Friday, December 20, 2013

Tell your Senators: No tax breaks for dirty nuclear power | NIRS

Executive Director, Nuclear Information and Resource Service

December 20, 2013

Dear Friends,

I know we're all in the midst of the busy and often-stressful holiday season, and none of us need something added to our to-do lists right now.

But this is urgent. And we need to push back right now.

On Wednesday, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT), released a radical new proposal to revamp the nation's tax code for energy industries. That could have been a good idea, but Sen. Baucus' proposal would establish "technology-neutral" incentives for "clean energy" projects that would reduce carbon emissions.

Those are normally code words for treating dirty nuclear power as "clean energy." And that's exactly what Baucus would do: nuclear power would get the exact same tax breaks as renewable energy sources like wind and solar. Even carbon-emitting natural gas would get tax breaks; so potentially could other dirty projects like "clean coal" plants.

This is dangerous. This kind of thinking--which is aggressively encouraged by the nuclear power industry--is all too common on Capitol Hill. It essentially assumes that carbon is the only pollutant with which the nation should be concerned. Never mind the environmental devastation caused by uranium mining, milling and enrichment. Never mind the routine releases of radioactive toxins like plutonium, strontium, cesium, iodine, krypton into our air and water from nuclear reactors. Never mind the ever-growing and so-far unsolved problem of lethal radioactive waste piling up at every reactor site in the country.

Unfortunately, when it comes to tax policy, Senator Baucus is influential. That's why we need to push back as hard as we can right now, before this kind of thinking takes firm root on the Hill. Please act now and tell your Senators: No tax breaks for dirty nuclear power.

NIRS put out a press statement on this issue this morning. You can read it here.

Make no mistake: we do have a climate crisis and carbon is a major contributor. We do need to reduce carbon emissions as quickly as possible. But the answer isn't more dirty energy. The answer is faster deployment of the 21st century energy technologies that work, that are affordable, and that are clean and safe. That means solar and wind and geothermal where appropriate. That means energy efficiency and clean-powered vehicles. That means distributed generation and smarter grids and support for rapidly-improving energy storage technologies.

Please push back now against the concept that nuclear power is somehow clean. Our action page is here. And please help us spread the word.

Thank you to the hundreds of organizations across the world who already have signed on to the grassroots response letter to climate scientist Dr. James Hansen and three colleagues who are urging the environmental movement to support nuclear power.

We have decided to release this letter after the holidays; so we can collect signatures through January 4, 2014. You can read Hansen's letter here. You can read the response letter, with a few of the initial signatures, here. However, please note: the response letter is not a public webpage. We've noticed a few people have posted this page on Twitter. Please do not do that. Please do not post or distribute this url in public forums. 

To sign on, and we are accepting organizational sign-ons only, please send your name, title (optional), organization name, city, state and country if outside the U.S. to Please do not overload our e-mail system with individual sign-ons, we cannot add them to this letter.

To our international friends: Dr. Hansen may not be as well-known outside the U.S. as he is here. But he is influential and outspoken in his support for nuclear power--most recently earlier this week at a major UN meeting. He also downplays the effects of radiation generally, and particularly the effects on the people of Japan from Fukushima. His dream is the deployment of hundreds and hundreds of new reactors across the world--especially in developing countries. International support for this letter is welcome and appreciated.

Finally, this is my last letter to you as Executive Director of NIRS. It's been a great and long run--more than 27 years in this position. But I'm happy to be moving on--especially since moving on means staying at NIRS and continuing to build this organization and fighting for a nuclear-free, carbon-free future. And I'm happy that we have an extremely capable new leader in Tim Judson, who is more than able to fill my shoes.

And don't worry, I will still be in touch with you--heck, I will still be writing a lot of the Alerts you'll receive. And I'll soon be sending you the url to the new blog I am creating.

In the meantime, I do hope you'll support NIRS this holiday season with your contribution of any size, either now or after you send your letter to your Senators. Foundations and other large donors we seek grants from want to know how many people are supporting us--not just with their activism, but financially as well. So even small contributions: $5, $10, or whatever you can afford, matter a lot and we appreciate each one of them. If you prefer to donate by check, please send to NIRS, 6930 Carroll Avenue, #340, Takoma Park, MD 20912.

As always, thanks for all you do, and have a terrific holiday season and let's work together to build an increasingly nuclear-free and carbon-free new year.

Michael Mariotte
Executive Director
Nuclear Information and Resource Service

Stay Informed:

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6930 Carroll Avenue, Suite 340, Takoma Park, MD 20912 
301-270-NIRS (301-270-6477); Fax: 301-270-4291;

For Immediate Release Contact: Michael Mariotte, 301-325-8014 (mobile) December 20, 2013 Tim Judson, 301-270-6477

New Baucus tax proposal takes an Orwellian approach: would redefine dirty energy as clean

The nation’s leading tax code writer, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D- MT), Wednesday unveiled a radical proposal to revise the nation’s energy policy through the tax code.

The draft bill introduced by Sen. Baucus would end forty-two different tax incentives for the energy industry, projected to cost $150 billion. In their place, it would create “technology-neutral” incentives for energy projects that meet a narrow standard for carbon emission reductions. However, the bill would also end incentives that promote energy efficiency improvements and zero-emissions vehicles, by definition two of the most effective ways to reduce greenhouse gases. At the same time, by focusing solely on carbon, Sen. Baucus’s proposal would continue to subsidize other toxic and polluting energy sources, such as nuclear power and natural gas.

“I think they coined the phrase ‘throwing the baby out with the bath water’ just for ideas like this,” said Tim Judson, NIRS’ Associate Director. “Tax breaks for the oil and coal industries are irresponsible, unnecessary and counterproductive, but so are subsidies for nuclear power and natural gas. Cutting tax breaks to help people make their homes more energy efficient and giving those dollars to companies to make radioactive waste is simply wrong-minded and counter-productive.”

“We’re getting a little tired of politicians, not to mention self-serving industries, who argue that the only pollutant of concern in the world is carbon,” said Michael Mariotte, executive director of NIRS. “Nuclear power inherently brings with it plutonium, strontium, cesium and the whole alphabet soup of poisonous radionuclides that are released routinely intoour air and water; that form one of our world’s largest unsolved environmental problems— safely managing radioactive waste; and that can at any moment be unleased in a catastrophic accident.”

“Our climate condition is a crisis,” Mariotte added. “But the solution is not to subsidize dirty energy technologies, nor try to portray them as somehow clean. It’s really not hard: we need to renew the tax credits for genuinely clean renewable energy sources like wind and solar, provide greater encouragement for energy efficiency measures, incentivize distributed generation—especially rooftop solar; and support already rapidly-improving energy storage. The clean energy technologies of the 21st century that can quickly and affordably reduce carbon emissions are here: it’s time to take advantage of them.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Stop the Nuclear Waste Con - Put Public Safety Ahead of Industry Profit | CREDO Mobilize

Take the No-Action Alternative to the Generic Environmental Impact Statement (GEIS) which appears to only serve the industry, not public safety.

Why is this important?

The NRC has declared that it would only be a SMALL risk to the environment and communities near nuclear power plants to store nuclear waste on-site for 60 years, 160 years or even INDEFINITELY if no permanent repository is established. 

The analysis makes no distinctions among all of the nuclear power plants covered by the GEIS with regard to levels of seismic risk (earthquakes and tsunamis), regional population levels, proximity to transportation corridors, etc. 

In the GEIS Executive Summary, the stated purpose of this ruling is for the efficiencies that would be gained, minimizing expenditures and avoiding delays in licensing reviews. This apparent bias towards the industry seems to contradict the sole purpose of the NRC in protecting the public and the environment.

This report only reinforces the growing mistrust of nuclear regulators who would play down the risk of storing nuclear waste wherever it may be presently, apparently bending to the will of the industry they are supposed to regulate. Suggesting that we will be able to rely on unproven or non-existent technology for safe storage of nuclear waste for thousands of years puts the future of our entire nation at risk.

If there was just one lesson to be learned from the ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan it is that our best science and engineering is no match for the unpredictable forces of nature. It is time to stop the nuclear waste con and make it a national priority to find real solutions to stop this ticking time bomb before it is too late.

Here is what needs to be done:

•  Make it a national priority to come up with real solutions to long term nuclear waste storage;
• Abandon the generic "one size fits all" approach and instead, make site-specific environmental reports and recommendations;
• Immediately reduce spent fuel pool density to original design standards, without exemptions;
• Accelerate ongoing hardened, on-site storage of spent fuel at all reactor sites.
• Cease production of all nuclear waste.

How it will be delivered

Email, print and in person.
SIGN NOW > Stop the Nuclear Waste Con - Put Public Safety Ahead of Industry Profit | CREDO Mobilize

12.22 TOKYO: 年内トドメの大抗議!!!1222 再稼働反対★国会大包囲 首都圏反原発連合

Large protest of the year finishing blow! ! ! 1222 re-running opposite ★ Diet large siege

【1222 再稼働反対★国会大包囲】首都圏反原発連合呼びかけの年内最後の大行動!一基も再稼働させない、原発ゼロの意志を国会包囲で可視化し圧力を!全国から国会議事堂に集結しよう!ツイートボタンで拡散を→
Large action of the year last call [1222 re-running opposite ★ Diet large surrounding metropolitan area] anti-nuclear coalition! The pressure visualized by the National Assembly siege does not re-running even one group, the will of the primary zero! Let's gather in the Houses of Parliament from across the country! In Tsuitobotan → the diffusion

 年内トドメの大抗議!!!1222 再稼働反対★国会大包囲 首都圏反原発連合
首都圏反原発連合首都圏反原発連合 (facebook)
Metropolitan Coalition Against Nukes on Facebook (English)

Monday, December 16, 2013

NRC nuke waste con game: final written public comment submissions re: DGEIS due Friday, Dec. 20th!

NRC nuke waste con game: final written public comment submissions re: DGEIS due Friday, Dec. 20th!

Environmental coalition members from the Crabshell Alliance, Sierra Club Nuclear-Free Campaign, NIRS, PSR, NEIS, and Public Citizen "just say NO!" at the NRC HQ nuke waste con game public comment meeting on 11/14 in Rockville, MD. Photo credit David Martin and Erica Grey.
Thanks to all who submitted oral comments to NRC at the call-in on 12/9, the final public meeting re: NRC's bogus nuke waste con game Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS).
Please continue to submit your public comments to NRC via email, webform, fax, and/or snail mail. You can submit as many public comments as you want, between now and thefinal public comment deadline (Friday, Dec. 20th).
Sample comments, which you can use to help you write your own, have been provided by Beyond Nuclear and NIRS, as well as NEIS.
Additional ideas for public comments can be found in the reports back from the field hearings, at the link below. Key comments that need to be made again and again: It's time to stop making high-level radioactive waste! For that which already exists, the environmental consensus is to empty the pools into hardened on-site storage, where appropriate -- requiring a significant upgrade in dry cask storage safety, security, and environmental protection. More.

Beyond Nuclear - Home - NRC nuke waste con game: final written public comment submissions re: DGEIS due Friday, Dec. 20th!

Please continue to submit your public comments to NRC via email, webform, fax, and/or snail mail. You can submit as many public comments as you want, between now and thefinal public comment deadline (Friday, Dec. 20th).
Sample comments, which you can use to help you write your own, have been provided by Beyond NuclearNIRSNEIS, and many others.

NRC: Public Involvement in Waste Confidence

The Permanent Crisis at Fukushima | Common Dreams

Greenpeace experts examine fish samples on the Rainbow Warrior to monitor radiation levels as the ship sails up the eastern coast of Japan on her way to Fukushima in May 2011.(Credit: Jeremy Sutton-Hibbert / Greenpeace.)

Hundreds of tons of radioactively contaminated water leak from the damaged Fukushima nuclear reactors every day. That water has to go somewhere and the operator of the plant is running out of places to store it. So the suggestion has been made that it be dumped in the sea.
At the scene of the Fukushima nuclear disaster they can’t clean anything without getting something else dirty.
The plant’s operator TEPCO has a decontamination system at Fukushima called ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System). It takes the contaminated water and filters out most of the radioactivity except for tritium. This “tritiated” water is then stored in tanks.
The problem is that ALPS hasn’t been the most reliable of systems at Fukushima. Of the three systems in use, two had to be shut down for repairs earlier this year when it was found they were being corroded by the very water they were supposed to decontaminate. Last week one of them was found to be leaking hydrochloric and was shut down again.
It’s estimated it will take at least seven years to partially decontaminate the water already being stored.
There are currently something like 1,000 storage tanks on the Fukushima site. Some of the tanks aren’t safe – they were built by illegally hired workers who didn’t do a great job. Some of them leak. A lot.
To make matters worse, a further 400 tons of groundwater run into the destroyed reactorsevery day where it is also contaminated. Officials from the Japanese government’s industry ministry say TEPCO will run of storage space within two years if the crisis isn’t addressed.
So what’s to be done about Fukushima’s water crisis?
Japan’s nuclear watchdog the Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) and the United Nation’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have both suggested in the last few days that the water be dumped in the ocean.
The problem is, TEPCO and the NRA are not to be trusted. They have betrayed people’s trust too many times since the nuclear crisis began.
And what about the IAEA? It’s difficult to trust them either. It’s a pro-nuclear organization whose job it is to protect the nuclear industry not the environment or people’s health.
This is what we’ve come to because both TEPCO and the Japanese government have continued to fail at bringing the Fukushima disaster under control. Now they’re taking the easy way out – an “out of sight, out of mind” approach to the radioactive contamination their cover-ups and incompetence caused.
Dumping massive amounts of radioactively contaminated water into the ocean is unacceptable. Although the ocean covers nearly two-thirds of the surface of the Earth, it is still vulnerable to human influences, including dumping of waste. These contaminates can have a serious impact on marine life and ecosystems.  Toxins and contaminants in the ocean find their way into the food chain, and into our bodies.
Because the water is partially decontaminated, doesn’t mean it’s safe.
In 1995, the Global Waste Survey Final Report concluded that the dumping of waste anywhere in the ocean is the same as dumping it anywhere on land.  The difference between industrial wastes and nuclear materials is that nuclear waste remains radioactive for decades.  Although nuclear proponents claim the risk to human health is small, the long-term effects of nuclear dumping are still unknown.  If we wouldn’t dump it on our lands, why should we dump it in our oceans?
And after they’ve done it once, they’ll do it again and again until dumping contaminated water into the ocean will become standard operating procedure at Fukushima.
Cargo ships at sea, found to be deliberately dumping waste overboard, are banned from doing business in many major international markets. It’s about time those laws applied to the likes of TEPCO.
Calls from international assistance in dealing with the Fukushima crisis came too late from the Japanese government and such help has yet to appear in any meaningful way.
Why isn’t the international community making more of a noise about Fukushima? Is it because the big voices on the international stage are all pro-nuclear power themselves?
Sooner or later, for all our sakes, our leaders are going to have to get their hands dirty at Fukushima.

The Permanent Crisis at Fukushima | Common Dreams

Sunday, December 15, 2013



Responder alert: support needed in Berkeley
for City Council Fukushima Resolution, Tuesday Dec 17th

details here...

Fukushima Response Campaign

Saturday, December 14, 2013

DOE's new subsidy confirms SMRs not competitive in free market without government handouts

DOE small modular reactor subsidy for NuScale Power LLC misguided, confirms small modular reactors not competitive in free market without government handouts

Posted Dec. 13, 2013 / Posted by: Adam Russell
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Yesterday the U.S. Department of Energy announced that NuScale Power LLC has been awarded a subsidy to finance development of a conceptual “small modular reactor.” This subsidy is more evidence that these imaginary reactors are not competitive in a free market and may never be deployed. 
The subsidy, which would come from $452 million that DOE has authorized for small modular reactor development, is essential to the short-term survival of the small modular reactor design.  NuScale LLC has yet to reveal where funding will come from to fully fund the necessary research and development, or the licensing before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission let alone the construction of small modular reactors. DOE has stated that it will not fund construction and small modular reactor vendors, including Babcock and Wilcox which received a similar DOE subsidy in 2012, have not announced any construction funds from private backers.
“The R&D subsidy by DOE for an imaginary small modular reactor is misguided as these reactors would still produce nuclear waste, still risk meltdown and have not been shown to be economical,” said Katherine Fuchs with Friends of the Earth.
“If this reactor is such a panacea for the problems faced by traditional reactors, as claimed in the over-the-top sales pitch leading up to the subsidy award, it should stand on its own and secure funding in the private marketplace,” said Fuchs. “The fact that private investors are not supporting small modular reactors indicates a rather dim financial future. These reactors will likely never get off the ground.”
NuScale has claimed that its model can be economically constructed and deployed where larger reactors are not competitive, but there are indications that small modular reactors may be more expensive per kilowatt hour of electricity produced. Additionally, small modular reactors may produce more high-level nuclear waste (spent fuel) per kwh than large new reactors, which are facing a host of cost overruns and technical problems in their construction.
Small modular reactor vendors have also claimed that their model can be mass produced and shipped to remote sites but the company has given no explanation as to how that would be done or what would happen with the used reactors and the spent fuel produced. “Small modular reactors in locations lacking proper environmental and security infrastructure could be prone to accidents or attack, which could produce devastating results in areas that would be difficult for emergency personnel to access,” said Fuchs.
In 2012, DOE chose the Babcock & Wilcox mPower reactor for the first of its small modular reactor subsidies. Four small modular reactor models were considered for the second round of federal funding that was announced yesterday: Holtec, Westinghouse (teamed up with Ameren Missouri), NuScale (teamed up with Energy Northwest and DOE’s Savannah River Site), all light water reactors and a General Atomics gas-cooled model. “The failure to secure funds for the losing designs could be their death knell,” according to Fuchs.
"As the NuScale reactor is only in the design phase and has not even entered into licensing before the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, this announcement is likely to have very little or no job impact on the sites considered for construction in Washington State, Idaho or South Carolina," according to Tom Clements, southeastern nuclear campaign coordinator with Friends of the Earth in Columbia, S.C. "The biggest hurdle will be in securing construction funds and no private money has yet been forthcoming as small modular reactors are only speculative at this point."
Friends of the Earth news release of September 17, 2013:
Department of Energy misses target for second round of grants for “small modular reactors”
Institute for Energy and Environmental Research
Light Water Designs of Small Modular Reactors: Facts and Analysis: August, 2013
Union of Concerned Scientists small modular reactor report: Small Isn't Always Beautiful, September 2013
DOE news release, March 11, 2013
Energy Department announces new funding opportunity for innovative small modular reactors - Follow-on solicitation to help design and license small modular reactors for commercialization by 2025
Details on DOE solicitation:
Small Modular Reactor Licensing Technical Support Program,
Idaho Field Office -- Department of Energy
DOE small modular reactor website
Tom Clements, (803) 240-7268,
Katherine Fuchs, (202) 222-0723,
FOE News releases