You are browsing the archive for Vogtle.

Obama’s Nuke-Powered Drone Strike

10:17 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Vogtle Electric

“All of the above” means more costly nuke projects like Vogtle Electric.

So the “all the above” energy strategy now deems we dump another $6.5 billion in bogus loan guarantees down the atomic drain. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced finalization of hotly contested taxpayer handouts for the two Vogtle reactors being built in Georgia. Another $1.8 billion waits to be pulled out of your pocket and poured down the radioactive sink hole.

A nuke-powered drone strike on fiscal sanity.

While Fukushima burns and solar soars, our taxpayer money is being pitched at a failed 20th century technology currently distinguished by its non-stop outflow of lethal radiation into the Pacific Ocean.

“Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.”

The money is to pump up a pair of radioactive white elephants that Wall Street won’t touch. Georgia state “regulators” are strong-arming ratepayers into the footing the bill before the reactors ever move a single electron—which they likely never will.

Sibling reactors being built in Finland and France are already billions over budget and years behind schedule. New ones proposed in Great Britain flirt with price guarantees far above currently available renewables.

The Vogtle project makes no fiscal sense … except for the scam artists that will feed off them for years to come.

Substandard concrete, unspecified rebar steel, major labor scandals, non-existent quality control … all the stuff that’s defined this industry since the Shippingport reactor started construction outside Pittsburgh some six decades ago is with us yet again.

It would be nice to say this is merely $6.5 billion wasted. But that’s the tip of the iceberg. Long Island’s Shoreham and New Hampshire’s Seabrook came in at 5-10 times their original cost estimates.

Shoreham never made it to commercial operation. Neither did Seabrook Unit Two.

Should Vogtle, for which these loans are designated, beat the odds and actually go on line in the years to come, it will multiply its sunk cost by irradiating the countryside and creating radioactive waste nobody can handle.

Nor can it get private insurance to shield future victims and the taxpaying public from the inevitable disaster. The next commercial reactor to explode (joining the five that already have) will do damage in the trillions.

Its owners will not be liable, and the people making this decision will never go to prison.

But many along the way will pocket major fortunes from substandard construction, corner-cutting “safety” scams, black market parts purchasing, mafia-run hiring operations and the usual greasing of radioactive palms that defines all reactor construction projects.

Take that $6.5 or $8.3 billion and invest it right now in wind, solar, sustainable bio-fuels, geothermal, ocean thermal, wave energy, LED light bulbs, building insulation and Solartopian south-facing windows.

THEN we can dent in our climate crisis.

THAT’s where the jobs are.

THERE would be an all-the-above energy strategy that actually makes sense.

Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia Green Power & Wellness Show is at www.progressiveradionetwork.com, and he edits www.nukefree.org. Harvey Wasserman’s History of the US and Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth are at www.harveywasserman.com along with Passions of the PotSmoking Patriots by “Thomas Paine.” He and Bob Fitrakis have co-authored four books on election protection, including How the GOP Stole America’s 2004 Election, at www.freepress.org. Read the rest of this entry →

Why Should Nuke Loan Guarantees Cost Less than Student or Home Loans?

11:57 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Harvey Wasserman

Why should nuke guarantees cost less than home or student loans?
July 2, 2012

The Department of Energy wants to give the Southern Company a nuclear power loan guarantee at better interest rates than you can get on a student loan. And unlike a home mortgage, there may be no down payment.

Why?

The terms DOE is offering the builders of the Vogtle atomic reactors have only become partially public through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

We still may not know all the details.

SACE has challenged the $8.33 billion loan guarantee package announced by President Obama in 2010.

The documents show the DOE has intended to charge the Southern a credit subsidy fee of one to 1.5%, far below the rates you would be required to pay for buying a house or financing an education.

On a package 15 times bigger than what the federal government gave the failed solar company Solyndra, Southern would be required to pay somewhere between $17 million and $52 million. Advocates argue the fee is so low that it fails to adequately take into account the financial risks of the project. Numerous financial experts have estimated the likely fail rate for new nuclear construction to be at 50% or greater.

Furthermore, since a primary lender would be the Federal Financing Bank, the taxpayer is directly on the hook. Guaranteed borrowings are not supposed to exceed 70% of the project’s projected costs, but it’s unclear what those costs will actually turn out to be, as the public has been given no firm price tag on the project.

There is apparently no cash down payment being required of Southern as it seems the loan is designed to be secured with the value of the reactors themselves, whatever that turns out to be. In the unlikely event they are finished, liability from any catastrophe will revert to the public once a small private fund is exhausted.

Southern wanted the terms of the DOE offer kept secret, and we still don’t know everything about it. But in March, a federal circuit court judge ordered that the public had a right to know at least some of the details.

Apparently no final documents have actually been signed between Southern and the DOE. The Office of Management & Budget has reportedly balked at offering the nuke builder such generous terms. Southern has reportedly balked at paying even a tiny credit fee.

Construction at the Vogtle site has already brought on delays focussed on the use of sub-standard concrete and rebar steel. The projected price tag—whatever it may be—has risen as much as $900 million in less than a year.

Southern and its Vogtle partners are in dispute with Westinghouse and the Shaw Company, two of the reactors’ primary contractors. Georgia ratepayers have already been stuck with $1.4 billion in advance payments being charged to their electric bills. Far more overruns are on their way.

The Vogtle project is running somewhat parallel with two reactors being built at V.C. Summer in South Carolina, where $1.4 billion was already spent by the end of 2011. Delays are mounting and cost overruns are also apparently in the hundreds of millions.

Southern and Summer’s builders both claim they can finance these projects without federal guarantees. But exactly how they would do that remains unclear.

Two older reactors now licensed at the Vogtle site were originally promised to cost $150 million each, but came in at $8.9 billion for the pair. The project’s environmental permits are being challenged in court over claims the Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to account for safety lessons from the Fukushima disaster.

The terms of the guarantees are now apparently being scrutinized by the Office of Management & Budget, which reports to a White House that may be gun-shy over new construction guarantees due to bad publicity from the Solyndra fiasco.

Numerous petitions are circulating in opposition to this package.

The Nuclear Information & Resource Service has already facilitated more than 10,500 e-mails sent directly to DOE Secretary Chu.

You might ask: why should the builders of nuclear power reactors get better terms than students struggling to pay for college or working families trying to buy a home?

At least the home buyers can get private liability insurance, which the nuke builders can’t.

If mounting grassroots opposition can stop this package, it’s possible no new reactors will ever be built in the US.

So send the OMB and DOE a copy of your mortgage or student loan statement.

Demand that before they finance any more nukes, they drop your own payment to 1%, just like they’re offering the reactor pushers. Also demand the right to buy a home without a down payment.

See how far you get, and then make sure Vogtle goes no farther.


Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! is at www.solartopia.org. He edits thenukefree.org website.

Hold that “Hot” Fukushima Sushi

6:07 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Harvey Wasserman

Hold that “hot” Fukushima sushi
June 7, 2012

We all knew it was coming.

Radioactive tuna has been caught off the coast of California.  The fingerprint of cesium 137 is unmistakably from the exploded reactors at Fukushima.

But Fukushima’s hot hands are also on a very welcome debate still stalemating China’s plans to build more than 30 new reactors.  Fierce No Nukes opposition continues to escalate in India.  Reactor cancellations have spread throughout Europe.

And the $8.33 billion loan guarantee for Georgia’s Vogtle double-reactor project has still not been finalized.  After just five months construction is $1 billion over budget and falling ever further behind schedule.  There is no firm price tag.  Substandard concrete and rebar steel that doesn’t meet official specifications are just the beginning of the nightmare.

You can help Georgia ratepayers and American taxpayers out of this misery by signing our petition at  http://nukefree.org/please-do-sign-petition-stop-new-nuke-loan-guarantees.

You can also prepare for life without sushi.  National Public Radio has assured us all that the radioactive tuna are perfectly safe to eat.  This is the same network whose Scott Simon glibly told us that there were no injuries at Three Mile Island, “not even a sprained ankle.”

But as long-time radiation expert Robert Alavarez warns, “it’s not harmless.”  Fukushima released far more cesium-137 than the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  Many decades ago lesser fallout from nuclear testing forced the confiscation of more than 4 million pounds of fish.

But as the really bad news from Fukushima continues to escalate, we must begin to adjust to far worse than giving up raw fish.

Massive quantities of Japanese trash have begun to wash up on the west coast of North America, from Alaska to California and beyond.  The tragic residue of the earthquake and tsunami that killed thousands and cost trillions has crossed the Pacific. The waves of debris include at least one “ghost ship,” many motor vehicles, thousands of barrels full of unknown substances and much more.

Much of it is radioactive.  Government officials, the nuclear industry and corporate media will lowball the readings and scoff at the health implications.  But American beaches are now contaminated, the fish you once ate is unsafe and the situation could get much worse.

Still hovering 100 feet in the air is the spent fuel pool at Fukushima #4.  Stacked with thousands of tons of the most lethal substances ever created, the fuel rods could come crashing to the ground with the next big earthquake.  Strewn at random, with no cooling water, exposed to the air, the radiation releases would far exceed Chernobyl, the nuclear bomb tests and any other polluting fallout humankind has yet created.  That it would go global is a given.

Repeated calls for help from international teams of experts underline the core reality that nobody really knows what to do, except to pray for seismic stability…an impossible dream in Japan, but at this point the only port of last resort.

Thankfully, the doubts instilled by Fukushima and the growing power of the global No Nukes movement have had their impact.  Reports from China indicatedeep divisions about further reactor construction.

Massive demonstrations and hunger strikes continue in opposition to India’s Koodankulam project.  Cancellations have spread throughout Europe.

In the meantime we Americans can finally kill the prospect of federal loan guarantees for building new reactors here.

As Mary Olson of the Nuclear Information & Resource Service has pointed out, money for new nukes—which can’t get private financing—was set aside early in the George W. Bush Administration.  But in large part as a result of the power of the grassroots No Nukes movement, not a single guarantee has yet been finalized.

Vogtle is the first project officially designated.  But problems with design, planning and execution continue to escalate.  So have the rate hikes imposed on Georgia consumers.  With no firm price tag or completion date, and with the entire industry in chaos, the Office of Management and Budget has been unable to set reasonable terms that the reactor builders can meet.

It all adds up to an industry in accelerating collapse.  Reactor construction at South Carolina’s V.C. Summer is also over budget, behind schedule and at the core of massive rate hike fights in both Carolinas.

Reactors proposed for Florida’s Levy County have soared over a minimum of $9.5 billion to as high as $12 billion each, and still climbing—far in excess of original estimates.  Shutdowns continue at nearby Crystal River, California’s San Onofre, the flooded Calhoun in Nebraska and many others.  Public pressure to forever close Vermont Yankee, New York’s Indian Point, Ohio’s Davis-Besse, South Texas and more continues to escalate.

Whether these shut-down movements succeed before a Fukushima happens here, or that spent fuel pool collapses, or Vogtle again escalates in price, remains to be seen.

What’s certain is that you can help stop the Vogtle loan guarantee and kill the chance of any new reactors being built here—paving the path at last for a totally green-powered Solartopian Earth.

So next time you start to reach for some sushi, grab a pen or keyboard instead.  Sign the petitions, call your Representative, run a bake sale—do whatever is needed to kill this loan guarantee and lessen the odds on being harmed by a Fukushima here at home.


Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! is at www.harveywasserman.com along with HARVEY WASSERMAN’S HISTORY OF THE US.  His Green Power & Wellness Show airs at prn.fm.  He is Senior Editor of freepress.org, where this was first published.

Will You Pay as New Reactors Jump $900 Million in 3 Months?

11:04 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

Will You Pay as New Reactors Jump $900 Million in 3 Months?

 

By Harvey Wasserman

 

 

The projected price for Georgia’s Vogtle Double Reactor Project has jumped at least $900 million in just three months….and that’s just for starters.

 

Will you pay for it?  The future of new atomic power in the US hangs in the balance.

 

A national grassroots campaign is now working to stop tax/ratepayer handouts and kill the project.

 

Construction there is defined by faulty concrete and non-spec rebar steel that threaten public safety and could delay completion dates beyond those projected even before construction began.

 

South Carolina’s V.C. Summer, the only other new US reactor project now under construction, is meeting fierce rate payer resistance in two states.  From Iowa to Brazil, Japan to France, the global reactor industry is collapsing in tandem.  But what other nations will it bankrupt and irradiate before it’s finished?

 

President Obama has tagged $8.33 billion in loan guarantees for Vogtle’s construction.  And Georgia ratepayers are being forced to pay for it in advance.

 

But the Office of Management and Budget is still dickering over terms with the Southern Company.  Vogtle’s prime builders want to put up little or no money.  They want interest rates lower than what you would pay to buy a new house.  They expect you to take primary liability for future disasters. They can’t say what will happen to the radioactive waste.

 

The real price tags for both Vogtle and Summer are suspect. Original estimates have been as low as $2-4 billion/reactor.  But Florida’s Progress Energy has just admitted its proposed reactors for Levy County, near Tampa, would go as high as $9.5 to $12 billion each.  Given their delays and structural defects, there’s no reason to believe Vogtle or Summer could come in cheaper.  At those prices, they cannot begin to compete with new renewables or efficiency.

 

So where does that leave Vogtle’s federal loan guarantees?  George W. Bush set aside $18.5 billion at the Department of Energy for new reactor funding, but made no grants.  Despite fierce lobbying, industry attempts to add to the fund have been defeated by national grassroots campaigns.

 

Obama designated the first $8.33 for Vogtle in 2010.  But closed-door negotiations between his OMB, the DOE and Southern have been inconclusive.

 

The $535 million failure of Solyndra Solar loans has cast a shadow over the entire federal guarantee system.  The proposed Vogtle guarantee is 15 times bigger.  At least three national petitions are circulating to kill it.

 

Southern has hinted it might seek better terms from private lenders.  But Wall Street has long scorned atomic investments.  And Georgia ratepayers are already being soaked for hundreds of millions to pay in advance for reactors sinking in debt and increasingly unlikely to ever operate.  In both South and North Carolina, ratepayers are revolting against skyrocketing rate hikes to build Summer.

 

In a major defeat for the nuclear industry, the Iowa legislature adjourned without voting advance rate hikes to build nukes there.  Similar legislation is stalled in Missouri and under attack in Florida.  Brazil has announced it will build no more reactors.  Despite fierce federal attempts to reopen them, all Japan’s commercial reactors remain shut.

 

New President Francois Hollande has pledged to phase down France’s dependency on atomic power.  A construction project at Flamanville (like one in Finland) is sinking in devastating overruns and delays.  Whether Hollande will proceed there or at any other remains to be seen.

 

But France’s new nuclear hesitancy may kill new reactor projects in Great Britain.   They have been posited on support from Electricite de France, now under attack from Hollande and a skeptical banking system being hammered by Europe’s financial crisis.

 

In India, many of the 350-plus women committed to a fast-unto-death against the Koodankulam reactors have entered critical life-threatening stages.  Police-state tactics have escalated the mass confrontation at the site.

 

Only China still seems a hold out for large-scale new construction.  As grassroots anti-nuclear campaign there begin, the central government has not yet announced its post-Fukushima decision on whether to proceed with some 30-plus proposed new reactors.

 

But at Fukushima itself, we still face a potentially catastrophic situation at Unit Four’s spent fuel pool, still perched 100 feet in the air.  Tons of horrifically radioactive rods remain at the mercy of an earthquake that could send them crashing to the ground, spewing releases that can only be termed “apocalyptic.”

 

In California, a failed $960 million “upgrade” at California’s San Onofre has led to steam generator tube failures shutting two reactors with no firm reopening date.  More than a $1 billion spent by Progress Energy at Florida’s Crystal River may also doom it to long overdue burial.

 

In Vermont, New York, Texas, Ohio and elsewhere else there are operating reactors, escalating leaks, flaws, errors and advanced aging define a supremely dangerous industry falling apart at its faulty welds.

 

So far there have been no balanced national hearings on the future of Votle’s loan guarantees, or continued construction at Summer.  But this latest $900 million price jump casts yet another deadly shadow over America’s nuclear future.

 

It’s time to kill this loan—and this industry—and put our money into green-powering our planet.

 

Our economic and ecological survival depend on it.

 

————————

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org.  His SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth, is at www.solartopia.org ; his Green Power & Wellness Show airs at www.progressiveradionetwork.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

America’s 2 New Nukes Are On the Brink of Death

6:48 am in Uncategorized by solartopia

MyFDL Editor Notes: Title edited to remove all caps in accordance with MyFDL rules. Image link also removed as image was not from an approved source for MyFDL, also covered under MyFDL rules.

Harvey Wasserman

America’s 2 new nukes are on the brink of death
April 5, 2012

The only two US reactor projects now technically under construction are on the brink of death for financial reasons.

If they go under, there will almost certainly be no new reactors built here.

The much mythologized “nuclear renaissance” will be officially buried, and the US can take a definitive leap toward a green-powered future that will actually work and that won’t threaten the continent with radioactive contamination.

As this drama unfolds, the collapse of global nuclear power continues, as two reactors proposed for Bulgaria have been cancelled, and just one of Japan’s 54 licensed reactors is operating. That one may well close next month, leaving Japan without a single operating commercial nuke.

Georgia’s double-reactor Vogtle project has been sold on the basis of federal loan guarantees. Last year President Obama promised the Southern Company, parent to Georgia Power, $8.33 billion in financing from an $18.5 billion fund that had been established at the Department of Energy by George W. Bush.

Until last week most industry observers had assumed the guarantees were a done deal. But the Nuclear Energy Institute, an industry trade group, has publicly complained that the Office of Management and Budget may be requiring terms that are unacceptable to the builders.

Southern and its supporters remain ostensibly optimistic that the deal will be done. But the climate for loan guarantees has changed since this one was promised. The $535 million collapse of Solyndra prompted a rash of angry Congressional hearings and cast a long shadow over the whole range of loan guarantees for energy projects. Though the Vogtle deal comes from a separate fund, skepticism over stalled negotiations is rising.

So is resistance among Georgia ratepayers. To fund the new Vogtle reactors, Southern is forcing “construction work in progress” rate hikes that require consumers to pay for the new nukes as they’re being built. Southern is free of liability, even if the reactors are not completed. Thus it behooves the company to build them essentially forever, collecting payment whether they open or not.

All that would collapse should the loan guarantee package fail.

A similar fate may be awaiting the Summer Project. South Carolina Electric & Gas has pledged to build the two new reactors there without federal subsidies or guarantees. But it does require ratepayer funding up front. That includes an apparent need for substantial financial participation from Duke Power and/or Progress Energy customers in North Carolina who have been targeted to receive some of the electricity projected to come from Summer. [cont.] Read the rest of this entry →