August 2, 2010

Dear Activists

Below is a sign-on letter put together by our friends at PSR and Beyond Nuclear, which will be hand-delivered to Japanese officials in a couple of days. The letter points out several reasons why Japan’s export-import banks should not fund nuclear reactor projects in the U.S. (it has been widely speculated, for example, that NRG’s proposed South Texas project would supplement U.S. taxpayer loans with additional loans from such banks).

To sign on, please do not hit “reply”! Please send your name, organization, city and state to Morgan Pinnell at PSR:

Thanks for all you do,

Michael Mariotte


August 4, 2010


Dear Japan Bank for International Cooperation and Nippon Export and Investment Insurance officials,

We are writing to share with you the financial risks involved with new atomic reactor projects proposed in the United States. The environment for nuclear construction in the US is highly uncertain – much more so than in the rest of the world. The US has immense renewable energy resources that are truly unparalleled around the world and a larger potential for efficiency gains than in any other industrialized nations. As a consequence of these fundamental marketplace and technology risks, investment in new reactors in the US will remain extremely risky, even if climate legislation is enacted that raises the price of fossil fuels.

Electricity demand has plummeted in the U.S. due to the two-year economic recession. The large projected increases in electricity demand made just a few years ago – which served as the basis for many new reactor proposals – are now highly unlikely to be reached for another decade or more.

At the same time, the US has a host of lower-cost alternatives to meet the need for electricity, even in a carbon-constrained environment. The U.S. has abundant renewable energy resources that are significantly cheaper than new reactors. Estimated costs for constructing new reactors in the U.S. have quadrupled since 2001, while the cost of renewable technologies continues to decrease. Currently, the estimated cost for electricity from a new reactor is 12 cents to 20 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to 3 cents per kilowatt-hour for efficiency, while several plentiful renewable resources including wind and biomass come fall in the range of 5 to 10 cents. Moreover, there is growing confidence in the availability of alternatives. Recent estimates of the natural gas resources have increased dramatically and the price has tumbled and is expected to remain low. Cogeneration opportunities are abundant in the U.S. industrial sector.

Meanwhile, the US uses far more electricity per capita than other industrialized nations, leaving a lot of potential for efficiency to further dampen electricity demand. Climate policy, which may put a price on carbon emissions, will also likely create a very substantial mandate for efficiency technology and renewable energy that will dramatically shrink the need for new, nonrenewable, large baseload generating capacity. It is not only renewable electricity standards and energy efficiency resource standards that will have this effect, but also building codes, appliance efficiency standards, and increases in funding for weatherization retrofitting of buildings.

In addition to the supply- and demand-side risks in the US, significant problems with new reactor designs have meant that none have received final certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). Until their reactor designs are certified, no proposed new reactors can receive an NRC combined construction and operating license (COL).  Design problems are likely to delay licensing and further increase the costs.

Moody’s Investor Services have called new reactors a “bet the farm” investment. Credit rating agencies have downgraded some US utilities proposing to build new reactors. In 2003, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated the likelihood of default for loans made to nuclear reactor developers to be “very high – well above 50 percent.” CBO has not developed a more recent estimate, but the necessary conditions for new reactors have only deteriorated further since then.

Due to Japanese corporate involvement in many of the proposed US reactor projects, it might appear that they would make good investments. The reality, however, is that the projects involving Japanese companies have suffered the same delays, design problems and financial difficulties as other proposed nuclear projects. With decreased U.S. electricity demand, an abundant supply of cheaper alternatives and ongoing design problems, investment in new reactors in the U.S. is simply as bad a deal for Japanese as it is for Americans.

Just as we have warned American taxpayers and elected officials about these very serious financial risks, we also urge you to very carefully consider these risks before deciding to invest in new atomic reactors in the United States.


From AxisOfLogic:

As reported by the UK, Wales, and France, operating the EPR under one mode of operation is a danger akin to another Chernobyl. From documents leaked by an EDF insider, we learn the experimental EPR is prone to a major - and deadly serious nuclear catastrophe.

As reported by the French group which includes nuclear physicists, "Sortir du Nucleaire," (The French Network for Nuclear Phase-Out)11 according to calculations by both AREVA and EDF, the EPR reactor is essentially a nuclear accident just waiting to happen.

In short, when the EPR is placed in the Instant Return to Power control mode while in low-power, this and the control rod configuration can cause the control rod clusters to be ejected during operation, creating both a rupture of the control rod drive casing and a high rate of broken fuel rods. This rupture would cause the reactor's coolant to leak outside the nuclear vessel, creating a high risk of a critical, major nuclear accident, resulting in mass dispersion of deadly radionuclides in the atmosphere - radioactive poisons that would spread in the air and water throughout the world.

Read more


From the Patriot News:

A natural gas well where welders were believed to be working exploded today, killing two people and sparking a fire that spewed black smoke for hours. The blast happened around 9:50 a.m. in a remote, wooded area of Indiana Township, northeast of Pittsburgh, police said. Firefighters doused the resulting fire with foam, and part of the blaze was still burning about three hours after the explosion.

The cause wasn’t yet known, but state officials believe “people were welding at the site and there was an explosion and the well caught fire,” said Helen Humphries, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Environmental Protection. “Why they were welding or what caused the explosion, I don’t know yet."

Read more


Join us October 23-24, 2010 in Harrisburg

The Ever Green Sustainable Film Fest is a multi-faceted event that brings together educational, quality environmental films; moderator-led discussions based on feature films; an opportunity for local filmmakers to share their talent and learn about key environmental issues through a short film contest; and the integration and promotion of local foods.

Visit Ever Green Film Festival


This issues's contents include:

  • 2010 Nuclear-Free Future Awards
  • More and More Questions About the Epr
  • Chernobyl Restrictions for Sheep Consumption Ending in Scotland; Not in Wales
  • Has Sweden Learned to Love Nuclear Power?
  • Kings Cliffe and the Low- Level Waste Crisis in U.K.
  • National U.S. Grassroots Summit on Radwaste Policy

Download PDF


The Ninth Circuit Oral Argument has been set for November 4, 2010 at 2pm. It will take place in San Francisco, Courtroom 1, 95 7th Street.

Like the 2006 ruling in favor of San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (SLOMFP), the outcome of this case involving the dry cask storage facility at Diablo Canyon Nuclear Plant has the potential to affect policy for all 104 nuclear facilities in the nation. If Mothers for Peace is successful, the case will set a major new precedent for government accountability with respect to security-related decision-making in the post- 9/11era.

SLOMFP’s objectives are twofold:

  • to force the NRC to prepare an Environmental Impact Statement that thoroughly analyzes the potential environmental effects of attack on the dry cask storage facility;
  • to restore an appropriate balance between the influence of the nuclear industry and the public over the NRC.

After the 9/11 attacks, the increased level of secrecy at the NRC tilted the playing field even more dramatically in favor of the industry, which now has virtually unlimited access to sensitive information while the public has been completely shut out. We believe that our lawsuit could give members of the public a powerful new tool in making the government accountable for its decisions regarding security by allowing access to classified and other sensitive security information in closed hearings. (A closed hearing allows only attorneys and expert witnesses with appropriate security clearances to attend. SLOMFP attorney, Diane Curran, has the necessary clearances.)

More information about SLOMFP’s lawsuit in the Ninth Circuit of the U. S. Court of Appeals is available at


From the Scranton Times-Tribune:

Flooding forced PPL to shut down Unit 1 of the Susquehanna Nuclear Power Plant late Friday afternoon.

An estimated 1 million gallons of Susquehanna river water flowed from an 8-foot-diameter pipe heading to the condenser room - where steam leaving the turbine is cooled - and damaged equipment in the basement of the plant's turbine building.

As a result, the plant could be shut down for a long period.

"We don't have an estimate," PPL spokesman Joe Scopelliti said. "There is no timeline."

Patrick Finney, the plant's senior Nuclear Regulatory Commission inspector, doesn't think the plant will be online any time soon, though.

Read more


From the Parliament of Australia, Department of Parliamentary Services:

Per megawatt existing nuclear power stations use and consume more water than power stations using other fuel sources. Depending on the cooling technology utilised, the water requirements for a nuclear power station can vary between 20 to 83 per cent more than for other power stations.

Download PDF


From the Patriot Ledger:

Entergy Corp. has found tritium levels that exceed federal drinking water standards in a monitoring well at the Pilgrim nuclear power plant for the first time since the wells were installed nearly three years ago.

The power plant owner learned on Monday that samples taken on July 7 showed one monitoring well near the Cape Cod Bay shoreline had more than 25,000 picocuries per liter of tritium, a radioactive isotope. The Environmental Protection Agency’s maximum threshold for safe drinking water is 20,000 picocuries per liter.

The elevated levels of tritium are in a monitoring well that was installed in April. Entergy has found elevated levels in that well since May, and the well’s tritium levels previously peaked at just more than 11,000 picocuries per liter last month.

A nearby monitoring well showed elevated levels of tritium, at more than 3,000 picocuries per liter, on July 7. The plant’s 10 other wells, including several that were installed in 2007, showed relatively low amounts of tritium, plant spokesman Dave Tarantino said.

Tarantino said the tritium leak doesn’t pose any threat to drinking water in Plymouth, largely because the groundwater at the plant flows into Cape Cod Bay. A test of Cape Cod Bay waters showed no elevated levels of tritium on July 7, he said.

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From Seven Days:

A key legislative oversight panel is criticizing Entergy Vermont Yankee's for lacking  a "questioning attitude" that has led to a number of system failures at the aging reactor in recent years.

The Vermont Yankee Public Oversight Panel (POP) also concluded that Entergy didn't deliberately mislead a legislative panel or a state consultant when it neglected to inform them last August about underground pipes that carry radionuclides.

The three-member panel includes former Nuclear Regulatory Commission member Peter Bradford, nuclear engineer Arnie Gundersen, and retired nuclear scientist Fred Sears.

Last summer, Gundersen questioned key Entergy engineers about whether there were underground pipes that could potentially be leaking.

The response: No. Case closed.

Read more