Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Spinning Around the Atom

Here’s a few tidbits of nuclear news to wonder about and inspire awe:

sokolov160508_300x200 The IAEA says that nuclear energy is an unstoppable runaway freight train kind of thing. Well, not precisely:

Deputy Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yury Sokolov said on Tuesday that the economic crisis would not change the driver for the development of the nuclear power industry.

And why not?

Sokolov said that the expansion of energy demand, the need of improving energy security, the requirement of environment protection as well as the prevention of climate change, which were the "external drivers" to the development of nuclear industry, were not changed by the economic crisis.

True, but plants still need access to capital to get built and it’s the collapse of the credit market fueling the economic downturn. So we think Sokolov is perhaps confusing the abstract drivers of the industry – and we agree with him about those – and the practical drivers – and to overcome those, we’ll likely have to get to the other side of the recession. In sum, Sokolov is more right than wrong – nuclear energy really is barreling forward. But the economics are like a missing rail or two on the track bed.


snake-river Idaho is considering a nuclear plant, but right now they don’t want to hear about the benefits or drawbacks:

"At this hearing, the subject of nuclear power or ultimate land use proposed by the applicant will not be considered. The hearing is solely intended to address the proposed zone change [from agriculture to heavy industry]," reads the announcement for the public hearing.

This sounds orderly enough – presumably the nuclear nature of the plant will get its hearing later. But:

[D]espite the limited scope of the hearing, AEHI has been distributing DVDs in Elmore County touting the safety and benefits of nuclear power and is holding a job fair outside of the hearing. The company announced that it would encourage job seekers to testify for the project.


Snake River Alliance, a nuclear watchdog group, plans to testify against the rezone but also needs to somehow skirt the whole nuclear issue.

"We aren't going off about nuclear unless we have to specifically refer to water use," said Liz Woodruff, energy policy analyst for the group.

Still, SRA will argue that the rezone will allow for over-utilization of water, that area residents oppose the plant, that hazardous materials produced by the plant would threaten natural resources and that job promises are exaggerated.

At first, we hoped that the commissioners would smack down all this irrelevant nuclear to-and-fro, but on second thought, as long as AEHI and Snake River Alliance keep all this outside the meeting and stay on task at the meeting, power to them. Indeed, nuclear power to them.

(See here for a little more. Apparently, this is an appeal. AEHI lost their first rezoning bid last year and this is a second try.)


 ShelbyPortrait for web Here’s Alabama Senator Richard Shelby:

“Energy is probably our greatest long-term problem. We need to drill everywhere we can. We have the technical capability. While it won't solve our energy needs, it will help us."

"We ought to go totally nuclear. We have the most modern and the safest technology the world knows. We ought to build a classic nuclear power plant here in Jackson County."

"I would like to support the administration if I thought they were right. I'm worried about this administration. It's the most liberal since Jimmy Carter. I'm not going to help them socialize the nation."

{The U.S. Constitution is] "the most important document we have. It is basically what we are. We should not subordinate to anyone. I'm not interested in a one world nation. I'll fight anybody over our Bill of Rights and our sovereignty."

And all from one story. You can’t say you don’t know where he stands on the issues. But “classic nuclear power plant?” - sounds like classic Coke. In this one instance, we’ll accept the stares and take new Coke.

Yuri Sokolov, the Snake River and Richard Shelby.

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