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Reactor Reax Top Stories

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Nuclear hazard

(WASHINGTON DC) - The U.S Nuclear Power Industry's Dim Future, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 18, 2013. "Four reactors have closed so far in 2013-a record for the industry. Because of the shale energy boom, natural gas prices crashed, followed by coal. Electricity demand fell during the recession and has yet to regain its 2007 peak. Bolstered by billions of dollars in green energy subsidies in the 2009 stimulus package, renewables, especially wind, have come on faster than many anticipated. Cap and trade never happened. And Japan's Fukushima disaster in 2011 reminded the world just how dangerous nuclear power can be. The industry hasn't done itself any favors. A radioactive steam leak and a botched repair job have led to the permanent closure of three reactors in the last several months, two in California operated by Southern California Edison (EIX), and another in Florida run by Duke Energy (DUK). Faced with growing political opposition, billions of dollars of estimated repair costs, and cheaper alternatives, utility executives in both cases decided to pull the plug rather than fix the plants."

Nuclear energy is too expensive to compete, independent economist argues, Cleveland Plain Dealer, July 17, 2013. "America's fleet of aging nuclear power plants is rapidly becoming uneconomical to operate, argues a leading consumer advocate in a new report predicting the end of the nuclear era. Mark Cooper, an independent economist and senior fellow for economic analysis at the Vermont Law School Institute for Energy and the Environment, bases his argument on another decade of continuing low natural gas prices to give new gas-fired power plants enough of an edge to squeeze out older nuclear plants already beset with rising maintenance costs."

Report: Calvert Cliffs, other nuclear reactors at risk for early retirement, Baltimore Sun, July 17, 2013. "A new report suggests that a substantial number of U.S. nuclear reactors - including one or both at Calvert Cliffs in Southern Maryland - are at risk of early retirement. Mark Cooper with the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment said a third of the country's nuclear fleet have a number of risk factors, largely economic, that could lead to their owners' deciding to shut them down before their licenses expire. A single problem, such as a costly repair, could be enough to push any of the reactors over the brink, he said."

Davis-Besse among 12 plants at risk, says analyst, Toledo Blade, July 18, 2013. "Davis-Besse is identified in a new economic report as one of a dozen U.S. nuclear reactors most likely to be closed by their utilities before their licenses expire because of changing energy markets, including falling natural gas prices, rising costs of nuclear operations, repairs, and post-Fukushima retrofits. The report, issued Wednesday by a Vermont Law School economic analyst, came in response to decisions in recent months by utilities which own the twin-reactor San Onofre nuclear complex in southern California, Crystal River nuclear plant in Florida, and Kewaunee nuclear plant in Wisconsin. They chose to close those plants early because they had become too expensive to operate or repair."

Early retirement for Oyster Creek?, Asbury Park Press (NJ), July 18, 2013. "Oyster Creek is among 38 U.S. nuclear plants at risk of early retirement because of economic factors including competition from cheaper energy sources such as natural gas and high costs of operation and making repairs and safety upgrades, according to a new report by a policy analyst at the Vermont Law School. 'We are now officially seeing the 'nuclear renaissance' in reverse,' said Mark Cooper, author of the report and earlier papers that examined economics of the nuclear industry."

Costs may doom one old S.C. nuclear power reactor, Charleston (SC) Post and Courier, July 18, 2013. "A nuclear power plant near Hartsville has been identified as one of 38 across the country at risk of being mothballed because of age and expense, a national study shows. The H.B. Robinson reactor, built in 1970, is listed in a report by an economic analyst as in danger of being closed mainly because it has been running nine years longer than its original federal license limit, which expired in 2004. The plant, operated by Duke Energy, was given an operating license extension to 2030."

Michigan site among nuclear plants that could shut down amid low demand, Crain's Detroit Business, July 18, 2013. "A handful of U.S. nuclear reactors, including one in Michigan, may be at risk for early retirement as aging plants face higher costs, lower demand and a drop in prices for natural gas, a competing fuel, according to a Vermont Law School report. Sites including Entergy Corp.'s Indian Point, Dominion Resources Inc.'s Millstone and Constellation Energy Group Inc.'s Nine Mile Point, among the largest reactors in the U.S. Northeast, are at the highest risk for shutdown, according to the report from the law school's Institute for Energy and the Environment, which focuses on energy law and policy. The three plants make up a combined 6,375 megawatts, or about 6 percent of U.S. capacity, according to data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration."

Report: Over three dozen US nuclear reactors at risk of early retirement, Vermont Business Magazine, July 18, 2013. "The tough times the US nuclear power industry faces today are only going to get worse. In the wake of nine major nuclear reactor closures or uprate cancellations in recent months, a review of the remaining US fleet reveals that 38 reactors in 23 states, are at risk of early retirement, with 12 facing the greatest risk of being shutdown, including Vermont Yankee in Vernon, according to a new analysis by Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment, Vermont Law School."

Report lists Indian Point among reactors 'at risk for early retirement', The (White Plains, NY) Journal News, July 17, 2013. "Higher costs and competition are among the economic forces that could lead to the closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant, an analysis released Wednesday said. The plant in Buchanan was among 12 reactor sites across the country 'found to be at greatest risk of early retirement,' according to 'Renaissance in Reverse: Competition Pushes Aging U.S. Nuclear Reactors to the Brink of Economic Abandonment.' The report was published by the Vermont Law School's Institute for Energy and the Environment."

New Study Triggers Debate About Point Beach's Nuclear Future, Wisconsin Public Radio, July 18, 2013. "The Kewaunee nuclear power plant shut down a couple months ago, due to a tougher financial climate for one-reactor nuclear plants. Many think the twin-reactor nuclear plant at Point Beach is on firmer financial footing. But a study done for the Vermont Law School lists Point Beach in a second tier of U.S. reactors at the greatest risk of being shut down."

Southern Co. challenged on nuclear plant costs, Bloomberg Businessweek, July 18, 2013. "A decision to absorb losses on an over-budget power plant in Mississippi may haunt Southern Co. now that it wants regulators to raise its construction budget for a nuclear power plant in Georgia. Southern Co. executives fielded critical questions Thursday during their first testimony since announcing the firm could not meet its state-approved budget to build two more nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle (VOH'-gohl), southeast of Augusta. Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power has asked to raise the budget for its share of the massive project by $737 million to roughly $6.85 billion.

"Reactor Reax" is featured on, a Web site maintained by Physicians for Social Responsibility. For more information, contact



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