Category: Solartopia (page 2 of 3)

Crumbling Reactors and Other Nightmares of a Trump-Perry Energy Policy

burns towers 4 solartopia

Mr. Burns, Matt Groening Productions, Inc. Published by HarperPerennial. The Simpsons & 1990 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. 

by Harvey Wasserman

Tthis article was originally published by The Progressive on January 13, 2017]

In the area of energy policy under the presidency of Donald Trump, two concerns loom above all others.

One is Trump’s support for nuclear power and fossil fuel energy, at a time when other powerful countries are going renewable. Trump’s economic commitments to nuclear energy and fossil fuels contrast sharply with China’s massive new commitment to energy sources including solar and wind. If China, the world’s number-two economy, joins Germany (number four) and possibly Japan (number three) in converting to 100 percent renewable sources, the U.S. economy will be left in the dust.

The other concern is geriatric atomic reactors. The nation’s 99 nuclear plants now have an average age of more than thirty-five. Some, like Ohio’s Davis-Besse, are literally crumbling. Others, like New York’s Indian Point, and Diablo Canyon on the California coast, are surrounded by active earthquake faults.

A single Fukushima-scale disaster at an American reactor could poison millions, destroy our continental eco-system, and bankrupt our economy.

Sixty years after America’s first commercial reactor opened, not one can get private liability insurance. When the next one blows, the public will be stuck with the damages, which could easily soar into the trillions.

Nuclear waste management has already failed miserably. In February 2014, a single barrel of radioactive trash exploded at the hugely expensive state-of-the-art disposal facility in Carlsbad, New Mexico. More than a dozen workers were irradiated and the facility was shut for more than two years at a cost of more than $2 billion.

Now the nuclear-utility lobby nationwide is strong-arming state governments for massive bailouts to prop up decrepit reactors. In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo recently approved a $7 billion handout for money-losing upstate reactors that cannot compete with fracked gas or renewables, whose owners wanted them shut, and whose extremely serious safety issues grow more severe every hour.  In Illinois, the nuclear lobby has won more than $2 billion to sustain three ancient reactors that are literally falling apart.

Ohio’s FirstEnergy is now begging the Public Utilities Commission and state legislature for billions to keep running the infamous Davis-Besse reactor, which has suffered numerous accidents and whose shield building is literally crumbling. In Michigan and elsewhere, as utilities move to shut the most dangerous and money-losing reactors in their obsolete fleet, the nuclear lobby is crying for more taxpayer handouts, both state and federal.

The Nuclear Information & Resource Service estimates the public cost of a nationwide wave of such bailouts at about $280 billion. In business terms, that’s like jumping into the mass manufacture of Edsel automobiles, or turning away from cell phones to stake our future on land lines.

In New York, Cuomo did finally move to shut two badly deteriorated reactors at Indian Point, but then diluted the decision by allowing them to operate for several more years. In California, a deal to shut two reactors at Diablo Canyon allows them to operate (also with expired licenses) well into the 2020s even though they are surrounded by a dozen earthquake faults.

Trump is expected to pour federal money into the nuclear kitty. The incoming president says he “loves solar,” but has also said it’s too expensive. It’s likely that Trump will end tax credits for renewable energy, which has been a major support for emerging industries, and decimate Obama’s Clean Power Plan, which would have pushed states to cut power plant emissions. And Trump’s pick for energy secretary, former Texas Governor Perry, has been deeply supportive of the growth of fossil fuel and nuclear industries in Texas throughout his career.

But things are shifting on the international scene. China’s cities are choking on lethal air pollution from its consumption of coal, and while the Chinese are still debating a potential major commitment to nuclear, they have alsocommitted to a $365 billion investment in renewable energy by 2020.

Similar things are true of Germany and its energiewende commitment. Immediately after the 2011 catastrophe at Fukushima, German Chancellor Angela Merkel ordered the shutdown of eight reactors, with the rest of Germany’s nuclear power plants planned for closure by 2022. Tens of thousands of Germans put solar panels on their rooftops, rendering many communities energy self-sufficient, and dropping electricity prices throughout the country.

The glut of cheap energy has forced numerous fossil fuel and nuclear energy plants to shut, leading to disruptive crises in supply and pricing. But the transition will sort itself out, establishing Germany as a dominant supplier of clean electricity, giving it the industrial high ground in Europe and on a global scale.

Japan may soon follow suit. Despite the pro-nuclear stance of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a massive grassroots movement has prevented the reopening of nearly all Japan’s fifty-four reactors. A number of smaller countries have also made substantial investments in renewables, including Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Scotland. Even oil-rich nations are getting in on the renewables game. The United Arab Emirates just announcedplans to invest $163 billion in renewables to generate half the nation’s power by 2050.

Meanwhile, the United States continues to bleed billions to prop up dying coal and nuclear industries. Nuclear bailouts like those in New York and Illinois are crippling a transition that the U.S. must make if it is to have a competitive future in world industrial markets.

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Harvey Wasserman  is co-founder of the global grassroots No Nukes movement and author or co-author of twenty books, including Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth (solartopia.org), and The Last Energy War (Seven Stories Press).

King CONG vs. Solartopia

 

again

by Harvey Wasserman, (cross posted from Reader Supported News)

 

s you ride the Amtrak along the Pacific coast between Los Angeles and San Diego, you pass the San Onofre nuclear power plant, home to three mammoth atomic reactors shut by citizen activism.

Framed by gorgeous sandy beaches and some of the best surf in California, the dead nukes stand in silent tribute to the popular demand for renewable energy. They attest to one of history’s most powerful and persistent nonviolent movements.

But 250 miles up the coast, two reactors still operate at Diablo Canyon, surrounded by a dozen earthquake faults. They’re less than seventy miles from the San Andreas, about half the distance of Fukushima from the quake line that destroyed it. Should any quakes strike while Diablo operates, the reactors could be reduced to rubble and the radioactive fallout would pour into Los Angeles.

Some 10,000 arrests of citizens engaged in civil disobedience have put the Diablo reactors at ground zero in the worldwide No Nukes campaign. But the epic battle goes far beyond atomic power. It is a monumental showdown over who will own our global energy supply, and how this will impact the future of our planet.

On one side is King CONG (Coal, Oil, Nukes, and Gas), the corporate megalith that’s unbalancing our weather and dominating our governments in the name of centralized, for-profit control of our economic future. On the other is a nonviolent grassroots campaign determined to reshape our power supply to operate in harmony with nature, to serve the communities and individuals who consume and increasingly produce that energy, and to build the foundation of a sustainable eco-democracy.

The modern war over America’s energy began in the 1880s, when Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla clashed over the nature of America’s new electric utility business. It is now entering a definitive final phase as fossil fuels and nuclear power sink into an epic abyss, while green power launches into a revolutionary, apparently unstoppable, takeoff.

In many ways, the two realities were separated at birth.

Edison pioneered the idea of a central grid, fed by large corporate-owned power generators. Backed by the banker J. Pierpont Morgan, Edison pioneered the electric light bulb and envisioned a money-making grid in which wires would carry centrally generated electricity to homes, offices, and factories. He started with a coal-burning generator at Morgan’s Fifth Avenue mansion, which in 1882 became the world’s first home with electric lights.

Morgan’s father was unimpressed. And his wife wanted that filthy generator off the property. So Edison and Morgan began stringing wires around New York City, initially fed by a single power station. The city was soon criss-crossed with wires strung by competing companies.

But the direct current produced by Edison’s generator couldn’t travel very far. So he offered his Serbian assistant, Nikola Tesla, a $50,000 bonus to solve the problem.

Tesla did the job with alternating current, which Edison claimed was dangerous and impractical. He reneged on Tesla’s bonus, and the two became lifelong rivals.

To demonstrate alternating current’s dangers, Edison launched the “War of the Currents,” using it to kill large animals (including an elephant). He also staged a gruesome human execution with the electric chair he secretly financed.

Edison’s prime vision was of corporate-owned central power stations feeding a for-profit grid run for the benefit of capitalists like Morgan.

Tesla became a millionaire working with industrialist George Westinghouse, who used alternating current to establish the first big generating station at Niagara Falls. But Morgan bullied him out of the business. A visionary rather than a capitalist, Tesla surrendered his royalties to help Westinghouse, then spent the rest of his haunted, complex careerpioneering various inventions meant to produce endless quantities of electricity and distribute it free and without wires.

Meanwhile, the investor-owned utilities bearing Edison’s name and Morgan’s money built the new grid on the back of big coal-burners that poured huge profits into their coffers and lethal pollutants into the air and water.

In the 1930s, Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal established the federally owned Tennessee Valley Authority and Bonneville Power Project. The New Deal also strung wires to thousands of American farms through the Rural Electrification Administration. Hundreds of rural electrical cooperatives sprang up throughout the land. As nonprofits with community roots and ownership, the co-ops have generally provided far better and more responsive service than the for-profit investor-owned utilities.

But it was another federal agency—the Atomic Energy Commission—that drove the utility industry to the crisis point we know today. Coming out of World War II, the commission’s mandate was to maintain our nascent nuclear weapons capability. After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it shifted focus, prodded by Manhattan Project scientists who hoped the “Peaceful Atom” might redeem their guilt for inventing the devices that killed so many.

When AEC Chairman Lewis Strauss promised electricity “too cheap to meter,” he heralded a massive government commitment involving billions in invested capital and thousands of jobs. Then, in 1952, President Harry Truman commissioned a panel on America’s energy future headed by CBS Chairman William Paley. The commission reportembraced atomic power, but bore the seeds of a worldview in which renewable energy would ultimately dominate. Paley predicted the United States would have thirteen million solar-heated homes by 1975.

Of course, this did not happen. Instead, the nuclear power industry grew helter-skelter without rational planning. Reactor designs were not standardized. Each new plant became an engineering adventure, as capability soared from roughly 100 megawatts at Shippingport in 1957 to well over 1,000 in the 1970s. By then, the industry was showing signs of decline. No new plant commissioned since 1974 has been completed.

But with this dangerous and dirty power have come Earth-friendly alternatives, ignited in part by the grassroots movements of the 1960s. E.F. Schumacher’s Small Is Beautifulbecame the bible of a back-to-the-land movement that took a new generation of veteran activists into the countryside.

Dozens of nonviolent confrontations erupted, with thousands of arrests. In June 1978, nine months before the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island, the grassroots Clamshell Alliance drew 20,000 participants to a rally at New Hampshire’s Seabrook site. And Amory Lovins’s pathbreaking article, “Energy Strategy: The Road Not Taken,” posited a whole new energy future, grounded in photovoltaic and wind technologies, along with breakthroughs in conservation and efficiency, and a paradigm of decentralized, community-owned power.

As rising concerns about global warming forced a hard look at fossil fuels, the fading nuclear power industry suddenly had a new selling point. Climate expert James Hansen, former Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman, and Whole Earth Catalog founder Stewart Brand began advocating atomic energy as an answer to CO2 emissions. The corporate media began breathlessly reporting a “nuclear renaissance” allegedly led by hordes of environmentalists.

But the launch of Peaceful Atom 2.0 has fallen flat.

As I recently detailed in an online article for The Progressive, atomic energy adds to rather than reduces global warming. All reactors emit Carbon-14. The fuel they burn demands substantial CO2 emissions in the mining, milling, and enrichment processes. Nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen has compiled a wide range of studies concluding new reactor construction would significantly worsen the climate crisis.

Moreover, attempts to recycle spent reactor fuel or weapons material have failed, as have attempts to establish a workable nuclear-waste management protocol. For decades, reactor proponents have argued that the barriers to radioactive waste storage are political rather than technical. But after six decades, no country has unveiled a proven long-term storage strategy for high-level waste.

For all the millions spent on it, the nuclear renaissance has failed to yield a single new reactor order. New projects in France, Finland, South Carolina, and Georgia are costing billions extra, with opening dates years behind schedule. Five projects pushed by the Washington Public Power System caused the biggest municipal bankruptcy in U.S. history. No major long-standing green groups have joined the tiny crew of self-proclaimed “pro-nuke environmentalists.” Wall Street is backing away.

Even the split atom’s most ardent advocates are hard-pressed to argue any new reactors will be built in the United States, or more than a scattered few anywhere else but China, where the debate still rages and the outcome is uncertain.

Today there are about 100 U.S. reactors still licensed to operate, and about 450 worldwide. About a dozen U.S. plants have shut down in the last several years. A half dozen more are poised to shut for financial reasons. The plummeting price of fracked gas and renewable energy has driven them to the brink. As Gundersen notes, operating and maintenance costs have soared as efficiency and performance have declined. An aging, depleted skilled labor force will make continued operations dicey at best.

And nuclear plants have short lifespans for safe operation.

“When the reactor ruptured on March 11, 2011, spewing radioactivity around the northern hemisphere, Fukushima Daiichi had been operating only one month past its fortieth birthday,” Gundersen says.

But the nuclear power industry is not giving up. It wants some $100 billion in state-based bailouts. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently pushed through a $7.6 billion handout to sustain four decrepit upstate reactors. A similar bailout was approved in Ohio. Where once it demanded deregulation and a competitive market, the nuclear industry now wants re-regulation and guaranteed profits no matter how badly it performs.

The grassroots pushback has been fierce. Proposed bailouts have been defeated in Illinois, but then approved. They are under attack in New York and Ohio, but their future is uncertain. A groundbreaking agreement involving green and union groups has set deadlines for shutting the Diablo reactors, with local activists demanding a quicker timetable. Increasingly worried about meltdowns and explosions, grassroots campaigns to close old reactors are ramping up throughout the United States and Europe. Citizen action in Japan has prevented the reopening of nearly all nuclear plants since Fukushima.

Envisioning the “nuclear interruption” behind us, visionaries like Lovins see a decentralized “Solartopian” system with supply owned and operated at the grassroots.

The primary battleground is now Germany, with the world’s fourth-largest economy. Many years ago, the powerful green movement won a commitment to shut the country’s fossil/nuclear generators and convert entirely to renewables. But the center-right regime of Angela Merkel was dragging its feet.

In early 2011, the greens called for a nationwide demonstration to demand the Energiewende, the total conversion to decentralized green power. But before the rally took place, the four reactors at Fukushima blew up. Facing a massive political upheaval, and apparently personally shaken, Chancellor Merkel (a trained quantum chemist) declared her commitment to go green. Eight of Germany’s nineteen reactors were soon shut, with plans to close the rest by 2022.

That Europe’s biggest economy was now on a soft path originally mapped out by the counterculture prompted a hard response of well-financed corporate resistance. “You can build a wind farm in three to four years,” groused Henrich Quick of 50 Hertz, a German transmission grid operator.

“Getting permission for an overhead line takes ten years.”

Indeed, the transition is succeeding faster and more profitably than its staunchest supporters imagined. Wind and solar have blasted ahead. Green energy prices have dropped and Germans are enthusiastically lining up to put power plants on their rooftops. Sales of solar panels have skyrocketed, with an ever-growing percentage of supply coming from stand-alone buildings and community projects. The grid has been flooded with cheap, green juice, crowding out the existing nukes and fossil burners, cutting the legs out from under the old system.

In many ways it’s the investor-owner utilities’ worst nightmare, dating all the way back to the 1880s, when Edison fought Tesla. Back then, the industry-funded Edison Electric Institute warned that “distributed generation” could spell doom for the grid-based industry. That industry-feared deluge of cheap, locally owned power is now at hand.

In the United States, state legislatures dominated by the fossil fuel-invested billionaire Koch brothers have been slashing away at energy efficiency and conservation programs. Ohio, Arizona, and other states that had enacted progressive green-based transitions are now shredding them. In Florida, a statewide referendum pretending to support solar power was in fact designed to kill it.

In Nevada, homeowners who put solar panels on their rooftops are under attack. The state’s monopoly utility, with support from the governor and legislature, is seeking to make homeowners who put solar panels on their rooftops pay more than others for their electricity.

But it may be too little, too late. In its agreement with the state, unions, and environmental groups, Pacific Gas and Electric has admitted that renewables could, in fact, produce all the power now coming from the two decaying Diablo nukes. The Sacramento Municipal Utility District shut down its one reactor in 1989 and is now flourishing with a wave of renewables.

The revolution has spread to the transportation sector, where electric cars are now plugging into outlets powered by solar panels on homes, offices, commercial buildings, and factories. Like nuclear power, the gas-driven automobile may be on its way to extinction.

Nationwide, more than 200,000 Americans now work in the solar industry, including more than 75,000 in California alone. By contrast, only about 100,000 people work in the U.S. nuclear industry. Some 88,000 Americans now work in the wind industry, compared to about 83,000 in coal mines, with that number also dropping steadily.

Once the shining hope of the corporate power industry, atomic energy’s demise represents more than just the failure of a technology. It’s the prime indicator of an epic shift away from corporate control of a grid-based energy supply, toward a green power web owned and operated by the public.

As homeowners, building managers, factories, and communities develop an ever-firmer grip on a grassroots homegrown power supply, the arc of our 128-year energy war leans toward Solartopia.


Harvey Wasserman’s Solartopia! Our Green-Powered Earth is at solartopia.org. His Green Power & Wellness Show is at prn.fm. He edits nukefree.org.

This article was originally published on Reader Supported News.

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The End of Indian Point and the Myths of Nuclear Power in America

 

ip-agin-4-solartopia

(cross-posted from Counter Punch)

The good—the very good—energy news is that the Indian Point nuclear power plants 26 miles north of New York City will be closed in the next few years under an agreement reached between New York State and the plants’ owner, Entergy.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has long been calling for the plants to be shut down because, as the New York Timesrelated in its story on the pact, they pose “too great a risk to New York City.” Environmental and safe-energy organizations have been highly active for decades in working for the shutdown of the plants. Under the agreement, one Indian Point plant will shut down by April 2020, the second by April 2021.

They would be among the many nuclear power plants in the U.S. which their owners have in recent years decided to close or have announced will be shut down in a few years.

This comes in the face of nuclear power plant accidents—the most recent the ongoing Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan—and competitive power being less expensive including renewable and safe solar and wind energy.

Last year the Fort Calhoun nuclear plant in Nebraska closed following the shutdowns of Kewanee in Wisconsin, Vermont Yankee in Vermont, Crystal River 3 in Florida and both San Onofre 2 and 3 in California. Nuclear plant operators say they will close Palisades in Michigan next year and then Oyster Creek in New Jersey and Pilgrim in Massachusetts in 2019 and California’s Diablo Canyon 1 in 2024 and Diablo Canyon 3 in 2025.

This brings the number of nuclear plants down to a few more than 90—a far cry from President Richard Nixon’s scheme to have 1,000 nuclear plants in the U.S. by the year 2000.

But the bad—the very bad—energy news is that there are still many promoters of nuclear power in industry and government still pushing and, most importantly, the transition team of incoming President Donald Trump has been “asking for ways to keep nuclear power alive,” as Bloomberg News reported last month.

As I was reading last week the first reports on the Indian Point agreement, I received a phone call from an engineer who has been in the nuclear industry for more than 30 years—with his view of the situation.

The engineer, employed at nuclear plants and for a major nuclear plant manufacturer, wanted to relate that even with the Indian Point news—“and I’d keep my fingers crossed that there is no disaster involving those aged Indian Point plants in those next three or four years”—nuclear power remains a “ticking time bomb.” Concerned about retaliation, he asked his name not be published.

Here is some of the information he passed on—a story of experiences of an engineer in the nuclear power industry for more than three decades and his warnings and expectations.

THE SECRETIVE INPO REPORT SYSTEM

Several months after the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear plant in Pennsylvania in March 1979, the nuclear industry set up the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations (INPO) based in Atlanta, Georgia. The idea was to have a nuclear industry group that “would share information” on problems and incidents at nuclear power plants, he said.

If there is a problem at one nuclear power plant, through an INPO report it is communicated to other nuclear plant operators. Thus the various plant operators could “cross-reference” happenings at other plants and determine if they might apply to them.

The reports are “coded by color,” explained the engineer. Those which are “green” involve an incident or condition that might or might not indicate a wider problem. A “yellow” report is on an occurrence “that could cause significant problems down the road.” A “red” report is the most serious and represents “a problem that could have led to a core meltdown”—and could be present widely among nuclear plants and for which action needs to be taken immediately.

The engineer said he has read more than 100 “Code Red” reports. What they reflect, he said, is that “we’ve been very, very lucky so far!”

If the general public would see these “red” reports, its view on nuclear power would turn strongly negative, said the engineer.

But this is prevented by INPO, “created and solely funded by the nuclear industry,” thus its reports “are not covered by the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and are regarded as highly secretive.” The reports should be required to be made public, said the engineer. “It’s high time the country wakes up to the dangers we undergo with nuclear power plants.”

THE NRC INSPECTION FARCE

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is supposed to be the federal agency that is the watchdog over nuclear power plants and it frequently boasts of how it has “two resident inspectors” at each nuclear power plant in the nation, he noted.

However, explained the engineer, “the NRC inspectors are not allowed to go into the plant on their own. They have to be escorted. There can be no surprise inspections. Indeed, the only inspections that can be made are those that come after the NRC inspectors “get permission from upper management at the plant.”

The inspectors “have to contact upper management and say they want to inspect an area. The word is then passed down from management that inspectors are coming—so ‘clean up’ whatever is the situation is.”

“The inspectors hands are tied,” said the engineer.

THE 60- AND NOW 80-YEAR OPERATING DELUSION

When nuclear power plants were first designed decades ago, explained the engineer, the extent of their mechanical life was established at 40 years. The engineer is highly familiar with these calculations having worked for a leading manufacturer of nuclear plants, General Electric.

The components in nuclear plants, particularly their steel parts, “have an inherent working shelf life,” said the engineer.

In determining the 40-year total operating time, the engineer said that calculated were elements that included the wear and tear of refueling cycles, emergency shutdowns and the “nuclear embrittlement from radioactivity that impacts on the nuclear reactor vessel itself including the head bolts and other related piping, and what the entire system can handle. Further, the reactor vessel is the one component in a nuclear plant that can never be replaced because it becomes so hot with radioactivity. If a reactor vessel cracks, there is no way of repairing it and any certainty of containment of radioactivity is not guaranteed.”

Thus the U.S. government limited the operating licenses it issued for all nuclear power plants to 40 years. However, in recent times the NRC has “rubber-stamped license extensions” of an additional 20 years now to more than 85 of the nuclear plants in the country—permitting them to run for 60 years. Moreover, a push is now on, led by nuclear plant owners Exelon and Dominion, to have the NRC grant license extensions of 20 additional years—to let nuclear plants run for 80 years.

Exelon, the owner of the largest number of nuclear plants in the U.S., last year announced it would ask the NRC to extend the operating licenses of its two Peach Bottom plants in Pennsylvania to 80 years. Dominion declared earlier that it would seek NRC approval to run its two Surry nuclear power plants in Virginia for 80 years.

“That a nuclear plant can run for 60 years or 80 years is wishful thinking,” said the engineer. “The industry has thrown out the window all the data developed about the lifetime of a nuclear plant. It would ignore the standards to benefit their wallets, for greed, with total disregard for the country’s safety.”

The engineer went on that since “Day One” of nuclear power, because of the danger of the technology, “they’ve been playing Russian roulette—putting one bullet in the chamber and hoping that it would not fire. By going to 60 years and now possibly to 80 years, “they’re putting all the bullets in every chamber—and taking out only one and pulling the trigger.”

Further, what the NRC has also been doing is not only letting nuclear plants operate longer but “uprating” them—allowing them to run “hotter and harder” to generate more electricity and ostensibly more profit. “Catastrophe is being invited,” said the engineer.

THE CARBON-FREE MYTH

A big argument of nuclear promoters in a period of global warming and climate change is that “reactors aren’t putting greenhouse gases out into the atmosphere,” noted the engineer.

But this “completely ignores” the “nuclear chain”—the cycle of the nuclear power process that begins with the mining of uranium and continues with milling, enrichment and fabrication of nuclear fuel “and all of this is carbon intensive.” There are the greenhouse gasses discharged during the construction of the steel and formation of the concrete used in nuclear plants, transportation that is required, and in the construction of the plants themselves.

“It comes back to a net gain of zero,” said the engineer.

Meanwhile, “we have so many ways of generating electric power that are far more truly carbon-free.”

THE BOTTOM LINE

“The bottom line,” said the engineer, “is that radioactivity is the deadliest material which exists on the face of this planet—and we have no way of controlling it once it is out. With radioactivity, you can’t see it, smell it, touch it or hear it—and you can’t clean it up. There is nothing with which we can suck up radiation.”

Once in the atmosphere—once having been emitted from a nuclear plant through routine operation or in an accident—“that radiation is out there killing living tissue whether it be plant, animal or human life and causing illness and death.”

What about the claim by the nuclear industry and promoters of nuclear power within the federal government of a “new generation” of nuclear power plants that would be safer? The only difference, said the engineer, is that it might be a “different kind of gun—but it will have the same bullets: radioactivity that kills.”

The engineer said “I’d like to see every nuclear plant shut down—yesterday.”

In announcing the agreement on the closing of Indian Point, Governor Cuomo described it as a “ticking time bomb.” There are more of them. Nuclear power overall remains, as the experienced engineer from the nuclear industry said, a “ticking time bomb.”

And every nuclear power plant needs to be shut down.

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This article by Karl Grossman was originally published on Counter Punch

Karl Grossman, professor of journalism at the State University of New York/College of New York, is the author of the book, The Wrong Stuff: The Space’s Program’s Nuclear Threat to Our Planet. Grossman is an associate of the media watch group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR). He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion.

Entergy to close Indian Point nuclear plant in landmark agreement

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Photo: Leah Rae / Riverkeeper

RIVERKEEPER PRESS RELEASE

(cross-posted from Riverkeeper.org)

For immediate release: January 9, 2017
Contact:
Cliff Weathers, Riverkeeper Communications Director
cweathers@riverkeeper.org; 914-478-4501, ext. 239
Hayley Carlock, Scenic Hudson Director of Environmental of Advocacy
hcarlock@scenichudson.org; 845-473-4440, ext. 210

  • Reactors scheduled to cease operations within four years

  • Spent fuel will be transferred to secure ‘dry cask’ storage

  • More inspections of vital components will be required during operations

  • $15 million environment and community fund established

Ossining, NY — New York State and Entergy have reached an agreement for the shutdown of the two aging nuclear reactors at the Indian Point Energy Center by 2021. These dates are very likely sooner than what could have been achieved through litigation, which could have dragged on much longer, with no guarantee of success. The agreement also cuts 14 years off the closing date requested by Entergy. Riverkeeper was party to the agreement on behalf of its partners, which include Scenic Hudson. Under this agreement:

    • The Unit 2 reactor will permanently cease operations no later than April 30, 2020 and the Unit 3 reactor will permanently cease operations no later than April 30, 2021.

    • Entergy will also move a set yearly number of spent fuel rods from their dangerous storage pools to dry cask storage on site — a much safer solution for this radioactive material.

    • Riverkeeper retains the right to compel full compliance with the closure agreement.

    • Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson have the right to challenge and take enforcement action against any future violations Entergy may commit at Indian Point.

The agreement includes an emergency provision that will allow the reactors to remain open for a maximum of four additional years — subject to approval by New York State — only by reason of war, a sudden increase in electrical demand, or a sudden shortage of electric energy. Riverkeeper and Scenic Hudson will be able to challenge any extension of the 2020 and 2021 closure deadlines.

Entergy will amend its relicensing request to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, asking for renewals until 2024 for Unit 2 and 2025 for Unit 3, accounting for the four additional “emergency” years.

The agreement includes further commitments by Entergy, including:

New safety inspections of “core baffle former” bolts. Entergy will conduct visual and ultrasonic inspections of critical baffle former bolts — which fasten together the plates surrounding the nuclear fuel that direct cooling water entering the reactor vessel — in Unit 3 in spring 2017 and in Unit 2 in 2018 and a repeat inspection for Unit 3 in 2019. It will also inspect all new bolts for degradation and replace bolts that are deficient.

In a March 2016 inspection at Unit 2, Entergy found that at least 227 of 832 bolts were either missing or impaired, degraded by the high levels of radiation inside the reactor. In a report to regulators, Entergy said that degraded and missing bolts created an “unanalyzed condition that significantly degrades plant safety.”

Annual inspections by New York State. Entergy has agreed to annual inspections by state-designated representatives on issues pertaining to continued operation of its two reactors through 2021. The duration and scope of, and participation in, the inspections will be agreed upon by Entergy and New York State in advance of each inspection.

Creation of a $15 million environment and community fund. To compensate for impacts on the Hudson River during the closure period, Entergy will establish a $15 million fund for river restoration and remediation as well as projects providing public benefits to the community. Environmental funding will prioritize dam removal, wetlands protection, control of invasive species and habitat surveys.

“This agreement provides what we’ve been fighting for for decades: a definite early closing date for Indian Point — our biggest existential threat in the region. It’s a win for the safety of our communities, a win for the Hudson River and all the rich variety of life within it, and a win for a clean, sustainable energy future,” Riverkeeper President Paul Gallay said. “Riverkeeper is thrilled that the Governor stepped up to get this deal done — just like he promised he would.”

“Of particular interest to Riverkeeper during these negotiations were the provisions in the agreement to assure that Entergy’s continued authority to operate Indian Point would be shortened to reflect the plant’s agreed upon closure dates, and that there could be no extension of the 2021 shutdown deadline except due to a sudden and unexpected energy emergency. We wouldn’t have become a party to this agreement without such safeguards,” said Gallay. “Riverkeeper will play a major role in assuring the details of the agreement are strictly complied with.”

“Once Indian Point is closed, we won’t need to rely on fossil fuels to make up for its energy. Peak demand in the region will have declined by more than the 2,000 megawatts the plant generates, and the replacement power will be carbon neutral as the State further increases its clean energy investments,” said Gallay. “There will be little impact on electricity bills — between $1 and $2 dollars a month — which is a small price to pay for minimizing the risk that this plant poses. Going forward, new efficiency and renewable energy projects will drive still greater savings for consumers, thanks to aggressive energy investments by the state. It’s a new day for New York and the Metro region.”

Scenic Hudson and Riverkeeper have been fighting for changes to Indian Point’s operations to halt the the killing of billions of aquatic organisms by its antiquated once-through cooling technology. Decades of such slaughter and habitat degradation have contributed to the decline of numerous important fish species in the river. Both organizations have also called for the plant’s shutdown, based on concerns related to safety, security, and environmental impacts, and have worked with many groups and state agencies toward this objective.

“Closure of Indian Point represents a landmark victory for the Hudson River and the people of New York.” said Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan. “Governor Cuomo promised to shut down the plant, and he has kept that important promise. We thank Attorney General Schneiderman for his important role. Scenic Hudson has worked for decades to stop the massive environmental damage to the Hudson River caused by the plant’s withdrawal of billions of gallons a day of cooling water. The accelerated closure and other provisions of the settlement will protect the health and safety of New Yorkers and the integrity of the Hudson River. Tireless advocacy over several decades by Scenic Hudson, Riverkeeper and our partners has paved the way for a healthier Hudson River and a safer valley.”

“Governor Cuomo’s announcement is great news for the nearly 20 million people living within a 50-mile radius of Indian Point. NRDC has long opposed relicensing its two reactors because of Indian Point’s history of operational, safety and environmental problems, as well as the grave risk of a nuclear accident so close to the nation’s largest city, ” said Kit Kennedy, director of the energy and transportation program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Fortunately, Governor Cuomo’s groundbreaking clean energy policies will ease the transition to safer and cleaner power alternatives that don’t produce dangerous waste or increase carbon emissions. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s key role in this groundbreaking agreement also shows important leadership.”

“Governor Cuomo promised to close Indian Point and he flat out delivered,” said Riverkeeper board member Hamilton Fish. “And under Eric Schneiderman — also a party to this deal — the New York AG’s office has become the staunchest defender of the public interest in the nation. But ultimately this historic agreement is the legacy of all the citizen activists – at Scenic Hudson, NRDC, Clearwater, IPSEC, WESPAC and countless others – who have fought so tirelessly over the years to safeguard public health and to protect an endangered environment.”

“Thanks to Governor Cuomo for his tireless and tenacious efforts to close Indian Point,” Riverkeeper Vice Chairman Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. said. “The agreement marks a milestone in America’s historic transition from a dirty, dangerous energy system to clean, safe, wholesome, local and patriotic power supply. It is a victory for the Hudson fishery, for public safety, and for the New York economy.”

Parties in the agreement include Riverkeeper, the State of New York, NYS Office of the Attorney General, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Department of Health, NYS Department of State, NYS Department of Public Service, Entergy Nuclear Indian Point 2, LLC, Entergy Nuclear Indian Point 3 LLC and Entergy Nuclear Operations.

View the agreement >

#####

Cross-posted from Riverkeeper.org by Myla Reson – No Nukes!

Clearwater Statement on Indian Point Shutdown

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REGARDING INDIAN POINT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JANUARY 6, 2017

Clearwater Is Cautiously Optimistic Regarding News of Proposed Indian Point Shutdown

BEACON, NY – Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, America’s Environmental Flagship who has long fought for the closure of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant in Buchanan, NY received news this afternoon that the power plant would be closed in 2021, as the result of an agreement being negotiated by New York State with the plant’s owners, Entergy. Reactor Unit 2 of the plant is due to close in April 2020, and Unit 3, which would close down the plant for good, is due to close in April 2021. Unit One, which did not meet earthquake standards, closed in 1974.

Citing dangers to public health and safety and ecological damage to the Hudson River, Clearwater has long advocated for the closure of Indian Point.

“This is definitely a step in the right direction, but it still leaves us in danger for three to four more years. Indian Point has had an abysmal history of emergency shutdown, radioactive leaks, equipment failures, transformer explosions, degraded bolts inside the reactor core, and other problems. Without a viable evacuation plan, if something should go wrong between now and then,” said Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director for Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, “the 20 million people that live or work within 50 miles of the plant and beyond remain in danger.”

“The intense water withdrawals used to cool the plant will continue to harm Hudson River fish and other aquatic species. This means four more years of massive fish kill, including billions of eggs and larvae through April 2021,” said Dave Conover, Clearwater’s Interim Executive Director.

“The good news is that they have agreed to move old (but still highly radioactive) fuel rods from the severely overcrowded fuel pools, to safer dry-cask storage, to make long-overdue repairs, and to allow more inspections and better oversight” said Greene.

To execute the shutdown, a transition plan must protect workers; retaining those who have institutional memory to ensure safe decommissioning. Recently a phase out plan was negotiated for Diablo Canyon, the last operating nuclear plant in California, which is scheduled to close in 6 years.

Their transition plan includes replacing the aging nuclear facility with 100% renewable energy, while retaining the most valuable workers, and retraining those who are not as needed after closure for jobs in the renewable energy industry. Clearwater believes that the New York plan for a “just” transition should include New York’s entire nuclear fleet of six reactors, and be based on realistic but accelerated implementation of on- and off-shore wind, community and large-scale solar, more large and low-impact hydroelectric facilities, with robust storage systems to ensure reliability.

Even without a plan for renewable replacement energy in place, both the NY State Independent System Operators and the NYS Department of State have determined that there is currently sufficient energy on the grid to do without Indian Point due to energy efficiency and reduced energy consumption and the rapid increase in renewable resources.

Clearwater is also calling for a comprehensive plan to ensure safe decommissioning that is funded by Entergy, and doesn’t end up becoming a burden to ratepayers or taxpayers.

With regard to the Article 78 lawsuit recently filed by Clearwater, Goshen Green Farms and others challenging the NYS Public Service Commission’s 12-year mandatory Tier 3 Nuclear Subsidy, Greene said, “The $7.6 billion dollar subsidy was designed mainly to bail out unprofitable nuclear plants in the western part of the state – and remains an unacceptable use of ratepayer dollars, which would be better invested in renewable energy infrastructure, storage and energy efficiency.”

An amended petition is due to be filed next week.

Media Contact: Manna Jo Greene, Environmental Action Director, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater (845) 807-1270.

[posted by Myla Reson on behalf of Solartopia – No Nukes!]

POTLUCK with GREG PALAST, HARVEY WASSERMAN & Special Guests

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JOIN GREG PALAST, HARVEY WASSERMAN & Special Guests

CALIFORNIA GREEN POWER & ELECTION PROTECTION

POTLUCK

Saturday, January 7, 2017 @ 7pm

Santa Monica, California.

RSVP via Ilene Proctor at (310)858-6643  ilenepr@sbcglobalnet.
Jan Goodman, jansorders@gmail.com (310) 729-2394

Free & open to the public. Donations accepted.

 

###

 

How a Hillary Clinton “Profile in Courage” Moment Could Save the World From Donald Trump

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By Harvey Wasserman, (Cross-posted from Reader Supported News)

The petition asking Hillary Clinton to do this is under review at MoveOn. Please contact Harvey Wasserman at www.solartopia.org for more information.

 

here are less than 24 hours to go before the Electoral College begins casting its votes.

Here is a petition to sign that might make a difference.

The desperate search for a successful Hail Mary to prevent Donald Trump from becoming president is down to the wire. The attempts can be easily seen by many as pollyannish. But we honor such individual acts of extreme clarity in John Kennedy’s “Profiles in Courage.”

And given the specter of a Trump presidency, this could be one of them.

In the final moment, it all rests on Hillary Clinton. Given the legal strictures of the Twelfth Amendment, she may be the only one who can possibly stop a Trump presidency.

Here’s the petition to sign asking her to do just that.

It reminds her that she can instruct her delegates to vote for a moderate Republican who might attract enough Trump delegates to win the Electoral College. Possibilities might include Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) or others.

Here are the mechanics of the Twelfth Amendment that could allow this to happen:

As explained in the previously published “December Surprise“ article linked at Reader Supported News, if 37 electors abandon Donald Trump, the choice of a new president will revert to the House of Representatives. The House will choose the new president based on a state-by-state vote, with each state having one ballot. They can choose only from among the top three vote-getters in the Electoral College.

At this point, there are only two such candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. One potential defector from Trump has mentioned Republican John Kasich of Ohio. Kasich says he doesn’t want it.

But if Secretary Clinton were to choose someone (most likely a moderate Republican, perhaps such as Collins) that could carry all her delegates plus 37 Trump defectors, that person would become president.

Should enough delegates pledged to Trump or Clinton make Clinton’s choice the number three vote-getter, with Trump falling short of 270, the House would have to consider that third person (and ONLY her or him) as an alternative to Trump and Clinton.

But, as mentioned, if Clinton asks her electors to vote for a third choice in the Electoral College, and they all do, and 37 Trump electors join in, that alternative choice would be come the next president of the United States without going to the House.

The choice of a vice president then becomes critical. Should no one be elected president outright by Inauguration Day, the new vice president, as chosen by the US Senate, takes over. At the moment it would seem that could be Mike Pence. But there are a number of things that could also happen to avoid that.

In the meantime, as Steve Rosenfeld has written at Alternet, there are a range of state laws meant to bind electors to the candidate for whom they were chosen to vote. They could, of course, break those laws during the Electoral College voting. There are indications some may be willing to do so.

Their votes might then count as they cast them, but be subject to later litigation, which no doubt Donald Trump would be prepared to fund.

In any event, it is possible for a number of electors from both camps to defect to a third choice and throw the election into the House, with that choice as the third candidate.

And it’s also possible, if Clinton instructs all her delegates to vote for that alternative, and enough Trump delegates join in, to make him or her president outright.

Is it worth a try?

You can sign this petition at Moveon.org, asking Hillary to find a winning alternative. If you have a better idea, please send it to me via www.solartopia.org.

But for now, the choice – and opportunity – is Hillary Clinton’s … and yours.


 

Harvey Wasserman’s America at the Brink of Rebirth: The Organic Spiral of Us History can be had via www.solartopia.org. The Strip & Flip Selection of 2016: Five Jim Crows & Electronic Election Theft,co-written with Bob Fitrakis, is at www.freepress.org.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

WHAT DO WE DO NEXT? Or . . . Funny Things Will Happen on the Way to the Trumpocalypse

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Harvey Wasserman & Honored Guests

FOUR Bay Area Talks

(Sunday & Monday – December 18 & 19)

Sunday, December 18, 2016

12 Noon

San Francisco Public Library

hispanic-room

100 Larkin Street

San Francisco, California 94102

(Downstairs in the Latino/Hispanic Room)

““““`

Sunday, December 18, 2016

7 – 9 PM POT LUCK with Joanna Macy and Dennis Bernstein

(plus Kris Welch – hopefully)

Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists

berkeley-uu

1606 Bonita (@Cedar)

Berkeley

Second Floor, Connie Barbour Room.

$5 donation requested – no one turned away for lack of funds

(sponsored by BFUU Social Justice Committee & Code Pink Women for Peace)

Monday, December 19, 2016

12 Noon

Forest Books

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Japantown Peace Plaza

1748 Buchanan at Sutter

San Francisco, California 94115

Monday, December 19, 2016

6 – 9 PM

OCCUPY! at Global Exchange

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2017 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110

(Near 16th Street BART)

““““`

Funny things will happen on the way to the Trumpocalypse.  We will fight like hell.  We will win a few (already the TPP). And we’ll never lose, because it’s never over til it’s over. We will also take California (and then the world) to Solartopia, because we have no choice.
At this gathering we’ll discuss the 2016 Selection, including how it was REALLY rigged, how we will cope with the coming of The Donald, and how we will shut Diablo Canyon while making California the decentralized post-grid renewable energy capital of the world.
And all because of you!  Don’t miss these talks!!!

DAPL Halted! Huge Win!

dapl-denied

According to Dallas Goldtooth:

 

The Obama Administration has announced that the US Army Corps will NOT grant DAPL the easement to drill under the Missouri River!

It is not a straight DENIAL but rather a MAJOR suspension on a decision pending a limited EIS.

The US Army Corps will conduct a limited Environmental Impact Statement on the river crossing and explore possibilities for alternative routes. This is a win! A huge win!

#NoDAPL

This EIS process will take months.

Oceti Sakowin Standing Rock Youth Runner Daniel Grassrope

Recorded November 21, 2016 in Santa Monica, California.

Oceti Sakowin Standing Rock Youth Runner Joseph White eyes

Recorded November 21, 2016 in Santa Monica, California.

 

[This post was added by Solartopia contributor Myla Reson]

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Harvey’s 10.28.16 Green Power & Wellness Show with Kucinich & Gundersen

green-power-with-dennis-and-arnie

Solartopia Green Power and Wellness Hour – 10.28.16

WORLD PEACE, ORGANIC FOOD, GLOBAL WARMING and STOPPING NUKE POWER come to Solartopia with two legendary guests: DENNIS KUCINICH and ARNIE GUNDERSEN.

Dennis spent 16 years in the US Congress and played a critical role in the Ohio Senate helping to stop a proposed nuclear waste dump.  He now works with his wife Elizabeth on issue of world peace, stopping climate chaos and converting our agriculture to organic post-industrial methods that will help preserve our ability to live on this planet.  A brilliant, tireless, incomparable activist, it’s an honor to have Dennis on the show
Likewise Arnie Gundersen, the legendary nuclear engineer who served as our lifeline to reality during the Fukushima catastrophe.  A long-time insider to the nuclear industry, Gundersen came to realize its tragic shortcomings.  He and his wife Maggie, also a veteran of the industry, have put their careers and lives on the line to deal with the true cost of this lethal industry.  The Gundersen’s latest major report provides definitive proof that further investments in nuke power will not help the climate crisis, while further operations at the 99 remaining in the US are a threat to us all.  An accomplished, compelling speaker, Arnie’s essential wisdom is a critical cog in the race to Solartopia.

 Listen

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