Top 100 Energy Stories (March 9th – 15th)

radbullYucca Blowback continues.  All eyes on the committee that will be looking into alternatives. Following the Reid victory at cutting Yucca funding there has been a huge outburst of PR around the country.  A very busy time to be online.

A worker died at a reactor in Sweden this past week. Russia is at it again. They’ve announced that they are planning on building 4 floating reactors in the Arctic.  Other attempts to finance and build this long attempted plan have all died. There’s a stand alone article here on the state of the French nuclear industry.  A fourth reactor being built in Taiwan will cost an additional $1.4 billion.  While the battle to resurrect the Bataan reactor in the Philippines continues to rage.  The Sizewell A reactor decommissioning plan has been delayed by 75 years and the press down under disclosed a 100,000 liter a day leak at the Ranger uranium mine.

Anybody have a list of all the battles currently raging around the country? Their are legal oppositions in Michagan starting up against Fermi III and then there are the usual battles in NY, VT, VA, SC, GA etc. Expect a new legislative battle to hit in California as Chuck Devore once again is attempting to sneak in legislation to let reactors be build in Fresno Ca.

A new scandal over a whistleblower has hit FPL and Turkey Point has hit.  USEC has had a huge stock drop as uranium prices continue to slide downward.   Duke has canceled a MOX fuel contract, and Energy Solutions in Utah has used its immense lobbying arm to dangle billions to Utah legislators if allowed to bring in nuclear waste from around the world. It is also fighting to exclude itself from the northwest regional low-level was compact.

There’s also a new organizing video for anti-nuclear activists located here. You can view the video online and order a copy for house party organizing.

There is definitely a good amount of news!

Top Nuclear Stories Index

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


Nuclear Reactor News

Man dies at nuclear power station – The Local
A 61-year-old man died while working on the O3 nuclear reactor at Oskarshamn nuclear power station in southern Sweden on Sunday morning.

The man was carrying out maintenance work on reactor, which is temporarily out of service, when a jack broke loose and crashed into the man’s chest.

The 61-year-old was rushed to hospital in Oskarshamn but was declared dead on arrival.

The accident occurred shortly before 5am in the reactor’s turbine hall. The police have conducted a technical investigation of the scene and a report has been submitted to the Swedish Work Environment Authority.
Regulators to vote on nuclear reactors |
State utility regulators vote Tuesday on whether to give Georgia Power the go-ahead on two new reactors at the company’s Vogtle nuclear plant.

The company plans to begin constructing the reactors in 2011 if it gets approval from the Georgia Public Service Commission and other federal and state agencies.

The company reached an agreement with the PSC’s public interest staff on all but two issues related to those reactors.

The first is how to implement an early funding mechanism approved by the Legislature late last month.

The second is an incentive mechanism, which would tie a small part of the utility’s profits to its ability to bring the $6.4 billion project in close to budget.

CNW Telbec | Greenpeace blocks nuclear station to tell Smitherman: Don’t Nuke Green Energy
Greenpeace activists blocked access to the Pickering nuclear station today with a flat bed truck topped by a giant billboard reading “Minister: Don’t Nuke Green Energy,” as part of a campaign to convince the McGuinty government to replace Pickering nuclear reactors with green energy. “Greenpeace is blocking the Pickering reactor station because Nuclear Energy Minister George Smitherman is blocking green energy in Ontario,” said Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a Greenpeace energy campaigner. “The spin around Smitherman’s proposed Green Energy Act is cynical greenwashing to hide the fact that his nuclear plans will rob green energy of the funding needed for development.”

Sorrell says Vt. Yankee’s emissions claim is false | Burlington Free Press
State Attorney General William Sorrell says Vermont Yankee’s zero-carbon-emissions claim is inaccurate.

The nuclear plant in Vernon claimed to have zero emissions in advertisements last year, prompting a complaint by the Vermont Public Interest Research Group. Sorrell said he looked into the claim and found that, although emissions generated by electricity production at nuclear plants are negligible, they occur when uranium is mined, processed and transported for use as fuel.

U.S. Reps demand investigation at Indian Point – The Times Herald Record
Four U.S. Representatives from New York are requesting a federal investigation at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan.

Democratic colleagues John Hall, Maurice Hinchey, Nita Lowey and Eliot Engel called on the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission the industry’s oversight body to scrutinize a recent water leak that contained radioactive material at the plant.

The problem was discovered Feb. 16 when the facility’s staff detected a leak in an underground pipe connected to the reactor’s secondary cooling system. The escaping water contained small amounts of tritium, a radioactive isotope.

Experts Reflect On Three Mile Island, Nuclear Power – The Philadelphia Bulletin Archives
As Pennsylvania approaches the 30th anniversary of Three Mile Island’s (TMI) partial-core meltdown, the worst commercial nuclear accident in American history, experts gathered in Harrisburg yesterday to discuss nuclear power. They didn’t spare it much criticism.

Eric Epstein, chair of Three Mile Island Alert (TMIA), a group that advocates for alternatives to nuclear power before the state Public Utility Commission and other governmental bodies, said this technology’s proponents understate its costs. Because of the promise public officials have seen in nuclear power, he said at a Commonwealth Foundation (CF) panel yesterday, more than 60 percent of all federal research subsidization of energy research went to nuclear analysis between 1950 and 1994.

Some hoped nuclear power could shoulder America’s energy burden so mush so that in the 1950s Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Louis Strauss said future generations might enjoy in their homes electrical energy too cheap to meter. Some policymakers foresaw a day when Americans would even use nuclear energy to fuel their automobiles.

A Third Reactor at Calvert Nuclear Plant Would Hurt Air Quality, Residents Say – washington post
Air quality in Calvert County would suffer if a third nuclear reactor is built at the Calvert Cliffs plant in Lusby, some local residents said this week during a public hearing.

Residents questioned the amount of emissions that would be produced by a third reactor’s cooling tower and its backup diesel generators. They said they want UniStar Nuclear Energy, which wants to build the reactor, to use data from working plants rather than projected information about air quality. They also called for more state air monitoring near the plant.
Court papers reveal nuclear feud at Turkey Point – Miami Herald
At 1:09 one afternoon last year, 90 metal rods slid into the cores of the two nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, part of an automatic shutdown that had been triggered by a utility worker’s blunder moments earlier at a substation miles away. A million customers lost power.

Florida Power & Light executives ordered that the reactors be back online within 12 hours, according to court documents. The plant’s top nuclear operator, David Hoffman, said that would be dangerous. When FPL executives disagreed with him, he walked out at 8 p.m., refusing to participate in actions he felt were unsafe.

At 11:49 that night, Feb. 26, 2008, he submitted a heated resignation letter, blasting FPL for constantly putting cost savings ahead of safety and creating a horrible morale problem. ”People are not valued and are treated like equipment and numbers,” Hoffman wrote.

EIA: Nuclear power 101 | MNN – Mother Nature Network
Nuclear energy is a radioactive topic. Depending whom you talk to, it’s either a clean, sustainable fuel source providing ample homespun electricity, or an expensive, dirty and dangerous gamble as outdated as the Cold War. This debate’s roots run deep, having electrified conversation since the nuclear-energy boom of the 1970s, when most of America’s nuclear plants rose from the gravel and began churning out power for the growing population. The average nuclear reactor produces enough electricity each year to power 740,000 households (equivalent to 13.7 million barrels of oil).

While no new nuclear plants have been licensed to be built in the United States for about 30 years, the country’s 66 existing plants, and their 104 reactors, continue to generate about 19 percent of its electricity. Many of these reactors are now reaching the end of their 40-year licensing agreements, and the era of global warming and fickle gas prices is leading a new generation to reconsider nuclear energy. In response, many power-plant operators are requesting 20-year license renewals and completing applications for new plants. Here’s a quick 101 on nuclear energy, to help inform your debate.

S.Korea takes lead for Jordan nuclear plant deal-report | Reuters
South Korea has taken the lead in talks to sell Jordan a nuclear power plant through a private deal without a formal bidding process, which would be its first such export deal, local media reported on Wednesday citing a top executive.

“Jordan’s No.1 nuclear power plant (project) is leaning towards a private deal with South Korea without a public bid,” Kim Ssang-soo, the chief executive officer of state-run Korea Electric Power Corp (KEPCO), was quoted as saying during his trip to Amman.
RIA Novosti – Russia to install 4 floating nuclear plants in northeast Siberia
Four floating nuclear power plants will be installed in the northeastern Siberian republic of Yakutia under an agreement between the Federal Nuclear Power Agency and the local administration, local authorities said on Wednesday.

“The implementation of this project will make it possible to considerably reduce outlays on the delivery of fuel for the existing energy supply system, and raise the quality and reliability of energy provision, taking into account industrial development in northern Yakutia,” the republic’s presidential administration said.

The floating nuclear plants to be installed in four districts of Yakutia are intended to be put into service in 2013-2015, the administration said.

Investment in the project at the current stage is estimated at over 30 billion rubles ($838 million). Options are also being considered to involve private investors, the administration said.

Michigan Messenger» Fermi 3 opposition takes legal action to block new nuclear reactor
A coalition of environmental groups is asking federal regulators to put the brakes on the proposed expansion of the Fermi nuclear power plant in Monroe County on the grounds that it is unnecessary and poses threats to the environment and human health.

Beyond Nuclear, Citizens for Alternatives to Chemical Contamination, Citizens Environment Alliance of Southwestern Ontario, Don’t Waste Michigan and the Sierra Club, are all representing locals who live within 50 miles of Fermi and therefore have legal standing to intervene in the reactor permitting process.

According to Nuclear Regulatory Commission spokesman Scott Burnell, the Atomic Safety and Licensing Board, a panel of administrative law judges, will determine whether the groups’ contentions should be introduced as part of the hearing on the permit. There is one operational nuclear reactor at the electricity-generating complex in Monroe County’s Frenchtown Township, known as Fermi 2. Fermi 1 shut down in 1972.

Monroe Evening News (MI): Groups petition against new nuclear plant
A coalition of citizen groups is asking federal regulators reject DTE Energy’s plans to build a new Fermi 3 nuclear plant, contending that it would pose a range of threats to public health and the environment.

The groups have filed 14 contentions with the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, claiming that a new plant would pose “radioactive, toxic and thermal impacts on Lake Erie’s vulnerable western basin.”

DTE Energy, which already operates the Fermi 2 reactor near Newport, is considering building a Fermi 3 plant at the same site, using a new and as-yet unapproved, design.

“For starters, this plant is not needed and we’re prepared to demonstrate that,” said Michael Keegan of Monroe and member of Don’t Waste Michigan, one of the groups opposing the project. “We have national experts and former NRC commissioners — some of the nation’s best minds — who helped compile this document.”
“The proposed Fermi 3 would represent another half-century of safety and security risks for the Great Lakes shoreline,” he said. “Many concerned local residents don’t want to play yet another round of radioactive Russian roulette.”

Dominion looking at nuclear vendor proposals | Reuters
Dominion Resources Inc (D.N) expects to decide in the fall whether to continue working with General Electric Co/Hitachi Ltd on a proposed nuclear plant in Virginia, a spokesman said.

Dominion opened a competitive process this month to broaden its discussions with potential nuclear vendors, spokesman Richard Zuercher said on Monday.

The move to look at competing engineering and construction partners came after Dominion disclosed in January that it was unable to reach agreement with General Electric Co (GE.N)/Hitachi Ltd  on terms to build the company’s advanced nuclear design, the 1,550 MW Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor.

Court papers reveal nuclear feud at Turkey Point – Miami Herald
The top nuclear operator at Turkey Point resigned after a huge outage because he felt his bosses were demanding an unsafe restart.

At 1:09 one afternoon last year, 90 metal rods slid into the cores of the two nuclear reactors at Turkey Point, part of an automatic shutdown that had been triggered by a utility worker’s blunder moments earlier at a substation miles away. A million customers lost power.

Florida Power & Light executives ordered that the reactors be back online within 12 hours, according to court documents. The plant’s top nuclear operator, David Hoffman, said that would be dangerous. When FPL executives disagreed with him, he walked out at 8 p.m., refusing to participate in actions he felt were unsafe.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Tonko: Study NL site impac — Times Union – Albany NY
A congressional subcommittee on Thursday rapped a federal regulatory agency for downplaying the risks of uranium exposure to former workers and neighbors of the long-shuttered National Lead Industries munitions plant in Colonie.

Democratic lawmakers said the handling of toxic exposures at the defunct plant and other sites nationwide showed that the 29-year-old U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry isn’t doing enough to investigate legitimate health concerns.

“It’s clear … that the ATSDR failed the people of Colonie and Albany who live near the site,” said U.S. Rep. Paul Tonko, D-Amsterdam.

Bill would test nuclear safety | The Spectrum
Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, has reintroduced his bill to protect Americans’ health and safety in the event that nuclear weapons testing resumes at the Nevada Test Site.

Matheson first introduced the bill, Safety for Americans from Nuclear Weapons Testing Act, in 2004 after funds were appropriated to study development of two new types of nuclear weapons and to shorten the time needed for test site readiness.

From 1951 to 1992 more than 1,000 nuclear weapons were tested at the Nevada Test Site, 150 miles west of St. George. About 800 of the tests were underground, but still released a significant amount of radiation into the atmosphere.

The radioactive fallout led to a large number of Americans who suffered and succumbed to radiation-related cancers and illnesses.

Orlando Sentinel – Orlando Congressman: Cleanup work in Vieques is flawed
Rep. Alan Grayson, a Democrat from Orlando, spoke today before a subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Health and Environment, advocating for a full environmental cleanup of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques.

The island served as a bombing range and military exercise ground for the Navy until the base was shut down in 2003, following protests from Puerto Ricans and their supporters on the island and the mainland.

Speaking to the HispanoSphere today, Rep. Grayson said he took it upon himself to bring up the subject of Vieques in that agency’s hearing because he wants to keep a spotlight on the issue. Many Puerto Ricans live in his Orlando district, Grayson said, and because the island does not have voting members in Congress he feels he should speak for those U.S. territory citizens as well. “In a sense, I am the Congressman for Puerto Rico,” Grayson said.

Dounreay fishing ban to stay, says food agency – Scotsman
A BAN on seafood coming from an area near the Dounreay nuclear site is to stay in place, following a Food Standards Agency review.
The restriction, preventing the removal of fish and shellfish from a 2km exclusion zone, was imposed in 1997 after the discovery of radioactive particles on the seabed.

The order, under the Food and Environment Protection Act, was to ensure any seafood contaminated by irradiated nuclear fuel did not enter the food chain.

Last year, Dounreay began work using remotely operated vehicles to remove the worst of the particles that have caused concern for more than quarter of a century.

Up to £25 million will be spent on covering an area the size of 60 football pitches and on monitoring up to the 2020s.

telegraph journal – Lepreau safety incidents reported | Rob Linke – New Brunswick, Canada
A surprisingly high concentration of deuterium gas discovered in the cooling system at the Point Lepreau nuclear plant could have harmed personnel and damaged equipment last May had it exploded.

Deuterium can explode in air if it reaches a concentration of five per cent, and a sample taken at Lepreau on May 23, 2008 was 6.4 per cent.

But the gas was in a closed system of tubes and lacked an ignition source as the reactor was offline.

The Associated Press: Probe finds health risks missed
Randall Parrish, a researcher at the University of Leicester, England, found depleted uranium exposure in 20 percent of residents he tested in Colonie, N.Y., where a company once produced uranium weapons for the military. He recommended that ATSDR revisit the area because its earlier health study, without benefit of his test method, assumed it couldn’t detect past exposure or tie it to illness years after the plant closed.

Press and Journal: Photographer captured impact of TMI accident on community
The Three Mile Island accident of 1979 changed the future of the nuclear industry, making the public more aware of the dangers of having a nuclear plant next door.

The accident shattered a naïve sense of trust, and forced government officials and the industry to look more closely at security and safety issues.

Robert Del Tredici, a Canadian photographer, artist and teacher, documented that pivotal time 30 years ago. His first book documented the people living around the Three Mile Island nuclear facility.

Published in 1980, the book was part sociology and part critique of nuclear power. Since then, Del Tredici has gone on to publish other books on the nuclear industry, as well as teaching and working with government officials.


NRC News

NRC: – NRC Announces Opportunity to Request a Hearing onReinstating Construction Permits for Bellefonte 1 & 2
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission today announced the opportunity for the public to request a hearing on whether good cause exists to reinstate the construction permits for the unfinished Unit 1 and 2 reactors at the Bellefonte site near Hollywood, Ala.

The Commission in February authorized the staff to take the unique step of reinstating the permits, which the Tennesee Valley Authority had withdrawn in 2006. In August 2008, TVA asked the NRC to reinstate the permits. The Commission, after considering the technical, regulatory, and legal aspects of TVA’s request, concluded that there is sufficient reason to allow reinstatement of the construction permits, using a conservative sequential approach to ensure the safety of doing so.

The NRC staff issued an Order reinstating the permits, which returns the plants to a terminated status, meaning that TVA must provide significant additional information to show the plants could be upgraded to deferred status, which would be necessary to put the plants on a path to possible future construction. The docket numbers established for the permits are 50-438 and 50-439.

NRC – NRC Issues Final Safety Evaluation Report for Vogtle Nuclear Power Plant License Renewal Application
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has issued its final safety evaluation report (SER) for the proposed renewal of the operating licenses for the Vogtle Electrical Generating Plant, Units 1 and 2. The report concludes that there are no safety concerns that would preclude license renewal because the applicant has effectively demonstrated the capability to manage the effects of plant aging during extended operations and it would not pose an undue risk to the health and safety of workers or the public.

Vogtle Units 1 and 2 are pressurized-water reactors located about 26 miles southeast of Augusta, Ga. Vogtle’s operator, Southern Nuclear Operating Co., submitted the license renewal application June 29, 2007. The current operating licenses expire Jan. 16, 2027, for Unit 1 and Feb. 9, 2029, for Unit 2. Under NRC regulations, the original operating license for a nuclear power plant has a term of 40 years. The license may be renewed for up to an additional 20 years if NRC requirements are met. Therefore, the operating license would be extended until Jan. 16, 2047, for Unit 1 and Feb. 9, 2049 for Unit 2.

NRG blasts rival Exelon’s hostile bid again | Reuters
NRG says again Exelon bid too low

* Says financing plan “troubling”

* Exelon unavailable for comment

LOS ANGELES, March 12 (Reuters) – NRG Energy (NRG.N), trying to fight off a hostile bid from rival utility Exelon Corp (EXC.N) worth potentially about $5.6 billion, blasted theoffer as being too cheap and urged shareholders on Thursday again to reject the deal.

Top NRG executives have been trying to fend off Exelon since October, when the offer to swap 0.485 Exelon shares for each NRG share was broached.

But Exelon, the largest nuclear power operator in the United States, said last month its bid had won support from a majority of NRG’s shareholders, and hence extended the deadline on its offer to June 26.
NRC says severe reactor accidents can be mitigated
Severe reactor accidents can be mitigated, and are unlikely to release much — if any –radioactivity even if they are not, NRC staffers said March 11. The NRC’s state-of-the-art reactor consequences analysis, or Soarca, attempts to quantify the probability and likely offsite health consequences of severe reactor accidents, beginning with Exelon Nuclear’s Peach Bottom and Dominion’s Surry plants. Analysis for those stations has been completed and a report will be completed by May, NRC’s Charles Tinkler said in his presentation at the agency’s annual Regulatory Information Conference in Rockville, Maryland. Jason Schaperow of NRC said the staff’s “preliminary conclusions” are that all accident scenarios analyzed for Peach Bottom and Surry “can reasonably be mitigated.” Sensitivity analyses concluded that, even if no mitigation measures were taken, there would be no large early releases of radioactivity, due to the relatively slow progression of the accidents and the small probability of containment failure, Schaperow said. Likely radioactive releases from the accidents analyzed so far in Soarca “are dramatically smaller” than those predicted in a 1982 NRC analysis conducted for use in siting new units, Schaperow said. The late Commissioner Edward McGaffigan and some industry officials were highly critical of that report, which they said was unrealistically conservative in its assumptions.

NRC: Speech-006 – Learning the Right Lessons The Honorable Gregory B. Jaczko, Commissioner, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 21st Annual Regulatory Information Conference
This is my fifth opportunity to address our Regulatory Information Conference. Each year I use this talk as an opportunity to address big themes and how they apply to the specific challenges of nuclear safety regulation.

This year I would like to focus on the most important lessons we need to learn from past success to meet our mission of providing an adequate assurance of public health and safety. I would like to begin with an example of how we use information, and as Cambridge, Massachusetts, is a center of reason and thought, I will begin there today, even though that is hard for me to acknowledge as a graduate of an Ivy League institution located in a different city.

NRC – Prepared Remarks of NRC Chairman Dale E. Klein, 21st Annual Regulatory Information Conference, March 10, 2009

Welcome, to this 21st Regulatory Information Conference. There are a few thousand people here, so as you can imagine, this is the biggest event we sponsor every year. I want to begin, therefore, by thanking all the staff for their enormous hard work in putting this together. The NRC has been hosting the RIC for 21 years, and each year it seems to get bigger, which means of course, that it is a bit more challenging to plan and organize. But the staff always seems to rise to the occasion and make sure everything goes smoothly.

Speaking of the NRC staff, many of you know that the agency has undergone significant changes in our senior leadership in the past year. Luis Reyes, our former EDO, is now Regional Administrator in Atlanta. He wanted to retire, but we twisted his arm to stay. And Bill Borchardt moved up from the Office of New Reactors to become the new EDO. Several other senior positions also changed. But despite those changes, there has been very good continuity, because the agency has benefitted from an excellent depth of talent.

Economy to slow U.S. nuclear power growth: NRC head | Reuters
An “excessive exuberance” for expansion in the U.S. nuclear power industry has calmed because of the global credit and economic crisis, the head of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said on Tuesday.

Separately, a GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy official warned that the lack of credit will slow the pace of U.S. nuclear power development.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Dale Klein said in the past two years he worried whether there would be enough NRC staff to review an avalanche of licenses for new nuclear power plants, none of which have been ordered since the 1970s.

“Today, of course, the picture looks a little different … it seems like the global economy has resolved the issue of what I referred to as an ‘excessive exuberance’ to be in line for the first new reactor builds,” Klein said in a speech to NRC staff in Washington.

NRC – NRC Issues Annual Assessments for Nation’s Nuclear Plants
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued annual assessment letters to the nation’s 104 operating commercial nuclear power plants. All the plants continue to operate safely.

“Our ongoing assessment of nuclear power plant performance is at the heart of the agency’s mission of protecting people and the environment, said Eric Leeds, director of the Office of Nuclear Reactor Regulation. The 2008 year-end results show that about 83 percent of the plants are performing strongly enough that we’re satisfied with our basic level of inspections at those sites.

If a nuclear power plant’s performance declines, the NRC increases the level of inspection to ensure the plant operator is taking the steps necessary to correct the situation. The additional amount of inspection is commensurate with the level of plant performance. At the close of last year, only one reactor, Unit 3 at Palo Verde (Ariz.), required the NRC’s highest level of attention. Three reactor units, Cooper (Neb.) and Units 1 and 2 at Palo Verde (Ariz.), required significant NRC attention. And another 14 reactor units, Units 1 and 2 at Byron (Ill.), Unit 1 at Comanche Peak (Texas), Unit 1 at Farley (Ala.), Unit 1 at Grand Gulf ( Miss.), Unit 2 at Hatch (Ga.), Kewaunee (Wis.), Units 1 and 2 at McGuire (N.C.), Unit 2 at Nine Mile Point (N.Y.), Unit 1 at Oconee (S.C.), Palisades (Mich.), Unit 1 at Prairie Island (Minn.), and Unit 2 at San Onofre (Calif.), required additional attention beyond the basic level.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

Uranium mine water leak concerning, govt says (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
The Northern Territory Government says it will speak to mining company ERA and the office of the Commonwealth Supervising Scientist about contaminated water leaking from the Ranger Uranium Mine.

About 100,000 litres of contaminated water is seeping from a tailings dam at the mine every day.

Environmentalists are calling for the mine’s planned expansion to be put on hold.

Opponents of uranium mine find allies at the Beach | |
Deborah and Phillip Lovelace felt like they were going up against an army as they organized opposition to a proposed uranium mine five miles from their cattle farm near Gretna, a Southside town of 1,300.

Then the Virginia Beach City Council passed a resolution opposing the mine without guarantees that the operation wouldn’t contaminate Lake Gaston, its primary drinking water supply.

Suddenly, the Lovelaces had their own army: a city of 425,000 people. “I could have almost turned cartwheels,” Phillip said.

Deal off with single buyer of MOX fuel – The Augusta Chronicle
Duke Energy, the only commercial nuclear power plant operator that had agreed to use mixed oxide fuels to be made at Savannah River Site, has ended its contract to use the material.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s $4.86 billion MOX facility at SRS, scheduled to open in 2016, is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus, weapons-grade plutonium by using small amounts to make fuel for commercial reactors.

The termination of Duke’s contract — disclosed Feb. 27 in a company financial filing with the U.S. Securities & Exchange Commission — raises questions about the government’s ability to find power plants willing to use the fuel, said Tom Clements, the Southeast nuclear campaign coordinator for Friends of the Earth.

WPCVA: Supervisors explore uranium ban, minerals tax
Pittsylvania County Board of Supervisors’ Legislative Committee met last week to explore tightening the county’s zoning ordinance and a possible ban on uranium mining.

The committee, chaired by Staunton River District Supervisor Marshall Ecker, tabled the ban, but is expected to schedule a work session with the county’s attorney to determine if a ban is even possible.

“I think we need to address the issue and look at it closely and not make any hasty decisions one way or the other,” said Ecker.

Spot uranium price continues to drop on soft demand
The spot price of uranium dropped 25 cents a pound to $43.50/lb U3O8 over the past week, according to Ux Consulting. TradeTech lowered its spot price $1/lb to $43/lb in its March 6 report. Both price publishers said sellers are lowering their offer prices in order to attract buyers that are in the market for discretionary purchases. Analysts have said they are uncertain whether the price will continue to drop. TradeTech said demand in the spot market remains “highly discretionary,” but noted that the lower prices have “stimulated” some buying interest.

USEC’s actions should terminate contract| Chillicothe Gazette
March 2, USEC stock plunged a walloping 24.85 percent, from $5.03 to $3.78 per share, with market value dropping about $200 million in four days, hitting south Ohio especially hard.

USEC had a 50 percent profit loss in 2008 compared to 2007, but the company has larger issues. Its hypothetical centrifuge plant in Piketon now ranks fourth among competing domestic enrichment projects, out-classed by projects in New Mexico, Idaho and North Carolina in terms of cost, technical demonstration and schedule.

This comes just as the capital crisis severely restricts construction of nuclear reactors, reducing domestic demand forecasts to only two new enrichment projects. The others would produce uranium cheap enough to export. But USEC’s chances of developing an export market are nil, not only for its high prices, but because USEC has alienated foreign customers through monopolistic support of protectionist measures to keep out foreign uranium.

Russian state uranium firm buys Kazakh assets | Reuters
Russian state uranium holding Atomenergoprom said on Tuesday it had bought stakes in uranium deposits located in Kazakhstan from tycoon Vladimir Anisimov for an undisclosed sum through its unit Atomredmetzoloto (ARMZ).

State-controlled Gazprombank, the banking arm of Russian gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM), said in a separate statement it had provided ARMZ with a loan for the acquisition of the assets.

Australia’s Queensland state may drop uranium ban | Reuters
Australia’s resource-rich Queensland state may drop its ban on uranium mining and join other states in producing more of the nuclear fuel if conservatives win office at Queensland elections this month.

Lawrence Springborg, whose opposition party is rated a strong chance to win the state election due on March 21, told reporters in a mining town on Monday that Queensland was losing job opportunities because of the current government’s stand.


Nuclear Waste News

WAussie ideal for nuclear waste :
WA would be ideal for the safe storage of nuclear waste as Australia “inevitably embraces nuclear power, a prominent geologist has claimed.

John de Laeter, a Curtin University professor who has spent much of his career studying geological formations in WA and abroad, said Australia would eventually need to build nuclear reactors, but that he did not see underground nuclear waste storage as dangerous.

Keeping up the fight – Las Vegas Sun
Despite progress against nuke dump proposal, Nevada should remain vigilant

Now that the Obama administration has followed through with a promise to strip federal funding from a proposed nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain, many of the project’s ardent supporters have begun throwing in the towel.

The Washington Post, which has supported burying nuclear waste in Nevada, wrote in an editorial last Sunday that the Yucca Mountain project is dead. At a Senate Budget Committee hearing Wednesday, ranking Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire said: I don’t want to save Yucca. I accept the fact that may not be viable.

The most stunning comment, though, came from Alex Flint, senior vice president for governmental affairs of the Nuclear Energy Institute. Referring to the nuclear waste now stored at reactors, Flint was quoted on National Public Radio Wednesday as saying: “In many ways, we’ve reduced the urgency of a need to find some other solution for this material. We can definitely deal with this material for decades or hundreds of years. It would be ideal to come up with some eventual disposition proposal in this regard, but we have a lot of time to figure that out.”

North West Evening Mail| Plans for undersea pipes from nuke power plant
RWE hopes to construct a new plant near Sellafield and a scheme to transmit energy under the sea could deflect concerns from the Lake District National Park Authority about the possibility of pylons running across the countryside.

Energy generated by wind farms in Cumbria could be transferred to the grid in the same way.

Although RWE has not yet decided for definite how to connect power to the grid, the scheme has received some support.

Steve Ratcliffe, director of planning and partnerships for the LDNPA, said: The national park has been in active discussions with the group and supports the undersea pipelines option.

Funding offer for hot waste gets cold shoulder – Salt Lake Tribune
In a last-day assessment, Senate Minority Leader Pat Jones called environmental issues some of the 2009 session’s most divisive, separating lawmakers on policy and philosophical grounds.

“Stay tuned on this issue,” said the Holladay Democrat.

One of the biggest environmental issues never surfaced in the form of a bill. A proposal by EnergySolutions Inc. promised to pump up to $1.5 billion in profits from foreign radioactive-waste disposal in Utah into the state’s budget over a decade. Gov. Jon Huntsman opposed the idea, saying the waste would last far longer than the budget crunch.

Times & Star | 150 jobs secured by £20m radioactive waste deal
MORE than 150 jobs have been secured thanks to the £20 million radioactive waste deal which brings a big boost to two West Cumbrian quarries.

Deseret News | Matheson urges commission to rule on EnergySolutions’ Clive facility
A Utah congressman has joined some of his D.C. colleagues in calling on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to declare if EnergySolutions’ Clive facility falls under the regulatory authority of the Northwest Compact.

The Tuesday letter authored by Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, and several other lawmakers echoes a question already poised to a federal judge and under consideration after a motion hearing in Salt Lake City late last month.

Specifically, in its attempts to import low-level radioactive waste from Italy for storage in Tooele County, EnergySolutions officials have argued that its Clive facility falls outside the regulatory purview of the compact because Congress did not expressly grant that much power to the compact.

EnergySolutions had sought a permit from the NRC for disposal, but the commission said it would first wait until the federal court ruling.

Lowestoft Journal – Sizewell decommissioning delayed
DECOMMISSIONING of the last of the radioactive material from Sizewell A has been put back 75 years, with energy bosses saying it isn’t their number one priority.

The removal of all hazardous waste from the twin reactor nuclear plant had been recommended to be fast-tracked to only take 25-30 years, but those plans have now been thrown out.

Nuclear radioactive waste will now stay on the Suffolk coast at the Sizewell A site until 2110 after the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) committed its resources to Sellafield and Dounreay. But last night the organisation insisted the situation was not motivated by financial constraints.

Anti-nuclear campaigners are up in arms over what they claim to be a ‘U-turn’, saying it will leave Suffolk open to potential terrorist attacks for years to come.

Used nuclear waste fuel stored throughout U.S. – chicago tribune
President Barack Obama’s proposed budget all but kills the Yucca Mountain project, the controversial site where all of the U.S. nuclear industry’s spent fuel rods once were supposed to end up in permanent storage deep below the Nevada desert. Since there are no other plans being developed, the waste will remain in 104 reactors across the country. Illinois holds the most nuclear waste.

Congressmen want NRC’s input on foreign waste issue | knoxnews
Members of Congress from Utah, Tennessee and Massachusetts want the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to say whether it could prevent the importation of foreign radioactive waste for disposal in Utah’s desert if a federal court rules a regional compact doesn’t have the ability to keep it out.

The letter sent Tuesday is in response to an application from Salt Lake City-based EnergySolutions Inc. to import up to 20,000 tons of low-level radioactive waste from Italy through the ports of Charleston, S.C. or New Orleans. After processing in Tennessee, about 1,600 tons would be disposed in Utah.

If the NRC approves the company’s import license, it would be the largest amount of nuclear waste ever brought into the country. The NRC has said the company’s application approval is dependent on EnergySolutions having a place to put the waste and that the commission’s decision will depend largely on the court ruling.

Panel invites further questions, discussion about radioactive waste – Salt Lake Tribune
The Radiation Control Board heard complaints Tuesday about how EnergySolutions Inc. represents the waste it accepts at its disposal site in Tooele County.

Although the panel opted not to take any action on the concerns raised, several members agreed there is public confusion about the hazard of the material at the mile-square disposal site.

“We do think this is a serious issue and the public does deserve some direct answers,” said Vanessa Pierce, director of the Healthy Environment Alliance of Utah.

Although the board took no action, Bill Sinclair, director of the Department of Environmental Quality and a board member, urged Pierce to put her questions in writing to state regulators.

Company representatives did not offer the board any comments on the request. On Feb. 21, EnergySolutions chief Steve Creamer said on a radio show that “you probably could” use the waste in garden planters, “but I wouldn’t recommend that.” A spokeswoman later clarified that he meant in 100 years, after the radiological hazard had diminished.

Congressmen ask: What if EnergySolutions wins? – Salt Lake Tribune
Members of Congress are wondering who — if anyone — would control EnergySolutions’ Utah disposal site should a federal judge rule the company isn’t subject to a regional oversight authority.

U.S. House energy and environment subcommittee members, all Democrats, wrote to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Tuesday to air their concerns and to ask for the federal agency’s assessment of what it will mean if, as the company insists, the Northwest Compact lacks control over EnergySolutions.

“Uncertainty about who is in charge of regulating foreign waste could turn into chaos depending on the outcome in this case,” said U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson, a Utah lawmaker who is co-sponsoring legislation to ban the type of foreign-waste imports EnergySolutions has requested.

The letter to NRC comes nearly two weeks after U.S. District Judge Ted Stewart heard oral arguments from the Salt Lake City nuclear-waste company on one side and the state of Utah, the Northwest Compact and the Rocky Mountain Compact on the other. The pending ruling is expected to say whether the site must answer to the compact, of which Utah has been a member for more than two decades.

AFP: Obama’s energy chief announces nuclear waste panel
US Energy Secretary Steven Chu backed a new generation of nuclear power Wednesday, and said a panel of experts would report back this year on the best long-term storage of radioactive waste.

The Nobel laureate scientist, chosen by President Barack Obama to lead an ambitious drive for renewable energy, said nuclear power was also an “essential part of our energy mix” along with cleaner coal and carbon capture.

Chu said he was convening a “blue-ribbon panel” of experts to “develop a long-term strategy that must include the waste disposal plan,” after Obama’s budget ruled out a proposed national repository at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain.

Spain says no decision yet on nuclear waste site | Reuters
The Spanish government has yet to decide when it will revive plans to find a site for storing spent nuclear fuel, Environment Minister Elena Espinosa said on Tuesday.

Spain has for several years planned to build a facility to house high-level waste for 60 years. The country’s nuclear power stations no longer have room to store much more than the 6,700 tonnes of spent fuel rods they have accumulated.

“We have not discussed a date for this matter,” Espinosa told journalists in response to questions on the planned Centralized Temporary Site, known as ATC in Spanish.

One island for nuke waste? | Manila Bulletin
EVERYTHING seems easy to some proponents to make the Bataan nuclear plant generate energy for the first time in the unseen future: 1) only $1 billion R48,500,000,000) is needed and 2) just one of our 7,000 islands for waste disposal will suffice.

The tall boast

One Filipino geologist claims to be knowledgeable: “Give me one island out of our 7,000 and I can find ways to safely store nuclear waste in the Philippines.” He referred to levels of barrier protection system and cited Carlsbad, New Mexico as a model for disposal of nuclear waste. He said we have this attitude of “not in my backyard.”

Taipei Times – Taipower requires more money for nuclear plant
A SMALL TWEAKING: While delays were likely for the fourth nuclear plant, the AEC said that more advanced technology would boost total output by 1.7 percent

Taipower chairman Chen Kuei-ming told the legislature yesterday an additional NT$40 billion (US$1.15 billion) to NT$50 billion would be needed if the Fourth Nuclear Power Plant is to reach a stage where its two generator units can begin operations in 2011 and 2012.

The additional funding would bring the construction costs at the Gongliao, Taipei County, plant to between NT$270 billion and NT$280 billion, Chen said.

Whatever happened to plans to bury U.S. nuclear waste in Yucca Mountain? : Scientific American Blog
Remember the feds’ controversial plan to store all of the country’s spent nuclear fuel deep inside Yucca Mountain in the Nevada desert some 100 miles (160 kilometers) northwest of Las Vegas? Well it looks like that proposed resting place for the country’s nuclear waste has apparently been, well, laid to rest.

When President Obama unveiled his budget last month, he essentially eliminated funding to prepare the site as the nation’s nuke graveyard. The scant funds still to be allotted, according to the Las Vegas Sun, will just be enough to allow the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) the body responsible for managing civilian nuke power to hold planned hearings on licensing the facility’s construction.

Hey Pa.: Keep your waste in your own backyard – Las Vegas Sun
Today I was trolling the blogs and newspaper web pages when I happened to read this amusing editorial by Denny Bonavita, editor and publisher of McLean Publishing Co. in west-central Pennsylvania, which includes the Courier-Express in DuBois, Pa.

The Our Opinion penned by Mr. Bonavita is titled If Not Yucca, Where? and starts out by accusing the president of pandering to Sen. Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate. It then goes on to throw a little mud in Senator Reid’s face by continuing it further muddies Obama’s credentials as an effective, bipartisan president. But that’s fine.”


Nuclear Policy News

Urgent rethink on the nuclear option – Times Online
ON October 17, 1956, the Queen threw a switch to connect Calder Hall nuclear power station to the grid. It was the world’s first commercial nuclear power station and had been built from scratch in three years. It continued to operate well for the next 47 years, and became the first of a series of 11 Magnox nuclear power stations.

Next year, the last of those will close, leaving Britain at the mercy of fossil fuel, much of it imported, to meet a growing demand for electrical power. The Magnox stations and their successors  a generation of bigger, more modern pressurised-water reactors (PWRs) were a triumph for sophisticated, British engineering. Sizewell B PWR was built and opened in 1995. It was intended to be the first of a series of 10 PWR stations but it was to be the last one to be built in the UK even though, at its opening, nuclear power was providing a crucial 20% of UK electricity.

The Canadian Press: Bruce Power using billboards to win support for nuclear energy on the Prairies
The recession appears to be having little impact on a multibillion-dollar bid by Ontario-based Bruce Power Ltd. to bring the first nuclear reactors to Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Bruce Power chief executive Duncan Hawthorne says long-term atomic power projects may be able to sidestep the current global economic turmoil because they wouldn’t actually be built for several years.

“The economic climate is a cause for concern for all of us,” Hawthorne said in an interview.

EdF in antitrust spotlight
Electricite de France (EdF) premises in Paris were raided yesterday as part of an antitrust investigation, the European Commission has announced.

“The commission has reason to believe that EdF may have violated EC Treaty antitrust rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant market position,” said a statement which described the swoop as “a preliminary step in investigations.” The EC comment included the statement: “Suspected illegal conduct may include actions to raise prices on the French wholesale electricity market.”
£3b nuke plans unveiled – Hartlepool Mail
ENERGY bosses unveiled plans for a new £3bn power station at a public meeting set up to discuss the future of nuclear power in Hartlepool.

EDF Energy, which now incorporates British Energy, intends to nominate land next to the current station in Tees Road for the build when the current plant reaches the end of its lifespan in 2014.

Nominations for potential new sites for stations across the country, hoped to be operational by 2025, must be submitted to the Government by March 31.

Is nuclear finally off the table? | Mother Nature Network
It’s not looking good for the nuclear industry. Last month, the $50 billion earmark for nuclear energy was removed from Obama’s stimulus bill. And today Yucca Mountain, the problematic nuclear waste containment facility that was supposed to finally legitimate the viability of nuclear energy, just had its plug pulled by Steven Chu, head of the D.O.E.

Chu tried to assure jittery senators in the Senate Budget Committee that “Nuclear is going to be part of our energy future,” but many were skeptical. A quiet and growing consensus seems to be emerging among energy experts, cleantech investors and the general public that nuclear just does not seem to add up.

When asked about the future of nuclear energy this week at the ECO:nomics summit, Matt C. Rogers stated that nuclear was taken off the table because it didn’t meet the key criterion of the stimulus bill — to get projects underway and create jobs in the next 18 months. That doesn’t mean there won’t be appropriations for nuclear in the upcoming energy bill, but the focus will likely be on creating “next-gen” nuclear which by some estimates is at least 10 years away from deployment.

Nipawin and nuclear energy – Nipawin Journal – Saskatchewan, CA
Does anyone know what is the official position of the Town of Nipawin regarding nuclear energy? The people of Nipawin and anyone downstream of a reactor on the Saskatchewan River system should be concerned about this issue.

Before a decision is made, consider the following points.

Nuclear power plants being revived worldwide – chicago tribune
A year after the Three Mile Island nuclear accident, amid panic worldwide about the safety of nuclear energy, Sweden voted to ban construction of new nuclear power plants and phase out its existing ones.

Now, like many countries across Europe, it is changing its mind. Last month, the government proposed allowing the construction of new reactors to replace the country’s aging ones, which provide nearly half the nation’s electricity.

Swedes have made their peace with nuclear plants, not only because memories have faded and safety records improved after 30 years, but also because reactors are seen as one of the few options available to nations wanting to rapidly slash greenhouse gas emissions.

Senate energizes Oklahoma nuclear-plant push |
A bill to encourage construction of nuclear power plants in Oklahoma passed the Senate by a 36-9 vote on Tuesday.

The Nuclear Energy Incentive Act would help companies that want to build nuclear power plants recover the money spent on construction.

“We need to explore all the options for generating power, said Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, author of Senate Bill 831.

Some senators opposed the bill because they were concerned about storage of nuclear waste.

“If they were removing the nuclear waste, would they be driving that on our roads, asked Sen. Kenneth Corn, D-Poteau.
Environmentalists ask SC to revisit nuke decision – The State
Environmental group Friends of the Earth wants South Carolina regulators to reconsider their decision to allow a utility to build two nuclear reactors near Columbia.

The law the Public Service Commission used to approve the project is unconstitutional and South Carolina Electric & Gas failed to demonstrate a need for the reactors or fully detail the environmental impact of the reactors, the group said in its request to reconsider filed Monday.

State regulators last month approved SCE&G’s request to build the two 1,100-megawatt reactors along with Santee Cooper at the same site where the utilities currently run a reactor near Jenkinsville, about 25 miles northwest of Columbia.

Deseret News | Lawmakers sign off on pursuit of nuclear power
Despite some concerns over cost effectiveness, safe storage and potential impact on Utah’s water supplies, a majority of lawmakers endorsed a joint resolution expressing support for developing nuclear power in the state.

SJR16, sponsored by Sen. David Hinkins, R-Orangeville, passed the House Tuesday afternoon on a 56-17 vote, surviving several attacks to alter its language.

China’s Sany plans entry into nuclear power_English_Xinhua
China’s major heavy machinery maker, Sany Heavy Industry Co is planning to enter the nuclear power and jet engine manufacturing business even as it remains cautious on overseas acquisitions, a top company official said.

This would mark another major shift for the company after it diversified into wind power equipment manufacture recently.

“These are our goals and part of our strategic plan,” said Xiang Wenbo, president of Sany Heavy Industry on the diversification into nuclear power and jet engine equipment-making business.

Nuclear proposal concerns northwest residents
A grassroots group called Save Our Saskatchewan has formed in northwest Saskatchewan with a goal to bring information about a potential nuclear power plant to the community.

“We’re working on trying to get the information out,” said Meggan Hougham, secretary of the recently formed group, which she describes as citizens “very concerned” about nuclear power.

A meeting and question and answer period with Jim Harding, a former professor at the University of Regina, will be held at 7:30 p.m. today at the community hall in Paradise Hill, located northeast of Lloydminster.

Bruce Power, the company proposing to build a nuclear reactor in Saskatchewan, has spoken with landowners near the small community about locating the reactor in the area.

Nuclear power industry sees opening for revival
With the Obama administration staking the nation’s energy future on clean sources, the U.S. nuclear power industry aims to make a comeback by building dozens of new reactors that supply plentiful, carbon-free electricity.

But 30 years after the Three Mile Island accident in Pennsylvania led to moratoriums on new plants across the nation, concerns about the cost and safety of nuclear power remain, including what to do with the growing stockpiles of highly radioactive waste from the nation’s reactors.


Nuclear Weapons News

Expert: Nuke issue off public radar | Columbia Daily Tribune – Columbia, MO
Bill Wickersham knows the look well. Eyes glaze over, feet start tapping and people begin to look at their watches.

It’s the overwhelmed or disinterested look he gets when he starts talking about the dangers of nuclear warfare.

Our tendency is to behave like the ostrich and stick our head in the sand, said Wickersham, an adjunct professor of peace studies at the University of Missouri.

That attitude of avoidance for many in the nuclear movement has reached dangerous levels. Yesterday, Jonathan Schell, one of the godfathers of the nuclear issue, urged a crowd of about 100 in Fisher Auditorium at MU to bring the issue back to the fore of the nation’s consciousness. He said the world today is as oblivious to nuclear issues as it was in 2004 to the looming financial crisis. And the pot is boiling.


Department of Energy News

KPVI NEWS: Update on INL’s Lost Personal Information

The search continues for the lost, personal information of almost 60,000 workers at the Idaho National Lab, from 1949 to April 2006. Now, at least 500 of them have signed up for credit monitoring, in case the information has gotten into the wrong hands.

But the INL says the lost CD is password protected. It was lost last week, when the UPS was shipping it from one private company to another. But the package never made it, and was found damaged, with missing contents.

Great news for U.S. ITER |
The 2009 federal budget was late in arriving, but the Omnibus bill brought some good news to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I had a chance to talk with ORNL Director Thom Mason Thursday, and he was pretty upbeat — especially about the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.

The U.S. involvement in ITER got a lift after a huge disappointment at the start of this fiscal year. U.S. ITER, which is headquartered in Oak Ridge, got $124 million in funding for the rest of the year, Mason said, and that’s a really big deal for the ITER folks.

Department of Energy – Administration Announces Nearly $8 Billion in Weatherization Funding and Energy Efficiency Grants
Will support energy efficiency efforts nationwide that will create 87,000 jobs and cut energy bills for families

Washington DC — Vice President Joe Biden and Energy Secretary Chu today detailed an investment of nearly $8 billion in state and local weatherization and energy efficiency efforts as part of the President’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. With an investment of about $5 billion through the Weatherization Assistance Program and about $3 billion for the State Energy Program, the Department of Energy will partner with state and local governments to put 87,000 Americans to work and save families hundreds of dollars per year on their energy bills.

To jump-start job creation and weatherization work, the Department of Energy is releasing the first installment of the funding – about $780 million — in the next few days. The Department will release additional funding over time as states demonstrate that they are using the funding effectively and responsibly to create jobs and cut energy use.

DOE monitoring possible spread of waste: Knoxville News Sentinel
Bailey Johnson has always savored the sweet taste of well water, shunning whenever possible the chemically treated city stuff.

Now Johnson and his family members drink bottled water. It’s delivered free of charge – courtesy of the U.S. Department of Energy – to their farm on the Clinch River, and Johnson sees the irony.

“At one time we didn’t want to drink anything but our groundwater,” he said. “Now we want to drink anything but our groundwater.”
KIFI –Energy Department sides with INL whistleblower
The U.S. Department of Energy has upheld a 2008 decision in favor of an Idaho National Laboratory employee who claims he was mistreated after filing a whistleblower complaint against the company that operates the lab.

The agency issued its ruling Tuesday in the case of Dennis Patterson, a former 27-year employee at INL.

Patterson, was the former manager of employee concerns and business ethics for Battelle Energy Alliance, the contractor that runs INL.

In his 2006 case, Patterson accused Battelle of retaliating against him repeatedly after he filed a whistleblower complaint with the Department of Energy.

Hanford News: 9th Circuit sides with state on Hanford waste
The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday ruled that the state of Washington does have authority over certain radioactive waste mixed with hazardous chemicals at Hanford.

It upheld a 2005 summary judgment ruling in Eastern Washington federal District Court that the state had authority to require DOE to dig up and process waste temporarily buried at Hanford after 1970 until the nation has a national repository opened in New Mexico.

At issue is mixed transuranic waste, typically trash such as protective clothing and laboratory debris contaminated with plutonium and also hazardous chemicals such as solvents or heavy metals. It’s left from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program.

“The federal court has upheld the state’s authority to protect its people and its resources from the extremely dangerous wastes that were buried decades ago at Hanford,” Jay Manning, director of the Washington state Department of Ecology, said in a statement.

The case was filed after Ecology issued an order in 2003 requiring DOE to remove and process enough waste to fill about 75,000 55-gallon drums. The waste is buried in drums and boxes.


Other Energy News

Peak Energy: Solar Panels at Costco
Jamais Cascio has a post on the widespread availability of DIY solar panels in the US – Living in the Green Future.

Popped into Costco today to pick up a couple of items, and what did I see?

Just in case you can’t read that too well, it’s a 60W solar panel setup, with inverter (allowing it to power 110V devices), junction box to hook the four panels together, cabling, and frame… for under $300.

Stacked like tires at Costco.

This is a beautiful example of why I talk about the banality of the future. Cheap solar power systems readily available to the unwashed masses was once something out of science fiction; today, it barely elicits a glance from shoppers stocking up on cases of pickles and TVs by the six-pack.

Peak Energy: A micro-hydropower revolution in the UK ?
The Guardian has an article on plans to expand micro-hydro generation in Britain – Canals and rivers to lead micro-hydropower revolution

Britain’s canals and rivers have already been heralded as a low-carbon way to tranport Tesco groceries, a test-bed for hydrogen boats and a opportunity to build more wind turbines. Now they’re being billed as a chance for micro hydropower to flourish under new plans unveiled today by British Waterways, which maintains 2,200 miles of the country’s canals and rivers.

In partnership with The Small Hydro Company, British Waterways said it intended to build 25 small-scale hydro-electric schemes with a capacity of 40MW, enough to power 40,000 homes. While far smaller in capacity than offshore wind farms switched on in 2008, the hydro initiative hopes to raise £120m in private capital over the next three years, create 150 construction jobs and reduce CO2 emissions by 110,000 tonnes annually.

Underwater turbines will be installed next to existing weirs and will not affect the navigation of canals and rivers. Larger waterways such as the Trent and Severn rivers will be used for the first hydro power projects, with many of the installations likely to be located in the East Midlands and Yorkshire. It is hoped the first of the 25 hydro installations will be generating renewable electricity by 2010.

Peak Energy: Democracy and science vs Big Coal: the final round ?
Dan Cass has an article in Crikey noting the greenhouse mafia have been performing very successfully under the Rudd government – Democracy and science vs Big Coal: the final round?.

Today’s news that the coal industry is lobbying Parliament again raises the grave but tedious question — when will Australia’s coal mafia give in to climate science and/or Australian public opinion? Until Guy Pearce’s Quarry Vision (Quarterly Essay 33) is released on March 16, we can only read the tea leaves, but the story is worth watching.

The Age has a big story today on this week’s Copenhagen climate science congress. This meeting of climate scientists will report that impacts already unfolding are far worse than IPCC predictions. The science says we have to switch out of coal, and fast.

On the democracy front, a Climate Institute poll released today shows 83% of swinging voters are concerned about climate change. Despite the spin of both major parties, the public knows that nothing is really being done to fix the problem.

Then tonight’s Four Corners will show that Big Coal is continuing to defy both climate science and public opinion, lobbying for Kevin Rudd to do nothing on climate change.

Peak Energy: Solar in the Sahara ‘could power the whole of Europe’
The Times has a story in the “deserts of gold” genre, confusing solar PV (panels) with concentrating solar thermal power – Solar panels in the Sahara ‘could power the whole of Europe’. There is a new twist to the story now though, with North Africa’s wind power potential also being touted.

All of Europe’s energy needs could be supplied by building an array of solar panels in the Sahara, the climate change conference has been told.

Technological advances combined with falling costs have made it realistic to consider North Africa as Europe’s main source of imported energy. By harnessing the power of the Sun, possibly in tandem with wind farms along the North African coastline, Europe could easily meet its 2020 target of generating at least 20 per cent of its energy from renewable sources.
Renewable Energy Grid Infrastructure Reality Sinks In
In the US, the Californian desert and the Mid-West plains are ideal locations for solar and wind energy plants. In the UK the Scottish Highlands and Welsh mountains have the highest winds in the UK. These locations have similar characteristics – great resources for renewable energy generation, but limited grid infrastructure and not many people.

Hundreds and in some cases thousands of miles of new expensive, high voltage grid infrastructure is needed in these key locations to transport green energy to areas of high demand – the big cities. This grid infrastructure is both expensive and geographically extensive.

The Cost of Energy » Document alert: UNEP Year Book 2009

The United Nations Environment Programme’s latest Year Book is out:

The UNEP Year Book 2009 presents work in progress on scientific understanding of global environmental change, as well as foresight about possible issues on the horizon. The aim is to raise awareness of the interlinkages among environmental issues that can accelerate the rates of change and threaten human wellbeing.

The UNEP Year Book 2009 examines in six chapters new science and developments, and discusses the cumulative effects expected from degradation of ecosystems, the release of substances harmful to those ecosystems and to human health, the consequences of our changing climate, the continued human and economic loss resulting from disasters and conflicts, and the overexploitation of resources. It calls for an intensified sense of urgency for responsible governance in the face of approaching critical thresholds and tipping points.

Salt-Free Solar: CSP Tower Using Air – Renewable Energy World
Concentrating solar power (CSP) is an emerging technology that offers the potential to supply utility-scale peaking power competitively.

In December 2008, a 1.5 MWe solar thermal central receiver system was declared operational by plant construction company Kraftanlagen Munchen. Although solar tower technology had been built as early as the 1970s and a second commercial tower is now close to completion (see REW magazine July/August 2008) the so-called Test and Demonstration Power Plant Julich, in Germany, is the world’s first solar thermal power plant erected which uses air as the medium for heat transport.

In all previous plants liquid media such as molten salt or oil have been used for the obvious reason of their high specific heat capacity, which in turn results in low volume flow rates and low pumping losses.

Boomtown Bremerhaven: The Offshore Wind Industry Success Story – Renewable Energy World
Formerly a region of high-unemployment, the German port of Bremerhaven has experienced a remarkable economic upturn, transforming into a major offshore wind power know-how centre and more.

At least four of Germany’s North Sea and Baltic Sea major ports have been transformed into the country’s main wind industry logistical centres and/or equipment manufacturing/supply bases during the past few years.

‘Of the €500 million invested for offshore wind power development along the German North Sea coastal region during the past years, about half came to Bremerhaven.’

— Jan Rispens, Managing Director, Windenergie Agentur Bremerhaven/Bremen (WAB)
Emden serves as a main export harbour for Enercon wind turbines, and the German market leader operates a large concrete tower manufacturing plant within Emden’s boundaries. BARD Engineering chose Emden as its offshore wind turbine assembly and rotor blade manufacturing location, while part of BARD’s Tripile offshore foundations are being manufactured by a subsidiary company in Cuxhaven. Both BARD and Enercon have, in addition, built a foundry in the region, aimed at providing at least part of their individual demand for heavy-cast components.

Scientist’s Hunger Strike Halts Work on Himalayan Dam: TreeHugger
The near-death of one of India’s most distinguished scientists has halted work on a major hydroelectric dam in the Himalayas. Professor AD Agarwal, 77, former dean of the Indian Institute of Technology Delhi at Kanpur, has been on hunger strike for 38 days in protest against a project that would dam the waters of a Ganges tributary.

“The water … is not ordinary water to a Hindu. It is a matter of the life and death of Hindu faith,” Agarwal said, before beginning his fast in January.

This is his second fast in the past year, which he called off last week only after the Indian government agreed that it would look into electricity generation that would not impede the flow of the holy Ganges. The river must run free in order to maintain its sacred status.

230 Tonnes of Oil & 620 Tonnes of Fertilizer Spill From Damaged Ship in Australia : TreeHugger

Though no oil spill can be considered a good thing, what was initially reported as a 20-30 tonne spill is now ten times worse. The BBC is reporting that 230 tonnes of oil (about 70,000 gallons) have spilled from a Hong Kong-registered ship, damaged in a tropical storm earlier in the week, and is washing up along a 60km stretch of shoreline. Authorities are warning that this is threatening wildlife and carcinogenic:

Area’s affected by the spill run from Point Arkwright in the north to Bribie Island in the south, as well of all of Morton Island National Park.

What’s more, the spill happened when 31 containers containing ammonium nitrate fertilizer were toppled in the storm, puncturing the hull of the ship. 620 tonnes of the fertilizer have also spilled into the ocean.

In addition to the damage caused by the oil s

Greenpeace energy report projects cheap, clean power — and more jobs | Greenspace | Los Angeles Times
An environmentalist-sponsored report claims that by 2050, the United States could sever ties with coal and nuclear power, draw nearly all its electricity from renewable sources and cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 80% –- all with existing technology and with a net gain of 14 million jobs to the domestic economy.

The report, commissioned by Greenpeace and the European Renewable Energy Council and conducted by Germany’s equivalent of NASA, was released this morning at a press briefing in Washington. It is heavy on charts and supporting data and transparent on some key assumptions. And its sponsors call its findings “conservative.”

At its core, the report envisions a steep drop in the United States’ energy use, both in absolute terms and compared with International Energy Agency predictions — driven by strict efficiency standards. It also projects dramatic changes in the nation’s electricity mix, with wind and solar power mushrooming to replace coal, oil and nuclear sources that would gradually go offline.

Spanish windmills tilt country towards cleaner green energy – Times Online
The rolling plains of Castilla-La Mancha are dominated by the windmills that provoked the fevered imagination of Don Quixote. But Spain’s relentless investment in wind power and other renewable energy sources has proved wrong those who thought it was tilting at windmills.

The sleek white wind turbines and hydroelectric plants that have sprung up across the country in recent years generated 30 per cent of Spain’s energy this year for the first time.

A Better Battery? The Lithium Ion Cell Gets Supercharged: Scientific American
A new technique could pave the way for improving the workhorse lithium ion battery used in automobiles, cell phones and other devices so that it can recharge in seconds

RAPID RECHARGE: Scientists tweaked a battery material to permit a super-quick flow of charge-carrying ions in and out.

A new twist on the familiar lithium ion battery has yielded a type of power-storing material that charges and discharges at lightning speed. The finding could offer a boost for plug-in hybrid and electric vehicles and possibly allow cell phone batteries to regain a full charge in seconds rather than hours.

Scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.) report in Nature today that they devised a way for lithium ions in a battery to zip in and out about 100 times faster than previously demonstrated. “We took a basically great material called lithium iron phosphate [LiFePO4] and we tried to improve it further,” says study author Byoungwoo Kang, a graduate student in M.I.T.’s Department of Materials Science and Engineering.

45 percent of world’s wealth destroyed: Blackstone CEO | Reuters
Private equity company Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) CEO Stephen Schwarzman said on Tuesday that up to 45 percent of the world’s wealth has been destroyed by the global credit crisis.

“Between 40 and 45 percent of the world’s wealth has been destroyed in little less than a year and a half,” Schwarzman told an audience at the Japan Society. “This is absolutely unprecedented in our lifetime.”

But the U.S. government is committed to the preservation of financial institutions, he said, and will do whatever it takes to restart the economy.

Advice needed : Article : Nature
The Obama administration should ensure that science informs the US strategy on nuclear waste.

The fall from grace of Yucca Mountain as the site for a giant government nuclear-waste repository has been a long time coming. Ever since it was named as the sole site for the final disposal of high-level waste in 1987, political opposition has been growing, as has the population of nearby Las Vegas.

That opposition found strength in the weakness of the scientific case for the repository. Lawmakers originally chose Yucca Mountain on the basis of Nevada’s low population and political vulnerability, leaving scientists to find a justification after the fact. But much of what the researchers found undercut the decision. The seemingly quiet desert around the mountain went through a spate of volcanic activity as recently as 75,000 years ago, and although the region seems dry, rain seeps surprisingly quickly through fissures in the rock.

Is wind power worth it? Find out online | Energy and Fuel
Not sure whether a wind turbine on your property would generate enough energy to be worth the effort? Stew no more: the Carbon Trust has launched a new Wind Yield Estimation Tool on its Website.

The tool lets users calculate their annual mean wind speed, potential energy generation and carbon savings based on postcode, landscape and type of wind turbine.

According to the Carbon Trust, the tool is the most rigorous of its kind and is based on 30 years of data from the Met Office’s 220 weather stations.

DONG, Siemens sign world’s largest offshore wind’ pact | Energy and Fuel
Denmark’s DONG Energy and Siemens today announced they’ve signed off on the world’s largest offshore wind turbine agreement.

Under the pact, Siemens will deliver up to 500 wind turbines for DONG’s development of offshore wind energy installations in northern Europe. Once deployed, the turbines are expected to have a total power-generating capacity of 1,800 megawatts.

Will Renewable Energy Get Us Out Of The Recession? : TreeHugger
Nikkei Business Publications recently announced the results of a survey conducted with engineers in Japan’s manufacturing industry on the current global recession. They were asked hard questions about the impact of the recession and measures to cope with it. I am a little surprised that they turn out to be such tree-huggers: an overwhelming number thinks solar cells, electric, fuel-cell and hybrid vehicles – and even wind power – could provide the breakthroughs we need to get out of the current recession.

World Sustainable Energy Days a Success – Renewable Energy World
More than 100,000 people attend; a testament to the popularity of sustainable building and renewable energy in the region.
by Michael Fell
Wels, Upper Austria []

Last week saw the return of the World Sustainable Energy Days conference which is held every year in Wels, Upper Austria. Taking place over three days (plus a day of site visits), the conference has three main streams: the European Pellet Conference, the European Energy Efficiency Conference and Regional Biomass Action Plans.

Austria is an apt location for the conference along with Sweden it is well known as one of Europe’s biggest users of pellet technology  and as the final remnants of this year’s snow melted away it is plain to see why. With cold winters and real enthusiasm for efficient and sustainable building, the demand for renewable heat is strong. The country is also highly forested, providing ample raw material for pellet production in the form of sawdust and wood shavings from sawmills (along with other biomass waste).
Green Transmission Superhighway Needed for Renewable Energy to Reach Full Potential – Renewable Energy World
The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) have released a white paper titled “Green Power Superhighways: Building a Path to America’s Clean Energy Future,” detailing current inadequacies of the U.S. electric transmission infrastructure and offering policy solutions to address them.

Inadequate transmission capacity is a significant barrier to renewable energy development in the U.S. The release of the paper comes at a critical time. President Obama and Congress have made strong commitments to renewable energy as a driver for jobs creation and economic growth, but the nation’s renewable energy resources can not reach their full potential without renewed investment in the country’s transmission infrastructure.

Renewable Energy World North America Conference and Expo Starts Next Week – Renewable Energy World
Next Tuesday in Las Vegas renewable energy industry leaders, experts, companies and other interested participants will meet in Las Vegas to discuss how the industry is faring amidst the current economic conditions during Renewable Energy World North America, the renewable energy’s leading expo and conference in North America.

“While some companies may have delayed their growth plans in reaction to the current economic situation, I am hearing that they do plan to hire as soon as the U.S. stimulus package begins to take affect.”

— Katharine Hart, Online Job Sales Manager,

The show kicks off with a keynote round-table session that will set the stage for the 3-day event. During the session, leaders of the major renewable industry trade associations plus a senior executive from host utility NV Energy will take part in a round-table discussion on the economy, the economic stimulus bill and renewable energy initiatives likely to come from the Obama Administration and Congress. These individuals have their fingers on the pulse of their respective industries and should be able to shed light on the most current insights into what the next four years may hold for the industry.


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

Don’t reclassify nuclear power as ‘renewable’ |
An effort in the Legislature that would redefine “renewable energy” to include nuclear power could do irreparable harm to the state’s budding clean-energy industries and deserves to be thrown onto the trash heap of non-recyclable ideas.
House Bill 2623, sponsored by Lucy Mason, R-Prescott, has several problems. First, it would include nuclear and hydroelectric power (dams) in the definition of “renewable energy,” which is generally considered power derived from natural sources — such as the sun, wind, biomass, tides and geothermal heat.

Nuclear power called pivotal – JSOnline
The threat of global warming makes it imperative to have nuclear power options available as the state and nation plan for future energy needs, the former general counsel of a state environmental group said Thursday.

“We need to have all hands on deck,” said Frank Jablonski of Progressive Law Group of Madison.
Nuke French kiss | Comment | Winnipeg Sun
Canada’s atomic agency which spent $600 million of taxpayers’ money building a couple of nuclear medicine reactors that don’t work, is now vying for one of the biggest government contracts in this country’s history.

The government-owned Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL) is the only domestic firm of three bidders in the running to build two new Ontario power reactors at a cost of up to $14 billion.

But the problem-plagued agency and its proposed nuclear technologies are both so dubious that it may be up to a French company to save the Canadian nuclear industry.

Commentary: Open discussion about nuclear energy | Bemidji Pioneer  | Bemidji, Minnesota
Reliable and competitively priced electricity is critical to the economic vitality of Minnesota. Yet, the years of a generally friendly energy environment may well be numbered for business and residential customers alike. We must turn the tide by allowing Minnesota utilities the full range of choices for electricity generation  including nuclear power.

This year, the Legislature should take a step in the right direction and remove Minnesota’s outdated ban on nuclear energy. All options must be on the table as we try to build long-term economic vitality and, in particular, keep and create precious manufacturing jobs.

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