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Showing posts from April, 2010

Russia Proposes Nuclear Cooperation with Ukraine

It’s funny how nuclear energy can sometimes be sucked into larger geopolitical considerations. Case in point, this week’s proposal by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to create a nuclear power holding company with Ukraine: “We have made massive proposals, referring to generation, nuclear power engineering, and nuclear fuel,” Putin told reporters after a meeting with Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in Kiev today. Any cooperation may be phased, Putin said after the surprise visit to Kiev. On the face of it, it sounds good for both partners: “Ukraine will get $40 billion to $45 billion of investment from Russia in the next ten years because of a gas agreement reached last week, with fuel supplies subsidized by Russia’s budget, Putin said.” Russia gets “…to take “an active part” in upgrading Ukrainian reactors and will allow Ukrainian partners on the Russian market, Putin said. Nuclear cooperation in third countries is also possible, he said.” But t

Needles in a Haystack

Earlier this week, the National Academy of Sciences held a public meeting to discuss the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's request for a study of cancer risk in populations living near nuclear power plants. According to the NRC's announcement , the purpose of the study is to update a similar 1990 study by the National Cancer Institute. During the April 26 meeting, the NAS's Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board heard recommendations from representatives of government, industry and public interest groups. (An audio recording of the meeting is available here . A fellow blogger's summary is available here .) NEI was among the organizations invited to address the NRSB. NEI's Senior Director, Radiation Safety and Environmental Protection, Mr. Ralph Andersen, a Certified Health Physicist, spoke on the challenges facing the NRSB. In his remarks, Mr. Andersen shared the perspective of the Health Physics Society , the association of radiation protection professionals, on epidem

No Movement/Movement on the Hill

We were all prepared to pounce on the Kerry-Lieberman-Graham energy bill earlier this week – it should include a very interesting nuclear title, if leaks to the press are accurate – but one of its sponsors, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) bailed out at the eleventh hour due to his concern about moving the immigration issue ahead of energy in the Senate. We’ll have to wait to see if this resolves itself. Both issues are important, of course, but Graham and his colleagues have legislation ready to roll – it’s the bird in the hand, so to speak, and it already has a bipartisan profile. Depending on the funding mechanism, this is also the kind of thing with which both parties can roll into election season that won’t cause awkward meetings with constituents – immigration reform, not so much. So here’s where we are today: Graham has said for days that he's dropped out of climate/energy talks, but pressed tonight, he said that he will filibuster his own bill if Reid tries to bring

C-SPAN's StudentCam Grand Prize Winners

As covered here on the blog last week, three 8th grade students from McKinley Middle Charter School (Racine, WI) are this year's Grand Prize winners in C-SPAN's StudentCam competition for their video on nuclear energy. The young filmmakers, Madison Richards, Samantha Noll and Lauren Nixon, appeared on Washington Journal Tuesday morning to discuss their winning entry, " I've Got the Power ." They were joined by NEI's Senior Project Manager, Kathryn Gerlach. While we're plugging C-SPAN programming, this is a perfect opportunity to point readers to network's newly launched video library . The fully searchable archive contains nearly every minute of programming that C-SPAN has broadcast since 1987. That's over 160,000 hours of wonky bliss; available on demand. On cue and in the queue: every appearance by NEI .

Sue Lowden and the Return (?) of Yucca Mountain

Here’s something we didn’t expect to read: At the meeting, Lowden said she is committed to amending and rewording the Nuclear Waste Policy Act so that it requires Yucca Mountain be prepared not only for the long-term storage of the nuclear waste, but also for reprocessing the waste into usable fuel. A little context, perhaps? Well, the meeting was of the U.S. Nuclear Energy Foundation and Lowden is Nevada Senate candidate Sue Lowden. She leads in the Republican primary there and in poll-driven match-ups against Democrat Harry Reid, she also wins. We’d warn, though, that it’s still too far out to count on such polls, which can change on a dime. Good example: Lowden herself – she’s the candidate who picked up considerable bad press after she suggested that bartering for medical care might help contain costs and that the barter might include chickens. None-the-less, we were interested to see that opposition to Yucca Mountain is not an article of faith for politicians – that

About Coal and Coal Miners

The Washington Post has an excellent, plangent photo gallery of the funeral for the 29 coal miners killed in West Virginia. The Post could really have foregone the ad, though. --- Here is a bit of President Obama’s eulogy: Even as we mourn 29 lives lost, we also remember 29 lives lived. Up at 4:30, 5 o'clock in the morning at the latest, they began their day, as they worked, in darkness. In coveralls and hard-toe boots, a hardhat over their heads, they would sit quietly for their hour-long journey, 5 miles into a mountain, the only light the lamp on their caps, or the glow from the mantrip they rode in. Day after day, they would burrow into the coal, the fruits of their labor, what so often we take for granted: the electricity that lights up a convention center; that lights up our church, our homes, our school and office; the energy that powers our country and powers the world. … All that hard work; all that hardship; all the time spent underground; it was al

Beyond Lies

Slashdot ran a story today called “Report Blames NRC For VT Yankee Leak,” and found that the link took us over to Beyond Nuclear. Well, that was that. While some anti-nuclear groups are worth engaging with, Beyond Nuclear is, how shall we say, not. Dishonest and amateurish in its approach, the group has never required much comment from us: our readers – any interested readers – could see through its stuff as though it were made of cheap plastic. But we did make a note to revisit Slashdot and see if at least some of its readership might be accepting this hooey. Nope. First, the quote, "Numerous incidents of unplanned releases of radioactivity have been reported to the NRC within the past few months." "These incidents of leaks, overflows and spills have resulted in contamination of areas outside of plant buildings. " is not actually in the article but rather it is in the link from the NRC in 1979 about responding to the leaks. The article then goes on the s

Fact Checking and The Difficulties of English

We wrote about an editorial in The Hill by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) a couple of months ago. Now, Politifact, an invaluable service provided by the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times that weighs comments by politicians for their truthfulness, has decided to see whether Alexander is passing the truth test for this assertion made in the editorial: "No member of the American public has ever been killed by commercial nuclear power — a record unmatched by other fuels." The first part of his statement we know to be true, but the second part – well, we’re not sure. Of course, no field can suffer fewer than zero fatalities, but we figure other energy generators match nuclear’s safety record. Politifact does come up with a couple of accidents at nuclear plants that killed workers: In a 1986 incident, four workers were killed at the Surry power plant in Virginia from the rupture of a pipe that sprayed workers with scalding water and steam. But the accident happened in

Happy Earth Day

Patrick Moore celebrates the actions taken lately to push out bad nuclear and bring in good nuclear: On this 40th Earth Day I hope people recognize that we are moving in a positive direction by encouraging the peaceful use of nuclear technology and working to reduce the threat of nuclear war and nuclear terrorism. These twin accomplishments make 2010 the most significant year in decades of nuclear achievements. Well worth a read. --- Our old friend Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has a run at the question, Is Nuclear Green? Nuclear turns out to be the gold standard.  You can produce a million megawatt-hours of electricity a year – that’s the standard they chose – from a nuclear reactor sitting on one square mile.  That’s enough electricity to power 90,000 homes.  A coal-powered plant absorbs four square miles when you count all the land required for mining and extraction.  A solar thermal plant, where they use big mirrors to heat a fluid, takes six square miles.  Nat

Activists' Claims Distort Facts about Advanced Reactor Design

Below is from our rapid response team . Yesterday, regional anti-nuclear organizations asked federal nuclear energy regulators to launch an investigation into what it claims are “newly identified flaws” in Westinghouse’s advanced reactor design, the AP1000. During a teleconference releasing a report on the subject, participants urged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to suspend license reviews of proposed AP1000 reactors. In its news release, even the groups making these allegations provide conflicting information on its findings. In one instance, the groups cite “dozens of corrosion holes” at reactor vessels and in another says that eight holes have been documented. In all cases, there is another containment mechanism that would provide a barrier to radiation release. Below, we examine why these claims are unwarranted and why the AP1000 design certification process should continue as designated by the NRC. Myth: In the AP1000 reactor design, the gap between the shield bu