Citing Japan disaster, green groups want NRC to suspend Vogtle reactor licensing

The unfolding situation in northern Japan has had another repercussion in east Georgia. From the Augusta Chronicle:

Environmental groups opposed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s plan to license two new AP1000 reactors to be built at Plant Vogtle filed a new petition Wednesday asking the commission to suspend the licensing process until more is known about the evolving Japan disaster.

“It is apparent that while little is known definitively about the cause and impacts of what occurred at Fukushima, many aspects of the accident have grave consequences for U.S. nuclear plants, including the AP1000 reactors,” said the petition, filed by the AP1000 Oversight Group, comprised of 12 environmental groups.

Southern Nuclear, which plans to use the Westinghouse reactor design at Vogtle, risks potential cost overruns if it moves ahead too quickly on the $14.8 billion project, said Sara Barczak, the program director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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49 comments Add your comment

Duke nukem

April 7th, 2011
11:22 am

If those groups have a solid alternative for base load electrical production that doesnt involve carbon emmissions, then im all ears. Sadly, they dont, as there is no such thing.

Young Lady

April 7th, 2011
11:24 am

This is basically a red herring. I’m actually very concerned with reactor safety and yes there should be very in depth analysis and design review when the full scale of the failure is known, however there is ample evidence now this isn’t solely a failure based on reactor design but other mitigating circumstances due to the earthquake and tsunami. Note I said ’solely’ there is also ample evidence there may be design flaws as well which will of course need to be addressed. But it’s not clear if the natural disaster revealed them or if they were inherent. Or if there is a problem with regulation standards or personnel as that has also come up. Waiting on a decision would possibly take years and I don’t doubt there will be people that claim the decision reached is the wrong one.

I do understand people have a fear of nuclear power but it is unfortunately a very good way of generating power. Many risks, such as that of natural disaster, design, and regulation should be looked at in light of the current problem unfolding in Japan (which in the case of the GA plant is not all applicable seeing as they have different natural disaster risks) and how to better ensure the safety of our plants as we move forward.

Last Man Standing

April 7th, 2011
11:28 am

Here they are – right on cue. The “green” groups do not want the U.S. to lessen its’ use of fossil fuels. It is the most effective redistribution of wealth from the U.S. to other countries available to them.

beaker

April 7th, 2011
11:42 am

Earthquakes and tusnamis are not “real world” issues in Burke County.

Cliff

April 7th, 2011
11:44 am

Well, Last Man Standing, the Republicans do not want the U.S. to lessen its use of fossil fuels, either. “Drill, baby, drill!”

TrishaDishaWarEagle

April 7th, 2011
11:46 am

29 Petawatt hours of electricity…thats what the US uses a year. The petawatt is equal to one quadrillion (1015) watts. Solar and wind produce about 8.5% of this. They don’t cut the mustard, for the rest, greentards. It’s either carbon based fossil, or nuclear. Take your pick. There is no magical 3rd Hussein-o way.

Bluedobee

April 7th, 2011
11:51 am

Environmentalists are against coal, oil and gas because of greenhouse gases; are against nuclear because of the risks to public health; against wind and solar farms because we have to cut down forests to accomodate them….then I guess we just eliminate the use of electricity. Period.

With everything in life, there’s a risk…life is a risk….no one can ever be completely safe.

south of the gnatline

April 7th, 2011
12:00 pm

The Westinghouse AP1000 design for the new reactors does an itsby bitsy problem — a nuclear engineer predicted it would “shatter like a glass cup” under any kind of stress. No tsunamis in Burke Co, GA, but bubba, guess what: it’s in an earthquake zone. They didn’t plan for earthquakes at Vogtle, but look up Georgia Earthquake History on the USGS website. “The great Charleston, South Carolina, earthquake of 1886 caused severe shaking experienced in Georgia. On August 31 at 9:25 p.m., preceded by a low rumble, the shock waves reached Savannah. People had difficulty remaining standing. One woman died of fright as the shaking cracked walls, felled chimneys, and broke windows. Panic at a revival service left two injured and two more were injured in leaping from upper story windows. Several more were injured by falling bricks. Ten buildings in Savannah were damaged beyond repair and at least 240 chimneys damaged. People spent the night outside.
At Tybee Island light station the 134 foot lighthouse was cracked near the middle where the walls were six feet thick, and the one-ton lens moved an inch and a half to the northeast.
In Augusta the shaking was the most severe (VIII on the Modified Mercalli scale) in the State. An estimated 1000 chimneys and many buildings were damaged. The business and social life was paralyzed for two days…” And that’s not all that affected the Burke Co. area. All this was conveniently ignored in the licensing of Vogtle.

cs

April 7th, 2011
12:05 pm

build them in southern mexico or other places in latin america. illegals can go home and run powerlines north.

that’s where landfills should be too. no more in georgia.

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
12:12 pm

TDWE – “29 Petawatt hours of electricity…thats what the US uses a year. The petawatt is equal to one quadrillion (1015) watts. Solar and wind produce about 8.5% of this. They don’t cut the mustard, for the rest, greentards.”

I wonder how much solar, wind and other alternative energy resources would produce if they got as much in the way of Federal incentives and tax breaks as the fossil fuel industry does?

It’s true that no one alternative energy resource will replace coal, natural gas or nuclear any time soon. But a combination of alternative energy resources could make a good dent in it, and IMO, anything that reduces our reliance on foreign petroleum is A Good Thing.

confused

April 7th, 2011
12:16 pm

How bad was it for the people without power because of the storms. Pretty bad right? At least they knew the power would come back on when the lines were fixed. What is it going to be like when there are blackouts because we can’t generate enough power? In the real world it’s either coal or nuclear, take your pick.

Enviros are Idiots

April 7th, 2011
12:23 pm

Who takes environmentalists seriously other than other environmentalists? Or the people at DragonCon?

yuzeyurbrane

April 7th, 2011
12:29 pm

Maybe nuke plants should be built but they should be to the highest safety standard, not the average, which includes not placing them 30 mi. from large pop. areas like Augusta or within 35 mi. of Manhattan. Re the latter pt., you don’t have to be a rocket scientist or even a General Science student (hi school) to figure it out. Proper safety standards will push the costs up but so be it, being nuked is forever. Then let Ga. Power come back with their new cost projections and see if they can persuade the people of Ga. it is worth paying on their elec. bill as a surcharge. If not, let Ga. Power see if they convince Wall St. investors that it is a good bet. If they can’t do any of these then they really aren’t a free mkt. company and if we really want nuke power maybe it should be a socialized risk but with the reward going to consumers. It doesn’t have to be 100% govt.–I am sure we could creatively come up with some quasi-govt. agency like TVA.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

April 7th, 2011
12:30 pm

Dumbasses like obama do, sadly

BMDPD

April 7th, 2011
12:33 pm

Green Weenies, read this:

http://www.unscear.org/unscear/en/chernobyl.html

Worst disaster ever, huh. Man, you guys ain’t got many smarts.

rightofway

April 7th, 2011
12:35 pm

And I suppose we’re just going to pass the cost of the billion dollar decommissioning of nuke plants off to our great grandchildren. According to Republicans, aren’t WE supposed to be responsible and pay for that ourselves as we use the nuclear power. It’s not fair to pass the cost off nuclear waste and cleanup onto others not yet born and who will not benefit from the energy produced. No one ever talks about how the site where the nuke plants are built will ever be able to be used for anything else ever again after the plants are decommissioned.

We’re also asking seniors to pay for the new nuclear plants now, and they will likely never use any of that nuclear power. Georgia Power can just turn a blind eye to this hypocrisy of irresponsibility. If we choose to build these plants, we should assume and pay for the total costs, including construction, cleanup, decommissioning plants, and guarding the nuclear waste — and not pass those onto others who are not responsible for this financial fiasco.

marty marty

April 7th, 2011
12:53 pm

Solar is great. I used to have it in a house in Ohio. in Germany the government sponsored solar and had good loans for the people to put in solar……but NO, not here. The GOP is even passing laws banning solar and wind in some states. Reagan had the solar taken off the White House and eventually it ended up at Boidin College in the far upper NE. Are you kidding me.? You know we can’t get off coal or oil because there are too many oil people like Bush and Mercer Reynolds of Reynold’s plantation – (they were bailed oit of a bad oil deal by bin L:aden’s family years ago when Pappa Bush was President) and the infamous, Koch Brothers, heck…everyone in the Bush administration worked for oil companies….even Condi Rice had a tanker named after her! No wonder we are kept tied to oil! If you build nuclear just above Savannah and it blows up….forget the beaches. Besides where is all of that hot water from the daily use of the reactor going to go most of the time….into the Savannah River and onto the beaches of near Savannah – Tybee, little Tybee, could even effect Rep. Jack Kingston’s home on the ocean and of course, Hilton Head Island, SC. Are you ready to give them up? We need to push for solar and get the government to take the subsidies given to oil companies and help give loans for solar.

cw

April 7th, 2011
1:10 pm

Go hug a tree some where else you bunch of morons!

Don

April 7th, 2011
1:15 pm

Solar and “Green” type sources are being subsidies – but with current technology, their is NO WAY even with PetaDollars that even the current need could be met.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

April 7th, 2011
1:19 pm

GE’s upcoming thin film solar plant, which will produce panels with a WHOPPING 12.8% efficiency(haha sarcasm there), will be 50% subsidized by hussein-o money, which is rapidly becoming more worthless than monopoly money.

Bill

April 7th, 2011
1:21 pm

Nuke plants have very little to do with our use of oil. Most US electricity is produced from coal, followed by natural gas. These are generally produced right here.

Bill

April 7th, 2011
1:22 pm

Trish,
Do you think that we don’t subsidize oil, gas and coal??

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
1:25 pm

Energy efficiency (output as a percentage of energy input)
Incandescent light bulb 5-10%
Light-emitting diode up to 35%
Fluorescent lamps 28%

Let’s do away with incandescent bulbs, too. After all, they’re only 5-10% efficient.

Bill

April 7th, 2011
1:25 pm

There seems to be a direct parallel between the low level of analysis here and the high level of name calling. If you are right, and data backs you up, why do you have to insult those who think differently???

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
1:27 pm

Bill — “Nuke plants have very little to do with our use of oil. Most US electricity is produced from coal, followed by natural gas. These are generally produced right here.”

But most road transportation involves oil (only a small percentage uses natural gas). Switching to electric or hybrid vehicles, where practical, would pay huge dividends in helping us reduce our oil reliance.

Bill

April 7th, 2011
1:27 pm

Joe, that has already been done; under Bush in 2007. (being phased in) However, the republicans want to undo this. Apparently it is a violation of their civil liberties to tell them what bulbs to buy. Actually, the law tells you what bulbs NOT to buy.

Bill

April 7th, 2011
1:30 pm

Joe Mama,
“But most road transportation involves oil (only a small percentage uses natural gas). Switching to electric or hybrid vehicles, where practical, would pay huge dividends in helping us reduce our oil reliance.”

I agree completely. But, that does not have much to do with nukes, unless we have a significant switch to plug-in electric vehicles. That would be great, but I a not holding my breath.

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
1:35 pm

Bill — “But, that does not have much to do with nukes, unless we have a significant switch to plug-in electric vehicles. That would be great, but I a not holding my breath.”

We seem to be in agreement on that point.

Regarding light bulbs, I was just poking at Trisha. If efficiency is to be the sole determinant of whether or not an energy-related technology is worth keeping, then surely she would want to banish incandescents from her house.

As for me, I switched to CFLs years ago, and am slowly switching over to LEDs. I think there’s *maybe* one incandescent left in my house.

TrishaDishaWarEagle

April 7th, 2011
1:36 pm

joe mama, we are..but I’m sure as hell not going to go thru the trouble of recycling the CF bulbs, they go in the garbage bag the same as everything else.

beaker

April 7th, 2011
1:38 pm

Dear South of the Gnatline: MMI VIII = M 6-7, which Vogtle is designed to meet. MMI is based on observations not measurements and can reflect things other than horizontal acceleration (which is the primary issue). MMI VIII impacts poorly built buildings not well built buildings. Actual damage to buildings is based mostly on foundation materials. For example, the Savannah River saturated fluival clays, of which Augusta is famous, act as jello when shaken and damage is magnified. Vogtle is not sited on fluival materials and there are no active faults at Vogtle. The NRC reviewed the seismic design criteria for Vogtle as part of permitting. Earthquakes and tusnamis are red herrings.

cs

April 7th, 2011
1:42 pm

Ga exports electricity at a discount to what they charge Georgians. There is no electricity shortage in Ga.
Also, getting rid of illegals and hoping yankees etc go back to where they come from would have us needing less electricity, gasoline, water, etc….

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
1:43 pm

Trisha, it’s easy to do. Just keep a lidded plastic container of some sort (we use an old jug that used to hold dry cat food) and put the old CFLs in there. If you don’t have a suitable container, you could probably get one at Target or Wal-Mart quite cheaply. When it fills up, take ‘em to be recycled. No need to carry each one individually.

LEDs are still kind of expensive and hard to find, but Home Depot and Lowe’s are starting to carry more of them. If you buy online, be careful you don’t get the cheap Chinese ones; I have been burned a couple of times by that. But they come on instantly, don’t need to warm up, and they *sip* the power, even compared to CFLs. They have made a definite difference in our power bill.

Tired of BS

April 7th, 2011
1:44 pm

I think anyone who listens to the green movement about anything should have their head examined!

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
1:51 pm

Tired of BS — how about listening to them when they suggest weaning ourselves off foreign oil? A lot of oil comes from places where people don’t like us so much — so why contribute to those economies?

Getting Americans off foreign oil is a patriotic thing to do.

Alabama Communist

April 7th, 2011
1:54 pm

No doubt The Green Group wants to light up the opposition…

joe

April 7th, 2011
1:59 pm

Nukes are fine if you don’t build em on a fault line…duh.

confused

April 7th, 2011
2:20 pm

Switching to electric vehicles would be great, but if there is no power when you plug it in the wall it doesn’t work very well. More electric gadgets means more need for power generation, which is what this is about right?

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
2:26 pm

Confused, do you think I’m against increasing our electric power output?

Last Man Standing

April 7th, 2011
2:50 pm

Cliff:

Until we can provide for our energy needs in ‘alternative’ ways, Drill, Baby, Drill! Let’s use our resources instead of enriching the ragheads.

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
2:58 pm

Last Man, let’s also use all that natural gas we have. And if we’re going to buy foreign petroleum, let’s buy it from the Canadians. They’re good neighbors and I expect it’s a lot cheaper to ship it through the pipe than on tankers.

Last Man Standing

April 7th, 2011
3:02 pm

Joe Mama:

I agree completely.

marty marty

April 7th, 2011
3:08 pm

beaker you state “The NRC reviewed the seismic design criteria for Vogtle as part of permitting.” The government did the same thing for oil wells in the gulf….seems drilling companies just cut and pasted the same old same old….some of the people they cited as their current experts had long been done and jthey ust copies from old documents. If you count on the NRC or even the US Corp of Engineers (New Orleans leeves) — they may be safe enough for you but don’t count on it.

Joe Mama

April 7th, 2011
3:15 pm

See, not all us lefties are difficult. :D

I’d like to see increased energy efficiency standards for a lot of things, though, cars and trucks included. I’d like to see some Federal investment and incentives for industry to develop renewable energy resources, too. Put some money into solar, wind, biomass and others, and give private industry a chance to work on that. Sure, none of those are ready for prime time today, but give them 10-15 years and things might be very different. The same holds true for sinking new oil wells — it takes about 10 years from clearance to finished gasoline, so why can’t green energy have the same amount of time and some investment, just like petro?

The way I see it, if we can squeeze out 10% of our future energy needs from solar, 10% from wind, 10% from biomass, and 10% from other new resources and increased efficiency, then that’s 40% of our energy that doesn’t have to come from overseas and doesn’t have to be dug out of the ground. Wouldn’t that be a worthwhile thing?

south of the gnatline

April 7th, 2011
4:12 pm

There are other issues (cost, burden to taxpayers and ratepayers, track record of bumbling human errors,, etc.) that concern me even more than the prospect of a significant earthquake at Vogtle. But the fact is, there is a fault (Pen Branch) that runs directly beneath the site, and the area did experience a significant impact from the great Charleston earthquake of 1886. In a “Non-Concurrence ” statement of dissent about the NRC’s positive safety evaluation of the AP1000, it was stated by a NRC staff member that there are several major problems with the shield building:

The AP 1000 shield building failed tests because physical tests show it to be brittle, and it could shatter “like a glass cup”.
Inadequate computer simulations were used to “prove” the reactor shield is “strong enough” despite it being mostly made out of a brittle material. Scientists at Brookhaven National Laboratory, asked by NRC to review Westinghouse’s computer simulation results, said there were “numerous confusing, misleading, or erroneous statements.”
Earthquake forces may have been underestimated by Westinghouse. Westinghouse relied on a “seismic wave incoherency model” that reduces the expected force of an earthquake. NRC has accepted this argument by Westinghouse, even though it appears not to be supported by science as published in peer-reviewed journals.

Enviros are Idiots

April 7th, 2011
4:19 pm

Beaker says: “Dear South of the Gnatline: MMI VIII = M 6-7, which Vogtle is designed to meet. MMI is based on observations not measurements and can reflect things other than horizontal acceleration (which is the primary issue). MMI VIII impacts poorly built buildings not well built buildings. Actual damage to buildings is based mostly on foundation materials. For example, the Savannah River saturated fluival clays, of which Augusta is famous, act as jello when shaken and damage is magnified. Vogtle is not sited on fluival materials and there are no active faults at Vogtle. The NRC reviewed the seismic design criteria for Vogtle as part of permitting. Earthquakes and tusnamis are red herrings.”

Wow. Fluival materials? MMI VIII? He must be a really smart guy. Or a dummy posing as one. Drop the pretentious talk. Nobody is impressed..

beaker

April 7th, 2011
5:01 pm

Dear South of the Gnat Line: Pen Branch Fault is not active; Southern Company spent 2+ million investigating it back in early 1980s. It just is not a big deal.

Dear Enviros are Idiots: Technical talk is technical talk; fluvial is high school level word.

Question Man

April 7th, 2011
9:23 pm

TDWE: Isn’t one alternative to fossil/nuclear to develop far, far more energy efficient engines/ motors/vehicles/ etc. in order materially to reduce demand for fossil fuels? And is there a better way to accomplish that reduction than through private and public investment in science and technology? Would you support such an alternative?

Young Lady

April 8th, 2011
9:08 am

South of the gnatline- There is not a significant risk of an earthquake at Vogtle. There are active faults in the Appalachians but they are not going to generate significant events because their movement is limited.

When we have earthquakes in the Appalachians they’re generally in the 4-5 seismic range, the last one I recall in the area was in Fort Payne, Alabama and I slept through it. That’s mainly because the faults are only shifting due to the weight of the blocks. In comparison the earthquakes generated by tectonic movement IE: Japan/San Andreas/Chile/Haiti are going to be much stronger because there are stronger forces acting on them. It’s not the same type of situation. And not a significant risk. Reactor safety is a greater priority than this.