Friday, December 30, 2011

The President of Thorium

bildePower from thorium:

This is [Bob] Greene's first time running [for President], and he's not sure if it's his last, but he certainly wants the world to know his position on thorium — a natural radioactive chemical element he hopes can change the nation's dependence on foreign oil.

Why thorium?

This energy source is used to create nuclear energy, much like uranium. However, he said it is safer to use and produces a waste product with a shorter radioactive life span. Like nuclear power, thorium would not create a huge carbon footprint, such as burning coal or oil, he said.

The writer gets a little muddled about nuclear energy here, but Greene has his arguments for thorium down pat. But why a single issue candidacy revolving around thorium?

He said he doesn't think President Barack Obama is taking advantage of the possibilities of thorium.

"I see this as an issue of national security," he said. "We can stop oil wars if we do this. We can change our import economy to an export economy."

Not sure why this isn’t equally true of uranium, but who are we to quibble? As the first thorium-boosting Presidential candidate we know of, we can only salute him at this crossing.

Right now, he’s only on the Democratic primary ballot in New Hampshire – against President Obama – but if things go well, who knows?

His campaign web site is here.

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When the Soviet Union ended, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney was asked what would become of the country’s nuclear arsenal:

"If the Soviets do an excellent job at retaining control over their stockpile of nuclear weapons and they are 99% successful, that would mean you could still have as many as 250 that they were not able to control."

The story by Huffington Post’s Graham Allison shows what actually happened to those 250 vulnerable missiles – and all the other missiles, too: nothing bad. This was due to two U.S.-Russia programs, one to help Russia gather all nuclear materials from the former soviet republics and a second, called Megatons to Megawatts, that downblended the gathered nuclear materials in those missiles to be used by domestic nuclear energy facilities. The missiles were not only rendered harmless, but their payloads were used for constructive purposes.

Nice to be reminded of programs that worked exactly as they should have.

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Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) may face nationalization:

Yesterday, shares in Tepco plunged to the lowest in at least 37 years after Trade and Industry Minister Yukio Edano said the company needs to consider being nationalized. Edano, who served as chief cabinet secretary and government spokesman in the months following the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, now runs the ministry overseeing the nuclear power industry.

That makes it sound voluntary. The story also suggests that how TEPCO moves forward will depend on an energy plan being worked on by the government.

The same day he spoke of a government takeover, Edano’s ministry said in a statement it was studying changing rules governing Japan’s electricity industry to make distribution networks independent of power generators to spur competition. Those studies will form part of a new national energy policy to be drawn up by summer.

The story doesn’t say that there would be any attempt to limit compensation to those affected by the accident at TEPCO’s Fukushima Daiichi facility.

Bottom line: there’s no evidence that nationalizing TEPCO would have any impact on the clean-up or on the work being done at Fukushima.

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Happy New Year from your friends at NEI Nuclear Notes. 2011 proved to be two years in 365 days. The most impressive event – leaving the accident at Fukushima Daiichi in a category of its own – to me was the extremely thorough and diligent response to the accident by the industry, the NRC, the U.S. government.

No one – at least who didn’t speak deutsch - looked at the accident and said “That’s it. Pull the plug.” But no one said, “This can’t happen here” either, even if the specifics of the Japan accident were unique.

But everything stayed at a level – the value of nuclear energy was almost universally acknowledged, but the need to take every lesson that could be learned from Fukushima and apply them to the American industry took center stage. Even attempts by anti-nuclear energy advocates to seize the moment fell flat – if anything, they became more shrill not less.

So – a tough year with a fair measure of heartening moments.

Welcome, 2012.

Bob Greene

1 comment:

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