Australian news, and some related international items

The massive tax-payer funding for security of nuclear reactors – and this will be just as bad for Small Nuclear Reactors

This article us well worth reading in its full version. Due to problems with WordPress, (the free provider of this site), itis harder to publish this in a ‘viewable size

Nuclear Security Represents $4 Billion Annual Subsidy In US, Trillion For Fleet For Full Lifecycle

This equates to a roughly $4 billion annual subsidy to the US nuclear industry, in addition to the $1.6 billion in permanent tax breaks in the US federal tax code.

Clean Technica, By Michael Barnard 30 Mar 21,The nuclear industry requires, but doesn’t pay much of the price of, several overlapping layers of security on its international and national supply chains, generation sites, and waste management. It’s spread across a hard to fathom number of budget lines, and there doesn’t appear to have been any attempt to consolidate the costs prior to this article. This was covered recently in a CleanTech Talk with Paul Werbos, formerly with the US National Science Foundation, and he agreed that the costs were large and mostly under the radar.[1]

Per reactor annual costs appear to be in the range of $50 million USD per year, with half or less of that paid by the nuclear operator. This equates to a roughly $4 billion annual subsidy to the US nuclear industry, in addition to the $1.6 billion in permanent tax breaks in the US federal tax code.

For this analysis, the expenditures are broken into international fuel and components supply chain security, national/state/municipal security, and finally generation site security.

This will be put in context of costs across the 135 US nuclear reactors that include 94 in operation, 2 in construction, and 39 no longer operating.[2] Nuclear power plants take an average of 10 years to be constructed, operate for 40 years, and are currently taking 100 years to decommission.[3] While these are US costs, they should be reasonably easy to extend to other countries with nuclear generation.

International Costs

There are international security costs for nuclear supply, waste, and materials chains, coordinated through the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA). The US provides the majority of the IAEA’s annual budget, about $200 million USD.[4] That turns into roughly $1.5 million per reactor per year, or about $220 million for the full lifecycle of each reactor.

The Department of Defense (DOD) undoubtedly spends part of its $637 billion annual peacetime base budget on security for the global nuclear supply chain.[5] Bernie Sanders’ campaign estimated that $81 billion of DOD’s annual budget was effectively oil and gas security forces globally, with a strong concentration in the Middle East.[6] The nuclear war ships and armaments of the us military share supply chains with civilian nuclear reactor fuel and many components. ………….

US international expenditures on security total $1.1 billion annually, or about $8 million per reactor per year, or about $1.2 billion over the full lifecycle of the reactor.

National, State, & Municipal Security

Nuclear energy is the only form of energy with its own regulatory agency in most countries, and with specific call outs in budgets of other agencies. ……….

adds up to about $1.5 billion more per year for security provisions for nuclear power generation in the US. That money is not recovered from operators, but should be considered a complete subsidy for nuclear generation in addition to the nuclear tax code permanent tax breaks of $1.6 billion annually.

Over the 135 reactors in operation, that turns into a per reactor cost borne by US taxpayers of $11.3 million, and a full 150-year lifecycle cost of about $1.7 billion………….

Nuclear Generation Site Security

Only now do we get to the specific site’s annual costs. The budgets are even less transparent for individual reactors. There are aggregated numbers, but not individual budgets as the companies running them are private and not required to disclose that level of detail………..

There are three levels of security for any nuclear reactor site, and the security is shared across the reactors at the site.[22]

“The large outer perimeter, called the “owner-controlled area,” is far enough from the reactor that only minimal security is needed. Other than signs, the security measures in place for the owner-controlled area are not always visible to the public. The “protected area” is fenced and protected by sophisticated security systems and armed security officers. The innermost circle is called the “vital area.” It contains the reactor and associated safety systems, the control room, the used fuel pool, and the main security alarm stations. Access to the vital area is limited and protected by locked and alarmed security doors.”

Then there are the cybersecurity measures on top of that.

AEA best practices staffing guidelines suggest 20% of staff at nuclear generation facilities are security staff.[23] Plants have 500–1000 staff.[24] For an average facility then, there might be 750 staff and 150 security staff. ……..

Given that the site pays for 90% of NRC licensing costs and its site security, nuclear operators are paying roughly $24 million of the annual $53 million in security costs. The rest, roughly $30 million, can be considered uncounted subsidies of nuclear generation per reactor. That amounts to a $4 billion dollar indirect annual nuclear subsidy in addition to the $1.6 billion in direct tax breaks for the nuclear industry……..

Small Modular Reactors

There is nothing about small modular reactors (SMRs) which would indicate that they would have lower security costs than full sized reactors. They would have to be grouped in reactor sites, but with more SMRs per site, in order to spread the operational costs and the like across the reactors economically. They would still require full international, national, state and municipal overlapping layers of protection. They would still require high levels of site security. There is no evidence that decommissioning them will take less time.

March 30, 2021 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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