Friday, November 29, 2013

Holiday Break

I'm going to take a little holiday break while I venture off into the forest in search of the perfect tree.  If anything of an earth shattering nature occurs I might be lured out of my mini-retirement. Take care of yourselves, be kind to each other and think of and do something for those less fortunate.

It is sad that we have a hunger problem here in this country while at the same time the Black Friday ventures leave so many black and blue from their commercial sale frenzy. Guess that is what we are all about.

Best wishes to all, however you celebrate the holiday I hope you enjoy the special time with family and friends. The scent of fresh pine and spicy cinnamon and maybe the look of new fallen snow... perfect fresh landscape upon which to make your own tracks.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving America

The Harvest Moon

It is the Harvest Moon! On gilded vanes
  And roofs of villages, on woodland crests
  And their aerial neighborhoods of nests
  Deserted, on the curtained window-panes
Of rooms where children sleep, on country lanes
  And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
  Gone are the birds that were our summer guests,
  With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!
All things are symbols: the external shows
  Of Nature have their image in the mind,
  As flowers and fruits and falling of the leaves;
The song-birds leave us at the summer's close,
  Only the empty nests are left behind,
  And pipings of the quail among the sheaves.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Lost My Head

Sometime during the past seventy-five years I must have lost my head. I think it just slipped off my neck and fell to the floor. I remember a brief blank period, but it didn't last very long.

But when I reached down to pick it up and reattach it I think I did something wrong. What is that saying "righty tighty, lefty loosey"? Dear, oh, dear I've attached it all wrong.

But this is the only way I can explain why I see and process things the way I do. My head is just not screwed on properly.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

All Hail the Royals

There has been a mighty uproar over the Danish Royal Family portrait. Going as far as to say it was Addams family-like.

I love it. I see a little open space below Queen Margrethe II where I can photoshop my own image for my Christmas card this year.

It will be a Happy Holiday for sure.

Source Material: Danish Royal Family Goes Goth

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

No Program, No Funding. So Say the Court

Well my job just got a whole lot easier. I guess it is time to book another cruise. Today the Department of Energy was told by the federal appeals court to stop the collection of fees for the storage of nuclear waste. The reason being the court said was because there was no program in place for the permanent storage of nuclear waste and therefore it was not proper to be collecting fees.

Here is the link to the New York Times article.
"In a decision written by Judge Laurence H. Silberman, the court ruled that “until the department comes to some conclusion as to how nuclear wastes are to be deposited permanently, it seems quite unfair to force petitioners to pay fees for a hypothetical option.” What they have already paid might cover that cost, Judge Silberman wrote, adding, “the government apparently has no idea.”
I wonder if the DOE plans to return all the funds that they have been collecting over the past years? I doubt it and I doubt there will ever be a central repository for the storage of nuclear waste. There will be extra money collected as in time each of our existing nuclear plants will eventually have to come up with a plan for permanent on-site storage.

Talk about a Catch 22, wow!

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fukushima Fuel Rod Removal Postponned

Update from Euronews:
"The operators of the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant have postponed the extremely complicated and difficult task of removing damaged atomic rods.
New video footage from a robot has revealed new leaks within the damaged reactors meaning the rods now can’t be taken out as planned.
One of the fuel assemblies was damaged as far back as 1982 when it was mishandled during a transfer and is bent out of shape. 
Kazuaki Matsui, the executive director of Japan’s Institute of Applied Energy said: “It’s very difficult to remove a spent rod because parts of the wall and the bottom of the reactor are all melted. We’ve never had to deal with this before so that adds to the complication.” 
Meanwhile, decontamination workers say mismanagement is to blame for the delay of radiation removal work. 
The inital plan called for the clean-up in the affected towns to be finished by March this year but the government now says the work will be delayed by as much as three years."
Copyright © 2013 euronews

Friday, November 15, 2013

TEPCO's Spent Fuel Rod Removal

Fairewinds Energy Education has released a new podcast in response to  TEPCO Spent Fuel Removal plans. The program is being presented by Arnie Gundersen. It is worth a few minutes of your time to help you understand the enormity of the task ahead at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Stimmig - Hey Why Not

Today's New York Times ran this interesting article Switzerland's Proposal to Pay People for Being Alive by Annie Lowrey. It's all about that country's plan to provide their citizens with a guaranteed income. It wouldn't matter if you were rich or poor every person would get a fixed sum of money. It is their plan to wipe out poverty and to boost the economy.

Now before you poo-poo the idea think about it. Here in the United States we have a lot of different programs aimed at helping lower income families and each is run by a different department of government. We have food stamps and housing vouchers and Social Security Aid to Dependents and who knows how many other programs.

Imagine if all of these programs were replaced by a guarenteed annual payment of $10,000 to every person over twenty-one years and out of jail. It would be chump-change in the pocket of a millionaire but very possibly they would put it to good use. For the millions that work for minimum wage and can barely survive it would make a nice supplement.

There probably be a few slackers that would abuse the benefit, that sadly is a fact of life but I bet there would be far better outcomes if people know they could count on this.

Excerpt from Annie Lowrey's article:
"The proposal is, in part, the brainchild of a German-born artist named Enno Schmidt, a leader in the basic-income movement. He knows it sounds a bit crazy. He thought the same when someone first described the policy to him, too. “I tell people not to think about it for others, but think about it for themselves,” Schmidt told me. “What would you do if you had that income? What if you were taking care of a child or an elderly person?” Schmidt said that the basic income would provide some dignity and security to the poor, especially Europe’s underemployed and unemployed. It would also, he said, help unleash creativity and entrepreneurialism: Switzerland’s workers would feel empowered to work the way they wanted to, rather than the way they had to just to get by. He even went so far as to compare it to a civil rights movement, like women’s suffrage or ending slavery."
"When we spoke, Schmidt repeatedly described the policy as “stimmig.” Like many German words, it has no English equivalent, but it means something like “coherent and harmonious,” with a dash of “beauty” thrown in. It is an idea whose time has come, he was saying. And basic-income schemes are having something of a moment, even if they are hardly new. (Thomas Paine was an advocate.) But their renewed popularity says something troubling about the state of rich-world economies."
I bet some could take an easy breath and think to themselves that now they could take a few courses at the junior college or maybe enroll a young child in dance classes. Small little things that could end up making a huge difference in someone's life.

I don't know but why don't we give it a try. Bringing dignity to mankind, offering a hand up, these are good things. Things to be proud of. People having to sleep in cardboard boxes under freeway overpasses, not so much.

America's tough guy bravado is as the kids say "so yesterday". We have moved on in so many ways socially, I think this might be the next step to conquer on the roadway to the future.

Monday, November 11, 2013

EcoWatch presents Pandora's Atomic Box Score

Pandora, you know that curiosity killed the cat. Be careful, girl.

Yesterday EcoWatch published Pandora's Atomic Box Score as follow up to the airing of the 'documentary' by CNN the other night. One of the questions that emerged from the other night was who financed the production of this film? EcoWatch reports that two major backers were Paul Allen and Bill Gates both emergents from the Microsoft campus.

it seems Bill Gates is a big believer in the new generation reactors. Here in Missouri they are call SMR - Small Modular Reactors and very much seem to have the support of local politicians as being something that is good for Missouri's economy.

I like it when they can use 'small' and 'modular' for the new generation of nuclear reactors, it makes everything seem so much more acceptable and sees less dangerous. They even go as far to describe them as a "plug and play" operation

Ameren and Westinghouse teamed up in 2012 to produce these new age Cabbage Patch Kids but didn't finish in first place and lost out to the Tennessee project from Babcock & Wilcox. Ameren announced that they will try again.

In the meantime in a separate offering from the Department of Commerce this time and not the Department of Energy, Missouri came out a winner - with this October 2013 announcement:

"Universities in Missouri will help develop the supply chain for Westinghouse's small modular reactor with help from a $1.84 million grant from the Department of Commerce.

Rendering of a Westinghouse SMR plant. Source: WestinghouseAnnounced Tuesday, the award is part of the $20.5 million Make it in America Challenge. According to the DOC, "This project will help Missouri manufacturers become part of a supply chain for SMR production. The project will advance a comprehensive training strategy to develop a high-skill, high-quality workforce for manufacturers in the nuclear power industry while assessing the education, training and certification needed to support the SMR effort."

In July, the Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, the University of Missouri, Ameren and Westinghouse formed a consortium to conduct research supporting the Westinghouse SMR's development and to train future nuclear engineers. Ameren, which operates Missouri's Callaway nuclear plant, is working with Westinghouse as it applies for funding from the Department of Energy to support the licensing of SMR technology." ~ Nuclear Power Industry News

Both Gov. Jay Nixon and U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill are strong supporters of the SMR project and in the past have cited it was beneficial to Missouri's economy.

Read the Atomic Box Score - I know it get confusing especially with all this switching going on between Department of Commerce and Department of Energy, property the next place these little SMR's will show up will be under the Department of Education.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Page 17 - Nuclear Waste

Here is Page 17 from Pandora's False Promise a rebuttal to Pandora's Promise by Beyond Nuclear. Think about it.


“There is no magic bullet for solving the problems of long-lived nuclear waste.” Dr. Arjun Makhijani, President, Institute for Energy and Environmental Research.
  • The first step to solving the problem of nuclear waste is to stop making it.

  • Assertions that the IFR “once loaded with nuclear waste, can, in principle, keep recycling it until only a small fraction remains,”52 ignore some inconvenient realities. Although the National Academy of Sciences acknowledges in a 1996 study that the waste inventory could be reduced, it also points out that such an effort would have very high costs and marginal benefits and would take hundreds of years.53

  • The IFR does not eliminate the nuclear waste that has piled up so much as theoretically transmute it. Transmutation describes the process of reducing the proportion of long-lived isotopes contained in the waste. While the proportion of elements such as plutonium, americium and curium may be reduced, radioactive fission products would remain, including cesium, krypton-87 and strontium-90. Management of these radioactive wastes would still be necessary for several hundred years at least. Transmutation also creates huge volumes of “low level” and transuranic waste.54

  • Therefore, even with a fleet of such fast reactors, nations would still require a final permanent “disposal” facility for radioactive waste.55

  • How much space radioactive waste takes up is not the issue. It is the duration and concentration of the lethality of its content that is relevant. Depending on its isotopic content, radioactive waste can remain deadly even longer than a million years.

    52 Nuclear vs Nuclear vs Nuclear. By George Monbiot. February 2, 2012.
    53 Nuclear Wastes: Technologies for Separations and Transmutation. National Academy of Sciences. National Academy Press. 1996.
    54 Transuranic waste is waste contaminated with alpha-emitting transuranic radionuclides with half-lives longer than 20 years and in concentrations greater than 3.7MBq/kg. Transuranic elements have atomic numbers greater than uranium (92) and are typically man-made.
    55 waste&page=3 Can Fast Reactors Speedily Solve Plutonium Problems? By David Biello. Scientific American. March 21, 2012.
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Friday, November 8, 2013

The Atomic States of America

Last day to view free online - The Atomic States of America

The film raises profound questions about the safety, viability and future of nuclear power in the United States -- casting substantial doubt that more promises about the potential for nuclear power, as raised in "Pandora's Promise", are largely unrealistic fantasies.
A film by Don Argott and Sheena Joyce

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Artichoke Annie's Promise

Did you see Pandora's Promise on CNN tonight? What were your feelings? Do you feel you were given all the facts? Did you come away thinking that if environmentalists have changed their views on nuclear energy then it must be OK?

I think Director Robert Stone offered up to us tonight a seductive myth aptly named after our beloved Pandora.

Artichoke Annie's promise to you is that I will continue to work as hard as I possibly can to see that our government - the Department of Energy - finds a viable solution for permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel.

We simply cannot ignore the fact that the United States had at one time 104 operating nuclear plants that were producing spent fuel. That fuel must find a permanent home somewhere. Until this problem is addressed there should be no nuclear facilities built.

It is a massive problem.

Where to store the spent fuel?  Your backyard or mine.
How to get it there?  Planes, trains or automobiles.

In the next couple of weeks TEPCO will be attempting to move the spent fuel rods from their damaged Fukushima facility just a short distance to a permanent storage facility. We need to watch carefully how this goes. At the very least this is what it will take in the U.S. if permanent storage were to be created onsite at the current facilities.

"Nuclear waste is not an environmental issue." ~ Mark Lynas

Fast Breeder Reactors: Want to know more?  How do fast breeder reactors differ from regular nuclear plants? A 2006 article in Scientific American

Here is an excerpt from that article:
"Creating extra fuel in nuclear reactors, however, is not without its concerns: One is that the plutonium produced can be removed and used in nuclear weapons. Another is that, to extract the plutonium, the fuel must be reprocessed, creating radioactive waste and potentially high radiation exposures. For these reasons, in the U.S., President Carter halted such spent fuel reprocessing, making the use of breeder reactors problematic."
Fast Breeder Reactors and Plutonium Concerns: Today in the News ~ Japan Nuclear Facility Cited for Security Failures 

Fast Breeder Reactors Use Spent Fuel to Create Power: Are fast breeder reactors a nuclear power panacea?

Here is an excerpt from that article:
"Spent fuel, while less of an immediate proliferation risk, remains a major radiological hazard for thousands of years. The plutonium — the most ubiquitous and troublesome radioactive material inside spent fuel from nuclear reactors — has a half-life of 24,100 years. A typical 1,000-megawatt reactor produces 27 tons of spent fuel a year."

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Curiouser and Curiouser

Now it's a Who Done It?

“Yasser Arafat died of polonium poisoning,” he said. “We found the smoking gun that caused his death. What we don’t know is who’s holding the gun at the time. ~ AlJazeera America - Swiss Study Revealed

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Kids Do the Darndest Things

Elon Musk : Hyperloop

Described as the Fifth Mode of Transportation the Hyperloop prototype, brain-burst of young entrepreneur Elon Musk, may see the light of day by the end of 2014.

It just gives me thrill chills to be on the very edge of a real Jetson's world. Wow, my bucket list is getting longer. Imagine making the trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco in thirty minutes. In LA it usually takes you that long to back out of your driveway.

This from the Christian Science Monitor article  Hyperloop Gets New Company:
"Musk's brainchild uses long, slim pods to whisk passengers along at up to 800 mph on nothing but a cushion of air--drawn in through the front and propelled from the back of each pod. The network would have lower costs than California's proposed high-speed rail system, as the route would follow existing freeways on a pylon system. That also cuts down the cost of acquiring new land."
Elon Musk is a 42 year old engineer from South Africa. You may have heard of him in association with SpaceX a company where he serves as CEO and CTO. He is also CEO and Chief Product Architect of Tesia Motors. Musk won't be involved in the development of the Hyperloop but he was heard to say he wishes the team well.

I do too. Up, up and away Hyperloop!

TEPCO Approved to Move Fuel Rods


The Nuclear Regulation Authority in Japan has authorized TEPCO to move 1,300 spent fuel rods and 200 new fuel rods that are currently being stored in pools at the Fukushima Daiichi power facility.

In the Wall Street Journal article  Mr. Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, stressed that the upmost care needs to be taken:
“Handling spent fuels involves huge risks. It would be a disaster if radioactive materials comes out of the metal rods during the work,” he said, noting that with the pool containing debris from the original explosion, the rods could be damaged as pulled out. “They must be handled one by one,” he said.
We don't hear a lot about it but TEPO has been working with the United States's Department of Energy in their attempt to come up with correct and viable solutions to take in the decommission of this facility.

TEPCO representatives will be coming to Washington to meet with the DOE before proceeding with the next phase scheduled for the month.

In the U.S. four of the 104 nuclear power plants have been shut down. But the DOE has yet to develop a plan for the permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel. Hopefully there are lessons being learned in our efforts to assist Japan.

I hope we do not drag our feet in coming up with a solution and end up having to make a decision on what to do in pressure cooker environment. It really is a situation that cannot be ignored much longer as most of our own fleet of nuclear power facilities are operating beyond their original 40-year license period.

This article Uneven enforcement suspected at nuclear plants by AP national writer Jeff Donn points out further problems that occur with safety enforcements. It is very disconcerting when you read the "NRC cannot ensure that oversight efforts are objective and consistent" if there is one thing we should demand from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission it would be exactly that; objective and consistent oversight efforts.

And when the nuclear industry voices concern about the inconsistencies we should be very concerned as well. There is so much that needs to be and very little time to make sure it is done properly.

Friday, November 1, 2013

PSA - Attention Pet Bird Owners

I just bought a new non-stick fry pan today. I wanted to know if the handle was safe to put in the oven so I was reading the label that came with the pan. To my surprise I read this instead.

Caution:  For safety, please keep pet birds out of the kitchen. Birds' respiratory systems are sensitive to many household fumes, including the fumes from extremely overheated non-stick pans.

Makes you kind of think twice, yikes!