NRC leaders must hear from all sides, not just antinuclear activists

It worried me to learn that on Saturday, September 22, Allison Macfarlane, the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and William Magwood, one of the four Commissioners who serve with Dr. Macfarlane on the five member Commission, held a private meeting with six representatives of groups that oppose the use of nuclear energy.

From all other reports that I have heard, Dr. Macfarlane has encouraged substantial improvements in the day to day working of the 4,000 member regulatory agency. In comparison to the tense situation that existed under her predecessor, the agency is once again a collegial place where people feel empowered to voice their opinions without fear of reprisal.

However, I remain leery about the future of nuclear energy in the United States with Dr. Macfarlane as the Chairman of the NRC. The NRC plays a vital role in enabling the economic use of nuclear energy, our safest and most capable alternative to burning ever increasing quantities of ever less abundant fossil fuel.

In addition to the two Commissioners, the meeting attendees included the following people:

If there were minutes recorded during the meeting, I cannot find them. The NRC has a rule about public meetings and minutes, but it does not apply to situations where there are less than three Commissioners involved. A report in The Hill’s E2 Wire blog titled Anti-nuclear group finds little hope in NRC, presidential race indicates that the invited guests criticized the access they were given as a just a public relations gambit.

The Coalition Against Nukes snagged a Saturday sit-down with NRC Chairwoman Allison Macfarlane and commissioner William Magwood. But the group denounced the agency, calling it “completely captured” by the Obama administration.

“The NRC is great at showing a nice face and trying to build relationships and congeniality,” Michael Leonardi, campaign coordinator with the Coalition Against Nukes, told The Hill on Friday. “I don’t expect anything to come out of it. They’re putting on a good face and pretending to listen to us, but they never do.”

However, that article brought flashbacks to one of my corresponding colleagues. He reminded everyone on his email list of a situation in the mid 1970s when Joan Claybrook was appointed as the head of the National Transportation Safety Board. Ralph Nader came out with loud criticism of Ms. Claybrook, helping to obscure the fact that they were close colleagues who had worked together for years at Congress Watch. The criticism from Nader gave Claybrook bureaucratic cover to implement harsher restrictions on the industry she was charged with regulating.

That reminder from one of my more mature colleagues supports my continuing skepticism about Dr. Macfarlane’s suitability as the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Dr. Macfarlane has a lot of friends and family in the antinuclear movement; her chosen circle of associates is not conducive to making good decisions about the best alternative energy source we have. I fear that the Saturday afternoon sit down was a harbinger of things to come.

My concerns were reinforced when I learned that Dr. Macfarlane has chosen Mary J. Woollen as her Director of External Engagement. Ms. Woollen spent ten years (January 2000 – May 2010) serving as the Executive Director of an organization called Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free.

I am not sure what the Director of External Engagement does, but the title indicates that the person in that position sets up meetings with citizens. It remains to be seen if someone who spent ten years directing an organization whose mission seems to be opposing every nuclear project at the Idaho National Laboratory – including production of valuable isotopes that enable space exploration – will assist in arranging a meeting with people who strongly support the use of nuclear technology.

However, I am willing to believe that Dr. Macfarlane is as dedicated an academic as she claims to be. People that do not represent the established nuclear industry but still have something important to say about nuclear energy need to speak up and ensure that Dr. Macfarlane is not allowed to surround herself with a chorus and does not settle into a mode of thinking that there are two “sides” to the energy discussion whose concerns need to be heard – the “industry” and the industry opposition.

Instead, we must work in our own ways to ensure that she realizes that the issues under her purview are vitally important but also complex. They cannot be addressed by narrowing the focus of the conversation or limiting the inputs received. For example, I sincerely hope that Dr. Macfarlane will take the time to read Laura Scheele’s excellent summary of a recent public meeting held in Chattanooga, TN where nuclear activists showed up to demonstrate our support for intelligently using plutonium as a valuable fuel source instead of disposing of it as a waste product.

Here is the comment that I posted on the NRC blog about the private meeting with the antinuclear activists. That post is misleadingly titled Spending a Saturday Afternoon at the NRC Listening to All Sides.

The scary thing about this blog post is the title, which implies that the meeting included “all sides”. Fortunately, the first paragraph admits that this particular meeting involved a completely one sided audience with invited guests who all represent groups that are opposed to the use of nuclear energy.

I hope that Chairman Macfarlane is ready and willing to engage in discussions with people who represent other aspects of the discussion, which has far more than two “sides”. I hope she will acknowledge that there are citizens that strongly support the use of nuclear energy as a competitor to coal, oil and natural gas. Unlike popular unreliables like wind and solar energy, nuclear fission has demonstrated that it can completely replace fossil fuel combustion when properly designed and implemented.

I’ve had the rare privilege of living in an “all nuclear all the time” world on deployments that lasted for months. Our nuclear propulsion plant was a modest sized machine that provided all of the power we needed to roam the oceans underwater – at high speeds if desired. It also supplied plenty of fresh water (produced by removing salt and other impurities from sea water), plenty of air conditioning, and power to spare for entertainment, food preservation, computers, and lighting. The compact fuel source that heated the water to make the power weighed a little more than my own body weight, yet it supplied all the energy needed to operate a 9,000 ton submarine for 14 years.

The world has overreacted to the non-fatal events at Fukushima. I am pretty sure the overreaction was fed by fossil fuel money used to help the media and government spread irrational fear, uncertainty and doubt.

The admittedly destroyed plants released just 100 kilograms or less of a relatively benign long lived isotope, resulting in concentrations that produce acceptably low radiation doses in almost every square meter of politically evacuated land area. The effects are far less damaging than the routinely accepted consequences of fossil fuel accidents. When nuclear plants operate well, they do not produce any gases that threaten the ability of the atmosphere to support life as we know it, that is a stark contrast to effect of their fossil fuel competition.

The Chairman must plan to listen to people who depend on the NRC to make correct technical judgements that will enable nuclear fission to help protect the environment, improve American security and make life safer for human beings.

Disclosure: Though I work at a nuclear energy company, I am not even in a management position. My thoughts and positions taken on Atomic Insights are my own and do not represent those of “the industry” or of my employer.

Additional Reading

Bulletin of Atomic Scientists (March 16, 2011) The lessons of Fukushima by Hugh Gusterson.

This article is an amazing piece of slanted writing from someone who is very close to the Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. It makes full use of the technique of damning with faint praise. Here is a sample quote:

We are probably moving toward a post-Fukushima world in which some countries will abjure nuclear energy while others expand it. Countries with other energy options, strong democratic structures, and powerful environmental movements will probably de-emphasize, and maybe eventually renounce, nuclear energy. Switzerland has already suspended plans to build new reactors, and Germany’s Angela Merkel, responding to large antinuclear protests, announced plans to close seven reactors pending further evaluation of their safety and to reconsider plans to extend the lives of Germany’s oldest reactors.

In the meantime, countries with weak environmental movements and weak regulatory norms seem to be proceeding as if nothing has happened. As the Fukushima nuclear disaster unfolded, Turkey announced plans to go ahead with two reactors, and we can surely expect China, Russia, and India to do the same.

Update: (Posted on 9/28/2012 at 0349) Nuclear Townhall: William Tucker – Chairman Macfarlane Goes to the Bullpen

About Rod Adams

150 Responses to “NRC leaders must hear from all sides, not just antinuclear activists”

Read below or add a comment...

  1. Will Davis says:

    Excellent article, Rod- and I could not agree more with your position. “All sides” certainly were NOT listened to at this meeting, and the labeling of the event as such is somewhere between a misstatement of fact and an outright lie. Thanks for laying this out so fully and clearly and getting everyone the facts.

  2. Meredith Angwin says:

    Hi Rod

    I think the recent meeting should have been public IMO, the NRC has a policy of meeting with opponents-only. In the summer of 2010, Jaczko came to Vermont and met with opponents-only. Howard and I both blogged about his visit.

    Howard’s post discusses the question: “Why did Jaczko came to Brattleboro?” It also includes links to posts on the subject by Dan Yurman, Rod Adams, and William Tucker.

    http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2010/07/guest-post-howard-shaffer-on-jaczko.html

    My post notes that Jaczko hardly got a word in edgewise.

    http://yesvy.blogspot.com/2010/08/jaczko-retrospective.html

    Also, Jaczko’s refusal (in 2010) to meet with Howard or myself or with VTEP (Vermont Energy Partnership, a business group) seems to imply that we don’t represent anybody. Only the “citizen’s groups” against nuclear represent anybody.

    As you said, Rod, the NRC imagines that there are two sides: “citizen’s groups” versus “the industry.” This attitude grows tiring.

    Meredith

    • George Carty says:

      The real two sides are more like: “the fossil fuel profiteers and their lackeys” versus “the people”.

  3. Atomikrabbit says:

    Macfarlane’s continued tenure as NRC Chair depends entirely on the outcome of Nov 6, both in the Senate and White House.

  4. CaptD says:

    GEE, I don’t see anyone here complaining that the Nuclear Industry has total access to the White House, you want equal time then know that those that feel that they have N☢ Voice would love to have equal minute for minute access to all discussions abut all things Nuclear!

    Exelon, “Obama’s Utility” Has Amazing Influence in the White House- Energy the “Chicago Way” http://www.againstcronycapitalism.org/?p=8145

    How many of our elected Leaders OWE favors to the Nuclear Industry?

    I hope the Washington Post has the courage to ask them all and tell US what they find!

    I believe this is a “Nuclear Gate” story that includes most Leaders in both Parties…

    I think it is important to note that the USA is still pushing Nuclear, despite the fact that Fukushima proved the Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7/365! Even Presiden Obama did not even mention Nuclear Energy in his acceptance speech at the DEM convention, yet a DOD just went to Japan to “discuss” their ending the use of nuclear by 2040 and left them a new Patriot missile system for listening…

    Now the Gov’t. of Japan has started to back pedal on ending nuclear 9as so many of us knew they would)!
    If we don’t, someone else will (and other dubious rationalizations)
    http://wp.me/p1wWyW-jl

    Now the Japanese people literally have N☢ say in Nuclear issues, because their Gov’t. is at the mercy of the Nuclear Power Industry and their Utility “Gangs”…

    They all are now living in a “Nuclear Police State”!

    Must read article: The Nuclear Mafia Derails Democracy in Japan
    http://dissidentvoice.org/?p=45690

    Power industry campaigns to pull the plug on the DPJ
    http://is.gd/5E6rKr

    Sound kind of familiar?

    • Bill Rodgers says:

      CaptD,

      Several responses.

      Fukushima proved a lot of things. It proved that 3 reactors properly contained can reach meltdown stage and not cause a single death due in part to the actions of an opeational crew that was motivated and could think on their feet during the most extreme circumstances. Unlike the refinery fires and the dam that was destroyed during the 2011 Tohoku earthquake were no human interaction could have changed the course of events. The fire for the refinery burned for up to 10 days and footage of that fire was used by sensationlistic (and clueless) media around the world when they were proclaiming the end of the world because of Fukushima.

      The Fujinuma dam failure wiped out a small village and killed 8 people.

      Now what is interesting about this dam failure as discussed in the provided link is that the authors do not seek the removal of all dams in Japan. In fact they are quite satisfied that depsite the loss of the Fujinuma dam (that acutally killed people), many other dams survived.

      How many people know that a dam failed during the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and people died? Not many.

      Contrast that with the nonstop media focus on the Japanese nuclear industry which has been ordered to shut down even though no one died.

      Why not the outrage about the 8 people who died because of one failed dam? Why aren’t the Japanese hydro industry and other industries that require dams being shut down? RIGHT NOW. LIVES WERE LOST!!

      Because we have been trained (led by the nose) to expect people to die due to dam failures (Japan) or natural gas pipelines exploding (California) or refineries catching fire that then spew toxic plumes of chemicals into the atmosphere (also California). We have been trained to see that type of loss of human life as acceptable because we need petroleum products and hydro power.

      However the mere idea that one person might, MIGHT develop a cancer in 30-40 years that MIGHT or might NOT be attributable to one of 3 reactors (that failed in a seismic event that killed over 20,000 people and displaced thousands more) after living a long and productive life is somehow a reason for eliminating a zero emission carbon power generation source in a nation that has little natural resources to rely on.

      That is just crazy and a sure means down a short road into poverty.

      http://www.groupdelta.com/Papers/Failure%20of%20Fujinuma%20Dam%20During%20the%202011%20Tohoku%20Earthquake.pdf

      Also the Japanese government is and will always be ambigous about their nuclear policy. They have to since they do not have the long term financial resources to buy natural gas on the open market for the next 50-100 years that would be required to support the fantasy of using wind and solar to power their industrial society unless they want to be like the US and mortgage their future to the China.

  5. CaptD says:

    Well I guess everyone here will also scream FOUL when this meeting happens because only Industry Rep.’s gets to meet with the NRC:

    NRC TO DISCUSS IMPLEMENTING ORDERS FOR POST-FUKUSHIMA IMPROVEMENTS SEPT. 27 IN ROCKVILLE, MD
    Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will meet with industry representatives Sept. 27 to continue discussions on schedules and guidance for the Orders and related request for information the agency issued on March 12. The actions stem from recommendations of the NRC’s Japan Near-Term Task Force (NTTF), which examined issues raised by the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011.
    http://is.gd/pczOJd

    • Rod Adams says:

      @CaptD

      Apparently you did not read my post. Why is it so hard for you to understand that there are pro nuclear citizens whose interests are NOT represented by “the industry”.

      Some of us honestly believe that nuclear technology is an amazing tool that just might make it possible for human society to continue prospering without further damage to the atmosphere.

      “The industry” is perfectly willing to keep investing in “cheap” power plants that can only burn natural gas. Too many of the companies that comprise “the industry” are led by people who are either too short sighted to see past the next quarter or perhaps the next couple of years.

    • Bill Rodgers says:

      CaptD,

      This Fukushima meeting has been on the docket and its goal is a formal, on the record discussion about Fukushima mitigation efforts and strategies that have been and will continue to be implemented.

      This is the purpose of the NRC. To address lessons learned in a public manner where all can participate.

      So to answer your question no will cry foul especially considering this meeting will be open to the public which if you had read the notice you would have seen that. Instead you put on your anti-nuclear tin foil hat claiming conspiracy and started bleating away here on a pro-nuclear website.

      The Fukushima meeting will be on the record, be webcast and will be open for the public to ask questions during normal business hours.

      Versus the meeting that was held by two NRC commissioners on a Saturday with special anti-nuclear interest groups whose stated goal is to shut down 20% of the nation’s generation capacity. And that meeting was held in private, without public input and no record of the conversation, not during normal NRC business hours which also allowed for a subversion of the quorum rules for record keeping. It also appears the meeting was scheduled by another known anti-nuclear person who now works for the NRC Chairperson.

      So which meeting should receive more criticism? The meeting that meets the goal of the NRC to continue its quest for open government (the Fukushima meeting) or the meeting that is the antithesis of an open government principle the NRC is advertising on their website (the meeting between the NRC chair and special anti-nuclear interest groups)?

      I know what my answer is, do you?

      And by the way SONGS is perfectly safe plant. Been there and would work there again with no issues. I am rooting for them to get their steam generators fixed or replaced so the plants can get back on line. With the plants back on line the residents of California won’t have to pay exorbitant power rates for unreliable wind and solar which also destroys sensitive desert habitat. Of course the Palo Verde nuclear power plant is just fine with the situation since that allows them to sell their excess nuclear generated power at market rates into the California grid.

      • CaptD says:

        Perfectly SAFE Ha Ha ha

        Guess which US reactor has the Worst SAFETY RECORD
        and
        the most Complaints of Employee Harassment and Retaliations
        … at all U.S. Nuclear Power Plants?

        Better get better informed!
        http://is.gd/TB9eNW

        • Bill Rodgers says:

          You bring up employee harassment issues that reminded me of the chilled environment which potentially exists at SCE.

          But this is an issue we could go around and around on. Some of those issues I am personally aware as I have researched them for my own purposes. Let’s just say I probably would be on the side agreeing the severity of the safety issues are being blown out of proportion by the nuclear politics of Southern California as well as the fear that is being induced by anti-nuclear advocates partly because of the Fukushima issues.

          Now a chilled environment and lack of management supervision should never be accepted and the NRC has a duty to ensure SCE resolves these issues if they exist. I am disappointed to see that SCE upper management has apparently dropped the ball and let the situation get to this point. For that they should be held accountable and the NRC does have a responsibility to sit down with management to resolve these issues. But if the NRC has evaluated the concerns and assigned severity levels to the complaints as well as accepted SCE’s corrective actions that people do not agree with, then that can literally come down to personal opinion about nuclear power not true technical concerns with the direct issues.

          For example, yes it is true SCE has had numerous fire violations but if you are going to try and to tell me that one of those individual events are going to cause a reactor event that will affect the safety of the population of the San Clemente and northern San Diego area then no we are going to disagree. Welding sparks are not going to create a chain of events that lead to a reactor safety issue by themselves. Is there a culture issue that needs to be corrected? Yes I agree and that goes back to my point above about SCE’s management.

          The question comes down to how SCE is handling their contractor oversight. Wolf Creek just received a yellow finding for this issue. I would expect the NRC to issue a similar finding against SCE at some point in time if reactor operations are affected. If not then the NRC will continue to monitor SCE and issue warnings. That does not mean the reactors themselves are unsafe to operate or that the NRC is being bought off by SCE or the supposed monolithic nuclear industry. That just means there is a technical disagreement about how severe the issues are at SCE.

          But back to the welding sparking issues as a point of discussion. If there are welders that are not following proper safety protocols then those workers should be held accountable for their actions, not just SCE management. Several events I am aware of are issues of safety equipment being either improperly used or safety equipment that should have been replaced. This is a worker responsibility issue as well as a management issue.

          If the worker went to his or her supervisor with a piece of damaged safety equipment and then was told to continue using it then there is a safety culture issue that needs immediate attention. However if that same worker never brought up the issue of damaged safety equipment to his or her supervisor and subsequently used the damaged safety equipment then we will get into a discussion of how to assign responsibility for ensuring a safe work environment exists.

          This issue of worker responsibility also applies to how equipment is used. If the worker is properly trained but improperly using equipment just to get a job done quickly where there is not a hard push from upper management to meet schedule then the workers themselves must share in some of the responsibility for an unsafe environment. However if the worker believes that he or she will be fired because of the push from upper management to meet schedule or costs then yes there is a safety culture that needs changing.

          So while you point to the number of violations as the reason SONGS should be shut down, it is instructive to look deeper at the issues and attempt to determine the true culture problems that exist at SONGS. Employees should be counseled or fired if they are purposefully violating safety rules. That does not mean the same employee automatically has a valid complaint against SONGS or the entire nuclear industry. If however that same employee was not properly trained for the work they are doing or is in fear of losing their job if they did not violate safety rules to accomplish their work then yes SONGS has a major issue. But even then is that a reason to permanently shut down approximately 2,00MW’s of generation capacity from the Southern California grid? No it is not.

          • CaptD says:

            I thank you for your reply!

            SCE has now charge rate payers 1.2+ Billion Dollars for N☢ energy…

            That is something that even Pro Nuclear rate payers should not support!

            Re: SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) What do you suggest for Managers that don’t follow the Reg.’s and or retaliate against those that do?

            FLASH: The #1 US Nuclear Safety Concern ==> San Onofre Nuclear Waste Generating Station http://shar.es/50B8K

            More here: http://is.gd/oaKJQN

      • Alex Thrower says:

        Mary Woolen’s not antinuclear and neither is Dr. Macfarlane. I’ve worked with both of them and I ought to know. There have been specific nuclear waste management projects they’ve raised questions about in the past. That doesn’t mean they’re fellow travelers with those in the little group trying to make big noise in DC last weekend. There was some other event on the Hill with outgoing Rep. “Red Dennis” Kucinich–between that and the “Occupy NRC” event in Rockville, it was very quiet and a little sad, as these events usually are. That said, the NRC post shouldn’t have talked about hearing from “all sides” on Saturday, that’s not accurate.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Alex

          What has Mary Woolen done to encourage the use of nuclear energy? I interviewed Dr. Macfarlane for The Atomic Show podcast several years ago. She described herself as agnostic who is neither pro nor anti nuclear. That is a reasonable position for a high school student who has not had the opportunity to learn much about science and technology; it is not so reasonable for someone who has been supposedly studying nuclear energy issues for several decades. That is plenty of time to be able to learn enough about the potential costs and benefits to make up your mind on whether or not nuclear energy is useful technology for humans to use to produce power.

          http://atomicinsights.com/2012/06/transcript-of-atomic-show-61-allison-macfarlane-atomic-agnostic-june-15-2007.html

          • CaptD says:

            Rod The NRC needs to start paying MUCH MORE attention to earthquakes (because one played a very important part in starting the Fukushima Triple Meltdown, despite what TEPCO has been saying) and because of the Nuclear Waste Storage issue which has EVERYTHING to do with Geology, and by the way that is Dr. Macfarlane who happens to be a World Class Geologist…

            The NRC needs all the help they can get so why depend solely upon those trained in nuclear and or Physics?

            If the japanese reactor designers listen more to the Geologist on their team they might not now have a Trillion Dollar Eco-Disaster to be dealing with!

            What about that “cost” to the Japanese and the rest of US, since it is now proven that the USA is now impacted by the Fukushima radiation as well as Japan’s burning of tsunami debris which is now going on 24/7…

            Your reader might enjoy these links for a different view point:

            http://nuclearhistory.wordpress.com/2012/09/27/various-definitions-of-the-term-ultimate-heatsink/#comment-7789
            and
            http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/09/21/18722188.php
            and
            https://twitter.com/onodekita/status/249482543764758528/photo/1

          • Brian Mays says:

            The NRC needs all the help they can get so why depend solely upon those trained in nuclear and or Physics?

            The NRC regularly collaborates with the U.S. Geological Survey.

          • CaptD says:

            Video inside Reactor 1 may show seismic damage — Japanese experts suggest unit was having severe problems before tsunami
            http://enenews.com/?p=40651

            Earthquake damage …caused major issues BEFORE the Tsunami…
            +
            US Reactors even in CA are not built to even the Japanese standards and we all know how that worked out for them!

          • Alex Thrower says:

            Rod, I read your transcript, sounds like it was a very interesting discussion. I would just point out Allison’s statement in an interview with Technology Review (http://www.technologyreview.com/qa/414029/life-after-yucca-mountain/) where she says “[f]rom the point of view of climate change, we absolutely, definitely need nuclear power.” Doesn’t sound like nuclear agnosticism to me, but agnostic is a lot better than anti. I think this Chairman is a huge improvement over her predecessor on that basis alone.

            Mary has probably done nothing to encourage the use of nuclear energy, but I don’t think she has to prove herself one way or the other. At the Blue Ribbon Commission, her job was to make sure all sides–yes, all–were heard from, and debates about the BRC’s usefulness aside, that part of the process worked quite well.

            BTW, I am NOT an atomic agnostic myself–I am a huge fan of nuclear. I would love it if everyone were smart and believed as I do, but if they don’t that’s okay.

          • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

            The Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future did not take a position on nuclear power either. Many of the members of this commission have completed many more years of education than a high school student.

  6. Brian Mays says:

    … Michael Leonardi, campaign coordinator with the Coalition Against Nukes, told The Hill on Friday. “I don’t expect anything to come out of it. They’re putting on a good face and pretending to listen to us, but they never do.”

    Well, when all they say is that all “nukes” need to be shut down now and forever, it’s not surprising that the NRC doesn’t listen to them. Furthermore, I suppose that by “listen,” they really mean “acquiesce to our demands.”

    The NRC’s job is to regulate the construction and operation of nuclear facilities and the handling of nuclear material, not to pander to extremist groups with an obvious obstructionist agenda.

  7. Brian Mays says:

    I suspect that Mary Woollen was selected for Director of External Engagement because of her work as Government and Community Liaison for Obama’s Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. Macfarlane served on that commission.

  8. John Tucker says:

    Beyond the conspiracy, the false balance, and the mismatched symmetry the most troubling thing about this is the old populist civility/incivility productive forum misconception.

    If the whole effort was being used for some type of cover initiative Id put it down to mitigation of the anti nuclear movement and say things are moving more in favor of long term nuclear technology solutions than ever, here and abroad:

    “US panel approves NC uranium enrichment plant”

    A nuclear power partnership of General Electric Co. and Tokyo-based Hitachi Ltd. received federal approval Tuesday to build the first plant to enrich uranium for use in commercial reactors using a classified laser technology.

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission issued a license to General Electric-Hitachi Global Laser Enrichment LLC to build and operate a uranium enrichment plant near Wilmington deploying the laser technology instead of costlier centrifuges.( http://www.seattlepi.com/news/article/US-panel-approves-NC-uranium-enrichment-plant-3893217.php )

    In Japan :

    Japan Plans Restart of Controversial Reactor ( http://www.voanews.com/content/controversial-japanese-breeder-reactor-preparing-for-restart/1514340.html )

    Things seem to have tuned on a dime recently with respect to nuclear power technology centering on dealing with climate change/pollution more than anything. Certainly in Japan economics got the ball rolling as well. I hope it intensifies.

    • John Tucker says:

      I guess I should elaborate on that first part. Reason should be the foundation for all forums, giving irrational voices the microphone before they prove they can make a reasonable point more reflects on you valuation of reason as second fiddle to authority of the forum itself. A position that inherently favors the unreasonable no matter how well intentioned.

      Lumping all nuclear power technology together is in itself a unreasonable position as is the simple negation of any complex progress, movement or technology.

      And while civility can occur at points in discussion in both reasonable and unreasonable forums, incivility and injustice is the ultimate guaranteed result of the unreasonable ones. Civility always follows reason. ( http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/reason ).

      Instead of focusing on “creating a dialogue,” focus on laying a unshakable and reasonable foundation.

  9. Pete51 says:

    If these anti-nuclear groups only realized the damage happening to the environment every time a coal-fired power plant goes on-line instead of a nuclear plant. Scientific American reports over 1200 new coal plants are being planned world-wide, with a capacity of 1.4 million megawatts. Many of these plants will be in India, China, and other developing nations. India is having a difficult time getting its new Kudankulam nuclear plant on-line because of protests. As we know, Germany is shutting down nuclear and building new lignite burning plants. (Lignite = Slightly Combustible Dirt) When the history of this era is written, it should be seen that the environmentalists were often their own worst enemy in opposing nuclear power, while thousands of fossil-fueled power plants were built.

    The SciAm article:
    http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=india-has-big-plans-for-burning-coal

    I figure these new coal plants, if all are built, will add an additional 10 billion tons of CO2 to the atmosphere every year. Not to mention the sulfur dioxide, NOx, particulates and other pollutants.

    • Daniel says:

      @ Pete51,

      I believe Merkel and her green friends will have a rude awakening come election time. This could be the end of popular tolerance to idiotic green dogmatism.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Pete51

      It all makes more sense when you accept the notion that many “antinuclear” activists are actually working for the fossil fuel industry.

      • John Tucker says:

        Ironically, as you know, the architect of the “green” German Nuclear phase out, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, served as a director of a major Gazprom division and was also made a global manager for the Rothschild investment bank in addition to becoming a political consultant and lobbyist for a Zurich-based publishing corp after leaving office.

        He is also responsible for having significantly lowered and sometimes basically eliminated the drive for a German minimum wage and publicly resisting attempts to raise it .

    • John Tucker says:

      Coal exports make U.S. cleaner, EU more polluted

      Analysts at Point Carbon, a Thomson Reuters company, estimate increased EU coal-use will drive a 2.2 percent rise in EU carbon emissions this year, after a 1.8 percent drop in 2011. ( http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/25/europe-emissions-shale-idUSL5E8KO4V320120925 )

      Phasing out nuclear contributed to the rise. Despite the headlines too, the largest coal plant in Europe that recently opened was designed to burn German Lignite as well of course.

  10. Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free says:

    Hello Rod,

    Interesting article, I enjoyed reading it. A small point of clarity regarding your comment on KYNF: we are not an anti-nuclear organization. While the name is admittedly polarizing, it derives from a proposed plutonium incinerator at INL in the late 90′s which we opposed for environmental reasons that have since been confirmed. But we have no stance on nuclear energy, only the resulting impact and ongoing evaluation of acceptable risk.

    I appreciate your comments toward the mistake of residing in trenches. My opinion is that globally, we need to get past confusing pro-energy as the enemy of pro-environment. You can be both. Education and dialogue is paramount to this. We regularly meet with individuals at INL and thoroughly appreciate the dialogue and resulting education. I personally take every chance I am offered to be educated by INL representatives. It can only help.

    That said, is everything as squared away as it could be? Of course not. Otherwise there would be no Idaho Cleanup Project. Are the directors at INL to blame? Of course not, they inherited the problem. If they’re not to blame then is external environmental advocacy still needed? Yes. Proposals are still made that in another 50 years new directors will call a mistake that may need cleaning up. External advocacy usually provides a counter to political forces that, for example, take a non-technocratic approach to weighing economic growth against acceptable risk. This isn’t an entrenched polarization of forces, it is open dialogue and consideration of multiple views.

    You cited our opposition to RTG production in this article, and it seemed the focal point for declaring us anti-nuclear/ anti-INL. While I can confirm our general opposition to RTG development for deployment into space, a few things should be noted. We are not opposed to space exploration and I personally wish NASA had a far larger budget to spend on it. Also, we are continually seeking more education on the issue, and are hoping to meet with the engineers at INL that lend a hand to RTG production next month. This is for the purpose of education and dialogue. We may change our stance, they might appreciate ours. It all comes from getting out of the trenches, continually pursuing better education, keeping dialogue open, and trying to do things better collectively.

    Again, I appreciate your article but advise that don’t jump to conclusions and declare a group anti-nuclear, or incapable of promoting unbiased dialogue, based off one article from 2005 (which interestingly stated that the community should not oppose it, but rather get educated on it). It does little to aid in bringing others out of the trenches.

    It is a minor point to your article and the greater issues at hand, but maybe take a deeper look into what KYNF does, read a more recent editorial (http://kynf.org/content/beyond-backyard), and you might find that many environmentalists are doing their best to involve alternative perspectives.

    Regards,
    Dan

    • John Englert says:

      @KYNF,

      I went to the DOE’s OSTI (Office of Scientific & Technical Information) homepage and tried searching “plutonium incinerator” and not a single document surfaced with such a term. If you want people to believe that KYNF is capable of promoting unbiased dialogue, it would behoove you to use more accurate terminology (low-level radioactive waste incinerator) when opposing a waste disposal technology.

      • KYNF says:

        Fair. The incineration was wrapped into the AMWTP. If it is of interest to you, the following documents show the inconsistencies between BNFL’s permit proposal, the waste slated from INL, and the EIS. I believe the EIS shows 473,600 curies of plutonium, and EGG-WM-10903 showed roughly 11 million curies (including low-level waste, alpha contaminated low-level mixed waste, and TRU) to be processed. I admittedly was not involved with this in 1999, and have inherited the term plutonium incinerator, and plutonium waste treatment facility. With this in mind, I appreciate your note.

        - Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, Record of Decision, March 1999, U.S. Department of Energy, Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory
        - BNFL Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Plant Air Permit to Construct, January 12, 1999, to Idaho Division of Environmental Quality
        - Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project, Final Environmental Impact Statement, January 1999, U.S. Department of Energy, (DOE/EIS-0290)
        - EGG-WM-10903

        Dan

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Dan:

      I am glad that you enjoyed the article and sorry if I mischaracterized your group as being antinuclear. Perhaps I rushed to judgement in determining that an organization that calls itself Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free might be inherently opposed to the use of nuclear energy. I was also misled by an article that characterized Pu-238 as a “particularly nasty isotope.”

      One of the many experiences that have made me such a strong supporter of nuclear technology was a visit to the Maryland Science Museum when my now adult children were quite young. There was a modest little exhibit describing RTG’s designed to power pacemakers. With 1/200th of an ounce of Pu-238, the battery – which was smaller than a AA – could power a pacemaker inside a human body for 14 years and still be producing about 90% of the continuous current that it produced when it was new. Knowing what I know about the technical limitations of chemical batteries, the risks of surgery and the toxic nature of the high energy materials that are used in the most advanced batteries, I thought that was nearly a magical device that could solve many real world issues.

      Then I found out that the devices were no longer being made and that there was a long and depressing story about why that was true. That story did not involve a single injury; instead it involved a focused opposition campaign led by people who did not understand that the benefits of the technology outweighed any risks – especially when compared to any similarly capable alternative.

      I am happy to engage in civil discussions with anyone who wants to talk or write about nuclear energy. In my opinion, there are few more important ways to spend my time. Please feel free to come back and share your knowledge and your feelings.

      PS – I have to admit that it would be extremely difficult for me to engage in “unbiased” dialog about nuclear energy. One can only remain unbiased and neutral about such an important subject by ignoring evidence and experience. I am not willing to do either; I have a strong positive bias in favor of beneficial use of as much nuclear technology as possible.

      • Lane says:

        Keep in mind Mary Woolen was a plaintiff in a 2007 law suit to shut down the Advanced Test Reactor.
        There is no doubt in my mind that she was responsible for the meeting with the anti-nuclear activists. She held the same position with the Blue Ribbon Commission and her job was to support the anti-nuclear community. I’m sure Dr. Mcrarlane hired her for the same role with the NRC.

  11. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    It does not necessarily follow that policy will be dictated by anti-nuclear groups just because the NRC chairman and a commissioner meet with representatives of these groups. At times, these groups have provided a valuable service to our country and the world by pointin g out public health and nuclear safety risks. Susanne E. Vandenbosch

    • Brian Mays says:

      At times, these groups have provided a valuable service to our country and the world by pointing out public health and nuclear safety risks.

      That’s true, at times … but these times have been very few and very far between.

      The problem with these groups is that the signal-to-noise ratio is so small as to be completely negligible, and their “valuable service” is, by far, overshadowed by the disservice that they inflict on our country and the world by spreading misinformation and sowing needless fear in the general population, which is poorly equipped to handle such misinformation campaigns.

      At some point one has to ask oneself, “overall would the world be better off if these groups didn’t exist,” and I must answer emphatically and unequivocally, yes it would.

      The world would do better with a few less cults.

  12. James Greenidge says:

    I long no longer believe that the prime beef and banner of anti-clear groups is safety and public health concerns – which would make them automatic biased hypocrites in the face of nearly sixty years worldwide of statistically zero worker and public mortality and injury and damage rates of normal and accident incidents with nuclear power (even in cases of inept operators and faulty equipment and mega acts of God) in the same time period as the horrific hundred thousands casualties, historically and reality proven perpetual millions of health aliments and pollution effects, and widespread community property damage incurred by fossil fuel production, but rather these smarter anti-nukers hold a philosophical grudge against anything nuclear encompassing reasons as diverse as; 1. Avenge Hiroshima and Nagasaki by banning the atom for the uniquely evil thing it did there so anything nuclear is the “baby of war”; 2. Be St. Georges in shining armor slaying the dragons of corporate greed and dispassion which taints anything it touchs via their evil familiar, nuclear power; 3; Feeling a superhero activist deep your heart that you personally saved millions from imagined irradiated fates; 4. Imagined Doomsdays and creeping glowing radiation perils conjured by generations of bad B sci-fi flicks and anti-war “message” films. This group — including media — is simply too proud and entrenched their campaign and passion to admit flaws are laced throughout their fears or to accept the proof of fact and history and reality.

    James Greenidge
    Queens NY

  13. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    I agree that some anti-nuclear individuals and groups disperse misinformation sometimes due to a lack of understanding of the processes involved in producing nuclear power and sometimes due to failure to check their “information” for accuracy. Much of their information is diseminated through blogs and journals that are not peer reviewed. At the same time I feel I should mention that many of the nuclear industry trade publications are very expensive and not readily available in libraries.. They thereby neglect an opportunity to correct the antinuclear groups. Also, nuclear power advocates often fail to mention nuclear waste and all of the costs associated with nuclear power. The Kyshtym accident in Russia was concealed because some not want to inhibit development of a nuclear renaissance. Language associated with nuclear power is frequently modified. After the Hiroshima bombing “atomic power” became “nuclear power”. After the Three Mile Island accident “nuclear waste” was referred to as “spent fuel”. Now some who are keen on reprocessing in their effort to emphasize that there is something of value left in spent fuel refer to it as “used fuel”. There are many claims that INPO has been instrumental in making nuclear power safer. I have no reason doubt this but it is impossible to find out exactly what INPO has done and if we sell nuclear power plants to other countries I wonder if INPO will share their experience with other countries or if they will have to reinvent the wheel. Industry emphasizes that there are few deaths associated with the nuclear industry but does not mention the potentially huge economic costs associated with an accidents in heavily populated areas. These include loss of homes, loss of jobs and providing housing and food for evacuees. The Japanes economy is having a tough time coping with the economic impact of Fukushima and I wonder if our presently shaky economy could cope with such an accident.

    • CaptD says:

      Nice comment, your points are well founded!

      Once folks get beyond the labels, it is factual discussion that sets the groundwork for learning.

      I also wonder if the USA could fiscally survive a Fukushima-type event if say one happened at San Onofre and its RSG tubes had been a bit stronger yet failed in great numbers during an big earthquake! That would have made the 12 Billion Price-Anderson fund look like a drop in the bucket since the Ocean front property alone is (was!) worth far more than that!

      Many believe that the Quake was the REAL CAUSE of Fukushima’s triple meltdowns, yet the MSM continues to cover over that fact using the Tsunami to protect the Nuclear Industry, because Fukushima PROVED that Nature can destroy any land based nuclear reactor, any place anytime 24/7/365! http://wp.me/pDwKM-2Cx

      Did the quake cause serious damage to all of Japans reactors, is that why they remain off line despite what their Gov’t says?

      The SORE (San Onofre Reactor Emergency) is a perfect example of a US reactor RSG design failure that is now just being discussed in the MSM.
      http://is.gd/SRB82p (+ see the great technical comments by ex worker)

      • Rod Adams says:

        @CaptD

        Failure of a large number of steam generator U-tubes would be unlikely to cause any public health risk or widespread contamination. That event is within the design basis for US nuclear plants; they have systems and barriers that are designed to mitigate any releases. I highly recommend reading the NRC’s State of the Art Reactor Consequences Analysis.

        http://www.nrc.gov/about-nrc/regulatory/research/soar.html

        Your “belief” about the true cause of the reactor core melts is not supported by the analysis conducted by nuclear energy experts brought in from the outside. The evidence that they evaluated shows that the safety related systems at the plant were still functional after the earthquake. The tsunami that washed over the protective wall damaged the safety related emergency power supply. Combined with the extensive damage to the power grid, that loss of power is what eventually caused the cores to become uncovered and overheated.

        http://www.nei.org/resourcesandstats/documentlibrary/safetyandsecurity/reports/special-report-on-the-nuclear-accident-at-the-fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-power-station

        I am willing to continue engaging in factual discussions. This is a vitally important topic for solid decision making informed by the best possible knowledge.

      • Bill Rodgers says:

        @Captd

        Several points.

        Bringing up Ace Hoffman articles as “proof” that SONGS should be shut down is not a good way to begin to have a factual based discussion on this board. Ace Hoffman is an avowed anti-nuclear crusader who will not and does not accept technical based discussions about nuclear power. It has become a religion for him to crusade against nuclear power and against his definition of corporate power as well as supposed government conspiracies. His book, The Code Killers, is just yet another in a long line of anti-nuclear books that is filled with half-truths and some out right whoppers but has just enough science facts to be taken seriously by those who have not received a formal science or engineering education.

        Secondly, to be fully engaged on this board requires reading of ALL sources of information such as the reports that Rod has linked in his reply. Not just the reports that back up your belief nuclear power is bad. There is a difference in gaining technical knowledge and developing technical expertise in a subject matter. Case in point was Arnie Gunderson’s claim about hot particles from Fukushima reaching the West Coast last year. He had some technical knowledge of the phenomena but he did not have technical expertise yet he was allowed by the MSM to create fear and panic that people on the West Coast were going to be directly affected despite the lack of evidence and data. I am still waiting for him to release his report that proves conclusively his test results were better than the universities who were studying the same radiation releases reaching the West Coast despite the fact that he and they were using the same instrumentation to collect the necessary information.

        Ace Hoffman falls into this category. He has technical knowledge about nuclear power but not the technical expertise. I am certain he would vehemently disagree with me but it is fact he is not a technical expert in anything nuclear or even in the electrical generation industry. He uses his technical knowledge to twist facts to support his anti-nuclear and conspiracy based positions and in so doing becomes yet another spreader of Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD).

        As to your comments upthread, I believe I made my position clear about what should happen to individuals who willfully violate rules and regs that govern nuclear facility operations. Just because I support nuclear power does mean that I put blinders on and will follow lock step with a plant management but it also does not mean I will automatically believe every little issue is a willful violation either. There has to be intent and that intent must be proven.

        But to reiterate my position, yes any manager that orders his or her subordinates to purposefully violate the required Nug Regs and technical specifications should be removed from their position of directly overseeing nuclear facility personal or operations. However that person is allowed due process and not a hanging by a lynch mob. I see too many anti-nuclear groups who feel the “crime” of supposed violations of tech specs requires immediate lynching. That is wrong.

        Everyone is allowed due process and if that due process is followed and proves the person’s innocence (for example if it is proven that the manager DID NOT PURPOSEFULLY violate tech specs but instead it was a differing technical opinion) then everyone including the anti’s must respect that decision. However if at some point in time in the future it is proven the original decision was incorrect based on gained experience then by all means the situation must be resolved.

        Case in point. There are two court cases that many of us who work in the nuclear field will be watching. One involves a verified issue and if the courts decide in favor of the aggrieved employee then he will be due back pay and full reinstatement since it appears he was ordered to not follow tech specs by his manager. That manager was transferred to China shortly after the incident and is now no longer directly involved with nuclear operations which lends credence to the employee’s case. Another case in Florida may also shine a less then favorable spotlight on FPL’s management practices that if proven true then I am in full agreement the employee should receive his full compensation and the manager should not have direct supervision of people involved with the day-to-day nuclear power plant operations.

        Final comments. The $1.2 billion figure you have liberally spread throughout the interwebs must be backed up by actual source information to be taken seriously and to allow a factual based discussion to continue. The constant linking back to anti-nuclear comments or anti-nuclear articles as some sort of proof is not the way to start or continue a productive debate if that is your intent. The other point is that if you continue to attempt to rename SONGS by calling it the apparently cutesy name of SORE that is spreading amongst the hard core anti-nuclear message boards then your comments will no longer be taken seriously on this board by many of us.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Susan

      Though nuclear industry “trade” publications may be as expensive and inaccessible as you say, nuclear technology textbooks are readily available in many university libraries. Physics and math classes are also readily available. At many universities, engineering programs are not only available to all qualified applicants, they are also places where students can get paid to obtain graduate degrees and have good jobs available after graduation. There is no longer any secrecy around nuclear technology, though I will admit that we are still working to overcome our legacy of being partially nurtured as a secret, government monopoly where sharing too much information about nuclear energy production was a crime with some pretty severe punishments.

      That legacy is not the technology’s fault; The amazing discoveries in the labs and minds of people like Fermi, Hahn, Meitner, Szilard and Frisch took place at an unfortunate time of global conflict. Instead of immediately being put to use to serve human energy needs, they were put to wartime uses and then captured by government bureaucrats for about 15 years under the Manhattan Project and the Atomic Energy Act of 1946.

      I don’t think that any secrecy associated with the Kyshtym disaster had anything to do with a push for a “nuclear renaissance”. That accident took place in 1957 in a place that was closed off from the West for many reasons. In 1957, the world was just starting to commercialize nuclear energy, industrie do not undergo a renaissance before ever starting to develop.

      As I have tried to explain here on Atomic Insights many times, there is no justification for the long term evacuation of the area outside of the gates of the Fukushima nuclear power station. There may be a small number of hot spots, but otherwise, the radiation levels are well within the natural variations in populated areas where there is no evidence of negative health effects. The costs of the accident should have been limited to the loss of the four damaged units.

      One of the biggest continuing costs is buying an extra $50 to $100 billion per year in imported oil and natural gas to replace the output of the 50 undamaged reactors that remain closed due to I’ll informed government decisions made under pressure from a frightened public. The public’s fear is not spontaneous; it has been stoked by fear mongers and media story tellers. I believe that at least some of the money and influence is coming from the fossil fuel industry; even a rich business like selling oil and natural gas has to love an extra $50 to $100 billion in easy revenue.

      BTW – I have been referring to the fuel rods removed from commercial nuclear power plants after a single pass through our “once through” fuel cycle as “used fuel” since 1995.

      http://atomicinsights.com/1995/06/nuclear-fuel-recycling-getting-down-business.html

      Here is a 1996 article trying to influence the nuclear industry to take a different approach to reduce, reuse and recycle used nuclear fuel.

      http://atomicinsights.com/1996/03/nuclear-waste-mountain-unnecessary-sense-of-urgency.html

      • Brian Mays says:

        Rod – The terms “used fuel” and “spent fuel” have been around for a long time and were being used, not only by those in the industry, but by anti-nuclear outlets as well. I recall seeing recently an article on plutonium recycling, which was published in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists in 1974, that used the words “used or spent fuel from the reactor” to describe the material to be recycled.

        I think that you’ll agree that it’s simply ludicrous to claim that the terminology somehow changed because of Three Mile Island.

        • Rod Adams says:

          Brian – I was not trying to claim o have been the first to use the term “used fuel”. I have, however, often discouraged people from using the term “spent fuel” because it implies that there is no more energy or value remaining. “Spent” is different from “used”, its synonym is “used up”.

          • Brian Mays says:

            I was not trying to claim to have been the first to use the term “used fuel.”

            Rod – And I was not trying to imply that you were. I was merely adding some additional background information.

            The current generation of nuclear reactors operating in the US today was designed in the 1960′s. Back then — before Jimmy Carter banned reprocessing — it was naturally assumed that the fuel coming out of these reactors would be recycled into new fuel, which is why the plants were not originally designed to hold a lifetime’s supply of fuel coming out of the reactor. (That capability was back-fitted.) It was only after reprocessing was banned in the 1970′s that people began to think of “used fuel” coming out of a commercial reactor as “nuclear waste” and nothing else. The term was finally cemented in law with the Nuclear Waste Policy Act in 1982.

            Personally, I think that “used fuel” is the most accurate description for the material. It’s just a shame that it sounds a lot like “used car,” which hints that you might be getting a lemon.

            Perhaps “pre-loved fuel” would be a better alternative? ;-)

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        Have you been to a university library lately? The books are very old and many journals are being discontinued. First hard copy is discontinued then the online version is subscribed to and this often means that they are predestined to be discontinued as a few years later they even discontinue the online version. discontinued. Whole floors in the library are being replaced with computers or cafes. Very few schools even have nuclear engineering departments anymore. Once the Department goes, library books in that field are no longer ordered.

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        The hot material in the “hot spots” is quickly dispersed by rainfall in the Fukishima area and gets into the soil and water supply of this agrarian region and is taken up by plants. There are many elements among the fission products and some are absorbed more readily by plants than others. The question of whether long term evacuation is necessary needs to be approached from many perspectives and many scientific disciplines.

    • Brian Mays says:

      There are many claims that INPO has been instrumental in making nuclear power safer. I have no reason doubt this but it is impossible to find out exactly what INPO has done and if we sell nuclear power plants to other countries I wonder if INPO will share their experience with other countries or if they will have to reinvent the wheel.

      Susanne – Considering that you have co-written an entire book on “nuclear waste,” I’m rather surprised to learn that you have never heard of the World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).

      Since independent research is apparently not your forte, please let me assure you that they work rather closely with INPO — to share information, best practices, etc.

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        To Brian Mays:

        Although i appreciate your effort to assure me that WANO works closely with INP I prefer evidence that they do so. We did not mention either INPO or WANO in our book but this is not a reliable indicator of what I know or the extent of our research. We have file cabinets full of material that for vaious reasons did not make it into our book. My greatest regret is that we did not incude an author index in additon to our subject index.

        • Brian Mays says:

          Susanne – Although I appreciate your effort to assure me of the extent of your knowledge and research and the existence of “file cabinets full of material,” I prefer evidence that you actually know what you are talking about. What you have written here suggests that you don’t.

          For example, WANO has been around since 1989. It’s not exactly a new organization. WANO was, in fact, modelled on INPO, which was formed about a decade earlier. INPO is a member of WANO — which is a non-profit member association — and the two organizations have worked together to share resources since WANO was first established.

          If you need more “evidence,” have you ever considered trying this? WANO regularly publishes information about its activities, including collaborations with INPO. You shouldn’t complain about the lack of “evidence” until you have actually started looking.

          • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

            The emphasis of our book has been on nuclear waste, a subject that unfortunately has not been the primary concern of the nuclear organizations you refer to. The late Alvin Weinberg of Oak Ridge has stated that his primary interest was in developing new reactors and he should have given a higher priority to nuclear waste management.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            The late Alvin Weinberg of Oak Ridge has stated that his primary interest was in developing new reactors and he should have given a higher priority to nuclear waste management.

            How would you classify the Molten Salt Reactor, which allows its fuel to be reprocessed during normal operation and can remove and package waste in any desired form?

            How about the Integral Fast Reactor, which was designed to use “pyroprocessing” (another molten-salt process) to remove fission products from its fuel, and was specified to package its waste as stable salts adsorbed in zeolites, sealed in welded cans and embedded in glass?

            The only thing which stopped these programs was politics; Washington placed prohibitions on reprocessing, for example, and the IFR program was killed in 1994 just as the last technical issues were going to receive full-scale testing.

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        Thank you for mentioning the World Association of Nuclear Operators. They, very likely, have a great deal to contribute and I plan to do research on their activities.

    • Bill Rodgers says:

      @Dr. Vandenbosch,

      Realizing this discussion has been carrying out over almost a week which is long for a blog but there are several comments you make that I found myself questioning. My comments are similar to those have been addressed by others but with my own perspective.

      The first is INPO. I realize you have been addressing this in other comments but I have to ask why was that your first choice? Yes INPO was created to act as a repository and dispenser for common operational knowledge, however INPO is a US based organization not an international group. Additionally INPO is at least partially funded by the US nuclear industry from my understanding. Expecting INPO to branch out internationally is asking a lot of that group and a lot of the US based nuclear industry.

      Building bridges with WANO and the IAEA is the route I would expect INPO to take, not become a direct participant on the international stage as has been discussed previously. That way there would be little issues of the appearance of US trying to involve themselves directly in how other countries operate their reactors. Having INPO directly involved would create some international consternation on the part of many countries looking to develop their own nuclear programs especially since IAEA is already involved.

      Secondly bringing in a situation from Russia that happened behind the curtain of the Cold War as a possible warning or deterrent to a future build out of nuclear power is a shaky path at best. Vague rumors of CIA collusion to keep this issue a secret in order to prevent the US based commercial nuclear industry from developing is also a stretch in my viewpoint. There appear to be several books about nuclear disasters that credit the infamous “Some People” with the CIA rumor, but until all the records are released indicating that hiding these issues was to help nuclear power they will remain vague unsubstantiated rumors.

      From my brief review of the Kyshtym disaster it appears that facility was being used to produce weapons grade material. Many environmental issues were unknown then on both sides. The Russians were on their own crash course to develop nuclear (atomic) weapons and they were already famous for letting apparatchiks make major technical decisions. This issue of letting bureaucrats make operational technical decisions has been the Russian nightmare even as recent as the massive Sayano–Shushenskaya hydo facility disaster in 2009.

      So bringing the issues of the explosions and radiation releases that occurred at Kyshtym and Mayak is once again an attempt to conflate the era of rapid nuclear weapons development with current state of commercial nuclear power. There are lessons that can be learned since we do not want to repeat bad history but I would have trouble even putting the Kyshytm incident in the OE column when it comes to nuclear power plant or reprocessing operational experience. There is just very little from that time that would come forward into the current state of the design and operational world of nuclear power today.

      Finally the cost issue again raises its troubled head when the issues of nuclear waste, nuclear power and what costs can be attributed to the generation of electricity versus those costs of weapons development cleanup are brought into any discussion. By bringing in the Russian disaster, which then can link back to Hanford, you appear to be saddling commercial nuclear power with the costs associated with cleaning up a generation or more of weapons development issues. I disagree with that logic path. The costs of weapons development cleanup and the costs of handling the nuclear waste stream created by operating nuclear reactors should not be mixed into one giant blender.

      Dr. Gail Marcus wrote an article linked here that briefly discusses the issues and hazards of attempting to develop costs for nuclear power without mentioning the full lifetime costs of other power generation source which might take the place of a nuclear power plant that can run 24/7/365 for up to 700 days at a time.

      http://nukepowertalk.blogspot.com/2012/09/nuclear-power-and-costs.html

      Bottom line is that is incorrect to discuss the cost of nuclear waste in a vacuum, independent of the other potential solutions for generating power in a world that is only going to need more electricity as time goes by.

      • Bill Rodgers says:

        One quick clarification to my own comment.

        I do not consider the fuel bundles as part of the nuclear waste stream. The energy still stored in those bundles has inherent value.

        The low and high level waste such as gloves or liquids from outage work that is a natural by-product of operating a reactor, for example, does not have value. This is how the waste stream issues should be defined.

        Once we resolve the political and economical issues of reprocessing that energy still available in those fuel bundles can be used for future power generation.

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        I think the lesson to be learned from Kyshtym is that waste produced in nuclear reactors is extremely radioactive and that mangement of it even after reprocessing requires a great deal of care. The nonnuclear explosion at this nuclear waste facility associated with reprocessing contaminated a large area and before Fukushima was viewed as the second worst accident after Chernobyl. I see no reason for omitting it from the list of nuclear accidents. Sometimes accidents happen with nuclear reactors themselves and sometimes with the waste which they produce. Irregardless of whether the reactor is operated to produce energy or material for bombs nuclear waste is always produced and is part of the overall picture.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          I think the lesson to be learned from Kyshtym is that waste produced in nuclear reactors is extremely radioactive and that mangement of it even after reprocessing requires a great deal of care.

          You mis-spelled “better than total carelessness”.  The release at Kyshtym was a chemical explosion.  Here’s the skinny on that (emphasis added):

          On 29th September 1957, in the Chelyabinsk-40 complex in the southern Urals, where the Soviet “Mayak” organisation has produced plutonium for nuclear weapons since 1946, there was a violent explosion involving dry nitrate and acetate salts in a tank containing highly active waste. The explosion was caused by failure of the tank’s cooling system.

          Nitrates are oxidizers.  Acetates are fuels.  You’d have to be an idiot to store them together with a source of heat, but it appears that the Soviets who specified the process details were either idiots, or part of an organization which suppressed intelligence in the pursuit of ideological goals or budgetary limits.  I note that 55 years later, less than 1/5 of the evacuated area remains off-limits to productive use.

          I also note that both oxide-based reactor fuels and the fluoride and chloride salts produced by pyroprocessing are stable, unreactive and immune even to radiolysis.  Put plainly, it can’t happen with our technologies.

          Irregardless [sic] of whether the reactor is operated to produce energy or material for bombs nuclear waste is always produced and is part of the overall picture.

          Yet it’s so compact and easily isolated that the USA has had essentially zero problems with the products of civilian power reactors (compared to the disasters caused by coal ash, spent nuclear fuel is positively benign).  SNF even contains valuable materials in its fission products, besides the un-tapped energy content of what comes out of LWRs.  Of course it’s always “part of the overall picture”, but you are only looking at a small part of that picture.

          • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

            I have problems with your statement that spent fuel is positively benign. The radiation level of spent fuel is so high that it cannot be removed from the spent fuel pools for five years. At that point it can be removed to casks. It is not the volume of spent fuel but the radiation level that is relevant. the commercial nuclear industry hasnot had problems with spent fuel because thus far they have not rpeprocessed it or disposed of it. they continue to store it onsite mostly in spent fuel pools or in cask. sNeither of these approaches is a permanent solution for dealling with waste that must be isolated from drinking water for hundreds of thousands of years.

          • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

            It may be possible to come up with nearly perfect technology, but what about human error, neglect, deceit and irresponsibility. At times valves are stuck and not repaired, pumps are inoperative, doors are locked, false entries are made for equipment, cameras are misdirected or inoperative, guards are asleep, spent fuel pools do not have equipment to measure the water level or the equipment designed to do so is malfunctioning.

            A few years ago pilots flying over the Atlantic experienced a stall and pulled up rather than diving down.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            I have problems with your statement that spent fuel is positively benign.

            Are you ignoring the clause “compared to the disasters caused by coal ash”, or did you just not read it?

            There have been a number of newsworthy disasters caused by embankment failures in coal-ash dumps, destroying land and leaching toxic heavy metals into groundwater and streams.  The number of US disasters with spent nuclear fuel is zero.  The total toxicity released by coal ash (which never decays away) dwarfs everything released by nuclear power in North America, including TMI.  Even measuring carcinogens alone, the arsenic in coal is more toxic than anything that’s escaped from our nuclear powerplants or their spent fuel, and that’s assuming the LNT hypothesis is correct (we know it’s not).

            The radiation level of spent fuel is so high that it cannot be removed from the spent fuel pools for five years. At that point it can be removed to casks.

            Dr. Vandenbosch, it shouldn’t fall to a lowly BSEE like me to correct you on such a matter, but this has nothing at all to do with radiation levels, but with thermal output.  The spent rods are kept underwater so they do not overheat and risk the Zircalloy cladding catching fire or being damaged (it’s part of the environmental isolation of the fission products).  It would be a simple, if more expensive, matter to place rods in “wet casks” with water or another coolant under pressure and remove them to passively-cooled storage right away.  (Carbon dioxide would make a good coolant, as it is inert and doesn’t react with zirconium until temperatures get into the hundreds of degrees C.  Natural air circulation does a good job of removing heat from objects at such temperatures.)

            It is not the volume of spent fuel but the radiation level that is relevant.

            The toxicity of the effluents of the alternatives is part of the picture also, but you seem to be doing your best to keep light off it.

            Neither of these approaches is a permanent solution for dealling with waste that must be isolated from drinking water for hundreds of thousands of years.

            Those isotopes (e.g. Tc-99) are chemically distinct and could be removed and packaged separately.  Their long half-lives mean low thermal output, so they do not create issues with heat dissipation.  The truly nasty isotopes are actinides, which aren’t truly waste but good fuels for fast-spectrum reactors.

            the commercial nuclear industry hasnot had problems with spent fuel because thus far they have not rpeprocessed it or disposed of it.

            Because they have been forbidden by law from so doing.  The industry has been paying a fee to the US government for disposal of spent fuel, but not receiving the service.  This is due to disingenuous anti-nuclear activists who claim “fuel is piling up” on the one hand, while doing their best to keep Yucca Mountain from opening on the other.

            I’d like to believe you’re not one of them.  What DO you think of the rest of the big picture, when you take a look at it?  How about ash dumps, toxic contamination of groundwater from oil and gas drilling, and even NORM buildup in scale deposited on pipes carrying geothermal fluids?  How about climate change?  George Monbiot published his post-Fukushima conversion to nuclear power advocacy; tell me, just how is he wrong?

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            A few years ago pilots flying over the Atlantic experienced a stall and pulled up rather than diving down.

            Yet I’m sure you still fly, because it’s safer than the alternative (as well as far faster).  There’s a lesson there.

            It may be possible to come up with nearly perfect technology, but what about human error, neglect, deceit and irresponsibility.

            I note that you have (a) refused to answer the questions, and (b) attempted to change the subject.  Regarding (a), what’s the problem:  you can’t answer them, or you don’t find any of the answers favorable to your desired conclusion?

            Human error and everything else was a bigger factor with the older designs.  Yet despite this, those older designs have given us an amazing safety record despite the few (heavily-hyped) failures and have been demonstrably safer to the public than oil refineries or natural-gas pipelines.  The 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion alone killed more civilians than the entire history of commercial nuclear power in Europe, the USA and Japan.  The only deaths attributable to the Fukushima Dai’ichi meltdowns were due to hasty evacuation of people in fragile health under bad conditions, not radiation.

            We’re not going to build any more BWRs like Fukushima Dai’ichi.  The Gen 3.5 reactors being built today are designed for passive cooling in a shutdown.  This eliminates many issues of human error because a backup system that’s not needed cannot be neglected, fall prey to irresponsibility, or fail in any other way.

            Your refusal to address the issues (including radioactive materials) from other energy sources suggests that you hold nuclear, and nuclear alone, to a zero-risk standard.  As a civilian, I think this is inhuman:  how dare you force me to use a riskier source of energy because your ideology rules out one that’s demonstrably safer (and likely cheaper)?  That’s not what you said, I know… but after watching you dance around the issues for a while, I’m pretty sure that’s what you want.

          • Brian Mays says:

            It may be possible to come up with nearly perfect technology, but what about … A few years ago pilots flying over the Atlantic experienced a stall and pulled up rather than diving down.

            So I take it that you never fly.

          • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

            I agree that there are materials in spent fuel that may have commercial value in the future. At the present time these materials are not recovered from spent fuel because it is cheaper to use uranium for reactor fuel. than to recover thse materials.

  14. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    To Rod Adams:

    I agree with many of the points you make in your response to my most recent post. You are right that you cannot have a nuclear rennaissance before you have a nuclear industry.

    You are also correct that more people can take STEM courses. I was discouraged by a high school academic counselor from taking Physics. He claimed that girls cannot understand Physics. I have six brothers and felt I could understand anything they did and ignored his advice. Advice should be regarded for what it is advice not control.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Susanne

      First of all, please accept my apology for misspelling your name as Susan in my previous response.

      Secondly, it still pains me to hear stories about ignorant guidance counselors who do not understand that science and math are not a gender-biased subjects. I am fortunate to have had some unusual role models; my grandmother, born in 1899, was a single mom who made her living as an accountant. I used to unsuccessfully compete against her in math contests – she was armed with a pencil; I was usng a calculator. She was almost always quicker to solve some rather complex problems.

      Neither of my now adult daughters were ever discouraged from taking math and science courses.

  15. John Kotek says:

    Rod-

    You left out an important part of Mary Woollen’s background. Mary worked for me for nearly two years on the staff of the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future. In fact, skeptical comments about Mary – similar to the ones in your blog – we’re being made when I asked her to join the BRC staff. See below for an example from the Idaho Falls Post Register.

    Mary did an outstanding job for the BRC and I’m sure she’ll do a great job at the NRC. Keep an open mind – as Mary always does – and I expect you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    John

    Printed on: July 02, 2010
    Nuclear post raises eyebrows
    By SVEN BERG
    sberg@postregister.com

    On the surface, appointing a person suspected of holding an anti-nuclear viewpoint to a prominent position with the Blue Ribbon Commission on America’s Nuclear Future is something of a head-scratcher.

    It’s no surprise then that famously pro-nuclear eastern Idaho’s collective eyebrows rose when Mary Woollen, the executive director of Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free, stepped down to take a job as the commission’s government and community liaison.

    “My first knee-jerk reaction is, ‘That’s crazy,’ ” said Lane Allgood, the executive director of the pro-nuclear group Partnership for Science and Technology. “I consider her an anti-nuclear activist.”

    Confusion for Allgood and fellow skeptics was deepened by news that the recommendation to give Woollen a job with the commission came from its staff director, John Kotek. As former deputy manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s offices in Idaho Falls, a nuclear engineer by trade and former Partnership for Science and Technology board member, Kotek’s nuclear bona fides are secure.

    So why pick Woollen?

    Kotek said he wanted Woollen to work for the commission because she would help bring a “full spectrum of perspectives” to it. While appointing a nuclear insider or industry official to the position could have undermined its credibility with conservationists, Woollen’s appointment will help reach out to those groups, Kotek said.

    Nuclear blogger Dan Yurman agreed.

    “(The commission) must be able to talk to anyone who is what they call a stakeholder,” Yurman said. “The green groups aren’t going to talk to anyone from the nuclear industry. There’s just no trust there.”

    Kotek pointed out that the commission’s focus is not to debate the pros and cons of nuclear power, but to develop a range of options for dealing with spent nuclear fuel and radioactive waste that already exists.

    “It doesn’t matter where you stand on the future use of nuclear energy, people generally agree that we need an answer to the disposal of nuclear waste,” Kotek said.

    Woollen, who stepped down from Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free on receiving the commission appointment, downplayed the seeming clash between her former position and her new job. Keep Yellowstone Nuclear Free, she said, is “neither pro- nor anti-nuclear” and the missions of the two entities aren’t as divergent as they may appear at first blush.

    “It’s laudable to the commission that they’re reaching out beyond what one would normally expect,” she said. “It’s actually kind of a nice matchup.”

    Sven Berg can be reached at 542-6755. Comment on this story on Post Talk at http://www.postregister.com/posttalk/.

    If you go

    The Blue Ribbon Commission’s subcommittee on reactor and nuclear fuel technology will meet July 12 and 13 at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls. For information, visit the commission’s website at http://www.brc.gov.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @John

      Just curious – how do you think people who are adamantly opposed to nuclear energy would have responded if you had hired me for the staff of the Blue Ribbon Commission? Do you think they would believe me if I claimed to be neither pro, nor anti-nuclear? (Of course they would not because they would be able to point to this blog and find thousands of quotes indicating my technically based bias towards beneficial use of nuclear energy.)

      It should not be a surprise to anyone that it is difficult to believe that anyone who served for 10 years as the director of an organization with “Nuclear Free” in its title has no preconceived positions – no matter what they say.

      However, Mary has reached out to me and impressed me with ability to communicate. She appears to be a talented and competent person; I remain hopeful that she will perform better than I expected. I know, based on my association with Patrick Moore, Stewart Brand, Mark Lynas, Gwyneth Cravens and George Monbiot that it is entirely possible for someone to be exposed to nuclear knowledge and change their mind to become strong supporters.

      I am still trying to understand how anyone could be agnostic about nuclear energy, deeply concerned about the environment, and knowledgeable about nuclear energy all at the same time. That combination would lead most people to a severe state of cognitive dissonance.

      One more thing – I share the position on used nuclear fuel that Allison Macfarlane held at least through 2008. There is no rush. Used nuclear fuel is a very well behaved material that stays where you put it. It is not an environmental issue and not a crisis. It is, however, an issue that people like Ralph Nader have decided is a strategic weapon that can be used to hamstring nuclear energy development. He established that as part of his strategy as early as 1974. That is one of the reasons I was not happy when you selected the former director of a “Nuclear Free” organization as one of the faces of the Blue Ribbon Commission.

      • Brian Mays says:

        One more thing — I share the position on used nuclear fuel that Allison Macfarlane held at least through 2008. There is no rush.

        Sure, there’s no rush, unless you happen to want to build a new nuclear plant in California or Connecticut or Illinois or Kentucky or Maine or Massachusetts or New Jersey or Oregon or West Virginia or Wisconsin any time soon.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Brian

          Laws written by humans can be changed by humans. That is the difference between the limitations on nuclear energy compared to the limitations on nuclear’s competition.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Rod – Well, I’m glad that we both agree that this is a political, not a physical, problem. Nevertheless, there’s such a thing as the path of least resistance, which wise men recognize as extremely important.

            Which do you think is easier: the licensing and construction of one facility or lobbying campaigns to overturn laws which have been on the books for decades in one-fifth of the states in the US?

            Some of these bans and moratoriums have been around for almost 40 years? How has the effort been going to overturn them? Such legislative changes have been proposed and sponsored, but I can’t recall even one of these bans ever being overturned. Now, you want to try to overturn them with one hand tied behind your back — i.e., claiming that the “waste” can just stay where it is indefinitely?! Yeah, good luck with that. Don’t you realize that most people don’t like “solutions” that leave things hanging in the air. The status quo of letting the fuel stay put has gotten us into a situation where we cannot even relicense an existing nuclear plant at the moment, much less try to license a new one.

            Once Yucca Mountain opened, most of these moratoriums automatically go away. That’s the way that the laws were written.

            While we make no progress in overturning these state laws, the license application for Yucca Mountain was submitted over four years ago. Sadly, had McCain been elected, the application would have either been accepted or rejected by the NRC by now, since the NWPA sets a three-year deadline for reviewing the application, with a possible additional 12-month extension. Considering the amount of work that went into the application, it is almost certain that it would have been accepted.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            Which do you think is easier: the licensing and construction of one facility or lobbying campaigns to overturn laws which have been on the books for decades in one-fifth of the states in the US?

            The latter; any act of Congress overrides state law or state Constitution.

            Besides, the other 4/5 of the states can generate power for the beknighted fifth.

          • Brian Mays says:

            The latter; any act of Congress overrides state law or state Constitution.

            Oh no. Not according to the US Supreme Court. They have ruled that, just because the federal government regulates nuclear power, that doesn’t mean that they can force any particular state to “go nuclear.” The state moratoriums have withstood trial by fire in the courts and will not be overturned by federal law. For example, see Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Comm’n, 461 U.S. 190 (1983).

            The tenth amendment to the Constitution is not just a bunch of idle words, you know. Congress’s powers are enumerated, not unlimited.

            Besides, the other 4/5 of the states can generate power for the beknighted fifth.

            Yeah, sure. If you’re willing simply to throw in the towel, then I should point out that we can also generate power from nuclear plants built just across the border in Canada and Mexico. If that’s your attitude, let’s just let the anti-nuclear lobby push through a national moratorium on new nuclear plants.

            Oh … wait … we currently have a de facto national moratorium on new nuclear plants. Thanks Obama.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            I should point out that we can also generate power from nuclear plants built just across the border in Canada and Mexico.

            I figured that the neighboring states would be thrilled to have the plants and all the taxes they pay and workers they employ, and would not look kindly upon any effort which would exile all the associated revenue.

  16. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    Yes, I still fly despite pilot accidents although I am concerned about overweight people being boarded along with overweight luggage as I have actually had a nonstop flight make an extra stop for gas. I am not opposed to nuclear power. and strongly support continuation of the Yucca Mountain licensing by the NRC. If the Yucca Mountain licensing effort is allowed to be blocked by politics how can we be certain that if new repository that it will not also be blocked by politics. I am not a fan of coal or other fossil sources. I favor more use of energy conservation through better building practices, wind power, solar power and hydroelectric power. Some nuclear power will be needed.but we should be prepared to deal with economic losses resulting from accidents and negative impacts from this source as well as from other sources.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      I have actually had a nonstop flight make an extra stop for gas.

      Headwinds could have done that too, but unless they were not forecast the pilot would have taken on extra fuel if it would not put him over gross (or too heavy for the runway and density altitude).

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        Yes, headwinds are a problem for Seattle residents. We are whisked into DC but have to fight headwinds to get back to God’s country which gets 75 of its electricity from hydroelectric power.

        • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

          Oops. i forgot to add per cent to 75. My previous post should read 75%. This blog needs a spell checker. If you do not see an error in my posts it must be from an imposter.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Suzanne – I am not aware of any blogs that have spell checkers in the commenting software. I am, however, aware of a number of browsers that include spell checkers that can be enabled with proper preferences set by the personal computer user.

            I do not know of any spell checkers that would have flagged a missing % sign as an error. :-)

          • susanne e. vandenbosch says:

            The 75% hydroelectric power figure must be for Washington State. I just received my bill from Seattle City Light and our power sources are 92.4% hydroelectric, 4.1 % wind, 2.5% nuclear, O.5% coal and O.5% other in Seattle. There were plans some time ago for more nuclear and some towers are still standing. We did not need it and experienced the largest bond default in U. S. history. The acronym for this is WPSS.

          • Rod Adams says:

            @Susanne

            You live in an unusual area and are pointing to data from an unusually wet year. There are few other places in the world with your combination of mountains, relatively low population density and plentiful rainfall. Your area also benefitted by an unrepeatable investment in hydroelectric power plants at a time when labor was cheap, there was an appetite for putting people to work for public infrastructure projects, and there was less concern about the environmental impacts of large dams and their associated lakes.

            http://www.theseminargroup.net/seminar.lasso?seminar=07.RIVWA

            Yes, WPSS was a financial failure. Part of its problem was that it was poorly situated because the promoters mistakenly thought it was a good idea to compete in a market where the price was often set by taxpayer-funded hydroelectric dams.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Suzanne

          As a resident of the uniquely blessed Pacific Northwest, you might have developed a rather skewed view of the potential for weather and geography dependent power sources. Your region’s ability to depend on hydroelectric power for clean, safe, reliable electricity is a result of a couple of pretty unique resources – you have an abundance of rainfall AND that rainfall happens to fall onto a region with substantial differences in elevation available. I grew up in a region that had either way too much or way too little rain (south Florida regularly experienced droughts, but also intermittently experienced near monsoon conditions) AND where the only hills were highway overpasses. The highest elevation in my entire home state, which is the third or fourth largest in population in the United States, was less than 400 feet above sea level and that hill was several hundred miles from the megalopolis I called home.

          You also have a rather unique wind resource – a wide river valley nestled between mountain ranges that funnel high velocity wind with a greater degree of reliability than almost any other place in North America. In my younger days I was a windsurfer in places like Charleston, SC and Annapolis, MD. I was incredibly jealous of the people who were able to spend days on the Columbia River in the famous gorge. The photos and videos I watched demonstrated a significant contrast with the unfortunately frequent days when I had time off of work and the air was so still you could water ski on the ocean or bay.

          When I was a young child, my father, who spent 35 years working as an electrical engineer for the local power company, introduced me to nuclear energy. His company, which was heavily dependent on burning fuel oil imported from Venezuela, had decided to build nuclear plants in Homestead, which was less than miles south of our home and only a few tens of miles from where Dad worked and where my grandmother lived in South Dade county. Dad was fascinated by the idea of power plants that did not need imported oil or smokestacks and he was amazed by the tiny amount of material required.

          He told me that his friends who were involved in the nuclear part of the business were working on long term plans for the used materials; that was a new issue for the power company. It was used to just building a smokestack to dump its waste products, using the philosophy that has always governed fossil fuel wastes “Dilution is the solution to pollution.”

          Later, when I needed to choose an education and career path, I told my high school guidance counselor that I wanted to study nuclear engineering. He asked if I was interested in having someone else pay the tuition and give me a salary to go to college. As one of four children in a middle class family that expected us all to attend college, I thought that sounded like a great way to pay back my parents for the gifts and experiences they had given me. I attended USNA, took all of the necessary math and science courses (along with about 30 hours worth of literature and writing electives), and then convinced Admiral Rickover to train me in nuclear energy.

          I have lived for months at a time sealed inside a ship powered by a nuclear reactor. My life experiences have convinced me that nuclear fission is the safest, cleanest, most reliable source of energy available. Its “waste issue” is actually an enormous advantage over all other forms of power production because its incredible concentration allows all of the material to be fully contained so that it never becomes environmental pollution.

          • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

            Nuclear reactor that power submarines are much smaller than commercial nuclear power reactors and it is less challenging to deal with their waste.

          • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

            The wind blowing up the Columbia River could be harnessed for wind power but the region is also very dusty and the number of asthma cases and associated medical costs may cancel out the advantages of this source of energy.

          • Brian Mays says:

            Nuclear reactor that power submarines are much smaller than commercial nuclear power reactors and it is less challenging to deal with their waste.

            Wow! For someone who has co-written an entire book on “nuclear waste” you really don’t know much about it do you?

            I’d much rather deal with a ton of commercial nuclear “waste” than the equivalent amount of navy-nuclear material. Of course, neither “waste” is all that difficult to deal with, but your willingness to throw out such howlers to an audience that knows better is, frankly, comical.

            Instead of commenting here, perhaps your efforts would be better spent writing another book for an ignorant public, who might actually buy these silly statements that you are making.

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      If the Yucca Mountain licensing effort is allowed to be blocked by politics how can we be certain that if new repository that it will not also be blocked by politics.

      Dry cask storage will hold used LWR fuel for several hundred years.  The irony is that the Cs-137 and Sr-90 will have decayed by about 99.9% in 300 years, and the remainder is about 1% U-235 and around 0.8% mixed plutonium isotopes (most of the Pu-238 decayed to U-234) in addition to some precious metals and other valuables in the fission products.  People will be mining the stuff later, if not sooner.

      Some nuclear power will be needed.but we should be prepared to deal with economic losses resulting from accidents and negative impacts from this source as well as from other sources.

      Suppose that the risk probability of an all-nuclear USA is about one Kyshtym-scale disaster per century.  (This is fantastically overstated, but let’s take it as an upper bound.)  Kshtym resulted in about 800 km² (300 mi²) being put off-limits for a few decades.  By the time the next one came around, the previously affected area would likely have been open again for a generation or two.

      Compare the temporary loss of 300 mi² to most of the state of Florida going underwater from sea-level rise, plus river deltas and coastal cities world-wide.  Which would YOU rather have?

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        i am responding to the claim that dry casks can hold spent fuel for 200 years. Even if it can do so, it remains to be established that spent fuel can be safely transported to a repository after 200 years. The spent fuel may deteriorate. Another consideration, which frankly seems to be less of a concern these days is that the utilities have been promised that the waste will be removed much sooner than that. I agree that the waste becomes less radiactive with time and this is a major advantage of long time storage. A new appointee of the Nuiclear Waste Technical Review Board is an expert in the field of Materials Science and hopefully the NWTRB will address the risks associated with long term storage.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          i am responding to the claim that dry casks can hold spent fuel for 200 years.

          You might want to use <blockquote></blockquote> tag pairs instead of saying “I am responding to…”  Just quote the verbatim text that way.  I italicize it too, but that’s my style.  That way, nobody has any doubt what points I’m addressing and what’s a quote vs. what I wrote.

          We have examples of concrete structures lasting not 200, but 2000 years.  What are the safety issues of moving spent fuel that’s lost most of its radioactivity?  At some point you could unload rod assemblies and pack them into new containers by hand without getting an excessive radiation dose.  Transporting them would be almost no hazard at all.

          Even if we could leave SNF for centuries, we don’t want to; it’s too valuable.  For instance, the plutonium in 60 year’s worth of SNF from a 1 GW PWR is enough to start a 1 GW fast-spectrum breeder reactor.  The remnant uranium in that SNF is enough for many FSR lifetimes (roughly 1 ton per GW-yr).  The USA has around 700,000 tons of depleted UF6 in storage, amounting to about 470,000 tons of elemental uranium.  We could run the nation for centuries on that inventory, and by the time we were done most of the radioactivity in the fission products would already have decayed.

          A new appointee of the Nuiclear Waste Technical Review Board is an expert in the field of Materials Science and hopefully the NWTRB will address the risks associated with long term storage.

          I get the feeling that “nuclear waste” will be treated by the NWTRB in a way similar to the way the EPA treats anything designated “hazardous waste”:  requiring rigorous tracking to a point of disposal, ruling out any transformative use which would alter or eliminate the hazard, or at least making it far more expensive and difficult than it would otherwise have been.  I’m sorry, but I don’t think the world can let radiation-phobes call the tune any longer.

          • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

            The National Acdemy of Sciences has recommended that spent fuel be isolated from groundwater for hundreds of thousands of years. On the other hand James Loveland says that he would be willing to bury spent fuel in his yard. You would pack spent fuel by hand but I would do it remotely in a cave. People have a lot of choices and it is no wonder they are confused about it. When they are confused by “experts” they tend to avoid the situation by opposing nuclear reactors.

          • Brian Mays says:

            His name is Lovelock. The public is even more confused when you can’t even take the trouble to get someone’s name right.

          • Engineer-Poet says:

            The National Acdemy of Sciences has recommended that spent fuel be isolated from groundwater for hundreds of thousands of years.

            Which is mostly about technetium-99.  The rest of the SNF produces heat loads and such which complicate the isolation of Tc.

            Tc is chemically separable from the rest of the waste stream IIUC, and its low heat output allows it to be packaged and disposed of separately.  I think separating SNF to make use of its components (including remnant uranium) is smart, because leaving it for the long term produces what are essentially plutonium mines.

            You would pack spent fuel by hand but I would do it remotely in a cave.

            You aren’t doing well distinguishing “could” from “would” or “should”.  300-yr-old SNF with intact cladding could be handled by hand, which does not mean it should; however, it does mean that hazards from transport would be minuscule.

            People have a lot of choices and it is no wonder they are confused about it.

            Most people are not very bright, to put it charitably.  There are a lot of details which need intelligence (and conscientiousness, and perseverance) to evaluate, but the decision isn’t complex:  do you want fossil fuels which kill people daily in their production, transport and use plus the certainty of unprecedented climate change, or do you want nuclear?

  17. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    The part of the book that I wrote deals with the politics of nuclear waste disposal and mangement.My husband, Robert Vandenbosch wrote the scientific controversies part of the book. I accept responsibility for the entire book, however. I actually do have experience in working with nuclear waste as I studied Fission -Spallation Competiton in U-238 at various energies. This work has been published in the Physical Review. I have also studied the nuclear properties of Americium-244, Berkelium 250 and Einsteinium-254. These isotopes were produced in nuclear reactors at Argonne or Idaho Falls along with fission products and I had to isolate these elements from fission products usually using precipitation, solvent extraction and ion exchange. This work is published in Nuclear Physics and the Physical Review. I was not responsible for disposing of the nuclear waste produced in these experiments and frankly did not develop an interest in nuclear waste disposal until about 12 years ago and have pursued this interest by reading books , journals, newspapers, searching the internet, attending meetings of the American Nuclear Society and most important daily discussions of both the political and scientific aspects of the problem with my husband, Robert Vandenbosch, and until recently, discussions with David Bodansky. As for education I majored in Chemistry, Mathematics and Physics at Calvin college, Nuclear Chemistry in graduate school at the University of California-Berkeley, and Political Science in graduate school at the University of Washington.

  18. Susanne E. Mays says:

    For Brian Mays:

    I am sorry if some flippant remarks offended you. I felt that since the main obstacles to nuclear waste disposal are political it was worthwhile to comment on this and write a book about it. i had hoped it would be of value to scientists, engineers as well as the public but of cours others are the judge of that.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Suzanne

      I am not sure why your name showed up as Suzanne E. Mays on this comment. The email address and the comment content indicates you are the same Suzanne E. Vandenbosch as before.

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        Thanks for the note. I suspect that Brian Mays may not want to apear to be related to me.

  19. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    ” examples of concrete structures lasting not 200, but 2000 years”

    In Arizona there are examples of houses with warantees of 5 years.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Suzanne

      First of all, warranties are not a reflection of lifetime; they are just an insurance policy that the supplier has agreed to offer. The standard warrantee that comes with a product at no additional charge means that the cost of providing that insurance has been included in the sales price of the product.

      I’ve owned and safely operated many automobiles for as long as ten times their initial warrantee period and I never junked a nonfunctional car. I’ve toured many old buildings in my travels – those that have been maintained with some care can be in as good of a structural condition now as they were when they were built.

      Why do people who make their career out of expressing reservations about using nuclear energy seem to want us to prove that our structures, systems and components will perform their designed functions forever without human intervention? Why do they force us to treat future potential expenditures as if they have to be paid today, in current currency, instead of treating them as costs that may be avoidable and can be almost infinitely pushed off into the future when normal financial discounting rules indicate far lower value for currency?

      If I leave my children a large, well-built, paid-off home on a beautiful piece of property and leave them an endowment that is large enough so that its annual income is sufficient to cover projected maintenance costs, should I feel guity because I have not set aside enough money for my descendants to tear down the home and return the land to a “greenfield” site?

    • Engineer-Poet says:

      You should have used the “reply” link on the comment, not the one at the bottom.  You make it very difficult to trace threads in this very long discussion.

      In Arizona there are examples of houses with warantees of 5 years.

      And there are electronic devices with warranties of 1 year or less.  This has no relationship to any subject matter here.  You are grasping at straws.  This is unbecoming of a PhD who allegedly has some subject-matter expertise.

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        This is unbecoming of a PhD who allegedly has some subject-matter expertise.

        What do you mean by alleged? I AM the Grandma Moses of Nuclear Waste.

        • Engineer-Poet says:

          Grandma Moses, meet the Einstein of nuclear waste.  He will straighten you out on many of your factual errors (which you ought to have caught yourself, if facts mattered to your position).

          And regarding the Grandma Moses label, it’s said that the only person who wasn’t irretrievably ruined by being lionized was a certain Hebrew named Daniel.

  20. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    I admit I wandered into territory I know nothing about in commenting on warranties. I save them but have never used them.

  21. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    For Brian Mays: No reply button occurs under your messages so will use this method to respond to your observation about the tenth amendment to the consitution. This amendment has not gone anywhere. Time and time again actions of the federal government have been challenged by parties citing the tenth amendment but generally these challenges have failed.

  22. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    For John Kotek:
    My name on the transcripts for the July 2010 meeting of the Blue Ribbon Commissiion is misspellled as Suzanne. If it is not too much work i would appreciate your changing it to my legal name Susanne E. Vandenbosch.

  23. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    There are a number ways that management of spent fuel can be moved forward at this point. The DC Court of Appeals could order the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to finish the Yucca Mountain licensing process. On temporary storage, a licensed site could be developed if Congress would amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act and allow temprorary storage facilities to be developed and opened before a permanent repository is developed. If Senate Majority Leader Reid tries to stop this effort any senator could use the “motion to proceed” to consider this change. This was done successfully in 2002 by Senator Frank Murkowski when Senator Majority Leader Tom Daschle refused to take up the issue of proceeding to license the Yucca Mountain repository. If the Nuclear Regulatory Commission after finishing the licensing procedure finds that the Yucca Mountain repository cannot isolate the waste for a long enough period, the nuclear Waste Policy Act must be amended and Yucca Mountain removed so that a search for other permanent sites can commence.

  24. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    A recently released book “The Cost of Deceit & Delay” 2012 by Robert L. Ferguson has an accurate description and analysis of DC Court of Appeals decisions (and indecisions) relating to the Yucca Mountain license withdrawal, onsite storage of spent fuel, and waste confidence. It also describes the politics associated with the September 2012 introduction of a nuclear waste bill by Senator Bingaman. This bill incorporates many of the suggestions of the Blue Ribon Commisssion on America’s Nuclear future including a consent based approach to siting centralized temporary storage sites and permanent geological repository disposal sites, a new agency to manage spent fuel,changes in access to the Nuclear Waste Fund, development of temporary storage sites and development of a new geological repository. The issue of linkage of development of a repository to development of temporary storage sites was not resolved. One provision of the Bingaman bill involved raising the limits for the amount of storage for the Yucca Mountain repository. This was not among the suggestions of the Blue Ribbon Commission. The Bingaman bill represents a substantial revision of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act.

  25. susanne e. vandenbosch says:

    For Rod Adams: Yes, hydroelectric power is produced by taxpayer funded dams. Some effort is being made to recover these costs from hydroelectric power customers but admittedly with dollars that are not worth as much as the dollars used to construct the dams.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Susanne E. Vandenbosch

      It might surprise you to find out that I am a huge fan of the impressively productive investments in hydroelectric power generation made by my parents and grandparents. The clean, low cost, reliable power generated by those dams has more than paid back their investment by enabling a lot of other industries – especially computer technology, aluminum and aircraft production – that have benefitted the entire country.

      My point is to remind people that making investment in the future is a pretty good way to spend taxpayer dollars, as long as those investments are properly chosen for their actual benefits. That is why I am hugely opposed to spending money on wind turbines; I see that money as an EXPENSE, not as an investment because wind is not going to enable any other industries to thrive. It will be a continuing burden on the grid and require continuing cash payments from all other taxpayers in the form of the on going production tax credit. Without the federal government paying wind generators a fee that is often higher than the wholesale market price for electricity, there is no way that those turbines would ever be built. In fact, many of the existing turbines would feather their blades and become expensive eyesores owned by bankrupt companies if the payments were suddenly cut off.

      My other point about the Pacific Northwest is that the investment in hydro is not repeatable in other areas that do not have the same geographic endowments. Even the endowments existed elsewhere, there are other factors to consider about the overall impact. (My own belief is that hydro power and the associated lakes can often be environmental plusses, and that much of the opposition comes from the same source as the opposition to nuclear. Like nuclear energy, large hydro facilities actually eliminate the need to burn as fossil fuel, taking market share from competition and depressing the market price of energy.)

      The nuclear plants that my parents generation invested in building are a continuing supply of low marginal cost, clean, safe electricity. They were not an EXPENSE, but a capital investment that is paying large dividends. They can also be built in a much more diverse universe of locations; we have nuclear plants in the desert, in flat places like Florida, in the far northern parts of the US, close to the southernmost location in the nation, and operating on board ships and submarines. We have operated nuclear energy facilities at the north pole, a couple of thousand feet under water, in space and in Antarctica.

      We need to return to rational decision making and invest in energy systems that will provide reliable, clean, economic energy for our children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren.

      • Daniel says:

        Nnadir says it best. A nuclear plant is a gift to future generations that will last 80 years.

      • susanne e. vandenbosch says:

        I am not surprised that you support hydroelectric power. Most people are very supportive of an energy source that does not emit greenhouse gases or produce short term pollution of the air.

        As far as nuclear power is concerned it can be safely operated and of course the main advantages are that it does not produce green house gases and produces power continuously. Cost estimates vary a great deal and depend on what all one is counting. Right now it may not be competitve with gas. The recent economic downturn I feel was caused by widespread irresponsibility of buyers, real estate agents, banks, insurance and investment firms. If this irresponsibility spreads throughout our culture and to the nuclear industry there will be safety problems with nuclear reactors. This will not necessarily result in a large number of immediate deaths but may result in disruption of our economy and push our already shaky economy over the edge.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Susanne E. Vandenbosch

          And if the irresponsibility spreads to aviation, oil, natural gas, and chemicals it will result in thousands to millions of rather immediate deaths.

          Our mission is to act responsibly and to encourage others to do the same.

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        You seem to be fixated on one source of power- nuclear power. Each source has its advantages and disadvantages . I once went to a lecture by someone who was keen on fusion power and was hopeful that his equipment would achieve fusion. During the question period I asked about the disavantages- he kept mentioning advantages- I kept pressing and he finally admitted that loose fast neutrons were a problem. I agree with Secretary Moniz that all of the above will be needed for sometime assuming that western high quality coal will be substituted evintually for eastern coal.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Susanne

          Correction – I am fixated on nuclear fission power in one of numerous configurations that has been proven in real machinery.

          I’ve operated wind, solar, hydro, diesel, gasoline, gas turbine, storage batteries, and nuclear fission. I’ve been in several modern coal plants. My choice of the best of the above is not based on paper or wishful thinking.

          Nearly every disadvantage of fission can be mitigated, at a reasonable cost, through goo design choices and competent project management. It’s not easy, but it’s better than the rest for many applications.

  26. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    Recently I went to a seminar on hydropower in the United States. The speaker stated that potentially hydropower can produce 25% of the electricity in the U. S. She claimed that there is a potential site in every state. If anyone is interested I will try to get a reference. I misplaced my notebook. If I remember my cane i sometimes forget something else.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Susanne

      She claimed that there is a potential site in every state.

      Did she say how big the potential was in each state? It’s not very useful to know there’s a “site” if it cannot produce any reasonable amount of power considering the sacrifice of land and fresh water that hydropower requires. (Storing fresh water in an artificial lake, especially relatively shallow lakes, leads to significant evaporation.)

      I grew up in one of the most heavily populated states in the US. The highest elevation in the whole darned state is less than 400 feet, and that peak is in an area of rolling hills where there is no place to store the water.

      To make any reasonable quantity of electricity with hydropower – aka “falling water” – you need two things. If you have water but no elevation differences, there is no place for the water to fall. If you have elevation differences, but little to no water, there is little to no power capacity available.

  27. sevandenbosch says:

    Lea-Rachel Kosnik, “Balancing Environmental Protection and Energy Production in Federal Hydropower Licensing Process” Land Economics 86, 444-466 (2010), “The Potential for Small Scale Hydropower Development in the U.S.n Energy Policy”, 38(10)5512-5519, (2010)..

  28. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    Hydropower depends not only on an elevation change but on the volume of water. Of course Florida comes to mind to “hydropower doubters”. I just looked at a map and could see that even Florida has rivers that run into the gulf and must have elevation changes. It may be possible, technically, to build dams there.

    Any state that at times has a surplus of power and also has large elevation changes can pump water to higher elevations when demand is low and release it it when demand is higher. This requires hydropower facilities which are not cheap and wastes some power. This currently is done in Switzerland.

    Lea-Rachel Kosnik is sometimes listed as L. Kosnik in her publications.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Suzanne

      The potential energy from falling water is a function of height and mass flow rate of the water.

      Pth = ρ q g h

      where

      Pth = power theoretically available (W)

      ρ = density (kg/m3) (~ 1000 kg/m3 for water)

      q = water flow (m3/s)

      g = acceleration of gravity (9.81 m/s2)

      h = falling height, head (m)

      http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/hydropower-d_1359.html

      Sure, if there is a very large amount of water falling from a low elevation, you might get a bit of power, but even a very large number multiplied by a small one yields a small total.

      You cannot pump water to higher elevations if there is no higher elevation to pump to.

      Surplus power is only available when there are power generation sources that have low or no fuel costs. It is possible that those sources MIGHT be wind blowing at night, but nearly every pumped storage system in the US was built to take advantage of a large “surplus” of nuclear energy from plants that can produce power just as cheaply as they can just sit there.

      If the extra capacity available when power demand is low is a fossil fuel generating plant, the general response to lack of demand is to turn off the plant. It does not make much sense ordinarily to burn fuel at night to pump water up hill and then let it flow back down hill. Both the pumping process and the flowing downhill process are net energy consumers due to heat and frictional losses. It makes more sense to simply burn the fuel at the time that the power is needed and supply the load directly than to use pumped storage as the middleman.

  29. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    There are many states in the U. S. with mountains: CA, WA,OR, NM, UT, CO, AZ, AK, WY, MT, ID, NE, TN, AR, MO, WV, GA, AL, MI, VT, ME, CT, NH, NY, VA, PA, WVA, NC, SC, TX., NV, ND, and SD. Some states without high mountains have some differences in elevation and large rivers: LA, MN, WI, IL NE, IA, KS, OK, MS, NJ, DE, MD, OH, IN and even DC. Wind blows more strongly at night and sometimes there is a surplus of nuclear and solar power. Nuclear plants are shut down for refueling every few years. If there were not a surplus this would be impossible to do.

    People may differ on what is a reasonable amount of power and how much they willing to pay for it. Professor Kosnik had an inquiry from a rancher.

    • Brian Mays says:

      Nuclear plants are shut down for refueling every few years. If there were not a surplus this would be impossible to do.

      It’s not a surplus that makes this practical or even economical; it’s the lack of demand. Nuclear plants have planned shutdowns (or “outages” in the industry lingo) in the Spring and Fall, when electricity demand (and the price of electricity in deregulated markets) is at its lowest.

      It’s not really accurate to refer to this situation as a “surplus” of capacity, unless you believe that the public should be starved for electricity during the summer and winter months.

  30. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    Pumped storage is used to provide extra power when it is needed. Water is pumped up at night when demand is low and released during the day when demand is high. In some places wind power can be used to pump the water up. Building these facilities would provide jobs.

    I know of some people who put in solar, get new windows and buy hybrid cars because they want to help combat global warming, including 90 year olds but they have a low probability of recovering their investment. completely.

    At the present time buiding hydropower facilities may be too expensive except in few places.

    The present birth rate is below replacement and if that continues the demand for power may go down. People don’t use diapers anymore and the few that do don’t hang them on a clothesline.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Susanne

      What are you trying to tell us with this line of commentary? I have no beef with large scale hydro, but the most productive sites in the US were put to use several decades ago. In many cases, environmental groups are working hard to get dams torn down and natural river flows restored.

      My favorite local lake is a pumped storage facility. It is a beautiful resource, but would be difficult to reproduce because of the impact of flooding 20,000 acres of farmland. The lake front homes along the 500 mile shore line are quite valuable, but the variations in the lake level cause some amount of concern – especially during times when the power demand lowers levels to the point at which docks are no longer over water.

      Our birth rate in the US may be close to replacement rate, but out population continues to grow – and that is a good thing because we have plenty of work that needs to be done and plenty of people who are going to be expecting to retire from work at a reasonably young age.

  31. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    Yes, some environmental groups are trying to tear down dams. But this may change if climate change becomes a more urgent concern.

  32. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    I am trying to tell you that some feel that small hydropower projects can help to meet some of our energy needs.I provided references just in case some want to consider this.

  33. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    The fertility rate in a very large country, China, is 0.7. That should help with global warming. The government can make them have abortions but they can’t make them make babies.

    Brazil, is another very large country where families are much smaller- in fact it is almost a quantum jump downward.

  34. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    For those interested in nuclear waste disposal policy Senators Feinstein and Lamar Alexander have come up with a draft bill. Senators Wyden and Lisa Murkowski have come up with another draft bill. They are inviting comments on drafts of these bills . Both bills endorse creation of a new agency to deal with nuclear waste storage, a consent-based approach, establishment of an interim storage facility and a new disposal site. Only the Wyden/ Murkowski bill removes the limitation on the amount of waste that can be stored at Yucca Mountain. The law currently in effect limits the amount to 70,000 metric tons. Generally speaking, it is easier to influence drafts of law than the final product. Here is an opportunity to influence policy.

  35. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    The most timportant thing to remember whether one is pro-nuclear or anti-nuclear power that we already have nuclear waste that must be managed safely. Shutting down existing reactors or failing to build new reactors will not change this situation. We can hear about all sorts calculations that the risks of hosting a nuclear waste facility are small. Yet people are sceptical about these assurances. If we want commumnities accept nuclear waste interim storage sites or permanent disposal repositories we must assure them that if there is an accident they will be compensated fairly for loss of jobs and homes if they must be evacuated. The funds must be available immediately as many people have no savings. Perhaps they should have savings but we cannot make them have savings.

  36. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    Ernest Moniz is working on an arrangement that would set up a fund to reimburse people who must be moved and/or lose their home and jobs after a nuclear accident. Thus far France and the U. S. are on board. At the present time I do not have more details but it looks promising. People may be less opposed to nuclear power if they are confidant that they will not suffer economic losses in case of an accident. If I understand it correctly it will operate like reinsurance. The more countries that participate the lower the costs for each country although it would be prudent to be careful about which countries are admitted. Some may have disqualifying pre-conditions.

  37. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    The arrangement i referred above is a global nuclear liability regime.

  38. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has restarted the licensing process for Yucca Mountain.

  39. EL says:

    The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has restarted the licensing process for Yucca Mountain.

    It’s not a re-start. The DC Court of Appeals (by 2-1 vote) has simply compelled the NRC to use residual funds ($11 million) on a project that has insufficient funds to be completed. The dissenting judge summaries the position pretty well:

    “In short, given the limited funds that remain available, issuing a writ of mandamus amounts to little more than ordering the Commission to spend part of those funds unpacking its boxes, and the remainder packing them up again.”

    In other words, the court is mandating the NRC to do a “useless thing” (in the words of Judge Garland). The money hasn’t been appropriated by Congress for a re-start, and so far as I know it is not forthcoming anytime soon. “The NRC has not refused to proceed with the Yucca Mountain application. Rather, by unanimous votes of both the Commission and its Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, it has suspended the application proceeding until there are sufficient funds to make meaningful progress.” Rather than waste a pile of money, the dissenting judge recommends doing something useful with it instead: “the only responsible use for the remaining money would be to spend it on putting the materials back into storage — in order to preserve them for the day (if it ever arrives) that Congress provides additional funds.”

    Local press coverage indicates the same. NRC is spending residual funds to complete a five-volume safety evaluation report and supplemental EIS.

    … the commission said there was no money available to reconstitute an online document library, resume legal discovery or to schedule formal hearings on whether Yucca Mountain should be licensed to accept high level nuclear waste.

    • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

      The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee chaired by Senator Ron Wyden is meeting after Thanksgiving to markup the Nuclear Waste Administration Act. RThewy may address funding as well as other nuclear waste disposal, nuclear waste storage and a new agency responsible for management of nuclear waste.

      • EL says:

        Indeed. It’s a terrific bill (and bi-partisan no less). It’s our best chance of success (IMHO), and puts into place globals standards and best industry practices developed over decades on these things. But there’s nothing in it for Yucca. It builds on the Blue Ribbon Commission recommendations, provides reform for siting and oversight agencies, and addresses a fund shortage for waste management (and any proposal that does not include Yucca Mountain). It doesn’t take Yucca off the table, but it doesn’t deal with it either.

        • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

          Reform of the siting process i.e. change to a consent -based process will require that the Nuclear Waste Policy Act be opened up as it spells out a process that allows a gubernatorial veto. The Wyden law also transfers responsibility for spent fuel management from the Department of Energy to a new entity. Some prefer a new agency while the BRC prefers a government corporation.

          • EL says:

            A draft of the Bill suggests transfer of authorities from Secretary of Energy to Administrator of the new entity, and establishment of “a new consensual process for the siting of nuclear waste management facilities” (sec 102.3) as primary purposes of the Act. It frees up funds to be used to this end.

            The draft bill specifically states the Secretary previously “found the Yucca Mountain site to be unworkable and abandoned efforts to construct a repository” (sec. 101.5).

  40. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    You are correct that there is nothing about Yucca Mountain in the bill. However, amendments can add or subtract items from bills. It still has to go through the House which is more sympathetic to Yucca Mountain than the Senate. If the House and Senate versions are different it goes to conference committee. in 1987 the conference committee added Yucca Mountain to the bill. By that time every other state had been eliminated for a repository site by amendments. Yucca Mountain was not in either the Senate nor the House bill that was sent to the conference committee. President Reagan once said “if you send an apple and an orange to the conference committee it may come out a pear”. The conference committee bill must be voted on by both the House and the Senate but often very little debate and no amendments are allowed at that stage.

  41. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    I neglected to mention that the gubernatorial veto of a repository site can be overridden by a majority vote of both the House and the Senate. This is presently the law.(NWPA). It is not a consent based process. The law will have to be changed before a consent-based process. can be adopted.

    A dissenting opinion is an opinion of a judge who lost. The Writ of Mandamus issued by the court is in effect and may also have lit a fire under the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. I hope the new bill is not a Christmas Eve bill like the 1982 NWPA and the 1987 Amendments Act.

    • Rod Adams says:

      @Susanne

      I neglected to mention that the gubernatorial veto of a repository site can be overridden by a majority vote of both the House and the Senate. This is presently the law.(NWPA). It is not a consent based process. The law will have to be changed before a consent-based process. can be adopted.

      I’m not sure I understand your comment. Our constitutional republic has always had provisions for overriding vetoes. It is a part of our process to ensure that no single person has what amounts to royal power. States rights end where overriding federal rights begin. We are, after all, a single country named The United States of America.

      • Brian Mays says:

        States rights end where overriding federal rights begin. We are, after all, a single country named The United States of America.

        Rod – I would phrase that in a different way. Amendment X says, in no uncertain terms, that states’ rights begin where overriding federal authority ends. The Constitution is essentially a structured plan for limiting the power of government.

        Nevertheless, I agree that the federal government has the delegated authority in this case.

        • Rod Adams says:

          @Brian Mays

          Historically speaking, the Constitution replaced the Articles of Confederation, a far weaker and less satisfactory government structure where states were more powerful than the central government.

          There were many good rieasons why our founding fathers decided that system needed to be replaced with one that defined a stronger federal system.

          BTW, I’ve read both the Federalist and the anti-Federalist Papers in the past year.

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        The U. S. Constitution deals with presidential vetoes not gubernatorial vetoes. The gubernatorial veto included in the NWPA is the first case, I believe, in which a governor could veto a presidential action.Theree was a great deal of controversy about this veto power when the NWPA of 1982 was passed. Presidential action is required in the early stages of the geological repository approval process. First the Secretary of Energy must approve of the repository recommending it to the President. If the President approves of the repository it goes to the Governor of the State in which the repository is located. If the Governor vetoes it, it goes to both houses of Congress. It requires a majority of both the House and the Senate to override the gubernatorial veto. The latter is done by a resolution.

  42. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    The Atomic Licensing and Safety Board of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission held that “unworkable” is not an adequate rationale for abandoning Yucca Mountain. It is true that former Energy Secretary Chu stated that Yucca Mountain is not workable. His predecessor, former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham recommended Yucca Mountain. The full Nuclear Regulatory Commission has not overturned the decision of the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board. Many feel that not workable is a political decsion. The question here is whether politics or science should reign. My husband, Robert Vandenbosch, in his testimony before the Blue Ribbon Commission on July 15, 2010 raised this question of whether allowing Yucca Mountain to be stopped by politics will allow future repositories to be stopped by politics.
    .

    • EL says:

      The question here is whether politics or science should reign. My husband, Robert Vandenbosch, in his testimony before the Blue Ribbon Commission on July 15, 2010 raised this question of whether allowing Yucca Mountain to be stopped by politics will allow future repositories to be stopped by politics.

      Why can’t we have both? A “slippery slope” type argument usually speaks to values rather than facts. There is always a middle ground, particularly where politics are concerned.

      Major land use decisions involve social interests, and so you’re in a realm of politics. Especially so for a facility that is sited for 10,000 years or longer. Science is one factor. If you’re just interested in putting some waste in the ground, so be it. But if you’re interested in a viable long term strategy for siting these facilities and expanding the industry, and one that doesn’t create such bad will and poor public and industry outcomes, I’d say the process recommended by Blue Ribbon Commission (consistent with decades of global experience and industry and policy best practices) is better. The question at this point (with billions left to spend) is whether Yucca helps us get to where we want to go, or if it is standing in the way of real and substantive progress on issues that have been with us for decades. Does sticking with an “unworkable” process advance these issues and concerns, or set them back (and create an even more challenging environment for siting these facilities in the future). Politics has been with us from the start. This much isn’t going to change. I don’t see where it is obvious that the two of them can’t be better aligned.

  43. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    The Wyden bill (Section 509) includes a provision for eliminating the volume restriction(70,000 metric tons) for Yucca Mountain. This was provision was not recommended by the Blue Ribbon Commission.

    • EL says:

      @Vandenbosch

      I read this amendment differently. Sounds like the Wyden bill allows for development of a retrievable storage facilities prior to the development of a permanent repository (and filling it with an initial 70,000 metric tons of waste). The main purpose of the Wydan Bill is to advance the development of interim storage facilities (not clear the way for a proposal that the Secretary has already deemed “unworkable”).

      • Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

        For EL
        The Wyden bill includes provisions for developing both and interim storage site and a permanent repository but has not settled on a way to link the two. Wyden and cosponsers feel it is necesssary to link the two. They anticipate that it will be difficult to find hosts for an interim storage site if the hosts are not certain there will be a repository. If there is no permanent repository the host for the interim storage site will be stuck with the waste.

        I do not know why the ceiling was removed on Yucca Mountain. It seems to me this will intensify already effective opposition to Yucca Mountain by the Nevada congressional delegation and especially Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. It may be a poison pill or it may be a bargaining chip or it may be a provison they forgot to remove from a previous draft bill introduced last year by former Senator Bingaman.

  44. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    The number of the Wyden bill is S. 1240. The 70,000 metric ton limit is not derived from scientific principles. Originally it was designed to make certain that all of the waste did not go to Yucca Mountain.

    The initial plan was to have both an eastern and a western repository thereby guaranteeing regional equity. The repeal of the 70,000 ton metric ton limit would ensure that more than one repository would be built. Eliminating the cap takes off pressure to build a second repository at least for a while. S. 1240 does, however, authorize building more repositories if more capacity is needed.

  45. Susanne E. Vandenbosch says:

    Delete the sentence in my previous post that states “The repeal of the 70,000 ton metric limit would ensure that more thane one repository would be built.’