Nuclear power news 2001

Dec 25, 2001: Report faults fiscal review of nuclear plants

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has failed to adequately ensure that owners have enough money to safely own, operate and later decommission nuclear power plants, a Congressional review says. The commission needs to tighten its review of requests to transfer licenses, especially because the costs of dismantling a plant and disposing of radioactive waste could increase, said the study by the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress," Associated Press.

Dec 20, 2001: Anti-radiation drug will be offered to U.S. states

WASHINGTON, DC -- "The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency said on Thursday that it would give potassium iodide to states that want to stockpile the medicine in case of an attack against a nuclear power plant. The drug has been shown to protect the body's thyroid gland if taken soon after radiation exposure. . . . . The drug will be given to states that request it within 30 days, according to the commission. Alabama, Arizona and Tennessee already have potassium iodide stockpiled for people living near nuclear plants as part of emergency preparedness programs. . . . The Nuclear Control Institute, an activist group, said a direct, high-speed crash by a large passenger jet would likely penetrate the concrete walls of up to 4-1/2 feet that protect a nuclear plant's reactor," Reuters.

Dec 18, 2001: The NRC: What, me worry?

CHICAGO -- "And despite September 11 -- when the NRC's assumptions crumbled at the moment the Twin Towers fell -- both the industry and the agency that regulates it continue to resist making any significant improvement to dismally inadequate and outmoded security regulations. We reported in 1986; -- and it is still the case today -- that NRC regulations require nuclear reactor operators to protect against no more than a single insider and/or three external attackers, acting as a single team, wielding no more than hand-held automatic weapons. Security personnel at power reactors are not required to be prepared for (1) more than three intruders; (2) more than one team of attackers using coordinated tactics; (3) more than one insider; (4) weapons greater than hand-held automatic weapons; (5) attack by boat or plane; or (6) any attack by 'enemies of the United States,' whether governments or individuals," Daniel Hirsch, Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, issued dated January/February 2002.

Dec 8, 2001: Officials skeptical of pill plan
Radioactive iodine decision depends on what Ohio Department of Health recommends

PORT CLINTON -- "State and local officials continue to have doubts about a federal plan to distribute a pill to negate the effects of radioactive iodine in the event of a leak at Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission announced nearly a year ago that it would provide communities near nuclear power plants with $400,000 to distribute potassium iodide pills to area residents. Ottawa County officials are not in favor of the distribution plan but have not made -- and will not make -- a definite decision on it until the county receives a recommendation from the Ohio Department of Health's Bureau of Radiation Protection," Jennifer Funk, Port Clinton News Herald.

Dec 5, 2001: Safety of nuclear plants again raises concerns

BRATTLEBORO, VT -- "Now discussions about Vermont Yankee [nuclear plant], and other reactors around the Northeast, are drawing big crowds. There were 600 people here on Monday night, in the auditorium of Brattleboro Union High School, not counting the 20 federal, state and local officials on stage to answer their questions. They were at it for four hours, and a while longer in the parking lot. . . Last month there were hearings near the Pilgrim plant, in Plymouth, Mass.; the Seabrook plant, in the New Hampshire town of the same name; and the undamaged reactor at Three Mile Island, near Harrisburg, Pa. There was also a hearing near the Maine Yankee plant, in Wiscasset, Me., which was shut down five years ago, but where radioactive spent fuel is still stored. Next week in White Plains, a committee of the Westchester County Board of Legislators plans a hearing on whether to revoke approval of the emergency plan for the Indian Point reactors. A hearing about the dangers of spent fuel is planned for the Shearon Harris plant in North Carolina," Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Dec 3: Power Reaches High Plateau
Industry shake-out and fuel uncertainties cast new doubts on long-term development plans

NEW YORK -- "For 2002, analysts expect capacity additions to continue around 45,000 Mw, about the same as 2001. But after that, all bets are off and most expect a drop-off. The initial predictions of high-capacity additions for the 2002-2007 period simply cannot be taken at face value, says Neil Stein, an analyst with Credit Suisse First Boston. As few as one in three announced projects may actually get built. . . . The stunning collapse of Enron in November 2001 and earlier announcements by several other major players of more cautious powerplant development strategies increased the sense that the boom was beginning to fade. . . . Nuclear got a boost from the Bush administration's energy plan in 2001. A few large merchant nuclear operators, including Entergy, Dominion Energy and Exelon, are mulling new reactor projects in 2002, the first in over 25 years in the U.S. But the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks created a major new security issue for the nuclear industry. The public may simply refuse to accept building new reactors," Paul Kemezis, Engineering News Record.

Nov 29: Editorial: Appalling giveaway to an industry

LAS VEGAS -- "Nuclear power plant operators say that the government-backed guarantee is necessary if the moribund industry is to have a revival, but this is a government subsidy of the worst kind. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., who opposed the legislation, aptly described it as 'highway robbery.' The nuclear power industry has been in financial trouble for years because it's a polluting, high-cost source of energy. For thousands of years the waste that nuclear power leaves behind will be deadly, and it is 77,000 tons of this waste that the nuclear power industry wants to permanently bury in Nevada," editorial, Las Vegas Sun.

Nov 28: House continues liability protection for nuclear power

WASHINGTON, DC -- "In a move Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Chackbay, said would 'help pave the way for the construction of much needed nuclear power plants,' the House passed controversial legislation Tuesday to continue to limit operators' financial liability in the event of a meltdown. . .Under Price-Anderson, all damages exceeding $9.4 billion would be covered by taxpayers. Opponents argue Price-Anderson amounts to a government subsidy of an industry that's so dangerous, it cannot afford private insurance, and therefore, cannot survive without Uncle Sam's help. Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., suggested that a serious nuclear accident today could cost more than $300 billion - far surpassing operators' limited liability," States News Service.
Photo: U.S. Congressman Billy Tauzin (Louisiana), who received $142,000 in contributions from the electric, oil and gas interests in the 2000 election campaign.

Nov 16: Chance of Perry disaster remote, EMA director says

ASHTABULA -- "'If an unusual event was to take place at the power plant, the plant has 15 minutes to notify Ashtabula, Lake and Geauga counties emergency management agencies,' [Ashtabula county Emergency Management Agency director Ed] Somppi said. The directors from each county assess the situation and determine the appropriate actions, he said. 'If it's a hot humid day and no wind, only the area around the plant is affected,' Somppi said. 'If there is a wind, then the direction it's traveling determines what communities are involved,'" Lisa Davis, Ashtabula Star Beacon.

Nov 15: Feds downplayed threat posed by U.S. nuclear plants
Report reveals nuclear plants one of the biggest threats to homeland security

WASHINGTON, DC -- "'The United States cannot be on high alert and then ignore the biggest threat sitting within its own borders.' said Jim Riccio, Greenpeace Nuclear Campaign Coordinator. 'The only way to secure our nuclear plants from terrorist sabotage or an accident is to immediately implement an emergency phase out plan for all reactors.' . . . Greenpeace analyzes each of this country's 103 nuclear reactors and includes detailed maps of the consequences and fall out of the 12 worst reactors including sites in Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. According to the government's own studies, an accident at one of the reactors in the United States would kill or injure tens of thousands of people, costs billions of dollars and render many communities uninhabitable," Greenpeace.

Nov 14: Congressman wants anti-radiation drug near nukes

WASHINGTON, DC -- "A U.S. lawmaker on Wednesday proposed a bill that would stockpile anti-radiation medicine near American nuclear power plants in case attackers released dangerous radioactive material into the air. Massachusetts Democratic Rep. Edward Markey, a longtime critic of the nuclear industry, wants the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to have ready supplies of potassium iodide within 200 miles of each of the country's 103 operating nuclear power plants. The drug has been shown to protect the body's thyroid gland from diseases caused by radiation exposure, Markey said. It must be taken several hours after exposure to be effective. . . The bill would also require the government commission to stock potassium iodide at individual homes and public facilities within 50 miles of a plant," Reuters.

Nov 11: Fermi II, Davis-Besse generate new fears
Security tightened against terror strike

OAK HARBOR -- "There are slightly more than 20,000 permanent residents in the 10-mile zone surrounding Davis-Besse, including a portion of Jerusalem Township in Lucas County. During the summer, that figure swells with 11,000 seasonal residents and 30,000 transients, said Jim Greer, director of the Ottawa County Emergency Management Agency. 'Fortunately the majority of people who come into our county to take advantage of the lake are in the eastern portion,' he said. 'I've seen estimates that the county's population which is usually 40,000 swells to 300,000 people on a summer weekend,'" Jennifer Feehan, Brian Dugger, Toledo Blade."Nuclear neighbors generating alarm; Some residents fear area plants might be terrorist targets," Fredrick Kunkle, Raymond McCaffrey, Washington Post .

Nov 4: The nuclear threat
Reactors and their fuel are among the flanks U.S. needs to shore up

COLUMBUS -- " . . . the House Energy and Commerce Committee voted Thursday to require the commission to review the potential for attacks on nuclear plants, specifically to identify a new 'design basis threat,' or threat around which the plant's defenses are geared. The [Nuclear Regulatory Commission] had opposed the amendment. . . .A draft study by the National Council on Radiation Protection and Measurements discussed the risk of shipping spent fuel and calculated that breaching a cask could produce a lethal radiation dose in an area of 2,700 square kilometers. In comparison, the study said, a 10-kiloton nuclear blast would produce those doses in 47 square kilometers," Matthew Wald, New York Times.

Nov 2: Ohio nuclear sites are safe, Taft says

COLUMBUS -- "While eight of the nation's governors have stationed National Guard troops around their states' nuclear power plants at the urging of federal officials, Gov. Bob Taft doesn't believe such precaution is needed at two facilities in Ohio. 'The governor and the lieutenant governor have visited the nuclear power plants and they feel very comfortable with the security,' Mary Ann Sharkey, spokeswoman for Taft, said," Catherine Candisky, Columbus Dispatch.

Oct 24: Nuclear power and terrorism

NEW YORK -- "As The Nation has reported, the terrorists who in 1993 bombed the World Trade Center trained beforehand at a remote site not thirty miles from Three Mile Island -- and afterward threatened to send 150 suicide bombers into America's nuclear plants," Matt Bivens, Nation. WASHINGTON, DC -- "NRC kept nuclear plant text public," John Solomon, Associated Press.

Oct 22: Security for nuclear sites>

LOS ANGELES -- "As the nation goes about the unpleasant and still unfamiliar task of prioritizing threats, consider this: The country's 103 commercial nuclear plants, including south Orange County's San Onofre, are required only to withstand an assault by several people on foot and one person operating inside. . .If a worst-case attack were to trigger a major release of radioactive material [from the San Onofre plant], the immediate impact on Orange and San Diego counties would be devastating. Ultimately it might cause cancers and genetic defects and render a significant swath of the region uninhabitable. It's hard to imagine a threat that merits more attention," editorial, Los Angeles Times.

Oct 17: Terrorism puts industry self-regulation on ice

MINNEAPOLIS -- "According to Doug Walters, a project manager with the industry trade group, the Nuclear Energy Institute, a meticulously orchestrated assault has never been the focus of security planning. 'Our existing security is not equipped to deal with that type of attack,' he says, referring to the September 11 strikes. 'Obviously, we're looking at what actions you could take, certain things you could do if attack was imminent. In a scenario where you knew ahead of time that a plane was incoming, you could shut off all the lights,'" Peter Ritter, Minneapolis-St. Paul City Pages.

Oct 15: Shadow of terrorism doesn't fall equally on all power sources

SACRAMENTO, CA -- "'Our whole system of electric power supply is hard to defend against attack,' [David Freeman, who heads California's new public power authority] says. 'The worst is nuclear. Everybody talking about [building] nuclear plants ought to just shut up. It's just out of the question,'" George Skelton, Los Angeles Times.

Oct 12: Nuclear Regulatory Commission indiscriminately denies citizens information
Agency goes overboard by shutting down entire web site

WASHINGTON, DC -- "In an unprecedented move, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) on Thursday shut down its entire Web site, barring the public from even innocuous information about public hearings in their communities. 'While federal agencies are prudent to review sensitive information they post online, the NRC's decision to remove all information on their Web site is an overreaction that does more harm than good,' said Tyson Slocum, research director at Public Citizen's Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program. 'If nuclear power plants are such dangerous targets, perhaps we should be shutting down the reactors, not the Web site that provides non-objectionable information to the public,'" release, Public Citizen.

Oct 7: Crunch energizes nuclear industry
Davis-Besse seeks extension of license

TOLEDO -- "The industry’s biggest obstacle continues to be uncertainty over what to do with spent fuel from nuclear plant reactors, Mr. Kerekes said. He and other nuclear advocates expect that, by year’s end, the White House will receive scientific justification from the U.S. Department of Energy to designate Nevada’s Yucca Mountain the national repository. But even if that happens and the Bush administration promptly moves forward with it, Yucca Mountain is not expected to be ready until at least 2010 - 12 years behind schedule. The cost: a staggering $50 billion. . . On Aug. 27, FirstEnergy President Bob Saunders alluded to the potential of a new plant there while hosting U.S. Sen. George Voinovich’s first tour of that complex. He agreed with the senator that existing complexes, such as Davis-Besse, likely would get any new units that are built to minimize controversy over siting criteria," Tom Henry, Toledo Blade.
Sep 25: Missiles urged to protect U.S. nuke power plants WASHINGTON, DC -- "U.S. soldiers would have about seven seconds to fire a missile and destroy a commercial airliner that is one mile from a reactor and traveling 500 miles per hour, the groups said. . . .A direct, high-speed hit by a large passenger jet 'would in fact have a high likelihood of penetrating a containment building' that houses a nuclear power reactor, said Edwin Lyman, scientific director of the Nuclear Control Institute. A plane's fuselage would likely crumble on impact but its engines are made of stronger steel and would probably break through a reactor's concrete shell, according to the groups. In such an event, the release of radiation could result in widespread effects downwind of the plant. Many of the nation's nuclear plants are located near large cities, Lyman said," Tom Doggett, Reuters.
Sep 21: Shipment of nuclear waste cancelled
U.S. Department of Energy cites safety concerns after attacks. Train would have passed through area

AKRON -- "On a four-day trip across Ohio and nine other states, the train would have carried two giant casks, both weighing 100 tons, with steel walls 9 inches thick. Though the route had not been finalized, one taking the train through Portage, Summit, Wayne and Medina counties was preferred by the Energy Department," Bob Downing, Akron Beacon Journal.PIKETON -- "Shipments of nuclear waste halted," Associated Press.
Sep 18: Nuclear plants are called vulnerable to air attacks VIENNA, Austria -- "Japan, which is heavily dependent on nuclear energy and has 52 nuclear plants, warned Monday that nothing can shield the plants from a direct hit from a missile or an aircraft. . . . 'If you postulate the risk of a jumbo jet full of fuel, it is clear that their design was not conceived to withstand such an impact,' [International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman David] Kyd said. . . .A direct hit on a nuclear plant by a modern jumbo jet traveling at high speed 'could create a Chernobyl situation,' said a U.S. official who declined to be identified," Bergen (NJ) Record
Aug 28: Voinovich plans legislation to boost nuclear power development PORT CLINTON -- "The bill would make it easier for utilities to insure their new power plants. It would allow foreign companies to build, own and operate nuclear plants in the United States. Also, 40-year licenses would start counting down only after a plant is up and running. There would also be a limit on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's authority to determine whether a new plant is needed," Associated Press.
Jul 26, 2001: Academic Meltdown
The number of nuclear engineers isn't exactly mushrooming.
NEW YORK -- "This May, Cornell University decided to close its nuclear teaching reactor and relocate its staff, capping a national trend that has seen a dozen universities take similar steps since the mid-1980s. 'Because of the public perception after Three Mile Island and Chernobyl that anything nuclear is dangerous,' says Kenan Unlu, the director of the Cornell reactor, 'we are losing an educated workforce very quickly.' ... A.E. Waltar, the director of Texas A&M's nuclear engineering program, says, 'This was the place to be when I started in this field in the '60s. But with the bad rap that the word 'nuclear' has had, even interested students get discouraged. They tell mom and dad what they're doing and, their parents say, 'You're going into a dead-end field,''" Samuel Goldman, Wall Street Journal.
Photo: First Energy's Davis-Besse nuclear plant in Port Clinton.

Jul 23, 2001: A nuke train gets ready to roll
The administration wants more nuclear plants, so it’s eager to show that it’s perfectly safe to ship the used fuel. But nobody wants radioactive cargo chugging by their town.

MOBERLY, MO -- "The train’s starting point, known as the Western New York Nuclear Service Center, is a dilapidated monument to the failure of U.S. nuclear policy and an environmental mess. Built to reprocess spent fuel from commercial power reactors, the plant shut down in 1972 and never reopened. Nowadays, hazardous waste is stored in a huge warehouse and under tarpaulins in the surrounding fields. Until May the 125 reactor fuel assemblies were stored in a slowly deteriorating indoor pool lined with brown scum and filled with lethally radioactive water. ... From New York, the train will run through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska and Wyoming en route to a vast DOE reservation in southeastern Idaho," Adam Piore, Newsweek, issue dated July 30.
Jul 8, 2001: The nuclear option revisited
Too expensive and unacceptably risky, nuclear power was declared dead long ago. So why would we resurrect it?
SNOWMASS, CO -- "Lost in the debate over what kind of new plant to build is the best option of all: more efficient use of the electricity we already have. We've been reducing electricity use per dollar of gross domestic product by 1.6% a year nationwide, and in California between 1997 and 2000, by 4.4% a year. California has held its per-capita electricity use essentially flat since the mid-1970s, yet far more savings remain untapped--enough nationally to save four times nuclear power's output, at one-sixth its operating cost," guest column, Amory Lovins, Hunter Lovins, Los Angeles Times.
May 23, 2001: WASHINGTON, DC -- Nuclear energy industry reclaims spotlightKatharine Seelye, New York Times. "'The Bush administration should at most be looking to proceed with what the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was planning — an orderly phase-out of existing power plants,' said Paul L. Leventhal, president of the Nuclear Control Institute and co- director of the Senate investigation into the 1979 accident at Three Mile Island. 'Instead, they're talking about a new rebirth, and it frankly just doesn't make sense.' ... Another problem, and one that [Vice President Richard] Cheney fully acknowledges, is the lack of a national repository for the storage of nuclear waste. In his speech today, the vice president warned that the lack of a storage site could be a deal killer. Without a site, he said, 'eventually the contribution we can count on from the nuclear industry will, in fact, decline.'"

May 15, 2001:CLEVELAND -- Second Perry nuclear plant one option for FirstEnergyPeter Krouse, Cleveland Plain Dealer. "'My understanding is there are technologically feasible solutions to the waste problem,' said Brant Eldridge, executive manager of the East Central Area Reliability Council, a multistate organization that includes Ohio. The organization is intended to manage the reliability of the region's electricity supply. Whether utilities develop additional nuclear capacity at this point, he said, is basically a political issue." Perry evacuation route map (U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission).

Apr 9, 2001:WASHINGTON, DC -- Why nuclear power’s failure in the marketplace is irreversible -- fortunately for nonproliferation and climate protection Amory Lovins, Rocky Mountain Institute. "Why nuclear can’t protect the climate: Suppose that saving a kWh costs as much as 3¢ while generating a new nuclear kWh costs as little as 6¢. Then each 6¢ spent on a nuclear kWh could have bought two efficiency kWh. So buying the costlier nuclear kWh instead resulted in 1 kWh of fossil-fueled generation that could have been avoided. Unless nuclear power is the cheapest way of all to meet energy-service needs, buying it will make climate change worse than if the best buys were bought instead."

Mar 30, 2001:ATLANTA -- New nuclear plant possible in GeorgiaErin Moriarty, Atlanta Business Chronicle. "The move marks a major shift in the energy industry, since no licenses to build nuclear power plants in the United States have been granted by the federal government since 1975. More than 100 nuclear power plants have been built in the United States, but the 1979 accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant in Pennsylvania -- which was a near-meltdown -- squelched the momentum of the industry."

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