Delay equals Death – Vietnam and beyond
I’ve waited 25 years for the map below which was just put out by the fine folks at Beyond Nuclear. It shows the reactor sites across the US with red X’s through the 4 sites (and 5 reactors) that utilities have closed in 2013 (VT Yankee will close in 2014). These include Crystal River 3 in Florida, Dominion Resources Kewaune in Wisconsin, the two reactors at San Onofre in California and Vermont Yankee. I have a special place in my heart for Vermont Yankee as it is the reactor complex in the US which i have most frequently been arrested at.
And this is just the beginning, as an excellent recent report by Mark Cooper of Vermont Law School points out. There are a ten more US reactors which are facing such serious problem that they are at high likelihood of closing in the near future. These plants are:
- Palisades (Repair impending, local opposition)
- Ft. Calhoun (Outage, poor performance)
- Nine Mile Point (Site size saves it, existing contract)
- Fitzpatrick (High cost but offset by high market clearing price)
- Ginna (Single unit with negative margin, existing contract)
- Oyster Creek (Already set to retire early)
- Millstone (Tax reasons)
- Clinton (Selling into tough market)
- Indian Point (License extension, local opposition)
- Davis-Besse (High repair costs, poor operating record)
So the game which activists have been playing with utilities and nuclear construction companies is still playing out in the same old way, if we can delay, we can often win. This was why i was quite heartened to hear that Vietnam (which has no reactors yet) was delaying their joint venture with Japan until 2020. What this really means is this reactor will never get built.
Why you ask? Well, there are several factors. In the short term there is still, much to my sadness, fracking. Despite fracking bans in France and Bulgaria (as well as temporary prohibitions in Romania, Germany and number of provinces, states and cities) this practice is on the rise worldwide. Fracking will continue to depress natural gas prices, making relatively expensive forms of power (like nuclear) undesirable. But in the middle and long term it is the continued decreasing cost of renewables which will kill reactors, especially ones which are delayed til 2020.
This does not mean the work of anti-nuclear organizers is over, far from it. The nuclear industry has way too much money at stake to do the right thing and die quietly. It will use bribes, the illusion that it is helpful for climate change and their huge access to cash to try to sucker as many countries and counties into buying their poisoned power. Our job is to just hold them back until the truth triumphs over this madness.
[Special thanks to McCune, a long time supporter of anti-nuclear efforts, for technical assistance on this post]