In an interesting story in today’s USA Today, Julie Schmit profiles Exelon’s chairman, John Rowe. He’s always worth attending to on nuclear issues, though the selection of quotes here is, shall we say, a little strange:
"I'm very depressed."
"My dad felt about cows the way I feel about nuclear plants. They're a business, not a passion."
"We're constantly looking for something dead in the plains."
We’ll let you read the article for the context of these quotes – you’re probably curious about what’s dead in the plains.
We will let you know that Rowe is depressed about the prospect for a climate change bill this year, yet confident there will be a bill because climate change concerns won’t end.
And Rowe insists climate legislation will be good for the environment as well as Exelon, which generates 92 percent of its electricity through nuclear energy.
We always admire Rowe for his very frank assessments and this article captures that quality if a little over-interested in some of the more colorful quotes.
You may have heard that the supply of radioisotopes for medical use has dropped precipitously due to the temporary closing of two plants in Canada and Belgium.
The shutdown of a nuclear reactor in Canada has caused a shortage of a radioactive isotope used to detect cancers and heart disease, forcing doctors into costlier procedures that can be less effective and expose patients to more radioactivity.
That was from August of last year. As we’ve seen with the climate change bill, it might require a tidal wave over the east coast to spur Congressional action. Well, consider this a metaphorical tidal wave in the world of medical isotopes – and thus the rapidity of a practical solution.
GE said on Monday the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration awarded its GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy unit $4.5 million to develop radioisotopes using a new technology that does not require highly enriched uranium (HEU), which can also be used to develop nuclear weapons.
And what will this plant do?
GE said its technology could meet at least half of the projected supply needs for MO-99.
Technetium-99, a radioactive byproduct of MO-99, is used in more than 14 million nuclear medicine procedures in the United States each year.
And that’s just the U.S. There’s still a lot of questions, such as whether this work will continue once the Canadian plant returns to service (we would say yes, especially since GE has a nuclear medicine unit, so this is right in its roundhouse) and the relative competitiveness of its approach.
We’ve heard that other companies may have announcements in this area as well. The end result may be to free the United States from any need to import this material and, into the bargain, create a market for exports that didn’t exist here before. Both qualify as unalloyed good news.
John Rowe, not looking too depressed.