Tag Archive: nuclear

NRC Nuclear Freeze

promoted by Rosi

New Jersey depends on four nuclear reactors, and there’s long been talk of a new reactor in Salem County, so this CNN news on nuclear waste is important:

The U.S. government said it will stop issuing permits for new nuclear power plants and license extensions for existing facilities until it resolves issues around storing radioactive waste.

This is very sensible, though it’s disappointing it took a court action. Existing plants simply were not designed to have vast amounts of radioactive nuclear waste stored on site. The order includes the controversial reactor at Indian Point, New York.

On the other hand, don’t get too excited. The NRC order (PDF) makes clear they will take every step short of final approval:

This determination extends just to final license issuance; all licensing reviews and proceedings should continue to move forward

Nuclear Meltdown: Don’t say they didn’t warn you

Here’s a remarkable quote on nuclear safety:

GE says the Mark I design has operated safely for more than 40 years and has been modified periodically to meet changing regulations. No nuclear plant could have avoided a meltdown after being swamped by a tsunami and losing power to cooling systems for an extended period of time, the company says — and at least one expert CNN spoke to agrees.

Thinking in terms of tidal waves is a mistake. General Electric just told you that an extended loss of power will cause ANY nuclear power plant to melt down, and as the rest of the CNN article says, the plants are not capable of containing all the resulting radioactivity. That’s why I went from mildly pro-nuclear to against it.    


Chutzpah Quote of the Day

As reported by Tom Johnson of NJ Spotlight, Hal Bozarth, executive director of the Chemical Council of New Jersey and an opponent of offshore wind development recently said,

“Without big federal subsidies, you cannot make wind power affordable.”

That’s a lot of chutzpah from someone whose industry receives big federal subsidies.

His statement was in response to NRG Energy’s withdrawal from the offshore wind business in New Jersey. NRG’s rationale was the uncertain regulatory climate and the lack of subsidies for offshore wind developers.

How hypocritical that Bozarth is opposed to subsidies for this clean technology. After all, the oil and gas industries, on which Bozarth’s members depend, have received government subsidies for decades. And the taxpayer has been repeatedly called upon to spend billions to clean up oil, gas, and chemical spills and to pay for health care due to chemical pollution of the atmosphere.

The Paradigms – They are a-Shiftin’

When we flip on a light switch in our homes, few of us think about the ramifications. Electricity is relatively cheap, so we don’t think of the cost. Most of the time it’s available on demand, so we don’t think about reliability or distribution, and since we don’t see the pollution that resulted from its production, we don’t usually think about the environment. We just flip on the switch, and there’s light.

But at times, we’re all aware of some of the problems and pitfalls in lighting and heating our homes. We experience power outages, usually attributable to extreme weather. We gripe about our electricity bills, especially during the summer months when our air conditioners run non-stop. We see the environmental cost with dirty air from coal-burning plants and the ever-present threat of a Three Mile Island or Fukushima Daiiachi disaster in our back yard.

The paradigms about the generation and distribution of electrical power in New Jersey are shifting. It’s not just the move from reliance on dirty fossil fuels to clean energy sources. We also must take into account the need for energy storage to account for the time difference between when renewable energy is available (like solar during daylight hours) and when it is consumed (for example, at night or during overcast days.) We need to recognize that the generation of renewable energy is not done at a few large capital-intensive power plants, but is more of a geographically distributed entity, one which our transmission systems and regulations may not be optimized for. And we need to look into the future where electric vehicles will become more prevalent, resulting in more consumer demand for power in the home, and access to power-hungry recharging stations along the state’s thoroughfares.  The cost of solar power is becoming lower than that of nuclear, and with the closing of the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in 2019, a large chunk of the state’s indigenous generation capacity will need to be replaced. And a new player, geothermal energy, is becoming a viable way to heat and cool our homes (for more on geothermal, go to the 4:00 mark in the Chivukula video, below.)

One, Two, Three, Four: NRC now concerned about multiple reactors at same site

The New York Times is reporting that the NRC has new concerns after the Japanese nuclear disaster:

the staff of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission acknowledged that the agency’s current regulations and disaster plans did not give enough consideration to two factors that had greatly contributed to the continuing Fukushima Daiichi crisis in Japan: simultaneous problems at more than one reactor at the same site and a natural disaster that disrupts roads, electricity and other infrastructure surrounding a plant.

I don’t think there’s anything to add to that except that it is now obvious that neglecting those factors is not only foolish but dangerous. Fukushima has certainly changed my opinions on the safety of nuclear power. We have three reactors at a single site, and as the NRC made clear in the public meeting I attended, it will issue a new site permit for a 4th reactor without considering the safety of the other three. I hope this policy changes soon. By the way, the NRC also revealed this week that emergency equipment at nearly a third of the nation’s reactors had serious problems.

I am happy to note, however, that the Salem reactors got high grades in their regular annual NRC safety review.

Obama Can’t Imagine the high cost of Nuclear Power

Yes, yes… the disaster in Japan is hard to imagine.  But  people said after Katrina and after 9/11.  Hard to imagine stuff eventually happens.

Yesterday,  NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said “There is no water in the spent fuel pool and we believe that radiation levels are extremely high”.  Without water, there’s nothing to stop the fuel rods from getting hotter and ultimately melting down.

Americans and Brits are being evacuated from Japan.  The Japanese are reduced to using helicopters to dump water on the reactor because people cant go there.  This slow motion nuclear accident seems to be heading for complete catastrophe.  

Perhaps this will end “well” and people will only worry about radio active damage lurking in japanese bodies like the oil that lurks at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico. But it is a distinct possibility that the Japanese will lose control of the situation and experience utter devastation.  Or is that just my overheated imagination?  

Our cool and Cautious President Obama isn’t prone to overheated anything.  He refuses to say that nuclear is simply too risky for America.  We need need nuclear power he says.   Lets hope that events in Japan dont bring the high cost of nuclear power out of dark imaginings and into reality.