Nuclear Good News

Abigail is agitated with me. She is worried about the health effects locally around Fukushima fallout and the stuff i keep sending her is both depressing and frightening. And while it will hardly cheer her up, there is a bunch of good news recently. Much of this recently harvested from NIRS (donate money to this premier national and international anti-nuclear organization by clicking here).

Abigail age 7 - way ahead of the curve

NRG Energy has cancelled the South Texas Nuclear Project proposed South Texas reactor is dead. TEPCO (the Japanese utility which operated the Fukushima plants) was to be the 10% financier of this new reactor complex in the Lone Star State. The NRG utility which owned the proposed reactor will write down $481 million for canceling the project. It is worth noting that NRG managed to spend nearly half a billion dollars without having a license or breaking ground on construction.

*An NRC Licensing Board, saying that UniStar Nuclear is not eligible to build a reactor in the U.S. has ordered UniStar and the NRC Staff to show cause as to why they shouldn’t rule in NIRS’ favor, deny a construction license for the proposed new reactor Calvert Cliffs-3

*A new Washington Post/ABC News poll confirms earlier polls: 64% of Americans now oppose new reactor construction–59% strongly oppose.

*An effort in Missouri to institute a Construction-Work-in-Progress (CWIP) bill to support Ameren UE’s efforts to license their proposed Callaway reactor failed in the state senate.  This would have allowed the utility to collect money during construction, so even if construction is delayed the utility still profits, very important for oft delayed reactors.  Without this the Callaway plant is dead.

But for me good news means that there is something positive people can actually do with he anger and frustration and helplessness which oft comes with this type of accident. In this case there are two things you could do.

The first is you can support is Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)  nuclear safety bill HR 1242 is the best nuclear safety/anti-new reactor legislation we have seen in a long time. Components of this legislation introduced by Ed Markey (D from Mass) include:

And  that is worth supporting. HR 1242 would:
*  Ensure that nuclear power plants and spent nuclear fuel pools can withstand and adequately respond to earthquakes, tsunamis, strong storms, long power outages, or other events that threaten a major impact.

* Require nuclear power plants to have emergency backup plans and systems that can withstand longer electricity outages.

* Require spent nuclear fuel to be moved into safer dry cask storage as soon as the fuel is sufficiently cooled to do so.

* Require the Department of Energy to factor in the lessons learned from the Fukushima meltdown when calculating the risk of default on loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants.

It is this last piece which is most important.  There is a trick that the government has been paying with loan guarantees, in which it puts aside 1% of the money guarenteed.  This means you can get a $10 billion reactor for only $100 million put aside.  However, if Fukushima risk is added this will have to be re-assessed and any reassessment will skyrocket the current indefensible number.  Making federal funding of new reactors prohibitively expensive, eliminating the principal money source for proposed new reactors.

The other thing you can do is tell your friends (or institutions which you associate with) to vote for Dominion Resources shareholder resolution which instructs the board to block the proposed new nuclear power plant 15 miles from my home. I helped draft and promote this resolution. I will put this up tomorrow, it is too late and the company too engaging to do more just now.
It’s not a perfect bill; it’s not all we want by any means. And given the nature of the current Congress, even this is unlikely to pass. But we believe it is important for this bill to garner as many co-sponsors as possible to help set the tone for real changes in the next Congress.

Please send a letter to your Representative now and urge him/her to co-sponsor HR 1242.