Friday, September 28, 2012

Have You Heard This...?

Perhaps you missed this on your nightly news, I know I did. Guess what? The Nuclear Renaissance is back, or so says an industry panel. Jack Grobe, new executive director of Exelon Nuclear Partners says "the future of nuclear power is looking pretty good."

In addition the Nuclear Energy Institute did a survey and found that 82% of Americans believe that the U.S. should continue to develop nuclear energy to meet growing electricity demands, about the same percentage support the idea of renewing operating plant licenses and in the 80% ballpark they also believe nuclear energy is important to the nation's future energy needs.

You could knock me over with a feather when they reported that 74% surveyed believe the nuclear power plants operating in the U.S. are safe and secure. After the Fukushima accident (I would use the word disaster) they report that public support had dropped to 46%.

That was eighteen months ago and what has changed to make public support rise so dramatically? Time and distance would be my guess, certainly not any hard and true facts regarding nuclear energy. Oh, that and the fact  the nuclear energy industry is desperate to get its hands on some taxpayer money to underwrite their new SMR (small modular reactor) project in Missouri. So when the nuclear energy industry speaks to the public it is always in very glowing terms about their product, after all what could be more exciting than a Renaissance - a Nuclear Renaissance at that.

Here are a few items to consider before you don your garb and head on off to the Renaissance Faire:

  • Things in and around Fukushima are still very bleak. 
  • The NRC has put a hold on the re-licensing and licensing of nuclear plants until further discussion on the permanent storage of spent fuel.
  • The state of the San Onofre nuclear plant in California is still in limbo, nuclear fuel is being transferred from the reactors to storage tanks.
  • Massachusetts congressmen,  John Tierney and Edward Markey are proposing a Nuclear Reactor and Safety First Act, that would provide greater certainty over safety of older nuclear plants.
I grow weary sometimes here in this country where we allow big money to push us around. And I grow weary of the  apathetic Americans that care more about who referees their Monday night football than they do about the future of the planet. I guess what it really boils down to is "priorities". I mean after all you got this big-screen TV, high-def and all and you can clearly see for yourself when a bad call is made. And then remember you need reliable power to run that sucker don't you? To power the TV and the big fridge that cools your beer.

So I get it, I really do. But cut me some slack if I pass on supporting this renaissance they talk about, I just can't buy what the nuclear energy industry is trying to sell me. And maybe one of these days when they get time the other 80% of Americans will agree.

Monday, September 24, 2012

U233 - Is it a problem?

My friend Keith, always vigilant, sent me an article today from the New York Times Uranium 233 A Disposal Risk? It's not a lengthy read and poses yet another permanent disposal risk along with other concerns as well.

U233 was a man-made substitute for natural uranium back in the 1950's when we 'loved the bomb' and needed to be assured we would not run out of fuel for our reactors and our bombs. But as the cycle of life goes, things change and we move on or at least attempt to.

What I found kind of interesting in reading the article was how at that time in 'back to the future' in the fifties how everyone seems to know all the answers to questions of stockpiles and storage and moving 'forward to the future' I wonder...hmm will there still be answers that turn into questions?

"Today, the problem is how to safely get rid of it." - Oh, oh  here we go again. I did a little checking and it seems that Uranium 233 has a half life of 159,200 years. That shouldn't be a problem. The direction we are headed Planet Earth is going to be following the path of Planet Hollywood before long.

“Nuclear physicists weren’t geologists and didn’t understand the supply of uranium,” said Frank N. Von Hippel, a physicist and public policy specialist at Princeton. “It turned out there was more uranium than people thought and less nuclear power than people thought there would be.”

Oh, dear, say it isn't so? I suppose in the end I should be more concerned over the security risks, you know evil countries or evil terrorists stealing our left-overs and making bombs that will destroy the world. But my concern is more for the long term impact on our environment and human-kind in general but perhaps that is a moot point.

The government spent $5.5 billion (adjusted for inflation) to produce U233, something it turns out wasn't even needed and now the Energy Department is estimating it will take $473 million to dispose of the stockpiles that weren't needed in the first place. 

Go ahead read the article have a chuckle then maybe sit down an have a stiff drink.

Didn't mean to get your week off to a bad start.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Things You Should Know About

U.S. Senate hearing lays groundwork for latest Mobile Chernobyl legislation

The cover of Beyond Nuclear's pamphlet "A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High"
U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman, Chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, held a hearing on September 12th to advance his bill, S. 3469, the Nuclear Waste Administration Act of 2012. Although Bingaman himself has acknowledged his bill will not be enacted this year, before he retires from the Senate, he has expressed hope that it will lay the groundwork for passage next year.
As reported previously by Beyond Nuclear, Bingaman's bill would largely promote the recommendations of President Obama and Energy Secretary Chu's Blue Ribbon Commission (BRC) on America's Nuclear Future. The BRC's top priority involves launching high-level radioactive waste shipments -- by truck, train, and barge -- sooner rather than later. The first shipments would begin at permanently shutdown atomic reactors, to free up the radioactively contaminated land for "unrestricted re-use," despite the lingering hazards. Once the shipments leave the nuclear utilities' property, the title and liability for the forever deadly irradiated nuclear fuel transfers instantly, and forevermore, to American taxpayers.
The targeted destinations are called "consolidated" or "centralized interim storage sites," but should be called parking lot dumps. Given the great difficulty of locating even a single deep geologic repository at a site capable of containing the high-level radioactive wastes for a million years, chances are that "interim storage sites" will become de facto permanent surface storage for high-level radioactive waste. Locations at the top of that target list include the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Bingaman's home state of New Mexico; the Savannah River Site in South Carolina; the tiny Skull Valley Goshutes Indian Reservation in Utah; the Dresden nuclear power plant in Illinois; and others.
Beyond Nuclear will join with Nuclear Energy Information Service in Chicago to commemorate the 70th year since Enrico Fermi first split the atom during the Manhattan Project at the University of Chicago in 1942, thus creating the first high-level radioactive waste on Earth. The event, "A Mountain of Radioactive Waste 70 Years High: Ending the Nuclear Age," will take place from December 1st to 3rd. A key goal of the gathering will be to begin pushing back against such a radioactive waste shell game on our roads, rails, and waterways, which Senator Bingaman is attempting to launch for no good reason.
For More Information:

Thursday, September 6, 2012

NRC Asks - What are we going to do with all this S**T?


Here is the link to the NRC release

"Waste Confidence" is a generic finding that spent nuclear fuel can be safely stored for decades beyond the licensed operating life of a reactor without significant environmental effects. It enables the NRC to license reactors or renew their licenses without examining the effects of extended waste storage for each individual site pending ultimate disposal. - from above cited NRC news No. 12-098

I don't even like the term "waste confidence" but hey, this is a start. I trust this is not a smoke screen to disguise the huge problem of permanent long-term storage of spent nuclear fuel. Did that need to be mentioned yet again?