* Charlotte Nuclear Update – Nov 19


There has been a flurry of pro nuclear activity in Charlotte recently to try to get the dying nuclear industry off of life support. Why? Follow the money.

Why is it dying? Here are three reports that describe the state of the industry:

Nuclear renaissance was just a fairy tale
The promise of cheap, low-carbon power – with 31 new reactors in the US – was based on rhetoric and obedience. Anyone who doubts that should read the new status report on the industry

Nuclear’s swan SONGS
Stick a fork in U.S. nuclear power. With four plants closing this year and more to come, the dream of electricity “too cheap to meter” is dead.

Nuclear Power’s Renaissance in Reverse
The IAEA’s optimistic rhetoric cannot obscure fundamental arithmetic: skyrocketing maintenance expenses and, in many cases, post-Fukushima upgrade costs, together with the impossibility of building competitive new capacity without massive government subsidies, are devastating the nuclear industry. As the economist Mark Cooper has put it, nuclear power is actually undergoing a “renaissance in reverse.

Here are some recent articles about nuclear energy beginning with a great Op-Ed from Louis Zeller, executive director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League.

Whitman is wrong; nuclear power is not best energy solution

Nov. 16, 2013

From Louis Zeller, executive director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, in response to Christine Todd Whitman’s piece, “Emissions will not reduce themselves. We need a plan” (Nov. 13 For the Record):

Nuclear power is not a solution to the energy questions facing the Carolinas. Indeed, the expansion of nuclear power would make the problems worse. Nuclear power fails on many counts.

The promise of jobs and prosperity makes nuclear sound appealing. But at $7 billion per reactor, the taxpayer foots a large share of the nuclear bill: a recent nuclear power plant license required a promise of $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees to sooth the fears of private investors. Also, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 has the government cover nuclear cost overruns caused by regulatory delays up to $2 billion. Similarly, the Act established a production tax credit of 1.8 cents per kilowatt-hour for new nuclear power plants, another billion-dollar allocation. Economic uncertainty picks the pockets of residential customers too. In 2007 the N.C. General Assembly allowed utilities to have customers pay for new power plants up front, before the first watt is generated. This is not prosperity, it is corporate welfare.

Dirty and unsafe

Nuclear plants require enormous amounts of water. A single plant may consume more than the largest cities in a given state combined. And fully two-thirds of the heat produced to make steam to run the turbines is flushed down the drain as hot water, unusable. Meanwhile, high river water temperatures and falling reservoir levels are creating unsafe conditions for nuclear power plants because they have no off switch; they must have water to avoid overheating. During the 2007 drought, low water levels at Lake Norman caused the utility to struggle to keep McGuire’s cooling water intakes filled.

Nuclear is unsafe. Reactors at the Catawba nuclear power plant do not comply with NRC fire protection regulations adopted in 1980, a persistent failure which poses an increased risk of accident in 2013. And 35 nuclear plants are at risk from dam failure, including McGuire.

Nuclear pollutes. Accidental releases of radioactive contaminants are common to virtually all nuclear power reactors. Over 400 leaks have occurred, some releasing millions of gallons of polluted water. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission does little to prevent these violations; during the last four years no fines have been issued despite the two dozen leaks which occurred. Routine releases of radioactive gases from pressurized water reactors, such as those at Catawba and McGuire, are the result of nuclear operations’ standard cleaning process. The negative human health impacts are measurable, legal and permitted by the NRC.

Federal emergency planning for nuclear power plants is inadequate. The radioactive contaminants from the nuclear accident at Fukushima affected air, water, soil and agricultural products over a wide area. Radiation spreads in unpredictable ways, yet emergency planning in the U.S. extends only 10 miles. If a severe accident occurred at the McGuire or Catawba nuclear plant, where would 200,000 Charlotteans within that radius go? What if the accident occurred during rush hour?

Nuclear is not the solution to air pollution or global warming, simply because it is so expensive and carries insupportable risks. We can do better.


Christine Todd Whitman Visits Charlotte Chamber of Commerce (Video)
Nuke propaganda
Gov. Whitman on Pandora’s Promise
CASEnergy Coalition Co-Chair Governor Whitman gave her thoughts on “Pandora’s Promise,” the recently released documentary which takes a thoughtful look at the role of nuclear energy and its ability to take on some of the climate change and environmental challenges that Americans face today. The movie tells the story of five environmental experts who made the conversion from anti-nuclear attitudes to strong support. They explain their new understanding of nuclear power and its ability to safely provide clean, reliable power to meet growing global demand. Click on the image to watch the interview.

E4 Carolinas
Nuclear lobbying group started by Duke

Mitsubishi cutting Charlotte nuclear engineering staff in half
Mitsubishi Nuclear Energy Systems will lay off 48 people from its Charlotte Engineering Center by the end of the year, cutting the staff by roughly half.
The layoffs come as Mitsubishi has decided to slow its efforts to get Nuclear Regulatory Commission certification of its US-APWR reactor. That led the power company Luminant to announce plans last week to suspend its effort to license two 1,700 megawatt Mitsubishi reactors at the Commanche nuclear plant in Texas.
In April, Dominion announced it was abandoning plans to build a Mitsubishi unit at its North Anna Nuclear Station.

What’s the impact on Charlotte as Babcock & Wilcox seeks mPower investor?

In a major strategy shift, The Babcock & Wilcox Co. wants a majority buyer for its Generation mPower small nuclear reactor venture and plans to close a deal within a year.
It is a change the company describes as months in the making. And it offers enormous opportunity — and risk — to Charlotte’s energy hub.
Chief Executive Jim Ferland acknowledged the surprising course change in a conference call with analysts Wednesday.
The mPower project involves a small 180-megawatt nuclear reactor that can be built in a factory and shipped to a site. It can be installed more quickly and at a lower cost than current reactors that range more than 1,000 megawatts in size. The first units are supposed to be installed at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Clinch River Nuclear Plant.
B&W owns 90% of the joint venture, with partner Bechtel Corp holding the 10% balance. Ferland said B&W wants to shrink to a 15% to 20% stake.

Heath Shuler calling signals for Duke Energy’s D.C. lobbyists
Heath Shuler, Duke Energy Corp.’s top legislative affairs executive, sees little hope for significant action from Congress this year, but he says a tax-reform deal is possible in 2014 that could affect Duke and its customers.
Would Duke want to see an extension of legislation that has offered subsidies for new nuclear construction as it considers the Lee plant in South Carolina?
I just haven’t seen the legislatures looking at subsidizing nuclear at the present time.
I think it is very difficult to say we are looking for this type of subsidy. And I just don’t think that when you look at the big picture, with the deficit and debt, I don’t think that’s something that Congress can pull off.

* Why Coal, Gas and Nuke Utilities are Fighting Solar

Renewable is Doable

Climate Reality Check Conference Call

The Climate Reality Check Coalition exists to help strengthen community organizing on climate. This week, the group’s conference call will focus on a topic near and dear to our hearts: the corporate death spiral facing utilities who fail to respond to the “disruptive challenge” of the solar revolution. We would like to invite you to join the call.

When: Thursday, November 21

Time: 3 pm Eastern

Please RSVP here:
Then call this number at the time of the call: 209-647-1600,
and enter Code 615986 when prompted.

Why Coal, Gas and Nuke Utilities are Fighting Solar

A critical new front in the fight to slow climate change is the one shaping up between the present coal-, nuclear- and gas-based monopoly utilities and solar energy. Early this year the utilities’ think tank, the Edison Electric Institute, issued a major report on the “disruptive challenges” posed by the onslaught of low-priced solar. Others have described the threat as a potential “death spiral” for those utilities that fail to adapt. The utilities are fighting back in Arizona, Colorado and elsewhere.

In this call Nancy LaPlaca will describe how those fights are playing out and the economic, legislative and regulatory realities behind them. We will also discuss the larger implications of these fights for the climate movement.

If you have any questions please contact Rose Braz, Center for Biological Diversity, rbraz@biologicaldiverisity.org. Thank you.

More on our presenter:

Nancy LaPlaca, J.D., is an energy consultant and activist with considerable expertise in electric and gas utility issues including rate design, renewable energy standards, energy efficiency and externalities. Nancy spent 2 years fighting “clean” coal and carbon capture and sequestration, and helped to stop “clean” coal plants in Arizona and Colorado, and 3 years at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission arguing for more clean energy. She served as Policy Advisor to elected Commissioner Paul Newman in Arizona for 3 years, and delighted in asking the utilities many questions.

Climate Reality Check Coalition has a Facebook group! Click here to join the group.

* Charlotte Solar Panel this Saturday, Nov 16

FL Duke Solar Rally

Close to one hundred concerned citizens are registered to learn about solar energy issues and to call for greater access to clean and affordable solar energy. A diversity of interests including conservatives, advocates for low income communities, and environmentalists will come together under the title “Cleaner is Cheaper” to advocate for solar energy in Charlotte. A rally and press conference at 1:00 will follow a panel discussion and information session about the solar panels that the Myers Park Baptist Church installed. The rally will take place at the corner of Queens Road and Selwyn Avenue, in front of Myers Park Baptist Church.


  • Shawn Lemmond, the Renewable Energy Association
  • Katie Bray, Blue Ridge Sustainability Institute, Solarize Asheville
  • Jeff Deal, Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy, Community Solar
  • Rev. Michael McClain, National Council of the Churches of Christ

WHAT:            Solar Panel of experts, press conference and community rally for solar energy

WHEN:            Saturday, November 16th, 2013 from 10:30 until 1:00 pm

WHERE:          Myers Park Baptist Church, Shalom Hall, 1900 Queens Road, Charlotte, North Carolina 28207

Parking is free and the event is open to the public. Lunch will be provided.

Co-sponsors of the event include: A Phillip Randolph Institute, Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy, Center for Community Change, Charlotte Environmental Action, Clean Air Carolina, Myers Park Baptist Church Earth Keepers, Environment North Carolina, Greenpeace USA, League of Conservation Voters – Charlotte, League of Women Voters – Charlotte, NAACP Charlotte, NC Conservation Network, NC Interfaith Power and Light, Shift the Climate, Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Sustain Charlotte, US Green Building Council North Carolina



* Charlotte NRC Nuclear Waste Video

Thanks to Central Piedmont member and advocate Brian Kasher for this great video and his comments!

Here is one slice of the action at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission public comment session held in Charlotte. 100% of those in favor of expanded nuclear waste and waste confidence were affiliated with the nuclear industry. 100% of those opposed to nuclear waste confidence were members of the public unaffiliated with the nuclear industry.

Please share this video and write the NRC or attend a hearing to let your voice be heard!

Make your comments by December 20 to the NRC referring to  docket ID# NRC-210-0246

Email:  rulemaking.comments@nrc.gov

Fax: Secretary, NRC 301-415-1101

Mail:  Secretary, US NRC, Washington, DC  205555-0001   Attention Rulemaking & Adjudication Staff

* Sierra Club Michael Brune Takes on Pro-Nuclear Propaganda

Click below to go to the CNN website to view the debate.

Brune Debates Pandoras Promise

Michael Brune, Sierra Club executive director:

“The Sierra Club and our 2.1 million members and supporters respect these scientists, and thank them for their years of service.  Unfortunately, we will have to agree to disagree with them on this one. While we agree that the climate crisis is the most urgent challenge of our time, this group is fails to acknowledge that wind, solar and efficiency are the faster, cheaper, and safer way to fight the climate threat. If Fukushima, Chernobyl and Three Mile Island have taught us anything, it’s that nuclear plants are too expensive, too slow to build, and too risky. That’s why countries like Germany – one of the largest economies in the world – are going all in on renewable energy sources and decommissioning dangerous nuclear plants. The American public understands this, and overwhelmingly supports wind and solar over nukes. In a Gallup poll this year, 76 percent of Americans said they supported solar power and 71 percent said they supported wind, while only 37 percent supported nuclear…that’s only 6 percent more than coal, which came in dead last as the least favorable source of energy.”

Pandora’s False Promises

Pandora’s Promise, is a new pro-nuclear propaganda documentary released theatrically in the US in July 2013. It is funded in part by individuals with a vested interest in seeing the development of new reactors and is seemingly a vehicle by which to raise the profile of the anti-environmental Oakland think tank, The Breakthrough Institute, whose personnel feature prominently in the film. Despite the film’s premise and early claim that it features “a growing number of leading former anti-nuclear activists” who now support nuclear energy, no one in the film ever led the anti-nuclear movement. Nor was any credible, independent scientific or medical professional with expertise in the areas covered in the film consulted or featured. Beyond Nuclear has bird-dogged the film from the beginning, and has produced numerous critiques. We have also published a definitive report – Pandora’s False Promises: Busting the pro-nuclear propaganda – and a two-page synopsis. These documents address virtually all of the myths, lies and omissions typically found in pro-nuclear rhetoric and are intended to address these long after Pandora’s Promise fades into deserved oblivion.

Learn more at Beyond Nuclear

* A Big Win Against Nuclear Waste in Charlotte

By my count, 42 testimonies against adopting the generic environmental impact statement versus 29 testimonies for.

By my count, 42 citizens with no financial bias gave testimony against and 29 citizens with strong financial interests gave testimony for adoption.

By my count, not one person who was not a Duke Energy employee, an  industry employee or a nuclear waste consultant spoke against the generic environmental impact statement.

But 42 passionate and concerned citizens (along with many supporters in the room) said reject this plan!

If you couldn’t make it to the meeting, you have until midnight Dec 20th to submit your comments.:

Make your comments by December 20 to the NRC referring to  docket ID# NRC-210-0246

Email:  rulemaking.comments@nrc.gov

Fax: Secretary, NRC 301-415-1101

Mail:  Secretary, US NRC, Washington, DC  205555-0001   Attention Rulemaking & Adjudication Staff

Check out what you missed. And thanks again to everyone for their hard work, support and passion on this issue!

Press Release

NRC Press Release Nov 4

Check out the media coverage!

NRC to hold nuke-waste meeting in Charlotte

Nuclear Waste Meeting In Charlotte
“We really need a plan to deal with this waste on an ongoing basis,” says Bill Gupton, chair of the Sierra Club Central Piedmont Group. “And if we can’t come up with a valid solution, we need to stop making the waste.”

Pro, anti-nuclear groups fill Charlotte hearing on waste issues
“This is an attempt to come up with a generic rule on waste that cuts the public out of the discussion when new plants are considered,” said Susan Corbett, an S.C. woman who chairs the Sierra Club’s national Nuclear Free campaign. “This is not streamlining. It is steamrolling.”

N.C. nuclear waste storage at plants is debated
Louis Zeller, executive director of the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, said the NRC’s new rule, which would be applied to all nuclear plants, should be canceled because it ignores the differences between individual plants.

Mary Olson, Southeast regional coordinator of the Nuclear Information and Research Service, added that “the only solution for radioactive waste is to stop making it.”

After decades without permanent disposal, she said, “We have nothing to do with it except piling it up – it’s piling up where it’s made and if it’s moved, it’s piled up there. That’s all we have to show up for it.”

Photos of some of the great folks that attended!

NRC Nukes Palmer 4

NRC Nukes Palmer 1

Nuke Waste 2Nuke Waste 3Nuke Waste 4NLY Nuke WasteNuke Waste 1

More photos at Nuclear Reg Commission Hearing in Charlotte 4 Nov 2013 (70 photos)



If you couldn’t make it to the meeting, you have until midnight Dec 20th to submit your comments.:

Make your comments by December 20 to the NRC referring to  docket ID# NRC-210-0246

Email:  rulemaking.comments@nrc.gov

Fax: Secretary, NRC 301-415-1101

Mail:  Secretary, US NRC, Washington, DC  205555-0001   Attention Rulemaking & Adjudication Staff

* One Day Son…

Tonight’s the night!

The night to speak out to not leave this legacy to our children!

One Day SonA large public outcry is needed to prevent the NRC from implementing a new “Waste Confidence” rule. It is critical that you attend the “waste confidence” meeting in Charlotte.  Even if you do not wish to speak, your presence tells the NRC that you care.

Monday, November 4
Hilton Charlotte University Place
8629 J.M. Keynes Drive
Charlotte, NC  28262

Outside gathering and rally 5 pm

Open house 6-7 pm

Meeting 7-10 pm

Thanks to BREDL and the Sierra Club No Nukes Campaign we have a HOSPITALITY ROOM!

We have reserved a meeting room for anti-nuclear activists attending the Nuclear Regulatory Commission public hearing in Charlotte on Monday, November 4th. All of our anti-nuke allies will be welcome to come to the hotel’s banquet room–Lakeshore 4–where we will have hot coffee, water, cold water, fruit and vegetable trays, meat and cheese platters from 3 PM until 8 PM. Tables for literature and and chairs for informal meetings will be available. Costs will be covered by the SC Sierra Club and BREDL.

Anti-nuke (and only anti-nuke) people, feel free to arrive any time after 3 at Lakeshore 4 for final preparations for the rally and hearing. As you know, the a rally will commence at 5, the NRC hearing room will open at 6, and the hearing will begin at 7 at the Hilton Charlotte University, 8629 JM Keynes Dr. Charlotte NC 28262.

Some thoughts on the issue

Thanks to Bill T. for these ideas about comments to made::

Here is what the guts of this thing are about:  The licensing of new reactors and extension of life of existing reactors is stopped dead by the court order, to the consternation of the nuclear industry, and their supporters in our government.  The Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) put out by the NRC claims that continuing to add to the spent nuclear reactor fuel rods in storage at each reactor (some 100 of them) for another 60 years or more while assuming a permanent storage solution would be developed “when necessary” is not an environmental danger.  They do this by not really examining the catastrophic effects of loss of cooling producing a fuel rod fire (as Fukushima is close to doing).  They basically say in this GDEIS that the odds of a fire are so low the environmental impact is low no matter how catastrophic.  Nothing about terrorist attacks or sabotage.  Ditto for the consideration of leakage of radioactivity from water leakage from the storage pools at reactor sites.  There needs to be a limit on how much waste can be stored at any particular reactor site, probably a site-specific determination, but today there is no limit at all.  The design and construction of nuclear reactors, as well as storage of waste basically assumes that no “Acts of God” will ever happen – like Fukushima.  In my opinion it is immoral to permit a technology that has the potential to hurt so many people for such a long time from just one “accident”.

Points to Consider for Your Comments

1. Stop Making Nuclear Waste. Without a scientifically proven solution for safely disposing of nuclear waste, we must stop making it. Clean, renewable sources of electricity are readily available and affordable, so there is no excuse for continuing to rely on nuclear power.

2. Nuclear Waste is Still a Problem Without a Solution. No technology has yet been proven capable of containing radioactive waste for the hundreds of thousands of years necessary to protect the environment. Debates continue over whether it is even possible to do so, but unfortunately the U.S. has failed even to identify a viable site for a nuclear waste repository despite two decades, billions of dollars, and a federal mandate to do so. No country has yet put such a site into operation, (though some are closer to it than we are.)

3. Waste Confidence Is a Radioactive ConGame. The purpose of NRC’s Waste Confidence rule is to streamline nuclear plant licensing by ignoring the million-year, multi-billion dollar problem of what to do with radioactive waste. The only problem Waste Confidence solves is how to permit nuclear plants to continue making this waste when there is no solution for it.

4. NRC Still Ignores the Real Risks of Nuclear Waste at Reactor Sites. Spent fuel is highly flammable as well as radioactive, yet is primarily stored in densely packed pools of water that contain several times more fuel than the nuclear reactor itself. If a fuel pool is damaged or loses its cooling system, fuel rods could be exposed, overheat, and catch fire, releasing massive quantities of radioactive material. NRC refuses to address the incredible risks these facilities pose, pretending the low likelihood of an accident makes the extreme consequences irrelevant. Hardened On-Site Storage systems (HOSS) should be used to store spent fuel more safely and securely at or near nuclear plants. HOSS solves the immediate dangers nuclear waste poses, without creating unnecessary risks.