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HBO’s new documentary, Atomic Homefront, shows how communities are still struggling to live with radiation from radioactive waste generated more than 70 years ago during the race to build the atomic bomb—part of a secret government effort during World War II known as the Manhattan Project. In a sense, residents of these communities are still suffering from the consequences of that war. The timing of this powerful film, directed by Rebecca Cammisa, is significant. Last December was the 75th anniversary of the first controlled, self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction achieved by Enrico Fermi and his colleagues at their Chicago Pile–1 reactor, or CP-1 for short, located at the University of Chicago. This event gave prominence to the field of nuclear physics and paved the way for the production of plutonium for nuclear bombs—and later, the production of electricity in nuclear power reactors.

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists 10th June 2018 read more »

When Mr. Trump came into office, he vowed to revive America’s coal mining industry by rolling back Obama-era environmental regulations. But coal keeps getting edged out by cheaper and cleaner alternatives. At least 15.4 gigawatts of coal capacity is set to retire this year, one of the biggest years on record, according to the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. And the coal units that are left now operate far less frequently than they used to, replaced by natural gas, wind and solar power. For many utilities, the decision to abandon coal comes down to simple economics. Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electric utility, recently concluded that it could save $213 million by retiring two of its older coal-fired units a decade ahead of schedule and replacing them with a mix of wind, solar, battery storage and natural gas. In recent years, America’s nuclear power plants have also been succumbing to many of those same market forces. Six nuclear reactors have shut down permanently since 2013, victims of high maintenance costs and competition from cheap natural gas, and 11 more are slated to close by 2025. The decline of nuclear power, the nation’s largest source of carbon-free electricity, is more ominous for efforts to slow global warming. Experts have warned that if these reactors close, they will likely be replaced by natural gas in the near term and emissions will rise. (While natural gas is cleaner than coal, it is still a fossil fuel and produces carbon dioxide when burned for electricity.)

New York Times 13th June 2018 read more »

More Than Half Of The Nation’s Nuclear Power Plants Are At Risk Of Closing. The nuclear energy industry is having trouble competing against cheaper natural gas and renewable energy. So it’s begun touting its low greenhouse gas emissions as it seeks public subsidies.

NPR 12th June 2018 read more »

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Published: 14 June 2018