FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Dangerous Nuclear Plant Rising on DC’s Doorstep

by

Dominion Virginia Power, a section of the giant utility Dominion, is proceeding unlawfully with construction of its $19-billion-plus power reactor 80 miles from Washington, DC — called North Anna 3 — and must get formal approval from the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) before it can continue, according to a petition filed August 30th by the Virginia Citizens Consumer Council (VCCC; ), a nonprofit group based in Elliston, Va.

The group’s “Petition for a Declaratory Judgment” says in part: “At an estimated total cost of at least $19.2 billion, North Anna 3 would be the most expensive power [reactor] ever built in the United States and could raise customers’ rates by 26 % or more according to the Virginia Attorney General.  While Dominion claims that North Anna 3 is needed for compliance with the federal Clean Power Plan, it would be far costlier than the low-carbon alternative of combined renewables, demand-side management, and efficiency … Dominion has not complied with Virginia law by failing to seek SCC approval before making expenditures on project development and beginning preliminary construction of North Anna 3.”

VCCC President Irene Leech said in a statement: “This is a huge raid on the pocketbooks of Virginia consumers and businesses. Dominion has spent approximately $600 million on project development and preliminary construction of North Anna 3, but has not yet sought or obtained Virginia State Corporation Commission approval for those expenditures. This is not a lawful or prudent way for Dominion to proceed when ratepayers are going to end up footing the bill.  We’ve already seen ratepayers in this state stuck with a tab for over $300 million for the North Anna 3 project and there is no guarantee a reactor will ever be built or a single electron of power will be generated.”

In a formal declaration submitted in support of VCCC’s petition, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Commissioner Peter Bradford, who also served as chairman of state utility regulatory agencies in both New York and Maine and now is an adjunct professor at Vermont Law School, wrote: “The economic impact of North Anna 3 on Virginia will be immense. Dominion’s construction cost estimate of $19.2 billion dollars (including financing costs) for the proposed 1470 megawatt power reactor would be a commitment of about $2,400 for every citizen of Virginia, or $9,600 per family of four, and — of course — the impact is even greater because it is confined to Dominion customers.”

“Abysmally wasteful and unnecessary”

On July 12, 2016, Dr. Mark Cooper, senior fellow for economic analysis, Institute for Energy and the Environment at Vermont Law School, also submitted formal comments on behalf of VCCC. Dr. Cooper calls the North Anna 3 project “abysmally wasteful and unnecessary,” concluding that it would cost twice as much as solar to generate the same amount of energy, [and] fatten profits for shareholders by inflating Virginia ratepayer bills by up to 36% (reflecting $6-12 billion in unnecessary costs).

Dr. Cooper’s analysis concluded: “North Anna 3 is unreasonable, unnecessary, inefficient and wasteful and should be removed from Dominion’s Integrated Resource Plan. Dominion is incorrect in asserting that North Anna 3 is needed to satisfy the requirements of the (EPA) Clean Power Plan. To the contrary, a combination of renewables, demand side management, and efficiency can not only provide equivalent capacity, but also the same level of excess capacity.”

Dominion’s corporate website says the company “is a safe, world-class nuclear operator, and as part of its strategy to ensure adequate, reliable electricity for the future, the company is taking steps toward constructing a third nuclear generating unit adjacent to its existing two nuclear units at its North Anna Power Station in Louisa Co., Va.”

On Aug. 23, 2011, the North Anna site was rocked by a 5.8-magnitude earthquake that shook Dominion’s old reactors 1 & 2 twice as hard as they were built to handle. This unanticipated “violation” was the first of its kind in the country’s 60-year-long history of nuclear power, and came six months after the catastrophic earthquake-tsunami-and-triple meltdown in Fukushima, Japan. The Virginia quake moved 25 of Dominion’s outdoor waste casks — that hold highly radioactive, extremely hot waste fuel and weigh 115 tons each — up to 4.5 inches.

Not to put too fine a point on the issue, but the $19 billion Unit 3 is being built above an earthquake fault.

For more info: VCCC: www.consumerfed.org/virginia-citizens-consumer-council

More articles by:

John LaForge is a Co-director of Nukewatch, a peace and environmental justice group in Wisconsin, and edits its newsletter.

February 22, 2018
Manuel García, Jr.
The Anthropocene’s Birthday, or the Birth-Year of Human-Accelerated Climate Change
Thomas Knapp
Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Russiagate
February 21, 2018
Cecil Bothwell
Billy Graham and the Gospel of Fear
Ajamu Baraka
Venezuela: Revenge of the Mad-Dog Empire
Edward Hunt
Treating North Korea Rough
Binoy Kampmark
Meddling for Empire: the CIA Comes Clean
Ron Jacobs
Stamping Out Hunger
Ammar Kourany – Martha Myers
So, You Think You Are My Partner? International NGOs and National NGOs, Costs of Asymmetrical Relationships
Michael Welton
1980s: From Star Wars to the End of the Cold War
Judith Deutsch
Finkelstein on Gaza: Who or What Has a Right to Exist? 
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
War Preparations on Venezuela as Election Nears
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Military Realities
Steve Early
Refinery Safety Campaign Frays Blue-Green Alliance
Ali Mohsin
Muslims Face Increasing Discrimination, State Surveillance Under Trump
Julian Vigo
UK Mass Digital Surveillance Regime Ruled Illegal
Peter Crowley
Revisiting ‘Make America Great Again’
Andrew Stewart
Black Panther: Afrofuturism Gets a Superb Film, Marvel Grows Up and I Don’t Know How to Review It
CounterPunch News Service
A Call to Celebrate 2018 as the Year of William Edward Burghardt Du Bois by the Saturday Free School
February 20, 2018
Nick Pemberton
The Gun Violence the Media Shows Us and the State Violence They Don’t
John Eskow
Sympathy for the Drivel: On the Vocabulary of President Nitwit
John Steppling
Trump, Putin, and Nikolas Cruz Walk Into a Bar…
John W. Whitehead
America’s Cult of Violence Turns Deadly
Ishmael Reed
Charles F. Harris: He Popularized Black History
Will Podmore
Paying the Price: the TUC and Brexit
George Burchett
Plumpes Denken: Crude thinking
Binoy Kampmark
The Caring Profession: Peacekeeping, Blue Helmets and Sexual Abuse
Lawrence Wittner
The Trump Administration’s War on Workers
David Swanson
The Question of Sanctions: South Africa and Palestine
Walter Clemens
Murderers in High Places
Dean Baker
How Does the Washington Post Know that Trump’s Plan Really “Aims” to Pump $1.5 Trillion Into Infrastructure Projects?
February 19, 2018
Rob Urie
Mueller, Russia and Oil Politics
Richard Moser
Mueller the Politician
Robert Hunziker
There Is No Time Left
Nino Pagliccia
Venezuela Decides to Hold Presidential Elections, the Opposition Chooses to Boycott Democracy
Daniel Warner
Parkland Florida: Revisiting Michael Fields
Sheldon Richman
‘Peace Through Strength’ is a Racket
Wilfred Burchett
Vietnam Will Win: Taking on the Pentagon
Patrick Cockburn
People Care More About the OXFAM Scandal Than the Cholera Epidemic
Ted Rall
On Gun Violence and Control, a Political Gordian Knot
Binoy Kampmark
Making Mugs of Voters: Mueller’s Russia Indictments
Dave Lindorff
Mass Killers Abetted by Nutjobs
Myles Hoenig
A Response to David Axelrod
Colin Todhunter
The Royal Society and the GMO-Agrochemical Sector
Cesar Chelala
A Student’s Message to Politicians about the Florida Massacre
Weekend Edition
February 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
American Carnage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail