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Atomic Rate Rape & the New China Syndrome

12:38 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Atomic Rate Rape & the New China Syndrome

 

 

By Harvey Wasserman

 

 

Small wonder the death knell of new US nukes may be upon us.

 

Two reactors proposed for Florida will now, say its would-be builders, cost $24 billion or more…up from their original maximum guess of $4 billion each…far beyond comparable renewables and efficiency ( http://nukefree.org/florida-nukes-delayed-3-more-years-cost-now-19-24-billion ).

 

Two Georgia nukes still wanting tax-funded loan guarantees have been caught pouring faulty concrete and using non-design rebar steel

( http://nukefree.org/nrc-says-vogtle-steel-does-not-match-requirement ).

 

Currently licensed reactors from California to Vermont, from Texas to Ohio to Florida are leaking radiation, shut for faulty steam generator tubes, closed for failed repairs running over $1 billion and being fought tooth and nail by local downwinders who are tired of rate rape want them shut forever.

 

But the fate of the Earth may ultimately rest on which China emerges after Fukushima:   the green one pushing solar, or the dictatorship pushing nukes that threaten us all.

 

What we Americans can do about it remains problematic.

 

But shutting down our own industry begins with killing proposed federal loan guarantees for two new nukes at Vogtle, Georgia

( http://nukefree.org/please-do-sign-petition-stop-new-nuke-loan-guarantees ), and stopping the rate rape being perpetrated to build two more at South Carolina’s V.C. Summer ( http://nukefree.org/ncwarn-duke-rigging-rates-pay-nukes ).

 

Throughout the US, wanna-be nuke builders are pushing regulators and legislatures to force ratepayers to foot the bill for new reactors while they’re being built.  In Iowa, Missouri and Florida ( http://nukefree.org/editorsblog/obamas-atomic-solyndra-0 ) , an angry public is pushing back—hard.

 

Progress Energy’s staggering new cost estimate for Levy County is a game changer.  The idea of paying $12 billion for reactors that can’t even begin construction for at least three years is beyond scale.  Progress has blown at least $1 billion on its botched repair and expansion job at north Florida’s Crystal River, which may now never reopen ( http://nukefree.org/editorsblog/nuclear-powers-green-mountain-grassroots-demise ).

 

Failed steam generator tubes at California’s San Onofre may also keep two reactors there forever shut. In Vermont, Texas, New York, New Jersey, Ohio and virtually everywhere other home to geezer nukes, grassroots opposition has seriously escalated.  movements are gaining increasing strength.  Sooner or later, they will win.  We must all pray that happens before yet another nukes blows.  It will be a close call.

 

In part because fracking (another environmental disaster) has made natural gas so cheap ( http://nukefree.org/small-towns-begin-rising-fight-fracking ), and in part because the price of wind and solar continues to plummet, 2011 was the first year since deep in the W Administration that the Executive Branch did not ask for new reactor loan guarantees.   If the money can be nixed for Vogtle, and the rate rape for Summer defeated, the whole “nuclear renaissance” could could definitively disappear.

 

Small modular nukes must still be fought ( http://nukefree.org/are-small-modular-reactors-future-nuke-power ).  But the numbers on this imperfected technology do not work without massive taxpayer subsidies or public liability insurance.

 

Europe’s one-time “nuclear poster child” is about to lose its pro-nuke Sarkozy is poised to the Socialist Francois Hollande ( http://nukefree.org/french-frontrunner-cools-reactor-shut-downs ), who may or may not begin shutting the nation’s reactors.  But French public has moved strongly toward renewables and probably won’t tolerate new ones.

 

Led by Germany, Europe’s nuclear future is past.  Proposed reactors in Great Britain and elsewhere are stalled.  Bulgaria has cancelled two.

 

Of Japan’s 54 licensed post-Fukushima units, just one now operates—and may soon shut.  Tokyo wants to open more, but grassroots resistance is fierce.  Ditto India, where massive demonstrations and hunger strikes have erupted against the Koodankulam project ( http://nukefree.org/10-000-india-hunger-strike-v-koodankulam-reactor ).

 

South Korea and Taiwan still want new reactors.  Korea may sell at least one to the United Arab Emirates.  The Saudis and Jordan may soon start construction.

 

But the global key now rests with China.  Despite its campaign to corner the world market in wind and solar hardware, China has been poised to bring on line close to 100 reactors. It may claim the largest number of new proposals—more than 30.

 

But Fukushima prompted a suspension of new approvals ( http://www.technologyandpolicy.org/2012/03/05/chinas-nuclear-energy-industry-one-year-after-fukushima/ ) and a move toward a national energy plan.  A final rejection could blow the floor out of any global nuclear future.

 

With a rising tide of grassroots environmentalism in China, any No Nukes movement there must be embraced worldwide.  In its hands may lie the future of the Earth.

 

Reactor backers desperately hype potential orders from China and India, and from small nations like Turkey and Taiwan.  But who will protect us —or even tell us—when they explode?

 

This weekend the Sierra Club while host a packed national gathering of grassroots No Nukers ( http://action.sierraclub.org/site/Calendar?view=Detail&id=159641 ) to plan the Us nuclear industry’s final demise.  There’s much to celebrate.  The campaign for a green-powered Earth has become one of her most successful non-violent social movements.

 

But the disasters at Chernobyl and Fukushima are far from over.  The radiation they still spew threatens our survival.

 

Without a truly global Solartopian uprising, the ultimate China Syndrome may yet come in China…and spread worldwide.

 

In economy and ecology, we have no future without finally cleansing from every corner on Earth the lingering plague of the failed atom.

 

—————————

 

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, is at www.solartopia.org , along with THE LAST ENERGY WAR.  His Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.prn.fm.  In 1973 he helped coin the phrase No Nukes.

We May Yet Lose Tokyo….Not to Mention Alaska…and Now Georgia, Too

9:39 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

(photo: colinwood0, flickr)

(photo: colinwood0, flickr)

Harvey Wasserman

We may yet lose Tokyo….not to mention Alaska…and now Georgia, too
February 10, 2012

As the Nuclear Regulatory Commission approves a construction/operating license for two new reactors in Georgia, alarming reports from Japan indicate the Fukushima catastrophe is far from over.

Thousands of tons of intensely radioactive spent fuel are still in serious jeopardy. Radioactive trash and water are spewing into the environment. And nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen reports that during the string of disasters following March 11, 2011′s earthquake and tsunami, Fukushima 1′s containment cap may actually have lifted off its base, releasing dangerously radioactive gasses and opening a gap for an ensuing hydrogen explosion.

There are some two dozen of these Mark I-style containments currently in place in the US.

Newly released secret email from the NRC also shows its Commissioners were in the dark about much of what was happening during the early hours of the Fukushima disaster. They worried that Tokyo might have to be evacuated, and that airb orne radiation spewing across the Pacific could seriously contaminate Alaska.

Reactor pushers have welcomed the NRC’s approval of the new Westinghouse AP-1000 design for Georgia’s Vogtle. Two reactors operate there now, and the two newly approved ones are being funded with $8.3 billion in federally guaranteed loans and state-based rate hikes levied in advance of the reactors’ being completed.

NRC Chair Gregory Jazcko made the sole no vote on the Vogtle license, warning that the proposed time frame would not allow lessons from Fukushima to be incorporated into the reactors’ design.

The four Commissioners voting to approve have attacked Jazcko in front of Congress for his “management style,” but this vote indicates the problem is certainly more rooted in attitudes toward reactor safety.

The approval is the first for a new construction project since 1978. The debate leading up to it stretched out for years. Among other things, the Commission raised questions about whether the AP1000 can withstand earthquakes and other natural disasters. Even now the final plans are not entirely complete. Only two other US reactors—in neighboring South Carolina—are even in the pre-construction phase. As in Georgia, South Carolina consumers are being forced to pay for the reactors as they are being built. Should they not be completed, or suffer disaster once they are, the state’s ratepayers will be on the hook. Read the rest of this entry →

Don’t Nuke the Budget!

2:05 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

"Nuke"

"Nuke"

Harvey Wasserman

Don’t Nuke the Budget!
July 28, 2011

America’s budget crisis has the world economy at the brink. Social Security, Medicare, aid for needy children, environmental protection and much more are being chopped.

Yet Congress and the White House may still want to use our money for fund atomic power.

Specifically, $36 billion in loan guarantees may still be on the table for building new nukes. Millions more are slated for “small modular reactors” and other atomic boondoggles.

A national campaign—including an August 7 “MUSE2″ concert—is underway to help stop this. With your help, we can win.

Some realities:

America’s New Nukes Showdown Starts NOW!!!

10:00 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

As Fukushima continues to leak and smolder, what may be the definitive battle over new nukes in America has begun.

The critical first US House vote on a proposed $36 billion loan guarantee package for reactor construction may come as early as June 2. Green power advocates are already calling and writing the White House and Congress early and often,gearing up for a long, definitive showdown.

Germany and Japan have made their decision—the “Lethal Atom” has no future.

The coffin nail is Fukushima. Substantial radiation still leaks from three or more of its six reactors. Volatile fuel rods are dangerously exposed. Various containment and fuel pool structures are compromised. Heat and radiation still pour into our global eco-systems, with no end in sight.

Thankfully, a global citizens movement helped lower the amount of plutonium-based MOX fuel loaded into Unit Three. Without that, Fukushima’s emissions would be far more lethal.

As it is, fallout continues to be detected across Europe and the United States. Fukushima is now rated on par with Chernobyl, by some estimates the killer of more than a million people.

For Prime Minister Naoto Kan, Japan’s energy policy must now “start from scratch,” with a sharp turn to green technologies. More than a dozen proposed reactors will not be built. Some existing ones—including at least two at Hamaoka—will join the six at Fukushima on the shut-down list, at least for the time being. Three more are still closed from a 2006 earthquake at Kashiwazaki.

Germany’s Solartopian turn is even more radical. Long a nuclear advocate, center-right Prime Minister Angela Merkel has ordered seven old German nukes shut immediately. The country’s other ten may run until 2021.

But a top Merkel-appointed commission sees this as a global game changer. “A withdrawal from nuclear power will spur growth, offer enormous technical, economic and social opportunities to position Germany even further as an exporter of sustainable products and services,” says a 28-page report. “Germany could show that a withdrawal from nuclear energy is the chance to create a high-powered economy.”

Both Japan and Germany—the world’s third- and fourth-largest economies—have already made substantial investments in green technology. Much of that was developed in the United States, which has paid a heavy price economically and ecologically for its atomic addition, and now stands to lose even more ground in what will clearly be the energy growth center of the new millennium.

Some $18.5 billion in loan guarantees for new reactor construction was put in place under George W. Bush. In 2007 the nuclear lobby tried to add $50 billion. The industry has spent some $645 million—$64.5 million per year—over the last decade twisting Congressional arms.

But a nationwide grassroots movement rose up to stop them. In every year since 2007 citizen action has beaten a variety of attempts to slip the industry more handouts. Local movements movements throughout the US focused growing demands for the shut-down of old reactors. In Vermont, a March, 2012 drop dead date looms ever larger, forced by a wide range of political pressures that could start an avalanche of closures.

Yet just last year Obama dropped $8.33 billion in loan guarantees on a bitterly contested double-reactor project in Georgia. Two other reactors are scheduled for South Carolina, where ratepayers are expected to foot the bill as construction proceeds.

But $36 billion in proposed new guarantees were stripped out of the Continuing Resolution that’s funding the government for 2011. Now Obama wants them for 2012.

Ironically, the leading candidates for the money have collapsed. A Japanese-financed project for Texas and a French one in Maryland are all but dead. Financial, licensing, siting, design and political problems have decimated the remaining list. The pressures on old and new US reactors, and the collapse of the industry in Germany and Japan, appear on the brink of pushing a failed technology into the scrap heap of history.

But the budget is now headed to Congress, guarantees and all. First stop is a House Appropriations sub-committee, where a vote could come as early as June 2.

Fukushima has changed the nuclear map. Italy and Switzerland have put proposed projects on hold. China, the biggest potential future market, has said it is re-evaluating its atomic future, especially with radiation pouring into it from nearby Fukushima.

But Obama has all but ignored the accident. He gave an early national address telling the American public not to worry about Fukushima’s radiation. Despite widespread reports of contamination here, the feds have provided no systematic monitoring of fallout and no guidance on what to do about it.

Amidst a heavy budget crunch, the administration must now justify lavishing taxpayer money on an industry that can’t get private financing or meaningful liability insurance, can’t compete in the marketplace and can’t deal with its wastes.

As evidenced by the sharp green turns in Germany and Japan, renewable technologies have come of age. The Solartopian vision of a green-powered Earth has now definitively attracted two of the plant’s four largest economies.

In short, we are at the tipping point where renewables are cheaper and more attractive to national-scale investors than nukes.

Without these guarantees, America’s nuclear industry has future prospects ranging from slim to none.

The ante is being raised in Vermont, New York, California and in other states where fierce battles rage to shut existing reactors, many of which are on earthquake faults and virtually identical to those now spewing at Fukushima.

So now we are engaged in what may be the final, definitive battle over the future of atomic power in the United States.

Over the next few months, millions of dollars will pour from the industry’s lobby into the coffers of Congresspeople willing to vote them billions. The White House shows no signs of turning away from that particular tsunami.

But against all odds, a grassroots green-powered citizens movement has been holding its own. If it does so again this year, a sustainable future may finally be within reach.

YOUR reach!

Let’s Join Japan and Junk New Nukes

10:07 pm in Uncategorized by solartopia

Japan will build no new nuclear reactors. It’s a huge body blow to the global industry, and could mark a major turning point in the future of energy. 

Says Prime Minister Naoto Kan: “We need to start from scratch… and do more to promote renewables.”

Wind power alone could—and now probably will—replace 40 nukes in Japan.

The United States must join them. Axing the $36 billion currently stuck in the 2012 federal budget for loan guarantees to build new reactors could do the trick.

Wind potential alone between the Mississippi and the Rockies could produce 300% of the nation’s electricity. That doesn’t include solar, geothermal, ocean thermal, sustainable bio-fuels and the many more renewable sources poised to re-shape the Amercian energy future once the prospect of new nukes is discarded.

Japan was set to build 14 new nukes before Fukushima. Six of Japan’s total of 55 reactors were shut by the earthquake and tsunami. Three at Kashiwazaki remain shut from the seven that were hit by an earthquake less than five years ago. Kan wants three more closed at Hamaoka, also in an earthquake/tsunami zone.

Japan’s reactor fleet remains the world’s third-largest, behind the US and France. The General Electric and Westinghouse nuclear divisions, builders of nearly all the commercial reactors in the US, are at least partly controlled by Japanese companies. Reactor Pressure Vessels and other major components are built there.

Four California reactors also sit in earthquake zones vulnerable to tsunamis. San Onofre, between Los Angeles and San Diego, has 7.5 million people living within a 50-mile radius. Its two operating and one dead reactor sit less than a mile from the high tide line.

Diablo Canyon, near San Luis Obispo, sits near a series of earthquake faults, including one newly discovered less than two miles from the two reactor cores there.

Numerous other US reactors are perilously close to earthquake faults, including two operating at Indian Point, 35 miles north of Manhattan. The Perry reactor, on Lake Erie east of Cleveland, was damaged by an earthquake in January, 1986.

Massive quantities of heat have poured into the global eco-system from the multiple explosions, partial melt-downs and spent fuel fires at Fukushima, contributing significantly to global warming.

Highly radioactive fallout has been found miles from the site. Millions of gallons of extremely contaminated water have poured into the ocean.

Radioactive fallout has also been detected in rainwater, milk and on vegetables throughout the United States, threatening the health of millions of Americans, especially small children and embryos in utero.

Now Fukushima Unit Four appears to be on the brink of physical collapse. Fission may be continuing in at least one spent fuel pool, and possibly in one or more cores. Radiation levels are high enough at the site to guarantee certain near-term death to workers, many of whom have come to consider work at Fukushima to be a virtual suicide mission. A definitive end to the disaster could be years away.

Kan’s decision to shut Hamaoka and then to cancel future nukes came as a shock. Widely criticized for weakness in the wake of Fukushima, he has now redefined Japan’s energy future.

Though dependent on imported fossil fuels, major Japanese corporations have substantial investments in wind, solar and other Solartopian technologies. This will push them to the forefront of Japan’s energy future.

Likewise Germany. In the wake of huge public demonstrations and a major electoral defeat, Prime Minister Angela Merkel has shut seven old reactors and says ten more will go down by 2020, making Germany nuke-free. For decades Germany has been pushing wind, solar and other green technologies harder than any other industrial nation, with enormously profitable results.

In the US, renewables are also booming, while the reactor industry has been taking hard hits. Just this week a major French-operated component factory proposed for Virginia has been pushed back two years—which means likely cancellation. A $5 billion taxpayer-funded facility in South Carolina to produce plutonium-based Mixed Oxide reactor fuel faces a lack of customers, and growing doubts about the project’s viability or real purpose.

Overall, Fukushima has complicated an already dark financial picture. A Texas project meant for Japanese financing is now all but dead. So is one proposed for Maryland by the French.

While the Obama Administration continues to push for those $36 billion in loan guarantees, it’s unclear what reactor projects are in credible shape to accept them.

Meanwhile ferocious battles to shut old reactors in Vermont, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere are heating up. With roughly two dozen of similar design to Fukushima Unit One now operating in the US, the public demand for more shut-downs continues to escalate.

We need to finish the job and get to a green-powered Earth.

Nuclear power makes global warming worse, and spells economic as well as ecological doom.

The industry can’t get private financing, can’t get meaningful liability insurance, can’t deal with its wastes, can’t compete in the marketplace, can’t guarantee us we won’t suffer a Fukushima of our own, can’t provide a reliable energy supply into the future.

What lies before us once we kill these loan guarantees is a Solartopian reality powered by the sun, wind, tides, waves, earth’s heat and more.

Those countries like Germany, Denmark and now Japan that head definitively toward a nuke-free future are in the process of turning toward survivability and prosperity.

Let’s kill that loan guarantee package, shut the dying nukes like Vermont Yankee and Indian Point, and join them in truly green-powered future.


Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at www.harveywasserman.com.