Two more atomic dominoes have hit the deck.
At least a half-dozen more teeter on the brink, which would take the U.S. reactor count under 100.
But can we bury them before the next Fukushima erupts, and the leaks at Hanford destroy the Northwest?
And will we still laugh when Fox "News" says there's more sun in Germany than California?
Wisconsin's fully licensed Kewaunee reactor will now shut because it can't compete in the marketplace.
Florida's Crystal River will die because its owners poked holes in the containment during a botched repair job.
UBS and other financial experts say Entergy is bleeding cash at Vermont Yankee. After blacking out the SuperBowl, Entergy has no problem stiffing a state that has sued to shut its only reactor.
The same could happen to New York's Fitzpatrick and Ginna reactors, as well as the two at Indian Point, which need water permits and more from an increasingly hostile state. New Jersey's Oyster Creek, slammed by Hurricane Sandy, and Nebraska's Ft. Calhoun, recently flooded, are also on the brink.
The list of crippled, non-competitive and near-dead reactors lengthens daily. Few are more critical than California's San Onofre Units Two and Three, perched on an ocean cliff in the earthquake-tsunami zone between Los Angeles and San Diego.
More than eight million people live within a 50-mile radius of where San Onofre's owners botched a $600 million steam generator replacement. As radiation leaked, they may have lied to federal regulators, prompting U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) to demand an investigation.
After being down more than a year, Unit Three will almost certainly never reopen. Unit Two may well stay shut at least through the summer.
If a rising grassroots movement can bury them both, it will mark a huge turning point in a state where renewables are booming with new revenue and jobs.
Which gets us to the Murdochian weather report. A recent "Fox & Friends" was mystified by Germany's popular (and very profitable) decision to phase out nukes while turning to solar, wind, increased efficiency and other Solartopian technologies.
Finally, Shibani Joshi figured it out: "They're a small country, and they've got lots of sun. Right? They've got a lot more sun than we do."
The staggering laugh line that cold, dark Germany has more sunlight than a nation stretching from Hawaii to California to Florida could come only from an industry at dangerous odds with the planet on which it malfunctions.
This latest stretch of shut downs does not mean the death of the industry. Both Georgia and Florida are being assaulted with legislation that would allow utilities to build new reactors while ratepayers foot the bill.
And some activists concerned about global warming still dream of carbon-free reactors they hope might someday alleviate the situation.
But they miss the reality that such plants will likely never exist. Every promise this industry has made—from "too cheap to meter" to "reactors don't explode" to "radiation is good for you"—has turned toxic.
They also forget that a fragile pool laden with enough fuel rods to poison countless millions still sways 100 feet in the air at Fukushima. It remains horrifically vulnerable to seismic activity that could send it crashing down to a permanently contaminated earth.
All this happens as a horrific brew of radioactive sludge makes its way toward the Columbia River. Anyone who doubts the lethal legacy of the atomic industry need only look at the 177 giant tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation now leaking some 54 million gallons of toxic sludge. These wastes were created by atomic bomb production starting some 70 years ago, and still there is no firm idea what to do with them.
According to leading expert Robert Alvarez, the residues stored in Washington State have been eating through tanks there with no solution in sight. A proposed processing reactor to help deal with it all is estimated to cost at least $12 billion, if it ever gets finished—with no guarantee it will work. The overall clean-up could run more than $70 billion, says Alvarez, requiring technology that still must be invented. It's a project on par with putting a man on the moon, he says. Meanwhile new reports indicate the leaked poisons are migrating into the ground water just 10 miles from the Columbia, threatening to irradiate our precious Northwestern watershed.
Overall Hanford bodes badly for a commercial industry whose back is dangerously to the wall. We know it will squeeze every last cent from these dying reactors with less and less care for safety, especially since the federal government still insures them against the financial consequences of a major catastrophe. Every day they operate heightens the odds on something truly apocalyptic to follow in the wake of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.
Meanwhile they continue to spew out huge quantities of heat and waste. They divert precious capital from the proven green technologies that are now revolutionizing our energy economy in the only ways that can possibly save us from climate chaos.
This may yet become the first year in decades that the U.S. has fewer than 100 operating commercial reactors. It will also be the biggest year worldwide for the booming Solartopian industries that are transforming how we get our energy, create our jobs and grow our economy.
Lets just make sure we win that transition before the next radioactive disaster does its worst.
Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR POWER page for more related news on this topic.
Many people shop online for everything from clothes to appliances. If they do not like the product, they simply return it. But there's an environmental cost to returns.
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dolf Gielen and Morgan Bazilian
John Kerry helped bring the world into the Paris climate agreement and expanded America's reputation as a climate leader. That reputation is now in tatters, and President-elect Joe Biden is asking Kerry to rebuild it again – this time as U.S. climate envoy.
Energy Is at the Center of the Climate Challenge<p>The <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/1/" target="_blank">effects of climate change</a> are already evident across the globe, from <a href="https://theconversation.com/100-degrees-in-siberia-5-ways-the-extreme-arctic-heat-wave-follows-a-disturbing-pattern-141442" target="_blank">extreme heat waves</a> to <a href="https://science2017.globalchange.gov/chapter/12/" target="_blank">sea level rise</a>. But while the challenge is daunting, there is hope. Solar and wind power have become the <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2020/Jun/Renewable-Power-Costs-in-2019" target="_blank">cheapest forms of power generation globally</a>, and technology progress and innovation continue apace to support a transition to clean energy.</p><p>In the U.S. under a Biden administration, long-term national climate legislation will depend on who controls the Senate, and that won't be clear until after two run-off elections in Georgia in January.</p><p>But there is no shortage of <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/features/2020-biden-climate-change-advice/" target="_blank">ideas for ways Biden</a> could still take action even if his proposals are blocked in Congress. For example, he could use executive orders and direct government agencies to tighten regulations on greenhouse gas emissions; increase research and development in clean energy technologies; and empower states to exceed national standards, <a href="https://www.reuters.com/article/us-autos-emissions-california/defying-trump-california-locks-in-vehicle-emission-deals-with-major-automakers-idUSKCN25D2CH" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">as California did in the past with auto emission standards</a>. A focus on a just and equitable transition for communities and people affected by the decline of fossil fuels will also be key to creating a sustainable transition.</p><p>The U.S. position as the world's largest oil and gas producer and consumer creates political challenges for any administration. U.S. forays into European energy security are often treated with suspicion. Recently, France blocked <a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/frances-engie-backs-out-of-u-s-lng-deal-11604435609" target="_blank">a multi-billion dollar contract</a> to buy U.S. liquefied natural gas because of concerns about limited emissions regulations in Texas.</p><p>Strengthening cooperation and partnerships with like-minded countries will be critical to bring about a transition to cleaner energy as well as sustainability in agriculture, forestry, water and other sectors of the global economy.</p>
Creating a Global Sustainable Transition<p>How the world recovers from COVID-19's economic damage could help drive a lasting shift in the global energy mix.</p><p>Nearly one-third of Europe's US$2 trillion economic relief package <a href="https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-07-21/eu-approves-biggest-green-stimulus-in-history-with-572-billion-plan" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">involves investments that are also good for the climate</a>. The European Union is also strengthening its 2030 climate targets, though each country's energy and climate plans will be critical for successfully implementing them. The <a href="https://joebiden.com/clean-energy/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Biden plan</a> – including a $2 trillion commitment to developing sustainable energy and infrastructure – is aligned with a global energy transition, but its implementation is also uncertain.</p><p>Once Biden takes office, Kerry will be joining ongoing <a href="https://www.un.org/en/conferences/energy2021/about#:%7E:text=The%20overarching%20goal%20of%20the,2030%20Agenda%20for%20Sustainable%20Development.&text=Accelerate%20delivery%20of%20United%20Nations,related%20issues%20at%20all%20levels." target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high-level discussions on the energy transition</a> at the U.N. General Assembly and other gatherings of international leaders. With the U.S. no longer obstructing work on climate issues, the G-7 and G-20 have more potential for progress on energy and climate.</p><p>Lots of technical details still need to be worked out, including international trade frameworks and standards that can help countries lower greenhouse gas emissions enough to keep global warming in check. <a href="https://www.carbonpricingleadership.org/what" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Carbon pricing</a> and <a href="https://www.csis.org/analysis/how-can-europe-get-carbon-border-adjustment-right" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">carbon border adjustment taxes</a>, which create incentive for companies to reduce emissions, may be part of it. A consistent and comprehensive set of national energy transition plans will also be needed.</p><p>The global shift to <a href="https://www.irena.org/publications/2019/Jan/A-New-World-The-Geopolitics-of-the-Energy-Transformation" target="_blank">clean energy will also have geopolitical implications for countries and regions</a>, and this will have a profound impact on wider international relations. Kerry, with his experience as secretary of state in the Obama administration, and Biden's plan to make the climate envoy position part of the National Security Council, may help mend these relations. In doing so, the U.S. may again join the wider community of countries willing to lead.</p>
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By Maria Caffrey
As we approach the holidays I, like most people, have been reflecting on everything 2020 has given us (or taken away) while starting to look ahead to 2021.
We Need More Than Listening<p>By now we have all become sadly accustomed to the current administration sidelining scientists, most prominently Dr. Anthony Fauci, because the facts they provide do not fit with the political rhetoric of the moment.</p><p>I have <a href="https://www.csldf.org/2019/08/22/csldf-helps-climate-scientist-maria-caffrey-fight-for-scientific-integrity/" target="_blank">my own history</a> of filing a scientific integrity complaint with the National Park Service (which falls under the Department of the Interior) after senior ranking employees attempted to censor one of my scientific reports. I know all too well the damage and pain that these actions cause, not just for the individual scientist, but also because these <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/resources/attacks-on-science" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">attacks on science</a> over the last few years have undermined sound, evidence-based decision making.</p><p>President-elect Biden has repeatedly said that he will <a href="https://thehill.com/homenews/521638-trump-biden-will-listen-to-the-scientists-if-elected" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">listen to the scientists</a>. While this is certainly a welcome change, listening can only take us so far. This past week Lauren Kurtz from the <a href="https://www.csldf.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Climate Science Legal Defense Fund</a> and my colleague <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/about/people/gretchen-goldman" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Gretchen Goldman</a> published <a href="https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/ten-steps-that-can-restore-scientific-integrity-in-government/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">an article</a> listing 10 actions the new administration should implement to show their commitment to strengthening government science:</p><ol><li>Clearly prohibit political interference and censorship.</li><li>Protect scientists' communication rights.</li><li>Acknowledge that attempts to violate scientific integrity, even if ultimately not fruitful, are still violations.</li><li>Protect federal scientists' right to provide information to Congress and other lawmakers.</li><li>Commit to incorporating the best science as part of agency decisions.</li><li>Elevate agency scientific integrity policies to have the full force of law.</li><li>Publicly release anonymized information about scientific integrity complaints and their resolutions at every agency.</li><li>Institute an intra-agency workforce, potentially under the White House <a href="https://www.ucsusa.org/sites/default/files/2020-09/strengthening-science-and-si-at-ostp.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Office of Science and Technology Policy</a>, to coordinate scientific integrity efforts across agencies, foster discussion of policy improvements, and standardize criteria for policies across agencies.</li><li>Strengthen whistleblower protections.</li><li>Ensure that policies cover all actors who will be dealing with science.</li></ol>
Time for Action<p>I have spoken to many scientists, particularly federal scientists, who are eager to turn the page so they can hurry back to the work they had been doing before this administration, but I urge caution in assuming that things can be "normal" again.</p><p>Before Trump, I naively thought the scientific integrity policies established during the <a href="https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2016/12/19/scientific-integrity-policies-update" target="_blank">Obama administration</a> would be sufficient. I never imagined that any administration could so willfully ignore and attack expert advice and evidence that is intended to protect us and our public lands.</p><p>I have personally witnessed how hard our federal scientists work. They put in long hours with minimal pay (far less that what they could get if they worked in private industry) to pursue one simple goal: to make things better for the nation.</p><p>We need stronger scientific integrity policies to protect these people and their work. But more than that, we need stronger scientific integrity laws because they also benefit society.</p>
By Andrea Germanos
Environmental campaigners stressed the need for the incoming Biden White House to put in place permanent protections for Alaska's Bristol Bay after the Trump administration on Wednesday denied a permit for the proposed Pebble Mine that threatened "lasting harm to this phenomenally productive ecosystem" and death to the area's Indigenous culture.
<div id="da98c" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="478a197b7c59c92787c92bec92f1ac39"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1331662923710693376" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Bristol Bay forever, Pebble mine never. #NoPebbleMine #SaveBristolBay https://t.co/CBQ9zuy8A5</div> — Save Bristol Bay (@Save Bristol Bay)<a href="https://twitter.com/SaveBristolBay/statuses/1331662923710693376">1606328156.0</a></blockquote></div>
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OlgaMiltsova / iStock / Getty Images Plus
By Gwen Ranniger
In the midst of a pandemic, sales of cleaning products have skyrocketed, and many feel a need to clean more often. Knowing what to look for when purchasing cleaning supplies can help prevent unwanted and dangerous toxics from entering your home.