Monday, October 31, 2005

Why the Renewed Interest in Nuclear Energy?

One of the main drivers behind the passage of the 2005 Energy Policy Act was the inclusion of incentives (investment protection, production tax credits and the like) electric utilities said were necessary to spur the building of new baseload generating capacity like coal and nuclear.

If the activity since the bill was signed into law this past August is any indication, the law is working exactly as intended. Accounting for the announcements made by Duke Energy and Constellation Energy last week, there are now 10 distinct projects underway investigating the possibility of new nuclear build.

But the incentives in EPACT 2005 are only part of the story. Another piece of the puzzle is the incredible volatility we're seeing around the world in natural gas markets. As our President and CEO Skip Bowman put it last week in a speech in Savannah, Georgia:

Even before Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, oil and natural gas prices were increasing and our energy supply and delivery infrastructure already were stressed. The hurricanes pushed that infrastructure beyond the breaking point.

Through the summer of 2005, natural gas prices were in the $6 to $7 per million BTU range—high by any standards. But last week, natural gas at one of the major trading hubs in Texas was over $13 per million BTU, and the 12-month forecast on the New York Mercantile Exchange was above $11.

In the Gulf of Mexico, 50 percent of natural gas production and 60 percent of oil production is still shut down—either because of damage to offshore platforms or to onshore infrastructure. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for approximately one-quarter of U.S. natural gas production and roughly 30 percent of oil production. Most experts believe production will not be restored fully until the end of the first quarter of 2006, at the earliest. There’s little prospect of quick relief from the pressure on natural gas supply and prices.

Louisiana and Mississippi have suffered greatly, to be sure, but our entire nation will suffer economic damage because of higher energy prices.

In those parts of the country that depend heavily on natural gas for electric power generation—Florida, the West Coast, New England—we can expect significant increases in electricity prices. One Florida electric utility reported last week that its fuel costs have increased by about one-third this year. This, in turn, will increase the cost of electricity to commercial and industrial users by 25 to 40 percent.
For many Americans, it looks to be an expensive Winter, as consumers who use natural gas to heat their homes will have to compete for access to a constrained supply with utilities who use natural gas to generate electricity as well as industrial users who use natural gas as a feedstock.

But it isn't only natural gas prices that are roiling markets. We've seen similar price volatility in coal markets since the late 1990s and some coal prices have doubled in the last 24 months. And there are other hidden costs as well. In emission trading markets, allowances for SO2 or sulfur dioxide have quadrupled in just 26 months between December 2003 and October 2005.

If you had to put the reasons for the revival of interest in nuclear energy on the back of an index card, it would read as follows:

1) Nuclear energy produces large amounts of baseload (24x7) power at competitive prices -- unlike many renewable sources of energy that simply can't provide the heavy lift that nuclear provides on the electric grid;

2) Because fuel costs make up such a small share of nuclear production costs, nuclear energy provides tremendous forward price stability -- an attribute with significant value in a volatile commodity market;

3) Because of its emission-free character, nuclear energy has a significant clean air compliance value -- something that will only become more important in what is sure to become a carbon constrained world.

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U.K. Nuclear Update

U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair continues to kick up dust in his home country over the issue of new nuclear build. Looking ahead to this week's inaugural meeting of the Gleneagles Dialogue between the G8 and the emerging industrial nations of China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico, Blair sounded the warning again over the consequences of global warming in the pages of the Guardian:

That's why Tuesday's meeting matters. It will focus on what is needed to make the transition to a low carbon economy. We need to see how the existing energy technologies we have such as wind, solar and - yes - nuclear, together with new technologies such as fuel cells and carbon capture and storage, can generate the low carbon power the world needs.
UPDATE: Some other thoughts from U.K.-based blogs Anglesey Energy and Deed.

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Sproat Nomination Hearing This Week

On Thursday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a nomination hearing for Edward (Ward) Sproat, the Bush administration's choice to head the Department of Energy's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. The hearing will take place at 2:30 p.m. in 366 Dirksen.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

German Nuclear Update

It doesn't look like German Chancellor-designate Angela Merkel is going to back down on her campaign promise to overturn that nation's planned phaseout of nuclear energy by 2020.

For our previous posts on what's happening in the German nuclear business, click here.

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More Bloggers For Nuclear Energy

Meet Synthstuff and Bacon's Rebellion.

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Friday, October 28, 2005

Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

David Amerine is the new senior vice president of Parsons’ infrastructure and technology group. Amerine comes to Parsons from CH2M Hill’s nuclear business group, where he was executive vice president and deputy general manager.

William Barnet III is the newest member of Duke Energy's board of directors. He was elected to a seat on Oct. 25 and will serve on the board's audit and nuclear oversight committees. Barnet is the may of Spartanburg, S.C., and the chairman, president and chief executive officer of the Barnet Co. Inc., a real estate and investment firm.

Canada’s Natural Resources Department has proposed Robert Van Adel for reappointment as president and chief executive officer of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. Van Adel has held the position since February 2001. The department will refer the proposal to a parliamentary committee for review. Van Adel is an NEI board member.

David Miller has been elected president and chief operating officer of Strathmore Minerals Corp., and president and chief executive officer of its U.S. subsidiary, Strathmore Resources Ltd. Miller previously was the company’s chief geologist.

American Electric Power has elected Linda Goodspeed to its board of directors. Goodspeed is executive vice president and chief technology officer for Lennox International Inc. She will serve on the audit, nuclear oversight and policy committees.

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The BU Trustee Scholarship Competition

The author of Something Clever is a female high school student from Seattle, Washington who has been accepted at Boston University. She just found out that she's been asked to apply for the school's Trustee Scholar program that would qualify her for full tuition and room and board for all four years.

Wow, that's a heck of an opportunity. But to win the scholarship, she going to have to write a 600-word essay. And here's topic#1:

Boston University Trustee Scholars are encouraged to develop well-informed and well-reasoned views of important political, social, and artistic issues. We try to select students who have a sense of how to present persuasive arguments in support of their views. With that in mind, write an essay of no more than 600 words responding to one of the following statements:

1. Electricity generation via nuclear power produces no greenhouse gases, but does produce a small volume of very dangerous radioactive waste.
What a coincidence! Now, if our young friend would like some help researching this paper, feel free to explore our blog, or check out our main Web page.

And good luck. And once you get to BU, please say hello to Mr. Eruzione.

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Taking a Closer Look at the AP-1000

Green Car Congress is taking a detailed look at the design of the Westinghouse AP-1000 reactor, the reactor that Duke Energy intends to use for its upcoming COL application for a twin-reactor nuclear power plant somewhere in its current service area.

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More Strong Polling Results In Canada

New survey results in Ontario conclude that a vast majority - 74 percent - of Toronto residents support nuclear power. This comes on the heels of an Ontario poll with similar results earlier this week.

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More Reaction to ABC News' 'Loose Nukes'

In an op-ed in the Indy Star this week, Lefteri Tsoukalas - head of the nuclear engineering department at Purdue University - condemns ABC News for "cynically exploiting people's instinctive fear of nuclear energy by misrepresenting both the threat from, and the nature of, research reactors such as the one for which I am responsible at Purdue University."

ABC sent college students who were working as journalism interns to a number of university reactor facilities, including the one at Purdue. The idea was to see whether they could get into the facilities and assess security measures.

The interns had no trouble gaining access because we welcome visitors to the reactor. In fact, our Web site and printed literature invite the public to schedule tours, which are conducted by staff trained in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's security measures. The ABC interns saw what any visitor would see. If they had identified themselves as investigative journalists, they would have been given the same tour and the same information.

By the time they had been to two universities, the interns' behavior had given them away, and all the subsequent sites they visited knew their purpose. They still were given escorted tours. Yet ABC's report maintained the fiction that the interns had duped those responsible for security at each of the reactors. It also accepted at face value evaluations of security measures that the interns were not qualified to make.

The network's premise was that the American public is threatened by the ease with which research reactors can be accessed. This is patently false.
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Constellation Announces COL Application

From the wire:

Constellation Energy (NYSE: CEG) today announced that it intends to apply to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for a combined construction and operating license (COL). This is the first step in a multi-phase process that could ultimately lead to the development and deployment of its first nuclear power plant in more than 30 years. Sites under consideration include the company's Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant in Southern Maryland and the Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station in upstate New York. Final site selection is expected by early next year.

"With this announcement, Constellation Energy confirms its position as one of the leaders in bringing new nuclear power in this country one step closer to reality," said Michael J. Wallace, executive vice president for Constellation Energy. "Our decision to file with the NRC at this time is consistent with our disciplined value-driven approach to nuclear power, and our recently announced partnership with AREVA, Inc. and the formation of UniStar Nuclear. But for passage and enactment of the Energy Policy Act, we would not be making this announcement today. We appreciate the support and leadership demonstrated by the Administration and Congress on this issue."
More great news. Announcements like this one are exactly why I joined up with the nuclear energy industry.

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Thursday, October 27, 2005

Another Strike Against the "No Solutions Gang"

After reading Stewart Brand's Environmental Heresies, Richard Sprague wrote this about the environmental movement:

Today's Sierra Club, Greenpeace, and others are so anti-Republican that they are turning off mainstream people who are otherwise sympathetic to what's happening to the earth. Smart environmental organizations are already working to show their appeal to progressives on the right as well as the center-left.
Sounds like another strike against the "No Solutions Gang."

UPDATE: Click here for more from Pat Cleary.

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German Nuclear Update

This morning on NPR, Rachel Martin took a look at the energy situation in Germany (Real Player or Windows Media required), where the country is caught between its obligations to cut CO2 emissions under the Kyoto protocols, a plan to close nuclear power stations, and growing fears concerning overdependence on natural gas supplied from Russia.

For our previous posts on Germany's dillema, click here, here and here.

UPDATE: More from Reuters.

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France Shelves Plans for AREVA Stock Sale

From Forbes.com:

A sale of shares in state-owned Aeroports de Paris will go ahead but there are no plans to offer a stake in nuclear energy group Areva by 2007, Dominique Villepin, the prime minister, announced at a news conference...

On Areva, the prime minister said: 'In a sector as strategic as the provision of fission materials, the enrichment and treatment of nuclear waste, state control must provide the necessary guarantees to our citizens as well as to our foreign clients.

'We understand that under these conditions, regarding Areva, the opening up to private capital is not one of the projects of my government,' he said.
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Stat Pack: EIA’s Annual Energy Review 2004 (Part 4)

This week, our continuing series on the Energy Information Administration's (EIA) Annual Energy Review (AER) looks at natural gas and coal.

Natural Gas

The AER does a great job showing how energy is produced and used with informative flow diagrams. Here is a flow diagram for natural gas. Please note that all figures are in trillions of cubic feet:


For definitions of the processes listed in this diagram, click here. Natural gas is a very versatile fuel, and is consumed in a variety of ways: Residential – 22%, Commercial – 13%, Industrial – 38%, Transportation – 3% and Electric Power – 24%.

Only 15% of natural gas consumed in the U.S. is imported, compared with 65% of oil. 85% of the natural gas imported to the U.S. comes from Canada.

But while natural gas is a versatile fuel, it could also be argued that America has become overreliant on its use.

Since 1992, the electric industry has built over 270,000 megawatts of new natural gas-fired generating capacity. In so doing, we placed unsustainable demands on natural gas supply, and exposed consumers of natural gas, and of electricity from natural gas, to punishing price volatility.

But the problems don't stop there. As NEI's President and CEO, Skip Bowman said in a speech last night in Augusta, Georgia, Hurricane's Katrina and Rita have done vast damage to the nation's natural gas supply and delivery infrastructure:

In the Gulf of Mexico, 50 percent of natural gas production and 60 percent of oil production is still shut down — either because of damage to offshore platforms or to onshore infrastructure. The Gulf of Mexico accounts for approximately one-quarter of U.S. natural gas production and roughly 30 percent of oil production. Most experts believe production will not be fully restored until the end of the first quarter of 2006, at the earliest. There’s little prospect of quick relief from the pressure on natural gas supply and prices.

Louisiana and Mississippi have suffered greatly, to be sure, but our entire nation will suffer economic damage because of higher energy prices.

In those parts of the country that depend heavily on natural gas for electric power generation — Florida, the West Coast, New England — we can expect significant increases in electricity prices. One Florida electric utility reported last week that its fuel costs have increased by about one-third this year. This, in turn, will increase the cost of electricity to commercial and industrial users by 25 to 40 percent.

Electric utilities in those parts of the country may well find themselves squeezed between rising fuel costs and state regulators trying to protect consumers from the impact of higher prices. Wall Street is already concerned about the potential for stress on utilities’ cash flow, leading to declining credit quality.

Other industries that depend heavily on natural gas, either as a fuel or a feedstock, will suffer, too — chemicals, plastics, packaging, steel, automobile manufacturing. Wall Street is already warning investors away from these sectors. Some were reeling even before Katrina and Rita drove energy prices higher. The U.S. chemical industry has shut down more than a dozen major U.S. manufacturing facilities in the last two years because of high natural gas prices and moved that production overseas. That’s more than 100,000 jobs lost.
In 2004, natural gas prices were at $5.49 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) at the wellhead. By September 2005, natural gas prices at the Henry Hub were about $12/mcf. Earlier this week, the price reached almost $14/mcf.

Coal

On one of my favorite television shows, The West Wing, Leo McGarry said the U.S. is the Saudi Arabia of coal, and he (or at least the show's writers) couldn't have been more right. Coal is abundant and affordable in the U.S. and the vast majority is used to generate 50% of the nation's electricity.


Since 1975, coal prices have been steadily declining and in 2004 were at $19.85 per short ton.

Together, coal and nuclear energy provide tremendous forward price stability in U.S. electricity markets. Thanks to that forward price stability, retail electricity rates haven't been wracked with the sort of volatility we've seen at the gas pump over the past few months. And without the stability that coal and nuclear provide to retail electricity markets, the impact of the disruption to the nation's natural gas supply caused by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina would be far more dire.

For more information on electricity, stay tuned for the next Stat Pack. For previous Stat Pack’s on the AER click here, here and here.

UPDATE: More from the NAM Blog on natural gas.

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Survey Says: Ontarians Support Nuclear

A majority of Ontarians support commercial nuclear power, according to a recent survey.

Although 60% of those surveyed said they prefer hydroelectric power, 54% responded that they back nuclear energy as part of the mix.

"The theme you see here is that the public understands that despite their preference, they can't rely on hydro alone -- at least at this stage in the game," said Leger Marketing associate vice-president Craig Worden.

"It's like a recipe and there needs to be a mix. They support nuclear being an ingredient in that mix."
The poll comes after Bruce Power's announcement last week that it plans to restart its Bruce A 1 and 2 reactors in Kincardine, Ont., which have been idle since 1997. The restart plan depends on a $3.6 billion deal between Bruce Power and the province of Ontario. The plan also includes refurbishment of two other Bruce A reactors over the next decade at the Kincardine site, about 150 miles northwest of Toronto.

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Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Duke Power Announces COL for Two New Reactors

Just off the wire:

Duke Power confirmed today it is preparing a combined construction and operating license (COL) application for new nuclear generation. The application is for two Westinghouse Advanced Passive 1000 (AP1000) reactors at a site to be named
following the conclusion of its current site selection study.

Pursuit of the COL application, which is expected to be submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission within the next 24-30 months, is part of the company's long-term generation planning process, and will allow Duke Power to keep new nuclear generation as an option for meeting its customers' future energy needs.

"Our employees have proven that nuclear generation can provide safe, reliable and cost-effective electricity for our customers," said Brew Barron, Duke Power chief nuclear officer. "Preparing this application provides us the option to continue using a diverse fuel mix in the future."

Duke Power's selection of the Westinghouse AP1000 reactor design allows the company to rely on proven, safe nuclear technology and progressive innovation as it considers a new nuclear power plant. The AP1000 design is based on the same Westinghouse pressurized water reactor (PWR) technology that has achieved thousands of successful reactor-years of operation throughout the world.

Westinghouse PWR technology is currently in use at the Duke Power-operated McGuire and Catawba nuclear stations.

Westinghouse is partnering with The Shaw Group Inc., a global engineering, design, construction and operations firm, on engineering work for this project.
Duke does it again. Amazing. More later.

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Correcting Misleading Comments by an Anti-nuclear Extremist

In a comment to a post below, Paul Gunter of the extremist antinuclear organization NIRS, completely mischaracterized the reasons behind and the effects of shutting down plants prior to a hurricane. A very knowledgeable colleague of mine, Howard Shaffer, who spent many years working as a systems engineer and who has tangled with Gunter previously, sent me this explanation:

If the grid is lost suddenly, a plant will scram and go on to the diesel generators, as designed and tested. Emergancy Core Cooling is not needed, since there is no leak. This feature is by design choice. It is possible to design nuclear power plants, even the large ones, to have a loss of the grid, and keep running to restart the grid. This makes for a more complicated and expensive design, since when the grid is lost, and the plant is at full load, and the plant is to keep running, the 4.5 million horsepower must go somewhere for a few seconds until reactor power is cut back. A design like this is not optimum in the whole grid system, since other types of plants can be and obviously are designed for black start and reenergizing the grid. Hydro plants are ideal for this. I started up Ludington Pumped storage in Michigan, which was designed to do this. We tested it to prove it could, and it was made an annual drill for the Operators.

As I recall, Vermont Yankee was originally designed and built to take a loss of the grid at full power, (full load reject) but this capability was dropped, I think based on upgraded reactor analytical results. The steam hardware was not removed, but of course the Reactor Protection system was made to scram on full load reject.

Plants are shut down in advance of anticipated grid loss (as from a hurricane) because of the conservative operational philosophy of never depending on Safety Systems to do a function that can be done without them.

The statement is completely mixed up when Gunter talks about operating off the grid for "Backup and Safety Systems" When Safety Systems are needed, the reactor is shut down, so it won't be making electric power. Conservative design assumes loss of the grid at the same time - i.e. the scram of the reactor and subsequent trip of the generator CAUSED the loss of the grid. Thus there is an emergency power supply with 100% backup, at least.
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

DOE Directs Contractor on Repository Design

I’ve spent the vast majority of my career in the nuclear industry working in waste and used fuel management. First, I interned at DOE’s Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management as an undergraduate, then I spent a summer in France modeling breeder reactor cores, next I worked on waste management issues at the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, for my master’s thesis I modeled gas evolution from Hanford N-Reactor fuel in sealed canisters, and I worked for seven years in Dominion’s nuclear spent fuel group.

In that time, I’ve witnessed many DOE proposals for repository design and function: a “hot” versus a “cold” repository; wet fuel transfer versus dry fuel transfer versus no fuel transfer; standard canister design versus standard canister design criteria versus “let the utilities decide what to ship it in"; and on and on. All of these proposals are technically feasible and also have pros and cons.

So, I read with great interest today DOE’s announcement that it has instructed its contractor to

devise a plan to operate the Yucca Mountain repository as a primarily “clean” or non-contaminated facility.
What this means to the layperson is that instead of transporting fuel from reactor sites to Yucca Mountain in one container, removing it (either in a pool or inert, dry environment), and then repackaging it in another container, most of the used fuel will be shipped in standardized containers that can be placed into an overpack and installed directly in the repository.

This plan makes a lot of sense.

Moving individual fuel assemblies around whenever the mood strikes is the best way to damage them. And while there are several methods to safely handle damaged fuel, they are costly and time-consuming. This proposal means that the vast majority of fuel will be handled the minimal number of times between core discharge and placement in a repository. A standardized design for the canisters would also facilitate efficient removal of the fuel for recycling if such technologies are later available.

Most importantly, I’m hopeful that focusing on this reasonable approach will, in DOE’s words, simplify the design and license application for the repository; because ultimately, after protecting the health and the safety of the public, DOE’s next greatest responsibility is to expedite the removal of used fuel from reactor sites.

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Doublechecking The Numbers...

George Monbiot did some number crunching when it comes to the U.K. and new nuclear build. Tim Worstall checked his work and found it wanting.

For some related work from my colleague David Bradish, click here and here.

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Another Blogger For Nuclear Energy

Meet Jennifer Marohasy.

UPDATE: Be sure to visit Bullet Holed Messenger too.

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"Lead, follow or get out of the way."

Over at NAM Blog, Pat Cleary has some advice for the "No Solutions Gang":

If the Outer Continental Shelf were opened to exploration, it's a start. It has has 420 trillion cubic feet of recoverable resources and 77 billion barrels of oil. That's enough natural gas to heat more than 100 million homes for 60 years and enough oil to fuel almost 85 million cars for 35 years.

As the saying goes, "Lead, follow, or get out of the way." The environmental movement in this country has not led, -- in fact, they've been obstructionist -- haven't followed. Time to get out of the way.
This post is all part of Pat's efforts with NAM Blog's Energy Week. Check it out.

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NEI's Bowman to Serve on Baker-Led BP Panel

From today's Houston Chronicle:

BP named political heavyweight James Baker as chairman of an independent panel to review safety lapses at the troubled oil giant.

Baker, a former secretary of state and Treasury secretary, vowed Monday to lead a panel that would delve into the company's corporate culture and issue a public report within a year.

"You are going to see an aggressive and complete and thorough investigation," Baker said. "And we're going to let the chips fall where they may."

With 22 deaths since 1995, BP leads the refining industry in fatalities over the past decade, including a refinery worker killed in May at BP's Cherry Point refinery in Whatcom County and 15 people killed in an explosion at the company's Texas City, Texas, refinery in March. That explosion injured 170 people and set off widespread concern that company managers have a lax attitude toward safety.

Creation of the panel was urged two months ago by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, which has been investigating the March 23 explosion at the Texas City plant. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined BP $21.4 million -- almost double the previous record -- after finding hundreds of willful and serious violations at Texas City.
NEI's President and CEO, Skip Bowman, was also asked to serve on the panel. For more, click here to read BP's press announcement on the investigation.

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Three Florida Nuclear Reactors Shut Down in Wake of Wilma

Hurricane Wilma has left 6 million Florida residents without power, and forced Florida Power and Light to shut down reactors at St. Lucie and Turkey Point as the hurricane approached:

FPL shut the 839-megawatt unit 2 at the St. Lucie nuclear power station and both 693 MW units at the Turkey Point nuclear power station as Wilma approached the Florida coast.

Nuclear power plants are robust structures built to sustain hurricane-force winds and other natural disasters but the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission requires the operators to shut the plants in advance of hurricane-force winds.

Officials at FPL said it was still too early to conduct a full assessment but initial reports showed the storm did not damage any of the company's power plants.

The 2,205 MW Turkey Point station is located in Florida City, in Miami-Dade County, about 25 miles south of Miami.

The 1,678 MW St Lucie station is located on Hutchinson Island, in St Lucie County, about 120 miles north of Miami. There are two 839 MW units 1 and 2 at St Lucie.

The company shut unit 1 for a planned eight-week refueling outage over the weekend of October 15-16.
Here's a statement from the NRC that was issued yesterday afternoon:
The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has deactivated its headquarters and regional response centers that were monitoring Hurricane Wilma. The storm has moved past two nuclear power plants and storm damage to the sites is minimal. Further onsite and offsite inspections by NRC staff and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) will determine the plants' abilities to restart in the near future.

Earlier, the St. Lucie plant, near Ft. Pierce, and the Turkey Point plant, 25 miles south of Miami, were shut down before the storm. All safety systems at both plants are working normally and both plants continue to receive power from the region's electrical grid.

The NRC continues to maintain contact with plant personnel and NRC inspection staff on site. Backup communication methods are available at both sites if normal communications are lost. Communication links are also established and maintained with state emergency response officials and other federal response agencies.
Our thoughts are with our friends at Florida Power and Light who are out in the field trying to get the power restored to the grid. For more on the utility's efforts to restore power to its customers, click here and here.

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Monday, October 24, 2005

It's Energy Week at NAM Blog

Here's our friend Pat Cleary:

With energy prices soaring and everyone starting to realize what 30 years of poor decisions on energy (and being held hostage by a small band of radical environmentalists) have wrought, the time has finally come for some common-sense (and environmentally responsible) exploration of heretofore off-limits sites. The Wall Street Journal editorial we cite below noted that the recent energy bill that passed was aimed at what it called, "the real problem: government barriers to supply." As was evident from the "Blog Row" on Capitol Hill last week, Members of Congress are realizing that they need to speed the permitting process and streamline the regulatory process if we have any hope of increasing the supply of energy. We need efficiency, sure, but we need more supply.

So watch this space in the days ahead for some action steps, when you can weigh in with your Senators and Members of Congress and urge them to do something about the supply side on energy so we can hope to begin to see energy prices level off in our lifetime.
And a belated "Happy Birthday," to Pat. His reasoning sounds a lot like what our CEO, Skip Bowman, had to say last April at a speech in San Antonio, and it's a note he's been hitting regularly ever since then:
The U.S. electricity business is paying the price today for our inability to strike that balance between what was expedient and easy in the short-term, and what was prudent and more difficult in the long-term. We are paying the price today for 10 to 15 years of neglect of longer-term imperatives.
Here's hoping Congress continues to make progress in this area.

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Industrial Newsroom: Nuclear energy is "our only way out."

The Industrial Market Trends is taking a look at nuclear energy, and his outlook is pretty positive. Here's a short excerpt from Part II of his analysis:

Populations are growing at a staggering rate worldwide. Energy consumption is expected to grow to insane levels—globally—within just a few decades. Alternative energy sources, as they currently exist, simply will not meet this demand. Coal would work, which leads us back to the pollution problem and that little matter of global warming. Nuclear seems our only way out with current technologies: enormous power generation potential, competitive plant costs, cheaper energy for the masses, and great profit levels for the 'big, bad, corporations.' Hey, everyone wins.
To read Part I, click here. And look forward to Part III sometime in the near future.

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Another Blogger For Nuclear Energy

Meet Bhaub Korwin.

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Saturday, October 22, 2005

Followup On ABC News Message Board

A couple of days back, I mentioned that the message board attached to the "Loose Nukes" special report on abcnews.com had suddenly disappeared. So I sent an email to the network's Web operation, and I've just gotten the following response:

Hello Eric,

Thank you for contacting us.

We are aware of the problem and are working on correcting it. We appreciate your patience and understanding. In the meantime, please check out our other features associated with the report:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/LooseNukes/

Thanks for logging on to ABCNews.com.

Regards,

Melanie
ABCNews.com
http://abcnews.go.com/
So, they seem to be suggesting it's just a technical malfunction. I'll be asking some more questions. Stay tuned.

UPDATE: Here's the abcnews.com response that just arrived:
Hello Eric,

Thank you for contacting us.

Unfortunately, we are unable to divulge the circumstances of the message board's current status. Please be patient, as we are working diligently on the issue.
Boy, that was fast. More later.

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Friday, October 21, 2005

POGO/ABC News Followup

The furor over the ABC News series, "Loose Nukes on Main Street," has settled down to a low roar, but there are still a few loose ends I'd like to tie up before the end of the week.

As I mentioned a few days ago, we got a phone call from Beth Daly, head of communications for the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) concerning our post on the connections between POGO, the Carnegie Corporation and ABC News. Simply put, I thought it was too cute that a Carnegie grant recipient like POGO just magically cooperated on this story with ABC News that was being investigated, in part, by 10 Carnegie Fellows.

To refresh your memories, here's the original post from POGO's blog that piqued my interest:

ABC News is scheduled to run an investigative series next week about nuclear security and safety at home and abroad. The series, which POGO consulted on, will in theory run on a variety of ABC News programs, such as 20/20, Nightline, Good Morning America, and World News Tonight. It promises to be a comprehensive report on the many problems caused by worldwide proliferation of weapons grade nuclear materials.
On Wednesday afternoon, a very polite and pleasant Daly called me about my concerns. And to her credit, she answered all my questions - for a little while, anyway.

At the time, she said POGO's only role in the report was to schedule an interview with POGO investigator Peter Stockton. Here's a description of Stockton's role at POGO from 2001:
Peter Stockton is a paid consultant with POGO. He was special assistant to DOE Secretary Bill Richardson from 1999-2001. Mr. Stockton was the chief investigator for Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from 1972-1995, including during the Committee's investigations of DOE security failures.
After clarifying Stockton's role in the series, I continued to ask questions, until I paused for a breath, and Daly hung up the phone without saying goodbye.

In any case, as you may have seen, we linked to POGO's clarification, which was as follows:
Apparently, the Nuclear Energy Institute misunderstood us when we said "POGO consulted on the ABC News investigative series, "Loose Nukes." "Consulted" did not mean POGO was hired by ABC or was paid any money. In fact, we wish we could get paid for our expertise as many people do by news media outlets. But, in order to maintain an independent stance and protect our credibility, POGO does not accept money from corporations such as ABC. We also wanted to clarify that we are not an anti-nuclear organization. We have never taken a position on the merits or the drawbacks of nuclear energy.
When I passed this answer along to some colleagues here at NEI, they let out a loud guffaw at POGO's contention that they weren't anti-nuclear. Around these parts, if POGO isn't an anti-nuclear organization, we're not sure what would be.

In any case, I still had some more questions, which I sent to Daly not long after she posted POGO's clarification. Here's my note.
Thanks. I've updated the post to reflect your response. I have a few more questions:

1) To be precise, you didn't offer any assistance to ABC News on this series other than the Peter Stockton interview? To be honest, when you use the term, "consulted on" it implies a closer relationship than just providing a talking head for an interview -- which is why I wrote what I wrote.

Bottom line: there wasn't any misunderstanding, but your language was imprecise. Is it the case that you were just exaggerating your involvement in the report?

2) Did ABC News just call you out of the blue, or were they referred to you by the Carnegie Corporation? Did Carnegie alert you to the production of the report as it was being prepared?

3) Though you don't take corporate money, you do accept foundation grants -- including a grant for $200,000 that you were awarded by Carnegie in October 2003. Is that the only grant you've gotten from Carnegie, or have there been others? Can you tell me the names of other foundations that have donated to POGO?

Thanks again for your help on this, and being so polite.
It's been two days. I'm still waiting for an answer.

In any case, there's one thing I ought to make clear: I'm not accusing POGO or Carnegie of doing anything shady in this instance (though POGO hasn't hesitated to accuse us of the same - for NEI's take on the same story, click here). However, the close ties between the two organizations is something that should have been disclosed by ABC News in the body of their report -- and they neglected to do so. I wonder why?

POSTSCRIPT: Just in the respect of full disclosure, you should know we've tangled with POGO before on a variety of issues, and they sure seem anti-nuke to us.

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U.S. and India: 'Partners in a Global Nonproliferation Regime'

In a visit today with Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran, U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns expressed confidence that the U.S. Congress would pass legislation by early next year on implementation of a civilian nuclear energy between the two countries - before President Bush visits India in early 2006.

The agreement was signed during Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to the U.S. in July. Under the deal, India has to separate civil and military nuclear facilities and open its civilian nuclear reactors to the [International Atomic Energy Agency] for inspection in return for transfer of U.S. nuclear technology and fuel.

Saran too sounded confident about making the nuclear deal a reality and said: "India and the US are becoming partners in a global non-proliferation regime."

Burns arrived here late Thursday on a two-day visit to finalise a timetable to implement the India-US civil nuclear energy deal that entails changes in US laws and guidelines of the influential Nuclear Suppliers Group.
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Bulgaria Changes Its Mind About Nuclear Power

Instead of closing the nuclear power plant in the northern town of Kozloduy, the Bulgarian government will build a new plant in the northern town of Belene.

Bulgarians want to kill two birds with one stone - to remain a leading energy exporter in south-eastern Europe and not raise the price of electricity on the interior market.
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More on the U.K. Nuclear Debate

There has been a lot of chatter in the last few days about the issue of commercial nuclear energy in the United Kingdom (click here and here for past posts). Here are some of the highlights.

Prospect magazine provides in-depth background information and a balanced breakdown of the advantages and disadvantages of each energy source:

Within its five-year life span, this government is going to have to make sure that some difficult and potentially unpopular long-term infrastructure decisions are made.

The trickiest of these relate to power generation. In the muscular days of the Central Electricity Generating Board (CEGB), the minister of power (remember Manny Shinwell?) could instruct the board to do what he wanted. That all changed with privatisation in 1989-90. The CEGB vanished, and the role of government changed to that of facilitator and regulator. Yet were the lights went out, the government would be blamed, even though it can no longer order the building of power stations. Tony Blair's statement at the Labour party conference, promising a fresh energy review early in 2006, and accepting that nuclear energy will have to be part of it, indicates that the government is aware of its predicament.

... Because of the time it takes to build new stations, the government has to persuade the generation companies to make the major building decisions in the next five years and work must start soon on at least 20GW of new capacity. Of the more than 50 new stations in at least the early stage of planning, most are wind farms of small capacity. So far only four substantial new stations, all gas-fired and totalling 3.1GW, are likely to come on stream by 2010.
Visit Planet Ark for another analysis.

Elsewhere, icWales provides a roundup of soundbites from U.K. officials, companies and unions.

U.K. ministers in the European parliament (MEPs) also are speaking up:
Presenting a joint declaration on climate change and nuclear energy, at a seminar organised by Foratom on Wednesday in the European Parliament, UK MEP Terry Wynn said that EU leaders had to "get real" about the benefits of nuclear energy in tackling climate change.

"We can’t have a debate on climate change without discussing nuclear energy, and while I encourage renewable energy sources, let’s get real, none of them will ever run the Brussels metro system," said Wynn.

The declaration, signed by 25 MEPs calls for EU leaders to recognise nuclear’s contribution in reducing CO2 emissions, and calls on politicians and decision-makers to back investment in low carbon energy technologies including nuclear power.

And the MEPs want EU capitals to add their political weight to the argument that nuclear energy is essential if the EU is to meet its Kyoto protocol emissions reduction commitments.

The declaration also argues that nuclear energy’s role in combating climate change should not be singled out because of purely ideological or political beliefs.

"There is a perception that nuclear is unpopular…but this declaration can be a springboard for Europe’s politicians to lead from the front on nuclear energy," said Wynn.

The British MEP said that the current impasse on developing nuclear power across Europe was not a technical or environmental problem, but a political one.
Wynn also espoused the virtues of nuclear energy in an opinion piece:
I’m not naturally a pessimist but, quite frankly, a lot of what I hear on [climate change] fills me with doubt – unless I put it all together alongside the maintenance of today’s nuclear share of the EU energy mix - around 30 per cent.

... The same people who oppose nuclear power often promote energy saving, hydro-power, wind power, solar power, hydrogen and the rest. Well I support all those things too – don’t we all? But reality tells us that no new large hydro-power dams will be built because they cause other environmental damage. The same can be said for wind-power. Compare the new nuclear plant being built in Finland with a wind equivalent. The best performing wind turbines will achieve their maximum output for 30 per cent of their running time. So the 1600 MW nuclear unit being built in Finland would need at least a 5300 MW wind farm to replace it. The biggest wind turbines today can generate four MW – so who is ready for 1350 windmills next to where they live, where they take their holidays, or even next to where nobody lives? Again, wind can and must make a contribution but it does little to impact on the problem.

... As a one-time marine engineer with a background in power production and, despite being a representative of a coal mining region - when we had pits in Lancashire - I am a supporter of nuclear energy. The problem is that my support is based on technical and practical arguments – but it is political ones that will win or lose the day. But I support nuclear power primarily from an environmental point of view and have done so long before Kyoto. You see I want my grandchildren and their grandchildren to live in a world which is clean and fit to live in.
U.K. mag The Business reports that Prime Minister Tony Blair, who has called for a debate on nuclear energy, personally supports new plant construction:
The Prime Minister will sell the nuclear build programme to the public and the Labour Party as a job-creating solution to the problems posed by global warming and Britain’s growing dependence on imported energy supplies from unstable countries. The Prime Minister expects a year-long inquiry into Britain’s future energy requirements to conclude that more nuclear energy is the only practical way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Tribune reports that most U.K. scientists agree with Blair:
Britain's leading academic experts have given the Government a “scientific warranty” to go ahead with a new generation of nuclear power stations. The move will provide crucial underpinning of the expected decision to fill the looming energy gap with the nuclear option rather than renewable energy supplies. It is the first time Britain’s foremost scientists, including physicists, environmentalists, geologists, chemists and climatologists, have produced a collective view on the energy crisis. In early November they are expected to publish a call for the Government to adopt nuclear energy to avert energy shortages in the next decade.
Of course, there has been some talk from nuclear's opponents. Visit Tim Worstall's blog for responses to several of these articles.

And finally, energy is such a hot topic in the United Kingdom that new blogs devoted entirely to that subject are being created. Check out Anglesey Energy.

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In Many Communities, NIMBY is No More

Three more communities are lobbying for a new nuclear power plant. According to this article in the Charlotte Observer,

Three South Carolina counties want Duke Power to build a new nuclear plant and bring jobs and tax revenues.
These communities reflect the growing trend revealed by a recent survey that showed 76% of people living within 10 miles of an existing nuclear power plant are willing to have a new reactor built near them.

I believe that there is no more powerful a rebuttal to antinuclear extremists’ rhetoric than this; that people most knowledgeable of daily operations, and who presumably have been most at risk, stand up and support nuclear power.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Welcome Patrick Moore to the Blogosphere

His consulting firm, Greenspirit Strategies, has started its own blog. For now, they seem to simply be reprinting Moore's opinion pieces, but I'm sure we'll start seeing more original content soon enough.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Mums in Science.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

Bill Prebil has been named vice president of regional operations for Ameren Corp. Prebil worked for Central Illinois Light Co. before Ameren acquired it in 2003.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. (AECL) has appointed Brian McGee as vice president, nuclear laboratories at Chalk River. He will replace Paul Fehrenbach, who will become AECL vice president and special adviser. Both changes are effective Nov. 21.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission have named Gordon Hunegs and Leonard Cline senior resident inspectors at the James A. FitzPatrick nuclear power plant and Nine Mile Point, respectively. Hunegs has been with the NRC since 1986, while Cline joined the agency in 1999. Each U.S. commercial nuclear power plant has at least two NRC resident inspectors.

Edison International has named Barbara Mathews first chief governance officer and corporate secretary for Edison International and Southern California Edison. Mathews currently is vice president and associate general counsel for both companies. She joined Edison’s law department in 1996 as an assistant general counsel.

UPDATE:Southern California Edison also named John Field president, effective immediately. He succeeds Robert Foster, who will retire at the end of the year. Field previously was senior vice president of regulatory policy and affairs.

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Vietnam to Build New Nuclear Plant

The Vietnam Institute of Energy has submitted to the government a pre-feasability study on building a 2,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in its central region. The plant, which would be the first in the central region, is scheduled to become operational between 2017 and 2020.

Vietnam's energy demand is estimated at 230 billion kwh in 2020, of which 165 billion kwh will be met by domestic primary sources like fossil fuel, some 5 billion kwh by renewable sources, 20 billion kwh by imports, and 40 billion kwh by nuclear energy and thermoelectricity generated from plants using imported coal.

... "We're building a legal corridor for nuclear energy development. Besides, we'll hold more international seminars on the issue. A seminar on nuclear energy's safety and economic aspects will be held in the first quarter of next year," [an official] said, adding that Vietnam will organize more nuclear energy exhibitions in 2006 to gain stronger public acceptance of the energy.
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Nuclear Energy and California's GHG Bill

A little more than a month ago, NEI's President and CEO, Skip Bowman, addressed Town Hall LA on why "America Needs Nuclear Energy Now." Just recently, I came across a clipping from the Oct. 11 issue of Platts Electric Power Daily (subscription required) that ought to bring that notion home to California ratepayers:

Sempra Generation's proposed 1,450-MW coal-fired Granite Fox project in Northern Nevada will find a market regardless of California's global greenhouse gas policy that could limit electric sales into the state, according to a Sempra representative addressing a California Energy Commission public hearing on October 7.

(snip)

[A] "greenhouse adder" of an initial $8/ton of CO2 emissions for an electric generating unit now required of utilities in California would raise the price of energy sold by Granite Fox from $3 to $4/MWh, depending on the plant's duty cycle because the company would have to mitigate one-half of the plant's CO2 emissions.
Sounds like it might be time to build more non-emitting baseload generation.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Gandalf 23:

I've often said that we need more nuclear reactors in this country. Yes, I work in the oil industry, and yes, that would hurt the oil industry, but so what? We need cleaner power. We need power that is not dependent upon islamafacists and unstable dictatorships.
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Maryland Journalism Professor Faults ABC News and "Loose Nukes"

The bad reviews keep coming for "Loose Nukes" and ABC News. Here's what a journalism professor from the University of Maryland had to tell their campus paper, The Diamondback:

University journalism professor Chris Hanson viewed the report yesterday and discussed it with his graduate journalism ethics class.

He said he would not have trusted reporters with a graduate student’s level of experience to gather the footage by themselves, and that the network should ideally have sent a nuclear expert and news producer to the reactor sites with the students.

“I think they should have had the experts on security do more than just look at the tape,” Hanson said. “I’d like to feel more comfortable that the information was accurate ... You don’t know whether the footage shows what they say it shows. I think the problem is more of a general one — do we know the researchers know enough?”
Sounds a lot like the sort of points we've been making for more than a few weeks now.

POSTSCRIPT: Later in the article, the author, Maryland student Kate Campbell, had an interesting exchange with Jeffrey Schneider, Vice President of Public Relations at ABC:
Jacques Gansler, vice president for research at this university, said the report failed to highlight the multi-layered security system the school employs to protect the reactor, including several locked and alarmed doors, thick concrete and a surveillance camera monitored constantly by University Police.

When asked why the ABC report did not mention Maryland’s security measures, Schneider said, “It seems you’ve had a lot of time to talk to a lot of people who have a vested interest in this.”
I bet. Too bad ABC News didn't bother to give those people a real say in their report.

For other stories from The Diamondback, click here and here. Thanks to Joseph Talnagi from Ohio State for a pointer to the info.

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Phone Call From POGO

Just got a call from Beth Daly at the Project for Government Oversight, who explained that their post from last week about the ABC series on "Loose Nukes" was a misunderstanding. As soon as they update their blog with their side of the story, I'll be happy to share it with you.

UPDATE: Here's the updated post from POGO:

Apparently, the Nuclear Energy Institute misunderstood us when we said "POGO consulted on” the ABC News investigative series, “Loose Nukes.” “Consulted” did not mean POGO was hired by ABC or was paid any money. In fact, we wish we could get paid for our expertise as many people do by news media outlets. But, in order to maintain an independent stance and protect our credibility, POGO does not accept money from corporations such as ABC. We also wanted to clarify that we are not an anti-nuclear organization. We have never taken a position on the merits or the drawbacks of nuclear energy.

More later, if warranted.

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NRC Commissioner Lyons Addresses Organization of Agreement States

In an Oct. 4 speech, Commissioner Peter Lyons of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission outlined the key opportunities and challenges facing the NRC and its "Agreement State" partnership. An agreement state (there are 32) regulates most if not all sources of radiation in that state in accordance with the Atomic Energy Act.

Lyons spoke about the NRC and agreement states' mission:

Addressing risks through an integrated approach that recognizes the complementary nature of safety and security requirements will meet our collective goal to enhance the control of sources in today's environment. This approach can ensure adequate control of sources to prevent both adverse health impacts and, as an additional complementary benefit, prevent potential malevolent use of radioactive sources.
Lyons explained that the Energy Policy Act of 2005 "brings under the Commission's regulatory authority certain types of radioactive material ... that previously were not included under the Atomic Energy Act's definition of byproduct material or under the purview of NRC's regulatory program." This new jurisdiction ultimately will result in "a more coherent national framework for regulation of most radioactive materials," he said.

The commissioner also addressed the NRC's role in the proposed national radiation monitoring system for safety and security, which the Department of Homeland Security's Domestic Nuclear Detection Office (DNDO) is attempting to establish:
The DNDO's mission is to provide a single accountable organization with dedicated responsibilities to develop the global nuclear detection architecture. DNDO will acquire and support the deployment of the domestic detection system to detect and report attempts to import or transport a nuclear device or fissile or radiological material intended for illicit use. NRC currently has two staff on a detail assignment assisting the DNDO in this effort.
Lyons added that "state involvement will provide DNDO with valuable insight on how this national radiation monitoring system may be deployed." He went on to praise states' participation in the international radiation protection community.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Meme First:

Oyster Creek generates about 10% of New Jersey's total electrical output (while creating zero air or water pollution), and three other nuclear reactors generate another 40%. Environmentalists want to shut all four down, immediately. To the extent that such an electricity deficit could be made up, it would probably mostly come from coal-burning plants in Pennsylvania. Such plants are notoriously dirty.
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Congratulations to...

Our blogging colleague Kevin McCoy of Framatome. As it turns out, Kevin was a co-principal investigator on the Purdue study on advanced nuclear fuel that I referenced yesterday. Kevin's work concentrated on thermochemistry and rod performance.

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Tuesday, October 18, 2005

ABC News Gets Dirty With Carnegie and POGO

My respect for ABC News is dropping by the hour. After doing some extra searching, I discovered that the virulently anti-nuclear Project for Government Oversight or POGO, didn't just serve as a source for interviews on the "Loose Nukes" series, it was actually hired as a consultant. My source: POGO's own blog:

ABC News is scheduled to run an investigative series next week about nuclear security and safety at home and abroad. The series, which POGO consulted on, will in theory run on a variety of ABC News programs, such as 20/20, Nightline, Good Morning America, and World News Tonight. It promises to be a comprehensive report on the many problems caused by worldwide proliferation of weapons grade nuclear materials.
It's one thing to interview a biased source. But this is another thing entirely.

But it gets worse. What I discovered was that POGO is currently getting a 2-year $200,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York -- the same Carnegie Corporation that provided the ten Carnegie Fellows for the "Radioactive Roadtrip". For more, click here.

I don't really know what else to say, other than ABC News has some explaining to do. I do know one thing -- I don't think they'll be calling us to do any "consulting" anytime soon.

UPDATE: Welcome readers of Little Green Footballs, we're glad you're here..

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ABC News Hauls Down "Loose Nukes" Discussion Board


After taking a relentless pounding for their reporting in their "Loose Nukes on Main Street" series, ABC News has erased the discussion forum associated with it from abcnews.com. As of right now, a visit to the forum leads to a page that says: "This forum does not exist." It was just a week ago today that we reported that other readers in the forum were discovering that some of their posts were being erased.

Looks like "free speech for me, but not for thee," is the news of the day. More later, as this develops.

Thanks to Joseph Talnagi at Ohio State University for the heads up.

UPDATE: I can also confirm that all of the messages that I posted to the "Loose Nukes" forum have been erased. However, I have started another discussion string in John Stossel's forum asking ABC News why they erased "Loose Nukes." Feel free to join in.

ANOTHER UPDATE: I've also added another discussion string in the Primetime Live discussion board. Thanks to Ryan Meyer at the University of Missouri for the suggestion.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Posters on the message board connected with Primetime Live are now reporting that their messages are being erased:

Postings that have given all too effective a rebuttal of ABC's shoddy and irresponsible Loose Nukes stories are now being shoved down the Memory Hole. ABC's forum managers should be ashamed of themselves. Do you want to become the next CBS?
And here's another challenge from an angry forum participant:
I don't think they were expecting the research reactor community to challenge them so strongly. ABC probably isn't used to being challenged on their own turf, so they took their ball and went home. They were big and brave when they had the stage to themselves on the one hour prime time format, but when they started taking some flak, they pulled the plug.

My guess is that they'll come up with some weak, lame excuse, like "our interns felt threatened by some of those responses". Well, if so, all I can say is, if you're gonna dish it out, you'd better have the guts to stand up and take your lumps. A valuable life lesson for the kids to learn.
Indeed, all too valauble.

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Purdue Engineers Develop Advanced Nuclear Fuel

While some have tried to create news at Purdue University, some nuclear engineers have been spending time making some real news in the area of nuclear fuel:

Purdue University nuclear engineers have developed an advanced nuclear fuel that could save millions of dollars annually by lasting longer and burning more efficiently than conventional fuels, and researchers also have created a mathematical model to further develop the technology.

New findings regarding the research will be detailed in a peer-reviewed paper to be presented on Oct. 6 during the 11th International Topical Meeting on Nuclear Reactor Thermal Hydraulics in Avignon, France. The paper was written by Shripad Revankar, an associate professor of nuclear engineering; graduate student Ryan Latta; and Alvin A. Solomon, a professor of nuclear engineering.

The research is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and focuses on developing nuclear fuels that are better at conducting heat than conventional fuels. Current nuclear fuel is made of a material called uranium dioxide with a small percentage of a uranium isotope, called uranium-235, which is essential to induce the nuclear fission reactions inside current reactors.
Click here for an abstract, or here to request the full length paper.

Thanks to Futurepundit for the pointer.

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