1. Given how many Zambians starved to death in 2002 because Friends of the Earth pressured that country’s leaders to refuse aid shipments containing GM grain, why hasn’t Friends of the Earth been outlawed as a terrorist organization?

    “Childbearing should be a punishable crime against society, unless the parents hold a government license… All potential parents should be required to use contraceptive chemicals, the government issuing antidotes to citizens chosen for childbearing.” – David Brower, founder of Friends of the Earth

    1. “Friends of the Earth” really ought to rename themselves “Enemies of Humanity.” It seems to me that’s where their focus really lies.

  2. Well, it may be a drop in the bucket but I sent my own comment to the NRC public affairs office in Atlanta, GA. Wasn’t clear on the NRC website where one should comment on something like this.

  3. Sometimes I wonder if at this rate there will be half a dozen completed AP1000’s around the world before the NRC finishes approving it.

  4. Rod,
    I am an avid follower (and fan) of your blog and podcast, nuclear advocate, AND (soon-to-be) PhD in Philosophy (who is also hoping to transition to a nuke related career – oh, the things I would tell my younger self). I have read some of what Prof. Sterrett has to say on this issue, and in particular her concern with “regulatory capture” (when industry is effectively “in bed” with regulators). This seems to be a significant underlying issue in her thinking, and I think it drives most of what she has to say (that is, she suspects regulatory capture, so she searches for evidence). For my part (and I know yours) I just don’t see it. WHERE ARE ALL THE NEW NUKE PLANTS? If there is regulatory capture going on, one would expect the industry to make easy, decisive progress. Instead, there has been regulatory capture by the *opponents* of nuclear – Big Fossil and renewables (and I’m with you on thinking the first may have a hand in the second). Fossils have been in bed with Mining and Minerals for years, and there is good evidence they’ve been thumbing the scales against nuclear as well.
    At any rate, you might also take heart in knowing that I’ve seen considerably more support for nuclear in the non-scientific academic community than I expected (especially among philosophers). We are smarter and more broadly educated than most people think.


  5. The technical criticisms of the design from the FOE rests on shaky ground. … meets American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) code for seismic strength as a single point of failure in the case of a station blackout event.

    Did you intend that pun?

  6. Sterrett is an academic in an unrelated field, who enjoys moonlighting as a crackpot.

    The press release is disingenuous in that it makes it appear that Sterrett used to be employed by Westinghouse; however, this is simply not the case. Her only experience with the AP designs is working “a few years” as a consultant to Westinghouse on work related to the AP600 design. Given that her only engineering degree is at the bachelor’s level and that she left the engineering profession only a year or two later (13 years ago), it is likely that she was a low-level employee of one of the many small, undistinguished engineering companies out there that do highly specialized consulting work.

    She has absolutely no experience working on the AP1000, and as she has told the NRC, all of her knowledge of this design has come from reading “publicly available documents.” It is typical of cranks to think that, without training or experience, they know more than the experts, and they tend to get very upset when their (often nutty) complaints, claims, or allegations are dismissed without being taken seriously, as they often are.

    That appears to be the case here. FOE is doing its best to play this up for more that it is worth by avoiding the specifics of her academic credentials and current job and overemphasizing her minor connections to Westinghouse.

    1. This is Susan G. Sterrett. The information you relayed is incorrect.

      I was an employee of Westinghouse Nuclear for over seven years before entering graduate school in the mid-eighties. At that time I worked on standard plants (all were PWRs that got built). I did design calculations for many systems, in many disciplinary areas, and wrote software simulating system behavior and containment temps and pressures for training simulators.

      It was not uncommon in the mid-nineties for Westinghouse Nuclear to hire ex-employees to do consulting work, which is how I came to do design work on the AP600 while in the dissertation stage.

      In all, I think I worked for Westinghouse Nuclear for about 11 years.

      1. I stand corrected, and I humbly apologize for any inaccuracies.

        Much of what I wrote was pure speculation, and it was intended as such, but it was based on the information that you provided to the ACRS to bolster the arguments of your intervention, which (somehow) did not mention that you were at one time a Westinghouse employee. In any case, you claimed to have worked for only “a few years” on issues related to the AP600 design and never on the AP1000 design.

        Don’t you have an unusual hobby for someone who is now a professor of philosophy?

        … which is how I came to do design work on the AP600 while in the dissertation stage.

        The dissertation stage of getting your PhD in philosophy?! I realize that the nuclear industry relies on “Defense in Depth,” but that’s an entirely different kind of deep thinking altogether, don’t you think?

      2. Susan – thank you for visiting and joining into the conversation. I appreciate your professional experience. Like Brian, however, I have to wonder what made you turn that knowledge base into a hobby of opposing nuclear technology? My own hands on nuclear experience largely dates to the 1980s as well – the last time I actually operated a reactor was in late 1990 before I left my last submarine assignment. However, I have spent the last 22 years fighting FOR increased use of fission because I believe it is so much better than any alternative on a number of measures of effectiveness.

        What is it about nuclear fission that makes you think its use should be resisted?

      3. Rod, if she answers these questions, I would be very interested in the answer. They might make a good posting.

  7. The FAA is worse still! New plan designs show complicity between the agency and manufactures / importers because there are STILL accidents! For Shame! The FAA should not have allowed a single new design until the manufacturers could 100% insure that NO ONE WILL DIE in their death traps. We need at least a 15 year intensive examination of every new design changes before one micro chip is changed.

      1. What would have happened to the aviation industry, if a terrorist organization made up of relatives of air crash victims had pursued bloody revenge against airliner manufacturers?

        (Starting with a truck bomb attack on McDonnell Douglas to avenge the victims of Turkish Airlines Flight 981…)

  8. I have a few questions. . . FOE wants to re-open the Public Comment Period, but on what grounds? They’ve already submitted their comments. They’ve had plenty of time to submit their comments.

    Now, it’s time for the NRC to review the comments and make a ruling. What POSSIBLE GOOD will it do (other than causing delay, which, it would seem, is most probably the goal) to further extend the public comment period? Have they given any reasons at all why further comments can be expected to improve the review process? Why the original comment period was insufficient?

    1. Precisely. What more can they say than to us they have said? To us who to nuclear from climate have fled? Please now give us the careful reasoning in support or refutation of their exhastive reciteration.

  9. FOE wants to re-open the Public Comment Period, but on what grounds? They’ve already submitted their comments. They’ve had plenty of time to submit their comments.

    How unsporting of you! Haven’t you ever heard of a “Mulligan”?

  10. “Included in the record are more than 14,000 comments submitted throughout the public comment period by Friends of the Earth activists, asking that the comment period be extended.”

    My interpretation of this sentences as written, by and organization who is very careful about what they write.

    75 days was not enough to send 20,000 comments saying that 75 days was not enough time to send 20,000 comments.

    1. @Jason Kobos: Excellent point – that’s sort of how I parsed that sentence too. . .

      “You sent comments saying you need more time to send comments?!?”

  11. Reading through Gundersen’s report was a little on the boring side. I kept waiting for the big reveal moment where Gundersen proves his review of public information available on the AP1000 is much better then the original proprietary design info.

    All I just saw a litany of compliants about primary containment issues after 40 years of operation which other plants are now resolving. In other words Gundersen is hamstringing a new design with problems that may or may not happen 40 years in the future. So I figured I was just going to have to plow through the 20+ pages until I came across the following quote:

    “Immediately after Fairewinds provided these photos and detailed analysis of the AP1000 design
    to the ACRS and without detailed analysis of any kind, either the NRC staff or members of the
    ACRS itself leaked their opinion to pro-nuclear bloggers stating that Fairewinds analysis was
    incorrect. While Fairewinds has never had the privilege of a detailed NRC response, the NRC
    used its typical backchannel communications with its friends in the nuclear industry in an
    attempt to discredit the veracity of the Fairewinds report.”

    So who is the mysterious pro-nuclear blogger that received information directly from the NRC? Gundersen makes all now cloak and dagger type stuff by throwing this comment in his report.

    An internal source at the NRC leaks info in an attempt to discredit a known anti-nuclear group. Now we have the makings of an interesting story.

    The burning question is if the pro-nulcear blogger will step foward and name names? Or will he or she clam up and take the 5th.

    More seriously though, Gundersen’s claim should be driven to ground either to ensure the public comment and review process is maintained as intended if true or to kill his statement and highlight the lengths he and his group will go to attempt to stop the AP1000 from being certified.

  12. Rod, thanks for the link to the article about Gunderson and his trip for FOE to speak against a nuclear plant in the Czech Republic.

    I found this quote quite interesting.

    “…and the country derives much of its energy from coal-burning generators located in Bohemia. “If they bring the new plan online, they will end up laying off 100,000 coal miners,” Mr. Gundersen said, “and will have to deal with massive unemployment.””

    So are Gunderson and the FOE in favor of coal mining and burning coal for electricity? Or more likely are they hypocrites who would use any argument against nuclear power?

    1. So are Gunderson and the FOE in favor of coal mining and burning coal for electricity?

      It’s not just Gunderson and the FOE, it’s the whole nutty enviro-left. For example, take this recent article on “ThinkProgress” that touts that new nuclear costs as much as solar power today. Notice what is compared in the first graphic?

      1. Yeah, Coal and Gas, not PV or Solar Thermal, not Hydro or any of the other renewables that are supposed to be the clean alternatives to nuclear on the CO2-free side of the balance sheet.

        They cite a California study.

        California banned new nuclear years ago, now they’re importing electricity, including from huge coal plants in Nevada and New Mexico, and (lol) nuclear energy from Palo Verde. I bet California’s cost of generation studies don’t account for the economic development loss to other states of doing so, nor do they take into account the economic multiplier of capital-intensive generation versus fuel-intensive generation on their state’s tax base and employment.

  13. “If they bring the new plan online, they will end up laying off 100,000 coal miners,” Mr. Gundersen said, “and will have to deal with massive unemployment.”

    Which is, of course, a dirty lie. With Germany returning to it’s plan to shut down all of its nuclear plants in the next dozen years, the market for coal in central Europe will be strong.

    The FOE is a collective of sociopaths, who will say or do anything if it will enrich their coffers and advance their ideology. Nobody ever said that their ideology had to be logically consistent.

    1. @Brian – alternatively, the FOE is simply a collection of greedy fossil fuel oriented capitalists who have figured out that they can make a lot of money by lying about their reasons for fighting nuclear energy development.

      Have you never read a good mystery novel or engaged in strategic gamesmanship?

      1. Except that they are not.

        Solving a “good mystery” involves more that just tossing around baseless accusations.

        David Brower, the founder of FOE, has already been quoted above. He is noted for referring to Environmentalism as a religion (perhaps one of the first people to do so and a rare case of an environmentalist admitting this), as has been documented by his son, the author Kenneth Brower, in some of his writing.

      2. Brian – you are still just quoting what they say, not what they do. Did Brower live like a priest, or a minister or did he live a jet setting lifestyle like any other good capitalist?

      3. Rod – But Brower wasn’t a priest or a minister; he was an Archdruid. He also was not very good with money, and financial problems under his watch resulted in him being forced out of both the Sierra Club and the FOE.

        1. He might not have been good with organizational money, but there are many examples of rich capitalists who have that problem. My question remains – did Brower walk the walk or did he live large with frequent international trips, expensive meals and far better than average accommodations? My guess, based on the lifestyles of some of the “environmental” leaders that I know, is that he profited immensely from his efforts.

          (One non-profit environmental group director that I knew drove a hybrid to work. He lived in a huge house and drove a Corvette when he was chasing skirts. He was also known to fly to CA for some medicinal herbs on a not infrequent basis.)

  14. I propose that FOE provide the funding for the extended public comment period, and also cover any costs associated with constuction delays. If any significant design defects are discovered during the extended review, this money would then be refunded, with interest, to FOE.

  15. Today they block the certification process, tomorrow they use the delayed certification as an argument against nuclear power. In the end, it all leads back to their doorstep.
    Just like they prevented reprocessing, then blocked Yucca mountain (see Harry Reid’s campaign commercial combining pictures of radioactive transports cruising on the Las Vegas strip with an oil contaminated pelican in the Gulf of Mexico, then saying “no to Yucca”), so now they can use the litany of “we don’t know what to do with the spent fuel” as another agrument.

    1. They are duplicitous SOBs in other ways as well. By blocking a central repository, they argue that is is “better” to store used fuel at the plant sites. Then they turn around and say that the plants are unsafe because of all the used fuel stored there, and point to events like Fukushima and overheated fuel storage pools as “proof” of their assertion. So on the one hand they argue for on-site storage and against Yucca Mountain, then they use the on-site storage as a club to hammer the industry on how “unsafe” the plants are because of all the used fuel lying around there, never mentioning that it is their fault the stuff is still there and not buried somewhere.

      1. Wayne – you have to understand that the antinuclear industry developed its strategy to use “the waste issue” to constipate nuclear energy development in about 1974 under the leadership of Ralph Nader of the Critical Mass Energy Project. The whole idea is to frustrate supporters, add cost and add uncertainty.

        So far, the strategy is working because the industry has failed to tell its side of the story and to demand the right to take care of its own property. Used nuclear fuel is not a waste; it is a resource. The story from the antinuclear industry is that the resource part of the waste is a terrible risk of “proliferation”, but the reality is that the isotope mix in used nuclear fuel is essentially impossible to use in a weapon.

        When nuclear advocates understand the real motives of the opposition (maintaining fossil fuel sales), maybe we will have a chance at selling our story to enough fence sitters to make the inevitable opposition irrelevant.

  16. The AP1000 is but one of several designs and before it has any hope of certification it will be made obsolete by newer reactors. It would appear that Chairman Jaczko use of sandbags to delay the construction of new nuclear is effective. However, there is the rest of the world and lots of water to fuel and cool and otherwise render sandbags ineffective.

  17. “In the US system, groups have a right to organize to express their opinions, but they do not have a right to impose their view on the majority.”

    The majority doesn’t get to dictate its wishes on the individual, abrogating the individual’s rights away. The difference between democracy – two wolves and one sheep voting on what’s for dinner – and socialism is small. That’s why we were founded as a Constitutional Republic, NOT as a democracy. Demkrats forget that.

    Good for Friends of Earth. They manipulated Obama’s appointee and you voted for Obama.

    1. Remind me again, how many new nuclear plants began construction under Bush (either one)?

    2. @Ioannes – this is not a partisan blog. I recognize the role that politics plays in energy, but it has little or nothing to do with left-right or Democrat-Republican. The establishment does not like nuclear energy because it is disruptive of the current world order.

      Yes, I voted for our current President. I agree with some of the things he does and says and disagree with some. My right as a participant in a representative democracy is to vote on occasion and to comment or take actions that are within legal limits anytime I want.

      I happen to think that socialism is okay – many fine places to live and work are run by socialists. There is nothing wrong with putting people above “capital”.

      1. @Rod Adams

        I don’t think Ioannes is putting capital before people. From what I understand of his politics, he’s a Catholic reactionary, not a Randian ultra-capitalist.

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