21 Nov 2114

On 18 Nov 2014, Allison Macfarlane the outgoing chair of the USA Nuclear Regulatory Commission(NRC) said that the Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) industry must finish making the safety changes required after a nuclear disaster in Japan, and that the Industry still faces many unresolved questions regarding where, and how, to store “spent nuclear fuel” even when existing NPPs close. Ms. Allison Macfarlane became Chair of the USA Nuclear Regulatory Commission in July 2012 after the tenure of former Chair Gregory Jaczko, whose management style was disliked by fellow commissioners and staffers. Macfarlane added that the NRC must follow-through on changes required after the 12 Mar 2011 Fukushima Dai-No.1 triple meltdown and subsequent explosions that flung debris and radiation into the world’s environment still considered by many as the world’s largest industrial tragedy in History. Japan may never recover from that tragedy. Its population continues to decline, and its monetary situation is in dire straits. To increase taxes now, or not-That is the question. There is no question in my mind the huge fortune already spent on a fruitless remediation at Fukushima; with no end in sight, is proving unbearable. MARK MY WORDS: In the future, humanity may use 12 Mar 2011 AF (After Fukushima) as “Year One, AF”, for that was the day Japan pissed in the bath water. Even so, the world still refuses to acknowledge the “spent-fuel cooling pond” problem for its magnitude, and horrific danger.

IN ATLANTA GEORGIA, MS. MACFARLANE SAID:”We as regulators need to do what we think is right…And if we think something is required, and this is something we’ve learned as a result of the Fukushima accident, we need to tell the industry to do it…I think this is new for the industry in general because they haven’t had nuclear construction in this country for so long…It’s crazy to decommission plants under operating reactor rules. We do it, it’s safe … But I think it would be better for everyone; it would be better for the industry, better for us, and better for the public if we had rules that were specific to decommissioning facilities.” Ms Macfarlane added that the NRC will need new rules for power companies (NPP Operators) that are taking existing NPPs offline because the facilities are no longer viewed as economic.

THREE (3) GOOD DISPOSITIONS WERE APPROVED BY THE USA NRC: 1.The nuclear industry has set up centers in Memphis, TN and Phoenix, AZ that can quickly send emergency gear to a stricken plant. 2. Some plants will install vents meant to prevent (hydrogen) explosions during extreme accidents. 3. Regulators are reviewing updated earthquake and flooding hazard assessments for plants across the country. How much good, if any will result, remains to be seen. Many of the USA’s NPPs are known to be located in dangerous locations for many reasons. Their elimination should be a priority for the NRC.

THE REAL PROBLEM CONTINUES TO BE “SPENT-NUCLEAR (TRANSURANIC) FUEL, and its disposition. Since Fukushima, the world has become aware, and concerned that accidental water loss in a cooling pool (about 100 such in the USA, and 1,000 worldwide) could cause the transuranic spent fuel to overheat, potentially combust/create a self-sustaining nuclear reaction, and release huge amounts of transuranic radiation. Even so, NRC staffers have concluded that the cost of placing spent fuel in special casks (Dry-casking) outweighs the safety gains from removing it from the cooling pools. A majority of the NRC’s commissioners agreed. Naturally! Their main concern is to save the NPP Industry money, and to hell with all other concerns! Macfarlane said “the issue deserved more study” (She is not buying that rationale). Earlier this year (2014), Macfarlane lost a vote on whether spent nuclear fuel should be removed more quickly from water-filled storage pools (we suppose Dry-casked). After used nuclear fuel is removed from a reactor, it must be cooled in water for several years, but we are speaking of 40 to 60 years accumulation in some places. The USA government promised to dispose of  spent nuclear fuel, but it never has; As a result, spent fuel continues to accumulate in pools. It appears it is so all over the world: If safety costs the nuclear Industry money, fo-get it!

EVEN THE NRC COMMISSIONERS ARE MIFFED BY CURRENT DEVELOPMENTS. They now face a radically changed market. Just a few years ago, the utility NPP Industry anticipated building a wave of new NPPs; However, in the USA Oil field shale fracking has produced an over abundance of Nat Gas as a Power plant fuel in the USA. Perhaps that is why at this time, only three NPPs (trapped midstream of history- permit wise) are being built: One-each in Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. They are now struggling with the added cost of stricter quality control rules. They probably wish they had never started such projects, but let us remember: 10 years to construct a NPP was the norm, and that is a huge cost of capital! A natural gas utility can be built in less than 3 years (depending upon generating capacity) at a fraction of the cost, plus Nat gas is only half as polluting as coal, and is now very available at least in the USA.  To these economic reasons not to build NPPs, we must add the reduced use of electricity achieved by conservation, and the very significant in-roads of green energy such as solar-cell farms, and the ubiquitous wind-driven turbines. Oh yes! there is a significant change in energy generation, utilization, and conservation visible all around us. We are happy to see it!

MACFARLANE, A GEOLOGIST BY PROFESSION, will start teaching on 1 Jan 2015 at George Washington University. We wish her well. For over two years, she patiently Chaired a nuclear industry controlled Commission that talked and investigated a great deal, and has clearly dragged its feet to this day, in order to do what they were lobbied to do-nothing. One can take a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink! Not in Texas anyway.

ENTER – YUCCA MOUNTAIN NEVADA NUCLEAR WASTE REPOSITORY (AGAIN) Background: During the recently held “mid-term” USA Congress and Senate elections, power shifted in the USA Senate, and there are rumors that since Sen Reid, D-NV, will no longer be the Senate majority leader in 2015, the incoming Republican controlled Senate may re-open consideration of Yucca Mountain as the Central USA Nuclear waste repository (WIPP if you will). The issue is a thorny one because; if not in Nevada, and not in New Mexico, where? I am angered by rumors that north Texas may be the location of an above ground repository – (NIMBY). Problem is, Present Texas Gov Rick Perry will agree to almost anything his party (Republican) wants, and incoming TX Republican Gov. Abbot seems inclined the same way. Truth be told, there is no good site to store transuranic waste.  It has been wisely said: “All it takes for evil to prevail, is for good people to do nothing”. You reckon?

WITH A REPUBLICAN HOUSE AND SENATE THE “KEYSTONE XL OLEODUCT” is being pushed hard again upon the USA.  Again we say the obvious: Tar sand oil is not useful. Not in the USA, or anywhere. It is highly toxic to handle, let alone to transport/refine in Texas or anywhere for that matter. No-way, no how! That entire Canadian experiment should be cancelled for the sake of humanity.

Thanks to the AP for their quotations and related story.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

Your friend in South Texas



November 21, 2014 at 11:36 PM Comments (3)