Monday, July 31, 2006

Revisiting Seabrook

Over at the Concord Monitor, reporter Lisa Arsenault is looking back at the fight over the construction of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, in the wake of the revival of the fortunes of the nuclear industry. Click here for a sidebar.

Thanks to NH Insider for the pointer.

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Visiting The Grassroots

Folks seem to be talking about nuclear energy everywhere -- including a debate with candidates for the 75th District in the Michigan House of Representatives.

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Patrick Moore at 2006 NEA

We've referred to Dr. Patrick Moore, the co-founder of Greenpeace and co-chair of the CASEnergy Coalition, many times here at NEI Nuclear Notes. Back in May, Moore gave a speech at our industry's annual meeting, the 2006 Nuclear Energy Assembly:



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Sound Science, Not Hysteria

Since the start of this blog, I've talked about the need for the debate over nuclear energy to focus on sound science and not hysteria. What happens when hysteria takes hold? Visit Saving the Planet One Bag at a Time to find out.

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The Governor Dodges an Energy Bullet

Bill Bradley looks at how Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger avoided getting tripped up by the same issue that toppled his predecessor: The reliability of the California electrical grid.

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Ignoring The Facts on Indian Point

A few days ago, I mentioned that many of the folks who had been more vocal about closing the nuclear reactors at Indian Point Energy Center had disappeared from the public square in the wake of the power outage gripping parts of New York City.

It looks like I spoke too soon. From the New York Sun:

And the winner of this week's gubernatorial debate between Democrats Eliot Spitzer and Thomas Suozzi was … Republican John Faso. Both Messrs. Spitzer and Suozzi said they'd close the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County, this after a week of 95 degree heat that left tens of thousands of Queens residents without power. The nuclear plant provides 2,000 megawatts of electricity, or about 11% of the state's supply, without supporting Middle East oil potentates or creating the pollution generated by burning coal.

After watching the debate, we rang Mr. Faso and asked him about Indian Point. "It's amazing that they would have answered the question that way," he said of the Democrats. "We need more generating capacity, not less." Mr. Faso noted that closing Indian Point would mean that businesses would close for lack of electricity. "Air conditioning wouldn't work," Mr. Faso said.
Thanks to Urban Elephants and News Copy New York for the pointer.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Yucca Mountain Hearing Alert

From Senate Energy and Natural Resources. Now we've got a witness list:

The full committee hearing on spent fuel will be held Thursday, August 3, at 10 a.m. in SD 628.

The purpose of this legislative hearing is to receive testimony on S. 2589, to enhance the management and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, to ensure protection of public health and safety, to ensure the territorial integrity and security of the repository at Yucca Mountain, and for other purposes.

WITNESS LIST

Senator Harry Reid
Senator John Ensign

Panel 1

The Honorable Edward Sproat, III
Director
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management
U.S. Department of Energy

The Honorable David Wright
Commissioner, South Carolina Public Service Commission
Testifying on behalf of the National Association of Regulatory and Utility Commissioners
Washington, DC

Geoff Fettus
Esquire
Natural Resources Defense Council
Washington, DC

Robert Loux
Executive Director
Agency for Nuclear Projects
Office of the Governor
State of Nevada
Carson City, NV

TBA
Southern Company
Atlanta, GA
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New Plant Integrated Scheduling

Over the past couple of months I’ve been working on an integrated schedule of all the activities related to new plants between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the nuclear industry. To map and analyze all the activities and resources in planning these tasks, we have been using a software tool called Primavera:

With Primavera, you will:

• Select the right strategic mix of projects.

• Assure project, IT and corporate governance.

• Enhance processes and methods.

• Improve project team collaboration.

• Measure progress toward objectives.

• Complete more projects successfully and with the intended payback.

For those who have never heard of Primavera, it is a tool 100 times better and more sophisticated than the standard planning tool Microsoft Project. Many utilities use this tool to help them plan for construction projects, maintenance and refueling outages, and company plans and objectives to name a few.

There are basically three topics put into our schedule to help us plan and resource appropriately the activities we will be working on with the NRC: updating the Standard Review Plan, updating and drafting associated Regulatory Guides and working on proposed Rulemakings.

The Standard Review Plan (pdf) is:
…prepared for the guidance of staff reviewers in the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation in performing safety reviews of applications to construct or operate nuclear power plants and the review of applications to approve standard designs and sites for nuclear power plants. The principal purpose of the SRP is to assure the quality and uniformity of staff safety reviews. It is also the intent of this plan to make information about regulatory matters widely available and to improve communication between the NRC, interested members of the public, and the nuclear power industry, thereby increasing understanding of the review process.
The NRC Regulatory Guides:
…describe methods acceptable to the NRC staff of implementing specific parts of the NRC's regulations and also, in some cases, describe techniques used by the staff in evaluating specific problems or postulated accidents. Guides also may advise applicants of information the NRC staff needs in reviewing applications for permits and licenses.
NRC's regulations:
…sometimes called rules, impose requirements that licensees must meet to obtain or retain a license or certificate to use nuclear materials or operate a nuclear facility. These regulations govern the transportation of materials; the use of materials at such nuclear facilities as power plants, research reactors, uranium mills, fuel facilities, and waste repositories; and the use of materials for medical, industrial, and academic purposes. The process of developing regulations is called rulemaking.
Our goals (NRC and the industry) are to update all the SRPs and Regulatory Guides associated with the SRPs by March 2007. We want to have these documents finished six months prior to the first set of submissions of Combined License Applications (COLA) expected to come in by fall 2007.

The reason we want these done a half year in advance is for the companies writing the applications. The companies need to make sure they can answer all the questions asked from the SRP and will write their applications based on guidance from the Regulatory Guides.

We are planning to submit quality COLAs and to do so we need to know what the NRC is thinking and how they will review them. Thus the purpose of SRPs and Regulatory Guides.

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A public meeting means you

Sorry for the delayed post, but I've been on the road.

This week, Michael Stuart and I traveled to the Golden State at the invitation of the Diablo Canyon chapter of North American Young Generation in Nuclear. Diablo Canyon is located just west of San Luis Obispo, which has experienced a record breaking heat wave in the past few days, causing blackouts throughout the region. Sometimes wind and solar just aren't enough.
The purpose of our visit was to conduct a workshop on how a small group of people can make a big difference in public outreach and education, and specifically how to address these issues in a public forum. (If you're wondering why we should receive such an invitation, check out some of our history of successful public outreach in places like Illinois and Mississippi.)

We were offered no payment (except travel expenses and a few meals) for designing and conducting the workshop, but we were rewarded with the opportunity to meet the sharp, fun professionals who make up their chapter, a guided tour of one of the nation's most beautiful nuclear sites, and a brief opportunity for some sightseeing! What more could a nuclear nerd ask for? As a bonus, we were able to select a date for our workshop, which allowed us to attend a semi-annual public meeting hosted by the NRC in San Luis Obispo. We are members of the public, after all.

The topic of the public meeting was Diablo Canyon's performance over the last year, as determined by the results of the aggregate inspections the NRC has performed during the year. Since the NRC determined that PG&E has generally performed well in their operation of the Diablo Canyon Power Station, one might expect the anticipated good report to make for a dull evening.

But that isn't what I was expecting, because this is California, which can be a little different. The grapevine had it that 'dull public meetings' for Diablo Canyon sometimes rank right up with the contentious public meetings for Indian Point or Vermont Yankee - no picnic for anybody in attendance. As a result of this and in response to feedback from the public, The NRC now has public meetings more often, in the evening, and with a local public access cable TV station recording the event for later broadcast.

Mothers for Peace had quite a few members in attendance, taking the opportunity to make comments. They regularly attend these NRC meetings in numbers, and, as you would expect, they are organized and well prepared. Also in attendance of course were a panel of NRC personnel, senior staff from Diablo Canyon, numerous members of the public - many of whom were affiliated with the power station, a retired chemist who pointedly stated he had no ties to nuclear power production, Michael Stuart, and myself.

I was impressed - no mean feat! What impressed me so much is that, in spite of a current of strong emotion in the room, individuals on all sides maintained a focus on decorum and civility, with only minor exceptions. At first the room was so calm and contained in their approach that we thought maybe there was no benefit for either Mike or I to speak. Frankly, such a positive outcome for the local residents would have been a disappointment to us. But whenever away from home, we remain cognizant that these meetings are primarily for the benefit of the community members to dialogue with the NRC and with each other. It's never respectful for us to travel outside our area and then monopolize some other community's agenda. We don't like it when that is done to our community, and we try hard not to do so to others. Therefore, we waited until most everyone had been given a chance to comment before raising our hands.

Highlighting the success of our workshop, several of the commentators included people who had participated in it earlier that day. And, even though these comments were brief, they were positive and represented support from Californians, who, according to this poll, mostly favor nuclear energy.

In his comments, Michael reminded those in attendance and the TV land viewers that 'waste' is one of the best things going for nuclear. Not only does nuclear generate less of it, but it can be safely isolated from the environment, unlike the wastes emitted by fossil fuels. The best news of all is that used nuclear fuel can be recycled - reducing the waste by as much as 95%. In a place like California, known for its recycling and conservation efforts, this should be welcome news, indeed. Michael's comments elicited several interruptions from the antis, but he stuck to his message.

I chose to speak to respond to those who felt that, if people are unhappy with current policies and risks, then they must be a bad thing. Leadership is about making the hard choices and doing what's best for a community or constituency - not about simply doing what is most popular. I commended the NRC on what has clearly been a concerted (and successful) effort to design meetings that support maximum local involvement within a mutually respectful vein. And I commended PG&E for their responsible operation of the Diablo Canyon station, as evidenced by the NRC report. What happens at one station affects all of them, and their surrounding communities.

Through NRC request, the meetings are filmed by SLO-SPAN network. When the video is confirmed available online, I hope to update the link.

So, what is a public meeting good for? Meeting your neighbors, really listening to their concerns, and finding ways and forums to respect each other's differences. When is the next NRC public meeting in your area? Who do you think you can learn from there?

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NEI Nuclear Performance Report (June 2006)

Here's a summary of U.S. nuclear plant performances last month:

For June 2006, NEI estimates the average net capacity factor reached 95.5 percent. This figure is 3.9 percentage points higher than the same one month period in 2005. NEI estimates monthly nuclear generation at 68.5 billion kilowatt-hours for June 2006 compared to 66.4 BkWh for the same one month period in 2005.

For 2006, NEI estimates year to date nuclear generation at 387.5 billion kilowatt- hours compared to 377.5 BkWh in 2005 (2.6 percent increase).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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Nuclear Reactor Operator Makes Top 10 Blue Collar Jobs List at Forbes.com

Forbes.com has put together an online slideshow on the Top 10 Best Paying Blue Collar Jobs, and nuclear power plant operator finished at No. 4. Electric power installers and repairers finished at No. 7. If you're interested in pursuing a career in the nuclear power industry, check out the Careers and Education section at NEI.org.

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President Bush: We must expand our nuclear power industry."

President Bush addressed a meeting of the National Association of Manufacturers here in Washington yesterday, and he continued to beat the drum for more nuclear energy:

Here's some ideas. One, we must -- we must expand our nuclear power industry if we want to be competitive in the 21st century. (Applause.) We have got to be wise -- we have got to push hard to build new plants. And the energy bill I signed last year is -- it's a good step forward. This government is going to spend a lot of money on fast breeder reactor technology. We're going to join with other countries to work on fast breeder reactor technology so that we can burn reprocessed fuel which will reduce the waste on civilian nuclear energy. In other words, there's technological gains to be made that will enable us to even advance nuclear power even faster.

And by the way, it's not only in our interest to develop nuclear power, it's in the interest of our country that India and China develop nuclear power. In the global energy market, when demand for hydrocarbons goes up in energy in China, it affects your gasoline prices. And therefore, the more we can help these countries develop technology, the more we can help them develop a civilian nuclear industry that is safe, the better off it is for American consumers.
Thanks to our friend at NAM, Pat Cleary for the heads up.

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Automotive X Prize

The folks who held a competition for the first non-governmental human space flight ever are up to their old tricks again. This time they're offering a cash prize for automobile design:

Goals of the Prize
Our goal is to stimulate automotive technology, manufacturing and marketing breakthroughs that:

* Radically reduce oil consumption and harmful emissions
* Result in a new generation of super-efficient and desirable mainstream vehicles that people want to buy

How it will work
The rules are being shaped by our philosophy that the Automotive X PRIZE must:


* Achieve our main goals (above)
* Be simple to understand and easy to communicate
* Benefit the world - this is a global challenge
* Result in real cars available for purchase, not concept cars
* Remain independent, fair, non-partisan, and technology-neutral
* Provide clear technical boundaries (i.e., for fuel-efficiency, emissions, safety, manufacturability, performance, capacity, etc.)
* Offer a "level playing field" that attracts both existing automobile manufacturers and newcomers
* Attract a balanced array of private investment, donors, sponsors, and partners to help competitors succeed (e.g., manufacturing assistance, testing resources, etc.)
* Make heroes out of the competitors and winner(s) through unprecedented exposure, media coverage and a significant cash award
* Educate the public on key issues
And like all good online communicators, they've got a Blog too. Be sure to stop by and say hello.

Thanks to Instapundit for the pointers.

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The Electricity Picture in New England

It isn't pretty. From The Worcester Telegram:

More than 60 percent of the region'’s electric power plants are powered by natural gas and oil, costly commodities that show no signs of abating in price, he said. Less costly power sources, such as nuclear, wind or liquefied natural gas, have encountered various levels of opposition across the region, decisions that have an impact on what a customer pays to keep the lights on, Mr. van Welie said.

"The fuel issue is dictated by politics,"” he said. "What we'’re trying to do is make the problem visible and tell everyone here is what the current system is costing us. Going forward, we need to get the New England governors to come together and make some of the tough political decisions that have to be made. There'’s no such thing as a risk-free decision, and we can'’t keep saying '‘no' forever."”
How much sense does this make: Public opposition is strongest against the three fuel sources that could support lowered carbon emissions. Add nuclear into the mix, and you get some price stability too. And this in a region that professes a desire to control GHG emissions?

All I know is that as long as they continue to say "no", I can guess exactly what they're in for. Let's not say they weren't warned.

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Kazakhstan Nuclear Update

New Eurasia takes a look at the latest news.

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Global Warming Among Top Environmental Concerns for Californians

From the AP:

Californians rank global warming among their top three environmental concerns, saying it is more of a problem than water pollution and pollution in general, according to a poll released Wednesday.

The annual survey by the nonprofit Public Policy Institute of California found that adults are increasingly listing global warming as the most important environmental issue, believe global warming has already begun and say the state needs to take immediate action to deal with it.

While air pollution and energy issues remain the top two environmental concerns, voters are giving global warming more attention. And that sentiment was realized before the current heat wave that is stifling much of the state.
Of course, there is a compromise: Build new nuclear capacity to keep the lights on and reduce carbon emissions.

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Vote for Nuclear!

Are you concerned about nuclear issues and the Fall elections? If so, please take a look at Vote for Nuclear, our one-stop shop for energy policy issues, and how you can let your congressman or senator know what you think.


The upcoming election promises to be a contentious one, and energy security will be one of the most prominent issues in the mix. Get involved and make a difference.

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Counting the Cost in the California Heat Wave

As the California heat wave continues, the state is beginning to count the cost in human lives:

Across the state, the death toll continued to climb, with more than 60 Californians believed to have died from the record heat wave. One of the hardest-hit counties was Fresno, where hospitals were filled to capacity and the morgue ran out of room.

"On a usual day, our doctors will probably autopsy three to four people at the most," said county Coroner Loralee Cervantes. "By noon today, we've already done three autopsies. We're working all hands on deck right now. This morning I was truly nervous about the capacity of our facility and our ability to keep up."

In some areas of the morgue, bodies were being doubled up on gurneys because of lack of space, she said. The morgue was holding 43 bodies Wednesday, 20 of which were suspected of being heat-related deaths.

They included Araxie Long, 82, and her son, Carl Long Jr., 53, found dead inside their two-bedroom Fresno home Tuesday morning by a relative who went to check on them. Neighbors said that, probably to prevent high electricity bills, the pair did not like to use their air conditioner, though it worked.
The next time anti-nuclear activists in California talk about closing San Onofre and Diablo Canyon, think about what life in the state would be like without those reactors. I think it's safe to say that reserve margins would be lower, electricity would be more expensive, and air quality would be that much worse.

While plenty of activists like to portray Americans wasting energy in order to live lives of convenience, the reality is that availability of affordable and reliable electricity is not a matter of mere convenience, it's a matter of life and death.

One last thought: According to a study released by the International Atomic Energy Agency in September 2005, less than 50 deaths were directly attributable to the Chernobyl disaster.

UPDATE: More sad news.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The Dynamics of International Oil

A primer by Robert Samuelson.

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Another Aussie Cracks the Anti-Nuke Code

After listening to a television interview with a member of the local chapter of the "no solutions" brigade, one Australian blogger needed to vent:

I was just watching the local news, and I was annoyed by the leader of the Greens party here saying that his policy is No to everything nuclear. Such an idiot.

The problem with some environmentalists is that they support policies that actually damage the environment.

If you had the choice between pollution in the air you breathe, versus pollution in barrels in a storage facility, which would you choose? Obviously pollution in barrels is better than in the air.
Apparently, the choice isn't so obvious to everybody. And here's another Aussie who, while undecided on the future of nuclear energy, sees plenty of contradicitons inherent in the positions of local anti-nukes.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet The Realist Party:

That's right, the headlines about record temperatures are everywhere and our desire for 68 degree interior temperatures just won't be satisfied with ever growing populations, rising prices of oil, and antiquated energy provisions. We're well on into the time when we should be determining how to supply our needs domestically and pollution-free nuclear is the key.
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Back to the Basics on Nuclear Energy

For those of you with friends and family in need of a good primer on nuclear energy, you could do worse than the summary provided by the folks at How Stuff Works.

Thanks to Growing Up All Over Again for the pointer.

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NEI Energy Markets Report (July 17th - 21st)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices increased again last week due primarily to record hot temperatures (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices at the Henry Hub rose $0.49 to $6.09/MMBtu despite record temperatures (see page 4).

Nuclear capacity availability was at 99 percent last week. Fermi 2 finished a maintenance outage and was the only plant offline during the week (see pages 2 & 3).

Crude oil prices were $75.21 / barrel (see page 5) and uranium prices rose to $47.25 / lb U3O8 (see page 7).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

BCG Releases Report on Recycling U.S. Used Nuclear Fuel

From The Boston Consulting Group:

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) today announced that its study, Economic Assessment of Used Nuclear Fuel Management in the United States, concludes that nuclear fuel recycling, as part of a portfolio strategy in which a large scale integrated recycling plant complements a repository (such as the planned Yucca Mountain repository) could be attractive for solving the long-term used nuclear fuel management requirement of the U.S. nuclear power market. Conducted for Bethesda , Maryland based AREVA, Inc., BCG performed the first extensive study of proprietary operational and financial data from decades of AREVAÂ’s nuclear recycling experience at La Hague and Melox facilities in France .

The study shows that the economics of recycling and disposal of high level waste in Yucca Mountain are comparable to the economics of the targeted once-through U.S. fuel cycle, especially considering uncertainties that surround the nuclear fuel cycle, such as capital investment costs and uranium prices.

"”This study shows that current generation recycling technologies for used nuclear fuel are in an economic range that can be competitive,"” said Dennis Spurgeon, assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy. "“This economic benchmark is useful as we work on advanced recycling technologies that make better use of our energy resources and reduce the space and time needed to store nuclear waste."”
For a summary, click here (PDF). Click here (PDF) for the full report.

U.S. Senator Pete Domenici had some comments:
"“This report uses real economic figures to validate the position that it is time for the United States to embrace recycling of commercial spent fuel to maximize our energy use and minimize the amount of nuclear waste that must be stored,"” Domenici said.

"A single-minded focus on burying waste is not in our best interest, or that the world. Recycling spent fuel to power new nuclear power plants here makes sense. A new focus on recycling would be beneficial to the rebirth of U.S. nuclear power and to the international goals we'’ve set with the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership,"” he said.
Domenici's statement also added that the Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee will hold a hearing in September on the report, as well GNEP and related initiatives.

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Yucca Mountain Hearing Alert

Just in from Senate Energy and Natural Resources via e-mail:

A hearing has been scheduled before the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for Thursday, August 3, 2006 at 10:00 AM in room SD-628 of the Dirksen Building.

The purpose of this hearing is to receive testimony on S. 2589, to enhance the management and disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, to ensure protection of public health and safety, to ensure the territorial integrity and security of the repository at Yucca Mountain, and for other purposes.
Click here for the legislation in question.

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MIT's McFarlane on Yucca Mountain

From Sunday's San Francisco Chronicle:

At this point "there's probably an even chance either way that (Yucca Mountain) opens or doesn't open," said geologist and MIT Professor Alison McFarlane, co-editor of "Uncertainty Underground," a 431-page anthology of scientific reports on Yucca Mountain published by MIT Press in May.

"It has suffered some severe blows in the past couple of years. There are a number of people in the (scientific) community who are talking about whether we need a 'Plan B,' " she said.

McFarlane believes that some kind of underground repository in the United States is "absolutely necessary." But she thinks it might be wiser to build the repository elsewhere, perhaps in a state closer to the East Coast, where there are far more nuclear power plants and, therefore, less need to transport nuclear fuel to Nevada.
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Words of Caution on Amory Lovins

Today's Washington Post contains a profile of Amory Lovins of the Rocky Mountain Institute, and I suggest you read it all. There's a lot to like about his work to get America to kick the oil habit, and his ideas to improve energy efficiency are very compelling.

However, when he makes claims about nuclear energy, I suggest that the world check his math very closely:

Unlike some environmentalists, Lovins remains adamantly opposed to nuclear power, which he says doesn't make economic or nonproliferation sense. New U.S. subsidies in last year's Energy Policy Act, he notes, "are equal to the entire capital cost of the next six reactors . . . but is similar to defibrillating a corpse: it will jump but not revive."
Not so fast, Amory. Beginning last year Summer, my colleague David Bradish began taking a hard look at RMI's research and found a lot of it wanting when it came to its methodology. A couple of months later, Lovins sent us an email asking David to correct the record. But when David went back to check again, he found even more reasons to distrust RMI's conclusions.

To say the least, it's been a frustrating process to see media outlets from around the world accepting RMI's positions uncritically. Nevertheless, we've continued to chronicle RMI's errors whenever we see them mentioned in the press. You can look through the list of links below to see what I'm talking about:

Rod Adams vs. Amory Lovins
More Bad Data From Amory Lovins
Revisiting RMI's Bad Data
Revisiting RMI And Amory Lovins
Doublechecking The Numbers
Checking The Data With Peter Ausmus
Drinking Amory's Kool-Aid
Amory Lovins, Subsidies and Environmental Action

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Silicon Valley Business Owners Call For New Nuclear Build

With temperatures in Northern California cresting over 100 degrees, and the world's leading social networking service knocked offline for 24 hours because of power outages in Southern California, a group of Silicon Valley business owners are calling for California to get over its phobia of nuclear energy (subscription required):

Silicon Valley Leadership Group is calling on California to re-examine its fear of nuclear power plants.

The powerful business advocacy group will use its annual July 21 energy summit to call for reopening the discussion of constructing new nuclear power plants in the state, says SVLG energy director Justin Bradley.

"We think it's past time to begin the discussion," Mr. Bradley says. "It's cheap, it's clean and it works."
For video of Skip Bowman's speech from last September where he asked the state to reconsider its position on new nuclear build, click here. For an op-ed I wrote for the San Jose Mercury-News in May on how nuclear energy is already helping protect California's environment, click here.

As always, for the latest from the California ISO, click here.

UPDATE: Now it's a grid emergency in California.

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NRC Completes Review of Clinton ESP Application

Yesterday from NRC:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued its final environmental impact statement (EIS) on the proposed Early Site Permit (ESP) for the Clinton site, about six miles east of Clinton, Ill. The report contains the NRCÂ’s finding that there are no environmental impacts that would prevent issuing the ESP. Combined with the recent issuance of a final Safety Evaluation Report on the application, this marks the end of the staffÂ’s technical review on the Clinton ESP, although additional steps must be completed before the NRC reaches a final decision on the matter.
To review the Clinton EIS online, click here. Please note that this is the second EIS that the NRC has issued on an ESP, with the first coming in April when the Commission issued its decision on Entergy's application at Grand Gulf. In turn, the NRC will be holding a hearing on the EIS for Dominion's ESP application at North Anna in mid-August.

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Australian City Ponders Recycling Sewage For "Fresh" Water

From the AFP:

Residents of a drought-stricken Australian town will vote this week on whether they're prepared to drink water recycled from sewage -- the first such scheme in the country and one of only a handful in the world.

The controversial proposal has divided the town of Toowoomba in the state of Queensland, which has faced water restrictions for a decade.

Local Mayor Dianne Thorley, who is leading the "Yes" campaign, said that without drought-breaking rains the town's dams could dry up within two years.

She insisted the 73 million dollar (US 55 million dollar) plan to pump purified wastewater back into the main reservoir for drinking was safe.

"Somewhere, sometime we have got to stand up and change the way we are doing things," she told AFP as the town prepared for the July 29 referendum.
Given the city's location near a sea coast, one might think there would be other options. Then again, others might not relent in their mindless opposition. For more details, click here. For a more local view, click here and here.

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William Tucker Visits Greenpeace...

And lives to tell the tale.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Time For Nuclear Energy in Hawaii

Hawaii-based Dan Seto says it's time for the Aloha State to take a look at a nuclear reactor.

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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Jim Mathies.

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Aussie Opposition Leader Flips on Uranium Mining

From The Australian:

KIM Beazley has withdrawn his support for Labor's long-standing ban on new uranium mines in Australia, staking his leadership on a policy of more mining and exports.

As part of his efforts to appear decisive, the Labor leader has set out an alternative to John Howard's plans for Australia to become "an energy superpower".

The Opposition Leader said last night his change of position was aimed at lifting prosperity but he remained totally opposed to nuclear power in Australia because it was "not in our national interest".

In the Sydney Institute speech, Mr Beazley also said he did not believe uranium enrichment would happen in Australia for years -- and not if he became prime minister.
For a look at Howard's opening salvo on this issue from last week, click here.

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Another Rough Day for the California Electrical Grid

From Reuters:

If Californians do not conserve considerably on Monday, rotating outages are possible with demand forecast to reach record levels again due to the heat wave, the California Independent System Operator said in a release.

On Friday, the peak demand reached a new record of 49,036 megawatts, up almost 8 percent over last year's record and almost 2,500 MW over the current record of 46,561 MW set earlier last week on July 18.

Meteorologists forecast the mercury on Monday would reach 84 degrees Fahrenheit in San Diego, 85 F in San Francisco, 86 in Los Angeles, 97 in San Jose, 107 in Fresno and 110 in Sacramento.
As always, check in with the California ISO for the latest.

UPDATE: We Support Lee is taking a closer look at the situation.

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Sorting Out Subsidies

Tim Worstall gives a lesson to the Mayor of London.

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Educating the Educators

Saturday marked the end of the 2006 Science Teachers’ Workshop, so a report is in order. The Virginia Section of the American Nuclear Society, the Virginia Chapter of the Health Physics Society, and North American Young Generation in Nuclear sponsored this three-day workshop, which was held at Virginia Commonwealth University. Here are my personal reactions.

It was fun! We had about 45 interested, open-minded individuals, and they were appreciative of the effort we had made. I’m hopeful that the workshop will be helpful for their lesson preparations.

It was educational! Naturally, it was educational for the students (the science teachers) but it was also educational for the instructors (the nuclear professionals who presented the workshop). It is often said that the best way to learn a subject is to teach it, and I found that to be true. Preparing a lecture on radioactive waste management required me to brush up on my facts and figures, try to put historical events in perspective, and think about what is of interest to the general public. It also provided an excuse for me to do some simple calculations that I had never done because they were not necessary for my work.

For example, I found that about 22 grams of matter are converted to energy during irradiation of a typical modern PWR fuel assembly, and that about 87% of the fission products decay to stability within one year after that fuel assembly is discharged from the reactor. From my visit to the North Anna Nuclear Information Center, I learned that Dominion’s largest customer is not the Pentagon or the Newport News shipyard, but America Online. It makes you think that conservation-minded Al Gore might need to apologize for inventing the Internet.

It was a lot of work! I did not help with the detailed planning, so it was impressive to see the lectures, breaks, meals, and tours proceed smoothly. The number of details that were considered was staggering.

I would like to express my thanks to the various sponsorsof the event, which ranged from big corporations to small businesses and individuals. Many volunteers also contributed to the workshop at levels of participation from trivial to heroic. My contribution was hardly heroic, but it included preparing a lecture and attending the entire workshop to help out with odd jobs. I hope we will hear some reports from the heroes.

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Friday, July 21, 2006

Wrapping It Up at Potential Energy

I love posts like this one from Gia Milinovich at Potential Energy:

When I started Potential Energy in May my secret hope was that I'd be able to find some kind of anti-nuclear info that stood up to scrutiny. I was hoping that I'’d uncover something that backed up all of those bad things I've heard about nuclear power my whole life.

I failed.
I don't know about anybody else, but I live for moments like this one. Here's her conclusion:
I would imagine a lot of previously anti-nuclear people would find it difficult to look at nuclear power without their pre-conceived ideas getting in the way. It wasn't very easy for me, but I forced myself to look at all of the issues in a way I never had before.

I started out leaning towards anti-nuclear and have become a supporter.
In the end, that's all our industry is really asking of folks -- just give us a chance to talk about our real record. Let us separate the science from the hysteria, and find some common ground where we can generate the electricity we need in a way that's affordable and environmentally sensitive.

Is nuclear the only answer? No, not by a longshot. But it ought to be a part of any answer that we come up with when it comes to confronting the challenges of energy policy.

One last note: I want to thank Gia, Kat and Caspar from Potential Energy for allowing us to participate in the debate. They promised to keep an open mind about nuclear energy, and they stuck with that promise. And thanks to all the readers from NEI Nuclear Notes who stopped by and contributed as well. And while we may not have completely convinced everybody, I'm grateful for their efforts.

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Power Out In Queens, Indian Point Protesters Go Silent

100,000 people are without power in the New York City borough of Queens, and Lawhawk has got a question for the region's anti-nuke protesters:

Conservation can only do so much. People need the power, and the inability to provide it safely has led to these recurrent problems in parts of the area. The power distribution companies must do better in upgrading their systems to handle the loads, or else we're facing a situation whereby we'll continue to see scattered blackouts due to transmission and distribution failures.

Meanwhile, isn't it curious that we don't hear much about wanting to shut down Indian Point nuclear power plant right now? Guess someone realized that the area doesn't have sufficient power generation capabilities, and a shutdown would mean much of the area going dark.
This sort of tactic is pretty typical for a lot of environmental extremists. They complain about high prices for oil and natural gas, but then turn around and oppose drilling in ANWR and the Outer Continental Shelf. I'm not surprised that the anti-Indian Point crowd is scarce now.

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Setting The Record Straight with David Lochbaum and the Union of Concerned Scientists

We won'’t spend too much time dissecting or rebutting the Union of Concerned Scientists news release from yesterday. Mostly because it'’s the same rhetoric they have been spitting out for years. But I do have to set the record straight on a few things.

In a letter to James E. Dyer, Director, Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation at the NRC, Lochbaum writes:

While your staff held two public meetings with the industry on this subject (and who knows how many secret phone calls), there was no publicly available documentation about the specifics of the rumored initiative other than the few words appearing in NEI's PowerPoint slides for the May 9th public meeting on June 28th when you proposed to deny our petition.

The truth is there were four public meetings, the first was held in December 2005. Two of which I attended with our chief health physicist Ralph Andersen.

And don'’t even get me started on the Mr. Lochbaum's quote in the news release:

"On June 28 of this year, the NRC proposed denying the coalition's petition based on a promise allegedly made by a nuclear industry lobbyist to provide information on tritium leaks on a voluntary basis. The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), a lobby group that only promotes industry interests, presented a sketchy outline of this voluntary initiative to the NRC on July 12 -- —two weeks after the NRC proposed denying the petition.."
If anybody questions our Groundwater Protection Initiative, I invite you to review a transcript of Ralph Andersen'’s briefing for journalists held May 8, 2006. Here'’s a snippet:
The objectives of the initiative are: 1) to improve the management of situations involving inadvertent radiological releases into the groundwater, and 2) to enhance trust and confidence on the part of local communities, states, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the public in our commitment and practices in maintaining a high standard of public radiation safety and protection of the environment. Most specifically it involves: 1) actions to communicate pro-actively on issues associated with inadvertent releases in the groundwater, and 2) actions intended to assure timely detection and effective response to those situations so that we prevent migration of materials off-site and are able to quantify impacts for decommissioning planning.

The commitments that are specific in the initiative are: 1) by July 31st that every site will have in place a site-specific action plan with a set of actions that will assure timely detection and effective response to situations involving inadvertent releases in the groundwater; and 2) to expand the scope of our existing requirements for notification and reporting such that we will document all of our on-site and off-site groundwater sample results on an annual basis so that additionally and on an annual basis we would document any significant on-site leaks or spills of groundwater.

Thirdly, that we would provide a 30-day report to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on a voluntary basis of any water sample results that exceed the criteria that we currently have in our license that are only applicable to off-site monitoring. So what we would do is expand that program to include on-site monitoring results as well. That's a publicly available report. Finally, that we would notify our state and local officials --– and it would need to be determined exactly who that is at each site --– whenever we have a situation involving either a report of elevated samples of radioactivity in groundwater, either on-site or off-site, or of any significant spills or leaks of material into groundwater.
UCS had all the information and plenty of opportunity to comment on the initiative, given time to ask questions at NRC meetings. In fact, Ralph took their feedback and incorporated some items into the Initiative. In a nutshell, the industry has a zero-tolerance standard for unplanned releases of tritium at commercial nuclear facilities. We take our responsibility seriously as stewards of the environment and as neighbors in the communities in which we operate facilities.

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One Man Nuclear Truth Squad

Tim Worstall is on the job.

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Should Developing Nations Embrace Nuclear Energy?

That's a question the editors at SciDev.net are asking their readers to help them answer:

The arguments for bringing nuclear energy in from the cold have become powerful. Technical factors, such as future energy demand, the problems of global warming, and the increased safety of new nuclear technologies, appear to be pushing the risk-benefit balance back into nuclear's favour.

But the social and political challenges remain, and these will not be solved by focusing on nuclear energy alone. While there is no reason for excluding nuclear technology, it’s also not the only solution. Each energy technology should be assessed on its own merits.

Developing countries need to build skills and expertise in a range of energy technologies so they can choose which best addresses their needs. Countries that develop this capacity will be best placed to meet their own energy needs on their own terms.
Send your comments to editor-at-scidev.net.

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Howard: Australia Could Be Nuclear Superpower

From the Sydney Morning Herald:

Prime Minister John Howard says Australia could become an energy "superpower", but he has angered green campaigners who accuse him of looking after industry rather than the environment.

While protesters and political opponents claimed he had done nothing to curb climate change, Mr Howard said Australia could supply the world with low-cost energy.

He told the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) that his government would encourage further exploration of oil and continue to develop renewable energy resources such as hydro, wind and solar.

Mr Howard also said Australia could not afford to ignore developments in nuclear energy, especially as the country has close to 40 per cent of the world's known low-cost uranium deposits.

"Australia's energy exports are forecast to grow to around $45 billion in 2006-07, more than three times what we earned last year from meat, grains and wool combined," he told a CEDA business lunch.

"Australia can, and should, supply the domestic and world economies with low-cost energy.

"With the right policies, we have the makings of an energy superpower."
Looks like things will be hopping in Canberra, September 4-5, site of the nation's national nuclear conference.

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U.K. Nuclear Update

Couple of links from the U.K. today that ought to be off interest:

Yesterday, the U.K. government confirmed it would be reducing its ownership stake in British Energy.

The Wylfa nuclear plant, which supplies electricity to Britain's second largest aluminum smelter, will close in 2010 as scheduled.

Britain's largest business organization is warning of potential power shortages this Winter.

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The Tesla Roadster?

If you're looking for a 100% electric car, your search might be over. Say hello to the Tesla Roadster.

Detail from Wired

Thanks to Instapundit for the link. For more coverage, click here.

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Canada Nuclear Update

It was only a month ago that the province of Ontario announced an ambitious plan to upgrade its electrical generating capacity -- a plan that included the building of two nuclear reactors and the refurbishing of six others. Now, Duncan Hawthorne, CEO of Bruce Power, says the plan doesn't go anywhere near far enough:

``The government's proposal for 1,000 megawatts of new nuclear makes no sense to me,'' Duncan Hawthorne told an RBC Capital Markets conference on nuclear power in Toronto today. ``It's not nearly enough.''

Ontario plans to build two new reactors and refurbish six others as part of a C$46 billion ($40.6 billion) plan to avert energy shortages over the next two decades, Ontario Energy Minister Dwight Duncan said last month. That won't be enough to offset the shutdowns slated to start in 2014 at Bruce Power's B complex and Ontario Power Generation Inc.'s Darlington plant, Hawthorne said.

``Bruce B and Darlington will need refurbishment at the same time,'' Hawthorne said. ``New building has to smooth that out. That's why the 1,000 megawatts makes no sense.''

Ontario may face energy shortages in the next 20 years as demand begins to exceed supply in 2014, the energy ministry said. The Ontario Power Authority estimates the province will be 10,000 megawatts short by 2025. The province is also delaying the planned closure of four coal plants.
This conclusion is roughly in line with a report issues by the National Roundtable on The Environment and The Economy that recommended that Ontario build another 9,000 megawatts of new nuclear capacity in order to keep up with demand and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Last November, Rod Adams noted that Hawthorne has said before that he wants to build North America's first new nuclear plant. Early in 2005, I saw Hawthorne deliver a speech at a Platts conference here in Washington, and his enthusiasm for new nuclear build was evident, though he did acknowledge that the Canadian nuclear industry did have some unique challenges in selling the public on the idea.

Earlier this week, Bruce Power announced that it was joining the Canadian Hydrogen Association, something that prompted Tyler Hamilton of Clean Break to ask:
What I want to know is if hydrogen can be produced during off-peak hours using nuclear baseload generation, then why can't we do the same for charging electric cars at night? I keep hearing critics of electric vehicles talk about the lack of capacity on the grid, but given there's a surplus of baseload electricity produced overnight from nuclear generators, why isn't Bruce Power joining an electric vehicle association or trying to push the EV concept, which is within reach today?
Are any of our readers up to answering his question?

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Whitman at U.S. WIN

Christie Todd Whitman, former EPA Secretary and co-chair of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, delivered a speech earlier this week at the annual meeting of U.S. Women in Nuclear.

To join the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, click here.

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Ideological Blinders and the Nuclear Energy Debate

Some folks can't seem to get over the old left/right political fight when it comes to nuclear energy. Here's Polly Toynbee from the pages of the Guardian (U.K.):

The old right has been on an arduous journey, with most finally converted to the truth universally acknowledged, except by flat-earthers: the world is warming at life-on-earth threatening speed.

When the climate-deniers' case collapsed, they retreated to an ideological redoubt claiming global warming was a natural phenomenon, not amenable to man-made remedy. But that fortress crumbled too, and even US President George W. Bush, last of the naysayers, conceded.

For some reason the old naysayers, barely batting an eyelid, shifted over to nuclear as the only salvation, though those who have been so wrong owe a little humility when it comes to next steps.
I guess Toynbee is referring to famous right wingers like James Lovelock, Stuart Brand, Jared Diamond and Patrick Moore. There are other examples if you bother to look hard enough. Here in the U.S., Democratic politicians like Senator Tom Carper (D-DE) and Rep. John Spratt (D-SC) are well-known supporters of the industry, and even a mainstream liberal like Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) has said that the threat of climate change means we have to keep the nuclear energy option on the table.

UPDATE: We Support Lee has some thoughts on environmental groups more concerned with ideological purity than actually protecting the environment.

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Marubeni, Ishikawajima-Harima and Shaw Group to Join Toshiba in Westinghouse Bid

From the AP:

Japanese companies Marubeni Corp. and Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries Co. as well as Shaw Group Inc. of the United States are expected to join Toshiba Corp.'s bid to acquire Westinghouse Electric Co., a news report said Thursday.

Marubeni, a major trading company, Ishikawajima-Harima, and Shaw Group are likely to join Toshiba, which is planning to buy the major U.S. atomic energy company for $5.4 billion, Kyodo News agency reported, without naming sources, which is customary in Japanese media.
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