TMI Update: Jan 14, 2024


Did you catch "The Meltdown: Three Mile Island" on Netflix?
TMI remains a danger and TMIA is working hard to ensure the safety of our communities and the surrounding areas.
Learn more on this site and support our efforts. Join TMIA. To contact the TMIA office, call 717-233-7897.

    

 

 

Very succinctly, here’s why it’s still important to shut down Diablo Canyon on time, in 2024 and 2025 (or sooner):
  1. Economics: TURN (The Utility Reform Network) estimates a cost of at least $10 billion over market price to run Diablo through 2030.
  2. Power Needs: California has an excess of at LEAST 10,000 MW right now if you factor in battery storage, solar, and demand response, and more is coming online daily.
  3. Grid Reliability: Diablo Canyon PROHIBITS renewable energy from being added to the grid, especially during sunny weather, because it clogs the grid.
  4. Seismic Issues: Recent seismic information tells us that there are two VERTICAL THRUST FAULTS directly under the plant. A vertical thrust fault causes significantly more damage than a lateral fault from an earthquake of the same magnitude.
  5. Embrittlement: The Unit 1 reactor pressure vessel is EMBRITTLED, meaning that if it had to be shut down in an emergency, and cold water injected into the vessel, the vessel could shatter like glass, causing the worst-case catastrophe possible at a nuclear plant.

PDF icon2023.12.14 SLOMFP Briefing Paper.pdf

California regulators vote to extend Diablo Canyon nuclear plant operations through 2030
California energy regulators have voted to allow the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to operate for an additional five years, despite calls from environmental groups to shut it down
 
ByThe Associated Press
December 15, 2023, 9:46 AM
 
FILE - This Nov. 3, 2008, file photo shows one of Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon Power Plant's nuclear reactors in Avila Beach, Calif. California energy regulators voted Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, to allow the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to operate for an additional five years, despite calls from environmental groups to shut it down. (AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant, File)

FILE - This Nov. 3, 2008, file photo shows one of Pacific Gas and Electric's Diablo Canyon Power Plant's nuclear reactors in Avila Beach, Calif. California energy regulators voted Thursday, Dec. 14, 2023, to allow the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to operate for an additional five years, despite calls from environmental groups to shut it down. (AP Photo/Michael A. Mariant, File)
The Associated Press

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. -- California energy regulators voted Thursday to allow the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant to operate for an additional five years, despite calls from environmental groups to shut it down.

The California Public Utilities Commission agreed to extend the shutdown date for the state's last functioning nuclear power facility through 2030 instead of closing it in 2025 as previously agreed.

Separately, the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will consider whether to extend the plant’s operating licenses.

The twin reactors, located midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, began operating in the mid-1980s. They supply up to 9% of the state’s electricity on any given day.

The Public Utilities Commission's decision marks the latest development in a long fight over the operation and safety of the plant, which sits on a bluff above the Pacific Ocean.

In August, a state judge rejected a lawsuit filed by Friends of the Earth that sought to block Pacific Gas & Electric, which operates the plant, from seeking to extend its operating life.

And in October, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission rejected a request from environmental groups to immediately shut down one of two reactors.

PG&E agreed in 2016 to shutter the plant by 2025, but at the direction of the state changed course and now intends to seek a longer operating run for the plant, which doesn't produce greenhouse gases that can contribute to climate change.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, who once was a leading voice to close the plant, said last year that Diablo Canyon’s power is needed beyond 2025 to ward off possible blackouts as California transitions to solar and other renewable energy sources.

Activists condemned the extension and noted that the projected costs of continuing to run the aging plant are expected to top $6 billion.

“This ill-conceived decision will further escalate financial strain on California ratepayers and extend the threat of a catastrophe at Diablo Canyon,” said Ken Cook, president of the nonprofit Environmental Working Group.

“With California’s annual renewable energy additions exceeding Diablo Canyon’s output, there is zero reason to keep it running,” he added in a statement.

COP28 and the nuclear energy numbers racket
By Sharon Squassoni | December 13, 2023

 


Participants arrive at the venue of the COP28 United Nations climate summit in Dubai on November 29. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images) 
Nuclear energy made a big splash at the COP28 climate meeting in Dubai with a declaration by 22 countries calling for a tripling of nuclear energy by 2050. It seems like an impressive and urgent call to arms. On closer inspection, however, the numbers don’t work out. Even at best, a shift to invest more heavily in nuclear energy over the next two decades could actually worsen the climate crisis, as cheaper, quicker alternatives are ignored for more expensive, slow-to-deploy nuclear options.

Here’s what the numbers say:

22: That 22 countries signed the declaration may seem like a lot of support, but 31 countries (plus Taiwan) currently produce nuclear energy. Notably missing from the declaration are Russia and the People’s Republic of China. Russia is the world’s leading exporter of nuclear power plants and has the fourth largest nuclear energy capacity globally; China has built the most nuclear power plants of any country in the last two decades and ranks third globally in capacity. Thirteen other countries that have key nuclear programs are also missing from the declaration: five in Europe (Armenia, Belarus, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain), two in South Asia (India and Pakistan) three in the  Americas (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico), South Africa (the only nuclear energy producer in Africa), and Iran.

5: Five of the countries signing the declaration do not have nuclear power—Mongolia, Morocco, Ghana, Moldova, and Poland. Only Poland’s electricity grid can support three or four large nuclear reactors—the rest would have to invest billions of dollars first to expand their grids or rely on smaller reactors that would not overwhelm grid capacity. Poland wants to replace its smaller coal plants with almost 80 small modular reactors (SMRs), but these “paper reactors” are largely just plans and not yet proven technology. One American vendor, NuScale, recently scrapped a six-unit project when cost estimates rose exponentially. In any event, none of these five countries is likely to make a significant contribution toward tripling nuclear energy in the next 20 years.


17: The 17 remaining signatories to the nuclear energy declaration represent a little more than half of all countries with nuclear energy, raising the issue of how much support there really is for tripling nuclear energy by 2050.

RELATED:
A small modular reactor’s demise calls for big change in Energy Department policy

3x: The idea of tripling nuclear energy to meet climate change requirements is not new. In fact, it was one of eight climate stabilization “wedges” laid out in Science magazine in 2004 in a now-famous article by Robert Socolow and Stephen Pacala of Princeton University. A stabilization wedge would avoid one billion tons of carbon emissions per year by 2055. In the case of nuclear energy, this would require building 700 large nuclear reactors over the course of 50 years. (In 2022, there were 416 reactors operating around the world, with 374 gigawatts-electric of capacity). In 2005, to reach the one-billion-ton goal of emissions reduction would have meant building 14 reactors per year, assuming all existing reactors continued operating. (In fact, the build rate needed to be 23 per year to replace aging reactors that would need to be retired.)  Given the stagnation of the nuclear power industry since then, the build rate now to reach wedge level would need to be 40 per year.

10: Average annual number of connections of nuclear power plants to the electricity grid, per year, over the entire history of nuclear energy. Between 2011 and 2021, however, the average annual number of nuclear power reactors connected to the grid was 5.

42 GWe: New nuclear energy capacity added from 2000 to 2020.

605 GWe: New wind capacity added from 2000 to 2020.

578 GWe: New solar capacity added from 2000 to 2020.  Growth in renewables has vastly outpaced that of nuclear energy in recent years.

73 billion: In US dollars, the amount lent or granted by the World Bank in fiscal year 2023 through the International Bank of Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association for projects. The December nuclear energy declaration called upon shareholders of the World Bank, international financial institutions, and regional development banks to encourage the inclusion of nuclear energy in their lending policies. This sounds like it would improve the chances for nuclear energy investment, but like many things associated with nuclear energy, any such move would be far too little and too late. The recently cancelled NuScale project estimated that it would cost $9.3 billion for six small modular reactors (77 megawatts-electric each); that is, the six reactors would have half the electricity capacity of a single large reactor. If the World Bank decided to spend all its funds on nuclear energy, it could afford to pay for the construction of seven NuScale projects, which would increase nuclear energy capacity by three gigawatts-electric—or one percent of total global capacity. The opportunity costs of using scarce development funds on nuclear energy is another issue.

RELATED:
A small modular reactor’s demise calls for big change in Energy Department policy
15 trillion: In US dollars, the cost to build enough NuScale reactors (9,738 77 megawatt-electric reactors) to triple nuclear energy capacity, assuming existing reactors continue to operate.  There are less expensive SMRs, perhaps, but none further along in the US licensing process.

13: An unlucky number in some cultures, but this was the time from design to projected operation of the NuScale VOYGR plant. Nuclear power plants have to be “done right,” and cutting corners to speed deployment is in no one’s interests. The design-and-build phase for a country’s first nuclear reactor, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, is 15 years. If the great expansion of nuclear energy is supposed to occur in more than the 22 countries that signed the declaration, this lead-time cannot be ignored.

The climate crisis is real, but nuclear energy will continue to be the most expensive and slowest option to reach net zero emissions, no matter how you cook the numbers

US House passes bill banning uranium imports from Russia
By Timothy Gardner
December 11, 2023
 
 
"...The House bill contains waivers allowing the import of low-enriched uranium from Russia if the U.S. energy secretary determines there is no alternative source available for operation of a nuclear reactor or a U.S. nuclear energy company, or if the shipments are in the national interest...
 
U.S. nuclear power plants imported about 12% of their uranium from Russia in 2022, compared to 27% from Canada and 25% from Kazakhstan, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The United States was the source of about 5% of uranium used domestically that year, the EIA said.
Allowed imports of Russian uranium under the waiver would be gradually reduced to 459 metric tons in 2027 from about 476.5 tons in 2024.” ​​​​​​​
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 23-079 December 13, 2023
CONTACT: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200
 
NRC Ends Probation of Mississippi’s Agreement State Regulatory Program; Heightened Oversight to Continue
 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is discontinuing probation on Mississippi’s program for regulating the use of radioactive materials. This decision is the result of an NRC review earlier this year, which found that the state has made significant progress in addressing several areas of unsatisfactory performance.
 
The NRC placed Mississippi’s program on probation in September 2022, marking the second time the agency has taken such action.
 
Mississippi’s “Agreement State” program will remain under heightened oversight, which involves frequent interaction with the NRC staff, including bimonthly conference calls and periodic status reports. The NRC will formally review Mississippi’s progress again in approximately two years.
Mississippi is one of 39 states that have entered into agreements with the NRC to provide them with the regulatory authority to license and regulate certain nuclear materials users within their borders. The NRC retains an oversight role and periodically assesses the states’ programs for adequacy and compatibility with NRC regulations. The NRC also maintains responsibility for regulating commercial nuclear power plants.
 
Last year’s NRC review of Mississippi’s program concluded it was “adequate to protect public health and safety but needs improvement and not compatible with the NRC’s program.” This year’s review noted significant improvements in inspection, licensing, staff training, and incident and allegation handling.
 
The NRC staff’s 2023 report on Mississippi’s program, the Commission’s approval of the staff’s recommendation to discontinue probation, and NRC Chair Christopher Hanson’s letter to Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves are available on the NRC website.
 
 
Document Title:
Master Decommissioning Trust Agreement changes for Indian Point Nuclear Generating Units 1, 2 and 3, Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, Palisades Nuclear Plant and the Non-Qualified Trust for Big Rock Point
Document Type:
Decommissioning Funding Plan DKTs 30, 40, 50, 70
Letter
Document Date:
11/13/2023

 ​​​​​​​

                         FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
                      12-11-23  
                  The Ohio Nuclear Free Network (ONFN)          
                             and Beyond Nuclear  
are not-for-profit research and education organizations concerned with the health, safety, environmental and accident risks posed by commercial nuclear power plants.                            
                                                                              Contact: Terry Lodge, esq.                                lodgelaw@yahoo.com      
                                                                                                 Kevin Kamps, Beyond Nuclear       240-462-3216 
                                                                                                 Julie Weatherington-Rice               614-436-5248 
                                               Connie Kline                     440-946-9012
                                                                                                                                                                                  
On Tuesday November 28, 2023, these groups filed with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to intervene and requested an adjudicatory hearing in opposition to a 20-year license extension for the Perry Nuclear Power Plant. The petitioners raised three contentions regarding the inadequacy of Energy Harbor's (EH) License Renewal Application (LRA).  
 
CONTENTION 1: The Severe Accident Mitigation Analysis Is Inadequate. The Declaration on Perry Geological Problems by Julie Weatherington-Rice shows immediate as well as future risk due to: 
  • failure to undertake a thorough level of review of the structural integrity of the facility;  
  • an outdated geotechnical analysis of the Perry site that is not predictive of actual site conditions including earthquakes, lake erosion, and leaks from wet and dry storage moving to the lake; 
  • heat from the plant that could expand underlying shale and structurally undermine the facilities; 
  • solution of the underlying Salina (salt) Formation that could destabilize the entire site; 
  • landslides developing behind the rock shield of the bluff, dumping the rocks into the lake and exposing new faces of the bluff; 
  • known and unknown oil/gas and water wells threatening the integrity of nearby rock and soils. 
 
CONTENTION 2: The power generated by Perry is redundant; the plant can be permanently shut down without consequence to regional power availability. Energy Harbor exaggerates and misrepresents the importance of Perry as part of the post-2026 energy mix by: 
  • failing to provide projections, pricing information or assessment of incoming new generation resources; 
  • failing to provide statistical or factual analyses of electric overcapacity within Ohio, or from multiple neighboring states; 
  • neglecting to consider that Perry's generation is and will be too expensive; and 
  • failing to offer its customers voluntary energy efficiency programs. 
 
CONTENTION 3:  Perry's Tritium Problem 
Tritium is radioactive hydrogen.  It bonds easily with oxygen to form radioactive water.  Once tritium becomes part of the water molecule, it cannot be removed. Tritium readily crosses the placental barrier, resulting in significant biological consequences, including: 
  • damage to DNA; 
  • impaired physiology and development; 
  • reduced fertility and longevity; and 
  • can lead to elevated risks of diseases including cancer. 
     Yet over the proposed 20-year extension, Perry will routinely release all tritium in the primary coolant to the environs, either as water vapor or gas to the atmosphere. In addition, there have been numerous tritium spills and leaks of considerable concern over the past decade. 
 
The Petition for Leave to Intervene can be found here: 
 
Docket NRC-2020-0034-0008      regulations.gov  
 
Increased Enrichment of Conventional and Accident Tolerant Fuel Designs for Light-Water Reactors
 
SUSQUEHANNA STEAM ELECTRIC STATION, UNITS 1 AND 2 – FIRE PROTECTION TEAM INSPECTION REPORT 05000387/2023010 AND 05000388/2023010
 

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