Thursday, January 31, 2013

16 Tons - I Owe My Soul

"Spent Fuel increases at a national scale by about 2,000 metric tons per year, and will likely be stored at nuclear power plants in the United States for the near future as there is no federal project for a national repository." 

I still find it absolutely amazing that we are not more concerned about this issue of spent nuclear fuel, but on the same hand I find it amazing that there is a  discussion going on that Americans actually have a constitutional right to own assault weapons. It is indeed a strange country we inhabit.

Zealots fight strongly for the rights of a unborn child and then can barely muster up the strength to feel bad when school children are blown apart at their locals schools. What? Bad taste to say that? Well then my friends what will get your attention?

There are people out there among you that know exactly what happens to human flesh when riddled by bullets from these killing guns. And there are people out there that know what happens when human beings are exposed to the deadly radiation from nuclear reactors when something goes terribly wrong. The 1986 accident at Chernobyl is a good example. 

"An area extending 19 miles (31 km) in all directions from the plant is known as the "zone of alienation." It is largely uninhabited, except for a few residents who have refused to leave. The area has largely reverted to forest. Even today, radiation levels are so high that the workers responsible for rebuilding the sarcophagus are only allowed to work five hours a day for one month before taking 15 days of rest. Ukrainian officials estimate the area will not be safe for human life again for another 20,000 years.[50] 
In 2011, Ukraine opened up the sealed zone around the Chernobyl reactor to tourists who wish to learn more about the tragedy that occurred in 1986.[149][150]" Source:

The results from Fukushima are still not all in, or at least no one is willing to talk about it in any great depth.  So the pages of the calendar turn and the days move on into weeks, then months and finally to years. And still no answers, no conclusions, no action.

NRC To Review Spent Fuel Regulations:

"After more than 20 years of non-action, the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission is reviewing its policies, regulations, guidance, and technical needs in several key areas, such as: retrievability, cladding integrity, and safe handling of spent fuel; criticality safety features and requirements for spent fuel transportation; and aging management and qualification of dual-purpose canisters and components after long-term storage. 
In the United States, the regulations for the packaging and transport of spent nuclear fuel are separate from the requirements for the storage of spent nuclear fuel.  This has lead to a loophole in regulations where no requirements are set for loaded storage casks to meet transportation requirements, which has contributed to uncertainty about the compatibility between storage and transportation regulations, and could potentially cause unanalyzed problems during the future handling of spent fuel. 
Spent Fuel increases at a national scale by about 2,000 metric tons per year, and will likely be stored at nuclear power plants in the United States for the near future as there is no federal project for a national repository.  Spent fuel pools contain more highly radioactive fuel than the reactor cores, and all of the spent fuel pools at U.S. nuclear plants are located outside the reactor containment structure. 
The majority of U.S. nuclear reactors currently in operation will have ceased to be in action by 2040,and the options to dispose of spent fuel pool could be limited. 
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has estimated that many of the nuclear power plants in the United States will be out of room in their spent fuel pools by 2015, most likely requiring the use of temporary storage of some kind.  Due to this shortage of pool space, plant operators have been forced to convert to more expensive dry cask storage.  The transfer of spent fuel from wet to dry storage incurs inherent risks related to moving it, and accelerating the transfer of spent fuel could increase those risks. 
According to 2010 statistics gathered by the Department of Energy, the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, operated by Southern California Edison, also is the storage site for more than 1,000 metric tons of spent fuel stored in pools, and another 360 tons in dry cask storage."  Source: GPO

Footnotes to Wikipedia references: [50] a b Time: Disasters that Shook the World. New York City: Time Home Entertainment. 2012. ISBN 1-60320-247-1. [149] ^ "News". Associated Press. Yahoo News. 13 December 2010. Retrieved 2 March 2012[150] ^ "Tours of Chernobyl sealed zone officially begin". TravelSnitch. TravelSnitch. 18 March 2011.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just the facts, Ma'am...

Had an 'almost' discussion going on regarding the authenticity of the movie plot in the film Argo the other day on my Facebook account. It's funny I have never turned to Hollywood for the facts, all I ask is that I be entertained. I want my five bucks worth when I take my seat, sans popcorn and soda.

For that matter I don't turn to Fox News, or CNN or even MSNBC for the facts either, all these so called news channels are in the entertainment business as well. We are after all Americans and we want to be entertained, don't confuse us with the facts, Ma'am.

Today Charles Deemer posted a lengthy post on screen writing and the embellishments to history that Hollywood might take from time to time. I found it most interesting and I hope you will to. You can read the entire post here Writing The History Play: Why dramatists lie in the pursuit of truth

I think it is wise to remember that indeed "history gets written by the winners".

Monday, January 28, 2013

Nuclear Nuggets... or ...

Life is like a box of chocolates... you just never know...

Talk About Moxy

  • Critics fear $7 billion SRS boondoggle

    Building costs soar at nuclear fuel conversion plant near Aiken

    • What is MOX?
      “Mixed oxide” is made by blending weapons-grade plutonium with uranium to make fuel for atomic power plants. About 5 percent of the MOX fuel is made up of plutonium.
      It has rarely been used in the U.S. but is regularly relied on in some European power plants, particularly in France.
      Why it’s important
      The U.S. wants to turn 34 metric tons of plutonium no longer needed for nuclear bombs into MOX fuel for use in commercial power plants. The effort is part of an international nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Russia.
      Critics say plutonium-blended MOX is dangerous and should not be used in commercial power plants. Supporters say current technology is so sophisticated it would reduce any danger.
    Construction costs have skyrocketed by as much as $2 billion at the Savannah River Site’s most ambitious project, a plutonium fuel factory that is years from completion and still in need of customers after more than a decade of planning, records show.
    The mixed-oxide fuel factory will turn Cold War-era weapons-grade plutonium into material that can be used in nuclear power plants to make electricity. The facility, the only one of its kind in the U.S. and a cornerstone of an international nuclear arms agreement with Russia, is currently projected to cost $4.8 billion.
    But the price tag could rise to nearly $7 billion when the federal government provides new cost estimates, according to a recent letter to the U.S. Department of Energy and those who track issues concerning the SRS complex near Aiken. The new cost estimates are expected this year.
    An energy department report published last month shows that the mixed oxide fuel factory is in danger of falling behind schedule and costing more than anticipated. The DOE’s Project Dashboard report gave the mixed-oxide factory complex a red rating, the most serious of three categories on the progress of agency construction projects.
    Officials with the energy department referred questions to the National Nuclear Security Administration, a DOE division that is overseeing the project.
    NNSA officials either declined comment or did not return telephone calls when asked about the costs and progress.
    The security administration also refused a request by The State newspaper to tour the project site last week. The newspaper rarely has been turned down for visits to the 310-square-mile Savannah River Site, the federal nuclear weapons complex that is home to the mixed-oxide fuel plant. The fuel-making process is one of SRS’s main new missions, now that nuclear weapons are no longer the site’s focus.
    It was not clear why the DOE and the security administration were hesitant to discuss the matter, but The State learned Friday that federal auditors have been at the Savannah River Site to look at the mixed-oxide fuel complex. Staff with the Government Accountability Office visited SRS Jan. 15-17, the GAO confirmed. The visit was part of an “ongoing assessment” of the mixed-oxide fuel plant, a GAO spokesman said.
    Meanwhile, federal officials are scrambling to find a utility that will use the mixed-oxide fuel, commonly called MOX. The project’s sole customer, Duke Energy, pulled out of the project in 2009. The Tennessee Valley Authority has expressed interest, but the federally owned company hasn’t decided whether to burn MOX fuel at its atomic energy plants in Tennessee and Alabama.
    “The MOX program may be both wasting taxpayer dollars and ultimately failing to reduce our stores of surplus weapons grade plutonium,” U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., said in a Jan. 14 letter of concern to U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu.
    Markey, a long-time critic of MOX, asked the Department of Energy to provide updated cost estimates and a new timetable for completing the fuel factory. Project managers have said the 600,000-square-foot plant will be producing fuel by 2018.
    “Even more troubling than these cost overruns are reports that NNSA lacks customers for the MOX product that is costing so much to produce,” Markey’s letter said.
    U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican and one of the MOX project’s biggest boosters, is aware of the cost issues and “has repeatedly emphasized to DOE and the contractors, that with the attention this project gets, it needs to be run as the most efficient, well managed program in the government,” according to an email Friday from his communications director, Kevin Bishop.
    Bishop said Markey’s questions are coming from “the most anti-nuclear member of the House.” The MOX factory is important for the U.S. to comply with terms of its nuclear non-proliferation agreement with Russia, Bishop said.
    Getting rid of atomic weapons
    Both the U.S. and Russia have agreed to make 34 tons of surplus, weapons-grade plutonium unusable for nuclear bombs as part of the accord first discussed in the 1990s.
    The Department of Energy chose the MOX plant to comply with terms of the agreement. President George W. Bush committed $3.8 billion toward the MOX plant in 2002 and construction began in 2007.
    America’s excess plutonium, a key ingredient in nuclear bombs, will go toward the creation of mixed-oxide fuel and will no longer be of use for atomic bombs, according to plans.
    “The public will benefit because 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium will be used to power their homes instead of used as nuclear warheads,” Graham’s office said in an email Friday to The State. “It is the ultimate turning swords into plow shares.”
    Graham and supporters of the MOX plant note that it will provide jobs and a new mission to SRS. About 1,000 people are expected to be employed at the plant, a contractor told South Carolina officials last month. The Savannah River Site now employs 10,000 to 12,000 people, but that number is down sharply from when SRS was at the peak of Cold War weapons production.
    Mixed-oxide fuel is regularly burned in European nuclear power plants, but not in the U.S. It is controversial in America because plutonium is deadly and takes centuries to decay. Uranium fuel is used in U.S. power plants. Uranium fuel has its own hazards but is not considered by critics to be as dangerous.
    Rising costs and questions about the time it is taking to finish the MOX project aren’t unique at SRS. The Department of Energy also is grappling with a multi-million dollar increase in the price of another SRS plant that will be used to neutralize high-level atomic waste now stored in more than 40 huge tanks at the site.
    Some critics of the MOX plant say the U.S. should have chosen to mix the excess plutonium with nuclear waste and turn it into glass – which is considered safer to store –rather than using plutonium for fuel in commercial reactors.
    Sara Barczak, who tracks nuclear issues for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, said costs and future use of MOX fuel verify “some fairly serious concerns with the mixed oxide fuel program.”
    Tom Clements, a longtime anti-nuclear activist with the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability, was more blunt in his assessment. He said today’s rising costs reflect only current conditions. But the site has a history of cost questions, Clements said. Records that Clements said he has reviewed show the MOX plant, at one point in the past, was estimated to cost about $1.8 billion. Now, the project could cost as much as $7 billion, he said, referring to Markey’s letter.
    “If you look at spending on the MOX plant, you’d think we are rolling in dough and have no budget problems whatsoever,” Clements said. “Nobody is minding the store on this.”
    Markey’s letter to Chu, citing a report in the Nuclear Weapons and Materials Monitor publication, raised concerns about the eventual cost of the project. The Monitor, a Washington, D.C., publication that tracks nuclear weapons materials issues, said the cost could be as much as $2 billion more than now projected.
    But congressional budget writers also expressed concern last year about both the construction costs and the annual operating costs. A Senate budget committee said the estimated annual operating costs for the MOX project have risen 200 percent in two years. The current estimated annual operating costs are about $500 million, the Senate committee said.
    A House report reviewed by The State newspaper said the MOX plant could be up to $900 million more expensive than estimated and appears to be in jeopardy of overrunning its “projected completion date by months, if not years.”
    The plant is to be completed by 2016 and producing its first batch of fuel by 2018, MOX contractors said last month.
    “Construction continues to slip behind schedule due to unanticipated complexity of the work, poor contractor performance, delays in procurements and the inclusion of additional work scope,” the U.S. House budget report said. “The (DOE) is now reporting internally that the total project costs could be understated by as much as $600 million to $900 million.”
    Asking why
    Why costs have risen isn’t completely known.
    But those familiar with the project say it’s because of the difficulties of finding qualified subcontractors and retaining skilled workers, as well as the rising expense of nuclear materials.
    Shaw AREVA MOX Services, the company managing the project for the government, declined to discuss the cost issues when contacted by The State. But the company’s chief executive was optimistic during a presentation to the S.C. Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council last month in Columbia.
    Kelly Trice, president of Shaw AREVA MOX Services, told the council he expects the first eight fuel assemblies to be produced in 2018. He said his company has heard from several utilities interested in using MOX fuel. And he noted that the Tennessee Valley Authority has signed an agreement expressing interest in using MOX.
    Shaw AREVA officials say the MOX fuel could be offered at a discount to utilities.
    Barczak, however, questioned whether the Tennessee Valley Authority would buy MOX fuel. The TVA is awaiting the results of a final environmental impact statement this spring to determine whether to buy MOX. The environmental study would weigh the risks of using MOX fuel at the company’s Browns Ferry and Sequoyah atomic plants, both of which are aging.
    “Do you really want to mess around with using an experimental fuel in an aged set of reactors?” she asked.

    Reach Fretwell at (803) 771-8537.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Domino Effect

Dominion's domino may be but the first to fall: Kewaunee "canary in the coal mine" may signal number of reactor closures to come
January 10, 2013
In late October, 2012, Dominion Nuclear announced it would close its Kewaunee atomic reactor on the Lake Michigan shore of northern Wisconsin by mid-2013.
As reported in an article at AOL Energy, by a former nuclear power industry 20-year veteran worker:
"A pattern is developing. It may take a few years, but it appears small nuclear plants will face increasing pressure to retire early. They cannot compete, particularly in soft markets. Some plants will find their costs consistently exceed any benefits they earn and their owners will be forced to retire and dismember plants."
The author, Glenn S.K. Williams, in his article "The Nation's Nuclear Plants Are Nuked," lists the following reactors as at risk of "early retirement": NextEra/FPL's Point Beach nuclear plant in WI; certain of Exelon's IL reactors, as well as its Oyster Creek in NJ; Duke's Crystal River in FL; Southern CA Edison's San Onofre; Entergy's Vermont Yankee, as well as Indian Point in NY.
Platts has also reported on a UBS Securities analyst's prediction that Entergy's FitzPatrick, NY and Vermont Yankee, as well as Exelon's Clinton, IL and Ginna, NY "merchant" reactors in deregulated markets, are under intense pressure to "retire early." 
(We would point out that "early retirement" at any of the 73 atomic reactors granted 20-year license extensions by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is a contradiction in terms!)

Article originally appeared on Beyond Nuclear (
See website for complete article licensing information.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

India - Awaiting Approval

Pavo cristatus
The National Bird of India

I am currently waiting for the India Government to approve my visa application to visit there in a few months. While I wait I thought I would share with you some beautiful facts about this country. Like this colorful bird, the Indian Peacock, Pavo cristatus, the National Bird of India.
The Indian peacock, Pavo cristatus, the National Bird of India, is a colourful, swan-sized bird, with a fan-shaped crest of feathers, a white patch under the eye and a long, slender neck. The male of the species is more colourful than the female, with a glistening blue breast and neck and a spectacular bronze-green tail of around 200 elongated feathers. The female is brownish, slightly smaller than the male and lacks the tail. The elaborate courtship dance of the male, fanning out the tail and preening its feathers is a gorgeous sight. (1)
 Nelumbo Nucipera Gaertn
The National Flower of India
Lotus (Nelumbo Nucipera Gaertn) is the National Flower of India. It is a sacred flower and occupies a unique position in the art and mythology of ancient India and has been an auspicious symbol of Indian culture since time immemorial. 
India is rich in flora. Currently available data place India in the tenth position in the world and fourth in Asia in plant diversity. From about 70 per cent geographical area surveyed so far, 47,000 species of plants have been described by the Botanical Survey of India (BSI). (1)

(1) Source:

Friday, January 18, 2013

Color Within the Lines

Flashback to 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City when two U.S. athletics, Tommie Smith and John Carlos, protested silently during the playing of the American National Anthem. 

I remember watching this event on television and feeling pride at the action taken by Smith and Carlos, but that was not the reaction of most. They were booed as they left the podium that day and ostracized and criticized by the sporting establishment in the United States. Abuse of the two athletics went even further, to the extent their families even received death threats.

I thought of these two men the other day when I was listening to guns advocate Alex Jones rant on the Piers Morgan show about his need to have guns as a protection against the government. A few of us I guess shake our heads and mutter under our breath the word "wacko" and go on about our lives.

For others this off-balance zealot fuels the fire for those that feel the need to own assault weapons as their first line of defense against the perceived tyrannical American government.

This short but excellent post by blogger Charles Deemer appeared yesterday:


Posted: 17 Jan 2013 05:30 AM PST
There are folks in the land who want to keep their assault rifles because they expect to use them. They expect to use them one day against the government. I believe this is called treason.

What color will such folks turn if you suggest their behavior could lead to treason? 

Where were their support and enthusiasm for guns when the Black Panthers 
armed themselves in the sixties?

We have come a long way but we still have a very long way to go. It is crystal clear even today the unwritten rule is to color within the lines.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A Plea can become a two-way street

The American Red Cross put out a plea for starting the new year off right:


Help start the year off right! 
Donate blood at the St. Louis Public Radio &
American Red Cross Blood Drive

Wednesday, January 23rd
2:30 to 7:30 p.m.

UMSL at Grand Center
3651 Olive Street
St. Louis, MO 63108

I think this might be a good time to remind people that a large segment of our population is not allowed to donate blood, refused the right to save a life... for no valid medical reason, only because they are MSM's. Men who have had sex with men.

It it way past time to change this directive that levels this prohibition. Blood donations should still be tested, from everyone, this is not the issue here.

I have a gay friend with a rare blood type who has been turned away when the life of a child could have been saved... it is time to make a change here. American Red Cross you are correct, it is the time to "start the year off right", let's get a change made in who can donate blood.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Silence is Golden Sometimes

I don't want to appear to be piling on Jodi Foster and her Golden Globe speech Sunday night but let me just say this, Silence is Golden sometimes.

I support gay rights, I support individuals who choose to stay in the proverbial closet or those that come out of it. It is their choice either way. The ones I will jump on are the stone throwers, the abusers and the uninformed. 

In Jodi's case I am a bit suspect, I tend to toss celebrities in that box of people I wouldn't always trust with my life, seems like in many cases there is always an ulterior motive for their, like maybe some self-promotion....?

As to the issue of privacy there seems to many celebrities that manage very well to maintain a private life, those that really want to. Then there are the others, the ones we hear everything about, that manage a way to capitalize on every aspect of their 'private life'.

Any way Andrew Sullivan wrote and interesting blog post I would like to pass on to those of you that are not frequent readers of his blog. With it is provided a link to the text of Jodi's speech from Sunday night, maybe what she said is is more understandable in written text than in her confusing speech on Sunday.

~ ~ ~.

Jodi Foster Stops Lying - From The Dish - a blog by Andrew Sullivan

Full transcript here. Her date last night, believe it or not, was wife-abusing, homophobic anti-Semite, Mel Gibson. Would you entrust your young sons to a man with Gibson's violent and vile history? A highlight of her narcissistic, self-loving speech:
I already did my coming out about a thousand years ago, back in the Stone Age, in those very quaint days when a fragile young girl would open up to trusted friends and family, co-workers, and then gradually, proudly, to everyone who knew her, to everyone she actually met. But now, apparently, I’m told that every celebrity is expected to honor the details of their private life with a press conference, a fragrance, and a prime-time reality show.
What unadulterated bullshit. She never came out until, very obliquely, in 2007. And virtually every coming out these days is low-key, simple and no-drama. I do not remember Anderson Cooper's press conference, fragrance or reality show. She goes on:
[S]eriously, if you had been a public figure from the time that you were a toddler, if you’d had to fight for a life that felt real and honest and normal against all odds, then, maybe, then you too would value privacy against all else. Privacy. Some day, in the future, people will look back and remember how beautiful it once was. I have given everything up there, from the time that I was 3 years old. That’s reality show enough, don’t you think?
"How beautiful it once was"? When gay people were put in jail, or mental institutions, or thrown out of their families - all because of the "beauty" of privacy for Hollywood royalty like Foster? And she honestly believes it's courageous to come out in aretirement speech? Well I guess we should be relieved she didn't leave it for her obit. I defer to a reader's open letter:
Dear Jodie Foster:
There's nothing wrong with not publicly acknowledging the open secret of your sexuality for decades as you so chose. There's also nothing wrong with choosing to kinda-sorta discreetly come out by thanking your partner in a speech in 2007. Yet there is something very tragic and self-contradictory about a bitter diatribe criticizing how other people choose to come out, officially announcing your sexuality on your way out the door of the industry in a non-coming-out speech because you came out "1000 years ago" - while simultaneously defending your fierce desire for privacy - in a brazen attempt to get some of the praise and love you now see the younger gay generation getting for their fearlessness of/indifference to being out... all while being escorted by one of the most well-documented anti-Semitic, homophobic, bigoted assholes in Hollywood history, claiming he "saved" you. If that was indeed your retirement announcement, what a sad end to a stellar career of a brilliant artist. If ever there was a closet you needed to stay in forever, it would be the one marked "Mel Gibson's friend."
J. Bryan Lowder defends Foster:
As far as I’m concerned, as long as a gay person hasn’t been actively pretending to be straight (like a number of people in that hall tonight are probably doing), I don't think she is required to be an activist or even a "role model" for younger LGBT people if she doesn’t wish to be. It is, of course, wonderful when big names like Zachary Quinto and Anderson Cooper have the courage to give up their hetero-privilege in a public pronouncement, and undoubtedly the increasing recognition that so many of our culture-makers are gay has the power to challenge perceptions. But in the midst of the noisy demand that celebrities be “loud and proud,” as Foster put it, the ostensible endgame of the LGBT equality movement can get drowned out: the ability to live our lives as we wish, freely and gently, in peace.
Yes, yes, yes. But the only way we were ever going to get past that oppression wasthrough it. I'm thrilled Foster can now live a fuller life with less fear. I'm saddened she waited until others far less powerful had made the sacrifice to make that possible. And that she waited for the safest moment of all - winning a well-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award - to do so.

# # #

Friday, January 11, 2013

Plastic Surgery for Our Nuclear Reactors

The aging process is never a pretty thing but for most of us it is something we accept and live with.  The glitzy people, the insecure people often turn to the surgeons knife to help turn back time. In reality it is just a surface fix.

The wrinkles and sagging skin are pulled back taught and to the eye one appears young(er) again. But inside, those unseen and vital organs still are aged and old. I don't know if they actually sag with age, perhaps they do, feeling the effects of years of gravity's pull on them.

Our nuclear reactors here is in United States are aging as well. And many of them are openly showing the affects of time and use. They are wrinkling and sagging and in some cases the plastic surgeon is being put on call to come and give them a nip and tuck. In other cases it is going to take much more then a nip here and there.

Poor San Onofre Nuclear Plant, once the fledgling young star of California's nuclear energy plants, is failing fast. She has aged beyond a quick surface fix, the sagging skin can no longer be pulled back tight into place. Now it is the interior, that beating heart that has now grown silent. But the 'family' is not ready to give up hope, perhaps a jolt with the paddles will jar her back to life?

But again, like our aged parent we come to care for, we reach for the Depends to save her and ourselves from embarrassment. But in San Onofre's case Depends can't do the job to protect the deadly fluids that lurk inside her, ready to ooze and flow into the surrounding environment.

Two of San Onofre's reactors are beyond the benefit of life support systems and are just a seismic shake away from becoming a Fukushima-style disaster. Read Harvey Wasserman's Showdown at San Onofre

Other Starlets of the nuclear day are known by such grand names as FitzPatrick, Indian Point, Vermont Yankee, Pilgrim, Palisades, Grand Gulf, River Bend and Waterford 3. All these former beauties are lined up outside the doctor's office waiting their turn to be made beautiful and young once again.

But these nips and tucks are growing more and more expensive and less reliable. Yes, sadly the Forever Young appearance is quite fleeting. A move is a foot to get these reactors shut down completely before disaster strikes.

The NRC will be holding public meetings and most of these can be accessed on the Internet either live or on video afterwards.

January 12 - Palisades Leaks -

January 16 - Post Fukushima Improvements -

January 17 - Callaway -

Want to know what the NRC is doing or has planned?  Click to go to NRC Office Website

  • Stay tuned for a future blog post on "Interim" Radwaste Storage.

The first of eight Waste Confidence Monthly Public Teleconferences will be held:

Wednesday, January 16 - 1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. EST
Prior to the start of the meeting, please dial 1-800-857-2553 and provide operator with passcode 3682386

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

It's My Birthday, I Can Cry If I Want To

Showdown at San Onofre     

By Harvey Wasserman     

Two stricken California reactors may soon redefine a global movement aimed at eradicating nuclear power.   They sit in a seismic zone vulnerable to tsunamis. Faulty steam generators have forced them shut for nearly a year.   

A powerful “No Nukes” movement wants them to stay that way.  

If they win, the shutdown of America’s 104 licensed reactors will seriously accelerate.   The story of San Onofre Units 2 & 3 is one of atomic idiocy.  Perched on an ocean cliff between Los Angeles and San Diego, the reactors’ owners  cut unconscionable corners in replacing their multi-million-dollar steam generators.  According to Russell Hoffman, one of California’s leading experts on San Onofre, inferior metals and major design failures turned what was meant to be an upgrade into an utter fiasco.   

Installed by Mitsubishi, the generators simply did not work.  When they were shut nearly a year ago, tubes were leaking, banging together and overall rendering further operations impossible.   

Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric have unofficially thrown in the towel on Unit 3.  But they’re lobbying hard to get at least Unit 2 back up and running.  Their technical problems are so serious that they’ve asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to let them run Unit 2 at 70% capacity.  In essence, they want to “see what happens” without daring to take the reactor to full power.   

The NRC has expressed serious doubts.  On December 26 it demanded answers to more than 30 questions about the plant’s technical realities.  There have been assertions that unless San Onofre can be shown as operable at full power, its license should be negated.   

San Onofre’s owners are desperate to get at least Unit 2 back on line so they can gouge the ratepayers for their failed expenditures. 

 If the California Public Utilities Commission refuses the request, there’s no way San Onofre can reopen.   So nuclear opponents can now fight restart both at the federal level and with the state PUC.  The state regulators have opened an in-depth investigation into what’s happened at San Onofre, and the picture is not expected to be pretty.   Economic analyses show the reactors to be uneconomical anyway. 

 “Experts” warned California would suffer blackouts and brownouts without them, but nothing of the sort has happened.  The only real reason San Onofre’s owners want to get it back up is to charge the ratepayers for their failed repairs.   

The fiasco at San Onfre is being replayed at rust bucket reactors throughout the US.  Progress Energy poked some major new holes into the containment at the Crystal River reactor it was allegedly fixing.  Nebraska’s Ft. Calhoun has been flooded.   

An earthquake hit Virginia’s reactors with seismic forces that exceeded design specifications.   In Wisconsin, Kewaunee’s owners will shut it for economic reasons.  

A new study shows Vermont Yankee, under intense attack from a grassroots citizens’ upheaval, has major economic benefits to gain from shutting down. 

 Elsewhere around the US, technical and economic pressures have the industry on the brink.   Meanwhile, the conversion to green power in Germany is booming.  

When 8 reactors were shut and the conversion to wind, solar and biomass became official policy, “experts” predicated energy shortages and soaring prices.  But the opposite has happened as supply has boomed and prices have dropped.   

The same things will happen in California and elsewhere as these radioactive jalopies begin to shut.  The effectiveness of citizen activism in California is now vastly multiplied as these two decrepit reactors become increasingly obsolete, inoperable and economically insupportable.   

As Kewaunee shuts, as Crystal River heads toward salvage, as No Nukes citizen action escalates, and as renewables and efficiency soar in performance and plummet in price, a green-powered era is dawning.   But as Fukushima Unit 4‘s spent fuel pool teeters 100 feet in the air, we are reminded that the danger from the failed nuclear power experiment is far from over.   

The two reactors at San Onfre linger on atop major earthquake fault lines, just steps away from an ocean that could wash over them as sure as it did at Fukushima.   

The California No Nukes movement may indeed be on the brink of a major victory.  But we had better get these reactors buried before disaster strikes yet again.

Harvey Wasserman is author of SOLARTOPIA!  OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH and will speak Wednesday evening in Santa Monica (contact: for the shut-down of San Onofre.  

Monday, January 7, 2013

Dialogue on Guns is Growing Quiet

As is the American Way our attention span is short. It's a new year now, new priorities, yes, dog love us... but please, don't ask too much of us.
Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach September
When the autumn weather turns the leaves to flame
One hasn't got time for the waiting game

I can only slightly imagine how the families of all the fallen, innocent children, from Sandy Hook to Columbine must feel. But I doubt that their loss has lessened much with the passage of time. Aren't we the 'lucky' ones to be able to move on to more important issues...

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Both Sides Have Something to Fear

David Ropeik
David Ropeik, a consultant in risk perception and risk management, is the author of “How Risky Is It, Really? Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts.”
UPDATED JANUARY 7, 2013, 2:30 PM
Lots of statistics are being thrown around in the debate about whether guns make society safer or more dangerous. But the gun control argument is intensely emotional because it is about so much more than public safety. Guns have become symbols in our polarized society, figurative weapons in a war of conflicting cultural values that is compelled by deep and ancient instincts.
Humans are social animals. We have evolved to depend on our group, our tribe, for our health and safety. So we adopt views and positions that align with those of our group, in order to be accepted and supported — and protected — as a member in good standing. Agreeing with the group also helps protect us because social unity helps our tribe prevail in the competition with other tribes for control of society in general. So we see and interpret the facts about guns, or any issue, through these deep lenses.
This fight isn’t about guns or safety. It is a much more profound and ancient conflict over how society should work, and who decides.
This adaptive sort of reasoning is known as cultural cognition. (Research in this field has specifically investigated the roots of our powerful emotions about gun control. See “More Statistics, Less Persuasion: A Cultural Theory of Gun-Risk Perceptions.”) It turns out that some of us are “hierarchists,” a tribe that prefers a society operating under a fixed and unchanging hierarchy of social and economic class. Politically, hierarchists tend to be conservative. They bristle whenever government imposes rules and regulations that change the status quo in the name of broad social equity and protection, as with gun control.
Some of us are “individualists,” politically libertarian, who prefer a society that maximizes personal independence and individual choice. Charlton Heston’s rallying cry to the N.R.A. in 2000 (“from my cold, dead hands”) perfectly captures how the prospect of gun control threatens an individualist’s preferred society: “When loss of liberty is looming, as it is now, the siren sounds first in the hearts of freedom’s vanguard” — meaning the individualists.
Gun control supporters belong to two other groups: “egalitarians,” who prefer a flexible, fair society not set in a rigid hierarchical status quo, and thus support government intervention in the name of social equity and protection, and “communitarians,” who prefer a “we’re all in it together” society in which some personal freedoms, like ownership of assault weapons and magazines that hold 100 rounds, are sacrificed for the greater common good.
Such deep roots make the emotional stakes in the gun fight really high, especially for individualists, because having any individual freedom curtailed directly threatens the kind of world they want to live in, the world in which they feel safest. Such a profound threat helps explain the absolutist passion of the N.R.A., which with a membership of just four million has had a disproportionate impact on gun policy.
This fight isn’t about guns as weapons, nor about public safety. It is about guns as symbols, of a much more profound and ancient conflict over how society should work, and who decides. It’s just one more surface manifestation of deeper trends that have divided America into warring camps, each group retreating to the protection of its own circled wagons, looking down the sights of the tribal guns at those outside the circle. Other ideologies are the enemy, a threat. Until that deeper conflict softens, little is likely to change about gun control.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

2013 - A Boy From Salinas, California

John Steinbeck ~ Author

I stumbled upon an article today that began with a debate on whether Steinbeck was indeed worthy of the Nobel Prize he won in 1962 or whether it was just luck, his fortune of being the best of the worst that year. If you want to read more about that premise you can here Files Unsealed, Tongues Wag.

What really caught my eye was a link to an article in The Paris Review which listed some writing tips by the master himself and Californian brethren John Steinbeck.

As a struggling writer I always welcome tips from anyone who has any amount of success as a writer. And just as a side thought here, I am adding Steinbeck to the dinner guest list. Here are a few of his tips:
  1. Abandon the idea that you are ever going to finish. Lose track of the 400 pages and write just one page for each day, it helps. Then when it gets finished, you are always surprised.
  2. Write freely and as rapidly as possible and throw the whole thing on paper. Never correct or rewrite until the whole thing is down. Rewrite in process is usually found to be an excuse for not going on. It also interferes with flow and rhythm which can only come from a kind of unconscious association with the material.
  3.  Forget your generalized audience. In the first place, the nameless, faceless audience will scare you to death and in the second place, unlike the theater, it doesn't exist. In writing, your audience is one single reader. I have found that sometimes it helps to pick out one person—a real person you know, or an imagined person and write to that one.
  4. If a scene or a section gets the better of you and you still think you want it—bypass it and go on. When you have finished the whole you can come back to it and then you may find that the reason it gave trouble is because it didn't belong there.
  5. Beware of a scene that becomes too dear to you, dearer than the rest. It will usually be found that it is out of drawing.
  6. If you are using dialogue—say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech.
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"On the third finger of my right hand I have a great callus just from using a pencil for so many hours every day. It has become a big lump by now and it doesn't ever go away. Sometimes it is very rough and other times, as today, it is as shiny as glass. It is peculiar how touchy one can become about little things. Pencils must be round. A hexagonal pencil cuts my fingers after a long day. You see I hold a pencil for about six hours every day. This may seem strange but it is true. I am really a conditioned animal with a conditioned hand. The callus on my writing finger is very sore today. I may have to sandpaper it down. It is getting too big." ~ John Steinbeck

Friday, January 4, 2013

2013- Today I Won the Lottery

Today I won the lottery. Let me tell you I was totally unprepared. It wasn't a lot you understand, only $3,000,000. The state withheld $750,000 right off the bat for the Feds and then took an additional $120,000 for themselves. That left me with a little over $2,000,000 to deposit into my bank account.

I guess when my accountant fills out my tax return for 2013 next year we will know for sure what the final amounts will be. In the meantime I am going on a spending binge. Nothing really overwhelming you understand.

Monday I will write some checks. A million dollars will go to Wings of Hope. Maybe they will hang a placard on the wall as a thank you. I will send a check to my mortgage company and pay off my small loan and then get online and pay off all my bills.

I am going to upgrade my flight home from Singapore this summer to First Class and maybe even hire one of Kay Bailey Hutchison's out of work "purse boys" to accompany me on my trip. I mean how much could that cost?

Still a lot of dollars left... hmmm I am going to have to give this a lot more thought. Good dog, what does one do when they win a really lot of money?

I really had no idea that 2013 was going to start out in such a positive way.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

2013 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

I have decided to make friend Keith my official social secretary for now and evermore. He comes up with the greatest people to invite to dinner. The list is getting longer and longer:

  • Christopher Hitchens
  • Fran Lebowitz
  • John Lennon
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Harvey Milk
  • Maya Angelou
  • Mark Twain
  • Albert Einstein
  • Robert Frost
I want to add my great grandfather John Guess and his namesake, my uncle, John Guess, Jr. I have often thought how great if I could just spend a couple of hours with these two relatives that I never had a chance to meet. I want to know what my grandfather's thoughts were when he loaded his bride of two months onto that covered wagon and headed west from his home in Arkansas and took off on the Santa Fe Trail to make a new life in never seen before California.

And to have a chance to be able to talk with my uncle and have him tell me first-hand what is was like in France back in 1918 during those few months he spent there before the end of the war and sadly the end of his life. I know from his letters it wasn't all about war. He met the locals, dined with them and found them interesting. I want to know more of what his experiences were like.

I love thinking about these 'special' dinner parties and I'd like to keep them small, maybe eight at the most each time, but we won't limit the list, we'll just have dinner parties more often. Here are a few of my adds:
  • Che Guevara
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Thomas Jefferson
  • Billie Jean King
  • Rosa Parks
  • Ellen DeGeneres
I am going to have to call a caterer or start cooking now...