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Showing posts from October, 2013

Color Him Surprised on the Popularity of Nuclear Energy

Just in case you thought Canadians were different from Americans: Ontarians favor nuclear power by a margin of more than two to one, a new public opinion survey suggests.The Forum Research poll found that 54 per cent are comfortable with atomic energy compared to 23 per cent who oppose it, while 23 per cent had no opinion.That’s 77 percent in favor or non-committal. I should add that this is the province that has nuclear energy facilities –  I’ve read that the other provinces are less in favor of nuclear energy. I haven’t really seen it borne out by polls, though support does run under Ontario. This poll, from Abacus Data in 2011, shows all Canadians supporting nuclear energy (or non-committal) at 56 percent, which is not terrible.Now, this survey was done soon after the accident at Fukushima Daiichi, so some of its findings may have faded with time. It asks explicitly whether views on nuclear energy have worsened as a result of the accident. Forty-nine percent said yes, 43 percen…

Why an MIT Study on Energy, Water Use and Carbon Emissions is Seriously Flawed

The following post was submitted by William Skaff, NEI's Director of Policy Development.

The MIT study, “Water-CO2 Trade-Offs in Electricity Generation Planning,” that was recently published in Nature Climate Change Letters indicates that power sector water use increases as carbon emissions are reduced. The measure employed for water use is withdrawal. A closer look at the study indicates that this approach is seriously flawed and could lead to erroneous conclusions about nuclear power plants and cooling water.

Climate change eliminates water from watersheds. It does not take water out and then put it back again. Therefore, the appropriate measurement of power plant water use in this context is consumption. This study is seriously flawed because its modeling employs withdrawal, when once-through cooling systems return 99 percent of the water withdrawn,1  and the power sector as a whole returns 98 percent of water withdrawn, to the source water body.2 For example, according to EPRI…

Blighting the Landscape with Turbines

From Twitterer Emily Gosden of the British newspaper The Telegraph: Decc [Department of Energy and Climate Change] deleted this graphic comparing nukes/wind/solar "because of sensitivities". Says "not inaccurate". Hmm. This is a post about it by Telegraph news blogger Will Heaven:It turns out that the Renewable Energy Association called it "unhelpful" in a press release, pleading that "as Ed Davey stressed… it is not an either/or choice". And here’s the infographic:It basically shows the land mass taken to generate a similar amount of energy. Well, it really isn’t helpful to the renewable folks, is it?. Wind farms and solar arrays can eat up a lot of space. Context really matters: if land mass is the key issue, nuclear energy wins. Nuclear energy wins on capacity, too, the potential generated output. Nuclear energy the realizes most of its capacity, wind and solar do not. This infographic doesn’t reflect that.Imagine that this infographic were a…

Help Us Promote the November 7th CNN Premiere of Pandora's Promise on Thunderclap

We're getting every closer to the debut of Pandora's Promise on CNN. To recap, the pro-nuclear documentary will air on the cable network in less than two weeks from tonight at 9:00 p.m. U.S. EST. To help promote the event, we've created a Thunderclap.

What's a Thunderclap? Simply put, it's a great new way to promote campaigns or events via social media. We're looking to recruit 100 people who will sign up to promote the CNN premiere of Pandora's Promise on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr (or any combination of the three). Just click the button on the widget below, and you can get in on the action.
Here's hoping you can join us on November 7th.

Nuclear Energy’s Sweep of Eastern Europe

Sounds like nuclear heaven:… Hungarians throughout the country [of Hungary – go figure] are still positive about nuclear energy. There has never been a significant anti-nuclear movement. Even politicians, deeply divided about everything else, have reached a broad consensus on energy issues and want to see an expansion of nuclear power. Hungary wants to modernize the four units in Paks to extend their lifespan - and probably build two new ones beside them.'And heaven is a place on Earth:Hungary is part of a trend in the region. From the Baltics to Bulgaria, almost all countries are planning a nuclear future. Lithuania and Poland are considering building new plants in spite of significant popular opposition to nuclear power. In the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, there are concrete plans for new reactors, supported by the majority.Interestingly, the countries with public opposition have never had nuclear energy facilities (Poland) or depended on Soviet RBMK reactors…

Why Nuclear Energy Cooperation with Vietnam Serves U.S. Interests

The following is a guest post by Ted Jones, Director of International Supplier Relations for NEI.

In a piece published by National Review Online, Henry Sokolski and Victor Gilinsky urge the U.S. Congress to oppose the U.S.-Vietnam nuclear cooperation agreement unless Vietnam matches the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in renouncing technologies for uranium enrichment and used-fuel reprocessing (E&R).

Sokolski and Gilinsky are out of touch with the current realities of nuclear diplomacy and trade.The inclusion of new nonproliferation requirements in bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements is just one of many tools used by the United States to restrain the spread of E&R.U.S. insistence on renouncing E&R in bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements will not be persuasive to most countries.It will also harm multiple U.S. interests – including interests in nuclear safety, security and nonproliferation – which are advanced by U.S. nuclear cooperation and supply.A few points to consid…

The British Return to Nuclear to Keep the Lights On

Here’s the news: The 16-billion pound ($25.9 billion) project, which was agreed on Monday with France's EDF energy and a group of Chinese investors, aims to keep the lights on in Britain amid declining supplies of North Sea gas and rapidly escalating fuel costs."If people at home want to be able to keep watching the television, be able to turn the kettle on, and benefit from electricity, we have got to make these investments," Energy Secretary Ed Davey told the BBC. "It is essential to keep the lights on and to power British business."That sounds decidedly apocalyptic, but it’s a theme picked up by other stories. Here’s The Telegraph:During her reign [Queen Elizabeth’s], our atomic expertise, which promised a future of clean, green and affordable electricity, has been handed to foreign competitors on a plate, and Britain’s grid is now under such strain that 57 years later, we find ourselves relying on China and France to keep the lights on. And in the same lang…

Five Nuclear News Items in the Form of a List

We don’t really do Buzzfeed style listicals here at NNN because – hmm, does tacky link bait get it? Not enough cute nuclear energy kittens? The real Buzzfeed currently has up  17 Pets Who Won’t Let You Poop In Peace (spoiler: cute kittens figure in), so the bottom of the barrel is exceptionally easy to scrape. But I’ve noticed that the nuclear energy scene is busy lately. Let’s break out of a defensive crouch and look at some good news stories. In fact, let’s make a list  – some of these stories we’ll return to later with fully cooked posts, others may need a little more seasoning, and the rest are done-in-one, so to speak.1. In a speech yesterday at the World Energy Congress in Daegu, South Korea, Mohammed Al Hammadi, Enec’s chief executive, underlined nuclear energy’s importance as an energy generation technology capable of providing continuous, safe and efficient electricity with near-zero greenhouse gas emissions. ENEC is UAE’s nuclear authority, building the reactors at Barakah. …

Why India's Nuclear Liability Law Is Harming Indian Interests

The following is a guest post by Ted Jones, Director of International Supplier Relations for NEI.

In a post published this week on the New York Times’ India Ink blog, M.V. Ramana and Suvrat Raju discussed U.S.-Indian commercial nuclear cooperation in the context of nuclear liability law. They argue that the divergence of the Indian liability law from international practices is minimal and justified by the Indian public interest.

 But the authors are deeply misinformed about the attributes, purposes and effects of nuclear liability law. As a result, they misunderstand features of the Indian liability law that could undermine India’s public safety interest.

A basic principle of nuclear liability law – embodied in the international conventions as well as the national laws of nuclear energy countries – is channeling of absolute and exclusive legal liability to the operator of the plant. A second basic principle is limitation of the amount of liability borne by the plant operator. The …

Pulling Apart The Numbers on Jeff Donn's AP Story on Nuclear Safety Inspections

I wanted to return to Jeff Donn's piece from earlier this week concerning nuclear safety inspections. As I mentioned in a post from last night, I've been working with NEI's Jim Slider on taking a closer look at it. Jim is an old pro who has worked in the nuclear industry for more than 35 years, beginning his career at NRC's Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation as a design basis accident analyst.

One of the first things I asked Jim about concerned the figures that Donn cited in his report. According to the story, the GAO report AP obtained a copy of said that NRC cited 10,776 "low-level" violations and 257 "higher-level" violations at U.S. nuclear plants between 2000 and 2012 (see page 3 of the AP story that was posted at ABCNews.com for the aggregate numbers).

Those data points puzzled Jim because according to the Reactor Oversight Process (ROP) that NRC instituted in 2000, NRC categorizes inspection violations from 1 (most significant) to 4 (least …

Former NRC Chairman Dale Klein Comments on AP Story on Nuclear Plant Safety

Yesterday, Jeff Donn of the Associated Press (AP) published a story on safety inspections at nuclear power plants that seemed to raise more questions than it answered. Here's the introductory paragraph:
The number of safety violations at U.S. nuclear power plants varies dramatically from region to region, pointing to inconsistent enforcement in an industry now operating mostly beyond its original 40-year licenses, according to a congressional study awaiting release. Here are a few items to keep in mind when considering this story and its conclusions:
NRC inspections and industry trends show industry safety performance is high. The most recent report from NRC identified no significant adverse trends in safety. NRC conducts an average of more than 2,000 hours of inspections a year at each reactor.NRC will increase the number of inspections if recurring issues are identified, and NRC always has option to close a plant if an inspector deems it doesn't meet Federal standards. In t…

Your Nuclear Energy, Not Mine: NYT Goes Mushy on Japan

As we noted a couple of days ago, comments by former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi against nuclear energy in his country drew both respectful assent - and dissent - from the Japanese press. The key word is “respectful,” because Koizumi is highly regarded, sort of a Bill Clinton of Japan. Unlike former President Clinton, though, Koizumi has stayed aloof from the political scene since retiring. So his comments have been handled gracefully and tactfully, as they should. See the post below for more.Enter the New York Times:Japan should welcome Mr. Koizumi’s intervention and begin a healthy debate on the future of nuclear power that has not occurred in the two and a half years since the Fukushima disaster. The Japanese Diet did conduct an independent investigation, which concluded Fukushima to be a man-made disaster. But the investigation did not lead to serious parliamentary debate. We’ve certainly seen where “healthy debate” can get you in this country, but let’s leave that a…

Germany’s Nuclear Retreat: Depressing and Wholly Predictable

The energy situation in Germany is both depressing and wholly predictable. To replace nuclear energy with renewable power sources was always going to be the heaviest of lifts, because it replaces most baseload energy with intermittent alternatives and because the alternatives are not fully mature,scalable technologies. Beyond this, the cost of pushing wind and solar forward has been mind-bogglingly expensive, which is now being felt by ratepayers.Germany’s power grid operators boosted the surcharge consumers pay for renewable energy by 18 percent to a record, adding to pressure on Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to act against rising electricity bills. It gets worse. As we’ve seen in Japan, these subsidies put an exceptional burden on heavy industry:The total subsidy next year will amount to about 23.6 billion euros ($32 billion), which is added to consumers’ power bills. The fee increase will raise the bill of the average German household with 3,500 kilowatt-hours of consumpti…

NRC Shuts Down with Plant Safety Unimpaired

We haven’t talked much about the partial government shutdown because it isn’t our brief – and honestly, who hasn’t been bloviating about it lately? But it did lead the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to depend, at least for awhile, on money described as “carryover” funds to fully operate. Now, that’s gone, too, so the agency has suspended many of its activities:Beginning on Thursday, we will not conduct non-emergency reactor licensing, reactor license renewal amendments, emergency preparedness exercises, reviews of design certifications or rulemaking and regulatory guidance.Also suspended for now will be routine licensing and inspection of nuclear materials and waste licensees, Agreement State support and rulemakings, including Waste Confidence. This is just a short list of the actions we are prohibited from performing under Anti-deficiency Act restrictions.Obviously, the NRC will continue to fund the resident inspectors at the individual facilities, because they’re safety related, what…

Koizumi Goes Anti-Nuclear

Junichiro Koizumi was prime minister of Japan for six years, from 2001 to 2006. At that time, he was a booster of nuclear energy. Since he retired from politics, he has not maintained a public profile, but remains a highly respected figure – maybe because the Japanese public knows him best, as no prime minister since 2006 has been able to hold on to the job for more than a year or so.So when Koizumi decides to say something, it gets attention:In a recent lecture meeting, Koizumi asked the government to put forth a zero nuclear energy policy by calling for establishment of “a recycling society based on natural resources and that does not rely on nuclear power generation.” Koizumi said his view on this matter changed after the Great East Japan Earthquake.The Great East Japan earthquake (and associated tsunami)precipitated the accident at Fukushima Daiichi. The strong public opinion to end nuclear energy has softened considerably and the current government has decided to restart the fac…

Why Are U.S. Nuclear Plants Better Prepared for Emergencies Than Fukushima? Here's a Checklist.

The following is a guest post written by NEI's Tom Kauffman. Though Tom works in NEI's media relations shop, he also spent 23 years working at Three Mile Island, seven of those as a licensed reactor operator.

Former NRC Chairman Dale Klein was justified in criticizing an anti-nuclear panel’s comparison of the potential of an accident at nuclear energy facilities in New York and Massachusetts with the 2011 accident at Fukushima Daiichi. “Comparing the accident at Fukushima Daiichi to a hypothetical accident at Indian Point or Pilgrim is intellectually dishonest and resembles the classic fear mongering intended to create unnecessary anxiety," Klein said. "Comparing the US nuclear power plants to those that have not added new safety systems and procedures is simply wrong.”

As the former Chairman points out, the U.S. and Japanese nuclear industries have very different approaches to nuclear safety. The differences developed over several decades and are profound. Below is …

Canada, Westinghouse and A Fusion Follow-Up

Westinghouse previews a forum taking place today in Toronto called The Future of Nuclear. Westinghouse has no reactors in Canada and isn’t trying to sell any in its press release, which does include some interesting tidbits:
"With 55 per cent of Ontario's energy being generated by nuclear, and given the province's commitment to clean-air sources of energy, nuclear cannot be ignored as a vital part of Ontario's energy mix," says Ron Lewis, vice president, Nuclear Power Plant Business and Project Development, Westinghouse Electric Company. That 55 percent figure is new  - it’s a little higher than I’ve seen before - and I’m not enough up on Canadian energy markets to know how much of that is exported to Ontario’s neighbors. That said, Ontario is the only province to aggressively pursue nuclear energy, with five facilities housing 20 reactors. Quebec and New Brunswick have 2 and 1 reactors respectively, with Quebec’s retired. When we looked at Canadian nuclear ene…

Former NRC Chairman Dale Klein Blasts Fukushima Panel for Comparing Fukushima to Indian Point

That anti-nuke panel discussion led by former NRC Chairman Greg Jaczko went off just about as expected today, with Jaczko asserting that local stakeholders should get together soon to arrange for the closure of the plant. You'll forgive us if we beg to differ. In the meantime, another former NRC Chairman, Dale Klein, issued the following statement through NY AREA concerning how many members of the panel attempted to compare a potential accident at Indian Point with the accident at Fukushima Daiichi:
“Comparing the accident at Fukushima Daiichi to a hypothetical accident at Indian Point or Pilgrim is intellectually dishonest and resembles the classic fear mongering intended to create unnecessary anxiety. The additional safety systems and safety procedures added to the US nuclear power plants after the 9/11 attacks have greatly enhanced their ability to handle the loss of off-site power, loss of the emergency diesel generators, and the loss of back-up battery supplies. Just like…

What You Won't Hear When Gregory Jaczko, Peter Bradford and Arnie Gundersen Take to the Podium in New York and Boston This Week

The following is a guest post written by NEI's Tom Kauffman. Tom works in NEI's media relations shop and spent 23 years working at Three Mile Island, seven of those as a licensed reactor operator.

This week in New York and Boston, anti-nuclear activists have scheduled panel discussions designed to scare the public into pressuring politicians into shuttering local nuclear power plants.

The members of the panel are:
former NRC chairman Gregory Jaczko;Peter Bradford, former NRC commissioner; and anti-nuke extremist Arnie Gundersen, an engineer who never lets science or facts get in his way. So what can you expect to hear from this trio? We figure it's more or less a combination of the three following assertions: 1) The nuclear accident in Japan can happen here. 2) All U.S. nuclear energy facilities are unsafe. 3) All U.S. reactors should be permanently shut down.

On the other hand, there are some facts they are sure to ignore:
Not one person in Japan was killed due to the nucl…

Pandora’s Promise Upside Down

We haven’t mentioned Pandora’s Promise for a while, but the pro-nuclear energy documentary continues chugging around the world and picking up play dates. Its director, Robert Stone, has written a very specific editorial in Australia’s national newspaper, The Age, not about his movie – though he does tout it a bit - but about nuclear energy down under.Like much of the world, the main fuel that lights Australian homes and powers Australian industry is coal. The difference is that Australia's dependence on coal is nearly double the global average. That’s actually a good point that one does not see too often. Australia as we’ve noted before is about as anti-nuclear energy as a country could be – with its neighbor New Zealand a close contender – it’s practically an article of faith there. All power to antipodean pro-nuclear activists, but from afar, it seems an intractable position.But the result has been that the country has exceptionally limited alternatives to its coal plants. It’s…

Nuclear Fusion and Imploding Porcupines

When the sun makes energy through nuclear fusion, it has the benefit of not having to pay real cash for the energy expended to make more energy. Here on Earth, the effort to make fusion energy affordable and practical has been a lot tougher, though the payout is potentially so great – and the benefits manifest - that much effort has gone into it.Every now and then we get a peek into the fusion world, which is almost always almost ready to almost produce a plausible reactor. And this will happen – I’m sure of it – someday.To create fusion reactions, the NIF [National Ignition Facility] scientists fire lasers into a hohlraum, or a hollow cylinder made of gold. The laser pulses, lasting billionths of a second, hit a tiny sphere that is full of deuterium (hydrogen with an extra neutron) and tritium (hydrogen with two extra neutrons).As the laser beams hit the hohlraum, the gold emits X-rays that are so powerful they vaporize the metal surface of the sphere. That vaporization puts immense…