1. The NRC is looking into ‘international ownership’ issues with the South Texas proposes plants (Areva designs) As long as the operator is US based, I do not see an issue.

  2. Rod,

    Thanks for the link to CAREM. I was wondering what that was about when Ms. de Kirchner mentioned it.

  3. Rod: Just a news alert. . .

    I see that NEI Nuclear Notes included this as a bit of a ‘side-note’ in their Friday update last Friday, but I think this news is NOT getting enough attention. Everyone in the world knows that the area around Fuk. Daichii was evacuated.

    Well, the Japanese Govt has just (partially) lifted the evacuation order, except for an area within 12 miles of the plant:


    I think this is big news and people should hear about it.

    1. The people aren’t going to hear about it. The media is owned lock, stock and barrel. Complete with ridiculous astroturfing operations like “Occupy Wall Street” – THAT is going to get all the attention of the large internet portals, *BS, *BC, *Times, the politicians, and all other sources of mass disinformation.

      Hey, there is nothing unique in the coverage or politics of energy problems – virtually 100% of the important topics are dealt with in the same way… but we only see the problems in the areas where we have some solid education.

      1. hardly ‘astro turfing’ something invented by the Koch brothers, BTW. I’ve been down to these events. People are pissed. The right wing is scared because it’s the Tea Party in reverse and aimed at business and capitalism. What goes around comes around!

        1. The entire point of astroturfing is to lead the “pissed”…

          Right wing, left wing … god cop, bad cop.

          We’ll tell you anything you want to hear; we lie like hell. (Network, 1976)

        2. There we go:

          “Organizer admits to paying ‘Occupy DC’ protesters”


          “… One group of about ten Hispanic protesters marched behind a Caucasian individual from the DC Tenants Advocacy Coalition, a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting rent control in Washington, D.C.

          Asked why they were there, some Hispanic protesters holding up English protest signs could not articulate what their signs said.

          Interviewed in Spanish, the protesters told conflicting stories about how their group was organized. Some said it was organized at their church, and that they were there as volunteers. Others, however, referred to the man from the DC Tenants Advocacy Coalition — the only Caucasian in the group — as their “boss”…”

        3. It sounds as if the vox populi is following an infamous Roman tradition of buying a mob to force a political point. Done more towards the end of the Roman Empire. I hope that is not the case today. Depending on who is buying the mob will depend on the political point they are trying to make. My thoughts are that it is being implicitly encouraged (especially the union involvement) to drive a point about the President’s jobs bill in preparation for the election to give an air of listening to the voice of the people. Even in Roman times the voice of the people was whatever you needed it to be. Beware the populist.

        4. The “right wing” should not be surprised. History shows that when people become fed up with the status quo, they eventually take action.

          The excesses of the “gilded age” resulted in regulations, including anti-trust legislation to deal with monopolies. Extreme pollution also resulted in legislation. Businesses can get by with practices contrary to the public interest only for a limited time.

        5. FRE,
          My comment on beware the populist is not directed solely at Occupy Wall Street but also at groups such as theTea Party. The populist serves to advance a specific agenda, theirs, by denigrating the opposition and showing what the “will of the people” is through manipulation of the presentation or interpretation of that will. It is frought with danger. If one group is successful then they will consolidate their position often at the sacrifice of the core tenets of the republic.

          My use of the historical analogy of the Roman republic was that it was through populist movement that the republic was able to be bypassed and the empire created.

          The use of “the will of the people” by contemporary politicians is a very slippery slope that has unfortunate and dire historical precedence.

          1. @Cal – I am quite a fan of the effect on US history of “populist” movements and populist leaders. Both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt fall into that category and the decades AFTER their presidencies were quite beneficial for the GNP and for the prosperity gains of “the rest of us” as opposed to the robber baron class.

            I am quite willing to accept an accusation of engaging in class warfare, but like much warfare, the “sides” are not as bipolar as some observers would like to see them. As I see the battle, the real class struggle here is between the vast middle (a category that reaches up into the lower strata of the “upper” class) versus the really “upper” class.

            Like a huge number of my contemporaries, I came from a group of people with fairly modest means. Both of my parents were products of very poor people who had no more than two nickels to rub together during the Depression. Both did well through hard work, good fortune, excellent public educations and avoidance of self defeating habits like drugs, gambling, over spending or overeating. We took interesting vacations, could afford a nice, but not opulent first home, and a modest little vacation home (purchased after I received a USNA appointment). Both gave a lot back to their communities through volunteer service and regular, if modest, financial contributions. That family history is pretty solidly American.

            My wife and I do pretty well. Good educations (with the help of taxpayers), slightly nicer home than our parents, two fully educated adult children, late model, low debt cars, pretty fair salary.

            The other side of my class warfare is that class that seems to play life as a winner take all game. They are the kind of people who I would hesitate to invite to a pot luck dinner because they can be counted on to eat more than their share and disappear as soon as the cleanup effort started. They are the kind of people who put their 11,000 square foot third homes on display every few years for a charity fund raiser so that they can show off their company’s electronic gizmos and obtain tax deductible landscaping and paint improvements. It is the class who thinks of a $199,000 government salary as a sacrifice or paying dues for a much larger $2-3 million job after a couple of years of service. It is the class of people who think that their salary as a hedge fund manager should qualify to be taxed at the 15% capital gains rate or who calls their friends “job creators” because they run a company with employees, most of whom now work in places like Bangalore or Shenzen.

            The cool thing is that the class I am fighting is so much a victim of “groupthink” that they have not yet figured out that there are a whole lot of smart and well educated people who are thinking that spending a few days camping out in Manhattan in protest of the current financial system might not be a bad way to spend some time. The networking opportunity to develop useful contacts could be quite important in the coming years.

        6. Rod – You may not realize it but the above comment reads like a manifesto from the New Democratic Party of Canada, the current opposition party in Ottawa right now and Canada’s (unwritten) official Left wing flag carriers.

        7. I am quite a fan of the effect on US history of “populist” movements and populist leaders. Both Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt fall into that category …

          How ironic it is then that Teddy Roosevelt’s greatest accomplishments were achieved in an office that he acquired as a result of a campaign strategy whereby he and his running mate, William McKinley, (Teddy was the VP candidate, BTW) painted their opponent, William Jennings Bryan, as … wait for it … a populist.

          FDR also had his own populists to deal with. Huey Long was far more populist than FDR. Originally a supporter of Roosevelt, Long broke with the newly elected president in 1933 and possibly would have opposed him for the Democratic nomination in 1936. We’ll never know, however, since he was assassinated in 1935.

          Ain’t history funny?

          Let’s not forget the last “populist” to have a go at running for President. John Edwards not only clearly and freely employed populist rhetoric in his campaign, he was also vehemently and unapologetically anti-nuclear.

          Personally, I think that populism is way overrated.

  4. It is terribly sad to see a country celebrating in a manner in which we used to in this country. This woman was not afraid to push the “two buttons” and start to make the steam that will power industry in her country. It is truly telling just how far we have slipped and a real concern as to how much ‘more’ we are willing to slide.

    1. America and to a much greater degree Europe have become more and more risk-averse. It is probably a natural outcome of affluence.

      1. America and to a much greater degree Europe have become more and more risk-averse. It is probably a natural outcome of affluence.

        Oh … I don’t know about that. I don’t think that the public has become more risk-averse,

        Think about it for a moment. We voluntarily accept risks today that were unknown a century or more ago. Roughly 100 or more people are killed on US roadways each day, yet how many people think about this before climbing into their cars.

        The public has never had a good understanding of risk. These days, however, the sensationalist, “if it bleeds, it leads” media exploits this misunderstanding of risk, particularly of risks that are relatively small, to sell their product. Furthermore, there now exist various unscrupulous NGO’s and other organizations that feed on this fear and use it to forward their own agendas (and raise donations).

        People are not more risk-averse; they are just being scared more often by people who hope to profit somehow from this fear.

        1. People are lousy at assessing risk, but I think they are more risk-averse. All I ever hear around a lunch table is what food will make you live 10 minutes longer and which is going to ‘kill’ you.

        2. It is true that the public has a very limited understanding of risk and how to deal with it. However, the methods of travel before automobiles became common were even more dangerous than automobiles. Horses ran away, people were kicked and seriously injured by horses, and horses caused serious pollution which was also a health hazard. People were also often killed in steamboat explosions. So considering the death rate compared with miles traveled, we are better off today.

          Sure, cars were unknown, but travel was not unknown.

      2. SteveK9 wrote:
        America and to a much greater degree Europe have become more and more risk-averse. It is probably a natural outcome of affluence.

        If the peoples of America and Europe were truly risk-averse, they would be building nuclear power plants as quickly as possible in order to shut down the much more risky coal-fired power plants.

        Of course, this is not happening, but even the reverse, as in Germany, where dirty coal-fired power plants are operating more hours to make up for the power lost by shutting down the cleaner and safer nuclear power plants.

        The problem is not true risk-aversion. It is false risk-aversion brought about by ignorance encouraged by various political forces.

        1. I think that anti-nukes are less about risk and more about a yearning for a simpler world.

        2. George Carty wrote:
          I think that anti-nukes are less about risk and more about a yearning for a simpler world.

          As soon as you opt for having electricity, you have already selected something other than “a simpler world”. Running even a coal-fired power plant is complex business. The electricty grid is equally complex regardless of whether chemical reactions or nuclear reactions are used as a heat source to generate steam for the turbines.

          Most people’s notions of a “simpler world” are romantic nonsense. IIRC, there was a series shown here in the States on BBC America where a suburban London family was given the “opportunity” to reside in a house in 19th to 20th turn-of-the-century conditions. They quickly were yearning for their contemporary existance.

        3. Good point donb — I think the issue is that chemical energy can be used by machines (such as cars, for example) that are widely owned by ordinary individuals, but this will never be the case for nuclear energy even if SMRs are a great success.

          The need for heavy radiation shielding imposes a minimum size on nuclear reactors that will put them out of reach of the average individual or household.

        4. Yes. See above. Being risk-averse doesn’t imply that you are assessing risk accurately.

    2. I have a dream – I hope to hear an equally inspiring speech by President Lamar Alexander at the ribbon cutting for “that formidable and marvelous machine” Vogtle 3 in 2017, attended by NRC Chairman George Apostolakis.

      Damn, that would be satisfying!

      1. I wonder whether Lamar has any Presidential aspirations? As a Tennessean and fellow nuclear advocate, I would probably support Lamar more than I would support almost any other conceivable candidate (solely for those 2 reasons).

  5. China, Japan, the United States and the European Union will discuss the rare earth problem following China’s decision to curb its export of the materials. The price of these commodities is skyrocketing.

    It came to my attention this week-end that these rare earth minerals are by products (waste) from the fission cycle.

    Is there enough to warrant a process to extract them ?

    1. I believe they are opening up a rare earth mine in Nevada again. Probably cheaper to dig it out of the ground than chemically separate it from used fuel.

      1. This might be the mine you’re thinking of, discussed in James Kennedy – “U.S. Heavy Rare Earth Cooperative, the Global Economics of Thorium Energy”. Kennedy’s big problem mining the heavy rare earths is the thorium that comes along with them – he says it literally drops out of solution during the milling and refining. Since it falls under NRC jurisdiction, and the NRC could rewrite the rules capriciously, the thorium represents a “potentially unlimited liability” for his mine, a circumstance no business would accept.

        The rest of the videos from the Spring 2011 Thorium Energy Alliance Conference are IMO worth watching as well.

  6. That was an incredibly motivating speech. She has the mixture right. More inexpensive energy more economic growth.

    Our little microcosm of nuclear power in this country created roughly $560 billion in 2002 in economic activity. I think that the number should be higher because the marginal cost of nuclear power is so much lower than any other source of power other than hydro. Please note I used the verb “created” in the first sentence of this paragraph. Useful work (electricity) creates wealth. Nuclear power creates wealth to an extent comparable by no other source of power.

    What we do is vital for the future of our country. When Watts Bar Unit 2 comes on line along with Vogtle 3&4 and eventually Bellefonte Unit 1 we have every right to be out there celebrating.

    When B&W brings mPower online, we will be witnessing the revolution.

    I needed some good news. Thank you Rod!

    (All numbers quoted above were derived from BEA, LLNL annual primary energy graph, and the work done in Ayers-Warr “The Economic Growth Engine: How Energy and Work Drive Material Prosperity”.)

    1. Cal,

      I think I’ll probably celebrate Watt Bar Unit 2 coming online for at least a whole week, maybe longer.

      I might have to try to check out that Ayers-Warr book sometime. After a quick search, it looks like it might be a bit expensive.

      1. On Google eBooks it is $31.20 and paper back off of Amazon is $60. The $225 is a bit price for the hardcover, would make me not want to take notes in the margins…

        1. I had only seen the $225 price. $31.20 is much more doable. Maybe this particular e-book could motivate me to buy an Amazon Fire and be glad to have not yet gotten an iPad?

        2. I would vote for the iPad, that’s just me. Google eBooks can also be purchased and read on an iPad… going into further detail and I should shift my post to an Apple forum.

        3. Having words like Apple, iPad, and Amazon Fire on here might boost Rod’s search position ever so slightly.

  7. None of the commentary has much to do with the Kirshner remarks and what *it means*.

    Argentina BROKE with the US imposed WTO/IMF financial schemes. It was a HUGE blow to the US and British based financial markets when they put their people first and the banks second. It harkens back to the 1950s a bit under Peron, but updated.

    In minds of these neo-Peronists, and to a large extend the rulers in Brazil, they are simply putting the ‘national interests’ of their country first and the internatioanl financial community…last.(Brazil did announce today that it would “help” the Euro-zone out of their troubles).

    It’s worth looking at why Argentina and Brazil, both nuclear energy developers, weathered the financial crisis: they didn’t invest, generally, in the whole parasitic insurance (AGI), banking and paper-pushing ‘markets’ but invested in *real* economic development, that is, industry and the services that support industry.

    Nuclear energy is simply one aspect of showing that independence.



  8. Unfortunately not, David. You have to gleam all this from various sources, like the Financial Times, Economist, and so on. If you can find an economic history of Argentina, in English, that would be good (there are a few in Spanish).

    People need to understand what the whole free trade/WTO thing has been about and why some countries have invested so much in it. It’s fascinating, from when Nixon go the US, and the world, off the fixed exchange rate under pressure from US banks. The relaxation in banking and investement rules and so on. And *why* this happened.

    To be sure, a country with more or less the exact same ‘perspective’ as Argentina (including and especially with nuclear energy) is China. But the Chinese have used the system, “gamed it” in fact, to their national economic advantage.

    The larger picture, however, remains the same, both Argentina and China (and others, S. Korea is one, interestingly) have *industrial/manufacturing* national perspectives. This yields things like vertically integrated industries (the US actually has no vertically integrated manufacturing now, though aerospace still does to some extent) from which to build the national economy.

    This means, concretely, only allowing the flow of capital and goods *that are in the national interest* the opposite of “Free Trade”.

    1. David W: Yeah, I’ve become quite disillusioned with “Free Trade”. When I was younger, I saw it as a way to try to make our enemies (Communist China) become “not our enemies”, by turning them into trade partners, thus avoiding wars and working to everyone’s benefits. To some extent, that’s true and has happened, so I’m not completely against Free Trade.

      The problem is, Free Trade isn’t. I’ve come to appreciate that you can’t have free trade with another major economy which manipulates it’s currency to keep exchange rates that undercut the local economy in unfair ways. You can’t have free trade with a country which doesn’t have the same human safety/worker treatment guarantees, the same environmental protection standards, etc. It becomes an uneven playing field where the domestic industry cannot hope to compete, because all those different factors combine together to make it so that China (and similar countries) can produce goods at 1/10 the price we can here.

      Essentially, we’ve outsourced our pollution and human rights abuses.

  9. This is offtopic, but there is a petition up at whitehouse.gov:


    which I was hoping that Rod would cover in an article. At 5000 the president needs to respond with a policy statement.

    There’s gotta be 5000 citizens that either are working in the nuclear industry or know enough to realize that nuclear power could possibly avert us from catastrophe, right?

    Right now, the anti-nuclear petition outweighs the pro one about 25 to 1, which says a hell of a lot.

  10. The head of the world’s biggest food company Nestle said on Friday that rising food prices have created conditions “similar” to 2008 when hunger riots took place in many countries.

    While this is going on, the Obama administration is giving subsidies for Ethanol research. It justs does not make any sense to take valuable lands to grow lesser quality crops so that we can burn carbon. Where are the ‘democrat greens’ on this topic ?

    1. Obama rose to power via Illinois, so I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d received lots of campaign contributions from Big Ag.

      1. It’s one thing to play the game to get elected. Once in office, you have to show leadership. During WW II, Churchill had to ascertain if he had indeed cracked the German code.

        To do so, he had to let Germany attack some towns were he had family. The attacks occurred and Churchill knew he had broken the coding structure of the German forces.

        He did not warn the members of his family of the pending threats. He did not break the code of great leaders.

        Today, the planet is thirsty and hungry. Screw the lobbyists.

  11. Today, the US State Department warned pregnant women, children, and older people not to stay within 30 kilometers of the Fukushima plant.

    1. Old people? What would the long term effects be for someone who doesn’t have a long term to worry about?

  12. Claims that we have 100 years of natural gas or 250 years of coal are incredibly misleading. We’re literally only a few years away from rolling blackouts due to shortages. Indeed, the blackouts have already begun despite media silence, like in San Diego and Texas.




    According to the top gas geologist of Canada, even if there is 100 years of methane at current use rates, it’ll take 800 years to get it out! In Canada, conventional gas is expected to decline 44% by 2019, and shale gas by 2012 will only provide 3.5%! Coal peaked in the U.S. in 1998 in terms of producible energy content, and has a plummeting EROEI! All coal producing states except Wyoming and Montana are past peak, and in Wyoming the coal is sub-bituminous and much is not economically recoverable. This is a crisis!

    1. I’m not disputing that our supplies of natural gas or coal are in worse shape than we’re often led to believe, but the recent blackout in San Diego was due to lack of redundancy in the transmission system, as far as I could tell from the very small amount I read about it.

      I think the Texas issues were due to record peaks and insufficient generation capacity, moreso than a shortage of gas.

      1. And the lesson learnt from Texas this summer was that the zillion dollars invested in wind farms gave them zero electricity during the heat wave.

        Good ROI and smart money.

        1. I definitely should have worded that “insufficient DEPENDABLE generation capacity”. I’m sure they had plenty of nameplate capcaity, but nameplate’s not worth a darn if it’s not dependable when needed most.

  13. Former NRC Chairman Dale Klein sees one more hurdle for nuclear deployment. He makes a distinction between merchant states and regulated states when it comes to electricity generation.

    He stresses that ‘merchant’ states will go for cheap natural gas and that ‘regulated’ states, which are better suited to support capital intensive projects, have more of a chance to adopt nuclear.

    I get a good grasp of the concept but what are the top 5 ‘regulated’ states and the top 5 ‘merchant’ states ? Is this a North-South thing or a ‘democrat’ vs ‘republican’ philosophy?

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