Tuesday, March 11, 2014
Monday, March 10, 2014
Last week, we saw a number of anti-nuclear activists try to kick up some FUD concerning the safety of the steam generators at the St. Lucie Nuclear Power Plant. Earlier today, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy filed a complaint with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to attempt to prevent the plant from returning to service in April after a scheduled outage based on the same claims. A couple of paragraphs later in Ivan Penn's piece, you'll find this response from NRC:
"There is no steam generator safety problem, nor tube integrity safety concerns, at St. Lucie," Joey Ledford, an NRC spokesman has said about the issue. "There is a significant difference between 'wear problem' and a 'safety problem' or 'safety concern.' "The NRC statement comes on the heels of an op ed piece that appeared in the same newspaper by former NRC commissioner Nils Diaz. In that piece, Diaz wrote, "I am convinced that the NRC and the plant operator have rigorously reviewed the safety of the St. Lucie Plant prior to and after the power upgrade and concluded that the public health and safety is protected."
For more on the complaints from Joseph Jensen, St. Lucie's Site Vice President, click here.
Friday, March 07, 2014
Poland cancelled the four plants under construction in 1990 but has committed to building its first plant by 2022. Romania has added two units to its Cernavoda facility. Hungary has extended the lifespan of its Paks reactor by another 20 years. Only Bulgaria has bucked the trend by cancelling a second nuclear plant at Belene in 2012.
When they broke away from Soviet influence in the 90s, these countries were running nuclear reactors built by the Russians. That they were Russian weighed against them and that they did not have European support (and thus had to be closed for these countries to join the European Union) really brought an end to them.
The Czech situation, as described by Feffer, is indicative of how attitudes changed as Soviet domination faded into memory:
The issue of nuclear energy has been particularly contentious in the Czech Republic. The plant at Temelin [an RBMK-1000], which was planned by the Communist government, originally had the same design as the one at Chernobyl. It was redesigned to meet EU specifications. But many Czechs, including Vaclav Havel, still voiced opposition. Public opinion fluctuated considerably, from 53 percent against in 1999 to 64 percent in favor in 2000. The Czech government pushed forward with construction plans, negotiating around Austria's objections. The Czech energy utility is currently dealing with bids for an expansion of the facility.
The whole thing is worth a read.
Feffer includes an interview he did with Vladimir Prchlik, a former Czech Environment Ministry official. Prchlik, among other things, reduced the amount of brown coal used in the Czech Republic by switching to nuclear energy. I found the discussion about tilting technology decisions east to west especially interesting – it’s like threading a nuclear needle:
There was also a big discussion about atomic power. The reactor at Temelin was only part of it. The plant was built with Soviet technology. We switched many of the components of the reactor to Westinghouse. It was very critical to combine Soviet technology with American technology. Nothing could be changed in the agreements with the Soviet Union. … So, this kind of work required a lot of diplomacy and not just technical knowledge. A lot of work was about modernizing and achieving greater efficiency.
One thing to worry about with nuclear energy in Europe has been Germany’s large role in the EU government. But, after some fuel rod rattling from that direction, Eastern Europe has made it clear it’s continuing with nuclear energy.
Thursday, March 06, 2014
Alfred Meyer of Physicians for Social Responsibility, travelling around and talking nuclear smack:
His speaking tour … has taken him to Grand Rapids, Kalamazoo and South Haven. The final stop will be tonight in Ann Arbor. During his presentation, Mr. Meyer shared information about how nuclear power plants, such as Fermi 2 in Newport, affect the lives of those living there and the environment in their immediate vicinity.
He argued that there were “no safe levels” of exposure to radiation for humans, plants or animals and that the effects of those energy waves are rarely tested.
“Illnesses don’t come with labels,” he said. “ There isn’t a sign that tells (doctors) a person has thyroid cancer because of Fermi — they just have thyroid cancer. But it isn’t just cancer. (Radiation) affects your circulatory system and other parts of the body.”
At least the Monroe News throws this in:
According to the DTE Energy Web site about Fermi, “people living near Fermi 2 receive less than one millirem of exposure a year due to that plant’s operation.”
They might have mentioned that a person picks up about 310 millirem per year just by walking around, but it’s a fair effort.
You can’t really rebut vaporous arguments about the “unknown” causes of thyroid cancer, but a responsible physician would know you can look for elevated instances of it around nuclear facilities – except he would also know you won’t find them.
Here’s an example of a study looking for thyroid cancer among workers cleaning up after the Chernobyl accident:
In the study of 4,742 Estonian cleanup workers referred to above, Inskip et al. did not find an excess of thyroid cancer 9 years after the accident, and subsequent extended follow-up of this cohort did not show any increase in the risk of thyroid cancer up to 16 years after the accident.
Using such a group is important because “studies of such workers potentially have greater statistical power to measure effects.” And that’s because, while other factors still apply, this is a group that spent a measureable period working in a radiation-heavy area.
So it’s not impossible to sort out nuclear facility impacts (and this was after an accident, not daily operation) versus environmental issues. Complex yes, impossible no
NEI sends speakers around to provide a truer accounting of nuclear energy – hopefully, the folks at DTE Energy have someone to give talks to bamboozled Michigan residents.
Wednesday, March 05, 2014
You knew it would only be a matter of time before Joe Mangano resurfaced. This time, he's brought his brand of junk science to California's Central Coast in order to make some scurrilous claims about the Diablo Canyon Power Plant. This time, a story appeared in the Santa Barbara News-Press (paywall), which is where NEI's Steve Kerekes steps into the picture:
While antinuclear groups hail Mr. Mangano’s study, others argue that the science behind Mr. Mangano’s report is far from settled.We've been on Mangano's trail on NEI Nuclear Notes since 2005. And from that first post, I'd like to share the following statement from the New Jersey Commission on Radiation Protection, one that was issued after it had evaluated one of Mr. Mangano's reports:
“(Mr. Mangano) is a traveling roadshow of fearmongering,” said Steve Kerekes, director of media relations with the Nuclear Energy Institute.
“Once to twice a year he pops up in some corner of the country,” Mr. Kerekes said. “It’s always a similar scenario: he throws a bunch of data at the wall and sees what sticks, but there’s no direct cause and effect between the data and the nuclear facility he is smearing.”
Mr. Kerekes said his organization has regularly debunked Mr. Mangano’s claims, and he noted that while Mr. Mangano has conducted similar studies across the country, state and federal regulators rarely substantiate his claims in their followup studies.
Mr. Kerekes called attention to the first sentence of the report’s conclusions section. “While many factors can affect disease and death rates, the official public health data presented in this report suggest a probable link between the routine, federally permitted emissions of radioactivity from the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant and elevated health risks among those infants, children and adults living closest to the reactors,” the report says.
“That’s another way of saying ‘I don’t have proof of any of this,’” Mr. Kerekes said.
The Commission is of the opinion that "Radioactive Strontium-90 in Baby Teeth of New Jersey Children and the Link with Cancer: A Special Report," is a flawed report, with substantial errors in methodology and invalid statistics. As a result, any information gathered through this project would not stand up to the scrutiny of the scientific community.If there's a bright side to Mr. Mangano's continued activities, it's that he'll always provide another reason to keep our blog in business.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
The public health and safety of people who live within 50 miles of St. Lucie and beyond are protected by the demanding safety framework established by the nuclear power industry and confirmed by its regulators. No member of the public in the United States has ever been exposed to a radioactive hazard detrimental to their health from an operating nuclear power plant.That's not all he had to say. Read the rest, right now.
I am convinced that the NRC and the plant operator have rigorously reviewed the safety of the St. Lucie Plant prior to and after the power upgrade and concluded that the public health and safety is protected.
Monday, March 03, 2014
|Sen. John McCain|
Q. You used to be very engaged on the issue of climate change?I’m still interested in it. And I think there are a lot of things that we can do like this transition that we’re making to natural gas thanks to our resources and I still believe in nuclear power as one of the big parts of the answers, and that’s almost impossible to get. And I think we need to address greenhouse gas emissions. But I try to get involved in issues were I see a legislative result… But there’s going to be no movement in the Congress of the United States certainly this year and probably next year. So I just leave the issue alone because I don’t see a way through it, and there are certain fundamentals, for example nuke power, that people on the left will never agree with me on. So why should I waste my time when I know the people on the left are going to reject nuclear power? I don’t believe that you can really succeed in reducing greenhouse gases unless you have a lot of nuclear power plants. They’re against them. Well, okay, I move on to other issues.That's all there is to it. I vaguely remembered what might have motivated McCain's view, though this is an exceptionally blunt expression of it. David Corn discusses this (very much from the left) in Mother Jones. This is about McCain working with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and environmental groups on a new version of the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill, the first version of which had narrowly been voted down in 2008:
McCain had long been an advocate of nuclear power. "He feels strongly that nuclear power will be one of the keys to reducing emissions," says Heather Wicke, who was his environmental legislative aide at the time. But environmentalists who had worked with McCain and Lieberman on the first bill were stunned. In one meeting, lobbyists for environmental groups attempted to persuade McCain not to attach nuclear subsidies to the legislation, arguing that doing so would weaken support for the bill.The second attempt failed, too, and a third attempt went nowhere. Corn blames this on the nuclear provisions. Maybe, but a similar bill without those provisions also failed. Maybe the moment for this legislation crested with that first attempt and then passed. It could return - maybe through McCain's office, maybe not - but the bottom line is, McCain is right: "I don’t believe that you can really succeed in reducing greenhouse gases unless you have a lot of nuclear power plants." Well, you can define "a lot" however you like, but right is right.