Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Patrick Moore on Dennis Miller

Patrick Moore of the CASEnergy Coalition was a guest on Dennis Miller Radio Show on July 30. In the interview, Moore talks about the evolution of his position on nuclear energy. Click here for the audio file. Once the file loads, advance the player to the 1:31:46 mark for the segment in which he appears.

Yucca Mountain, Nuclear Energy and Irrational Fear

Does the public around the world have an irrational fear of nuclear energy? I have my own thoughts on the matter, but right now I'm going to yield the floor to Anders Rasmussen:

It is no secret that we are facing an energy crisis. I am personally not convinced that CO2 emissions is an important contributing factor when it comes to Global warming, however, the fact of the matter is that our fossil fuels will eventually be used up and when there is none left we will need a different source of energy. Fission of uranium and plutonium is not an endless source of energy, however, it would provide us with energy for quite a while. Yet many countries do not want to build these Nuclear power plants, largely because of what I think is irrational fear…
Anders is also thinks the Yucca Mountain project is still a good idea. Read the rest right now.

The Dallas Morning News Edit Board and Nuclear Energy

Over at the Dallas Morning News' Editorial Board Blog, James Mitchell posed the question of the day about nuclear energy.

The Senate's energy bill strongly advocates nuclear energy as a way to make the United States more energy diversifiied. Past efforts to promote nuclear energy in the 1970s ran into environmental opposition, not-in-my-backyard sentiment, and herky-jerky federal policy that left utlilities and rate payers holding a huge financial bag of costs.

Today's question is really five: Pick any portion

How comfortable are you in making nuclear energy a major component of national energy policy and do you have concerns that government policy will not again pull the rug out from under the industry in the future?

Should the government subsidize its development, which means picking winners and losers in the marketplace and possibly putting wind and solar on the backburner?

Should we aspire to be France, where virtually every KW of electricity comes from nuclear power?

What should be done about the waste issue - long term short term?
It was hard not to sit up and notice right away, as our CEO Skip Bowman was in Dallas just last week to give a speech about the state of the industry.

In any case, here are the responses, keyed off the names of the writers who posted them:

James Mitchell
Keven Ann Willey
Todd Robberson
Mike Hashimoto
Todd Robberson

I'd encourage our readers to stop by and participate in the discussion. And please say thanks to the bloggers on the edit board for giving our issue a little more air.

Ausubel on Renewables Gets Traction Online

A few days ago we pointed to some of the coverage that Rockefeller University fellow Jesse Ausubel was getting for his take on how renewable sources of energy actually have the potential to harm the environment.

Since then, we've seen plenty of other folks pick up on Ausubel's conclusions. Here's Steven Miloy at Fox News:

In a time when those who question the Green agenda are scurrilously defamed and routinely intimidated — just for the sin of expressing contrary opinions — the Green Ausubel should be applauded for having the courage to stand up and speak the truth: that renewable energy wasn’t, isn’t and ought not ever be.
For more, see Investor's Business Daily.

Senator Obama on Energy and the Environment

Grist is running an interview with Senator Barack Obama on energy and the environment. Here's what he had to say about nuclear energy:

I think that with nuclear power, we have got to see if there are ways for us to store the radioactive material in a safe, environmentally sound way, and if we can do that and deal with the some of the safely and security issues, [nuclear power] is something that we should look at.
Senator Obama has been remarkably consistent on this issue, something we began noting back in 2005.

Thanks to the Obama Blog for the pointer.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Below The Beltway.

UPDATE: David Wogan likes what he hears about the nuclear provisions in the latest energy bill.

More News on the Calvert Cliffs COL

Both the Washington Post and Bloomberg take a look at the most recent steps to build a new nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs.

UPDATE: Our buddy Carter Wood at the NAM Blog is pleased too.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Right from the Left Coast.

UPDATE: And be sure to visit another of our old friends, Advanced Nanotechnology.

Is The Simpsons Hurting Nuclear Energy?

With the new movie opening today all across North America, Kite, String and Key is asking that question.

Oswego May Get the New Nuclear Reactor it Wants

All the way back in March 2005, we told you about how the Mayor of Oswego, New York made a pitch to bring a new nuclear reactor to his town. Now it looks like the town is one step closer to making that happen.

From the Syracuse Post-Standard:

Work has begun on getting government approval for a fourth nuclear power plant in Oswego County.

UniStar Nuclear, a company led by Constellation Energy - the owner of Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station - started a feasibility study this spring looking at the site's "overall suitability to host a new nuclear plant," said UniStar President George Vanderheyden.

The study is the first step in a process that could lead to a nuclear plant being built there in the middle of the next decade.

The process is further along at Calvert Cliffs in Lusby, Md., where UniStar has completed and submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission the environmental portion of a license application.

"Calvert Cliffs is our reference application," Vanderheyden said in a phone interview from the company's offices in Baltimore.
Another sign of progress, just one step at a time.

U.S. and India to Announce Details of Bilateral Nuclear Agreement

From Bloomberg:

The U.S. will today announce details of a civilian nuclear accord with India, an agreement allowing power plants in the energy-starved nation access to fissile material and technology.

Nicholas Burns, the U.S. undersecretary for political affairs, will brief reporters from Washington on the just- concluded, so-called ``1-2-3 agreement'' at 8 p.m. India time, the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi said in an e-mailed media advisory. Indian officials, including Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon, will brief the local media at 6 p.m. local time.
We'll be keeping an eye on this story today.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Denis Bider.

TVA on Verge of Approving Completion of Watts Bar Unit 2

Back in January, my former NEI colleague Lisa Stiles pointed to a piece in the Huntsville Times that referred to TVA's ongoing plans to rehabilitate its shuttered nuclear capacity, including the never completed Watts Bar Unit 2.

Since then, TVA restarted Browns Ferry Unit 1 in May. Now a blog over at Knox News is reporting that TVA will most likely approve the completion of construction of that unit in a public meeting on August 1.

Again, here's Bill Hobbs from Eco Totality:

Most TVA-generated power currently comes from coal-fired power plants. As a user of TVA electricity, I’m happy they’re moving in a more environmentally-friendly direction.
There's more support out there than you might think.

The Environmental Integrity Project and Nuclear Energy

Yesterday, the Environmental Integrity Project issued a report entitled, Dirty Kilowatts (PDF), a listing of what they termed were the top 50 most polluting power plants in the U.S. And while nobody likes pollution, some folks weren't happy with their tone.

Here's Don Surber:

The tax-exempt Environmental Integrity Project in Washington, D.C., issued its annual list of the 50 dirtiest power plants in America. This is illustrated by a photo showing steam — water vapor — escaping from a cooling tower. Sigh.
I chuckled a little bit when I read that one. After all, anti-nukes have been using pictures of parabolic cooling towers for years to symbolize the "danger" of nuclear power plants, even though many non-nuclear plants also have cooling towers.

In any case, on to the report. Here's Bill Hobbs at Eco Totality:
While the EIP press release urges the retirement of the oldest, least-efficient, most-polluting coal-fired power plants, I searched in vain on the EIP website to find a positive mention of nuclear power, the only existing power-generation technology that can produce power in sufficient quantities to replace coal. Instead, the EIP calls for “investments in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power,” which even the most optimistic forecasts show will produce only a few percentage points of our energy needs.

[...]

It is, flatly, irresponsible for EIP to call for shutting down a major source of electricity production but only proposing a solution to replace a minor part of it. “Investments in renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power,” as EIP calls for, cost money. That’s what the word “investments” mean Somebody - business, taxpayers - has to pay for it. Economic growth is how they’ll afford to pay for it. That economic growth can’t happen without sufficient power.

I’ll be impressed with the Environmental Integrity Project when they have the integrity to either endorse expanded nuclear power, or admit that they don’t have a viable replacement for all the coal-generated power they want to shut down.
It's blog posts like this one that actually inspired me to start NEI Nuclear Notes. Hobbs is clearly saying that he'd accept an expanded role for nuclear energy in electricity generation specifically because it generates large amounts of baseload power without emitting greenhouse gases.

In other words, everybody gets what they want. Environmentalists get emission-free power, and those concerned with economic growth get abundant, affordable power.

Once you get past the rhetoric, there's a deal to be made here.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Unistar Files First Part of COL Application for EPR at Calvert Cliffs

From World Nuclear News:

Unistar submitted the first part of a licence application to build a new nuclear power plant on 13 July. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has said it is now looking over documents detailing the environmental impact Calvert Cliffs 3 would make.

Calvert Cliffs, owned by Unistar partner Constellation, is about 64 km south of Annapolis, Maryland. It already hosts two pressurized water reactors, which have produced 865 MWe each since the mid 1970s. The US Evolutionary Power Reactor (USEPR) proposed for build would add some 1600 MWe to the plant's output around the middle of the next decade.

The NRC has said it is now examining the environmental report documentation, which runs to around 5900 pages and can be found in the New Reactor Licensing section of its website. Scott Burnell of the NRC told World Nuclear News that the commission was conducting a sufficiency check. If the report seems in order, the NRC will 'docket' it and begin formal review in earnest. A public meeting is already scheduled for 14 August, where the review process would be discussed.
The first public meeting on the application has been scheduled for August 14 in Solomons, Maryland.

Fortune on the Nuclear Revival

Editor-at-Large David Whitford tours the U.S. to get a closer look at the industry:

Probably the earliest a new reactor could come online in the U.S. is 2015, and even that seems optimistic. There is plenty of opposition, despite what Earley says. And anything could happen over the next decade or so to knock the train off its track. A terrorist attack on a nuclear facility anywhere in the world would halt all progress overnight. So would another Chernobyl. But right now the momentum is swinging nuclear's way. Among the many green-light factors: rising natural-gas prices; soaring electricity demand; the looming prospect of a carbon tax; a new, streamlined regulatory process; and growing acceptance by environmentalists that nuclear energy, which emits no greenhouse gases, could have a vital role in saving the planet.

This developing story has continental sweep, a huge cast of characters, multiple moving parts. So much of what we think we know we haven't reexamined in years. If we're going to try to reconcile nuclear power's cloudy past with the industry's bright vision of the future, we need to see for ourselves. Road trip, anyone?
Whitford starts at Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant, and eventually makes his way to the Idaho National Lab. Be sure to go along for the ride.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Is Renewable Energy Wrecking the Environment?

Jesse Ausubel of Rockefeller University seems to think so:

Writ­ing in a schol­arly jour­nal, Jes­se Au­subel, di­rec­tor of the un­ivers­ity’s Pro­gram for the Hu­man En­vi­ron­ment, has now is­sued a scath­ing re­as­sess­ment of the “re­new­able” en­er­gy sources that are sup­posed to save hu­man­ity from pol­lu­tion and glob­al warm­ing.

The cli­mate change is be­lieved to be caused by emis­sions of heat-trapping gas­es from use of tra­di­tional en­er­gy sources.

Meet­ing glob­al en­er­gy de­mands through so-called re­new­able sources—build­ing enough wind farms, dam­ming enough riv­ers, and grow­ing enough bi­o­mass—will wreck the en­vi­ron­ment, Au­su­bel ar­gues. Bi­o­mass con­sists of plants and an­i­mal wastes used as fu­el.

The so­lu­tion? “If we want to min­i­mize new struc­tures and the rape of na­ture, nu­clear en­er­gy is the best op­tion,” Au­su­bel said.
I can hear the howls already.

This story has been impacting all over the Web in a big way all day long. There's a hot discussion over at reddit, and the piece has been picked up by both Instapundit and FuturePundit.

Here are some sources that demonstrate what Ausubel is talking about:

Land Needed by Wind or Solar Energy to Match Annual Nuclear Energy Production InfoGraphic (2006)
U.S. Capacity Factors by Fuel Type (2006)
U.S. Nuclear Industry Capacity Factors (1971 - 2006)
Cumulative Capacity Additions at U.S. Nuclear Facilities (1977 - 2011)
U.S. Nuclear Expected Power Uprates

One of the canards that anti-nuclear advocates like to trot out is to ask just how many nuclear reactors we would have to build in order to generate all of America's electricity. This study is their comeuppance.

The Florida Crocodile Comeback, Courtesy of Nuclear Energy

As part of being a good neighbor, American nuclear power plants do their level best to preserve the local environment in and around their operations. In Florida, that's provided an incredible comeback for a once endangered species -- the American Crocodile.

Back in 1975 there were only between 10-20 breeding females in the entire state, but now there are as many as 2,000. And one of the reasons why is the Turkey Point Nuclear Power Plant:

"The high ground is so ideal for laying crocodile eggs that Turkey Point has become an enormous crocodile nursery. It's now home to about 500 full-grown crocodiles -- a quarter of the country's entire adult crocodile population."
What a great story. Thanks to Plenty for the pointer. Best of all, it isn't news to us here at NEI, as JoAnn Sperber covered this in the May 2005 edition of Nuclear Energy Insight. Here's the full text of that story:

Crocodile Cheers
Florida Nuclear Plant Helps Bring Reptile Back From the Brink

Joe Wasilewski always smiles at the crocodiles.

He also studies their behavior, documents their birth and tracks the local population of crocodiles. And he does all this at a nuclear power plant.

Wasilewski plies his trade at Florida Power & Light’s Turkey Point, where efforts to save the American crocodile are about to pay off. The Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service is considering reclassifying the creature from endangered to threatened.

Wasilewski arrived at the plant in 1989 at the suggestion of a Turkey Point employee. He expected the part-time assignment—surveying the plant’s American crocodiles—to last a few weeks. Fifteen years later, the wildlife biologist continues his work
as the plant’s environmental specialist.

“The first crocodile was sighted at the plant in 1976,” Wasilewski said. “Shortly after that sighting, Turkey Point began a crocodile management program that monitors the reptiles, records data and marks each crocodile at birth. We keep a logbook that tells us where and when a crocodile was born, where and when it has been spotted.”

The reptiles prefer the plant’s cooling water canals because the constant water level within the system eliminates the problem of nest flooding and protects the nest from predators. “There is a common misconception about the canals,” Wasilewski said. “Many people believe the warmer water in the canals is the reason the crocodiles live there. Nothing could be further from the truth. They like water at ambient temperature.

“The truth is that the canals provide an ample supply of food and that female crocodiles prefer to lay their eggs in a berm away from the wind,” he added. “Also, there are other crocodiles living at the plant, and Turkey Point’s protected location keeps humans far away from the reptile’s habitat.”

Spring is mating season for the American crocodiles. The reptiles will dig burrows 10 to 30 feet deep into the fresh-water canals, where they lay their eggs and then cover them for protection.

“Then, the female crocodiles go off to feed and rest, because laying the eggs is a grueling process,” Wasilewski said. “After two months, the crocodiles return and shake the ground near their nests and put their ears to the ground to listen for their babies’ cries.”

Wasilewski estimated that the plant’s crocodiles lay 200 to 300 eggs each year. Only 5 percent to 10 percent survive, because of inclement weather and predators.

After birth, the mother “takes her hatchlings to nearby fresh water, because their salt-excreting glands have not formed,” he added. “It’s surprising to see, because the mothers are so tender and caring to their young. They sometimes carry them in their mouths for a mile to find fresh water.”

Wasilewski hopes to get a close look at the entire birthing process this year by placing motionsensing cameras near the nests to capture maternal behavior. “These are fascinating creatures, and we want to learn more about their behaviors,” he added.

The large number of crocodile nests is one sign of the plant’s success. Experts found just one or two nests at the site in the late 1970s. That number burgeoned to 19 last year. Biologists believe that a minimum of 60 nests are required to move the species off the endangered list. “Sixty-one nests were built last year, 19 of them at Turkey Point,” Wasilewski said. That is a significant number for any site.

Protecting endangered species is one of the pillars of FPL’s environmental programs. The company maintains active programs for protecting other endangered or threatened species, such as American alligators, Florida manatees, sea turtles and Florida panthers at several other power plant sites.

Wasilewski has traveled from Costa Rica to Cuba to consult with scientific colleagues about the American crocodile and other species, including the iguana. “I have gone around the world to learn about these animals,” he said.

In Florida, Wasilewski and other plant personnel collaborate with federal and state officials on a regular basis. Officials from two other American crocodile refuge areas, Everglades National Park and Crocodile Lake National Wildlife Refuge, routinely contact Turkey Point to report the whereabouts of one of their reptiles. Each site has its own marking system that allows better tracking of the creatures throughout southern Florida.

Technology may soon change that practice. Wasilewski, Miami Metrozoo and several other donors have purchased satellite-tracking equipment to monitor the crocodiles more efficiently and accurately.

Although the crocodile program is one of many ecological programs at the plant, Wasilewski believes it is a critical one. “This highlights FPL’s environmental stewardship in a very meaningful way,” he said.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit R-Squared Energy Blog.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ameren May Build New Reactor at Callaway Site

Details from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

EPRI/NRDC Study on Plug-in Hybrids and GHG Emissions

From Green Car Congress:

Two studies released by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) show that widespread use of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) in the United States could significantly reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and has the potential to provide small but significant improvements in ambient air quality in most areas of the US.

Widespread adoption of PHEVs could reduce GHG emissions from vehicles by more than 450 million metric tons annually in 2050—equivalent to removing 82.5 million passenger cars from the road. Cumulative GHG emissions reductions from 2010 to 2050 could reach 10.3 billion metric tons under the most aggressive scenarios for the development of a lower-carbon electrical infrastructure and PHEV penetration.

The analysis is the first to combine models of the US electric system and transportation sector with atmospheric air quality models to account for the future evolution of both sectors in technological advances, electricity load growth and capacity expansion.
For a copy of the report, click here.

Giuliani on Nuclear Energy

From the San Jose Mercury News:

He noted that America "invented the peaceful use of nuclear power" and has never lost a life to nuclear energy production, yet hasn't licensed a new nuclear power plant in about 30 years while nations such as France derive most of their electricity this way.
For NEI's Giuliani file, click here.

IAEA Team to Japan

Details from Reuters.

Edwards, Obama and Clinton on Nuclear Energy

In last night's CNN/YouTube Democratic debate, one questioner asked the candidates what they thought about increasing the use of nuclear energy as a way to provide affordable electricity while constraining greenhouse gas emissions and promoting energy independence. Here's how Senators John Edwards, Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton answered the question:



This isn't the first time we've seen these candidates address the issue. For our file on Senator Edwards, click here. For Senator Obama, click here. For Senator Clinton, click here.

UPDATE: There's some discussion of this particular question over at MyDD.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More from The Daily Green.

FINAL UPDATE: Some thoughts from NJ Business Matters.

EVENING UPDATE: Some interesting thoughts from the Las Vegas Gleaner, while Common Dreams isn't happy with the proceedings at all.

Monday, July 23, 2007

New Nuclear for New Jersey?

Details from NJ.com.

Are Americans Warming to Nuclear Power?

MIT asked that question:

Americans' icy attitudes toward nuclear power are beginning to thaw, according to a new survey from MIT. The report also found a U.S. public increasingly unhappy with oil and more willing to develop alternative energy sources like wind and solar.

[...]

The report, "Public Attitudes Toward America's Energy Options: Insights for Nuclear Energy," was recently published by MIT's Center for Advanced Nuclear Energy Systems. Ansolabehere conducted a similar survey in 2002 as part of the MIT study, "The Future of Nuclear Power."

In the five years since the last survey, public preferences have remained fairly stable, but the percentage of people who want to increase nuclear power use has grown from 28 percent to 35 percent. That increase in popularity is likely due to concern over global warming caused by carbon emissions from fossil fuels, Ansolabehere said.
For more information about the public's view of nuclear energy, click here for the archive of NEI's Perspective on Public Opinion.

Becker and Posner on Energy, Environment and National Security

Gary Becker and Richard Posner discuss energy, environment and national security.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Introducing the New NEI.org

A couple of weeks back, we gave our readers a sneak preview of the home page to our new Web site, saying only that it would debut sometime in July. Well, sometime is finally here.

To get to the new site, just navigate to the place you've always gone before: http://www.nei.org.

But once you get there, things are going to look a little different. Besides a brand new design, we've also completely revamped our content and the way we organize it.

To start, we've organized our content by the Key Issues that are most important to our members:

Protecting The Environment

Reliable and Affordable Energy
New Nuclear Plants
Safety and Security
Nuclear Waste Disposal

Here's a screen shot from our New Nuclear Plants section:


Across the top nav bar, you'll find the following sections listed:

Public Policy
News and Events
Financial Center
Resources and Stats
Careers and Education
How it Works
About NEI

Here's our new Resources and Stats section, complete with brand new search engine:



Other important areas you should take a look at:

Conferences and Meetings
Industry Data
NEI Policy Positions
Graphics and Charts
Online Job Boards
Governance and Leadership

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who worked on the project here at NEI, as well as the team at Siteworx. It's great to finally see this go live.

So hop on in, kick the tires and tell us what you think.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Change is Coming ...

In the next 24-48 hours, this click will begin to take you someplace completely different from now on. Keep clicking to find out.

See you on Monday.

NRC Chairman Dale Klein at U.S. WIN 2007

Earlier this week, I was in Anaheim to give a presentation on electronic advocacy at U.S. Women in Nuclear 2007. I was lucky enough to hang around an extra day and shoot some video. In this clip, Melanie Lyons, a colleague of mine from NEI, interviews NRC Chairman Dale Klein about what his agency is doing to recruit more women:



Thanks to Chairman Klein for taking the time to speak with us.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Putting The Radiation Release at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa in the Proper Perspective

Let me make something clear at the outset: All over the world, the nuclear industry takes the events in Japan very seriously. With that in mind, here's some proper perspective from We Support Lee on just how much radioactive material was released from the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant this week:

According to news sources, the leak of radiation at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant in Japan was 90,000 Becquerels, which is one billionth of the legal limit for radioactivity release.

90,000 Bq (Becquerels) means 90,000 disintegrations per second.

[...]

How much is 90,000 Bq in the medical world? Medical patients regularly receive 240 million Becquerels during treatments for hyperthyroidism. That's 2667 times what was released into the Sea of Japan.

These patients, some of whom are probably at a clinic in your town right now, watch tv, walk around, sit, talk, read, and disintegrate 131I at 2667 times the rate that the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Power Plant's release in the Sea of Japan is decaying.

The bottom line is that the radiation released during the earthquake is insignificant.
So when others start to compare this incident to Chernobyl, please keep this in mind.

New Nuclear Plants for California?

Former NEI Nuclear Notes contributor, Joseph Somsel, looks at the possibilities.

Latest News from TEPCO on the Status of the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa

Click here for the latest press release from Japan.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Clark Silcox.

Transistor, Transformer: What's The Difference?

We all make mistakes, but this one from The Daily Green about the fire at the nuclear power plant in Japan just about takes the cake:

The earthquake caused a fire in a transistor, led to the leak of water with low radioactivity, and prompted the automatic shutdown of the Tokyo Electric Power Co. reactors.
No rest for the weary.

The Japan Quake, Nuclear Energy and the Daily Kos

As you might imagine, I've been monitoring a lot of stories from around the Web about the situation in Japan. And as you might surmise, while an incident like this is always a cause for concern, it's not a cause for hysteria -- unless of course we're talking about the usual suspects.

One of the more egregious examples out there right now has to be this diary over at Daily Kos that mixes just enough truth with anti-nuke talking points to drum up all the fear and hysteria you might need.

But then again, even in the wake of the over the top analysis, there are a number of readers who are digging in and fighting back. Here are a few samples:

First, allow me to qualify my post by saying that I find the parent diary to be a fairly obnoxious throwback to the type of thinking from the 1970s that bought us another 30 years worth of CO2-spewing coal power, and the fact that it rocketed to the top of the recommended list speaks to Kossack's relative lack of detached analysis on the topic.

[...]

Waste disposal is expensive, yes, but its danger is highly overstated.

First, any byproducts that last for "thousands of years" aren't very radioactive to begin with (otherwise they would disintegrate much faster).

Also, you make it sound like nuclear waste gets dumped in streams, like mine tailings. It doesn't. The Yucca Mountain site was chosen for its geological stability and isolation from groundwater. The relative mass of spent nucler fuel (compared to say, coal slag) is tiny.

We have a similar plan in Canada in the works, basically to bury it a mile deep in a formation that hasn't moved for millions of years. The biggest obstacle to getting it done right now is public acceptance.

[...]

Two hundred have been killed in a Brazilian jetliner crash.

How many people are killed in coal mines every year? How many are injured, maimed or killed on offshore drilling platforms or by gas pipeline explosions, or are hit by coal trains?

What kinds of poisons leach out from the mines; from the oil fields, from the fly-ash disposal pits. What happens when petroleum coke is burned?

We ignore the dangers of everyday life and then use speculation as evidence that nuclear power is unsafe.
There's plenty more where those came from. If you choose to stop by and participate in the debate, please be courteous.

Getting The Facts Right on The Events in Japan

As you might imagine, I've spent a lot of time over the past few days monitoring news coming out of Japan about the earthquake and its effects on the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant. Like a lot of folks, I use the Drudge Report to point me to breaking news sources -- which is why I sat up straight when I saw the following headline:

'REACTOR ISN'T IN GOOD SHAPE': Company Says Radioactive Leak Was Bigger...

But, as Headless Blogger has pointed out, when you follow the link in question, the quote that Drudge highlighted isn't anywhere to be seen in the story. Never mind the fact that there are seven reactors at the plant, not just one.

I think this might be a good time to point out that in the immediate aftermath of an incident like this one, facts often get trampled by hysteria. While I've been a fan of Drudge for a very long time -- going back to the days when he was syndicated over at Wired -- it's important to remember that he wants as many click-throughs as possible.

For a non-hysterical account of the incident, one where all the reactors shut down safely as designed, click here.

UPDATE: Here's a television package from Euro News that seems to get things right:

Rethinking Nuclear Energy

Some interesting thoughts from Geoffrey Styles.

UPDATE: More from Rod Adams.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

More on the Japan Quake and the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant

The following report comes from our friends at NucNet:

There was no environmental impact as a result of yesterday’s automatic shut-down of three units at Japan’s Kashiwazaki Kariwa nuclear power plant following an earthquake.

The Japan Atomic Industrial Forum (JAIF) today confirmed for NucNet that units 3, 4 and 7 of the plant, in Niigata prefecture in the west of the country, shut down safely. The plant’s other units – Kashiwazaki Kariwa-1, -2, -5 and -6 – were already shut down at the time of the earthquake for periodic inspections.

At unit 6, about 1.2 cubic metres of water leaked from a system draining water to the sea, but the level of radioactivity was within the permissible limit. Inside the reactor building, a total of 1.5 litres of radioactive aqueous liquids were spilled.

At unit 3, a fire broke out in a main transformer in the non-nuclear part of the plant and was extinguished within two hours.

A JAIF spokesman said: “The cloud of black smoke that was filmed by television crews did scare some people watching television. But it was a small fire and there was no release of radioactivity or environmental impact.” No other Japanese units were affected by the quake, said the spokesman.
Just this morning, we received the following report via the AP:
On Tuesday, officials said about 100 drums containing low-level nuclear waste fell over at the plant during the quake. They were found a day later, some with their lids open, said Masahide Ichikawa, an official with the local government in Niigata prefecture.

A spokesman at Tokyo Electric Power Co., which runs the plant, said the company was still trying to determine whether any hazardous material had spilled but said there was no effect outside the plant.
Definitions are important here. When you hear the term, "low-level radioactive waste" it refers to solid materials that have been exposed to radiation during normal operations of the plant. According to an article on the NEI Web site:
Low-level waste is solid material. It generally has levels of radioactivity that decay to background radioactivity levels in under 500 years. About 95 percent of the radioactivity decays to background levels within 100 years or less.

Items that become low-level waste. Low-level waste includes such items as gloves and other personal protective clothing, glass and plastic laboratory supplies, machine parts and tools, filters, wiping rags, and medical syringes that have come in contact with radioactive materials. Low-level waste from nuclear plants typically includes water purification filters and resins, tools, protective clothing, plant hardware and wastes from reactor cooling-water cleanup systems.
More as news warrants.

UPDATE: Earlier today, NEI issued a one-page summary on the events in Japan. Text follows:
The Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant successfully withstood a major earthquake that struck northwestern Japan on July 16. The operating reactors shut down as designed. Some radioactivity was released as result of the event, but no public or environmental harm has resulted from the releases. The company still is investigating the full effects of the earthquake but has stated that there is no environmental or safety impact beyond the plant site.

Background
A strong earthquake that struck northwestern Japan on Monday affected operations at the seven-unit Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant. Four of the reactors shut down automatically, as designed (the other three were not operating at the time).

The earthquake caused approximately 300 gallons of water to spill from one reactor’s used fuel pool into an adjacent tank, from which it was then pumped to the sea. The water contained a small amount of radioactivity—about two microcuries, according to officials with Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO). The company stopped the release of the radioactive water, but not before it reached the Sea of Japan.

According to official reports, no “significant change” to the seawater has been detected near the plant. Jun Oshima, an executive at TEPCO, told the Associated Press that “the radioactivity is one-billionth the legal limit” of the water from the plant.

According to some reports, the earthquake also tipped over barrels containing low-level radioactive waste. A TEPCO spokesman said the company still was determining whether any barrels had leaked, but said it had found no effect outside of the plant.

The earthquake, estimated at 6.6-6.8 on the Richter scale, also caused a transformer fire at the facility that was quickly extinguished. The fire and the releases were not related.

Despite the considerable damage to the surrounding area, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear plant performed as designed and withstood the effects of the earthquake. As a result, no environmental damage has resulted from the quake’s impact on the plant.

U.S. and Japanese nuclear plants are built with a “defense-in-depth” philosophy that uses multiple safety barriers and redundant, physically separated safety systems to ensure that public health and safety is assured even in severe circumstances like hurricanes and earthquakes.

Monday, July 16, 2007

How Do You Define "Renewable"?

That's the question in Florida, and the topic of a new post from We Support Lee.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Random Walker.

The Japan Quake and the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant

By now, most of you have already heard about the earthquake that struck parts of Japan overnight, an event that killed 8 and injured 900. As the result of the quake, the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa Nuclear Plant experienced two separate incidents:

Four of the seven nuclear reactors at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power station, the world's largest nuclear power plant in terms of power output capacity, were operating or set to commence operation at the time of the earthquake and automatically shut down after sensing the strong quake.

But an electric transformer outside one of the reactors caught fire shortly after the quake. The fire was extinguished about two hours later. No radioactive leak has been detected.

It was the first fire at a nuclear plant to be caused by a quake and the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry is checking the cause, METI officials said.

TEPCO announced later in the day that water containing radioactive material leaked from one of three reactors that had suspended operations for regular checks and some of the water was released into the nearby Sea of Japan.

But the level of the radioactive material in the water was below the legal standard, the utility company said.
In response, NEI's Steve Kerekes passed along some notes to keep in mind as press reports continue to come out of Japan:

U.S. nuclear power plants are built with a defense-in-depth philosophy that uses multiple safety barriers and redundant, physically separated safety systems to assure that public health and safety is assured even in severe circumstances like hurricanes and earthquakes.

  • The three main protective barriers are the zirconium cladding on the ceramic pellets of uranium fuel; the reactor vessel and cooling system; and the containment structure that surrounds the reactor and other major components.
  • Examples of the robust design elements include: several feet of steel reinforced-concrete in the containment structures; stainless steel liners within the containment structure and within the many feet of concrete in the used fuel pools, below-grade foundations for the reactor core structure; and reinforced pipe and tank supports.

All U.S. nuclear plants are designed to withstand earthquakes of a magnitude that is equivalent to or greater than the largest known earthquake for region where it is being built. “Withstand” means that you retain the ability to safety shut down the plant without a release of radiation.

  • Given the seismic history in California, for example, plants in that state are built to withstand a higher level of seismic activity than plants in many other parts of the country. They are designed with events like that which occurred in Japan in mind.

Initial press reports out of Japan suggest that the level of radioactivity in the water that leaked from unit 6 of the power station is very small – not only at a level that would not jeopardize public health and safety but even below reportable regulatory limits.

  • We do not have details regarding the radionuclides involved in the leak, nor on the manner in which the leak occurred. We have been told by Tokyo Electric officials that the release of the water containing radioactive isotopes has been stopped.
More details are they become available. For more on the "defense in depth" philosophy that comes into play with nuclear plant safety, click here.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tracking AREVA in the USA


This week's edition of America's Business, NAM's radio program, is featuring an interview with Michael McMurphy, President and CEO of AREVA NC, Inc., the U.S. subsidiary of AREVA. For a nice digest of recent news on the company, click here.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Some Truths of Things.

New York Attorney General Joins Fight Against Indian Point

From yesterday's New York Daily News:

State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo will join the fight to shut the Indian Point nuclear power plant, just 25 miles north of New York City in Westchester.

Cuomo will announce today his support of Westchester County Executive Andrew Spano in his legal battle with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the federal agency that oversees Indian Point, the Daily News has learned.

Cuomo's office will provide the support through research, advice and lawyers for court appearances.
As I'm sure many recall, Cuomo's father, former Governor Mario Cuomo, helped lead the fight that eventually led to the closure of the Shoreham nuclear power plant on Long Island.

Another Nuclear Energy Debate at DKos

The topic is "Why Nuclear Power Will Fail in America". As you might imagine, there's plenty of misinformation and disinformation getting tossed about. Stop by Part I and Part II to participate.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Utah Panel Leaves Room for Nuclear Energy

Details from the Salt Lake Tribune.

Patrick Moore Hits the Bronx

And blogger John DeSio from the New York Press was there.

Vermont State Senate Ignores Al Gore, Sustains Veto on Vermont Yankee Tax

Back in May, we started to follow the story about how the Vermont State Senate was planning on starting a "clean energy" fund with $25 million in additional tax money from Vermont Yankee. After Governor Jim Douglas vetoed the legislation, proponents of the tax mounted an effort to override the veto -- an effort that I was unaware was supported by former Vice President Al Gore.

He explained his support on June 14th in the following video address -- one which clearly experienced some technical difficulties:



A "terrific" law, eh? Can someone please explain to me why placing additional taxes on one form of clean electrical generation in order to subsidize another can possibly be "terrific"?

Lucky for the ratepayers of Vermont, the override attempt fell 12 votes short.

Progress Energy Chooses the AP-1000

Details off the wire.

On the Fence on Nuclear Energy

Concerned about climate change and sustainable development, blogger Geren Semaine is thinking about nuclear energy:

I don’t know if it’s the answer, but it’s certainly one worth considering. I find it to be far more palatable than strip-mining for coal, or drilling in the Alaskan ranges, especially since both of these energy sources deplete non-renewable resources, and the resulting pollution is a major source of the ”greenhouse” gasses that are at least partially to blame for climatic changes and environmental destruction on the planet.

Yeah. I’m a tree hugger.
You're not the only one, Geren. You're not the only one.

The French Nuclear Industry Up Close

Last week, a group of NEI staffers took a group of representatives from think tanks, business and organized labor on a fact finding trip to France concerning that country's domestic nuclear energy program. One of the individuals on the trip was Matt Bennett, Vice President of Public Affairs for Third Way. He shared the following note with us:

I had the opportunity to travel to France to visit French nuclear facilities and meet with leading officials of the French nuclear industry with NEI. I found the trip and meetings enormously helpful – it significantly broadened my understanding of nuclear power, issues, particularly those relating to nuclear waste materials.

Our visit to tour the Areva reprocessing plant was especially instructive. Actually seeing the transport, handling, cooling, reprocessing and storage of nuclear waste had a huge impact on all of us who were first-timers to La Hague. The level of skill that the French have developed, exemplified by the astonishingly low levels of radiation exposure at the plant, really drove home the benefits of this process. Standing in the interim storage warehouse, with nine canisters of vitrified waste stacked below each of us, helped clarify how urgent it is that we bring the benefits of reprocessing back home.

Indeed, we all came back with the faith of the converted. Those of us on the trip, from think-tanks, business, labor, and the power industry – all returned to the US committed to helping move this country toward reprocessing nuclear fuel.
Back in April, Bennett wrote a memo at Third Way entitled, Another Inconvenient Truth: Solving Global Warming and Energy Security Requires Nuclear Power (PDF).

Give it a read. For more on the La Hague facility, click here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Senate Action on Carbon Emissions Expected Today

We've just been alerted that Senators Bingaman and Specter will be introducing the Low Carbon Economy Act of 2007 today. Senator Bingman will be making a floor speech at 9:30 a.m. U.S. EDT which can be viewed on C-Span 2.

Expect the text of the bill, along with supporting documents, to be posted at the Senate Energy Committee Web site by this afternoon.

More later.

UPDATE: From the New York Times:

The Bingaman-Specter proposal, dubbed the “Low Carbon Economy Act,” would set a target emissions cap for 2020 at 2006 levels and for 2030 at 1990 levels. Other bills set more stringent targets, but none so far have won majority support.

The new proposal would grant permits to all emitting industries, including oil refineries, natural gas processing plants, manufacturing facilities and coal-burning power plants. Cars, trucks and airplanes are not covered, but owners would face significantly higher fuel prices passed on by oil and gas companies.

Additional emissions permits could be bought at $12 per metric ton of carbon dioxide emissions in the first year, rising by 5 percent above the rate of inflation each year after that. The money from the permits would be widely spread to finance research into clean energy, mitigate the effects of global warming, compensate farmers for higher fuel costs and help low-income families pay their heating and gasoline bills. Under the bill, the United States would market green technology to China, India, Brazil and other developing nations whose economies are growing to help them bring their carbon emissions under control. But it would also impose tariff-like fees on imports of carbon-intensive products like steel and automobiles from those countries if the president deemed their cleanup efforts inadequate.
More later.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

E Magazine and Nuclear Energy

Everyday, we see more indications that the global environmental movement is ready to give a hearing to nuclear energy and the role that it can play in helping to constrain greenhouse gas emissions while supplying reliable and affordable electricity.

I just found another good sign this morning, as E/The Environmental Magazine, is featuring a number of articles on nuclear energy in their current issue.

While I think the editors at E should be applauded for tackling the issue, and I believe that in many ways they've clearly worked to be even-handed, there are a number of areas where they fall short. I'll detail some of those areas now, as well as point to some additional resources of information on NEI's Web site:

A Nuclear Phoenix?

The uranium supply is also an issue. On the spot market, uranium prices have soared as existing reactors have worked through supplies from mothballed plants. Demand is projected to exceed supply and push prices higher. The shortfall in uranium mining can be at least partly made up in uranium enrichment (an outgrowth of atomic bomb development), but capacity is limited there, too.
We've tackled the issue of uranium supply many times, most recently this past March. Essentially, our position remains that short-term strains on the system shouldn't be misinterpreted as a long-term trend. For more, click here and here.
Uranium enrichment also aggravates both global warming and ozone depletion. The single remaining uranium enrichment plant in the U.S., Paducah Gaseous Diffusion in Kentucky, emits highly destructive chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), used to dissipate heat generated by the compressors. And the plant is fired by two large, extremely dirty coal power plants.
This is an old Helen Caldicott talking point that we've debunked before, first here and then here. And finally, here's a detailed response from USEC that we last quoted back in December 2005:
Caldicott Assertion A: Uranium enrichment uses 93 percent of the CFC gas released annually in the United States.

USEC Response A

That calculation is based on 2001 data, when USEC was operating two enrichment facilities. That year, USEC consolidated production at its Paducah plant.

The shutdown of the Portsmouth, OH plant and improvements made in control of CFCs at Paducah have enabled USEC to reduce CFC emissions by about two-thirds.

The Paducah gaseous diffusion plant was built in the 1950s. USEC plans to replace it with highly efficient gas centrifuge technology, which will use no CFCs. The American Centrifuge Plant is expected to begin operations later this decade.

Caldicott Assertion B: Uranium enrichment uses electricity generated by coal-fired plants.

USEC Response B

USEC purchases the majority of its electricity from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which produces electricity using a supply mix of 61% coal, 29% nuclear and 9% hydropower.

The remainder of USEC's purchased power comes primarily from natural gas and nuclear plants.
Living With Radiation
Despite industry campaigns, it’s unlikely most people will ever be totally comfortable with nuclear plants as neighbors.
Really? I suggest you take a look at the public opinion data the industry has been collecting since November 1998 that seems to refute that position.

Nuclear Hydrogen: The Clean Byproduct

For more on nuclear energy and hydrogen, click here.

Nuking Food

Some typical scare tactics from the usual suspects who can't offer any evidence to back up their claims. For more on food irradiation, click here.

No Nukes, Go Nukes: Two Views

From an interview with Aiden Meyer of UCS:
Is it feasible, given the lack of immediately affordable alternatives, for European countries like Germany to announce nuclear power phaseouts?

This question inaccurately assumes that there is a “lack of immediately affordable alternatives.” Germany and other European countries are aggressively expanding power generation from wind and other renewable resources, even as they pursue a wide range of energy-efficiency improvements in every sector of their economies.
But of course, Meyer ignores more recent news that Germany won't be able to meet its aggressive emission reduction targets without nuclear energy, and the changing political situation on the ground.

Toshiba in Talks With Kazatomprom on Westinghouse

Details from Forbes.

On Nuclear Energy and Nonproliferation

Over at DKos, diarist N Nadir is taking on the issue of nuclear energy and nonproliferation:

I have been opposed to nuclear weapons for as long as I can remember, probably because one of my first memories is waking up one morning as a child thinking I was going to be subject to nuclear annihilation in the afternoon. I will not explore the subject too much further here, but I will say that the best strategy for minimizing the probability of nuclear war - and this probability can never again be zero - is to use nuclear power.
Dare I say when I read that paragraph I heard echoes of Dwight Eisenhower?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Another Democrat for Nuclear Energy

Iowa state representative Phil Wise thinks it's time for Democrats to embrace nuclear energy:

Core Democratic constituencies have stepped forward to champion nuclear energy as a cornerstone of economic growth. A number of major labor organizations, such as the Building Trades Department of the AFL-CIO, the Teamsters, the Operating Engineers, the IBEW, Sheetmetal Workers and hundreds of local labor chapters, have adopted policy positions supporting the expansion of nuclear energy. That includes some in our state, such as the Hawkeye Labor Council, the Southeast Iowa Building and Construction Trades and the Quad City Federation of Labor.

Even the environmental community is no longer monolithic in its opposition to nuclear energy. Key leaders within the environmental movement - such as Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore - publicly support the expansion of nuclear power.

[...]

For Democrats and nuclear energy, the landscape has changed rather significantly. This brings with it the possibility of a fresh, bipartisan consensus around nuclear power. Why? Because nuclear power works. It is safe. It is environmentally benign. And because the "times they have changed."
That's an interesting message for the national party to digest.

GE and AREVA Looking at AECL Stake?

According to reports, both GE and AREVA are interested in a stake in AECL.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Signal 94.

Blog Post of the Day

You gotta love this line of thinking:

[L]ast night I curled up with James Lovelock's The Revenge Of Gaia instead of watching Live Earth. I'm pretty sure it was a much better use of my time.
Read the rest right now.

More on Merkel and the German Nuclear Phaseout

Last week, we wrote about how German Prime Minister Angela Merkel was hedging her bets on overturning her nation's planned nuclear phaseout for fear of shattering her coalition government.

Today, the European Tribune picks up on the same theme.

Meanwhile, Earth News is in denial.

UPDATE: More from We Support Lee. Even more, here.

New York on Notice in Summer Heat Wave

From WCBS-TV:

A brutal heat wave that has temperatures nearing the century mark in the tri-state area has New York City utility officials ready to take action should a massive power outage occur for the second time this summer.

Nearly two weeks ago, hundreds of thousands of Consolidated Edison customers lost power in Manhattan and the Bronx apparently due to a bolt of lightning, though the outage did occur on one of the hottest days of the year.

Ever since a power outage in New York City brought thousands of residents and workers onto the streets in August of 2003, along with a series of power outages left thousands of Queens residents without power during some of the hottest days of last July, residents and Con Ed officials alike have been on edge as summer temperatures climb to dangerous levels.
At times like this, it's important to remember that a cadre of folks in the New York metropolitan area are committed to closing Indian Point Energy Center. I wonder what the situation would look like right now if Indian Point disappeared from the electric grid?

Friday, July 06, 2007

Is Nuclear Too Hot to Handle?

Over in the U.K. earlier this week, the Oxford Research Group published another anti-nuclear report, this one titled Too Hot To Handle? The Future Of Civil Nuclear Power.

The report primarily focuses on nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear terrorism, including a two page blip on how nuclear power cannot contribute to reducing climate change. If the name "Oxford Research Group" sounds familiar to our readers, the reason is that we dissected another of their reports earlier this year, dismissing it as just more recycled nonsense.

Well, surprise, surprise, this report offers even more of the same. What's disappointing is that a number of folks in the press couldn't be bothered to look at this report with a critical eye -- and I'm talking about the Guardian over in the U.K.

So while part of me is tired of this game, we'll do it all over again for the benefit of those who haven't been paying attention.

Nuclear industry critics have claimed multiple times that not enough nuclear plants can be built to mitigate climate change. The study which Oxford references (Council on Foreign Relations’ Balancing Benefits and Risks who in turn reference the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research) is one that we debunked earlier this year. Here’s Oxford’s rehashed claim (p. 7):

If we take 2,250 new reactors, then between now and 2075 nearly three new reactors a month would need to start delivering electricity to their respective grids.

A civil nuclear construction and supply programme on this scale is a pipedream.

Here was our rebuttal.

Another report the ORG references is Greenpeace’s Economics of Nuclear Power which we slam dunked about two months ago.

And another source ORG uses was Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith’s skewed attempt to assess nuclear power’s lifecycle emissions. This has been debunked so many times by so many authors that I’m amazed it still gets play. Here’s a link to nuclearinfo.net’s debunking on them thanks to another fellow blogger.

P. 9 of the report:
Unless it can be demonstrated with certainty that nuclear power can make a major contribution to global CO2 mitigation, nuclear power should be taken out of the mix.
A demonstration huh? How about this? Nuclear plants in the U.S. avoid almost the same amount of CO2 emissions that are put out by all the passenger cars in the U.S. in a year.

How about another? Nuclear power accounted for about 71 percent of the U.S.’ emission-free generation of electricity in 2006 (pdf). And how about one more? Worldwide nuclear energy avoids on average the emissions of more than 2 billion metric tons of CO2 per year. There is only one other emission free source of power that avoids just as much emissions as nuclear power and that is hydro. So if nuclear hasn’t been “demonstrated with certainty” that it can make a major contribution to climate change then no sources have according to ORG’s logic.

Onto nuclear proliferation:

P. 11:
Garwin argues that, far from being proliferation resistant, GNEP makes it easier for terrorists to acquire nuclear material suitable for fabricating nuclear weapons. He points out that: “To obtain 10 kg of plutonium from ordinary Pressurised Water Reactor spent fuel containing 1% plutonium, a terrorist would need to acquire and reprocess 1000 kg of highly radioactive material.”
Now I don’t want to sound too dismissive, but some of these arguments on proliferation border on ridiculous. Rather than go into exhaustive detail, I'll just refer you to something Patrick Moore said a few months back during an interview with E&ETV:
It's unfortunate that a lot of activists insist on making us connect those two things as if they're one and the same, nuclear weapons and nuclear energy, but it isn't true. First thing, you don't need a nuclear reactor to make a nuclear weapon. With the new centrifuge technology you just enrich uranium.

That's what Iran is suspected of doing. So there's no nuclear reactor involved in that. They aren't even connected in that sense, because it's easier to make a nuclear bomb with centrifuge technology than it is to use the plutonium from used nuclear fuel after you've had to build a nuclear reactor as well for billions of dollars.

Secondly, do you think that if we shut down all the civilian reactors on this planet, there's over 440 of them, that the generals would give up their bomb making reactors? Because the plutonium and uranium that is being made for the military is not coming out of the civilian reactors. That's coming from special reactors and enrichment plants that belong to the military in the various nuclear capable countries.
No doubt we need to make sure our nuclear facilities remain safe and secure. But to dismiss a technology that already provides substantial benefits to the world would be irresponsible -- especially if that decision would do nothing to promote peace and stability in the world.

Be sure to check out the World Nuclear Association’s take on the report as well.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

German PM Biding Her Time on Nuclear Energy Phaseout Question

From Bloomberg:

Germany's big four power companies including E.ON AG and RWE AG will be forced to improve the efficiency of their power plants under government plans to slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Chancellor Angela Merkel, after talks in Berlin today with utility chief executives, said that she expects power plant productivity to be raised 3 percent each year from 2010, adding that progress would be monitored. With new energy-saving projects, the steps are vital to reducing national emissions by up to 40 percent by 2020, she said.

``It's clear that we have no choice but to act'' to combat global warming, Merkel told reporters in Berlin after the government's third energy summit. ``There is some doubt about whether our goals can be reached,'' she said, though the proposals are ``a reasonable path'' to achieving German targets.

Merkel's decision to spearhead carbon dioxide reduction in the European Union adds pressure on the government to fulfill ambitious targets. The proposals discussed today ranged from light-bulb usage to ``capturing'' CO2 in underground caverns. One scenario examined involved extending the future of nuclear power beyond a planned closure date, though Merkel ruled out any change in nuclear policy before the next election, due in 2009.
Of course, attempting to change course on nuclear energy now would rend her coalition government in two. Then again, if she waits until after the next election, and wins an absolute majority in the Bundestag, that problem will take care of itself.

U.K. Gives Preliminary Approval to 4 Reactor Designs

From Dow Jones:

The U.K. government Thursday gave the preliminary go- ahead to the design of four nuclear reactors, even though it has yet to decide whether to formally support nuclear power.

Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., Areva (CEI.FR), GE Energy, a unit of General Electric Co. (GE), and Westinghouse Electric Co., a unit of Japan's Toshiba Corp (6502.TO) have all submitted individual designs for the four reactors.

"This means the designs have gone through the first phase of the process - the preliminary safety case for each reactor design has been assessed," a spokeswoman for the government told Dow Jones Newswires.

Before the generic designs of the nuclear power plants are completely approved or pre-licensed, the government's new Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform, established just last week by new Prime Minister Gordon Brown, must consider the designs more carefully.

"It is likely that the number of designs to be considered during phase two ( of the generic approval process) will be reduced from four to three due to resource constraints of the regulators," the government said in a statement. It said that it would reduce the number "in due course".
This comes on the heels of yesterday's news that new U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown sees room for nuclear energy in his country going forward:
Britain's future energy supplies would be 'safeguarded' by the construction of new nuclear power stations, said Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Speaking at his first Prime Minister's Questions, Brown said last year's events in Europe, where Russia cut off gas supplies to Ukraine, 'should make it clear to everyone that we cannot rely on an energy policy that makes us wholly dependent on one or two countries or one or two regions around the world'.

'That is why the security of our energy supply is best safeguarded by building a new generation of nuclear power stations,' he said.
For more from the U.K., see what our friends at NAM wrote here and here.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A Funny Post for the Holiday

Courtesy of Off/beat from the Washington Post. For those of you in the U.S., enjoy the Fourth of July.

Australian Catholic Archbishop a Nuclear Energy Convert

From news.com.au:

CONTROVERSIAL Catholic Archbishop Barry Hickey says he is now a nuclear convert, prompting an immediate attack by the green lobby.
A former opponent of nuclear power, he now believes its technology is safe.

A lot had changed since the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster of 1986, but he believes people's view of nuclear energy was tarnished by the incident.

"I was totally opposed to it (nuclear power) 10 years ago, but since then advances in technology have made me less opposed because I can see it can be safe,'' Archbishop Hickey told The Sunday Times.
Of course, some folks aren't happy about this:
Long-time anti-nuclear crusader and former WA Greens senator Jo Vallentine said Archbishop Hickey was out of touch with the realities of nuclear power.

"Goodness me. Is that what he said?'' Ms Vallentine said.
This reminds me a lot of what happened to the late Bishop Hugh Montefiore. Before he died, Montefiore was drummed out of Friends of the Earth when he changed his mind on nuclear energy. Here's hoping Archbishop Hickey sticks to his guns.

U.S. and Russia Issue Joint Declaration on Nuclear Energy and Nonproliferation

From the White House:

We are determined to play an active role in making the advantages of
the peaceful use of nuclear energy available to a wide range of interested
States, in particular developing countries, provided the common goal of
prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons is achieved. To this end, we
intend, together with others, to initiate a new format for enhanced
cooperation.

Bearing this in mind, we acknowledge with satisfaction the initialing
of the bilateral Agreement between the Government of the Russian Federation
and the Government of the United States of America for cooperation in the
field of peaceful use of nuclear energy. We share the view that this
Agreement will provide an essential basis for the expansion of Russian-U.S.
cooperation in the field of peaceful use of nuclear energy and expect this
document to be signed and brought into force in accordance with existing
legal requirements.
Click here to read the rest.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Iowa Voice.

UPDATE: Stop by Vazdot and Seeking Alpha too.

Calling Greenpeace and NIRS to Account

A story that ran yesterday on the AP wire regarding the resurgence of interest in nuclear energy in the U.S. certainly attracted a lot of attention, especially on a Summer afternoon. If you take a look at Digg, you'll see that almost 600 of its users "dugg" the story -- which may be the reason why it came to the attention of the folks at the Knight Science Journalism Tracker:

It is disappointing that (AP's Jay) Lindsay went to Greenpeace and an anti-nuclear outfit called the Nuclear Information and Resource Service for technical remarks. On the political side, such groups are serious, important actors. But to let stand without comment or counter a quote that labels nuclear plants “predeployed nuclear weapons” is a disservice.
No kidding.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Looking at NRG and New Nuclear in Texas

Another diarist at DailyKos (not our friend N Nadir) drove 80 miles to attend a public hearing on NRG's potential plans for new nuclear build in Texas.

He sounds bullish on nuclear energy:

Expanding electricity capacity in Texas from nuclear, wind, and potentially in the future, solar, while pushing hard for conservation is our only hope for a fossil fuel phase-out. Not only are these measures necessary on their own, they provide the necessary foundation for transitioning our transportation network to fully-electric or transitional-synthetic fuels (e.g. DME using CO2 from atmospheric/process sequestration). Unlike other long-term movements towards a sustainable, fossil-fuel free, more socioeconomically just Texas, changing electricity production sources is relatively "behind-the-scenes," and is a path that can be pursued vigorously and immediately because it requires no large, structural rearrangements in society or our built environment. As such, it has a high probability of producing results and does not require the much more complex and difficult consensus that will be required to rebuild our transportation network, suburban development model, health-care networks, and education systems.
Be sure to read the rest right now.