Skip to main content

Quick Hits: At Indian Point, Three Plants, The German Psyche

IndianPoint1 CNN’s Alan Chernoff goes into a nuclear plant – New York’s Indian Point, in this case – and nothing falls over on him and he doesn’t topple into the used fuel pool (which he takes a look at). In fact, he finds a spotless, well run industrial structure. Oh, and extremely secure.

Useful type of story for reporters to be doing – folks are probably pretty curious about the inside of a plant right about now.

---

At a House hearing, NRC Commissioner Gragory Jaczko loosely identified three nuclear plants the commission believes need further oversight:

Three U.S. nuclear power plants need increased oversight from federal regulators because of safety problems or unplanned shutdowns, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday, although officials said all are operating safely.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko said the three plants — in South Carolina (H.B Robinson), Kansas (Wolf Creek) and Nebraska (Fort Calhoun)— "are the plants we are most concerned about" among the 65 U.S. nuclear power plants in 31 states.

Jaczko did not say what issues require the extra oversight:

"The NRC felt the three required significant additional oversight but continue to operate safely," said Scott Burnell, an agency spokesman.

The story quite correctly notes that there are four levels of oversight and these plants fall into the second. The third and fourth levels would be far more serious for the plants. Tellingly, Jaczko initially told the House committee that six reactors were on the list, but three of them, at the Oconee plant, had resolved all issues and were taken off the list.

---

Sarah Sloat has a go at German kookiness about nuclear energy:

So then, what’s the source of this “special sensitivity?” It’s hard for the Germans themselves to pin down. Some see its root in German romanticism of the 19th century, the idealization of nature seen, for example, in the landscapes of Casper David Friedrich.

Others attribute it to the national character. “It’s all psychological; it’s typical German nervousness,” said one. Characteristics like “cautiousness” and “risk-aversion” also come up.

Sloat decides its all about Chernobyl, but I liked these better. Risk-aversion! It’s a wonder Germans drive cars or get on a plane – far riskier than having a nuclear energy plant in the neighborhood.

Indian Point.

Comments

Charles said…
IMHO, the specific sensitivity of Germans to anything nuclear stems from
a) horrendous memories of bombing during WW2, quite similar to what can be experienced from an atomic bomb (see the description of the Hamburg firestorm here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombing_of_Hamburg_in_World_War_II )
b) the fear to be in the middle of a nuclear battlefield during the cold war
These fears have been skillfully exploited by the KGB to try to drive a wedge between FRG and its Atlantic partners. After the end of the cold war, the issue for Russia is more to sell NG than gaining global dominance.
Anonymous said…
Note that Jaczko's comments about the three plants referred to the status of those plants in the action matrix of NRC's normal Reactor Oversight Process -- NOT plants seen by NRC as needing more review in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi accident.

Popular posts from this blog

How Nanomaterials Can Make Nuclear Reactors Safer and More Efficient

The following is a guest post from Matt Wald, senior communications advisor at NEI. Follow Matt on Twitter at @MattLWald.

From the batteries in our cell phones to the clothes on our backs, "nanomaterials" that are designed molecule by molecule are working their way into our economy and our lives. Now there’s some promising work on new materials for nuclear reactors.

Reactors are a tough environment. The sub atomic particles that sustain the chain reaction, neutrons, are great for splitting additional uranium atoms, but not all of them hit a uranium atom; some of them end up in various metal components of the reactor. The metal is usually a crystalline structure, meaning it is as orderly as a ladder or a sheet of graph paper, but the neutrons rearrange the atoms, leaving some infinitesimal voids in the structure and some areas of extra density. The components literally grow, getting longer and thicker. The phenomenon is well understood and designers compensate for it with a …

Missing the Point about Pennsylvania’s Nuclear Plants

A group that includes oil and gas companies in Pennsylvania released a study on Monday that argues that twenty years ago, planners underestimated the value of nuclear plants in the electricity market. According to the group, that means the state should now let the plants close.

Huh?

The question confronting the state now isn’t what the companies that owned the reactors at the time of de-regulation got or didn’t get. It’s not a question of whether they were profitable in the '80s, '90s and '00s. It’s about now. Business works by looking at the present and making projections about the future.

Is losing the nuclear plants what’s best for the state going forward?

Pennsylvania needs clean air. It needs jobs. And it needs protection against over-reliance on a single fuel source.


What the reactors need is recognition of all the value they provide. The electricity market is depressed, and if electricity is treated as a simple commodity, with no regard for its benefit to clean air o…

Why Nuclear Plant Closures Are a Crisis for Small Town USA

Nuclear plants occupy an unusual spot in the towns where they operate: integral but so much in the background that they may seem almost invisible. But when they close, it can be like the earth shifting underfoot.

Lohud.com, the Gannett newspaper that covers the Lower Hudson Valley in New York, took a look around at the experience of towns where reactors have closed, because the Indian Point reactors in Buchanan are scheduled to be shut down under an agreement with Gov. Mario Cuomo.


From sea to shining sea, it was dismal. It wasn’t just the plant employees who were hurt. The losses of hundreds of jobs, tens of millions of dollars in payrolls and millions in property taxes depressed whole towns and surrounding areas. For example:

Vernon, Vermont, home to Vermont Yankee for more than 40 years, had to cut its municipal budget in half. The town closed its police department and let the county take over; the youth sports teams lost their volunteer coaches, and Vernon Elementary School lost th…