Skip to main content

Debating, Constructing, Demanding

jakarta_by_night_-4 Discovery News poses a series of questions to Tom Kaufmann, NEI’s senior media relations manager and Edwin Lyman, senior scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists. We really like this kind of interaction, but perhaps we could make a suggestion.

Here’s a question:

Often times the topic of Chernobyl comes up when nuclear energy is mentioned. Could a Chernobyl-type accident happen in the United States at a nuclear power plant?

Here’s how Kauffman starts out:

No. A Chernobyl-type accident can’t happen in the United States. It’s physically impossible.

And then Lyman:

The short answer is yes. An accident resulting in a large radiological release to the environment comparable to or worse than that of Chernobyl could definitely occur at a U.S. nuclear power plant.

See the problem? Either Kauffman or Lyman are wrong here or the truest answer is too ambiguous to be definitive. From the story, there’s no way to know except to apply your own tilt (and where might that be for us? Hmmm!)

So that leads to the suggestion: Lyman and Kauffman (or any two debaters) do an email exchange, with Lyman kicking off on one question and Kauffman another. Each writer gets to respond to the other and make his own points. Perhaps there could be two exchanges, then a summing up by each. Since it’s the Web, add in as many links as back up the point. Then, publish the exchanges on the Web. It’d be livelier and packed with useful info. Some minds would be more likely to change, too.

The story is well worth reading, with Kauffman representing the nuclear side of the debate quite well, but we wish someone would go further with this.


We must say that there are no more countries that would surprise us if they decide to pursue nuclear energy – well, maybe Monaco or Vanuatu – but color us unsurprised when we read this:

Indonesia's House of Representatives gave a green light to the government's plan to build nuclear plants.

That decision Monday came after the parliamentary commission for energy, technology and the environment visited the country's National Nuclear Energy Agency, which is known as Batan, during the weekend.

And why might Indonesia want to do this?

"Indonesia can no longer rely on non-renewable energy sources such as gas and coal to generate electricity in future," said Teuku Riefky Harsya, chairman of the commission, in a statement.

Much of the discussion in the United States and Europe over carbon emission reduction focuses on a mechanism to move industry in that direction, but countries such as Indonesia and UAE know exactly how to go about achieving that goal, without mandates: build nuclear power plants. (We’re being vaguely provocative – we know the issue is much more complicated that that.)


As you may imagine, a fair number of people are very annoyed with the closing of the Yucca Mountain used fuel repository:

A coalition of leading national and regional organizations -- representing energy and individual taxpayers; state elected and regulatory officials; communities and energy-related businesses -- expressed vigorous support for the continuation of the Yucca Mountain repository program in letters to key Congressional appropriators.

The groups represent large slices of the interested population - National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners; United States Chamber of Commerce; National Association of Manufacturers – and local concerns, too - Alliance for Nevada's Economic Prosperity; Economic Development Partnership of Aiken and Edgefield Counties (SC); Nevadans 4 Carbon Free Energy; and Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.

So far, this isn’t much more than a press release with demands – we’ll be interested to see where it leads.

In case you associate Indonesia exclusively with Balinese dancers and the like, here’s Jakarta at night.


Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…