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Reactor Reax Top Stories - Some Nuclear Plants Could Face Early Retirement: UBS

"Reactor Reax" is a weekly feature produced by Physicians for Social Responsibility.

Nuclear hazard

(WASHINGTON DC) - This week in Reactor Reax, some merchant nuclear plants could face early retirement, enhanced firepower sought to fend off 'radiological sabotage' at nuclear sites, and U.S. nuclear regulators are divided on costly Fukushima Rule.

Also, a New York court seeks more public input on nuclear safety, and there will be no agreement yet over who pays for the Crystal River nuclear plant repairs.

Some merchant nuclear plants could face early retirement: UBS, Platts, January 9, 2013. "This will be a challenging year for merchant nuclear generation and as many as 3,000 MW of reactors, or nearly 3% of the 101,350-MW US fleet, could be at risk of retirement, according to a UBS Securities analyst. The sector faces twin challenges of regulatory mandated investments and a low power price environment as a result of cheap natural gas, analyst Julien Dumoulin-Smith said in a report released late on Tuesday, but dated January 2."

Enhanced firepower sought to fend off 'radiological sabotage' at nuclear sites, The Hill/E2 Wire, January 9, 2013. "The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is moving forward with plans to outfit security guards protecting spent fuel storage sites at power plants with machine guns and other high-capacity weapons. A supplemental proposed rule to be published Thursday in the Federal Register amends a 2011 regulation giving personnel at the sites 'an expanded arsenal of weapons, including machine guns and semi-automatic, large capacity, assault weapons.' Private security at the sites are currently armed, but to a lesser degree.

U.S. Nuclear Regulators Divided on Costly Fukushima Rule, Dow Jones, January 9, 2013. "The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission appeared divided Wednesday over whether to mandate safety improvements at U.S. nuclear power plants that could cost hundreds of millions of dollars. At least one commission member seemed to favor the mandate at a public hearing Wednesday, while two others expressed reservations. It wasn't clear how the five-member body would vote on the proposal, and a final decision might not come for weeks. At issue is whether the commission should require safety upgrades at 31 U.S. nuclear plants with similar designs to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi facility, which experienced a triple meltdown after an earthquake and tsunami in March 2011."

Court Seeks More Public Input on Nuclear Safety, New York Times, January 9, 2013. "A federal appeals court has ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must either allow more public participation in its decisions about fire safety at the Indian Point 3 nuclear reactor or to show why such input is impractical or inappropriate. A lawsuit brought by Richard L. Brodsky, a former New York State assemblyman and opponent of Indian Point, involves exemptions granted by the commission from compliance with some fire regulations. Like many reactors around the country, Indian Point installed a fire retardant called Hemyc around critical electric cables in the 1980s to meet a rule that the cables had to be safe from fire for one hour. But the material turned out to be nowhere near as fire-resistant as advertised. In granting the exemption, the regulatory commission cut the amount of time that the retardant would have to be effective to a level that the plant could meet. Critics said this was unsafe, but the agency said it had re-analyzed the amount of time the substance actually needed to work to ensure safety."

No agreement yet over who pays for Crystal River nuclear plant repairs, Tampa Bay Times, January 8, 2013. "After their first two mediation sessions, Progress Energy Florida and its insurance company still could not reach a settlement over the crippled Crystal River nuclear plant. The parties continue to negotiate but a final decision about the future of the nuclear plant may not come until summer."

"Reactor Reax" is featured on, a Web site maintained by Physicians for Social Responsibility.



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