Carnival of Nuclear Blogs #308
Every week, a loosely aligned group of writers and thought leaders pick their favorite recently produced piece about nuclear energy. One member of the group volunteers to put together a single highlights article that we call the Carnival of Nuclear Blogs and publishes that article on their own blog.
Sometimes it seems like a little bit of a chore, especially during a week when there was not much writing going on, for whatever reason.
Other times it is a lot of fun to solicit articles, read through the work that others are producing, perhaps find a few common themes and produce a useful summary of the week’s nuclear news that reminds everyone of the wide variety of interesting topics under the general heading of nuclear technology.
This week falls into the later category.
Atomic Insights is pleased to host the 308th Carnival of Nuclear Blogs, which includes the following diverse contributions from individuals who each recognize that the reactions, emanations, and raw power contained inside the nuclei of certain isotopes have the collective power to change the world in numerous positive, constructive ways. (Of course, we acknowledge there are legitimate cautions associated with those same aspects of isotopes.)
Without further “throat clearing” verbosity, here is this week’s carnival.
From Jim Conca on his Forbes Energy blog
Is Fracking For Gas As Dirty As Coal?
Tougher environmental regulations, a flood of cheap natural gas from fracking, and a sudden decrease in demand from China, has pushed natural gas even further in replacing coal in generating electricity. But fears about fracking’s effects on the environment has spawned bans on fracking in some states. A new study by the University of Texas at Arlington demonstrates that groundwater quality changes alongside the expansion of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing but also suggests that some potentially hazardous effects may dissipate over time.
Andy Dawson, an energy sector systems consultant and former nuclear engineer, produced a guest post on Euan Mearns’s Energy Matters. (We hope this is just the first of many Carnival entries from this source.)
Decarbonising UK Power Generation – The Nuclear Option
“How to decarbonise UK Power generation is a topic of heated debate, with renewables enthusiasts often keen to argue that there are a range of obstacles to the use of nuclear generation to meet more than a small proportion of total demand. Reasons cited are availability of space/sites, grid integration and the challenges of meeting variable demand. So, is an all-nuclear UK grid (with the small sleight of hand of pumped storage hydro in support) potentially viable?
Andy sets out an argument that it is indeed so, and more so that it comfortably outperforms any current carbon intensity targets.
From Gail Marcus on her excellent Nuke Power Talk
Nuclear Firsts, DNFSB, and More: A Month of Personal Milestones
At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus reports that her 2010 book, “Nuclear Firsts: Milestones on the Road to Nuclear Power Development,” has been significantly updated and was just published as an e-book. She also reports that she has been nominated by President Obama for a position on the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.
From Dan Yurman‘s ever valuable Neutron Bytes.
Texas firm files with NRC for interim storage site license for spent nuclear fuel
Waste Control Specialists (WCS), which already operates a radioactive waste disposal site in west Texas, has filed a license application with the NRC to build and operate an interim storage site for the nation’s commercial spent nuclear fuel.
Aside: It’s time to get rid of the notion that “we don’t know what to do with the waste.” We know how to safely handle and store radioactive material. Some of that material, especially the lightly used fuel assemblies from currently operating reactors, should eventually be recycled into new fuel forms so that the 95% of initial potential energy that remains after its first use can benefit humanity.
Even if the reuse occurs in the distant future, it would be selfish of us to attempt to make it more difficult than necessary for future generations to capture the readily apparent benefits. Safe, surface, monitored “interim” storage is all we need to worry about today. We must be humble and stop trying to impose our worries, fears and inadequate technology on our children and grandchildren. End Aside.
From Meredith Angwin‘s exceptional example of local nuclear energy advocacy – Yes Vermont Yankee. (I remain saddened by the fact that people in positions of responsibility and authority let those who said “No Vermont Yankee” win by closing the plant many years before it’s natural end of life.)
Cinco De Bye-O at Vermont Yankee
On May 5, Cinco de Mayo, 100 people were fired at Vermont Yankee. The total number working at the plant is now 150, down from 650 three years ago. It was a sad day, but the mood among the employees was far more upbeat than I expected. There were jokes and Cinco de Bye-O parties. Mainly, the people of Vermont Yankee focused on their pride in their work at the plant. Vermont Yankee people had every reason to be proud!
Aside: I changed the submitted description of the article to use “fired” instead of laid off. Too many people have forgotten that “lay offs” was originally intended to describe a temporary condition in which employees were asked to stay home while waiting for work to return with the season or the end of a sales slump. The 100 people who left the premises of Vermont Yankee on May 5th have no prospect of returning. Their plant’s productive capacity has been destroyed. End Aside.
And from Atomic Insights, a delayed travel log about meetings and conferences during March & April.
Feeling Upbeat about Nuclear Technology’s Future
I feel better about the prospects for new nuclear technology development today (April 21) than I have for several years, based on the four conferences in four different U.S. cities I’ve attended over the past several weeks.
My travel calendar has included Washington, D.C., for the Nuclear Industry Summit / Nuclear Security Summit, New York City for the BNEF Future of Energy Summit, Atlanta for Nuclear Energy Insider’s International SMR and Advanced Reactor Summit, and Annapolis for a Technical Meeting on Nuclear Energy and Cyber Security sponsored by INMM and American Nuclear Society.
Aside: While I will continue to attend meetings because it’s my job to share thoughts and observations with you, I hope that people in the nuclear enterprise become so busy with moving forward in design, licensing, manufacturing and construction that the meeting calendar thins out a bit. There’s a time, place and need for talk and information sharing, but those activities need to be accompanied by plenty of action so we have new things to talk about. End Aside.
If I missed any great content from the past week, please feel free to let me know and I will provide an updated version.
Note about the image accompanying this post: The little girl in the photo is one of my three granddaughters. Last week, I brought a posse of four ladies (wife, daughter and two granddaughters) with me to have lunch with some friends and fellow nuclear experts (Dave Rossin and Tom Blees). Besides treating them to lunch, I felt my travel partners deserved a payback for enduring the trip and our discussion. Dave, a Sarasota resident, treated us to his expert commentary about the Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey Circus Museum.
We’re not just nuclear geeks.
“Fired” vs “Laid-off” vs something else?
I wonder, the term “fired” has historically carried a connotation of fault – that is, someone is ‘fired’ for incompetence, belligerence, theft/fraud/other illegal behavior, or lack of professionalism.
I think in common American usage, the expression laid off has come to mean people who have lost their jobs not due to any fault of their own, but because of lack of work, regardless of whether temporary or permanent. In the case of a facility being closed (factory, power plant, store, whatever), the term lay off has been used so as not to tar the workers with the negative connotations of the word ‘fired’.
Clearly the Vermont Yankee plant workers did a good job for 40 years of running the plant, and don’t deserve to be labelled as ‘fired’, IMHO.
But, perhaps American English needs a 3rd term other than lay off when not describing a temporary lack of work? The Brits use the term “Redundant” or “Redundancy” for such situations, but I find that to be a very awkward use of that word, personally.
Your point is well taken. Perhaps “lost their job” is closer to the truth.
English speakers are nothing if not creative in their linguistic constructs. In this case, there are all sorts of colorful terms, canned, sacked, dismissed, booted, given the gate, released, let go, turfed, booted, pink slipped, downsized, transitioned, outplaced, axed, furloughed. I’m sure we could add other descriptive terms, but in the end they all amount to the same thing. Aside from the issue of dollars and cents, I’d be curious about the human costs of this action. I know there is a lot of happy talk about people “moving on”, but I have a sense that there are also a lot of stories of people who have, in the words of the executives, “left the company”, but where have they gone? My guess is, unemployment and welfare. Really good for the local economy, that.
The euphemism Collateral Damage works for me; innocent civilian victims of a political war. Invisible to all but family and friends, secondary casualties, who try to help them get through it.
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