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Environmental activists in California are fighting plans to store 3.6 million pounds of highly radioactive nuclear waste on a popular beach in San Diego County.

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Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance

The latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information's "Electric Power Monthly" (with data through April 30) reveals that—for the first time since the beginning of the nuclear era—renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar—inc. small-scale PV, wind) are now providing a greater share of the nation's electrical generation than nuclear power.

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On May 11, in Southern California, paddleboarders got a frightening message from the sheriffs department via helicopter:

"This is the Orange County Sheriffs Department, be advised, the State Park is asking us to make an announcement to let you know you are paddleboarding next to approximately fifteen Great White sharks. They're advising that you exit the water in a calm manner. The sharks are as close as the surf line."

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Sarah Wasko / Media Matters for America

By Lisa Hymas

Energy Sec. Rick Perry has ordered his department to produce a study on whether the ongoing shift toward renewable energy is affecting the reliability of the electrical grid. A number of experts, clean-energy advocates and politicians on both sides of the aisle believe the study is intended to be biased in favor of the coal and nuclear industries, which have been struggling in recent years.

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Harvey Wasserman

From his California beach house at San Clemente, Richard Nixon once watched three reactors rise at nearby San Onofre. As of today all three are permanently shut. It’s a monumental victory for grassroots activism. It marks an epic transition in how we get our energy.

In the thick of the 1970s Arab oil embargo, Nixon said there’d be 1000 such reactors in the U.S. by the year 2000. As of today, there are 100. Four have shut here this year. Citizen activism has put the “nuclear renaissance” into full retreat.

Just two of 54 reactors now operate in Japan, where Fukushima has joined Chernobyl and Three Mile Island in permanently scarring us all. Germany is shutting its entire fleet and switching to renewables. France, once the poster child for the global reactor industry, is following suit. South Korea has just shut three due to fraudulent safety procedures. Massive demonstrations rage against reactors being built in India. Only the Koreans, Chinese and Russians remain at all serious about pushing ahead with this tragic technology.

Cheap gas has undercut the short-term market for expensive electricity generated by obsolete coal and nuke burners. But the vision of Solartopia—a totally green-powered Earth—is now our tangible long-term reality. With falling prices and soaring efficiency, every moving electron our species consumes will be generated by a solar panel, wind turbine, bio-fueled or geothermal generator, wave machine and their green siblings.

As of early this year, Southern California Edison's path to a re-start at San Onofre seemed as clear as any to be expected by a traditional atomic tyrannosaur. But with help from Sen. Boxer (D-CA) and Senator-to-be Markey (D-MA), a powerful citizen uprising stopped it dead.

So did the terrifying incompetence and greed that has defined the nuclear industry from the days of Nixon and before. San Onofre Unit One shut in the 1990s due largely to steam generator problems. In the early 2000s, Units Two & Three needed new steam generators of their own. In the usual grasp for more profits, Edison chose untested, unlicensed new designs. But they failed. And the whole world was watching. In the wake of Fukushima, two more leaky tsunami-zone reactors surrounded by earthquake faults were massively unwelcome.

So a well-organized non-violent core of local, state and national activists and organizations rose up to stop the madness. At Vermont Yankee, Indian Point, Seabrook, Davis-Besse and dozens of other reactors around the U.S. and world, parallel opposition is escalating.

Make no mistake—this double victory at San Onofre is a falling domino. Had the public not fought back, those reactors would have been “fixed” at public expense. Today, they are dead. Worldwide, there are some 400 to go. Each of them—including the 100 remaining in the U.S.—could do apocalyptic damage. We still have our work cut out for us.

But a huge double-step has been taken up the road to Solartopia. There will be no Fukushimas at San Onofre. A green-powered Earth is that much closer. And we have yet another proof that citizen action makes all the difference in our world.

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY and NUCLEAR pages for more related news on this topic.

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Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

Today, actresses Amy Smart, Eva Amurri Martino, Emmanuelle Chriqui and Dawn Olivieri joined the Sierra Club in an online video asking Gov. Jerry Brown to make a “clean break” with fossil fuels, and commit to replacing the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station with 100% clean energy. The California Public Utilities Commission is expected to begin its decision-making process within the next few days as to how much of the shuttered nuclear plant will be replaced by clean or dirty energy.

The video cuts between the different actresses in the midst of classic break-up scenes—packing up their things, talking over coffee and breaking the bad news as they tell fossil fuels that it’s time to move on: “I just don’t think it’s working out any more—our relationship is toxic. I need something I can commit to for the long term: clean energy.” 

The video ends with a link to a petition, where viewers can send a message to Gov. Brown asking him to only use clean energy to replace the power from the retired San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, instead of building new gas-fired power plants.

"Doubling down on dirty energy is not the right answer,” said Emmanuelle Chriqui. “Fossil fuels have been nothing but trouble for California—causing smog, spills, carbon emissions and health hazards all over the state. The upcoming transition of San Onofre is an opportunity for us to move forward and show that our state is going to be a leader on clean energy."

“Clean energy has become a major industry in California, and it’s ready to step up,” said Eva Amurri Martino. “Clean energy creates jobs, cleans up the environment, and it's how we're going to grow our economy in a sustainable way. That's the commitment we should make.”

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, located between San Diego and Los Angeles, was California’s largest operating nuclear power plant before it was retired last year. State officials have sent Gov. Brown a multi-billion dollar proposal that includes building new gas-fired power plants - a plan which would upend California’s clean air and climate change goals, and radically change the nature of the state’s energy mix.

“From record wildfires to record droughts, climate change is coming home to California,” said Evan Gillespie, director of the Sierra Club’s My Generation Campaign. “Building new dirty power plants would is an unnecessary and unacceptable retreat from our climate goals. We have a homegrown clean energy industry here in California that is ready to step up and meet the demand, and Gov. Brown should commit replacing the San Onofre plant with energy that is 100% carbon- and pollution-free.”

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLE ENERGY and NUCLEAR pages for more related news on this topic.

Michael Leonardi

The Davis Besse nuclear generating station in Oak Harbor, OH, on the western shore of Lake Erie is back in the cross hairs after last weeks announcement that the crippled San Onofre nuclear power plant in southern California will remain permanently shut down and be decommissioned. The decision by Southern California Edison came 17 months after major problems with its replacement generators caused a crack in piping and a release of radioactive steam into the environment. A broad based coalition of citizen’s groups, governmental officials and environmental organizations waged an epic battle to keep this threat to the Pacific Ocean and the southwestern U.S. permanently shut down.

Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station in Oak Harbor, OH, on the western shore of Lake Erie.

The San Onofre victory has bolstered a coalition of citizen’s groups working to shutter the Davis Besse nuclear plant while the plant’s owner and operator, First Energy, is planning to replace the plant’s steam generators in 2014. Davis Besse has come closer to a catastrophic accident on the shores of the Great Lakes more times than any other reactor in the country. More recently it has been discovered that the shield building that houses the reactor containment structure is riddled with extensive cracking.

The main impetus cited for the closure of San Onofre was the Atomic Safety Licensing Board’s decision to hold full public hearings on the license amendment granted for replacement of the generators at plant. The decision to hold these hearings came after national environmental organization Friends of the Earth intervened to call for this important skipped step in public transparency.

"The steam generator disaster at San Onofre, and public attempt to avoid similar bungling at Davis Besse, stem directly from the NRC’s [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] 24 year campaign to deregulate the industry," said Terry Lodge, attorney for the coalition of intervenors calling for a public hearing on the replacement of steam generators at Davis Besse.

"At San Onofre and Davis Besse the NRC relied on the utility’s self-reporting as to whether there is anything significant about this very major feat of building and installing technologically different pieces of equipment. There has been a fiasco in three out of the last three steam generator replacements. ‘Cross my heart and hope to die' regulation is totally unacceptable when it comes to nuclear energy," Lodge concluded.

Arnie Gundersen, chief engineer at Fairewinds Associates, Inc. served as the expert witness for Friends of the Earth in their San Onofre intervention. He is also the expert witness on behalf of Beyond Nuclear, Citizen’s Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan and the Sierra Club intervening on Davis Besse. In the case of Davis Besse, Gunderson has declared that the “data reviewed shows that First Energy should have applied for a license amendment with the requisite public review six years ago when replacement steam generators were originally designed, ordered and purchased.”

Gundersen’s Davis Besse testimony reported, “The last three steam generator replacement projects orchestrated by licensees sought to avoid the NRC’s license amendment process. By avoiding the license amendment processes for Crystal River 3 in Florida and San Onofre 2 and 3 in California, the owners, Progress Energy (Crystal River) and Edison (San Onofre) caused all three units to experience total mechanical failures.”

A cascading failure of steam generator tubes can lead to a loss of coolant accident and reactor meltdown.

The failure of the steam generator replacements came about because they were largely experimental—newly designed systems did not mesh well with older equipment. Gundersen has detailed nine significant differences between the replacement and original steam generators at Davis Besse concluding that “each and every one of these changes is significant individually, and when taken together prove that the replacement contains many experimental parameters.

The coalition contends that First Energy’s shortcut on safety by its circumvention of an NRC license amendment proceeding, risks repeating the same sort of dangerous mistakes made at San Onofre. It was January 2012 when a steam generator tube rupture at San Onofre released radioactivity and led to the discovery of widespread, unexpected tube degradation in replacement steam generators just over a year old. Thankfully, San Onofre will not operate again.

“Once again, First Energy’s indifference to anything but maximum profit dictates the dance,” said Lodge. “What if this new, experimental design doesn’t work out, just as steam generator replacements in the last three reactors have proven to be failures? For First Energy it’s profits first safety last."

The NRC continues to operate like a used car salesman on behalf of the remaining 100 aging and decrepit lemons that threaten millions of Americans living near dangerous nuclear plants in the U.S. Instead of regulating this industry, NRC officials continue to try and paint a rosy picture of this dangerous technology. Just this week in Oak Harbor the NRC held an open house on Davis Besse’s annual performance review.

NRC representatives spoke glowingly of First Energy’s plans to operate 20 years past its life expectancy after its license expires in 2017. When asked by concerned citizens about the risks posed by replacing the steam generators, an NRC representative just tried to brush the question aside by saying “don’t worry, these are the Cadillacs of steam generators.” This begs the question, did the NRC settle for Kia’s at San Onofre and Crystal River?

“The Japanese parliament has concluded that the root cause of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear catastrophe was not the earthquake and tsunami, but rather the government-regulator-industry collusion that allowed the atomic reactors to be so vulnerable to a natural disaster,” said Kevin Kamps of Beyond Nuclear. “Davis Besse has been the poster child for just such collusion from the very beginning, through the 2002 hole in the reactor head fiasco, and right up to the present.”

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY and NUCLEAR pages for more related news on this topic.

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Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

By Noah Long

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) research, development and demonstration (RD&D) program is needed because California is facing huge challenges—and opportunities—in its electric system: both from the state’s ambitious goals and mandates to reduce the environmental impacts of electricity generation, transmission and consumption and also from the effects of an aging infrastructure. 

The commission approved RD&D investment proposals from Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas and Electric and the Energy Commission—which will administer the EPIC program. The program funds R&D for the benefit of the customers of the three largest investor-owned utilities in the state, together accounting for two-thirds of the electricity used in California. In addition, the CPUC adopted metrics and potential areas of measurement for evaluating the investment plans.

The decision follows the legislature’s guidance and decades of leadership from California utilities and the commission, itself, on research and development. The $162 million in annual investments in RD&D will be included in the utilities’ electric rates. Although subject to a misguided legal challenge from Southern California Edison, the commission's decision means the EPIC program will go forward while a court weighs the issue.

The state faces numerous challenges and opportunities for which R&D is needed, including reducing carbon emissions from power plants; adding and integrating 33 percent renewable energy and high penetrations of distributed generation; continuing to seek and deploy all cost effective energy efficiency; and replacing aging infrastructure including the San Onofre nuclear power plant and outdated coastal power plants that damage California’s ocean waters.

Meeting these challenges while maintaining affordable, reliable electricity for electric customers will only be possible if California maintains its commitment to innovation. The R&D investments approved represent a modest investment in research and development: lower than the average spending level in most industries. Still, they offer a critical opportunity for ongoing, strategic and leveraged investments in our energy future. 

The R&D proposals approved this month have been through a long and rigorous stakeholder process and the commission’s decision is a big win for innovation in energy, which will benefit California’s residents, businesses and industries.

This piece originally appeared on NRDC Switchboard.

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

Harvey Wasserman

San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in southern California. Photo credit: Nuclear Regulatory Commission

The bitter battle over two stricken southern California reactors has taken a shocking seismic hit.  The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has ignored critical questions from two powerful members of Congress just as the Government Accountability Office (GAO) has seriously questioned emergency planning at the San Onofre nuclear plant.

At a cost of some $770 million, Southern California Edison (SCE) and its partners installed faulty steam generators at San Onofre Units 2 and 3 that have failed and leaked.

Those reactors have been been shut since January, 2012 (similar defects doomed Unit 1 in 1992).

They've generated zero electricity, but SCE and its partners have billed ratepayers over a billion dollars for them.

SCE wants San Onofre reopened by June 1. The idea is to experiment with Unit 2 at 70 percent of full power for five months, despite widespread concerns that the defective generators will fail again.

That would require a license amendment, about which the NRC staff has asked Edison 32 key preliminary questions. But there’s been no official, adjudicated public hearing on Edison’s response.

On April 9, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) asked the NRC to keep Unit 2 shut until the safety issues can be fully vetted.

Boxer chairs the powerful Senate Committee on the Environment and Public Works, which oversees the NRC. Markey is ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and is the current front-runner to fill John Kerry’s vacated Senate seat.

Their letter to NRC Chair Allison Macfarlane says, San Onofre must not re-open without a "comprehensive investigation" and "full opportunity for public participation." Utility efforts to "shortcut the license amendment process,” they say, “would put public safety at risk."

SCE's backdoor dodge "was made despite evidence showing that there could be a significant hazard from the operation of the deficient steam generators." That, in turn, "would fall far short of the kind of consideration the 8 million people who live within 50 miles of San Onofre deserve."

Boxer and Markey asked the NRC to respond by 4 p.m. April 10. Instead, the Commission staff publicly issued a “no significant hazard” ruling that would speed the re-licensing process—a precise renunciation of the Boxer/Markey concerns.

Markey, in turn, said, the NRC "showed blatant disregard” for public safety.

Boxer said, the ruling was “dangerous and premature," especially since “the damaged plant is located in an area at risk of earthquake and tsunami.”

She added, "It makes absolutely no sense to even consider taking any steps to reopen San Onofre until these investigations look into every aspect of reopening the plant given the failure of tubes that carry radioactive water.”

The Commission has made some preliminary recommendations in response to Fukushima, including a call for new filters, which the industry has resisted. But it’s at least two years away from issuing new regulations based on lessons learned. Former NRC Chair Greg Jaszco has criticized the industry for failing to respond to Fukushima’s warnings. The Commission, he says, is “just rolling the dice” on public safety.

Jaszco’s concerns were mirrored in a report issued April 9 by the GAO warning that there were deep flaws in plans for evacuating southern California should San Onofre actually blow.

Mirroring widespread anger over soaring electric rates, Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik warned that ratepayers were tired of getting “the shaft” at San Onofre by being forced to pay Edison millions “for services not rendered.”

The escalated San Onofre uproar comes with the double-shorting of a critical Fukushima cooling system prompted by a hungry (now fried) rodent that ate through some cable insulation. The power outage threatened a Unit Four spent fuel pool laden with hundreds of tons of immeasurably dangerous rods.

The system crashed again when the owners botched the installation of a rodent protection system. They've further confirmed major radioactive leakage from at least three of five tanks holding Fukushima's millions of gallons of contaminated wastes.

Parallel leaks at the Hanford nuclear facility in Washington state now threaten the Columbia River.

A major equipment crash at Missouri's Calloway was preceded this week by an accident at Arkansas Nuclear One that killed at least one worker and injured at least seven others.

Once the atomic poster child, France is now exploring joining Germany in phasing out its expensive, decaying nuclear fleet for a massive new commitment to renewables.

Germany is turning coordinated large-scale natural systems into base load providers.

And the city of Los Angeles now offers green feed-in tariffs meant to power a Solartopian conversion.

Edison is fighting off installing wind or solar generators, hoping to keep the public paying for its failures at San Onofre.

But for SCE and the NRC to flat-out ignore Congressionals as powerful as Boxer and Markey may indicate how desperately they want San Onofre paid for by the public.

SCE warns of power shortages this summer, but San Onofre was off-line last summer without major impact. SCE wants the public to continue to pay for these nukes, faulty generators and all. But if they're down another summer, the odds against them ever reopening will jump.

Two other U.S. reactors—Kewaunee in Wisconsin and Florida's Crystal River—will soon shut forever. Public pressure on New York's Indian Point, Oyster Creek in New Jersey and Vermont Yankee could drive the number of U.S. reactors under 100 this year for the first time in decades.

Boxer (202-224-3553) and Markey (202-225-2836) are now being asked to hold those adjudicated public hearings in southern California, and to investigate the GAO'S findings on evacuation, before any new license is granted at San Onofre.

Rising anger over a dangerous restart and more billions flowing into utility pockets guarantees that this fight will continue to escalate. Edison and the NRC seem willing to ignore the public's demands and those of Sen. Boxer and Rep. Markey. But they now face an ever-angrier public upheaval.

The potential restart of San Onofre still hangs in the balance. But the magnitude of the confrontation has taken a significant leap.

Stay tuned! … or, better yet ... get involved!

Visit EcoWatch’s NUCLEAR POWER page for more related news on this topic.

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Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

 

Adam Chimienti

Participants gathered to protest the expansion of Florida Power & Light's two new nuclear reactors at Turkey Point Nuclear Generating Station in Homestead, FL.

The Wall Street Journal trumpeted the news late last week that the “nuclear renaissance” is alive and well, explaining how the Florida legislature has been instrumental in bringing this point home to its citizens. The problem is, the citizens of the Sunshine State didn’t really have much of a say in the matter.

Actually, it is doubtful that most even knew about the nuclear cost recovery legislation that has been hidden in the energy bills of customers of Florida Power & Light (FPL) and Progress Energy (now a Duke subsidiary) since 2006. The legislation is a way to get new nuclear power plants up and running on the backs of taxpayers. No one denies this. What has been denied is the rights of the people to know the costs that have been hoisted on their backs and what this means in terms of actual benefits. This is what the nuclear renaissance looks like.

Alex Flint of the Nuclear Energy Institute, as quoted in the Wall Street Journal article, was quick with his praise for this encouraging example from the ethically-challenged Florida politicians, for his preferred brand of “democracy”:

Florida's legislators did the right thing in allowing utilities to preserve the most effective option to finance new nuclear energy facilities if warranted by the state's utility regulators. Doing so gives the state the means to supply reliable, affordable, clean energy for future generations of Floridians.

Reliable? Affordable? Clean energy for future Floridians? Perhaps, the people over at the Nuclear Energy Institute don’t read the frightening reports coming daily from Fukushima, or perhaps they do and don’t give a damn. They can afford excellent health coverage and certainly don’t need to be concerned about their state legislators telling the federal government there is no need to extend Medicaid to its impoverished and uninsured citizens (another low-light from the Florida legislature’s most recent session).

If the average Floridian wanted to tune into the mildly-heated debates in the Florida House, they might have learned that one of the amendments added by opponents would have required a clear reference to the "recovery costs" on the utility customer’s bills. The majority of representatives in the House and Senate would not hear of it. They instead opted for the "idea" of functional representative democracy, as opposed to the practice. By claiming that the legislation was all about saving ratepayers money, many in Tallahassee were patting themselves on their backs for their achievements when the session ended last Friday.

Instead, the truth about their leadership and the notion of a nuclear renaissance is rather obvious. Genuine democratic institutions and the marketplace would never go ahead and accede to a nuclear renaissance in the age of Fukushima and the recent news reports about the Hanford site in Washington, San Onofre, and a host of other problematic plants around that should be shut down immediately. The cleanup costs for nuclear plants are astronomically excessive, especially in a time of austerity budgets. There is still no remotely responsible method of dealing with nuclear waste; the recent Federal court decision against the Department of Energy (DOE) that ultimately punishes the U.S. taxpayers for a political deadlock surrounding the dangerous issue of extremely toxic materials. Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the DOE is primarily responsible for figuring out a solution to this mess. The environmental and economic legacies (inextricably linked) that we are leaving for future generations should be regarded as criminal, in a just world.

Returning to Tallahassee, since no insurers are willing to back these projects and the costs always spiral out of control, Florida had to go about it another way. The lawmakers there were told by their real constituents in the energy industry that the public simply had to pay for plants that shouldn’t and probably won’t ever get built. The bill SB 1472 was sent to Gov. Rick Scott for signing and the utility companies had to pretend that they were on the “losing side” of this “struggle.” After all, now they will have to march all the way over to the Public Service Commission every year to prove that they actually intend to finish the tax-payer funded utility projects. Poor fellows. However, because of loopholes in the law, these utility companies are able to make huge profits if the projects fail and permanently cease. In other words, they win no matter what.

How much are Florida utility customers paying exactly? It is estimated that around $1.5 billion has been raised since the law first came into play over six years ago. Yet, costs are projected to be around $50 a month per household by 2020 and, if you talk to the average Floridian, they probably couldn’t tell you what this money is for and certainly couldn’t tell you where is it going. Yet, these figures obscure some more obscene realities about nuclear power in this state.

For example, the plant at Crystal River, some 80 miles north of Tampa, closed earlier this year after a long and dangerous history. The plant was plagued by a host of problems making the “watch list” and considered one of the worst-run reactors in 1996. The original operators, Florida Progress Corporation, were cutting corners way back in the early days and this led to a history of problems with reinforcement in the containment building. Eventually, the plant would close multiple times and for long stretches. Duke Energy, a major U.S. nuclear company, had no choice but to close it down for good after it reviewed some very questionable repair estimates upon completing its merger with Progress, thereby forming the largest U.S. utility, in 2012.

On a recent trip to the Crystal River area of western Florida, replete with several national and state parks and a lot more beauty to discover aside from the famous manatees, a few locals told me all these expenses were unnecessary. The Crystal River nuclear plant’s closure was actually due to an absurd plan to replace steam generators, a routine upgrade that was done in dozens of other U.S. reactors by either one of two contractors. Progress wanted to cut costs and in an attempt to save $15 million dollars decided it would do the replacements itself. The ill-fated upgrades in 2009, and maintenance since then, now add up to devastating $1.3 billion, according to Tampa Bay Times. This reckless decision-making surely factored in the taxpayers unwitting support in case a bailout was required.

Meanwhile, the company has plans to build another nuclear power plant nearby in Levy County but costs keep skyrocketing. From original estimates of $5 billion in 2006, current estimates are roughly five times that amount. Worse yet, the date for going online was pushed back from 2016 to 2024. Citizens are outraged and the many seniors in the area are backed by the American Association of Retired Persons, which is opposed to the nuclear costs recovery scheme. Does that affect the overall outcome of the debate around this bilking of taxpayers? Predictably, no.

Florida Power & Light is also planning two new reactors in the Everglades as an addition to their Turkey Point nuclear plant. They are fresh off a public relations victory based on an expansion and upgrades to their existing reactors at Turkey Point and up further north near Port St. Lucie, FL. These plants are in some of the least seismically active places in the country so don’t fret about earthquakes. What is worrisome though are the hurricanes that come sweeping through, with increasing intensity predicted. Hurricane Andrew gave the Turkey Point nuclear plant a thrashing in 1992 when the main water tank and smokestack that were destroyed, in addition to a loss of off-site power. As Alan Farago has pointed out on Counterpunch, there is also the issue of rising seas to contend with and he offers us a glimpse of the nightmarish future in the beautiful and unique swamplands of southern Florida:

Long after seas rise to flood everything around Turkey Point but the 300 acre fill pad to be elevated 20 feet above sea level, [it will look] to future generations like a gargantuan, radioactive flat-topped Mayan temple.

This is what the nuclear industry in a dramatically changing climate looks like.

To circumvent the criticism about this that may come from the camps of Monbiot-bots out there, clearly if nuclear power plants continue to get shut down (Kewaunee in Wisconsin has just been officially closed and California’s San Onofre’s inevitable closure seems likely to follow) the power source must get replaced. It will more than likely get replaced with natural gas and that means more fracking. Of course, this is a terrible choice and I am not about to argue the lesser of two evils. It appears that U.S. citizens need to seriously evaluate the power of their utility companies and challenge them every step of the way forward. They are uniquely influential when it comes to mapping out our energy futures. If left unchallenged, they will make terrible choices that are in their very narrow interests, to hell with their own and everyone else’s grandchildren.

Florida’s energy sector is a classic example of this ridiculous dance the legislators and power company executives do around the citizenry, proclaiming all that hard work of legislating and developing, operating and maintaining power plants is for us. Meanwhile, they grow ever richer and less accountable and average people pay costs that are well beyond the financial realms of existence. Fossil fuels and nuclear are both incredibly dangerous to the health of our planet and species, especially when exploited at the magnitude they are in the 21st century. They threaten our children and our children’s children’s children, unborn and unnamed. They need to be stopped. There is a need for a renaissance but it is of a popular grassroots nature that will roar with intensity and be shaped by the strength and beauty of the affected, who bare their scars and redefine the nature of power.

Visit EcoWatch’s ENERGY and NUCLEAR pages for more related news on this topic.

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Click here to tell Congress to Expedite Renewable Energy.

 

Friends of the Earth

In response to the announcement that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is sending an “Augmented Inspection Team” to California to investigate safety problems at reactor 3 at the San Onofre nuclear plant, Friends of the Earth’s Climate and Energy Project director, Damon Moglen, issued the following statement: 

“The NRC has recognized the gravity of the steam generator failures and radioactive leak at the San Onofre nuclear reactors. The NRC has essentially taken control of the ongoing investigation by flying in a team to the site. We applaud the NRC's initiative, but this investigation must include both of the closed reactors, not just unit 3. The well being of millions of local residents of San Onofre depends on a thorough investigation. They deserve answers.

“We are deeply concerned about the ongoing safety problems at these two old, dangerous reactors and with the track record of their operator, Southern California Edison. Edison is talking about preparing to restart a reactor, yet it is exploring problems at the other and has yet to explain what caused the damage to the reactors’ steam generators.

“Gambling with the safety of the public in this way is unacceptable. Public alarm has been confirmed by the dispatch of a special NRC inspection team—there can be no further talk of restart of either reactor without a thorough, independent investigation and full public disclosure of the nature of the problems and any proposed solutions. If these reactors are unsafe to operate, they must be permanently closed, especially as they sit in this earthquake prone area.”

For more information, click here.