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Lets Stop Pretending Nuclear Power Is Commercially Viable

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Worldwide Nuclear Industry Woes Deepen

The year 2011 will go down for the nuclear industry worldwide as an annus horribilis.
First came the March Fukushima nuclear disaster, with operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) belatedly acknowledging that three of the facility’s six reactors did, in fact, suffer core meltdowns.

On 20 June Moody's Investors Service obligingly cut its credit rating on TEPCO to junk status and kept the operator of Japan's crippled nuclear power plant on review for possible further downgrade, citing uncertainty over the fate of its bailout plan. TEPCO is Japan's largest corporate bond issuer and its shares are widely held by financial institutions. TEPCO shares have plummeted 80 percent since March, dragging its market capitalization below $9 billion. Following the Fukushima crisis, including a round of emergency loans from lenders and $64 billion in outstanding bonds, TEPCO now has around $115 billion in debt versus equity of about $35 billion. It’s enough to make any self-respecting Japanese salaryman commit hara-kiri.

Farther to the west, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is closely monitoring conditions along the Missouri River, where floodwaters were rising at Nebraska Public Power District's Cooper Nuclear Station and Omaha Public Power District's Fort Calhoun nuclear power plant. Flooding could complicate the restart of the Fort Calhoun plant, shut in April for refueling, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expects record water release from the federal dams along the Missouri River to continue until mid-August. The failure on Friday of a Missouri River levee in northwest Missouri offered the imperiled plants a brief reprieve from possible flooding, although Nebraska officials nervously expect the river’s waters to rise again.

Completing the trifecta and adding to the perfect storm is news of a work stoppage at Israel’s secretive Dimona nuclear power station. The only thing that Dimona officials fear more than publicity is bad publicity and Israel’s Channel 10 is reporting that Dimona employees have decided to enact work sanctions after ongoing negotiations have failed to bring an end to a dispute over their work conditions. Beginning Sunday, external workers will not be allowed to work in Dimona, and the union may shut down the core completely in the coming weeks if their demands are not met. The labor dispute is between the Treasury and the reactor's managers, who are demanding salary reimbursement comparable to that of nuclear researchers.

And the hits just keep on coming.

The Israeli Atomic Energy Commission is preparing to make a presentation to a special session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna to outline new steps to supervise Israel’s two nuclear reactors, the 24-megawatt Dimona reactor and a 5-megawatt Center for Nuclear Research reactor at Nahal Sorek and the handling of their nuclear waste. Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission head is leading the Israeli delegation.

It is likely to be a contentious meeting. The United States provided the Nahal Sorek reactor to Israel in the 1960s as part of the Atoms for Peace Program. The reactor is under IAEA supervision and is visited by international inspectors twice a year.

Dimona, on the other hand, was supplied to Israel by France in 1958 and is widely believed to provide fissile material for Israel’s nuclear weapons program. Buttressing these concerns is the fact that Israel is not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refuses to allow IAEA inspectors to supervise or even visit Dimona. Israel’s protestations over the benign nature of Dimona’s activities received a worldwide blow in 1986 when a technician at Dimona, Mordechai Vanunu, revealed an account of Israeli covert nuclear weapons production there, complete with photographs, to London’s Sunday Times. An infuriated Israeli government subsequently kidnapped him in Rome, returning him to Israel for trial on charges of treason and espionage in a closed court, where he received and served a 18-year sentence, 11 of them in solitary, for having the temerity to reveal Israel’s covert nuclear military program to the world.

According to an Arab diplomatic source speaking to Kuwait’s KUNA news agency, Arab nations are demanding that the IAEA inspect Israel’s nuclear facilities at an international nuclear security conference, which opened at IAEA headquarters in Vienna on Monday. Arab nations maintain that Israel’s unmonitored nuclear program, led by Dimona’s aging reactor, pose an unacceptable risk to Middle Eastern nations without proper IAEA supervision. Further upping the ante, the diplomatic source stated that the participating Arab delegations are renewing calls for Israel to sign to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well opening its nuclear facilities to regular IAEA supervision. In the wake of Fukushima such calls are certain to receive a more sympathetic hearing.

Between Vienna and labor woes, its enough to make an Israeli nuclear official wish for something more manageable, like a plague of locusts.

By. John Daly of OilPrice.com


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  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    In 2005, I was writing my first novel when I met Mordechai Vanunu in east Jerusalem.I became a reporter after he told me:“Did you know that President Kennedy tried to stop Israel from building atomic weapons? In 1963, he forced Prime Minister Ben Guirion to admit the Dimona was not a textile plant, as the sign outside proclaimed, but a nuclear plant. The Prime Minister said, ‘The nuclear reactor is only for peace.’ “Kennedy insisted on an open internal inspection. He wrote letters demanding that Ben Guirion open up the Dimona for inspection. “The French were responsible for the actual building of the Dimona. The Germans gave the money; they were feeling guilty for the Holocaust, and tried to pay their way out. Everything inside was written in French, when I was there, almost twenty years ago. Back then, the Dimona descended seven floors underground. TBC
  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    Part 2:“In 1955, Perez and Guirion met with the French to agree they would get a nuclear reactor if they fought against Egypt to control the Sinai and Suez Canal. That was the war of 1956. Eisenhower demanded that Israel leave the Sinai, but the reactor plant deal continued on. “When Johnson became president, he made an agreement with Israel that two senators would come every year to inspect. Before the senators would visit, the Israelis would build a wall to block the underground elevators and stairways. From 1963 to ’69, the senators came, but they never knew about the wall that hid the rest of the Dimona from them. “Nixon stopped the inspections and agreed to ignore the situation. As a result, Israel increased production. In 1986, there were over two hundred bombs. Today, they may have enough plutonium for ten bombs a year.”-"BEYOND NUCLEAR: Mordechai Vanunu's FREEDOM of SPEECH Trial and My Life as a Muckraker: 2005-2010" by Eileen Fleming
  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    In a recent interview with Haaretz, author of “The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel’s Bargain with the Bomb”, Dr. Avner spoke about a late-1969 meeting between Golda Meir and Nixon, “the United States and most of the Western world agreed to accept Israel’s special nuclear status. In other words, Israel did not join the Non-Proliferation Treaty, but it received special status, and pressure was not exerted on it with regard to this topic. Ambiguity is the Israeli-American policy. Without the West’s agreement, there would be no ambiguity."In April 2004, John Bolton traveled to Israel, just prior to Mordechai Vanunu’s release from 18 years in jail for providing the photographic proof and telling the truth that Israel had already manufactured upwards of 200 nuclear warheads by 1985!http://www.wearewideawake.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2104&Itemid=247
  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    On 25 April 2004, Uri Avnery wrote for Haaretz: “Everybody understands that he has no more secrets...what the security establishment is really afraid of: Vanunu is in a position to expose the close partnership with the United States in the development of Israel’s nuclear armaments. “This worries Washington so much, that the man responsible in the State Department for ‘arms control’, Under-Secretary John Bolton, has come to Israel in person for the occasion. Vanunu, it appears, can cause severe damage to the mighty super-power."The world must be prevented by all available means from hearing, from the lips of a credible witness, that the Americans are full partners in Israel’s nuclear arms program, while pretending to be the world’s sheriff for the prevention of nuclear proliferation.”
  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    I don't know anything about Dr Daly's academic and intellectual background, but one thing I do know about him. His knowledge of the world nuclear future is pathetic, and in reading this nonsense I am sorry that I did not attend the international meeting of the IAEE last week, and humiliate everyone who thinks what Dr Daly does about nuclear.But understand something. I was in both Japan and Germany as an American soldier, and by the end of my engagement in the military I realized that as a group the voters are often hopeless. The arguments and opinions of Dr Dala probably make sense to many of them, because they are too lazy to do any constructive thinking.About Tepco Dr Daly. What happens to them does not make the slightest difference where the Japanese nuclear future is concerned. The people who own Japan want nuclear, and in the long run that is what it is certain to be.
  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    Dear Fred, Are you aware that there are 104 nuclear power plants in the United States and 10 days after the disaster in Japan, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, extended the license of a virtual twin of Fukushima, a 40 year-old Vermont nuclear reactor for another two decades. The renewal was granted even though the reactor's cooling tower had literally fallen down, and the plant had repeatedly leaked radioactive fluid.Are you aware that last Sunday at the Fort Calhoun reactor a piece of heavy equipment nicked an eight-foot-high, 2,000-foot-long temporary rubber berm, and it deflated?Are you aware that the people of Germany have risen up against nuclear power because they know that ALL things nuclear must be abolished if this planet and human kind is to survive as we now know it.
  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    Eileen, the German people are willing to do away with nuclear at the present time because they have come to believe the kind of lies that Josef Goebbels used so effectively during the Hitler regime. But their rapture with a nuclear retreat won't last, because believing those lies will mean a lower standard of living, and that is the LAST THING our German friends will accept.As for the Japanese, the people who give the orders in that country are as determined to keep nuclear as our friends in France are.
  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    Why are most anti-nuclear activists from affluent western nations? This is true for most of the faux environmentalists and false "friends" of the Earth.Because they don't have to worry where their next meal is coming from, unlike a large number of people in the third world who would benefit from abundant energy and electric power.
  • Anonymous on June 27 2011 said:
    I believe we are completely capable of creating a world with an energy source that will not kill life on this planet.
  • Anonymous on June 28 2011 said:
    Lisa, what is that energy source? Windmills? Solar cell arrays? If windmills, I fear that if we build enough of them to replace both fossil fuels and nuclear power, sooner or later Mother Nature is going to throw a showstopper issue in our faces. She's fond of doing that.
  • Anonymous on July 01 2011 said:
    The people who argue against nuclear don't have a chance. They can't present a comprehensive scientific argument, and so they fall back on newspaper articles by half-educated amateurs or for that matter half-educated agitators like Amery Lovins: educated in physics but not in economics. What those anti-nuclearites should be doing instead is finding the shortcomings in nuclear management and security, and making sure that those are known to every member of the TV audience.They can also help to solve the shale gas riddle, where by "help to solve" I mean doing some constructive thinking for a change about a very importnt issue.I'll give them a hint: shale gas makes sense, but it is unclear HOW MUCH of it makes sense, because the liars and propagandists are hard at work singing its praises.

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