Monday, February 13, 2006

Meserve: Barriers to New Nuclear Build Can Be "Overcome"

In a speech this weekend at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, former NRC Chairman Richard Meserve sounded bullish on the future of nuclear energy:

If all goes well, a leading national authority on nuclear energy said a renaissance in nuclear energy production is within reach.

Richard Meserve, president of the Carnegie Institute and former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, said he supported the effort but was mindful of potential challenges ahead. He spoke at a Director's Colloquium in the Physics Auditorium at Los Alamos National Laboratory on Thursday.

"The barriers are being and can be overcome," he said.


Meserve discussed the delays in building the high-level nuclear waste depository at Yucca Mountain, but considers the problem of storing the spent fuel from nuclear power plants to be solvable, aided by the next generation fast reactors and reprocessing options that will lower proliferation risks.

"We ought to proceed anyway," Meserve said, adding it is another one of those technical issues that is not beyond the human capacity to solve.

"We don't have a crisis. We don't need an answer tomorrow," he said.
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Paul said...

Full steam ahead into the fog, eh, Chairman?

Paul, NIRS

Paul Primavera said...

Paul Gunter,

It's full steam ahead into a future that provides low cost, pollution-free energy to everyone.

It's full steam ahead into preventing over 30000 lung disease deaths per year in the US from coal plant pollution.

It's full steam ahead into preventing 2 million deaths per year world-wide from biomass burning.

It's full steam ahead into replacing oil with nuclear generated hydrogen, thereby preventing wars of adventurism in Mid-East lands rich in oil.

It's full steam ahead into eventually developing and launching nuclear-engine spacecraft like the VCR/MHD VASIMR NEP System to explore the outer reaches of the solar system.

It's full steam ahead into the advancement and prosperity of all humankind.

Paul said...


contrary to Commissioner Merserves comment i do think its a crisis if you cant hold your own... take for example this bit of news.
Paul, NIRS

Fri Feb 17, 2006 10:12 PM ET

By Bernie Woodall

LOS ANGELES, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Exelon Corp.'s plans to respond to a 1998 leak of radioactive water at its Braidwood nuclear power plant and other smaller leaks at other plants appear on track with Illinois Environmental Protection Agency staff, a spokeswoman for the Illinois EPA said after a meeting with the company on Friday.

on Friday, before the meeting, Illinois EPA Director Doug Scott chided Exelon for not telling the state EPA about the 1998 leak of at least 6.25 million gallons of radioactive water at the Braidwood plant until three months ago, and only then after citizens told the EPA about it.

Scott also said in a statement that federal and state officials need to tighten reporting requirements when a nuclear power operator makes a spill or leak of radioactive material.

Currently, companies need to tell the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Agency about a spill but are not required to notify all state environmental agencies such as the Illinois EPA, which is the guardian of Illinois' groundwater.

"We are disappointed to learn about the old incidents only recently," Scott said in the statement issued on Friday, before the meeting with Exelon staff.

"It has become apparent to me that the reporting mechanism in place is not adequate to protect the groundwater or the people that rely on it as a source of drinking water," Scott said. "I also intend to pursue avenues to correct this gap" and discuss the matter with Illinois' U.S. senators. Dick Durbin and Barack Obama, both Democrats.

Exelon, with 10 U.S. plants and 17 reactors, has the largest number of nuclear power plants in the country.

After Friday's meeting, Illinois EPA spokeswoman Maggie Carson said the session was "very successful" and that Exelon presented technical remedies to the leaks at Braidwood and other, smaller leaks at other Illinois plants, including one at the Dresden nuclear power station in Morris, Illinois.

Both the Braidwood and Dresden nuclear plants are about 60 miles from Chicago.

The state EPA issued in December a violation order that Exelon officially responded to on Friday.

The Chicago-based Exelon faces a fine from the Illinois attorney general's office, according to the state EPA statement.

Exelon this week said it had created a reserve to remedy the problem of leaks at its nuclear plants that will result in an after-tax decrease of $4 million from previously reported 2005 income.

Exelon spokesman Craig Nesbitt said the company was not required to report the 1998 incident and at the time did not believe it was a serious event because the leak occurred above ground on plant property.

But since then, the water contaminated with tritium has seeped into groundwater off plant property.

"There's no question we didn't handle it the right way," Nesbitt, who did not attend Friday's meeting, said. "The object now is to find the correct remediation process."

There appears to be no immediate threat to drinking water, said the EPA's Carson, but she added that the EPA wants to ensure the safety of groundwater and is seeking to stiffen reporting requirements.

Exelon on Thursday also said it would inspect pipes and other systems at its 10 nuclear power plants to cut down or eliminate future leaks.

Tritium is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen with a half-life of 12.5 years found naturally in small concentrations in most surface water. A nuclear reactor, however, produces higher concentrations of tritium in water.