Monday, August 29, 2011

A Different Kind of Tale - Sorry Mother Goose.



When You Don't Like the Original Story, 
Just Re-write it...

This way of dealing with things may work for fairy tales but it should not happen with history or with our nuclear power policy.

AP IMPACT has a great article on this,  I urge you to read the full story at  AP IMPACT: NRC and industry rewrite nuke history

If there is one thing you can say about the NRC they certainly aren't opposed to changing their collective minds. One of the things the AP IMPACT article points out is that back in the 60's and 70's regulators stated "unequivocally" that nuclear reactors were designed to operate for only 40 years. Now it seems they have changed their minds as we enter the re-licensing phase on existing nuclear power plants.
I don't suppose the industry had anything to do with this change of mind, giving the fact that the older reactors are largely paid for by now, which certainly adds to the production profits. I am just a little bit suspicious, can you tell?

Another item of interest not covered in this particular article is the fact that the NRC has extended the period of time that spent fuel can be safely stored on-site in the spent fuel pools. This time extension oddly enough coincided with the quashing of the Yucca Mountain spent fuel storage facility. Hmm, I find that curiouser and curiouser.

Originally back in that 60's and 70's period of our baby stepping into the unknown world of nuclear power, the DOE was to take ownership of all spent fuel from commercial power plants and transport this spent fuel to a safe and PERMANENT LONG-TERM storage facility. And when I say 'long-term' I mean forever and ever..... for like thousands and thousands of years.

Well, politics and a lot of nimby-ism got in the way and currently nuclear plant operators are having to hang on to their on S**T just a little bit longer. But who knows maybe the NRC will have a change of mind one more time and decide that spent fuel can be safely stored in Hefty bags - problem solved.




Sunday, August 28, 2011

Are You Ready for a little Nuclear Diversion?

Arnie Gundersen is back for another little chat on the latest happens on the nuclear front.


New Data Supports Previous Fairewinds Analysis, as Contamination Spreads in Japan and Worldwide

Newly released neutron data from three University of California San Diego scientists confirms Fairewinds' April analysis that the nuclear core at Fukushima Daiichi turned on and off after TEPCO claimed its reactors had been shutdown. This periodic nuclear chain reaction (inadvertent criticality) continued to contaminate the surrounding environment and upper atmosphere with large doses of radioactivity.

In a second area of concern, Fairewinds disagrees the NRC's latest report claiming that all Fukushima spent fuel pools had no problems following the earthquake. In a new revelation, the NRC claims that the plutonium found more than 1 mile offsite actually came from inside the nuclear reactors. If such a statement were true, it indicates that the nuclear power plant containments failed and were breached with debris landing far from the power plants themselves. Such a failure of the containment system certainly necessitates a complete review of all US reactor containment design and industry assurances that containments will hold in radioactivity in the event of a nuclear accident. The evidence Fairewinds reviewed to date continues to support its April analysis that the detonation in the Unit 3 Spent Fuel pool was the cause of plutonium found off site.

Third, the burning of radioactive materials (building materials, trees, lawn grass, rice straw) by the Japanese government will cause radioactive Cesium to spread even further into areas within Japan that have been previously clean, and across the Pacific Ocean to North America.

And finally, the Japanese government has yet to grasp the severity of the contamination within Japan, and therefore has not developed a coherent plan mitigate the accident and remediate the environment. Without a cohesive plan to deal with this ongoing problem of large scale radioactive contamination, the radioactivity will continue to spread throughout Japan and around the globe further exacerbating the problem and raising costs astronomically.

http://www.fairewinds.com/content/new-data-supports-previous-fairewinds-analy...

US Government makes Strategic Decision to DOWNPLAY Fukushima (Arnie Gundersen) 8/14/11
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HqmgLOzeKiM

Agenda 21, Read it.
http://www.un.org/esa/sustdev/documents/agenda21/english/Agenda21.pdf

"Small Facts"

[NOTE: Half-life is the time taken for a radioactive substance to decay by half.] * Cesium-134 ~ 2 years * Cesium-137 ~ 30 years * Iodine-131 ~ 8 days * Plutonium-239 ~ 24,200 years * Ruthenium-103 ~ 39 days [Ruthenium is a fission product of uranium-235.] * Ruthenium-106 ~ 374 days * Strontium-90 ~ 28.85 years [Strontium-90 is a product of nuclear fission and is found in large amounts in spent nuclear fuel and in radioactive waste from nuclear reactors.] * Uranium-234 ~ 246,000 years * Uranium-235 ~ 703.8 million years * Uranium-238 ~ 4.468 billion years:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

"LOOK DOWN"





 I know that New Orleans is noted for its beautiful manhole covers but this next little find takes this 'down to earth' art form to a whole new level.


Check out this site Drainspotting: 61 Amazing Manhole Covers from Japan  You won't be disappointed. Enjoy your day. May Peace surround you.
*

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

My new obsession

 Since I started all this I can't stop.

Every moment that I am not sleeping, eating or blogging, it seem I am knitting!

I can't stop - since May I have made a beret type knit hat, a baby blanket, and three cowl scarves. I am now three-quarters the way done on a long, pavement pattern scarf.

If I happen to disappear you can probably find me under a big pile of wool yarn.

I already have plans to knit up three surprise Christmas gifts. Keep the yarn coming Jimmy Bean's Wool shop... I'm not ready to call it quits yet. Seems there is no better way to cool off on a 90+ degree weather day then snuggled up with wool on your lap, listening to the clicking of knitting needles and dreaming of my first snow day.






More Good News - New Belgium Brewing

New Belgium Brewing has a great little story to tell check out their website and get the full and direct story - it's the "little engine that could". The New Belgium Story

"Measuring your current state of consumption is usually the first step in lessening your environmental impact.  At the brewery, we use a lot of water (at least 90% of all beer), electricity (primarily to cool the beer for fermentation and maturation), and natural gas (to boil water and malt, extract its sugars, and turn it into fermentable wort).  Naturally, we use other resources, too—by weight, mostly malt and glass—but up until this spring of 2008, the only measurement that we were doing of material inputs was via the waste stream.  Since we have added the Life Cycle Assessment of a six-pack of Fat Tire to our library, we understand a great deal more about the impact of our inputs."  


It's another "I'll drink to that moment." Thank you New Belgium! 

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Money $ Money $ Money $



Let's celebrate:


Kim K. makes $18 million off her wedding - Congrats Kim on both events.

$20,000 for a wedding cake that wasn't even served at the wedding?????

A Vera Wang wedding dress and a spare and a spare. I wonder if she had extra nylons as well.



Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is going to quadruple the size of his $12 Million home.

Hmm, do we really want him in charge of spending 'our' money?


Oh, look what I found growing outside my window. Whee! Let's go shopping!



The Good News Express - "All Aboard!"


 Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Nicholas Brothers, & Dorthy Dandridge
August 21, 2011

Trains That Run Like, and on, the Wind

BERLIN — It will not be easy to run a national railroad on renewable energy like wind, hydro and solar power, but that is what Deutsche Bahn of Germany aims to do, for one simple reason: It is what consumers want.

Deutsche Bahn says it wants to raise the percentage of wind, hydro and solar energy used in powering its trains from 20 percent now to 28 percent in 2014 and to become carbon-free by 2050 — targets that exceed the German government’s already ambitious national goals.

“Consumers in Germany have made it clear they want us all to get away from nuclear energy and to more renewable energy,” said Hans-J├╝rgen Witschke, chief executive of Deutsche Bahn Energie, which supplies electricity for trains in Germany.

“It’s what customers want, and we’re making it happen,” Mr. Witschke said in an interview. “The demand for green electricity keeps rising each year, and that’ll continue.”

Prevailing attitudes in Germany were already decidedly green before the accident at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear complex in Japan set off by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

After the nuclear crisis in Japan, the Berlin government abruptly reversed course on nuclear power, shutting eight nuclear plants and vowing to close the other nine by 2022.

That caught Deutsche Bahn — and German industry — off guard. The state-owned railroad had relied heavily on nuclear energy. But now the public and industry are increasingly attuned to sustainability and to what companies are doing, Mr. Witschke said.

“Environmental protection has become an important issue in the marketplace and especially in the transport sector,” he said. “Even though more renewables will cost a bit more, that can be contained with an intelligent energy mix and reasonable time frame. We’re confident that cutting CO2 emissions will give us a competitive advantage.”

There are still concerns about the reliability of renewables as their share rises toward 100 percent and before more storage capacity is available. What happens when there is no wind or sunshine?

Some transportation industry analysts are skeptical. “It sounds like a bit of ‘greenwashing,”’ said Stefan Kick, an analyst at Silvia Quandt Research, a Frankfurt brokerage. “Obviously, costs for renewable energy are going to be higher. Yet if customers are truly willing to pay, it could make sense.”

The railroad’s new push for a larger share of renewable energy to operate trains that transport 1.9 billion passengers and 415 million tons of freight each year has won applause from environmental groups.

They have cheered Deutsche Bahn’s partnerships with wind and hydroelectric power suppliers and its exploratory moves into harvesting solar power from the roofs of its 5,700 stations.

Photovoltaic panels in the spectacular glass roof of the Hauptbahnhof, the main station in Berlin, produce 160,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year — about 2 percent of the station’s needs.

Previously, environmentalists had accused the company of neglecting to develop renewables on its vast properties because of its heavy reliance on nuclear power.

Peter Ahmels, a renewable energy specialist at the German Environmental Aid Association, said the railroad could have done more with wind and solar on its property holdings.

Instead, he said Deutsche Bahn had relied complacently on its image as a low-emission mode of transport. Even high-speed trains, which zip across the country at as much as 300 kilometers, or 185 miles, per hour, have carbon emissions of 46 grams per passenger per kilometer, or about 2.6 ounces per passenger per mile, compared with an average of 140 grams for cars and 180 for planes.

“Since Fukushima, Deutsche Bahn has been moving in the right direction,” Mr. Ahmels said. “There’s clearly a new thinking on the board. They’re doing sensible things. Before, they resisted. The argument was that renewables were not their core business.”

By 2014, the railroad wants a third of the electricity for long-distance trains to come from renewable sources
Deutsche Bahn also runs myriad local rail operations in towns and cities. Some of those operations, like local rail systems in Hamburg and Saarland, already run on 100 percent renewable energy and boast about that in advertising.

To run its trains, the railroad uses a staggering amount of electricity every year: 12 terawatt-hours. That is as much as Berlin, with its 3.2 million residents, consumes.

The railroad alone uses 2 percent of Germany’s total electricity. A single high-speed train traveling from Frankfurt to Berlin uses as much as 4,800 kilowatt-hours, enough for a four-person family for a full year.
Germany is already a world leader in renewable energy. About 17 percent comes from renewables, up from 6 percent in 2000.

The German government aims to raise that share to 35 percent by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050.
Mr. Witschke of Deutsche Bahn Energie said the national railroad would have 35 percent or 40 percent by 2020 and 100 percent by mid century.  “We’ve got a vision of being carbon-free by 2050,” he said. “That’s not just a declaration of intent. It’s a concrete business target.”

Some passengers and business partners, like the automaker Audi, already voluntarily pay small surcharges for carbon-free transport packages that guarantee that green power is used. “The demand for our CO2-free products has been above expectations,” Mr. Witschke said. “The customers really want this. If they keep turning to the CO2-free products at this pace, we’ll be over the 40 percent mark in 2020.”

To help meet that target, Deutsche Bahn has been operating two wind parks in Brandenburg, and in July it signed a €1.3 billion, or $1.9 billion, deal with the utility RWE to get 900 million kilowatt-hours a year from 14 hydroelectric plants — enough for 250,000 households.

The hydroelectric deal with RWE is to run for 15 years and is expected to supply the railroad with about 8 percent of its needs. “It does have quite a symbolic impact when the country’s largest electricity user takes such a big step into regenerative energy,” Mr. Witschke said. “We’re also one of the biggest electricity users anywhere in Europe. It’s not going unnoticed.” 

Erik Kirschbaum is a Reuters correspondent.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Dear Legislator - The issue is SAFETY not COST


On August 5, 2011 I wrote the following letter to three members of the Missouri State Legislature (not identified here), I had previously talked in person with another state representative. It seems the issue that is of concern to our legislators is being able to deliver "cheap and abundant" electrical power to the residents of this state without regard for the safety of the citizens of the State of Missouri.

August 5, 2011

Subject: Callaway Nuclear Plant

Dear Legislator:

I am deeply concerned about the Callaway nuclear plant – not about the CWIP issue – but about the issue of long-term storage of spent fuel. Currently the used fuel from Ameren’s Callaway Plant #1 is being stored in spent fuel pools on-site.

Spent fuel pools were not designed for long-term storage, but intended as temporary storage as the used fuel cooled sufficiently to be placed on-site in dry cask storage. Typically used fuel is cooled in these pools for about 5 years and then placed in dry cask storage as a longer-term solution until the spent fuel can be moved off-site to safe and permanent storage.

The DOE has not been able to secure a permanent waste storage facility; Yucca Mountain was the last to be considered and was not made available. As a result the NRC continues to revise its guidelines for on-site used fuel storage. Used fuel pools are now allowed four times what was first laid down as a safety standard.

Callaway Plant #1 has no dry cask storage and relies solely upon used fuel pools. Ameren itself posts on their website under ‘Managing Used Nuclear Fuel’ – “Since Callaway Plant began operating in 1984, all of its used fuel has been safely stored on site in the used fuel pool, which is a stainless steel-lined water pool located inside the fuel building.”

They go on to say that “the Callaway planners are considering the construction of dry cask storage to provide additional space.”

Knowledgeable people in the nuclear power industry know that used fuel pools when used as a primary storage facility pose many safety concerns. When pools get re-racked to hold more used fuel; the denser these pools become the more the risk increases for setting off a chain-reaction explosion. Use fuel pools by design need to be constantly cooled and require back-up generators or battery systems in the event of a power interruption. The least likely safety concern but still a possibility would be the spent fuel pools vulnerability to terrorist attacks.

Back in 1981 President Reagan announced a policy for a high-level radioactive waste storage facility.  That was thirty years ago and we are no closer to enacting that policy then we were then. The next logical step from the NRC/DOE will no doubt be that the 104 operating nuclear plants in the United States are going to have to provide their own long-term PERMANENT storage of their used fuel.

So while there is massive time spent discussing CWIP and whether the rate payers should be charged for the construction of the second nuclear plant at Callaway, I sit here in my Chesterfield home concerned and frustrated because no one is talking about the real problem at Callaway and that is:  What does Ameren propose to do about the problem of long-term and possibly permanent storage of the used fuel? And when will they address this problem?

A second nuclear facility should not even be on the table until Ameren has concrete plans on what to do with the existing spent fuel it has on hand and continues to produce daily at their Callaway Plant #1.

We cannot wait around until a disaster occurs that will put the citizens of Missouri at risk to then start working on the problem.

The issue needs to be discussed now, before a Callaway Plant #2 gets approval. Would you be willing to help by bringing this safety concern up as an issue that needs to be addressed? I would be more than happy to talk with you or supply additional information that you could study.

Sincerely,

Anna A. Pick

Ameren Missouri, the operator of the Callaway Nuclear Plant, does not seem to have a plan for long-term storage of the used/spent fuel from Plant #1. They are using a spent fuel pool, which if you are a reader of this blog, you know is a temporary storage method, which is used to cool the spent fuel before placing it in long-term storage. The time frame for this storage is usually considered to be about five years.

Since the federal government has not yet come up with a permanent storage facility for spent fuel, I believe that local producers of nuclear power will at some point in time have to look to providing their own long-term permanent storage.

But for Callaway it is imperative that Ameren Missouri take the step to add to its facility dry cask storage for at least an interim, longer-term storage solution,  BEFORE it even considers adding a second nuclear power plant.

Each time this issue is brought up the legislative argument always evolves back to "But do you really want to have to  pay more and have to consume less electricity?"

I ask you, the people of Missouri and planet Earth - is cheap, plentiful electricity an equal trade off for potential death and disease caused from exposure to radioactive elements?

Germany is eliminating nuclear power in the next decade, Switzerland who currently get 39% of its electricity from nuclear power plants has decided this year to phase out all nuclear power plants over the next two decades. Japan, not surprisingly, will soon be following suit.
~
The best time to wake up and smell the roses is BEFORE they adorn a wreath on your grave.


Switzerland - Things you may or may not know


Switzerland is a land locked country and therefore does not have a navy, but it does have an air force and army.

The Swiss Confederation has a long history of neutrality, it has not been in a state of  war internationally since 1815. It did not join the United Nations until 2002. While the Swiss do not engage in battle they do work diligently in the peace-keeping process.

It is known for its fine chocolates and accurate watches. Oh, and for its mufti-functional Swiss Army Knife.

I went to school one summer at the University of Lausanne.
The Red Cross was founded in Switzerland and uses the reverse colors of the Swiss flag as it symbol.

It has no lake with the name Lake Geneva - the correct name is Lake Leman.

Thirty-nine (39%) percent of Switzerland's electricity is generated from nuclear power, however in May of 2011 the government announced plans to end all nuclear power plants in the next two to three decades, citing that Fukushima showed the risk of nuclear power was just too high.

 
And they also have a pretty good tennis player by the name of Roger Federer.


        The Swiss National Hymne

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Sather Gate - University of California - Berkeley



Sather Gate, University of California – Berkeley

Sometimes when you open a door you end up going someplace you never intended at all. Last night I was making a visit to The Rag Blog and right before my eyes was a picture of Sather Gate, the great rallying site for many the 1960’s protests.

My husband attended UCB from January 1961 to January 1964; we both lived in married student’s housing in nearby Albany.  It was always wait-listed and a very affordable housing project that was made available and run by the University.  But I digress.

Sather Gate was the place you would meet friends, the place where you would exchange ideas and even engage in lively protests. I didn’t realize that this icon of the Berkeley campus had recently undergone a massive restoration or even that it was on the U.S. Registry of Historic Places.

“Designed by John Galen Howard and built by Giovanni "John" Meneghetti in the Classical Revival Beaux-Arts style, Sather Gate was completed in 1910. Atop the gate are eight panels of bas-relief figures: four nude men representing the disciplines of law, letters, medicine, and mining, and four nude women representing the disciplines of agriculture, architecture, art, and electricity. They were sculpted by Professor Earl Cummins.“ Source: Wikipedia


In 2008 Sather Gate was dismantled and the restoration began. The project was completed in April of 2009 and rededicated in June 2009 almost 100 years from its original completion date – now Sather Gate is fit as a fiddle and ready to welcome the next one hundred years of students and provide them a meeting place and a site where a lively exchange of ideas can be exchanged.



Friday, August 19, 2011

"I'll drink to that."

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz 

is upset at Washington politicians and is asking other corporations to join him in a boycott on campaign contributions. He believes he could make better use of the money by investing back into his company and employees.

On Monday he issued this Email:



August 15, 2011 

Dear Fellow Concerned Americans: 

Our country is better than this. 

Over the last few weeks and months, our national elected officials from both parties have failed to lead. They have chosen to put partisan and ideological purity over the well-being of the people. They have undermined the full faith and credit of the United States. They have stirred up fears about our economic prospects without doing anything to truly address those fears. They have spent a resource even more precious than the dollar: our collective confidence in each other, in the future, and in our ability to solve problems together.

As leaders in business, we have watched all this unfold, first with frustration and then with dismay. Like so many of our employees and customers, we are gravely concerned about the current situation. Today, with both humility and urgency, we propose to do something about it.

First, we aim to push our elected leaders to face the nation's long-term fiscal challenges with civility, honesty, and a willingness to sacrifice their own re-election. This means not kicking the can anymore. It means reaching a deal on debt, revenue, and spending long before the deadline arrives this fall. It means considering all options, from entitlement programs to taxes.

This is what so many common-sense Americans want. That is why we today pledge to withhold any further campaign contributions to the President and all members of Congress until a fair, bipartisan deal is reached that sets our nation on stronger long-term fiscal footing. And we invite leaders of businesses – indeed, all concerned Americans – to join us in this pledge. 

We also believe in leading by positive example. And we believe that while the long-term fiscal challenge is serious, even more painful to millions of Americans today is the immediate crisis of jobs. Tens of millions are unemployed and underemployed. Right now our economy is frozen in a cycle of fear and uncertainty. Companies are afraid to hire. Consumers are afraid to spend. Banks are afraid to lend. Record levels of cash are piling up in corporate treasuries, idling. That cash is not being used to expand operations, train new workers, underwrite new ventures, or spark innovation.

The only way to break this cycle of fear is to break it. The only way to get the country’s economic circulatory system flowing again is to start pumping lifeblood through it. That is why we today issue a second pledge. Our companies are going to hire. We are going to accelerate growth, employment, and investment in jobs.

We do this because we want to set in motion an upward spiral of confidence. We are not waiting for government to create an incentive program or a stimulus. We are not waiting for economic indicators to tell us it’s safe to act. We are hiring more people now. We invite leaders of businesses across the country to join us in this pledge as well – and to bring their stakeholders into the effort. Confidence is contagious. The best thing we can do now is to spread it.

This is a time for citizenship, not partisanship. It is a time for action. We don't pretend that our two pledges are quick fixes. We just believe that in this moment of great uncertainty, the government needs discipline, the people need jobs – and leaders need to lead. 

Our country is better than this. Let’s get things moving now.

Respectfully,

Howard Schultz

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Remembering Elian Gonzalez

 Elian Gonzalez is held in a closet by Donato Dalrymple, one of the two men
who rescued the Cuban boy from the ocean, as U.S. federal agents search for the young boy in Miami, Fla., on April 22, 2000. 

This was not one of Janet Reno's finest moments. I can remember watching this exact scene on television when federal agents swooped in to "rescue" this young boy. My heart ached at the horror! And the horror was not having to be returned to Cuba, his homeland, rather the horror of having a swat-like team in his face which no doubt left a lasting image of terror for this small child.

Elian at that very moment, became an icon of propaganda; for the United States and later for Cuba. The event ended in victory for Castro and Cuba but only because the United States chose to make it so. The U.S. was so quick to wave the flag of freedom and rub the Communist's nose in it, that it never once thought what was best for this young child.

Elian's mother's choice was to leave Cuba and in making that decision she took her young child with her and she would become one of many Cuban raft-people that would end up dieing in their attempt to reach 'freedom' and the shores of the United States, the young boy survived the trip and was rescued in Florida. Elian closest living relative was his father who resided in Cuba.

Politics aside, it would seem basic law would dictate that the child be returned to his father. In this case the problem was that the father resided in Cuba - returning the child would be akin to returning him to Hades and his satanic parental unit.

Sadly this event was just another that is becoming a long list of embarrassments for the United States. Below is a photo of a handsome young Elian, age 16, as he attends a meeting of the Union of Young Communists in Havana, Cuba in April of 2010.

Maybe one day Elian Gonzales will reach manhood and become President of Cuba. How ironic would that be?

Dial M for Meltdown

"Long time Fairewinds.com viewer and filmmaker Brian Rich has created a moving and high energy chronology of nuclear power and its impact upon the world."



"Our website has transitioned in a manner Arnie and I never imagined when I started setting it up several years ago. We have received incredible public acknowledgement and support since we first began putting up videos about Fukushima, nuclear power, and answering questions sent to us by viewers. Thanks to all of our viewers for their emails, questions, data, and report information. We also could not do any of our work without the ongoing professional dialogue with scientists around the world. As time progresses, I will be using this column to feature frequently asked questions and some of the material that I receive daily from the 250 emails we receive and from the professional dialogue we have throughout the world. Together, we all can fill the void the main stream media and various world governments have left.

In that vein, I want to share this high energy video created by the young and dynamic filmmaker Brian Rich, a long-time viewer of our site. Please watch it and share it with your friends. I think you will be as moved as I was.

Only two days after publication, Brian's video has already been viewed more than 5,000 times around the world! You may also see footage you have never seen, and certainly this mini-film puts images in context in a manner that has never been done before.

The people of Japan need our attention and support. My friends in Japan are asking for this opportunity. To this end Fairewinds Energy Education Corp will continue our analytical analysis, outreach, and my commentary."

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. constitutes 'fair use' of any such as provided in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 the US Copyright Law
 ~


 I guess we can all talk until we are blue in the face, but maybe when they are enough of us "blue people" walking around we will get noticed. The issue seems so crystal clear to me and to others that are experienced in all things nuclear - we cannot continue to ignore the dangers of nuclear based power.

This is not just the waiting for another 'accident' to occur but the reality that action needs to be taken on what to do with the spent fuel that has and is being produced by our nuclear power plants today.

I am afraid, but I hope I am wrong, that the creation of the BRC - Blue Ribbon Commission to study America's Nuclear Future, once again, is just another way of delaying any action. The list of concerns is a long one and I would be more than happy to see them tackled one at a time.

Spent/used nuclear fuel has to be dealt with in a safe and permanent manner. Here in the state of Missouri we have at this time one nuclear power plant, Callaway Plant #1 operated by Ameren Missouri. The Callaway nuclear power plant has no long-term storage for its used fuel. The system currently in place is spent fuel pools.

Spent fuel pools intended use is to cool the used fuel rods sufficiently so that they can be moved to a dry cask storage system, it would then be moved into permanent long-term storage. The spent fuel usually remains in the pools for about five years. This five-year time period has been extended just a bit since the Callaway plant has now been in operation since 1984 - by my calculation that is 27 years. I would say that is stretching the 5-year use of used fuel pools just a bit.

I have spoken to one of Missouri's state representatives personally, written to another representative and two state senators. All I am asking is that they look into this issue and require that Ameren Missouri address the issue of long-term storage of this spent fuel before the building of another nuclear plant. It is a safety issue which should be addressed before the people of the state of Missouri are put in harms way. I find it curious that I have not gotten one reply. But considering the federal government chooses to also ignore this situation perhaps it's not so mystifying after all.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Mr Gorbachev, tear down these solar panels!


President Jimmy Carter admires the work after installation of the first White House Solar Panels.

President Carter had 32 solar panels installed on the presidential mansion during the Arab oil embargo. He also called for a campaign to conserve energy and set an example to the American people. The year was 1979.


Fast forward to 1981 - well not exactly a 'fast' forward, more of a slow roll ahead of two years.

President Ronald Reagan takes office and one of his first actions was to order the removal of the solar panels installed by Carter.

President Reagan had a different take on energy consumption - he believed that a free market was the best arbiter of what was good for the country. Reagan felt that Corporate self-interest would steer the country in the right direction.

The solar panels were removed in 1986 with the Chief of Staff commenting that "he felt the equipment was just a joke".
In 1992 half of the solar panels were installed on the roof of the cafeteria at Maine's Unity College where they are used to warm water in both summer and winter.

Moving forward to 2010 and guess what? Solar panels are being reinstalled on the White House with the addition of a solar hot water heater for the living quarters. The photovoltaic system will convert sunlight into 19,700 kilowatt hours of electricity a year. President Obama is hoping this move will help to underscore the commitment to lead and the promise and importance of renewable energy in the United States.


Book Recommendation: "Like Water for Chocolate"


I read this book years ago and for some reason it popped into my mind recently. It was a marvelous book and even included recipes in a most unusual manner. Later the book was made into a movie and I thought, "no way" this can't be done - but they did and it was a great movie as well.


Like Water for Chocolate's full title is: Like Water for Chocolate: A novel in monthly installments with recipes, romances and home remedies.

The phrase "like water for chocolate" comes from the Spanish como agua para chocolate. This phrase is a common expression in some Spanish-speaking countries and was the inspiration for Laura Esquivel's novel title (the name has a double meaning). In some Latin American countries, such as Mexico, hot chocolate is made not with milk, but with water instead. Chocolate is usually melted over a pot of boiling water. The saying 'like water for chocolate' alludes to this fact. It can be used as a metaphor for describing a state of intense feelings or – sometimes – sexual arousal. It may also be used to refer to anger, such as being 'boiling mad'. Tita, the main character, actually uses the expression in the book when she says 'estoy como agua para chocolate' (I am like water for chocolate) meaning that she is boiling mad. Source: Wikipedia

If you need to find a little respite from the daily grind or just want to get your mind off the economy and the political antics of late, grab a copy of this book and enjoy the world of Tita, believe me she will get your mind off your troubles and take you away to a whole new place.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Graceland Revisited

Elvis bought Graceland for $100,000 at the height of his fame in 1957, 20 years before he died
 
I don't usually celebrate deaths but this is a cute little vignette from an Elvis fan: Elvis, was that you?
 
 
OH, and just for the record, Michele - Elvis has left the building.


U.S. Asks Israel to Curb Expansion in West Bank

The United States and Europe had asked Israel to curb settlement expansion in the West Bank while efforts are being made to get Israel & Palestine back to negotiating table. Israel's response was basically, "Fuck You" and began one of its most vigorous and largest expansion yet with the approval of 277 new homes in the settlement of Ariel.


 Ariel is one of the largest settlements Israel has built in the West Bank [GALLO/GETTY]

The U.S. State Department voiced concern and called the action deeply troubling to the peace process. Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967, and annexed East Jerusalem, a move not recognized by the international community. The settlements are considered illegal under international law.

"Once again, these Israeli settlement measures represent a strong reason calling on us to go to the United Nations and the Security Council to request membership for the State of Palestine and to halt these Israeli measures" , said Nabil Abu Rdainah, a spokesperson for Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority.





Monday, August 15, 2011

New Series: Just Because No One is Listening...


Just Because No One is Listening...

Doesn't Mean I Have to Stop Speaking



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Today's topic is Exelon, the corporation, not the drug. Exelon is one of the nation's largest electric utilities - it has more than $18 billion in annual revenues. The company is headquartered in Chicago and distributes electricity to around 5.4 million customers in northern Illinois and southeastern Pennsylvania with an additional 486,000 natural gas customers in the Philadelphia area.

The CEO, John W. Rowe, gave a keynote address in Hollywood, Florida today to a group hosted by the American Nuclear Society. In that speech one of the things he said was, "The country needs nuclear power if it is going to tackle the problem of climate change, clean up our generation stack, maintain reliability and improve overall energy security. But we must keep our hopes for new nuclear generation harnessed to facts. Nuclear power is a business and not a religion."

Rowe's full speech can be viewed/downloaded here John Rowe speech August 15, 2011 to the American Nuclear Society. I am not exactly sure what this "new" nuclear is that Mr. Rowe talks about, my gut tells me it may be a new marketing tool given some of the negative events of past years. I was taken with his four criteria that must be met before the 'new nuclear renaissance' can become a reality.

Here is Mr. Rowe's criteria-list:
  1. We must have the right reactor technology.
  2. We must have a workable solution to the waste problem.
  3. There must be a need for a new generation.
  4. There must be a shortage of natural gas and stable high prices to make the economics right
I would have made 'a workable solution to the waste problem' number one on my list, but I am delighted it made the list at all. John Rowe went on to add this little comment to having a workable solution: "The Blue Ribbon Commission has offered a road map. But it will take the federal government and national political will to make it a reality. Unfortunately the federal government is further away from keeping its promise on waste disposal than ever and this condition cannot be met"

My mantra has become 'We cannot move forward with new nuclear power plants or continue to produce power from our old nuclear power plants until a solution is found for permanent storage of used/spent nuclear waste." It has to be the #1 priority.

glow worm over & out