In the news: December 1995
Watts Bar Receives Low Power Licence
(November 11, 1995) TVA’s Watts Bar nuclear power plant has been under construction for more than 23 years. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has just approved a permit that will allow the Tennessee Valley Authority to begin loading it with fuel for low-power testing.
The fuel has been stored in a vault on site since 1979. Though the plant has been plagued with difficulty, officials state that the problems have been fully resolved.
Minnesota Questions Fees
(November 10, 1995) The Minnesota Public Service Department is investigating options regarding the nuclear waste storage fee that has been collected from utility customers since 1982. Northern States Power, the state’s only nuclear utility has collected more than $246 million from ratepayers, and sent it to the federal government, yet there seems to be no progress toward a permanent fuel storage system.
MPS Commissioner Kris Sanda states that the DOE program responsible for waste has been mismanaged and constitutes a consumer “rip-off.” Sanda said that the investigation will determine if it is possible to put the collected fees into an escrow account and whether or not Minnesota has any non-federal options for safe disposal of spent nuclear fuel.
Rapid Energy Growth in China
(November 14, 1995) China reported that its energy demand growth outpaced its energy supply growth. This has led to a growing level of energy imports and a lifting of the ban on foreign equity investments in the Chinese energy sector.
To help combat the gap between supply and demand, and to head off the possibility of future shortages slowing economic growth, China is aggressively pursuing an expanded role for nuclear power. A Chinese spokesman states that China “has no choice but to embrace nuclear energy, despite the growing anti-nuclear sentiment in the developed world.”
USEC For Sale
(November 14, 1995) The United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) could be ready for sale either to the public or to another company as early as spring 1996. The company currently has an 86% share of domestic sales of enriched uranium and a 37% share of the global market. Some analysts expect that the sale will produce between $1.7 and $2.0 billion in revenue for the Treasury.