Nuclear Shutdown News, November 2015

by on December 3, 2015 · 1 comment

in California, Energy, Environment, Health, History, Organizing, Politics

By Michael Steinberg / Black Rain Press

Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the decline and fall of the US and global nuclear industry. In addition, it highlights the efforts of those who are working to create a nuclear free world.

Two more US nuclear plants slated for shutdown.

November brought news that two more US nuke plants will be permanently shutting down in the future.

On November 3 reported that the Fitzpatrick nuke on Lake Ontario in uppermost New York state would close down for good in “late 2016 or early 2017.”

Then on November 7 the Cape Cod Times reported that the Pilgrim nuclear plant on Cape Cod in Massachusetts will have its permanent closure “sometime before June 19” next year.

Both nukes are owned and operated by New Orleans based Entergy Co., the nation’s second largest nuclear utility . Bloomberg reported that Entergy CEO Leo Denault commented:

“Given the financial challenge our nuclear plants from sustained wholesale price declines and other unfavorable market conditions, we have been assessing each asset.”

Translation: As these “assets become financial liabilities, we’ll shut ’em down.

Around the turn of the century, Entergy was a leading player in buying up aging nuclear plants on the cheap (as nuke plants go) and running them under increasingly unsafe conditions to squeeze as much additional profit out of them as they could.

The Pilgrim nuke suffered many unplanned shutdowns in recent years, and was rated by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission as one of the US’s worst nuclear plant, which is saying a lot.

Pilgrim started up in 1972.Fitzpatick in 1975.

Entergy also owns the Vermont Yankee nuke, which it shut down at the end of 2014.

According to the November 7 Cape Cod Times report, Entergy has stated that the total costs of shutting down and dismantling Vermont Yankee will be $1.2 billion. Yet the fund set aside to cover these costs has only $67 million in it. It could take 60 years before this job is done.

In addition, Entergy also owns the ancient Indian Point nuclear plants, whose two doddering reactors are less than 40 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. No nuke activists such as River Keeper have been campaigning for many years for their shutdown, and have been joined in recent years by New York State Governor Mario Cuomo.

Bloom reported that Entergy’s stock “fell 22% to date” in 2015.;

Future of Diablo Canyon nuclear plant increasingly in doubt.

California’s Diablo Canyon nuclear plant was controversial long before its 2 reactors started operating in the mid 80s. Large numbers of no nuke activists from the Abalone Alliance committed civil disobedience and suffered mass arrests while the nuke was under construction, and the Hollywood blockbuster The China Syndrome, starring Jane Fonda, Jack Lemmon and Michael Douglas, dramatizing the dangers of nuclear plants, came out in 1979, shortly after the Three Mile Island nuclear disaster, introducing the word “meltdown” to the American people.

After the Fukushima triple meltdown in 2011, Diablo Canyon came under fire again. Like Fukushima, the Central California nuke is located on the Pacific Ocean in and earthquake tsunami zone. No nukes groups like Friends of the Earth, San Clemente Greens and Mothers For Peace called out for its immediate permanent closure.

The cries grew louder after a 2010 explosion and fire in Northern California caused a catastrophe on a long neglected 30 foot wide underground gas pipeline owned and operated by San Francisco-based Pacific Gas and Electric, which also owns and runs Diablo Canyon.

According to Wikipedia, the September 10, 2010 explosion in the San Francisco suburb of San Bruno, only two miles from San Francisco airport, killed 10 people, “leveled 35 homes, and damaged many more. Eyewitnesses reported a wall of fire 1000 feet high.”

The disaster resulted in a crater 67 feet long, 26 feet wide and forty feet deep, according to Wikipedia.

The California Public Utilities Commission eventually fined PG&E $1.2 billion because of the San Bruno catastrophe, and this story is far from over.

Besides the massage damage, the credibility of PG&E to operate anything safely took a giant nosedive.

Then, 2013, the San Onofre nuclear plant unexpectedly shut down forever.That left Diablo Canyon as the last operating nuke plant in California. And it left Californians increasingly wondering. “Do we really need these things? During San Onofre’s prolonged shutdown that preceded is final closure, the lights had never gone out.

On November 15, The San Francisco Chronicle’s lead story in its Sunday edition was “Diablo Canyon plant at nuclear crossroads.”

The report stated that “PG&E appears to be having second thoughts” about trying to extend the operating licenses for its 2 reactors at Diablo Canyon, which theoretically could then operate until 2045.

The Chronicle reported that PG&E CEO Tony Earley said, “We’ve got a lot on our plates, and we don’t need to take on another big public issue right now.”

The Chronicle also reported that, in the wake of the 2010 pipeline disaster, PG&E’s “focus has been on reforming the company and repairing its image, not relicensing Diablo.”

Stay tuned.



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