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Submission + - Pilgrim nuclear plant powered down after discovery of problem valve (patriotledger.com)

mdsolar writes: Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, already one step from being forced by federal regulators to close down based on poor performance, remained powered down for a third day Tuesday as crews tried to repair a malfunctioning valve designed to prevent radioactivity from leaking into the environment during a nuclear accident.

Patrick O'Brien, a spokesman for plant operator Entergy, said inspectors discovered during routine test last week that one of the valves was not closing fast enough. The plant had already been lowered to 47 percent power last Tuesday for maintenance and was powered down completely on Sunday to allow crews to repair the valve.

This is the second time in a year that a problem in the valve system has shut down the reactor. Critics say it is further evidence that parts are wearing out and not being replaced in time at the 44-year-old reactor because owner-operator Entergy Corp. plans to permanently shutter the plant in mid-2019.

“Even with increased federal oversight, repetitive failure of critical safety equipment is yet another serious warning that Pilgrim's ongoing degradation continues to threaten our region,” Diane Turco, co-founder of the watchdog group Cape Downwinders, wrote in an email. “Pilgrim is an accident waiting to happen. Closure should be now, not in 2019.”

Submission + - SPAM: Kuwait scraps nuclear power plans

mdsolar writes: Kuwait’s Ministry of Electricity and Water has reportedly scrapped plans to build a nuclear power plant citing cost concerns.

The country had planned to obtain a licence for the project from the United Nations.

Kuwait Times reports that the ministry decided to retract the plans because studies proved it was unfeasible and too expensive.

The ministry also said alternative energy sources like wind and solar power were more cost effective, according to the publication.

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Submission + - SPAM: Nuclear's Glacial Pace

mdsolar writes: Climate change has forced us to rethink how we get electricity. Use of renewable sources like solar and wind is rapidly increasing, while nuclear, though long a reliable source of carbon-free electricity, is not. Meanwhile, a number of startups are promising cheap, safe, proliferation-resistant nuclear energy in the next decade (see “Fail-Safe Nuclear Power”).

Can these startups fulfill their promises? Outside of China, nuclear power is expanding nowhere. China has 21 new reactors under construction; Russia has nine, India six. The U.S. is bringing five new plants online, but since 2012, five other reactors have been retired, with seven more to be shuttered by 2019. California’s Diablo Canyon plant recently announced it will close by 2025. With other plants closing in Japan, Germany, and the U.K., more reactors may be decommissioned than built in the near future.

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Submission + - SPAM: New Mexico nuclear accidwnt ranks among the costliest in U.S. history

mdsolar writes: When a drum containing radioactive waste blew up in an underground nuclear dump in New Mexico two years ago, the Energy Department rushed to quell concerns in the Carlsbad desert community and quickly reported progress on resuming operations.

The early federal statements gave no hint that the blast had caused massive long-term damage to the dump, a facility crucial to the nuclear weapons cleanup program that spans the nation, or that it would jeopardize the Energy Department’s credibility in dealing with the tricky problem of radioactive waste.

But the explosion ranks among the costliest nuclear accidents in U.S. history, according to a Times analysis. The long-term cost of the mishap could top $2 billion, an amount roughly in the range of the cleanup after the 1979 partial meltdown at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania.

The Feb. 14, 2014, accident is also complicating cleanup programs at about a dozen current and former nuclear weapons sites across the U.S. Thousands of tons of radioactive waste that were headed for the dump are backed up in Idaho, Washington, New Mexico and elsewhere, state officials said in interviews.

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