By Michael Steinberg – Black Rain Press / OB Rag
Nuclear Shutdown News chronicles the continuing decline of the US nuclear industry. US nuke plants were designed to operate for 40 years … As many of them have approached or surpassed that mark, they have become increasingly unsafe and inefficient, threatening our health and safety. This report points out some of these problems and supports those working for a nuclear free future.
Here’s our May 2015 report:
Indian Point Nuke Plant Fire
A May 8 fire in a transformer at the Indian Point Nuclear Plant caused a fire and explosion, shutting down reactor #3 for 16 days. The Environmental News Service reported on May 9th:
“Witnesses reported a loud blast and smoke at the plant on the east bank of the Hudson River, 35 miles north of New York City.”
Workers subsequently found a leak from the transformer could only be fixed with the reactor shut down.
Westfield Communications in West Fairfield County, NY, reported that the Indian Point reactor 3 restarted on May 26. According to that publication, the transformer “erupted into flames” on May 8, causing
“roughly 300 gallons of transformer fluid to leak into the Hudson River… About one third was collected in a moat system or combusted.”
“The transformer was supposed to last 40 years. It was 8 years old when it failed.”
Indian Point nuke plant is currently owned by Entergy Corp of New Orleans, and the State of New York has been trying to permanently shut it down for a number of years.
Nuke Industry Can’t Cover Costs of Shutdowns.
According to a May 4 report by Bloomberg.com “Radioactive Returns”, the US nuclear industry is $4.33 Billion short in covering the rapidly rising cost of shutting down plants. Bloomberg reported that 5 US nuke plants closed in 2013, “the most ever,” and that Exelon, the Chicago based largest owner and operator of US nuclear plants, “may close three more this year.”
And Bloomberg reports, “an additional 20 more reactors may close soon,” according to Judd Gregg, former Republican Senator from New Jersey, now chairman of Nuclear Matters, an organization that promotes nuclear energy.
Bloomberg also quoted a researcher for Calvin Associates, an investment consultant, concerning the $4.3 Billion shortfall. “I don’t think a lot of utilities know what anyone is going to do if they fall short,” he said.
Among those already shut down plants is California’s Humboldt Bay, closed by owner, Pacific Gas & Electric since 1976. Today, PG&E estimates the cost of cleaning up and dismantling this old nuke at $441 Million.
‘The End’ for Diablo Canyon?
PG&E is also the operator of California’s last operating nuclear reactors—the two at Diablo Canyon on the state’s earthquake-riddled central coast near San Luis Obispo.
On May 21, Damon Maglan of the environmental group Friends of the Earth, reported,
“In a major victory that could mark the beginning of the end of the Diablo Canyon reactors, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ‘ruled that its atomic safety board will decide whether PG&E was allowed to illegally alter the plant’s license to hide the risk from powerful earthquake faults discovered after it was designed and built.’”
A similar decision by the NRC led to the permanent shutdown of San Onofre’s two nuclear reactors in San Diego in 2013.
Sources: Bloomberg.com; Friends of the Earth