Democrats’ Curious Disdain for Nuclear Power

From The National Review

By Robert Bryce

May 30, 2019 4:21 PM

A bird flies over the Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant in Goldsboro, Pa., May 30, 2017. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters) Until they embrace nuclear energy as a key to reducing emissions, the party’s many presidential candidates will be hard to take seriously on climate change.

A bird flies over the Three Mile Island Nuclear power plant in Goldsboro, Pa., May 30, 2017. (Carlo Allegri/Reuters) Until they embrace nuclear energy as a key to reducing emissions, the party’s many presidential candidates will be hard to take seriously on climate change.

Climate change is the No. 1 issue for Democrats, with a recent poll showing 82 percent of Democratic voters listed it as their top priority. To appeal to those voters, contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination routinely call climate change an “existential threat” to the nation and the world. But amid all their rhetoric and promises of massively expensive plans to tackle the problem, these same Democrats — with the notable exception of Senator Cory Booker — steadfastly refuse to utter two critical words: nuclear power.

The Democrats’ disdain for nuclear energy deserves attention, because there is no credible pathway toward large-scale decarbonization that doesn’t include lots of it. That fact was reinforced Tuesday, when the International Energy Agency published a report declaring that without more nuclear energy, global carbon dioxide emissions will surge and “efforts to transition to a cleaner energy system will become drastically harder and more costly.”

How costly? The IEA estimates that “$1.6 trillion in additional investment would be required in the electricity sector in advanced economies from 2018 to 2040” if the use of nuclear energy continued to decline. That, in turn, would mean higher prices, as “electricity supply costs would be close to $80 billion higher per year on average for advanced economies as a whole.” […]

In 2013, when Michael Bloomberg was mayor, his office issued a report that estimated closing Indian Point and replacing it with gas-fired generation would “increase New York City’s greenhouse gas emissions by approximately 15 percent.” It also said the city “depends on Indian Point for reliability as congested transmission lines limit power imports from more distant locations.” But current mayor — and Democratic presidential hopeful — Bill de Blasio steadfastly refuses to acknowledge Indian Point’s importance, or the potential of nuclear power in general. Last month, de Blasio unveiled his $14 billion NYC Green New Deal plan, which aims to cut New York City’s emissions by 30 percent by 2030. With the looming loss of Indian Point, that 30 percent goal will effectively become 45 percent.

Another Democratic contender, Beto O’Rourke, has dubbed climate change “our greatest threat” and says he will “mobilize $5 trillion” to cut domestic greenhouse-gas emissions to zero by 2050. The word “nuclear” does not appear anywhere on his website, just as it’s absent from nearly every other Democratic presidential candidate’s site. That’s a shame, because the IEA’s report is just the latest in a long line of scientific papers pointing to the need for nuclear energy. In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change declared that achieving deep cuts in emissions will “require more intensive use” of low-emission technologies “such as renewable energy [and] nuclear energy.”38

This is, frankly, one of the biggest and longest-running disconnects in American politics: The leaders of the Democratic party insist that the U.S. must make big cuts in greenhouse-gas emissions because of the threat posed by climate change, but for nearly five decades, they have either ignored or professed outright opposition to nuclear energy. The last time the party’s platform contained a positive statement about nuclear power was way back in 1972.

Full article here

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138 thoughts on “Democrats’ Curious Disdain for Nuclear Power

    • Democrats Curious Disdain for Capitalism ought to be the title of a follow up piece. That’s what it was all about.

      • Exactly right. Cheap energy is the lifeblood of capitalism.

        If splitting atoms delivers cheap power then the left has no choice but to be against it. Pathetic really.

    • They tilt at windmills.

      They also prefer to remain ignorant of the facts, science, physics, reality.

      • You are 100% correct Mark.
        I would add that they have no idea how economics work and they seem to think that the government has unlimited money to throw at every windmill .
        They are not aware that the governments depends on strong economies to provide taxes to fund all government spending .
        A significant increase in the cost of energy, either electricity or fuel has to be passed on and cannot be absorbed by businesses.
        This leads to rapid inflation or a slow down in business activity which generates far less revenue for the government and substantial cost supporting workers who are made redundant .

    • Leftist bedwetters live in fear.

      They fear plant food CO2. They fear a little beneficial warmth. They fear our industrial present. They fear an unknown future. They fear overpopulation. They fear both people & progress.

      They are ridiculous: all the above fears are baseless.

      Far from being “progressives”, in truly Orwellian fashion they are a millstone around the neck of humanity, a barrier to progress.

      They promote fear of nuclear power, which is totally ridiculous: a nuclear power station no more resembles a nuclear bomb than a baby gazelle resembles a charging bull elephant: they are completely different beasts. Nuclear power is way safer & cleaner than coal, for example. I was staggered to read in Robert Zubrin’s book Merchants Of Despair that a Chernobyl type catastrophe would need to happen every day to rival the toll on humanity that coal imposes. Zubrin is a PhD nuclear engineer with 9 patents to his name or pending. He refers heavily to Julian L. Simon’s great 1998 book The Ultimate Resource 2. Simon took money off the brain-dead doomster Paul Ehrlich in a bet.

      Truly humanity is falsely served by our fake news MSM & their Bankster owners.
      JD.

  1. They can just keep pretending wind, solar, and hydro will carry a significant portion and the rest of the energy will be supplied by unicorn farts.

    The warmistas give nothing but praise to James Hansen – going so far as to praise the accuracy of his model results that are woefully inaccurate – then plug their ears and pretend he never advocated for nuclear power, let alone said it was a necessary part of the solution.

    • The warmistas give nothing but praise to James Hansen

      I have to disagree with you there, Michael. This very issue IS where the Greens and Leftists turned on James. Indeed, the Climate Faithful were so incensed at Hansen for breaking rank on the Renewables issue that one of the various and sundry Climate Naomies (can’t remember which off the top of my head, and honestly what’s the difference) felt it necessary to write a whole article on how this made him a new kind of ‘Denier’, and putting the rest of the Faithful on notice that even the slightest bit of heresy would not be tolerated.

      And frankly, that’s probably the main reason so few Democrats even mention the word Nuclear. It doesn’t matter if it’s the only real chance of bringing ‘Decarbonization’ to something close to a reality. The Left’s True Masters have declared it forbidden, so it’s off the board.

      ~¿~

  2. They must quit with their radiation craze.

    Kerala for example, one of the most naturally radioactive places on earth is not known for it’s mountains of dead bodies.

    Furthermore, I have news for the radio-phobic crowds. The earth we’re currently on is a gigantic cooling pool for radioactive elements.

    Decaying radio elements are responsible for up to 50% of earth’s geothermal energy.

    • Do not forget the bananas we eat for our potassium balance, because potassium is radioactive. Not very, but radioactive. And our nervous systems *need* potassium.

      • Oddly, while there is a Banana equivalent dose (BED), potatoes have more K than bananas.

        • Right John + Ellen , the ultimate weapon could be a military grade bananas and potatoes cake. Fear, we’re doomed !

          But there’s more. Flight crews should be zombies with the excess of cosmic radiation that we take at the job.

          And finally, last but not least, none of the foretold mass graves after Fukushima can be accounted for. I wonder where are the numerous *experts* that fueled the panic back then.

          Would have a couple of questions for them. If however they dare to show.

          • There is little to no accountability for the tens of thousands of Fukushima cleanup contractors. Many were/are from the margins of society; some were/are victims of crime syndicate labor rackets. There’s no way to account for what happens to them when they just disappear and die.

          • The paranoia is strong with this one.
            The reason why we can’t find anyone who was hurt by the Fukushima radiation, is because the government made them all disappear.

          • icisil your comment is pure adult male bovine fetal mater. All the workers on that site are closely monitored for radiation dose , as are all nuclear workers on first world nuclear reactor sites.

          • Workers who were exposed to 100 mSv in 2011 are entitled to annual cancer screening and thorough medical care. However, most workers get exposure doses below 100 mSv, such as 90, 95, or 83 mSv, and they don’t qualify for thorough medical care. Workers who had been working at NPP since before the accident know what could happen to them a after reaching a certain exposure dose in one year, or what it means to get exposed to 35 mSv in 2 hours during a particular work. They talk about how they probably won’t live too long. They are determined not to have any children, and they often talk about how uncertain they are about their lives in 5 years.

            http://newagora.ca/mako-oshidori-in-dusseldorf-the-hidden-truth-about-fukushima/

      • Potassium has a huge half-life of thousands of years!!!! Wonder how banana sales will be affected oncethe meeja get hold of that little gem?

    • Go talk to the dozens (hundreds?) of sick sailors that were on-board the USS Reagan when it sailed through a radioactive plume off of Fukushima (can’t talk to the dead ones). I don’t think you’ll find much sympathy from them. It took almost 2 years to decontaminate that aircraft carrier.

      [??? .mod]

      • You really are capable of swallowing some real whoppers, aren’t you.
        This is yet another myth.

          • Within the very article you cited: “The radioactive contamination found on the ships involved in Operation Tomodachi is at such low levels that it does not pose a health concern to the crews, their families, or maintenance personnel,”

          • Right. That’s the official government version, and we know that the government never lies.

          • icisil, it seems you has a little bit of difficulty with logic. Do you say that, therefore, governments always lie? Did they lie this time by “adjusting” the dose?

          • From the Stars and Stripes article

            Of the 1,360 individuals aboard the Reagan who were monitored by the Navy following the incident, more than 96 percent were found not to have detectable internal contamination, the Navy said. The highest measured dose was less than 10 percent of the average annual exposure to someone living in the United States.

            “There is no objective evidence that the sailors … experienced radiation exposures that would result in an increase in the expected number of radiogenic diseases over time,” Woodson wrote. “The estimated radiation doses for all individuals in the Operation Tomodachi registry, including sailors on the USS Ronald Reagan, were very small and well below levels associated with adverse medical conditions.”

            Needless to say, those dozens (Hundreds? Anybody? Bueller? Bueller?) Are suing Fukashima’s owners (and everybody who made parts for it), and not the US Navy, because the Navy already DID an investigation and found no cause. Also instead of suing all those Japanese companies in Japan, they filed suit in the US 9th Circuit. They probably would have gone with the even more Liberal dominated DC court, but Mann’s going to have it tied up for decades to come.

            ~¿~

          • I see that you are one of those fools who actually believes that any detectable radiation is deadly.

          • “This issue is the comment that I initially I responded to gives the impression that radiation is harmless. I’m really sick of that type of gross exaggeration that undermines public support for nuclear energy because any reasonably well-informed person knows that nuclear radiation can be lethal when it is released into the environment.”

            It all in the dose, as a child of the fifties living down wind from the open air nuclear test, I can tell you most early deaths of my high school class are dead from drugs and alcohol, don’t think we lost any due to the Vietnam war we were young enough when we became of age the war had wound down. One did die directly from radiation it was melanoma cancer due to the sun exposer, according to you we should band the sun since every day it radiates radiation every day on us from its nuclear fire , thank good there is night so we can escape that evil radiation.

          • My, my. CounterPunch? Which is somewhat to the left of Granma. I am trying to figure if they are Maoists or Trotskyites.

          • I am still not getting the point they are soldiers they signed up to do a dangerous job including getting shot at and dying. If they have been exposed to unsafe levels of radiation it was by accident or lack of information … unless you are trying to claim they were deliberately irradiated.

            On the other end of the stick they could have been sent to a war zone and ordered to do something with near certain death.

            Like all surviving military personal they have a right to the best post action care but with the actual events I don’t see the issue.

          • This issue is the comment that I initially I responded to gives the impression that radiation is harmless. I’m really sick of that type of gross exaggeration that undermines public support for nuclear energy because any reasonably well-informed person knows that nuclear radiation can be lethal when it is released into the environment.

          • When you have to lie about what others have said, you have just admitted that even you know you don’t have any evidence to support what you want to believe.

            He never said that radiation is harmless, he said that low levels of radiation is harmless and that not enough radiation leaked from Fukushima to reach harmful levels.
            Both statements are 100% true.

          • One thing is perfectly clear, Mark: You don’t know this issue if you can make statements like “not enough radiation leaked from Fukushima to reach harmful levels”. As one small example, the 300 m exhaust chimney by reactors 1 and 2 suffered damage from the hydrogen explosions and is in danger of collapsing in an earthquake. They can’t get close to the chimney, though, because it is so radioactive at its base – 25 sieverts. That would kill a person quickly.

      • I found this and a lot more by simple searching USS Reagan.
        It was not just the Reagan 15 other ships were in thee plume. Radiation is not one size fits all. Some people can be effected sooner and by less.

        It does not appear to be a myth, While there are the usual ambulance chasers there are also a growing number of crew members with radiation like symptoms.
        Oh and I am for nuclear power plants. Sometimes you just have bad luck, plan or build improperly.
        Accept the good with the bad.

        https://www.stripes.com/news/16-us-ships-that-aided-in-operation-tomodachi-still-contaminated-with-radiation-1.399094

        michael

        • Aircraft, too. Every time I go down this rabbit hole I keep finding things I didn’t know. 4 sieverts per hour is insanely radioactive.

          Serious fallout was also apparently found on helicopters coming back from relief missions. One unnamed U.S. government expert is quoted in the Japan Focus article as saying: “At 100 meters away it (the helicopter) was reading 4 sieverts per hour. That is an astronomical number and it told me, what that number means to me, a trained person, is there is no water on the reactor cores and they are just melting down, there is nothing containing the release of radioactivity. It is an unmitigated, unshielded number. (Confidential communication, Sept. 17, 2012).”

          https://www.counterpunch.org/2014/02/27/fukushima-dangerously-contaminated-the-uss-reagan/

      • “Go talk to the dozens (hundreds?) of sick sailors that were on-board the USS Reagan when it sailed through a radioactive plume off of Fukushima (can’t talk to the dead ones).”

        Or, you could read the Congressionally-mandated report on the matter by Dr. Jonathon Woodson, found here, which has the actual data in it: https://www.health.mil/Reference-Center/Reports/2014/06/19/Radiation-Exposure-Report

        Here’s a significant quote from the report:

        “Only two adverse health conditions (three cases) were identified among the RONALD REAGAN sailors that are radiogenic. These include one case of non-chronic lymphocytic leukemia (non-CLL) and two cases of thyroid cancer. These numbers of cases are not unusual or unexpected among a population of nearly 5,000 individuals. With respect to these three cases, it’s important to understand that all radiogenic diseases have what is called a “latency period” between the time of exposure and the appearance of health effects. According to the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR 2013), the minimum latency period for radiation-induced leukemia is 2 years and 5 years for solid cancers (including thyroid cancer). Additionally, the World Health Organization, in a health risk assessment of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident (WHO 2013), conservatively assumes the minimum latency period for radiation-induced leukemia is 2 years, 3 years for thyroid cancer, and 5 years for all other solid cancers. The dates of diagnosis for these three cases strongly suggest that these disease processes were initiated well before OT and therefore, are not causally related to low-level radiation exposures during OT.”

      • There is a pile of dead bodies attributed to normal coal, gas or petroleum power generation as well as well as direct deaths to industrial accidents.

        I don’t get the point?

        • The point is don’t build a modern nuclear power plant in a tsunami zone and that goes for a wind or solar farm with lithium battery backup too. We’re clever like that in learning from our mistakes just like infrasound and building windmills too close to people and threated species along with their need for reliability. Now do you get icisil’s point?

          • Actually the modern nuclear power plants that were in the tsunami zone did just fine. It was the 40 year old ones that had problems.

            And personally, this is why I don’t have much problem with them shutting down the older 60’s and 70’s era Nuclear power plants. A lot of governments jumped on the Nuclear band wagon too soon. We didn’t NEED Nuclear power, because there were plenty of easier ways to make electricity. Better to let the technology mature first, then build out when we start to really need it.

            ~¿~

          • Old/modern had nothing to do with it. It was because TEPCO engineers lowered the Fukushima facility to be closer to the water in order to lower pumping costs. A nuclear plant up the coast did fine because it was built high enough. The point is that really bad things can happen when people make dumb mistakes with nuclear energy based on things like greed because nuclear energy is very deadly and unforgiving. The attitude that nuclear radiation is harmless or not that bad just exacerbates these kinds of stupid, regrettable mistakes.

          • And yet politicians insist that nuke power plants be built in unsuitable places, like oceansides and earthquake zones as in Japan and California.

          • There you go, lying about what others have said.
            Why don’t you just admit that you can’t defend what you believe, so you have to build strawmen.
            Nobody said that nuclear radiation isn’t dangerous. What they have said, and all the data supports, is that low levels of radiation aren’t dangerous.

          • But that’s exactly the problem with nuclear accidents – they can release very high doses.

          • Mark, you think high levels of radioactivity weren’t released at Fukushima. What could I possibly say to such an uniformed person.

          • licisil, I suggest you read the report I cited. There were no “high doses” of radiation from Fukushima.

    • And that’s just it isn’t it. The regulatory environment needs to shift from one that discourages the construction of nuclear power plants to one that encourages and enables their construction. It is time for rigorous good sense to return to the field instead of this superstition of LEN and all the other bogeyman stuff that surrounds nuclear energy.

  3. My estimate is based on Molten Salt SMR reactors, whichcost roughly half as much per M as current light waer reactors. Commercialization expected late 2020’s. Inherently safe, power predicted to cost 4 cents per KWhr, can be located virtually anywhere. I estimated eoughly $900 billion to replace all of the carbon power generation, and would provide enough power for an electric auto fleet. Cost might run a bit over $1 trillion.
    Trump needs to pound home the need for nuclear power and upstage the Global warming crowd with respect to reduction carbon emissions.

  4. The (D) / Liberal objection to nuclear power, in part, traces back to their complaint that nuclear power is used in nuclear weapons. [drop mike]

    [pick up mike] While the plutonium side of nuclear power is involved in nuclear weapons, thorium is not. Thorium is more plentiful than plutonium, and is difficult to weaponize.

    Several groups are working on thorium power. One has prototypes of a suitcase sized reactor that will fit in and power a car for 50+ years. Think of not stopping for gas or a “tesla” recharge, ever.

    Another group is developing thorium reactors suitable for powering hospitals, eliminating the need for backup generators for emergencies. Supplying thorium reactors to hospitals and other critical infrastructure would allow them to completely disconnect from the power grid, eliminating their vulnerability to anyone interfering with US electric power.

    We need to support the development of thorium power, and promote its wide-spread use. (I have only scientific interest in thorium power. I have no conflict of interest issues to the industry.)

    Sadly, to many Greenies, mentioning nuclear power causes their genuflect response with an irrational (no thought) hatred of the whole topic.

    Open minded debate is needed, but Greenies are not known for open minds.

    • Newt-
      Would love to read more about the thorium projects you describe. Could you supply some references?

        • There are approx. 176 million lbs of spent fuel rods sitting in cooling pools at US reactors. That would last a long time.

          • You are quite correct in making this statement. What you may not realise, and you may not care if your mission is to try and demonize nuclear energy, is that this large quantity of fuel rods is the result of the very peculiar American ban on reprocessing of “spent” nuclear fuel, which still has much (most?) of its energy-generating potential.

            And this doesn’t even start to talk about breeder reactors, which multiply the energy available from uranium fuel by a factor of (I think) 70.

            And the volume of low-level nuclear waste from all the medical and industrial uses of radioactive isotopes – not to forget the smoke detectors in your home – (all produced in nuclear reactors) is many times greater than that of the “spent” fuel.

          • Spent fuel rods have only about 5% recoverable energy used, they are “spent” because decay products that poison the neutron economy have built up in them. That is what reprocessing is all about, removing the poisons and recycling the useful fuel.

            The Oak Ridge MSR experiment had an integral reprocessing stack (basically a distillation column). Multiply the years of operation that those “spent” fuel rods accumulated over by 19, that’s centuries worth of fuel. MSRs are breeder reactors, we can use the depleted uranium stocks to fuel them after the “spent” fuel runs out. The time horizon is now measured in millennia. Without mining another gram of uranium.

          • Maybe I should keep this quite, coal fired plants put out more radiation than nuclear plants. Yet people heated there homes with coal years ago.

          • “You are quite correct in making this statement. What you may not realise, and you may not care if your mission is to try and demonize nuclear energy…”

            That’s not my mission at all. I would love to see gen 4 be successful and become pervasive. IMO it’s the sensible thing to do.

      • Old engineer:
        “Thorium: energy cheaper than coal”. by Robert Hargreaves would be a good place to start. It is a very interesting technology which needs development and investment. Sadly not forthcoming at the moment. China and Korea could well beat us on this. Huge potential .
        Same old problem – facts are boring so the MSM keeps us all in the dark and feeds off our fears of the unknown.

    • I find it frightening and funny that the people hating nuclear power seem to totally be ignoring that it’s not the odd nuclear power plant malfunction that’s near going to be as devastating as a correctly functioning thermo nuc. Yet we continue to antagonize Russia and China (bi-partisan) which at least increases the chance for a mistaken light off.

      I’m surprised that Europe is having any of the United States blustering after the destruction of the world wars. However, I believe most Americans don’t really realize that modern warfare can reach out and touch us and it won’t be pretty. Particularly if China and Russia combined, the United State could lose a conventional war rather rapidly. The missiles can get here and the US has no defense against a substantial volley. Destroy a few power plants, ports, and petrol plants and the American Just In Time economy won’t. I suspect the US would not consider losing gracefully and we’re back to nuc exchange. Detente used to be considered a successful strategy. If you want to protest for something peace is my vote.

      • It really amazes me how people manage to define not doing everything they demand of us, as “antogonizing”.

        • It appears the common theme in that article is that negotiations backed by power prevented nuclear war; and that’s a good thing.

          Cold war v1 the US was generally afraid of the USSR. They had beat the US in space up until the late 60’s. I think this fear generated some restraint.

          Cold war v2, I think generally the US does not understand the current military capability of Russia and for whatever reason doesn’t consider that the US has been pinned down in the middle east for almost 20 years; unable to get out. Russia and China both play a long game. If your enemy is in the process of committing suicide, don’t get in the way.

          “I do not know with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.” – Albert Einstein.

    • >While the plutonium side of nuclear power is involved in nuclear weapons, …

      Plutonium can be extracted from fuel rods used in power reactors, but that plutonium cannot be used in weapons.

      Bomb grade plutonium must have a very high content of Pu-239 and a low content of Pu-240. Fuel rods from power reactors have way too much Pu-240. Bomb grade Pu is made in reactors designed for that purpose, which are quite different from power reactors. And because of the small mass difference between 2300 and 240, separating the isotopes is very difficult.

      Pu from power reactor fuel rods can be mixed with uranium and burned as reactor fuel.

  5. They’ve learned to gain power through crises. This strategy used to involving waiting for a crisis and then taking full advantage of it. Now they create them when possible. Not only do they rejoice in bad things happening, they try to make them happen. They rejoice when shootings, hurricanes, floods, fires, etc. occur. They want more homeless, illegal immigrants, abortions, cop killings, etc. etc. etc. Solving problems would put allies out of work as well as diminish their power.

  6. You can’t fix stupid!! In the fifties nuclear was the rage and I went to MIT to be a nuclear engineer. Never did achieve that goal but still had a satisfying career in medical instrumentation. Took a great tour of Indian Point in the late 60’s or early 70’s. That is before everyone became afraid of their own shadow.

  7. The Democrats and their media shills basically used the “radiation alarmism” tactic against nuclear by trying to buy votes from the uninformed based on politically contrived schemes that were nothing but distortion, deception and dishonesty regarding how radiation risks were addressed at nuclear power plants.

    They grossly exaggerated risks at nuclear plants by dishonestly exploiting the Chernobyl nuclear disaster with this reactor design having no resemblance to reactor designs used elsewhere in the world.

    They grossly exaggerated impact of the Three Mile Island nuclear accident which had a core meltdown yet had no impact at all on nearby populations because the containment building retained the radiation resulting from the accident. This accident also had no impact on plant personnel.

    They grossly exaggerated the Fukushima nuclear accident which resulted from improper government plant siting criteria where the occurrence of a great offshore earthquake with resulting tsunami was disregarded.

    They totally ignored the risks to society associated with other forms of power which when evaluated on a rational basis show that nuclear power risks are in fact much more manageable and of less consequence.

    They manufactured concerns about storage of the completely manageable long term radioactive waste which compared to other power generation wastes is many times smaller in volume and ability to safely handle.

    The media which relentlessly pushes radiation alarmist issues does so in a completely incompetent and ignorant manner and cannot even distinguish the key difference between the concepts of “exposure” and “dose” which are critical to understanding radiation risk.

    The Democrats have through their politically contrived and invalid schemes with the media as their alarmist shills have destroyed the ability to use nuclear power in the U.S.

  8. Just as it is with wind and solar, going with nuclear power is strictly a public policy decision. In the absence of government intervention in the energy marketplace, as long as natural gas is cheap, plentiful, and easily available through transportation systems such as pipelines and even rail transport of LNG, power generation and marketing will move strongly towards gas-fired generation.

    That said, if public policy decision makers want nuclear as a highly reliable and safe backup for gas-fired generation and for the renewables, this cannot happen unless the nuclear construction industry can get its capital costs under control.

    The massive failure of the VC Summer and the Vogtle 3 & 4 power reactor projects to meet their original cost and schedule commitments demonstrates that building the large AP1000 size reactors is not a smart move in the United States.

    The problem here is that if the construction job involves nuclear, an excellent job must be done in every phase of the project if the NRC’s quality assurance standards are to be met. The VC Summer and the Vogtle 3 & 4 projects paid only lip service to meeting their QA commitments, much of the work was not done to acceptable standards, and so the projects ended up paying for everything twice, doubling the cost and schedule for completing the plants.

    As it stands today, going with the Small Modular Reactors (SMR’s) and their highly standardized technology is the only pathway the nuclear construction industry now has for keeping its costs under control, thus making it easier for public policy decision makers to choose nuclear over other alternatives in the face of stiff competition from natural gas.

    The NuScale SMR team out of Portland, Oregon is by far the furthest along in getting a working reactor into production. They have financial backing from Fluor, they have access to Fluor’s extensive EPC experience, they have a customer in Utah for their SMR design, they have a construction site identified in eastern Idaho, and they have an experienced reactor operator, Energy Northwest, on their team.

    If the talk I am hearing among nuclear construction professionals is on the mark, all hope for a nuclear revival in the US now hinges on NuScale being successful with their SMR design in keeping their capital costs under control at a projected $4,200 per kWe. We should know by 2027 if that’s how things turned out.

    • Most of the cost problems with nuclear are due to excessive and constantly changing regulations.
      If you think the people who killed nuclear will stand by while a new generation of nuclear is being developed, your smoking something illegal.

      • The problem is the fundamental natural technical issues with PWR reactors and PWR and BWR safety/cost record, not fission.

        Build a better fission reactor if we want the public to support the installation of fission reactors.

        The key issues are safety, fuel efficiency, time to build, ease of processing and storing spent fuel, and so on.

        In a normal competitive industry we would not be using a design that is 70 year old that has failed multiple times. The nuclear ‘industry’ is not interested in a design that would obsolete the fuel rod reactors. We do not have a nuclear industry, we have a fuel rod industry which successfully lobbies for fuel rod, reactors.

        Better yet build the best theoretically possible fission reactor.

        The Democrats or most Republicans have no idea that there is a six times more fuel efficient fission reactor that has no natural catastrophic failure modes, that operates at atmospheric pressure, that is sealed, that stores the spend fuel in thick vessels, air cooled.

        Pressure water, fuel rod, fission reactor’s cost problems all stem from the fact that fuel rod, water cooled reactors can meltdown for dozens of reasons, can exploded for dozens of reasons, and operate at high pressure. They also have leak radioactive gases and radioactive water soluble elements.

        There is only factory in the world that can blend the 8-inch plate which they are made of.
        A massive containment building is required.

      • “your smoking something illegal.”

        Whew! That’s a relief! If you had said “you’re smoking something illegal”, then there would be a problem.

        • Since the only complaint you have with my comment revolves around a spelling issue, can I assume that you agree with everything else I said?

          • Well if you want an nit picking issue: NuScale is based in Oregon where smoking marijuana is legal so you might need to clarify your statement to smoking something federally illegal or smoking something illegal in Oregon.

            Otherwise I fully agree with your statement. We actually could learn from the French where they approved just a couple types of reactors. Want to build a reactor? Choose plant A or plant B.

      • MarkW, in 2012, the estimated capital costs for the VC Summer and Vogtle 3 & 4 projects were roughly 12 billion dollars each. Those estimated costs included full compliance with all of the NRC’s quality assurance and regulatory requirements.

        By 2017, the two projects were five years behind schedule and their costs had climbed to roughly 25 billion dollars each. VC Summer was cancelled in 2017 and Vogtle 3 & 4’s project management team was replaced. Here in 2019, the Vogtle expansion project’s capital cost is now roughly 28 billion dollars.

        The NRC’s current requirements are little different today than they were in 2012. What was it that happened in those five years between 2012 and 2017?

        The reason why the capital costs for VC Summer and Vogtle 3 & 4’s doubled in five years time is that the owners and project managers made every mistake there is to make in running a large nuclear construction project. It’s almost like they went down a checklist of classic nuclear project mistakes and made sure each and every one was fully covered.

        For those of us who went through the wrenching experiences of the 1980’s in learning how to do nuclear projects on cost and on schedule, watching what was happening at VC Summer and Vogtle 3 & 4 was deja vu all over again.

        The NRC and its QA requirements are not going away. The NuScale project team is working closely with the NRC to make certain that all regulatory bases for their SMR design are being properly covered. As SMR development efforts go, NuScale is roughly a decade ahead of anyone else in getting a working design into production operation.

        What about the large unitary reactors such as the AP1000 design and its similar cousins?

        IMHO, the two AP1000’s now being built at Vogtle 3 & 4 will be the last of their kind built in the United States. If nuclear construction does make a comeback in the US in the 2030’s and beyond, SMR designs of various flavors will become the foundation of the industry.

    • “long as natural gas is cheap, plentiful, and easily available through transportation systems such as pipelines and even rail transport of LNG, power generation and marketing will move strongly towards gas-fired generation.”

      That is funny to the greens gas is not a solution either since it does emit CO2. Add in the Demorats and their allies are keeping pipeline from being built.

  9. There is a faction of the greens that opposes nuclear power precisely because it can sustain industrial civilization, which they oppose.
    Remember, Paul Ehrlich stated that having cheap and unlimited power “would be like giving a machine gun to an idiot child”.

  10. Beto O’Rourke, has dubbed climate change “our greatest threat”

    Biggest threat are people like O’Dork & his ilk.

  11. The key to understanding the left’s aversion to nuclear, or anything else that might actually work, comes from our old buddy, Paul Ehrlich.

    Giving society cheap, abundant energy would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun. link

    So, the problem for Ehrlich is the prescription problem. If you’re writing a prescription, you’re predicting that it will work. Given Ehrlich’s abysmal record of failed predictions I would rephrase his quote.

    Giving Paul Ehrlich any kind of credibility would be the equivalent of giving an idiot child a machine gun.

    Sadly, the left ignores Ehrlich’s ignominious record of failed prognostications.

  12. It isn’t ‘curious disdain’ the socialist democrats suffer from. It is irrational fear. Their fear of nuclear energy is created by the same methods as their irrational fear of Climate Change, Neutron Sterilization, and Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s).

    Consider GMO corn. The agitator alarmists call GMO corn ‘Frankenfood’ because the corn plants (a type of grass) have a glyphosphate-resistant gene from another grass plant spliced into the corn genes. The GMO corn plants do not have any glyphosphate in them or in their corn kernels! The GMO corn plants are simply made more resistant to the glyphosphate herbicide, allowing the young corn plants to continue to grow robustly when herbicide is applied to kill weeds in the corn fields. The glyphosphate herbicide is applied and naturally dissipates long before the corn plants are ‘in silk’ and setting ears of corn. The result is higher yields of healthy, nutritious, all natural corn!

    However, if the agitator alarmists have been effective with their ‘Frankenfood’ scare mongering, the gullible public is made sufficiently fearful to reject the healthy result. This is true for GMO corn. The ‘Frankenfood’ story of ‘GMO Golden Rice’, with a gene spliced into the rice to enhance production of Vitamin A, is exactly the same!

    The methods and techniques used by the environMental alarmists are the same Rules For Radicals Saul Alinsky taught Barack Hussein Obama.
    “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” There is no defense. It’s irrational.
    “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”
    “The threat is usually more terrifying than the thing itself.” Imagination and ego can dream up many more consequences than any activist.
    “Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”

    By these techniques, a gullible public can be driven by irrational fear in any direction the environMental alarmists desire.

  13. After researching the decommissioning on US Naval nuclear vessels, and then reading this article, I wonder what the remaining usable life expectancy of the reactors would be, and if they could be converted to sited electrical power stations.

    Apparently the problem with the decommissioning is how to remove and store the older reactor designs that are no reused. Apparently many reactors from decommissioned vessels are reused in newer ships.

    Of course the biggest problem is the use of highly enriched uranium in naval reactors. Greatly more efficient, but currently not allowed for civilian nuclear plants. The reactors are also more energy dense and the newest designs can go 25 years without refueling.

    Regulations need to be rewritten to allow highly functional high enriched uranium reactors to be used for civilian electrical generation needs.

    Imagine siting the small efficient reactors at existing retired coal plant locations. If the steam generators and cooling towers were still functional, you would only be replacing the heat source.

    Recycling anyone?(for the envirowacos)

      • Tom Abbott June 1, 2019 at 12:41 pm
        “How long does it take to build a nuclear reactor for an aircraft carrier?”

        Depends on how long they take to build the CVN.
        Five to seven years. Both the USS JFK and the USS ENTERPRISE!! are under construction. ENTERPRISE completion was 2025 but may be moved up to 2027.

        michael

      • One to three years. Depends on which part, and whether that part is on a regular-delivery “assembly line” basis, or if it is a special hand-made assembly.

        They don’t build many aircraft-carrier sizes reactors, for example, so it takes longer to make a reactor pressure vessel than it does a smaller part like a valve or pump. But if the whole carrier takes several years to build, you need to put the reactor vessel right at the beginning, then wait several years to make the next carrier. A sub reactor is smaller, and so more can be made in a year. Anything repeated gets built faster, better the next times.

    • I see the Russians have put two nuclear reactors on their newest ice breaker, the Urals. Combined output is 350 MW on a 35 000 tonne ship. Now that sort of SMR would run a town quite effectively.

      For comparison the USS Abraham Lincoln weighs in at around 100 000 tonnes and has about 164 MW from its two reactors.

      Big progress is possible.

      • The new carriers have reactor power of 300 MW. The extra power is for laser and rail gun weapons.

      • 300 MW would power a small city quite easily. How easily would depend on what kind of commercial and manufacturing base (if any) it was also supporting.

    • Reactors from the USN are not reusable in other ships or anywhere else unless metallurgy has improved since I served as a nuclear machinist mate back in the 90’s. The problem is after burning through two fuel loads over 50 years is embrittlement of steel. The vessel no longer meets safety standards and must be replaced but after 50 years the rest of the ship is worn out also. That’s why the ship is decommissioned.

      I think the misunderstanding here is basic reactor design is reused within the same class of ship, not the vessel itself.

      As for efficiency, the amount of Plutonium in a 550mw reactor is about the size of a softball so from that standpoint it’s good. Bad part is that’s roughly enough to go 25,000 EFPH (effective full power hours) which is no problem when shut down in ports quite a bit and when running only doing ~30% power. Drop it in a civilian plant running 24/7, 365 at 100% power and that’s ~3 years of operation with a very expensive/time consuming refueling ahead. That’s why civilian plants use fuel rods which are easy to replace. It also means a totally different design of reactor is required for operation.

  14. The “fear” of nuclear by the left is it lets us out of the global gov box they want to lock us into. It gives us cheap reliable energy (cue to the high-cost-of-nuclear Luddites to jump in) and doesnt harm our economies, marginalize and impoverish we Deplorables and doesn’t block economic prosperity to African and underdeveloped Asian countries.

    Do we have to keep reminding that all the CO2 climate fuss isn’t for saving the planet. It’s truly the last big opportunity for breathing new life into the mouldering body of of the global néomarxiste central-control ideology.

    Population growth is attenuating toward a peak of 9B, the planet is greening toward a bountiful “Garden of Eden Earth^тм”, prosperity is spreading with such countries as Bangladesh topping 6% annual GDP growth. The Malthusian rationale for destroying Western civilization and its economic engine is dissolving away. They know it. Africans and the poor Asian countries aren’t fooled anymore. If America doesn’t stand up to it after Trump (thank God Hillary didnt get in or it would either be over or we would be in another Civil War against the Democrats), then India would be leading at least the English speaking world and preserving the wonders of the Age of Reason, the Industrial Revolutions, the beleaguered Scientific Method, the Political Economy of Prosperity.

  15. Both the World Nuclear Association and MIT review of lifecycle emissions from nuclear and renewable generation showed that lifecycle emissions from renewables (solar, wind, biomass, hydroelectric) and nuclear were similar with Nuclear less than 1/2 that of Solar PV. This was for stand alone generation of equal amounts of generated electricity and did not analyze the needed uses of fossil fuel for backup. The ONLY CO2 backup for Renewables that will not increase the amount of CO2 emissions is Nuclear.
    Worse, to get to 90 – 100% renewable means that there needs to be thee to five times the name plate generation units to produce that power, Then there needs to be even more to have capacity to charge up whatever storage device is going to be used. This is because if all of the renewable generator units are being used to provide needed power then they can not be charging up the storage unit. And doubling down on WORSE is the fact that all of the calculations I have seen show the number of units needed based upon annual daily averages. That is pure lack of common sense, If you only have enough generating capacity for the daily average or even the Average of the Peak use you do NOT have enough for the typical 20 to 30 days of peaks during the coldest or hottest periods, Because most of the surrounding area will also be going through a PEAK. You can not bring that power from the midwest to either coast during those periods, not without MASSIVE infrastructure – like 10 to 20 1,500 mile DC Transmission lines.

  16. Answer:

    Because those policymakers are nothing more than “sales and development” pushers of “renewables.”

    They do not care about ANYTHING but moving solar or wind or like s.c.a.m.s. — market share by fiat, bilking taxpayers and rate payers.

    Cui bono.

    • Hi dear Janice! Haven’t heard from you in a long time. Because of technical glitches with this site, or maybe because I’m under some kind of mischief watch by WUWT mods, you aren’t likely to read this greeting anytime soon.

      • Hi, Gary,

        Thanks for the shout out. You are not alone RE: the technical difficulties, here. I can’t post images or videos anymore and it takes sometimes HOURS to get a comment published. WUWT is one big glitch, these days.

        All that and lack of wifi where I am living makes commenting harder.

        Glad you and all the rest are still holding the fort.

        Hope all is well with you and yours, back there.

        Janice

        • ” WUWT is one big glitch, these days.”

          Yes, it is. A real pain sometimes. One wonders why the management doesn’t do something about it since they have been getting complaints about it for months. Maybe they don’t read the comments.

          WUWT installed new commenting software about a year ago and it was just what the doctor ordered. It did just about everything a commenter would want. Then, for unknown reasons, the software developed a problem and was disabled.

          Since that time we have the mess we have now. At least before the new software was installed, one could post pictures to WUWT, but now that the new software was disabled, we were not even reverted back to the old software because the old software allowed pictures to be posted and the current version does not.

          I’m a little surprised that Anthony has not addressed this problem before now. It should be as easy as possible to use WUWT as it can be made. That is not the case now. Why?

  17. Mods,
    A little help? A comment I made at 11:38am has not posted.
    See:
    J Mac
    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    June 1, 2019 at 11:38 am

    [No items are in the moderation queue. .mod]

    • Conservatives tend to distrust any high tech company such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, etc.

      • That conservatives aren’t treated fairly may have something to do with it. And their biased search engines and biased selection for censorship. You toe the line politically obviously so you wouldn’t notice. It takes skill to compose a search that doesn’t ring their policing alarm if you aren’t sinistrally bent. They already have your favored sites lined up for you and protect you from getting a holistuc education.

      • If Google, Twitter and Facebook didn’t actively discriminate (by their own admisstion) against conservatives, they would be more trusted.

      • BTW, since so many of you get such a kick out of spotting spelling errors, Ive decided to put one in each of my posts.

  18. First, a story:

    About ten years ago I was at an event with Ted Strickland, then the Governor of Ohio. Ted is a Democrat, but an old fashioned labor union man not at all crazy. He had been elected in 2006 after 16 years of Republican rule flamed out amidst some petty scandals.

    I was then, and have been at all times in my life a strong advocate of nuclear energy. I was talking to Ted about the economic problems of the day, which included soaring energy prices. And, of course, the usual suspects were ringing their hands about Global Warming, Al Gore’s movie had been released in 2006.

    I told Ted that he could solve the energy and CO2 problems, and obtain thousands of jobs and give Ohio based manufactures a big boost by securing plentiful cheap energy. All he needed to do was promote the construction a bunch of nuclear power plants in southeastern Ohio along the Ohio river.

    It is the ideal location for such a project. First. The land is geologically stable. There are no active faults and there have not been major earthquakes in the area for thousands of years. Second, The mountains shield the area from hurricanes and the rough ground breaks up tornadoes. Third, the river provides a limitless quantity of water. Yes, the river floods, but it is not hard to find high ground that has no flooding risk. Fourth, there are no nearby major centers of population. Indeed the whole area is sparsely populated. Fifth, The eastern metropolitan grids and the Great Lakes grid are all within easy reach.

    He listened politely, and did nothing. He lost in 2010. But, the idea is still valid. Free to anybody who wants it.

    Second, Analysis:

    The anti-nuclear prejudice of the watermelon Democrats is a key proof that they are really a leftist political movement, not at all concerned with anything other than imposing a socialist regime featuring themselves as the nomenklatura. Their opposition to nuclear power is the shadow of a Soviet dezinformatsiya campaign aimed at crippling the US’s nuclear weapons capabilities in the 1950s and 60s. It is also a graphic illustration of how they have abandoned the proletariat they once claimed to champion. One might think that the union movement would champion an energy source that created hundreds of jobs for skilled craftsmen. The union movement has been taken over by the government employees, and is indifferent, or even hostile, to the interest of the proletariat.

    Third, Explanation:

    The fear of nuclear power is irrational. So what. Environmentalism and Warmism are not rational, they are religions. Their acolytes hope to convert the unwashed by scaring them. It is one of the oldest tactics in the books. So why not scare people with nuclear reactors, how else are you going to get them to live in the poverty and degradation that the destruction of industrial civilization will cause. The whole hope of the environmentalists and warmunists is that people will sit in their mud huts in the cold and dark and say to each other: “Well, thank Gaia that we don’t have to worry about warmth or nuclear power anymore.”

    • Agree completely. The Democrats’ complete dismissal of nuclear power as the solution to their Climate Change boogeyman belies their true motives.
      It’s all about the Socialism and government power over the Individual.
      The Democrats’ plan is to crush the individual and his/her rights as embodied in the US Constitution.
      And a wind turbine farm is their path to power.

        • Hi, Mike!

          Good to see you, too 🙂

          It is just a PAIN trying to communicate here, now.

          Hope you and your family enjoy lots of your usual highly educational outings this summer.

          Take care.

          Janice

  19. The Democrats’ disdain for nuclear energy deserves attention, because there is no credible pathway toward large-scale decarbonization that doesn’t include lots of it.

    This is not suprising. Having arrived at the conclusion that human CO2 emissions have created a “crisis” through the application of just about zero critical thinking, why would anyone expect Democrats to have a rational approach on how to solve it?

    I understand people want to push for nuclear power, but telling a climate activist that we need nuclear power to reduce CO2 only re-enforces their belief that climate is a crisis they need to solve.

    • YES!

      Granting their underlying premise, that human CO2 is a problem is NOT helpful.

      At least, it would be wise to begin every article about a “solution” to the non-existent problem of CO2 emissions with the qualification:

      ************************

      “There is no data proving that CO2 causes significant shifts in the climate zones of the earth. Thus, there is no need to reduce CO2 emissions. That is, there is no problem to solve, here.

      Nevertheless, granting ad arguendo that the unsupported conjecture about CO2 is correct, nuclear power plants are an excellent solution. Yet, Democrats reject nuclear power — why?”

      ***********************************

      And that is what I answered in my “Answer: …” comment above (i.e., they don’t care about CO2, etc., they just want to push all their solar, wind, battery car, etc., junk).

  20. I know I have said it many times in the past but states such as New York should be uncoupled from the rest of the US energy wise. Make them bear the consequences of their stupid choices. One thing is sure – people will start asking questions when either power is out for some times during the day or it becomes even more expensive and I am not talking about a 10% price rise. You can’t explain this – people need to feel it on their bodies. A night with candles makes a certain impression. Choosing between having heating or food also has a way to eternalize itself in a mind. We are coddled little babydogs. We have grown up knowing that some cute looks and wagging our tails always gets us what we want. This certainty needs crushing and considering at what point we are now, this will hurt. But those scars will have an impact. Nothing else will. Certainly not facts and logic.

  21. This is pre- primary season. Rational thought does not play a role at this stage of the election cycle. For either party it is all about appealing to your radical and energised base. No data required; just pure emotion and hand waving.

    The far left wants renewable energy and hates nuclear. So that’s what all the Democrat primary candidates will sell. It does not matter if this is inconsistent with a reliable and affordable energy.

    Once the two major candidates are chosen, then the positions move to the middle and facts start being introduced. Traditionally no one objects when the parties abandon not only their previous position on an emotional issue but drop that issue entirely from their platform.

    (Biden is trying to stand out from the herd by holding middle ground at the start; but in my opinion, that’s like taking the lead too early in a middle distance foot race.)

    (The 3rd stage of course is when one of the candidates is elected, and then all bets are off!)

    • “For either party it is all about appealing to your radical and energised base.”

      The Republican base is NOT radical, unless you are looking at it from a socialist viewpoint. Republicans ARE anti-socialist so if you are a socialist, you probably think Republicans are radical.

      What’s radical about wanting to pay as little in income tax as possible?

      What’s radical about wanting the smallest government possible that can do the job?

      What’s radical about wanting the United States to be the strongest nation on Earth?

      What’s radical about wanting the politicians to follow the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law?

      What’s radical about thinking babies are valuable and should not be discarded like trash?

      What is the radical position of the Republicans? If you listen to the Socialists, all Republican positons are radical. Of course, that goes both ways as Republicans think Socialists are radical and in this case the Republican are correct.

      The Republican base and the Democrat/Socialist base are not equivalent. The radicals on the Left far outnumber any radicals on the Right. And btw, regular Republicans don’t consider White Supremcists to be part of the Republican Party. The Republican Party freed the slaves. No White Supremacy here.

      The Democrats are the radicals. The Republicans are the common-sense party.

  22. Nothing convinces me more that the warmists do not believe their own fairy tales than their failure to embrace nuclear power. If I believed, deep down in my heart of hearts, that the earth was doomed to become a runaway Venus if we did not reduce emissions by 2030, I would make embrace of nuclear power my one goal in life, damn the expense, damn the risk of shoddy construction. Nothing would get in the way.

    Instead, they concentrate on slower and even more expensive solar and wind power, which simply can’t come online fast enough to change anything by 2030.

    Ergo, they do not believe their own fairy scary tales.

    • Yep, Felix…they don’t really believe in climate catastrophe. Else they would be desperate to build hundreds of nuclear plants this decade.

      They would also be loudly forcing Asia (China, India, Southeast Asia) to put the brakes on CO2 emissions. In fact, they would be desperately helping Asia build as many nuclear plants as required.

  23. The Soviet Union engaged in meme warfare back in the ’70s. Anti-nuclear was one of the memes, the Left is still running that programming, two generations later.

  24. The latest on nuclear power in the U.S.:

    Virgil Summer:

    SCE&G estimated at the August 1 briefing that its share of the construction costs at the two V.C. Summer units, if they were completed, would total $9.9 billion. Santee Cooper estimated in its July 31 statement that the total cost of its 45% share of the project would be $8.0 billion, excluding $3.4 billion in interest. Adding the two companies’ estimates provides a total construction cost of $17.9 billion, not including Santee Cooper’s interest calculation. SCE&G estimated that the first of the new units could be completed by 2022 and the second in 2025. Those recent construction costs and schedules compare to initial estimates in 2008 that the first new unit would be completed in 2016 and the second in 2019, at a total cost of $9.8 billion to build both units, including an inflation allowance. The two utilities have spent about $9 billion on the project so far, according to the statements and briefings cited above.

    Bottom line: Both V.C. Summer units were cancelled in 2017.

    Vogtle:

    August 2008: Southern Co. and utility partners apply to receive a federal loan guarantee. Total costs for the project are estimated at $14.3 billion.

    August 2018: A lawsuit filed against MEAG Power by the City of Jacksonville, Florida, and JEA, the city’s municipal power utility, which is under contract to purchase power from the Vogtle expansion, says, “Current cost-to-completion estimates exceed $27 billion, and that number is expected to increase.”

    • Mark Bahner, my analysis of what went wrong at VC Summer and Vogtle 3 & 4 can be found in a previous comment on WUWT from March, 2019:

      https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/03/12/it-sounds-crazy-but-fukushima-chernobyl-and-three-mile-island-show-why-nuclear-is-inherently-safe/#comment-2654040

      As is described in my comments from March, for those of us who went through the intense struggles of the 1980’s in learning how to do nuclear construction on cost and on schedule, it was clear from about 2013 on that history was repeating itself.

      The entire blame for what happened with those two projects can be laid at the feet of the project managers, the project owners, and the failure of the state regulatory agencies to properly oversee and assess how well the utilities were doing in meeting their cost and schedule commitments on and off the two construction sites.

      • “As is described in my comments from March, for those of us who went through the intense struggles of the 1980’s in learning how to do nuclear construction on cost and on schedule,…”

        Who are “we” and where were “we” in the 1980s?

        I ask because I worked for the Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear Power Division in Lynchburg in the 1980s, and I certainly didn’t see any evidence of “learning how to do nuclear construction on cost and on schedule.”

        And to my knowledge, not a single nuclear reactor installed after 1980 in the United States was built and constructed “on cost and on schedule.” In fact, the last reactor that entered operation in the U.S. is Watts Bar 2, which probably has a Guinnesss Book of World Records entry for “most off-schedule”! 😉

      • Beta Blocker said:

        “As is described in my comments from March, for those of us who went through the intense struggles of the 1980’s in learning how to do nuclear construction on cost and on schedule,…”

        Mark Bahner said:

        Who are “we” and where were “we” in the 1980s?

        I ask because I worked for the Babcock and Wilcox Nuclear Power Division in Lynchburg in the 1980s, and I certainly didn’t see any evidence of “learning how to do nuclear construction on cost and on schedule.”

        And to my knowledge, not a single nuclear reactor installed after 1980 in the United States was built and constructed “on cost and on schedule.” In fact, the last reactor that entered operation in the U.S. is Watts Bar 2, which probably has a Guinnesss Book of World Records entry for “most off-schedule”! ??

        I am a nuclear industry renegade in that I refuse to blame the NRC for nuclear’s ever-growing costs. I also think pushing forward with Yucca Mountain is a big mistake. I am convinced that the largest single obstacle to nuclear’s forward progress in the United States is the industry’s inability to get its capital costs under control.

        My lifetime occupational dose comes mostly from beta-gamma radiation sources, hence my internet handle is Beta Blocker. My experience from the 1980’s was in QA oversight and program control auditing for nuclear projects in the US Northwest. The serious problems we were seeing happening in the Northwest at that time were the same ones being seen generally in many other nuclear construction projects around the country.

        It’s not enough to simply identify a QA issue and then resolve it. Far more often than not, these issues reflect larger cross-cutting problems with how the project is being managed as a whole. What we as QA specialists and program auditors were seeing had root causes which went well beyond the construction sites into the core of the project management teams, both the technical and the administrative sides.

        Thirty-five years ago, a raft of studies and reports were being published which analyzed the cost growth problems and the severe quality assurance issues the nuclear construction industry was then experiencing. These reports made a series of recommendations as to how to solve these problems. Those studies had a number of common threads:

        — Complex, first of a kind projects
        — Strength of the industrial base
        — A changing technical environment
        — A changing regulatory environment
        — Project management effectiveness
        — Overconfidence based on past project success
        — Reliance on contractor expertise
        — Management control systems
        — Cost & schedule control systems
        — Quality assurance
        — Construction productivity & progress
        — Project financing and completion schedule
        — A change in strategy by the anti-nuclear activists
        — Regulatory oversight effectiveness
        — Working relationships with regulators

        What does a claim that “the project stayed on cost and on schedule” actually mean?

        My definition is that if a regulatory driven change in the technical requirements forces design modifications and field changes to existing systems in order to achieve compliance, then those extra costs are properly considered as base costs within the project measurement baseline.

        It is completely true that not a one of the nuclear projects from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s was built to its original cost and schedule estimates, those produced before the NRC’s requirements began to expand well beyond what anyone might have predicted five years earlier. What is also true is that unpredictable changes in the regulatory environment forced technical changes which resulted in higher costs.

        Some projects were able to cope with those changes and pay for them just once. I’m referring to projects like St. Lucie Unit 2 and Hopecreek. Other projects, the ones which were poorly managed, paid for those changes two or three times over before the work was properly completed to the NRC’s expectations. Zimmer, Midland, Marble Hill, South Texas, and Diablo Canyon were among the worst offenders. Just like it was with VC Summer in 2017, three of those five poorly performing projects from the 1980’s were terminated.

        Here is a brief history of that period:

        In the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, the regulatory environment became much more complex with a series of added regulatory requirements on nuclear plant design and construction. At the same time, the large 1300 megawatt plants were being constructed for the first time; they were being built without a prototype; and there were many things in those new designs which had to be tested and proven for the first time in operational service.

        Also at the same time, the anti-nuclear activist groups switched tactics. They had gotten nowhere in the courts with their arguments concerning basic nuclear safety, and so they began to focus on emerging quality assurance issues with the plant construction projects — that is to say, the lack of effort on the part of the senior managers of large nuclear construction projects towards meeting the quality assurance standards they had committed to in their NRC license applications.

        The NRC had assumed in the mid-1970’s that one utility was much like another in its ability manage a large and very complex nuclear construction project. This turned out not to be the case. In the mid 1970’s, the NRC had given construction licenses to utilities which were not capable of managing the demanding task of building a nuclear plant to strict quality assurance requirements while at the same time operating under significant cost and schedule pressures.

        Those nuclear construction projects which had weak project management systems and which suffered from a lack of commitment to maintaining high quality assurance standards were in deep trouble well before Three Mile Island occurred. Their lack of commitment to an effective quality assurance program was reflected in their tendency to place primary responsibility for quality assurance on the Quality Assurance organization, an organization which is not equipped for handling that job. The QA organization is a means of communicating to management whether or not the project’s QA objectives are being met. But it is not a substitute for management. For those projects which got into deep trouble, managers at every level of the project organization had abdicated responsibility for quality to the QA organization.

        The variety of problems these late 1970’s and early 1980’s nuclear projects were suffering were compounded by other basic weaknesses in their project management systems. Matrix management systems were common at that time, but these kinds of systems do not enforce enough internal discipline to keep a complex nuclear project on track. Every nuclear project which got into trouble in the early 1980’s had a matrix management system. Another issue was the lack of project configuration control and the lack of contractor interface control. Projects which lacked effective configuration control and effective contractor interface control saw their budgets being eaten by the nuclear construction contractors.

        Inside those projects which got into trouble, middle managers and senior managers did not want to hear bad news. Managers at lower levels knew what the problems were, but by the time the message got to the senior managers, it had become so attenuated it was unrecognizable. Whistleblowers on the job became fed up with management’s lack of commitment to quality construction standards and went outside the project to the anti-nuclear activists. Those activists then made sure these very real QA problems were introduced into the NRC licensing process.

        Why was it that in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s it was primarily the whistleblowers who were exposing these quality assurance issues, not the NRC’s own staff?

        It was because at the time, the NRC viewed QA issues as not representing a danger until the plant was about to go operational, and so it focused its oversight efforts on the last phases of the licensing process. This meant that a project’s substandard practices which had been in place for years had remained unchallenged over most of the life of the project, and so the project had become complacent because it hadn’t heard from the NRC. In other words, no news was good news for these projects. But then when the anti-nuclear activists raised issues with how the plant had been constructed, issues which had been discovered by whistleblowers on the job, these projects then began asking the question, where was the NRC in the earlier phases of the project when its oversight and input was most needed?

        Those nuclear projects which were successfully completed in the 1980’s were the ones which had strong project management systems and which viewed the NRC as a resource, not as an adversary. By the late 1980’s, most all of the earlier problems with nuclear construction had been resolved and the industry was well positioned to expand, had the market for nuclear power plants continued to hold up. But this was not to be, the weight of past problems and of increasing competition from coal and natural gas put an end to nuclear construction in the US for a period of twenty-years. More recently, the emergence of the fracking boom and competition from cheap natural gas is putting an end to the nascent American nuclear renaissance.

        What do we face in the year 2019?

        Once again, how did 2012’s estimate of 12 billion dollars for two AP1000’s grow to 2017’s estimate of 25 billion dollars in just five years? The answer here is that all the lessons learned from the 1980’s were ignored. The details of those lessons are explained here in my previous comment from March previously cited:

        https://wattsupwiththat.com/2019/03/12/it-sounds-crazy-but-fukushima-chernobyl-and-three-mile-island-show-why-nuclear-is-inherently-safe/#comment-2654040

        Those in the United States who say the solution to nuclear power’s lack of economic competitiveness with natural gas is to remove the strict regulatory requirements government now imposes on the industry are living in a dream world. My rough guess is that removing these regulatory burdens might reduce US nuclear construction costs fifteen percent, maybe twenty percent at the very outside. But that isn’t nearly enough to overcome the lifecycle cost advantages now enjoyed by natural gas.

        But more important than this, a decision to greatly reduce government oversight over nuclear power would greatly reduce the public’s confidence that nuclear is safe. Is that loss of public confidence worth a cost reduction of perhaps twenty percent at best in nuclear construction costs?

        The NuScale project team is working closely with the NRC to be sure there are few regulatory surprises once fabrication and construction begins in the early 2020’s. If changes in requirements do occur, however small or large these may be, the project is well prepared to cope with whatever changes may come down the pike.

        NuScale’s SMR project is the last hope for creating a successful nuclear construction industry in the United States. If NuScale and its team fails to meet its cost and schedule commitments in building its Idaho SMR plant, if NuScale and its partners fail to meet the NRC’s high expectations, we will not see another commercial reactor project being initiated in the US until the 2040’s and beyond.

  25. That’s because for the Green Blob Climate Change is about re-structuring the Western democracies’ energy economies to renewable wind and solar power, sources that that also get lots of taxpayer subsidies. That it makes consumers electric bills much higher is an intended feature, not a bug.
    The Green Blob is all about reaping those subsidies and tax credits.

    You can restructure to wind and solar if nuclear power is in the way. This is about a middle class wealth transfer to green hedge funds, public union retirement funds, and rich investors like Tom Steyer.
    Crony capitalism with a healthy heaping of socialism.

    They need to kill nuclear. They need to kill coal. Then they’ll go after making natural gas much higher. We already see that by actions to stop gas pipelines wherever they can.

    • Errata: “You can NOT restructure to wind and solar if nuclear….”

      sigh.. I miss edit.

  26. You assume of course that they want to be able to supply power to meet the need for it , when enforced rationing , because of a shortage of supply , offers lots of ‘benefits’ when it comes to control .
    For example who would argue that hospitals should get power before ‘evil industries ‘ !
    How can you allow energy to be wasted letting people fly when you need to keep the lights on!

    There are lot of ‘ideas’ you can get passed , that other would be rejected , under the the need to ‘save power’

  27. Not all Democrats hate western civilization but the people who do hate western civilization are in the Democratic party. In order to convince people to hate western civilization they need to convince them that W.C. is evil. The extreme ecology stuff is part of that. W.C. is evil because of environmental degradation. If we transition to a nuclear powered civilization then there would be no smoke stacks for their propaganda.

    • The problem is the environmental degradation they claim they want to avoid would actually become severe if their policies are ever realized in full.

  28. “The last time the party’s platform contained a positive statement about nuclear power was way back in 1972.”

    It’s not curious at all why Democrats and liberals don’t recognize nuclear power as the one and only solution for emissions-free energy. They have spent their entire lives opposing it. Internal rationalization mechanisms in their brains prevent them from making such an abrupt about-face. How can they possibly admit they were so wrong, for so long? More importantly, it means that they are partially responsible for the end of life on earth because if they hadn’t opposed nuclear power we’d certainly have more of it today.

    It’s just too much for them to handle.

  29. Democrat/Enviros want scarcity, particularly energy scarcity. Anything that results in abundance, particularly energy abundance, that is accessible to more people is not useful to them.

  30. Hollywood is heavily invested ion convincing people that we will all glow in the dark if we use nuclear power, even though it is clean and efficient and safer than almost any other form of power. Currently HBO is running some horrible new series “Chernobyl” that is all about how millions of people died from the Chernobyl fiasco. It was more like a few hundred, and that was because of gross Soviet malfeasance and incompetence.

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