Skip to main content

Down Florida Way

Tom Fanning-BS1 cc 280 Doings in Florida -

Officials from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission were holding a public meeting Wednesday on their review of the St. Lucie County nuclear power plant on Hutchinson Island.

But:

According to Florida Power & Light spokesman Mark Waldron, this is an annual review, and the NRC has already told FPL in a letter that there are "no issues with the plant."

Yawn! Even despite Fukushima, one might think the public likely to skip this one. Yet it might be quite interesting.

---

And here’s why it might be interesting:

Their [Turkey Point and St Lucie’s] job is done. However, the used, or "spent," fuel rods have not gone anywhere. They're still at the St. Lucie and Turkey Point nuclear plants, they're still close to population centers on water and they're still radioactive. The pile of waste continues to grow.

“The pile of waste?” Sound like it was put in barrels in the back yard, doesn’t it? It takes awhile for the story to get to this:

[FPL spokesman Michael] Waldron said FPL's plants have multiple redundant systems to ensure there is adequate power to operate the spent fuel pool cooling systems.

[James] Tulenko, [director of the Florida Laboratory for Development of Advanced Nuclear Fuels and Materials for the University of Florida], said all of Florida's spent fuel pools are next to reactors rather than on top of them [as they are at Fukushima], making them easy to maintain. Dry casks are safe and require no maintenance, he said.

And the conclusion?

The bottom line, experts say, is that while spent fuel is being stored safely, centralized, secure storage is needed. Until then, every precaution should be taken.

Nothing to disagree with there, but the tone is definitely alarmed enough that that meeting at St. Lucie might pack the hall. Fine. FPL seems well able to make its case.

This is a long article and nicely researched by Susan Salisbury. I wish it were a little less breathless, but these may be breathless times.

---

Thomas Fanning, chairman, president and CEO of Southern Co., gave a wide-ranging speech on energy to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He said positive things about nuclear energy, but I actually found his comments on natural gas more interesting:

Fanning said that while the price of natural gas is currently low, making it competitive with coal and renewables, the price is still volatile and is not good for American business.

“If that’s your only future generation resource, then that volatility will only increase,” Fanning said.

He also said that hydraulic fracturing shale formations to recover natural gas is economical but can cause environmental problems.

This falls outside our brief, still I hadn’t run across such comments from an energy executive before. Logically, he’s right: betting on any one energy source makes one a hostage to it – see petroleum – so looking at natural gas wholly can only be seen as a good – for natural gas and for energy policy generally.

Here’s what Fanning said about nuclear energy:

“Rest assured, we will continue to focus on safety and be diligent in making sure that our plants remain as safe and efficient as possible,” Fanning said. “But let's not let politics hinder our progress in this nuclear renaissance. Nuclear energy must remain a part of our future.”

Just so.

Thomas Fanning.

Comments

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…

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…

Innovation Fuels the Nuclear Legacy: Southern Nuclear Employees Share Their Stories

Blake Bolt and Sharimar Colon are excited about nuclear energy. Each works at Southern Nuclear Co. and sees firsthand how their ingenuity powers the nation’s largest supply of clean energy. For Powered by Our People, they shared their stories of advocacy, innovation in the workplace and efforts to promote efficiency. Their passion for nuclear energy casts a bright future for the industry.

Blake Bolt has worked in the nuclear industry for six years and is currently the work week manager at Hatch Nuclear Plant in Georgia. He takes pride in an industry he might one day pass on to his children.

What is your job and why do you enjoy doing it?
As a Work Week Manager at Plant Hatch, my primary responsibility is to ensure nuclear safety and manage the risk associated with work by planning, scheduling, preparing and executing work to maximize the availability and reliability of station equipment and systems. I love my job because it enables me to work directly with every department on the plant…