No industry cheerfully accepts the prospect that a newly developed technology could make it obsolete. Executives and investors earn much of their wealth by … [Read More...] about Documentary evidence that fossil fuel industry knew–by 1948–that it faced prospect that atomic energy would make it obsolete
Governor Jerry Brown’s signature is the last obstacle for SB100, a bill that establishes California’s goal of producing 100% of its electricity from zero carbon sources by 2040.
The bill also includes a goal of 60% of electricity from renewables, but that leaves a big space in the market for zero emission power sources like the currently operating and well-maintained Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant. For a number of rather shaky and opaque reasons, PG&E, the plant’s current owner, is planning to close down the station as each of its two units reach the end of their initial 40 year operating license.
Together, those two units produce between 17-19 billion kilowatt-hours of zero emission electricity each year, roughly 9% of California’s current electricity demand. With just three more plants like it, California can meet its zero emission goal.
Numerous plant opponents claim that the facility is “aging”, but more than 2/3 of the nuclear plants in the United States have already been granted their first 20 year extension and several have already notified the NRC of their intent to apply for their second license renewal. There isn’t a finite limit on the lifetime of a nuclear plant, just as there is no finite limit on the lifetime of any other manufactured product, building or other piece of infrastructure.
Continued utility and safety are all dependent on many factors, including executed maintenance and inspections.
Diablo Canyon has an excellent operating record and reputation within the nuclear industry. There is no reason to shut it down just because its owner thinks it can make more money without the plant than with it.
I’ve corresponded with several journalists on the energy beat about the possible revision of the Diablo Canyon decision in the wake of the 100% clean electricity bill, but so far, most have expressed severe skepticism that conditions exist in California politics for such a reversal.
Californians for Green Nuclear Power actions and accomplishments related to saving Diablo Canyon
Californians for Green Nuclear Power (CGNP) is stubborn group of skilled scientists, engineers and career public servants has been working hard for several years to share their confidence that Diablo Canyon should remain operating. They have developed considerable political skills and have been savvy enough to obtain official intervenor status in the decision process at the Public Utility Commission.
I know they are not alone, but they have generally been vastly outnumbered in meetings and in commentary on various issues. Fortunately, the law is still officially determined by facts and judicial opinions, not votes among stakeholders.
Dr. Gene Nelson, CGNP’s political liaison, recently shared the following list of CGNPs actions and accomplishments. I hope others interested in the struggle will find the list useful.
1. Californians for Green Nuclear Power, Inc. (CGNP) completed the incorporation process,
2. became THE adverse California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Intervenor in PG&E’s Application A.16-08-006 to voluntarily abandon Diablo Canyon Power Plant (DCPP) in 2025
3. Successfully recruited four knowledgeable Ph.D.s in fields related to nuclear power, many more nuclear power advocates, and some top-notch attorneys to oppose this wasteful PG&E proposal
4. Filed approximately 1,500 pages of written testimony, Motions, workpapers, etc. in support of their adverse position. This s comparable to the volume and level of detail of the Applicant, Pacific Gas & Electric.
5. Vigorously participated in all oral phases of this protracted proceeding, including all of the citizen outreach events.
6. Made heavy use of PG&E’s sworn filings in their 2010 Application to the CPUC to recover the relicensing costs to prepare DCPP for safe and reliable operation to 2045.
7. Filed an “Application for Rehearing” with the CPUC on the day the CPUC published their controversial decision permitting PG&E to abandon a perfectly good nuclear power plant in 2025, despite the anticipated harms to ratepayers and the proven adverse environmental impacts, informed by the consequences of the mismanagement of a routine service operation at San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) that led to SONGS being taken off-line in January, 2012.
8. Vigorously participated in Committee hearings before the California Assembly and the California Senate opposing two pieces of legislation, AB 813 (Holden) and SB 1090 (Monning) that are connected with the proposed shutdown of DCPP in 2025.
9. Participated in numerous hearings before Local, State, and Federal political entities, advocating for the continued safe operation of Diablo Canyon Power Plant beyond 2025.
10. Participated in numerous public outreach events, including routinely setting up a booth at the world-famous San Luis Obispo Farmer’s Market, organizing and participated in rallies of support for DCPP, writing numerous letters to the Editor on the topic of DCPP that have been published, having several “OpEds” published supporting the continued safe operation of DCPP, and participating in radio and television appearances in support of the continued safe operation of DCPP.
11. Raised funds to support the above activities.
12. Advocating for the continued safe operation of DCPP at the 2018 American Nuclear Society Utility Working Conference as a speaker and plenary sessions participant.
13. Having CGNP’s lengthy Application for Intervenor Compensation in A.16-08-006 approved for consideration by the CPUC.
The remaining tasks include:
1. Considerable additional fundraising and additional public outreach.
2. Taking the above CPUC proceeding to the State of California Appeals Court system after the CPUC rejects CGNP’s Application for Rehearing.
3. Vigorously participating in the State of California Appeals Court
CGNP anticipates prevailing on merits in the Appeals Court Proceeding. Our legal team is experienced in such cases.
CGNP has begun discussing in several forums that they anticipate making history as the first independent citizen group that has stopped the harmful and wasteful abandonment of a perfectly good nuclear power plant.
Correction notice: A previous version incorrectly reported that Gov Brown had already signed the bill. As of Sep 1, the bill has not yet been signed.
No industry cheerfully accepts the prospect that a newly developed technology could make it obsolete. Executives and investors earn much of their wealth by constantly evaluating potential threats to their business. They invest time, energy and resources in conceiving and implementing response or prevention plans.
“Inside the Atom” is a 1948 vintage snapshot of the state of atomic research at the Chalk River Laboratories in Canada. One of the useful aspects of this short (10 min) film for modern audiences is the fact that its creators were not bound by the limitations on atomic energy knowledge and public communications that were imposed on American scientists and engineers by the US Atomic Energy Act of 1946.
Though produced within 3 years of the end of World War II, the film illustrates the great strides that had been made in industrial and medical uses of radioactive isotopes. It also introduced the topic that was creating enormous excitement among members of the scientific and engineering professions and among most members of the general public.
That same topic, however, had to have been the source of a great deal of angst among at least a few very wealthy and powerful people in the world’s fuel business.
“Many forecast a world of plenty if man can tap the colossal store of energy that resides in even the tiniest fragments of matter. In many regions of the present-day world a new industrial revolution would loom if atomic energy were harnessed. Vast social and economic benefits would become possible for millions. Even highly industrialized countries would find their best fuels obsolete for a power supply more than 2 million times more effective than coal lies within the atoms of uranium 235.”
What businessman or investor would cheerfully consider the prospect that a newly discovered technology was 2 million times more effective than its primary product? Who among the vast number of people whose livelihoods depended on servicing the world’s hydrocarbon consumption habit could avoid trying to prevent a situation where their “best fuels” became “obsolete?”
As statements in the film demonstrate, by 1948 there were widespread efforts underway to impose controls over atomic energy development, to instill fears in the segments of the population who could be scared, and to emphasize the difficulties remaining before atomic energy could begin to fulfill its promise of providing virtually unlimited power to the people of the world.
Hermann Muller had begun decade-long, his Rockefeller Foundation-funded speaking and publication tour. He was telling anyone who would listen, especially in the scientific and medical circles where he traveled, that radiation was dangerous and could harm genetic materials with even the lowest possible dose.
He specifically denied that he was a “scare-monger,” but he was adamant about his belief that mankind needed to reduce radiation exposures. He warned against developing technology that might increase the number of people whose reproductive organs were being exposed to radiation.
In 1948 H. J. Muller’s, a Novel Laureate in Medicine or Physiology, attracted some media coverage, but reports about his warnings generally received only back page attention. The below article excerpt appeared in the April 2, 1947 issue of the New York Times on page 36 of 56. The complete article is less than 8 column inches. There were no illustrations. To the right of the column was a selection of advertisements for resorts; to the left was a report on the funeral of Homer Collyer, one of the world’s earliest known hoarders.
Transcription of article excerpt
Radioactive Rays Held Peril to Race.
Dr. H. J. Muller, Nobel Prize Winner, Warns of Exposure to Changing Germ Cells
With the use of radioactive substances increasing, doctors must see that the public becomes better informed than it is now about the great danger involved. Dr. Hermann P. Muller (sic), Professor of Zoology at Indiana University, declared yesterday. Unless adequate precautions are taken in laboratories and factories, mass exposure to high-energy radiation can doom the human race, he warned.
Dr. Muller, winner of the Nobel Prize in medicine last year, spoke at the opening of a three-day institute on public health in the New York Academy of Medicine, 2 East 103d Stree.
Rays Change Germ Cells
Protesting that he did not wish to be considered a “scare-monger” he reviewed some of the data upon which he based his warning.
The medical community long has known that radiation can cause changes in human germ cells that result in the appearance of a hereditary defect, he observed.
The effect of widespread production of human mutations by radiation eventually would add so much to the sum of human ills that the race would cease to exist, he said. “It is a blot on the profession or radiologists that they have so long hush-hushed and pooh-poohed these known effects,” he asserted.
“With increasing medical, industrial and military use of X-rays,” he continued, “it becomes mandatory for radiologists to see to it that their technicians, their patients, they themselves, and even bystanders have their reproductive organs protected from scattered radiation so far as possible, by means of simple lead screens.”
Dr. Muller added that applications of atomic energy, no matter for what purpose, would make the problem more acute.
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