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'Last Gasp of Dying Industry': Nuclear Experts Decry First New US Reactor in 20 Years


#1

'Last Gasp of Dying Industry': Nuclear Experts Decry First New US Reactor in 20 Years

Nadia Prupis, staff writer

The first new nuclear reactor in the United States in 20 years went live on Wednesday in Tennessee, in what at least one nuclear expert is calling the "last gasp of a dying industry."

The Watts Bar 2 reactor, which began construction decades ago but faltered, only picking up again in the last four years, is now producing electricity for 650,000 homes and businesses, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported.


#2

And in similar style, albeit a tangential connection, see that looooong jet trail, behind the cooling tower, attempting to masquerade as a cloud?
Think jet fuel and consider the twisted logic of the aviation industry greenwash:
The international aviation industry wants to achieve “carbon-neutral growth” using biofuels.
... think about how and where these are grown....


#3

The author fails to mention that "demanding a full scale debate about energy policy in the next administration" is possible only if Jill Stein is elected...otherwise, in addition to no debate. TPP, TTIP and TISA will enable nuke plant owners to sue governments that impose regulations that allegedly impact their anticipated profits, effectively nullifying all regulation of nuke plants. Part of the new world order ?


#4

At a construction cost of $4,700,000,000, this means just for CONSTRUCTION this cost $7,230 per customer.
Now add to this the fuel costs.
Now add to this the operating costs.
Now add to this the transmission line costs.
Now add to this the fuel disposal costs.
Now add to this the decommissioning costs.

Finally compare this to the cost of building solar instead.
I would much rather have solar power than this nuclear monstrosity.

And then add in the costs to purchase a new State of Tennessee when this plant melts down.


#5

Tennessee says f their children.


#6

You're absolutely right.
Nuclear power plants are the most expensive way to produce electricity ever devised by mankind.
And the most dangerous.
But Hillary seems to like them.


#7

Whats up in South Carolina, and Georgia, 4 nuclear plants under construction, behind schedule, and over budget? So much energy from the sun there, and wind, etc.?


#8

4+ billion dollars to boil water, Cheezus F. Crackers!!


#9

This is great news. Nuclear power is the only way forward. Tennessee is saving thousands of lives and undoing a lot of damage to the environment.

Solar panels cost 3 times as much money and cover 120 to 270 times as much land area for the same wattage.

Wind is cheaper than nuclear, but takes up 170 to 570 times as much land area. That's a lot of wilderness destroyed for so-called "green" power plants. Wind turbines also kill a lot of people per watt-hour produced. (It's not a lot of deaths, but wind turbines produce tiny amounts of energy.)

Meanwhile coal power plant pollution in the US alone kills the same amount of people as Chernobyl every 3 months. I don't know how much oil and gas power plants add to that.

Nuclear is the best power source we've got. All thinking environmentalists are happy at this news.


#10

Jill Stein would be great if she supported nuclear power. I'm a member of the Green Party, but they need to drop the anti-nuke nonsense.


#11

Because nuclear power is working so well. Just ask the folks in Fukushima


#12

"At $4.7 billion, the project is "arguably one of the most expensive, most over-budget, oldest reactors to be started in human history"

It is way over its original budget, and further delayed, because it was substantially redesigned partway through completion so that it would be in compliance with new post-Fukushima requirements. That's always going to be more expensive than finalizing the design before construction begins. It was not way over the budget for the redesigned version of the reactor. And would anyone have preferred that it hadn't been redesigned to meet the new regs? But even at the revised price tag, if it serves out its initial licensing term, that capital cost would amortize out to less than 1.3 cents per kwh--which is not all that outrageous.

"It's the last gasp of the nuclear industry..."

More accurately, it's emblematic of a kind of reactor technology which probably will have no customers without some government support, or outright government purchases. But there's no reason to suppose that Watts Bar 2 represents any sort of pinnacle of nuclear technology. There wouldn't be dozens of teams racing to develop nextgen reactors if present tech nuclear didn't have major shortcomings.

""One can purchase lots of renewable energy sources for $6 billion," Lochaum said."

Or for $7 billion, you could buy just the power lines Texas had to install to connect up its remote wind farms.

"TVA, which once planned to erect 17 nuclear reactors, has given up on 10 of those..."

Because evolving circumstances rendered them unnecessary. The TVA was instructed by the AEC / ERDA / DOE to prepare for a major increase in energy demand from their diffusion enrichment facilities. For a variety of reasons, that large demand increase never materialized, and diffusion enrichment itself was phased out in favor of much more efficient centrifuge enrichment.

"power demands in the area have come to a standstill as solar and wind power becomes increasingly mainstream, Flessner reported."

"Increasingly mainstream" just means it increased--which is technically accurate but still misleading. The TVA originally operated three wind turbines (combined peak output 2 MW) at its Buffalo Mountain wind facility, and in 2004 15 additional wind turbines were added to increase the total peak capacity to 29 MW. The average output is around 10 MW. This was a complete non-factor in their decision not to add gigawatts of unneeded nuclear capacity.

"As Moglen said, it's a sign that there are "clearly 21st century ways in which we can produce clean safe, greenhouse gas-free energy that is cost competitive, and doesn't have the added risk of nuclear proliferation"

Watts Bar 2 is not a proliferation risk. There will be no new additions to the nuclear bomb club as a result of its operation.

"...and the long-term dangers of nuclear waste."

Spent fuel gets exponentially less radioactive over time. Fresh spent fuel is the most challenging to deal with because of its intense radioactivity and critical cooling needs, but we've been dealing with that most-difficult part of the spent fuel life-cycle for decades with an impeccable safety record. And the long term "dangers" are negligible compared to that--especially if we ultimately dispose of spent fuel by consuming it in fast reactors.

""We have an ethical and cultural and social imperative to be designing clean energy and we know how to do that," Moglen added, pointing to the historic agreement reached in June between Pacific Gas and Energy (PG&E) and a slew of environmental and labor groups to shut down the Diablo Canyon reactor in California and replace it with renewable energy utilities and storage units."

If we know how to replace nuclear with renewables, the obvious question is why that wasn't done with San Onofre and Vermont Yankee, both of which were replaced overwhelmingly with gas, and both of which were located in highly pro-renewable states. The Diablo Canyon agreement is a statement of intent to replace Diablo Canyon with renewables and storage--provided PG&E gets everything they are asking for up front. Buit the agreement spells out that this is an aspirational goal, and PG&E is up front that it doesn't know how it can do this, or whether it will succeed in doing this.

"citing a recent article by environmental activist and 350.org co-founder Bill McKibben that demanded a World War II-style mobilization against climate change."That's one of the things this next administration is gonna be responsible for," Moglen said."

Stein would try to phase out nuclear. Trump would continue existing support for nuclear. Clinton has said that she would additionally support advanced reactor research and development. My hunch is that nuclear will do okay in the next administration.

"It's very sad that this is the last gasp of the industry because it looks like such an extraordinarily dumb one."

So presumably it would have been a happier outcome if the industry died after producing a cheap, clean, and very safe reactor.


#13

A source of energy that only produces power for half of the day at best, or only when the wind is blowing, is not a source of energy that is going to lead humanity to a CO2-free energy future. The Luddite environmental left in the USA continues to marginalize itself.


#14

Fukushima has killed nobody. Ask the folks at Buffalo Creek or Farmington how well the alternatives to nuclear work.


#15

Wind blows night and day.

Best


#16

You mean the power plant meltdown that killed zero people in the midst of a natural disaster that killed 16,000 people? That's a damn good safety record if you ask me.

The only serious nuclear power plant disaster was Chernobyl, which killed the same number of people that coal power plants kill every few months.


#17

Not all of us on the environmental left are Luddites.


#18

This is good news.. Watts bar No. 2 will replace about 7 million tons of coal per year, which produces about 24 million tons of CO2 per year - not to mention a few tons of mercury - and far more gigabecquerels of radionuclides than any nuclear power plant would be allowed to emit. This might even allow the TVA to shut down the awful Kingston coal power plant.

And I almost forgot the million tons or so of ash and toxic FGD slurry the coal power plant also produces.


#19

Oh, make no mistake, I'm a Marxist and someone very concerned about the environment - especially global warming and persistent toxic organic compounds. But I've given up on the US's version of the "left".


#20

Not in many places. Surely you have noticed the wind at the surface goes to zero on most clear nights once the nighttime temperature inversion sets in. Only on higher hills and mountains does this not happen.

The mid-south of the US - where this nuclear plant is located, is especially a wind-poor area. I've lived there.