Atomic Show #231 – Grandparents for nuclear energy

For Sunday December 21, 2014, I sent out a standard invite to my list of the usual suspects for an Atomic Show round table. As the responses came in, I realized that random chance had ensured that every one of the people on the call was a grandparent. It seemed kind of appropriate to talk about what we were doing to try to make the world a better place to leave to our young, energetic grandchildren.

We talked about the irrational, but powerful efforts in California to force Diablo Canyon off of the grid. The most recent push is justified by a single “differing professional opinion” about whether or not the plant is operating within the seismic assumptions of its design and operating license. Not surprisingly, people who have been professionally engaged for decades in actions to keep the plant from supplying its 2,000 MW of ultra-low emission, zero fossil fuel electricity to California consumers have seized on that DPO to justify another organized push.

They are being fully supported in their efforts by Senator Barbara Boxer, who took one last shot at the plant in an unusual hearing held on December 3, 2014 while she still held the gavel for the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. Senator Boxer was the only Senator in the hearing room; two of her three guests have been organizing efforts to shut down Diablo Canyon for years, one of whom has been engaged in that activity as his full time employment since before the plant began operating.

We also discussed our sorrow that Vermont Yankee is being shut down within the next week or so. I expressed my anger at the plant owner and the nuclear industry for their seeming inability to figure out how to profitably operate a low marginal cost nuclear plant in one of the highest priced electricity markets in the country. I told my guests that I harbor some suspicions that actions to permanently close necessary and well-maintained production facilities approaches the borders of actions that are supposed to be prevented by the Sherman Antitrust Act.

We mentioned the excellent piece published by the Brookings Institute by Josh Freed of Third Way titled Back to the Future: Advanced Nuclear Energy and the Battle Against Climate Change. (I promised during the show to include a link to that article in these show notes.)

We talked a lot about tactics used by politically savvy antinuclear organizations and what we can learn from their successes during the past several decades. We expressed our frustration at the near silence of the nuclear industry and its complete lack of support for the efforts of voluntary, pronuclear advocates.

We ended the show by describing some of our plans for the next week or so.

Guests on this show included:

Dan Yurman, the publisher of Neutron Bytes and the former publisher of Idaho Samizdat
Meredith Angwin, the publisher of Yes Vermont Yankee and a major contributor to Northwest Clean Energy
Les Corrice, the publisher of Hiroshima Syndrome, the go-to site for anyone interested in finding out what is happening in Japanese energy post-Fukushima
Bill Gloege, the founder of Californians for Green Nuclear Power, a citizens group specifically formed to educate people about the environmental benefits of nuclear energy compared to all other potential power sources


Paul Wilson & Bret Bennington vs Arnie Gundersen & Heidi Hutner on Nuclear Sustainability

On Nov 20, 2014, Hofstra University hosted its annual Pride and Purpose Debate. This year’s proposition was the following – “Should nuclear energy be expanded to help create a more sustainable future?” The debate included the following panelists: For – J Bret Bennington, professor of geology, Department of Geology, Environment and Sustainability at Hofstra University. […]

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Atomic Show #224 – Dr. John Boice NCRP

From front page of June 13, 1956 New York Times. Right column headline.

On November 11, 2014, I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. John Boice, the President of the National Council on Radiation Protection. Dr. Boice has had a long and distinguished career in radiation protection and is currently leading a multi-decade effort known as the Million Worker Study to investigate the evidence that has been […]

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Corvallis to Richland and back


After an informative tour of the NuScale facilities in Corvallis, OR on October 20, I continued my quick visit to the Pacific Northwest. I had originally arranged my travel plans to fly into Portland, OR instead Richland, WA — which was my ultimate destination — for a variety of reasons. It enabled the visit to […]

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Atomic Show #221 – Acting Locally

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Discussing nuclear energy in Australia

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Some lessons were learned from TMI. Others were not.

Three Mile Island from the air

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

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Vogtle Construction Update Video

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Event at WIPP is newsworthy but not dangerous

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WIPP and Carlsbad residents will talk

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