Top 100 Energy Stories (March 30th – April 5th)


Some fairly major stories ran through the papers this last week. A lot of bad news mostly. What’s new.  The Supreme Court favored nukes over fish at Indian Point, while the NRC was able to relicense Oyster Creek on another decision.  There was a whole slew of legislative activity going on.  Go for it.  Its a bit late.  If you are interested in the full scale nuclear battle project let me know.  Its expanded dramatically.  I’m not gonna give the big version out except to people who request it via email at this point.


Top Nuclear Stories Index

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


Nuclear Reactor News

Costly Lepreau nuclear plant refit may extend into 2010: VP
NB Power says it can no longer predict exactly when the Point Lepreau nuclear power plant will be up and running again — and for every day it’s delayed it costs the province $670,000 to replace the electricity the plant would normally produce.

The $1.4-billion project was supposed to be finished by this September, a date that was first pushed back to December and is now in danger of running into next year.

Gaëtan Thomas, NB Power’s vice-president nuclear, said Thursday that picking a completion date is no longer possible.

Supreme Court decision could delay Yankee relicensing – Brattleboro Reformer
A U.S. Supreme Court decision rendered on April 1 could delay the relicensing of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. But then again, the decision might not affect the relicensing at all.

“We are sort of in limbo, not knowing what the rules are going to be,” said Catherine Gjessing, legal counsel for Vermont’s Agency of Natural Resources.

“It will probably cause further delay,” said Pat Parenteau, a former director of Vermont Law School’s Environmental Law Center and of the Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic.

Environmental group challenges TVA nuke permits  | The Tennessean
An environmental group has challenged the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s reinstatement of TVA’s construction permits for two nuclear reactors in northeast Alabama.

The Blue Ridge Environmental Defense League has filed a petition for review in the U.S. Court of Appeals over units 1 and 2 at the Bellefonte plant in Hollywood, the group said this week.

Utilities challenged to justify nuke work

Utilities that want to build new nuclear reactors should have to prove they are a better investment than energy efficiency, a new report says.

The Arizona Public Interest Research Group Education Fund this week released its 40-page report, titled “The High Cost of Nuclear Power: Why America Should Choose a Clean Energy Future Over New Nuclear Power.”

According to the report, utilities can cut the amount of energy they need to supply customers by offering them incentives to install low-power appliances or insulate their homes better.

Group takes on Entergy in ad crusade – Brattleboro Reformer
A new “pro-renewable energy” organization, which was founded just last week, paid for full-page ads that ran in newspapers across the state blasting Entergy’s claims that Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant is safe, clean and reliable.

Wednesday’s ads were sponsored by the Clean Green Vermont Alliance, which was co-founded by David Blittersdorf, a former president of the American Wind Energy Association and co-owner with his wife Jan of NRG Systems.

Other co-founders of the Clean Green Vermont Alliance include Pamela Baker of Marketing Partners and Andy Perchlik, executive director of Renewable Energy Vermont.

TVA reconsiders the fate of Bellefonte Nuclear Plant | Tennessean
When TVA canceled plans to finish its Bellefonte Nuclear Plant here in 2006, contractors began ripping out steel tubes and pipes from heat exchangers, steam generators and main condensers to sell for scrap metal.

The salvage effort proved to be short-lived. Critics also say it was shortsighted and could leave ratepayers short-changed.

Landmark nuclear reactor will be three years late – Times Online
A nuclear reactor being built in Finland to the same design expected to be used in Britain is running three years behind schedule.

Its developers, Areva, the French nuclear energy group, and Siemens, of Germany, had hoped it would start generating electricity yesterday.

The reactor, in Olkiluoto, western Finland, is set to be the world’s most powerful nuclear reactor, with a generating capacity of 1,600 megawatts — enough to power a city of 1.6 million people, or nearly one third of Finland’s 5.5 million population. However, it is running three years late and is vastly over budget, beset by design delays, water-logged concrete and faulty pipes. EDF, the French state-owned energy group, has said that it will build at least four of the so-called EPR reactors — a new design — in the UK. The first, expected to be at Hinkley Point in Somerset, is slated to enter service in 2017 to help to plug a looming gap in Britain’s energy supplies.

US Supreme Court rules on Indian Point cost-benefit analysis
Entergy Northeast, the company that owns and operates the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan, may consider cost-benefit analysis with reviewing technology at the plant.

The issue at hand was environmentalist organizations’ call for the plant to convert to a closed-cycle cooling system, which they maintain would draw far fewer fish into the system and reduce the fish kill by over 95 percent.

The Riverkeeper group fought for the closed cooling system. Hudson Riverkeeper and organization President Alex Matthiessen said they are pleased that the court agreed that EPA is not required to use cost-benefit analysis and left it up to EPA on remand to decide to what extent, if any, cost benefit analysis should be used in regulating cooling water intake structures.

Decision to renew nuclear plant’s 20-year operating license dismays opponents –
The Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station, the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant, was granted clearance yesterday for a new 20-year operating license despite claims from conservationists, watchdog and citizens groups that the Ocean County facility poses a danger to the public and wildlife.

“We expect, at this point, that the new license will be issued by April 9, when the plant’s current 40-year operating license expires,” said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman for the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Oyster Creek’s operating license expires next week | Tri-Town News

It’s unlikely the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission will grant a citizen coalition’s request to temporarily shut down the Oyster Creek nuclear plant in Lacey Township on April 9, the day its license expires.

Oyster Creek will still be producing power after the license expiration, NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said.
Whitehaven News | News | N-plant plans go to government in face of villagers’ opposition
PROPOSED nuclear reactor sites at Braystones and Kirksanton have gone forward to the government in the face of fierce opposition from both areas.

Villagers have given the thumbs down at two public meetings. But dozens of Hands off Braystones, No to RWE’ posters put up ahead of last Thursday’s meeting in nearby Beckermet have since vanished mysteriously.

Ward councillor Yvonne Clarkson, who personally opposes the RWE plans, said: We don’t know where the posters have gone but what came over loud and clear at the meeting was most local people don’t want a nuclear reactor at Braystones. Sellafield is a different matter  it has support for a new power station. It’s all about siting.

Z Magazine – Nuclear Goliath
Lately, many may have heard the affable radio jingles for nuclear energy as a clean and reliable candidate to supplant the U.S.’s reliance on foreign fossil fuels. This is sheer, malignant propaganda. Nuclear energy, along with its requisite mining, is not only unsustainable to a high degree, but is, in all aspects, violently rapacious as it dissolves the planet’s fecundity and ultimately encumbers the creation of life for generations to come. It is imperative that nuclear is removed from the lexicon of domestic energy policy and that we consider alternative energy options while significantly reducing consumption levels.

Court rejects N.J. nuke plant terrorist concerns – Brattleboro Reformer
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission was right in rejecting a challenge to the way it evaluates the dangers of a terrorist attack on a nuclear power plant, according to the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday, the court ruled against the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and its contention that the NRC should have examined the potential environmental impacts of a hypothetical terrorist attack on the plant during the relicensing process of Oyster Creek nuclear generating station.

The New Jersey DEP contended that the NRC should have considered the effects of a terrorist attack during the relicensing review. But the NRC responded that it had already addressed those effects in its generic environmental impact statement related to Oyster Creek.

Court sides with power plants over fish – NewsFlash –
The Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that the government can weigh costs against benefits in deciding whether to order power plants to undertake upgrades that would protect fish.

The court’s 6-3 decision is a defeat for environmentalists who had urged the justices to uphold a favorable federal appeals court ruling. That ruling could have required an estimated 554 power plants to install technology that relies on recycled water to cool machinery.

Associated Press: Feds OK new license for NJ nuclear power plant
Federal regulators agreed Wednesday to extend the license of the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant to 2029.

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission voted 3-1 to deny an appeal from environmental groups opposing a new license for the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Lacey Township, N.J.

Groups aim to stop new nuclear reactor – The Capital)
As Constellation Energy seeks to expand its nuclear energy output by partnering with a French power company and building a new reactor just south of Anne Arundel County, statewide consumer groups are trying to draw a line in the sand.

Members of Chesapeake Safe Energy Coalition, which includes Maryland PIRG, Chesapeake Climate Action Network, Nuclear Information and Resource Service and others, released a new report yesterday outside of the Public Service Commission headquarters, advocating for clean-energy alternatives.

Advocacy group opposes nuclear – News & Observer
Electricity costs would rise 50 percent if Progress Energy is allowed to add two reactors at the Shearon Harris site in Wake County, according to a report by the N.C. Waste Awareness and Reduction Network.

In a news conference Tuesday, the Durham advocacy group said that the typical residential bill would balloon from $100 a month to at least $150 a month if Raleigh-based Progress builds the two reactors for which it’s seeking federal licenses.

The Hindu: India’s first nuclear power units complete 40 years tomorrow
The inaugural units of Tarapur Atomic Power Station (TAPS), India’s first nuclear power plant, will complete 40 years of successful generation of electricity from nuclear energy power on Wednesday.

It was on April 1, 1969, that the two reactors of 160 MW each built by US power major General Electric (GE) on a turn-key basis at Tarapur, 120 km from here, were synchronised to the grid.

The Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited (NPCIL), a public sector undertaking of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) will be felicitating those engineers who were responsible for synchronising the plants to the grid at a function in Tarapur tomorrow, TAPS officials said.

The station has generated more than 77 billion units of electricity so far, and is supplying it to Maharashtra and Gujarat at a tariff of 94 paise per unit.

Anti-nuke protesters arrested – Brattleboro Reformer
While Gov. James Douglas spoke on the economic recovery plans at the Latchis Theatre, four protesters stood up in the middle of the auditorium, displaying a sign reading “Veto Nuclear Jim in Nov. 2010.”

Jonathan Crowell, 34, of Newfane, Amy Frost, 32, of Guilford, Eesha Williams, 34, of Dummerston and Elizabeth Wood, 30, of Dummerston, were escorted from the Monday morning conference after brandishing homemade signs for approximately three minutes before authorities removed them without incident, according to police.

In a press release from Williams, the activists called on Leahy and Douglas to use federal stimulus money to close the nuclear plant and replace the power with energy efficiency programs and renewable energy.

The timing of the civil disobedience comes three days after the Vermont House passed a bill requiring Entergy Corp., the company that owns and operates the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant, to fully fund the decommissioning if the facility were to cease operations after 2012.

Documenting Three Mile Island | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
# Starting as the NRC’s historian in June 1979, J. Samuel Walker’s career was very much shaped by the TMI accident.
# He found false information spread on the accident, which he hoped his book would correct.
# Although the industry has improved its safety record, more recent problems prove the accident’s lessons must never be forgotten.

Living on Earth: Three Mile Island, 30 Years Ago
Arjun Mahkijani, president of the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research, looks back at the Three Mile Island nuclear meltdown. The accident turned the public against nuclear power and Wall Street was reluctant to invest money in new plants. He tells host Bruce Gellerman that financing nukes may still be a risky business.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Health threat of Perry nuclear power plant should be studied –
Aportion of Cleveland’s electric ity is generated at the Perry nu clear power plant, 35 miles northeast of the city. Plant owner FirstEnergy is seeking government approval to extend Perry’s license, so it can operate until 2046.

Although Perry is just 22 years old, its parts are already aging and corroding. FirstEnergy’s proposal would keep Perry going to the 60-year mark, raising health concerns.

Author to speak on nuclear hazards: Rutland Herald Online
In the first of four lectures around the state starting April 7, physician and author Dr. Helen Caldicott will address the issue of whether phasing out nuclear power should be part of the long-term solution to the world’s safe energy problems.

Over the last 35 years, Caldicott has led an international campaign to educate the public about medical hazards of the nuclear age, according to Debra Stoleroff, a public relations spokeswoman.

In a lecture entitled “If you love this planet: a plan to heal the Earth,” Caldicott will focus on the hazards of nuclear power, Stoleroff said. Over the years, Caldicott has also worked to inform people on what steps countries can take to prevent environmental destruction, Stoleroff said.

BBC NEWS | UK | MoD reveals nuclear sub incidents
There have been 14 collisions involving British nuclear submarines since 1988 and 237 fires on board the fleet of vessels, the government has revealed.

February’s collision between HMS Vanguard and French sub Le Triomphant was the sole recorded collision with another naval vessel, the MoD said.

GAO: Department of Labor Failing to Protect Workers | EHS Today
Federal agents posing as workers have completed an undercover investigation of the Department of Labor (DOL) that has resulted in claims that the department frequently mishandles serious worker complaints, placing many workers at risk. The outcome of the investigation is detailed in a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) that found DOL mishandled nine out of the 10 cases included in the undercover operation.

The report, which is scheduled to be released on March 25, found that the agency’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) not only failed to properly investigate wage and hour complaints, but also ignored a complaint that underage children were working at a California meatpacking plant during school hours, a violation of a number of labor laws.

Rocket fuel component found in baby formula –
These days, parents can choose from a wide variety of baby formulas, including versions enriched with vitamins, iron and even brain-boosting fatty acids.

A new study from scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; however, found a chemical not mentioned on the label: perchlorate, a component of rocket fuel that’s linked to thyroid disease.

Sick worker compensation reform introduced in Congress | |knoxnews
The Charlie Wolf Nuclear Workers Compensation Act, named after a Rocky Flats worker who died earlier this year following a long battle with cancer and the government’s compensation program, was introduced in Congress this week.

Here’s a copy of the legislation.

The legislation was introduced by U.S. Sens. Mark Udall and Michael Bennett, and U.S. Reps. Ed Perlmutter, Jared Polis, John Salazar and Mike Coffman.

Denver Daily – Hope for sick nuke workers?
Kathy Wolf explained the bureaucratic nightmare she and her late husband experienced trying to get him the medical attention he needed after being diagnosed with brain cancer.

Charlie Wolf was given only six months to live after the diagnosis, which doctors said was related to his work at the former Rocky Flats nuclear weapons site near Denver. But he fought, surviving six years before he died earlier this year.

For the Wolfs, however, brain cancer would not be their only fight. Peace of mind from the government would end up being one of their toughest battles. Kathy said she and Charlie were forced to provide mounds of complicated information in order to be eligible to receive medical compensation from the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.

They just kept asking for more and more information, said Kathy Wolf during a conference call with reporters yesterday. Charlie was struggling with brain cancer, he was unable to speak and read, it was just a very arduous and torturous path that they put you on.


NRC News

NRC – NRC Bans Former Senior Reactor Operator from NRC-Licensed Activities for Three Years
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has issued an order banning a former senior reactor operator at the Susquehanna nuclear power plant from any involvement in NRC-licensed activities for three years. Susquehanna is a two-reactor plant located in Salem Township (Luzerne County), Pa., and operated by PPL.

NRC took the action after Keith Davis failed to respond to an earlier order issued by the NRC. Davis was arrested on June 19, 2006, for driving under the influence of alcohol. Under plant procedures and NRC requirements, he was required to report the arrest to PPL upon his first day back at work, which was June 27, 2006. However, he failed to do so. After the arrest came to light, PPL moved Davis to another position with the company and subsequently dismissed him. His operating license was terminated.

NRC details latest nuclear plant leak: Rutland Herald Online
The latest radioactive leak at the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant is in a threaded plug on the bottom of a demineralizer tank that is part of the reactor’s water cleanup system, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Thursday.

The tank contains filter material and is used to clean and purify reactor coolant water that circulates through the reactor, said Neil Sheehan, spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The filter also removes radioactivity.

“The leak is small and unrelated to the leak involving the valve,” Sheehan said, referring to the December leak, which was only contained last week.

NRC gets extension on depleted uranium documents  | Star-Telegram
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is being granted an extension to turn over stacks of documents that might explain why it recently decided to classify large quantities of depleted uranium as the least hazardous type of low-level radioactive waste.

The NRC’s March decision could open the door for more than 1 million tons of depleted uranium to be disposed of in Utah and Texas.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

Canon City Daily Record – Residents’ opinions differ on Cotter
As Cotter Corp. begins the process of refurbishing its uranium mill, Lincoln Park residents have varied opinions about the prospect of renewed mill operations.

Why not, Brandie Smith asked. They ain’t hurting nothing.

Smith, who has lived in the area for most of her life, said the soil around her home is the best for gardens and that she has had no problems with water. – Punjab: Uranium deforms kids in Faridkot
Big heads, bulging eyes, twisted hands that don’t reach their mouths and bent legs that can barely support their frail frames.

Intrigued by these abnormalities among children in a pocket of Faridkot, visiting South African toxicologist Dr Carin Smit had their hair samples sent to a German laboratory. The results, which have just come in, are shocking: the deformities were caused by alarmingly high levels of uranium.

The test results have left us baffled as there’s no apparent source of uranium in Punjab,” said Prithpal Singh, head of Baba Farid Centre for Special Children in Faridkot. More tests are now being organized among the 150 affected children with the help of a team of German and South African doctors to establish whether the traces found are from depleted uranium or natural sources.

Ferguson calls for increased uranium mining  (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
Resources Minister Martin Ferguson says China is preparing to expand its nuclear energy program and Australia needs to increase uranium mining.

Mr Ferguson, who is visiting Beijing, says Australia’s second-biggest trading partner will buy a lot more uranium if it is given half the chance.

Last November, the first shipment from the Northern Territory arrived in the Chinese capital but Mr Ferguson says that after discussions he has had with local Chinese companies, they are going to want plenty more.

Saskatchewan legislature approves uranium motion
Saskatchewan Party and New Democratic MLAs have voted unanimously in favour of a motion supporting “consideration” of further development of the uranium industry.

Saskatchewan is the world’s biggest uranium producer, but it doesn’t have any refineries or a nuclear power plant. The nuclear issue has been debated all week in the legislature in advance of a major report expected Friday from an advisory panel called the Uranium Development Partnership.

Saskatchewan Party MLAs have been trying to drive a wedge between NDP ranks on the nuclear issue, saying some supporters are pro-development and some are against.

Victoria Advocate | Uranium drilling doesn’t taint water, report says
Uranium mining supporters say a new report proves exploratory drilling does not contaminate South Texas groundwater.

The uranium was there in the water all along, they said Wednesday.

Critics in this circular debate, however, don’t trust the report’s data.

As early as the 1970s, levels of naturally occurring uranium found in South Texas groundwater exceeded today’s federal standards, the Texas Mining and Reclamation Association reported Wednesday. The association is a group of 100 mining industry members.

The group crunched an extensive online database hosted by the U.S. Geological Service. The mining group found high levels of uranium existed in groundwater in areas that had yet to be mined, members said.

“This is a pretty significant finding,” said Larry McGonagle, chairman of the mining association’s uranium subcommittee. “Exploration causes contamination? There’s not really a basis in that conclusion.”

Lea County wins uranium deconversion plant | Idaho Statesman
A southeastern New Mexico site near Hobbs has been chosen for a $93 million depleted uranium deconversion and fluorine extraction plant.

Steve Laflin, president and chief executive officer of Idaho Falls, Idaho-based International Isotopes Inc., said groundbreaking is expected in 2011 on the 600-acre site about 15 miles west of Hobbs in Lea County.

Opinions divided on uranium royalties (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
A Senate committee has heard from environmentalists who are opposed to changing the way uranium royalties are levied in the Northern Territory.

Hearings into the proposed changes started in Darwin this afternoon.

At present, the royalties are negotiated on a case-by-case basis, but the proposals would see royalties levied at 18 per cent of the mine’s profits.


Nuclear Waste News

Energy Department presses for license as if nothing’s changed – Las Vegas Sun
Some years ago, an earthquake interrupted a meeting of the Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board precisely at the moment participants were discussing how a future earthquake could affect a nuclear repository at Yucca Mountain.

After the quake passed, discussion casually resumed.

It was as if that day’s earthquake and Yucca Mountain’s future were in parallel universes, recalls Abby Johnson, nuclear waste adviser to Eureka County.

£1.2m nuclear waste contract for Chester factory – Chester standard
FACTORY workers near Chester have received a boost after securing a £1.2 million contract.
VT Nuclear Services has announced it will build a supply of nuclear waste drums at its DEVA plant.

The manufacturing facility, in Chester Gates Business Park, Dunkirk, will make the drums for safe long term storage of nuclear waste for the Dounreay Cementation Facility in Caithness, Scotland.

A VT Nuclear Services spokesman says the contract secures the 60 staff positions at the plant on a short-term basis as the company seeks more work during “these austere times”.

BBC NEWS | UK | Scotland | Nuclear fuel flasks hit the road
The first container carrying spent nuclear fuel rods has left the Chapelcross plant in southern Scotland.

Over the next three years it is expected about 300 similar journeys will be undertaken to remove 38,000 spent rods in total.

It is part of the £800m decommissioning process at the Annan plant which ceased energy production five years ago.

Fed agency gets more time on hot-waste info – Salt Lake Tribune
The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has been given more time to provide U.S. Reps. Jim Matheson and Edward J. Markey the memos, reports and other decision documents on the disposal of depleted uranium.

Alyson Heyrend, spokeswoman for the Utah Democrat, said agency staff was scrambling to pull together thousands of pages covered under the information request made two weeks ago. The documents were due Thursday.

“We think they are trying in good faith to meet the request,” she said.

Matheson and the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee chairman, a Massachusetts Democrat, wrote to the NRC March 19, demanding to know what’s behind the NRC’s decision to keep depleted uranium in the lowest-hazard category for radioactive waste. It’s a regulatory status that one commission member calls a “loophole.” The congressmen want to know who and what influenced the NRC’s thinking.

UK nuclear clean-up budget
Funding for the next year of nuclear clean-up in the UK has been outlined in the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s business plan.

Over the next financial year, the NDA has forecast a spend of £2880 million ($4237 million) on dismantling legacy nuclear facilities from the UK’s national program to develop nuclear power. The funding for this comes from government, but with a large portion repaid to government from the commercial income from some of NDA’s estate. In FY2009, commercial operation is expected to be £1343 million ($1976 million), leaving government funding at £1537 million ($2261 million).

BBC NEWS | UK | Nuclear clean up uses Mr Muscle
Workers decommissioning a nuclear power complex have found Mr Muscle to be more effective than specialised techniques for cleaning contaminated glass tubes.

The household cleaning product was used at Dounreay in Caithness, which is being demolished at a cost of £2.5bn.

Hi-tech equipment had been developed to destroy radioactive materials.

However, Mr Muscle was found to be the best option to help make safe the tubes which were used at a nuclear reprocessing laboratory.

Ryberg pushes for site for SRS waste – The Augusta Chronicle
Sen. Greg Ryberg, R-Aiken, has introduced a resolution urging Congress to continue with plans to use the Yucca Mountain site in Nevada as a repository for high-level radioactive material.

The Savannah River National Laboratory needs a place to send its spent nuclear fuel, he said in a statement.

Fort Worth lawmaker airs concerns about low-level nuclear waste being transported on Texas roads |
State Rep. Lon Burnam is worried about countless trucks carrying low-level nuclear waste driving on local roads likely Interstates 20 and 30 on the way to a disposal site in Andrews County.

Already, Vermont is sending its waste to the West Texas site, and Burnam, D-Fort Worth, is afraid that without additional restrictions more states might follow suit.

“Over two-thirds of the nation’s nuclear waste will come through D-FW on its way to Andrews County,” he said. “The question is, are we taking it from two states or all of the states?”

Complete cleanup of West Valley site is the only real solution : Opinion : The Buffalo News
One thousand years from now, there may not be a state of New York, a United States of America or anyone who could even read all the paperwork dealing with the Western New York Nuclear Services Center in West Valley.

What probably will be here is Lake Erie, a number of rivers that feed into it, people who depend on water from that lake and those rivers and, unless federal officials decide to do the right thing now, a large collection of highly toxic nuclear waste buried in or leaking from 1,030-year-old dump site south of Buffalo.

New Mexico Independent » WIPP shouldn’t aspire to be nation’s nuclear waste dump
Is it possible that the salt deposits around Carlsbad could become not only the home to WIPP, but to a far larger and more dangerous facility that would replace Yucca Mountain in Nevada as the nation’s principal storage site for very hot nuclear waste?

If Carlsbad Mayor Bob Forrest has anything to say about it, trucks and trains from around the country could be carrying used nuclear fuel rods, and other hot radioactive material, on New Mexico interstates and rail lines near major population centers to oil and gas and potash country in the southeast part of the state.

Unlike Nevada and its congressional delegation, which has fought Yucca Mountain tooth and nail for years, many in New Mexico seem unperturbed by the thought of the state becoming the nation’s nuclear waste dump. | Castor 08: Gorleben Salt Mine
The Castor Transport protests that took place in November 2008 were not only about the transport of nuclear waste to the Gorleben temporary disposal site – they were also meant to highlight the still unsolved problem regarding the final disposal of Germany’s, and the world’s, nuclear wastes. In Gorleben itself there are several nuclear facilities: a temporary disposal site for low- and medium-level radioactive waste, a temporary disposal site for high level radioactive waste, an experimental conditioning facility, and a salt mine currently referred to as a research final disposal site for radioactive waste however this site is almost certainly going to become one of the German government’s official final disposal sites.

Europe Won’t Buy Into Nuclear Power Until Waste Problem Is Solved
The renaissance of the nuclear power industry appears to be in a holding pattern. The two big problems: Lack of funding for the expensive construction of the reactors, and public skepticism about nuclear waste.

EE News attended a two-day nuclear energy conference last week and reported that Ute Blohm-Hieber, head of nuclear energy and waste management at the European Commission, agreed that waste is the “Achilles’ heel of the nuclear industry.” What’s interesting is that the news org didn’t have any word from the conference of workable solutions to the problem.


Nuclear Policy News

Campaign over nuclear plant bill heats up –
AmerenUE’s top Missouri business customer is funding a campaign aimed at defeating a legislative proposal that would pave the way for a new nuclear plant for the investor-owned utility.

Noranda Aluminum, a smelter company in New Madrid, made a political contribution of $78,570 on Friday to a political action committee called Missourians Against Higher Utility Rates. That committee is responsible for robo-calls and door-to-door mailers that went out to voters in key Missouri senators’ districts this week before a committee vote on the bill.

Canadian Press: Saskatchewan government advisory panel recommends opening door to nuclear power
A panel formed to advise the Saskatchewan government on developing its uranium industry recommends opening the door to nuclear power.

The panel made 20 recommendations in a report that has now been released officially to the public.

The government appointed the 12-member group last year to study the nuclear cycle from mining through to disposal.

Earlier this week, the provincial legislature passed a motion to consider the development of nuclear power.

Saint Louis Beacon – Does CWIP protect consumers from higher bills — or simply delay the reckoning?
The current debate over a possible second nuclear power plant for Missouri involves issues ranging from safety to energy conservation to environmental quality.

But for many consumers, the most pressing question will be the bottom line on their monthly electric bill.

Whether that number rises — how much and how soon — could depend on what lawmakers in Jefferson City decide to do about AmerenUE’s drive for the authority to charge electric customers for costs associated with the plant even before it begins producing power.

As Likely As Not – Exposed: America’s Investigative Reports
Tens of thousands of nuclear workers are seriously ill or dying from their exposure to radioactive and hazardous materials — and they are not being compensated for their illnesses despite promises from the federal government. Investigative reporter Laura Frank of Denver’s Rocky Mountain News spent more than ten years following the plight of these workers, and has revealed: a U.S. Department of Labor program with a “no pay list” outlining illnesses to be denied compensation despite the government’s own studies linking exposure to illness; that “one in 17 sick workers or survivors with valid claims – more than 1,200 people nationwide – died before they received their benefits”; and despite the frustration of the workers themselves, top labor department officials directing the program have collected tens of thousands of dollars each in bonus money.

Sask. NDP unhappy that FOI request on nuclear plans full of blackouts – Winnipeg Free Press
The Saskatchewan NDP is unhappy that a Freedom of Information request on uranium development yielded documents with several paragraphs blacked out.

But as displeased as the Opposition is, the Saskatchewan Party government is just as upset, saying there was no reason to black out anything. Enterprise Minister Lyle Stewart says his government has been open about the whole process until now.

NDP Leader Lorne Calvert says the public deserves complete transparency from the government on such an important matter.

Minnesota Senate repeals nuclear power moratorium
State legislators have renewed the fight about whether more nuclear power plants should be allowed in Minnesota. The Senate voted 42-24 on Thursday to repeal the state moratorium on any new nuclear plants passed in 1994. The action came after 40 minutes of discussion on an amendment to an energy bill.

Florida Senate committee passes compromise clean energy bill
The Florida Senate’s Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities late Tuesday passed a bill with a “clean energy portfolio standard” that establishes a 20%-by-2021 goal for power from generation that does not produce greenhouse gases, and permits up to one quarter of the goal to be met by either nuclear plants or integrated gasification/combined-cycle plants with carbon capture and sequestration. The bill, SB 1154, which was introduced by Senator Jim King, the Republican committee chairman from Jacksonville, sets a 7% “CEPS” goal for 2013, rising to 12% in 2016, 18% in 2019 and 20% in 2021. The bill permits the Florida Public Service Commission to “excuse” a utility from compliace with the CEPS if the supply of clean energy or clean energy credits is not adequate, or if compliance would raise customer rates by more than 2%.

Missouri bill adds fees to radioactive waste shipments
A bill in the Missouri House is intended to discourage shipments of radioactive waste through the state.

Sponsored by Sen. Kurt Schaefer, R-Columbia, the bill would require all shipments of radioactive waste traveling in and through the state to be assessed fees. The Senate already approved it by unanimous consent.

Currently, Missouri doesn’t charge fees for the transport of radioactive waste products.

In the best interest of our citizens, we need to equalize the fee structure for radioactive waste coming through Missouri, Schaefer said in a released statement. We don’t want Missouri to be the radioactive waste pipeline for the country.

Tulsa World: One state nuclear power measure stalls
A nuclear energy bill ran into trouble Thursday in a Senate committee.

Sen. Brian Bingman, R-Sapulpa, had to lay over House Bill 1750, dubbed the Nuclear Energy Incentive Act, after fielding numerous questions from senators in the Energy and Environment Committee.

However, a similar measure, Senate Bill 831, remains alive in the House.

Bingman said he didn’t want his measure to die. Laying the bill over means he can revive it next session, he said. If the bill had been voted down, it would be dead for two years.

The measure sets up a procedure for companies that want to build nuclear power plants in Oklahoma.

The Free Press – Cracking the corporate media’s Iron Curtain around death at Three Mile Island
Chernobyl exploded and Three Mile Island missed by a whisker. They both killed people.

But thirty years after the Pennsylvania melt-down, a Soviet-style Iron Curtain has formed between the corporate media and the alternatives, with nuclear power at its center.

The Soviets denied for days that the Chernobyl accident had happened at all. America’s parallel corporate media says “no one died at TMI.”

EDF caught spying on Greenpeace in France | Greenpeace UK
With echoes of that fantastic/horrifying nuclear thriller Edge Of Darkness (don’t wait for the film, see the original TV series), energy giant EDF has been busted for spying on our colleagues at the Greenpeace in France.

Five people have been indicted by the French courts, including two EDF security executives, a computer expert and the head of a private investigation firm. The charge: attempting to hack into Greenpeace computer systems in France.

Sask. nuclear panel to make recommendations to government
A panel on the future of Saskatchewan’s nuclear industry will give its recommendations to government Tuesday with release of its report and public meetings soon to follow.

Enterprise and Innovation Minister Lyle Stewart said Monday he will make the report of the Uranium Development Partnership public by the end of the week.

The panel, headed by University of Saskatchewan nuclear physicist Richard Florizone, is expected to make recommendations about whether there could be an expansion into nuclear power or uranium refining.

Vote against nuke power resolution, NDP candidates urge
Two provincial NDP leadership candidates are calling on their compatriots in the legislature to oppose a motion by the Saskatchewan Party supporting the development of nuclear power in the province.

Ryan Meili and Yens Pedersen released statements Tuesday condemning the possibility of a nuclear reactor on Saskatchewan soil.

The motion, proposed by Meadow Lake MLA Jeremy Harrison, will be debated in the legislature on Thursday.

Pedersen urged his party’s 20 MLAs to vote against the motion, saying to do otherwise could alienate NDP voters.


Nuclear Weapons News

AFP: US blasts North Korea rocket launch as ‘provocative’
US President Barack Obama blasted North Korea’s rocket launch as “provocative” and pledged to take action at a UN Security Council meeting.

Obama, in Prague on his first tour of Europe, said that North Korea had fired a Taepodong-2 missile in “clear violation” UN Security Council Resolution 1718, which prohibits any missile-related activities by Pyongyang.

FACTBOX: What is the Non-Proliferation Treaty? | Reuters
U.S. President Barack Obama set out his vision for a world free of nuclear weapons on Sunday, vowing to involve all states with atomic weapons in the process of reducing arsenals.

Obama also said North Korea had broken the rules with a rocket launch earlier on Sunday and called on Pyongyang to abandon its efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

Russia and the United States said on Saturday they would start talks on a new deal to cut nuclear warheads before the end of the month. On Wednesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Obama agreed to pursue a new arms deal, in accordance with U.S. and Russian obligations in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Here are some key facts about the treaty, regarded as the cornerstone of global efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons:


Milestones of the atomic age
The United States explodes the world’s first atomic bomb at Alamogordo, N.M. Aug. 6 Little Boy, a uranium bomb, dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Between 80,000 and 140,000 killed. Aug. 9 Fat Man, a plutonium bomb, dropped on Nagasaki, Japan. About 74,000 killed.

1946: June 30 First subsurface detonation by the United States at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific.

1949: Aug. 29 Soviet Union detonates its first atomic bomb, Joe 1, at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan.

BBC NEWS | Special Reports | Global map of nuclear arsenals
All numbers are estimates because exact numbers are top secret.

Strategic nuclear warheads are designed to target cities, missile locations and military headquarters as part of a strategic plan.

The Associated Press: IAEA split over new chief, Iran, Syria
An ideological split at International Atomic Energy Agency is slowing the search for a new chief at a time the organization tasked with keeping nuclear arms away from rogue states needs a firm hand at the rudder.

The longer the delay, the greater the fear that Iran, and possibly Syria, could forge ahead with allegedly illicit nuclear activities with more impunity.

For months, the IAEA’s hands have been tied in its probes of the two nations’ nuclear programs as internal bickering and the agency’s weak mandate prevent it from taking effective action. The hunt is on for a leader who can help unite the fractious 35-nation board for joint decisions on crucial nonproliferation issues.

Obama and Medvedev Work to Reduce Nuclear Warheads –
President Obama and Russian President Dimitry Medvedev launched negotiations on a new nuclear arms treaty today, even as they agreed to pursue new and broader cooperation across a wide range of policy areas.

IAEA may need intelligence arm against atom terror | Reuters
The U.N. atomic watchdog may need to set up its own intelligence unit to combat a growing menace of nuclear terrorism, a former senior CIA official said in an interview Wednesday.

“The good news is that no credible information has surfaced that al Qaeda has obtained weapons-usable nuclear materials. The bad news is that (these) are missing in significant quantities,” said Rolf Mowatt-Larssen.

He said the International Atomic Energy Agency, with its expertise probing shadowy nuclear activity in Iran and the A.Q. Khan nuclear smuggling ring, could be well placed to transcend national barriers to intelligence-sharing on atomic threats.

Obama and Medvedev seek new era in U.S.-Russia ties | U.S. | Reuters
President Barack Obama and President Dmitry Medvedev will hit the restart button on U.S.-Russian ties by agreeing to begin talks on a new nuclear arms treaty when they meet for the first time on Wednesday.

But many other contentious issues cloud the outlook, from missile defense to Iran and NATO expansion, before the relationship warms up again.

Their meeting before a G20 summit in London will be an early test for Obama, who is making his debut on the world stage with his first major trip abroad since taking office in January.

Nuclear-free city ‘victory’ – News – Manchester Evening News
SCIENTISTS in ‘nuclear free’ Manchester have claimed victory in a north-south battle to control nuclear research.

A group of experts led by Manchester University will take charge of Britain’s nuclear research labs, beating a rival bid from Imperial College London.

The move follows attempts by the government to put a private group in charge of the country’s six research facilities. Manchester’s consortium, which includes nuclear safety firms Serco and Battelle, has now been named as the government’s preferred bidder.

The group will be responsible for maintaining the laboratories at Sellafield in Cumbria and Preston and facilities in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire.

Epoch Times – Chinese Nuclear Tests Allegedly Caused 750,000 Deaths
On March 18, Japanese professor Takada Jun revealed at a nuclear forum that the Chinese regime carried out 46 surface nuclear tests from 1964 to 1996, causing 750,000 civilian deaths in surrounding areas.

At the “Chinese Nuclear Test Disasters on the Silk Road and the Japanese Role” symposium, sponsored by the Japanese Uyghur Association, Dr. Takada Jun, a professor at the Sapporo Medical University and a representative of the Japanese Radiation Protection Information Center, revealed the disastrous problems of China’s nuclear tests. Dr. Takada said that the Chinese regime has never allowed any form of independent or outside environmental evaluation, analysis, or study of adverse affects on human health possibly cause by the tests.


Department of Energy News

HANFORD: State lawsuit over cleanup deadlines could go to trial in 2012 -  Tri-City Herald
The state of Washington’s lawsuit against the Department of Energy to enforce Hanford cleanup deadlines could go to trial in March 2012, Judge Fred Van Sickle of Eastern Washington District federal court said Friday.

Washington had requested that a trial date be set a year earlier and DOE had proposed a later date.

Van Sickle also allowed the state of Oregon to join the lawsuit as an intervenor on the side of Washington state.

All ex-field lab workers should get compensation – LA Daily News
THE federal government long ago recognized that men and women had risked their lives on Cold War and space race research and were owed compensation for illnesses they developed while working with radioactive and toxic materials.

Yet, too many Santa Susana Field Lab workers are still waiting for recompense.

The Energy Employee Occupational Illness Compensation Program enacted by former President Bill Clinton in 2000 pledged billions of dollars to government employees who got sick from their Cold War-era jobs. But the law was narrowly written and program managers have been legalistic in reviewing claims. As a result, hundreds of men and women who worked at the hilltop lab on the western edge of the San Fernando Valley and became sick, potentially as a result of their work, have been denied compensation worth $150,000 to $250,000.

Department of Energy – Energy Secretary Chu Announces $6 Billion in Recovery Act Funding for Environmental Cleanup
Energy Secretary Steven Chu today announced $6 billion in new funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate environmental cleanup work and create thousands of jobs across 12 states. Projects identified for funding will focus on accelerating cleanup of soil and groundwater, transportation and disposal of waste, and cleaning and demolishing former weapons complex facilities.

These investments will put Americans to work while cleaning up contamination from the cold war era, said Secretary Chu. It reflects our commitment to future generations as well as to help local economies get moving again.

These projects and the new funding are managed by the Department’s Office of Environmental Management, which is responsible for the risk reduction and cleanup of the environmental legacy from the nation’s nuclear weapons program, one of the largest, most diverse and technically complex environmental programs in the world.

The states and DOE sites that will receive this funding include:

Aiken Standard | SRS stimulus to bring $1.6 billion, 3,000 jobs
The Department of Energy (DOE) announced Tuesday that the Savannah River Site (SRS) will receive $1.615 billion in stimulus funds to accelerate decommissioning work and create as many as 3,000 jobs.

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to safely and efficiently create jobs,” said Helen Belencan, Recovery Act project manager for DOE – Savannah River. “We have been given the public’s trust to use the money wisely … and with transparency.”

The projects will accelerate decommissioning of nuclear facilities and contaminated areas throughout the Site, including in-place decommissioning of two nuclear materials production reactors.

Jobs financed with stimulus dollars are also aimed at early completion of clean-up programs and reducing the Site’s protected area by 40 percent, or 79,000 acres, by September 2011.

Energy department resumes toxic waste cleanup at Livermore lab –
The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to resume toxic waste cleanup at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Wednesday.

The settlement, reached on Tuesday, follows the EPA’s demand in January that the Energy Department immediately restart cleanup at the site or face escalating fines.

The EPA said the DOE also agreed to pay a $165,000 fine, despite an agency spokesman’s earlier assertions that it would appeal the fines as “unjustified.”

“I’m very, very pleased that we reached this settlement,” said Kathy Setian, an EPA remedial project manager assigned to the lab. “But I’m very disappointed that we had to take it to the point that we had to take it.”

Is the Energy Department ready to reboot the country? | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Article Highlights

* The Energy Department’s budget will increase by 75 percent in the next two years as part of the stimulus package.
* Yet that money, for new green technologies, may be wasted since Energy is severely understaffed and plagued with inefficiencies.
* Energy must radically refocus; the first step should be to remove nuclear weapons from its responsibilities.


Other Energy News

Getting Serious About Clean-Energy Stimulus – Renewable Energy World
It turns out that 2008 was another record year for clean energy. According to Clean Edge’s just-released Clean Energy Trends 2009 report, the three major clean-energy sectors — solar photovoltaics (PV), wind power and biofuels — kept up a blistering growth rate, increasing 53 percent from $75.8 billion in 2007 to $115.9 billion in revenues in 2008.

Stimulus Dollars Begin to Flow: Here’s How, Where and When – Renewable Energy World
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) continues to announce more places where stimulus money is to be spent as more funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is allocated.

Duke To Build New Wyoming Wind Energy Project – Renewable Energy World
Duke Energy announced that it will expand its renewable power business with the development of a second wind energy project in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The company also announced that it has signed a power purchase agreement for the project and has secured turbines.

The Cost of Energy  Document alert: Annual Energy Review 2009
The US Department of Energy has released the latest edition of their Annual Energy Review (from the Executive Summary):

The projections in AEO2009 look beyond current economic and financial woes and focus on factors that drive U.S. energy markets in the longer term. Key issues highlighted in the AEO2009 include higher but uncertain world oil prices, growing concern about greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and its impacts on energy investment decisions, the increasing use of renewable fuels, the increasing production of unconventional natural gas, the shift in the transportation fleet to more efficient vehicles, and improved efficiency in end-use appliances. Using a reference case and a broad range of sensitivity cases, AEO2009 illustrates these key energy market trends and explores important areas of uncertainty in the U.S. energy economy. The AEO2009 cases, which were developed before enactment of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA2009) in February 2009, reflect laws and policies in effect as of November 2008.

The Cost of Energy » Document alert: Alternative transportation fuels
The US Dept. of Energy has issued a set of spreadsheets on the use of alternative fuel vehicles, available from two web pages:

EIA Alternative Transportation Fuels-Supplier Data

EIA Alternative Transportation Fuels-User and Fuel Data

A few observations:

T. Boone Pickens Organizes 4.5 Million Virtual Marchers : Red, Green, and Blue
The virtual march will wrap up on Friday, but between now and then, march organizers are mobilizing Pickens’ New Energy Army to voice support for the Pickens Plan, including a bill introduced just today into the House of Representatives called the NAT GAS Act.

I applaud Congressmen Boren, Larson, and Sullivan for introducing the NAT GAS Act today. In doing so, they’re showing that a bi-partisan approach to energy policy is not only possible, but do-able, said Pickens in a statement. Pickens will be in Washington this week, attending meetings, bill introductions, press conferences and meeting with the news media.

How to sell clean energy
Brian Keane, who leads a nonprofit called Smart Power, wants to do for renewable energy what the Got Milk? campaign does for milk and what the Fabric of Our Lives campaign does for cotton he wants to make wind and solar and hydropower and geothermal energy really cool, and get more people to buy them. Here’s one way he is going about it, with a little help from a friend:

Eighty Percent Energy Efficiency Improvement Possible This Century : TreeHugger
Bayer has honored the Professor Eberhard Jochem of the Fraunhofer Institute for Systems and Innovation Research (ISI) for “pioneering technical and economic contributions to energy efficiency.” Professor Jochem’s commitment to environmental causes dates to his childhood, when he observed a cloud of pollution darkening his home while returning to the Ruhr district of Germany from a trip through the Netherlands by bicycle.

Professor Jochem believes that a “commercially profitable 80 percent boost in energy efficiency in the industrialized nations” is possible before the end of this century. By combining his theotical and practical expertise, Professor Jochem has proven that hypothesis, making him a particularly effective advocate for energy efficiency. The key contributors to this tremendous goal are described further below.

Calif. Desert Becomes Home For Renewable Energy : NPR
California’s utilities are in a tight spot. They’re mandated to procure 20 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by the end of next year.

Currently, renewable energy provides only 12 percent of the state’s needs. Green energy is needed, and fast. Where to get it? The southeastern corner of California is becoming the state’s Wild West of renewable energy.

Five years from now this patch of desert will hold one of the largest solar thermal plants in the world. An area of 10 square miles will be filled with 38,000 “sun catchers,” which look like enormous satellite dishes with mirrors.

Peak Energy: Geothermal Mapping In The US
Renewable Energy World has an article on some large scale efforts to map geothermal power resources in the western US – Western U.S. Entities Move Quickly on Geothermal Mapping.

Several large geothermal resource mapping projects are heading toward conclusion so that finally, the power source can be more accurately considered in siting new electricity transmission lines for renewable power development.

Given the Obama administration’s investment focus on new transmission line development, the result of the mapping efforts should be a relatively rapid increase in the number and size of commercial-scale geothermal projects.

Peak Energy: Solar Power At The Googleplex
Solar Power Authority has a post on the solar powered Google headquarters – Googleplex Solar.

The Googleplex headquarters located in Mountain View California has installed one of the largest corporate solar power structures of any other company to date. The array consists of 9,212 solar panels produced by Sharp Electronics and has a capacity of 1.6 Megawatts (MW) which cover’s ~30% of the Google campus electricity needs, the equivalent of roughly 1,000 California homes.

This installation is said to save Google $393,000 in electricity per year and can be monitored real time at this interactive page that contains data on the electricity being produced. One of the most unique features of the Googleplex array of solar panels is that it contains several clusters of solar trees. These parking lot covers are designed to keep cars cool while also producing electricity and serving it to both the Googleplex or plugin hybrid electric cars (PHEV’s).

Peak Energy: Wind power could meet all US electricity needs
The LA Times has an article on a new report noting that wind power could meet the entire electricity demand in the US – Wind turbines could more than meet U.S. electricity needs, report says.

Wind turbines off U.S. coastlines could potentially supply more than enough electricity to meet the nation’s current demand, the Interior Department reported Thursday.

Simply harnessing the wind in relatively shallow waters — the most accessible and technically feasible sites for offshore turbines — could produce at least 20% of the power demand for most coastal states, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, unveiling a report by the Minerals Management Service that details the potential for oil, gas and renewable development on the outer continental shelf.

The biggest wind potential lies off the nation’s Atlantic coast, which the Interior report estimates could produce 1,000 gigawatts of electricity — enough to meet a quarter of the national demand.

Peak Energy: Platinum Free Fuel Cells
Technology Review has an article on new fuel cells that don’t require platinum – A Catalyst for Cheaper Fuel Cells.

A new catalyst based on iron works as well as platinum-based catalysts for accelerating the chemical reactions inside hydrogen fuel cells. The finding could help make fuel cells for electric cars cheaper and more practical.

Fuel cell researchers have been looking for cheaper, more abundant alternatives to platinum, which costs between $1,000 and $2,000 an ounce and is mined almost exclusively in just two countries: South Africa and Russia. One promising catalyst that uses far less expensive materials–iron, nitrogen, and carbon–has long been known to promote the necessary reactions, but at rates that are far too slow to be practical.

The power of the desert – Las Vegas Sun
People unfamiliar with Nevada’s vast desert often find it more difficult to see what is there than to imagine what could be superimposed on the seemingly endless landscape.

Nuclear waste wedged inside a mountain.

Towering mushroom clouds.

A network of nuclear missiles covering 10,000 square miles.

These days, a very different image is evoked for 10,000 square miles of Nevada desert: a 100-mile-by-100-mile square of solar panels, enough to furnish the entire country with electricity.

Waxman-Markey Draft Sets Stage for Climate Legislation | Union of Concerned Scientists
A “discussion draft” (pdf) for climate and energy legislation released today by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) sets the stage for the federal government to rapidly adopt a comprehensive approach to energy and climate policy, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). House members will use the discussion draft as a starting point for crafting legislation.

Waxman, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Markey, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and the Environment, have pledged to move a bill out of the Energy and Commerce committee by Memorial Day, Monday, May 25. The discussion draft release comes on the heels of President Obama reaffirming his pledge to move rapidly on comprehensive climate and energy legislation during a March 24 press conference.

SunEdison Activates 1.2-MW Solar PV System – Renewable Energy World
SunEdison has activated a 1.2-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) energy system for Progress Energy Carolinas. Sited on 10 acres of land at Progress Energy’s Sutton Plant near Wilmington, the 1.2-MW ground mount system is the largest in North Carolina.

SunEdison financed, built, and operates the PV solar energy system. Progress Energy purchases electricity from SunEdison under a 20-year solar energy purchase agreement. Progress Energy also purchases renewable energy credits from SunEdison.

Clean-Energy Industry in the Doldrums –
Investment in renewable energy has hit a lull as private-sector money is drying up, but the bulk of government funding has yet to arrive.

There was $13.3 billion in new investments in clean energy — the term used to describe alternative energy such as wind farms, solar power and biofuels facilities — in the first three months of 2009, down 53%, from a year earlier, according to a report Thursday from research firm New Energy Finance Ltd. The drop came mostly in bank-based financing for building new projects, the report says, as the credit crunch has caught up with this once high-flying sector. producing electricity with cheap Solar balloons
SOLAR cells are expensive, so it makes sense to use them efficiently. One way to do so is to concentrate sunlight onto them. That means a smaller area of cell can be used to convert a given amount of light into electricity. This, though, imposes another cost that of the mirrors needed to do the concentrating. Traditionally these are large pieces of polished metal, steered by electric motors to keep the sun’s rays focused on the cell. But now Cool Earth Solar of Livermore, California, has come up with what it hopes will be a better, cheaper alternative: balloons.

Anyone who has children will be familiar with aluminised party balloons. Such balloons are made from metal-coated plastic. Cool Earth’s insight was that if you coat only one half of a balloon, leaving the other transparent, the inner surface of the coated half will act as a concave mirror. Put a solar cell at the focus of that mirror and you have an inexpensive solar-energy collector.


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

Nuclear plants aren’t as benign as described – Opinion Blog on
There are several misrepresentations contained in George Vanderheyden’s letter about his company’s plans to build a new reactor at Nine Mile Point in Scriba (“UniStar committed to building in Scriba,” March 10).

The first and most obvious is his, albeit self-interested, claim that nuclear energy is “clean,” “safe” and “reliable” and even “carbon-free.” Nuclear energy relies on uranium, which must be mined from the ground. This process is not only highly carbon-intensive, but also leaves behind radioactive contamination of the water, land and air and a legacy of disease and death among those who mine it — in this country predominantly Native Americans.

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