ACTION ALERT: Stop $8.5 Billion US Loan for New Reactors: Former NRC Chief Calls for an End to Nuclear Power

October 1st, 2013 - by admin

Tim Judson / Credo Petition & Kazuaki Nagata / Japan Times – 2013-10-01 01:27:09

ACTION ALERT: Stop $8.5 Billion Taxpayer Loan for New Nuclear Reactors
To: President Obama, Energy Secretary Moniz

Campaign created by Tim Judson

The Department of Energy’s proposed taxpayer loan for the Vogtle nuclear plant would put more than $8 billion in taxpayer money at risk and increase our dependence on dangerous and expensive nuclear power. Please reject this loan completely and permanently now.

Why Is this Important?
A proposed $8.3 Billion taxpayer loan for construction of Georgia’s Vogtle nuclear reactors is teetering on the edge: this is the time to tip it over entirely. The loan was announced, with great fanfare, by President Obama in February 2010, as part of his stated “all of the above” energy strategy. It came from the Department of Energy’s $18.5 Billion loan guarantee fund and was supposed to herald the “nuclear renaissance.”

Today, fully 3 1/2 years later, the loan has still not been granted. Why? Because Southern Company, the lead utility in the Vogtle project, wants a sweetheart deal that would not only give it well below-market interest rates, but also put all of the risk on taxpayers rather than themselves.

Indeed, Southern Company officials have said at least five times that they don’t even need the loan — they’re already using ratepayers as their private bank under Georgia’s “early cost recovery” law. If that were true, then why should taxpayers be involved at all? But Southern’s other partners, which own about 40% of the project, do need the federal loan.

The White House’s Office of Management and Budget, which along with the Department of Energy must approve the loan, has balked at the riskiness of the proposed loan and the final deadline for loan approval has been extended several times over the years. The next deadline is coming up on September 30, 2013.

Vogtle received its construction license in February 2012. It is already nearly two years behind schedule and somewhere between $700 million and $1.6 billion over budget, depending on who’s counting. Given the history of large nuclear construction projects in the U.S. and abroad, more delay and cost overruns can be expected.

The first two Vogtle reactors actually finished at more than 1200% over budget. Since President Obama’s February 2010 loan announcement, the nuclear “renaissance” has collapsed. During 2013 alone, six proposed new reactors were dropped for various reasons, five operating reactors announced permanent shutdowns, and utilities gave up on power uprates for five more reactors. The nuclear “renaissance” now consists of two reactors at Summer in South Carolina, a Tennessee Valley Authority reactor that began construction more than 30 years ago, and Vogtle.

The marketplace has spoken and nuclear power has lost. Not only is natural gas a current competitor, but costs of clean renewables like solar and wind have plummeted and are viable alternatives, while energy efficiency programs are keeping new demand far lower than projected when the Vogtle project was first announced.

This is the time to tell President Obama and Energy Secretary Moniz to finally give up on this fiasco — before taxpayer money is put at risk. No extension, no loan. Act now. Your voice matters.

Ex-top US Nuclear Regulator Counsels End to Atomic Power
Kazuaki Nagata / Japan Times

TOKYO (September 24, 2013) — The ongoing crisis at the Fukushima No. 1 plant is a sign that the world needs to seriously rethink nuclear safety and consider possibly ending its dependence on atomic power, the former chairman of the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Tuesday in Tokyo.

“When you look at what happened around the Fukushima Daiichi (No. 1) area, it’s simply unacceptable,” as tens of thousands of people have been unable to return to their homes due to radioactive contamination, said Gregory Jaczko, who served as the top US nuclear regulatory official for nearly three years until July 2012.

Given that Japan is extremely prone to earthquakes and tsunami, among other disasters, using nuclear power poses serious risks unless some kind of new technology is created to completely eliminate the possibility of severe accidents, Jaczko told reporters at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan.

However, Jaczko also said that creating such zero-risk technology is next to impossible.

Instead, Jaczko said, he hopes Japan pours its resources and energy into coming up with ways to function without atomic power.

“I think the Japanese people have the ability to do that,” he said.

While Japan’s atomic watchdog, the Nuclear Regulation Authority, is now examining requests from utilities to restart reactors, Jaczko stressed the importance of getting the public actively involved in the process.

“There needs to be a thorough public debate and a public dialogue to ensure that those decisions” have received as much support from the public as possible, said Jaczko, who headed the NRC when the Fukushima crisis erupted on March 11, 2011.

As for the ongoing issue of tainted groundwater flowing into the ocean at the No. 1 plant, Jaczko expressed befuddlement that the issue has only recently come under the spotlight.

“This was known from the beginning that there would potentially be these contamination problems,” he said.

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