Top 100 Energy Stories (July 27th – Aug 2nd)

radbullThe top stories is still on vacation. They are coming out a week late, so news is being kept up to date.

That means, if you have monitored this news in the past, it still is available for searching via my social bookmarking site as well.  A good reason why it would be nice if more folks were involved in its production!

Top Nuclear Stories Index

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Nuclear Reactor News

Graphic: The state of nuclear power – Posted
In Saturday’s National Post Kathryn Blaze Carlson writes about the future of the nuclear industry. Below some crucial numbers on the industry.

Listen to Kathryn Carlson on nuclear power

Ontario ‘scratching its head’ over nuclear plan
The fate of nuclear energy in Ontario, once assured, appears more ambiguous than ever after one high-profile project was recently put on hold and another scrapped altogether.

On July 23, Ontario’s Bruce Power — a private generator company that produces a fifth of the province’s electricity — said that because of declining energy demand, it will focus on refurbishing its two remaining units rather than going ahead with an application to build new reactors. The decision came less than a month after the province announced it was suspending a reported $26-billion proposal to build two new reactors at its Darlington site, a project that would consume the province’s entire 20-year budget to ramp up its 40-year-old fleet.

GERMANY: Nuclear Power Fails, And Nobody Notices – IPS
Seven German nuclear plants have failed to generate any electricity this month due to technical breakdowns. They have about half the production capacity of Germany’s 17 nuclear reactors, but Germany did not suffer any power shortages.

The plants have between them a 9,000 megawatt (MW) capacity, but Germany generates more electricity than it consumes, and has been exporting some of the surplus to France, which is heavily dependent on nuclear power.

Early this month, three plants shut down automatically due to failures in their transformers. The other four have been out of service for months, and are undergoing expensive repairs.

The breakdowns come at a time when the planned phasing out of nuclear power is under attack. In 2002, the coalition government of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and the Greens decided that all nuclear reactors would be phased out by 2021.

At the same time, the government launched a massive investment programme in renewable energy, making Germany the leading country in Europe in use of the sun and wind as energy sources.

According to official figures, Germany generates 15 percent of the electricity it consumes from renewable sources. A law passed in 2008 sets a target of generating at least 30 percent of electricity through renewables by 2020.

Additionally, on Jul. 13, a group of large German companies announced a joint investment of 400 billion euros (560 billion dollars) in setting up solar thermal plants in the Sahara, to generate at least 15 percent of all electricity needed in Europe by the year 2020.

But Chancellor Angela Merkel announced Jul. 1 that she would reverse the phasing out of nuclear power if her Christian Democratic Party wins the general election in September, and can form a coalition with the right-wing Liberal Democratic Party. Merkel presently rules in coalition with the SPD.

“Nuclear power remains an indispensable component of the German energy mix,” Merkel told the annual meeting of Atomforum, a group representing the four major German electricity provider

ISS – Nuclear plans hurting power companies’ credit ratings
Moody’s Investors Service, a leading independent credit rating firm, recently released a report that says it’s considering taking a “more negative view” of debt obligations issued by companies seeking to build new nuclear plants.

Titled “New Nuclear Generation: Ratings Pressure Increasing,” the report raises concerns that investing in new nuclear plants involves significant risks and huge capital costs at a time when national energy policy is uncertain. Yet companies investing in new nuclear projects — cost estimates for which are hovering in the $6 billion range — haven’t adjusted their finances accordingly, according to Moody’s:

Greenpeace threatens E.ON with legal action over nuclear reactors | Business |
Greenpeace is threatening to take legal action against E.ON and other nuclear power companies for rushing ahead with plans to build new reactors before they have got the proper consents.

The move has been triggered by reports that preparatory bore holes for new reactors will start to be drilled for E.ON on 3 August at Oldbury in Gloucestershire. EDF is said to be considering similar work.

A Greenpeace spokesman said its lawyers were reviewing a situation which made a mockery of a whole raft of hurdles that were meant to be overcome before the government starts official licensing in 2013.

German nuclear debate reignites after more reactor problems | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 25.07.2009
Germany’s education and research minister has warned against demonizing nuclear power after two more reactors were temporarily taken offline, adding to the controversy over the future of atomic energy in the country.

German Minister of Education and Research Annette Schavan has cautioned against a demonization of nuclear power following the shutdown of multiple reactors across the country due to technical malfunctions.

San Antonio on center stage in nuclear power debate – San Antonio Business Journal:
With its recent recommendation to move forward with construction of two new nuclear power units in South Texas, the staff of CPS Energy has placed San Antonio at the forefront of a national debate that has been raging for more than two dozen years.

There hasn’t been a new nuclear power reactor constructed in the U.S. since the 1970s, but now there are five potential units on the horizon, including two that would be located in South Texas supplying power for CPS Energy — which serves San Antonio and Bexar County.

Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman came to San Antonio recently as co-chair of a group advocating for the expansion of nuclear energy nationwide and acknowledged the Alamo City’s central role in the debate.

Mountain Home News: Story: AEHI is not who you think they are; project designed for sale
It’s too bad that the State of Idaho doesn’t have an energy siting committee like a lot of other states.

Their duty would be to separate the wheat from the chaff and present to the public and local officials the true facts of any energy project proposed in the state.

The purpose of this letter is to present my concerns on the proposed nuclear plant in Elmore County.

While I don’t hold myself out as an expert in the nuclear power business, I have had some experience in contract negotiations and purchasing power from nuclear facilities. I was the CEO/General Manager of two electric power cooperatives, one in Washington and the other in Oregon, for more than 30 years. With that introduction, let me add my take on the project proposed by AEHI.

The Free Press – Walter Cronkite, 3 Mile Island & “Lamar’s Folly” in the Climate Bill
The accolades are still pouring in for departed anchorman Walter Cronkite. Few mention his critical “that’s the way it is” reporting on the atomic melt-down at Three Mile Island.

Yet Cronkite and TMI are at the core of today’s de facto moratorium on new reactor construction—which the industry’s new champion, Senator Lamar Alexander, now wants to reverse through the proposed federal Climate Bill.

Technicians who knew what was happening shook with terror as Cronkite opened his March 28, 1979, newscast with “the world has never known a day quite like today. It faced the considerable uncertainties and dangers of the worst nuclear power plant accident of the Atomic Age. And the horror tonight is that it could get much worse..” ( ) .

PG&E to replace Calif. Diablo reactor vessel heads | Markets | Markets News | Reuters
PG&E Corp plans to replace the reactor vessel heads at both reactors at the 2,240-megawatt Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California during the next refueling outages, a company spokeswoman said Tuesday.

PG&E plans to shut Diablo Unit 2 for refueling in the autumn of 2009 and Unit 1 during the autumn of 2010.

The PG&E spokeswoman could not discuss the cost of the replacements or say how long the project would take. A usual refuel lasts about a month.

London Free Press – Reactor shut down over lack of demand
he Bruce Power nuclear generating station has shut down one of its reactors.

The problem isn’t mechanical — it’s because there isn’t enough demand for the electricity generated by the station.

Spokesperson Steve Cannon says the manufacturing slowdown caused by the recession and a cooler summer have left Bruce Power with a surplus.

Cannon says a 795-megawatt reactor will be offline for at least a few more days and follows a brief shutdown in June for similar reasons.

He says it’s not something they like to do because nuclear plants are designed to run 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Cannon says the shutdown doesn’t affect any jobs and that all other units at Bruce Power remain online and available for service.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

Charleston Daily Mail – Truck crash in WVa prompts evacuation
An accident that caused a fire in a truck carrying hazardous material briefly forced the evacuation of about 100 people in and around the Summers County community of Sandstone.

Emergency dispatchers say the truck was involved in a crash with another vehicle early Sunday morning.

State Police say the truck was carrying a container with about 32,000 pounds of the radioactive chemical compound called Uranium hexafluoride.

After crews found the material’s container to be undamaged, residents evacuated to Summers County Middle School were allowed to return to their homes.

Dispatchers say no one was seriously injured in the crash.

Plan to Pay Sick Nuclear Workers Unfairly Rejects Many, Doctor Says – ProPublica
Carla McCabe spent a decade building nuclear bombs at the sprawling Rocky Flats complex near Denver. When she developed a brain tumor and asked for help, federal officials told her that none of the toxic substances used at the top-secret bomb factory could have caused her cancer.

Now, on the eighth anniversary of the federal program created to help sick nuclear weapons workers, the man who until recently was the program’s top doctor says that McCabe, now 55, and many others like her are being improperly rejected.

Uranium travels nerves from nose to brain. — Environmental Health News
Radioactive uranium that is inhaled by soldiers on the battlefield and by workers in factories may bypass the brain’s protective barrier by following nerves from the nose directly to the brain.

Nerves can act as a unique conduit, carrying inhaled uranium from the nose directly to the brain, finds a study with rats. Once in the brain, the uranium may affect task and decision-related types of thinking.

This study provides yet another example of how some substances can use the olfactory system – bypassing the brain’s protective blood barrier – to go directly to the brain. Titanium nanoparticles and the metals manganese, nickel, and thallium have been shown to reach the brain using the same route.

Military personnel and people who work in uranium processing plants are exposed to the weak radioactive element via wounds or by breathing. Exposure may affect brain function; cognitive skills are lowered in soldiers who carry uranium-laced shrapnel.

Dodging the Evidence – Leukemias and Nuclear Power Plants | open Democracy News Analysis
The Committee on Medical Aspects of Radiation in the Environment (COMARE) is a quango that is supposed to be a watchdog on the health issues arising from the activities of nuclear installations in the UK. COMARE’s terms of reference are “to assess and advise Government . on the health effects of natural and man-made radiation and to assess the adequacy of the available data and the need for further research”.

But how seriously does this body take its responsibilities? Not very, it seems.

A recent authoritative health study commissioned by the German government entitled KiKK (Kinderkrebs in der Umgebung von KernKraftwerken, or Childhood Cancer in the Vicinity of Nuclear Power Plants) found increased leukemias near all German nuclear facilities. The Environmental Health Sub-Committee of the West Cumbria Site Stakeholder Group, a group that discusses nuclear issues mainly concerning Sellafield, raised the findings of this study with COMARE and asked for its views. A one-page COMARE briefing was sent by Professor Alex Elliott, the COMARE chairman, and was read out to the May 2009 meeting of the Environmental Health Sub Committee as COMARE’s official view. It is likely that other stakeholder groups near other UK nuclear sites were informed along similar lines. However the COMARE briefing was never published on its website.

Radioactive water leak stopped at Chalk River
Radioactive water has stopped leaking from the nuclear reactor at Chalk River, Ont., ending two months of low-level radiation seeping into the atmosphere near Ottawa.

Workers with Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. recently completed draining the reactor’s 65,000-litre vessel and are now preparing to dispatch a remote-controlled ultra-sonic probe deep into the disabled machine to inspect the site of a pinhole leak of tritium-laced heavy water that began on May 14.

What it reveals will help determine how to proceed with what is expected to be a delicate and potentially costly repair.

Exelon wants info on Oyster Creek tritium leak withheld | | Asbury Park Press
The owners of Oyster Creek Generating Station have asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the full analysis regarding the cause of a recent tritium leak at the plant not be made public.

Earlier this month, state Sen. Christopher J. Connors and Assemblymen Brian E. Rumpf and Daniel M. Van Pelt, all R-Ocean, called for the immediate release of the root-cause analysis of the leak that occurred in April at the plant in the Forked River section of the township.

“We will discuss what our review of the root-cause analysis found in our upcoming inspection report on the groundwater contamination issues at Oyster Creek,” NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said Wednesday. He added that the report should be issued next month.

Independent: Making them sick: Forgotten People seeks state of emergency over contaminated water
Some residents in the Black Falls/Box Springs area have been drinking uranium- and arsenic-contaminated water for nearly 40 years. Another month or two, while they wait on the Navajo Nation to declare a state of emergency, probably won’t kill them. Then again, maybe it will.

During a July 11 meeting at the Box Springs home of Rolanda and Larry Tohannie, more than 80 people — many of them cancer victims — traveled miles of washboard roads in the summer heat to meet with representatives of the Navajo Nation and voice concerns about their illnesses, their need for safe drinking water, and what they view as a lack of assistance by Window Rock.

Whitehaven News | Radiation link to death of campaigner
RADIATION is thought to have contributed to the death of the former Sellafield worker who was jailed in 2004 for a bomb hoax at the site’s visitors centre.

Duncan Ball, who worked in the Magnox plant for 20 years, died on July 17. He was 49.

In 2007 Mr Ball was diagnosed with a bone marrow cancer (multiple myeloma) and The Whitehaven News understands he received an interim payment from the nuclear industry scheme to compensate workers or their dependents for diseases which may be radiation-linked.

The scheme was set up by BNFL and the unions at Sellafield in 1982 and compensation is paid on a balance of possibilities (20 per cent and over) that a cancer may have been induced by occupational exposure to radiation.

Denver Federal Center workers demand answers about radioactive waste – KDVR
Would you want to dig up dirt at a former nuclear waste site? That’s what construction crews at the Denver Federal Center site in Lakewood have been doing for the past year.

But what’s worse, some workers tell FOX 31 that they never knew about the radioactive history until they saw our story on the news.

“We were told there was asbestos and lead at the site,” says one worker who wants to remain anonymous.

He says when he and his co-workers learned that lead and asbestos were not the only danger, they became concerned for their health.

The safety inadequacies of India’s fast breeder reactor | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
* India’s Department of Atomic Energy plans to build a large fleet of fast breeder nuclear reactors in the coming years.
* However, many other countries that have experimented with fast reactors have shut down their programs due to technical and safety difficulties.
* The Indian prototype is similarly flawed, inadequately protected against the possibility of a severe accident.

India’s Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) is planning a large expansion of nuclear power, in which fast breeder reactors play an important role. Fast breeder reactors are attractive to the DAE because they produce (or “breed”) more fissile material than they use. The breeder reactor is especially attractive in India, which hopes to develop a large domestic nuclear energy program even though it has primarily poor quality uranium ore that is expensive to mine.

Soldiers’ Armor May Be Unhealthy – Phoenix News Story – KPHO Phoenix
Depleted Uranium Gives Off Small, Safe Doses Of Radiation, Army Says

PHOENIX — New research is raising questions about the safety of a type of material used to make weapons deadlier and armor stronger.

Depleted uranium, a byproduct of nuclear weapons, is widely used to coat tanks and shells, among other military equipment; however, some believe that the radiation it emits can harm people.

Jerry Wheat was in the army during the first Gulf War when the vehicle he was riding in was hit by a shell from a U.S. tank.

U.S. Labor Department reaches $5 billion in benefits paid and 8th anniversary of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act – 7thSpace Interactive
The U.S. Department of Labor today announced that it has paid more than $5 billion in compensation and medical benefits to more than 52,600 claimants nationwide under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA). This milestone coincides with the eighth anniversary of the Labor Department’s administration of the EEOICPA, which provides compensation and medical benefits to employees who became ill as a result of working in the nuclear weapons industry.

“I am proud to announce that the Labor Department has delivered more than $5 billion in compensation and medical benefits to deserving workers and their families during the eight years it has administered the EEOICPA,” said Shelby Hallmark, acting assistant secretary of labor for employment standards. “The department is dedicated to carrying out the vital mission of this program: getting compensation and medical benefits to eligible workers and their survivors as quickly and consistently as possible. We will continue to strengthen the adjudication process, our outreach efforts and claimant services in order to carry out the EEOICPA in a manner that is consistent with the law as enacted by Congress.”

Hanford News : Areva to boost security after violation at Richland plant
Areva will improve security and site access procedures at its Richland plant and its other facilities as part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that was announced Friday.

Areva used a neutral mediator to resolve a security process violation issue. The company reported it to the commission last year after it found a security guard forged a signature on site access authorization forms and allowed unescorted access to individuals at the Richland plant on five occasions.

The commission spared Areva a civil penalty and a notice of violation. The NRC will evaluate Areva’s corrective measures during future inspections.

EEOICPA: 8 yrs., $5B, ongoing controversy | Frank Munger’s Atomic City Underground |
The Labor Dept. announced today it had passed the $5 billion mark in compensation to claimants under the sick nuclear workers compensation program, coinciding with the 8th anniversary of DOL’s administration of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program.

Despite those milestones, there continue to be complaints about the management of the program, as well as calls for legislative reform to make it easier for those made sick by the Cold War nuclear workplace to collect money and benefits.

Worker advocates have raised continuing issues regarding adminstration of the federal program and still say the Labor Dept. is throwing roadblocks at claimants. Some advocates recently had a teleconference call with Labor official Rachel Leiton, but that reportedly did not resolve any ongoing issues.

Push For New Nuclear Power Sputters, But Old Reactors Still Pose Cancer Risks
Nuclear reactors in the United States should be phased out, and replaced by technologies that don’t threaten public health with the emission of radioactive chemicals, urges the Cancer Prevention Coalition.

A recent energy bill sponsored by Congressional Republicans proposed building 100 new nuclear reactors across the United States in the next 20 years.

The proposal, which would double the current U.S. total of 104 operating nuclear reactors, would amount to a nuclear renaissance, as no new reactors have been ordered since 1978.

Concerns about global warming gave utilities the idea for this revival since reactors don’t emit greenhouse gases while generating power, and utilities have stopped closing old reactors while proposing 33 new ones to be sited in New England, throughout the South and Southeast, and in Texas, Utah and Idaho.

BBC NEWS | UK | Uranium claim sparks safety alert
A woman sparked an alert when she went into Suffolk’s fire service headquarters with a test tube she said contained uranium oxide.

Firefighters put on air-tight suits and breathing apparatus to take the tube from the woman so it could be locked away in a secure place.

Experts from Sizewell nuclear power plant tested the substance and said it had a low level of radioactivity.

Dave Pedersen from Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service said it was low risk.

BBC NEWS | UK | Sellafield admits exposure case
Sellafield has pleaded guilty to health and safety breaches after two contractors were exposed to radiation.

The workers were refurbishing a floor at the site’s plutonium finishing and storage plant in July 2007 when they were exposed to airborne contamination.

Sellafield Ltd admitted failing to discharge its duty under the Health and Safety Act 1974 at Whitehaven Magistrates’ Court on Friday.

Environment Analyst | No of nuclear incidents almost doubled in 08/09
Significant progress in the restructuring of the UK nuclear industry and an increasing regulatory focus on “high hazard” issues are among the highlights of a lengthy annual report published by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA). The report also provides details about the NDA’s finances and some information about the environmental and safety performance of the UK nuclear industry – including an increase in radiological incidents.

Evacuation proposal has some skeptical| Asbury Park Press
DEP and State Police discuss status of plan

TOMS RIVER — Despite assurances by representatives of the State Police Office of Emergency Management, not everyone at a public hearing Tuesday night was convinced that a radiological emergency evacuation plan could be safely implemented.

State Department of Environmental Protection officials and representatives of the State Police discussed the status of the evacuation plan during an annual public hearing that followed a one-hour informal session concerning what would happen if a nuclear incident occurred at Oyster Creek Generating Station in the Forked River section of Lacey.

Jill Lipoti, DEP director of environmental safety and health, served as hearing officer for the proceeding. A number of booklets and fact sheets were on hand for residents to review.

Associated Press: Chinese villagers flee county in radiation scare
Residents fled a central Chinese county at the weekend over rumors of a radiation leak at a factory but most had returned by Monday after government assurances it was safe.

The exodus was sparked Friday, when bystanders saw government workers at a factory using robots to examine a cobalt-60 irradiator that had malfunctioned. The irradiator is used mainly for sterilizing pepper powder, flavoring used in instant noodles and garlic.

“There was chaos on the streets from about 2:30 p.m. until dark,” Zhu Zhihai, manager of a different factory that processes garlic, told The Associated Press by telephone Monday. “All kinds of vehicles were going out of the county — farm vehicles, motorcycles and cars.”

He estimated that a third of the population of about 1 million in Qi county, Henan province, fled, many because they had heard rumors of explosions. Officials have not estimated the number who fled.

Radioactive leak is feared : The Buffalo News
An underground container that holds about half of the world’s supply of radium may be leaking into groundwater in northwestern Niagara County, an advisory group to federal regulators warns.

The Army Corps of Engineers, the federal agency responsible for investigating an area in the towns of Lewiston and Porter holding leftovers from the Manhattan Project, has found uranium contamination beneath ground level in portions of a former federal weapons site.

But corps officials insist there are no leaks in a 10-acre cell, known as the Interim Waste Containment Structure, constructed in the mid- 1980s on the 191-acre Niagara Falls Storage Site as a temporary container for various radioactive wastes and other radiological materials.

Piketon plant blaze results in no injuries, minor damage | | Chillicothe Gazette
No injuries and minor damage were reported in a Thursday fire in an inactive cooling tower at the Piketon uranium enrichment plant.

According to the Department of Energy, the fire was reported at 4:30 p.m. on the east side of the plant. At 5:15 p.m., the fire was said to have no off-site impact.

The fire broke out in some decking of the cooling tower, which was being removed after high winds in Saturday’s storms damaged the tower. The cooling tower is one of several at the site scheduled to be decontaminated and decommissioned in the coming months with aid from American Reinvestment and Recovery Act funds.


NRC News

NRC – NRC to Brief Public on Westinghouse Request to Dispose of Radioactive Waste in Idaho
Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff will hold a public meeting July 28 in Bruneau, Idaho, to brief members of the public on a proposal by Westinghouse Electric Co. to dispose of low-activity radioactive materials at the U.S. Ecology Disposal Facility in Grand View, Idaho.

The meeting will take place from 6 – 8:30 p.m. in the Auditorium of Rimrock Jr. Sr. High School, 39678 State Highway 78, in Bruneau.

Westinghouse is currently decommissioning its Hematite nuclear fuel fabrication facility in Jefferson County, Mo. Westinghouse has requested a license amendment and authorization from the NRC to dispose of some low-activity radioactive waste – including small amounts of “special nuclear material” (enriched uranium and plutonium) – at the U.S. Ecology facility. Westinghouse has also asked the NRC to exempt U.S. Ecology from the agency’s licensing requirements for radioactive byproduct material and special nuclear material.

Exelon not seeking new merger targets after failed NRG bid
Exelon is not seeking new merger targets in the near term after its failed bid to acquire NRG Energy, Exelon Chairman and CEO John Rowe said on a July 24 conference call to discuss Exelon’s second-quarter earnings. Market power issues would rule out any deal with another independent power producer while regulatory issues would likely hamper any merger with most acceptable utilities, he said. Rowe also said Exelon will not be building any new nuclear power plants, believing that uprating the power capacity of its current 17-unit nuclear fleet is a better value. The company last month postponed indefinitely its plans to build two new nuclear units at a greenfield site in Victoria County, Texas and announced plans for up to 1,500 MW of nuclear upgrades over the next eight years. Uprates for current nuclear units cost about half as much as building a new plant and the execution risk is “substantially lower,” Rowe said. Exelon on July 24 announced second-quarter income of $657 million, down from $748 million in second-quarter 2008.

NRC: NRC Activates Incident Response Centers After Alert Declared at B&W in Lynchburg, Va.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission manned Incident Response Centers in Atlanta and Rockville, Md., Wednesday night, dispatched its resident inspector and called in criticality safety experts to monitor an alert declared at B&W Nuclear Operations Group in Lynchburg, Va. An alert is the lowest level of NRC emergency classifications for fuel facilities such as B&W.

The NRC staff continued to monitor the incident, which began at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday until its successful resolution at 12:35 a.m. Thursday.

B&W staff activated the facility’s Emergency Operations Center after identifying a potential criticality issue in the Uranium Recovery area. A criticality can occur when highly enriched uranium comes together in sufficient quantity or in a container of correct shape to initiate a chain reaction resulting in either a “burst” or a sustained release of radiation.

NRC – NRC Begins Special Inspection at Oyster Creek Nuclear Plant
The NRC has initiated a Special Inspection at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in response to a shutdown of the reactor early on July 12. The inspection got under way today at the plant, which is located in Lacey Township (Ocean County), N.J., and operated by Exelon.

Among other things, the team of four NRC inspectors will be tasked with reviewing whether any equipment issues, design deficiencies, communication challenges and/or operator performance issues complicated the event. The Special Inspection will expand on reviews conducted by the NRC Resident Inspectors assigned to Oyster Creek immediately after the shutdown. Assisting the team on a part-time basis will be the NRC’s Senior Resident Inspector at the plant.

“While the plant was safely removed from service during the event, several equipment issues arose during the shutdown that we believe bear closer examination,” NRC Region I Administrator Samuel J. Collins said. “Through this Special Inspection we intend to gain a better understanding of these issues, including the actions taken by plant operators in response.”

Sloppy work at Perry nuclear power plant worries NRC –
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is concerned about sloppy workmanship and employee inattention to detail at the Perry nuclear power plant.

The NRC wants plant-owner FirstEnergy Corp. to explain how it plans to correct these problems at a public meeting Tuesday night in Mentor. The agency will also take questions from the public.

Perry’s troubles cropped up more than a year ago, NRC records show, and despite the Akron-based utility’s efforts, have continued this year, said the agency.

Perry is operating safely, the NRC stressed, but workers have continued to make small mistakes on routine, day-to-day jobs, in a number of unrelated areas.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

Activists battle new uranium mine – Salt Lake Tribune
Two environmental groups are trying to block Utah’s first new uranium mine in three decades.

The Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Uranium Watch want the U.S. Bureau of Land Management to rethink its approval of the Daneros Mine, located about 10 miles from Natural Bridges National Monument.

The groups also want the federal agency to stop Australia-based White Canyon Uranium from mining its Daneros claim until BLM’s Utah director, Selma Sierra, determines whether her agency studied the environmental consequences sufficiently.

“There are a lot of issues associated with uranium mining that were not adequately assessed before the permits were issued,” Liz Thomas, an attorney for SUWA, said Friday.

EnergySolutions buying Oak Ridge railroad | Frank Munger’s Atomic City Underground |
EnergySolutions is purchasing a short-line railroad that traverses the former K-25 uranium-enrichment site (now Heritage Center) and joins the main Norfolk Southern rail system at Blair Station a few miles north of the site.

The company and Heritage Railroad Corp., a subsidiary of the non-profit Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee, confirmed the execution of an asset purchase agreement. Terms of the sale were not released.

Lawrence Young, the president of CROET, said the sale should be closed within 90 days following a number of actions, including a review by the Tennessee Attorney General’s Office (which looks at transactions from non-profit entities to for-profit companies).

EPA to oversee contaminated Navajo soil cleanup
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has reached an agreement with United Nuclear Corp. and its parent company, General Electric Co., to clean up soil near the most badly contaminated former uranium mine on the Navajo Nation.

Rain and flash floods carry the radium-contaminated soil from the abandoned Northeast Church Rock Mine near Gallup, N.M., down an arroyo where children play and livestock graze.

Long-term exposure to such soil can lead to cataracts, fractured teeth and cancer, according to the EPA.

Under the agreement announced this week, United Nuclear will remove 3 to 13 feet of soil from the arroyo and surrounding areas and bring in clean dirt. The company also will regrade a uranium waste pile so that it drains back to the mine instead of where people live. – Feds speeding up removal of Moab uranium tailings
Work to remove 16 million tons of radioactive waste away from the tourist town of Moab is about to go a little faster.

The U.S. Department of Energy says it plans to double the amount of uranium tailings removed each day from the shores of the Colorado River.

Right now, rail cars take about 2,800 tons of tailings a day to a dump site 30 miles away, where they’re placed in specially designed cells. The DOE says a second train will be added in mid-August.

DOE denies USEC’s loan guarantee; layoffs coming | Frank Munger’s Atomic City Underground |
The Department of Energy has denied USEC Inc.’s application for a $2 billion loan guarantee, and the company has started “demobilizing” the American Centrifuge Project, which currently employs about 450 at its Oak Ridge manufacturing site.

“There will be layoffs,” USEC spokeswoman Elizabeth Stuckle said this morning. However, the number and the timing of those layoffs has not been determined, she said..

Uranium Contamination Haunts Navajo Country | | Star-Banner | Ocala, FL
It was one year ago that the environmental scientist showed up at Fred Slowman’s door, deep in the heart of Navajo country, and warned that it was unsafe for him to stay there.

The Slowman home, the same one-level cinderblock structure his family had lived in for nearly a half-century, was contaminated with potentially dangerous levels of uranium from the days of the cold war, when hundreds of uranium mines dotted the vast tribal land known as the Navajo Nation. The scientist advised Mr. Slowman, his wife and their two sons to move out until their home could be rebuilt.

Green Left – AUSTRALIA: Fremantle residents rally against uranium
Fifty people rallied outside the Fremantle Esplanade Hotel on July 22. The hotel was the venue of the Australian Uranium conference. The protest was organised by the Fremantle Anti-Nuclear Group.

The protest was addressed by mayor of Fremantle, Peter Tagliaferri, who denounced the Western Australian Coalition government’s support for uranium mining as a short-sighted and costly policy. He reaffirmed the Fremantle City Council’s commitment to keeping Fremantle a nuclear-free zone.

Greens parliamentarian Lynn MacLaren denounced the federal environment minister Peter Garrett for his approval of the Four Mile uranium mine in South Australia. She called for the state government to invest in renewable energy rather than uranium mining which is dirty and dangerous.

News & Star | Mox ‘under scrutiny’
THE future of Sellafield’s controversial under-achieving Mox plant which support around 1,000 jobs on the site is still on the line.

The Nuclear Decommissioning Authority says in its annual report out this week that “on a less positive note the performance of the Sellafield mixed oxide plant (SMP) remains under close scrutiny by the NDA Board.

“The NDA is in the process of examining options for the future of the plant in conjunction with Sellafield Ltd,” reports acting chief executive Richard Waite.

Against a target of eight Mox fuel assemblies, only two had been produced.

Both the Thorp and Magnox reprocessing plants also failed to meet targets.

Mine evaporation pond capping project explained, but residents express concerns | | Reno Gazette-Journal
Over 25 people attended a two-hour meeting Tuesday night to discuss a planned evaporation capping project and other issues of concern to residents regarding the Yerington Mine.

The meeting was called by the Yerington Community Action Group and featured U.S. Environmental Protection Agency officials and a pair of EPA consultants who gave presentations on the mine’s evaporation pond removal project.

Nadia Hollan Burke, Remedial Project Manager with EPA Region 9 (Superfund) over the Yerington Mine remediation project, was joined by her superior, Roberta Blank, as EPA representatives. Also giving a presentation was Victor Early, senior engineering geologist wih Tetra Tech, a consultant for EPA, who was joined by Tetra Tech’s Doug Herlocker, an air quality specialist/environmental project manager.

Areva, Northrop Grumman break ground on Virginia nuclear facility
Areva and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding broke ground Wednesday on the first manufacturing facility for heavy commercial nuclear reactor components to be built in the US in 35 years. Michael Rencheck, CEO of Areva NP, said in an interview that once operational in mid-2012, the plant will turn out all of the heavy components needed for one Evolutionary Power Reactor a year. That involves a reactor vessel, four steam generators, and four reactor coolant pumps, he said. The plant will be built on Northrop Grumman property in Newport News, Virginia. The joint venture represents a $360 million investment and will have a global market, supplying heavy components for future EPR reactors in the US and other EPR projects, according to Rencheck. UniStar Nuclear Energy, a joint venture of Constellation Energy and France’s EDF Group, is seeking a license from the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission to build and operate an EPR at the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant in Maryland.

AdelaideNow… Rio ignites nuke power debate
PRIVATELY, the Federal Government is not happy that uranium miner Rio Tinto has launched an attack on its recently stated opposition to nuclear power.

But publicly, Government ministers were polite yesterday in responding to a pro-nuclear submission made by Rio Tinto over a white paper on government energy policy.

Treasurer Wayne Swan moved quickly to ground debate, declaring yesterday: “We don’t agree with Rio Tinto on that point.”

Climate Change Minister Penny Wong was equally dismissive, but civil: “Rio Tinto is entitled to their view.”

After lobbing the hand grenade which has reignited the nuclear debate, the uranium mining giant ran for cover yesterday.

No new mining claims for 2 years near Grand Canyon – Salt Lake Tribune
Thousands of mining claims dot 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon, and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says his department has a responsibility to ensure those resources are developed in a way that protects communities, treasured landscapes and watersheds.

The Interior Department announced Monday that it is barring the filing of new mining claims, including for uranium, on the acreage for two years. Meanwhile, his department will study whether the land should be permanently withdrawn from mining activity.

USEC loan app stirs support, opposition | | Chillicothe Gazette
As USEC Inc. eagerly awaits word from the U.S. Department of Energy on approval of its loan request, local elected officials have been working hard to lobby on behalf of the company.

Thursday, Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland, Sen. George Voinovich, R-Ohio, sent a letter to Steven Chu, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy requesting a meeting to ask him to approve the loan.

“We are writing to express our concern that the loan guarantee application made by USEC Inc. for the American Centrifuge Plant has not received a conditional commitment,” the letter read.

USEC Inc. is a private company leasing land owned by the Department of Energy in Piketon. The company is constructing the American Centrifuge Plant with the intent of enriching uranium for energy. Last summer, it applied for a $2 billion loan guarantee. With the loan guarantee, the company hopes to continue construction efforts to have the plant operational by 2011.

Deseret News | Stimulus is speeding tailings removal
A new report by the Department of Energy on the Moab tailings project says an average of 12,000 tons of contaminated dirt are being shipped to a nearby disposal site each week and by late June, more than 100,000 tons have been removed.

Federal stimulus money and an extra allocation from the Omnibus Appropriation Act infused an additional $118 million to the project to accelerate the timeline of the cleanup.

Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, said the funding boost is critical, given the severity of contamination at the former Atlas mine northwest of Moab.

“The danger posed by this unstable site is clear,” he said. “It is a risk not only to Moab but to millions of downstream water users. It’s important that this threat is removed as quickly as possible.”

Associated Press: Interior to halt uranium mining at Grand Canyon
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will announce Monday that his department is temporarily barring the filing of new uranium mining claims on about 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon, an Obama administration official said.

The land is being “segregated” for two years so that the department can study whether it should be permanently withdrawn from mining activity, said the official, who requested anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

The announcement comes ahead of Tuesday’s congressional hearing on a bill to set aside more than 1 million acres of federal lands north and south of the canyon. The bill’s sponsor, Democratic U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona, and environmental groups had been looking to Salazar for temporary protections at the Grand Canyon while the legislation is pending.


Nuclear Waste News

Radioactive waste dump expansion possible in Utah | AP Texas News | – Houston Chronicle
Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman’s impending resignation could open the door for a nuclear waste disposal firm to increase the capacity of the country’s largest low-level radioactive waste dump by about 78 percent.

EnergySolutions Inc. was already on a path to pile up to 9.8 million cubic yards of waste on its mile-square facility in Utah in 2007 when Huntsman threatened to use a regional compact to block its application. Instead, Huntsman and company CEO Steve Creamer signed an agreement in which EnergySolutions withdrew its application and reaffirmed its commitment not to dispose of hotter radioactive waste in the state.

In exchange, Huntsman said the company could convert 3.6 million cubic yards of space reserved for uranium mill tailings so it could handle the type of debris that comes from decommissioned nuclear power plants. Huntsman also pledged not to tell the compact to reduce the 5.5 million cubic yards of waste already licensed to the company as long as it didn’t seek to expand.

Radioactive Recovery: The Stimulus Goes Nuclear | The Big Money
This place looked post-apocalyptic long before the nuclear reactors turned on. I am standing within 586 square miles of nuclear fallout. Not the kind of fallout that happens after a bomb gets dropped. The kind of fallout that happens after a bomb gets built.

I may be in Richland, but I am actually at Hanford, a former nuclear production site and a place all its own. To locals, Hanford is not necessarily a town, but it’s definitely a destination. This is not the Washington of your imagination, the one with pine trees, rain, and good coffee. Hanford is brown everywhere you look: brown mountains in the distance, brown tufts of grass, brown sand caking the earth. It is the perfect setting for Cormac McCarthy’s next novel. So hot that people arrange outdoor meetings at 7 a.m. to beat the heat. So dry that trucks drive around all day squirting water out of their butts, wetting the sand so it can’t blind workers when the winds start blowing. So bleak that even the mountains take on a dirty sheen.

Reid writes obit for Yucca, pointing to new Obama vow – Las Vegas Sun
The head of the Nevada agency fighting the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump likes to compare it to a horror-show zombie that will not die.

The Yucca Mountain project has seen its funding slashed, its science dismissed, its support dwindle. Still it lives on.

But on Thursday, the project 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas suffered its strongest blow yet.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the White House and its energy secretary have agreed to provide no funding in next year’s budget

Senate passes bill to close Nevada’s Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site – Los Angeles Times
The $34.3-billion energy measure would also allow water transfers to help California farmers suffering from severe drought conditions. Similar legislation has been approved by the House.
Associated Press
July 30, 2009

Washington — The Senate on Wednesday passed a $34.3-billion energy spending bill that backs up President Obama’s promise to close the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste facility in Nevada.

The bill, passed by a 85-9 vote, also covers water transfers to help farmers in California and hundreds of water projects by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The House passed a similar bill two weeks ago. Once the measures are reconciled, the bill will go to the president for his signature.

European Dispatch Articles | German Salt Mine Nuclear Repository Leaks Radioactive Brine | Miller-McCune Online Magazine
Germany’s vaunted salt mine solution for low-level nuclear waste has proven to be full of holes.

Rock salt, at least while it’s underground, has two main properties: It can be soft and easy to mine, and it can form a watertight seal. This helps explain why the West German government started forklifting thousands of metal drums of “low-to-medium” radioactive waste into an abandoned salt mine called Asse II during the 1960s.

Asse II is named after its mountain range in the state of Lower Saxony. The mine plunges deep into the hills near Braunschweig (aka Brunswick), in the center of Germany, and politicians in Bonn regarded it during the Cold War as a test site for storage of nuclear waste. An overhead layer of rock salt would shield the mine from groundwater, and the shifting salt itself, over centuries, would seal up any fractures and finally pack the nuclear waste in a safe geological bed.

Nuclear Engineering International: Studsvik to treat waste from Italy’s Caorso
Studsvik and Italy’s SOGIN has signed a contract for the treatment and conditioning of organic low-level waste. The order value is estimated at around SEK 73 million.

“With the order from SOGIN Studsvik takes a first step into the Italian market. The order shows Studsvik’s opportunities in the renaissance that the global nuclear power industry is undergoing,” says Studsvik’s CEO Magnus Groth.

The order concerns the treatment of approximately 270 tonnes of organic low-level waste from the Italian nuclear site Caorso at Studsvik’s facility in Sweden.

Deseret News | EnergySolutions to manage Idaho N-waste
A Utah-based nuclear services company has been awarded a contract from Battelle Energy Alliance to manage waste from Battelle’s lab operations at the Idaho National Laboratory in eastern Idaho.

EnergySolutions, of Salt Lake City, will treat, package and transport radioactive, hazardous and industrial waste from several INL facilities, including the Advanced Test Reactor site and the Materials and Fuels Complex.

Company spokesman Mark Walker says the $19 million contract will run for five years, with work beginning this summer. Approximately 20 workers will be employed under the contract.

Is There a Place for Nuclear Waste?: Scientific American
Yucca Mountain was supposed to be the answer to the U.S.’s nuclear waste problem, but after 22 years and $9 billion, that vision is dead. Now, some say that doing nothing in the near term may be the smartest solution


Nuclear Policy News

Maryland Gets More Time to Review Constellation-EDF Deal –
The Maryland Public Service Commission has granted a request by state officials to extend hearings regarding the proposed $4.5 billion investment in Constellation Energy by EDF, a French energy company.

Constellation and EDF had been moving toward a Sept. 17 deadline to complete the deal. But the Maryland Energy Administration and other state agencies had asked for more time to review terms of the proposal.

Israel wants nuclear power plant – Israel News, Ynetnews
Israel recently asked the United States to assist in the establishment of a nuclear power plant in the southern Negev desert, Yedioth Aharonoth reported Friday.

For the time being, no response was received from Washington.

The government needs America’s approval so it can build an internationally monitored civilian reactor while avoiding monitoring of Israel’s other nuclear capabilities.

ENVIRONMENT: Lavish US Lobbying Pushes Nuclear Energy – IPS
Climate change and the resulting need for low-carbon energy sources is driving the current interest in nuclear energy despite the industry’s near universal legacy of staggering cost-overruns, technical difficulties and dependence on enormous government subsidies.

Government interest in new nuclear energy plants seems far more political than practical or economic in light of the fact that Europe’s latest nuclear plant under construction in Finland is four years behind schedule and 50 to 70 percent over budget.

Any claims that nuclear is a viable low-carbon or clean energy source are negated by its extraordinary costs that have increased at least five-fold in the past decade.

Ottawa asked to bring back mothballed nuclear reactors
As doctors and their patients struggle with a growing shortage of the medical isotopes used to treat cancer and other diseases, the federal government is coming under renewed pressure to fire up two nuclear reactors that were to be the backups to the rusting and leaky Chalk River, Ont., reactor where most of those isotopes are produced.

MDSNordion, the Ottawa company that takes the isotopes produced by Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd. at its 52-year-old National Research Universal reactor and wholesales them to pharmaceutical companies, urged the government on Monday to re-activate the NRU’s backup plan — a proposal that was mothballed last spring by AECL with the federal government’s approval.

Profile – Helen Caldicott –
This anti-nuclear campaigner has spent a lifetime striving to create a better world.

The day after the Federal Government approved a new uranium mine in South Australia, veteran anti-nuclear campaigner Helen Caldicott was appalled. In her view, exporting uranium, to any country, is morally indefensible.

“I think it’s devastating,” she says, describing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” and accusing Environment Minister Peter Garrett of moral turpitude.

“I’m so ashamed to be an Australian at the moment,” says Caldicott, 71, a Melbourne-born medical doctor.

Wind farms a better option than nuclear reactors – Belleville Intelligencer – Ontario, CA
Re: Wind farm foes should look to Wolfe Island

Several years ago, while en route to Nova Scotia, my wife and I toured a wind farm near Matane, Que. Having read horror stories about the noise and bird deaths caused by these giant windmills we were both greatly surprised by what we found.

Not only were the windmills not noisy, they were nearly silent. The only sound to be heard was a gentle ‘swoosh’ as the blades went around.

The structures were actually quite elegant and I had a notion that these were among mankind’s better ideas.

As for bird deaths, I believe the numbers have been greatly exaggerated. The blades are allowed to rotate to a maximum of 22 revolutions per minute.

Seminar stirs anxieties over nuclear power –
Last weekend I came face to face with the promise and pitfalls of nuclear energy.

Along with more than a dozen other journalists, I toured the facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory near Knoxville, Tenn. We were part of a conference on nuclear power put on by the University of Tennessee.

Tucked into the emerald foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Oak Ridge is home to one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, which churn data at the unfathomable speed of a thousand trillion operations per second, called a “petaflop.”

The computer is used to generate rainbow-hued mockups of Earth and project what it might feel like during global warming. The lab is also home to a particle accelerator that, like a giant indoor racetrack, hurls ions at 86 percent of the speed of light to produce the world’s most intense neutron beams.

Basically, Oak Ridge is Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for nerds.

Bruce Power pulls plug on new reactors
Citing falling demand for electricity in Ontario, Bruce Power announced Thursday it has cancelled plans to build two new nuclear generating stations at Nanticoke on Lake Erie and in Bruce County.

Instead, the Bruce Power said in a statement that it will refurbish the two plants it currently leases from the provincial government in Port Elgin on Lake Erie.

“These are business decisions unique to Ontario and reflect the current realities of the market,” said Duncan Hawthorne, Bruce Power’s president and chief executive. “Our focus has always been to find the best way to provide Ontario with a long-term supply of 6,300 megawatts. For more than five years, we’ve examined our options and refurbishing our existing units has emerged as the most economical.”

IAEA chief calls on African countries to explore nuclear energy via regional approach_English_Xinhua
African countries can make use of the valuable nuclear technique to ensure better productivity via exploring a regional approach, the visiting UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief said here on Wednesday.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei made the remarks at a joint press conference with Tanzanian Communication, Science and Technology Minister Peter Msolla in responding to a question from Xinhua about his comments on the increasing efforts of African countries to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purpose.

“We have many programs in all our member states in the African continent in using nuclear techniques. These are the valuable techniques in increasing food production, extending people’s life, making varieties through natural breeding and nutrition to ensure you have better productivity,” ElBaradei said.

Nuclear future dims for Ontario | Canada | News | Toronto Sun
Cheap, reliable hydroelectric power once helped make Ontario rich, powering the factories and foundries that created wealth for the province.

But it’s now 18 aging nuclear reactors that keep the lights on, providing half the power used in Ontario. Most are closer to the end of their working lives than the beginning, and many have a record of costly overruns, inefficiency or both.

Despite that history, the Liberal government of Premier Dalton McGuinty has enthusiastically backed a nuclear future for Ontario, planning to renew the aging fleet to maintain its half of provincial generation with an ambitious, 20-year, $26-billion plan.

But in June, when the bill for replacing just two of those reactors came in so startlingly high — “several billions” too high in Energy Minister George Smitherman’s words — that he simply pulled the plug on the project, suspending it and leaving open the question once again: Can Ontario keep splitting the atom without breaking the bank?

Associated Press: Exelon-NRG fight comes to head, maybe
After a nine-month fight, Exelon’s $7.4 billion, all-stock bid to create the nation’s largest power generator by buying NRG Energy is coming to a head, maybe.

NRG shareholders on Tuesday will vote on Exelon’s proposal to increase the size of NRG’s board and with it, a group that would be more open to a deal. NRG has rejected two previous offers.

NRG repeatedly has said a deal isn’t being ruled out, but that Exelon has to bring more to the table. Many industry experts agree.

Greens make nuclear shutdown a coalition condition – The Local
Green party top candidate Jürgen Trittin told Sunday newspaper Bild am Sonntag that shutting down old nuclear power stations would be a condition of entering a government coalition following September’s election.

“The Green party will not sign any coalition contract that softens the withdrawal from nuclear power. On the contrary, we will insist that older nuclear power stations are shut down ahead of schedule,” he said.

In an interview spelling out the Green party’s position ahead of the election campaign, Trittin also effectively ruled out any cooperation with the hard-line socialist Left party on a national level.

House defeats amendment to energy appropriations bill
The House of Representatives defeated an amendment July 17 to the fiscal 2010 energy and water appropriations bill that would have eliminated funding for the Yucca Mountain waste repository project. Representative Mike Simpson, an Idaho Republican, offered the amendment but voted against it, saying his goal was to put his colleagues on the record about taking away Yucca’s funding. Simpson said in a floor statement that President Barack Obama’s decision to suspend the Yucca Mountain program was “a political bow” to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, not a decision “that is based on sound science and sound policy.” The amendment was defeated overwhelmingly. Overall, the bill, which was approved by the House 320-97, would provide DOE with $26.9 billion in fiscal 2010, $1.52 billion below the Obama administration’s budget request. The Senate Appropriations Committee passed a $27.4 billion measure on July 8, but it was unclear July 17 when it would receive a floor vote.

Warning signs on nuclear power – Telegraph
When in trouble the nuclear industry has traditionally sought government support and tried to stifle rival technologies. That seems to be happening again, says Geoffrey Lean.

Is the long-awaited “nuclear renaissance” starting to run out of steam even before it has got under way? It is too early to be sure, but there are disconcerting signs. Intriguingly, the nuclear industry itself is beginning to behave as if it is in trouble.

At first sight everything in the garden is growing – if not glowing – splendidly. On Wednesday, ministers reaffirmed atomic power as central to their strategy for building a low-carbon Britain. EDF (chief spin doctor, first sibling Andrew Brown) wants to build four reactors in Suffolk and Somerset – the first for over 20 years – and other companies are also drawing up plans. | Ontario | Province still mum on cost of new nuclear plant
It took three days to respond, but the government has challenged a report in the Star that pegged the cost of building a new nuclear plant in Ontario at between $23.6 billion and $26 billion.

Infrastructure Ontario, the agency responsible for procuring a reactor technology for the multibillion-dollar project, issued a statement Friday calling the Star report “inaccurate” because it “does not reflect the evaluation and/or analysis of the bids performed by Infrastructure Ontario.”

When asked about the degree of inaccuracy – for example, whether the reported bids were off by $1 million, $1 billion or more – agency spokeswoman Diane Flanagan would not say.

“We’re far from getting close to the end of the process, where there is a finalization of a deal. To comment specifically on a hypothetical number or numbers really wouldn’t serve anyone’s interest at this point,” she said.

Shawn-Patrick Stensil, a spokesman for Greenpeace Canada, asked how a figure could be called inaccurate if there’s nothing accurate with which to compare it.


Nuclear Weapons News

Don’t Nuke the SCO! by Gordon Prather —
It is more than conceivable that the principal reason Harry Truman – who had unexpectedly ascended unto the Presidency barely four months, previously – dropped the only two “atomic” bombs then in our arsenal on absolutely defenseless Japanese civilians, was to scare-off Stalin and the all-victorious Red Army, to prevent their invading and occupying any more territory in Europe and in Asia, especially the rest of the Korean peninsula.

And who knows, maybe the scare tactics worked.

After all, Stalin didn’t invade and occupy any more territory, and, as far as we know, Stalin didn’t know we didn’t have any more nukes in our arsenal.

But that was way back then, when no other country had any nukes in their arsenals, either.

Archbishop calls for an end to nuclear stockpiles
Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien of Baltimore, Maryland asked attendees at a nuclear deterrence conference to work to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Speaking at the symposium, the archbishop said that the abolishment of nuclear weapons was an issue of “fundamental moral values that should unite people across national and ideological boundaries.”

The deterrence symposium was sponsored by the Strategic Command based at Offut Air Force Base, south of Omaha, Nebraska. Archbishop O’Brien spoke to an audience of 500, telling them that “Our world and its leaders must stay focused on the destination of a nuclear weapons-free world and on the concrete steps that lead there.” He said. “Especially in a world with weapons of mass destruction and at a time when some nations … are reportedly seeking to build such weapons, we must pursue a world in which fewer nuclear states have fewer nuclear weapons.”

The Costs of U.S. Nuclear Weapons-
Does it matter—in military, political, or economic terms—how much the United States has spent, and continues to spend, to develop and sustain its nuclear arsenal? Many observers would say no. The Cold War is long over, the United States won without having to use its nuclear weapons, they argue, so whatever the cost was, it was “worth it.” But for those interested in accountability and reexamining history in light of new evidence, what the United States spent on nuclear weapons along with the justifications for that spending can shed light on the pace and scale of the U.S. effort and offer important lessons for the United States and for other countries that have or seek to have nuclear weapons. This issue brief, based on the 1998 book Atomic Audit: The Costs and Consequences of U.S. Nuclear Weapons Since 1940, examines how and why key decisions were made, what factors influenced those decisions, and whether alternatives were considered.[1]

Rebutting the standard arguments against disarmament | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
# Those opposed to ridding the world of nuclear weapons have a tendency of setting up and knocking down the same old straw men.
# If disarmament advocates want to improve the debate, they must begin addressing these straw men with a new set of arguments.
# Specifically, they need to stress that the United States wouldn’t disarm unilaterally or leave its allies in a lurch.

Hanford News : Monks plan prayer walk to Hanford
Buddhist monks will lead a prayer walk from Richland to the Hanford reservation on Tuesday to promote peace and abolition of nuclear weapons.

The monks, from the Nipponzan Myohoji Buddhist Temple on Bainbridge Island, will arrive in the Tri-Cities on Monday to lead a short walk in Richland from Christ the King Church, 1111 Stevens Drive, to John Dam Plaza on George Washington Way at 3:30 p.m.

An opening ceremony will be held at 4 p.m. at the plaza, followed by an interfaith evensong service at 7 p.m. at Shalom United Church of Christ, 505 McMurray St., Richland.

Britain’s nuclear policy condemned by Jonathon Porritt – Telegraph
Mr Porritt, who steps down as Chairman of the Government’s Sustainable Development Commission on Monday, said that years had been wasted in pursuit of the the building of new nuclear power stations.

In a parting interview with The Daily Telegraph, he also condemned a succession of transport secretaries for failing to understand the green agenda and singled out a junior minister as a “spoiler” who had been “deeply unhelpful”in a number of posts.

“I am deeply disappointed that we have a Government position on nuclear power that is pretty unreconstructed,” Mr Porritt said after nine years in his post.

Belgian lawmaker seeks to outlaw nuclear arms – The Mainichi Daily News
A member of the Belgian Federal Parliament is preparing a bill that would ban the use, production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons, it has been learned.

Belgium has already gained prominence in the arms control community as the first country to ban cluster and depleted uranium munitions. Belgian Senator Philippe Mahoux may add to that reputation when he presents his nuclear weapons ban to the Senate, which he plans to do in early September, he has revealed to the Mainichi.

Atomic Folly | Rowell Hoff’s Blog
On May 26, 1958, President Eisenhower waved a wand with a little light bulb on the end of it in front of an electric eye, starting up the first commercial reactor, located three hundred miles away at Shippingport, Pennsylvania.

That was as close to it as he wanted to be.

We are told that nuclear power is being used to generate electricity. That is not correct. Nuclear power is being used to boil water, and the resulting steam is being used to generate electricity in variants of the same way it has always been generated. What the enormously expensive nuclear plants do is generate heat in the most dangerous way imaginable, with waste products that are, so far, unmanageable. Conversion of the energy of nuclear fission or fusion directly into usable power would be a new and different kind of process. Perhaps it can be done; maybe people are working on it; but the present system is not it. The present system is a fancy steam engine.

Branson Daily News: Atomic testing left marks on McCarty, other veterans
Don McCarty has witnessed what many have only seen in photographs.

The 85-year-old Navy veteran from Sparta was aboard the USS Albemarle during the first post-World War ll nuclear testing in the Bikini Islands.

McCarty, a gunners mate, was on deck when an atomic bomb was detonated 7 miles away.

“We didn’t even hear it,” said McCarty who was in Branson on Thursday for the 64th National Day of Atomic Remembrance.


Department of Energy News

SRS plans to decommission four reactors | Aiken Standard | Aiken, SC
Officials representing the Department of Energy, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, the Savannah River Operations Office, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Health and Environmental control came together to give the public opportunity to assess an Early Action Proposed Plan for the decommissioning End-State alternatives of four reactors at the site. The presentation was planned to show how the reactors, though they have differences, have many basic similarities and as such a broad plan to bring one – R reactor – to a final state will be tailored for the other three – reactors C, K and L. The four reactor decommissioning are scheduled to be completed by 2031.

Department of Energy – Obama Administration Announces Billions in Lending Authority for Renewable Energy Projects and to Modernize the Grid
Loan Guarantees Will Help Create New Jobs while Fostering Clean Energy Innovation

Washington, DC – U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced today that the Department of Energy will provide up to $30 billion in loan guarantees, depending on the applications and market conditions, for renewable energy projects. Another $750 million will support several billion dollars more in loan guarantees for projects that increase the reliability, efficiency and security of the nation’s transmission system. The two new loan guarantee solicitations announced today are being funded partly through the Recovery Act and partly through 2009 appropriations.

Hanford News : $472 million paid in Hanford, PNNL claims
On the eighth anniversary of a program to compensate ill Hanford workers or their survivors, the federal government has paid out $472 million for Hanford and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory claims.

Nationwide the program has paid out $5 billion in compensation and medical claims for illnesses in World War II and Cold War workers in the nuclear weapons industry.

At Hanford $389 million has been paid in compensation plus $12 million for medical bills. At PNNL $68 million has been paid in compensation and $2 million for medical bills.

The Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act pays compensation of $150,000 for employees with cancer or beryllium disease believed to be caused by radiation exposure on the job. A second part of the program pays compensation up to $250,000 for a wider range of illnesses believed caused by exposure to radiation or hazardous chemicals.

For more information, call the Hanford Resource Center at 946-3333 or 888-654-0014.

Department of Energy – 800 to 1000 New Jobs Coming to Piketon
Department of Energy to Accelerate Cleanup Work While USEC Further Develops ACP Technology

(Washington, D.C.) The Department of Energy announced today that it will further expand and accelerate cleanup efforts of cold-war era contamination at the Portsmouth site in Piketon, Ohio – an investment worth about $150 to $200 million per year for the next four years that is expected to create 800 to 1000 new jobs. At the same time, the Department has encouraged USEC to withdraw its application for loan guarantee funding for the American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon. This would allow USEC to work over the next 12-18 months to continue research, development, and testing to resolve the technology issues facing ACP without hurting the chances of USEC to secure approval for a loan guarantee in the future.

“While we believe USEC needs time to develop its technology and demonstrate that it can be deployed at a commercial scale, we’re moving forward with other investments that will create good, high-paying jobs in the community,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “USEC will have another chance to resubmit their application if they can overcome the technical and financial hurdles, but in the meantime we’ll put more people to work in the environmental cleanup effort.”

US DOE to integrate nuclear power, waste programs: nominee
US President Barack Obama’s choice to head the Department of Energy’s nuclear power programs told a Senate panel Tuesday that he would more closely integrate the development of new nuclear power and solving the problem of nuclear waste. “It is critical to take an integrated approach that considers the entire nuclear fuel cycle,” Warren Miller told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee during his confirmation hearing. Miller has been nominated as both assistant secretary of nuclear energy and the director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. During the previous administration, DOE staffed the positions with separate officials. Combining the two offices under one official comes as the administration moves to kill the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository, which has long been planned for Nevada.

Meet Joe Carson, Tennessee’s Biggest Whistleblower : Features : Metro Pulse
DOE engineer, inspector, and career troublemaker Joe Carson makes life difficult for functionaries… and for himself

Joe Carson is waiting to learn the outcome of a federal legal appeal in which he is named appellant. If he wins, there will be no large sums awarded or giants toppled. He will simply have the agreement of a federal court that the United States Office of Special Counsel, a government agency intended to protect the interests of government workers who provoke the ire of their co-workers or supervisors, has failed to be effective. If he loses, he intends to take his case to the Supreme Court. It’s difficult to say whether Carson has a preference.

$35 million expansion of DOE nuclear landfill starts » Knoxville News Sentinel
A $35 million expansion of the Department of Energy’s nuclear landfill is under way, and at least three Knoxville firms will work on the yearlong project, which is being funded with federal money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

DOE announced Wednesday construction had started and named some of the subcontractors, who will report to Bechtel Jacobs Co., DOE’s environmental manager in Oak Ridge. The landfill endeavor is part of dozens of projects funded with Oak Ridge’s stimulus allotment of $755 million for environmental activities.

As previously announced, Avisco, a woman-owned small business based in Oak Ridge, will provide construction labor and equipment for earthwork for the landfill expansion under a contract valued at $10.5 million.

Flawed program for protecting Livermore lab workers from beryllium comes under federal scrutiny –
Kelye Allen still speaks with pride about her 18-year career with Lawrence Livermore Laboratory, where she worked as a machinist helping to build components for nuclear weapons.

A feeling of patriotism and duty animates the workforce there, Allen said.

“You want to protect the country,” she said. “Stuff we do there directly affects national security.”

Along with her enduring pride, however, Allen is left with a permanent health condition from her work with a prized but hazardous metal called beryllium.

The Department of Energy, which oversees the lab, is currently conducting an enforcement investigation into whether the lab violated health and safety regulations related to its chronic beryllium disease prevention program.

SRS set to give huge construction contract | Aiken Standard | Aiken, SC
The National Nuclear Security Administration recently announced that a team led by Baker Concrete Construction Inc. of Monroe, Ohio, has been awarded a $91.5 million contract for the construction of NNSA’s Waste Solidification Building at the Savannah River Site.

The Waste Solidification Building will process waste streams from the NNSA’s plutonium disposition efforts at SRS – principally wastes from the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and from weapons pit disassembly operations – by converting them to a cement-like material for off-site disposal.

“This announcement is an important step forward for our plutonium disposition program,” said Ken Baker, principal assistant deputy administrator for defense nuclear nonproliferation. “The Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and the supporting Waste Solidification Building are key elements in this important nonproliferation effort to eliminate surplus plutonium in a transparent and irreversible manner.”

The MOX program, a critical part of NNSA’s nuclear nonproliferation efforts, will take at least 34 metric tons of surplus weapon-grade plutonium – enough material for about 8,500 nuclear weapons – and use it to create mixed-oxide fuel for use in nuclear power plants to generate electricity and render the plutonium unusable for nuclear weapons.


Other Energy News

Putting the cost of going green in context | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
he following column was coauthored by Benjamin Urquhart, a research associate at Harvard University’s Center for the Environment, and Mark Winkler, a PhD student at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

Over time, the global energy infrastructure must change because the continued combustion of fossil fuels is altering Earth’s climate in potentially dangerous ways and because the large wealth transfer from mostly democratic oil-importing countries to mostly autocratic oil-exporting countries is propping up repressive regimes worldwide. So, we know that the world’s energy infrastructure must change. But, the interesting questions are: how big an investment are we willing to make to bring about that change and how fast are we willing to make that investment?

On August 6, 1945, the United States of America dropped an atomic bomb fueled by enriched uranium on the city of Hiroshima. 70,000 people died instantly. Another 70,000 died by the end of 1945 as a result of exposure to radiation and other related injuries. Scores of thousands would continue to die from the effects of the bomb over subsequent decades. Despite the fact that the U.S. is the only nation to have used atomic weapons against another nation, Americans have had little access to the visual record of those attacks. For decades the U.S. suppressed images of the bomb’s effects on the residents of Hiroshima, and as recently as 1995, on the fiftieth anniversary of the bombing, the Smithsonian Institution cancelled its exhibition that would have revealed those effects and settled for the presentation of a single exhibit: the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima.

Harold LeClair Ickes encyclopedia topics |
Harold LeClair Ickes (March 15, 1874 – February 3, 1952) was a United States administrator and politician. He served as Secretary of the Interior for thirteen years, from 1933 to 1946, making him the longest serving Cabinet officer of any department in U.S. history. Ickes was responsible for implementing much of President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” and is the father of Harold M. Ickes, who was deputy Chief of Staff under President Bill Clinton and is an adviser to Senator Hillary Clinton.


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

Why go nuclear when better and cheaper options exist? – Mail & Guardian Online: The smart news source
Eskom’s hikes in the electricity price by around a quarter and a third in two years and its need to repeat such price increases for the next three years bring one issue to a head.

Why are Eskom and the departments of energy and public enterprises so grimly determined to generate electricity by the most expensive and complicated of all options — atomic power stations and their high-level radioactive waste depositaries?

Eskom and other power companies have set up Westcor (Western Corridor Power Company), incorporated in Botswana. This has spent years conducting road shows for the World Bank and others, estimating the Inga3 hydro-electric power project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) at around R70-billion.

Startup costs high, safety low | tennessean
It is clear that we need to address our dependence on coal and foreign oil and all the ills — from lung disease to global warming — they cause. But the question begs, does nuclear power offer a safe, affordable domestic solution?

Unfortunately, the facts suggest otherwise. The industry is dependent on subsidies and is not economically viable. Nuclear waste is problematic at best. The technology is not safe despite billions of tax dollars spent on research to try to make it safe.

The claims from nuclear energy’s proponents have always been too good to be true. “Too cheap to meter” was the first. Inaccurate power projections led to TVA’s first nuclear plant construction program in the 1970s and ’80s, leaving more than $25 billion in debt, which Tennessee Valley residents are still paying. Current estimated cost for one new 1,200-megawatt reactor is $7.5 billion. From 1950 to 1999, federal subsidies totaled around $145 billion. Cleanups of radioactive federal Superfund’ sites are expensive, difficult and proceeding slowly. The fact is that they may never be cleaned up.

Diane Forkel: The costs and risks of nuclear energy | | The Gainesville Sun | Gainesville, FL
People are conserving energy and GRU revenues are declining, except during periods of extreme weather conditions. However, electric battery-charged cars are on the horizon. They will likely take up any slack in energy use, and then some.

Progress Energy is looking ahead to increasing energy use. Their plans are to build two new nuclear power plants. However, electric customers beware, excessive cost overruns (and defects and deficiencies) at a Finnish power plant have been reported in the New York Times. If Progress Energy experiences similar problems, utility customers should brace for a double-cost whammy in their electric bills.

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