Friday, June 2, 2017

Three Mile Island nuke accident linked to thyroid cancer

A new Penn State Medical Center study has found a link between the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident and thyroid cancer cases in south-central Pennsylvania.

The study marks the first time the partial meltdown of Unit 2's reactor can be connected to specific cancer cases, the researchers have said.

The findings may pose a dramatic challenge to the nuclear energy industry's position that the radiation released had no effect on human health.

The study was published Monday in the medical journal Laryngoscope, one day before Exelon Corp. (EXC) announced that Three Mile Island would close in 2019. It’s likely to come as another blow to a nuclear-power industry already struggling to stay profitable.

Exelon: Still Time for Pennsylvania to Help Three Mile Island

Pennsylvania’s legislature still has time to help keep Exelon Corp.'s financially struggling Three Mile Island nuclear plant operating, Exelon’s Joseph Dominguez told Bloomberg BNA.
“We’re continuing the discussion with policymakers that we really began six or seven months ago: talking about the value proposition of nuclear, both from an environmental standpoint, as well as from fuel diversity and grid resilience standpoint,” Dominguez, Exelon’s vice president of governmental and regulatory affairs and public policy, told Bloomberg BNA May 31.
Exelon announced May 30 that it plans to prematurely close Three Mile Island by Sept. 30, 2019, due to financial losses at the plant from low wholesale power prices tied to the natural gas shale boom. In a statement announcing those plans, the company identified some potential policies that could keep the plant viable, including amendments to the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard and the creation of a zero-emissions credit program.

Three Mile Island Nuke Plant Closure Strengthens Call for Renewable Energy Future

Tuesday's announcement that the Three Mile Island Unit One nuclear plant will close unless it gets massive subsidies has vastly strengthened the case for a totally renewable energy future.
That future is rising in Buffalo, and comes in the form of Tesla's massive job-producing solar shingle factory which will create hundreds of jobs and operate for decades to come.
Three Mile Island, by contrast, joins a wave of commercially dead reactors whose owners are begging state legislatures for huge bailouts. Exelon, the nation's largest nuke owner, recently got nearly $2.5 billion from the Illinois legislature to keep three uncompetitive nukes there on line.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Exelon Announces TMI Closure – As the Nuclear Age Draws to an End

PRESS STATEMENT
May 31, 2017
David A. Kraft, Director, NEIS

Exelon Announces TMI Closure – As the Nuclear Age Draws to an End
 
It’s not nearly as much ironic as it is emphatic that on the same day Exelon Corporation announced that it might close the economically unviable Three Mile Island 1 reactor in Pennsylvania, SCANA is reported to have suggested that it might only complete one of two “next-generation” reactors it had proposed for South Carolina.  Add to that the recent Westinghouse (and by extension, Toshiba) bankruptcy and the message is clear: nuclear of the past can’t compete in the present, and apparently has no future either.  In short – the Nuclear Age is over.
 
But old bad habits die hard, especially when they are funded by somebody else’s pocketbooks, like, say, powerless ratepayers who have no choice.  And Exelon is not about to give up on its nuclear jones when there are plenty of ratepayers left to fleece.
 
Exelon is playing the same 'nuclear hostage crisis' game of, "Give us a bailout, or we’ll kill your local economy!" in Pennsylvania that they played in Illinois – and which they ironically opposed in Ohio when utility bailouts competed against Exelon’s corporate interests.  This nuclear extortion – dare we say ‘terrorism’? – game was successfully used in New York as well, and threatens to spread like some form of radioactive ebola to other states and their legislatures.
 
The threat of job and tax base loss to the reactor communities inspires local political leaders dependent on that largesse to lobby like crazy in state legislatures for nuclear bailouts – especially in election years, as we learned in Illinois.  And while these are legitimate concerns needing to be addressed, nuclear bailouts are not the answer.  There are other, more practical and economic ways to soften the blow of losing a “company town” employer and preserving a tax base that can support essential public services like schools and police/fire departments until local economies can rebound from the loss of an Exelon-sized employer.
 
One way is to establish “just transitions” funds for reactor (and we would suggest, coal) communities PRIOR to closures, threatened or real.  These would be escrowed funds set up that would become available only upon termination of a reactor operating license, to be used to preserve essential public services, and mitigate economic impacts through job re-training and attracting and establishing replacement business and industry.  The funding mechanisms are negotiable, and numerous; and would involve the utility, the community, and possibly the state. 
 
The point is – the utility would no longer be in a position to put the economic gun to the puppy’s head to force the state legislatures to grant an unwise bailout.
 
But if bailouts are the “answer” (and if they are, what on earth was the question?), then be sure to bailout the right party.  It is the affected communities that need the bailout, not for-profit private corporations.  No state constitution requires the legislature to insure the profitability of private corporations; that’s why corporations have boards of directors.  The legislatures supposedly are to represent the interests of the people – like the ~4 million ratepayers in Illinois who are now forced to pay Exelon Corporation $230 million per year, for the next ten years, and get nothing back in return for this coerced ‘investment.’
 
In Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner said he supported the Exelon bailout because, "closing the plants would have "devastated the two communities." If he really and truly believed that, then he should have worked to bail out the potentially devastated communities, not the hugely profitable Exelon corporation.
 
In Illinois NEIS made this suggestion public in our testimony before the legislative energy committees, suggesting that Gov. Rauner provide funding for the Clinton and Quad Cities communities affected by Exelon’s closure plans, not profitable Exelon.  Instead Governor Rauner decided to increase the Exelon bailout period from the original six years to ten! 
 
If one were to amortize the $2.35 billion Illinois electric rate hike bailout over the 1,500 direct jobs Exelon claims would be lost if it had closed the Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear stations, Governor Rauner and Exelon are now forcing Illinois ratepayers to pay $1.57 million per job “saved.”  We could have bought these workers out cheaper, closed the reactors, and prevented the production of ~900 tons of high-level radioactive wastes over the next 10 years those uneconomic reactors will operate.
 
It is time to end the Exelon ‘nuclear hostage crisis.’  There are now plenty of blueprints available illustrating the folly of nuclear bailouts.  Given the End of the Nuclear Age, one can only hope that Pennsylvania legislators will realize by now that it's stupid energy policy to mortgage your energy future by bailing out the past.  ■
 
 
 
Nuclear Energy Information Service -- NEIS -- was founded in 1981 to provide the public with credible information on nuclear power, waste, and radiation hazards; and information about the viable energy alternatives to nuclear power.  For more information visit the NEIS website at:  http://www.neis.org

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

TMI Alert Press Release - planned closure of Three Mile Island


for immediate release: 5/30/17
Three Mile Island Alert


Contact:  Scott D. Portzline 717-232-8863 and cell 717-421-7574
 
Three Mile Island Alert suspects that the announcement of Three Mile Island's planned closure is actually an attempted "shot across the bow" of PA's Nuclear Caucus.  It is designed to make the General Assembly pass legislation to rescue nuclear power.

Scott Portzline of TMI Alert said, "Exelon has used this same tactic in the last two years to pressure the states of Illinois and New York to artificially restructure the playing field. The result was tens-of-billions of dollars in bailouts for nuclear plants. This nation has already bailed out the nuclear power fleet on several occasions to the tune of a third of a trillion dollars. Nuclear power is not economically feasible and Wall Street knew that 20 years ago."

Portzline said, "Exelon took a very bad risk and should face the consequences. It was like betting that the mythical Washington Generals would beat the Harlem Globetrotters, it just wasn't going to happen. PA has a surplus of electricity and our taxpayers and ratepayers should not be forced to salvage a doomed decision."

Three Mile Island Alert believes that PA Legislators should pave the way for upstart wind and solar power equipment manufacturers. Pennsylvania could in effect create 20 times more jobs than are lost to nuclear plant closures. Nuclear power releases thousands of tons of chemicals into PA waterways and the mining and processing of nuclear fuel take a heavy toll on carbon releases to the atmosphere. Alternative power does not represent a terrorist target like nuclear reactors do. 

Three Mile Island Unit #2 provided electricity for less than 90 days, yet a federal court ordered ratepayers to continue to pay for the destroyed power plant as if it were benefiting the area. TMI Alert believes that Pennsylvania's have already endured too many financial hardships from nuclear power.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What's nuclear energy caucus looking to achieve?

Most discussions of energy in Pennsylvania today start with natural gas.  For much of the past decade, drilling in the Marcellus Shale regions of the state has made Pennsylvania one of the nation's leading energy producers.  During his campaign for president, Donald Trump promised to bring coal back and many are still clamoring for expansion and more use of renewable energy in the state.
What doesn't get mentioned often is nuclear energy.  Which is surprising since about 35% of Pennsylvania's electricity comes from nuclear.

NRC to Hold Open House in Middletown to Discuss 2016 Performance of Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant

Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Press Release
No: I-17-012 April 13, 2017
Contact: Diane Screnci, 610-337-5330 Neil Sheehan, 610-337-5331

NRC to Hold Open House in Middletown to Discuss 2016 Performance of Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant

Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will be available to discuss the 2016 safety performance of the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, operated by Exelon Generation Co., during an open house on April 20 in Middletown, Pa.

The open house will run from 4:30-6 p.m. at the Londonderry Township Municipal Building, 783 S. Geyers Church Road. NRC staff responsible for inspections of the plant, including the site- based resident inspectors, will be on hand to discuss the plant’s performance and the NRC’s oversight of the facility.

Overall, Three Mile Island Unit 1 operated safely during 2016. As of the end of last year, the plant had no inspection findings or performance indicators outside the normal band. As a result, it is currently under the NRC’s baseline level of oversight, which entails thousands of hours of inspection each year.

Under the NRC’s Reactor Oversight Process, the agency gauges plant performance through the use of color-coded inspection findings and performance indicators, which are statistical measurements of plant performance that can trigger additional oversight if exceeded. Any inspection findings or performance indicators that are greater than green (very low safety significance) trigger increased NRC oversight.

Day-to-day inspections are performed by two resident inspectors assigned to the plant. Reviews are also carried out at the site by specialist inspectors assigned to the agency’s Region I office in King of Prussia, Pa.