Top Nuclear Stories Oct (23rd – 27th)

radbullMy goodness, it seems to be leaky week.  The biggest of them all was a news leak about how Energy Solutions has been importing nuclear waste into Utah from all over the world! As most old timers are well aware, there are leaks happening all the time at reactors, but there was a spate of media reports this last week from Vermont Yankee to Davis Besse.  Besides the leaks we are seeing some of the first articles to come out in a long time questioning the future of nuclear development!  They weren’t in the U.S. but they are of interest in that they showed up in Asia where nuclear has been very popular.

There was also three different protest, one in Alaska, Vermont and the UK.  Also a major story about the huge cleanup that is just getting underway to remove one of the largest nuclear waste hazards in the country along the Colorado River at Moab Utah.  We are also down to the last 10 days before the 2nd closure on the GEIS ISL mining comment period with the NRC deadline being Nov. 7th. There was also an International Uranium Mining Action day last month that got missed.  Here’s a link to their report of the event plus photos. There  was also a few important waste issues besides the Utah scandal from the DOE’s SEIS on Yucca Mt, the sad Diablo Canyon Dry Cask storage decision at SLO, a story about waste at ORNL and earlier stories about the national crisis that the Barnwell closure represents. Lastly, there have been numerous stories that are coming out of the Air Force and what appears to be the main push forward on pushing ahead with a modernized nuclear weapons infrastructure. As always, more news content than most of us are able to deal with in any kind of coherent fashion.  Also Ace Hoffman has released a new book (still actually in review stage) radiation ecucation! A first peak looked colorful as well as quite comprehensive!  Onward!

Top Nuclear Stories Index

Reactors Safety NRC Fuel Cycle N-Waste
Policy Weapons DOE Energy News OpEd


Nuclear Reactor News

Activists rally for a nuclear-free Vermont – Brattleboro Reformer
The Brattleboro Common transformed from a picturesque, quiet corner of the town into a festival of grassroots activism Saturday during the Nuclear Free Jubilee.

Hundreds of residents turned out for the event, hoping to push the state closer toward a clean, renewable energy future and fuel a drive toward “green collar” jobs and industries.

The nuclear free event was sponsored by the localized campaign known as Safe and Green, which looks to highlight the public support for closing the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant located in Vernon when the original license expires in the next four years.

“This is a unique moment for Vermont,” said Ellen Kaye, Safe and Green coordinator within Vermont. She estimated about 1,000 people participated in the day’s events.

Objections to nuclear plant’s license renewal to be heard
Federal regulators will be in the Twin Cities this week concerning the Prairie Island nuclear plant’s effort to have its license renewed and a challenge to that renewal by the Prairie Island Indian Community.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board will hear oral arguments Wednesday in Hastings regarding the application for a license renewal for an additional 20 years of operation at the Xcel Energy plant near Red Wing. | AECL touts its China reactors
Nuclear plant designer is hoping that praise from China can improve its fortunes at home

Nuclear reactor designer Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. is hoping that high praise from China can improve its fortunes in the West.

Top AECL officials attended an event early Thursday morning in the Zhejiang province to mark the fifth anniversary of the Qinshan Phase III nuclear mega-project. It was in 2003 when the second of two Candu 6 reactors built by AECL began generating electricity from uranium fuel.

MP accuses Government of nuclear cover-up – WalesOnline
A WELSH Labour MP has accused the UK Government of covering up a deal that will land taxpayers with a multi-billion- pound liability in the event of a nuclear accident while a private consortium will reap the profits.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn discovered that details of a contract to privatise the management of waste from the controversial Sellafield nuclear power station in Cumbria should have been placed in the House of Commons library in July. If they had been, MPs would have had 14 days in which to raise questions about the deal.

The Morung Express – The limits of nuclear power
John McCain has called for building 45 new nuclear power plants by 2030 and 100 eventually. Barack Obama’s Web site says, “It is unlikely that we can meet our aggressive climate goals if we eliminate nuclear power from the table.” But to what extent can nuclear power really help achieve energy independence? There’s a problem about nuclear energy that gets little attention. At present, fossil fuels provide 87 percent of the world’s total energy while nuclear power plants provide just 4.8 percent. (All nuclear power plants currently generate electricity, accounting for about 15 percent of world electricity generation, while fossil fuels produce almost 67 percent of the electricity.)
The best estimates put the amount of uranium that can be mined economically (what geologists call the reserves) at about 5.5 million metric tons, and according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, today’s nuclear power plants use 70,000 metric tons a year of uranium. At this rate of use, the uranium that could be mined economically would last about 80 years.

N-power debate at crossroads / Falling oil prices, poor research results cast doubt on industry’s future (The Daily Yomiuri)
The government’s Atomic Energy Commission began looking into how the country’s nuclear energy research should proceed in August because of a recent change in the circumstances surrounding nuclear energy.

For about 20 years, the nuclear energy industry experienced continuous misfortune and opposition.

However, its fortunes began to change in 2001, when the U.S. government started building more nuclear power plants. More recently, in Japan, former Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda said nuclear energy was an energy source for a low carbon society.

Yankee needs to be shut down: Times Argus Online
As the Liberty Union candidate for lieutenant governor, I want to point out, that the Vermont Yankee reactor had another evacuation this week. Also notice that Yankee can’t seem to operate for more than a few weeks without having to power down, and guess what, the lights are still on. Yankee only provides 2 percent of the power in New England and it is leaving a legacy of toxic dry casks that will be lethal for the next 250,000 years. We do not currently have the technology to change the dry casks, but their designed lifespan is 100 years. When Entergy purchased the reactor, they had a surplus in the decommissioning fund, and now they want us to pay the $400 million difference?

Profit falls for owner of Oyster Creek | Asbury Park Press
Exelon Corp., the biggest operator of U.S. nuclear power plants including the Oyster Creek plant in Lacey, said third-quarter profit fell 10 percent as cooler weather reduced electricity demand for air conditioning in Chicago and Philadelphia.

Net income dropped to $700 million, or $1.06 a share, from $780 million, or $1.15, a year earlier, Chicago-based Exelon said today in a statement. Profit excluding such items as the impact of a rate settlement was $1.07 a share, 9 cents below the average of 13 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

FPL to raise power rates again even as oil prices fall:  TCPalm
While the major drop in gasoline costs has given Treasure Coast residents a little breathing room, customers of Florida Power & Light Co. should brace for yet another upward bump in their bill in January.

Most residents already have noticed an uptick in their power bills from an increase of about 8 percent in August. That meant an increase in a 1,000 kilowatt-hour monthly residential bill of about $8.14, from $102.63 to $110.77, the company said.

Westinghouse Expands Presence in Southeastern U.S – MarketWatch
Westinghouse Electric Company announced today that it will open an office here in February 2009 in response to the nuclear renaissance and related business growth.
The initial focus of Westinghouse’s expanded Charlotte-based workforce will be on balance of plant engineering, and Boiling Water Reactor (BWR) instrumentation and control system development and project execution.

News & Star: Sellafield is ‘poor’ site for new nuclear reactor
One of the people advising the Government on the best places to site new nuclear reactors has branded Sellafield a “poor location”.

In an extract to his book Nukenomics: The commercialisation of Britain’s nuclear industry, Ian Jackson, who helped write the siting report for the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform/Department of Trade and Industry gives his views.

He writes that: Despite its substantial nuclear workforce, the remote Sellafield complex in north west England is a poor location for a modern nuclear power station because its electricity transmission infrastructure cannot carry the energy output of a large nuclear station.

AFP: Northrop Grumman, Areva to build US nuclear parts plant
US defense group Northrop Grumman and French nuclear giant Areva said Thursday they have teamed up to manufacture nuclear reactor components in the United States to supply rising demand.

The joint venture, Areva Newport News, with Areva as the majority owner, was forged to build a manufacturing and engineering facility that will make heavy components for Areva’s third-generation US Evolutionary Power Reactor (EPR), the two companies said in a statement.

They said the new facility, to be built in Newport News, Virginia, would “supply the growing American nuclear energy sector.”

Georgia regulators schedule hearings on new Vogtle reactors
Georgia regulators will begin hearings November 3 on whether to allow construction of two Westinghouse AP1000s at the Vogtle nuclear power plant site. Under state law, new power generation cannot be added in Georgia without a certificate of public convenience and necessity issued by the PSC. The Georgia Public Service Commission is expected to vote on the proposal March 17. Georgia Power is the majority owner of the two existing Vogtle reactors, which are operated by Southern Nuclear Operating Co. Both companies are subsidiaries of Southern Co. The PSC will hold a public hearing November 3 on the additional units. Testimony, including from Georgia Power — which would also be majority owner of the new units, if built — will continue November 5-7. Hearings and testimony from staff and intervenors will be held from January 12?16 and rebuttal testimony will be received from Georgia Power February 9?13. Southern Nuclear filed an application with NRC in March for a combined construction permit-operating license for the new units.

Victoria Advocate – Musician questions nuclear plant
Ray Benson concerned on how reactors would effect Guadalupe River

Grammy Award winner Ray Benson from Austin will sing in radio spots questioning the use of water by a proposed nuclear plant.

Benson, known as the guitarist and singer for Asleep at the Wheel, joined the Texans for a Sound Energy Policy Alliance in urging residents to question how two nuclear reactors would affect the future of the Guadalupe River Basin, an Alliance news release stated.

Nuclear regulators inspect NJ plant —
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is investigating the Salem nuclear power plant to find out why there was an apparent loss of reactor coolant during a routine maintenance procedure.

Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan says there was no danger to the public, but the Oct. 15 incident has raised concerns about procedures at the plant.

Sheehan says investigators are looking into why the level of pressurized water in the reactor coolant system of Unit 1 at the plant was improperly measured. He said the level in the pressurizer could not be determined for more than eight hours.

Vermont Yankee evacuates workers | The Burlington Free Press
Federal regulators are investigating the cause of radiation exposure that forced the evacuation of 25 workers at the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Officials say the unsafe levels of radiation were released on Monday after the top of the reactor vessel was placed too close to a fan as workers prepared to refuel the plant.

Entergy Nuclear spokesman Robert Williams said the workers were evacuated from the top floor of the reactor building for four hours, inspected for contamination and later went back to work.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Alert over after nitrogen leak at Pa. nuke plant | AP |
PPL says an alert is over at the Susquehanna nuclear plant in northeastern Pennsylvania after oxygen levels returned to normal in a pump room following a nitrogen leak.

The Allentown-based utility says a worker fixing a water line was evacuated Monday morning after higher-than-acceptable levels of nitrogen were detected inside the room. The worker had been using a device containing the gas at the time.

PPL says workers used the plant’s ventilation system and fans to return oxygen levels to normal. They were then able to get into the room and shut off the source of the nitrogen, and the alert ended at 5:26 p.m.

Gas explosion at Exelon Ill. nuke plant outbuilding | Reuters
A gas explosion rocked an outbuilding near Exelon Corp’s 1,734-megawatt Quad Cities nuclear power plant in Illinois early Monday, the company said in a release.

There were no injuries to plant personnel, no damage to equipment and at no time was there any concern for the health and safety of the public, the company said, adding there was no radiological release.

Man kept radioactive materials in warehouse (The Daily Yomiuri)
A man was found to have kept a massive amount of radioactive synthetic resins in a warehouse in Bunkyo Ward, Tokyo, according to the Education, Science and Technology Ministry.

Because the man failed to take the legal procedures required to store radioactive materials, the ministry is questioning him on suspicion of violating a law on the possession of radioactive substances.

The man reportedly kept 150,000 pieces of Bakelite measuring three centimeters by three centimeters by five millimeters and weighing 14 grams each.

The Act–Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA)

* Ronald W. Reagan National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2005–EEOICPA Reform Sections
this document in PDF
PDF 924 KB (38 pages)

* The Act–Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000 (EEOICPA), as Amended
this document in PDF
PDF 202 KB (35 pages)

* Executive Order 13179

Other Related Items:




New Radon found at ex-Fernald site: Cincinnati Enquirer
Researchers have found a new, potentially more dangerous source of radon exposure for workers at the now-demolished Fernald uranium foundry.

The findings have many ramifications for former Fernald workers and their families, said Susan Pinney, an environmental health researcher at the University of Cincinnati and co-author of the study.

“Now we know workers in the plant’s production area prior to 1959 may be at increased risk for developing lung cancer and other exposure-related health problems,” Pinney said.

IA: The Hawk Eye: Screenings offered for IAAP workers
Free health screenings, available through University of Iowa studies of both Army and Department of Energy workers at the Iowa Army Ammunition Plant are continuing through this fall.

Researchers are continuing to enroll people in the IAAP Munitions Workers Study.

One aim of the research study, directed by Laurence Fuortes, M.D., professor of occupational and environmental health, is to assess exposure to beryllium alloys among conventional weapons workers at the plant. Participants also will be asked to complete a brief questionnaire and to provide a blood sample for analysis of beryllium sensitivity. Participation requires a 30- to 45-minute time commitment. Compensation is provided.

Nursing care for sick workers – Oak Ridge, TN – The Oak Ridger
Professional Case Management of Tennessee held town hall meetings Thursday at the American Museum of Science and Energy to share information with federal workers about its program and other related sick-worker issues.

Professional Case Management is a Department of Labor-enrolled provider of home nursing to chronically ill nuclear workers. PCM recently opened an office in Oak Ridge and is currently serving 30 Oak Ridge residents who are eligible for care under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA).

China: Long study shows nuclear plant safe
A survey of a nuclear plant, carried out continuously over a period of 25 years, shows it has not affected the health of nearby residents, the Shenzhen health bureau said on Wednesday.

The Daya Bay station is located about 70 km away from the center of Shenzhen, Guangdong province.

The survey showed there was no greater incidence of diseases in Shenzhen such as malignant tumors, leukemia and goiter, compared to other cities in the province.

Study discovers new Fernald concerns | Cincinnati Enquirer
Researchers have found a new, potentially more dangerous source of radon exposure for workers at the now-demolished Fernald uranium foundry.

The findings have many ramifications for former Fernald workers and their families, said Susan Pinney, an environmental health researcher at the University of Cincinnati and co-author of the study.

“Now we know workers in the plant’s production area prior to 1959 may be at increased risk for developing lung cancer and other exposure-related health problems,” Pinney said.
Radioactive elevator buttons found in France | Reuters
Elevator maker Otis will replace hundreds of lift buttons in France after authorities found radioactive materials imported from India at a supplier factory, a source at Otis said on Wednesday.

The French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) said about 20 workers at the plant run by the firm Mafelec, which makes lift buttons in the eastern Isere area, had been exposed to levels of radioactivity above legal norms.

“The most important point is that the lift buttons do not represent any risk to people’s health,” said the source at Otis, who declined to be named.

He estimated that contaminated buttons were installed at between 350 and 500 sites around the country.

Keene Sentinel > Radiation spike clears nuke plant
Twenty-five workers evacuated the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant Monday night after radiation levels in a section of the plant spiked briefly.

The workers were on the top floor of the reactor, performing part of a scheduled refueling, when the top of the reactor was placed on a temporary stand too close to an air filter, which then spread unsafe levels of radiation through the area.

After four hours, the radiation levels had dissipated, and the workers returned to the area, said Vermont Yankee spokesman Robert O. Williams.


NRC News

NRC: Nine NRC Executives Honored with Presidential Awards
President George W. Bush has selected nine senior managers at the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for either Distinguished or Meritorious Executive Rank Awards for 2008. “These recipients have consistently demonstrated their strength, integrity, and commitment to excellence as public servants for the agency and for our fellow Americans,” said Chairman Dale Klein.

NRC investigating why it took 8 hours to determine reactor coolant was too low
Federal nuclear investigators are examining a Salem County nuclear reactor to determine why it took eight hours for operators to determine they had drained 84 percent of the reactor’s water coolant.

PSEG shut down its Salem 1 reactor for a routine refueling outage earlier this month.

On Oct. 15, operators there accidentally drew water coolent levels down to 16 percent, but thought they were at 80 percent, according to Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Neil Sheehan.

FR: NRC: Paducah – Portsmouth certificates of compliance
Notice of Renewal of Certificates of Compliance GDP-1 and GDP-2 for the U.S. Enrichment Corporation, Paducah and Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plants, Paducah, KY and Portsmouth, OH ACTION: Notice and issuance of a Director’s Decision renewing the Certificates of Compliance for the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) allowing continued operation of the gaseous diffusion plants (GDPs), at Paducah, KY, and Portsmouth, OH.

FR: NRC: denial of petition by state of Nevada: Yucca Mountain
State of Nevada; Denial of Petition for Rulemaking AGENCY: Nuclear Regulatory Commission. ACTION: Petition for Rulemaking: Denial.

SUMMARY: The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC or Commission) is denying a petition for rulemaking submitted by the State of Nevada (Nevada or petitioner). The petition requests that NRC modify its regulation regarding issues specified for review in a notice of hearing for the Department of Energy (DOE) application for a high-level waste (HLW) repository construction authorization at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. The petitioner asserts that the proposed regulation would “fill a gap” in the NRC’s current regulations. Further, petitioner asserts that the proposed regulation fulfills the Commission’s intent when it first required a hearing for any docketed applications for construction of a HLW repository. NRC is denying the petition because it is inconsistent with current NRC rules and inconsistent with the Commission’s intent when it originally established regulations requiring an opportunity for a hearing for all docketed HLW repository construction applications.

NRC: NRC to Present Results of Licensee Performance Review at Areva Commercial Fuel Plant in Richland
Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials will meet with AREVA NP, Inc., management in Richland, Wash., on Thursday, Nov. 13, to discuss the results of a regulatory safety performance review at the company’s commercial nuclear fuel fabrication plant.

The meeting will be held at 1 p.m. PST in Conference Room 5 at the AREVA facility, which is located at 2101 Horn Rapids Road in Richland, and will be open to members of the public and the news media. NRC officials will be available during the meeting to answer questions from those in attendance.

The NRC staff assessed performance at AREVA during a period beginning Aug. 13, 2006 and ending Aug. 13, 2008 in the areas of operational safety, safeguards, radiological controls, facility support and licensing. The NRC staff review highlighted improvements made by the company in several areas, and based on overall performance, the agency determined that no additional inspections beyond the standard program for such a facility are needed.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

Alaska’s Youth Protest to Gov. Palin and the State of Alaska Against Uranium Mining
Through covert dealings, Gov. Sarah Palin, State Dept. of Natural Resources, Bureau of Land Management, the Alaska and U.S. senators and representatives and an ANCSA corporation entrusted with the security and health of their constituents have accepted the lease proposal to explore for uranium at the Fireweed/Boulder Creek area located in southwestern Seward Peninsula, without the knowledge, consent nor approval of the citizens of Western Alaska.

When students of Elim, Alaska first realized this, they began researching the effects of uranium mining and created educational posters to share what they learned. A community meeting was organized in Elim to share their findings and garner support to protest this action. The community responded favorably and in March 2007, demonstrated when the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race went through their town.

Reports of toxic spills spiking – The Denver Post
Hazardous-waste spills and discoveries reported to Colorado authorities nearly doubled over the past decade, from an average of 561 a year from 1998 to 2000 to an average of 1,035 from 2005 to 2007.

Population growth, carelessness, and the boom in oil and gas drilling are largely to blame.

Hanford News: DOE study favors reusing nuclear fuel
A new draft environmental study for the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership on the impacts of expanding nuclear energy favors reprocessing fuel that has been used in nuclear power plants rather than using it only once.

A public hearing on the plan is planned at 7 p.m. Nov. 17 at the Pasco Red Lion, 2525 N. 20th Ave. An Oregon hearing will be held the next evening in Hood River.

The draft study, or programmatic environmental impact statement, looked at alternatives to the practice of using nuclear fuel once and then sending it to a deep geological repository, such as Yucca Mountain, Nev. – Moab readies to rid itself of uranium-infused dirt
Preparations are getting under way in earnest for one of the biggest and most expensive dirt-hauling projects ever.

It’s radioactive dirt, and Moab residents have been arguing about what to do with it for a quarter of a century.

For more than two decades, the government has been trying to clean the radioactive dirt-piles left behind when the uranium industry went into a deep slump.

Lots of radioactive dirt has been moved to safer places, but the biggest pile of all is right here in Utah.

It’s a pile of red dirt so big, if they shipped it to the EnergySolutions Arena, it would fill it to the ceiling 23 times. But the EnergySolutions company has other plans.

Manuel Pino, 2008 Nuclear-Free Future Recipient
He is a messenger between heaven and earth. Manuel Pino comes from the Acoma Pueblo, an adobe village of the Tewa west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Beyond the earthcolored dwellings one sees only blue sky – Acoma Pueblo occupies the rim of a steep mesa. Standing on the center plaza, one has the feeling that a great invisible magnet is pulling the settlement into the clouds. Tourist guidebooks and highway billboards refer to Acoma as, “Sky City.”

Transporting more uranium won’t cause problems, BHP says (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
BHP Billiton says any increase in the amount of uranium being transported through the Northern Territory would not create problems, but an environmental lobby group is not so sure.

BHP currently produces about 4,000 tonnes of uranium a year from its Olympic Dam mine in South Australia.

About a quarter of that is taken by train to the Port of Darwin.

12 new problems with Monju fast-breeder reactor come to light – The Mainichi Daily News
Some 12 unannounced problems with sodium leak detectors at the Monju fast-breeder nuclear reactor have come to light, the government regulator said.

The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA), under the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, has reported to the government’s review panel that 12 problems involving Monju’s sodium leak detectors have been revealed. Five of them happened before a 1995 sodium leak accident, which led to operations at the plant being suspended.

The Associated Press: Official describes secret uranium shipment
Enough processed uranium to make six nuclear weapons was secretly transported thousands of miles by truck, rail and ship on a monthlong trip from a research reactor in Budapest, Hungary, to a facility in Russia so it could be more closely protected against theft, U.S. officials revealed Wednesday.

The shipment, conducted under tight secrecy and security, included a three-week trip by cargo ship through the Mediterranean, up the English Channel and the North Sea to Russia’s Arctic seaport of Murmansk, the only port Russia allows for handling nuclear material.

Whitehaven News: Public invited to debate the fate of plutonium stockpile
ONE of the most important factors in the future fate of Sellafield is to be the subject of a top-level debate next week.

The debate as to whether the UK’s stockpile of plutonium – most of which is held at Sellafield – should be considered an asset or a liability could have a major impact on the economic future of region.

The government, through the NDA, have yet to decide on what should be done with the stockpile, which is currently considered an asset of no value on their balance sheets.

Concerns over radioactive sand – West Coast Sentinel
Concerns have been raised about zircon sand to be stored at Thevenard once Iluka’s zircon mine starts production in 2010.

The topic was raised at a recent meeting of the Thevenard Ratepayers and Residents Group, with particular concern being the radiation emitted from the sand monazite, which contains the radioactive element thorium.

But Iluka says monazite is only a small part of the sands they will be mining and the radiation from the zircon sands they will be mining is barely higher than in the normal environment.

Sue Haseldine, who lives on a farm near Ceduna but has relatives in Thevenard, said she had not been involved in the consultation process yet but said she had questions about mining, transportation and storage.

Spot uranium price continues its slide; further weakness expected
The spot price of uranium continued to decline over the past week and is currently at $44/lb U3O8, pricing group Ux Consulting said Monday, a $2/lb drop over the price Ux published a week earlier. TradeTech also dropped its price by $2/lb, to $45/lb U3O8 late October 17. TradeTech said the bulk of material sold in the past six weeks — as the price dropped from $63/lb on September 12 — “was in the hands of sellers under pressure due to the current credit crisis or other cash constraints.”


Nuclear Waste News

Strontium not being ‘dumped’ into river | The Journal News
A Sept. 29 letter published in your paper (“Dumping strontium into river dangerous”) needs correcting. When Entergy purchased the Indian Point nuclear power plants several years ago, it made a commitment to remove all the used fuel from the old Unit 1 reactor (which was shut down in 1974 by then-owner Consolidated Edison). Strontium-90, a radioactive nuclide, has been identified in groundwater samples near the plant, and this was unacceptable to Entergy. The removal of this fuel now means that the source of the contaminant is removed.

Radioactive sieve: Compact tries to close loophole for foreign waste – Salt Lake Tribune
The Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-level Radioactive Waste Management isn’t much of a doorman.
For years, the compact thought it was guarding against shipments of foreign radioactive waste into the eight-state region, which includes Utah.
Meanwhile, Envirocare, now EnergySolutions, has been using the back door to bypass the regional regulators, doing a brisk business in imported radioactive waste at its nuclear garbage dump in Tooele County.
Mexico, Canada, Great Britain. Germany, Taiwan, France. That’s a list of our “friends” who have foisted a combined 1,883 tons of their radioactive garbage on our state over the past eight years with a helping hand from profit-driven EnergySolutions.

Maybe we should be burying more than our nuclear waste – San Bernardino County Sun

The latest news about the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository has left me feeling a little down in the dumps.

New federal guidelines, announced this month, mandate that the facility be capable of securing highly radioactive nuclear waste for a period of one million years.

A previous standard of only 10,000 years was deemed to be insufficient.

Permit change reduces sampling, analysis rules at several WIPP site locations – Carlsbad Current-Argus
A permit change at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant will allow the Department of Energy to eliminate continued sampling and analysis at 15 WIPP site locations.

The New Mexico Environment Department approved the Class 3 permit modification, according to a news release. The DOE has sampled data at the 15 locations over the past decade, and all information has indicated that the areas pose no risk to human health or the environment. The locations include an evaporation pond, a material storage area and a number of mud pits constructed for exploratory boreholes.

FR: DOE: Yucca Mountain SEIS
Supplement to the Environmental Impact Statements for a Geologic Repository for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, NV

SUMMARY: The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE or the Department) is announcing its intent to prepare a Supplement to the “Final Environmental Impact Statement for a Geologic Repository for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, Nevada” (DOE/EIS-0250F, February 2002) (Yucca Mountain Final EIS), and the “Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for a Geologic Repository for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, Nevada” (DOE/EIS-0250F-S1, July 2008) (Repository SEIS). The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) staff determined, pursuant to Section 114(f)(4) of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, as amended (NWPA), that it is practicable to adopt, with further supplementation, DOE’s environmental impact statements prepared in connection with the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, Nevada. The NRC staff concluded that the Yucca Mountain Final EIS and Repository SEIS did not address adequately all of the repository-related impacts on groundwater, or from surface discharges of groundwater, and therefore requested that DOE prepare a supplement to these environmental impact statements. Based on a review of the NRC staff evaluation, the Department has decided to prepare the requested supplement.

Diablo waste facility clears final hurdle – San Luis Obispo
The NRC gives the go-ahead to begin transferring radioactive spent fuel to another site, bypassing a group’s call for an in-depth environmental review

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission ruled Thursday that Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant can begin loading used reactor fuel into an above-ground storage facility without doing a more comprehensive analysis of the environmental effects of a terrorist attack.

The ruling in Rockville, Md., removes the last hurdle to the process of taking highly radioactive spent fuel out of storage pools and into large steel and concrete casks that will sit on a large pad behind the plant.

Legal roadblock aims to keep Brazilian nuclear waste from Utah – Salt Lake Tribune

Even as debate has roiled for months over a proposal to bury radioactive waste from Italy in Utah, plans for a shipment from South America have been quietly in the works.
But the plan to bring in contaminated laundry waste from a nuclear reactor in Brazil appears dead on arrival.
No sooner was the proposal revealed publicly Wednesday than a regional oversight panel made clear its intentions to tell federal regulators the foreign waste won’t be allowed at the EnergySolutions Inc. landfill in Tooele County.

AP: Feds reject protest to nuclear waste storage plan
Federal regulators ruled Thursday that a radioactive waste storage plan can go forward at a California nuclear power plant without further study of whether it’s safe from terror attacks.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 3-1 to deny the novel objection from the activist group San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, which had won a federal court ruling forcing NRC to consider its arguments.

The decision OKs PG&E’s plans to store spent nuclear fuel in aboveground casks at its Diablo Canyon power plant near San Luis Obispo, Calif.

Legal roadblock aims to keep Brazilian nuclear waste from Utah – Salt Lake Tribune
Even as debate has roiled for months over a proposal to bury radioactive waste from Italy in Utah, plans for a shipment from South America have been quietly in the works.
But the plan to bring in contaminated laundry waste from a nuclear reactor in Brazil appears dead on arrival.
No sooner was the proposal revealed publicly Wednesday than a regional oversight panel made clear its intentions to tell federal regulators the foreign waste won’t be allowed at the EnergySolutions Inc. landfill in Tooele County.

New head of anti-dump office to be named – Las Vegas Sun
It probably will be late December before Gov. Jim Gibbons appoints a replacement for Bob Loux, who resigned as head of the Nevada office fighting a proposed nuclear dump at Yucca Mountain.

The state Commission on Nuclear Projects has set a schedule for advertising the $115,285-a-year job and holding interviews. Loux resigned when he was criticized for raising salaries for himself and his staff without authorization.

The commission, chaired by former U.S. Sen. Richard Bryan, plans a Dec. 15 meeting in Las Vegas to interview finalists. The commission will submit three names to the governor after the interviews.

Nuclear plant moves waste to tackle leaks | The Journal News
Workers have removed spent nuclear fuel rods from Indian Point 1 and expect to drain 500,000 gallons of radioactive water from the dead reactor’s storage pool by the end of the year.

The move should end strontium 90 contamination at the plant, company and regulatory officials say.

“We’ve said from the beginning that an essential part of the strategy for reducing additional contamination was removing the fuel and draining the pool,” said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

“It’s believed to be the primary source of strontium contamination at the site.”


Nuclear Policy News

Nuclear power no cure-all for poor nations | Reuters
Nuclear energy is undergoing a worldwide renaissance, but poor nations yearning to develop need to realize that it is no panacea to profound poverty, the head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Monday.

After the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, many governments questioned the value of nuclear power. Some European countries, like Austria and Germany, decided to wean themselves off nuclear energy.

The Nuclear Deal and all its Flaws
Energy security, alternative fuels, independence, politics, technology transfers, energy contracts and money…these are the issues that need to be assessed before arriving at a decision in the Indo-US Nuclear Deal. It is by no means simple!.

AS A re-growing and a re-emerging economy, India must and is rightly thinking about ways to ensure, the continued availability of energy in the years to come. However, it is possible to do the right thing in a wrong way.

Considering options other than oil is the right thing to do. Moving to nuclear power as one of the principal sources of future energy is surely not.

Energy Bangla – Challenges for Nuclear Power Expansion
Global construction of nuclear reactors is rising after a decades-long decline. A number of factors account for this shift, including soaring energy demand in the developing world and the threat of climate change. Most of the new interest in nuclear is occurring outside the United States. Some U.S. policymakers argue nuclear power is a vital part of the country’s energy future. But despite legislative efforts and a softening of attitudes toward nuclear power, the U.S. industry has been slow to revive. In fact, nuclear power faces a number of significant obstacles to expansion worldwide, from manpower shortages to high construction costs.

Canada’s nuclear power play
Ontario must build at least $15-billion worth of nuclear plants to back out of dirty coal and better meet power growth requirements for the next few generations.

This major contract is to be awarded in March and three rivals are in the running: Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL), which is 100% owned by Ottawa, Toshiba (formerly the nuclear division of Westinghouse) and Areva, the world’s biggest nuclear company, 90% owned by France.

Chomsky Discusses US-India Nuclear Deal, Iran – The Tech
Regarding Iranian Nuclear Development, Chomsky Says the majority of the world supports Iran.

This is the first of a three-part interview with Institute Professor Noam A. Chomsky, conducted in early September by Subrata Ghoshroy, a researcher in the Science, Technology, and Global Security Working Group at MIT. In this part, Ghoshroy and Chomsky discussed the then-pending U.S.-India nuclear deal and why a majority of the world supports Iran.

The sky is falling! The sky is falling! | Gristmill
Global recession? Must be time for the media’s alternative-energy backlash

My father used to say of his profession that newspaper editors are the people who come down from the mountaintop at the end of the battle and shoot the wounded.

A massive credit crunch and a drop in the price of fossil fuels can mean only one thing to the editors of the traditional media — an excuse for their favorite activity in the whole world, the backlash story.

Faster than you can say “Joe the Plumber” isn’t a licensed plumber, his name isn’t Joe, and he has a tax lien against him, you can be sure that if the media ever lets itself fawn over you for even a nano-second, it will turn its coverage on a dime and run the minute a few whispy short-term clouds appear in the horizon.

And so we have the New York Times story, “Alternative Energy Suddenly Faces Headwinds,” which is supposed to be a clever headline, but the NYT, which accompanies the story with a picture of wind turbines, seems to have missed the irony that wind turbines like strong winds.

Nuclear Power is NOT the Solution to Our Global Warming Woes: ENN
As our presidential campaign season draws towards a close and the attacks / counter-attacks reach a fever pitch, it’s almost impossible to separate fact from fiction. So many contradictory proposals, so many disparate numbers ”I wouldn’t be surprised if someone says the sky is bright pink before we’re through.

The debate about energy policy is a case in point: the proposals so far have ranged from sound (invest in multiple forms of renewable energy) to questionable (clean coal, 45 new nuclear power plants) to the insultingly cynical and foolish (Drill Baby Drill!).

Fallout of US-India nuke deal |
China’s agreement to help Pakistan build two nuclear power plants is prompting warnings that the new US-India civilian nuclear deal is already pushing other countries to pursue their own nuclear relationships.

The concern among South Asia experts and nonproliferation advocates is that the American deal allowing India to pursue an expanded civilian nuclear program with limited safeguards is prompting other countries in a volatile region to seek a similar deal – something the US had said would not happen.

SciTechBlog: Nuclear power: seeing less political fission these days After being battered by its own missteps, near-calamities, strong opposition and financial overruns, the nuclear power industry is showing increased signs of emerging from a three-decade coma in the U.S.

Many are giving a second look to the U.S.. nuke industry, including longtime skeptics on the lookout for alternatives to fossil fuels. Here at SEJ’s annual conference, there’s a livelier-than-usual discussion about nuclear power as a part of the solution to America’s energy woes. One of the most prominent voices here calling for a nuclear power revival was R.K. Pachauri, who as Chair of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Al Gore last year.


Nuclear Weapons News

 BBC NEWS | UK | Dozens arrested at nuclear demo
More than 30 people were arrested when anti-nuclear protesters blocked entrances at the Atomic Weapons Establishment (AWE) in Berkshire.

Campaigners said hundreds of people gathered at Aldermaston to mark the start of World Disarmament Week.

They are concerned the facilities are used to design and manufacture a new generation of nuclear warheads.

Iraq environment scarred by deadly waste of war» Kuwait Times Website
BAGHDAD: Long after the shooting and bombing stops, Iraqis will still be dying from the war. Destroyed factories have become untended hazardous waste sites, leaking poison into the water and the soil. Forests in the north and palm groves in the south have been obliterated to remove the enemy’s hiding places.

Rivers are salted, water is contaminated with sewage, and land is strewn with mines, unexploded bombs, chemical waste, rubble and trash. “When we talk about it, people may think we are overreacting. But in fact the environmental catastrophe that we inherited in Iraq is even worse than it sounds,” Iraqi Environment Minister Nermeen Othman said in an interview. “War destroys countries’ environments, not just their people. War and its effects have led to changes in the social, economic and environmental fabri
c,” she said. “It will take centuries to restore the natural environment of Iraq. Short film tells dark tale of nuclear winter
Award-winning Frozen Seed screens Nov. 6

Imagine a frozen wasteland where food is scarce and winter is permanent. A nuclear war has forced survivors to seek refuge underground. A buried seed cache lays somewhere in the ruins of modern society and scientists are racing against a totalitarian regime, trying to find it.

It’s a compelling tale told in just under 10 minutes by producers Tim Bissell and Craig Watkins.

AFP: US Air Force to establish new command for nuclear forces
The US Air Force plans to establish a new Global Strike Command responsible for nuclear bomber and intercontinental ballistic missile forces, senior air force officials announced Friday.

The move is part of an organizational shake-up prompted by recent nuclear mishaps that were blamed on a decade-long slide in the air force’s stewardship of its nuclear forces.

BBC NEWS | UK | Islanders return hopes dashed by ruling
Thousands of Chagos islanders have had the right to return to their homeland in the Indian Ocean overturned by a House of Lords judgement.

The former residents, evicted from the British overseas territory between 1967 and 1971, hoped their heritage could be rebuilt around a new tourist industry and fishing.

But the largest Chagos island of Diego Garcia, which the UK leased to the US for a military air base remains an issue of contention.

US Air Force seeks to fix nuclear mission |
The Air Force is moving forward with a “get-well plan” to restore its historic reputation for nuclear stewardship and create more accountability with the creation of a new command to oversee its nuclear mission.

High-profile blunders in recent years have shown that the service has been distracted from its nuclear operations, say senior officials, in part by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as senior leaders encouraged airmen to contribute overseas.

AFP: McCain raises specter of nuclear war
John McCain raised the specter of nuclear war as he struggled to overcome rival Barack Obama’s widening lead in the polls with just 14 days left in the epic race to the White House.

Warning voters that the United States faces “many challenges here at home, and many enemies abroad in this dangerous world,” McCain returned to the attack line that Obama has poor judgment and is not ready to lead the United States.


Department of Energy News |The Bechtel Jacobs pension picture
As of Sept. 30, 2008, the total assets in the BJC pension fund for grandfathered employees were $219 million, according to info provided by Bechtel Jacobs.

“The pension plan is not fully funded at this time,” Bechtel Jacobs said, but declined to put a percentage on it. Company spokesman Dennis Hill said the company was meeting its requirements.

“For a multi-employer plan, the funding regulations require a minimum funding level of 80%,” BJC said in a statement. “As required under federal law, all multi-employer plans must provide an annual funding notice to the participants of the pension plant, which will be done in the next few weeks.”

There are 2,114 participants or beneficiaries covered by the plan |Burial secrets at Oak Ridge
After a recent column and blog post about the troubles of Trench 13, I heard from a number of folks with stories about the nuclear burial grounds at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

One gentleman, who worked initially in the “laborers’ gang” at the lab burial grounds (known as Solid Waste Storage Areas) and who later worked in the office where truck shipments were recorded, said folks might be surprised to know what’s deposited in trenches and wells. “We buried all kinds of cars, trucks. We’ve buried cranes,” the former worker said. On one occasion, a truck loaded with hot tools from a nuclear reactor in New York set off alarms before it ever arrived at the monitoring station, he said.

DOE – Fact Sheet: U.S.-Canada Partnership Key to North American Energy Security
# The United States purchases more oil, natural gas, uranium and electricity from Canada than any other country.
# Canada’s proven oil reserves total 179 billion barrels, of which 173 billion barrels are in oil sands reserves, making Canada second only to Saudi Arabia in global oil reserves.
# 99% of Canada’s crude oil exports are to U.S. markets.
# Energy flows in both directions between the United States and Canada. Our pipeline and transmission systems are highly integrated and our cross-border trade operates nearly seamlessly.


Other Energy News

America’s Emerging New Energy Economy | Prescott Az News and Events
As fossil fuel prices rise, as oil insecurity deepens, and as concerns about climate change cast a shadow over the future of coal, a new energy economy is emerging in the United States. The old energy economy, fueled by oil, coal, and natural gas, is being replaced by one powered by wind, solar, and geothermal energy. The transition is moving at a pace and on a scale that we could not have imagined even a year ago.
Video: In Debt We Trust
In America’s earliest days, there were barn-raising parties in which neighbors helped each other build up their farms. Today, in some churches, there are debt liquidation revivals in which parishioners chip in to free each other from growing credit card debts that are driving American families to bankruptcy and desperation. IN DEBT WE TRUST is the latest film from Danny Schechter, “The News Dissector,” director of the internationally distributed and award-winning WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception), an expose of the media’s role in the Iraq War. The Emmy-winning former ABC News and CNN producer’s new hard-hitting documentary investigates why so many Americans are being strangled by debt. It is a journalistic confrontation with what former Reagan advisor Kevin Phillips calls “Financialization”–the “powerful emergence of a debt-and-credit industrial complex.” While many Americans may be “maxing out” on credit cards, there is a deeper story: power is shifting into fewer hands…..with frightening consequences. IN DEBT WE TRUST shows how the mall replaced the factory as America’s dominant economic engine and how big banks and credit card companies buy our Congress and drive us into what a former major bank economist calls modern serfdom. Americans and our government owe trillions in consumer debt and the national debt, a large amount of it to big banks and billions to Communist China.«

David Strahan: You’re wrong, PM. We need higher oil prices – Commentators, Opinion – The Independent
Once again Gordon Brown has got energy policy all wrong. Even before Opec announced an output cut of 1.5 million barrels per day, the Prime Minister had denounced the move as “absolutely scandalous”, fearing it would force the oil price higher just as the world slides into recession.

He needn’t have worried, since the cost of crude continued to fall on Friday to just under $63.

San Francisco puts electricity to vote – Environment-
Nearly a dozen times over the past century, San Francisco voters have rejected ballot measures to support a takeover of the city’s privately run electricity system.

But advocates of public power haven’t given up their goal of wresting control from Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and this year are linking support of the measure to combating global warming and securing energy independence.

Quiet wind-turbine comes to U.S. homes – CNET News
A home wind turbine already installed at 250 sites in Scotland is now being sold across the pond.

Cascade Engineering said Monday the Swift wind turbine, for homes and other buildings, is available in the U.S. and Canada.

(Credit: Cascade Engineering)

The Swift tries to set itself apart from existing small wind turbines with a design that reduces noise. Also, the turbine can be attached to a home, rather than to a free-standing pole or tower.

Like other wind turbines, the Swift has blades that turn and power a generator. But rather than the typical three blades, the Swift has five and a ring that goes around them. That “outer diffuser” ring cuts the noise level to 35 decibels and reduces vibration, according to the company.
Electricity 2.0: Using the Lessons of the Web to Improve Our Energy Networks – the video!
Many people have been asking me if there is a video of the presentation I gave at this year’s O’Reilly Web 2.0 Expo available anywhere.

I asked the organisers but they said they hadn’t recorded it.

Then my good friend Andrea Vascellari came to the rescue. I knew he had attended the presentation but I was unaware that he recorded it.

He published the video above this afternoon so for all those who were interested, here you go

Peak Energy: Bioneers 2008
Jeremy Faludi has a good writeup of this year’s Bioneers conference up at WorldChanging – Bioneers 2008 (lots of links at the original). TreeHugger has a whole series of posts on the conference.

My personal favorite part was that the day after it, the Biomimicry Institute had a post-conference, day-long session of its own where nearly a dozen scientists and entrepreneurs (most speakers were both) talked about their successes bringing bio-inspired designs into development, and the beginnings of bringing them into the real market. Below are some notes from some of the speakers that caught me from both Bioneers proper and the Biomimicry day:

Peak Energy: Volvo Truck Sales Plunge 99.7% In Europe
The London Evening Standard reports that the economic slowdown seems to have hit European truck slaes particularly hard – Volvo truck sales plunge 99.7%.

The depth of the recession was revealed today as truckmaker Volvo admitted demand across the Continent has crashed by 99.7% as it took orders for just 115 new lorries in the last three months.

That compares to orders totalling 41,970 in the third quarter of 2007. Global orders for Volvo slumped 55% in the last three months while Scania, of which Volvo has majority control, said its western Europe truck orders collapsed by 69%.

Peak Energy: Good Vibrations: The Windbelt
Here’s one for the alternative wind power experiments file – a report from BusinessWeek on an interesting design idea, inspired by the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapse of 1940 – Humdinger’s Wind Power Alternative.

As an MIT engineering undergraduate visiting the rural fishing village of Petite Anse, Haiti, in 2004, Shawn Frayne hoped to devise a way to convert abundant agricultural waste into cheap fuel. But the budding engineer soon found that the community’s mainly poor residents faced an altogether more immediate need. Unconnected to the local power grid, they relied heavily on dirty kerosene lamps, which are not only costly to operate but also unhealthy and dangerous. He decided to devise an alternative—a small, safe, and renewable power generator that could be used to power LED lights and small household electronics, such as radios.

Environmental Activists Put on Terrorist List in Maryland : Red, Green, and Blue
News broke this week that 53 people were listed in a Maryland State Police database as “suspected terrorists.” The listing was the result of an extensive surveillance program that infiltrated several activist organizations and gathered intelligence about the individuals and activities in them.

Among those receiving a letter from the Maryland State Police last week was Josh Tulkin, of the Energy Action Coalition. Apparently, during a thirteen month period from 2005-2006 when Tulkin worked at the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, State Police gathered intelligence and created a file for the young environmental activist.

Inventor breaks through again |
Lonnie Johnson has some impressive hard science credentials.

He’s worked for the Strategic Air Command and for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, outfitting missions to Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. He holds about 100 patents, many of them in that arcane spot where chemistry, electricity and physics cross into the marketplace. And his latest invention appears to do the impossible: generating electricity with no fuel and no moving parts.

But he’s still known as Mr. Squirt Gun.

Even among the geniuses who gathered to honor him and his new thermo-electrochemical converter at a “Breakthrough Awards” banquet in Manhattan this month, the Atlanta scientist’s new invention was ignored when his most famous device was revealed.

Halliburton, Rumsfeld & His Bunny Tale.
Bunnatine Greenhouse sits in a cubicle in a far corner of an office in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers(USACE) headquarters in downtown Washington, D.C., where, she says, “I am treated like a non-person.” Months crawl by yet her immediate supervisor just can’t seem to find the time to meet with her to discuss a work assignment. The taxpayers of the United States of America pay her salary, but, oddly, no demands are made of her.

The Energy-Water Paradox – Green Inc. Blog –
Scientific American has a thoughtful article this month about the trade-offs between energy and water. Many big power plants ” nuclear, coal, biomass and of course, hydroelectric ” use lots of water. Conversely, making water drinkable, and piping it into big cities, can require plenty of electricity.

This potentially forces a choice between the two.

California Energy Blog: U.S. Government Betting on Geothermal
The Interior Department announced yesterday that is making 190 million acres of federal land available for lease by private interests for development of geothermal energy projects. The Federal and state governments will share in the proceeds of any projects developed on the leased lands.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said it is estimated that the available leases could produce enough energy to generate 5,540 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 5.5 million homes.

California Energy Blog: Energy Efficiency Means Big Bucks
The University of California today issued a report concluding that if California improves energy efficiency by just 1 percent per year, proposed state climate policies will increase the Gross State Product (GSP) by approximately $76 billion, increase real household incomes by up to $48 billion and create as many as 403,000 new jobs.

The Cost of Energy» Blog Archive» Data alert: 2009 Fuel Economy Guide
The US EPA has updated its 2009 Fuel Economy Guide, a very useful guide for car shoppers or anyone who wants to win bets at their local energy geek bar.

The home page for the document (with links to the editions for prior years and related material) is here, or you can directly download the 674KB PDF here.

The Cost of Energy» A reaction to Frontline’s Heat
Frontline’s Heat is not just good, but bordering on scary good, and should instantly vault to the front ranks of journalism devoted to global warming.

I watched Heat last night, and was extremely impressed with the production’s overall approach to the topic as well as how often the primary on-screen journalist, Martin Smith, cut right to the core of an issue with a tough, point-blank question.[1] Even as some parts of the show made me ache as it described just how daunting this challenge is, I wanted to cheer the tough, unblinking stance the show took in treating the topic.

SF Bay Guardian: A vision for the city’s future, our 42nd anniversary special
In honor of our 42nd year printing the news and raising hell, the Guardian imagines a sustainable future for San Francisco, with visions for energy, land use, food, transportation, culture, and the economy.

A city transformed:Fighting the power structure, and building a sustainable community, for 42 amazing years

People’s power:A sustainable energy system is well within San Francisco’s reach

First, do no harm:A sustainable land use plan is about what we don’t allow as well as what we do

Beyond the automobile:The road to sustainability has lanes for more than just cars

Just Food Nation:Transforming how we eat will address poverty, public health, and environmental sustainability

Culture isn’t convenient:Sustaining entertainment and nightlife in San Francisco requires awareness and a policy shift

The money at home:A sustainable local economy starts with small business – and the public sector

Informing consumers about energy efficiency: viral communication
Informing individuals about the resource use and environmental consequences of their energy consumption can be surprisingly difficult. Do you ever read the little flyers that your utility or your energy retailer puts in your bill? Nope, I don’t either. But in general we’re pretty clueless about our energy consumption, because we do not have timely information that shows us how much we’re using, and how much we’re spending, so we have little incentive to go out and find information about energy efficiency. Even my students, undergrads and MBAs at one of the best universities in the world, don’t generally realize that, for example, 90% of the energy used in an incandescent light bulb produces waste heat, not lumens.

In part the challenge is that it’s an information push, and it’s an information push in an over-informed world. Consumers rarely go out looking for ways to save energy (although $4 gas and possible recession have increased that information pull!).

OPEC agrees to production cut of 1.5 million barrels a day from Nov 2008
OPEC has cut oil production targets for the first time in almost 2 years to stem a collapse in prices. The 13 OPEC nations decided to lower supply by 1.5 million barrels a day from Nov 2008, oil ministers said today [24 Oct 2008] at the end of a meeting at the group’s Vienna’s headquarters. Crude oil has tumbled 57% from a July 11 record of $147.27 a barrel as the financial market crisis spreads, job cuts increase and fuel consumption slows. Prices fell as much as 7.1% to $63.05 on NYMEX after the decision. Another cut in December is “possible,” depending on how the oil market reacts, Qatari Oil Minister Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said.

Peak Energy: Ausra La Vista, Baby
Expatriate Australian solar power company Ausra was one of the companies that featured heavily in my post on concentrating solar thermal power earlier in the year.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has opened Ausra’s first plant, a 5 MW plant at Kimberlina in central California (the first to open in 20 years) which will generate enough electricity during peak hours to power 3,500 homes. Ausra’s next plant will be a 177 MW plant nearby in San Luis Obispo County.

The SMH quoted Schwarzenegger as saying “This next generation solar power plant is further evidence that reliable, renewable and pollution-free technology is here to stay, and it will lead to more California homes and businesses powered by sunshine. Not only will this large-scale solar facility generate power to help us meet our renewable energy goals, it will also generate new jobs as California continues to pioneer clean-tech industry”.

Opportunities seen widening for clean tech investors: ENN


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

New nuke plants are questionable | Editorials & Opinions |
Energy Future Holdings (EFH) determination to build two nuclear generating plants near Glen Rose shows its corporate inability to change its long-term strategy in spite of overwhelming odds against success. (See: “Energy company looking to the challenges ahead,” Oct. 12)

After backing off plans to build 11 coal-burning power plants in Texas in 2007, you would think they would study their options more carefully.

EFH should have considered solar PV (photovoltaic) power. Numerous U.S. electric utilities are moving aggressively toward utility-scale solar power generation as part of their long-term solution to growing demand for lower-cost electric power.

True cost of French power – News
Neil Craig (Letters, 23 October) gives a figure of 1.3p per kilowatt hour for the cost of French electricity. This is as dishonest as many of the statements of nuclear advocates. The French tariff is complicated and depends on your connection rating, the time of day and three different day “colours” announced day to day, depending on expected demand. An excellent explanation can be found on Google.
For the typical example of 3000kWh at the cheap rate, 2000kWh normal rate, plus the connection charge for 9kW, the total was 0.11 per kilowatt hour in 2004 . Can Mr Craig say where he got the 1.3p figure?

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