From Green Mountain Daily:

Arnie Gundersen, on the other hand came fully prepared.  Launching a well-planned slide presentation, he began by saying that the purpose of the forum was not to argue the pros and cons of nuclear energy, but rather to discuss why VY should or should not specifically be shut-down.  He then proceeded to explain, in a relaxed and articulate manner, all of the technical issues, managerial issues and some of the ethical issues that have lead him to believe that VY must not be allowed to operate beyond it's planned expiry. Arguing that closure of VY will have much less  of an economic impact than is projected by VY supporters, Mr. Gundersen described the manner in which pricing and supply works on the New England Grid, and said that hundreds of jobs will be created after VY closes; first, to keep the plant safe and secure while it awaits decommissioning, and later to carry out the actual dismantling and disposal operations.

Each speaker was allowed a brief rebuttal, during which Mr. Gundersen defused the "Exit" sign analolgy with a little science, and reminded the audience that tritium was just the fastest moving (and therefore most quickly identified) substance leached from the broken pipes.  He pointed out that additional radioactive substances of much more deadly portent, were released at the same time but hadn't yet travelled as far as the "plume" of tritium, which has already entered the Connecticut River.

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From Platts:

No reason has yet been discovered why light-water power reactors could not operate beyond 60 years, but coordinated, near-term research efforts should address the issues, industry and government officials said Tuesday.

Co-sponsored by the US Department of Energy, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Energy Institute, the three-day workshop in Washington examined "life beyond 60" issues for power reactors. The event followed on a DOE-NRC workshop held in February 2008.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko told the workshop that "it's very important that we guard against any potential sense of complacency about aging management and license renewal."

Some 61 of the 104 operating US power reactors have had their initial 40-year licenses renewed by NRC for an additional 20 years.

Jaczko said "the industry has done good work in developing effective aging management programs to meet NRC safety requirements. This is a track record that the industry can be proud of. But it's also important to recognize that we have very limited experience in seeing how aging management programs actually work after the initial 40-year period of operation."

Jaczko also said that "if the industry's research demonstrates that licensees can safely conduct extended operation beyond 60 years, the NRC has every reason to believe that the licensing reviews will proceed efficiently and effectively."

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CONTACT: Elliott Negin, Union of Concerned Scientists, 202-331-5439



The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) will hold a telephone press conference to release a new report detailing the full range of subsidies that have benefitted the commercial nuclear power industry in the United States over the last 50 years. The report found that subsidies for the entire nuclear fuel cycle -- from uranium mining to long-term waste storage -- have often exceeded the average market price of the power produced. In other words, if the government had purchased power on the open market and given it away for free, it would have been less costly than subsidizing nuclear power plant construction and operation.

Pending and proposed subsidies for new nuclear reactors would shift even more costs and risks from the industry to taxpayers and ratepayers. The president’s new budget proposal would provide an additional $36 billion in taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantees to underwrite the construction of new reactors. That would nearly triple the amount of loan guarantees already available to the industry.

Ellen Vancko, UCS Nuclear Energy & Climate Change Project manager, Washington, D.C.
Doug Koplow, founder, Earth Track, Inc., Cambridge, Mass. (report author)

Wednesday, February 23, 2011, 1 p.m. EST

The comfort of your own office. Call: 866-793-1307; Conference ID: UCS nuclear subsidies teleconference


The Union of Concerned Scientists is the leading U.S. science-based nonprofit organization working for a healthy environment and a safer world. Founded in 1969, UCS is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and also has offices in Berkeley, Chicago and Washington, D.C. For more information, go to


From In These Times:

In their rush to approve a newly designed nuclear reactor slated for proposed power plants throughout the southeastern United States, federal regulators are ignoring safety issues raised by a pattern of containment failures in reactors. That’s the urgent message at the center of two recent reports examining the design of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor, which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is in the process of certifying.

Both reports were written by Arnold Gundersen, a former senior nuclear industry official and chief engineer of Fairewinds Associates, Inc., an independent research firm. The initial report was released in April 2010, and the follow-up report released in late December. They were commissioned by the AP1000 Oversight Group, a coalition of environmental organizations centered in the Southeast, where construction of 14 new nuclear power plants has been proposed. Because of the safety issues documented by Gundersen, the coalition is contesting certification of the AP1000.

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From Reuters:

The United States' reliance on coal to generate almost half of its electricity, costs the economy about $345 billion a year in hidden expenses not borne by miners or utilities, including health problems in mining communities and pollution around power plants, a study found.

Those costs would effectively triple the price of electricity produced by coal-fired plants, which are prevalent in part due to the their low cost of operation, the study led by a Harvard University researcher found.

"This is not borne by the coal industry, this is borne by us, in our taxes," said Paul Epstein, a Harvard Medical School instructor and the associate director of its Center for Health and the Global Environment, the study's lead author.

"The public cost is far greater than the cost of the coal itself. The impacts of this industry go way beyond just lighting our lights."

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From the New York Times:

The attorneys general of New York, Connecticut and Vermont sued the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Tuesday, challenging a new commission policy stating that nuclear waste can be safely stored at a nuclear power plant for 60 years after a reactor goes out of service.

The three states argued that the policy, adopted in December, violated two federal laws requiring that a full environmental review be carried out at each nuclear site before permission for long-term storage could be granted.

“Our communities deserve a thorough review of the environmental, public health and safety risks such a move would present,” New York’s attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, said in a statement.

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Duke Energy is billing customers for billions of dollars worth of workhorse power plants that sit idle much of the time or which spew coal pollution while on standby – without generating electricity. Yet the utility is building another large coal unit and seeking licenses for new nuclear reactors, which would provide huge boosts to revenues and electricity rates.

Duke’s surplus capacity will last indefinitely, and it extends far beyond the small, older units the utility has said it will retire in coming years. Progress Energy also enjoys surplus generation with so-called baseload plants – its nuclear reactors and largest coal units. State regulators should proceed toward closing all under-used coal units, and should cancel licensing efforts for new nuclear reactors.

NC WARN has submitted these findings, based on our analysis of utility data, to the NC Utilities Commission and we’re calling for an evidentiary hearing.

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Three Mile Island Nuclear Station, Unit 1 - Request for Additional Information Regarding License amendment Request Proposing changes to the Number of Required Operable Main Steam Safety Valves

Download ML110350379 (PDF)


From International Business Times:

One of the ongoing problems with unclear non-proliferation efforts is what to do with nuclear material in the former Soviet Union. A group from Sandia National Laboratories recently completed a project in Kazakhstan, and took another step towards securing it.

A large cache of enriched nuclear fuel - some 13 metric tons -- was stored in a nuclear reactor in the port city of Aktau, on the Caspian seacoast. The reactor was a Soviet-era fast breeder reactor, designed to make nuclear fuel for both weapons and power plants. The reactor, which started operations in 1973, also provided 135 megawatts of electricity, 9 million gallons of water per day and steam for hot water and heating for Aktau. It was shut down by the Kazakh government in 1999.

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