Another Bad Week For Nuclear Power

There seems to be more and more of these lately. Worldwide it wasn’t a good week for nuclear power.

Japan

The unit 5 reactor at Hamaoka nuclear plant is too damaged to possibly restart it. This is a newer unit at the plant. In 2011 when the reactor was shut down the condenser that works as a heat exchange device developed large holes and cracks in the pipes inside. Now the operator is admitting there are large cracks in the stainless steel reactor vessel interior. The several millimeter cracks were created by the 400 tons of seawater that leaked into the reactor. The operator has yet to admit the reactor will be scrapped but a restart is highly unlikely.

China

In China wind energy has surpassed nuclear. This is even more notable since China has been struggling with various policies that end up wasting large amounts of wind energy causing the actual counts and new installs to slow compared to where they could be.

Britain

Local councils voted down a possible geologic nuclear waste storage site in Cumbria. It was the only potential location to be considered. There was considerable protest from scientists that the site had flaws while many did not want to risk nearby park systems that are a tourist attraction. Without this waste dump the country has no place to put all their nuclear waste. This is considered a big enough issue that it may end any plans for new nuclear reactors in Britain.

US

The Vogtle new nuclear reactor being built in Georgia is having even more problems. The potential government guarantees are being called the “next Solyndra” , referring to a government loan guarantee given to a solar company that then went out of business. Concerns about the loan guarantees for Vogtle include a number of factors that do not adequately protect taxpayers from large losses. The project is already under construction and has suffered from constant failures and setbacks. A main contractor for steel components failed to meet federal standards, the concrete foundation was found to be incorrect and the reactor vessel was dropped sideways off the rail car moving it.

A potential uranium mine in Virginia is looking less likely to happen. The issues has flared controversy in the state as many do not want the risk to drinking water, farms and the environment. What may finally do it in is the price for uranium. The mine was considered when the price for uranium was $140 per pound. For the mine to even turn a profit the price would need to be $80 a pound. The price has been around $40 a pound since 2011. Only considerable increases in demand could change the price but that would require a considerable number of new reactors to be built.

The Florida legislature is looking more seriously at the possibility of revising or repealing a 2006 law that forced residents to pre-pay for a nuclear plant to be built with no refund if the plant was never built. With the current situation not favorable to a plant ever being built there are more calls to end the forced payments.

 

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