Tuesday, May 31, 2005

NRC Publishes Fee Schedule for Fiscal 2005

The NRC published its fee schedule for licensing, inspection and annual fees it charges to applicants and licensees in today's edition of the Federal Register. The following schedule becomes effective on July 25. For a PDF version of the press release announcing the changes, click here.

Class/category of licenses
Fee
Operating Power Reactors (including Spent Fuel Storage/Reactor Decommissioning annual fee)
$3,155,000
Spent Fuel Storage/Reactor Decommissioning
$159,000
Test and Research Reactors (Nonpower Reactors)
$59,500
High Enriched Uranium Fuel Facility
$5,449,000
Low Enriched Uranium Fuel Facility
$1,632,000
UF6 Conversion Facility
$699,000
Rare Earth Mills
$73,700
Transportation:

Users/Fabricators
$80,900
Users Only
$4,300
Typical Materials Users:

Radiographers
$12,800
Well Loggers
$4,100
Gauge Users (Category 3P)
$2,500


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St. Paul Pioneer Press: "Nuclear power should be in the mix."

In this morning's St. Paul Pioneer Press, Associate Editor Mike Yost makes his pitch for nuclear energy:

The enviros are engaged in similar intellectual dishonesty when it comes to nuclear power.

"The answer to meeting our future power needs is not renewables or nuclear power, it's both," said Jim Alders, manager of regulatory projects at Xcel Energy. "Nuclear power should be in the mix."

So why isn't it? Good question.
Further . . .
In the meantime, the benefits of diverse energy generation are starting to be discussed. Indeed, nuclear is not the silver bullet. While it's cheap and operates peak loads around the clock, it can't handle demand surges the way a gas-turbine plant can.

"We need a diverse energy mix," Xcel's Alders argues. "One (technology) can't replace the other."

Until we realize that, we're just spinning our wheels.
Some people might find support like this surprising, but it's actually attributable to the superior performance of many of today's nuclear plants -- like Xcel Energy's Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant:
All indicators are green, Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant operated in a safe manner last year.

That was the conclusion of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which hosted a public meeting at the Monticello Community Center Thursday to discuss the results of inspections conducted at MNGP during 2004.

"We had no reason to conduct supplement inspections at this facility,"” said Bruce Burgess, NRC branch chief.

The NRC uses a scale of colors "–green, white, yellow and red" –to assess plant performance and rank inspection findings. Green represents the most favorable conditions/findings and red the most severe/problematic.

In both plant performance and inspection findings, Monticello ranked green in all areas.

This means the NRC believes that any concerns or issues that may have arisen at the plant are minor enough that MNGP may take its own corrective measures without the NRC conducting supplemental inspections.
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Sweden to Close Barseback 2 Plant

Despite the fact that 80 percent of its voters want to keep nuclear as part of the nation's energy mix, the Swedish government is still going ahead with plans it first made 25 years ago to phase out its domestic nuclear energy industry.

Next on the agenda, closing the Barseback 2 nuclear power plant:

The majority of Swedes say they fear they will have to import energy from carbon dioxide-emitting coal and gas power plants elsewhere in Europe, as a result of energy shortages.

There have also been warnings that power costs are on course for sharp rises.

"There is a lack of electricity in the Nordic market and this will only contribute to that," Kalle Lindholm, spokesman for Sweden's power industry group Swedenergy, told Reuters news agency.
There's one group of folks who may be happy about Swedish plans in this area -- and they're right across the border in Finland, where that nation plans to build five reactors.

Barseback 2 alone generated four percent of Sweden's electricity, and nuclear accounts for 50 percent of electricity generation overall. The closing comes six years after the government shutdown Barseback 1 17 years ahead of the planned life expectancy of the plant.

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U.K. Nuclear Update

We're continuing to see signs that U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is preparing to help jump-start a revival of that nation's nuclear energy industry. In a television interview on Saturday, one former government minister opposed to the idea said that he thought Blair had already made up his mind.

And you know something has really changed when the Guardian starts running op-eds in favor of nuclear energy that read like this:

Yet it seems wrong to dismiss nuclear energy merely because of our revulsion for nuclear weapons. Atomic power has worked. Today it provides 23% of Britain's energy, which is scheduled to fall to 7% by 2020 as old stations reach their expiry date.

Nobody can propose a credible alternative energy source that is anything like as environmentally acceptable. Anyone who supposes that wind turbines can meet demand is a mathematical duffer. A wind farm the size of Dartmoor would be required to provide the energy of one nuclear plant. In the past, atomic power has been very costly, but in the future it is reckoned that it will be cheaper than fossil fuels if oil prices exceed $28 a barrel (the current price is $50).
Meanwhile, the Council for Science and Technology, the U.K. government's top-level advisory body on science and technology issues, published a paper entitled, "An Electricity Supply Strategy for the U.K." that made the following recommendations:
* immediate investment in large scale, low-carbon, energy generation facilities to meet the Government's carbon dioxide reduction targets;

* keeping the nuclear option open and placing more emphasis on carbon sequestration and tidal power;

* government investment in R&D should be aimed at new and renewable fuel sources, energy management, storage and improving the supply and training of skilled workers in the UK; and

* development of the transmission network, its protection mechanisms and metering systems to facilitate distributed and diverse generators, ranging from commercial to domestic units; and to address the regulatory issues arising from this form of generation.
For our last post on the situation in the U.K., click here.

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Monday, May 30, 2005

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Our friend Rod Adams of Atomic Insights has started a blog. Check it out.

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Friday, May 27, 2005

Anti-Nuke Alert: Greenpeace to Fight Polish Nuclear Plant

From Polskie Radio:

Greenpeace has called for an end to plans to build a nuclear power station in Poland and has inaugurated a special project entitled the ‘Energetic Revolution.

Launched in the coastal city of Gdansk the initiative calls for more energy to come from organic sources in Poland. The ecologists are against the proposed construction of an atomic energy plant in Poland.

Spokesman of the Polish branch of Greenpeace Jacek Winiarski said that the nuclear plans is totally pointless and a “very dangerous investment.”

According to Greens Poland has great potential in wind farms and this should be made a priority.

Should the government continue to develop plans on the construction of an atomic plant Greenpeace will hold protests to block the investment, says the group.
Back in December, Poland, which relies heavily on lignite and hard coal for electrical generation, announced it would build its first nuclear reactor by 2023.

Here's a message to our friends in Poland: Drop us a line about how young nuclear professionals in the U.S. are taking the fight to the anti-nukes. We can help.

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Clay Sell on the Bush Nuclear Energy Policy

We just got hold of the remarks made by Deputy Energy Secretary Clay Sell at yesterday's NuStart press conference. No link was available, so we've reproduced the text here in full:

It is an honor to be here today on behalf of President Bush and Secretary Bodman… to take part in an event that could lead to a more secure energy future for our nation.

The companies that make up the Nustart Consortium are among the world’s top operators of nuclear facilities, and are well-positioned to build the first new nuclear power plants in the United States in nearly three decades.

There is no better time for a renaissance of nuclear power in this country. Our growing dependence on foreign energy… and increasing concerns about air emissions… make nuclear power’s advantages over other methods of electricity production more pronounced than ever.

Nuclear power is the only technology we currently have that can reliably produce base-load electricity without any pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. The 103 nuclear plants operating in our country today provide electricity for one in every five American homes and businesses.

But during their development and construction, the builders of many of these plants – which include some of the companies here today – endured major financial and regulatory problems. Many plants cost billions more than originally projected… and took years longer to complete than anticipated. As a result, nuclear power projects became too risky to finance… and nuclear construction in the United States ground to a halt.

But many things have changed since then. Advances in technology and management improvements have made U.S. nuclear power plants some of the safest and most cost-effective industrial facilities we have. And new reactor designs will make the next generation of plants even safer and more efficient than the current fleet. As President Bush said in a recent speech, “It’s time to start building again.”

Unfortunately, the high development costs, regulatory uncertainties, and licensing concerns of the past remain in place… making it difficult for companies to commit to new nuclear construction. But if no new plants are built... nuclear power’s current 20 percent of U.S. electricity production will drop to 14 percent by 2025… and then toward zero as the current plants are retired. Secretary Bodman recently said that allowing nuclear power to undergo such a decline in the United States would be economically and environmentally irresponsible.

Making sure that nuclear power is a viable part of our future energy mix is the goal of the Department of Energy’s Nuclear Power 2010 Program. The NuStart Consortium is a direct outgrowth of this program… which is designed to work with industry in a 50/50 cost-shared arrangement to demonstrate the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s new “one-step” licensing process, identify suitable sites for new plants, and certify new state-of-the-art designs. This would help pave the way for an industry decision to build new advanced light-water reactors in the United States in the next few years.

In addition to this program, the President has proposed further regulatory reforms, along with risk insurance for the first new plants that come on-line. Beyond these efforts, we also need to address the issues of spent nuclear fuel and continued political opposition to nuclear power.

On the subject of spent fuel, I want to emphasize that the President and his Administration are committed to completing the Yucca Mountain project… which will remove another major impediment to a revival of nuclear construction in this country – a revival that has taken a giant step forward with the NuStart Consortium’s selection of finalist sites for the first new plants.

Thank you again for inviting me today… and congratulations on achieving such a significant milestone in this important effort.
For more on the Nuclear Power 2010 program, drop by Searching for the Truth.

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Will Germany Flip On Nuclear Energy?

Back in March we told you about how the electrical utility executive who negotiated the planned phase-out of German nuclear power plants was predicting that the decision would eventually be reversed. Now, with perhaps some political changes in the offing, nuclear energy may be making a comeback. Here's Deutsche Welle:

After Chancellor Gerhard Schröder's center-left coalition of Social Democrats (SPD) and environmentalist Greens hammered out an agreement in 2001 with the energy industry to slowly phase out Germany's nuclear power plants, most Germans thought the subject was dead and buried.

But Schröder's decision to call for an early general election this fall after his party was trounced in a regional poll on Sunday has changed the political landscape. Suddenly, the conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) are considered favorites to form the next government in Berlin. And that has convinced many in the energy sector that reports of nuclear power's demise may have been premature.

"If the CDU wins the election, economic aspects of the power industry would take precedence over the environmental," Klaus Rauscher, head of utility Vattenfall's European operations, told the Handelsblatt newspaper.
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Senator Obama: Climate Change, Air Quality Keeps Nuclear Energy On the Table

Back during his campaign for the U.S. Senate in 2004, U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) said that he rejected both liberal and conservative labels in favor of "common sense solutions." And when it comes to nuclear energy, it seems like the Senator is keeping an open mind:

[A]s Congress considers policies to address air quality and the deleterious effects of carbon emissions on the global ecosystem, it is reasonable – and realistic – for nuclear power to remain on the table for consideration. Illinois has 11 nuclear power plants – the most of any State in the country – and nuclear power provides more than half of Illinois’ electricity needs.

But keeping nuclear power on the table – and indeed planning for the construction of new plants – is only possible if the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is vigilant in its mission. We need better long-term strategies for storing and securing nuclear waste and for ensuring the safe operation of nuclear power plants. How we develop these strategies is a major priority for me.
For the rest of the statements from yesterday's hearing, click here.

Thanks to Paul Primavera of the Know Nukes and Safe, Clean Nuclear Power groups on Yahoo.

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Immelt: GE Could Help India in Nuclear Energy

Here's GE CEO Jeff Immelt at an event in New Dehli yesterday:

"If greenhouse gasses are bad, nuclear energy is the answer. Nuclear energy is the definitive generating source of the future," Immelt maintained.

His comments came in response to a question from former diplomat G. Parthasarathy.

"The US seems to be ready to move ahead from (the) Three Mile Island (nuclear plant disaster). There are also indications that the US might resume nuclear cooperation with India. There are reports that (US energy major) Westinghouse is keen on projects in India. Will you also come in?" Parthasarathy asked.
Back during an official state visit in March, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that the U.S. would consider helping India build one or more nuclear plants.

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Thursday, May 26, 2005

Back to school

There are various places where people from the nuclear industry can serve the public, some of which are less confrontational than, say, the meeting on climate change in Virginia.

On May 16, 2005, I addressed both sections of the AP Government class at Heritage High School, in Lynchburg, VA. My subject was “Radioactive Waste and Politics”. The AP Government class is designed to prepare seniors for the College Board’s advanced placement test. The class members are among the strongest students in the senior class.

The invitation to speak resulted from a comment by the teacher of the class in the fall of 2004. The high school regularly hosts a “back to school night” for parents of students, and the teacher noted that she would welcome speakers whose work was related to a political or social problem. I sent her an e-mail that described my experience in radioactive waste management, notably eight years on the Yucca Mountain Project. She was happy to have a volunteer. The culmination of the class is the advanced placement test, which is normally administered in early May. My speech was scheduled after the test as a supplementary or “enrichment” topic.

I collected a few teaching aids. These included a fuel rod mockup and a handful of pictures, which I put into a PowerPoint file. There were pictures of fuel assemblies, plots of radioactive inventory as a function of time, pictures and a schematic of the Yucca Mountain site, and a photograph of a corrosion sample of waste package material. (After 50 years of atmospheric corrosion in a marine environment, the sample retains a mirror finish.) I brought the pictures on a memory stick and projected them with a computer projector. What I presented was basically a lecture with occasional supporting visuals rather than a structured presentation.

The topic of radioactive waste management is vast and quite unfamiliar to most people. Subtopics include the various types of waste, the physics of radioactive decay, health physics, radionuclide transport, regulation, the history of site selection, the layout of the Yucca Mountain site, waste package design, etc. There was obviously too much material to cover in a fifty-minute class. My strategy was to try to cover the technical background necessary to understand why radioactive waste management is needed, the politics involved in site selection and program funding, defense in depth as it applies at Yucca Mountain, and the possibilities for personal involvement. I generally followed the strategy, though I occasionally caught myself discussing some subjects in unnecessary detail.

The teacher had told me that the two classes had very different characters, and she was right. The class that met before lunch was very lively and involved, with lots of questions, and the class that met after lunch was much more passive. (I think it is lunch that does it. I briefed Yucca Mountain tour groups numerous times and saw the same pattern.)

My intention for the presentation had never been to push a message that nuclear is good or that licensing of the Yucca Mountain repository is essential. I simply tried to explain the situation and the efforts underway. At the same time, my interest in the subject and beliefs about its importance were probably evident.

It is often difficult to gauge how one’s presentation is received. Since I was only able to cover the most important points, I felt as if I were giving a tour of a cave with only a single flashlight. I was able to guide the group into a few rooms, shine the light on a few interesting formations, and take the group out again. It seemed hopeless to provide an overall view.

Fortunately, the teacher arranged for a group thank-you note from her classes, so I received feedback from the students. The response was overwhelmingly positive. Here are a few of my favorite comments:

“I feel I now know much more about nuclear waste and it doesn’t scare me so badly.”

“Thanks for coming, nuclear waste is awesome!”

“Cheers for sharing what you know. You are really passionate about what you do, and I admire that!”

“Thank you for contributing to my knowledge and correcting my previously negative opinion toward the Yucca Mountain Project.”

“I learned a great deal about nuclear waste and might even consider [it as] a field of study.”

One of interesting things about preparing for the talk was to realize that I knew so much about the subject. The purpose, however, was not to make a show of my knowledge or even primarily to transmit information, but to show that the problem is being handled and that members of the public can be involved in the solution if they like. It was a way of putting a human face on radioactive waste management, on nuclear, and on engineering in general. In summary, I found the effort to be well worthwhile and would recommend that other engineers consider presenting their work to school groups. I plan to be back in AP Government class again next year. And then there is the physics class …

NuStart Energy Press Conference

Last week we told you about how NuStart Energy had selected six finalists as possible sites to test the NRC combined construction and operating license process. Steve Kerekes, our head of media relations, was at their Washington, D.C. press conference earlier today, and sent along this report.

Sixteen reporters turned out for this afternoon's 40 minute NuStart news conference at the National Press Club. A handful of folks from the Hill as well.

Event went well; about a dozen good questions after the remarks by DOE's Clay Sell, NEI's Marv Fertel and NuStart's (Exelon's) Marilyn Kray. Lots of solid curiosity. NuStart members well-represented at the head table -- which I actually felt was perhaps the most notable aspect of the event. It sent a strong signal about industry commitment to advance the ball.

Vendors said a 48-month construction timetable is do-able. Kray said industry prides itself on planning and preparedness, and wants to be ready when the market is ripe for new baseload. Marv expressed confidence in the Yucca Mountain program, particularly with where the program will be in the 2008 time frame when consortium intends to to submit COL application to NRC. Several company reps said that feedback from the political communities and Wall Street is favorable. Kray said the consortium is encouraged both by its financial analyses and the support it sees in Congress with regard to energy legislation. And, last but not least, Sell said, "This administration believes nuclear power is back."

For more about NuStart, read their FAQ.

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Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy

Philip Stott of EnviroSpin Watch reports that an online poll conducted by U.K. political magazine New Statesman went pro-nuclear with more than 73 percent of the vote.

Stott also points to an article by Mark Lynas in the most recent edition of the magazine (subscription required), where the author, a committed environmentalist, talks about his conversion experience with nuclear energy:

I did attend the Energy . . . Beyond Oil conference in Oxford earlier this month. The meeting focused on what could replace fossil fuels, and I arrived convinced - as I wrote in these pages a few weeks ago - that opting for nuclear power would be a disastrous mistake. Before long my comfortable green certainties were in tatters.

After reviewing each of the renewable options and deciding that they couldn't generate enough power to even replace the electricity that nuclear energy already generates in the U.K. (never mind contribute to additional baseload capacity), he came to this conclusion:
I'm not suggesting that nuclear is a panacea. It can reduce carbon emissions only as part of a combined dash for renewables and energy efficiency, buying us time while truly clean energy systems are developed . . .

If you ask me, anything is preferable to planetary climatic meltdown combined with a 1930s-style collapse into political darkness. Even nuclear power.

You can find Mark's Web site on energy and sustainability issues here.

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Climate Change in Virginia

Virginia NA-YGNmembers Mike Stuart, Joe Montague and I attended a "Richmond Townhall Meeting" organized Tuesday night by the Chesapeake Climate Action Network (CCAN). The website says

The Chesapeake Climate Action Network is the first grassroots, nonprofit organization dedicated exclusively to fighting global warming in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Our mission is to educate and mobilize citizens of this region in a way that fosters a rapid societal switch to clean energy and energy-efficient products, thus joining similar efforts worldwide to slow and perhaps halt the dangerous trend of global warming.
Mike began working the room immediately and recognized a fellow from the local Sierra Club that he had met at the state fair. This local environmental leader is NOT against nuclear power. In fact, he supports it as a means to combat pollution and global warming in the near-term. I shared a couple of quotes from James Lovelock. His feeling appears to be that the need is so urgent that we must use "less than perfect" technologies to save the environment.

CCAN began with a short introduction and said that this was the first of many town hall meetings they plan in the next year. Their goal is to pass legislation for a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) in Virginia in 2006 similar to ones in Maryland, PA, NJ, etc. It would require that 15% of the state's electricity come from renewable resources by the year 2015. Their materials say
The RPS would give preference to zero-emission resources (resources that emit no pollutants) such as wind power, solar, geothermal power, ocean energy and others.
Then with a little help from Mike with the projector, they showed a short film called "We are All Smith Islanders." Mike Tidwell, the founder and executive director of CCAN (they call it sea-can), believes that it is the first documentary in the world showing the local effects of global warming.

For its goal of getting people to care about global warming and climate change, the film is very effective. I'm not saying that their anecdotal evidence convinces me that the "disappearance" of land from islands in the Chesapeake Bay is a direct result of global warming and that it proves their global models are accurate (as Joe astutely put it, "They don't believe our models of how a reactor behaves but they expect me to believe that their models of the entire earth are correct?") but it is an interesting film. Information about the health effects of pollution were also included. In the film, one expert said that we must reduce the worldwide use of coal, oil, and natural gas by as much as 80%.

Much of the film, and the ensuing presentations, touted wind as the energy of choice. They quoted American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) numbers that said building wind farms is cost-effective. A couple of times, the issue of bird and bat kills came up. I found one point they made rather interesting. They said that if 50% of US electricity was generated by wind the number of birds killed from the turbines would still be less than those killed by household cats...and global warming will kill even more birds than windmills anyway. Imagine if the nuclear industry tried to employ a similar argument.

Anyway, after the film, each member of the panel spoke for a few minutes. The first was Reverend Miles of the Unitarian church that hosted the event. She talked about the religious and moral reasons to fight global warming and the various interfaith efforts that are underway. The General Assembly for the UU has made the threat of global warming their "study action" for 2004-2006.

Towell McBride from Highland County, Virginia spoke next. His father is the fellow in a recent Richmond Times-Dispatch article that is trying to build a 38 turbine wind farm in western Virginia.

Then Dudley Rochester from the American Lung Association gave a presentation on the health effects of air pollution, particularly pollution from power plants. Some of his numbers:

Annual mortality from Power plant pollution nationwide: 11 per 100,000
From tobacco: 153 per 100,000
From all air pollution: 60 per 100,000
From alcohol, guns, and cars: 55 per 100,000

The last panel speaker was Mike Tidwell. After reviewing a bit of the effects of global warming and encouraging people to make this their number one priority as activists, he spent a lot of time talking about wind power. Though I think his view of how much wind can contribute near-term is wildly optimistic, most of what he said was well presented. But then in the middle, he inserted a quick thought about solar and wind being the methods of choice because they don't pose the dangers of nuclear.

The floor was opened for questions and comments. Steve Brown, a Presbyterian minister, spoke saying that the global warming is an ethical and moral issue and that he is a part of the ecumenical Interfaith Power and Light organization.

Then a member from the People’s Alliance for Clean Energy (PACE), the local antinuclear group, was called on and she said that she supports CCAN's initiatives but she would like to see more specifics at future meetings. She also asked for support for PACE efforts to stop the construction of new nuclear power plants.

I was next and said that I agreed with the previous speaker in wanting more specifics of how they plan to reduce emissions. In particular, the numbers didn't add up for me. I said that the film advocated an 80% reduction in the use of coal, oil, and natural gas. That number is in line with claims from some leading environmentalists that say drastic reductions must be made immediately (in the next 20-50 years) to prevent the earth from reaching the "point of no return." I went on to say that while I support the development of wind and solar, of the 27% of US electricity that comes from emission-free sources today, less than 2% comes from those sources. Furthermore, the AWEA itself says that under the best circumstances, wind energy could provide only 6% of US electricity by the year 2020. So, if the need is urgent, how can we ignore nuclear which currently provides 73% of the nation's emission-free electricity? What did the panel see as the ideal energy mix for, say, 2020 or 2030 and could they also specifically address the mix for baseload power?

Mike Tidwell's response boiled down to:

1. He didn't agree with the AWEA number I gave and said that with conservation and an aggressive campaign, wind energy could provide much more than 6% of the nation's electricity by 2020. I didn't get a chance to follow-up on this point but one of the other experts said earlier that "theoretically" wind could provide 20% of US electricity.

2. They don't advocate nuclear power because it is not emission-free when one considers all the manufacturing and mining. I tried to say that ALL energy sources emit pollutants during some stage of their life cycle but I was cutoff.

3. He went on to define "renewable" (though he actually used the UN definition for "sustainable") as energy produced in a way which doesn't impede future generations from meeting their needs, and that the issue of waste that is toxic for hundreds of thousands of years makes nuclear non-renewable (or sustainable).

I wanted to respond but Tidwell told me I must be quick. I pointed out that ALL energy technologies have pros and cons and that is why we need a balanced mix, that manufacturing and mining for solar and wind power also produce pollution, and that solar power produces toxic waste that NEVER decays. He responded that yes, there is toxic waste from solar power, but "anything is better than coal." Exactly.

I stayed quiet for the rest of the discussion. One woman said she was a writer and asked about the public opposition to the windmill projects. Mike Tidwell responded at length and his words can be summarized, "Fighting global warming is more important than the inconvenience of a small minority of people who don't like the view from their second homes in the mountains." Again, imagine if the nuclear industry used similar arguments about the impacts to communities.

There were a few other questions that didn't cover new ground. The last question that was taken was from a woman from Highland County. After Tidwell's and McBride's comments I felt sorry for her. She was against the windmill project in her area for a variety of reasons.

At that point the organizers said they would have to end the meeting but that the panel and representatives from CCAN would stay to answer questions. They handed out stamped envelopes with paper, talking points, pens, and addresses for state legislators and encouraged everyone to write and send a letter before they left that night.

The discussions we had after the meeting were quite enlightening. We spoke to several people, including some from CCAN and one director of an environmental company that promotes wind power. I told one person that I surmised that his organization could not publicly support nuclear without losing some of its core constituencies but that I found it a bit hypocritical that life-cycle emissions and waste were cited as reasons that nuclear is disparaged while similar issues with solar and wind are dismissed. I said I wasn't against wind and solar but I was disturbed by the negative comments on nuclear. He said he personally is not against nuclear power as a means to address climate change and he took some of the materials I brought.

I don’t want to get any of the individuals in trouble with their organizations so I won’t post names but similar conversations made it clear that there are several local leaders of environmentalist groups not personally opposed to nuclear power as a means to reduce emissions. Politically, however, they could not publicly promote nuclear because they would lose a significant portion of supporters like PACE. One person that had earlier denounced nuclear even said privately, “I’m really not opposed to nuclear as long as it doesn’t interfere with renewables.”

With all of these people we reiterated that NA-YGN is not against the development of solar and wind and other renewables, but that we support a balanced energy mix that includes those AND nuclear. I also said that I personally couldn't support their proposed legislation as it is currently written. However, if it were written in a way so as not to exclude nuclear as part of the solution to address climate change, I may be able to support it and perhaps also my NA-YGN colleagues. More than one person was interested in further discussion on the issue and took our contact information.

By then it was very late and I was trying to shoo Mike out the door, but he was busy talking to two more people about the benefits of nuclear energy and debunking some of the myths. The young man looked vaguely familiar and later he said he had been at the NRC hearing in Louisa last February. We talked a bit about security, waste, radiation effects etc. The woman was really surprised by some of the facts we cited and I believe she is a little more open to considering nuclear power now. The fellow was listening but he obviously isn't convinced, particularly on the waste and security issues. On the way out, Mike asked him if we had changed his mind at all. He said, "No" and Mike said, "That's all right. At least we can talk about it" and our friend agreed.

Also on our way out, the man from Sierra Club told me "Good job."

All in all, I gained an even greater appreciation for the courage of those environmentalists like James Lovelock, Patrick Moore, and our local friend from Sierra Club for the great risks they are taking by supporting nuclear power. Ideally, everyone that believes global warming is an imminent threat would have the fortitude to vocally advocate nuclear and would try to convince those elements of their constituency that oppose it. In reality though, and as demonstrated last night, it is quite difficult, politically and personally, to take such a course. We have to work with what we've got.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

PFS' Utah Plans Inch Closer to Approval

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

The Atomic Safety and Licensing Board on Tuesday rejected Utah's latest appeal seeking to prevent Private Fuel Storage's plans to store 44,000 tons of nuclear waste on the Skull Valley Goshute Indian reservation.

The board's decision means PFS is inching closer to getting its license to build an interim spent fuel-rod storage site 45 miles southwest of Salt Lake City. PFS officials have said they could be operating by 2007.

For more coverage, visit the Daily Herald, the Guardian (U.K.) or visit the PFS Web site.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Sound Science, Not Hysteria

Hydrogen Power News on the recent New York Times piece concerning the growing split in the environmental community over nuclear energy:

The paper also notes the arguments within the environmental movement as many of the hardline nuclear opponents speak in terms more akin to betrayal which is what you would expect if a movement is based on emotion or religion instead of science and facts, some have evidently made up their minds and that’s that. What we need now is clear thinking and if the hydrogen economy is ever going to be anything other than a fantasy, every avenue needs to be explored.
For more on the connection between nuclear energy and a possible future hydrogen economy, click here.

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Investor's Business Daily on the "Greenie Meltdown"

In a May 20 editorial in Investor's Business Daily, the editors describe the dillema many environmentalists now find themselves in (subscribers only content):

The central hypocrisy of environmentalists has long been that their anti-nuclear hysteria has driven the U.S. to increase the use of fossil fuels that pollute the air and contribute to global warming. It takes four tons of coal to provide the power needs of one inhabitant on Chicago's Lakeshore Drive for one year. A few ounces of uranium would fill that same need.

If we had simply built all the nuclear power plants that were in the pipeline at the time of the over-hyped Three Mile Island incident, we'd have reduced our current coal consumption by more than enough to satisfy the demands of Kyoto.


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More Bloggers For Nuclear Energy

Time to welcome the group blog, thinknuclear.org, to the fold.

Also be sure to stop by Tim Worstall and Chris Berg.

It's pretty clear that Tramp Texan gets it too:

So let's face it, folks. We need to solve our short-term energy thirst with the tools we have at hand. That means clean coal, nuclear power, biofuels, wind energy, and hydro. Cars will just have to get high miles per gallon on fossils and biofuels till hydrogen comes online. But here's the thing wise environmentalists see: no useful tool should be cast aside. Even nuclear.

And finally, check out the two-part post at The Science Blog on the potential expansion of nuclear energy: Part I, Part II.

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Lovelock Takes On Environmental Foes

In Sunday's edition of the Guardian (U.K.), pioneering environmental scientist James Lovelock took on his former confederates in the global environmental movement over their opposition to nuclear energy:

'To phase out nuclear energy just when we need it most to combat global warming is madness,' he said. 'The anti-nuclear agenda is pushed by groups such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth and by Green Party politicians. They are pursuing goals in which neither environmental good sense nor science play a part - a strange way to defend the earth,' he writes in Reader's Digest.

To read Lovelock's piece from the U.K. edition of Reader's Digest, click here (PDF).

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Monday, May 23, 2005

Immelt and Lash on "ecomagination"

Jeffrey Immelt, the chairman and chief executive of GE and Jonathan Lash, president of the World Resources Institute co-authored an op-ed piece on the company's ecomagination initiative that appeared in Saturday's Washington Post:

We are developing a mix of improved technologies to meet energy and environmental needs in the future, tapping resources as diverse as wind, solar, nuclear and natural gas. The key is higher efficiency, lower cost and fewer emissions. One example is in the burning of coal for power. Today we have cutting-edge gasification technology that could cut worldwide carbon dioxide emissions by millions of tons -- a significant step toward greenhouse gas reductions.

We believe that government can restore its leadership position by moving beyond the gridlock on energy and environmental policy. We need a policy that commits to market-based approaches that can drive environmental improvement. One that thinks outside the barrel -- and promotes diverse energy sources that can help break the shackles of oil dependence. One that frames energy and environmental practices as essential, national core competencies -- the same way that vibrant technology policies underpinned the stunning IT innovations of the 1980s and '90s while continuing to fuel their growth.
For more on how nuclear energy fits into an environmentally sensitive energy portfolio, click here.

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Another Nuclear Energy Poll

This time from the U.K.'s New Statesman. Currently, nuclear energy is winning with more than 63 percent of the vote. You know what to do next.

Thanks to EnviroSpin Watch for the pointer.

Click here for reader comments.

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Another Non-proliferation Success Story

On May 5, Eric posted a note on "Megatons to Megawatts". I would like to call attention to an excellent project that complements "Megatons to Megawatts". It's the MOX Project. Whereas "Megatons to Megawatts" converts surplus weapons-grade uranium to fuel, the MOX Project converts surplus weapons-grade plutonium. It's a bilateral project, with both Russia and the U.S. having agreed to convert 34000 kg of weapons-grade plutonium into fuel.

Like most major projects, the MOX Project has encountered and overcome various obstacles. One of the most notable obstacles was that there is no facility in the U.S. that is licensed to fabricate MOX fuel. So that the project could continue to make progress until such a facility becomes available, plutonium dioxide was shipped to Cadarache in France, where it was mixed with uranium dioxide and formed into fuel pellets. The pellets, plus cladding and hardware from the U.S., were then sent to the Mélox facility, also in France, for assembly into (what else?) fuel assemblies. The assemblies were subsequently returned to the U.S.

MOX fuel has been used safely in over 30 European reactors. Where the MOX Project breaks new ground is in the details of the fuel isotopics. European MOX uses reactor-grade plutonium, which is recycled from used commercial reactor fuel. The MOX Project is using weapons-grade plutonium, which, like the uranium for "Megatons to Megawatts", is derived from actual weapons.

As I write this, Duke's Catawba 1 reactor is shut down for a historic refueling in which four MOX lead assemblies will be placed in the core. It is the first use of weapons-grade MOX in a commercial power reactor. Irradiation will destroy most of plutonium, and it will degrade the isotopics of the remaining plutonium so that it is no longer militarily useful. It's another non-proliferation success story.

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Saturday, May 21, 2005

CNN Poll On Nuclear Energy

CNN.com is running an online poll on whether or not nuclear energy should be used as a replacement for fossil fuels. Get over there and make your voice be heard.

Thanks to Rod Adams for the heads up.

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For Your School Project

Here's an interesting story from Wakarusa, Indiana:

NorthWood Middle School teacher Brad Eby will spend the rest of the school year covering nuclear energy with his eighth-grade students for a reason.

"There's a renewed interest. President Bush is pushing us to build more (nuclear power plants)," he said.

"In four years, they'll (the students) be voting," he said, just after a classroom full of kids filed out the door, armed with surveys.

Each of Eby's students will ask a parent, neighbor or friend older than 18 to complete the survey that he says will gauge their knowledge of nuclear energy. He'll compile the results next week, but he's already made some predictions about how the adults will fare.

"Most people will be very lucky to get three or four of the 10 (questions) right," he said.

If any of those students are looking for some supplemental information for their projects, they could start with NEI's periodic public opinion survey.

If you're looking to help a child with a school project on nuclear energy, click here for some online resources from NEI.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Wind vs. Nuclear in Germany

Germany plans to phase out all 19 of its nuclear power plants by 2020. This article by Stefan Dietrich in the online version of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung examines the critical question

How will a continuous supply of energy be secured once all of the nuclear plants are out of service?
As part of the energy solution, Germany plans to double its wind generating capacity. Dietrich finds much fault with this line of thinking and this is the first article I've seen that attempts to quantify some of the costs of directly replacing nuclear with wind.

One problem, of course, is wind's abysmal capacity factors. Deitrich writes
On paper, at least, the ”generating capacity” of 36,000 megawatts would make up for the lost production from the nuclear plants. But, in reality, one can expect only a fixed increase of 2,200 megawatts, according to a report by the German Energy Agency. Wind is just too unreliable. Ninety-four percent of the energy supply would have to be covered some other way. Solar power will be able to make only a symbolic contribution. A substitute for nuclear energy is supposed to come from natural-gas power plants. But they produce carbon dioxide.
Since Germany plans to install much of these wind turbines at sea, another issue is the cost of building the transmission system:
We will soon need 850 kilometers (528 miles) of new power lines, projected to cost about €1.1 billion ($1.4 billion). In northern Germany, people are already calling for subterranean lines, which would increase the price by at least eight times. Investments in the high double-digit billions will be devoured by the wind farms at sea and the necessary sea cables
Dietrich goes on to point out the incongruity of environmentalists advocating the use of the technology that kills wildlife as a matter of course and closes with a call for a "new generation" to awaken.

Thanks to Jim Muckerheide for pointing me to this article!

NuStart Announces Finalists

There's exciting news coming out of the NuStart Energy consortium this morning -- namely, that the group has announced that six areas are considered to be finalists for one of the consortium's two possible license applications for a new nuclear reactor:

Four of the six already house operating nuclear power plants. The sites, by location, are:
  • Scottsboro, Ala. The Bellefonte Nuclear Plant, an unfinished site owned by the U.S. government's Tennessee Valley Authority.
  • Port Gibson, Miss. The Grand Gulf Nuclear Station, owned by Entergy.
  • St. Francisville, La. The River Bend Station, owned by Entergy.
  • Aiken, S.C. The Savannah River Site, a U.S. Department of Energy nuclear weapons lab.
  • Lusby, Md. The Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Plant, owned by Constellation Energy.
  • Oswego, N.Y. The Nine Mile Point plant, owned by Constellation Energy.
As we noted back in March, Oswego has been publicly campaigning to get a spot on the list.

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GE Nuclear's Andy White at NEA 2005

NEI has just posted the NEA 2005 presentation by GE Nuclear's Andy White. Check it out, as it includes an extensive discussion of GE's ecomagination initiative.

Atomic Insights at NEA 2005

One of the nuclear energy professionals I met at the Nuclear Energy Assembly this week was Rod Adams, a U.S. Navy-trained nuclear engineer who runs a teriffic little Web site called Atomic Insights. Best of all, Rod brought along his iPod to some of our conference session. Follow the links below for audio files of each presentation.

U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE)

Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS)

U.S. Representative John Spratt (D-SC)

NRC Commissioner Nils Diaz

Professor Neil Todreas, MIT

Donna Jacobs, Vice President, Nuclear Services, Diablo Canyon Power Plant

Closing statement by Skip Bowman, NEI President and CEO

By the way, this is an idea too good not to steal. Look for NEI to do this next year. There's plenty of other editorial content too, including one piece on Rod's early passion for nuclear energy. Check it out.

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Thursday, May 19, 2005

Todreas Honored With Smyth Award

Dr. Neil E. Todreas of MIT is one of the world's leading nuclear engineers, and was just named the 2005 recipient of the Henry DeWolf Smyth Nuclear Statesman Award. Besides his post at MIT, Todreas is also a leader in the Department of Energy's Generation IV Reactor Initiative.

Over at CNN.com, Dr. Todreas wrote about how nuclear energy can contribute to meeting future energy demand in a way that's both economical and environmentally sensitive.

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Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Fortune: Nuclear Power Is Back—Not A Moment Too Soon

Add Fortune to the growing list of media outlets that are taking notice of all the action in the nuclear energy industry (subscription required):

It took a month for the Three Mile Island nuclear reactor to cool off in 1979 after it partially melted in America's most famous nuclear accident. The emotional heat was a lot more intense; it took 25 years to fade. But at long last it has mostly dissipated, and now, very quietly, nuclear power is on its way back in the U.S. and around the world. And—it must be said—that's a good thing.

More than 30 years after the last U.S. reactor was built, three major U.S. utilities have applied for early site permits for new reactors—Dominion in Virginia, Entergy in Mississippi, and Exelon in Illinois. Two large consortiums of major players in the field, including utilities, reactor makers, and construction companies, have started down another avenue of the complex licensing process, applying for construction and operating licenses. These licenses and other regulatory requirements take years, so the first watt of new nuclear energy won't be coursing through any wires before 2015. But the process has begun, which not so long ago would have seemed unthinkable.

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DOE's Bodman at Nuclear Energy Assembly

Yesterday morning, Secretary of Energy Sam Bodman addressed the conference. President Bush has been very supportive of our industry, even more so ever since he said the words, "safe, clean, nuclear energy" during this year's State of the Union address.

Secretary Bodman made it pretty clear where the Administration stands:

As [energy] demand continues to climb, we must keep in mind that the fossil fuels upon which we increasingly depend are finite resources that will not last forever. As time goes on, they will become more and more expensive to find and produce. In addition, our traditional ways of using fossil fuels – burning them in power-plant boilers and in vehicle engines – causes pollution… such as carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides and mercury… as well as greenhouse gas emissions.
After reading that, I have to say there doesn't seem to be a whole lot that proponents of peak oil and peak energy would disagree with. Granted, their policy prescriptions diverge more often than not with the Bush Administration, but there seems to be a consensus developing about the scope and nature of the nation's energy problem. Which is exactly why we're trying to reach out to environmentalists via NEI Nuclear Notes.

Further . . .
Clearly, we need to develop new sources of energy that reduce our dependence on fossil fuels… and help protect the environment. Under the guidance of the President’s National Energy Policy, we are working to develop these new energy sources. They include hydrogen fuel cells to power our vehicles… more-effective ways to produce wind and solar power… technologies to remove pollution and greenhouse emissions from coal… and improving our energy-efficiency across the economy, to recover the vast amounts of energy we currently waste.

But while we work to develop these new and better ways to produce and use energy for the future… there is one technology already in place that can reliably generate large amounts of electricity with no dependence on fossil fuels, no pollution, and no greenhouse emissions. And that technology is nuclear power.
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Nuclear Energy Assembly Update

We just closed out the proceedings for 2005, so expect some more content later this afternoon -- including photos of a certain Hall of Fame basketball coach.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Notes From the Nuclear Energy Assembly

Sorry for the lack of posts today, as I've been busy working at NEI's annual meeting, the 2005 Nuclear Energy Assembly here in Washington, D.C.

For the annual State of the Industry address by Robert McGhee, Chairman and CEO of Progress Energy and NEI's Vice Chairman, Click here. For NEI President and CEO Skip Bowman's speech, "A Time of Opportunity, A Time of Action," click here.

Here's an excerpt from the Bowman speech:

The timing is indeed right for action. To continue establishing the conditions, the business environment, for new nuclear.

We are not there . . . yet!

But look at what our industry is doing … testing the new licensing process.

Wall Street has made it clear what is needed to gain the confidence to finance a new plant project.

We’re helping each other demonstrate that the new regulatory processes for next generation reactors can work.

That also sends a message to our decision-makers: As I said earlier, we have a vital role to play in enhancing America’s energy security and reducing dependence on unstable nations for energy supply.

That sends a message to the 70 percent of the American public who favor nuclear energy – a record high for the industry. It says we are serious about meeting the public’s demand for energy in a manner that also protects our environment and the air we breathe.

Again, who would have believed that the co-founder of Greenpeace would tell Congress that—quote—nuclear energy . . . combined with the use of renewable energy sources . . . remains the only practical, safe and environmentally sensitive means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing energy security?

But Patrick Moore did just that three weeks ago.

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Monday, May 16, 2005

NY Times: Environmental Movement Reconsidering Nuclear Energy

The big news over the weekend was that the New York Times finally noticed something that we've been telling you for a couple of weeks -- that a number of environmentalists are breaking from the pack and endorsing nuclear energy as a way to provide new power generation that doesn't produce greenhouse gas emissions:

Several of the nation's most prominent environmentalists have gone public with the message that nuclear power, long taboo among environmental advocates, should be reconsidered as a remedy for global warming. Their numbers are still small, but they represent growing cracks in what had been a virtually solid wall of opposition to nuclear power among most mainstream environmental groups.
Reactions from around the Blogosphere -- Instapundit:
If you want to have a technological civilization, and not emit C02, nuclear power is pretty much the only way to go at the moment.
Right On The Left Coast is astonished that he agrees with the New York Times. Wilson Fu isn't looking a gift horse in the mouth. PrebleNY has some other thoughts, and so does the Commons Blog.

Here's Powerpundit:
I'm on board with the pro-nuclear attitude of some of these environmental groups, and am pleased that they are finally showing up - albeit tardily - to the nuclear party. We can and should resume the use of nuclear power as an alternative to current energy sources. However, my motivation is not because of the alleged problem of global warming. We must resume the use of nuclear energy because we need a new source of power. Period.
Why do we need a new source of power? Our President and CEO, Skip Bowman, laid out the case a couple of weeks ago in San Antonio in a speech to the nuclear fuel industry:
The numbers also tell us that companies are not investing in new, cleaner, more efficient generating capacity. Nearly 200,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity in the United States is 30 to 40 years old. Approximately 100,000 megawatts is 40 to 50 years old. Together, these aging assets represent roughly one-third of our 900,000 megawatts of installed capacity.
So, in essence, environmentalists who continue to resist the expansion of nuclear energy, would force a choice on us -- to meet new electricity demand with old technologies that emit greenhouse gases and particulate matter, or shut off the lights. That's not a choice most people want forced on them.

The fact is, that electricity demand will rise so rapidly over the coming decades, that we're going to need to rely on every source of clean energy imaginable -- that means renewables, clean coal and nuclear. And when you combine that with the need to replace aging energy infrastructure, you can't afford to take any option off the table.

POSTSCRIPT: It would be remiss not to mention that one of the first prominent environmentalists to speak up in favor of expanded use of nuclear energy, Anglican Bishop Hugh Montefiore, died on Saturday. He was 85. Our condolences to his family and friends.

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Friday, May 13, 2005

NEI News Clips

Here are some other noteworthy news items kicking around the office:

The NRC renewed the operating licenses for Farley Nuclear Plant, Units 1 and 2, for an additional 20 years. Congratulations to the team at Southern Nuclear Operating company.

In Germany, many environmentalists celebrated the closing of a second nuclear reactor. The closing is part of an agreement between the German government and electric utilities that was concluded back in 2000.

A few weeks ago, we noted that this move may be more costly than some proponents are willing to admit. In addition, the utility executive who negotiated the original agreement with the government said that it was inevitable that Germany would have to turn back to nuclear energy in order to meet aggressive targets on cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Jay Currie has further thoughts.

For a look at the dynamics that are helping to create an unlikely alliance between environmentalists and those concerned with national security, check out Futurepundit. For more, check out EV World.

Thomas John Munsch Jr., the attorney who oversaw the licensing of the Shippingport Nuclear Power Plant, died on May 11. He was 92. Our condolences to his family and friends.

With uranium prices setting new record highs, we shouldn't be surprised at the news that another uranium mine is being re-opened, this time in Wyoming.

U.K. Science Advisor David King said nuclear energy may be the only way Britain can meet its targets on tackling climate change. And U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair reiterated his stand that nuclear energy needs to be considered for Britain's future energy mix.

ICAAP 2005 starts on Saturday in Seoul, South Korea.

A hearty thanks to one California resident for sticking up for San Onofre:

Don Ritchie, noting that he lives close enough to San Onofre to see the blinking red warning lights atop the plant's towering containment domes, said he does not fear nuclear catastrophe or the radioactive waste stored there.

"I haven't had the tiniest concern," Ritchie said. "As far as I'm concerned, if they want to put in a Unit 3, it's fine with me."

The official celebration of Armed Forces Day isn't until May 21st, but the great city of Chattanooga held their parade last Friday. NEI's President and CEO, Skip Bowman, was asked to give a salute to our men and women in uniform.

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The 2005 Nuclear Energy Assembly

Sorry for the light posting over the past few days, but everyone here at NEI has been very busy preparing for our annual Nuclear Energy Assembly.

It's our biggest event of the year, and all hands are on deck these days, so to speak. This year's meeting will take place from May 16-18 at the Fairmont Hotel here in Washington.

The speakers lined up for this year's event, billed as "Nuclear Energy 2005: A Time of Opportunity", include NEI President and CEO Skip Bowman, Senators James Inhofe and Pete Domenici, Energy Secretary Sam Bodman, Congressman Joe Barton, NRC Chairman Nils Diaz and Robert McGhee, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Progress Energy and NEI's Vice Chairman.

Also speaking on Tuesday, May 17 will be one of our contributors here at NEI Nuclear Notes, Lisa Shell of Dominion Generation. Lisa is also incoming president of North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN), a professional association for young nuclear professionals.

I'll be on site at the conference both Tuesday and Wednesday, and I'll try to post links to some of the major policy speeches once they're delivered. I've also been detailed to write a story for our member newsletter about our last speaker, Duke University Men's Basketball Coach Mike Krzyzewski.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Nuclear Energy Debate at Sustainablog

Yesterday, I had a very cordial email exchange with Jeff Strasburg of Sustainablog on the new support nuclear energy is getting from some prominent folks in the environmental movement. In particular, I passed along some details from Patrick Moore's congressional testimony that I thought were pertinent:

"Nuclear energy is the only non-greenhouse-gas-emitting power source that can effectively replace fossil fuels and satisfy global demand," Moore told the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Energy and Resources in Washington, DC.

"There is now a great deal of scientific evidence showing nuclear power to be an environmentally sound and safe choice," Moore said. Moore believes his former colleagues at Greenpeace are unrealistic in their call for a phasing out of both coal and nuclear power worldwide, as they have called for in Ontario, for example.

"There are simply not enough available forms of alternative energy to replace both of them together. Given a choice between nuclear on the one hand and coal, oil and natural gas on the other, nuclear energy is by far the best option as it emits neither CO2 nor any other air pollutants."

As a result, Jeff is throwing things open to his readers, asking them what they think of nuclear energy:
Rather than go into a tirade (as I'm sometimes prone to do), I'd like to open up the debate: should we seriously consider ramping up production of nuclear power in response to the threats posed by climate change?

As we saw last month in the prominent environmental pub, Grist, this is a debate that the global environmental movement is beginning to have, and it's all to the better.

So stop by and let him know what you think. And thanks to Jeff for being open to talking to us.

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Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Duke Power Looks To "Secure Option to License a New Nuclear Power Plant"

When it comes to possible plans to build new nuclear capacity, few companies make as much noise as Duke Power. Just off the wire:

Duke Power has filed preliminary information with the North Carolina Utilities Commission to modernize and expand its Cliffside Steam Station in Rutherford and Cleveland counties and Buck Steam Station in Rowan County.

The filings in support of an application for a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” (CPCN) with the commission are part of Duke Power’s overall strategy to plan for the future. The company is also considering whether to pursue the option to build a new nuclear power plant and is seeking bids from the wholesale power market for up to 1,500 megawatts beginning in 2009.

Duke also disclosed that it would be making a similar filing in South Carolina in the coming months. Click here for our post from February when Duke announced it was "in the initial stages of planning the preparation of a combined construction and operating license, or COL, application for a new nuclear generating facility."

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U.K. Nuclear Update

Brian Wilson, who was U.K. Energy Minister from 2001-2003, is calling for a rational debate concerning the expansion of nuclear energy in Britain:

"Hopefully what there is, is an intelligent debate which takes us away from the polarised pro and anti nuclear plans that were formed in many minds in the 60s and 70s," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"There's a completely different context for the debate now and let's have it on an intelligent and rational basis".

Further . . .
Mr Wilson said the government had to create the right conditions to allow the private sector to decide whether it can invest in nuclear power. It would need some guarantee of electricity prices to ensure it was economically viable, he said.

"If we don't do that, then our targets on carbon reduction are out the window," he said.

For more thoughts, check out U.K.-based EnviroSpin Watch.

UPDATE: Prime Minister Tony Blair gets a thumbs up from Synthstuff.

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Another Blogger For Nuclear Energy

Meet Ded Reckoning.

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Climate Change and the G8 Summit

Back in April, we alerted readers to the possibility that a major announcement on international climate change policy might be in the offing for the G8 Summit in Scotland this July. This morning, the following ran on the BBC:

Energy experts from the world's leading economies will join a two-day workshop at Oxford University to find solutions to the global warming crisis.

The scientists will present the fruits of their deliberations to a meeting of the G8 of key industrialised nations in Gleneagles in Scotland in July.

Tony Blair has made tackling climate change a priority of his G8 leadership.

And nuclear energy is sure to be on the agenda.

Thanks to reader Brian Spears for the pointer.

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Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Whitehall Document Details U.K. Nuclear Energy Plans

With U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair being returned to power after last week's election, details are beginning to come to light regarding his government's plans to revive that country's nuclear energy sector.

From the Guardian:

In a 46-paragraph briefing note for incoming ministers, Joan MacNaughton, the director-general of energy policy at the new Department of Productivity, Energy and Industry, warns that key policy targets to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and boost green energy are likely to fail, and that decisions on new nuclear power stations must be taken urgently. It advises that 'it is generally easier to push ahead on controversial issues early in a new parliament'.

The document points to the key role new nuclear power stations, which do not emit carbon dioxide, would play in tackling carbon emissions. It states: 'We now have 12 nuclear stations providing 20 per cent of our electricity carbon-free. By 2020 this will fall to three stations and 7 per cent as stations are retired.'

It also points to the increased risk of an electricity supply shortage after 2008, when a number of nuclear plants are due to close, and warns of a growing reliance on imported gas supplies.

Looks like we'll be seeing movement sooner rather than later. And opponents of the industry are already gearing up for a fight.

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Another Blogger For Nuclear Energy

Mover Mike takes a look at the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, and he seems to like what he sees:

The environmentalists should love this. There is no danger of "The China Syndrome", the is no pollution as in fossil fuel plants, and there will be enough room on site for the spent fuel to be stored in dry storage tanks within the PBMR building. Finally, a PBMR lasts for 40 years and takes 24 months to build.

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Obituary: Samuel J. Chilk, First Secretary of the NRC

Via email, we received some sad news from the NRC this morning:

The agency was saddened to learn that Samuel J. Chilk, who served as the NRC's first Secretary of the Commission, passed away Thursday morning, May 5, in Sarasota, FL.

Mr. Chilk was appointed Secretary in March 1975, soon after the NRC was founded, and retired in March 1997. During his 22 years at the NRC, he loyally served 9 Chairman and 22 Commissioners, along with their staff and his staff in the Office of the Secretary.

His ashes will be interred at Arlington National Cemetery in a service scheduled for 2 p.m. on June 6.

The family requests that memorial contributions be sent to Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, 1838 Waldemere St, Sarasota, FL 34239.

Our condolences to his family and friends.