Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Mom and Pop Ponder Nuclear Energy

We admit that we’ve read a lot of interesting approaches to supporting (and not supporting) nuclear energy, but this piece by Neil Russo in the Weymouth (Mass.) News is certainly unique. Here’s how he starts out:

Here's the vanilla loaf cake from Eb, Mom, he put walnuts in it because he knows how much you like walnuts. Put the kettle on and let's indulge. I want to take a few moments to relax. My head is spinning from listening to Eb.
The cost of getting that cake from Eb is listening to him talk about nuclear energy. Pop tell Mom all he’s learned:
Pop: At today's usage rates for energy, we have proven reserves of oil for 42 years, natural gas for 57 years, uranium for 85 years, and coal for 137 years, though exploration turns up new supplies all the time.
Mom’s conclusion?
With 53 new plants under construction worldwide, mostly in Asia, it's time for the U.S. government to come up with an energy policy that has nuclear as its base, or we are going to be left behind the rest of the world - especially emerging Asia. A new plant has not been built in the U.S. in 30 years!
We wish Russo had stuck to his conceit – a lot more about that delicious cake would not have gone wrong – and the article feels like a data dump of all Russo has learned than a dialogue. Real people tend to think more in terms of metaphor, which this approach would allow and would give it more point. Still, credit to Russo for looking for an interesting angle; Russo himself is clearly working his way through a lot of complex material and that can only be appreciated.
Some not very surprising news:
A group of U.S. businesses is postponing a trip to the United Arab Emirates to discuss lucrative nuclear-reactor contracts with a company backed by an influential emirate in the federation.
The president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's U.S.-U.A.E Business Council said Monday the planned trade mission will probably take place in late January or early February instead of December. The U.A.E. has delayed picking a primary contractor for the project, but "it's not a financial issue--they're just being extremely meticulous and careful in their review of the final bids," said Danny Sebright, the president of the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council.
We wouldn’t like to be Sebright at this particular moment in time – because he has to tread between several (at best) ambiguous situations. We’ll check back in later and see whether the Chamber’s trip happens early next year. (Right now, the UAE looks to be eyeing a plant design from South Korea, which may weigh in on American plans.)
Here’s a very nice video from Entergy touting the uprate to its Grand Gulf (Mississippi) station. Our unidentified host takes a folksy approach to explaining how the plant benefits customers, the environment and the local economy. Speaking to customers sometimes equates to speaking down to them, but Entergy does not step wrong here. Very nicely done. (And be sure to visit the NEI Network at YouTube. We collect all the nuclear-related videos we can find there.)

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