Podcast: Nuclear power? No thanks!

In Episode 110 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg rants against the current greenwashing of nuclear power, and hype about a supposedly "safe" new generation of reactors. Every stage of the nuclear cycle is ecocidal and genocidal. Uranium mining has poisoned the lands of indigenous peoples from Navajo Country to Saskatchewan to West Africa. The ongoing functioning of nuclear plants entails routine emissions of radioactive gases, factored in by the bureaucrats in determining "acceptable" levels of cancer. Disposal of the waste, and the retired reactor sites themselves, is a problem that inherently defies solution. These wastes will be deadly for exponentially longer into the future than biblical times stretch into the past. The Waste Isolation Pilot Project (WIPP) in New Mexico, hyped as secure for hundreds of millennia, leaked plutonium after only 13 years. And finally there is the "sexiest" issue, the one that actually gets some media play, at least—the risk of accident. It is a mark of capitalism's depravity that even after the nightmares of Fukushima and Chernobyl, we periodically get media campaigns about an imminent "nuclear renaissance." Meanwhile, virtually ongoing smaller accidents go by with barely a media ripple. Nuclear versus fossil fuels is the false choice offered us by industry. The imperative is to get off the extraction economy and on to one based on sustainability and resource conservation.

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Production by Chris Rywalt

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Erratum re. Diablo Canyon

The Diablo Canyon nuclear plant in California has not yet been decommissioned; it is scheduled to close in 2025. A recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission report, made in response to an April 2020 leak and shutdown, found "failures" of oversight at the plant. (edhat, Santa Barbara) 

California proposes to extend operation of last nuclear plant

Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed keeping open California's last nuclear plant for up to another 10 years as the state wrestles with how to meet power demand while it reduces its reliance on fossil fuels for energy. Plans to initiate closing of the Diablo Canyon Power Plant over the next three years would be halted at a cost of up to $1.4 billion under draft legislation Newsom sent to legislators Aug. 18, angering some of the governor’s environmentalist allies. (Politico)

An analysis from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists especially notes the seismic risks of continued operation of Diablo Canyon.

California passes bill extending operations at Diablo Canyon

California lawmakers on Sept. 1 passed a bill to extend the operation of Diablo Canyon power plant, the state's only remaining nuclear power plant, by five years. California's Public Utilities Commission (PUC) previously approved a proposal to close the plant, owned by PG&E, in 2025, but this bill ensures that it will stay open until 2030.

Lawmakers allocated $1.4 billion to keep the power plant open for the continuing years. California expects the federal government to cover the majority of those costs. The bill comes as California suffers a heat wave and a state of emergency. 

Currently, Diablo Canyon accounts for about 9% of California's total electric supply and 17% of the state's "zero-carbon" electricity supply. The bill is seen as a step toward California's goal of 100 percent zero-carbon and renewable energy resources by 2045. The bill now awaits Gov, Gavin Newsom’s signature. (Jurist)