Tuesday, November 09, 2010

When Only a Rolls Will Do

German protest Something you might not know:

Rolls-Royce has signed a contract with China Nuclear Power Engineering Corporation (CNPEC) to provide six Rod Control Systems (RCS) and eight Neutron Instrumentation Systems (NIS). These systems will operate with the new Chinese designed CPR1000 nuclear power plants and will be manufactured in the Rolls-Royce facility in Meylan, France.

I hadn’t seen Rolls-Royce mentioned in a story in a long time, so thought it might be a good idea to see what it’s up to these days.

Following the global acquisition of ODIM ASA, Rolls-Royce is in the process of fully integrating ODIM Numet - the nuclear division of ODIM ASA, into its overall product and service offering to its commercial nuclear customers.

So now you know. (Well, okay, that’s a little obtuse even for a press release. ODIM Numet is an engineering and fabrication firm focused on the CANDU reactor. Buying it broadens the kinds of reactors for which Rolls-Royce can build parts.)

The Rolls-Royce site is actually interesting to browse through. it explains its broad range of offerings very clearly (the press release above an exception) and you can learn a lot about the work of nuclear plant suppliers.

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It could be worse:

Despite efforts to expand the perception of the IAEA as simply the world's "nuclear watchdog," the agency's role in nuclear verification has garnered the greatest attention amongst UN member states.

And for good reason, given the essential geopolitical importance of the role. I get that the IAEA does a lot more:

The label "does not do justice to our extensive activities in other areas, especially in nuclear energy, nuclear science and applications, and technical cooperation," said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano as he presented his first report to the UN General Assembly.

But it’s not a pejorative “label” and the IAEA can be sure any country wanting its services will know what it does. This can’t be the biggest fish in the IAEA fry pan. Let’s assume Amano got caught by a pesky reporter on a particularly sour morning.

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Activists rappelled down from a high bridge, broke through police lines and chained themselves to German train tracks Sunday, trying to halt a shipment of nuclear waste as they protested Chancellor Angela Merkel's plans to keep using nuclear energy.

German activists can be nothing if not demonstrative:

Some protesters poured flammable liquid on a police vehicle and set it alight.

Feels very 1969, doesn’t it? We’ve followed the tortuous story of Germany deciding to keep its nuclear plants operating in the face of no alternative when it comes to keeping its carbon emissions low. The specific event being protested is less important than that decision. Regardless, all the excitement happened near or on those train tracks.

Police used water cannons and pepper spray and wrestled with activists to break up the protest, but some still reached the rail line.

That sounds like 1969, too, unfortunately.

But don’t look over here for a mighty tut-tut. If some Germans want to protest nuclear energy, power to them – even atomic power. How effective such a protest is depends on a lot of factors – sometimes, it leads to conciliary statements, sometimes to stiffened spines – but this is another country’s issue and will be worked out to suit it.

The story doesn’t really finish – it doesn’t tell if the train was halted. CNN finishes it up:

[Nicole Ramrath of the Lueneburg police] described the protests overnight as "peaceful." About 3,500 protesters sat on the tracks, and police asked each person individually whether they would like to move and whether they would then leave the site, she said.

The majority dispersed, but several hundred protesters had to be carried off the track and kept in an outdoor detention area to keep them from returning, Ramrath said.

Consequently:

A train carrying nuclear waste in Germany is back on the move Monday after thousands of protesters blocked the track by sitting on it.

Another story said it was about 14 hours late.

An ongoing story, no doubt – a train with many boxcars.

At the protest. I can’t quite read the words on the back of those shirts – maybe it’s just the name of the group.

1 comment:

ChrisW said...

Sorry you are wrong Rolls-Royce has been in the news and there is a Chinese connection here too, for the wrong reason this time. In their aero engine business, their Trent 900 engine has been found to have a major design flaw after one exploded on a 2 year old Qantas A380. China link here is that they have these aircraft on order and have publicly stated they continue to accept delivery of 102 aircraft at $300 million or more a pop. The Chinese don't seem to blink when it comes to managing major projects and associated technical hurdles. Inscrutable?