Permanent Palisades Shut Down Announcement: For anti-nuke activists, a celebration. Then what?

Is it really a permanent Palisades shut down?

permanent Palisades shut down

In a December 8, 2016, press release, Palisades nuclear plant owner Entergy announced a permanent Palisades shut down effective October, 2018.

Long story short: Executives at Consumers decided their company was paying Palisades too much for electricity. They negotiated with Entergy, owner-operator of Palisades, to knock the last four years off the fifteen-year purchase plan they agreed to when Consumers sold its Palisades plant to Entergy in 2007. Consumers, Palisades’ only customer, will stop buying electricity from Palisades in 2018, not 2022. For thirteen of the twenty extra years Entergy got in 2011 when the plant’s original 40-year license expired, Palisades has no buyer for its uncompetitively priced electricity. So Entergy officials decided on a permanent palisades shut down.

On December 8, Entergy issued a press release saying, “Entergy intends to shut down the Palisades nuclear power plant permanently on Oct. 1, 2018.”Read more

High-Level Nuclear Waste Disposal: Our Eternal Problem

our high-level nuclear waste disposal problem

Our high-level nuclear waste disposal problem: The industry calls it “clean, safe nuclear energy,” but each plant has been manufacturing tons of waste that’s dangerously radioactive for millions of years – forever, as we humans count time.

300px-little_boyThe experts and geniuses put the finishing touches on The Bomb and looked around and said, “What do we do with all this leftover stuff?” The answer was, “Ella-fine-oh. We’ll figure it out later.” Later was a long time ago. We’re in decade number eight of the “Atomic Age” and no one has figured out what to do about high-level nuclear waste disposal.

Read more

War On Climate Change?

Should World War III really be a war on climate change?

Fred Upton opposes the war on climate change.

Pooh-pooher and ditherer-in-chief Fred Upton has opted out of the war on climate change. In 2009, he called climate change a “serious problem.” As the Union of Concerned Scientists points out, now that Upton heads the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is getting lobbied by – and getting campaign support from – the likes of Exxon and other fossil fuel giants, Upton says the opposite. He is not entitled to his counterfactual opinion. (Photo from Upton Website.)

Climate change? What climate change? I don’t believe it. It’s all a big hoax!

All our lives we’ve heard that “everyone is entitled to their opinion.” Well, not always. No one is entitled to a counterfactual opinion.

When satellite photos and people on the ground see that our polar icecaps are melting and lakes are forming in Antarctica, no one is entitled to the “opinion” that the Earth’s polar ice is not melting. When we see islands disappearing and people fleeing the coasts, no one is entitled to the “opinion” that sea levels aren’t rising. If icecaps are melting and sea levels are rising, no one is entitled to the “opinion” that the Earth is not warming. Rolling Stone, in a report that doesn’t mention melting ice and rising seas but points at floods, droughts, wildfires, and science, says climate change is here. What more do we need? An open letter signed by 375 of the nation’s top scientists, including 30 Nobel Laureates? Well, here it is. The first sentence, says “Human-caused climate change is not a belief, a hoax, or a conspiracy. It is a physical reality.”Read more

NRC Palisades Review – June 23, South Haven, Michigan

NRC Palisades ReviewHere’s my report on the June 23 NRC Palisades Review. Sorry it took so long. I had a hard time figuring out what to say. I also apologize for my two mess-ups.

My questions about embrittlement at the NRC Palisades Review

The moderator alternated among those who had signed up to talk, people participating by phone, and written questions from audience members who preferred not to speak. He happened to call me to the microphone first. I started by saying I’d have followup questions. I promised my total talking time would stay under the three-minute limit. I said I wanted to learn more about embrittlement.

NRC Palisades Review

My report on the NRC Palisades Review, by Bruce Brown

I asked, “What would happen if inspection and testing were to show that the shell that keeps the nuclear reaction contained – the reactor pressure vessel, or RPV – is too brittle to be safe?”

The moderator introduced Mark Kirk to answer my question. I recognized his name. He’s the NRC official who told MLive about a year and a half ago that “Palisades is one of the most embrittled nuclear reactors in the country.”

Read more

Boycott Bottled Water

Boycott bottled water? Why? What’s the problem with bottled water? Well, for starters, the bottle and the water.

Boycott bottled water because of the water.

The water in the bottle is not worth more than a thousand times as much as the water from your faucet.

Boycott bottled water

The water aisle at my local grocery. Photo: Bruce Brown, Sierra Club SW MI Group.

Here in Portage, my water costs $3.19 per thousand gallons. Let’s round that up slightly to 3.2¢ per ten gallons. One litre (33.8 ounces) of Ozarka Brand 100% Natural Spring Water (one of the lower priced bottled waters) costs 89¢ at Target. To get ten gallons of Ozarka, I’d have to buy (rounding up slightly again) 38 bottles at 89¢ each – or $33.82 for ten gallons. That’s 1,057 times the cost of Portage tap water and about a dollar a gallon more expensive than gasoline here in my neighborhood right at the moment.Read more

CLEAN Nuclear Energy?

“Clean nuclear energy” is giving us a great big dirty problem.

The nuclear power plant is one of the world’s most complicated inventions. We comfort ourselves with the idea that the geniuses who’ve been building and running them – the nuclear physicists, metallurgists, designers, architects, plumbers, electricians – must know what they’re doing. They’ve thought of everything. They’ve got this safe clean nuclear energy stuff all figured out.

Clean Nuclear Energy?

By Bruce Brown

This is Part Three in a series on “Safe Clean Nuclear Energy.” Part One looked at why utilities and the nuclear energy industry call it “clean” and “safe,” and why we seldom question the terms. I argued that nuclear energy is not clean and safe. Part Two looked at how “safe” Palisades is, with its seriously embrittled reactor pressure vessel, its history of safety problems, and how the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s weakened safety standards let Palisades get a 20-year license renewal. Part Three is what I’ve learned about how clean nuclear energy is.

Nope! There’s a great big dirty problem, and no one has figured it out. It started seven decades ago when the Manhattan Project finished inventing The Bomb. The problem has been getting bigger and dirtier ever since.

Even before we started going full blast creating all this “safe clean nuclear energy” a question came up. “What are we going to do with all this other stuff we’re making?” The answer was, “We’ll figure it out later.”

We still haven’t figured out a permanent solution to our nuclear waste problem.

While we wait for the experts to come up with an answer, what do we do with our radioactive waste?Read more

Safe Nuclear Energy??

A closer look at Palisades and its version of “safe nuclear energy”

Clean safe nuclear energy? Palisades Nuclear Power Plant near Covert, MI, on Lake Michigan.

Is this clean safe nuclear energy? Palisades Nuclear Power Plant (AKA the mistake on the lake) near Covert and South Haven in SW Michigan. Photo: Grist

This is the second edition in a series on “Clean Safe Nuclear Energy.” The previous post looked at why its proponents almost always attach the words “clean” and “safe” when talking about nuclear energy. It discussed why we tend not to question the terms. It argued in general that nuclear energy is neither clean nor safe. It looked at some of the issues that indicate that the operation at Palisades is not safe nuclear energy.

This edition explains how Palisades’ past performance and present condition show that it’s not safe.

Hydrocarbon Insanity

Some of us call it dirty energy. Some of us call it fossil fuels. I think we should call it hydrocarbon insanity.

Think about how insane this is…

Here are the convolutions we go through just to make electricity:

Hydrocarbon insanity

  • Hydrocarbons power the equipment that gets hydrocarbons out of the ground.
  • Hydrocarbons power the trucks and trains that deliver hydrocarbons to refineries and power plants.
  • Refineries turn hydrocarbons into gasoline and diesel fuel to power trucks and trains that deliver hydrocarbons to refineries, gas stations, and power plants.
  • Hydrocarbons power the equipment that builds pipelines to deliver more hydrocarbons to refineries and power plants.
  • Hydrocarbons power the equipment that builds and maintains the grid that delivers electricity to homes and businesses.
  • The only thing a power plant uses hydrocarbons for is to feed a fire that heats water. Steam from the water turns a turbine. The turbine cranks a generator that puts out electricity.

Even Rube Goldberg couldn’t have invented a crazier way to turn a light on.

Read more

Clean Safe Nuclear Energy??

Their ads always say “clean safe nuclear energy.” Why is that?

There's no such thing as clean safe nuclear energy

by Bruce Brown

This is the first post in a series on clean safe nuclear energy. It takes a brief look at history, then it discusses safety. Future posts will cover how clean nuclear power is and will look at the Palisades plant, on Lake Michigan near South Haven. Much of this post may seem like stuff everyone knows, but I knew hardly any of it until recently. It seems important for me to do my small part in helping people learn what I haven’t known about “clean safe nuclear energy.” Important note: After its original publication on December 10, 2015, this piece was updated on December 14. Thanks to Jan Boudart, Michael Keegan, and Kevin Kamps for providing additional information, clarification, and improved accuracy. My education continues.

In your browser’s search field, enter clean safe n. Most likely, that’s all you’ll enter before clean safe nuclear energy appears near the top of your suggestion list. The words just go together. About the only time you see the phrase “nuclear energy” without “clean” and “safe” is when it’s coming from someone who’s not trying to turn you into a nuclear energy believer.

Nuclear plant operators and utility companies are so consistent with their “clean safe nuclear energy” message that most of us believe them without thinking about it. We’ve heard it for decades. Back in the beginning, some of us wondered, “Why do they keep calling it clean and safe all the time? Are they afraid someone will think it isn’t? Do some people already think it isn’t?”

In the 60s and 70s, the shadow of The Bomb – Hiroshima, Nagasaki, mushroom clouds, instant vaporization, radiation poisoning, fallout – gave safety top billing in nuclear energy’s PR work.

That’s just a power plant next to the beach at South Haven. It’s not The Bomb.Read more

We remembered. We offered our apology to the River. We recommitted.

Apology to the River

I offer my apology to the River


By Bruce Brown

At the bottom of the path down to the River stood a woman who offered each of us a pinch of ceremonial tobacco from her leather pouch. Those who understood, and some who didn’t, accepted.

The rock at the river’s edge allowed only one at a time, and kneeling on it before the River seemed right. The tobacco represented our recognition and our gratitude, our thankfulness to Mother Earth for Her bounty, for Her provision of everything – everything – that we have. Sprinkling the tobacco on Her River showed Mother Earth that we understand our responsibility to give back to Her, to replenish. We know that in Her slow, quiet way She will reclaim us. She will take back all that we are and all that we have and all that She has provided.

Photos courtesy Anne Woiwode

After we returned to the gathering place above the River, a woman stood before us. She told us she was going to sing. She turned her back on us.

She sang to the River.Read more