He covered the US Congress for 15 years and then the White House for 16 years, wrote a weekly political column and covered national politics and public policy.

Whistleblower: Nuclear Disaster in America is waiting to happen


Key federal official warns that the public has been kept in the dark about safety risks.

November 28, 2012  |

Photo Credit: Aleksey Klints/ Shutterstock.com

 This article was published in partnership with GlobalPossibilities.org.

The likelihood was very low that an earthquake followed by a tsunami would destroy all four nuclear reactors at the Fukushima nuclear power plant, but in March 2011, that’s what happened, and the accident has yet to be contained.

Similarly, the likelihood may be low that an upstream dam will fail, unleashing a flood that will turn any of 34 vulnerable nuclear plants into an American Fukushima.  But knowing that unlikely events sometimes happen nevertheless, the nuclear industry continues to answer the question of how much safety is enough by seeking to suppress or minimize what the public knows about the danger.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has known at least since 1996 that flooding danger from upstream dam failure was a more serious threat than the agency would publicly admit. The NRC failed from 1996 until 2011 to assess the threat even internally.  In July 2011, the NRC staff completed a report finding “that external flooding due to upstream dam failure poses a larger than expected risk to plants and public safety” [emphasis added] but the NRC did not make the 41-page report public.

Instead, the agency made much of another report, issued July 12, 2011 – “Recommendations for Enhancing Reactor Safety in the 21st Century,” sub-titled “The Near-Term Task Force Review of Insights from the Fukushima Dai-Ichi Accident.”  Hardly four months since the continuing accident began in Japan, the premature report had little to say about reactor flooding as a result of upstream dam failure, although an NRC news release in March 2012 would try to suggest otherwise.

Censored Report May Be Crime by NRC  

That 2012 news release accompanied a highly redacted version of the July 2011 report that had recommended a more formal investigation of the unexpectedly higher risks of upstream dam failure to nuclear plants and the public.  In its release, the NRC said it had “started a formal evaluation of potential generic safety implications for dam failures upstream” including “the effects of upstream dam failure on independent spent fuel storage installations.”

Six months later, in September 2012, The NRC’s effort at bland public relations went controversial, when the report’s lead author made a criminal complaint to the NRC’s Inspector General, alleging “Concealment of Significant Nuclear Safety Information by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.”  In a letter dated September 14 and made public the same day, Richard Perkins, an engineer in the NRC’s Division of Risk Analysis, wrote Inspector General Hubert Bell, describing it as “a violation of law” that the Commission:

has intentionally mischaracterized relevant and noteworthy safety information as sensitive, security information in an effort to conceal the information from the public. This action occurred in anticipation of, in preparation for, and as part of the NRC’s response to a Freedom of Information Act request for information concerning the generic issue investigation on Flooding of U.S. Nuclear Power Plants Following Upstream Dam Failure….   

Portions of the publically released version of this report are redacted citing security sensitivities, however, the redacted information is of a general descriptive nature or is strictly relevant to the safety of U.S. nuclear power plants, plant personnel, and members of the public. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has engaged in an effort to mischaracterize the information as security sensitive in order to justify withholding it from public release using certain exemptions specified in the Freedom of Information Act. …

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff may be motivated to prevent the disclosure of this safety information to the public because it will embarrass the agency. The redacted information includes discussion of, and excerpts from, NRC official agency records that show the NRC has been in possession of relevant, notable, and derogatory safety information for an extended period but failed to properly act on it.

 Concurrently, the NRC concealed the information from the public.

The Inspector General has not yet acted on the complaint.

Most Media Ignore Nuclear Safety Risks

Huffington Post picked up the story immediately as did the Union of Concerned Scientists and a number of online news sites.  The mainstream media showed little or no interest in a story about yet another example of the NRC lying to the public about the safety of nuclear power plants.

An NRC spokesman suggested to HuffPo that the report’s redactions were at least partly at the behest of Homeland Security. A second NRC risk engineer, who requested anonymity, said that Homeland Security had signed off on the report with no redactions.  As HuffPo noted:

If this were truly such a security concern, however, it would be incumbent on the agency to act swiftly to eliminate that threat, the engineer stated. As it is, the engineer suggested, no increased security actions have been undertaken.

This same engineer expressed serious misgivings, shared by others in and out of the NRC, that a nuclear power plant in Greenville, South Carolina, has been at risk from upstream dam failure for years, that the NRC has been aware of the risk, and that the NRC has done nothing to mitigate the risk.   In the redacted report, the NRC blacked out passages about this plant.

Event Unlikely, Would Be Sure Disaster 

South Carolina’s Oconee plant on Lake Keowee has three reactors, located 11 miles downstream from the Jocassee Reservoir, an 8,000 acre lake.  As HuffPo put it:

…the Oconee facility, which is operated by Duke Energy, would suffer almost certain core damage if the Jocassee dam were to fail. And the odds of it failing sometime over the next 20 years, the engineer said, are far greater than the odds of a freak tsunami taking out the defenses of a nuclear plant in Japan….

“Although it is not a given that Jocassee Dam will fail in the next 20 years,” the engineer added, “it is a given that if it does fail, the three reactor plants will melt down and release their radionuclides into the environment.”

When the NRC granted an operating license to the Oconee plant in 1973, danger from upstream dam failure was not even considered, never mind considered a threat against which some protection was needed.   The NRC and the plant’s owner both say the Jocassee Dam is not an immediate safety issue.   Oconee’s initial license was for 40 years.  It is now the second plant in the U.S. that the NRC has granted an extended license for another 20 years.

Union of Concerned Scientists Are Concerned 

The Union of Concerned Scientists, which says it is neither pro-nuke nor anti-nuke, but committed to making nuclear power as safe as possible, has considered the risk factors for Oconee. The NRC wrote in 2009 that “a Jocassee Dam failure is a credible event and in 2011 wrote that “dam failures are common” – and that since 1975 there have been more than 700 dam failures, 148 of them large dams 40 feet or more high.  The Jocassee Dam is 385 feet high.

For a dam like Jocassee, the NRC calculates the chance of failure at 1 in 3,600 per year – or 1 in 180 each year for the extended license.  NRC policy, when enforced, requires nuclear plant owners to mitigate any risk that has a 1 in 250 per years chance of occurring.

Oconee has three nuclear reactors, each of which is larger than the reactors at Fukushima, and so has more lethal radioactive potential.   Duke Energy reported its own upstream dam failure calculations to the NRC no later than 1996 and the NRC has responded by requiring no safety enhancements to address the threat.

Noting that the upstream dam failure risk does not take into account possible earthquakes or terrorist attacks, the Union of Concerned Scientists wrote:

The 34 reactors of concern are downstream from a total of more than 50 dams, more than half of which are roughly the size of the Jocassee dam. Assuming the NRC’s failure rate applies to all of those dams, the probability that one will fail in the next 40 years is roughly 25 percent—a 1 in 4 chance.

List of Reactors Potentially at High Risk of Flooding due to Dam Failure

 

Alabama: Browns Ferry, Units 1, 2, 3

Arkansas: Arkansas Nuclear, Units 1, 2

Louisiana: Waterford, Unit 3

Minnesota: Prairie Island, Units 1, 2

Nebraska: Cooper;  Fort Calhoun

New Jersey: Hope Creek, Unit 1;  Salem, Units 1, 2

New York: Indian Point, Units 2, 3

North Carolina: McGuire, Units 1, 2

Pennsylvania: Beaver Valley, Units 1, 2; Peach Bottom, Units 2, 3; Three Mile Island, Unit 1

Tennessee: Sequoyah, Unit 1;  Watts Bar, Unit 1

Texas: South Texas, Units 1, 2

South Carolina: H.B. Robinson, Unit 2;  Oconee, Units 1, 2, 3

Vermont: Vermont Yankee

Virginia: Surrey, Units 1, 2

Washington: Columbia

(Source: Perkins, et al., “Screening Analysis,” July 2011) 

#India-Kudankulam nuclear power plant on shaky legal ground


November 5, 2012

    D. Nagasaila
    V. Suresh, The Hindu
File photo shows the two reactors of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tirunelveli district.
PTI File photo shows the two reactors of the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) in Tirunelveli district.

Violations of Coastal Regulation Zone and Environmental Impact Assessment notifications make official claims questionable

The debate over nuclear energy will go on, but the issue with the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KKNPP) is one of the several illegalities on which it is founded.

In 1988, India inked the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant deal with the former Soviet Union. Two key elements in it were: the highly dangerous and toxic “Spent Nuclear Fuel” (SNF) would be shipped back to the Soviet Union; and the massive volumes of fresh water required to cool the plant would be supplied from Pechiparai dam, in Kanyakumari district, Tamil Nadu. The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) formally granted approval on May 9, 1989 on this basis. But there was no further progress until 1997.

In 1997, India signed another agreement, this time with Russia, to revive the KKNPP.

Untenable

Between 1989 and 1997, the Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) and Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notifications were issued in 1991 and 1994 mandating compulsory clearances by environmental regulators before any new plant could be set up.

The CRZ prohibited all industrial activity within 500 metres of the high tide line. The only exception to this was industries and projects of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) directly requiring waterfront or foreshore facilities. The KKNPP today claims exemption from CRZ notification. This is untenable. The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd. (NPCIL), which set up the KKNPP, is registered under the Companies Act as a commercial venture to engage in the business of power projects and “… to enter into partnerships with any person, including private entity or any foreign investing entity.” The NPCIL-KKNPP is thus, under law, only a “Company” and not a project of the DAE. The Supreme Court has consistently held that government departments are distinct from government companies. Further, merely because it draws seawater, it does not become an industry requiring waterfront facilities as per the decision of the Supreme Court in the shrimp farming case. Thus the KKNPP is not exempted from CRZ and the plant has been built in violation of the CRZ notification.

The EIA notification stipulated that for notified industries, environmental clearance is mandatory for new projects or expansion or modernisation of existing ones. Nuclear power is a notified industry and as per EIA notification, an EIA report must be prepared and made public. A public hearing should be conducted to record objections. The entire record would be considered by an independent “Expert Appraisal Committee” before environmental clearance is granted. Clearances are valid for five years. If the project does not commence within the five-year period, then fresh clearances will have to be obtained after fresh public hearings.

The NPCIL, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and the MoEF all claim that the EIA notification is not applicable to KKNPP as it has obtained clearance in 1989. Is this claim valid? An explanatory note to the EIA notification says that in respect of existing projects as of 1994 (the year when the EIA notification was promulgated) only those which have completed the land acquisition process and which have obtained the “Consent to Establish” from the State Pollution Control Boards are exempt. The KKNPP has not even applied for “Consent to Establish” from the Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board; nor was the land acquisition process completed.

Hence the repeated assertions of exemption from environmental regulations are untenable and seriously compromise environmental safety. The NPCIL started construction work only in 2001. More than 12 years had gone by since the grant of approval in 1989.

Two significant changes

There were two significant changes to the project. The first was that, contrary to the original proposal to ship out the SNF to Russia, the highly radioactive SNF from the nuclear power plant was to be stored, transported and reprocessed within India.

The second change was equally major: the freshwater requirement was now to be met by the construction of six desalination plants instead of sending piped water from Pechiparai dam. The environmental impact of the desalination plant on coastal ecology and marine life are serious concerns with implications for the livelihoods of the fishing community.

The environmental impact of storage, transportation and reprocessing of spent fuel as well as the impact of six desalination plants on marine ecology were not assessed at the time of initial clearance, and not since.

After launch of construction, the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) prepared an EIA report in 2003. Even in this report the environmental impact of spent fuel and desalination plants was not assessed. It is important to note that generally for all EIAs the baseline data on air, water, flora and fauna in and around the proposed plant are vital to assess the likely impact of the plant on them.

In the EIA for plants three to six, NEERI used baseline data from the Coast of Travancore on the west coast though the KKNPP is located in the east. The NEERI concluded that the heat from the coolant water from the KKNPP on the east will not affect marine life on the west coast, although it doesn’t require scientific expertise to arrive at such a conclusion.

The NPCIL and the AERB (the MoEF also agrees) put forward the erroneous proposition that spent fuel is no issue at all; it is actually an asset; it can be safely stored at the plant site for five years, then safely transported and reprocessed safely in a facility at a location which is yet to be decided. What is the supporting material for this assertion? Nothing.

In the U.S., Japan

No country has ever been able to reprocess more than a third of spent fuel. Even that involves significant quantities of High Level Waste which is equally radioactive and has to be stored.

In the United States, licences for nuclear power plants have been subject to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) assurance in 1984 that a permanent storage by way of a geological repository would be available for all SNF by 2007-09 and spent fuel can be safely stored on site at the plants until then. In 1990 the deadline was extended to 2025. In December 2010, it was revised to conclude that a suitable repository will be available “when necessary” and in the meantime the spent fuel can be stored safely on site. This ruling was challenged before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In “State of New York, et. al., vs Nuclear Regulatory Commission and USA” the court ruled that spent nuclear fuel “poses a dangerous, long-term health and environmental risk.” It will remain dangerous “for time spans seemingly beyond human comprehension.” The court struck down the NRC’s ruling on two grounds. First, in concluding that permanent storage will be available “when necessary,” the commission did not calculate the environmental effects of failing to secure permanent storage — a possibility that cannot be ignored. Second, in determining that spent fuel can be safely stored on site at nuclear plants for 60 years after the expiration of a plant’s licence, the commission failed to properly examine future dangers and key consequences. In other words, no EIA was done by the NRC before coming to such a conclusion.

The real lesson from Fukushima is not merely on improved technical safeguards at plants from tsunamis and earthquakes. The “Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission” appointed by the Japanese Parliament warned that the disaster was man-made. The commission found that it was the government of Japan’s single-minded pursuit of nuclear power which resulted in collusion between the government, the regulators and the plant operator, TEPCO — leading to the practice of resisting regulatory measures and covering up violations.

(The writers are advocates. V. Suresh is also National General Secretary, PUCL. Email: rightstn@gmail.com)

 

Kovvada nuclear power plant will displace about 8,000 people



Author(s):
Issue Date:
2012-11-2, DowntoErath

Andhra government declares five villages in Srikakulam district as project affected

Proposed nuclear<br />
power plant site” src=”<a href=http://www.downtoearth.org.in/dte/userfiles/images/Kovvadasite.jpg&#8221; />

 

 

Proposed nuclear power plant site

The Andhra Pradesh government has issued an order, notifying villages that are likely to be affected fully or partially by the proposed nuclear power plant at Kovvada in Ranasthalam block of the coastal district of Srikakulam. The order issued on November 1 by Mrutunjay Sahoo, principal secretary, states that 1,916.27 acres (1 acre equals 0.4 hectare) of land, including 604.12 acres of private land, will have to be acquired for the 6,000 MW project. As per the government’s estimation, 1,983 families (7,960 persons) in five villages will be displaced by the nuclear plant.

The government issued the notification as per the state’s policy—Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) for Project Affected Families, 2005. Villages which figure in the notification of “Project Affected Zone” are Ramachandrapuram, Gudem, Kotapalem, Tekkali and Jeeru Kovvada. The main source of income of people who would be displaced are agriculture, fishing and wage labour, notes the order.

The Department of Atomic Energy of the Central government had given in-principle approval for the 6X 1,000 MW nuclear power plant comprising light water reactors in 2009. The ambitious Rs 60,000 crore plant is being set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL).

The government order says the district collector of Srikakulam, in a letter dated June 20, 2012, has stated that the chief engineer of the NPCIL has submitted a proposal for acquiring 2,436.77 acres of land in these villages for installing the reactors, establishing a township and rehabilitating the displaced families. The state government had sanctioned a Land Acquisition Unit in last December for starting the land acquisition process by identifying the land. The acquisition of land and houses will be under the Land Acquisition Act of 1894, says the order.

Land to be acquired (in acres)
Poramboke (government) land 763.51
Village sites 52.89
Assigned land (government land
distributed to the landless):
495.76
Private land 604.12
Total 1,916.27

Nuclear Roulette:David Swanson


By David Swanson

Source: Warisacrime.org
Tuesday, September 18, 2012

As the Coalition Against Nukes prepares for a series of events in Washington, D.C., September 20-22, including a Capitol Hill rally, a Congressional briefing, a fundraiser at Busboys and Poets, a ceremony at the Museum of the American Indian, a rally at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), a film screening, and a strategy session, the time seems ideal to take in the wisdom of Gar Smith’s new book, Nuclear Roulette: The Truth About the Most Dangerous Energy Source on Earth.

Most dangerous indeed, and most useless, most inefficient, most destructive, and dumbest. How does nuclear energy make the human species look like the stupidest concoction since the platypus? Let me count the ways:

1. After the mining, processing, and shipping of uranium, and the plant construction, maintenance, and deconstruction, a nuclear plant only produces about as much energy as went into it — not counting the need to store the only thing it actually produces (radioactive waste) for hundreds of thousands of years — and not counting the sacrifice of areas of the earth, including those poisoned with uranium, which has a half life of 4.5 billion years and causes lung cancer, bone cancer, and kidney failure.

2. Wind, solar, hydro, and geothermal have far better net energy ratios.

3. If nuclear power actually worked against climate change, that fact would not be useful, because there is no way enough nuclear power plants to significantly contribute to the required difference could be built quickly enough.

4. If nuclear power plants could be built quickly enough, that wouldn’t matter, because the financial cost is prohibitive. Only with multi-billion-dollar bailouts from the government can a tiny number of nuclear plants be considered for construction at all. The sainted Private Marketplace of Freedom will never touch nuclear construction on its own — or insure it. And the small number of jobs created by the “Job Creator” lobbyists who push for the generous public loan guarantees mostly show up in Japanese and French nuclear companies, thus depriving the whole enterprise of its anti-foreign-oil xenophobic appeal. (Not to mention, most of the uranium used in U.S. nuclear plants comes from abroad just like oil.) Deconstructing the plants when they grow too old to operate costs so much that the job is routinely and recklessly put off — and that doesn’t count the fairly common expense of compensating the victims of accidents.

5. The nuclear industry is in debt up to its ears already, without our feeding its habit any longer. For example, Washington State’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation has dumped 1.7 trillion gallons of contaminated waste into unlined trenches. The latest plan to try to deal with the mess comes with a $12.3 billion price tag.

6. Even if nuclear power worked when it worked, it’s remarkably unreliable. Between 2003 and 2007, U.S. nuclear plants were shut down 10.6 percent of the time, compared to 1 or 2 percent for solar stations and wind farms.

7. Nuclear power produces greenhouse gases in the mining, production, deconstruction, shipping, and waste storage processes. It also discharges 1000 degree Fahrenheit steam directly into the atmosphere. Considering the entire fuel cycle, a nuclear reactor burning high-grade uranium produces about a third as much carbon dioxide as a gas-fired power plant. As high-grade uranium runs out, low-grade ore will result in a nuclear plant producing just as much carbon dioxide as a gas plant.

8. Climate change may have reached a tipping point. Radioactivity could as well. Birds and insects near Chernobyl are adapting. Humans, too, may be beginning to evolve within the Radiocene era to which the earth has been condemned.

9. Climate change limits nuclear energy, as the heat forces plants to shut down for lack of cool water.

10. The Three Mile Island disaster killed birds, bees, and livestock. Pets were born dead or deformed. In humans, cancer, leukemia, and birth defects spread. Chernobyl gave cancer to about a million people. Fukushima looks to be far worse. Meltdowns and other major malfunctions are common, in the United States and abroad. Gar Smith documents dozens. The worst nuclear disaster in the United States was in Simi Valley, California, and no one was told about it. The rates of disease and death led residents to investigate. I shouldn’t use the past tense; the disaster is still there and not going anywhere in the span of human attention.

11. The rate of break downs and failures thus far is very likely to grow as nuclear plants age. Meanwhile, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), subservient to the nuclear profiteers, is drastically reducing safety standards.

12. In the normal course of proper nuclear power production, the water, air, and earth are poisoned.

13. The NRC publicly dismisses concerns about earthquakes, but privately panics. Earthquakes are on the rise. Fracking may cause even more of them. Fukushima should scare us all; but closer to home, a plant at Lake Anna, in Virginia, was shut down by an earthquake last year, possibly caused by fracking, and the first response was the publication of lies about the damage.

14. If anticipated solar flares (or anything else) collapse power grids, nuclear plants could overheat, melt down, or explode.

15. An average nuclear plant produces 20-30 tons of high-level waste and 70 tons of low-level waste per year. No proven long-term storage site exists. If one ever does, we won’t know what language to post the warning signs in, as no human language has lasted a fraction of the time the nuclear waste will remain deadly.

16. When a country develops nuclear energy, as the United States encouraged Iran to do in my lifetime, it brings that country very close to developing nuclear weapons, which has become a leading excuse for launching and threatening wars. It doesn’t help for the CIA to give Iran plans for building a bomb, but ridding the world of that sort of stupidity is just not within our reach. Ridding the world of nukes needs to take priority.

17. There is no purpose in a nation developing nuclear weapons if it wants to target an enemy that possesses nuclear power plants. Sitting duck nuclear catastrophes waiting to happen — by accident or malice — exist in the form of nuclear power plants within 50 miles of 108 million people in the United States. Nuclear reactors could have been somewhat protected by being built underground, but that would have cost more. Haruki Murakami, a Japanese novelist, commented on Fukushima: “This time no one dropped a bomb on us. . . . We set the stage, we committed the crime with our own hands, we are destroying our own lands, and we are destroying our own lives.”

18. The latest designs in nuclear reactors don’t change points 1-17.

19. The Associated Press in 2011 found that, “Federal regulators [at the NRC] have been working closely with the nuclear power industry to keep the nation’s aging reactors operating within safety standards by repeatedly weakening those standards, or simply failing to enforce them.”

20. Helping to shake the nuke habit would take 30 seconds and be ridiculously easy, and yet many won’t do it.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswansonand FaceBook.

Why Nuclear Power Is Not the Answer to Global Warming


AlterNet / By Christian Parenti

There is no “nuclear renaissance” and there won’t be: it just doesn’t make sense economically.
April 4, 2012

Despite the triple meltdown at Fukushima—which has driven tens of thousands of Japanese from their homes, cast radioactive fallout across the U.S., and will likely cost the Japanese economy ¥50 trillion, or $623 billion—many desperate Greens now embrace nukes. They include Stewart Brand and George Monbiot. What drives these men is panic—a very legitimate fear that we will trigger self-fueling runaway climate change.

Part of this green embrace of the atom is a macho performance of seriousness. Nuke hugging demonstrates a technophilic resolve, manly determination to muscle through. The semiotics of the green nuke huggers’ message is clear: “I am a man, an adult, ready to do whatever it takes to fight climate change. I have put aside childish utopianism and even endorsed this most dangerous, capital intensive, and war-tainted of technologies: atom smashing.”

So far, so very brave.

However, back in the real world, nukes face nearly insurmountable economichurdles. Never mind the issue of safety, economic factors—capital costs, construction cost, availability and prices of special metals and engineering expertise, and profitability—are the real issue. Economics will determine the future of atomic power—or rather, already have. And here is the takeaway: there will be no nuclear future.

For more than a decade, the atomic power industry and many in government have promised us a “nuclear renaissance.” A whole new fleet of atomic power plants, new high-tech third and fourth generation reactors, are supposed to be coming online.

Well, where is it? Climate change is kicking in; science tells us we need to make drastic cuts starting now. If nukes are to ride to the rescue, we need a few on the horizon now.

But the new fleet of reactors has not been built and won’t be, because Wall Street won’t fund them. The only way nukes get built is with real or de facto socialism. The public sector has to pick up the tab, either during construction or after the fact, when bankrupt utilities get bailed out.

The first wave of nuclear reactor construction peaked after the Arab oil embargo of 1973. The logic was geostrategic energy security, not cost-efficient electrical production. Japan and France built the most. Then came the Three Mile Island accident. Suddenly, the industry was subject to a more rigorous safety regime. With that costs rose precipitously, wiping out 90 percent of projected profits of theU.S. nuke industry. Hundreds of planned plants in the United States were canceled. In the United States and the United Kingdom, cost overruns on nuclear plants helped bankrupt several utility companies.

In February 2002, the Bush administration tried to jump-start nuclear construction with its “Nuclear Power 2010 Program,” a package of subsidies and streamlined planning procedures. Obama has continued this with more generous support for the nuclear industry. It was expected that these incentives would lead to at least one “Generation III+” unit being operational by 2010. That has not happened.

Work has finally begun on a two-reactor plant in Georgia. But already there are conflicts between the utility, Southern Company, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Moreover, this project is going forward only because the utility, operating on a cost-plus basis, can pass on to rate payers all of its expense overruns. This is because the Southeast power market was the only U.S. region never deregulated.

In Western Europe, nuclear economics are also a mess. Only two “Generation III+” reactors are under construction. The plant closest to completion is the 1,600-megawatt European Pressurized Reactor (EPR) at Olkiluoto 3 in Finland. It was scheduled to take four years and cost about $5 billion. But now construction will take at least eight years and is 68 percent over budget, at a projected final cost of $8.4 billion.

The other EPR under construction is in Flamanville, France. It began in 2007 and is now two years late and at least 50 percent over budget. In the best case scenario, it will open in 2012, also massively over cost.

China has also cut back its nuke program, based almost entirely on the old generation two style plants. If the Chinese nuke program is fully built out the share of nukes in their overall power mix will go from less than 2 percent to less than 5 percent of all Chinese power.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Energy gives 2021 as the earliest possible date for a fourth-generation nuclear plant to open. No American nuclear plant has yet been built on time or within budget, so the forecast may be rather optimistic.

An authoritative study by the investment bank Lazard Ltd. found that wind beat nuclear and that nuclear essentially tied with solar. But wind and solar, being simple and safe, are coming on line faster. Another advantage wind and solar have is that capacity can be added bit by bit; a wind farm can have more or less turbines without scuttling the whole project. As economies of scale are created within the alternative energy supply chains and the construction process becomes more efficient, prices continue to drop. Meanwhile, the cost of stalled nukes moves upward.

The World Watch Institute reports that between 2004 and 2009, global electricity from wind (not capacity, but actual power output) grew by 27 percent, while solar grew by 54 percent. Over the same time, nuclear power output actually declined by half a percent.

What would a nuke build out really cost? Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School, has found that adding 100 new reactors to the U.S. power grid would cost $1.9 to $4.1 trillion, and that would take at least a decade to do.

In a comparative analysis of U.S. states, Cooper 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.

Only when clean technologies—like wind, solar, hydropower, and electric vehicles—are cheaper than other options will the world economy make the switch away from fossil fuels. Right now, alternatives are slightly cheaper than nukes, come on line faster, and are growing robustly.

Nuclear power is not only physically dangerous—it is also economically wasteful. If the nuke huggers are so brave and serious they must begin to explain why, after a decade of billions in subsidies being on offer, there is no wave of construction underway. If the nuke renaissance is to begin, who will fund it? And who will build it in time to stave off climate tipping points? How long will it take? Thus the quip “Atomic power is the fuel of the future”—and always will be.

We have already wasted a decade on this blather and hype. Being manly is not enough. Realism is also required.

Christian Parenti is the author of “The Freedom: Shadows and Hallucinations in Occupied Iraq” (New Press) and a visiting fellow at CUNY’s Center for Place, Culture and Politics.