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Showing posts from December, 2012

2012: The Year After the Year

2012 may fade away and 2013 arrive with undo chipperness, but It’s all a continuum. Last year’s narratives will continue into the new year, a few cameo players from 2012 will gain additional prominence in 2013 – I’m thinking small reactors here – and, to paraphrase the tagline of an old horror comic, always expect the unexpected.

So let’s not fill up a top ten list – that might be the expected thing to do on December 31; instead, let’s see if we can find some recent quotes that summarize (some of) the themes of the last year even if that is not exactly their purpose.
Take this, for example, from the Wall Street Journal:
But phasing out nuclear power, which helps meet nearly 75% of France's electricity needs and about 27% across the EU, could deprive the continent of a key source of energy and jobs, making it more dependent on fossil-fuel imports.
Higher fuel bills could also hurt European economies, economists warned. And closing nuclear reactors—which emit little to no greenhouse…

Inescapable Dilemmas: A Few Friday Nuclear Readings

From the end of a column in the Guardian by Neil Hirst of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change:All in all, there is no simple answer to this question. If you believe strongly enough that we should phase out nuclear then with sufficiently strong political commitment around the world, this could be done consistently with tackling climate change. However, as a practical matter, we are far from being on course to limit carbon emissions to levels consistent with a 2C target. Ruling out one of the major low-carbon technology options currently available is bound to add to the difficulty and the risk of what is already looking like a very tough challenge. Balancing the problems of nuclear power against its contribution to climate mitigation (and other energy policy objectives) is an inescapable dilemma.Hirst knows as well as we do that finding “sufficiently strong political commitment around the world” to shutter nuclear energy is as likely as finding sufficiently strong political commit…

Nuclear Energy and The Darkest Nightmare

I like the way the Sundance Film Festival tries to square a bunch of circles in selling its showings (beginning January 18) of Robert Stone’s Pandora’s Promise, his pro-nuclear energy documentary:The atomic bomb, the specter of a global nuclear holocaust, and disasters like Fukushima have made nuclear energy synonymous with the darkest nightmares of the modern world. But what if everyone has nuclear power wrong? What if people knew that there are reactors that are self-sustaining and fully controllable and ones that require no waste disposal? What if nuclear power is the only energy source that has the ability to stop climate change?Need we note that domestic nuclear energy, the subject of the film, has nothing whatever to with the atomic bomb or “the specter of a global nuclear holocaust?” I hope not. If you allow that, “Darkest nightmares of the modern world” might seem a bit hyperbolic, yes?But fine: if it inspires people to wander in and see the film, fine. They may get some of th…

Pro-Nuclear Party Wins Big in Japan

They have elections:More than 20 months after a catastrophic nuclear disaster that triggered massive protests against atomic energy and fueled public opinion polls backing the phase-out of reactors, a pro-nuclear party won Japan’s parliamentary election. The result left anti-nuclear proponents in shock Monday, struggling to understand how the Liberal Democratic Party not only won, but won in a landslide.Japan has a parliamentary system. This election was for the lower chamber, like ours called the House of Representatives, and elected by direct vote. The upper chamber, the House of Councilors, has a rather complicated system for election (part proportional based on party, part direct based on candidate). The House of Representatives will select a new Prime Minister later this month.In any event, you might wonder if this means that the accident at Fukushima Daiichi has receded as an issue. Probably not – the Japanese national paper the Asahi Shimbun, polled the attitudes of voters and

Nuclear Energy - Justified

A letter from Martha Gordon of Monmouth Oregon to the Statesman-Journal of Salem (Ore.), re-rendered as a poem:As one survivor
of the Dust Bowl who
experienced the failure of one mistaken idea,
I am vitally afraid
of earth-shaking experiments.Our experience with nukes,
you would think,
would rival that of
a child learning about fire
by getting burned.Our wind power,
while not so fruitful
in this water-lush year,
is a “money in the bank” recourse
for the dry years predicted to come.How can we justify more nukes
on our beautiful Columbia?I was struck by Ms. Gordon’s (who must be well into her eighties if she remembers the dust bowl) artful arrangement of words in making her lyrical and somewhat mysterious statement about the vagaries of energy. So it’s not pro-nuclear – or is it?  Or is that even the point? Wind, nuclear, natural gas – she alludes to their power generating potential and, like the first person confronted with fire, finds them…

Where Used Nuclear Fuel Is Wanted

Sometimes, it just takes a little push. For example, The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future (whew! – let’s call it the BRC) made a number of recommendations on how to proceed with used nuclear fuel without Yucca Mountain.

One recommendation still promoted the use of one or more permanent repositories just like Yucca Mountain, but the interest here – and the push - is on a second, related suggestion: interim storage sites. However many of these there would be, they would be many fewer than the nuclear facilities now holding used nuclear fuel – if the idea is to decrease the number of sites with used fuel, then this is an especially plausible idea.

Even better, the BRC said that communities could suggest themselves as hosts for these interim sites. The federal government could then negotiate terms with the communities, assuming there are viable locations to put the sites.

This idea arose from a visit the BRC members took to the Department of Energy’s Waste Isolation P…

A Little Now, A Lot Later–Florida and Cost Recovery

Michael Waldron, who is director of nuclear communications at Florida Power & Light, takes an unusually pugnacious tone in this op-ed in the Miami Sun-Sentinel. He is defending the concept of cost recovery, a process by which a company can levy a small surcharge on ratepayers to improve or build reactors. In this case, FPL is using this to upgrade their reactors at Turkey Point and do some early work on two more potential reactors there:
Over the past several years, Florida's nuclear cost recovery statute has allowed FPL to upgrade our existing nuclear plants and add over 500 new megawatts of clean, cost-effective power-generation to our fleet.  To put this in perspective, this is about the same amount of electricity generated by a medium-sized nuclear power plant without having to build one. Waldron says that FPL is saving a lot of money for its customers – for itself, too, of course, but that also benefits customers:
For example, the 400 new megawatts we have already added …

The Bohemian Nuclear Appeal

We know that nuclear energy gets a strong thumbs up from countries such as the United States and United Kingdom – France – and a few others. And a resolute thumbs down from Germany – Switzerland – Australia. That’s fine – you can’t be loved by everyone all the time.

But where we’re a little fuzzy is a lot of the other countries out there. There have been some international polls, but I find those a little suspect, not necessarily tuned to national temperament or custom. It just seems prone to skew one way or another.
So, this is interesting:
Two thirds of Czechs are for further development of nuclear energy in the Czech Republic, 4 percentage points more than in May, according to the latest poll of agency STEM. That’s on the low end of what’s found in the United States, but still pretty good. What’s more, this number is a bit depressed form its due to concerns about the Fukushima accident.
Despite that, the current support to nuclear energy has not yet reached the peak from 2009 when…

Fukushima Reactors Stable After 7.3 Magnitude Quke

A 7.3 magnitude earthquake struck Japan overnight, triggering tsunami warnings across the island nation, but fortunately the warnings were lifted soon after and the quakes caused very little damage.

Of course, we've got out eyes on the situation at Fukushima Daiichi, and things there look quiet according to ABC News:
No damage has been reported at monitoring posts and water treatment facilities at the reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi plant, the nuclear facility that was devastated by tsunami waters after the 2011 quake, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company. All the workers were moved to higher ground on the site and told to stay inside after the tsunami warning. For a look at what the U.S. nuclear industry has done in the wake of Fukushima, please consult our Safety First microsite.

Idaho Ponders Its Nuclear Future

Nuclear Notes highlighted Governor Butch Otter’s Leadership in Nuclear Energy commission when he formed it last February. Now, the group is beginning to issue reports.
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter today encouraged the people of Idaho to review the progress of his Leadership in Nuclear Energy (LINE) Commission and to begin a public dialogue on critical questions facing the Idaho National Laboratory and their potential impact on Idaho’s economy. This might sound like an "uh-oh, maybe this isn’t going to go so well" sort of moment, but Governor Otter is actually quite the fan of INL:
“The timing was right for an extensive, external review of INL and nuclear-related activities in Idaho,” Governor Otter said. “I think this progress report clearly points out that the environmental cleanup envisioned by my predecessors has largely been realized while at the same time we’ve established INL as the nation’s preeminent nuclear research and development laboratory. There’s been significa…

STP Nuclear Generating Station Unit 1 Returns to Service After Safe, Successful Outage

The following was issued by the media team at the South Texas Project.
The South Texas Project (STP) Unit 1 reactor is back online and operating at full power after a scheduled refueling and maintenance outage. The unit returned to 100 percent power Friday, Nov. 30.

“Our team safely and efficiently completed a large scope of work that included maintenance, testing, and inspection activities,” said STP President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Koehl. “The work completed prepares the unit to run continuously until its next refueling outage, about 18 months from now.”

The unit was taken offline on Saturday, Oct. 20 for scheduled refueling and maintenance. The beginning of this outage marked an STP record of 530 continuous days online for Unit 1. The previous STP record for consecutive days on-line – held by Unit 2 – was 525 days, completed in 2008.

STP mobilized approximately 1,100 contractors to assist with major and minor modifications that enhance equipment reliability. Numerous …

Meanwhile, In France … Losing the Nuclear Advantage

We’ve had a merry time showing that the German effort to close its nuclear plants has been ill-advised and counterproductive.

Meanwhile, in France, President Francois Hollande wants to reduce dependence on nuclear energy or at least, close the oldest of the plants:
“The Fessenheim plant which is the oldest in our country, will be closed at the end of 2016 in conditions that will guarantee the supply needs of the region... and safeguard all jobs,” say Hollande, as quoted in a French news outlet. The country operates 58 nuclear reactors. Twenty-four of them would be retired by 2025. What happens in 2025 is likely not under Hollande’s purview, so we’ll wait on that one. Closing Fessenheim seems more a symbolic gesture, so fine.

The article at Energy Central shows that the French may have missed a few tricks:
The new French president has painted himself in a corner: He has vowed to reduce the nation’s most plentiful resource, nuclear energy. But he has also declared that one of the most…