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13 Comments

  1. This is excellent investigative journalism. You build a very strong circumstantial case. It really all seems to fall into place. Another smoking gun.
    I found a smoking gun of my own. One of the articles being cited on Wikipedia as to “dangerous nuclear accidents” is by an assistant professor from Singapore at the Lee Kwan Yoo University, or something like that. This report on “accidents” is published in a trade publication called “Exploration and Production: Oil and Gas”:
    http://www.touchoilandgas.com/ebooks/A1ioj0/eandpvol7iss2/resources/134.htm
    Now this is a clear smoking gun, simply because it’s published in a trade journal of this nature.
    But, if we dig a bit deeper, we find a bigger smoking gun. Singapore, even if it is a nominal democracy, is a very tightly controlled state where the government is extraordinarily coordinated with the corporations. Why would Singapore oppose nuclear power? Where do the interests of Singapore lie? It’s a trade hub. Why is it a trade hub? Because it’s a fueling station. Because it’s part of the oil supply chain for ship fuel. It’s also part of the supply chain for oil and gas ships going to Japan, to China, and to the US from the Gulf. Probably there are petroleum processing interests there.
    Now, Singapore might want some reactors for their internal use, but they don’t want them getting onto ships, or getting into the states where the tankers bring the oil and gas. If ships don’t have to stop for fuel, or there are fewer ships carrying oil and gas, then Singapore gets bypassed. So the oil and gas interests on Singapore might want to stop nuclear power from spreading, so they fund a professor (a US expatriate) to write a hatchet job on dangerous nuclear accidents.
    Of course, this is all speculation. But perhaps there is something here.

    1. Dave,
      Your post reminds me of the marriage between the US coal industry and the railroad companies and unions. I hear that almost ~50% of all our rail capacity is used to ship a single commodity, coal. Imagine the effect if nuclear took over in a big way. As a result of this (someone told told me at an ANS conference) the railroad industry/unions are one of nuclear’s most potent enemies. A quiet enemey, but a potent one.
      The guy at the conference told me that because coal plants need a steady, uninterrupted stream of coal trains to operate (due to the enormous volume of their fuel), the railroad unions have them (and all electricity consumers) by the balls. If the union strikes, they’re looking at a shut down of all power generation in the region, in a very short time. This increases the union’s leverage enormously.
      An interesting thought, at least.

      1. Jim: I like the railroads, of course, they would get the short end of the stick for a little while if we moved away from coal. But ultimately, if the US went for nuclear power in a big way, energy costs would come down enough that there would probably be a decent rebirth of industry in the US, and we would probably make enough basic industrial goods (steel, chemicals, etc.) that the railroads would eventually carry the same amount of freight, if not more. Perhaps over longer distances, too, like to ports, for export, not just finished goods from ports.
        I do see where their interests lie, though.

    2. @ katana0182 (Dave) ,
      I am very interested in you comments about Singapore. I have visited that country several times, it is a marvel of business and the leaders are very very good at international politics and business. I had a friend of mine (chemical engineer) who retired from Dupont send me a link to a “face off” set of articles http://www.aiche.org/downloads/Exchange/june10.html
      The Anti Nuclear side was represented by Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and writed by Benjamin K. Sovacool and Anthony D’Agostino. They point out crippling costs, waste disposal, environmental impacts, safety, fuel availability, and a better path – Energy efficiency and demand side management.
      I was wondering – especially – how they could complain about uranium mining in a trade paper for chemical engineers when you can run lightly acid or base water into the ground and extract uranium through safe chemical processing.
      Your point about the link to fossil fuel interests for Singapore is very likely. Singapore specializes in being the “middleman” and there is little to “trade” in Nuclear.

      1. I can imagine that Singapore sees nuclear as quite the threat to their interests, oil staying in the ground, or being used just as a source of carbon. No oil or LNG tankers, oil being $5 a barrel, used only as a chemical feedstock, for antique cars, locomotives in rural areas, tractor-trailers, and for lubrication.
        Combine that with ships that can possibly travel the globe without refueling (or docking at Singapore). Ouch.
        No wonder they’re hopping onto the anti bandwagon. Unfortunately, the bandwagon is suffering from deflating tires.

  2. I noticed the post said that only JSW can make large pressure vessels. Doosan in South Korea is providing the vessel for the Sanmen 1 AP-1000. Whether or not Forgemasters enters the market, the Koreans and Chinese will be making pressure vessels in addition to the Japanese.

    1. I understand that the Chinese, for their version of the AP-1000, are bypassing the JSW queue by using the older style of pressure vessel with rolled and welded rings in the pressure vessel rather than forged rings.

  3. I have been hearing about American interest in world oil resources since my school days, more than 50 years now. It sounds strange when an American describes it as vested interest of only some of the people I have always associated with it. As far as heavy forgings are concerned, the maximum nuclear construction is now in Asia, where most of the mankind lives. South Korea and China will be giving competition to Japan in the coming decade or two. I hope the reactor vessels will be lighter salt or lead filled by then and high pressures will be confined to generation equipment.

    1. Within in the US, we’re a complex society, and there are many interests, or groups of people who try to influence policy. The oil interests – a powerful force within the US – have made the US dependent, like drug addicts, upon the oil from the Middle East – we have to get our fix, or our society won’t run. Many people in the US don’t want to be addicted to foreign oil anymore, because it lets people outside of the US control the US through controlling the oil flow. Nuclear power is one of the ways that we can break from that control. The oil interests, like Rod discusses, also try to create fear among the common people about nuclear power, as if nuclear power becomes big, it might deprive the oil companies of their ability to keep the US addicted to their product and Europe as well.
      I also hope to see some lead-cooled and thorium salt thermal reactors in the future that don’t require these sorts of really heavy pressure vessels, too – but those are decades down the road. Right now – in the US – we’re building LWRs, and that the supply chain is being interfered with by the oil interests means costs will go up for nuclear reactors here, unfortunately.

      1. One concern I have about mass nuclearization is its possible effects on countries dependent on oil exports. (The Middle East is especially problematic, as most of it is desert and is therefore currently dependent on imported food.) The Iranians are total idiots if desalination isn’t one of the possibilities they are looking at with their nuclear programme!
        Another question, what is the best way to fight anti-nuclear politicians like Chris Huhne? I was gutted when it was announced he’d been made Energy Secretary, especially as I voted Conservative despite preferring the Lib Dems on most policies, because the Lib Dems are hostile to nuclear energy.

        1. @George – Many, if not all, oil exporting nations in the Middle East are quickly turning to nuclear energy. The UAE has signed the famous four reactor deal with South Korea. Jordan is moving forward and just signed a $70 million 5 MW research reactor deal as a first step. Saudi Arabia recently signed some nuclear related deals.
          Right now, there is plenty of cash available in oil exporting nations as long as their oligarchies have not spent it all.
          The best way I know to fight the anti-nuclear politicians is to keep showing people the relationship between high energy prices and suppressed energy supplies. There are far more energy consumers in the world than energy producers. When more of us recognize that actions fighting massive quantities of new nuclear energy are either witting or unwittingly actions that favor the interests of the coal, oil and gas industries at the expense of everyone else, we will swing more politicians our way.

  4. I’ve heard that comment often that ‘only JSW can produce ….’. It seems a bit more complicated than that. If you look at the WNA website there is a link with a page titled: ‘Heavy Manufacturing of Power Plants’ — http://www.world-nuclear.org/info/default.aspx?id=23340&terms=forges . There are forges in Russia, China, and Korea. Also some parts are made by Areva (still welded?). I’m not sure exactly who does what. There are also plans by several nations to expand (not just UK). And of course, JSW recently doubled their capacity with a new 14 000 ton press.
    I think another reason Cook wanted the loan killed was simply that Sheffield is a competitor, also in the fossil fuels area.

    1. SteveK9 – I tried to be pretty careful in my post. I am pretty sure that as of now, JSW is the only source of forged reactor pressure vessel heads and rings. As Bill Young noted above, there are ways around that bottleneck. The pressure vessels that were built with rolled and welded rings have performed adequately; they just require additional inspections and perhaps some annealing actions during the life of the reactor.
      JSW is expanding its capacity from about 4 vessels per year to about ten, and, as you noted, there are other steel makers around the world who are planning to expand into the market. That might sound like a budding “overcapacity” but I believe it is good for customers to have some options and choices and to have a system that reduces lead time requirements and potential bottlenecks.

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