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Jun-01-2012 15:22printcomments

Reactor Reax Top Stories - Nuclear Power Industry Taking It On The Chin In States Across U.S.

Reports focus on one of the world's most dangerous elements.

Nuclear danger

(WASHINGTON DC) - In this week's Reactor Reax report, Russia's most notorious landmark, Chernobly nuclear power plant, teaches a lesson; that the dues for this business practice are paid for by citizens in economic cost.

Soaring costs are plaguing one California nuclear power plant. Also a landmark, San Onofre's repair costs continue to mount. There are several other reports in this collection of articles about one of the world's most dangerous elements.

Chernobyl's Real Horror Show Isn't the Radiation, It's the Economics, The Atlantic, May 30, 2012. "The debate over nuclear power gets emotional because radiation is scary -- which is exactly why the economic effects of accidents are so devastating: No one wants to live anywhere that's 'contaminated,' no matter how low the levels. It's not rational, but it's consistent across times and cultures, and it's something we have to consider as we weigh the value of nuclear as a low-carbon energy source against its many shortcomings."

Soaring Costs Plague California Nuke Plant Shut Down By Leak, Inside Climate News, May 29, 2012. "While investigators examine the steam generator damage that has forced the months-long outage at California's San Onofre nuclear power plant, the cost of the shutdown and any necessary repairs continues to mount—and it's unclear who will end up paying the bill. The new costs will easily exceed $100 million—and would be substantially higher if they included ongoing work on the steam generators as well as a prolonged period with reduced or zero power generation."

Nuclear Industry Taking It on the Chin in States Across US, Nuclear Power Daily, May 24, 2012. "Though its trials and travails at the national level get all the attention, the nuclear power industry is finding fewer and fewer friends in statehouses across the nation. In the Southeast, traditionally the stronghold of new nuclear power projects, a growing ratepayer rebellion in Florida seeks to curb advance financing of reactors that experts say will most likely never be constructed. In Iowa, even Warren Buffett could not help to persuade state lawmakers to permit advancing financing of a small modular reactor (SMR) in that state."

Progress Energy's Levy County nuclear project carries on despite setbacks, Tampa Bay Times, May 29, 2012. "Arguably, Progress Energy has a gambling problem. For years, it has made high-stakes, high-risk bets on its Levy County nuclear power project — and steadily lost. Unfortunately for its customers, the utility has been playing with their money."

Busting the carbon and cost myths of Germany's nuclear exit, The Guardian (UK), May 23, 2012. "That is what Germany chose to do after the Fukushima nuclear disaster, closing eight plants immediately – 7GW - and another nine by 2022. The shrillest critics predicted blackouts, which was always daft and did not happen. But more serious critics worried that the three things at the heart of the energy and climate change debate - carbon, cost and security of supply – would all head in the wrong direction. Here in Berlin, I have found they were wrong on every count."

Confirm Allison Macfarlane to NRC, (op-ed), The Hill, May 29, 2012. Diane Curran and Mindy Goldstein: "We have a chance to look at the Fukushima disaster, be humbled and learn. Having delayed adoption of safety reforms that were proposed thirty years ago after the Three Mile Island accident, we cannot afford to postpone them any longer. The Obama Administration has nominated a promising candidate for that task, Allison Macfarlane. Dr. Macfarlane, a geologist, has shown she is willing to take unpopular but principled positions by opposing the Yucca Mountain Repository on scientific grounds. She has also co-authored a ground-breaking study on the public health and environmental risks of pool storage of spent reactor fuel. She wisely advocates deep disposal rather than reprocessing of spent fuel on economic and nonproliferation grounds. And she has promoted public participation in the deliberations of the President's Blue Ribbon Commission on the future of nuclear power in the U.S. She should be appointed chair if she demonstrates a commitment to protecting public safety on a par with Gregory Jaczko. " Curran is an attorney in Washington, D.C. who for 30 years has represented citizen and environmental groups in NRC licensing and enforcement cases. Goldstein is director of the Turner Environmental Law Clinic at Emory University Law School.

INSTITUTE INDEX: Fighting nuclear power's money grab, Facing South/Institute for Southern Studies, May 31, 2012. "Date on which the Southern Co. filed a notice with federal securities regulators reporting that its project to build two new reactors at Plant Vogtle in Burke County, Ga. was experiencing massive cost overruns: 5/7/2012. Size of the reported overruns: over $900 million. Value of the taxpayer-backed federal loan guarantee that the Southern Co. received from the Obama administration for the Vogtle project: $8.3 billion. Number of times by which that exceeds the federal loan guarantee received by Solyndra, the California-based solar company that came under fire for declaring bankruptcy after taking the money: 15."

Severe Nuclear Reactor Accidents Likely Every 10 to 20 Years, European Study Suggests, Science Daily, May 22, 2012. "Catastrophic nuclear accidents such as the core meltdowns in Chernobyl and Fukushima are more likely to happen than previously assumed. Based on the operating hours of all civil nuclear reactors and the number of nuclear meltdowns that have occurred, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz have calculated that such events may occur once every 10 to 20 years (based on the current number of reactors) -- some 200 times more often than estimated in the past. The researchers also determined that, in the event of such a major accident, half of the radioactive caesium-137 would be spread over an area of more than 1,000 kilometres away from the nuclear reactor."

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

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.