TMI Update: Jan 14, 2024

Did you catch "The Meltdown: Three Mile Island" on Netflix?
TMI remains a danger and TMIA is working hard to ensure the safety of our communities and the surrounding areas.
Learn more on this site and support our efforts. Join TMIA. To contact the TMIA office, call 717-233-7897.

Beyond Nuclear Bulletin
June 27, 2024

More analysis of pro-nuke law
On Wednesday, WBAI's "Eco-Logic" hosted Beyond Nuclear's Kevin Kamps, and NIRS's Diane D'Arrigo, to discuss Congress's passage last week of the extremely pro-nuclear power ADVANCE Act. ADVANCE is short for Accelerating Deployment of Versatile Advanced Nuclear for Clean Energy. Also on June 26, Beyond Nuclear board member Karl Grossman published "Congress's Nuclear Addiction" in Counterpunch, quoting Kamps, D'Arrigo, and others about this bill, now poised for President Biden's signature into law. Grossman's quotes of Kamps were taken from their interview on recent episodes of Enviro Close-Up, "The New Nuclear Push" Parts 1 and 2. The new law undermines NRC's safety mandate, by adding a simultaneous and schizophrenic industry promotion mandate, a high-risk, 50-year step backwards.

...under a 385 foot dam?
Beyond Nuclear’s recent argument over admissibility of its contentions was before an Atomic Safety Licensing Board that is reviewing the 60- to 80-year license extension out to 2053 and 2054 to Duke Energy’s Oconee nuclear station that is sited downstream and 300 feet below the impounded water level in Lake Jocassee behind Jocassee Dam. NRC staff contend that climate change impacts are “outside of the scope” of their environmental review.

White House bankrupt on climate, EJ
In light of the White House’s hypocrisy in supporting nuclear power, while simultaneously claiming to care about Environmental Justice in the context of climate crises, Beyond Nuclear submitted the following comments to the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council:
“It is clear…that what the White House states as its Environmental Justice mission, and the policies it supports on nuclear technology in the context of the climate crisis, are in serious conflict…Nuclear power… make[s] attaining the White House climate crisis goals, particularly accounting for Environmental Justice principles, much less likely…Environmental Justice shoved aside. National security compromised. Health and environment discounted. What else will this Administration sacrifice for this dangerous energy source, so ill-equipped to address climate change?”

Let’s stop it
Nuclear madness is everywhere. Our government is determined to promote new reactors and the continued use of dangerous old ones, as long as we pay for them. Executives and politicians have even been convicted of crimes to ensure this happens. The media laps up the rhetoric and parrots the lie that nuclear power is “carbon-free”. 
Yet, spending those same dollars on renewables would get us more carbon reductions faster and without all the deadly risks of nuclear power. That’s why we need your support now more than ever to block these dangerous proposals at every step including through legal action. If you agree that nuclear power is NOT the answer to the climate crisis, please donateto Beyond Nuclear today.

Beyond Nuclear | 301.270.2209 |



Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 24-054 June 27, 2024
CONTACT: Office of Public Affairs, 301-415-8200
NRC Names New Chief Financial Officer

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today announced the selection of Owen F. Barwell as the agency’s new Chief Financial Officer, effective July 14, 2024.

Barwell has more than 35 years’ experience in both federal service and the private sector, including in scientific research, non-profit and professional services. He comes to the NRC from a role as Chief Financial Officer at Independence Hydrogen, Inc., a veteran-owned company developing low-carbon hydrogen recycling projects. Previously, he was CFO for the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, a research and development center operated on behalf of the Department of Energy, where he was responsible for financial, budget and acquisition functions.
“Owen brings significant business acumen and experience leading large and complex financial programs to this important role,” said NRC Chair Christopher T. Hanson. “His past experience in the energy sector is particularly important at this dynamic time of change in the nuclear industry. I welcome him to our agency.”
Barwell’s resume includes stints as Acting CFO and Deputy CFO for DOE, where he was responsible for the department’s strategic plan, budget, finance and accounting, corporate business systems and led approximately 500 staff and contractors. Earlier in his career, he served as a senior advisor at NASA, helping to implement a major initiative to improve business systems and processes. He also worked as a principal consultant at PwC Consulting, PricewaterhouseCoopers in both London and Washington, D.C.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Lancaster (UK).

Gas power output nearly halves in California in one year as batteries steal the show

Big batteries are increasingly becoming more economical than gas plants.
Graphic: Sean Creighton/The Progress Playbook

Big batteries are muscling gas out of California’s electricity mix, according to data collated by Stanford University Professor Mark Z. Jacobson.

In the 100 days to June 14, California saw a 45% reduction in gas-fired power output, relative to the same period a year before.

The decline was mostly thanks to a surge in battery installations in recent months. The state now has 10.4 gigawatts (GW) of battery storage capacity — a technology it says is key to achieving a 100% clean electricity system by 2045.

Graphic: California state government

Batteries are used to store energy from renewable sources like solar during the day so that it can be deployed in the evening, when solar generation tapers off and demand for power surges. These facilities are increasingly challenging the role of gas plants in meeting peak demand.
On the evening of June 10, for example, big batteries injected a record 7.7GW of instantaneous power into California’s grid. They accounted for a quarter of total electricity supply at that point.
And according to data from GridStatus, gas generation on an average April day in California hit a seven-year low, reversing an earlier trend that had been fuelled by rising electricity demand.

Graphic: GridStatus

On 89 of the 100 days to June 14, there were periods where renewables generated more than enough electricity to cover all of California’s needs. This excess energy creates a strong business case for batteries, which can charge up when prices are low and discharge when prices are high.
Compared to a year before, utility-scale solar output was up 32% over the 100-day period, wind generation grew 10%, and battery output doubled, Jacobson says. Meanwhile, demand for electricity from the grid was down 3% due to new rooftop solar installations.

AI is exhausting the power grid. Tech firms are seeking a miracle solution

As power needs of AI push emissions up and put big tech in a bind, companies put their faith in elusive — some say improbable — technologies.

By  and 
June 21, 2024 at 5:00 a.m. EDT


The mighty Columbia River has helped power the American West with hydroelectricity since the days of FDR’s New Deal. But the artificial intelligence revolution will demand more. Much more.

So near the river’s banks in Central Washington, Microsoft is betting on an effort to generate power from atomic fusion — the collision of atoms that powers the sun — a breakthrough that has eluded scientists for the past century. Physicists predict it will elude Microsoft, too.

The tech giant and its partners say they expect to harness fusion by 2028, an audacious claim that bolsters their promises to transition to green energy but distracts from current reality. In fact, the voracious electricity consumption of artificial intelligence is driving an expansion of fossil fuel use — including delaying the retirement of some coal-fired plants.

In the face of this dilemma, Big Tech is going all in on experimental clean-energy projects that have long odds of success anytime soon. In addition to fusion, they are hoping to generate power through such futuristic schemes as small nuclear reactors hooked to individual computing centers and machinery that taps geothermal energy by boring 10,000 feet into the Earth’s crust.

Tech companies had promised “clean energy would be this magical, infinite resource,” said Tamara Kneese, a project director at the nonprofit Data & Society, which tracks the effect of AI and accuses the tech industry of using “fuzzy math” in its climate claims.

“Coal plants are being reinvigorated because of the AI boom,” Kneese said. “This should be alarming to anyone who cares about the

As the tech giants compete in a global AI arms race, a frenzy of data center construction is sweeping the country. Some computing campuses require as much energy as a modest-sized city, turning tech firms that promised to lead the way into a clean energy future into some of the world’s most insatiable guzzlers of power. Their projected energy needs are so huge, some worry whether there will be enough electricity to meet them from any source.

Data centers, the nondescript warehouses packed with racks of servers that power the modern internet, have been around for decades. But the amount of electricity they need now is soaring because of AI. Training artificial intelligence models and using AI to execute even simple tasks involves ever more complicated, faster and voluminous computations that are straining the electricity system.

A ChatGPT-powered search, according to the International Energy Agency, consumes almost 10 times the amount of electricity as a search on Google. One large data center complex in Iowa owned by Meta burns the annual equivalent amount of power as 7 million laptops running eight hours every day, based on data shared publicly by the company.

The data-center-driven resurgence in fossil fuel power contrasts starkly with the sustainability commitments of tech giants Microsoft, Google, Amazon and Meta, all of which say they will erase their emissions entirely as soon as 2030. The companies are the most prominent players in a constellation of more than 2,700 data centers nationwide, many of them run by more obscure firms that rent out computing power to the tech giants.

“They are starting to think like cement and chemical plants. The ones who have approached us are agnostic as to where the power is coming from,” said Ganesh Sakshi, chief financial officer of Mountain V Oil & Gas, which provides natural gas to industrial customers in Eastern states.

Tech companies are confronting this dilemma with bravado. Artificial intelligence thinkers like OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, a major backer of Microsoft’s fusion start-up partner Helion, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who invests big in other fusion efforts, say breakthroughs in energy are achievable.

The companies also argue advancing AI now could prove more beneficial to the environment than curbing electricity consumption. They say AI is already being harnessed to make the power grid smarter, speed up innovation of new nuclear technologies and track emissions.

Microsoft was the only one of the four major firms driving the AI boom to answer detailed questions from The Washington Post about their energy needs and plans. Google, Amazon and Meta offered limited statements.

“If we work together, we can unlock AI’s game-changing abilities to help create the net zero, climate resilient and nature positive works that we so urgently need,” Microsoft said in a statement.

The tech giants say they buy enough wind, solar or geothermal power every time a big data center comes online to cancel out its emissions. But critics see a shell game with these contracts: The companies are operating off the same power grid as everyone else, while claiming for themselves much of the finite amount of green energy. Utilities are then backfilling those purchases with fossil fuel expansions, regulatory filings show.

Amazon says it has been “the world’s largest corporate purchaser of renewable energy for four straight years.” Google wrote that it is using AI “to accelerate climate action,” which is “just as crucial as solving for the environmental impact associated with it.”

As for Microsoft, the company said that “by 2030, we will have 100% of our electricity consumption, 100% of the time, matched by zero carbon energy purchases.”

Left unmentioned are the heavily polluting fossil fuel plants that become necessary to stabilize the power grid overall because of these purchases, making sure everyone has enough electricity.

In the Salt Lake City region, utility executives and lawmakers scaled back plans for big investments in clean energy and doubled down on coal. The retirement of a large coal plant has been pushed back a decade, to 2042, and the closure of another has been delayed to 2036.

Among the region’s mega energy users is Meta. It’s building a $1.5 billion data center campus outside Salt Lake City that consumes as much power as can be generated by a large nuclear reactor. Google has purchased 300 acres across the street from Meta’s data center and plans its own data center campus. Other data center developers are frantically searching for power in the area.

The region was supposed to be a “breakthrough” technology launchpad, with utility PacifiCorp declaring it would aim to replace coal infrastructure with next-generation small nuclear plants built by a company that Gates chairs. But that plan was put on the shelf when PacifiCorp announced in April that it will prolong coal burning, citing regulatory developments that make it viable.

“This is very quickly becoming an issue of, don’t get left behind locking down the power you need, and you can figure out the climate issues later,” said Aaron Zubaty, CEO of California-based Eolian, a major developer of clean energy projects. “Ability to find power right now will determine the winners and losers in the AI arms race. It has left us with a map bleeding with places where the retirement of fossil plants are being delayed.”

A spike in tech-related energy needs in Georgia moved regulators in April to green-light an expansion of fossil fuel use, including purchasing power from Mississippi that will delay closure of a half-century-old coal plant there. In the suburbs of Milwaukee, Microsoft’s announcement in March that it is building a $3.3 billion data center campus followed the local utility pushing back by one year the retirement of coal units, and unveiling plans for a vast expansion of gas power that regional energy executives say is necessary to stabilize the grid amid soaring data center demand and other growth.

In Omaha, where Google and Meta recently set up sprawling data center operations, a coal plant that was supposed to go offline in 2022 will now be operational through at least 2026. The local utility has scrapped plans to install large batteries to store solar power.

These concrete developments in energy markets contrast with tech companies’ futuristic promises. A recent Goldman Sachs analysis of energy that will power the AI boom into 2030 did not even consider small nuclear plants or futuristic fusion generators.

It found data centers will account for 8 percent of total electricity use in the United States by 2030, a near tripling of their share today. New solar and wind energy will meet about 40 percent of that new power demand from data centers, the forecast said, while the rest will come from a vast expansion in the burning of natural gas. The new emissions created would be comparable to that of putting 15.7 million additional gas-powered cars on the road.

“We all want to be cleaner,” Brian Bird, president of NorthWestern Energy, a utility serving Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska, told a recent gathering of data center executives in Washington, D.C. “But you guys aren’t going to wait 10 years … My only choice today, other than keeping coal plants open longer than all of us want, is natural gas. And so you’re going see a lot of natural gas build out in this country.”

The big name tech firms try to inoculate themselves from blame for contributing to global warming with accounting techniques. They claim that all the new clean energy they buy has the effect of wiping out emissions that otherwise could be attributed to their operations.

Critics charge the arrangements often fall short.

“If data centers are claiming to be clean, but utilities are using their presence to justify adding more gas capacity, people should be skeptical of those claims,” said Wilson Ricks, an energy systems researcher at Princeton University’s Zero Lab, which focuses on decarbonization.

One example is an agreement announced in March, after Amazon signed a contract to buy more than a third of the electricity generated by one of the nation’s largest nuclear facilities, the Susquehanna power plant in Luzerne County, Pa.

“That deal disturbed a lot of people,” Zubaty said. “When massive data centers show up and start claiming the output of a nuclear plant, you basically have to replace that electricity with something else.”

Tech companies acknowledge big new sources of clean power need to be found. At the World Economic Forum conference in Davos, Switzerland in January, Altman said at a Bloomberg event that, when it comes to finding enough energy to fuel expected AI growth, “there is no way to get there without a breakthrough.”

It remains unclear where, or when, those breakthroughs will arrive. Google recently powered up a futuristic geothermal power plant in the northern Nevada desert that harnesses heat from deep underground.

The developer of the geothermal plant, Fervo Energy, credits Google with jump-starting a promising energy solution that some day might provide the electricity equivalent of multiple nuclear plants. But Fervo CEO Tim Lattimer acknowledges that kind of output is not likely until well into the 2030s.

Fervo’s Nevada plant produces about the amount of power it takes to keep the lights on at a few thousand homes. The next Fervo plant, in Utah, is expected to be fully operational in 2028 and will generate roughly the amount of energy it takes to run one large data center.

Altman, meanwhile, is spending hundreds of millions of dollars to develop small nuclear plants that could be built right on or near data center campuses. Altman’s AltC Acquisition Corp. bankrolled a company Altman now chairs called Oklo, which says it wants to build the first such plant by 2027.

Gates is the founder of his own nuclear company, called TerraPower. It has targeted a former coal mine in Wyoming to be the demonstration site of an advanced reactor that proponents claim would deliver energy more efficiently and with less waste than traditional reactors. The project has been saddled with setbacks, most recently because the type of enriched uranium needed to fuel its reactor is not available in the United States.

Some experts point to these developments in arguing the electricity needs of the tech companies will speed up the energy transition away from fossil fuels rather than undermine it.

“Companies like this that make aggressive climate commitments have historically accelerated deployment of clean electricity,” said Melissa Lott, a professor at the Climate School at Columbia University.

Microsoft hopes to supercharge that deployment through its partnership with fusion start-up Helion. The site being considered for the generator in Chelan County, Wash., is just a plot of sagebrush so far. It’s not certain the unit will be built.

For now, Helion is building and testing prototypes at its headquarters in Everett, Wash. Scientists have been chasing the fusion dream for decades but have yet to overcome the extraordinary technical challenges. It requires capturing the energy created by fusing atoms in a magnetic chamber — or in Helion’s case, a magnetized vacuum chamber — and then channeling that energy into a usable form. And to make it commercially viable, more energy must be produced than is put in.

Helion’s assembly facility features floor-to-ceiling shelves stacked with endless boxes of capacitors, aluminum-coated devices that store energy, some of which Helion employees spend hours a day assembling by hand. The floors and walls are stark white. Massive, sea-foam green fusion generator components dot the factory floor.

A sense of optimism infuses the experimental work. “I know it can make electricity,” said Helion CEO David Kirtley. “The question is, can we take that electricity out of fusion and do it such that the cost of electricity is lower than everything else.”

On a video screen in the space where Helion is building its control room is a live feed from a camera in a neighboring warehouse where the seventh Helion prototype, Polaris, will be tested. It is surrounded by borated concrete walls that block neutrons from escaping.

Helion, among several fusion start-ups, uses helium-3, a molecule that is rare on Earth but abundant on the moon. Kirtley says the company’s process actually generates more of the molecule as a byproduct, creating fuel to make yet more fusion electricity.

But there is deep skepticism in the scientific community that Helion or other fusion start-ups will be sending juice to the power grid within a decade, much less the kind of too-cheap-to-meter, safe electricity the tech companies are chasing.

“Predictions of commercial fusion by 2030 or 2035 are hype at this point,” said John Holdren, a Harvard physicist who was White House science adviser during the Obama era. “We haven’t even yet seen a true energy break-even where the fusion reaction is generating more energy than had to be supplied to facilitate it.”

Promises that commercial fusion is around the corner, he said, “feeds the public’s belief in technological miracles that will save us from the difficult task of dealing with climate change … with the options that are closer to practical reality.”

But Chelan County, known for its apple orchards and abundant hydro power, has another problem. While there is enough hydropower generated there to send electricity throughout the West Coast, most of it has already been claimed decades into the future. In their quest to sustain the data center boom fueled by Microsoft and its competitors, county planners are hopeful Helion will actually beat the odds and start sending electricity to the region’s power grid, which Microsoft would then purchase.

Helion has raised expectations with assurances that its contract with Microsoft is binding, and it will have to pay serious financial penalties to the tech giant if it does not quickly create fusion electricity. But pressed for the particulars of the contract, Kirtley responds with a measure of opacity that is typical among tech leaders chasing historic clean-energy breakthroughs.

“We’re past the details I can talk publicly about,” he said.


An earlier version of this story mischaracterized an International Energy Agency study of energy use for internet searches powered by artificial intelligence. The IEA compared Google searches with searches performed by ChatGPT, the AI chatbot, not a "ChatGPT-powered search on Google." The article also gave an incorrect location for the headquarters of energy firm Eolian. The company is based in California not Texas. This article has been corrected.

About this story

Photo editing by Haley Hamblin. Design editing by Betty Chavarria and Christian Font. Editing by Christopher Rowland. Copy editing by Jeremy Lang. Project editing by KC Schaper. Additional support from Jordan Melendrez, Kathleen Floyd and Victoria Rossi.

French energy prices go negative as renewables surge, prompting shutdown of nuclear plants

Analysts had predicted that energy prices would turn negative during the course of this Summer.

News Desk  |  June 18, 2024

danish company to produce 1 000mw through wind power photo file

Danish company to produce 1,000MW through wind power. PHOTO: FILE

French energy prices have reportedly plummeted into negative territory due to an excess of renewable energy production.

Day-ahead prices reached a record low of -€5.76 per megawatt-hour in an Epex Spot auction, prompting several French nuclear plants to go offline ahead of the weekend, Bloomberg reported.

This decrease is attributed to the significant increase in wind and solar power generation, coupled with an anticipated decline in weekend demand.

As a result, Electricite de France, a state-owned utility company, has been compelled to deactivate several nuclear reactors. Already, three plants have been halted, with plans to take three more offline.

According to Bloomberg, this occurrence is not uncommon and often happens on weekends in France, as well as being observed across Europe, including in Spain and the Scandinavian region.


Across the continent, efforts to reduce carbon emissions in energy grids have led to a rapid expansion in renewable energy infrastructure.

However, the lack of advanced battery technology and adequate investment in energy storage solutions has created inefficiencies in pricing during periods of surplus energy.

In related news, SEB Research reported in May that negative prices have also affected Germany, where solar energy supply has surpassed demand.

Energy market researchers and analysts AleaSoft and SolarPower Europe had earlier in April attributed the negative price trend to the pandemic, low demand, insufficient storage solutions, and inadequate energy planning. They had predicted that the situation would likely persist into the summer.

Reuters noted that the situation in France differs from that in other countries in the region due to the slower deployment of renewable energy. Paris has installed approximately 45 gigawatts of wind and solar capacity, which lags behind the targets set by the European Commission.

There could be a further slowdown ahead due to recent political challenges, as the far-right party in France appears poised to win domestic elections.

If the National Rally party secures victory, it has pledged to reduce subsidies for renewable energy and halt

Senate Nuclear Fetishists Take Lid Off of Pandora’s Box
19 June 2024
David Kraft, Director, NEIS
CHICAGO—In a lopsided 88-2 vote (with 10 not voting, including Sen. Richard Durbin), the Senate passed S.870 – the so-called ADVANCED Act, a bill which quite literally takes the lid off of the nuclear safety box, both domestically and internationally.
So proud and confident were the Senators in nuclear power’s promises, rather than being introduced as stand-alone legislation, the 93-page bill had to be snuck into the 3-page Fire Grants and Safety Act – a bill reasonably assured to pass at a time when huge parts of the nation are again in the process of burning to the ground.
Using the logic similar to that of an adolescent purchasing a first car (“If it’s red, fast, and a convertible – that’s it! What could go wrong?”), bill advocates trotted out the usual litany of at best contestable at worst discredited arguments for its passage:  nuclear is clean and green, is needed to fight the climate crisis, creates jobs, and is over-regulated.
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), the bill’s lead sponsor, (quite erroneously) stated, “Today, nuclear power provides about 20% (18.2% in 2022; 18.6% in 2023) of our nation’s electricity. Importantly, it’s emissions-free electricity (allowed to release radionuclides into the air and water, below regulatory limits) that is 24/7, 365 days a year. (except for outages and maintenance)”
While critics of the legislation warned of significant weakening of regulatory oversight built into the bill, John Starkey, director of public policy at the pro-nuclear American Nuclear Society, stated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), “is a 21st century regulator now.”
That statement alone should send shivers up the spine, since that list would include: the FAA allowing Boeing to self-regulate in designing the 737-MAX, resulting in two crashes and hundreds of deaths, and the revelation that sub-standard parts have been manufactured into new planes; Norfolk Southern preventing desperately needed rail safety measures from passing in Congress, resulting in the East Palestine train disaster; and the federal pipeline regulatory agency PIMSA being asleep at the wheel, resulting in the Sartortia, Mississippi CO2 pipeline explosion.
Of course, the posterchild for abdication of regulatory obligation is the Fukushima nuclear disaster.  The 2012 National Diet of Japan report, “The Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission” states clearly what happens when regulators become lapdogs:
“The TEPCO Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant accident was the result of collusion between government, the regulators, and TEPCO, and the lack of governance by said parties.  They effectively betrayed the nation’s right to be safe from nuclear accidents….We believe that the root causes were the organizational and regulatory systems that supported faulty rationales for decisions and actions, rather than issues relating to the competency of any specific individual.” [p.16.]
If any of this sounds familiar – it should.  As the late great Yogi Berra would have remarked – deja vu, all over again.
Residents of Illinois – the most nuclear state in the U.S., which recently repealed its nuclear construction moratorium, opening the door to new reactors – might begin to feel some elevated distress, but – relax.  There’s nothing you can do about it, since homeowners are unable to obtain private insurance coverage against nuclear disasters.
Nuclear safety expert Dr. Ed Lyman of the Union of Concerned Scientists had this to say about the ADVANCED Act:
“It’s extremely disappointing that, without any meaningful debate, Congress is about to erase 50 years of independent nuclear safety oversight by changing the NRC’s mission to not only protect public health and safety but also to protect the financial health of the industry and its investors.  Just as lax regulation by the FAA—an agency already burdened by conflicts of interests—can lead to a catastrophic failure of an aircraft, a compromised NRC could lead to a catastrophic reactor meltdown impacting an entire region for a (many) generations.
“Make no mistake: This is not about making the reactor licensing process more efficient, but about weakening safety and security oversight across the board, a longstanding industry goal.  The change to the NRC’s mission effectively directs the agency to enforce only the bare minimum level of regulation at every facility it oversees across the United States.
“Passage of this legislation will only increase the danger to people already living downwind of nuclear facilities from a severe accident or terrorist attack, and it will make it even more difficult for communities to prevent risky, experimental reactors from being sited in their midst.”
The Biden Administration legislation of the past few years has lavished more than $7 billion on the development of experimental, still non-existent “small modular nuclear reactors” (SMNRs) as a way to fight climate change. Yet, only one design has passed NRC licensing muster to date, and these reactors will not be commercially available in sufficient numbers to have an appreciable effect on climate disruption until well into the 2030s – assuming the proposed designs actually work.
As alarming as the domestic implications of the ADVANCED Act are, the international implications can be devastating.  The Act fast-tracks the development of SMNRs, which nuclear industry companies intend to sell oversees.  Some of these reactor designs require fuel that is more highly “enriched” – just barely below weapons-grade concerns – than that used in contemporary reactors.  Currently, the only available source for this fuel – called “HALEU”, for “high assay low-enriched uranium” – is RUSSIA.  Another design, using a different fuel concept, requires specially refined carbon, the main source of which is CHINA.
It is not unreasonable to ask:  just where would SMNRs have been placed in, say – Mariupol, Ukraine?  Or in Gaza?  Or any of the other world hot spots?  Again, not an unreasonable line of questioning since a recent priority of the Biden Administration is to sell nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia – where apparently the sun no longer shines, and journalists are hacked to pieces for covering such controversial topics.

Viable alternatives to nuclear expansion do exist: renewable energy, energy efficiency, energy storage, and transmission improvements are ALL cheaper, quicker to implement, reduce carbon emissions, produce no radioactive wastes, create no nuclear proliferation issues, and, most importantly – ALREADY EXIST.  Nothing more needs to be invented; just implemented.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) stated in December, 2023 that roughly 2,600 giga-watts (GW) of electric power projects await grid connection – over twice the entire electrical use of the US, and roughly 27 times the entire output of all current US reactors combined.  The large majority of this backlog are renewable energy projects awaiting connection access to the aging transmission grid.  New EXISTING transmission technologies like reconductoring could double the capacity of the grid, creating greater ease of access for renewables and storage.

To summarize, The ADVANCE ACT:

•           kick-starts more radioactive releases and exposures using tax dollars;
•           spreads contamination to more places in the US and abroad;
•           ignores the potential increased harm from nuclear reactors large and small;
•           creates more intensely radioactive fuel;
•           provides less regulatory oversight;
•           exports nuclear tech and materials to other countries, and
•           allows foreign control of nuclear sites within our homeland.

Yet, the nuclear zealots continue to pour tax dollars into the nuclear power black hole by means of the ADVANCED Act.  This legislation was indeed a Trojan Horse – filled with killer bees. And they don’t make honey.

*                       *                       *

Nuclear Energy Information Service (NEIS) was formed in 1981 to watchdog the nuclear power industry, and to promote a renewable, non-nuclear energy future.

David A. Kraft, Director
SKYPE address:  davekhamburg
NEIS is a member of EarthShare Illinois
No more Chornobyls!  No more Fukushimas!
Invest  in a nuclear-free world -- today!

Beyond Nuclear Bulletin
June 20, 2024
Nuclear weapons spending soars
A new report from ICAN shows that there was a $10.7 billion increase in spending on nuclear weapons worldwide in 2023 over 2022 figures with the United States accounting for 80% of the increase. The report — Surge: 2023 Global Nuclear Weapons Spending — shows that the world’s nine nuclear nations spent a total of $91.4 billion, or $2,898 per second on nuclear weapons. The United States spent more than all of the other nuclear-armed states combined, at $51.5 billion. China surpassed Russia as the second-highest spender at $11.9 billion, with Russia third, spending $8.3 billion. Nuclear weapons companies dedicate millions each year to lobbying to influence political decision-making, lavishing $118 million last year on the US and France alone. 
Dark day for anti-nuke cause
By 88 to 2, the ADVANCE Act passed the U.S. Senate June 18. Sens. Markey (D-MA) and Sanders (I-VT) were the two NO votes. On May 8, the U.S. House likewise passed this bill, by a 393 to 13 vote. Rep. Doggett of Texas was the only Dem to vote NO. President Biden will likely sign the bill into law. 
It will change NRC's mandate from safety regulation to industry promotion, a half-century step backward. It will also promote so-called "advanced" reactor new builds, as well as high-assay, low-enriched uranium (HALEU) fuel, further risking safety, security, health, the environment, non-proliferation, and taxpayer pocketbooks. Such collusion risks radioactive catastrophe, as at Fukushima.
Victims again of a nuclear conundrum
In a conundrum of their own making, Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) wants to vent radioactive tritium gas to surrounding communities — under-resourced communities that have already suffered from past exposures and are burdened by legacy contamination, some of it remaining hidden until recently. Currently, the tritium waste is stored in long-neglected containers, subject to explosion. Searchlight New Mexico’s articleon the issue, quotes from Exploring Tritium Dangers by Arjun Makhijani: “[tritium] makes water, the stuff of life, most of the mass of living beings, radioactive.” Cindy Folkers of Beyond Nuclear emphasized the danger to the human life cycle, particularly female fetuses that carry generational futures. Exposure to them can result in cumulative biological damage: “the kind that cuts across generations.”
Troubles mount, state/fed levels
On June 14, Beyond Nuclear circulated an action alert for Michiganders, and backgrounder, focused on blocking another $150 million state bailout for the unprecedented, extremely high risk, insanely expensive Palisades zombie reactor restart. (Please share with those you know in the Great Lakes State!) On June 17, long-serving Holtec board member George Norcross was indicted by the New Jersey Attorney General on 13 felony racketeering counts. And Holtec has until June 27 to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court against the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling vacating the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission license for its consolidated interim storage facility in New Mexico (Interim Storage Partners in Texas, as well as NRC, have already appealed).
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In summary, PBAPS-1 is a one-of-a-kind reactor, a stand-alone design unlike any other in the United States, and the world, that results in site-specific factors that challenge decommissioning and license termination. Specifically, the special characteristics of irradiated graphite which are multi-faceted, the lack of vessel design that would support flooding to provide the standard dose and contamination protective barrier, the original materials and manufacturing methods that introduce unknown trace elements and required updates to analytical methods to support “virgin” graphite analysis all must be addressed to ensure the health and safety of the public is maintained.
These nuances of PBAPS-1 present increased risk for decommissioning activities to achieve license termination. In fact, the most closely related and only other graphite moderated HTGR in the United States, FSV, encountered radiological conditions beyond what was predicted despite following all the normal decommissioning processes and was forced emergently to re- design the plan and ultimately flood up the reactor vessel. The PBAPS-1 vessel was not designed to support flooding the cavity. The only other two experimental reactors built along with PBAPS-1 are either temporarily entombed or continue in SAFSTOR operation as their owners in Europe work to find a suitable process to manage dry decommissioning for their graphite moderated HTGRs. (Constellation Letter to the NRC, May 13, 2024)
Nuclear Regulatory Commission - News Release
No: 24-051 June 20, 2024
CONTACT: David McIntyre, 301-415-8200

NRC Amends Licensing, Inspection, and Annual Fees for Fiscal Year 2024

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is amending its regulations for the licensing, inspection, special projects, and annual fees it will charge applicants and licensees for fiscal year 2024.
The FY 2024 final fee rule published today in the Federal Register, reflects a total budget authority of $944.1 million, an increase of $16.9 million from FY 2023. Under the Nuclear Energy Innovation and Modernization Act, the NRC is required to recover to the maximum extent practicable, approximately 100 percent of its total budget authority, with exceptions for excluded activities. A proposed fee rule was published for public comment on Feb. 20. The final rule becomes effective Aug. 19.
After accounting for the exclusions from the fee-recovery requirement and net billing adjustments, the NRC must recover approximately $808.3 million in fees in FY 2024. Of this amount, approximately $202.2 million will be recovered through service fees under 10 CFR Part 170, and approximately $606.1 million will be recovered through annual fees under 10 CFR Part 171.
Compared with FY 2023, annual fees are increasing for fuel facilities, spent fuel storage/reactor decommissioning activities, non-power production or utilization facilities, the one NRC uranium recovery licensee, the Department of Energy’s transportation activities, and Uranium Mill Tailings Radiation Control Act Program, and all materials users fee categories. The annual fees for operating power reactors do not exceed the cap established by NEIMA and are decreasing from FY 2023 levels.
The final fee rule includes a change in the hourly rate charged for services, affecting licensees and applicants. The NRC has increased its hourly rate from $300 to $317, and license application fees have been adjusted accordingly. The NRC is also amending its payment methods to align with the Treasury Department’s “No-Cash No-Check” policy by removing paper forms and facilitating electronic payments through
The NRC estimates that the FY 2024 annual fees will be paid by 94 operating commercial power reactors, three non-power production or utilization facilities, 124 spent nuclear fuel storage and decommissioning reactor facilities, eight fuel cycle facilities, one uranium recovery facility, and approximately 2,400 nuclear materials licensees.