×

Announcing: Slashdot Deals - Explore geek apps, games, gadgets and more. (what is this?)

Thank you!

We are sorry to see you leave - Beta is different and we value the time you took to try it out. Before you decide to go, please take a look at some value-adds for Beta and learn more about it. Thank you for reading Slashdot, and for making the site better!

San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant Dismantling Will Cost $4.4 Billion, Take 20 Years

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the shutting-it-down dept.

Power 343

mdsolar writes with news about the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Dismantling the San Onofre nuclear power plant in Southern California will take two decades and cost $4.4 billion. Southern California Edison on Friday released a road map that calls for decommissioning the twin-reactor plant and restoring the property over two decades, beginning in 2016. U-T San Diego says it could be the most expensive decommissioning in the 70-year history of the nuclear power industry. But Edison CEO Ted Craver says there's already enough money to pay for it. Edison shut down the plant in 2012 after extensive damage was found to tubes carrying radioactive water. It was closed for good last year.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Not a bad deal (5, Insightful)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47593853)

For 2 units, plus a third already shut down one on the site, this is not too bad a cost. Considering the overall lifetime cost of the plant, including D&D, and even though it shut down early, on a cost per kwh basis, it is a good deal for emission free generation.

Unfortunately, many will look at the cost and not have a good perspective / basis for comparison.

Re:Not a bad deal (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47593913)

For 2 units, plus a third already shut down one on the site, this is not too bad a cost..

But we could do it for far less if we mothballed the plant for a decade or two while developing robots to do most of the dismantling work. Using humans to handle radioactive materials is very expensive.

CLEAN, SAFE, (1, Troll)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 5 months ago | (#47593945)

Too cheap to meter [youtube.com]

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (4, Insightful)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47594127)

"too cheap to meter" certainly was an over enthusiastic optimism with nuclear as it was first being deployed. We all know that, but it doesn't make it a bad deal. I never understood the simpleton argument that this was somehow a failure. I guess its just easy to repeat without making an actual point.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (3, Insightful)

ericloewe (2129490) | about 5 months ago | (#47594245)

It's a sort of logical fallacy.

They believe that because not all objectives were met, the whole thing was a complete failure.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47594649)

They believe that because not all objectives were met, the whole thing was a complete failure.

Sure, but making it "too cheap to meter" was never an objective. In fact, nobody ever predicted that would happen. The "too cheap to meter" prediction was made by Lewis Strauss [wikipedia.org] in reference to eventual hydrogen fusion power. He was not talking about conventional fission reactors.

Fusion is your FUTURE corporate boondoggle (0)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 5 months ago | (#47594799)

Seriously. Listen to the linked audio. Thorium or whatnot will be more difficult to obtain and maintain than Uranium - creating new classes of super-expensive "conflict minerals" - rapidly exhausting sources as expensive, horrible wars are fought.

Re:Fusion is your FUTURE corporate boondoggle (5, Interesting)

Chas (5144) | about 5 months ago | (#47594961)

Seriously. Listen to the linked audio. Thorium or whatnot will be more difficult to obtain and maintain than Uranium - creating new classes of super-expensive "conflict minerals" - rapidly exhausting sources as expensive, horrible wars are fought.

Yeah. That's flat out bullshit.

Thorium is several orders of magnitude more prevalent in the earth than Uranium. There are a number of fairly large rare-earth mines in the US that are shut down because they're bringing up too much Thorium. This is why China has a lock on rare earths right now. They don't give a shit WHAT they bring up, or what it does. People are cheap and unmonitored dumping is even cheaper.

Additionally, this is why China's got such a hard-on for LFTR

Also, the Thorium yearly tailings brought up by just a few US rare earths mines could power the entire energy needs of the country at current consumption levels for several YEARS.

So there's exactly ZERO "conflict materials" involved. Whoever dreamed this up must pay exactly zero attention to a thing we like to refer to as "reality".

Re:Fusion is your FUTURE corporate boondoggle (1)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 5 months ago | (#47595167)

You should travel to Arizona and visit the copper mines. Thorium is ling around in piles waiting to be used for something more than dirt. Haiti has plenty ready to use, too, I understand.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (5, Interesting)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#47594299)

Fixating on that one point is an extremely simplistic argument that seeks to ignore the real issues. Nuclear is extremely expensive, and only appears cheap in the US because of massive subsidy.

It's actually so expensive that the UK couldn't find anyone to build new plants, and the only people who were eventually willing demanded special rates well above the normal unit cost of electricity to be guaranteed for the lifetime of the plant. That's on top of all the other subsidies already on offer.

It's also worth pointing out that the $4.4bn and 20 year timescale is not the real cost of decommissioning. They are not returning the land to its original state where it could be redeveloped. They are merely encasing the reactors and leaving them to deal with later at additional cost. It also doesn't include the cost of storing material from the decommissioning process that is contaminated for an indefinite period of time. To give you an idea the UK is doing all that to some reactors that were shut down in the early 90s, costing tens of billions of pounds and estimated to take around 80 years for competition (plus indefinite storage of waste from the process, not including spent fuel).

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594535)

Thoguh your argument is simplistic as well, all energy sources have subsidies via one path or the other, nuclear isn't special in this. To be convincing you'd need to show that nuclear subsidies are completely incomparable to all other energy sources, but that seems quite futile to me as it's pretty obvious things like Solar have had far larger subsidies to offset costs.

Also nuclear doesn't have to be as expensive as you imply, as one can observe in the cost to set it up in some other countries like China or France. This also shows that some places can perfectly well find people to build it. And ultimately this kind of real world results show what costs are actually real and what costs aren't.

Thus one can conclude the UKs problems are in part due to internal issues involving nuclear power, rather then it being something fundamental about the power source itself.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (2)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47594741)

To be convincing you'd need to show that nuclear subsidies are completely incomparable to all other energy sources

No. This is wrong. He isn't claiming that nuclear is the WORST, just that it is bad. To show that nuclear doesn't make sense, he only has to show that ONE other option is cheaper, better for the environment, and has a similar load profile. Gas+CCS almost certainly meets that criteria. In many locations, wind is already cheaper than nukes, and the cost of wind energy is falling, while the costs of nukes is rising, as we realize that early designs took dangerous shortcuts, and decommissioning costs exceed projections.

things like Solar have had far larger subsidies to offset costs.

I think the solar subsidies are dumb, but at least in theory, they are designed to promote the industry while technology and manufacturing processes improve. The subsidies are supposed to be temporary. No one expects the nuclear subsidies to ever fade away.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (2)

budgenator (254554) | about 5 months ago | (#47594945)

as we realize that early designs took dangerous shortcuts, and decommissioning costs exceed projections.

I think you'll find most wind-farms grossly under-fund decommisioning to a greater extent than Nuclear ever dreamed of getting away with.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47595245)

I think you'll find most wind-farms grossly under-fund decommisioning to a greater extent than Nuclear ever dreamed of getting away with.

Who cares? If a wind farm is not properly decommissioned, that is the land owner's problem. If a nuke is not properly decommissioned, that is everybody's problem.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47595205)

Yes, but he already failed to show it was bad, else why can other countries use it profitably? That's why I brought up specific real world examples, not some theory, or suppose this or suppose that. We have real world examples of it working, thus arguing it's that bad is no longer so trivial.

Also thinking solar subsidies will ever totally go away is not very realistic consider every single other power source has subsidy, including things like oil and coal that really one would think don't need it. Perhaps the size of solar subsidies will change, perhaps the way it's subsidized will change, but ultimately almost for sure part of the cost of it will continue to be carried by the government and thus the public.

I guess when it comes right down to it as such, government thinks it's important that people can use lots of energy, maybe they're even right?

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (1)

ShanghaiBill (739463) | about 5 months ago | (#47595239)

That's why I brought up specific real world examples

Except the real world examples you gave (France and China) are bogus. In both places, the nukes are government owned and operated, have opaque finances, and sell into some of the most expensive energy markets in the world. The French pay about three times as much for electricity as Americans.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (3, Informative)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#47594853)

Funnily enough it is a French-Chinese partnership that is building our new reactors. No British company will touch them. We are handing our basic infrastructure over to companies that have little interest in what is best for the UK and no real stake in what happens to us because they have a guaranteed profit for the lifetime of the plant.

Subsidy isn't always bad in itself, if it leads us somewhere worth going. Nuclear is on the way out though, we should be looking elsewhere.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (3, Insightful)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 5 months ago | (#47594883)

It's actually so expensive that the UK couldn't find anyone to build new plants, and the only people who were eventually willing demanded special rates well above the normal unit cost of electricity to be guaranteed for the lifetime of the plant. That's on top of all the other subsidies already on offer.

Gas is cheap let's build that. There'll never be aaaaaaaany problem getting gas from the Russians. No sireee. Never mind that local fracking won't supply enough gas.

Nuclear is only the most expensive option when you stubbornly ignore the externalities.

The options are:
1. Renewables (not enough to supply the entire country even using rather optimistic estimates).
2. Coal which is cheap and astonishingly filthy.
3. Gas from Russia.
4. Nuclear.

The thing is the prices are set by the free market. The free market ignores externalities such as pollution and is purely reactive so it never makes a strategically wise choice. Gas is the cheapest option right now, but is not the wisest choice.

This is why we have governments. Left to itself, the free market does not make the best decisions.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (1, Troll)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#47595137)

The UK has enough renewables and our North Sea gas for all its requirements. We have excellent wind and wave resources, and lots of existing hydro electricity. Even coal with carbon capture isn't too bad, and much cheaper than nuclear.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (2)

Sarius64 (880298) | about 5 months ago | (#47595181)

The reality of your assertion is that nuclear using technology that drove weapons development is expensive to use. LFTR technology appears magnitudes cheaper from the work I've seen conduced at Oak Ridge. UK problems with nuclear have more to do with maintaining 50-year old technologies. I'm sure the people in India right now building LFTRs aren't losing a penny. LFTRs process the waste from previous systems as fuel. Imagine that.

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594861)

It's not a simpleton argument. Though it doesn't really speak as to the actual technical merits of nuclear power. It speaks to the honest and integrity of the nuclear industry.

If an entity; be it an individual, a government, a corporation, an industry coalition, whatever; is willing to lie, overtly and publicly and on such a massive scale, once (And "too cheap to meter" is far from the only lie told by the nuclear industry.), then why should the public believe that they are not perfectly willing and happy to lie similarly again?

It's not a matter of technical prowess, but of credibility. And I don't think the people responsible for nuclear power in the US have any left.

Nobody accounted for regulatory costs (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594975)

San Onofre is being shut down due to intentionally obstructive Federal [ap.org] and California regulation. After the leaks were found in the new equipment, SCE was wrangling with the Japanese supplier (Mitsubishi) of the bad tubes and trying to put together the plan to replace them and bring the plant online, but CA anti-nuke activists, incluing the luddites at FOE [scpr.org] lobbied Democrat Senator Boxer [kcet.org] and the Obama administration to make it unworkable. SCE (who was paying large amounts of money every month for all their basic costs including the employees) could never get an answer from the federal regulators on WHEN their applications to re-start the plant would even be processed if they spent the money to replace the pipes (this was NOT normal). When you are paying hundreds of millions of dollars to operate a plant that is producing nothing, and government regulators keep delaying giving you a date when you will even be able to dream of using it IF you make it over the increasing number of hurdles politically-motivated people keep throwing up, at some point you "pull the plug" and cut your losses.

Nearly all the inflation in the costs of nuclear power has come from regulations and lawsuits. Had it not been for the Ralph Nader style of crusading legal actions designed to kill things (sue anybody making any technology they cannot prove is perfect... and let's not notice that nobody else, like lawyers, are being held to that standard) we would indeed have very cheap and plantiful electricity thanks, in large part, to nuclear power (which has been stuck with ancient tech for many decades because the regulatory/legal environment makes newer safer more-efficient designs uneconomical TO GET CERTIFIED)

It's all about politics? (1)

CaptainDork (3678879) | about 5 months ago | (#47595203)

Really? [wikipedia.org]

Re:CLEAN, SAFE, (1)

tlambert (566799) | about 5 months ago | (#47594513)

Too cheap to meter [youtube.com]

An elephant is a mouse with constantly changing government regulation.

Re:Not a bad deal (1)

jythie (914043) | about 5 months ago | (#47594873)

Maybe, maybe not. It is difficult to predict what the economics of future technology will be. It is difficult to plan around what might exist a decade or two from now.

Re:Not a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47593967)

... on a cost per kwh basis, it is a good deal for emission free generation.

Unfortunately, many will look at the cost and not have a good perspective / basis for comparison.

Do you have any hard numbers or is this just your gut feeling.

Re:Not a bad deal (1)

bswarm (2540294) | about 5 months ago | (#47594019)

I agree, every household in most of Ca has been paying for this wart on their electric bill since it opened. Its been closed for almost a year and the decommissioning fees are still being collected. Factor in the cost overruns to build and maintain it and what it's going to cost for the spent fuel rods, which is still unknown, and it's going to equal a very deep money pit.

Re:Not a bad deal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594193)

I agree, every household in most of Ca has been paying for this wart on their electric bill since it opened. Its been closed for almost a year and the decommissioning fees are still being collected. Factor in the cost overruns to build and maintain it and what it's going to cost for the spent fuel rods, which is still unknown, and it's going to equal a very deep money pit.

Oh yes, lets put up windmills and stuff everywhere! It'll totally work just as well and be cheaper! [/Sarcasm]

Re:Not a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594445)

The burden is on Nuclear Industry to bring cheap and low cost competive Nuclear Plant to market and stupid engineers could not do that, even in California.

Re:Not a bad deal (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594631)

You can't even write English properly yet you're commenting on the intelligence of engineers? Fuck off.

The problems are political, not scientific or engineering related. The costs are driven up by a climate of constantly changing government regulation which is incredibly strict compared to coal. Your coal plants put more radioactive waste into the atmosphere every day than a nuclear plant does over its entire lifetime. You're the short-sighted one, fucking over the world you've borrowed from your children.

Re:Not a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594869)

And what is your solution to the radioactive waste wiseguy?

Re: Not a bad deal (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594099)

Google scans men's email I order to them in jail

http://www.godlikeproductions.com/forum1/message2610134/pg1#45628923

Re:Not a bad deal (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 5 months ago | (#47594689)

Considering the overall lifetime cost of the plant, including D&D, ...

Perhaps they can save even more by not paying people to play Dungeons and Dragons.

Re:Not a bad deal (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47594733)

Or maybe a real life game could be held in the decommissioned plant. Lots of rooms, hatches, and doors.

Re:Not a bad deal (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594801)

"For 2 units, plus a third already shut down one on the site, this is not too bad a cost"

The decomm. cost will be double for sure and take much longer FWIW: Three Mile Island (Shutdown in 1979) still hasn't been completely decommission. in 2011 they invested another $30 Million to retrofit the Spent fuel pool cooling system. These Plants are incredibly difficult and costly to dismantle and clean up.

Re:Not a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47595027)

In Sweden we also use this trick for not having to worry about decommissioning costs. We leave them standing. In a suburb of Stockholm there's a nuclear power plant that was shut down in 1975 after Sweden signed the NPT a few years earlier, removing the need for plutonium for the Swedish nuclear weapons program. And after a near-catastrophic failure of the cooling system made it apparent that running these things in densely populated areas is a bloody stupid thing to do. But it still stands there, since hiring someone for sweeping the floors and changing the lights for decades is apparently much easier than tearing it down.

Re:Not a bad deal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594923)

No, what it means is that utility customers were charged 4.4 billion too much for power over the life of the plant. According to the article there is another 3.3 billion that the state is still on the hook for and then whatever the costs are for storage and eventual disposal of the waste which, considering that we will be dealing with it for potentially 1 million years, those costs could be endless. Had we invested that money into renewables 30 years ago we would have had actual power to cheap to meter with no carbon emissions.

Baby with bathwater (1, Insightful)

ssufficool (1836898) | about 5 months ago | (#47593861)

Oh well... maybe they can reuse the land for those totally environmentally friendly solar panels. Wait, what do we do with those when they reach end of life? http://www.science20.com/scien... [science20.com]

Re:Baby with bathwater (1)

AndroSyn (89960) | about 5 months ago | (#47593865)

They're also stuck storing the fuel on site until the federal government comes up with a spent fuel storage solution.

Re:Baby with bathwater (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47593917)

The Federal government has come up with several solutions.

It's not a matter of invention, it's a matter of implementation, and that is a far more intractable problem. Even sealing it in glass and dumping it in a deep ocean trench would upset somebody afraid of upsetting Aquaman and Namor.

4th gen reactor consumes old waste ... (3, Informative)

perpenso (1613749) | about 5 months ago | (#47594101)

They're also stuck storing the fuel on site until the federal government comes up with a spent fuel storage solution.

Or until there is a 4th gen reactor available to consume the old waste as its fuel. The waste of a 4th gen is only dangerous for a few centuries rather than tens of thousands of years. In other words 4th gen converts a 10,000 year problem into a 300 year problem, while generating power from "fuel" that has already been mined, processed, and paid for.

Re:4th gen reactor consumes old waste ... (1)

GNious (953874) | about 5 months ago | (#47594229)

Didnt that require that the U,S, changes some laws regarding "spent" fuel?

Nuclear power is in decline (3, Informative)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 5 months ago | (#47594297)

4th generation is much more expensive than once through and nuclear power is in decline so the wait will be forever. http://www.vox.com/2014/8/1/59... [vox.com]

Re:Nuclear power is in decline (0)

perpenso (1613749) | about 5 months ago | (#47594357)

4th generation is much more expensive than once through and nuclear power is in decline so the wait will be forever.

Nuclear power is in decline partly due to politics and partly due to inexpensive fossil fuels. Neither of these are constants.

Was there ever a 1st or 2nd gen reactor that wasn't more expensive than originally thought? They were still largely profitable.

Plus a 4th gen reactor could be justified on remediation alone, converting the long lived waste into short lived waste, literally eliminating thousands of years of storage costs.

Re:Nuclear power is in decline (3, Insightful)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 5 months ago | (#47594441)

The falling cost of renewable energy seems to be an impediment for nuclear having a future.

Re:Nuclear power is in decline (2)

brambus (3457531) | about 5 months ago | (#47594927)

Once they've solved that tiny transmission and storage issue. Until then they can only work in conjunction with fossil fuel plants [globalpost.com] and play a minor role, so much so in fact that building wind today equals cementing coal & gas [thegwpf.org] into the mix.

Re:Nuclear power is in decline (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 5 months ago | (#47595187)

Actually, it turns out not to be an issue at all. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Re:4th gen reactor consumes old waste ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594857)

"Or until there is a 4th gen reactor available to consume the old waste as its fuel. The waste of a 4th gen is only dangerous for a few centuries rather than tens of thousands of years."

BS. The Fissile products have decay chains that last thousands of years. 4th Gen reactors just have a better neutron economy and efficiency The do not eliminate or reduce the waste. They can speed up the decay rate but its a negative energy return and very costly, but this isn't apart of 4th Gen reactors. My guess is that nothing will ever be done with the 85,0000 tons of spent fuels. Eventually they loose a reactor and cause a spent fuel pool fire that makes a large section of land uninhabitable (about the size of NY). FWIW: I don't fear WW3 and nuclear war, but I do fear that the spent fuel pools at the world 440+ reactors can wipe out humanity. Consider that a nuclear bomb typically has a few kilograms of fissile material. The average spent fuel pool has hundreds of tons of extremely radioactive waste.

Re:4th gen reactor consumes old waste ... (1)

brambus (3457531) | about 5 months ago | (#47594897)

Couple of points:
  • The original nuclear pioneers never thought of LWRs and enriched uranium being anything more than a stop-gap solution. They were very clear about the need for breeder reactors which would eventually consume the waste from LWRs.
  • There is at least one Gen IV reactor design pretty much ready to go today, but which was halted in the 90s by Clinton and Al Gore: the Integral Fast Reactor [wikipedia.org] . It can eat the waste from current day LWRs and reduce it much less dangerous fission product waste.

Re:Baby with bathwater (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47593923)

The Danes got it right. Wind is free.

Re:Baby with bathwater (4, Informative)

brambus (3457531) | about 5 months ago | (#47594097)

Or goddamn expensive [wordpress.com] all the while taking a nice steaming dump on the environment [worldbank.org] .

Re:Baby with bathwater (2)

haruchai (17472) | about 5 months ago | (#47594301)

More than half of the Danish electricity cost is tax and their per-capita CO2 emissions are well below the high-income OECD average.

Re:Baby with bathwater (4, Informative)

brambus (3457531) | about 5 months ago | (#47594793)

France's overall price of electricity with tax is lower than Denmark's untaxed price, meanwhile emitting >30% less CO2 per capita [worldbank.org] with a very similar GDP per capita [wikipedia.org] (to within 5%). If we limit our consideration to electricity, France has ~75% lower emissions [co2benchmark.com] per MWh generated than Denmark; and over 80% lower than Germany, the renewable powerhouse of the continent. In fact, they have so much zero-CO2 electricity that they can afford to offset the CO2 emissions [templar.co.uk] from many of their neighbors via transmission. Also keep in mind that France has had this CO2 per kWh value for the better part of two decades because its power mix has always been ~70-80% nuclear and ~15% hydro (the rest being filled in with things like gas, hence why this CO2/kWh number isn't a flat zero).

The OECD average is so high mostly because of heavy polluters like the US [worldbank.org] , being the about 1/4 of the population of the entire OECD [wolframalpha.com] (not just the high-income bracket), but twice the per capita CO2 emissions of, say, Germany.

To preemptively dispense with the "we can't build it fast enough" criticism of nuclear, I again present the example of ... France. They initially started construction in 1974 [wikipedia.org] and finished installing >50 reactors, hitting over 70% of generation capacity, within 15 years. So don't believe the renewable industry talking points of "it can't be done on time". It has been done before and it can be done again. If it had the political and popular will, Denmark could hit its CO2-reduction targets for electricity for 2050 some 20 years earlier.

Re:Baby with bathwater (4, Informative)

haruchai (17472) | about 5 months ago | (#47594919)

I do think that France's build-out of nuclear plants was impressive but your worship of them should be tempered by a couple facts.

First is that as many as 17 of their 58 plants have been knocked offline or scaled back in a single heatwave because of a shortage of water for cooling thereby needing to import from their neighbors to keep the lights on and costing up to $1300 per megawatt hour.
The normal peak power prices are usually below $100 per MW-hr.
A warming climate will lead to this happening more frequently.

Also, they've been caught dumping nuclear waste in Russia. The lie was that it was sent to be separated and re-enriched to be returned but the truth is that 90% never comes back.
Right now, it seems that no one who has a significant build-up of nuclear waste is doing a proper job of managing it. Who knows how much has been dumped in backwater nations or into the oceans. And that's with nuclear providing 12% of global electricity.
What will the waste problem look like if we try to get to 50% in a hurry? Those thorium trolls may be right but it's not likely we'll know for sure before 2030.

Re:Baby with bathwater (2, Insightful)

brambus (3457531) | about 5 months ago | (#47595035)

Wow, this is grasping if I've ever seen some.

First is that as many as 17 of their 58 plants have been knocked offline or scaled back in a single heatwave because of a shortage of water for cooling thereby needing to import from their neighbors to keep the lights on and costing up to $1300 per megawatt hour.

This would be true of almost any heat engine-based power plant, regardless of the source of the heating, save for a few very high-temperature systems which can live with air cooling. Also, a 30% reduction in production from an 70-80% resource implies an overall shortfall of ~20% - we know how to bridge those temporary loss gaps with hydro, fossil and other dispatchable short-term backup technology. Wind, meanwhile, experiences periodic 1-2 week long shortfalls of 90% or more, whereas solar famously loses 100% of its output every day and varies by as much as 70-80% in output over the course of the year. Good luck smoothing those curves out.

In short, there are engineering solutions to this problem that are known and understood today.

Also, they've been caught dumping nuclear waste in Russia.

So I looked into this and I can't find any authoritative sources for the claims that this was actual spent fuel instead of just pure uranium. I read there's going to be an investigation. Can you find the results of it? All I can find is Greenpeace bragging about "uncovering" it [greenpeace.org] , but they never said it's spent nuclear fuel. In fact, they explicitly said it's UF6 (uranium hexafluoride), which is a common enrichment feedstock. After enrichment 90% of that is going to be depleted uranium tailings, which cannot be used in thermal reactors (which is why it doesn't make any sense to ship it back to France), but it's still usable as fuel for fast neutron reactors (which is why Russia might want to hold on to it - free fuel, w00t!). It's NOT spent nuclear fuel and certainly not fission products.

Fossil fuels dominate for decades more ... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594191)

The Danes got it right. Wind is free.

Wind and solar can't scale to the levels needed yet. Two or three more decades of R&D and engineering are needed. No matter how much you wish otherwise this will not change. Even Denmark with its enthusiasm and pretty good wind conditions expects another 10 years to go from 30% wind to 50% wind, and expect to be using of North Sea fossil fuels for another 40 years.

Your options for electricity in the near term will largely be nuclear or fossil fuels. The goods and services you consume will largely be produced using electricity from fossil fuels.

Don't be a science and economics denier. Solar and wind are not magic, science and engineering take time.

Experience shows otherwise (2)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 5 months ago | (#47594373)

High levels of renewable energy integration are going on now. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v... [youtube.com]

Re:Experience shows otherwise (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47595269)

Let me translate that marketing video, will ya?

"Intermittent does not mean unpredictable"

Corrent. But knowing when the lights go out doesn't change the fact that they do.

"High levels (~48%) of renewable penetration are possible."

Yup, in certain areas of Europe. These grids aren't isolated and are backed up by neighboring countries. So the 25% renewables in posterchild Germany are backed up by Norwegian hydroelectric storage, French nuclear power and Polish coal burners.

"Distributed storage such as electric cars."

YOU will buy an expensive battery, but WE will decide when you will get to charge it. So YOU will need a bigger, more expensive battery. And sometimes WE will also discharge it at OUR discretion, shortening its life. (If stationary batteries are uneconomical, mobile batteries are even less economical. Should be obvious, so we do renewable advocates always pretend they cann freely access other people's expensive betteries? And why do so many reasonable people fall for that stupid idea?)

Besides, if the predictions of the IPCC are halfway correct, carbon emisisons will make sure we are all cooked by the end of the century. Now if you actually achieved a 50% renewable grid with 50% fossil power, and if we could ignore other forms of energy use, and if there was no growth anywhere in the world---we'd be cooked by the end of next century. What kind of plan is that?!

I'd prefer a 100% nuclear powered grid (and electric trains and cars, nuclear powered ships, synfuels for the remaining transportation needs, ammonia from nuclear powered SSAS plants for fertilizer) over that renewable pipe dream.

No, it's killing the planet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47595005)

Just WHERE in the hell do you morons THINK all that "green", "renewable", "free electricity" is coming from??? Every single one of those damnable windmills is slowing-down the air and making it more turbulent as a trade-off for spinning the generator (which is built using strip-mined rare-Earth minerals). Millions of those windmills all over the planet are having one hell of a lot of impact on the atmosphere and will increasingly do so as we add more and more of them. Anybody who supports this has no business complaining about ANYTHING related to weather and/or climate. As the weather changes in response to all this, the "greens" will keep blaming it all on CO2 - but these two things are BOTH involved (and the windmills have a direct impact on air circulation patterns and wind speeds). You simply cannot take that much energy out of a system without having an impact, though I'm certain the renewables activists will all be "deniers" on this.

Re:Baby with bathwater (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 months ago | (#47594343)

A quote from the article you linked to:

"We live in a culture where we think every janitor should get a $50 an hour benefit package and university students get sex change operations included in their health care plans, whose $50,000 costs are then paid for by federal student loans and federal taxpayer grants and, soon, federal health care underwriting."

PROTIP: Right-wing rant sites typically don't provide good scientific reporting. Do you imagine they would say "solar PV is wonderful, despite those subsidies and Chinese imports we hate so much"?

Re:Baby with bathwater (1)

Jeremi (14640) | about 5 months ago | (#47594723)

Oh well... maybe they can reuse the land for those totally environmentally friendly solar panels. Wait, what do we do with those when they reach end of life?

Well, the obvious thing to do would be to recycle [renewableenergyfocus.com] them.

We aren't doing much of that yet, because there aren't enough worn-out solar panels yet to make it worthwhile. In 20-25 years, when large numbers of panels start reaching end-of-life, there will be.

The other thing to do, of course, is to start making solar panels using fewer toxic materials. Also a laudable and attainable goal, which will be reached in due course.

Re:Baby with bathwater (2)

budgenator (254554) | about 5 months ago | (#47595029)

But we only need 210,000 sq miles of solar panels to power the nation, that shouldn't be too difficult we'll just bulldose everything south of the mason-dixon line.

Not surprising (2)

calidoscope (312571) | about 5 months ago | (#47593867)

Decommissioning costs are still a lot less than it would cost to build the plant now. Letting the plant cool down for a few years makes the process simpler and safer, though the reactor vessel is going to be a challenge.

nanaimo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47593877)

that's my neck of the woods. you don't see that on here every day. :-)

but it looks like b00bs! (0)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about 5 months ago | (#47593907)

this is a big loss for the southern california community, because the powerplant looks like a pair of big b00bs! Hopefully they can still leave in place the containment structure.

naked gun: "everywhere I look something reminds me of her"
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTxFFWajIII

Re: but it looks like b00bs! (2)

elsuperjefe (1487639) | about 5 months ago | (#47594151)

Growing up nearby (Dana Point) the plant was affectionately known as the Dolly Parton museum. I imagine kids today have a more modern and equally inappropriate name. I for one will be sorry to see such a beautiful landmark be torn down. It will certainly make future vacations to the Grand Tetons mountains more poignant. --El

Re: but it looks like b00bs! (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 5 months ago | (#47594405)

Is there still a nude beach nearby?

of course theres plenty of fucking money (1, Insightful)

nimbius (983462) | about 5 months ago | (#47593935)

Edison CEO Ted Craver says there's already enough money to pay for it, because Ted can declare bankruptcy on Southern California Edison, making the property a superfund site for taxpayers to pay for. SC Edison would then emege through chapter 11, restructure itself, and continue service in Southern California under another name. its precisely what Hooker Chemical Corporation did after the love canal disaster.

Re:of course theres plenty of fucking money (4, Informative)

Solandri (704621) | about 5 months ago | (#47594031)

The money for the reactor's decommissioning comes from surcharges to electrical rates collected while the plant was in operation. This money was earmarked specifically for reactor decommissioning costs, and placed into a trust fund which currently contains about $2.7 billion (the $4.4 billion cost will be accrued over several decades, so interest on the $2.7 billion makes them more equal than the raw numbers suggest). That there is sufficient money despite the reactor shutting down only halfway through its expected lifetime means there's a huge margin for error in these nuclear decommissioning funds. Edison has said if there's any money left over, it'll be refunded to rate payers.

Re:of course theres plenty of fucking money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594077)

Edison has said if there's any money left over, it'll be refunded to rate payers.

I don't know man - it takes a lot of $10000 hammers to decom a nooclear plant.

Re:of course theres plenty of fucking money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594211)

this is california, not NY, NJ, or MA.
most likely it'll be burned up hiring environmental analysis consultants and lawsuits from various environmental groups.
i expect a lawsuit from Surf Rider any day now with an injunction to stop all work.

Re:of course theres plenty of fucking money (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594709)

Calling it "nooclear" just shows that you have an agenda rooted in ignorance. If you had a real argument, you could make it without the inanity.

Re:of course theres plenty of fucking money (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 5 months ago | (#47594417)

Big comfort for the dead ratepayers after the 20 year decomissioning project is over. Still better than going to executive perks.

Cost to dismantle vs fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47593937)

The first question that comes to my mind is how much would it cost to just fix the damn pipes?

Re:Cost to dismantle vs fix (3, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about 5 months ago | (#47593959)

The first question that comes to my mind is how much would it cost to just fix the damn pipes?

Make sure you're not assuming that the $4.4B that somebody is going to get is a bug, not a feature. Some people will get extremely rich from this expenditure and that's a powerful motivator.

Re:Cost to dismantle vs fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594023)

Many reactor designs have at least some pipes running through the (slightly radioactive) concrete foundations. Replacing these pipes means replacing (parts of) the foundations, which means temporary removing the reactor vessel which means re-building most of the plant, which means today's regulations must be followed when re-building it, which is too expensive for an old plant, or even impossible with the existing layout.

Re:Cost to dismantle vs fix (2)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47594109)

There are no defective pipes as such. The defective components are the thousands of small diameter tubes inside the steam generators, which actually had already been replaced, a project many (actually most) of the older plants have done. Due to a design flaw in the components built for this plant, they were wearing out at an accelerated rate.

Re:Cost to dismantle vs fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594035)

Bill,
Exactly,

That is the reason this plant is being shut down in the first place they introduced a bug when trying to get a feature. They applied and got approved to upgrade the plant - they upgraded the plant and added extra pipes so they could save money on maintenance. These pipes are the ones that started to rupture. The vocal NIMBYS became vocal. Plus with the evidence that the company tried to do a major redesign without telling anyone, and because they could not fix it over a few years - politically there was nothing to do but shut the thing down. The upgrade was too buggy. The power company has been claiming/charging nuclear power expenses to it's customers even though the plan has been shut down for quite sometime. They have been very profitable without delivering any electricity for it.

It's sad to see the plant go - but because the company in charge were not reliable custodians of safety. The general public rightfully gained the support they needed and shut the thing down.

Regards

Re:Cost to dismantle vs fix (3, Insightful)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47594095)

The first question that comes to my mind is how much would it cost to just fix the damn pipes?

They would have to replace the entire steam generator. That's been done at a lot of plants, in fact the ones at San O were replaced but defective. A few hundred million. But San O is nearing end of life, shale gas is depressing market prices, and politically California is a hostile environment which has its own costs.

Some of the lost opportunity cost will be borne by the manufacturer of the flawed Steam Generators. But that plant has served well for decades even with an early shutdown.

Re:Cost to dismantle vs fix (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594181)

Back in my day, we did not just throw away our nuclear power plants when a new model came out!

It was NOT the cost of the pipes (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47595059)

The final straw was when Senator Boxer (D-CA), pushed by her anti-nuke friends at Friends of the Earth (and other groups) pushed the Obama administration to keep dragging-out the regulatory process to get Edison the permission to re-start the plant. Edison could get the numbers on how long repairs would take, how much they would cost, etc (all pretty standard and easy accounting) but they could never get a straight answer on a timeline for approval. The final decision at Edison came when Boxer's efforts payed-off and the plant was ordered to go through a whole new round of reviews and another round of "public input" and another judge got involved pushing the timeline even further towards infinity...

This is how activists are gradually pushing middle-class Americans into rationing. 2013 was (and 2014 is so far) cooler than normal in the summer (thanks to lower solar activity) but people need to remember that before that California was suffering electricity blackouts with insufficient generation capacity. There is currently no solid plan to replace the huge capacity of San Onofre (whose nuclear reactors could increase and decrease output as needed to keep grid levels stable - something "green energy" cannot do) Our electricity rates in SoCal are already rising fast and that's going to accellerate, just as candidate Obama promised on the campaign trail in 2008 (when he attacked coal and promised to make it unaffordable, saying American's electricity prices were going to necessarily go way up). Can't wait for the impact of the coal plant shutdowns to kick-in in several years...

of course on slashdot... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47593975)

some fucking idiotic nerd will defend the abomination that is nuclear power as great for the environment or some shit.

NASA: Nuclear power prevented 1.8 million deaths (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594293)

some fucking idiotic nerd will defend the abomination that is nuclear power as great for the environment or some shit.

Yeah, like the environmental science nerds at NASA "... researchers estimate nuclear power has prevented more than 1.8 million deaths due to air pollution between 1971 and 2009. Given our fears, the findings are counterintuitive. But they're persuasive ..."
http://motherboard.vice.com/bl... [vice.com]

BTW, you do realize you are every bit the science denier as climate change deniers. Nuclear deniers are no different. They merely form their opinion based on left wing **politics** rather than right wing politics. Neither the climate deniers nor the nuclear deniers are based in science.

Re:NASA: Nuclear power prevented 1.8 million death (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 5 months ago | (#47594401)

Owing to the high opportunity cost of nuclear power, it more likely interfered with preventing even more deaths. http://www.rmi.org/Knowledge-C... [rmi.org]

Back of envelope calculation (4, Interesting)

photonic (584757) | about 5 months ago | (#47594043)

I hope my math is correct: Taking numbers from wikipedia [wikipedia.org] , considering only units 2 and 3: both were in operation for a bit more than 29 years and were producing about 1 GW at full power. Ignoring any production time lost for maintenance (my guess is they would run with a duty cycle of 80-90%), the total amount of produced kWh would be: 29 years * 365 days/year * 24 hours/day * 2 GW = 5e14 Wh = 5e11 kWh. The price for the decommissioning would thus come down to around 4.4e9 $ / 5e11 kWh = 0.0086 $/kWh, so let's round it up to 1 cent per kWh. Average price for electricity in the US [eia.gov] seems to be around 0.10 $/kW, so the cost for the decommissioning seems acceptable, though not negligible.

Re:Back of envelope calculation (1)

Immerman (2627577) | about 5 months ago | (#47594119)

Consider though that the cost of nuclear power is almost entirely in the construction and decommissioning of the reactors. The only other significant costs are labor and maintenance - the cost of nuclear fuel is negligible - some fraction of a cent per kWh, though of course there's also waste storage costs, whether they're paid in money or environmental contamination. Which makes the fact that fuel reprocessing is no longer the norm completely inexcusable - it virtually eliminates the long-term waste storage problem (reducing it to centuries rather than tens of millenia, making it a completely tractable issue), but was abandoned because advances in uranium mining and refining technology made fresh fuel considerably cheaper than reprocessed.

Re:Back of envelope calculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594197)

You have to thank Jimmy Carter for that, with his ban on all non-military new reactors and the immediate decommissioning of all breeder reactors.

His edicts made after 3MI had ensured Big Oil/Big Coal will still be the primary energy generation source almost half a century after his administration.

Re:Back of envelope calculation (1)

haruchai (17472) | about 5 months ago | (#47594813)

Bullshit.
From 1973 - 1979, about 40 planned reactors were cancelled because of fears of overcapacity. About 53 that were approved before TMI were completed although subject to more stringent oversight.
Unit 1 of TMI was allowed to restart operations in '85 and is licensed to operate until 2034. Carter had described the overall event as minor to his cabinet after visiting the site.
It's true that TMI & Carter did have a considerable impact on nuke plants in the USA but the event that really put the hurt on the industry did NOT happen during Carter's tenure.

That clusterfuck was called CHERNOBYL.

Re:Back of envelope calculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47595087)

Speaking of Jimmy Carter, what have you done that can compete with what he has personally done about the mess a nuclear reactor can create?

Re:Back of envelope calculation (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 5 months ago | (#47594177)

Thanks for showing the numbers. It would have worked out better, of course, had San O units operated for their 40 year life or longer. Many US nuclear plants are already licensed to operate for 60 years, so the relative cost might even be significantly lower in those cases, as well as a longer period of fund development.

Re:Back of envelope calculation (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594779)

So, assuming the 0.1$/kW includes production/maintenance costs for power plants (well, it should be since at least for Nuclear that is most of the cost of power), we are talking about decommissioning being at least 10% of the total cost. It still sounds like much. Especially since these plants are designed to be decommissioned after X years (whatever that X is) I would expect the pre-designed decommissioning process to be a bit less hard/costly.

What was power selling per kwh 29 years ago? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47595191)

Your math is rather simplistic... don't you agree?

You would come up with a better estimate if you found the average cost per khw over that 29 year period instead. I can tell you they weren't paying .10/kwh 29 years ago for sure.

Try again? :)

Waste disposal not included (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 5 months ago | (#47594237)

The spent fuel is going to just be sitting there. So, they won't really be finishing the job of decommissioning. The waste at Humboldt Bay is vulnerable to sea level rise so the story there is even less complete.

Re:Waste disposal not included (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594739)

The waste at Humboldt Bay is vulnerable to sea level rise so the story there is even less complete.

First: it's not waste. It's fuel that we refuse to take advantage of. If it weren't fuel, it wouldn't be decaying, and you wouldn't have an argument. QED.
Second: Not taking full advantage of said fuel in preference over fossil fuels is driving sea level rise, causing the problem you rail against. QED.

About 1.5 years worth of electricity (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594279)

To add some perspective.... At current prices, $4.4B is about the value of 1.5 years worth of electricity generated by this plant.

Needs work but not bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594337)

If it is true that they have been setting aside funds to pay for decommissioning then it sounds like responsible management -- what a rarity. The cost sounds horrendous as does the time but I suspect this is just an issue of perspective. Hope it goes better than Hanford,,,

On the other hand it does make me wonder how much servicing and decommissioning are factored into the design of these things? I am still of the opinion that nuclear engineering is still in its infancy compared to making stuff with steel.

And one of the other posters did ask a good question -- what do we do with an old solar plant or wind farm? Just leaving it for the glaciers?

A total waste... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594505)

The plant could just be left to sit on its tiny plot of land without any harm, for free. It is basically a robust concrete building with some activated steel in the the reactor vessel and piping. It could be fully recycled if it were just left to sit for a few decades, and at much less cost. That is the great thing about radiation; it goes away rather quickly. The only long term radiation hazard is spent fuel from old reactors which consume but a tiny fraction of the fuel. Modern reactors produce virtually no long-lived hazards, and can also relieve us of our spent fuel burden.

Of course, better yet would be to restart the the reactors and let them continue to produce carbon-free electricity until they can be replaced by something more modern. Then build more reactors on the same site and reuse the transmission infrastructure.

Re:A total waste... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594653)

-1

repair? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594913)

Not better to repair it and keep using? We need power, and wind/solar is never going to cover it. If not that, dismantle it and build a new one in the same location.

We need to re-think how we do nuclear power (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 months ago | (#47594979)

We seriously need to re-think how we do nuclear power. The open source model is (likely) a far better, far cheaper way to go. What I mean is: right now we have heavy water reactors. They give off a lot of radiation. They are inherently dangerous. They are crazy expensive to build, and equally crazy expensive to de-commission. They also produce a lot of high-level waste. We need to think about smaller, safer, cheaper reactors. A small 200kW unit that goes into a neighbourhood for 20 years, and then gets pulled out and replaced. There are other benefits: you never get massive power outages. One plant goes down, and you get a 10 second blip on the nightly news about the 50 homes affected (part of one neighbourhood). A modern molten salt method would be far cheaper (no super-high pressure anything, no massive containment facility wanted or needed, you put it in, then remotely monitor it for 20 years, perhaps doing inspections twice a year but otherwise maintenance free). A lot of engineering has gone into the traditional plant, but more fundamental work (like the fundamental radioactive processes going on) should be done. What I'm talking about isn't like car manufacturers getting 5% more out of an internal combustion Otto cycle engine, I'm talking about using a Sterling cycle engine or even a fuel cell to provide power: that kind of a change.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?