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Posts Tagged ‘nuclear information and resource service’

Damage at the Fukashima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant following a devastating earthquake and tsunami

A recent ABC News-Washington Post poll shows Americans oppose building more nuclear power plants in the United States, by a margin of 2-1.  This is an 11-point increase in opposition, up from a few years ago.

In the aftermath of Japan’s nuclear plant crisis, 64 percent in this ABC News/Washington Post poll now oppose new  nuclear plant construction, while 33 percent support  it. “Strong” opposition outstrips strong  support, 47-20 percent. Opposition is up from 53  percent in a 2008 poll, and strong opposition is up  even more, by 24 points.

This ABC News-Washington Post poll was conducted  by telephone April 14-17, 2011, among a random  national sample of 1,001 adults, including landline  and cell-phone-only respondents. Results have a  margin of sampling error of 3.5 points. The survey  was produced for ABC News by Langer Research Associates of New York, N.Y, with sampling, data collection and tabulation by TNS of Horsham, Pa.  Click here to check out the charts and questionnaire.

This poll reflects changing public attitudes that goes beyond a not-in-my-back-yard phenomenon. The survey finds that while 67 percent of Americans oppose construction of a nuclear plant within 50 miles of their home, this number is not significantly different than the number who oppose it regardless of location.  Opposition also appears to be bipartisan, with majorities of Democrats, Republicans and independents alike opposed to new nuclear plant construction.

Still, there are differences among groups; opposition is higher among Democrats (75 percent, vs. 59 percent of Republicans and independents combined), women (73 percent, vs. 53 percent of men) and liberals (74 percent, vs. 60 percent of moderates and conservatives).

In the past, support for building nuclear plants has fluctuated, showing sensitivity to nuclear crises. In the mid-1970′s when nuclear plant building was booming 61 percent supported nuclear power, however support fell sharply after the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and bottomed out at just 19 percent in May 1986 after the Chernobyl crisis (whose 25th anniversary will be marked next week).  

Most Americans do not say that nuclear power is unsafe, but the subtle difference in their perception of how safe nuclear plants are plays into whether or not they support the building of new nuclear plants.  Indeed, 53 percent of Americans said that nuclear power is safe overall, 11 points above the immediate post-Chernobyl level.  But only 23 percent see it as “very safe,” which apparently is what’s needed to sustain public support, and very justly so, given the potential consequences should a plant prove unsafe.  Among people surveyed who think nuclear power plants are very safe, 84 percent favor building new ones. But that falls to 33 percent of those who just think it’s only somewhat safe. And those who think it’s unsafe are nearly unanimous (93 percent) in their opposition.

Not surprisingly, 42 percent say the crisis in Japan has made them less confident in the safety of nuclear power overall; 51 percent say it’s had no effect. This, too, ties in closely with support for construction:  Among those who are less confident now, 84 percent  oppose building new plants. Among those whose opinions haven’t changed, opposition falls to 48 percent.

These changing attitudes toward nuclear power have been reflected in recent events that include:

  • NRG’s decision to write off their investment in a proposed expansion of theSouth Texas(Nuclear) Project, effectively killing that project. 
  • In a contested case brought by the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), the NRC Licensing Board, said that UniStar Nuclear is not eligible to build a reactor in theU.S.ordered UniStar and the NRC Staff to show cause as to why they shouldn’t rule in NIRS’ favor, and deny a construction license for Calvert Cliffs-3.
  • Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has introduced HR 1242, a nuclear bill that would:
  • Ensure that nuclear power plants and spent nuclear fuel pools can withstand and adequately respond to earthquakes, tsunamis, strong storms, long power outages, or other events that threaten a major impact.
  • Require nuclear power plants to have emergency backup plans and systems that can withstand longer electricity outages.
  • Require spent nuclear fuel to be moved into safer dry cask storage as soon as the fuel is sufficiently cooled to do so.
  • Require the Department of Energy to factor in the lessons learned from the Fukushima melt down when calculating the risk of default on loan guarantees for new nuclear power plants.

These are all pretty dramatic changes from what was happening in this country, with respect to the nuclear renaissance, just over a month ago.  It took 20 years for the memory of Chernobyl to fade enough for the industry to take up the mantle of promoting a nuclear expansion in this country as the panacea for our varied energy woes that included high oil prices, environmental concerns prompted by the Gulf oil spill a year ago and efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions.  The ongoing nuclear disaster at Fukushima is showing the world that when things do go wrong, the costs of nuclear in terms of high prices, and environmental concerns are higher than people want to pay.

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Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) are asking folks to sign on to a petition to the Prime Minister of Japan and his Cabinet in opposition to proposed loans from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC) for the construction of two new nuclear reactors in south Texas.

NIRS is also sending a letter signed by a large list of organizations from the U.S., Japan and other international NGOs.  We don’t believe JBIC has ever received this kind of international attention on a nuclear issue before—indeed, this loan is being considered before JBIC has even drawn up guidelines for funding nuclear projects! And it would be a bad deal for JBIC and Japanese taxpayers, as well as people in Texas.

If you want to sign on to the petition to the Prime Minister, click here.

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SEED Coalition opposes any radioactive waste dumping in Texas, but at minimum seeks to prevent our state from receiving waste from more than just the two Compact States and becoming the nation’s radioactive waste dump. With support from Public Citizen, Environment Texas and Nuclear Information and Resource Service and other groups, they will submit comments today to the Texas Low-Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission. The Proposed Import/Export Rule under consideration may open the door for Texas to becoming the nation’s nuclear dumping ground and we’re making recommendations to strengthen the rule and protect public health as safety .

State Rep. Lon Burnam (District 90, Ft. Worth) will ask a series of questions of the Compact Commissioners, and try to get answers as to why they are considering the weak and risky approach taken by the draft rule under consideration.

Some of SEED Coalition’s comments can be summarized as follows:

  • The site should be limited to radioactive waste from Texas and Vermont, and have volume and radioactivity caps that match the license for the facility.
  • Waste from Texas and Vermont would more than fill up the facility, and no Out of Compact Waste should be imported.
  • The proposed import/ export rule needs to be strengthened and deemed a Major Environmental rule, so that more careful analysis can be done.
  • Radionuclides must be carefully tracked and monitored. The public has a right to know what is shipped to the site and the level of radioactivity in curies.
  • The public should be informed as to health risks from various radionuclides and meetings held in accord with the Open Meetings Act

The Compact Commission meets today beginning at 9 AM in Austin, Texas in the State Capitol Auditorium, E1.004, 1400 North Congress.

Visit www.NukeFreeTexas.org to find SEED’s comments, Rep. Burnam’s questions, a NIRS factsheet and the memo by nuclear expert Dr. Arjun Makhijani.  Press release after the jump… (more…)

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*Update: Greg Harman at the San Antonio Current just published a fantastic and very thorough recap of the twisted nuclear saga. Check it out!

Here’s part 2 in this year’s first annual Year in Review: Top Texas Vox Stories of 2009 series. Part 1 is just a hop, skip and scroll down.

3. San Antonio Nuclear Debacle/Amores Nucleares Telenovela

This year has been a doozy for nuclear power, with the highlight of course being the San Antonio situation.  Over the last 12 months San Antonio has ridden a wild wave of cost estimates, community meetings, protests, scandals, and misinformation.  But I’m getting ahead of myself. Remember when…

Last January, CPS Energy committed to spend $60 million more on the proposed expansion of the South Texas Nuclear Project, a decision which at that point brings the city utility’s total expenditures on units 3 & 4 to $267 million. Not long after that, Austin City Council took a look at participating in the expansion project but said “No way, that’s much too risky of an investment for us.” San Antonio decided that something magical (but mysterious) was different for them, despite our prediction in late April that the proposed reactors could actually cost as much as $22 Billion.  Mum was CPS’ word on a cost estimate at that time, but by June they announced that $13 Billion was a good, round number. We worried at this point that CPS was being overly optimistic, ignoring the history of the South Texas Project and other nukes around the nation and independent reports, but those concerns largely fell on deaf ears.

Then over the summer, CPS Energy launched a massive public outreach campaign, with meetings in every district — but kind of botched it.  Despite activists’ protests that CPS’ cost numbers were innacurate, the utiltiy refused to release their information or back up numbers, and many San Antonio citizens left the community meetings feeling disenchanted with the process and suspicious of CPS.

As a rising tide of activists and concerned citizens grew, eventually they formed the coalition group Energía Mía and worked together to halt CPS’ spending for more nuclear reactors. The group launched a string of protests and press conferences highlighting the many flaws of nuclear power and the San Antonio deal in particular.  Everyone was all geared up for a big showdown the last week in October, but then the cowpie really hit the rotating bladed device (let’s call it a windmill). For the next part, I’m going to pull from a previous post where I likened the whole situation to a geeky, policy version of a telenovela.

Previously, on Amores Nucleares:

With just days before San Antonio City Council was to vote to approve $400 million in bonds for new nuclear reactors, it was leaked that the project could actually cost $4 Billion more than CPS had been saying all summer (according to Toshiba, who would actually be building the plant). The vote was postponed, there was an impromptu press conference, and it came out that CPS staff had actually known about the cost increase for more than a week — Oops! Oh, and the “leak” wasn’t that CPS came out with the truth, an aide from the mayor’s office only found out after confronting CPS about a rumor he’d heard. But how did the mayor’s office find out? NRG, CPS’ partner in the project was the “Deepthroat”, because they were going to announce Toshiba’s $17 Billion cost estimate at a shareholder’s meeting soon after the city council vote and thought, geez, that could look really bad for CPS! Meanwhile, CPS reps flew to Japan in a hurry to figure things out. Steve Bartley, interim GM for CPS, resigned. Furious that CPS had hidden the ugly truth from City Council, the mayor demanded the resignation of two key CPS board members, and got City Council to vote unanimously that they get the boot. Chairwoman Aurora Geis agreed to go, but Steve Hennigan said “No Way, Jose.” THEN CPS completed an internal audit of the whole shebang to figure out what-the-hell-happened, which found that Steve Bartley was to blame, and everyone else was only guilty of failure in their “responsibility of prompt disclosure”. Then it came out the project could be even more way way expensive than anyone thought (except of course Energia Mia, Public Citizen, SEED Coalition, the Center for American Progress, Nuclear Information and Resource Service, and analysts Arjun Makhijani, Clarence Johnson, Craig Severance, and Mark Cooper to name a few). And then those crazy cats all started suing each other.

So in the end, they told folks all summer long that the plant would cost $13 Billion, even though insiders knew since late June that it could very well be $4 Billion more. Latest update is that the plant could really cost $18.2 Billion! On December 31st, Toshiba provided CPS with another new estimate, which the utility will use to come up with their own new cost estimate mid-January. City council is slated to vote sometime after that, once and for all, on $400 million in bonds to continue the project.

But clearly, enough is enough. So if you live in San Antonio, tell City Council to stop throwing good money after bad, and to cut their losses before its too late. Tell them to vote “no” to nuclear bonds and start the year off fresh and free from the “ghost of nuclear projects past.”

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By promoting cleaner energy, cleaner government, cleaner cars, and cleaner air for all Texans, we hope to provide for a healthy place to live and prosper. We are Public Citizen Texas.

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nukeblankcheckBuried in the language of the “Clean Energy Bank” legislation sponsored by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman and Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) is a blank check to the nuclear industry.

This bill includes unlimited availability of taxpayer loan guarantees for construction of new nuclear reactors.

Unlimited guaranteed loans.  As in, as many as the industry could possibly want, no matter the cost, no matter the default rate.  Which for the record, is 50% according to the Congressional Budget Office.

This is one of the most audacious, nasty, pork-laden bill I have heard of in a really long time.  How do they even think that they can get away with this?

Write your House member and Speaker Nancy Pelosi now. And then forward this message to everyone you can think of.

For more information on the “clean energy” bank, check out this NIRS post on Daily Kos.

Since our own Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison is encouraging lawmakers to give the nuclear industry even more money, it is more important than ever that we make sure folks on the Hill know that Not All Texans support nuclear power.  Make your voice heard today!

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radiationsignI have been remiss in my duties as Blog Lady because I haven’t told you anything about the slated Andrews County nuclear waste dump.  Oh, you hadn’t heard?  TCEQ approved a “low-level” radioactive dump out in the lower panhandle.  There wasn’t a contested case hearing — and citizens of Eunice, New Mexico, the closest town to the dump, haven’t been able to officially voice their opposition because they don’t have standing under state law.  The dump is also only licensed for 15 years, after which all that toxic waste will be the responsibility of the state.  Aaaaand the dump will be accepting waste, not just from Texas, but from all over the United States.

Check out the press release below for more information.  If you happen to live near Odessa, be sure to swing by Big Daddy’s Grill and Bar at 6 PM –  D’Arrigo will be speaking there this evening.  She will be joined by Dr. Terry Burns, with the Permian Basin Sierra Club, who will discuss health concerns, Rose Gardner – a concerned citizen from Eunice, New Mexico, the city nearest the radioactive waste dump, and SEED Coalition Director, Karen Hadden.

For a truly beautiful article on this issue, be sure to read Forrest Wilder’s Waste Texas: Why Andrews County is so eager to get dumped on in the newest Texas Observer.  That boy can really write.

Vince Leibowitz over at Capitol Annex also has a really good post on the legislative history of the dump.

Radioactive Risks for West Texas

Odessa, Texas – Texas environmental organizations hosted speaker Diane D’Arrigo, Radioactive Waste Project Director for the Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS) at a press conference today. She discussed the risks posed to Texans living near the so-called “low-level” radioactive waste dump in Andrews County.

“Low-level radioactive waste could remain dangerous for hundreds of thousands to over a million years,” said D’Arrigo. “Texas’ waste dump in Andrews County calls for a private company to manage a low-level dump, but the company would only be licensed to operate it for 15 years. They could then renew their license or decide to close the dump and walk away, leaving a toxic mess to the state of Texas. This could also happen if the company just folds up and vanishes into the night.” (more…)

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nuclear-pig-v2

UPDATE: With the passage of the stimulus bill through the Senate, now the joint conference committee will have to iron out the differences between the House and Senate bills. This is the last chance for Congress to strip this out of the bill.  Does your Congressman know how you feel about nuclear pork?

Environmentalists are screaming but it doesn’t seem like anyone’s listening. So many articles are debating $50 million for this or that in the economic stimulus bill, but almost all of them seem to be ignoring the huge $50 BILLION slab of glowing pork, in the form of loan guarantees, for the nuclear industry slipped into the stimulus bill last Tuesday by Sen. Robert Bennett (R-Utah).

Sen. Bennett (R- UT) and Fictional Supervillain / Nuclear Power enthusiast C. Montgomery Burns

Sen. Bennett (R- UT) and Fictional Supervillain / Nuclear Power enthusiast C. Montgomery Burns

(A Washington Post article yesterday has some interesting background information. What they left out is why Bennett would be supporting nuclear pork. Anyone want to guess?)

Said Friends of the Earth President Brent Blackwelder in a Press Release last Wednesday,

Senators are supposed to be fixing the economy but instead they’re offering the nuclear industry a $50 billion gift that will create virtually no near-term jobs. It’s unconscionable. Lobbyists are probably popping champagne corks as we speak.

With a long licensing and regulatory process, nuclear reactors are simply not shovel-ready.

Stressed Michael Mariotte, executive director of Nuclear Information and Resource Service (NIRS), in a January 30th Press Release,

This is nothing more than a pre-emptive bailout of the nuclear power industry. It would have no stimulative effect on the economy and would create no new jobs, since no reactors will be licensed or can even be started in the two-year period the bill addresses.

Even if this were not the case, the “Nuclear Energy Institute-infamous for overstating nuclear power’s alleged benefits-acknowledges it costs about $1.5 million per job created by nuclear power.” (more…)

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