Friday, April 28, 2006

Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

Bryan Hanson has been named site vice president of Exelon Nuclear’s Clinton Power Station in central Illinois. Hanson previously served as manager of Exelon’s Limerick plant in Pennsylvania. He has been with the company since 1988.

Neville Lorick will retire as president of South Carolina Electric & Gas (SCE&G) May 15. He has been with the company since 1971. SCANA Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer Kevin Marsh will replace him. Jimmy Addison, vice president of finance for SCANA and its subsidiaries, will assume the positions Marsh vacates. SCE&G is a subsidiary of SCANA.

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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Dems Angry At Kennedy Over Cape Wind Fight

The fight over Cape Wind is getting louder, with a number of traditional Democrats refusing to shy away from a fight with Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA). For more, click here.

We noted Greenpeace's new video last week. For more on opposition to wind power, click here.

And for more on Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s activities against Cape Wind, click here and here.

Thanks to Instapundit for the pointers.

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Patrick Moore on the News Hour

Dr. Patrick Moore, co-chairman of the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition, made an appearance on The News Hour on PBS last night to talk about the 20th anniversary of Chernobyl. Click here for a transcript. For the audio from the program, click here. For video, click here.

Joining Moore on the program was Paul Gunter, a regular here in our discussion strings.

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Per Peterson on Yucca Mountain's Storage Capacity

Following up on a post we did last week about Yucca Mountain's storage capacity, Per Peterson, an engineering professor at UC-Berkeley, wanted to clarify his comments that appeared in the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

I saw the blog today on the EPRI study on Yucca Mountain's technical capacity. The quote from my longer email to Steve Tetreault, which appeared in the Las Vegas Review Journal, is being misinterpreted. I agree with John Kessler at EPRI that the performance-based capacity limit for Yucca Mountain is much larger than the statutory limit, likely substantially above 200,000 metric tons. But the science and technology base for an expanded repository design is clearly not yet in place, and it is important that DOE proceed on its current schedule to submit a license application based on its current design.

But I call this a "baseline" design, because it can then provide a starting point for subsequent license amendments to implement improvements to increase capacity, reduce cost, and adapt the repository to accept advanced waste forms from reprocessing that may be performed in the longer term.

The political motivations for the original 1982 capacity cap of 70,000 metric tons of heavy metal no longer hold. As for other important environmental issues such as sulfur emissions, the correct and modern approach to meet environmental goals is set performance requirements, but not prescribe the technology used to meet these requirements. The new 1-million-year EPA safety standard for Yucca Mountain is far more rigorous than anything EPA requires for chemicals, and thus it clearly provides sufficient protection for public health and safety. We want to have improved repository science and technology, advanced fuel designs for existing reactors, and reprocessing and recycle compete on an equal playing field to meet a performance-based standard for Yucca Mountain. Removing the 70,000 MT cap will create the incentives to do this.

Best regards,

Per Peterson
Thanks for the clarification.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2006

The Tritium Challenge

Back on March 23, WTTW-TV's Chicago Tonight broadcast a story on the tritium leaks at Exelon's Braidwood Nuclear Power Plant. A friend of ours, Dimitri Dimitroyannis, Ph.D., a member of the Clinical Faculty in Radiology at Harvard Medical School, was less than impressed with what he saw. A letter he wrote to the program, which he authorized us to use here at NEI, follows:

Good Chicago Tonight folks:

I was distressed by your Madigan vs Exelon report ( Thursday 23-Mar-2006 by Ms Brackett) and especially on the alleged health risks from the tritium leak in the water table surrounding the Exelon nuclear powerplant.

Avoiding technical jargon on the risks associated with drinking tritiated water, let me propose the following: I am willing to drink water at the current maximum EPA tritium concentration (20pCi/ml) for the rest of my life-starting with a water a demonstration in front of your TV cameras.

I estimate that if I consume 2 liters per day -about 8 average size glasses- of such tritium "contaminated" water, I will receive the same amount of additional radiation exposure as if I were to:

(a) spend one weekend a year skiing in Colorado, or
(b) fly one-way, once a year NYC-LA on a commercial jet.

To put the severity of the reported tritium leak in perspective, only one out of 13 tested wells outside the Exelon property showed measurable levels of tritium and that single measurement was at about 10% of said EPA level.

If we were to transform the Exelon Braidwood powerplant from nuclear to coal fired-and brushing aside the issues of greenhouse emissions, acid rain generation and mercury releases- we would have increased by one-hundred-fold the radiation exposure of the surrounding area, by releasing as gas the naturally occurring, radioactive components of coal. (These radioactive releases from coal fired plant have been well documented, do not seem to produce epidemiologically detectable radiation induced injuries and are *NOT* environmentally regulated)

I was not expecting Illinois Attorney General Madigan-a lawyer by training and a politician by trade- to be able to grasp the technical side of the issue. However, Chicago has such a long and proud tradition in the nuclear sciences that you should have had no problem locating a mainstream, qualified physicist from the area to consult on the risks relating to the reported incident.

I am sure you will be willing to provide a more balanced coverage by hosting a tritiated water drinking demonstration for your needlessly worried audience

I am anxiously awaiting to hear from you,

--Dimitri Dimitroyannis, Ph.D
Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and
Clinical Faculty in Radiology, Harvard Medical School
Seems pretty definitive to me. I wonder if they have the guts to take him up on his offer.

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On Air Alert

Our head of media relations, Steve Kerekes, will be on 89.3 KPCC-FM with host Larry Mantle at 2:00 p.m. U.S. EDT to discuss the 20th anniversary of the accident at Chernobyl.

To listen, click here, and then hit the link marked, "Listen Live".

Energy Information Digest

The April issue of Energy Information Digest is now available on the NEI Web site, in the Newsroom. In it, you'll find articles about state government resolutions and legislation in support of new nuclear plants, alternative energy legislation in the U.S. Senate, plug-in hybrids and other topics.

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NEI Energy Markets Report (April 17th - 21st)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices mostly increased throughout the country (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices at the Henry Hub rose $0.64 to $7.45/MMBtu (see page 4).

Crude oil futures saw prices above $75/barrel and natural gas futures reached above $9/MMBtu (see page 6).

Nuclear capacity availability was at 81 percent last week. Fourteen units were in refueling outages, two units completed refueling outages last week and three units were shutdown for maintenance (see pages 2 and 3).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Another Blogger for a Grand Bargain on Nuclear Energy

Last week it was blogger Dean Esmay who wrote that he was ready to make a deal with Greens on global warming if it meant building more nuclear power plants. This week, Dave at The Political Dogs is ready for the same deal:

Imagine if the ratio of coal to nuclear were reversed so that only 20 percent of our electricity was generated from coal and 60 percent from nuclear. This would go a long way toward cleaning the air and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Every responsible environmentalist should support a move in that direction."

Now, if Mr. Moore is willing to go out on a limb like this and embrace nuclear power, so am I. I'll say the environment is doing whatever you want, if that means embracing nuclear energy. So, here it is: I admit the globe is warming, OK? Now let's get cracking on building nuclear power plants. Sign the damn protocol or make a new one as long as you guys are willing to go nuke.
That's two so far. Anybody else interested?

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Greenpeace and Cape Wind

Greenpeace has a message (Quicktime) for opponents of the Cape Wind Project.

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More Natural Gas?

British pundit George Monbiot has reevaluated his stance on the U.K. energy situation, and he's concluded that the solution is more natural gas:

This winter, we nearly had to do without it altogether. First Russia's state-controlled producer Gazprom cut the supplies to Europe to show Ukraine where real power still lay; then the private monopolists in the European Union appeared to restrict the flow through the "interconnector" that supplies the United Kingdom. At just the wrong moment - February 16 - the UK's main gas storage facility (on the Rough Field in the North Sea) blew up. Centrica, the company which runs it, predicted then that it would remain closed for a month. A month later, the company said it would be shut until May. Now its spokesman tells me that it will be back in business "from June 1". The "from" does not inspire confidence.
Remember, this is from an article that supports the expanded use of natural gas, and blocking the construction of a new generation of nuclear power stations in Britain.

Some people never learn.

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India Nuclear Update

From The Hindu:

India and Germany today agreed to co-operate in several areas including that of civilian nuclear power, trade, infrastructure, and energy, and hi-tech sectors such as space. The two countries have also agreed on bilateral co-operation in Defence.

The Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, told newspersons that the two countries will co-operate in nuclear civilian power. He added that India has an impeccable record in ensuring nuclear non-proliferation.

"We assured that the co-operation will not result in unauthorised nuclear proliferation."
For our previous coverage on happenings in India, click here.

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Monday, April 24, 2006

CASEnergy Coalition Kickoff

This morning at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., the The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy Coalition) held a public kickoff of its campaign to educate the American public about the economic, environmental and energy security benefits of the expanded use of nuclear energy.

From the Mission Statement:

The Clean and Safe Energy Coalition (CASEnergy Coalition) supports the increased use of nuclear energy to ensure an environmentally clean, safe, affordable and reliable supply of electricity. Nuclear power enhances America's energy security and economic growth, helps attain cleaner air and improves the quality of life, health and economic well-being for all Americans.
CASE is co-chaired by former EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman and Greenpeace co-founder Dr. Patrick Moore. As I'm sure many of you recall, Dr. Moore kicked up quite a fuss about a week ago with his op-ed piece in the Washington Post about expanding the use of nuclear energy.

The kickoff press conference was streamed live, and we'll have the archived video in a few hours that we'll share here at the blog as well as at Google Video and YouTube.

To join the coalition, click here.

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President Bush Discusses Hydrogen Technology on Earth Day

Yesterday President Bush marked Earth Day at the California Fuel Cell Partnership by discussing his agenda to help develop advanced transportation technology:

I strongly believe hydrogen is the fuel of the future. That's what we're talking about. Hydrogen is used in a fuel cell that can power a car that uses no gasoline, produces no pollution or greenhouse gas emissions. Hydrogen vehicles can be twice as efficient as gasoline vehicles. Hydrogen can be produced from domestic energy sources, which means it has the potential -- a vast potential -- to dramatically cut our dependence on foreign oil.
Click here for the White House fact sheet.

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Looking at Gazprom

From today's New York Times:

Gazprom is not just a lucrative state-owned monopoly, but also a powerful instrument of Kremlin policy at home and abroad. It has undertaken an array of projects that have little to do with its stated corporate interests, but much to do with politics -- from bidding for the Olympics to buying up independent media, from sustaining unprofitable farms to subsidizing Russian industries with cheap energy.

It has also been at the center of Russia's foreign policy, used as a cudgel in recent disputes over gas prices with Ukraine and other neighbors. Its chief executive, Aleksei B. Miller, recently warned Europe not to block its further expansion into European markets, lest it decide to sell its natural gas elsewhere.
Something to think about.

UPDATE: Here's more from The Australian:
A STUDY by the West's energy watchdog is expected to show that expanding civil nuclear power offers the best hope of tackling global energy insecurity - a finding that would strengthen the hand of governments looking to build new reactors.

The International Energy Agency, which represents 26 developed countries, is to support a study highly likely to make the case for greater reliance on nuclear power. The body is likely to conclude that nuclear power also offers the best solution for those governments wishing to meet emissions targets.

The agency's move comes as European concerns over the stability of Russian gas supplies intensify. This week Gazprom, the world's biggest gas producer, threatened to ship gas elsewhere if its European expansion plans were blocked. Earlier this year Moscow halted gas supplies to Ukraine in a price dispute, cutting the flow of gas to Europe for a brief period.
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Friday, April 21, 2006

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Blogger Dean Esmay is a doubter when it comes to global warming. But if environmentalists insist on regulating carbon emissions, he's got a deal for them:

Although I've also long said I'll compromise with the Greens: I'll happily support curbing CO2 emissions if part of the deal is that they stop demonizing nuclear power and support the building of new nuclear plants throughout America. Barring that, I'll continue my firm opposition to the Kyoto protocol and similar programs.
Something tells me his deal might find some takers.

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Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

UniStar Nuclear has appointed three new executives:
• Shawn Hughes, Ph.D. will be senior vice president of project management. He joined Constellation Energy in 2004 as manager of nuclear projects.
• Rod Krich will be senior vice president of regulatory affairs. He previously served as vice president of licensing projects for Exelon Nuclear and as and vice president of regulatory affairs for Exelon.
• Dinesh Mehta will be chief financial officer. He currently serves as divisional vice president of financial modeling for Constellation Generation Group.

Cardinal Health Inc. has appointed R. Kerry Clark president and CEO. He also will become a member of the board of directors. Clark succeeds Robert Walter as chief executive. Walter, who founded the company, will remain chairman of the board.

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

EPRI Study: Yucca Mountain Could Hold Up to Nine Times Design Capacity

The Electric Power Research Institute, known in the industry as EPRI, presented a study yesterday that said that the planned used fuel repository at Yucca Mountain could hold as much as 628,000 tons of used nuclear fuel if the project were expanded and re-designed.

From the Las Vegas Review-Journal:

A reconfigured repository would dwarf the current legal limit of 77,000 tons. The study assumes the repository area could be doubled, and that storage tunnels could be grouped or carved into multiple levels of the mountain.


The Yucca study is being performed by the Electric Power Research Institute, the research arm of the utility industry. A preliminary draft is expected to be published in May while analysts continue to delve into the topic, said John Kessler, the institute's high level waste manager.

Kessler told the NRC panel that researchers were conservative in their modeling, and assumed a "hot temperature" repository design, the same being considered by the Energy Department for Yucca Mountain.

DOE already has conducted limited studies on repository expansion, Kessler said. The department's environmental study for Yucca examined a 120,000 ton repository limit.

"We are not starting with a blank slate," Kessler said. "We think there is a good chunk of information available."
As you might imagine, officials in Nevada are already attacking the report:
Marty Malsch, an attorney who represents the state of Nevada in nuclear waste matters, said the capacities detailed in the presentation would position Yucca Mountain "to hold all the nuclear waste in the world."

Malsch questioned whether an expanded repository could comply with the federal nuclear waste law, principally requirements that limit the amount of decaying nuclear materials allowed to seep into groundwater.
I talked with NEI's Yucca Mountain point person, Steve Kraft, and he told me that this response was "typical of the hyperbole we see from Nevada. Nothing about that was said or discussed. He just related the lower end of EPRI's range with the amount of used fuel in storage world wide and drew an incorrect conclusion that supports Nevada's views."

Steve also noticed another factual inaccuracy in the article:
Per Peterson, a nuclear engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley, said he is skeptical of tiered designs for Yucca Mountain, as well as expanding the repository to a large capacity.

"DOE will be lucky to get together a baseline application for a 60 metric ton per acre repository for submission to NRC by 2008, and while there are maps showing up to 4,200 acres (at the site), only a tiny fraction of this area has been characterized to the level needed to verify that it is suitable for repository use."
Here's what Steve told me about that:

"[H]e incorrectly assumes that Yucca is licensed and then never altered. This is not the case -- the NRC regulation specifically calls for amendments as new information is learned and presented to NRC. There never was an intent for DOE to include the higher capacity numbers in the original License Application, but to deal with the a capacity change in the future."

With new legislation on the Hill, you can expect plenty more on this topic in the days and weeks to come. Stay tuned.

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Finland Needs Uranium

Australia is thinking it over.

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Nuclear Energy Finds New Support in U.K.

On three separate occasions in January, I called British newspapers to task for fronting public opinion polls about nuclear energy while failing to note that these polls were conducted prior to Russia's natural gas shutoff to Eastern Europe only a few weeks before.

Well, after waiting for a few months, a poll was published Monday that shows public opinion beginning to move the other way:

The U.K. public's support for nuclear power has increased as energy prices soar, with almost half of Britons saying they're not prepared to pay a premium for electricity from renewable sources, a study said.

About 36 percent of Britons want to see an increase in nuclear capacity, compared with 29 percent one year ago, according to a study by KPMG International and YouGov Plc. About 45 percent of the survey respondents said they want a reduction in nuclear power, less than the 58 percent last year.


About 44 percent of the survey respondents said they weren't prepared to pay ``a single penny more for green energy,'' the report said.

U.K. power prices doubled last year after an increase in the cost of fossil fuels, such as oil, coal and natural gas.
For more from AFP, click here.

Despite this, some politicians are still anxious for the U.K. to become overdependent on Russian natural gas:
Britain, Europe's biggest natural-gas consumer, should meet its electricity needs by relying on gas-fired plants and renewable energy sources in the next decade rather than nuclear power, a group of lawmakers said in a report released Sunday.

Nuclear power plants would take too long to build, would need subsidies and may cut carbon emissions less than expected, the House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee said.

The answer to meeting the country's energy needs lies in many more gas- powered electricity plants and increasing sources of renewable energy like wind and waves, said the 81-page report, titled "Keeping the Lights On."
As if one winter at the mercy of Russian foreign policy and natural gas price volatility wasn't enough.

Thankfully, there are some folks in Britain who are talking sense:
[Harlow MP Bill]Rammell criticised the committee's outright rejection of nuclear power as "not sensible" and said the need to cut carbon emissions had to be considered.

"I think we would be crazy to rule out nuclear power," he said. "We're going to be a net importer of gas and electricity before long. With that and the need to tackle climate change, I think we're right to look at it as an option."
And in Scotland, organized labor is lining up in favor of nuclear energy too. Here's hoping this is the start of a trend.

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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Patrick Moore Hits #1...

For the second day running, Patrick Moore's article on expanding the use of nuclear energy from Sunday's Washington Post, has been ranked by Technorati as the most discussed news item in the Blogosphere.

For a complete list of who's talking about it, click here.

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More Video from Sandia National Labs

Last week, we posted video footage of the crash testing of spent nuclear fuel casks conducted by Sandia National Labs. Unfortunately, these videos lacked an audio track. Just recently, we obtained these same videos along with audio narration.

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The Rotten BANANA of the Environmental Movement

After getting to know the folks who make up the fierce opposition to wind power projects, Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post puts her finger on the larger problem when it comes to building new energy infrastructure:

The problem plaguing new energy developments is no longer NIMBYism, the "Not-In-My-Back-Yard" movement. The problem now, as one wind-power executive puts it, is BANANAism: "Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything." The anti-wind brigade, fierce though it is, pales beside the opposition to liquid natural gas terminals, and would fade entirely beside the mass movement that will oppose a new nuclear power plant. Indeed, the founders of Cape Wind say they embarked on the project in part because public antipathy prevents most other utility investments in New England.

Still, energy projects don't even have to be viable to spark opposition: Already, there are activists gearing up to fight the nascent biofuel industry, on the grounds that fields of switch grass or cornstalks needed to produce ethanol will replace rainforests and bucolic country landscapes. Soon the nonexistent "hydrogen economy" will doubtless be under attack as well. There's a lot of earnest, even bipartisan talk nowadays about the need for clean, emissions-free energy. But are we really ready, politically, to build any new energy sources at all?
Good question. But as our readers already know, a number of communities are clamoring for the chance to host a new nuclear reactor (click here and here for examples). For more on the opposition to the Cape Wind Project, click here.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

NEI Energy Markets Report (April 10th - 14th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices mostly decreased throughout the country (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices at the Henry Hub fell $0.16 to $6.84/MMBtu (see page 4).

New addition to the report – SO2 and NOx allowance prices:

SO2 spot allowance prices fell $73.00 to $733.61 / ton. NOx SIP Call allowance prices remained at $2,475 / ton (see page 7).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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Thoughts From the Gristmill

Some thoughts about the nuclear energy industry from David Roberts at Gristmill:

It got me thinking about the nuclear question again, and a post I wrote almost a year ago -- one of my favorites -- called "Renewable energy and the devolution of power." The idea was basically this: The kind of distributed-energy/smart-grid future greens envision would, if implemented, devolve political power outward from Washington. It would substantially increase regional self-sufficiency. This, as much as any technical debate, explains why the power elite has neglected to pursue it, and even fought against it.

It also, I think, explains Washington's love of nuclear energy. Nuclear is a familiar template for them: a large industry with one or two dominant corporations, with lobbyists that move in and out of government positions -- the usual chummy arrangement. It's something they can understand and control.

If regions create their own energy, they have much less need for, and are much less in thrall to, D.C. That has enormous implications. I'm not sure renewable-energy advocates have really thought it through.
I just sat in on a 60-minute lecture about the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor, a technology that promises to provide small-scale distributed electrical generation to millions. It isn't pie in the sky, the concrete for the first unit near the Koeberg nuclear plant in South Africa is going to be poured next May. Why not talk about the PBMR? Why not mention its implications? Because right now, as it was just explained to me, the PBMR could be built just as quickly and more cheaply than a coal-fired plant with equivalent generating capacity. Better yet, the PBMR is scalable, with the ability to expand its generating capacity built into the design.

It's one thing to just point fingers at one another, something I'm not interested in doing anymore. But when it comes to providing electricity to hundreds of millions of people trapped in poverty, these old arguments just aren't going to cut it anymore.

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Skip Bowman at LA Town Hall

Last September, our President and CEO, Skip Bowman, delivered a speech entitled, "Why America Needs Nuclear Energy Now," at Town Hall LA. Thanks to the folks at Town Hall LA, we've uploaded a copy of the video to Google Video:

For a transcript of the speech, click here.

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Monday, April 17, 2006

U.S. Greenhouse Gas Inventory Released

From EPA:

The report shows that both methane and nitrous oxide emissions have decreased from 1990 levels by 10 percent and two percent, respectively. Overall, greenhouse gas emissions during 2004 increased by 1.7 percent from the previous year. This increase, which occurred during a period of economic expansion, was due primarily to an increase in carbon dioxide emissions associated with fuel and electricity consumption. Fossil fuel combustion was the largest source of emissions, accounting for 80 percent of the total. While the U.S. economy expanded by 51 percent from 1990 to 2004, emissions have grown by only 15.8 percent over the same period.
Click here for the report.

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DOE to Fund Research to Produce Hydrogen From Reactors

The Department of Energy announced last week that it will allocate up to $1.6 million this year to fund industry studies of methods for producing hydrogen from reactors in a safe and environmentally sound manner.

DOE is seeking industry proposals for these financial assistance awards. The agency will cover up to 80 percent of the total cost of each feasibility study.

“Hydrogen is a key component of our energy future, and developing this clean source through our nuclear reactors will help reduce America’s dependence on foreign sources of energy,” Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said.

DOE will accept proposals from project teams until June 5. Its solicitation is available online at

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NEI Welcomes New Members

Altran Solutions, a consulting firm based in Cranbury, N.J., provides engineering and technical services to nuclear facilities.

Wyle Laboratories Inc., an engineering firm based in El Segundo, Calif., supplies utilities and power plant equipment manufacturers with safety-related testing services and equipment, and engineering, research and consulting services.

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Nuclear Energy Industry Transitions

The Department of Energy’s Argonne National Laboratory has announced a number of changes.
• Phillip Finck has been named associate laboratory director for applied science and technology. He worked at Argonne from 1986 to 1991 and rejoined the lab in 1997.
• Alan Foley is the new director of national security.
• Ian Foster has been appointed director of the Computation Institute, which is moving from the University of Chicago to Argonne. Foster has been with the laboratory since 1989.
• Ewing “Rusty” Lusk has been appointed acting director of Argonne’s mathematics and computer sciences division. He has been with the laboratory since 1980.
• Rick Stevens has been appointed associate laboratory director for computational and biological sciences. Stevens has been with the laboratory since 1982.
• Kevin White has been appointed director of the new Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology. He currently teaches at Yale University.

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Nuclear Energy Insight

The latest issue of Nuclear Energy Insight is now available online. In it, you will find an article on a land transfer near FPL's Turkey Point plant that will preserve and enhance Biscayne National Park's vital wetlands. There also are reports on the Chernobyl accident and recent scientific studies on its effects, as well as a National Academy of Sciences study that found nuclear fuel transport is safe. Other articles discuss a project to bring an advanced teaching and test reactor to a west Texas university, lawmaker support for nuclear energy and development of technology to aid new-plant construction.

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Norris McDonald on NPR on Global Warming

Our friend Norris McDonald from the African-American Environmentalist Association will be interviewed by NPR's Ed Gordon. You can listen live on your local NPR affiliate at 11:00 a.m. U.S. EDT, or you can wait to hear a recording of the interview online sometime after 4:00 p.m. U.S. EDT this afternoon.

Patrick Moore Live Online at 11 a.m. U.S. EDT

He'll be part of an online chat at at the top of the hour to talk about yesterday's opinion piece on nuclear energy. Click here to join the conversation.

Nuclear power is dependent upon uranium, which is an element that must be mined. I am left wondering: How is this any more practical than coal mining? Where is uranium found -- and which particular countries are rich in the resource? And, as with coal or oil, won't there eventually be a uranium scarcity problem?
Once again, I'll refer back to a June 2005 post by my NEI colleague, Dr. Clifton W. Farrell:
Forecasts of new nuclear generation expect approximately 40-60 new reactors worldwide by 2020. This will increase uranium demand to approximately 195 million pounds in 2010 and 240 million pounds by 2020. For an assumed price of $30/lb U3O8, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) estimated world uranium resources in 2003 to be 3,537,000 metric tons, an amount adequate to fuel conventional reactors for approximately 50 years. The IAEA further estimated all conventional uranium resources to be 14.4 million metric tons, an amount which would cover over 200 years' supply at current rates of consumption.

Importantly, these forecasts do not include non-conventional sources of uranium, such as those contained in phosphates or in seawater, which are currently not economic to extract but represent a near limitless supply of uranium to meet increased demand. Clearly, there are very adequate uranium (and thorium) resources to fuel the world's expanding nuclear fleet. And that doesn't even begin to address the issue of reprocessing of used nuclear fuel -- something that's already done overseas, but that the U.S. has eschewed so far for economic reasons.
That's it for now. I'll have more later.

UPDATE: Moore's piece is kicking up some serious dust today, as Technorati has it ranked as the 2nd most discussed news story on blogs today. But what some might find surprising is the pockets of support we're finding from liberal bloggers. Here's Mark Kleiman:
Thanks in no small part to Ralph Nader, opposition to nuclear power has been a shibboleth of the environmental movement. I learned about the mendacity and the Inquisitorial fanaticism of the Nader-led anti-nuke forces thirty years ago, when I worked for a leading anti-nuclear Congressman, Les Aspin. First, I noticed the prevalence of unfacts in Critical Mass propaganda, even on the breeder reactor issue where the anti-nuke forces clearly had the better end of the policy argument. Then I discovered that the confident Naderite prediction of one meltdown per 1000 reactor-years was entirely made up out of whole cloth, and started to think through the nuclear/coal comparison. Then, when I persuaded my boss to switch sides on the question of a moratorium on light-water-reactor construction (he'd authored the first bill on the topic, but declined to re-introduce it in 1995) I learned how nasty and unforgiving the Naderites were in the face of heresy.
Here's Matt Yglesias at TPM Cafe:
I have a kind of fondness for the environmentalist case for nuclear power, but I don't know that much about it. But Patrick Moore, one of the founders of Greenpeace, is on the nuclear bandwagon. Mark Kleiman, too. And see Michael Crowley's two posts on the subject. Basically, nuclear power seems to be the only realistic way to both combat global warming and keep generating lots of electricity.
Later, when some of his readers took him to task, Matt backed off a bit, but I give him credit for at least considering the argument.

Over at Daily Kos, where one diarist is taking Moore to task for his industry connections (something which he's disclosed on more than one occasion), we're seeing pro-nuclear energy sympathies in the comments:
Nuclear power can be as safe as any power if used responsibly. How do you think we are going to maintain civilization in the 21th century?


Nuclear power is a smart investment because, right now, it's the only viable long term investment. Nothing else we know of has a chance at meeting our considerable energy needs in the future.


I support nuclear power but it's probably because I'm pretty comfortable working with radiation and don't have the irrational fear of it that some future saboteurs seem to be proud of. I use it for molecular biology (although usually just a wimpy isotope of phosphate) and in my physics days studied more nasty things like cesium sources and worked at a particle accelerator. I'm far more concerned about global climate change than about the very, very tiny possibility of an American nuclear reactor wreaking havoc or increasing the risk of cancer.


Unlike fossil fuel waste...

...which is stored in the environment and in our tissues, nuclear materials at every stage of the fuel cycle are isolated and shielded. Only one percent of all nuclear fuel is long-lasting in terms of radioactive decay.

It is curious that people worry more about what might happen to a hypothetical race 10,000 years from now who decide to tunnel deep into a geologic nuclear waste repository and risk exposure than they do about what is happening to our own health and that of our children because of fossil fuel combustion.

Some are predicting that by the time today's children reach middle age, the ocean may be several feet higher.
Mind you, Daily Kos is a massive online diary for progressive/liberal/Democratic party activists. And while the approval is by no means universal, there is a strong reservoir of folks who are tired of hysterics and are willing to hear more about sound science. We've said for a while now that support for nuclear energy is bipartisan, and looking around today, there seems to be ample anecdotal evidence that's the case.

More later. And trust me, there's a lot more.

UPDATE: It is going to literally take me days to review everything that's been written on this piece over the last 24 hours. It just keeps coming.

Here's another convert, Michelle Cottle, who is filling in for Time's Andrew Sullivan:
My father has spent his entire career in the nuclear field—first in the Navy, then in nuclear power. He has long insisted that, despite what my lefty media colleagues might think, when environmental activists got serious about global warming they would concede that nuclear energy ain't all bad. I always thought he was nuts—not so much on the merits of his point as regarding his belief that any self-respecting green would embrace anything nuclear. Then comes today’s Washington Post opinion piece from Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore. Apparently, Moore has been moving in this direction for quite some time. Looks like I owe Dad an apology.
I'm sure Dad will be forgiving. As always, more later...

UPDATE AND CORRECTION: I got my terms mixed up on the thermal efficiency question from yesterday. Here's reader Michael Murdock with a clarification:
The participant was referring to thermal efficiency, and although I think he/she is a bit high at 45% (my recollection is something on the order of 30-35% thermal efficiency – Catawba, for example has a core rating of about 3,400 MWt and a net generation of around 1,130 MWe, roughly 33% thermal efficiency), he/she is absolutely right in saying that over half of the heat produced is rejected to the environment. Equating that to adding to “global warming,” however, is just nonsense.

Your statement that, “The measure the industry uses for nuclear power plant efficiency is called capacity factor,” is not technically correct. Capacity factor is a measure of how long we run our plants at maximum dependable capacity (MDC). That’s not the same as efficiency, but it is an indicator that we are running the plants longer at higher outputs, which is definitely a good thing.
My mistake. I stand corrected.

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More on Alberta Oil Sands

Here's an interesting look at the possibility of extracting oil from tar sands in Alberta. As you might recall, there have been reports in the past that operations in Alberta might wind up relying on nuclear energy to help get the job done.

Thanks to Instapundit for the pointer.

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Patrick Moore Resumes Pro-Nuclear Push

Dr. Patrick Moore, one of the co-founders of Greenpeace, is making another big splash today with an op-ed in favor of the expansion of the use of nuclear energy in today's Washington Post:

n the early 1970s when I helped found Greenpeace, I believed that nuclear energy was synonymous with nuclear holocaust, as did most of my compatriots. That's the conviction that inspired Greenpeace's first voyage up the spectacular rocky northwest coast to protest the testing of U.S. hydrogen bombs in Alaska's Aleutian Islands. Thirty years on, my views have changed, and the rest of the environmental movement needs to update its views, too, because nuclear energy may just be the energy source that can save our planet from another possible disaster: catastrophic climate change.

Look at it this way: More than 600 coal-fired electric plants in the United States produce 36 percent of U.S. emissions -- or nearly 10 percent of global emissions -- of CO2, the primary greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Nuclear energy is the only large-scale, cost-effective energy source that can reduce these emissions while continuing to satisfy a growing demand for power. And these days it can do so safely.
Plenty of folks in the Blogosphere are picking up on Moore's piece, like our friend Pat Cleary at NAM Blog. For a complete list of bloggers who are buzzing over Moore's piece, click here.

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Thursday, April 13, 2006

Sweden Nuclear Update

Here's more evidence that Sweden is reconsidering its nuclear phase-out:

A survey into attitudes to nuclear power conducted annually by the SOM Institute and published by Svenska Dagbladet shows that 50 percent of Swedes want to keep atomic energy in the long term. According to the report, 33 percent of people questioned wanted to keep using the country'’s ten remaining reactors or to extend their active life.

Some 17 percent of Swedes want nuclear power to be expanded in the future.

The survey represents a shift in attitudes. In 1999 a majority wanted to get rid of nuclear power. Now only one in three Swedes favours this. This puts opposition to nuclear power at its weakest since opinions on the issue were first polled.
For the results of another poll from last November, click here.

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Videos of the Day: Crash Testing at Sandia National Labs

Containers used to transport used nuclear fuel have been extensively tested to survive crashes with trucks and trains at Sandia National Laboratories. In all of the following tests conducted by Sandia, used nuclear fuel transportation containers retained their integrity and would have kept their radioactive cargo locked safely inside.

This video shows a container loaded onto a truck and crashed at 80 miles per hour into a 700-ton concrete wall backed with 1,700 tons of dirt.

In this video, a container loaded onto a locomotive crashes at 80 miles per hour into a 700-ton concrete wall backed with 1,700 tons of dirt. Next, a container on a flatbed tractor-trailer is broadsided by a 120-ton locomotive traveling at 80 miles per hour.

For more information on the safe transport of used nuclear fuel, click here.

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On Security at Nuclear Power Plants

Earlier this week, the Philadelphia Inquirer published an editorial critical of NRC's efforts at regulating security at America's nuclear power plants. This morning, NEI's Vice President of Communications, Scott Peterson, sent a letter to the editor in response:

Your April 10 editorial “NRC and Nuclear Plant Security” inaccurately described the findings of a Government Accountability Office report that evaluated the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s processes for regulating security at commercial nuclear power plants.

Contrary to your characterization, the GAO’s evaluation concludes that considerable security enhancements have been made at nuclear power plants since 2001. The report states that the NRC’s oversight process “resulted in a DBT (design basis threat) requiring plants to defend against a larger terrorist threat, including a larger number of attackers, a refined and expanded list of weapons, and an increase in the maximum size of a vehicle bomb.”

As your own editorial noted, the nuclear power industry since 2001 has invested more than $1.2 billion of security-specific improvements. The industry has also expanded considerable resources, in response to NRC requirements, to be able to respond to terrorist attacks that exceed these requirements. These measures include onsite response preparations, physical enhancements to plant systems for mitigating the consequences of possible attacks more severe than the DBT and integration with off-site resources.

In addition, the industry is working closely with the Department of Homeland Security to conduct comprehensive reviews that evaluate a nuclear plant’s capability to respond to a wide spectrum of air, land and water threats. The nuclear industry took the initiative to spearhead this effort and work with DHS to develop the process to evaluate all elements of the nation’s critical infrastructure.

The fact that the GAO recommended ways for the NRC to improve its processes for strengthening plant security does not change the reality that dramatic improvements have been made to keep nuclear power plants among the best-defended facilities in the nation’s industrial infrastructure.


Scott Peterson
Vice President
Nuclear Energy Institute
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Wednesday, April 12, 2006

NEI Energy Markets Report (April 3rd - 7th)

Here's a summary of what went on in the energy markets last week:

Electricity prices increased in the East and Midwest but mostly decreased in the West (see pages 1 & 2). Gas prices at the Henry Hub fell $0.19 to $6.99/MMBtu (see page 4).

Electricity consumption is expected to increase only slightly in 2006 (0.7 percent) because of weak heating-related demand this past January and the lower expected cooling-related demand this summer in comparison to conditions seen in 2005. Electric power sector consumption of coal is projected to increase by 0.7 percent in 2006 and by another 1.8 percent in 2007. Total natural gas consumption in 2006 is projected to fall below 2005 levels then increase by 3.4 percent in 2007 (see page 8).

For the report click here (pdf). It is also located on NEI's Nuclear Statistics webpage.

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Methane Hydrates, Plug-In Hybrids and Nuclear Energy

Glenn Reynolds points to a Popular Mechanics piece on the potential of extracting natural gas from methane hydrates from the sea floor, but then concludes...

Me, I favor plug-in hybrids and lots of nice, clean nuclear plants. No greenhouse ramifications there.
Indeed. And for our friends who love plug-in hybrids (and we do too here at NEI Nuclear Notes), visit our friends at Green Car Congress.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Patrick Moore in Australia

Pro-nuclear environmentalist Patrick Moore is visting Australia, and he did an interview with ABC Radio National. Though he's in the country to talk about PVC piping (taking on more Greenpeace-sponsored hysteria), the interview deals with other environmental issues as well. Click here for the interview, and advance the interview to the 23:05 mark for the interview with Moore.

Thanks to NEI Nuclear Notes reader Daniel Work for the pointer.

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Bodman to Visit Yucca Mountain

Just off the wire from DOE:

On Thursday, April 13, 2006, Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman will visit the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Yucca Mountain site. Following a tour of the site, Secretary Bodman will host a press conference at Yucca Mountain’s north portal to discuss the new legislation sent by DOE to the U.S. Congress on April 5, 2006, for accelerated construction of the nuclear waste repository.
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Monday, April 10, 2006

Learsy: India Nuclear Deal Good for U.S. and the World

Over at the Huffington Post, long-time energy industry observer Raymond J. Learsy writes that Congress ought to give President Bush the benefit of the doubt when it comes to the nuclear energy deal with India:

Critics have charged that the president was so eager to sell the Indians nuclear fuel and technology that he caved in to all their demands, permitting them to maintain an uninspected nuclear weapons program along with the civilian program to be supervised by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Other critics warned that Iran and North Korea would use the deal as an excuse for pursuing their own nuclear weapons programs as though either nation needed any further excuse to pursue its nuclear ambitions.

But Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has convincingly argued that there's no comparison between the two rogue nations and democratic India. She says clean nuclear energy could cut India's emissions of carbon dioxide by 170 million tons a year, as much as the Netherlands produces. She points out that satisfying much of India's "massive appetite for energy" with nuclear plants will make the country less dependent on imports of oil and gas (read Iran). It is India's ambitious goal to generate 25% of its vastly larger electricity needs in 2050 through nuclear power, from its current 3% The deal could create thousands of jobs in the United States, she says, and India's technological talent can help develop sophisticated new solutions in the global push for safe, clean nuclear power. It would be harbinger of a new and meaningful cooperation between the two largest democracies in the world.
Our old friend Norris McDonald likes the idea too.

UPDATE: More positives from Mimic Lyric.

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Small Town America Embraces Nuclear Energy

In today's New York Times, reporter Rick Lyman uncovers something we've been telling you about for some time here at NEI Nuclear Notes -- the fact that many small towns are embracing the possibility of new nuclear build:

Bill Whelchel, working the main chair at Elmore's Barber Shop on Limestone Street, paused the clippers above his customer's half-sculptured crew cut to consider the question of atomic energy.

"I'm not worried at all about putting in a new nuclear power plant," said Mr. Whelchel, 76. "We're used to nuclear power around here. Plus, it'll create jobs, and one thing I've learned is that working people are happy people."

More than a quarter century after the accident at Three Mile Island and two decades after Chernobyl, America's utilities stand at the early edge of what promises to be the first large-scale wave of nuclear plant construction since the 1980's.

And the energy companies are finding -- especially in the small, struggling Southeastern towns like Gaffney where most of the plants are planned -- that memories of those tragedies have faded and that local governments and residents, eager for jobs and tax revenues to replace vanished industries, are embracing them with enthusiasm.
For more, click here, here and here.

UPDATE: And for your further reading pleasure, here's another nuclear renaissance story from the Baltimore Sun.

POSTSCRIPT: Also making an appearance in the article is the Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League, and, as always, we remind you to doublecheck whatever claims they make.

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Infrastructure Can't Keep Up With Global Oil Demand

From The Times (U.K.):

THE world lacks the means to produce enough oil to meet rising projections of demand for fuel over the next decade, according to Christophe de Margerie, head of exploration for Total and heir presumptive to the leadership of the French energy multinational.

The world is mistakenly focusing on oil reserves when the problem is capacity to produce oil, M de Margerie said in an interview with The Times. Forecasters, such as the International Energy Agency (IEA), have failed to consider the speed at which new resources can be brought into production, he believes.

M de Margerie argued that the resources were simply not available. He said: "Take Qatar. How many projects can you have at the same time? You have more than 100,000 people working on sites. It's a big city of contractors. Now they have the problem of having to build a new power plant to supply a city of contractors."

The IEA was mistaken in using recovery factors that failed to consider the timing of new resources coming on stream. M De Margerie said. The world was confusing the issue of reserves with the scale of the problem in producing those reserves. He said: "“The oil reserves are there, that is the good news, but what we can bring on today to meet demand is limited by factors other than what scientists see in a lab or think-tanks."
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Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

Meet Noblesse Oblige.

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Friday, April 07, 2006

NY AREA Addresses AG Spitzer on Indian Point

Just arriving on my desktop was a copy of a letter that John Kelly, a member of New York AREA and one-time director of licensing at Indian Point Energy Center, sent to New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer on March 31 in response to a speech on energy policy he gave in Albany on March 29. Because there isn't any online copy of the letter available, I'm reprinting it here in full:

March 31, 2006
The Honorable Eliot Spitzer
State of New York
Office of the Attorney General
120 Broadway, 25th Floor
New York, NY 10271

Dear Attorney General Spitzer:

The New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance (New York AREA) shares your concern, expressed in your energy policy speech on March 29 in Albany, that trace amounts of tritium and strontium 90 are assumed to be leaking into the Hudson River from the Indian Point Energy Center in Buchanan.

Using conservative, worst case assumptions, the radiation dose to the maximally exposed individual reported by an NRC Special Inspection Report on March 16, 2006 from the amount of radioactive material entering the Hudson from tritium and strontium 90, a dose far too low to measure, has been calculated to be about .00002 millirem per year. By comparison, the average New Yorker is exposed to 360 millirem of radiation a year from natural and man-made radiation sources other than Indian Point, or about 1 millirem a day.

In fact, a low-level radiation chest x-ray (8 millirem) would expose one to more than four hundred thousand times the radiation the maximally exposed individual could receive from the above tritium and strontium 90 pollutants over the course of a year.

Because of these compelling facts, the NRC and has found that there is no threat to public health or safety from the leaks. The New York State Department of Health and Department of Environmental Conservation have participated in the NRC inspection associated with the leaks. Numerous elected officials and their staffs at the local, state, and national level have been kept informed of testing results and developments since fall 2005 and have been, on the whole, quite responsible and temperate in their public remarks about the situation. It is critical that the leaks are rectified quickly, but through scientific analysis and engineering solutions, not the rhetoric issued regularly by anti-nuclear activists.

As you know, our organization represents more than 70 business organizations, labor unions, academics, and independent energy experts who are very concerned about New York'’s energy future. We are working to have the Article X power plant siting law renewed and applaud your support for an update to the statute that expired 39 months ago. Our members also support the continued operations of Indian Point as a critical component of our energy infrastructure and economic vitality, as well as a major source of power for New York City and the downstate region.

On behalf of New York AREA, I respectfully submit that your March 29 call to close Indian Point is not only premature, but such closure is likely to cause significant and negative economic, environmental, and health impacts to New Yorkers. Indeed, New Yorkers face far greater health and other challenges if the plants do not continue operation and obtain license renewal. Please consider the following:

Air Pollution. On March 22, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reported that New Yorkers breathe the dirtiest air in the nation and have a higher chance of contracting cancer from dirty air than do residents of any other state. Without Indian Point's emission free power, counties in the lower Hudson Valley and New York City, already in noncompliance with federal clean air standards, would be much worse off.

A 2002 study by the respected TRC Environmental Corp. consulting firm found if Indian Point's power could somehow be replaced by the mix of other sources currently serving New York State, air pollution would be increased by more than 14 million tons annually, including carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, particulate matter and nitrogen oxides and volatile organic carbons which contribute to ozone and smog production.

New York'’s Electricity Costs are America's Second Highest. The Public Policy Institute of New York (which is affiliated with the Business Council of New York State, a New York AREA member) has found that New York has the second highest electricity costs in the country. Taking Indian Point's low-cost and consistently generated base-load power offline would further increase costs and drive companies away from re-locating, remaining in, or expanding in the state.

Job Retention and Opportunity. The more than 1,200 hard-working, dedicated people at Indian Point place safety above all else through their daily professionalism. Many are members of New York's proud labor unions. Taking Indian Point offline would have a tremendous negative impact on these hard working individuals and their families, as well as many others. Indian Point provides more than $750 million in annual economic activity to New York State through jobs, purchases, and tax payments.

There is No Foreseeable Replacement Power for Indian Point. Organizations like the New York City Mayor's Energy Task Force, the New York Building Congress, and the New York Independent System Operator have documented that downstate New York will need to add quite significant amounts of new electricity in the coming years.

This challenge is compounded by the intensity and sophistication of not-in-my-backyard(NIMBY) opposition. It is further compounded by the expired Article X law, and the fact that it typically took at least five years from the time a new plant was proposed under Article X until it actually produced power.

Indian Point mitigates the need for several large power plants in the southeast corridor. Adding the burden of replacing Indian Point's power to the already quite formidable situation at hand would have profound consequences for New YorkÂ’s economy and electricity reliability.

By way of background, I am a Certified Health Physicist and the retired director of licensing for Indian Point, the Fitzpatrick nuclear power plant in Oswego and other nuclear power plants owned by Entergy in the northeast. I have lived less than four miles from the Indian Point plants for 35 years with my family, and am quite comfortable that it is among the safest places in New York to reside.

I have recently been asked by Jerry Kremer, New York AREA'’s Advisory Board Chairman and one of the original authors of the Article X legislation, to serve as the Indian Point Health and Safety Liaison to New York AREA. As such, I will keep track of developments in the detection and remediation of tritium and strontium 90 at the site and inform New York AREA members and others of developments in this regard.

I am also working with Mr. Kremer to arrange a previously discussed meeting with you, your staff, and several of our members -- business and labor leaders and energy experts -- to discuss New York'’s energy future, Article X renewal, and the critical role that Indian Point plays in making sure that New York has reliable power, and why it must be part of the state's energy equation in the future. I look forward to sharing this dialogue with you in the future to assist in building your awareness of the dire consequences that opposition to Indian Point license renewal will have on air quality, jobs, economic growth and development, and our energy future.

Thank you for your time and attention to these serious matters that will affect all New Yorkers.

John J. Kelly
New York AREA Member
Indian Point Health & Safety Liaison
cc: Ms. Kathy Bennett
Mr. Peter Lehner
Ms. Susanna Zwerling
For what our David Bradish wrote about Spitzer's speech earlier this week, click here. For a post on Tritium from March 24, click here.

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NRC Issues Final Environmental Impact Statement for Grand Gulf

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued its final environmental impact statement on the proposed early site permit (ESP) for the Grand Gulf site in Mississippi. The NRC found no environmental impacts that would prevent issuing an ESP for the site.

The ESP process allows a company to obtain advance approval of a site for a new reactor, allowing it to defer the decision to build until later.

System Energy Resources Inc. (SERI), a subsidiary of Entergy Nuclear, filed its ESP application with the NRC in 2003. If approved, the ESP gives SERI up to 20 years to decide whether to build a new reactor at Grand Gulf and then to file an application with the NRC for approval to begin construction. The NRC said it expects to complete the entire review process for Grand Gulf early in 2007.

The NRC currently is considering two early site permits, for Exelon’s Clinton site in Illinois and Dominion’s North Anna site in Virginia.

Read the full environmental impact statement here.

This is exciting stuff - stay tuned!

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