Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major Energy and Environmental News and Commentary affecting the Nuclear Industry.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

A Need For Reality-Based Energy Policies

A Need For Reality-Based Energy Policies

One of the biggest challenges in planning for our energy future is that opponents of oil and natural gas are quite unwilling to acknowledge the reality of our energy supply and demand.  Two examples: First, from a new Sierra Club video (ably rebutted in full by Oil Sands Fact Check here):“Moving America beyond oil isn’t that difficult.”

Taylor Wilson: Why we need nuclear energy

Taylor Wilson: Why we need nuclear energy

Editor's note: Taylor Wilson first became fascinated with nuclear power at the age of 10. The Nevada teen-ager is the youngest person in the world to build a nuclear fusion reactor and has won dozens of national science awards. Now 18, he is now aiming to use his vast knowledge of nuclear physics to try and make nuclear fusion a viable source of power.

By Taylor Wilson, Special to CNN

(CNN) - Many of the problems we face as a society are rooted in energy. Conflicts are driven by our unending quest for fossil fuels. Clean water, stable food supplies and manufacturing and innovation are all driven by this unquenchable appetite for energy.

As a society we lack that stable supply of energy. There is, however, one source that is completely clean, immensely powerful and incredibly abundant: nuclear fusion.

When the power of the atom was first discovered in the 1930s, scientists immediately realized the atom’s potential not only as a weapon but as a force of good - one that could provide abundant energy, ensure stable food supplies and eradicate disease. In the 1940s, the crash program known as the Manhattan Project brought together the greatest minds in the country to unlock this strong nuclear force. During the next two decades, the promise and peril of nuclear technology was demonstrated and entered American popular culture.

I recently went with a group of friends to see the new "Avengers" movie. It’s impossible to avoid how nuclear technology directly influenced many of characters, from the peril of Bruce Banner’s alter ego, the Hulk, to the promise of Tony Stark’s Arc Reactor. These characters were first penned during the height of American nuclear research in the early 1960s. Popular culture as a whole recognized that while threatening, the newfound power of the atom was the future.

Spent Fuel Pool Containment: Guest Post

Spent Fuel Pool Containment: Guest Post

Recently, I wrote an article with help from many other people which was presented on the ANS Nuclear Cafe in order to refute misinformation about the safety of spent fuel at Fukushima Daiichi. There was some material that did not make the final edit, for space as well as focus related reasons.

Ted DelGaizo submitted a piece which was in response to statements by Mr. Markey and others on 'loss of containment' of spent fuel pools. With the very recent news this week surrounding spent fuel safety on nuclear plant sites, and the future of a spent fuel repository, I think it is important that his piece get published now. Below is the piece Ted submitted in its entirety; following the piece is a short bio.



Ted DelGaizo

Atomic Power Review: Further, but misguided, action on spent fuel repository

atomic power review

Posted: 09 Jun 2012 03:15 PM PDT
Last Thursday, APR ran an article (click here) on actions that indicate a real future for a national spent fuel repository; the House guaranteed $10 million for continuation of the Yucca Mountain study by the NRC, and the DOE was rebuked by a Federal Court of Appeals for continuing to charge utility companies money for deposition in the spent fuel fund when there isn't any working plan to develop a national repository.

Yesterday, the future of the spent fuel repository - wherever it ends up, and whenever it gets built - seemed to have another positive contribution when the D.C. Court of Appeals threw out the NRC's "Waste Confidence Decision."

Click here to read the full Court of Appeals decision and considerations. (Thanks to Dan Yurman for the heads up on this.)

From the decision, we read the following introductory statement:

"This is another in the growing line of cases involving the federal government’s failure to establish a permanent repository for civilian nuclear waste."

One might think that the rest of the decision would be extremely positive for the nuclear industry, given that overall the indications of the industry have generally been that the Federal Government needs to finally live up to its legal obligations to research, build and operate a national HLW (High Level Waste) repository. But that's not the case; this is where the NRC's intent - and by "intent" I mean Chairman Jaczko's intent - to indicate that spent fuel is safe as-is, where-is only seems to have gone so far as was necessary to support the Chairman's assertion that there was no rush to build a national waste repository, making it then possible to kill the Yucca Mountain project. (At least, until Thursday.)

Below, the Nuclear Energy Institute's press release on this latest court decision.


Nuclear Energy Institute
For Release:June 8, 2012

NEI Responds to Court Ruling to Vacate NRC Waste Confidence Decision

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Nuclear Energy Institute’s Ellen C. Ginsberg, vice president and general counsel, made the following remarks in reaction to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruling today to vacate and remand the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s waste confidence decision.

“We are disappointed by the court’s decision as we believe that the NRC supported its conclusions in the waste confidence decision. Nonetheless, we urge the commission to act expeditiously to undertake the additional environmental analysis identified by the court in the remand. We also encourage the agency to reissue the rule as soon as possible.

“We are pleased that the court specifically affirmed the agency’s discretion to address the environmental issues in a generic fashion using an environmental impact statement or an environmental assessment with a finding of no significant impact.”


What essentially has happened here is that the D.C. Court has come to believe that spent fuel in dry cask storage, and in spent fuel pools, is dangerous. In fact, in the decision, the Court -- which has no nuclear engineering experience whatsoever -- mentions the possibility of spent fuel pool fires as one possible event that needs more examination.

Quite recently, a piece that was presented at the ANS Nuclear Cafe totally demolished the concept of spent fuel pool fires at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, in large part because of the age of the fuel involved and the total coverage of many multiple layers of backup power and equipment on site, near the site and transportable to the site. (Structural integrity of the buildings was also another issue, clearly addressed. This piece was produced in response to ridiculous and hyperbolic claims being made in anti-nuclear circles about the situation at the Fukushima Daiichi site.

Translating this notion to conditions in the United States, and with that making the assumption that the NRC (and thus probably no one else) has studied spent fuel storage enough to say whether or not it is safe as-is, where-is, is erroneous. In the ANS article, clear reference is made to a document with the following title:

NUREG / CR-4982 "Severe Accidents in Spent Fuel Pools in support of Generic Safety Issue 82."

This document, bearing a NUREG identifier, is clearly a Nuclear Regulatory Commission document. This document dates from mid-1987. This is by no means the only document ever produced on the subject. Even the simplest examination of the document, namely its title and publication date indicates that the NRC has been considering spent fuel conditions at existing plants for twenty-five years at least, and has considered worst-case scenarios (even though their likelihood is negligible in the case of spent fuel storage in the U.S.) There is much more work on the subject that can be found, but the point is that the NRC did in fact have good ground to stand on in saying that spent fuel is safe where it is now, as it is now.

The problem is that we will still eventually run out of room for it - and the utilities will still probably be paying the DOE whether a national facility is built rapidly or slowly.

Chairman Jaczko, then, was probably completely correct in his various statements that spent fuel can reside where it is for quite a few more years yet; it appears as if the Court thinks that this was an uninformed and all too convenient assumption. What the Court is not aware of, apparently, is decades of work on spent fuel safety and what the real situation concerning spent fuel at varied U.S. plants really is. With luck, this will all be reasserted as the NRC works to reissue the Waste Confidence Rule.

6:15 PM Eastern 6/9/2012
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D.C. Court of Appeals Spent Fuel Decision

D.C. Court of Appeals threw out the NRC's "Waste Confidence Decision."

Click here to read the full Court of Appeals decision and considerations.

China Energy Update 6/9

Pro/con: Are US energy policies forcing Canada into trading with China?
Duluth News Tribune
US energy policies — specifically President Obama's delay of a decision pending further environmental-impact study for a part of the Keystone Pipeline — are pushing Canada into a closer trading relationship with China. Just ask Canadian Prime ...
China's Hu Jintao Stresses Negotiated Solution to Iran-West N. Impasse
Fars News Agency
Ahmadinejad pointed out that Iran and China are both ancient civilizations, linked by the centuries-old Silk Road. "Iran would like to strengthen its friendly ties with China, expand cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, agriculture and ...

Fars News Agency
CANADA STOCKS-China growth worry hits commodity-heavy TSX
* TSX down 91.49, or 0.79 pct, at 11500.63 * Energy, financial shares hurt by growth fears * China rate cut seen foreshadowing soft data By Cameron French TORONTO, June 8 (Reuters) - Canada's main stock index fell on Friday, diverging from rising US ...
China's Hu urges Iran to be 'flexible'
The News International
The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will urge Iran in talks on Friday to allow it access to sites where Tehran is suspected of working on an atomic bomb, particularly a military base near the capital. China hopes Iran can “take a ...
Oil price slips on weak economy
The Associated Press
One of the chief reasons for the recent drop in global oil prices is the change in the growth prospects in China. Judith Dwarkin, Chief Energy Economist at ITG Investment Research, said China is expected to account for half of the overall growth in ...
China cuts fuel prices to fight slowdown
People's Daily Online
By Zhou Yan (China Daily) Gasoline and diesel prices have been cut for the second time in a month amid growing government efforts to reverse a sharp slowdown in the economy. The reduction came after an interest rate cut on Thursday — the country's ...
Duke, Progress Energy clear merger hurdle
After more than year of wrangling over competition concerns, federal regulators have cleared Duke Energy's proposed takeover of Progress Energy, a deal that will create the nation's largest electric utility. China's auto market revved to life in May ...
NYMEX-Crude down on Europe woes, fading Fed hopes
The US trade deficit narrowed 4.9 percent in April as slower growth in Europe and China bit into exports and the soft US economy clipped import demand, a Commerce Department report showed. [ID: nnL1E8H83G] * Hedge funds and other big investors ...
China's Evolving Sustainability Effort
The Atlantic
China has a triple incentive to become a "green superpower": environmental problems, growing energy needs,and a desire to underpin its leadership of the globe with a powerful green tech sector. China meets most of its energy demands by burning ...

The Atlantic
Report: China plans manned space launch this month
More >> By The Associated Press The Associated Press-NORC Center Poll on Americans' energy priorities was conducted from March 29 to April 15 by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. It is based on...More >> By The Associated Press The ...

How facts backfire

How facts backfire

Researchers discover a surprising threat to democracy: our brains


California Energy Update 6/9

New clean energy bill in California could have profound economic impact
Hydrogen Fuel News
By Alicia Moore Alternative energy is beginning to become an economic issue rather than one of politics or environmentalism. Clean energy has been growing in attraction because of the possible benefits it can bring to adopters. In California ...

Hydrogen Fuel News
Solar payments set off debate about fairness
Bend Bulletin
A renewable energy incentive is at the heart of a battle being fought among utilities, consumer advocates and renewable energy developers across the country. By Diane Cardwell / New York Times News Service In California's sun-scorched Central Valley, ...
California's clean energy roadmap
Fierce Energy
The University of California Berkeley's Center for Law, Energy and the Environment is directing policymakers on a straightforward path to meeting renewable energy goals by 2020. UC Berkeley's California's Transition to Local Renewable Energy: 12000 ...
Community Solar Gardens, A First for New Mexico
Yesterday we reported on legislation that would promote community renewable energy in California and an energy coop that's forming in San Diego. Today, we learned of a different model for community solar, this time in New Mexico.
UC report recommends Wolk bills
Daily Democrat
"California has one of the most ambitious renewable energy programs in the country, with a target of procuring 33 percent of its electric energy from renewable sources by 2020," reads the report by The Center for Law, Energy and the Environment at ...
UC Berkeley Releases Clean Energy Roadmap For California
Solar Industry
by SI Staff on Friday 08 June 2012 The University of California, Berkeley's (UC Berkeley) Center for Law, Energy and the Environment has released a new report proposing policy solutions for meeting Gov. Jerry Brown's goal of deploying 12000 MW of local ...
OCEANSIDE: City solar energy project restarted
North County Times
The project was put on hold late last year after San Diego Gas & Electric Co. requested a rate increase that included a provision that would have substantially raised the cost of solar energy installations. In January, a member of the California Public ...
US EPA Launches First Waste to Biogas Mapping Tool Promotes Using Organic ...
Pacific News Center
Energy estimates for wastewater treatment facilities, with and without co-digesting FOG (in kilowatt hours per year for California, Arizona, Nevada and Hawaii). A “correct record” option that allows facilities to change information presented on the map ...
Let's close the information gap about fracking
Los Angeles Times
The industry opposed Pavley's bill because "it was nothing more than another attempt to make it harder and more costly to produce energy in California," says Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Western States Petroleum Assn., the industry lobbying arm.

Los Angeles Times
BLM seeks comment on McCoy solar plant near Blythe
The Desert Sun
There are three ways to submit comments on the Bureau of Land Management's draft environmental impact report on NextEra Energy's McCoy solar project. • By regular mail, send to Jeffrey Childers, BLM California Desert District Office, 22835 Calle San ...

INPO-WANO News Update 6/9

Iran has a right to nuclear energy

Iran has a right to nuclear energy
Washington Post
Regarding the May 26 editorial “Iran's intransigence”: We would like to reiterate that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty has unambiguously recognized “the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of ...

Moving From Square One on Nuclear Waste

Moving From Square One on Nuclear Waste

New York Times (blog) - ‎Jun 7, 2012‎
By MATTHEW L. WALD The idea that the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in Nevada is dead has not gone down well in Congress, where some Republicans are trying to allocate new money to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission so it can revive ...
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Court Forces a Rethinking of Nuclear Fuel Storage

Appeals court rejects storage of spent fuel at nuclear plants US appeals court ...

Boston.com -
A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a rule that allows nuclear power plants to store radioactive waste at reactor sites for up to 60 years after a plant shuts down. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the us Court of Appeals for the ...

Court Forces a Rethinking of Nuclear Fuel Storage

New York Times -
WASHINGTON — The Nuclear Regulatory Commission acted hastily in concluding that spent fuel can be stored safely at nuclear plants for the next century or so in the absence of a permanent repository, and it must consider what will happen if none are ...

Appeals court rejects waste storage at nuke plants

Fox News -
WASHINGTON – A federal appeals court on Friday threw out a rule that allows nuclear power plants to store radioactive waste at reactor sites for up to 60 years after a plant shuts down. In a unanimous ruling, a three-judge panel of the US Court of ...

Nuclear headache: What to do with 65000 tons of spent fuel?

msnbc.com - ‎1
Most spent nuclear fuel is stored in pools like this one, with rods typically under 30 feet of water. By Miguel Llanos, msnbc.com In a blow to the nuclear energy industry, a federal appeals court on Friday threw out a rule allowing plants to store ...

Nuclear panel must weigh risks of long-term storage, court rules

Los Angeles Times - ‎1
A federal appeals court ruled Friday that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must consider the environmental and safety issues involved with long-term storage of radioactive wastes at power plants when it renews operating licenses, a potentially ...

Nuclear Agency Ordered to Revisit Waste-Storage Plan

Wall Street Journal - ‎1
By RYAN TRACY WASHINGTON—A federal court on Friday ordered US nuclear regulators to redo an environmental analysis of nuclear-waste storage, saying they hadn't looked at the full scope of potential impacts. The unanimous finding from the US Court of ...

Nuclear Waste Storage Rules Thrown Out by US Court

BusinessWeek -
By Don Jeffrey on June 08, 2012 The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to fully evaluate risks associated with its regulations on the storage of spent nuclear fuel and must draft new ones, an appeals court ruled. The commission's conclusion that ...

Onsite storage of nuclear waste could hold up IP relicensing decision

EmpireStateNews.net -
WASHINGTON – A final decision on whether the Indian Point nuclear power plants may be relicensed may hinge on a new US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit decision Friday. The court agreed with New York State Attorney General Eric ...

AG Schneiderman Wins Landmark Victory in Challenge to Continued Storage of ...

Power Engineering Magazine -
New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced that he has won a landmark victory in a suit against the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) challenging a Commission finding that the long-term storage of radioactive waste at the ...

Court tosses out rules on waste storage at nuclear plants

Bangor Daily News -
Some of the cylindrical steel-lined concrete containers that comprise the spent fuel storage facility at Maine Yankee in Wiscasset. By Don Jeffrey and Julie Johnsson, Bloomberg News The Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to fully evaluate risks ...

Court Rules Closed Plants Can Hold Nuclear Waste For 30 Years, Not 60

Patch.com -
By Paul Petrone Friday, Attorney General George Jepsen announced a decision by the federal appeals court that allows nuclear power plants to hold onto their spent nuclear fuel (ie nuclear waste) for up to 30 years after the plant was shut down, ...

Court tosses nuke waste storage rule

Cherry Hill Courier Post -
AP WASHINGTON — In a case challenged by the Christie administration and other eastern states, a federal appeals court on Friday threw out a rule that allows nuclear power plants to store radioactive waste at reactor sites for up to 60 years after a ...

Spent nuclear fuel storage decision praised​

New Haven Register -
By Luther Turmelle, North Bureau Chief A federal appeals court is forcing the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to rethink its rules regarding how long spent nuclear fuel can be stored on site at current and former reactors. State Attorney General George ...

Minnesota communities hail decision halting plans for nuclear waste storage

Pioneer Press -
By Leslie Brooks Suzukamo Leaders of communities that sit by Minnesota's two nuclear power plants hailed a federal appeals court decision Friday, June 8, that halted plans to allow nuclear plants to store radioactive waste at reactor sites for up to 60 ...

Court orders NRC to take second look at waste storage

Brattleboro Reformer -
By BOB AUDETTE / Reformer Staff BRATTLEBORO - Concluding the Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not examine the environmental effects of failing to establish a permanent repository for nuclear waste, an appeals court in Washington, DC, threw out an NRC ...

Court curbs licenses to store nuclear waste

Minnesota Public Radio -
by Conrad Wilson, Minnesota Public Radio ST. CLOUD, Minn. — A federal court ruled today that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission can no longer license or re-license any power plant until it examines the effects of long-term storage of onsite nuclear ...

Could federal ruling be trouble for Vt Yankee?

By WCAX News - bio | email A victory for Vermont Friday in what the attorney general is calling a "major ruling" on the storage of nuclear waste. Vermont Yankee and other nuclear plants around the country are forced to store spent radioactive fuel ...

Van Ness Feldman | D.C. Circuit Remands Nuclear Waste Fee Determination to DOE

Linex Legal (press release) (registration) -
On June 1, 2012, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“DC Circuit” or “Court”) overturned the Secretary of Energy's (“the Secretary”) 2010 assessment of the adequacy of the Nuclear Waste Fund one mill (one-tenth of a ...

Court: Closed Nuclear Plants Can't Store Spent Fuel for 60 Years

Hartford Courant -
By MARA LEE maralee@courant.com The Hartford Courant A federal appeals court ruled Friday that spent nuclear fuel cannot be stored at closed plant sites for 60 years, a decision that spurns the US Department of Energy and sides with environmental ...

Major Court Ruling Forces Nuclear Waste Disposal Review

eNews Park Forest -
WASHINGTON--(ENEWSPF)--June 8, 2012 – A federal appeals court's unanimous decision today forces the country to re-evaluate the environmental impacts of the storage and disposal of its nuclear waste in a way that has never been done before.

U.S. Court rules Nuclear Regulatory Commission failed to fully evaluate the ...

Enformable -
A US appeals court ruled that the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has failed to answer questions about the potential environmental impact of storing spent nuclear fuel at sites around the country. The petitioners, including the state of New York and ...
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Friday, June 8, 2012

China Energy Update 6/8

China slows overseas unconventional energy acquisitions
By Charlie Zhu | KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - China's energy giants are slowing their purchases of overseas unconventional oil and gas assets following two years of aggressive investment, leaving the door open for Asian rivals to step up their game in ...
China-US Trade Tensions Rise as Renewable Energy Sags
When solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC collapsed in September after winning a $535 million US loan guarantee, President Barack Obama's administration blamed China's even bigger aid for its renewable-energy industry. The China Development Bank Corp. in ...
China to cut fuel prices Saturday: C1 Energy
By Wayne Ma BEIJING--China will cut gasoline and diesel prices June 9, energy consultancy C1 Energy said, citing sources from the country's two largest oil companies, PetroChina Co. (NYSE:PTR) and China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. (NYSE:SNP) .
Zardari seeks China's help over energy crisis
The Nation, Pakistan
BEIJING - President Asif Ali Zardari on Thursday called for greater Chinese investment in infrastructure development, particularly in mega energy projects, and proposed setting up of an Energy Fund for the ventures like hydro-power projects.

The Nation, Pakistan
China to cut fuel prices by 6 pct from Saturday - C1 Energy
BEIJING, June 8 (Reuters) - China will cut gasoline retail price ceilings by 530 yuan ($83.30) a tonne and diesel by 510 yuan from Saturday, energy consultancy C1 Energy reported on Friday, citing sources with two state-oil firms and the government ...
China Set to Announce Steepest Fuel-Price Cut Since 2008
Brent crude in London, a benchmark grade tracked by China's government, entered a so-called bear market on June 1 after sliding more than 20 percent from this year's high. The reduction forecast by C1 Energy on its website yesterday is equivalent to ...
New energy on spotlight
People's Daily Online
By Wang Xinyuan (Global Times) The strategy of seeking energy sources overseas would not guarantee China's energy security, and the development of new energy needs the participation of private investors, experts said yesterday at a business forum in ...
Zardari turns to China for help over Pak energy crisis
During his recent visit to China Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari [ Images ] proposed setiing up of an energy fund to finance projects in the country. B Raman reports Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari was in Beijing [ Images ] from June 5-7 to ...

Ohi nuclear units need to restart, Japanese PM says

Ohi nuclear units need to restart, Japanese PM says
The two idled reactors at Kansai Electric Power's Ohi nuclear plant must be restarted, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said. Returning the reactors to operation will help the economy and help meet the area's electricity demand, Noda said in explaining his decision. He stressed that additional safety measures have been put in place since the Fukushima Daiichi incident. Google/The Associated Press

Japan PM says two reactors must restart for "survival of society"
Nuclear power had supplied nearly 30 percent of Japan's electricity before last year's quake and tsunami wrecked the Fukushima plant, spewing radiation and forcing mass evacuations. All of the country's 50 reactors have gone offline since, ... 

Japan's Kansai Electric prepares for summer blackouts-Nikkei

Reuters - ‎13 minutes ago‎
| June 9 (Reuters) - Japanese utility Kansai Electric Power Co will continue to prepare for potential rolling blackouts this summer despite effectively getting the go-head to restart its Ohi nuclear power plant, the Nikkei business daily reported.

Japanese PM says no choice but nuclear

Aljazeera.com -
Yoshihiko Noda angers anti-nuclear lobby with call for two reactors to be restarted to head off energy crisis. Yoshihiko Noda, the Japanese prime minister, has said that the country should restart two nuclear reactors to avoid an imminent energy crisis ...

News Summary: Japan PM says 2 reactors needed

BusinessWeek -
By AP NUCLEAR PITCH: Japan's leader appealed to the nation Friday to accept that two nuclear reactors that remained shuttered after the Fukushima disaster must be restarted to protect the economy and people's livelihoods.

Noda stresses need to restart Oi N-reactors / Fukui governor likely to give OK ...

The Daily Yomiuri -
Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda stressed Friday that it is necessary to reactivate idled reactors at the Oi nuclear power plant in Fukui Prefecture for the sake of the country's people. The No. 3 and 4 reactors at the plant should be reactivated, ...

Noda Presses Nuclear-Restart Case

Wall Street Journal -
By TOKO SEKIGUCHI TOKYO—Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda said Friday that nuclear energy is a vital source of power that the nation and its economy can't do without, in an attempt to accelerate the government's plan to restart two idled nuclear ...

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