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Submission + - SPAM: Heat is on, but the power grid is holding

mdsolar writes: The retirement of coal and nuclear power plants in the U.S. over the last few years has raised concerns that the electric power industry might fail to deliver when demand for power heightens — such as during a blistering heat wave.

But for the most part, that’s not the case this week as a so-called “heat dome” leaves the eastern and central parts of the U.S. sweltering with temperatures of 95 degrees or more and feeling as though it’s much hotter.
“So far, so good,” said Michael Bryson, the vice president for systems operations at PJM Interconnection, the operator of the largest electric grid in the U.S. “Our transmission and generation have been performing very well.”

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Submission + - "Indian Point' — Documentary On Problem-Plagued Nuclear Plants Is Out (

mdsolar writes: "Indian Point” is a film about the long problem-plagued Indian Point nuclear power plants that are “so, so risky — so close to New York City,” notes its director and producer Ivy Meeropol. “Times Square is 35 miles away.”

The plants constitute a disaster waiting to happen, threatening especially the lives of the 22 million people who live within 50 miles from them. “There is no way to evacuate—what I’ve learned about an evacuation plan is that there is none,” says Meeropol. The plants are “on two earthquake fault lines,” she notes. “And there is a natural gas pipeline right there that an earthquake could rupture.”

Meanwhile, both plants, located in Buchanan, New York along the Hudson River, are now essentially running without licenses. The federal government’s 40-year operating license for Indian Point 2 expired in 2013 and Indian Point 3’s license expired last year. Their owner, Entergy, is seeking to have them run for another 20 years—although nuclear plants were never seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. (Indian Point 1 was opened in 1962 and closed in 1974, its emergency core cooling system deemed impossible to fix.)

Comment Price-Anderson (Score 1) 140

The US stands in line for the next catastrophe. Owing to the government's liability for loss of property and life through the Price-Anderson Act, during times of recession, the government could become insolvent should the accident occur in high property value areas. The very badly run Indian Point plant is an example.

Submission + - World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2016 Released (

mdsolar writes: The year 2016, marking the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl catastrophe and the 5th year since the Fukushima disaster started unfolding, strangely might go down in history as the period when the notion of risk of nuclear power plants turned into the perception of nuclear power plants at risk. Indeed, an increasing number of reactors is threatened by premature closure due to the unfavorable economic environment. Increasing operating and backfitting costs of aging power plants, decreasing bulk market prices and aggressive competitors.
The development started out in the U.S., when in May 2013 Kewaunee was shut down although its operator, Dominion, had upgraded the plant and in February 2011 had obtained an operating license renewal valid until 2033. Two reactors at San Onofre followed, when replacement steam generators turned out faulty. Then Vermont Yankee shut down at the end of 2014. Early shutdown decisions have also hit Pilgrim and Fitzpatrick, likely to close before the end of 2017 and 2019. Utility Exelon, largest nuclear operator in the U.S., has announced June 2, 2016 that it was retiring its Clinton (1065 MW) and Quad Cities (2 x 940 MW) nuclear facilities in 2017 as they have been losing money for several years.
Only days later, PG&E in California announced that they would close the two Diablo Canyon units by 2025, replacing the capacity by energy efficiency and renewables, making the sixth largest economy in the world (having overtaken France in 2016) nuclear-free. Still in the same month of June 2016, the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) Board voted unanimously to shut down the Fort Calhoun reactor by the end of the year—in the words on one board member, “simply an economic decision”. Nuclear Energy Institute President Marv Fertel stated in May 2016 that “if things don’t change, we have somewhere between 10 and 20 plants at risk”.

Submission + - Entergy security workers placed on leave at nuclear plant (

mdsolar writes: After receiving a tip from an employee at the Palisades Nuclear Generating Station, the I-Team is now confirming several security officers at the plant have been placed on paid administrative leave.

The employee, speaking on the condition of anonymity, tells Newschannel 3's I-Team there's some concern about security at the plant with the absence of the guards.

A spokesperson for Entergy, the parent company of Palisades, acknowledged an ongoing investigation into the matter resulting in the guards being placed on paid leave, but denied any change of security levels in or around the plant.

"An investigation identified anomalies within the site's fire tour records," said Val Gent, senior communications specialist. "We have implemented strong interim actions to make sure we have appropriate staffing levels and that fire tours are conducted properly."

When asked about the specifics regarding the fire tour anomalies, Gent declined to elaborate, saying that the matter was still under investigation.

At 45 years old, Palisades is one of the oldest nuclear reactors in the country, and no stranger to controversy.

Nuclear energy critic Kevin Kamps, says the lack of specifics from Entergy are worrisome.

"Did security guards make their rounds and not really do it [fire inspections]?" asks Kamps, who is a radioactive waste watchdog for Beyond Nuclear, a group pushing to phase out nuclear energy.

Submission + - Indian Point 2 shut down over leaking water pipe (

mdsolar writes: The Indian Point nuclear reactor that was shut down for three months after inspectors discovered hundreds of damaged bolts was taken offline again early Thursday so workers could fix a leaking pipe.

Indian Point’s owner, Entergy, said the leak of Hudson River water came from a pipe in a “non-radioactive system” and that it would not have an impact on safety at the Buchanan plant.
"There is no ongoing leak and there was no challenge to safety, however the plant needs to be shut down for weld repairs to be completed, in accordance with NRC (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) regulations," Entergy said.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a longtime opponent of Indian Point, said the leak was part of a pattern of "repeated and continuing problems" at the plant.

"In the last year alone, there has been unprecedented degradation of Indian Point Unit 2 baffle-former bolts, groundwater contamination, and increased NRC oversight at Unit 3 due to numerous unplanned shutdowns," Cuomo said in a statement. "This is yet another sign that the aging and wearing away of important components at the facility are having a direct and unacceptable impact on safety, and is further proof that the plant is not a reliable generation resource"

Submission + - California's last nuclear power plant to close in 2025 (

mdsolar writes: California's nuclear-powered dream has an expiration date. The state's utility conglomerate Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) announced yesterday that they will close the last remaining nuclear plants by 2025. They'll replace the output with renewable energy and better efficiency in other stations. But, barring any changes to the moratorium on new plants, it's likely the end for atomic power in the Golden State.

The plant closures were negotiated with environmentalists and labor unions, but unique state policies sealed their fates, PG&E's CEO Anthony Earley told Scientific American. Specifically, SB 350 passed last year raised the state's minimum energy needed to come from renewables to 50 percent. Despite PG&E's requests, the bill left nuclear energy out of the sources it considers "renewable." This, combined with the bill's doubling of mandated energy efficiency, along with the rise of homegrown electricity, contributed to their decision to close the plants.

The moratorium on building new nuclear plants only exists until California finds a permanent solution for existing radioactive waste, but that's another hurdle that doesn't exist for renewable energy sources. Environmentalists believe this agreement could be a template for other states to shutter nuclear or fossil-fuel plants and replace them with renewable energy sources

Submission + - Exelon to close Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants (

mdsolar writes: Exelon said Thursday it will move ahead with plans to shutter the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants, blaming the lack of progress on Illinois energy legislation.

The company, the parent of Chicago-area utilities provider ComEd, said the Clinton Power Station will close June 1, 2017, and the Quad Cities Generating Station in Cordova will close June 1, 2018. Both plants, the company said, have lost a combined $800 million in the past seven years, despite being "two of the best-performing plants," the company said in a statement.

Submission + - Germany agrees to plug nuclear liability loophole (

mdsolar writes: The German government passed a regulation on Wednesday that aims to ensure utility companies remain liable for the costs of shutting down nuclear power plants even if they split up.

Germany decided to end nuclear power by 2022 following Japan's Fukushima disaster five years ago.

Chancellor Angela Merkel's cabinet said it would adopt recommendations made by a commission requiring Germany's utilities to pay 23.3 billion euros (18 billion pound) into a state fund to cover the costs of storing nuclear waste.

This included a provision that will make all parts of a company liable for the costs of Germany's nuclear shut down even if the utility has split up, the Economy Ministry said.

"Any spin-off after this date will be covered by the intended regulation," the ministry said in a statement.

Shareholders will vote on plans to spin off the utility's power plant and energy trading unit At E.ON's annual general meeting on June 8.

Germany's No.2 utility RWE also plans to hive off its renewables, grids and retail units into a separate entity and sell a 10 percent stake in an initial public offering.

Last year, the German cabinet approved a draft law that ensures power firms will remain liable for the shutdown and decommissioning costs for as long as it takes, even if they spin off subsidiaries that own the nuclear entities.

But there was some uncertainty over whether this would still apply if the nuclear assets remain with the parent company.

The new legislation seeks to close that loophole and ensure that taxpayers won't be forced to foot the bill for the costs of dismantling and storing nuclear waste if a firm goes bankrupt.

Submission + - Virginia couple breaks into nuclear plant (

mdsolar writes: A Virginia couple is being held in York County Prison under a $100,000 bond each after police say they cut through a fence and entered the Peach Bottom Nuclear Generating Station Friday night.

Plant security officers told the responding state troopers that they would have been within their rights to shoot the couple had they come much closer to entering a storage building where radioactive material is transferred, according to the charging documents.
Timothy Stewart, 29, and Jenilee Simpson, 33, of Chesapeake, Virginia, are each charged with multiple counts of criminal trespass. Stewart faces an added charge of driving on a suspended license while Simpson is also charged with possession of drug paraphernalia....

State police were told by security officers that, had the couple gained access to building containing radioactive materials, that would have constituted a "huge security risk." The security officers said they could have used lethal force, according to the documents.

Submission + - Japan to cut emphasis on nuclear in next energy plan (

mdsolar writes: Japan will cut reliance on nuclear power when it releases an updated energy plan as early as next year, reflecting public opposition and a recognition that current policy is unrealistic, three sources familiar with official thinking told Reuters.

The move is expected to boost the country's use of renewable energy, but will also likely cement its drive towards cheaper coal-fired generation following the 2011 Fukushima nuclear crisis and the shutdown of reactors.

Public resistance to nuclear has remained strong in Japan, and a target by the pro-nuclear industry ministry for nuclear to provide about a fifth of the country's electricity provoked widespread criticism when it was finalized in 2015.

At the same time, only two of the country's 42 reactors are currently operating following safety shutdowns, and the industry faces a raft of constraints including aging units and legal challenges.

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