Tag Archives: nuclear plants United States

Closing Down Nuclear Plants in the United States

pilgrim nuclear plant image from US NRC

In Massachusetts, residents who live near Entergy Corporation’s Pilgrim Generating Station, worry about health and environmental threats from the spent radioactive fuel that remains at the plant once the power plant closes. And they’re not being quiet about it.  “My house is six miles across open water from the reactor,” says Mary Lampert, the director of the citizen group Pilgrim Watch. “I can see it from my house, which is real motivation to get to work on the very serious issues that threaten our communities.”  Lampert says she and her fellow activists celebrated when they heard that Entergy had decided to close the plant, but their joy was short-lived when they learned about the continued presence of radioactive waste….because no state wants to be a permanent repository,” Lampert says.

Nonetheless, Makhijani says, while decommissioning is risky, because parts of the reactors are highly radioactive, it is less risky for the surrounding public in compared to operating an aging nuclear plant.  “There are mainly two different kinds of big risks associated with nuclear power,” Makhijani explains. “One of them we have seen dramatically in Fukushima: the operating nuclear reactor fails, has a meltdown and [there is] a massive release of radioactivity. That is the risk that goes away when you shut down the nuclear reactor and remove the fuel.”There are risks associated with removing the fuel because some of it is still very hot and needs to be cooled. A loss of coolant, for example, could lead to fires. But as the fuel gets older, it cools down significantly and these risks decline, Makhijani says. “If you thin out these pools and have dry storage, the risks to the surrounding population become quite low,” he explains.

Entergy Corporation says it has set aside nearly a billion dollars to decommission the plant and to protect public health and safety.

Excerpt, Adam Wernick, Even plans to close nuclear power plants stir controversy, PRI,  Nov. 21, 201

Nuclear Lobbyists, Money=Power

The main trade group for the nuclear power industry, the Nuclear Energy Institute, spent $580,000 in the second quarter  of 2011 lobbying federal officials about financial support for new reactors, safety regulations and other issues, according to a disclosure report. …NEI, based in Washington, lobbied the government on measures designed to ensure the nation’s 104 commercial reactors can withstand natural disasters. It also lobbied on a measure that would require nuclear operators to transfer radioactive spent nuclear fuel from cooling pools inside or near reactor cores to dry casks further from the reactors.  In the Japanese nuclear accident, crowded pools of spent nuclear fuel overheated when the nuclear station’s cooling power was knocked out.  NEI also lobbied the government over environmental regulations. Congress is considering measures that would delay new clean air and clean water rules and curb the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to issue rules by forcing the EPA to factor in the cost of their implementation in addition to medical and scientific evidence.  There also are several measures under consideration that would block the EPA from regulating greenhouse gases.  Nuclear power generation produces no greenhouse gases and none of the airborne toxins such as mercury that EPA clean air rules target. But many nuclear plants use outdated cooling systems that consume enormous amounts of water. Replacing those cooling systems with newer systems that use less water is expensive.

NEI also lobbied for funds for research and development for smaller, cheaper reactors and other nuclear technologies.  Nuclear reactors produce about 20 percent of the nation’s electricity, but the country’s reactors are aging. No new reactor has been planned and completed since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979.

In April through June, NEI lobbied Congress, the Commerce Department, the Defense Department, the Executive Office of the President, the Departments of Transportation, Energy, State and Homeland Security Department, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Office of Management and Budget, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, according to the report the NEI filed July 19 with the House clerk’s office.  Lobbyists are required to disclose activities that could influence members of the executive and legislative branches of government under a federal law enacted in 1995.

Nuclear group spent $580,000 lobbying in 2Q,-