Coal Miners against nuclear power


  1. I’d like to see Josh Fox as a guest on the Atomic Show. I’m sure he’s a pretty busy guy these days but it wouldn’t hurt to try to ask him.

    1. Yes and while you’re at it get him interested in making a documentary on Nuclear Energy. But make sure he’s pronuclear first.

      1. I have contacted Josh Fox’s media contact. I’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I am operating under the assumption that he is a man with a questioning attitude and an observant nature. With those attributes, even if he is currently not pronuclear, I am pretty sure that he can be convinced by reality. That is why I will also try to arrange for him to visit at least one nuclear plant, but maybe we can achieve more than that.

  2. @Rod: (Off-topic)
    I came across a press release from Friends of the Earth, on a site called (found via a google news search), which discusses a plan by GE-Hitachi and the Department of Energy to try to build a demonstration plant for the GE-H PRISM reactor (which is a small modular reactor based upon the Integral Fast Reactor design).
    GE-H and DoE, because this is a first-of-a-kind demonstration reactor, believe that they can operate it under the authority of the DoE without NRC licensing. FOE contends that this would be illegal and that the reactor requires NRC licensing. I have a few questions, which I wonder if you might possibly, if you have a chance, perhaps look into (you know things and people which/who, I think, would probably be good sources for answers, which I don’t know, and I think these are the type of questions which would be very hard to answer with just google/bing/wikipedia), maybe write up a blog post with your findings?
    * How can the NRC actually license designs which are basically new? Doesn’t the NRC need operation results from experimental reactors to create licensing guidelines? Isn’t that why the DoE was given authority to run experimental reactors – to give us a path to get experience with new designs for which their is inadequate experiencing to create licensing guidelines?
    * Does the NRC have enough past experience with sodium fast breeder reactors that, based upon that experience with previous designs, they already have enough experience to create a licensing regime which could apply to the PRISM, since it is part of that general category?
    * The linked presser above claims that this is illegal because,
    The federal Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, which created the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Energy Research and Development Administration (now DOE), requires NRC licensing of a nuclear reactor ‘when operated in any other manner for the purpose of demonstrating the suitability for commercial application of such a reactor.’ Thus, unless the projects are pursued exclusively by the Department of Energy with no private involvement, Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensing is mandated.
    The snippet they provide seems to be missing some context which, I think, would be necessary to interpreting it (it’s not even a complete sentence, it’s a sentence fragment). So, I went and looked up the cited act, and searched for the above fragment, and found the following as the whole text:
    Sec. 202. Licensing and Related Regulatory Functions Respecting
    Selected Administration Facilities
    Notwithstanding the exclusions provided for in section 110 a. or any
    other provisions of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended (42 USC
    2140(a)), the Nuclear Regulatory Commission shall, except as otherwise
    specifically provided by section 110 b. of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954,
    as amended (42 USC 2140(b)), or other law, have licensing and related
    regulatory authority pursuant to chapters 6, 7, 8, and 10 of the Atomic
    Energy Act of 1954, as amended, as to the following facilities of the
    (1) Demonstration Liquid Metal Fast Breeder reactors when
    operated as part of the power generation facilities of an electric utility
    system, or when operated in any other manner for the purpose of
    demonstrating the suitability for commercial application of such a
    (2) Other demonstration nuclear reactors

    1. Jeff,
      Good questions. I think one would have to go back to the legislative history regarding the split of the AEC and what Congress intended. For example, NRC is prohibited from developing its own laboratory complex and has to depend upon DOE (previously ERDA). Not a lawyer, but I believe DOE actually has latitude regarding your question. It chooses in more recent cases to accede to NRC. However, it can come under the purview of the DNFSB (which is advisory in nature).
      The private company piece is a canard. Who is building naval reactors? Naval Reactors is in the DOE, but enjoys substantial independence from both the DOE and NRC bureaucracies.

  3. Several observations about the comparison between Gasland and Haynesville that I just discovered due to reading deeper into Rod

    1. @Bill – It is also worth noting WHY CNBC is such a huge promoter and cheerleader of business as practiced today and Wall Street.
      NBC Universal is a GE subsidiary. GE is a >$150 BILLION conglomerate that includes a number of arms that benefit from a shift in market attention to natural gas and wind from nuclear energy (especially since the GE-Hitachi ESBWR and ABWR offerings are not doing well in the US market). GE Capital was also a huge beneficiary of the bailout and a leading culprit in the collapse that required the bailout in the first place.
      There was a time when GE employed a lot of Americans at great jobs and made terrific products. That time was somewhere in the past.

      1. @Rod,
        The power of good PR. GE is in the background and puts out soft advertising with GE workers dancing but no explanation on why that is important to making a profit.
        Thanks for the reminder of the GE to NBC connection. That explains a lot about who issued the orders to buy Haynesville.

  4. I see a lot of “we think” and “we believe” at your Atomic Engines web site. But I don’t see anything at:
    Unless you’re taking credit for what PBMR (Pty) Ltd has submitted….
    As a Naval submarine engineering officer, you relied on shipyard-provided designs and procedures that you never produced. As an “entrpenuer” you are again relying on someone else’s work without a single hour of commercial nuclear power plant experience yourself. I think Tohiba, NuScale and Hyperion will have success before you. Good luck with that degree in English!

    1. @Guest – You are correct. There is no current plan for any Adams Engines. Here is an excerpt from the current “About Us” page:
      Current status
      Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. is once again in a cash preservation mode, waiting for several initial conditions before starting serious development, design, and licensing work. We have no current employees, are not working on any current projects, and are not hiring any employees.
      As I have described on a number of occasions on Atomic Insights, I have put Adams Atomic Engines, Inc. to sleep. I maintained a full time job in the Navy until my retirement in September 2010. I am now employed by B&W working on the mPower reactor. My degree in English is coming in quite handy, thank you.

    2. @Guest – you can also find our project described on the World Nuclear Association page
      One of the reasons that you cannot find anything about Adams Engines on the NRC web site is that we could not afford to pay the $259 per hour fees to try to teach them how to understand direct cycle gas turbine engines without some prospect that the fuel we needed would be available. We had no desire or intention to be fuel producers. Once the PBMR project closed shop, the last available free world option closed – at least until the NGNP fuel has finished its testing in 2018 or 2019.

  5. So taking this argument further, this post raises a question of what is needed (from a technological perspective) for nuclear to be an adequate and effective replacement for natural gas in electricity generation? Since there are few “here” talking about investments in conservation, efficiency, demand management, and newer grid and transmission technologies (I think we need to be looking at these things regardless of power generation sources)

    1. “Can current designs be load following … ?”
      Yes. The plants were originally designed with load following capability (some better than others, of course). Remember that, back then, some people were predicting that the U.S. would have 1000 reactors by the year 2000. (It’s probably a good thing that this didn’t happen, since that many reactors would produce about twice as much electricity as we use today.) Nuclear was expected to be producing the majority of the country’s electricity within a few decades, and thus, some load following would be necessary.
      Nuclear power today provides only 20%, so there is no need for reactors to do load following. It is better to do the load following with either hydro, which is easily throttled, or another source with higher marginal costs (e.g., gas) and leave the relatively cheap nuclear plants running full out.

      1. I am always amused by the fact that supporters of renewable energy have infinite faith that engineering and technology will somehow come to the rescue of wind and solar and make all the shortcomings of those modes of generation go away, yet at the same time remain convinced that nuclear power will never solve ‘problems’ like load-following.

        1. Perhaps Rod can get the “sales” data for the B&W NPPs. Davis Besse, TMI, Rancho Seco, and the other B&W units were “designed” to accommodate a 20% per minute runback (load decrease) and emergency runbacks of 30 & 50% (but not as great a decrease in power. They would also withstand a “loss of load” and a “loss of reactor coolant pump” with out tripping the reactor. These were “guaranteed” by B&W and tested and verified at original startup on each plant – prior to the TMI-II incident. During the “incident,” other vendors that were helping with the incident were amazed that the system could do this, and as a result these capabilities were removed from all B&W systems as part of the TMI Lessons Learned Action Plan. Most of these runbacks were replaced with unit trips. The B&W owners did not push back as they were losing a million dollars a day on any delay, and most were base-loaded anyway.
          As designed, the B&W units had a “Dispatcher” controlled power output setting. The dispatcher (in the system control center, miles from the plant) would adjust a control to set in the plant’s output power, just like he would for Coal, Gas, or Hydro. The AEC (Atomic Energy Commission) nixed this, but not until they discovered it. I had heard rumors that unions had something to do with this as the “dispatcher” was doing “operators” work.

          1. “Perhaps Rod can get the ‘sales’ data for the B&W NPPs.”
            Probably not, since he works for the part of the old B&W company that sold fuel to the US Navy. My company has most of the expertise on the old commercial B&W plants.
            Anyhow, Rich is correct. One of the great selling features of the B&W plants was their superior load-following capabilities, which largely resulted from their unique steam generator design.
            What happened after the TMI accident is a shame, but then again, all of those B&W plants are now run as baseload — and will be run as such for the rest of their operating lifetimes — so none of it really matters today.
            In any case, the claim that nuclear can’t do load following is a myth that deserves to die.

            1. @Brian – you are mostly correct. However, the part of B&W that made those unique steam generators was not part of the sale.
              If you look at the cartoons of the mPower, you will see that there is still no ‘U’ in our company’s S/G’s and those devices still retain some unique advantages over the ones designed and produced by other companies.

    2. The other thing worth noting is that compared to the rest of the operational costs the price of fuel for a nuclear plant is virtually nil, so running said nuclear reactor at 100% costs almost exactly the same as it being switched off producing no power at all. So therefore we could in theory build enough reactors to supply all of our electrical needs at peak times, dump the surplus electricity across giant resistor arrays (!) off peak, and even this flagrant waste would still be perfectly economical because hey, it

      1. That’s a pretty good idea. A shrewd entrepreneur would start a power intensive industry that could operate at off-peak times. The utilities would basically give away the power for free. The daily cycle of electricity use is quite predictable, more so than the weather. Time to start brainstorming on some energy products.

  6. Home work assignment –
    Count the number of ads on TV extolling the virtues of Coal, Gas, and Oil.
    Multiply the weight of Coal, Gas, and Oil used to make electricity by two.
    And they are concerned about the release of CO2 into the atmosphere?
    So they plan on “sequestering” this waste, you claim, in defense of their actions.
    Where are they going to put all of this “sequestered” waste? Go back and look at the film clip of the trainload of coal going to a power plant. Now multiply that by two and that will need to be hauled out to dispose of it. How much is just the transportation going to cost? Where is the environmental impact statement? The cost of electricity will become so high that meters will require an armed guard to prevent tampering! (Exaggeration, but likely)
    How many ads did you see extolling the virtue of nuclear power or how little CO2 it releases?

  7. @Guest: Here’s one suggestion for “a power intensive industry that could operate at off-peak times”. . .
    I don’t know if that company is ‘the real deal’ or not, but they at least seem to be based in real science and engineering, and the business model of using off-peak electric to produce synthetic liquid fuels sounds like a solid, money-making idea, as long as the costs of production are reasonable.

Comments are closed.

Recent Comments from our Readers

  1. Avatar
  2. Avatar
  3. Avatar
  4. Avatar
  5. Avatar

Similar Posts