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THIS JOURNAL WILL "TELL IT LIKE IT IS" REGARDING DIFFERENT FORMS OF ENERGY AND THEIR GLOBAL IMPLICATIONS/PROBLEMS

INDIA AT A LOSS IN HOW BEST TO HANDLE PEOPLE’S REJECTION OF NUCLEAR PLANTS

19 MAR 2012

ON 17  MAR 2012, AT  IDINTHAKARAI, INDIA,  area fishermen, and farmers sat on mats in front of St. Lourdes Catholic Church.  They had a few terse demands: Halt work on the nearby Kudankulam nuclear power plant, and answer our questions. Their Anti-nuclear concern now permeates India since  Japan’s Fukushima Dai No.1 NPP triple meltdown tragedy on 12 Mar 2011 stirred-up NPP safety, and nuclear-waste worries worldwide.  The obviously peed-off response by Indian Central government’s response to villagers in this hot, dusty southern fishing hamlet, and at other proposed plant sites in India, took a turn for the worst, when talks failed for want of specific answers to expressed public concerns. The Central government is now reacting like a deer in the headlights; They have even made “welfare reforms” promises which citizens say never happen, and are still acting in a paranoid fashion that many citizens compare to “moronic”.  Yeah! – They are moronic (unintelligent), like a fox!

INDIA’S CENTRAL GOVERNMENT LASHING-OUT AGAINST ANTI-NUCLEAR ORGANIZATIONS AND PERSONS. Late in Feb 2012, Indian Prime Minister Mamohan  Singh accused the USA, and Scandinavian Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs)of funding the protests to hold back India’s development. That accusation was an apparent cue for the Indian security establishment, which then arrested, and deported a German visitor traveling in the area on a tourist visa, accusing him of funding the Kudankulam NPP “energy park” protests. Government officials are investigating the finances of Catholic church, and some Civil Societies, alleging that the groups were illegally diverting funds intended for orphans and anti-leposy programs.   The operating licenses of three (3) such grups were canceled, bank accounts were frozen, and the visa was revoked for a Fukushima-area resident invited to India by Greenpeace to speak about Japan’s nuclear disaster (That’s known as a gag-order).  In the latest move last week, a ruling party lawmaker demanded full surveillance and monitoring of all foreign money going to about 65,500 Indian NPOs (about $6.5 billion between 2007 and 2010) in what some critics are calling a “witch hunt.” NOTE: “Non-Profit Organizations (NPOs)” in the USA, are also called “Civil Societies” in other places – they are really the same legally.

PUT-UP, OR SHUT-UP, SAID THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. The latest Indian Central Government broadside against the many NPOs has drawn indignation and protests from anti-nuclear activists. The Catholic Church, expressed indignation, and called on the government to provide evidence that funds were being illegally diverted, or unfreeze its bank accounts.

THE EUROPEAN UNION (EU) LIKEWISE  denied that any of its 27 member states were fanning anti-nuclear protests as part of a hidden agenda to “weaken” India.  Joao Cravinho, Head of the European Union Delegation to India responded: “In a Democracy (such as India), dissent is normal…It strengthens Democracies.”

STRONG ANTI-NUCLEAR POPULAR SENTIMENT points to the growing frustration with a government rampant with corruption scandals, a weakening economy, high inflation, and that is now affecting the free elections of political representatives in state elections; specially since three(3) governors have already said words to the effect that: You want to do what ? – Not in my backyard(NIMBY). The Central government espouses the need for nuclear power, at a time others are countries are cancelling NPPs; supposedly because its fast-growing economy has a growing demand for energy (what’s new ?). They view NPPs, as an important component in India’s power mix.  It is seldom mentioned that India’s ruling party used a great deal of political capital(and funding) since 2005 to sign Nuclear agreements with USA Civil Nuclear industry, and Russia, as well as France (EDF);  Having done so much bureaucratic work (yeah!- we know, selling licenses they now can’t keep); so, naturally they resent citizens trying to block their well laid plans.  PROBLEM IS: NOBODY EXPECTED THE FUKUSHIMA TRIPLE MELTDOWN!  BUT IT HAPPENED ON 12 MAR 2011, AND THAT CHANGED EVERYTHING WORLDWIDE; THAT, THEY CANNOT ACCEPT!

CIVIL SOCIETIES, NPOs, AND CONCERNED CITIZENS, include one critic who accused the government of “moron management”.  Hermann Rainer Sonntag, the German who was deported, said by email, that he had provided no funding or direction to India’s anti-nuclear movement and, that as a retiree living on limited income, he can barely fund himself, and has spent long stretches in India because his money goes further. He did say he opposes nuclear energy. The Indian Central Government has yet to charge Sonntag with alleged violations, but other activists say the deportation is typical of New Delhi’s capricious and arbitrary (perhaps illegal) attitude, pointing out that if Sonntag had really broken the law, he probably would have been jailed, not exiled out of the country.

RUSSIAN PLAN TO COLONIZE INDIA Began with a plan to build six Russian NPPs in Kudankulam in the late 1980s;  However, the Soviet Union’s collapse stalled the start of construction until 1997.  The Russian plan went awry after the Fukushima Triple Melt-down forced a worldwide re-assessment of  Uranium -fueled NPPs:  Now, protests have delayed commissioning of the first reactor, which is 99% complete, and a second reactor that is 94% done.  The initiation postponements have added $500 million to the now-$3.3-billion project, which is partly financed by aid from Russia.

BUT WHY IS RUSSIA’S STATE-OWNED “ROSATOM” so helpful?  Money, lots of it! for the life of the NPPs. Under the original deal, the Russian government is to supply(sell India exclusively) uranium for the life of the plant, with India allowed to keep and reprocess the spent fuel.  Problem is nobody, but nobody, wants “spent nuclear fuel“, such a provision is  not generally allowed in U.S. agreements.  India apparently has undisclosed intentions to reprocess “spent fuel” for plutonium which can be made into nuclear weapons. Who in the world need them!!  greedy, paranoid morons, that’s who!

INDIA TOO, HAS NEED FOR MORE AND MORE ENERGY  India hopes to double its nuclear power from 2% (now)to 4% of its primary energy requirements by 2017. It now experiences a 12% energy shortfall at peak times, resulting in frequent and extended blackouts; That’s a huge economic drag, on a nation trying to lift millions out of poverty.  Even so, anti-nuclear activists argue that alternative energy could fill the gap. Kudankulam NPP area residents are peeved because their village, is subjected to more blackouts than other areas, in what they feel is a form of coercion . The standoff at Kudankulam has taken on added importance because another planned six(6) nuke “Energy Park” is nearing completion up the coast at Jaitapur; and is also stalled by angry demonstrations.

VILLAGERS SAY: HELL- NO!  Some villagers say they were initially supportive of the project, but became disenchanted when the government treated them like ignorant farmers who couldn’t possibly understand science, even as promised welfare projects such as, schools and roads never materialized.  “So many false promises”, said Raj Leon – 57, a retired businessman, sitting near banners that read “Technology from Hell!” and “Most Unsafe!”.  Lady Sunthari Pentan sat near the church in a black sari, and gold-colored necklace. The mother of two said: My biggest concern regarding the nuclear plant are possible birth defects, radiation in the food chain, and tainted fish killing fishermen’s livelihood… If rich, technologically advanced nations such as Japan, the U.S. and the Soviet Union have had reactor accidents, how can Indians believe the government’s safety claims, given its corruption and opaque oversight”.  Worrying about the twin cooling towers four miles away, she added: “A motorcycle accident kills two(2), a bus accident kills 25…This could kill thousands”.  THERE,  IS ONE SHARP INDIAN WOMAN !

INDIA’S NUCLEAR PROPONENTS PROMISE “MUCH SAFER” NPPs
. M.S. Srinivasan, “former head of India’s atomic regulatory body” believes that: “the nuclear industry has done a poor job communicating the benefits of nuclear power in general, and this reactor model’s safety record in particular ( In other words, he blames poor Public Relations), This contrasts with the anti-nuclear activist’s Post-Fukushima media campaign of late, involving dozens of press  releases, videos, photographs and news conferences arguing their case…Kudankulam NPPs would be extremely safe, given that the facility has four emergency generators, each of which can cool the plant alone well above sea level, as well as a passive cooling systems, that protects it against tsunamis, earthquakes and power failures. At Fukushima, a cooling-system failure after a massive earthquake and tsunami led to a meltdown of three(3) of its six NPPs;  Kudankulam’s passive system will work even without power…I believe reports that the protests were fueled by money diverted from anti-leprosy and orphan charities”,  Well ! Let’s remember he is a “former head of India’s atomic regulatory body” HIS REACTION IS TOTALLY PREDICTABLE, DO YOU AGREE?  BUT… HE LIES ABOUT SAFETY FEATURES OF OLD DESIGN NPPs. Such Dudes cannot be trusted; Indian people know that.

RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO INDIA  Alexander M. Kadakin, agrees with Srinivasan: “We have been suspecting it all along” – refering to the alleged “diversion of funds”.  OF COURSE HE AGREES! ITS REALLY ABOUT THEIR MONEY ! Officials of  the Kudankulam NPPs, behind a gate ringed by dozens of police officers and steel barriers, declined to comment.

INDIAN AUTHOR AND MAGAZINE EDITOR Mr. Vinod Mehta said: “government overreaction reflected the Prime Minister’s frustration over seeing a keystone policy blocked. Charities (NPOs) are appreciated in India in part, because they often provide the services that corrupt and inefficient officials fail to deliver…It’s really more that the prime minister is annoyed by the pushback against nuclear power” .

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

Thanks to the L.A. Times – 18 Mar 2012, for their excellent quotations. 

Note: This post is a sequel to: http://energymaters.com/?p=739 

All-caps are my comments -gonzedo

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March 19, 2012 at 12:32 AM Comments (13)

INDIAN PRESS DISCLOSES EFFORTS TO BUY THE PEOPLE OF TIRUNELVELY

10 Mar 2012

This post is a follow-up to: INDIA RESORTS TO THE IAEA, AND OTHERS TO ASSUAGE THEIR PEOPLE ABOUT NUKE SAFETY, dated 03 Dec 2011;  http://energymaters.com/?p=447

INDIAN PRESS HARKENS TO THE SO. KOREAN NPP INDUCEMENTS. Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) are not new to South Korea with 21 operational NPPs generating 18,716 Megawats (Mw); However, since the Fukushima Dai No.1 triple meltdown tragedy, the residents of Kori, So. Korea (who have had an NPP since 1978) are very uneasy at having seven (7) new NPPs built on their turf. Their fear has prevailed despite claims by authorities that radiation measured in Kori air is 0.01 mSv.  An official (Oh-Oh! – no name given) of  So. Korea’s  “Hydro & Nuclear Power Co (KHNP)” said:  “We told the Kori residents that this is low as natural background radiation is 0.005-0.03 mSv and that to be harmful the radiation must be more than 500 mSv. We also told them that on an average a person receives approximately 2.4 mSv per year in natural background radiation through daily life activities”;  But, this was clearly not enough to mitigate the anxiety of Kori residents, who after Fukushima, view the planned NPPs with suspicion and fear.

SO. KOREAN GOVERNMENT “SWEETENS THE NUKE POT” BY  OFFERING Kori residents attractive financial, and other inducements such as:

1. A $300-million grant to a local development fund destined for setting up schools, colleges and super-specialty hospitals.
2. Preference to Kori locals, in employment at the eight (8) Kori NPPs.

3. Scholastic scholarship up to college level to all students residing within five-km radius of the plants.

4. Free electrical power (up to Rs 500 10,000 won or $10) within a 5 Km. radius to all residents .

Apparently there have not yet been any protests in So. Korea against the Kori NPPs under construction.

INDIA TOO HAS “SWEETENED THE NUKE POT” At its 25-year-old NPP project at Kudankulam (KNPP)in Tamil Nadu, Tirunelveli district. There, the “Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL)” has ground to a halt, and is facing powerful public, and governmental opposition in several nearby Districts.  They had already built two(2) new Nukes in their proposed “six-Nuke Energy Park”; However, NPCIL has been unable to get “startup” permits, and the plants are idle. To counter the public opposition deadlock, NPCIL has planned /or provided several “welfare measures”; they are:
1. NPCIL has constructed call rooms.

2. Provided a drinking water facility through bored wells.

3. Laid new water pipe lines for 3.5 kms.

4. Ensured computer accessories for village schools and Panchayat offices.

5. Installed fire extinguishers and built lavatories in schools apart from

6. Laid a 17.6-km road, with street lights.
7. It renovated a home for disabled and mentally retarded children.

8. Organized health camps in villages – Not clear what these would entail.

9. Provided hearing-aids to schools for the needy, and created a talent nurturing scheme for meritorious students from economically deprived areas.

10.  Reported tsunami relief activities it had carried out.

IT IS CLEAR THE OPPOSITION DOES NOT ACCEPT  NPCIL’s “WELFARE MEASURES”, kind though they may be, they totally fail to answer, or even mitigate, the well expressed concerns by the people of Tirunelvely: and that, neither NPCIL, or the clearly supportive Indian Central Government, have even attempted to answer;  THAT, IS CLEARLY BECAUSE THEY DO NOT HAVE GOOD ANSWERS TO PROVIDE.

INDIAN NUKE PLANNERS THINK THAT IF…  Kori, So. Korea can be persuaded with amenities, Indian nationals should do the same at the kundakulam NPP project;  NOT SO! INDIAN PEOPLE HAVE DEMONSTRATED CLARITY OF THOUGHT WITH RESPECT TO ALL ASPECTS OF FOREIGN MADE NPPs IN INDIA.  THEY WILL NOT BE BOUGHT WITH A FEW AMENITIES.  THEIR’S IS A QUEST FOR NATIONAL INDEPENDENCE, AS WELL AS PEOPLE’S SAFETY; WHO KNOWS, THE PEOPLE OF SO. KOREA MAY DO THE SAME YET!

WE SAY AGAIN, TODAY NPP OPERATIONAL SAFETY IS NO LONGER THE MAIN ISSUE. The real problem is the huge worldwide accumulation of “Spent Fuel”(Transuranics) – highly toxic nuclear waste, with very long decay rates, and NO PLACE TO SAFELY STORE THEM FOR ETERNITY. That problem has multiplied all over the world with every new NPP to aggravate the problem.

 Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

 

March 10, 2012 at 1:16 AM Comments (14)

THREE “CONCENTRATING SOLAR POWER (CSP)” MAKERS CREATE AN ALLIANCE

08 Mar 2012.

THREE OF THE WORLD’S  LEADING CSP COMPANIES HAVE FORMED AN ALLIANCE TO PROMOTE THEIR TECHNOLOGY.  The world-class companies are: “Abengoa”,  “BrightSource”, and “Torresol”, and the new alliance is called: “Concentrated Solar Power Alliance(CSPA)”. The main purpose of the alliance is to promote public acceptance of their technology by informing USA Energy Regulators, Utilities, and Gid operators regarding the many benefits of CSP; specially, when coupled with thermal energy storage. It uses mirrors to concentrate sun rays on a trough or on a “power tower” to heat fluids which in turn, create steam to drive a conventional steam turbine(s). The first commercial CSP plants were built in California in the mid-1980’s, and are operating today with a higher output than when they were new.

EXEC DIRECTOR TEX WILKINS of CSPA (the new alliance) said: “We believe CSP, with its ability to generate electricity when it is needed, is critical in meeting the energy challenges facing the USA and the world…CSP technology is the only renewable resource that is capable of harnessing the world’s most abundant fuel source – the sun, to produce reliable, cost-effective, and useful electricity;” Hence the Alliance’s mission is to promote increased acceptance, adoption, and installation of CSP utilities in the United States. The Alliance will also promote policies to encourage, and advance CSP technology efficiency, and greater deployment.

USA CSP EXISTS ALREADY. It currently generates over 500 MW, and there are an additional 1,300MW of electrical generation in CSP plants UNDER CONSTRUCTION; with many millions of MW more under development.

WORLD-WIDE, CSP ELECTRICAL GENERATION now totals more than one million MW of CSP(one gigawatt) in operation. The International Energy Agency estimates that CSP projects now in development, or under construction in more than a dozen countries, including China, India, Morocco, Spain and the United States) will soon total 15 gigawatts (that is equivalent to 15 Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs).

ADVANTAGES OF CSP FOR UTILITIES to users, and grid operators are:

1. Its inherent ability to: Produce electricity at peak demand when it is needed most during the late afternoon or early summer evening hours or winter mornings
2. Its ability to include cost-effective / efficient, thermal energy storage, to significantly extend its hours of operation into the night(after the sun goes down) to provide a flexible and usable clean energy source, as needed.  There are different designs for steam-producing CSP technology that incorporate thermal storage.

3. Ease of  incorporation (co-location) with thermoelectric gas, oil or coal fuel power plants, to create “hybrids” Power Plants for cleaner base-load power.

CSP PLANTS GREATLY BENEFIT AREAS WHERE THEY ARE INSTALLED:  Experience has shown CSP Plants generate many economic benefits in the regions where they are built, as well as adding energy to the grid. A recent study of the Spanish CSP industry by “Deloitte” found that, compared to other power generation sources, CSP plants are a strong creator of local jobs during construction, operation, and maintenance;  Additionally, the supply chain feeding the CSP plants creates nationwide jobs as well, because of the plants’ high percentage of domestically-sourced components. Another study commissioned by the “U.S. National Renewable Energy Lab’ for the Department of Energy(DOE) found that a 100 megawatt.  CSP plant creates more than $600 million in impact to gross state output; That,  is ten times that of a combined cycle fossil plant, due to local usefulness and job creation.  CSP technology usually includes power towers, parabolic troughs and linear reflectors, all based on proven engineering principles.

OTHER CSP ALLIANCES EXIST; Hence,  the CSPA builds on the momentum created by World Solar Thermal Electricity Association (STELAWorld), a consortium of industry associations representing the CSP utility industry in Europe, Australia and South Africa. The new CSP Alliance will work closely with, but independent of,  STELAWorld, to further advance the CSP industry in the USA, and abroad.

CSPA  ELECTRICAL GENERATION GOALS ARE: 10% OF THE WORLD’S ENERGY MIX .  Such expectations imply new technologies, and the creation of new, well remunerated jobs;  Such are the projections of the International Energy Agency, in a recent study that shows that, given sufficient investment, and the right government policies, more than 10% of the world’s electricity demand could be satisfied by CSPs by 2050.

Abengoa is an international company currently building 1,010 MW of solar plants all over the world and, with an additional 393 MW already operating. It is the only company in the world building and operating both, trough and power tower CSP plants.

BrightSource Energy, Inc. has approximately 2,400 MW and 90,000 acres under contracts with “Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric Company”- California’s two largest utilities; In addition, the company manages an approximately 90,000 acre development site portfolio in California and the USA-SW that has the potential to accommodate approximately 10 GW of installed capacity.

The Torresol Energy company (Torresol means “solartower” in Spanish) develops, constructs, operates and maintains large CSPs in southern Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the southwest of the United States. Torresol’s “Gemasolar” plant in Seville, Spain is the first commercial scale Utility in the world to use both: central tower receiver and molten salt heat storage technology.  Such technology is considered the world’s most advanced, and capable of generating energy well after sundown, or during cloudy periods.

IN THE POST-FUKUSHIMA ERA, the world seems united in its rejection of Uranium-fueled Pressure Boiling Water Reactors.  Companies that only a year ago were “licking their lips”, at the thought of the upcoming “Nuclear Renaissance”, such as EDF (France), Rosatom (Russia) , Mitsubishi, Hitachi, Toshiba (Japan), and others, are now “licking their financial wounds” instead, and looking to huge loses in their Nuclear Uranium Cartel segment of Industry.  Some of them are just beginning to accept the fact that to survive, they need to diversify into renewable, clean energy generation.

SOME PROPHETS OF DOOM SAY 2012 WILL BE THE YEAR THE WORLD CHANGES DRAMATICALLY.  I HAVE NEWS FOR THEM!  Fukushima changed our world in many transcendental, dramatic, and irreversible ways;  As a result, many nasty surprises await Fukushima, Japan, and the world for many years to come!  The Fukushima triple melt-thru tragedy has many years yet to play itself out (well, almost).  NO, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, 2011 WAS  “THE YEAR THAT CHANGED OUR WORLD FOREVER”-  Who knows, perhaps for the best, for by opening our eyes to the dangers that the Transuranic “nuclear waste” Uranium-fueled reactors create, it will at last turn our eyes to “alternative clean energy” as a necessity.

THERE ARE MANY ALTERNATIVE SOURCES of energy generation, and CSP, is just one of the promising technologies.  In the coming months we shall endeavor to explore, and report on such technologies – there are many.  It seems clear that each country needs to create an “Energy-mix” most suited to their needs, and utilizing all of their energetic resources.  There is both safety, and pride in energy independence.  It will also prevent wars.  Yes!, I know it sounds utopian, but the fact is we were “taken” for a 60 year ride by the Uranium Nuclear Cartel.  We may need the next 100 years to seek and find clean renewable, sources of energy.  Science, technology, and engineering can help,  government can facilitate development, and we all need to find good ways to conserve energy.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

 

March 8, 2012 at 10:44 PM Comments (6)

KUWAIT ABANDONS PLANS FOR FOUR NUKES, OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES DO NOT – YET

24 Feb 2012

KUWAIT CITY – KUWAIT ABANDONS PLANS TO BUILD FOUR (4) NUKES BY 2022.  Officials of the Kuwaiti government at the Kuwaiti “Institute for Scientific Research” made the announcement on 22 Feb 2012.  Institute’s scientist Osama al-Sayegh, and two colleagues, said the Fukushima incident resulted in the public questioning the necessity of building Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) in oil-rich Kuwait.  There was also the question of where Kuwait would store the radioactive waste generated by the NPPs. THOSE ARE THE QUESTIONS EVERY COUNTRY WITH NPP BUILDING INTENTIONS NEEDS TO ANSWER.  WE ARE HAPPY TO SEE TO SEE KUWAITI LEADERS HAVE SHOWN A “POST FUKUSHIMA” WISDOM.  PERHAPS OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES WILL ALSO “SEE THE BLINKING RED LIGHT”.  

KUWAIT’S INTEREST IN NPPs BEGAN ABOUT  2009, when the country announced plans to invest in NPPs to preserve its oil reserves. At that time Kuwaiti officials signed agreements with the USA, France and Russia, to boost bilateral cooperation in developing an “indigenous civilian atomic energy infrastructure”.  Kuwait’s interest in NPPs peaked in September 2010, when “Kuwait’s National Nuclear Energy Committee” announced that it was considering options for four(4) planned 1,000 megawatt(Mw) NPPs, and would release a national “road map” (A WELL-THOUGHT OUT PLAN)for developing civilian nuclear electrical power generation in Jan 2011;  Then…

ON 12 MAR 2011,  the  Fukushima Tragic Triple-Meltdown occurred. The political and socio-economic fallout caused Kuwaiti Emir Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, to order that the Kuwaiti “National Nuclear Energy Committee” be dissolved for months.  Kuwait’s decision to abandon nuclear power has not surprised local analyst Robin Mills, an energy researcher in Dubai, said: “A couple of months ago there was an announcement that Kuwait was rethinking its nuclear plans…But I wouldn’t draw wider implications into the (Persian) Gulf’s nuclear policy”.

OTHER ARAB COUNTRIES ARE STILL”GO” NUCLEAR  Kuwait’s non-nuclear intentions have not kept Kuwait’s Persian Gulf neighbor, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), from pressing forward with its plans to construct four(4) NPPs in a remote area outside Abu Dhabi.  The UAE program is going ahead, and seems to be on schedule- construction has started; Other Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia planning to build six(6) NPPs  during the next 20 years, and Jordan which appears to be behind NPP plans, but is zig-zaging on the issue.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez(gonzedo)

Note: All caps are my comment(s)

 

February 24, 2012 at 11:33 PM Comments (3)

THORIUM “THE OTHER NUCLEAR ENERGY” RECONSIDERED AS URANIUM GAINS DETRACTORS

21 Feb 2012

UP WITH THORIUM, DOWN WITH URANIUM AS NUCLEAR FUEL say those who see  the post-Fukushima era as the perfect opportunity to get the USA to re-consider a proposal they have made without success for many years: “What about trying a new fuel? and maybe a new kind of reactor?”  The proposed fuel is Thorium, an abundant silver-gray element named for the Norse God of Thunder. It is less radioactive than the uranium that has powered USA Utilities, and advocates say that Thorium not only produces far less nuclear waste, it is also is more difficult to turn into nuclear weapons. Accordingly they’re pushing the idea of adapting plants to use Thorium as a fuel, or replacing them with a completely new kind of reactor called a Liquid-Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR) – pronounced “lifter”. The LFTR would use a mixture of molten chemical salts to cool the reactor and to transfer energy from the fission reaction to a turbine.  Proponents say such a system would be more efficient and safer than existing pressurized Boiling Water Reactors (BWRs) commonly in use today, which use pressurized water to cool uranium fuel rods, to produce  superheated steam to drive generating turbines.  The idea of Thorium-fueled nuclear power has been around for nearly 50 years, and some countries are even now planning to build Thorium-powered plants;  However, the concept has not resonated with the USA companies that design and build nuclear plants, or with the national research labs charged with investigating future energy sources. (IT APPEARS IMPOSSIBLE TO CHANGE THE DIRECTION OF A 104 NUKE FLEET, BUT CHANGE IS INEVITABLE, HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE).

DESCRIPTION OF THE ELEMENT THORIUM: An abundant silver-gray element named for the Norse god of thunder.  It exists naturally in the ground as Thorium oxide, and is three(3) to four(4) times as abundant worldwide as Uranium. Although Thorium is less radioactive than Uranium, it emits “alpha particles”, which are biologically less harmful than uranium’s “gamma particles”; That, makes Thorium far easier to store safely. It has an extremely high melting point (over 6,000 F.), and has been used in portable gas lanterns, high-temperature ceramic products and aerospace applications but, the development of alternative materials, most of its uses have diminished.  It’s use as a “nuclear-fuel” is not new…

USA EXPERIMENTED WITH THORIUM AS A NUCLEAR FUEL FROM 1965 to 1969 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) located in Tenn. -USA in a “molten-salt reactor” that GOVERNMENT SCIENTISTS BUILT and operated successfully;  However, during the cold-war years, the growing need for weapon-grade Plutonium – a transuranic by-product of Uranium-fueled reactors, drove the USA Utilities to use Uranium as a fuel; hence, the Thorium-fuel project was mostly forgotten, and all subsequent nuclear plants were designed to use Uranium.

THORIUM-FUELED REACTORS HAVE FEW ADVOCATES AT PRESENT; One such, is Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer, now CEO of Huntsville, Ala.-based “Flibe Energy”.  Flibe, is derived from the mixture of Fluoride, Lithium and Beryllium salts and Thorium used as fuel (instead of Uranium) in a LFTR.  Sorensen said: “We recognize this is a new and different technology, and that developing it, is significantly different from the existing Uranium-fueled Boiling Water Reactors(BWRs) common in industry…Part of the problem is that “nuclear” means only one thing in the public and  even the USA  government’s mind…We can look back to Oak Ridge Tennessee to rebuild the capability that existed in 1974…a LFTR, using a mixture of Thorium as a fuel plus either Uranium or Plutonium to kick-start the reaction, could produce higher core temperatures; at lower pressures than Boiling Water Reactors, meaning it would not need as many safety and cooling systems”;  Even better, Sorensen says, LFTRs could be configured to consume the spent fuel that is sitting around the country (At Spent-Fuel Pools) at nuclear sites.  Sorensen has been trying to convince Uranium fuel advocates to build LFTRs instead. He posted technical documents from the Oak Ridge Thorium reactor on his blog last year.

ANOTHER STRONG THORIUM NUCLEAR FUEL ADVOCATE,  John Kutsch, director of the “Thorium Energy Alliance”, a trade group based in Harvard, Ill. Said: (A Thorium -fueled reactor)“doesn’t use water for cooling, so you don’t have the possibility of a hydrogen explosion, as you did in Fukushima.”  Kutsch argues that the United States could be losing out on developing an important technology. He has been lobbying members of Congress to introduce legislation that would reclassify Thorium as a special industrial material, rather than a nuclear material. “Our legislation would say Thorium is not like uranium and plutonium… It can be safely stored and handled like ammonia or fertilizer.” He is also pushing for another bill that would direct the USA-NRC to develop rules for the use of Thorium. That would give USA companies an opening to start using Thorium in existing reactors.  (ME THINKS HE EXPECTS TOO MUCH FROM PRESENT USA LEGISLATORS AND THE NRC – NOW SHOWN AS IMPOTENT). 

PRO – THORIUM POLITICAL ACTION STARTING (AGAIN): Rep. John Shimkus (R- Illinois) who chairs a subcommittee that oversees nuclear waste disposal, says he will be introducing Thorium legislation this year(2012). Shimkus said in a phone interview, “Thorium is a great response.” HE WOULD DO WELL TO REVIEW USA-  SENATE SPEAKER REED’S FAILED EFFORT TO DO JUST THAT IN 2008.  THE URANIUM NUCLEAR CARTEL IS STOUT! WITH A CAPITAL “S” – THEY DEFEND THEIR HUGE CAPITAL INVESTMENTS NOW GOING AWRY POST FUKUSHIMA; THAT IS WHY, THEY ARE TRYING TO RESURRECT A “URANIUM-FUELED NUCLEAR RENAISSANCE”

URANIUM-FUELED REACTORS HAVE MANY ADVOCATES STILL, and in unlikely places.  For instance: Dan Ingersoll, senior project manager for nuclear technology at the “Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)” in Tennessee: said:  “There are small boatloads of fanatics on Thorium that don’t see the downsides…For one thing, it would be too expensive to replace or convert the nuclear power plants already running in this country…A Thorium-based fuel cycle has some advantages, but it’s not compelling for infrastructure and investments…I’m looking for something compelling enough to trash billions of dollars of infrastructure that we have already, and I don’t see that.” Ingersoll also pointed out that” Thorium would still have some radioactive by-products…just not as much as uranium and not as long-lived, and also that there is no ready stockpile of Thorium in the United States. It would have to be mined.  Overall, the benefits don’t outweigh the huge costs of switching technologies…Thorium is still a radioactive material…It doesn’t eliminate the nuclear waste product. It’s just not as bad…Thorium-powered reactors make more sense for countries that don’t have access to the plentiful reserves of uranium that exist in the United States”  HOW QUICKLY HE FORGETS THE HISTORY AND LESSONS OF HIS ORGANIZATION(ORNL) AS A THORIUM-FUELED REACTOR PIONEER!  HE IS MAINLY CONCERNED ABOUT MONEY! – MONEY TALKS!, AND MAKES LIARS AND MUTES OF MANY OTHERS;  EVEN SO…

NOW WITH AN ACCUMULATION OF NUCLEAR WASTE, the USA Federal government is unable to come up with a permanent waste disposal site, spent fuel rods (which remain radioactive for thousands of years) are piling up at each reactor’s “Spent-Fuel Pools”;  Even so, many worldwide Utilities are aiming to replace old Uranium-fueled NPPs with more modern versions of the old ones, and to hell with the Nuclear-waste accumulation. To the chagrin of  anti-nuke people all over the world, the USA- NRC very recently approved Atlanta-based Southern Co.’s proposal to build two(2) AP1000 reactors in Georgia (The two articles preceding this one, deal with that event).

MIDDLE OF THE ROAD-ER McLean-based “Lightbridge” wants to mix Thorium and Uranium to slightly boost the output of existing nuclear plants. Seth Grae, Pres. & CEO of  Lightbridge is helping the Russian government to build such a program;  However,  most U.S. nuclear energy industry executives are wary of both approaches to Thorium, saying that neither utilities nor investors are eager to gamble on an unfamiliar technology.  Chris Mowry, Pres & CEO of “Babcock & Wilcox“, a Lynchburg-based firm, that is building smaller reactors fueled by uranium said: “We view Thorium as something that’s down the road. It’s more of the science-project phase.”  (ANOTHER ENTREPRENEUR “DRIVING BY THE REAR-VIEW MIRROR”… REMEMBER T. A. EDISON? – HE WANTED ONLY DIRECT(DC) CURRENT – BOY WAS HE WRONG!  AND HE NEVER ADMITTED IT EITHER).

USA- MILITARY USE OF THORIUM CONSIDERATIONS: While seeking alternative energy sources the, Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) announced in 2010 that it was proposing a plan to make both jet fuel and electricity from small mobile nuclear plants.  Thorium proponent Sorensen says he has talked with DARPA officials about using Thorium for such reactors in hostile areas; He argued that since Thorium is less adaptable for weapons purposes, the reactor would be safe enough to leave behind for civilian use when USA troops pull out.  Sorensen said: “Thorium potentially would offer some way to mitigate that challenge of security and safety if we do convince ourselves to put nuclear plants in these locations”;  However, Col. Paul E. Roege, chief of the Army’s operational energy cell at the Pentagon, said the Pentagon is leery of Thorium for military purposes: “engineers aren’t familiar with it…We have lots of uranium reactors, people are comfortable with them, and we have a mature technology…That’s not the case with Thorium reactors.” ( IN OUR OPINION COL ROEGE IS MUCH LIKE CHRIS MOWRY OF “BABCOCK AND WILCOX” – SEE ABOVE).

CHINA AND INDIA ARE DEVELOPING THORIUM FUEL REACTORS. Chinese government officials announced in Feb 2011, that they are developing a Thorium-based reactor, and will have it operating within the next 15 or 20 years. India also has plans to use Thorium in some of its existing reactors.  John Kutsch argues correctly that the USA could be (IS) missing out on developing an important technology while developing countries are not.

Thanks to The Washington Post 20 Feb 201 article: Please note we provided heavy editing and comment mostly in parenthesis, or all-caps.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nuclear-power-entrepreneurs-push-Thorium-as-a-fuel/2011/12/15/gIQALTinPR_story_2.html

RELATED POSTS/ARTICLES:

IT IS HIGH TIME TO RE-THINK THORIUM AS THE NUCLEAR FUEL OF THE FUTURE

http://energymaters.com/?page_id=31 20 Jun 2011

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

 

February 21, 2012 at 8:26 PM Comments (31)

THIRTY-EIGHT ANTI-NUKE GROUPS FORMALLY PETITION THE USA-NRC FOR NEW REGS.

19 FEB 2012

TAKOMA PARK, MD USA – Thirty-eight (38) Clean Energy groups, on 15 Feb 2012,  submitted a “Formal Petition for Rulemaking” to the USA Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USA-NRC), seeking adoption of new regulations to: 1. expand emergency evacuation zones and, 2. improve emergency response planning around USA Nuclear Power Plants(NPPs) – normally referred to as: “Nukes”

INITIAL CO-PETITIONERS ARE:  Nuclear Information and Resource Service (national and lead author), Bellefonte Efficiency and Sustainability Team (TN), Beyond Nuclear (national), Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League (Southeast), Citizens Action Coalition (IN), Citizen Power (PA), Citizens Awareness Network (Northeast), Citizens Within a 10-Mile Radius (MA), Citizens Environmental Coalition (NY), Coalition for a Nuclear Free Great Lakes (Great Lakes), Concerned Citizens of Shell Bluff (GA), Connecticut Coalition Against Millstone, Council on Intelligent Energy and Conservation Policy (NY), Don’t Waste Arizona, Don’t Waste Michigan, The Ecology Party of Florida, Empire State Consumer Project Inc. (NY), Grandmothers, Mothers, and More for Energy Safety (GRAMMES) (NJ), Greenpeace (national), Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition (NY), Jersey Shore Nuclear Watch (NJ), Missourians for Safe Energy, New England Coalition, Nuclear Energy Information Service (IL), NC WARN, (NC), Northwest Environmental Advocates (OR), Not On Our Fault Line (VA), People’s Alliance for Clean Energy (VA), Promoting Health and Sustainable Energy (PHASE) (NY), Public Citizen Energy Program (national), San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace (CA), SEED Coalition (TX), Sierra Club of South Carolina, Three Mile Island Alert (PA), Tri-Valley CARE (CA), Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah (HEAL Utah), Vermont Public Interest Research Group, We The People Inc. (TN).
The full text of the petition link is: http://www.nirs.org/reactorwatch/emergency/petitionforrulemaking22012.pdf  PETITION FOR RULEMAKING TO IMPROVE EMERGENCY PLANNING REGULATIONS (10 C.F.R. 50.47)

THE WELL FORMULATED PETITION,  A 35 page legal-like document, addresses many key concerns of 38 prominent Green Energy groups regarding USA Nukes, and their ramifications. The petition is a well coordinated request intended to force governmental oversight action upon the USA NRC; Unfortunately, we know the NRC is controlled by “a gang of four” sold-out Commissioners whom we think are intractable in their favoritism for the USA Nuclear Industry(and beyond, because of its global importance).  Please see: USA NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION STILL HOG-TIED AND IMPOTENT – PART 4.  http://energymaters.com/?p=584.

 We wish this Clean Energy Coalition the best of luck, and may their intentions reward us all with much needed safety improvement in the USA Nuclear Industry.
gonzedo

 

February 19, 2012 at 11:56 AM Comment (1)

USA NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION STILL HOG-TIED AND IMPOTENT – PART 4.

09 Feb 2012

For Part 3 see:  http://energymaters.com/?p=522  Dated 13 Jan 2012.

USA NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION APPROVES NEW NUKES IN USA Rockville, Maryland – USA Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), on 09 Feb 2012 approved plans to build the first two (2) new Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs) in the USA in more than 30 years;  That, in spite of objections of the panel’s Chairman Gregory Jaczko who cited safety concerns stemming from Japan’s disastrous 2011 Fukushima disaster which have not yet been addressed the NRC;  Even so, The USA-NRC voted 4-1 to allow Atlanta-based “Southern Co” to build and operate two(2) new Nukes at its existing twin-Nuke site.

NRC CHAIRMAN CAST ONLY DISSENTING VOTE  Chairman Gregory Jaczko cast an extraordinary dissenting vote, citing the Fukushima triple meltdown on March 2011. That incident spurred the NRC to review whether “existing and new U.S. reactors” could withstand natural disasters like earthquakes floods, and even new seismic concerns, and to incorporate the “Fukushima lessons learned” to the NRC Regulations – No success in doing that reported to date.  Jaczko said: “I cannot support issuing this license as if Fukushima never happened…I believe it requires some type of binding commitment that the Fukushima enhancements that are currently projected and currently planned to be made, would be made before the operation of the facility.”  HE DID ALL HE COULD!   USA Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass),  Senior Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee said: “The NRC abdicated its duty to protect public health and safety just to make construction faster and cheaper for the nuclear industry…Rather than ushering in the so-called nuclear renaissance, today’s vote demonstrates that the NRC is still stuck in the nuclear safety Dark Ages.” PRETTY HARSH, BUT  REALISTIC ASSESMENT.

VOGTLE NPP is located in Burke County, near Waynesboro, in the State of Georgia. The twin Nukes will cost Southern (and partners) about $14 billion, and are expected to enter service as soon as 2016 and 2017. The US Secretary of Energy (DOE), Dr. Steven Chu had promised  Southern and its partners $8.3 billion in federal loan guarantees as incentives;  However, times have changed greatly in governmental spending – Chu could change his mind, but that is unlikely).  One reason for the rapid building projection timing (4 to 5 years)is supposed to be the “Modular Construction” of the new generation ESBWRs.

ENTER THE NEW GENERATION ESBWRs  The two (2)new NPPs  plan to use AP1000 (GEN III+ ?) reactors built by Westinghouse Electric, referred to as “ Economical Simplified Boiling Water Reactors (ESBWRs)”- a standardized design approved by the NRC in December 2011, that will be the foundation for several other proposed nuclear plants. Westinghouse however, is just a business front for (majority owned by) Japanese Multinational Toshiba Corp. (THAT IS THE KICKER!! – THESE FOLKS NORMALLY WANT A LIFETIME SERVICE CONTRACT )

THREE MILE ISLAND INCIDENT IN 1979 STOPPED NEW NUCLEAR CONSTRUCTION. There have been no new NPPs built in the United States since the partial meltdown of the reactor core of the “Three Mile Island” plant in Pennsylvania in 1979; That, caused construction costs for NPPs to skyrocket, and stopped dozens of planned plants in their tracks. Currently nuclear generation accounts for about 20% of total USA electrical generation.  Southern’s Vogtle project is the first in a queue of permits filed by U.S. utilities before the USA-NRC, such as: Scana Corp,

NATURAL GAS MAKES MUCH MORE SENSE NOW Than new Nukes. Interest in new NPPs had risen about a decade ago (before “Fracking“) when natural gas prices were soaring, and experts thought the U.S. Congress would place limits on emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DECADE MAKES! Now the case for new Nukes has eroded due the lessons of the Fukushima Dai No.1. Triple meltdown, and to the abundance and low cost Nat gas supplies in the USA. Natural gas is about one half as polluting as coal for electrical generation. Michael Golay, a professor at the USA Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said: “New nuclear plants are more questionable because there are economic factors right now which favor gas-fueled power plants and the fact that the economy is only growing slowly means that nationally the need for new generation is lower than people were expecting in 2007,” He added that  a 1,000-megawatt(Mw) natural gas plant takes a few years to permit and build, and costs up to $1 billion for the most efficient, combined-cycle model. A similar-sized nuclear reactor however could take five to 10 years to develop and build, and cost well in excess of $5 billion.  Golay’s rationale also led Mexico to scrap plans for 10 new Nukes, and use their new found abundance of Nat gas instead.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

 

February 9, 2012 at 3:43 PM Comments (3)

FUKUSHIMA DAI NO.1 OPENED A “ PANDORA’S BOX” OF NUCLEAR PERDITION

08 Feb 2012

This article is a sequel to JAPAN’S GOV. AND TEPCO ARE LYING AGAIN ABOUT A “COLD-SHUTDOWN” AT FUKUSHIMA NPPs      http://energymaters.com/?p=480

SEE THERE! WE TOLD YOU THEY WERE LYING – THEN, AND THEY ARE LYING STILL.  A former special adviser to Naoto Kan, who was prime minister when the crisis started, warned that the situation is far from resolved and said Fukushima has exposed a multitude of serious nuclear problems that Japan will have to confront for years. Dr. Hiroshi Tasaka (who has a doctorate in nuclear engineering) and is now a professor at Tama University, said in a recent interview with The Japan Times: “I would say (the crisis) just opened Pandora’s box”

DR. TASAKA SAW THE SECRET DOCUMENT. He recalled viewing the government’s FUKUSHIMA DAI NO.1 “WORST CASE SCENARIO” late March 2011, When he was officially appointed “special advisor to the prime minister” on March 29.  The document detailed a hypothetical Fukushima crisis worst case scenario: 1. Eventual contamination from the plant would require the government to assist residents in the Tokyo area to evacuate if they wanted to voluntarily “migrate,” based on the same evacuation protocols adopted for the 1986 Chernobyl accident. 2. The scenario assumed another hydrogen explosion would occur in the reactor #1 building, and radiation would force all of the workers at the plant to evacuate.  3. All of the pools storing hundreds of nuclear fuel assemblies would eventually lose their cooling ability, and the assemblies would melt down and breach the pools (spill on the ground, and most probably initiate an uncontrollable chain reaction of unimaginable magnitude).  SCARY, IS IT NOT!

“SPENT FUEL POOLS” STILL THE BIGGEST DANGER according to Dr. Hiroshi Tasaka who was one of a select group allowed to glimpse the secret “WORST CASE SCENARIO” document written up by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC).  According to the scenario, the biggest risk during the meltdown crisis wasn’t the reactors themselves, but the spent fuel pools sitting atop them, particularly the one above reactor 4, which still contains about 1,500 nuclear fuel assemblies.  Unlike reactors 1, 2 and 3, the No. 4 unit was “offline for regular checks” when disaster struck on 11 Mar 2011, and thus the reactor (NUKE) didn’t suffer a meltdown. But its fuel rods were in the pool outside the reactor, and the pool’s coolant water fell dangerously low. Adding to that danger, the fuel pool was (is) now directly exposed to the outside environment after a hydrogen explosion blew off the upper part of the reactor building on 15 Mar 2011. The Spent Fuel Pool still appears to be dangling over the edge of the reactor building.  Dr. Tasaka added ominously: “The potential heat from the pool was also much higher than other pools because 204 of the 1,535 assemblies were still “new ones” that had been temporarily removed from reactor 4 for regular checks”

IT’S THE POOLS – FOOLS! The Fukushima No.1 Triple meltdown has highlighted the dangers of spent fuel pools, which are outside the robust primary containment vessels of the reactors themselves. Dr. Tasaka said: “Under the current circumstances, the nation has no prospect of starting up the experimental high-level nuclear waste processing facility in Rokkasho, Aomori Prefecture, because of both technical difficulties and the sentiments of antinuclear activists: This means utilities must (continue to) store their spent fuel assemblies in cooling pools at their respective reactor sites as a “temporary measure…That situation greatly increased the danger at Fukushima No. 1 on March 11…The storage capacities of the spent fuel pools at the nation’s nuclear power plants are reaching their limits”. According to Dr. Tasaka: “The utilities’ fuel pools were about 70 % full on average in 2010, but the figure was 80 % at Fukushima No. 1. The makeshift cooling systems set up at Fukushima No. 1 to stabilize the stricken reactors and fuel pools have greatly reduced the possibility of another catastrophe; Even so, the improvised system for decontaminating the coolant water, is nevertheless generating large amounts of highly contaminated waste every day… Making matters worse, the government (OR INDUSTRY ?) doesn’t have any place to permanently store it”.

WORST CASE SCENARIO “SO SHOCKING” IT NEEDED SECRECY. The simulation was “so shocking” that top government officials decided to keep the paper secret by treating it as a “mere personal document” of JAEC Chairman Shunsuke Kondo, who compiled the simulation. The government only gave it official recognition at the end of Dec 2011 – More than 10 months after Tasaka saw the worst-case scenario paper.  Dr. Tasaka is still not sure if such scary information should immediately be made public during a nuclear plant crisis; He said: “The assumed worst case was extreme and people did not need to immediately flee the Tokyo area even in March or April” Dr. Tasaka added that disclosing the simulation could have caused panic in the capital”  Dr. Tasaka was obliged to keep secret the “worse case scenario” learned at the prime minister’s office, and did not feel in a position to decide “what information” was to be made public during the crisis.

“GROUNDLESS OPTIMISM” – A SOURCE OF CONCERN Dr. Tasaka is also deeply concerned about the “groundless optimism” displayed by bureaucrats and business leaders as they rush to restart dozens of reactors that remain halted for safety checks since March 11. He said: “I understand quite well the intentions of the government, which now wants to send out a message of hope. But at this stage, all the risks should be put on the table…The nation’s nuclear regulators must carry out drastic reforms to regain the people’s trust. This is an imperative for the government if it wants to keep pushing nuclear power”.

WHAT INFORMATION SHOULD BE RELEASED TO THE PUBLIC ?. That is still an unanswered question that crosses moral, ethical, and “salvation of the many” grounds not yet broached satisfactorily by “nuclear” countries.  Dr. Tasaka said he decided to start talking about the “worse-case scenario” only after Prime Minister Kan mentioned some of its highlights during an interview with the media in Sep 2011. Dr. Tasaka recently wrote in a new book, “Kantei Kara Mita Genpatsu Jiko No Shinjitu” (The Truth About the Nuclear Accident as Viewed From the Prime Minister’s Office). Dr. Tasaka now believes the media and government should lay some ground rules in advance, on what sensitive information should be made clear in a nuclear crisis.  A TOUGH NUT TO CRACK!  BUT CRACK IT WE MUST – IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST !

Thanks to The Japan Times (online) for quotations,  08 Feb 2012  http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/nn20120208f1.html

————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

MY TAKE:

IT’S THE POOLS – FOOLS!!!  Even though this article is self-explanatory, the concerns expressed herein bear careful scrutiny, and the realization that Japan is not alone in its plight with “Nuclear waste” produced by Nukes, and with nowhere to go.  There are literally thousands of Nukes worldwide (mostly old ones) with “Spent Fuel Pools” being used as  “Nuclear Waste Repositories”;  Unfortunately, most spent fuel pools are located on the same building with the Nukes, and above the Nuke itself to facilitate spent fuel removal, and re-installation by the use of remotely controlled davit/cranes.  Convenient location, but potentially deadly, because ” SPENT FUEL POOLS” MAKE POOR “NUCLEAR WASTE REPOSITORIES ” FOR MANY REASONS TO BE EXPLORED LATER.

WHO ME ? ? We noticed Dr. Tasaka too(also) avoids responsibility for the “release of information question” “He was just an advisor” THEY ALL SAY THAT! Even so, the IAEA could perform a useful function (for once) in writing proposals regarding the release of information, critical to the survival of potentially thousands of innocent victims of nuclear catastrophes; Unfortunately they, and most of the Nuclear Regulatory Agencies of the world, consider it their primary duty to hide such information to protect powerful financial interests. – Yes, here, there, and everywhere!  IT IS A HELL OF A WAY TO RUN A RAILROAD!!!   

Edward Oliver Gonzalez(gonzedo)

 

 

 

February 8, 2012 at 6:34 PM Comments (15)

BULGARIA TO “BITE THE BULLET” AND TELL RUSSIA “THANKS, BUT NO THANKS”- PART 2

05 Feb 2012

THIS IS A SEQUEL TO PART 1, dated 27 Oct 2011. http://energymaters.com/?p=388

BULGARIA JUST CAN’T AFFORD IT!  Recall that Bulgaria, the European Union (EU)’s poorest member, faces a seemingly impossible task to finish the 2,000 Megawatt (twin reactor), Russian-designed Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), in Belene, Bulgaria. The lessons of the Fukushima Dai No.1 triple meltdown on 12 Mar 2011, have caused Bulgarians to reassess the 30 year-old Russian NPP design planned there. Russia’s Rosatom wants an extra $2.1 billion Euros now, for a total of 6.1 Billion Euros, that they say would be needed for improved safety measures, and insurance.  NO WAY JOSE! (OR IS IT VLADIMIR ?)

MOST BULGARIANS OPPOSE THE BELENE NPP PROJECT. Prominent Mr. Minchev opposes the project because the government chose the Russian supplier in 2005 without any regard for fair competition.” The reactor design is obsolete, the costs are running out of control, and the project is making Bulgaria even more dependent on Russia for energy supplies “ HE IS A MAN WHO “ TELLS IT LIKE IT IS” Minchev adds: “This project was developed without any consideration for our national interest, or the broader political and strategic interests of our European allies…The nuclear reactors proposed were developed 30 years ago (old technology). Why are we buying them?”. GOOD QUESTION! – ANSWER: JUST BECAUSE!  Mark Hibbs, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Berlin, said on 22 Oct 2011: “Some observers in the nuclear financing and nuclear project management field believe that the present Bulgarian government would prefer to walk away from this project.” IF ONLY THEY COULD DO SO GRACEFULLY.

NPPs WERE FAST-TRACKED BY RUSSIA’S VLADIMIR PUTIN TROUGH THE CREATION OF NOW STATE-OWNED ROSATOM (MinAtom)  Min-Atom was reorganized as the “Russian Federal Agency on Atomic Energy” on 09 Mar 2004, and transformed to a State corporation; Passed into the law, by the Russian Parliament on Nov 2007; and signed by President Putin in early Dec, 2007. Rosatom, currently sells nuclear fuel for Bulgaria’s only existing atomic plant at Kozloduy. SEE THERE, RUSSIANS DON’T JUST BUILD NPPs, THEY WANT A CONTRACT TO BUILD AND MAINTAIN THE NPP’s FOR LIFE. They evidently also want a piece of the global “NPP And Maintenance” action sought by France’s Areva, Japanese, and now Chinese nuclear Purveyors.

FAST – FORWARD TO 04 FEB 2012 …U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has arrived in Bulgaria for talks that are expected to focus on energy security.  Clinton flew to Bulgaria from the German city of Munich, where she attended an international Security Conference on 04 Feb 2012.  It seems that energy scarcity on Eastern European Countries has given the Term: “Cold-War” a new meaning.  There are hundreds of deaths reported this winter, and blamed on energy shortfalls. We feel certain she was invited there by the Bulgarian government.  

CLINTON’S BRIEF VISIT TO SOFIA , BULGARIA. During her brief visit on Sunday, 05 Feb 2012, Clinton is scheduled to meet with Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev and Prime Minister Boyko Borissov. Ms. Clinton is expected to urge the Eastern European country of Bulgaria to develop new energy sources, and break its dependence on Russia for its nuclear, oil and gas supplies.  Even though NPPs were not mentioned , we must remember they are a long standing “bone of contention” between Russia’s Rosatom, and Bulgaria.

BULGARIANS “WANT OUT” OF THEIR OLD DEALS WITH RUSSIA Bulgarian study centers may give the Bulgarian government the arguments it needs to “bite the bullet”, and cancel the Belene NPP without upsetting Russia, its chief supplier of oil and natural gas. Their concern appears to be how to say: Sorry, but we just don’t want these NPPs anymore; without upsetting their political relations with their longtime ally, Russia; To that end, Bulgaria appears ready to “bite the bullet” and write-off 2.1 Billion Euros to the Belene experience.  Mark Hibbs, an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Berlin, said on 22 Oct 2011: “Some observers in the nuclear financing and nuclear project management field believe that the present Bulgarian government would prefer to walk away from this project.” – IF ONLY THEY COULD DO SO GRACEFULLY.  Perhaps that is the reason Bulgaria called on “Big-Sister” Hillary Clinton to provide moral(and perhaps other) support.  This winter may be Bulgaria’s “winter of their discontent” as Russia has significantly reduced their Nat-gas supply – A squeeze play?  Only Russia knows for sure. TRUTHFULLY: RELIANCE ON ONE’S NEIGHBORS FOR ANYTHING, CAN HAVE DIRE CONSEQUENCES.  IT IS NO WONDER THEY CALL IT “ENERGY SECURITY” – SOUNDS GOOD! , EVEN IF EPHEMERAL.

Edward Oliver Gonzalez

This is also published in larger text at: http://forums.mysanantonio.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/179623#Post179623

February 5, 2012 at 5:08 PM Comments (0)

NUKE DECOMMISSIONING (SHUT-DOWN AND REMOVAL) – HIDDEN COST OF NUCLEAR POWER

31 Jan 2012

THE HIDDEN COSTS OF NUCLEAR GENERATION I guess it took the Fukushima Triple Meltdown to awaken the world to the realities of Nuclear Power. There are many nations all over the world today facing the stark reality that “DECOMMISSIONING A NUKE” is not as simple as turning off a switch, or the lights out at each site. Best-laid plans for this expensive, dangerous and fuzzy process exist. It is even difficult to define exactly what it means.  One thing is clear: It is a very expensive process for which few countries(if any) have a Reserve Fund really available – Including the USA.  The $25B Fund supposedly held by the US treasury for that purpose has disappeared, and apparently no one knows where it is.  There is a rumor that it went into our National General fund, but no one will say for sure.  Do you think we borrowed from “Peter to Pay Paul“ ? I hope so! – It could be worse if some one absconded our $25Billion.  It is pitiful!  Nothing shocks me anymore!

MONEY, MONEY, MOONY!! That is the reason most “Nuclear countries” want to “Kick the can down the road” by extending reactor life by at least 20 years. If successful (as Japan and France want), they stand to continue to profit immensely at the world’s public risk of Nuclear Disaster.  Among such countries are France, Sweden, Russia, Japan, Ukraine(site of Chernobyl) an many others. We are waiting for Japan’s official stance on denuclearization soon.

I say: It is time to smell the coffee and begin to plan how, and how soon to address Nuke Decommissioning.  Failure to do so augurs more Chernobyl’s and Fukushima’s throughout the world.  Let us see what the USA-NRC best-laid of plans says:

NUCLEAR POWER PLANT(NPP) DECOMMISSIONING **********************************************************

When a power company decides to close its nuclear power plant permanently, the facility must be decommissioned by safely removing it from service, and reducing residual radioactivity to a level that permits release of the property and termination of the operating license. The USA-Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has strict rules governing nuclear power plant decommissioning, involving cleanup of radioactively contaminated plant systems and structures, and removal of the radioactive fuel. These requirements protect workers and the public during the entire decommissioning process and the public after the “license is terminated” KAPUT!

THREE (3)TYPES OF NPP DECOMMISSIONING:  Nuke owner(licensee) may choose from: DECON, SAFSTOR, or ENTOMB.

1.  DECON (immediate dismantlement), soon after the nuclear facility closes, equipment, structures, and portions of the facility containing radioactive contaminants are removed or decontaminated to a level that permits release of the property and termination of the NRC license.

2. SAFSTOR, often considered “delayed DECON,” a nuclear facility is maintained and monitored in a condition that allows the radioactivity to decay; afterwards, it is dismantled and the property decontaminated.

3. ENTOMB, radioactive contaminants are permanently encased on site in structurally sound material such as concrete and appropriately maintained and monitored until the radioactivity decays to a level permitting restricted release of the property. To date, no NRC-licensed facilities have requested this option.  In the Ukraine, CHERNOBYL was entombed in concrete 25 years ago.  Even so, in 2011 Russia asked the world (and received) one Billion to re-“Entomb” the plant with concrete.  It seems it had began to show serious cracks all over. The Japanese too are beginning to acknowledge that it is near impossible to  keep Godzila underground for long.  Uncontrolled radiation is pure hell! It goes where it wants to go.

4. OPTIONAL COMBO The licensee may also choose to adopt a “combination of “DECON, AND SAFSTOR”  in which some portions of the facility are dismantled or decontaminated while other parts of the facility are left in SAFSTOR. The decision may be based on factors besides radioactive decay such as availability of waste disposal sites. (TO MUDDY-UP THE WATER)

APPLICABLE NRC REGULATIONS (REGS) The requirements for decommissioning a nuclear power plant are set out in NRC Reg (Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Part 20 Subpart E, and Parts 50.75, 50.82, 51.53, and 51.95). In August 1996, a revised rule went into effect that redefined the decommissioning process and required owners to provide the NRC with “early notification” (HOW SOON IS EARLY ?) of planned decommissioning activities. The rule allows no major decommissioning activities to be undertaken until after certain information has been provided to the NRC and the public.

USA-NRC ESCAPE CLAUSE FOR NUKE OWNERS: To be acceptable, decommissioning must be completed within 60 years of the plant ceasing operations. A time beyond that would be considered only when necessary to protect public health and safety in accordance with NRC regulations.

OPPORTUNITY FOR PUBLIC INVOLVEMENT Several opportunities are provided for public involvement during the decommissioning process. A public meeting is held in the vicinity of the facility after submittal of a “Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR)” to the NRC. Another public meeting is held when NRC receives the License Termination Plan (LTP). 

LTP AMENDMENTS  A public hearing is provided prior to issuance of a license amendment approving the LTP or any other license amendment request. In addition, when NRC holds a meeting with the licensee, members of the public may observe the meeting (except when the discussion involves proprietary, sensitive, safeguards, or classified information); THAT IS THE FLY IN THE OINTMENT!  THE NPP OWNERS GET TO WRITE THEIR OWN TICKET!

PHASES OF DECOMMISSIONING: The requirements for NPP decommissioning activities are:

(1) Initial activities

(2) Major decommissioning and storage

(3) License termination

1. INITIAL ACTIVITIES: When a nuclear power plant licensee shuts down the plant permanently, it must (a) Submit a written certification of permanent cessation of operations to the NRC within 30 days. (b)When radioactive nuclear fuel is permanently removed from the reactor vessel, the owner must submit another written certification to the NRC, surrendering its authority to operate the reactor or load fuel into the reactor vessel. This eliminates the obligation to adhere to certain requirements needed only during reactor operation. (c )Within two(2) years after submitting the certification of permanent closure, the licensee must submit a  “Post-shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR)” to the NRC. This report provides a description of the planned decommissioning activities, along with a schedule for accomplishing them, and an estimate of the expected costs. The PSDAR must discuss the reasons for concluding that environmental impacts associated with the site-specific decommissioning activities have already been addressed in previous environmental analyses. Otherwise, the licensee must request a license amendment for approval of the activities and submit to the NRC a report on the additional impacts of decommissioning on the environment. (d) After receiving a PSDAR, the NRC publishes a notice of receipt in the Federal Register, makes the report available for public review and comment, and holds a public meeting in the vicinity of the plant to discuss the licensee’s intentions.

2. MAJOR DECOMMISSIONING AND STORAGE (ACTUAL BEGINNING OF DISMANTLEMENT) May begin 90 days after the NRC receives the PSDAR.  the NPP owner can begin major decommissioning activities without specific NRC approval. These could include permanent removal of such major components as the reactor vessel, steam generators, large piping systems, pumps, and valves.  However, decommissioning activities conducted without specific prior NRC approval must not prevent release of the site for possible unrestricted use, result in there being no reasonable assurance that adequate funds will be available for decommissioning, or cause any significant environmental impact not previously reviewed.  If any decommissioning activity (Licensee) does not meet these terms, the licensee is required to submit a “License amendment request”, which would provide an opportunity for a public hearing.

3. LICENSE TERMINATION The owner is required to submit a License Termination Plan(LTP) within two(2) years of the anticipated license termination. The plan addresses each of the following: (a) site characterization, (b)identification of remaining site dismantlement activities,  (c)plans for site remediation, (d)detailed plans for final radiation surveys for release of the site, (e)method for demonstrating compliance with the radiological criteria for license termination, (f)updated site-specific estimates of remaining decommissioning costs, and (g)a supplement to the environmental report that describes any new information or significant environmental changes associated with the owner’s proposed termination activities.  Most plans envision releasing the site to the public for unrestricted use, meaning any residual radiation would be below NRC’s limits of 25 millirem annual exposure and there would be no further regulatory controls by the NRC. Any plan proposing release of a site for restricted use must: (a) describe the site’s end use, (b) documentation on public consultation, (c) institutional controls, and financial assurance needed to comply with the requirements for license termination (d) for restricted release, The LTP requires NRC approval of a license amendment. Before approval can be given, an opportunity for hearing is published and a public meeting is held near the NPP plant site. The NRC uses a standard review plan – NUREG-1700, “Standard Review Plan for Evaluating Nuclear Power Reactor License Termination Plans” to ensure high quality and uniformity of LTP reviews. The standard review plan is available to the public, so that NRC’s review process is understood clearly.  IF the remaining dismantlement has been performed in accordance with the approved LTP, and the termination survey demonstrates that the facility, and site are suitable for release, the NRC issues a letter terminating the operating license.

FUNDING OF DECOMMISSIONING EXPENSES Initially, the owner can use up to 3 % of its funds set aside for decommissioning planning.  An additional 20 % can be used 90 days after submittal of the PSDAR. The remaining “decommissioning trust funds” are then available when the owner submits a detailed “site-specific” cost estimate to the NRC. Each nuclear power plant licensee must report to the NRC every two(2) years the status of its decommissioning funding for each reactor, or share of a reactor that it owns. The report must estimate the minimum amount needed for decommissioning by using the formulas found in Reg.10 CFR 50.75(c). Licensees may alternatively determine a “site-specific” funding estimate, provided that amount is greater than the generic decommissioning estimate.

ESTIMATED DECOMMISSIONING COSTS Although there are many factors that affect reactor decommissioning costs, generally range from $300 million to $400 million. (SUCH FIGURES ARE CLEARLY VERY, VERY LOW IN TODAYS WORLD, AND SUBJECT TO REMEDIATION INCREASES ON SPECIFIC SITES) Approximately 70 % of licensees are authorized to accumulate decommissioning funds over the operating life of their plants. EXCEPTIONS TO THE RULE : The owners – generally traditional, rate-regulated electric utilities, or indirectly regulated generation companies – are not required today to have all of the funds needed for decommissioning. The remaining licensees must provide financial assurance through other methods such as prepaid decommissioning funds and/or a surety method or guarantee. The staff performs an independent analysis of each of these reports to determine whether licensees are providing reasonable “decommissioning funding assurance” for radiological decommissioning of the reactor at the permanent termination of operation. Before a NPP begins operations, the licensee must establish, or obtain a financial mechanism – such as a trust fund, or a guarantee from its parent company – to ensure that there will be sufficient money to pay for the ultimate decommissioning of the facility.

“SPENT FUEL” DISPOSAL PROVISIONS (ENTER: ISFSI’s).  Several NPPs completed decommissioning in the 1990s, without a viable option for disposing of their spent nuclear fuel, because the federal government did not construct a geologic repository as planned. Accordingly, the NRC implemented regulations allowing licensees to sell off part of their land once it meets NRC release criteria, while maintaining a small parcel under license for storing the spent fuel. These stand-alone facilities, called Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations(ISFSIs)”, remain under license and NRC regulation. Licensees are responsible for their security, and for maintaining insurance and funding for eventual decommissioning.

CONTAMINATION AND DECOMMISSIONING “LESSONS LEARNED” As more facilities complete decommissioning, the NRC is implementing “lessons learned” in order to improve the program and focus on the prevention of future legacy sites. Applications for new reactors must now describe how design and operations will minimize contamination during the plant’s operating life, and facilitate eventual decommissioning. The agency is developing new regulations that will require plant operators to be more vigilant in preventing contamination during operations, and cleaning-up and monitoring any contamination that does occur.

USA-NRC REPORTS 23 REQUESTS FOR DECOMMISSIONING From Oct 1967 to 2011.  Only three(3) Licensees have obtained an NRC letter terminating the operating license.  “Pathfinder”(1967), Saxton (1972), and “Shoreham” (1989).  Seven (7) NPPs are still in Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations(ISFSI) You know! – what do we do with this “spent fuel” crap! ).  The remaining 13 NPPs, are in one of the other tree(3) stages of decommissioning.  DECOMMISSIONING IS NOT A PROCESS NPP OWNERS LIKE AT ALL! – Of course not – it costs them money.  This is one well meaning plan by the NRC that will bear questionable fruits in the future given the impasse at the USA-NRC today.  Their source is linked below.

http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact-sheets/decommissioning.html

Edward Oliver Gonzalez (gonzedo)

P.S. Please excuse my extensive use of acronyms on this article.  It would be too long without them.

 

January 31, 2012 at 6:46 PM Comments (57)

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