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16 Comments

  1. Did you see this ?

    Japan says economy contracted 7.1 percent in April-June on bigger drop in business investment ( http://www.usnews.com/news/business/articles/2014/09/07/japan-says-economy-contracted-71-percent-in-2q )

    They are working on a plan to close a forth of their reactors as well and there is a possibility that 2/3 of reactors may not return to service “due to costs.” On the other hand they are also considering price guarantees to cover upgrade costs. Electricity prices have drooped recently due to low LNG prices. (which is kinda odd in itself). Some of that is due to South Korea nuclear coming back online (and a incredibly sluggish world economy) and they had to sell cargoes before they evaporated -literally.

  2. The commentator who noted the difference in the regulatory environment for gas vs that of nuclear was spot on. As someone who worked 17 years for PG&E i know each department: steam, electric (which is transmission/distribution), gas, etc are as Meredith noted, almost ‘different companies’. The work cultures, from my experience, shows this to be the truth. The idea that one can’t trust PG&E at Diablo NPP because of the pipeline dept is simply crazy talk and shows ignorance of the industry as a whole.

    1. Thanks David!

      I would like to add, that, even beyond the regulators and regulations, there’s a simple matter of knowledge. Nuclear plants are very well documented: you know what is there. On the other hand, gas pipelines were often laid down with little documentation: What is the pipeline alloy? How can we expect it to react over time? It’s often a matter of “your guess is as good as mine.”

      Also, modern pipelines are built to be inspected. You can “pig” them with cleaning pigs or inspection pigs. Not so much the older pipelines.

      So while the nuclear groups may be drowning in documentation of everything, the gas group is trying to prioritize safety and replacement decisions with inadequate information. In terms of safety culture and decision-making, the gas group and the nuclear group are sure to be the equivalent of two different companies.

    2. Hi David! That was me. Glad to hear my hunch wasn’t wrong. My dad works at San Onofre and I know he has basically no interaction with anyone outside the plant in SCE, except perhaps company holiday gatherings.

      1. Does that explain why it was so easy for SCE management to pull the plug on SONGS, so to speak? They could have tried to make the case for operating at a reduced power level which would not cause the steam generator tube vibrations. They could have made the case that it would have been less costly to replace the defective steam generators, again, than to build new natural gas power plants to replace SONGS.

        It seems to me, looking in from the outside, that management was quick to call it quits. Maybe they just didn’t identify with the workers there? They didn’t see the people at SONGS as really belonging to the same company, on an emotional, basic level?

        1. I think what explains why it was so easy for SCE management to pull the plug on SONGS is because pretty much every politician in the State of California was going to either pat them on the back for it, or (at least) not pay enough attention to the issue care.

          If you’re curious, you can read the official white paper released by SCE on their decision to retire: http://www.songscommunity.com/docs/Economic_Considerations_WhitePaper_Final.pdf The most important thing to understand is that SCE basically gave no consideration at all to the benefits of continuing to operate beyond 2022 when the original operating licenses expired. They basically saw SONGS as having an ice cube’s chance in hell of getting past all the political and regulatory hurdles that would have required. As a result, they only looked at options for partial operation through to 2022. Repair was basically out of the question.

          I can’t speak to the human element of the decision, since I don’t know any SCE corporate management personnel. From the SONGS employees I met, and what I’ve heard through the grapevine at my work, the retirement decision entirely blind-sided all the rank-and-file workers. I assume this means there was basically no communication between corporate and the workers. I guess I could ask my dad for his perception.

          1. What makes me angry is that ratepayers are appearently going to get soaked to the tune of $3.3 billion because of the shutdown of San Onofre. This is in addition to the decommissioning charge that appears on sce ratepayers monthly bill. They shouldn’t get a penny. I think that they would have been less willing to permanently shut down the plant if the didn’t expect that they would be able to stick it to the ratepayers.

          2. The ratepayers are the same people who voted in the anti-nuclear pols who made San Onofre’s situation untenable.

            They made their bed, let them sleep in it.

  3. Off the subject a little, but I’ve been wondering if it is common practice to allow home construction over gas pipelines.

    1. In an urban area served by gas, smaller gas pipelines run into the buildings that are served. The small gas pipelines come off a main gas pipeline…like a water main for water service. This main pipeline would not be under the individual buildings (usually) but out under the street or sidewalk, with the rest of the infrastructure (water, sewer lines, etc).

      There are fairly obvious safety implications with this, such as people digging to repair a water main and possibly hitting a gas main, or the various pieces of metal underground (including the gas main) setting up a kind of corrosive battery. These problems are known and generally well-managed. However, sometimes they are not well managed, with bad consequences.

    2. This happens to be the anniversary of the San Bruno explosion. According to Wikipedia the explosion and fire leveled 35 houses and killed 8 people. The account concentrates on defects in the 30-inch pipeline, but I can’t imagine why people were allowed to build homes right there. I wonder if the homeowners even knew about the pipeline.

      I’d be comfortable around the distribution piping described by Meredith Angwin, but having a 30-inch gas pipeline under my house would be something else. If the gas company had to repair the line, could they just come in and tear up my back yard?

      1. I strongly doubt that there are homes with thirty inch gas pipelines under them. Gas pipelines are laid much like sewer, water, and power pipelines, following thoroughfares, and through purchased rural easements. But a thirty inch line, rupturing and exploding, need not be under your house to level it. Like so much of our infrastructure, upgrades and modernization take a back seat to our military “needs”, and our politicians whoring to special interests, like the billions upon billions we piss away subsidizing Israel’s war crimes, human right abuses, racist state policies, and illegal settlement activity.

        1. Look at the news reports of the San Bruno event. There were homes built over the pipeline or darned close. Like you, I’d expect the right of way for a transmission pipeline to be preserved to provide access and to reduce the effects of a leak and explosion.

  4. “Saudi Arabia’s interest in a rapid growth in nuclear energy production”…..

    Assuming, of course, that other middle eastern countries are barred from the same privilege.

    I see that the Israeli Major General Amos Yadlin, former head of the Israeli army intelligence service, while having lunch with U.S. Rep. Steve Israel, has said that Israel will reach a junction within a year: a nuclear capable Iran or a military response to prevent that capability.

    Of course, drooling with admiration for all things Israel, such a prospect appeals to this United States Representative, spending his time licking Israeli toes while pretending to actually serve the interests of those that voted him into office.

    So hey, why not, lets let Israel drag us into a war with Iran. And give that almighty harnessed atom to Saudi Arabia. Anything for God’s chosen ones, eh?

    But, uh, I’m a little confused…uh, what nationality were the 9/11 terrorists??? And who developed their nuclear weapons capability in underground bunkers with stolen technology???

    I wonder, who does Steve Israel REALLY “represent”?

    1. Golly, poa, I think you need a lie down.

      I have repeatedly tried to parse your little spiel for traces of coherent meaning. Apart from detecting that you are angry and even bitter, I failed.

      1. If you aren’t “angry” about Israel’s corrosive influence on our nations foreign policies, and our politician’s subservience to that corrosive influence, than you simply aren’t paying attention. You’re damn straight I’m “angry” about it. I wish more people would trouble to inform themselves beyond the MSM propaganda machine that feeds us a steady stream of politicized CRAP mislabeled as “news”.

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