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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 5/12/19

As Reactors Shut in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania, Nuke War Rages in Ohio and New York

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As the nuke power industry slumps toward oblivion, two huge reactors are shutting in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts.

The shutdowns are a body blow to atomic energy. The soaring costs of the decayed US reactor fleet have forced them to beg gerrymandered state legislatures for huge bailouts.

Just two US reactors are still being built. Stuffed with $12 billion in interest-free federal loans, Georgia's Vogtle is nearing a staggering $30 billion in cost. Years behind schedule, the lowest possible costs of whatever electricity the two reactors there might produce already far exceed wind and solar.

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Virtually none of the 98 US reactors now operating can compete with wind, solar, or methane. All but one are more than 20 years old, with serious issues of obsolescence and decay; some are more than 40, operating far behind their original design life.

Four decrepit, money-losing, upstate New York State reactors still run because Governor Andrew Cuomo is handing them $7.6 billion in bailouts. This year's price tag jumped more than $50 million, despite Cuomo's promise it would drop. Safe energy/consumer groups are fighting him in court.

Cuomo has otherwise agreed to shut two old reactors at Indian Point, which sit on an earthquake fault north of New York City.

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But Illinois has voted billions to sustain three old reactors that can't compete with wind/solar and gas. New Jersey has also jumped in with hundreds of millions for money-losing nukes.

In Massachusetts, the Pilgrim reactor will shut this month. The New York Times says Pennsylvania's Three Mile Island Unit One will die in September, dropping the US fleet to 96. The industry wants to scam billions in bailouts for the Keystone State's other nukes, which are being vastly outstripped by renewables.

But the Ohio war over two geezer nukes rages full bore. Their owner, Akron's FirstEnergy, is bankrupt, trying to shed its cleanup responsibilities. Despite slipping millions in "lobbying" to key state officials, FirstEnergy has still been unable to shaft the state with its $300m/year nuke-bailout scam.

Designed in the 1960s, FirstEnergy's Davis-Besse opened near Toledo in 1977. A serious accident presaged the 1979 meltdown at its doomed clone, Three Mile Island Unit Two.

In 2002, boric acid ate Davis-Besse's infamous "hole in the head" to within an inch of irradiating the entire Great Lakes and north coast.

The leaks are still an issue. But Davis-Besse's owners sawed off the top of an abandoned Michigan nuke, cut through the containment building, and pasted it into the damaged reactor. The radioactive shield building is crumbling along with the rest of the nuke, from top to bottom.

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East of Cleveland, Perry opened in 1986, just after the first earthquake that damaged a US nuke. To this day, no operators have been forced to run a reactor caught amidst a seismic shaking.

The utility and its backers are betting on Ohio's gerrymandered legislature to gouge some $300 million from the tax/rate-paying public. A bevy of "free market" Republicans wants at least $150 million per year for the nukes, and another $150 million or more for various unclear activities, including about $8.5 million yearly for company president Chuck Jones.

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Harvey is a lifelong activist who speaks, writes and organizes widely on energy, the environment, election protection, social justice, grass-roots politics and natural healing, personal and planetary.He hosts "California Solartopia" at KPFK-Pacifica and "Green Power & Wellness" atprn.fm. (more...)
 

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4 people are discussing this page, with 5 comments


Dennis Kaiser

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Ex-Governor Kasich was among the initial group that started ALEC, the Koch method for "owning" state governments. With Koch involvement in Ohio need one look further as to why the state lags in renewable sources?

Submitted on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 11:32:01 AM

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Lew Weingarth

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I'm an Electrical Engineer. I remember that I was an undergrad student when my state first proposed a nuclear plant in 1980. An EE gave a talk on it, and I was surprise he was opposed. After all, EE jobs benefit from nukes. His opposition wasn't technical, it was economic. He listed every nuke plant on the board with electricity prices before and after. The minimum price increase was triple. His explanation was as regulated monopolies, the only way power companies could increase profits was increase cost. For the same reason, they opposed wind and solar, lowering cost would kill executive bonuses. In the 1990's, power was largely deregulated. Customers are no longer forced to buy from a single company. Now companies ONLY want wind and solar, because customers can buy cheaper wind and solar from other suppliers if one supplier only sells high cost nuclear. Mostly I oppose deregulation because they always want to eliminate pollution and safety regulations, but deregulation of who we can buy power from was a good move.

Submitted on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 1:53:31 PM

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Do you know or can you find the net energy cost of building and maintaining a nuclear power plant? Including materials, extraction, and pleliminary costs? Also removal and disposal?

Ditto for solar. A tall order, and best estimate is about the most we can hope for.

From what I've seen solar wins, hands down, even including subsidies for nukes.

Other issues include spreading of nuclear technology generally, solar prices coming down regularly and moving to organic material, centralization and decentralization issues--major!--and overall rates of return.

In my high school physics class, circa early '60s, nuclear power would be "too cheap to measure." While living off-grid on solar in the eighties, my kids were learning in high school that solar "was not feasible."

Submitted on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 4:08:18 PM

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kappie

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thanks for the great article.I live in ohio,near the Bessie Davis nuclear plant and learned many things that were not puplished about how badly the Bessie-davis plant is decaying.We were only told its near meltdown was a personel error from not checking the plant and told nothing about the patchwork repairs.We do know about the hugh ransome First energy is asking and how much it will cost us but this is being downplayed from our local weekly newspaper and the main papers.

Submitted on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 2:14:35 PM

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Reply to kappie:   New Content

Typical. And important reminder that we will never be free from human error.



Submitted on Monday, May 13, 2019 at 4:11:19 PM

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