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Indybay FeatureRelated Categories: California | Environment & Forest Defense
Nuclear Shutdown News May 2017
Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the nuclear industry in the US and abroad, and highlights the efforts of those who are working to create a nuclear free world. Here is our May 2017 report:
1. San Onofre shenanigans continue--and so does resistance.
On May 27 KPBS along with the Associated Press reported the story "Customers May Never Know How They Got Stuck With $3.3 Billion Paid For San Onofre Shutdown."
This report details how the San Francisco-based California Public Utilities Commission "once again failed to release sources of emails it exchanged with Governor Jerry Brown's office" concerning the "nuclear plant's closure."
Former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre, now representing San Onofre ratepayers, "sued the CPUC last year after" it refused to disclose these emails, KPBS reported.
"The public documents sought under the California Public Record Act and the "California Constitution, " Aguirre stated in a court filing, "pertain to a matter of public interest. The CPUC is forcing millions of people and families, schools and businesses and local governments to pay more than $3.3 billion over a decade for the San Onofre nuclear plant, even though it generates no electricity."
Southern California Edison, majority owner of San Onofre, along with San Diego Gas & Electric, shut down this nuke plant in 2013 after a series of scandal plagued events marked by a radioactive release, major new equipment turning to junk in a matter of a few years and opposition to its reopening from the groups like LA City Council, San Clemente Greens and Friends Of the Earth.
At a secret meeting in Warsaw, Poland, not long after the nuke plant's closure, a high level Edison official and the then head of the CPUC cranked out a deal that soon thereafter resulted in customers being assigned to cough up 70% of the nuke plant's supposed shutdown costs of $4.7 billion, or $3.3 billion. To date no one has held anyone responsible for this debacle.
Now these same incredibly corrupt actors are trying bury all of San Onofre's high level radioactive waste 100 feet from the shore at San Onofre's fabled surfing beach. This radwaste contains long-lived highly toxic chemicals like plutonium, with a radioactive life is over 200,000 year.
On May 23, KPBS reported, "Coastal Commission Met Privately With Edison Before Public Waste Storage Vote."
The California Coastal Commission, which is charged with preserving the state's coastlines, some of the most fabulous in the world, "gave a one week notice in October 2015 that Southern California Edison was proposing to keep (radioactive) waste from San Onofre on site, just 100 feet from Pacific. But newly filed documents," KPBS reported, "show Commission officials met three times privately with Edison representatives in the year leading up to the 2015 decision" to bury the radwaste at this surfer's paradise.
Sources: KPBS, kpbs.org; Associated Press, ap.com.
2. 'New' Nuke Shutdown After Just 5 Months
On May 5 the Los Angeles Times reported, "TVA's 21st Century Nuclear Plant Has Already Shut Down For Repairs."
The TVA is the Tennessee Valley Authority. The nuclear reactor the Times was referring to is Watts Barr #2.
The Times reported, "Watts Barr 2 holds the record for for the longest gestation of any nuclear plant in history, listed as 'under construction' for 43 years."
Construction began in 1972, was suspended in 1989 when it was 60% completed and resumed in 2007. The initial cost estimate was $400 million," and ended up being $6.1 billion when WB 2 finally began operating in October 2016.
In March 2017, just over five months later, it went offline," the Times reported. "and is expected to remain offline until summer, the TVA's peak period for electrical demand."
The Times story was in the context of "California being on the verge of exiting the nuclear field entirely, with Pacific Gas & Electric's Diablo Canyon reactors scheduled to shut down in 2024 and and 2025, following the 2013 decision of Southern California Edison to permanently close San Onofre."
The Times said "the immediate cause of Watts Barr 2's shutdown was the failure of the component's condenser, which cools steam back into water." The Times added "being of a time frame when Watts Barr incorporated (now) old technology, some now considered unacceptable in nuclear plants today" like the condenser that recently failed, more such incidents may be likely in the future.
David Lochbaum, former nuclear engineer and now with the Union of Concerned Scientists, commented "The nuclear industry is very optimistic about its projection of performance. This is more evidence that they need to temper their optimism."
The Times also reported that in May 2016 the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cited a 'chilled' "work environment" at Watts Barr. "Workers didn't consider themselves free to raise safety concerns without fear of retaliation," according to the Times. Thirty-three such allegations were reported to the NRC in 2016.
Source: Los Angeles Times, latimes.com.