Atomic Show #220 – Atoms for California

Andrew Benson from Atoms For California contacted me last week to find out if I was interested in having a conversation about the history of nuclear energy in California, with a special focus on the history of the antinuclear movement in that trend-setting state. It sounded like a great idea for an Atomic Show so I jumped at the chance.

Andrew is not exactly a household name. He described himself as a “lowly energy analyst” at the California Energy Commission who recently completed a double major in political science and economics at the University of California Davis.

He has recently developed a strong interest in nuclear energy and in learning more about how our society has arrived at its current situation with regard to the use of that important, game-changing technology.

Andrew’s father is a Senior Reactor Operator at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). Though he still holds that title and will remain employed by the facility until he completes his career and retires, his father and many of the people he knows had their lives suddenly altered on June 7, 2013 when Southern California Edison announced that it was going to permanently close SONGS.

Andrew knew that the plant was readily repairable, but he also watched the powerful alignment of political forces who worked hard to make it as difficult and as financially risky as possible for SCE to continue trying to obtain permission to repair and restart the plant. For a time, Andrew’s father was not sure that he would be able to keep his job and remain in San Diego, where he and his family have lived for the past 30 years.

As an energy analyst at the California Energy Commission, Andrew is exposed to detailed information that is rarely read by the public about the effects that the closure decision is having on the California electricity grid and on the ability of the state to maintain a reliable supply of electricity.

We talked about the antinuclear movement history, the various energy options that California is developing and the possibility that the future will be different from the past. We mentioned some of the land impacts of unreliables like wind and solar, especially when installed as large scale facilities on undisturbed land. Here is the visual image that Andrew mentioned during the show.

Wind farm land impact is not limited to turbine foundation

Wind farm land impact is not limited to turbine foundation

It was a fascinating discussion. Andrew is a well-spoken young man who has realized that he has a pro-nuclear energy passion. He is, by the way, just 22 years old.

I hope you all enjoy the show.

Here are links to publications discussed during the show.

Critical Masses (part 1): http://atoms4ca.tumblr.com/post/93940226103/book-review-part-1-of-2-critical-masses
Critical Masses (Part 2): http://atoms4ca.tumblr.com/post/94513900168/critical-masses-2
Just some assorted links about the challenges to a renewables only approach: http://atoms4ca.tumblr.com/post/94608672208/assorted-graphs-renewables-only-challenges


A few more things – if you think this kind of program is valuable, feel free to make a donation that will assist in growing the Atomic Show audience. One of our goals is to begin to purchase carefully placed advertising. We want more and more people to have the opportunity to listen to people like Andrew so that they begin to recognize the importance of clean energy in our lives. We want them to be able to follow the money and understand who benefits when plants like San Onofre are forced to close.






If you think, but I’ve already donated, ask yourself how many times you have tipped your favorite bartender, waitress, garbage man or valet. Is the service provided here any less valuable?

It’s also important to recognize who is bearing the brunt of successful antinuclear actions like the ones that experienced in Southern California.

If you are a fairly typical nuclear professional, you receive a decent salary and have good career prospects. Be aware, however, that there are numerous facilities that face political opposition that is as strong as the groups that forced SONGS to permanently retire as a result of a single steam generator u-tube leak that was not even in excess of the technical specification that would have forced a shut down.

So far, most displaced nukes have found good jobs at other facilities, but the demand for your services right now is limited due to the increased supply of available, well-trained workers from places like SONGS, Crystal River, Kewaunee, and Vermont Yankee. The law of supply and demand applies to skilled workers as well as to commodities like electricity.

Play

Atomic Show #219 – Mike Rosen misused Edward Calabrese’s Earth Day column

On Atomic Show #218 – Ed Calabrese – Researching Dose Response Dr. Calabrese shared some important stories about the data manipulations he had discovered relating to the establishment of the linear, no-threshold (LNT) dose response assessment. Those stories will shake the established order. Not surprisingly, two commenters immediately added statements apparently aimed at discrediting Dr. […]

Read more »

Atomic Show #218 – Ed Calabrese – Researching Dose Response

Dr. Ed Calabrese is a professor of toxicology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, MA. For the past twenty years, he has focused his research on understanding the response of a variety of organisms and tissues to a variety of chemicals and radiation as doses vary from extremely low to quite high. He is […]

Read more »

Opportunity to use science to establish radiation standards

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has issued an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit comments from the general public and affected stakeholders about 40 CFR 190, Environmental Radiation Protection Standards for Nuclear Power Operations. The comment period closes on August 3, 2014. The ANPR page includes links to summary webinars provided to the […]

Read more »

Shell Oil and Gas Company’s Perspective on Energy Future

There was a time when the Royal Dutch Shell corporation demonstrated strong interest in nuclear energy. In 1973, it was approached by Gulf Oil Company, the owner of Gulf General Atomics, as a capital partner for an aggressive expansion program. GA had spent the better part of two decades developing an innovative high temperature gas-cooled […]

Read more »

Mark Cooper is wrong about SMRs and nuclear energy

Mark Cooper of the Vermont Law School has published another paper in a series critiquing the economics of nuclear energy; this one is titled The Economic Failure of Nuclear Power and the Development of a Low Carbon Electricity Future: Why Small Modular Reactors are Part of the Problem and Not the Solution. It is not […]

Read more »

Effective government involvement essential for many innovations

The Breakthrough Institute has published a thought-provoking piece titled Reinventing Libertarianism: Jim Manzi and the New Conservative Case for Innovation It is highly recommended reading. Here is a comment that I left on the piece, focusing on my particular interest area of clean nuclear energy development. Interesting observations. I agree with just about everything other […]

Read more »

NS Savannah tours May 18, 2014

Press Release Historic Ship N.S. Savannah Open for Tours May 18, 2014 in Observance of Maritime Day N.S. Savannah Association, Inc. 4/17/2014 The unique, nuclear powered ship N.S. Savannah will be opened for tours at her pier in Baltimore, Md. on Sunday, May 18, 2014 as a part of the annual commemoration of Maritime Day. […]

Read more »

Some lessons were learned from TMI. Others were not.

Three Mile Island from the air

On March 28, 1979, a little more than thirty-five years ago, a nuclear reactor located on an island in the Susquehanna River near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, suffered a partial core melt. On some levels, the accident that became known as TMI (Three Mile Island) was a wake-up call and an expensive learning opportunity for both the […]

Read more »

Nuclear Energy: Past, Present, and Future

Peter Bradford and Rod Adams

On Friday, March 28, 2014, I had the privilege of attending a symposium at Dartmouth College titled Three Mile Island 35th Anniversary Symposium: The Past, Present, and Future of Nuclear Energy. If you are curious and have a free nine hours, you can watch an archived copy of the main event on YouTube. The thing […]

Read more »

Atomic Show #214 – Age of Radiance Author Craig Nelson

The Age of Radiance is good read that adds personality and details to a story I know pretty well – the history of the Atomic Age from the discovery of radiation, to the discovery of fission, to the Manhattan Project to apply the newfound power to the task of creating a war-ending super weapon, and […]

Read more »