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Archive for the ‘Nuclear Renaissance’ Category


Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

April 5, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Fortune Magazine held its "Brainstorm Green" conference this week in the shadow of events at Fukushima and found that people who worry about global warming – some of them at least – are still supporting nuclear power.


The numbers don’t lie, coal kills millions every year" through air pollution," Michael Shellenberger, head of the Breakthrough Institute, told the gathering. Breakthrough is a liberal organization that has been critical of aspects of the environmental movement. "We’re not going to be against it," said Environmental Defense’s Fred Krupp, who has been a quiet supporter in recent years. However, he did  add: "It’s a good thing we pause here and try to figure out what went wrong and why."

Connie Hedegaard, commissioner for climate action for the European Union, told the panel "nuclear will still be part of the whole equation" and Duke Energy’s Jim Rogers reiterated his vow to build more nuclear, largely on the premise that it it is clean and will reduce carbon emissions. 

Although Fortune did not invite die-hard nuclear opponents such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace or Arjun Makhijani’s Institue for Energy and Environmental Research, the magazine does seem to have caught a trend. Particularly in Congress, liberal Democrats such as Barbara Boxer, Charles Schumer and Diane Feinstein, who have expressed concern about carbon emissions, seem to have become reconciled to the idea that nuclear will have to play a part. Outside the venerable Ed Markey, the response to Fukushima has been muted. With the sole exception of Joe Lieberman, no one has backed away from any nuclear commitments. Neither is there any indication of things slowing down abroad. "Do you think China is going to slow down, do you think India is going to slow down," Rogers asked the crowd at the discussion. "The nuclear renaissance will continue."

Read more about it at CNN


Friday, March 4th, 2011

March 4, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Five-term Congressman Devin Nunes has submitted legislation that he says would achieve energy independence for American by building 200 new reactors by 2040.
“Nothing done by our government in the past several decades has actually helped to achieve the goal of energy independence, or for that matter, kept energy prices affordable for American families,” said Nunes on his blog. “Quite the reverse is true. We are more dependent today than ever before and far more economically vulnerable than at any point in our nation’s history. Today, I and others will introduce legislation that will finally deliver on the energy security promises made by leaders past and present – promises that began during the 1973 oil embargo, our nation’s first call to action.”
The bill would begin by opening up gas and oil resources both on land and offshore in order to ramp up production. “At the same time, the plan recognizes that dependence on any one fuel source is dangerous, particularly a finite resource,” he continues. “As such, the Energy Roadmap will make the necessary investments to transition our economy to renewable and advanced energy alternatives over time.”
Nunes said that royalties from oil and gas development on federal land should be placed in an “Energy Trust Fund” that would promote the development of alternative and resources. “This market-based way of providing federal assistance will ensure the cheapest and most efficient technology thrives. It will also open up the alternative energy market to greater innovation and competition, a sharp contrast to the existing system of subsidies and support, which are subject to the influence of lobbyists and activists through political cronyism.”
Finally, he said, the bill would mandate the construction of 200 new reactors by 2040. “New streamlined regulations and a system to manage waste will help drive private sector investments in these facilities, which today are mired in red tape, lawsuits and the liability associated with the storage of used fuel. Nuclear power is essential to achieving an abundant and affordable supply of electricity to fuel America’s economic growth and will provide the base load power needed to allow significant growth in next generation electric vehicles.”
Nunes represents California’s Central Valley, which has been mired in a deep depression because of the decline in the state economy. A citizens’ organization called Fresno Nuclear Energy Group has been attempting to build a nuclear reactor to lower electrical rates and revive the regional economy. Congressman Nunes has been spearheading an effort to override California’s state ban on nuclear construction at the federal level. The Energy Roadmap represents an expansion of that effort to a national level.



Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

March 3, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Dan Rather may no longer look the nation in the eye every night at 6 o’clock, but he still has enormous prestige and he is lending that prestige to nuclear power.
“Everyone I talked to agreed that nuclear power is the solution,” said Rather after doing a special feature on his weekly HDNet show, “Dan Rather Reports.”  In a lengthy excerpt posted on Huffington Post, Rather does level-headed interviews with Dr. David Moncton of MIT, Dr. Eric Loewen of GE Hitachi and “Grizz” and Deborah Deal, the brother-and-sister team who head up Hyperion, one of the leading mini-reactor companies.
 Instead of the traditional “What-happens-if-the-reactor-blows-up?” type of questions, Rather allows Moncton to establish that Three Mile Island actually validated the integrity of safety systems and that Chernobyl was an anomaly of Soviet science. When it comes to “What-do-you-do-with-the-waste?” he has Loewen explain the Integral Fast Breeder – an interview that verified the conclusions of author Tom Blees in Prescription for the Planet.
Dr. Ernest Moritz of MIT weighs in against small modular reactors and other new technology, saying that the well worn grooves of Nuclear Regulatory Commission proceedings more or less doom us to technologies laid out twenty years ago. "I feel like I’m a technology Luddite or something in saying this," Moniz tells Rather. "For the next ten, twenty years, if we’re going to build nuclear power, it’s going to be fundamentally based around what you see and the so-called generation III+ reactors."
On the whole, though, the message is upbeat. “Whether the government is on the right path is a point of contention,” Rather concludes, “but on one point, everyone I interviewed agrees. Nuclear power is the solution, they say, and it’s time to get going.”

Read more about it at the Huffington Post



Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

March 3, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers says American business has lost its way and that nuclear power will be a key element in getting its "mojo" back.
“As we wait for Washington to break its gridlock and deflate its deficit bubble, we need to continue to modernize our power infrastructure and build more efficient sources of generation. One of the keys to moving forward is new nuclear power,” Rogers told the annual meeting of the North Carolina Chamber of Commerce. “Nuclear is expensive in the short term, but actually low-cost in the long term. We know this well in the Carolinas because nuclear provides half of our generation. It’s a large part of the reason why our electricity rates are so much lower than the national average.”
Rogers noted that excessive real estate speculation and the failure to curb leveraging on Wall Street had led to the financial crisis, but at a deeper level American business has “lost its sense of purpose.”  “We need to refocus now on values, on significance. Wealth for wealth’s sake is meaningless. Just as getting big simply to get large is misguided, and sometimes tragic. This reorientation is purpose-driven capitalism.”
Duke recently merged with Progress Energy to form the third largest utility in the nation with the third largest nuclear fleet. One of the major reasons cited for the merger was the improved ability to undertake the $8-10 billion investment required for a new reactor. Progress submitted license applications for reactors at the Lew Country, Florida and Shearon Harris sites in North Carolina, while Duke has a proposal for the William States Lee III site in South Carolina. All three proposals are for the Westinghouse AP1000, a design not yet approved by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Read more at the Charlotte Observer



Thursday, February 24th, 2011

February 24, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Don Banner, a Colorado lawyer and entrepreneur, has won the initial round in trying to persuade Pueblo County to build a nuclear reactor.
This week, after seven hours of debate, the Pueblo County Planning Commission voted 5-3 to send Banner’s proposal to a full hearing before the Pueblo County Commission on March 15. “A passionate but respectful crowd of at least 100 people attended the meeting, many staying until the end,” reported the Pueblo Chieftain. Banner is seeking a zoning change plus an agreement to fast track the proposal by skipping environmental procedures that will be duplicated later by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
“In his Clean Energy Park idea, Banner has formed Puebloans For Energizing Our Community, a limited liability company,” the Chieftain said. “Banner told the commission that he plans to have solar, wind and geothermal producers on the huge site, just a fraction of which would be taken up by the nuclear plant.”
Although trained as a lawyer, Banner has obviously done his homework in presenting nuclear to the public. “Much of Banner’s presentation focused on the safety of nuclear plants, and the fact that France and other nations obtain much of their energy from nuclear plants. And the United States has more stringent safety rules than any other nation,” said the Chieftain. “No one was injured in the incident and Banner said there has not been a single death at a nuclear plant or on any of 260 nuclear U.S. Navy ships (due to nuclear accidents) that regularly visit ports in heavily populated cities all over the world. More than 14 million U.S. citizens live within 50 miles of nuclear plants, and never have suffered an injury because of the plants.”
Banner’s efforts may seem quixotic but they are being duplicated in other local communities around the country. Alternate Energy Holdings is attempting to build a reactor in Idaho and the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group is making a similar effort in the Central Valley of California. Such projects are drawing on the growing support for nuclear around the country. Opposition groups will soon begin exercising their public-relations and legal skills – as they did in prompting an SEC to investigate AEHI in Idaho. But countering this will be the growing public awareness of nuclear’s strengths.
“Fourteen people spoke in support of Banner’s plan, including a wildlife biologist who worked near a plant in Georgia, a couple of retirees from the nuclear field with advanced degrees, a labor representative, local business people and a CSU-Pueblo marketing professor,” reported the Chieftain. “They echoed and amplified Banner’s contentions, but did not seem to be coached or unified in their testimonials.”

Read more about it at the Pueblo Chieftain


Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

February 23, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

Great Britain may soon join the countries showing the United States how to have a nuclear revival. The British press reports that government regulatory are close to approving the Westinghouse AP1000, a design that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been laboring over for almost six years.
“Work on assessing Areva SA’s (CEI.FR) and Westinghouse Electric Co.’s nuclear reactor designs for operation in the U.K. hasn’t identified any showstoppers so far,” reports Dow Jones. “U.K. nuclear regulatory bodies are on track to issue interim design acceptance at the end of June, they said Tuesday in a quarterly report.” 
An interim acceptance would allow additional design work but construction of any new reactors would still have to wait for final approval from the authorities. Still, the British authorities seem to be avoiding the issues that have sidetracked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Final approval of the AP1000 has been delayed for several years by attempts to protect it from aerial attack. The NRC was apparently unconvinced by a 1990s DOE test that showed an F-4 fighter jet traveling at 500 mph would be atomized in a collision with a containment structure wall.
“The U.K., which is in the midst of a big revival of nuclear power to replace aging coal and nuclear plants that are closing while also meeting climate change targets, is trying to avoid a repeat of delays and cost overruns in Finland where Areva is constructing what was supposed to be Europe’s first new EPR,” says Dow Jones. So far they seem to be succeeding.
Both the Vogtle project in Georgia and the SCAN site in South Carolina are currently awaiting design approval of the AP1000. The NRC has projected it may reach a decision by the end of this year 


Read more about it at Fox Business.



Wednesday, February 16th, 2011

February 16, 2011
Nuclear Townhall
From the Editors

In recent years, Scientific American has become noteworthy for its grandiose plans for powering the world on wind and solar energy.  Therefore it’s nice to find they’ve also seen fit to ask the question, “Is a U.S. Nuclear Revival Finally Underway?” in the current edition.

The answer is very ambiguous. In an article replete with old news, David Biello says there are four reactors “being built” across the country. He counts two Vogtle plants, at which preliminary site work has begun, two South Carolina Electric [SCANA] plants – at which no site work has begun – plus Watts Bar II, where the Tennessee Valley Authority is proceeding with a 30-year-old license. That adds up to five but we’ll let Scientific American do the counting.

The headline claims the four projects are “on time and on budget,” to date without mentioning that the clock has not fully started running with the exception of Watts Barr II, since none of the other plants are licensed. “All of them [are] the new AP1000 design” says the picture caption, without mentioning the design hasn’t been approved as yet although the NRC is envisioning an okay this year.

Finally, the article provides a new spin to the concern that other countries are forging ahead of the U.S. in mastering the technology. 
 â€¨“On the plus side [of the] nuclear boom abroad, . . .Southern and SCANA have picked up engineering and construction practices from the ongoing rapid construction of four AP-1000 reactors in China over the past two years, . .. Both companies are assembling massive sheds next to their reactor foundations for assembly of the various forgings. . . And Southern is also benefiting from growth overseas in buying its nuclear forgings from a facility in Dusan, South Korea, a site that did not exist a few years ago when only one place in the world­ Japan Steel Works in Hokkaido­was was producing such massive steel forgings.”

Read the article at Scientific American


Thursday, February 10th, 2011

February 10, 2011
Nuclear Townhall

If the nuclear renaissance is looking for a charismatic female leader to embrace the technology, it may have hit the jackpot with Representative Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee.

The five-term Congresswoman from Tennessee spoke out loudly this week at the three-day Women in Nuclear Conference at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, charging that the U.S. is falling dangerously behind in nuclear technology. “China has 25 nuclear power plants under construction and 50 more on the `drawing board,’ and the United States needs to build new reactors quicker in order to catch up with other countries,” Blackburn told the conference, according to this report in Hopestar, published in Bill Clinton’s hometown of Hope, Arkansas. Blackburn also praised Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander’s call to build 100 new reactors over the next twenty years. “That’s a great concept,” she said.

Titled “Mini Reactors – Mighty Neutrons,” the conference placed special emphasis on the breakthroughs made possible by the development of small modular reactors. The technology is creating great excitement in the industry and is about to receive another big boost when Fortune magazine publishes a special SMR issue in May.

Founded in 1999, Women in Nuclear has 4000 professional members in the industry. Its mission is both to make the industry a compatible work environment for women and to promote nuclear technology in the population at large. The effort is important because polls consistently indicate a nearly 20-point gender gap in acceptance of the technology. More than two-third of men support nuclear while for women it is less than half. Concerns about genetic mutations usually dominate women’s awareness of nuclear technology, even though most research now shows the mutagenic effects of radiation have been overstated. Three generations after Hiroshima, no genetic mutations have shown up in the Japanese population exposed to the bomb, even at the highest levels of intensity.

Read more about it HopeStar


Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Nuclear Townhall
January 26, 2011
From the Editors

Remember how the corridor south of San Francisco established its pre-eminence in the computer revolution by dubbing itself “Silicon Valley?”  Well the Knoxville-Oak Ridge corridor, which takes in Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee is seizing President Obama’s “Sputnik moment” and calling itself “Innovation Valley.”  They’ve even registered the name for a trademark.

“Companies are expanding their presence here, others are establishing one,” says Jesse Smith, director of technology for the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley regional economic development group. “We’re seeing the growth of a nuclear support industry here.”

 â€¨Smith points to several developments that suggest the region will be at the forefront of the Nuclear Revival: 

 â€¨-         The near-completion of the TVA’s Watts Bar II reactor.

-         The TVA’s plans to construct a new reactor at Bellefonte

-         The Department of Energy’s plans for a massive uranium processing facility at Oak Ridge.

-         The Lab’s selection as the site of the $122-million Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Energy     Innovation Hub.

-         The possible construction of one of the nation’s first small modular reactors at the Clinch River site.

Private companies are flocking to Innovation Valley to take advantage of the buzz of activity. Among recent arrivals are the engineering firm Merrick and Co., Energy Solutions, SAIC, Analysis and Measurement Services Corp., and USEC, which is developing the next generation of enrichment centrifuges at Oak Ridge.

Will people identify bucolic region at the foot of the Great Smokies with the Nuclear Renaissance in the same way they identify the Bay Area with computer technology?  Stay tuned.

Read more about it at CNBC



Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

January 19, 2011

Nuclear Townhall
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) unveiled his top ten legislative priorities for Nevada for the newly convened 112th Congress at a news conference today at the aptly named – for this occasion — Bombard Electric, a solar company based in Las Vegas.
While touting “creating good-paying clean energy jobs in Nevada,” Reid unveiled a list that included “eliminating funding for Yucca Mountain” as his 5th ranked priority. 
According to a news release distributed by Reid’s Washington office, “Senator Reid will continue leveraging his position as Majority Leader to ensure the ill-conceived Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump proposal is dead forever, blocking any further attempts to revive the defunct project.”
“My primary focus is to strengthen Nevada’s competitiveness by creating good paying clean energy jobs that can’t be shipped overseas, preparing our workforce to compete in the global economy and investing in Nevada’s small businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Reid. 
“The last time I checked nuclear energy was both clean energy and a significant generator of jobs,” quipped a pro-Yucca Mountain advocate who asked not to be identified.

For more, read here.