Wednesday, January 2, 2013

2013 - Day Two - The Onion

Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.
~ Carl Sandberg

At the end of 2012 Reuters reported that Toshiba Corporation was in talks to sell a 36% stake in its U.S. nuclear power unit Westinghouse. Toshiba partnered with IHI Corp to buy Westinghouse for $5.4 billion in 2006 and had intended to keep its stake at 51 percent, but when trader Marubeni Corp pulled out of the deal Toshiba was forced to pay an extra $1 billion.

Many governments have found nuclear power less attractive during the past six years and more and more countries are putting a freeze on nuclear energy expansion plans. Louisiana-based Shaw Group Inc. is scheduled to sell back its 20 percent of Westinghouse to Toshiba for $1.6 billion this month, January. Toshiba's CEO reported that another American firm would take that twenty percent.

Another U.S.-based company Chicago Bridge and Iron Company might be interested in a purchase if it completes its planned acquisition of Shaw. You can read the complete Reuters story here Toshiba in talks to cut Westinghouse stake

Westinghouse partnered with Ameren Missouri last year to build SMR's (Small Modular Reactor), but their hopes were dashed when they lost the $450 million Federal grant from the Department of Energy to Babcock & Wilcox, the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bechtel. While hopes are dashed it is only for the time being... count on it Westinghouse-Ameren Missouri will be back at the table!

The drum I continue to beat slowly is that no matter the size of these new nuclear reactors they will all create spent nuclear fuel. I repeat again, this is not household waste that can be bagged and set out on your curb each week for pick up. This waste - this spent nuclear fuel - needs to be PERMANENTLY stored safely for our lifetime and many lifetimes to come. The industry knows this, the DOE knows this and the NRC knows this. But no one, including politicians on both sides of the aisle, is willing to stand up and be counted on this issue.

One thing I think you can count on in Washington DC today is that no one will do anything until at least one leg is dangling over the cliff. Then maybe, just maybe, they might begin a discussion. So I am going to keep the effort going and I will continue to push anyway I can to get them closer to the edge, but honestly sometimes I feel like Sisyphus. I could use some help here.

1 comment:

  1. I guess we'll need a major tragedy before American politicians wake up. Sad. Especially because the facility most likely to cause problems is 37 miles from my house. Once NY is radioactive dust, perhaps they'll begin to talk about shutting these things down. Maybe.