Proposed Revisions to Nuclear Plant Release/Public Exposure Regulations: ANS Response to EPA

DC PerspectivesIn January, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) concerning 40 CFR 190-the regulations that govern public exposure and release of radioactive materials resulting from normal nuclear power plant operations (it does not pertain to nuclear accidents). The public comment period for the proposed rulemaking ended on August 3.

EPA Proposes Power Sector CO2 Emissions Reduction Plan

DC PerspectivesWith cap-and-trade and carbon tax proposals going nowhere in congress, the Obama administration is tackling the global warming issue through the administrative branch, using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations. In the transport sector, the administration promulgated vehicle fuel efficiency (mileage) standards. In the power sector, the EPA has proposed regulations requiring that all new power plants emit no more CO2 than a typical natural gas plant-thus, any new coal plants would have to employ CO2 sequestration. And now, the EPA is proposing to address CO2 emissions from existing power plants by establishing CO2 emissions reduction requirements for the power sector.

Persistent Prejudice Against Nuclear—Can Anything Be Done? Part 3

At this site in January, I made the case that there is significant and persistent prejudice against nuclear power among both the public and policymakers. In February, I discussed several approaches to ameliorating nuclear's current and future problems (which are largely due to said prejudice) and the limitations of each approach. This month, I will explore one last possible option: challenging the biased and unfair treatment of nuclear under current policies and regulation-in court.

Persistent Prejudice Against Nuclear – Can Anything Be Done? Part 2

In last month's post, I made the case that there is substantial prejudice against nuclear power among much of the public in most of the world. As a result, nuclear is held to requirements thousands of times as strict as other energy sources and industries, resulting in nuclear being rendered less competitive economically. This in turn results in the use of fossil generation instead of nuclear, despite the fact that the operational record, the data, and all scientific analyses show fossil-fueled generation to be orders of magnitude more dangerous and harmful.

Are Nuclear Plant Closures Due to Market Manipulation and Decommissioning Fund Rules?

DC PerspectivesMost of you are well aware that Entergy recently announced it will permanently close its Vermont Yankee (VY) nuclear plant. The primary reasons given were continued low natural gas prices, the cost of post-Fukushima upgrades, and "flaws" in the local wholesale electricity market that suppress prices and harm the profitability of baseload facilities like VY. VY was close to breaking even this year, as well as the last few years, but was projected to become unprofitable in the future-over the next few years, anyway.

Environmental Impact Evaluations – Seeing the Bigger (Nuclear vs. Fossil) Picture

DC PerspectivesAs I discussed last fall, a federal appeals court ordered the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to perform more thorough evaluations in support of its new Waste Confidence Rule, particularly with respect to the potential impacts of long-term storage of spent fuel at plant sites. While those evaluations are being performed, the NRC has suspended all new plant licensing and plant license renewals.

New EPA Guidelines for Response to Radioactivity Releases

DC Perspective

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency just released a draft Protective Action Guideline (PAG) that sets standards and makes recommendations for the response to a large release of radioactive material into the environment (e.g., from a nuclear plant accident or a dirty bomb attack, etc.). The draft report is now out for public comments (which are due by July 15).

Update and Perspective on Small Modular Reactor Development

The US Department of Energy has a $452 million program to share development and licensing costs for selected small modular reactor (SMR) designs. The DOE's goal is to have an operating SMR by ~2022. Last November, the DOE awarded the first grant to the B&W mPowerTM reactor. In more recent news, the DOE has decided to issue a follow-on solicitation to enter a similar cost-sharing agreement with one or more other SMR vendors (and their SMR designs). The status of development and licensing for several SMR designs are summarized below.

Post-election outlook for nuclear energy

In my September post at the ANS Nuclear Cafe, I discussed the Democratic and Republican party platforms, along with their potential impacts on nuclear energy. With the 2012 U.S. elections now behind us, this post provides a post-election follow up, and discusses the impacts of the election results on nuclear's prospects over the near- to mid-term.

New, strict rule on plant water intake targets nuclear

Indian Point

A recent Reuters news article describes how New York State will require a reduction in cooling water intake for power plants and other industrial facilities, to reduce fish kills by 90 percent. The article goes on to say that the state is planning to use this rule to force the Indian Point nuclear power plant to install a $2-billion closed-cycle cooling system.