Friday, September 28, 2007

Changing One Mind on Nuclear Energy

CNet's Charles Cooper explains why he changed his mind about nuclear energy.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy


Visit Sci Fi Tech:

Given the choice between nuclear power and rolling brownouts for the rest of my life, I'll take nukes. Given the choice between nuclear power and the real possibility of death from pollution-related respiratory disease, if I had any say in the matter, I'd gladly take even more nukes. And given the choice between nuclear power and climate change, no contest. I'd get every watt I could possibly get from nukes.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Who Are WCBS-TV's Nuclear Experts?

Since the beginning of the week, we've been busy following the developing story coming out of Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania, where a hidden camera video report by New York's WCBS-TV discovered a group of plant security personnel sleeping in the facility's ready room when they should have been wide awake and ready for action.

Since word of the story first leaked out, Exelon, the owner of Peach Bottom, terminated Wackenhut's contract to manage the security force at the plant, as well as banished the officers in the video from getting back into the plant.

In the meantime, we've got a bone to pick with WCBS-TV about one of the wilder claims contained in the report.

“Experts tell CBS 2 HD radiation from a nuclear fire that starts at Peach Bottom would spread and could kill thousands of people as far away as Washington D.C. and New York City. It could leave 188 square miles uninhabitable.”
Then, in the second report ...
“Experts tell CBS 2 News that radiation from a nuclear fire at Peach Bottom would spread and could kill tens of thousands of people as far away as Washington D.C. and New York City.”
That's just not right. It certainly didn't help that the report refused to identify the "experts" that the station was relying on for that conclusion.

So I put in a call to Ralph Andersen, our chief health physicist, to get his take on things. Here's what he told me:
Based on any credible scenario at a nuclear power plant, there would be no impact on public health or safety in New York or Washington, D.C. Without attribution to the basis of these claims, this is the worst kind of fear mongering.
To back up his claims, Ralph pointed me to the following report that's available in our Resource Library that was conducted by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI): Risk Characterization of the Potential Consequences of an Armed Terrorist Ground Attack on a U.S. Nuclear Power Plant (PDF).

For those of you not familiar with EPRI, it was founded in 1973 as a non-profit energy research consortium. Its mission is to provide science and technology-based solutions to global energy customers through scientific research, technology development, and product implementation.

In any case, if you read the EPRI report ...
There is in fact a relatively low likelihood that terrorist threats at a nuclear plant will propagate to severe consequences. The unique physical security, extra strength of the reactor and containment design, and detailed emergency response plans for the public lead to a significant likelihood that terrorists would fail to cause a radioactive release or severe public health effects – even if they were successful at overwhelming the site…
Further ...
Even if a (reactor) core damage accident occurs from terrorist attack, the consequences to the public are not likely to be severe. This is attributable to three factors:
  • Even for extreme types of scenarios, the containment structure that surrounds the reactor is able to capture a significant fraction of the radioactive release before it escapes to the environment;
  • Damage to the reactor core tends to occur over several hours or a longer period, thus allowing time for emergency response measures to be taken; and
  • Longer-term recovery from the accident is likely.
Which leads me to ask: Who are these experts that WCBS-TV and reporter Scott Weinberger (pictured at left) is relying on, and why won't they put them on camera or even name them?

As always, for a look at safety and security at American nuclear power plants -- where the industry has invested more than $3 billion in manpower and capital improvements since 2001 -- click here.

TVA Approaches Bellefonte Vote

Details from Jacksonville.com.

Union Chief: We'll Only Support Politicians Who Support Nuclear Energy

On September 25 at the inaugural United Association Tripartite Conference in Mokena, Illinois, Bill Hite, General President of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, delivered a message to politicians all across the U.S.:

"The Plumbers and Pipe Fitters Union will only support political candidates who support nuclear power."
Thanks, Bill. It's good to know who your friends are. Here's hoping the message gets out.

UPDATE: Organized labor's support for new nuclear is a global phenomenon, with recent support coming from Scotland and South Africa.

NEI's Energy Markets Report - September 17 - 21, 2007

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

Electricity peak prices experienced modest gains at all the hubs except for SP 15 and Palo Verde. SP 15 and Palo Verde decreased by more than $10/MWh last week as temperatures and demand receded (see pages 1 and 3).

Gas prices at the Henry Hub rose from $5.85/MMBtu to $6.22/MMBtu. Storage inventories are currently 8.2 percent above the 5-year average, and about 1 percent below last year’s storage level at this time according to EIA (see pages 1 and 3). Gas futures at the Henry Hub for October 2007 rose to $6.30/MMBtu (see page 2).

Total U.S. electricity production for the week ended September 15 fell 7.8 percent from the previous week. The weekly total was 5.4 percent higher than the corresponding week in 2006 (see page 1).

Nitrogen oxide allowance prices last week were 55 percent lower than the same one-week period for 2006. The average NOx price for June - August 2007 was $632.11/ton, 62 percent lower than June - August 2006. Average NOx prices for the three summer months in 2006 were $1,662.12/ton (see pages 1 and 3).

Cushing OK WTI oil prices increased $2.98 to $78.95/barrel. Crude oil futures also rose to $81.83/barrel for October. According to EIA, the Federal Reserve’s decision to lower interest rates on September 18 could be part of the reason crude oil prices are increasing. The EIA speculates that lower interest rates could cause crude oil prices to increase past the $80/barrel threshold (see pages 1, 2 and 3).
For the report click here. It is also located on NEI's Financial Center webpage.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

NEI's Nuclear Performance - August 2007

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

For August 2007, the average net capacity factor reached 97.6 percent. This figure is 0.9 percentage points higher than the same one-month period in 2006. Monthly nuclear generation was 72.7 billion kilowatt-hours for August 2007, compared to 72.0 bkWh for the same one-month period in 2006. The nuclear generation for August 2007 was the highest month on record compared to all the other months of August for the previous years.

For 2007, year-to-date nuclear generation was 544.8 billion kilowatt-hours, compared to 531.2 bkWh in 2006 (2.6 percent increase) and 519.4 bkWh in the record year of 2004.

According to EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook, preliminary weather information for August indicated cooling degree-days (daily summer mean temperature in Fahrenheit minus 65o F) were 24 percent higher than normal.
For the report click here. It is also located on NEI's Financial Center webpage.

Nuclear Security and Layered Defense

There's a lot of traffic flying around about the video we're seeing coming out of WCBS-TV in New York of guards at the Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant taking a nap in the plant's ready room.

Some other things to note: Exelon, the owner of Peach Bottom, has terminated the Wackenhut contract at the plant, and the guards seen sleeping in the video have been denied access to the plant.

That being said, it's important to note that nuclear power plants have layered defenses. In other words, there's a lot more to the security force than just those guards in the ready room, something that Freakanomics author Stephen J. Dubner found out when he visited Three Mile Island recently:

That said, the security I saw at Three Mile Island was so tight, complex, and thorough that I think it would take a lot more than one sleeping guard to create a vulnerability. They wouldn’t let me photograph anything having to do with their security — the numberless armed guards, physical barriers, electronic monitors, etc. — but I thought they had it backwards: if a potential attacker could see how impenetrable the plant is (at least from a ground attack; an air attack is another matter), he would probably take his business elsewhere in a hurry.
In 2002, EPRI conducted a study on nuclear power plants and air attack at the request of NEI. Click here for the blog post on that issue. For more on the specifics of plant security, click here.

Visiting Bruce A in Ontario

In the Canadian province of Ontario, work is well underway to restart Units 1 and 2 at the Bruce A Nuclear Power Plant. Ed Willet, a freelance writer, recently toured the facility and came away impressed.

New Jersey Voters Favor New Nuclear by Margin of 2-1

From the wire:

Nearly 9 out of 10 New Jersey voters agree that more needs to be done to increase the state’s electricity supplies and, by a 2 to 1 margin, support the use of nuclear power to meet that need, according to a new poll released today by the New Jersey Affordable, Clean, Reliable Energy Coalition (NJ ACRE).

Although the survey showed a majority believe nuclear power to be safe, reliable, affordable and clean, most had no idea that more than half of the electricity consumed in New Jersey comes from nuclear energy plants, placing the figure instead at only 26 percent.

Speaking today at the New Jersey AFL-CIO conference in Atlantic City, Dr. Edward H. Salmon, chairman of the Coalition and a former president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, told the assembled union leaders that the poll underscored the need to educate the public to all available clean energy options.

“We believe nuclear energy, with its proven ability to safely produce large amounts of base-load electricity with zero greenhouse gas emissions, must be part of New Jersey’s overall energy master plan – both in terms of meeting our growing demand for electricity and the need to reduce CO2 emissions,” said Dr. Salmon, who called for the re-licensing of Oyster Creek nuclear plant along with increased conservation measures and significant investment in renewable energy sources.
For more, click here.

UPDATE: For the actual poll results, click here (PDF).

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

NRG Files License Applications with NRC for New Reactors at the South Texas Project

My apologies for the lack of posts today, as I was down on Capitol Hill this morning for the press event announcing NRG's license application with NRC to build an additional two reactors at the site of the South Texas Project. For more details directly from NRG, click here.

I was at the event with my video camera, so I should have some footage to share later this afternoon. Congratulations to everyone at NRG and STP on taking an important first step -- one that hasn't been taken in the U.S. since 1978 -- on the road to building America's next new nuclear reactor.

UPDATE: Here's NRG Energy's President and CEO, David Crane, at the press conference:

video

UPDATE: And here's a clip of a statement from Senator Pete Domenici:

video

Monday, September 24, 2007

Exelon Terminates Wackenhut Security Contract at Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant

By now, I'm sure most of you have seen the news that NRC has sent a team to Exelon's Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant to investigate allegations that security personnel at the plant had been "inattentive" while on duty. That news followed items in the press from last week that one or more security guards had been caught on videotape sleeping on the job -- footage of which will reportedly be shown tonight on WCBS-TV in New York.

Earlier this afternoon, Exelon announced that it had completed its own internal investigation, and that it was terminating Wackenhut's contract to manage security forces at Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant effective immediately.

The following is the complete text from an Exelon press announcement:

Exelon Nuclear today gave Wackenhut Nuclear Security notice that it will terminate its contract to manage security forces at the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station. This follows an internal investigation in connection with Wackenhut security officers being videotaped sleeping or otherwise inattentive in a station ready room, the company announced today.

“This is not acceptable and we will not tolerate it,” said Exelon Generation Chief Operating Officer Chris Crane. “I want to be clear that nothing has happened at Peach Bottom that represents a security or safety threat to the public. We are dealing with unacceptable behavior, and we will fix it.”

While the most prominent step is removing Wackenhut at Peach Bottom, “we have taken and will take additional measures to prevent this from recurring,” Crane said.
A broad review of security management by Wackenhut is underway at all of Exelon Nuclear’s 10 operating nuclear energy sites. At Peach Bottom, employees are being informed of the decision and related changes.

“We have a high level of confidence in the vast majority of the security forces who guard our plants,” Crane said. “These are well-trained, dedicated security professionals. Our immediate concern is with how they are managed and the performance standards they are asked to meet.”

Exelon is cooperating with the NRC in the matter and has brought in outside experts to participate in the internal investigation, which began immediately after the company received its first information about the inattentive officers.

The video images of inattentive officers were taken in what is known as a “ready room,” or assembly room, a secured location within Peach Bottom where they are allowed to read, study, eat or relax but remain ready to respond to a plant location if called upon. It is used as a break room at certain times. The videos appear to have been taken two to six months ago.

The videos that Exelon officials viewed showed security officers in the assembly room nodding off or sleeping, which is not allowed at any time. The inattentive officers were sitting in chairs.

“It is important for us to emphasize again that the actions we have seen on the videotape and found in our internal inquiry did not directly impact the safety and security of the plant,” Crane said. “However, we will not accept, we will not allow, any member of our security force to be anything other than fully alert at all times on duty. This is a long-standing and well-understood principle on which we will never compromise.”

Exelon Nuclear has procedures and guidelines in place to prevent inattentiveness among its security forces, which protect nuclear stations 24 hours a day. Work hours are carefully monitored to prevent fatigue. In addition, officers are regularly rotated among stations and must check in with a supervisor regularly.

Exelon Nuclear will has begun transitioning security forces at the plant to a new Exelon-owned security subsidiary, which will manage Peach Bottom security.
For more on plant security, click here for information from NEI's Web site. For more details on the termination, visit the Philadelphia Inquirer.

International Uranium Fuel Seminar 2007

Next month in New Orleans, NEI is sponsoring its International Uranium Fuel Seminar:

Royal Sonesta Hotel
New Orleans, Louisiana
October 14-17, 2007

Demand for primary uranium and conversion and enrichment services is rising substantially as reactor new-build programs advance. Decades of chronic underinvestment in the fuel cycle, limited new uranium production, concerns over global warming and energy security, and dramatic shifts in international geopolitical powers are creating highly volatile and nonrational behavior in the world nuclear fuel supply markets. Although new financial instruments may allow producers and buyers to manage uranium price risk, innovative approaches to expedite the financing, permitting and licensing of new fuel cycle infrastructure and for fuel procurement are urgently needed.

Join your colleagues in New Orleans to explore these rapidly evolving issues affecting fuel cycle supply and demand, with a global view of today’s fuel commerce. Share insights on fuel supply issues, new centers of uranium production, trends in uranium pricing and risk management, investment opportunities, and policy developments.
Click here to register.

Nuclear Energy as a Campaign Issue in Canada

Click here and here for details from Ontario.

As always, for the skinny on Canadian energy issues, check out Stephen Aplin.

Cap and Trade vs. Carbon Tax

A discussion at Asymmetrical Information.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Bacon's Rebellion has just read Gov. Tim Kaine's Energy Plan for Virginia, and they like what they're reading when it comes to the development of the nuclear energy industry in the Old Dominion:

Between Dominion's power plants, Pittsylvania's uranium mines, Lynchburg's nuclear manufacturing/service companies and Northrop Grumman's shipyard, Virginia has the potential to assemble a world-class nuclear power cluster -- not just mining, but designing, manufacturing, installation and servicing. With all those capabilities concentrated in a small geographic area, who knows what synergies might develop?
Who knows, indeed?

UPDATE: Critical Miami is liking what it's hearing these days too.

On The Trail With Joseph Mangano

Joseph Mangano is up to his old tricks again, this time in Missouri. For the truth about what he's up to, click here for a look at our archives.

China and Global Uranium Supplies

Now that India is committed to beefing up its own domestic nuclear energy program, it's beginning to worry about China's efforts to secure its own future supplies of uranium.

Very interesting.

Scotland and Nuclear Energy

In yesterday's edition of the Guardian (U.K.), Robin McKie talked to Jim McDonald, director of Strathclyde University's centre for energy and the environment about what Scotland's future would look like without nuclear energy:

'Scotland requires about 5.5 to 6 gigawatts of electricity to keep its offices running, its homes warm and its factories working,' he points out. 'We can now generate almost 10 gigawatts and export the excess to England. With no replacements for Hunterston and Torness, that will stop. Nuclear power now provides 40 per cent of our power baseload. Without it, we would end up importing power and I don't see how a country seeking full autonomy can justify that.'
For those of you who aren't familiar with the situation, the current government in Scotland is poised to both oppose any effort to build new nuclear plants in that country, as well as work to prevent any moves to extend the operational life of its current nuclear fleet.

As you can see from our archives on the subject, any sort of decisions like that will be fraught with peril.

Visiting Davis-Besse

Last Friday, Gary Petersen and a group of parents and students involved in home schooling in the Toledo area visited the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant. Congrats to Chip Palazzo and everyone at First Energy for continuing to reach out to the community and tell our industry's story.

Friday, September 21, 2007

A Green Nuclear Future for New Jersey?

At Forbes, Public Service Enterprise Group President and CEO Larry Izzo is touting the benefits of nuclear energy in a balanced energy portfolio:

[B]oth wind and solar will remain small parts of the energy mix for the foreseeable future. We will still need large power stations that can supply electricity with zero- or low-carbon emissions--and do so abundantly around the clock throughout the year and not just on sunny or windy days.

Nuclear stations are the greenest option available to provide this power. The most widely discussed alternative--carbon capture and storage technology--needs to be developed but is a distant and uncertain prospect at this time.

Looking further ahead, we can anticipate significantly greater demands on the electric grid as we move toward a low-carbon economy. Americans are on course to consume 40% more electricity by 2030. The greening of the transportation sector could conceivably increase this growth considerably more over time: A future in which people plug in their cars to recharge overnight will have an even greater need for the clean air advantages of nuclear-generated electricity.
More on the situation in the state from Patrick Moore.

Space Travel and Nuclear Propulsion


I know we talk a lot about electricity generation here at NEI Nuclear Notes, but it's important to remember that there are plenty of other peaceful uses of nuclear technology that deserve some attention. Over at Wired, they're looking at how companies building space probes are beginning to push for new developments in nuclear propulsion.

For more on nuclear propulsion in space travel, click here.

GE and Hitachi Ink Deal for Nine Mile Point Uprate

Details from GE.

GE Eyes AECL Stake

Details from the Globe and Mail.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Nuclear Energy for Utah?

Details from the Deseret Morning News.

CCAN on New Nuclear Build

Here's something that might be of interest to the friends of the nuclear power plants at Calvert Cliffs in Maryland and North Anna in Virginia. The folks over at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network blog are asking their readers what they think of nuclear energy. Here's their position:

In terms of greenhouse gas reductions [nuclear energy] is not a deal breaker. Despite the many negatives of nuclear energy, one positive is that it generates almost no carbon dioxide. [CCAN does] not advocate building a single new nuclear power plant, but neither [does it] advocate shutting down existing ones in the face of rapid global warming.
While I'm happy to see the folks at CCAN acknowledging the contribution that nuclear energy plays in helping to constrain greenhouse gas emissions going forward, I can't help but be struck by this balancing act. After all, if you're going to concede that point, isn't it implicit in this position that environmentalists were wrong to oppose nuclear energy in the first place?

In any case, I'm happy to see some evolution in their position, and hold out hope that we might see some more. I'm also heartened by the fact that they seem to be open to a dialog with outsiders. So be sure to stop by and join the debate.

Baker Center to Host Conference on Nuclear Energy

Details from Tennessee Journalist. Patrick Moore is on the agenda.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

NEI Statement on GNEP Announcement

On Sunday, September 16, 11 new nations became part of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership at a meeting in Vienna, Austria. The following is an official statement from Marv Fertel, NEI's Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer concerning that announcement:

video

For more on GNEP, click here.

More on Jane Fonda and Nuclear Energy

Earlier this week, I pointed to a New York Times Magazine piece by the authors of Freakonomics that asked what effect Jane Fonda and the movie The China Syndrome had on the American nuclear energy industry and U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases.

Since then, plenty of others have weighed in on the piece, most recently, Geoffrey Styles over at Energy Outlook:

When we assess nuclear power as an option for dealing with our energy security and emissions concerns, we ought to consider what a new fleet of reactors would enable, in terms of reducing our reliance on coal--with its implied dependence on future carbon sequestration--and providing large quantities of reliable off-peak power for the plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars that look like our lowest net-environmental-impact alternatives for displacing gasoline in the medium term. Are those benefits significant enough to warrant a more pragmatic approach to nuclear power and its byproducts? I believe so, and there are at least a few environmentalists who share that view. On balance, the risks of nuclear power look more manageable than the uncertainties of climate change or an unstable Middle East.
As always, an interesting conclusion from Geoffrey. For more thoughts, click here.

NEI President and CEO Skip Bowman at the Commonwealth Club

Last week, NEI's President and CEO, Skip Bowman, addressed the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The topic: "Clean Energy for California". To watch the video, use the player that's below. For the text of the speech, click here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

NEI Job Opening: Project Manager

From time to time, we're going to be listing job openings at NEI here at NEI Nuclear Notes. Our first listing is for a project management position in NEI's Engineering Department:

The Nuclear Energy Institute’s (NEI) Engineering Department has an immediate opening for a Project Manager (PM). The initial assignment will be to manage the regulatory interface on fire protection issues. Responsibilities will change over time in response to regulatory pressure, industry priorities, and personal experience and interests. Minimum requirements for the position are an engineering degree and at least 7 years experience in the nuclear industry. Other important attributes include nuclear plant systems experience, project manager experience and familiarity with fire protection related regulations.

NEI works issues through a committee structure where the assigned PM manages the activities of a committee of industry experts who meet regularly with the NRC to achieve resolution of generic issues with regulatory significance.
To apply, send your resume to resumes-at-nei.org.

FP&L Seeks Uprates at St. Lucie, Turkey Point

Details from the Palm Beach Post.

For some more data on power uprates at U.S. nuclear plants, click here, here and here.

Space-Based Solar Power?

Cosmic Log has the details.

Should Democrats Embrace Nuclear Energy?

For Daily Kos diarist bryfry, the answer is yes:

Now is the time for Democrats to champion real solutions (note: that's plural; there are more than one solution) that don't require fossil fuels. Nobody is saying that efficiency, conservation, or renewables should be discarded. On the contrary, they are absolutely essential. But to leave out nuclear energy -- the one energy source that has proven itself in the US, in France, in Japan, and is today proving itself in over 400 currently operating reactors worldwide -- is simply ludicrous.

Democrats should say yes to nuclear energy. Now is the chance to provide real answers to one of the most important questions of our time: how will we live and where will the energy come from? The opportunity is too great to pass up.
For more, read this Boston Globe op ed from John Dyson and Matt Bennett.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gwyneth Cravens and the Long Now Foundation

Last week we told you about Gwyneth Cravens, a former anti-nuclear protester who has done a 180 degree about face on building new nuclear plants. Last Friday night, Cravens participated in a discussion on nuclear energy sponsored by Stewart Brand's Long Now Foundation about her new book, The Power to Save the World:

Comparing the environmental footprint of nuclear versus coal was the most persuasive mind-changer for Cravens. Coal involves vast quanities of mine spoil, vast quantities of fuel, vast quantities of pollution (including mercury and uranium), and vast quantities of carbon dioxide poured into the atmosphere. Nuclear, by contrast, uses the most concentrated form of energy in the world, the plants are small, and the waste amounts to one Coke can per person’s lifetime of energy use.
For more, stop by O'Reilly Radar.

This Week in Nuclear, Episode #48

John Wheeler is back with his nuclear energy podcast after a Summer hiatus. Welcome back, John.

Blame It All on Jane Fonda?

When it comes to the troubles of the nuclear energy industry in the 1970s, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt have decided on the #1 culprit:

If you were asked to name the biggest global-warming villains of the past 30 years, here’s one name that probably wouldn’t spring to mind: Jane Fonda.
Read it all to the end. I'm curious to see what folks think. For those of you too young to remember Three Mile Island, click here for the NEI fact sheet.

For other views, see We Support Lee and Peter Magnuson.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Analysis of BREDL’s/Mangano’s Vogtle Health Claims

Back in June 2007, the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League along with Joseph Mangano released a report on the supposed “Health Risks of Adding New Reactors to the Vogtle Nuclear Plant.”


The report analyzed the 11 counties closest to the existing Vogtle reactors for infant mortalities and cancer deaths. Based on their findings, they have concluded that the two existing reactors would cause “over 500 excess cancer deaths in Burke County” over the projected 40 year license period. The report also states that “adding two new reactors could potentially double the total.”

The mortality rates the report cites comes from the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control. The website with the data can be found here.

For my rebuttal, I only looked at the numbers for Burke County, GA (the county housing the Vogtle reactors). After corroborating the data for this county, I found so many incongruities in the analysis that I felt I didn’t need to look at any other counties.

To start with, I pulled the infant mortality data off the CDC website from 1979 to 1998 which the report cites on page 16. Only 11 years of data were available but were good enough to match the results from the report. Below is a chart with the number of infant mortalities in Burke County (data not available for ’84, ’92, ’94).

Below is another chart on the airborne emissions from the Vogtle Nuclear Plant based on the data presented in the report on page 7. According to the report, the emissions are “Iodine-131 and particulates, which includes all isotopes with a half-life of more than eight days.”

Vogtle 1 began initial criticality in March 1987 and Vogtle 2 in March 1989. After looking at the two charts above, a correlation cannot be seen between the start-up and operation of the reactors, and an increase in infant mortalities. By using the correlation equation in Excel, a correlation of only 4.2% was found between 1987 and 1993 (0 percent is no correlation and 100 percent is a perfect positive correlation).

On page 16, the report shows the total number of infant mortalities from 1985-1987 (16), and from 1988-1990 (28). The change in the rate of infant deaths between the two periods comes out to 70.1 percent. But if you look at the chart and the rest of the data available above by year, the number of infant mortalities does not show much, if anything, of an increase after the start of the reactors.

It’s convenient how the data in the report lines up to paint the picture of correlation. But that’s all it is: convenient.

Here’s a list of some of the causes of deaths for the infants off the CDC database.

Extreme immaturity (’87, ’89, ’90), respiratory problems (’85, ’86, ’87, ’88, ’89, ’90), down syndrome (’87), SIDS (’88), and meningitis due to unspecified bacterium (’89) to name a few.

It's impossible that these could be caused by the effluents of the Vogtle plant. For some reason, though, none of these were mentioned in the report. I wonder why.

Moving on to total cancer deaths.

If the reader goes to page 21 of the report, they will find selective data on the cancer deaths from all ages combined. Again, the report chooses time periods which suitably fits the perception that the Vogtle reactors cause cancer deaths. Check out my chart below on the cancer death rates from 1979-2003.

There is an obvious increase shown by the trendline in the cancer death rates for that specific period above. Let’s show only the years for the period displayed in the report (1987 – 1990).


The data clearly shows a declining trend from 1987 to 1990. See below for the yearly data for the period 1991 to 2003.

The chart also shows a declining trend for 1991 to 2003. What’s going on here? Cancer death rates for the selected periods are both declining, yet for the entire period (1979-2003), an increasing trend seems to be occurring. Well folks, that’s how you manipulate the outcome.

Page 21 of the report shows the combined rates of each period where the latter comes out to show there is an increase in the rate of cancer deaths. This data is correct. However, I’ve shown the same data broken out by year in a different light, and was able to show completely opposite conclusions.

Who is right then?

To find this answer, one needs to at least determine if there’s a correlation between total cancer death rates and total effluents from the reactors. By using Excel, the correlation between the years 1987 to 2003 comes out to 53.4 percent. This is a much higher correlation than the 4.2% found with infant mortality rates.

However, a 53.4 percent correlation is not enough. To prove there is some correlation between the reactors’ effluents and cancer deaths, the percent needs to be at least 80 and above. Some would argue it would need to be at least 90.

The report appears to have bypassed this initial screening, and moved on to data manipulation. The actual numbers are not wrong. As proved above, though, it just so happens that the authors were able to work the data to fit their presumptive conclusions.

For other debunkings on Mr. Mangano's dross click here.

Friday, September 14, 2007

On Hybrid Vehicles and Nuclear Energy, CNN Misses the Point


Over at CNN.com, Rachel Oliver is taking a closer look at hybrid gas/electric vehicles (like the Toyota Prius) and the impact they could make in helping to constrain greenhouse gas emissions. It's an interesting piece, but she gets one thing very, very wrong:

A US Department of Energy (DoE) study found that 73% of the nearly 217 million vehicles on America's roads could be charged with existing power plants to generate the electricity to charge the cars - and greenhouse gases would fall by 27% as a result.

The problem is, existing power plants often means coal or nuclear power, so "dirty" energy powering "clean" cars kind of misses the point. The DoE study also found -- not surprisingly - that particulate emissions would increase with the power grid having to charge all these vehicles.
Actually, it's Oliver who is missing the point. As we've mentioned time and again, nuclear reactors don't emit any greenhouse gases, so linking them with coal plants simply doesn't make any sense.

Then again, I guess I shouldn't be surprised. It was back in May that some of our own polling discovered that much of the public was unclear on the role nuclear energy plays in constraining the emission of greenhouse gases and other pollutants while providing reliable and affordable electricity.

Still, Oliver is a reporter, and really doesn't have any excuse for being this sloppy. Shame on her.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Is Mario Cuomo Another Democrat for Nuclear Energy?

Over at DMI Blog, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo has been writing a series of posts on new priorities for progressive politicians. Today, he turned to his suggestions for strengthening the economy, including his ideas for energy policy.

In the nuclear energy business, Cuomo is best known for leading the opposition to the opening of the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on Long Island -- a plant that was complete and ready to begin providing reliable, emission-free electricity to a region that has traditionally paid some of the highest utility rates in the nation.

Which is why the following words come as something of a surprise:

We should also take a fresh look at nuclear energy that uses uranium, a fuel that is available, less expensive and a good replacement for fossil fuels that produce dangerous carbon dioxide emissions. Until now nuclear energy in the United States has been discouraged because the construction technology has been imperfect, siting has been done carelessly and there is not yet a safe and convenient way to dispose of nuclear wastes. If we can find a way to travel to the moon and back we can solve all these technological problems as well, especially since it’s clear that France has been doing it for many years.

Ultimately the use of nuclear power for energy instead of destructiveness should be a vital part of our non-proliferation strategy with Iran, North Korea and other nations.
While Cuomo straddles on enough points here to cover his previous opposition to Shoreham, the statement as a whole -- which seems to include an endorsement of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) or something like it -- is something of a revelation.

I'll be watching for more from the former Governor in this area. Please recall that his son, Andrew, is currently serving as Attorney General for the State of New York.

Virginia's Energy Plan

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has just released his state energy policy, and while the media coverage doesn't talk much about the role of nuclear energy, our old friend Lisa Stiles says in a note that the details of the report are another story entirely:

The article in the Times Dispatch doesn't talk much about nuclear other than the issue of uranium mining, but if you go through the actual plan (PDF) there is plenty of discussion. All in all I'm impressed with this Democratic governor's embrace of nuclear as one of Virginia's core energy assets, though there are a few lines here and there that rankle me (operational costs [for] nuclear are higher than solar and wind?).
Interesting stuff. Again, click here (PDF) for a copy of the plan.

The Truth About the Price Anderson Act

Following up on the link we provided to yesterday's debate at Shakesville, Rod Adams has done a nice cost/benefit analysis on the Price Anderson Act.

For more information on Price Anderson, click here.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

NEI's Energy Markets Report - September 3 - 7, 2007

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

Electricity peak prices all decreased across the country last week except for ERCOT. In the West, the Palo Verde and SP 15 hubs decreased by more than $28/MWh after the summer heat wave receded. Price declines of less than $2/MWh occurred at the Eastern hubs (see pages 1 and 3).

Gas prices at the Henry Hub rose $0.03 to $5.60/MMBtu (see pages 1 and 3). Due to low natural gas prices, Chesapeake Energy Corp. announced it will cut 6 percent of its gas production in September. Gas futures at the Henry Hub for October 2007 were $5.65/MMBtu. For September 2008, Henry Hub futures were $7.68/MMBtu (see page 2).

TradeTech’s and UxC’s uranium spot prices remained unchanged for the week. Average uranium prices for the current week, last four weeks and the past year are about $90/lb U3O8 (see pages 1 and 3).

The estimated U.S. nuclear plant availability factor averaged 97% for the week. Quad Cities 1 was down for maintenance on a main steam line drain valve and a high pressure coolant injection isolation valve. Browns Ferry 1 scrammed due to an electro-hydraulic control (EHC) system leak. Turkey Point 3 began the first refueling outage for the Fall 2007 outage season (see pages 2 and 4).

Due to hot summer temperatures in August, EIA’s Short Term Energy Outlook projected 2007 total electricity consumption will increase by 2.5 percent over 2006 levels (last month’s STEO projected a 1.9 percent increase for 2007). For the year, the Henry Hub spot price is expected to average about $7.31 per mcf in 2007 and $8.07 per mcf in 2008. Oil market fundamentals will likely remain tight reflecting continued production restraint by members of OPEC, rising consumption, moderate growth in non-OPEC supply, and falling inventories (see pages 2 and 5).
For the report click here. It is also located on NEI's Financial Center webpage.

Clean Air Energy Ad Run Begins


The fall run of NEI’s “Nuclear. Clean Air Energy” branding advertising begins this week with print advertising in The Washington Post (Page A12 today) as well as The Washington Times, National Journal, Congressional Quarterly, Congress Daily, CQ Today, The Hill, Roll Call, State Legislatures and Governing magazine.

The campaign also includes morning drive radio advertising on seven inside-the-beltway radio stations and television advertising on news and public affairs programs such as Meet the Press, News Hour, The Situation Room and various other CNN shows. To view the television ad, click here.

The campaign extends through the last week of September.

Nuclear Energy is a Good Neighbor

Here in the U.S., we like to talk about how nuclear power plants enjoy strong support from neighboring communities. As it turns out, you can also find that kind of support in the U.K. as well.

For more on the strong public support nuclear energy enjoys in the U.S., click here.

For some encouraging poll results from the U.K., click here.

Patrick Moore on the Stump

He's in Michigan, on the case for the CASEnergy Coalition. Coverage from the Ann Arbor News and the Detroit News.

To join the coalition, click here.

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Say hello to David Danielson of the MIT Nuclear Blog.

Carbon Tax or Cap and Trade?

The Wall Street Journal takes a look at the debate over how to constrain carbon emissions.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Toyota Powering Plug-In Vehicles With French Nuclear Energy


From the IHT:

Would you feel better about the environment by filling up on electricity generated by a nuclear plant than plain, old gasoline?

That’s one of the questions Toyota may face as part of a partnership with Electricite de France announced Wednesday at a glitzy Toyota showroom on the Champs-Elysees in Paris.

The companies are setting up a “smart network” of plug-in points and household sockets that would charge users for filling up on French electricity, most of which comes from the country’s dozens of nuclear plants. Unlike coal, gas and oil plants, nuclear emits virtually zero carbon dioxide, although it does leave radioactive waste that troubles many citizens and environmentalists.

By charging cars at night, drivers would emit virtually no CO2 because that’s when nuclear plants are providing almost all the country’s base load of electricity, said Pierre Gadonneix, EDF’s chief executive.
I'd be willing to plug my car in at night? How about you?

NRC Chairman Dale Klein on the Nuclear Comeback

Click here for an interview with the Idaho Statesman.

Blogging About Watts Bar

Before Knoxville News reporter Andrew Eder wrote about the Watts Bar project, he blogged about it.

Another Debate Over Nuclear Energy

Today, the debate has moved to Shakesville:

In the eagerness not to be called any names, people try to convince themselves nukes are worth trying. Again. But that's not cost-free comfort. The money spent on nukes can't be spent on energy efficiency, which, by itself, could achieve the majority, not some piddling fraction, of the carbon reductions we need (see, e.g, pdf, American Solar Energy Society summary of studies, 2007, p. 32.)

That bears repeating. Energy efficiency in transportation, buildings, and industry could reduce energy needs by over 50%. Energy efficiency does not involve a reduction in living standards. One could argue that the reduced pollution is actually an improvement. Nukes, with all their costs and radiation, assuming pie-in-the-sky building schedules, could provide barely a fifth of that, and then only for a few decades. So, between industry executives and stroller-pushing greenies, who, exactly, is the cloth-headed idealist who is avoiding the facts?
If you have the chance, please stop by and jump into the debate. As always, please be respectful.

NRC to Hold Public Meeting on Bellefonte

From the AP:

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission plans a public meeting Tuesday night at Northeast Alabama Community College on a proposed nuclear plant in Jackson County.

A group of power utilities is expected to submit an application to the NRC on Oct. 31 for a license to build and run two reactors at the Tennessee Valley Authority's Bellefonte site near Hollywood. As part of that group, TVA spokesman John Moulton says the agency would be the licensee because it owns the site.

NRC spokesman Roger Hannah said Tuesday's meeting will be for informational purposes only. He said the public is invited to ask questions.
For directions to the campus, click here.

Sarkozy Urges Germany to Reconsider Nuclear Energy

Details from Energy Daily. For more, see We Support Lee.

Another Environmentalist for Nuclear Energy

Over at Atomic Insights, Rod Adams reviews The Power to Save the World: The Truth About Nuclear Energy. What's interesting about the book is that its author, Gwyneth Cravens, is a former anti-nuke who was part of the opposition to the Shoreham Nuclear Power Plant on Long Island. But after spending decades talking to people working in the nuclear industry, she's changed her mind:

[A]s a native of Albuquerque, NM, she had the opportunity to develop a social acquaintance with Rip Anderson, one of the leading researchers and practitioners of probabilistic risk assessment of nuclear facilities.

Her occasional discussions with Dr. Anderson began to disturb her previously firm belief that nuclear power represented an unreasonably risky endeavor that should not be allowed to flourish. Eventually, she decided that she needed to learn more - I love people like that! Through her connection with Dr. Anderson, she set up visits to mines, a uranium mill, waste storage facilities in Idaho, a coal fired steam plant, a nuclear power plant, the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, Yucca Mountain, and probably some other sites that I have overlooked in the list.

At each site she met with people who patiently - most of the time - explained their jobs, shared personal stories about why they think they those jobs are important and discussed why they disagree with the common perceptions about nuclear energy. She saw with her own eyes the contrast between a nuclear plant where one of the workers stated "you can eat off of the floor" and a coal plant where such a comment would be ridiculous. She saw how waste is handled in both the nuclear world and the fossil fuel world. In short, she had a journey of discovery that resulted in a complete shift of view.
It sounds like a very interesting story. I'll be sure to pick it up myself and add it to the library here at NEI.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Senator Christopher Dodd on Nuclear Energy

From an interview in Salon:

Do you believe nuclear power has a role to play in America's energy future?

I understand the safety and security concerns with nuclear power and share many of them -- I live three miles away from a nuclear power plant. But nuclear power is an option to reduce global warming, which I don't believe we can afford to take off the menu of options, not when we rely on it for close to one-quarter of our power.

However, the nuclear waste generated is an environmental hazard that I'm deeply concerned about. While the temporary solution of storing waste in dry casks may be safe, we must find a resolution to long-term concerns. We must invest in R&D to develop safe and secure ways for permanent disposal that will protect our environment, our water supply and our country's national security. We are not alone in this pursuit, and as president I will join forces with our allies around the world facing the same problem.

Defending Ex-Duke Power Executive Bill Coley

Today's edition of The Telegraph (U.K.) is featuring an interview with Bill Coley, CEO of British Energy. For the most part, it's quite good, detailing Coley's rise through the ranks at Duke Power from his days working at a coal plant in North Carolina all the way to his elevation to President of the company.

Unfortunately, while the story provides a full picture of Coley's tenure at Duke, the headline is more than a little misleading: How Britain's nuclear chief Bill Coley left the US under a cloud.

That little detail annoyed Rod Adams, who did a little digging of his own to correct the record:

As I dug through that information, I still did not find anything that indicated any blame associated with Bill Coley other than a statement that said that the audit "was silent" on his involvement.

Based on having met the man and having talked to people who know him well, I find his explanation for his career choices far more satisfying than the vague innuendo that he was somehow forced from his job at Duke.
For more details, read the rest of Rod's post right now.

NRC Announces COL Public Meetings

Details from We Support Lee.

Charting South Africa's Energy Future

Details from The Times (South Africa).

The Fight Over Scotland's Energy Future

Scotland's First Minister says his country needs no new nuclear power plants.

But others say he needs a "reality check".

UPDATE: We Support Lee did some digging to buttress the argument.

The Case for Nuclear Power

Former EPA Secretary and CASEnergy Coalition co-chair Christine Todd Whitman has an op-ed in this week's edition of Business Week entitled, The Case for Nuclear Power:

I am addicted to electricity. So are you. And so is your business. We live in an "always on" world—air conditioners, streetlights, TVs, PCs, cell phones, and more. And with forecasts that we'll need 40% more electricity by 2030, determining how we can realistically feed our energy addiction without ruining our environment is the critical challenge of the new century.

Of course, we could buy energy-saving appliances or drive fuel-efficient cars. We can recycle cans, bottles, and newspapers. We can even plant carbon-absorbing trees. But, no matter how much we may wish they would, these acts by themselves won't satisfy our energy demands. To do that, we need a diverse energy mix that takes a practical, rather than emotional, approach.

Enter nuclear energy. Nuclear alone won't get us to where we need to be, but we won't get there without it. Despite its controversial reputation, nuclear is efficient and reliable. It's also clean, emitting no greenhouse gases or regulated air pollutants while generating electricity. And with nuclear power, we get the chance to preserve the Earth's climate while at the same time meeting our future energy needs.
Be sure to stop by and join the debate in the comments section. As always, to join CASEnergy, click here.

Should New Zealand Re-Think Its Anti-Nuclear Energy Position?

Coming out of last week's APEC summit in Australia, New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark took credit for watering down some of the official statements about nuclear energy and climate change.

But as it turns out, not everyone back home in New Zealand thought that was a good idea. From the New Zealand Herald:

That nuclear power poses risks is indisputable. But those risks need to be assessed in context of the certain - not potential - environmental havoc that is being wrought by the use of fossil fuels to generate energy. In the US, more than 600 coal-fired power plants produce 36 per cent of that country's - and almost 10 per cent of the world's - emissions of carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. China is building a new coal-fired power station every week.

[...]

It may well be that nuclear power is not viable here on practical or political grounds, though the likelihood is that we will fail to meet our emissions-reduction targets without a change in energy strategy. But we do ourselves and the world no favours by refusing out of hand to endorse or explore the nuclear option. When the biosphere collapses, it won't spare this country just because we remained philosophically pure.
Kiwiblog and @ my wits' end took notice too.

Enel Report: Italy Needs to Restart Nuclear Energy Program

From Bloomberg:

Italy should restart nuclear power generation and European nations must improve cooperation on natural-resource policy to best deal with growing energy demand, a report prepared for Enel SpA, Italy's largest power company.

Energy security necessitates a review of its fuel mix including the ``reintroduction of nuclear power in Italy,'' as well as the ``development of renewable energy'' sources such as wind, according to the report prepared for Enel by The European House-Ambrosetti, a business consulting company with headquarters in Milan.

The report was presented today at a conference in Cernobbio, Italy, that was attended by Enel Chief Executive Officer Fulvio Conti, and European Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

Italian power prices are some of the most expensive in the 27-member European Union, partly because the country depends on expensive gas to run many of its power plants. Enel is also investing in coal, another fuel the report says must be used to increase Italian energy security. The country did away with nuclear energy in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl accident.
Here's a couple of other numbers that you ought to keep in mind when talking about Italy's electricity situation.

In 2005, Italy imported 16.2% of its total electricity consumption. Of that, 30% was imported from France, which derives about 85% of its electricity from nuclear energy. Those figures were derived from IEA's Electricity Information 2007.

Friday, September 07, 2007

NRC Prepares for Avalanche of Paperwork

From the AP:

Federal regulators, girding for explosive growth in the nuclear power industry, say they are weeks away from an anticipated flood of license applications for new reactors not seen since the 1970s.

"There are a lot of challenges for new construction," said Bill Borchardt, director of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's newly created Office of New Reactors. "And a lot of challenges for the NRC."

The independent regulatory agency expects to receive new fast-tracked combined construction and operating license applications for as many as 29 reactors at 20 sites, most in the South, over the next three years.

The first could come as early as Oct. 1, the start of the federal fiscal year.

"We have never had to do this many reviews at one time in parallel with an office that has only existed for less than 12 months," Borchardt said Thursday at the NRC's reactor training center in Chattanooga.

"Nobody thinks this is going to be easy."

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Visit Politics in the Zeroes and Kiwiblog.

Ron Paul on Nuclear Energy

Jay Taylor of the Web site 321 Gold interviewed Congressman Ron Paul back in 2006 and asked him what he thought of nuclear energy:

Do you anticipate that nuclear energy will provide some solutions to higher energy prices? China and India are building nuclear plants, and they have a large number of new plants planned for the future. Do you favor this form of energy?

CONGRESSMAN PAUL: I think it will come. I think it is a good answer. I have a nuclear power plant in my district. It is another answer when energy prices go too high. I think we are going to win on that issue, although we have lost for a good many years, and there have not been any new nuclear power plants. When push comes to shove, I think the American people are going to say, "I want my house heated and lit up with electricity." So I think we are finally going to reject some of these arguments against nuclear power, because they are not very convincing."
Thanks to the African-American Environmentalist Association for the pointer.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Atmea Joint Venture to Develop New Reactor

World Nuclear News recently reported a significant announcement by AREVA and Mitsubishi concerning their joint venture:

Areva of France and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan announced that their newly-created joint venture will be known as Atmea. The joint venture will develop an "advanced Generation-III" nuclear power reactor, the Atmea 1.

... the Atmea joint venture will develop, market, license and sell an 1100 MWe pressurized water reactor (PWR), which will combine technologies of both companies. The reactor would be marketed at emerging countries wishing to begin nuclear power programs, as well as established markets such as the USA and Europe.
I found this announcement fascinating for three reasons. First, until now, the strategy of reactor suppliers has been to devote all available resources to developing and licensing a single flagship design. The Atmea joint venture indicates that the market for new reactors has matured to the point that vendors now see a need to provide multiple designs to meet the needs of different customers.

Second, the size of the Atmea 1 indicates that it is intended to for head-to-head competition with Westinghouse's AP-1000. That means that Atmea sees a market that is big enough for two suppliers, or perhaps that the needs of utilities have evolved enough that a new design for a medium-sized reactor is needed.

Third, design certification for the Atmea 1 will come years after the certification of the EPR, AP-1000, ABWR, and ESBWR. That suggests that there is significant interest by utilities in a second wave of new plants, beyond the early site permits we have heard about to date.

It will be interesting to see how the Atmea 1 stacks up against the AP-1000 -- not only in features, but eventually in market share as well.

NEI's Energy Markets Report - August 27 - 31, 2007

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

Electricity peak prices varied across the country last week. In the West, the Palo Verde and SP 15 hubs increased by more than $23/MWh due to a sustained summer heat wave. Phoenix broke a record with 32 days over 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Cal-ISO issued several grid warnings and a Stage One emergency due to the heat. Peak prices modestly increased at NEPOOL and PJM West hubs, but declined by more than $7/MWh at the Entergy and ERCOT hubs (see pages 1 and 3).

Gas prices at the Henry Hub fell $0.68 to $5.57/MMBtu (see pages 1 and 3). Working gas in storage totaled 2,969 Bcf as of Friday, August 24, which is 12 percent above the 5-year average inventory level for the report week, according to EIA.

TradeTech’s uranium spot price fell $10 to $85/lb U3O8 last week. UxC’s uranium spot price remained unchanged. According to TradeTech, the decrease in the price is largely due to the presence throughout the month of sellers driven by cash requirements, such as the US Department of Energy (see pages 1 and 3).

The estimated U.S. nuclear plant availability factor averaged 98% for the week. A failure in the power supply to the reactor’s main feedwater pump was the cause of D.C. Cook 1’s shutdown. The cause of Vermont Yankee’s shutdown was still being determined after the event occurred while testing steam valves. The reactor had been operating at about 50% power due to a section of one of its two mechanical draft cooling towers collapsing the previous week (see pages 2 and 4).

By 2011, the following amounts of new generating capacity are expected to start up: 32,000 MW of coal; 47,000 MW of natural gas; and 33,000 MW of wind (see page 5).
For the report click here. It is also located on NEI's Financial Center webpage.

Nuclear Energy on Top of APEC Agenda

Details from Australia's ABC News. For the text of a joint statement between President Bush and Prime Minister John Howard, click here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

"What's Left But Nuclear Power?"

From The Arbiter, an independent student newspaper at Boise State University:

There simply aren’t that many rivers left to dam up. Solar and wind power are prohibitively expensive, consume large swaths of landscape, and lack the reliability needed to provide energy base load – that critical amount of energy needed to power the core of civilization. America can’t simply come to a halt on cloudy or windless days. What’s left but nuclear power, which safely generates 35 percent of Europe’s electricity from 196 nuclear plants across the continent?

The Revenge of Cape Wind

A couple of weeks back we pointed you to a clip from The Daily Show mocking the opponents of the Cape Wind project, including Senator Ted Kennedy.

Now, according to a columnist at Real Clear Politics, that message is beginning to bite:

In a remarkable turnaround, liberals are now heaping scorn on the 73-year-old senator. Young audiences boo at his name, and the leftish "Daily Show" on Comedy Central makes fun of him.

The source of unhappiness is Kennedy's efforts to kill an offshore wind farm on Nantucket Sound. Cape Wind was to be the first such project in the United States and a source of pride to environmentally minded New Englanders. Polls show 84 percent of Massachusetts residents in favor. But now it appears that America's first offshore wind farm will be near Galveston, Texas.

Proposed the month before Sept. 11, 2001, Cape Wind remains in limbo. It's been frustrated at every turn by a handful of yachtsmen, Kennedy included, who don't want to see windmills from their verandas. Many millions have been spent spreading disinformation and smearing the wind farm's supporters.

The towers would be at least five miles out and barely visible from shore on the clearest day, but the summer plutocrats resent any intrusion on their waterfront vistas -- and, equally, any challenge to the notion that they control everything.

"But don't you realize -- that's where I sail!" may stand as Kennedy's most self-incriminating quote.
Very interesting. Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer.

Moore: To Reduce Emissions, Nuclear Must be in the Mix

Patrick Moore from Kiplinger Business Resource Center:

Three leading sources of greenhouse gas emissions are our modes of transportation, our home-heating technologies and our means of generating electricity. Americans are, and will continue to be, considerable consumers of electricity. Our way of life is powered by electricity -- from lighting our houses, churches, hospitals and schools to charging our iPods, cell phones, computers and operating our transit systems. In fact, the Department of Energy (DOE) estimates that Americans will need nearly 40 percent more electricity by 2030.

So how do we meet that growing energy demand without causing further damage to the environment? Conservation is certainly crucial critical to any comprehensive energy plan. Great gains in conservation have already been achieved in electrical use, and more can be done. But even aggressive conservation efforts alone do not provide the solution to future base load energy needs.

And in order to effectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions, nuclear power, which emits no controlled pollutants, must be included in the mix.
For more from our archives, click here.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

On The Economics of Nuclear Energy

From today's Baltimore Sun:

A year ago, the leaders of Baltimore-based Constellation Energy Group and PPL Corp., its utility neighbor in Pennsylvania, represented the energy industry's sharp division over whether the revival of nuclear power was at hand.

Mayo A. Shattuck III, Constellation's chief executive, said the economics were right for a nuclear comeback after 30 years of dormancy.

PPL Chairman William F. Hecht countered that nuclear power was too expensive and risky, and that shareholders' money would be better spent adding pollution controls to his company's coal-fired power plants.

Today, Hecht is retired, the cost of cleaning up coal is soaring and PPL is among the utilities talking with Constellation's UniStar Nuclear subsidiary about the potential purchase of a new reactor identical to one that Shattuck wants to build in Maryland.

PPL's transformation from nuclear skeptic to potential customer shows how rising fuel costs, global warming and government incentives are transforming the economics of nuclear power.
It's an interesting story. For more, visit NEI's Financial Center.

Another California Heat Wave

We Support Lee has the details.

Canada Looks Into GNEP

Stephen Aplin has the details.

Also, check out some news from Northern Ontario.

Changing Minds on Nuclear Energy in Connecticut

From The Day (Conn.)

The most important piece of energy legislation passed in the state in a decade — An Act Concerning Electricity and Energy Efficiency — goes on for 85 pages. Signed into law in June, it mentions nuclear power three times: once concerning the assessment of special fees; a second time to state nuclear is not to be considered a renewable energy source; and finally to exempt it from a policy that will make it easier to build power plants at existing energy facilities.

In other words, the legislature and the governor saw no role for new nuclear power in addressing Connecticut's energy needs. The subject remains a political pariah. Politicians fear the mere mention of it will bring out the protesters.

That mindset needs to change
.
Read the rest right now.

McGaffigan on NRC's Mandate

The late Edward McGaffigan, Jr. on the mandate of NRC as quoted in yesterday's edition of the New York Times:

The commission’s mandate, Mr. McGaffigan emphasized, is to “provide reasonable assurance of adequate protection, not absolute assurance of perfect protection.”

“When they change the law to require absolute assurance of perfect protection,” he said, “there won’t be a lot of nuclear reactors in this country. Also, there won’t be a lot of cars or McDonald’s.”
That puts things in the proper perspective.

Once again, our condolences to Commissioner McGaffigan's family and friends, as well as to the staff at NRC. He'll be sorely missed.

German Environment Minister Calls for Shutdown of Older Nuclear Generating Stations

The long-term political fight over Germany's nuclear generating capacity took another interesting turn over the weekend as the government's environment minister proposed shutting the nation's older nuclear power plants in exchange for allowing the country's newer units to operate longer:

The German Environment Minister, Sigmar Gabriel, has called for seven of the country's oldest nuclear reactors to be closed down immediately.

Justifying his demand, Mr Gabriel pointed to recent breakdowns at two ageing nuclear plants.

Germany is committed to phasing out nuclear power by 2020.

Mr Gabriel told a German newspaper that it would be of great technical benefit from the safety standpoint to close the oldest reactors now.

As a trade-off, newer reactors could be kept running longer.
As I'm sure many of you already recall, the government led by Prime Minister Angela Merkel is a coalition comprised of Social Democrats and Christian Democrats -- and in this case the Prime Minister and her environment minister are on opposite sides of the divide.

In any case, this proposal sound a lot like a plan that was floated by the owners of Neckarwestheim I nuclear generating station back in December 2006. Then again, a lot has changed since then, especially if Merkel is able to lead her party to victory in the next election without the help of the Social Democrats -- something that might mean overturning the German nuclear phaseout completely.

For more on reaction to the proposal, see Spiegel Online. For our archive of posts on Germany, click here.

UPDATE: In case you missed the official response from Merkel's party, here it is:
The party's general secretary, Ronald Pofalla, rejected Gabriel's latest proposal.

"It is not a case of old or new, but of safe or not," Pofalla said on ZDF television. He argued that there were no indications that the plants in question failed to comply with the required safety standards.

Monday, September 03, 2007

NRC Commissioner Edward McGaffigan Jr. Dies After Battle with Skin Cancer

Earlier today we heard the sad news that Edward McGaffigan, Jr., the longest-serving member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, had died after a battle with skin cancer. He was 58. On news of his passing, NEI's President and CEO, Skip Bowman, issued the following statement:

“Ed McGaffigan was a giant among public servants, a commissioner who brought great passion and competency to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“Commissioner McGaffigan was a voice of reason determined to assure public health and safety by advocating regulation that is rooted in sound science and engineering. He always voted his conscience, and he earned the respect of his colleagues and staff at the NRC, government leaders, the public and executives in the nuclear energy industry.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Ed’s family and his co-workers at the NRC.”
For more information on McGaffigan's life, click here for an appreciation from NRC. Last December, Elizabeth Williamson wrote a story for the Washington Post that told the story about how he came to choose a life in government service.