Top 100 Energy Stories Jan. 4th – 10th

radbull Nuclear News continues to slow down. Even the number of PR stories promoting more reactors has taken a dive. That’s not to say that they’ve disappeared, either as I’ve put a few pro-nuclear stories in the mix here.  Note, that one of Obama’s initiatives to turn around the growing government secrecy calling for a more open government, calling for a whole new online access to content.
The big news this last week comes out of New Jersey with the decision requiring an aging reactor to get a cooling tower, which could likely result in its closure.

A new set of compensation rules for DOE workers has been introduced at Hanford which could lead to a growing number of workers being compensated. The long pushed for closure of a dangerous Soviet era reactor in Lithuania is finally closing under EU pressure.  The death of two Indian scientists continues to put safety on the board as a huge concern over the global nuclear expansion. The Utah DU waste crisis continues.

Top Nuclear Stories Index

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


Nuclear Reactor News

Groups gain ground in nuclear plant fight – Business –
Two environmental groups claimed a partial victory Friday in efforts to derail plans for two new reactor units at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station near Jenkinsville.

On Thursday, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission overturned a decision by its review board that had rejected issues raised by the Sierra Club of South Carolina and had denied standing to Friends of the Earth.

The commission said the Atomic Safety Licensing Board had “wrongly erred” in denying Friends of the Earth, which opposes the $9.8 billion project to add two, 1,117-megawatt reactor units at the Fairfield County power station, an opportunity to participate in the process.

Cooling towers required by DEP | | Asbury Park Press
In a surprise announcement, the state Department of Environmental Protection said it is moving to require cooling towers at the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant to protect the Barnegat Bay ecosytem.

The DEP said Thursday that the proposed water-discharge permit for the plant would require the Exelon Generation Co. to convert its once-through cooling water flow into a closed-cycle system, using the towers, with less daily demand for bay water.

“We had a commitment to get this draft permit issued, so we wanted to make sure it gets a proper review,” acting DEP Commissioner Mark N. Mauriello said of the cooling tower requirement.

Cooling towers required for Oyster Creek nuclear plant may force its closure | New Jersey Real-Time News – –
New Jersey environmental officials are requiring the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Ocean County — the nation’s oldest nuclear plant — to install cooling towers. The design change is considered environmentally-friendly, yet costly, and one the plant operators say will force them to shut down.

The state Department of Environmental Protection is requiring the installation of a “closed-cycle cooling system,” which involves mostly air-cooling the plant using one or two towers.

t r u t h o u t | Meltdown, USA: Nuclear Drive Trumps Safety Risks and High Cost
The pro-nuclear Department of Energy is set to offer this month the first of nearly $20 billion in loan guarantees to a nuclear industry that hasn’t built a plant since the 1970s or raised any money to do so in years. But although the industry is seeking to cash in on global warming concerns with $100 billion in proposed loan guarantees, environmentalists, scientists and federal investigators are warning that lax oversight by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) of the nation’s aging 104 nuclear plants has led to near-meltdowns along with other health and safety failings since Three Mile Island – including what some critics say is a flawed federal health study apparently designed to conceal cancer risks near nuclear plants.

CPS Energy Receives STP Cost Estimate From Contractor Toshiba
CPS Energy has received the contractually mandated cost estimate for proposed South Texas Project (STP) Units 3 and 4 from contractor Toshiba, however the utility will make no decisions on the project until rigorous analysis of price and methodology is completed.

The cost estimate is structured in a range, and it will take CPS Energy staff several days to analyze the methodology behind the numbers and perform the necessary due diligence, said Jelynne LeBlanc-Burley, CPS Energy’s acting general manager.

We are well aware of the confidentiality provision contained in our contract with Toshiba and NINA (Nuclear Innovation North America, a limited liability company comprised of Toshiba and NRG Energy), said LeBlanc-Burley. If the cost estimate is disclosed prematurely, it places our customers at risk. Our staff will evaluate the information from Toshiba, put it into context and brief our Board of Trustees as soon as possible. In turn, we will properly notify other key stakeholders including the San Antonio City Council.

Nuclear questions: Rutland Herald Online
The two issues likely to dominate the legislative session beginning today are the state budget and the future of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant. As legislators face Yankee’s future, Yankee’s owners will be trying to answer several vexing questions.

Vermont Yankee’s license to operate expires in 2012, but the plant’s owner, Entergy Nuclear Vermont, is seeking a 20-year extension. When Entergy purchased the plant in 2002, one condition of the sale was that the Legislature would have a say on the license extension. Now that decision is before the Legislature.

Slide city mayor seeks Brazil nuke plant shutdown – Yahoo! News
The mayor of a mudslide-devastated city has urged a precautionary shutdown of Brazil’s only nuclear power plants due to blocked highways while the death toll from flooding and slides rose to 75.

Angra dos Reis Mayor Tuca Jordao said on Sunday that while the nuclear power plants are not damaged or threatened, mudslides that that have killed at least 44 people in his city alone have disrupted escape routes needed to cope with any emergency.

N.J. nuclear plant shut down because of ice in river | | Asbury Park Press
One New Jersey nuclear power plant has been shut down and another put on reduced power because of ice in the Delaware River.

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission says Salem Unit 2 was shut down around 8 a.m. Sunday because it was taking ice into its cooling mechanism. Salem Unit 1 was also reduced to 80 percent power for the same reason.

It’s not clear when the two plants will return to full power.

Hope Creek, a third nuclear power plant in the same complex, was not powered down because of the ice.

Court records reveal trouble at Turkey Point – Business Monday –
When Coleen Ware walked into Turkey Point, she was shocked to see that the indicators showing control rod positions looked like something out of an early ’70s sci-fi movie.

On special assignment from the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations to teach managers of the South Dade plant about safety, she was surprised by the aged indicators, which show the position of the rods in the reactor core — a central measure about how the core is functioning.

“There are the old gauges . . . where . . . a needle that goes around and around,” Ware testified, saying they were “not very reliable.” When operators looked at the indicators daily, “they’d be stuck.

YONHAP NEWS: S. Korea signs nuclear deal worth potential us$40 bln with UAE
Korea signed a US$20 billion deal with the United Arab Emirates to build four nuclear power plants in the oil-rich country, a deal expected to generate contracts for South Korean companies worth an additional $20 billion for decades to come, South Korea’s presidential office said Sunday.

The agreement marks South Korea’s first nuclear power plant export deal.

Georgia Power works on nuclear expansion  |
Not much stands out in a drive across the piney flatlands of rural eastern Georgia, just below Augusta, this side of South Carolina.
A few cows graze in an open field. A trailer home or two and a small house sit back from nearly empty roads.

Then, just before the Savannah River, they appear: the twin cooling towers of the Alvin W. Vogtle Electric Generating Plant, each one 548 feet tall, billowing puffy clouds of water vapor, like steam from a cup of hot coffee. Nearby, though much less visible, are the two nuclear reactors that actually produce the plant’s electricity.

Feds let Indian Point put reactor in ‘storage’ |
Indian Point and federal regulators have reached an agreement that will allow a reactor to sit dormant  under monitoring for as long as 50 years while its parent company accrues enough money to safely tear it down. The agreement comes eight months after the Nuclear Regulatory Commission discovered a $38.6 million shortfall in the decommissioning trust fund for Indian Point’s Unit 2. Federal laws require Entergy, Indian Point’s parent company, to show it would have enough money to shut down and dismantle the unit by the end of its life.
Entergy also wants license adjustment

Entergy is also seeking a change to its license that would allow an auxiliary feedwater pump in Unit 3 to be out of commission for a longer period of time. The license currently allows the pump to be out of service for 72 hours. Entergy wants permission for it to be inactive for 106 hours so that it can evaluate and fix high vibrations that are affecting the pump. The pump is important because it provides water to a steam generator. The steam then turns the turbines and creates electricity.

Because Entergy’s request involves a chanage to its operating license, the public is allowed to submit requests for a hearing until mid-February. Requests should be submitted to the NRC.

Unit 2 is licensed until 2013, but Entergy is seeking a 20-year renewal. Entergy’s investment fund for decommissioning had fallen behind because of the slumping economy, company spokesman Jerry Nappi said.

VY year in review: Spinoffs, license renewal and safety – Brattleboro Reformer
The discussion about Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon wasn’t confined to whether or not it should continue to operate past 2012, its original license expiration date.

Also of concern to both sides of the debate, and those in the middle, was whether Entergy, which owns and operates Yankee, should be allowed to spin off Yankee into a wholly independent company with financial liabilities of more than $4 billion.

Vermont’s Public Service Board is still reviewing whether it should issue a certificate of public good to allow the spin off.

Earlier in 2009, the Department of Public Service opposed the formation of Enexus, the spin off company, unless certain conditions were met. After most of the conditions are met by Entergy, DPS recommends the PSB approve the transaction.

Greenpeace warned Vermont that the formation of Enexus would not be in the best interests of the state.

AFP: Soviet-era Lithuanian nuclear plant shuts down under EU deal
Lithuania Thursday shut down its Soviet-era nuclear plant under an EU deal in a move set to drive up electricity prices amid an economic crisis and leave it counting on ex-master Moscow for power.

“At 11:00 pm (2100 GMT) everything went offline. It all went according to plan,” Viktor Sevaldin, director of the 26-year-old plant, told AFP by telephone.

The plant, located in Visaginas in eastern Lithuania, provided 70 percent of the Baltic state’s electricity. It gradually went offline from 8:00 pm (1800 GMT) Thursday, displaying its decreasing output on its website.

It is similar to the one that exploded at Chernobyl in then-Soviet Ukraine in 1986, the world’s worst nuclear accident.

New Loan-Guarantee Bailout for New Nuclear Reactors Puts U.S. Taxpayers at Risk as Department of Energy… — ATLANTA, Dec. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ —
Nuclear Power Industry is Perfect Illustration of Why Taxpayers Are Saying “No More Bailouts!” – Billions for Plant Vogtle Reactors Impossible to Justify in Terms of Rising Financial Risks, Reduced Demand for Power, Cheaper Renewables and Huge Potential of Energy Efficiency

ATLANTA, Dec. 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — First it was insurance companies, then it was banks and that was followed by auto companies. Now, the federal government is putting U.S. taxpayers and utility customers at new risk under a controversial U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee program that is slated to award $18.5 billion, with Atlanta-based Southern Company predicted to be first on the list for program funds to build two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle in Waynesboro, Georgia.

Ironically, the DOE’s “top choice” for the nuclear reactor loan guarantees, which are backed by U.S. taxpayers in the event of defaults, is the very same Plant Vogtle that helped to kill the previous nuclear power boom in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. Huge cost overruns at the original Plant Vogtle – which escalated from $660 million for four reactors to a whopping $8.87 billion for two – likely played a role in putting the brakes on nuclear expansion plans pursued decades ago in the United States.

Opponents of Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant from Franklin County to join Vermont march | Breaking News – –
January is not the ideal time to embark on a 12-day, 126-mile march through Vermont.

That’s not stopping local residents, as well as people from New Hampshire and Vermont, from planning a trek from Brattleboro, Vt., to the Statehouse in Montpelier during one of coldest, darkest months of the year. Although it likely will prove to be a hardship, said Carl Doerner, of Conway, marchers want to make a statement about their opposition to the relicensing of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon.

We feel we need to cast as much influence on the (Vermont) Legislature, which is going to vote soon on the question of relicensing Vermont Yankee, Doerner said.

Nuclear plant near Fresno planned –
“The deal between French firm Areva and California investors faces regulatory hurdles. Early plans call for building at least one 1,600-megawatt plant using European pressurized reactor technology.

Reporting from Sacramento – A French company and a group of Central Valley investors announced Tuesday that they had signed a letter of intent to build one or two nuclear power plants near Fresno.

The agreement with Areva, a Paris nuclear engineering firm, is expected to be finalized in March, said John Hutson, chief executive of the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group, a partnership of local business executives and farmers. Once that’s done, the two potential partners would begin a site selection and evaluation process that could take as long as two years, he said.

Environmentalists were skeptical that the agreement would go anywhere. They point out that California has a 3-decade-old law that bans the construction of nuclear power plants unless the state can certify that the federal government has come up with a plan for the permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel, which is highly radioactive. No such facility exists in the country, and plans to open one at Yucca Mountain in Nevada have been put on hold by the Obama administration.

The California ban doesn’t trouble the California investors.

“The law is archaic and will fall by the wayside on its own, in our opinion,” Hutson said.

Defect found in the back-up system at Plymouth nuclear plant – Quincy, MA – The Patriot Ledger
A defective alarm switch and a leaky seal on a water pipe caused the back-up containment system at the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant in Plymouth to be declared inoperable for about an hour on Tuesday morning.

A defective seal on the water pipe was allowing air to escape from the reactor building. While an alarm is supposed to respond in these situations, the alarm did not work. The defect was discovered during an engineering check of the plant.


Nuclear Health and Safety News

New rules take effect for ill Hanford workers – Mid-Columbia News | Tri-City Herald : Mid-Columbia news
Hundreds more ill Hanford workers or their survivors now should be eligible for $150,000 compensation from the federal government.

A special exposure cohort, a ruling that eases compensation rules for more Hanford workers, took effect this weekend after clearing a congressional waiting period.

Under the new rule, workers in any part of Hanford who may have been exposed to radiation should automatically qualify for compensation if they worked for 250 days from Oct. 1, 1943, through June 30, 1972, and developed certain cancers. The list of cancers includes more than 20 that have been linked to radiation exposure by medical research.

Judge Allows Suit Against Brookhaven Lab | Long Island Press
A judge has given a green light to a class action suit filed by a group of Long Island homeowners worried about toxic leaks seeping into their property from the nearby Brookhaven Laboratory in Upton.

Suffolk County homeowners say past leaks of chemicals from the renowned lab have reduced their property values and endangered their health.

Questions raised about depleted uranium safety – Salt Lake Tribune
A Utah environmental group has scheduled a meeting with Gov. Gary Herbert to press its case that more testing is needed to make sure depleted uranium coming to Utah is not too hot.

HEAL says it reviewed shipping papers for some Savannah River, S.C., cleanup waste already in Utah and discovered that the DU, as depleted uranium is often called, contains reactor waste in concentrations that might top the radiological hazard limit set in state law.

But, according to the group, it’s hard to say for sure because the U.S. Energy Department has sampled too few of the DU drums from its Savannah River cleanup in South Carolina — just 33 of 33,000.

“We hope you will work to ensure that any drums exceeding [state] limits are promptly rejected and returned to the Department of Energy,” said HEAL Director Vanessa Pierce in a Jan. 5 letter to the governor.

Pakistan Observer – Myth of Indian nukes safety
There have been many accidents and thefts of uranium in India’s atomic research centres and other facilities giving rise to doubts about the security of Indian nukes. Risks related to India nuclear proliferation are many while their security arrangements are far from satisfactory. The world must take note of it before it is too late. On 29th December 2009, two research students died in the fire in laboratory of Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) caused by an explosion, what was described as a ‘loud bang’. It is not yet clear if the bang was caused by an explosion or triggered by a chemical reaction, however this has exploded the myth of the security of India’s nukes. The centre’s director and Atomic Energy Commission Chairman Sreekumar Banerjee said that the fire broke out at 12.05 hours in the lab on the third floor of the modular lab of BARC. However, two scientists associated with the centre have claimed that no research involving radioactive material is conducted in the modular lab. Nevertheless, security has been beefed up at BARC following intelligence inputs that the country’s prestigious nuclear facility faced terror threat.

PART 2 OF A SERIES: Paducah, Piketon, Other Workers Deceived (Poisoned?) for Greater National Good – Huntington News Network
During their Cold War service, employees of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant “were generally happy in the belief that their efforts were protecting the country,” states Paul Becker (University of Dayton) and Alan Bruce (Quinnipiac University) in the Western Criminology Review article “State Corporate Crime and the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant” (2007).

Due to the threat of missiles from Russia and China, the public supported the nuclear industry, accepted the sense of urgency and as a result environmental concerns were less important than the pressing demands of the Cold War, a 2000 Department of Energy report stated.

ONE OF A SERIES: Paducah Nuclear Plant Clean Up Still Faces Significant Hurdles – Huntington News Network
Scanning previous internet news reports, two stand out in regard to the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant: A Tornado and suspicions regarding buried Huntington Pilot Plant materials.

Scioto and Pike Counties in Ohio often experience more intense wind bursts when summer thunder storms form and occasionally turn to tornadoes. On July 11, 2009, NBC reported that some damage had been reported at the plant from a tornado-like storm, based on word from public information officer Jack Williams the damage did not impact plant operations.

In 1993, residents complained about an alleged 2.5 hour unreported release. They alleged 13 workers were checked for exposure but no sirens sounded. However, after investigation, those responsible for the plant indicated that the release was not a threat to those outside the plant. The Portsmouth facility has sirens for public notification.

The Valley News Online: Elevated tritium levels found at Fitzpatrick plant
A sample taken from the west storm drain at Entergy’s James A. Fitzpatrick nuclear power plant has tested positive for tritium, according to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Station management was notified Dec. 23 that a sample taken from the west storm drain tested positive for tritium. The sample results were confirmed at a level of 984 picocuries per liter of tritium. The sensitivity of the analysis is 800 picocuries per liter of tritium.

The increase level in tritium, however, poses no health risk, officials state.

Fire at Indian Nuclear centre raises worries about the country’s nuclear program
Fire broke out in a chemical laboratory near India’s financial capital Mumbai. The incident that took two lives and left one person injured happened in a lab at the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on December 30th.

According to authorities fire broke out on the third floor of the lab at the research centre and the dead are said to be the research students who couldn’t escape the laboratory in time.

Officials have ruled out any radioactive leakage but incident has many worried about the safety of the Indian Nuclear program.

PETITION For Congress to Pay Benefits to Workers


The implementation of the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act of 2000, as amended, (EEOICPA) has been fraught with mismanagement, violations of due process, misrepresentation, and misplacement of workers medical and dosimetry records. The responsible federal agencies — U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and the Department of Labor (DOL) — have, for seven years, followed policies that have resulted in delaying compensation for thousands of workers who served in The Cold War at the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex.

2 scientists die in Bhabha Atomic centre lab fire- Hindustan Times
Two research fellows died after a fire broke out in a laboratory of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) in northeast Mumbai on Tuesday. The BARC clarified that its nuclear reactors were safe and there was no radioactive leak.

The dead are Umang Singh of Mumbai and Partha Bagh from Kolkata, both 25 and Ph.D students of radiochemistry.

Sources said there were helium and nitrogen cylinders in the lab, which are likely to have exploded. It took firefighters 45 minutes to control the fire, which could have resulted in a major disaster, they added.

Sheep farmers still stuck under a Chernobyl cloud | UK news | The Guardian
Lakeland sheep farmers, like the rare-breed Herdwicks many still rear today, are of hardy stock and refuse to be moved by a forecast of rain. It was no different during the first few days of May 1986, when an unseasonably intense downpour lashed down on the Cumbrian fells, topping its tarns and lakes, and driving walkers and day-trippers towards the sanctuary of the tea rooms.

David Ellwood  then a 30-year-old sheep farmer who had just taken on a National Trust tenant farm above the hamlet of Ulpha in the Duddon valley remembers that week well. “It was lambing time,” he recalls. “It was really, really wet. And then we got the message from the ministry. All the sheep farmers in the area were told there was to be a fortnight-long restriction on the sale and movement of our sheep.”

Radiation mishap prompts inquiry – John O’Groat Journal and Caithness Courier
They want to find out why a group of workers were subjected to a higher than expected dose while moving a flask containing intermediate-level waste (ILW) on November 25.

Checks are ongoing to determine the exposure levels of between six and nine workers, though it has been established they do not breach legal or site-imposed limits. The probe follows an incident in the summer when two workers had to have low-level contamination removed from their hands while working on a clean-up job in the site’s sphere-shaped reactor.

The two problems come in the wake of a steady improvement in both the nuclear and industrial safety record of operators, Dounreay Site Restoration Ltd. It is understood management are keen to tighten up standards in the site’s Fuel Cycle Area – which houses the complex of reactor and waste stores – to maintain the recent progress.

DSRL spokesman Colin Punler yesterday gave details of the latest incident.


NRC News –Davis-Besse should have issued alert, NRC says
FirstEnergy Corp. faces disciplinary action because its Davis-Besse operators “failed to recognize the hazard to the station’s operations” caused by a June 25 explosion inside the electrical transmission switchyard, according to a letter the Nuclear Regulatory Commission sent to the utility.

The NRC’s letter, dated Monday, said operators should have immediately recognized the explosion met federal emergency action level conditions for declaring an alert. The agency said it will allow FirstEnergy to explain in greater detail what happened before deciding whether to proceed with enforcement.

The explosion occurred as repairs were being made to electrical equipment. There were no injuries or radiation releases and the nuclear reactor never stopped operating.
Nuclear commission upgrades safety regulations – The Augusta Chronicle
Commercial nuclear power plants — including Plant Vogtle — might be asked to tighten security for spent nuclear fuel stored onsite, according to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

In a notice published Dec. 16 in the Federal Register, the commission said it is in the early stages of updating the methods used to protect such wastes from theft or terrorist attack.

“The objectives of this action, as stated in the Federal Register Notice, are to update current security requirements to improve consistency and clarity and use a risk-informed and performance-based structure,” said Holly Harrington, an NRC spokeswoman in Washington. “Exactly how the final rulemaking will compare with existing regulations won’t be known until some time in the future.”

IG Found Former NRC Commissioner Merrifield Violated Ethics Laws
The Project On Government Oversight has obtained hundreds of pages of internal NRC documents from an NRC Inspector General investigation into then-Commissioner Jeffrey Merrifield. The documents outline, among other things, how he disregarded advice from NRC’s General Counsel and voted on two matters that “could have potentially” financially benefitted three companies—Shaw Group, Westinghouse, and General Electric—during the time he was directly involved in employment negotiations with those companies. The IG investigation found that in the two months before accepting a job created for him at the Shaw Group, Commissioner Merrifield voted both to approve China’s purchase of AP 1000 reactors (in which the Shaw Group had a financial interest) and to change criteria of emergency cooling systems that would directly benefit Westinghouse (of which the Shaw Group owned a 20 percent interest). The IG referred the case to the Department of Justice.


Nuclear Fuel Cycle News

BBC News – International nuclear bank – helping world peace?
In 1953, eight years after the American nuclear bombing of Japan, President Dwight D Eisenhower laid out a vision that he called Atoms for Peace.

The United States and the Soviet Union, he suggested, should make joint contributions from their stockpiles of uranium that would be allocated to serve the peaceful pursuits of mankind.

It was too idealistic for its time. The Cold War was intensifying. At its heart was the competing strength of nuclear arsenals with the apocalyptic scenario of Mutually Assured Destructions – that nuclear conflict would obliterate both sides.

Tennessee nuclear fuel plant suspends some work | | The Leaf Chronicle
ome work at Nuclear Fuel Services in northeast Tennessee has been suspended as the company implements a safety initiative.

All the employees returned to work last week though work was curtailed in the production operations area, commercial development line and down-blending facility.

The company, which employs about 800, also initiated pay cuts for salaried workers and is reviewing such cuts for others.

NFS processes nuclear fuel for the country’s nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers and also converts government stockpiles of highly enriched uranium into material suitable for further processing into commercial nuclear reactor fuel.

Reprocessed nuclear waste to arrive from Britain around March
High-level radioactive vitrified waste will arrive in Japan from Britain around March, Japan’s four major electric power companies said Wednesday.

A total of 28 units of nuclear waste that was packed into solidified glass in Britain will be transferred to the Rokkasho nuclear facility in Aomori Prefecture where it will be stored for 30 to 50 years, and then be buried at a final disposal site.

16 million tons of uranium mill tailings moving away from Colorado River site
Crews have taken the first bites out of the old uranium mill-tailings pile in Moab, Utah, beginning a yearslong process of transferring it far from the Colorado River.

Abut 630,000 tons will have been moved from Moab to the disposal cell near Crescent Junction by year’s end, said Wendee Ryan of the U.S. Department of Energy. The Energy Department and its contractor, Energy Solutions Corp., began moving the tailings pile this year.

Moab residents and downstream water providers lobbied for years to have the 16-million-ton pile of mill tailings moved from its spot along the north bank of the Colorado River to a cell up against the Bookcliff Mountains at Crescent Junction that is deemed less likely to contaminate the river.

The pile is being moved by train from Moab to the disposal cell 30 miles north.

Two companies push Uranium mining in region
The uranium industry was born on the west end of Energy Alley, the run from Green River, Utah, to Rifle. It has burst into bloom and sputtered to obscurity more than once.

Like the half-lives by which radiation is judged to decay, though, the industry never has died. Two companies are burrowing into the red bluffs and canyons of western Colorado and eastern Utah to dig out uranium and start the process of generating electricity.

Although the history of the uranium industry in the region goes back to Madame Curie and her discoveries in the late 19th century, the supply is far from played out.

Miners dug out about 250 million pounds of uranium for the World II and Cold War efforts, said George Glasier, president and CEO of Energy Fuels Inc., a Canadian, publicly traded company.

Tulsa World: Vian, Cherokees fight waste-well plan
The Town of Vian and the Cherokee Nation are asking the Oklahoma Corporation Commission to overturn a decision that re- commends approval of a commercial disposal well in the city limits.

I-MAC Petroleum Services of Muskogee is seeking to construct the well for disposal of salt water that comes from the natural gas drilling process at wells in Arkansas.

Greg Riepl, a geologist for I-MAC, said that Arkansas doesn’t have a lot of underground rock formations that are conducive for water disposal.

“Arkansas put a moratorium (on salt water injection wells) until they can gin up some regulations,” because some of the gas companies were not following the existing rules, Riepl said.

Ideal sites for injecting salt water are thick formations that are porous and permeable so that fluids can move through them, Riepl said.


Nuclear Waste News

Report exposes radioactive waste in Galilee, Haifa Bay – Haaretz – Israel News
The land in Western Galilee and the Haifa Bay contains the remains of years of pollution from industrial sources and dumps, including radioactive waste, according to a recent report by the Geological Survey of Israel.

The report states that land in urban areas, even those distant from industrial facilities, has absorbed pollutants released into the air from smokestacks.

The team of scientists that wrote the report, led by Dr. Moshe Shirav-Schwartz, chemically analyzed 1,823 soil samples throughout the Western Galilee and the Haifa Bay area – checking for various toxic metals and radioactive materials. Long-term and or high exposure to such materials can lead to cancer, diseases of the central nervous system, impaired development of children and other health conditions.

Nuclear, renewables and the storage issue
Nuclear and renewables are often pitted against each other when discussing clean energy resources.

Storage poses one of the most pressing issues for both fuels. For nuclear, how and where to store spent fuel for the next several centuries or so remains an unanswered question. Since the inception of nuclear power, it was assumed that either the current generation or the next would come up with a technical solution to address how to store it safely over the long term. That has not happened, and spent nuclear fuel continues to be temporarily stored at nuclear power plant sites.

Å umava residents protest against nuclear waste repository | Prague Monitor
Some 300 people from 19 municipalities situated at the foothills of the Sumava Mountains took part in a 10km-long march copying the imaginary boundaries of the 300 hectare are on which the planned nuclear waste repository is to be built Saturday.

All 19 municipalities concerned have clearly rejected the repository in referenda or self-rule bodies’ resolutions, Chanovice mayor Petr Klasek told CTK.

The project is also resolutely opposed by the civic association Nuclear waste – thank you, we do not want it! that has about 5000 members.

The Czech Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SURAO) has proposed six localities in the area between Chanovice and Pacejov for the possible nuclear waste repository.

Shallow Land Disposal Area nuclear waste dump cleanup to start in summer – Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
After making plans for more than 20 years, the first ton of radioactive dirt will be removed from the nuclear waste dump in Parks this summer for the much anticipated 3-year, $76 million cleanup by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The removal of 50,000 tons of nuclear-contaminated soil at what is officially known as the Shallow Land Disposal Area is the last vestige of the nuclear legacy from two former nuclear fuel plants in Apollo and Parks that operated from 1957 to mid-1980s. The plants, owned by the Nuclear Materials and Equipment Corp. (NUMEC) and later the Atlantic Richfield Co. and Babcock & Wilcox (B&W), produced nuclear fuel for submarines and power plants as well as a range of nuclear products for the U.S. government and others.

Moving on hasn’t come quickly or cheaply.

Lawsuits for personal injury and contamination, cleanups and government payments to contaminated workers have topped $267 million in more than two decades.

Trainloads of depleted uranium radioactive waste head for Utah | ScrippsNews
It’s not really a question whether Utah will be the disposal site for three trainloads of depleted uranium from a government atomic-weapons complex cleanup in South Carolina.

It’s a matter of how soon.

Under an agreement Utah Gov. Gary Herbert reached two weeks ago with the U.S. Energy Department, the answer appears to be about six weeks — much sooner than the state Radiation Control Board expects to complete its review of safety issues surrounding depleted uranium.

After spending most of 2009 looking at DU, the board anticipates it will be at least another year before it is ready to say what engineering standards are needed to minimize the long-term hazard posed by DU disposal at the EnergySolutions site, located about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City.

DU deal – Salt Lake Tribune
The details of the unwritten deal between Gov. Gary Herbert and the U.S. Department of Energy are coming out. And it appears that Utah will have a devil of a time keeping 11,000 tons of depleted uranium from a DOE cleanup project in South Carolina out of the Beehive State.

When Herbert announced a reprieve last month, it was believed that the governor had bought the state time to thoroughly study DU disposal issues. The first shipment, which was already en route, would be placed in temporary storage. The remainder would stay in South Carolina until the Utah Radiation Control Board put new regulations into place.

Radioactive waste soon to find home in Utah – Salt Lake Tribune
It’s not really a question whether Utah will be the disposal site for three trainloads of depleted uranium from a government atomic-weapons complex cleanup in South Carolina.

It’s a matter of how soon.

Under an agreement Gov. Gary Herbert reached two weeks ago with the U.S. Energy Department, the answer appears to be about six weeks — much sooner than the state Radiation Control Board expects to complete its review of safety issues surrounding depleted uranium.

After spending most of 2009 looking at DU, the board anticipates it will be at least another year before it is ready to say what engineering standards are needed to minimize the long-term hazard posed by DU disposal at the EnergySolutions site, located about 80 miles west of Salt Lake City.

But under the governor’s oral agreement with the Department of Energy, state regulators have until mid-February to develop science-based conditions for burying the Savannah River cleanup waste at the EnergySolutions Inc. disposal site in Tooele County.

Czech in Sumava again protest against nuclear waste repository – ÄŒeské
Some 300 people from 19 municipalities situated at the foothills of the Sumava Mountains took part in a 10km-long march copying the imaginary boundaries of the 300 hectare are on which the planned nuclear waste repository is to be built today.

All 19 municipalities concerned have clearly rejected the repository in referenda or self-rule bodies´ resolutions, Chanovice mayor Petr Klasek told CTK.

The project is also resolutely opposed by the civic association Nuclear waste – thank you, we do not want it! that has about 5000 members.

The Czech Radioactive Waste Repository Authority (SURAO) has proposed six localities in the area between Chanovice and Pacejov for the possible nuclear waste repository.

Deseret News | Uranium storage rule drafted
Attempting to safeguard the future up to at least 10,000 years, state radiation-control regulators have a new rule that will be out for public comment regarding the disposal of depleted uranium.

Created specifically as a result of EnergySolutions’ intentions of storing “significant” quantities of the radioactive material at its Clive facility in Tooele County, the proposed rule requires the company to conduct a performance assessment if it accepts more than 1 metric ton of depleted uranium.

The rule would also mandate adjustments stemming from any new restrictions handed down by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is going through its own revisions on storing the waste.

Court expected to rule early next year on nuclear waste dump in Barnwell County | | The Greenville News
After a six-year legal war over safety at a nuclear waste dump, South Carolina environmentalists hope a pending court decision will force stricter disposal practices for the Barnwell County site.

The S.C. Court of Appeals, which heard the case last fall, is expected to render a decision early next year on the Sierra Club’s challenge to the site’s operating permit. The landfill closed to the nation in 2008, but remains open to bury low-level nuclear waste for South Carolina and two other states.

If the appeals court sides with the Sierra Club, it could force Chem-Nuclear to improve the way it buries garbage, which would better prevent leaks of radioactive material into groundwater, club lawyer Jimmy Chandler said.

For years, landfill operators have allowed rainwater to fall on open trenches lined with clay, instead of plastic. Burial vaults also have holes in them, allowing water to escape.


Nuclear Policy News

BBC News – The power, glory and controversy
First Minister Alex Salmond believes Scotland has hit the energy jackpot for the second time.

First came North Sea oil. Now, it’s Scotland’s abundance of wind and water which could prove to be our economic saviour.

The big question is: How can Scotland cash in on its good fortune?

Wind farms have become a common feature of the Scottish landscape. Indeed, many would argue they are all too common. The power companies themselves admit they are finding it harder and harder to identify suitable sites for new onshore wind farms. – Businesses feel nuclear uncertainty
Hold on reactor development worries companies, researchers

A half-million-dollar investment and a whole lot of hope are keeping All Tool Manufacturing afloat as the nuclear power industry weathers a stormy period in Ontario.

Why is the U.A.E. nuclear plant deal so important? – INSIDE JoongAng Daily
It’s the first step toward widespread Korean export of today’s most promising clean energy source.

Korea now has some of the world’s most efficient, cutting-edge plant designs.

It might seem strange for a bunch of nuclear power plants in the United Arab Emirates that aren’t even built yet to be all over the evening news in Korea, but that’s exactly what happened last month.

Whole Earth Discipline by Stewart Brand | Book review | Books | The Guardian
If we are serious about curbing climate change, what would actually help? More people in cities, lots of nuclear power stations and lashings of GM crops, urges Stewart Brand. Unless green activists embrace the benefits of all three, they are not part of the solution, but part of the problem.

This prescription, from the founder of that quintessential 1960s publication the Whole Earth Catalog, comes as a surprise. And his eclectically informative new book makes the most of it. I care about the Earth, and especially about the fate of humanity, says Brand. I have changed my mind about how to exercise that care, and so should you.

The proliferation of nuclear panic is politics at its most ghoulish | Simon Jenkins | Comment is free | The Guardian
Some books are written to be read, others to be put in a cannon and blasted at the seat of power. Two such blasts have just crossed my desk, from academics on either side of the Atlantic. Both are on the same subject, the consequence of the irrational fear of radiation.

BBC News – Corruption up among China government officials
China’s anti-corruption watchdog has said that 106,000 officials were found guilty of corruption in 2009, an increase of 2.5% on the year before.

The number of government officials caught embezzling more than one million yuan ($146,000; £91,000) jumped by 19% over the year.
The government says the increase is due to better supervision of the problem.  (ed. note) article gives very brief overview of a nuclear industry scandal.

Businesses oppose Wisconsin clean energy plan – Yahoo! News
Wisconsin’s business community is divided over Gov. Jim Doyle’s clean energy plan that calls for increasing the use of renewable fuels and opens the door to nuclear power, with opponents saying the new mandates will weaken Wisconsin’s already struggling manufacturing sector.

Doyle’s plan was introduced in the Legislature on Wednesday and the governor discussed it Thursday at a news conference in Madison.

He and other proponents, including large employers like auto parts and building products maker Johnson Controls, argue it will improve the environment and create thousands of green-energy jobs.

Brewer pushes for nuclear as key part of energy goals
Republican Gov. Jan Brewer says Arizona’s economic future may hinge on making the state a hub for renewable- and nuclear-energy development that can both power the state and drive job creation.

Speaking Tuesday in Phoenix at a gathering of the Business Summit of the West, Brewer laid out what she called “a vision for Arizona’s second century.” It’s one that leans heavily on the production of wind, solar and other leading-edge technologies as she looks to position the state as a leader in green energy.

Brewer also said it’s time to revisit an older power source: nuclear.

Judge denies order against CPS Energy – San Antonio Business Journal:
A request for a temporary restraining order against CPS Energy has been denied by Bexar County District Judge John D. Gabriel.

Nuclear Innovation North America (NINA) LLC, the joint venture of NRG Energy and Toshiba Corp., had sought the order during a hearing to determine a court date when legal pleadings will be heard concerning CPS Energy’s lawsuit against NINA.

The legal dispute arose over questions about the cost estimate of two nuclear reactors at the South Texas Project near Bay City, Texas. CPS Energy contends that the estimate came in $4 billion higher than the utility anticipated.

CPS agrees to pay share of nuclear costs
Nuclear Innovation North America argued in court Wednesday that CPS Energy had refused to pay its portion of January’s development costs for the nuclear deal, a move that could kill the project.

But later Wednesday, CPS said it would pay its share of January’s costs, eliminating one of the many legal points of contention between the partners.Our sole goal today was to ensure the ability of the STP expansion to continue past Jan. 1, and their decision accomplishes that goal, NRG spokesman Dave Knox said.

NINA is owned by NRG and Toshiba Inc.

Hanford News: Obama moves to curb federal secrets
More than 400 million pages of Cold War-era documents could be declassified as the federal government responds to President Barack Obama’s order to rethink the way it protects the nation’s secrets.

Among the changes announced Tuesday by Obama is a requirement that every record be released eventually and that federal agencies review how and why they mark documents classified or deny the release of historical records. A National Declassification Center at the National Archives will be established to assist them and help clear a backlog of the Cold War records by Dec. 31, 2013.

Obama also reversed a decision by President George W. Bush that had allowed the intelligence community to block the release of a specific document, even if an interagency panel decided the information wouldn’t harm national security.

FACTBOX-Nuclear power plans in Africa, Middle East | Reuters
Many countries in Africa and the Middle East have said they want to develop civilian nuclear programmes to meet rising power demand.

Nuclear is seen by many as a long-term solution to high fuel costs and an effective way to cut carbon emissions from the electricity generation sector.

A fall in fossil fuel prices since summer 2008 has made nuclear power less attractive than it was when oil CLc1 was above $147 a barrel in July 2008. South Africa is the only country in the region with an operational nuclear power plant.

Below are the nuclear aspirations of countries across Africa and the Middle East.

Majority in Taiwan favors replacing nuke power with renewables – The China Post
Nearly 70 percent of the population favors the notion of replacing nuclear power with renewable energy, while 50 percent think nuclear power should be maintained as an option, according to the results of a poll released Monday.

However, Taiwan Power Company, the sole supplier of electricity in Taiwan, said that renewable energy may not be a realistic path as the average consumer would complain about its much higher price.

In a telephone poll conducted by Shih Hsin University on randomly chosen citizens over the age of 20, it was found that 49.1 percent support nuclear power as one of the energy production options, while 69.9 percent favor replacing nuclear power with renewable and clean energy.

Harvey Wasserman: A quiet but Huge no nukes triumph
As the Copenhagen climate talks collapsed, an unheralded but hard-fought No Nukes victory moved us closer to a green-powered Earth.

It happened in upstate New York, where the Unistar Nuclear Energy front group asked the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to delay its application to build a reactor at Oswego, near Syracuse. Meanwhile, in Texas, the San Antonio city council’s deliberations over building two new reactors has disintegrated into recriminations, resignations and firings over a multi-billion-dollar price jump in projected cost estimates, a furor that could doom reactor construction there as well. In Vermont, Entergy has threatened to shut its Yankee reactor if the legislature does not approve a complex maneuver that would allow its owners to escape certain financial liabilities.

Councilman shone in nuclear debate
In 2009, the local political sleeper was  drumroll, please District 8 Councilman Reed Williams.

Williams was anything but a brand name when he was elected. He’d worked 35 years in the oil industry but wasn’t part of the small clique of local business leaders who regularly influence City Hall.

At 62, Williams has an unassuming demeanor and zero political ambitions. Yet when it came to the debate over expansion of the South Texas Project, he played a critical behind-the-scenes role. He offered expertise and common sense that has made him a key voice in charting the city’s energy future.

He started out inclined to support the nuclear expansion. When he had an interview with the Sierra Club during the campaign, one of the leaders asked where he and the organization would differ.

Cement makers see huge opportunity in UAE nuclear plants
Cement and ready-mix companies in the UAE are gearing up for a massive opportunity for supplying cement and concrete for nuclear power plants in the UAE.

The UAE is expected to award contracts estimated to be worth $40 billion (Dh147bn) to build several nuclear reactors.

According to a senior industry official, the contract for nuclear power plants would be a blessing for cement companies already struggling with falling demand and reduced profits.


Nuclear Weapons News

Norwegian links for Israeli nuclear whistleblower | IceNews – Daily News
The man, who in 1986 lifted the lid on Israel’s nuclear secrets, has been placed under house arrest ahead of an expected indictment following his meeting with a Norwegian woman.

Mordechai Vanunu was detained by authorities in Jerusalem for breaching a ban imposed on contact with all foreigners. His defence has argued that the meeting was no more than a romantic liaison and did not relate to any nuclear issues, says a report by the Irish Times.

This Jewish state has 200 atomic . . . hydrogen bombs, atomic weapons, neutron bomb. They are not able to say they have the bomb, they are not able to destroy anyone . . . instead they arrest Vanunu Mordechai, said the defendant in court, where he spoke only in English as part of a continued campaign against Israeli authorities, including a boycott of the Hebrew language. Vanunu has been fighting for permission to leave Israel for over two decades.

AFP: Japan’s double atomic-bomb survivor dies
Tsutomu Yamaguchi, who survived the US atomic bombings of both Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to tell the world of the horrors, has succumbed to stomach cancer, his family said Wednesday.

Yamaguchi, 93, the only person officially recognised as a survivor of the two attacks, died on Monday at a hospital in Nagasaki.

“I thanked my father for leaving us with the treasure that was his effort to call for world peace,” his daughter Toshiko Yamasaki, 61, told AFP by telephone. He is survived by a son, two daughters and five grandchildren.

Scoop: The Dirty Little Secret: Nuclear Security Issues
Globally, nuclear power has become an increasingly important source of energy, accounting for about 15% of the world’s electricity supply. When it comes to Latin America, 3.1% of electricity comes from this source. However, the nettlesome security issues resulting from utilizing nuclear energy sources largely have been ignored. On March 2008, Colombian authorities discovered that the FARC insurgent movement managed to obtain (it was never clarified from where) 9 kilograms of depleted uranium. Then, in early 2009, the Argentine media reported that an employee of the Baker Atlas Company oil-drilling operation in Neuquen had stolen a canister of nuclear substance Caesium-137, demanding up to US$500,000 in ransom payments from Baker Atlas.

A False Nuclear Alarm | Foreign Policy
With its latest editorial calling for more nuclear weapons and more weapons spending, the Wall Street Journal has gone over a journalistic cliff. The serious factual errors in its Jan. 5 screed, “A False Nuclear Start,” raise serious questions about the newspaper’s credibility and integrity.

By claiming that U.S. nuclear weapons are in serious disrepair and that removing any of the 9,400 nuclear weapons in the arsenal would threaten national security, the Journal’s editors help create public fear of changing obsolete Cold War nuclear policies. That fear could motivate senators to oppose U.S.-Russian efforts to decrease the number of weapons, convince them to increase from $54 billion a year the amount spent on nuclear weapons-related programs, and persuade voters that the U.S. president is weak, naive, and untrustworthy.

Apology To The Earth For Nuclear Bombs And War
PURPOSE: This Apology to the Earth essay Part III explores the negative impact of humans on the Earth by Nuclear Technology & War. Apology to the Earth Parts 1 & 2 focused on Human Cruelty to Animals & Humans, respectively. (1) (2) The key sections of the Part III Nuclear Technology discussion are: Nuclear Bombs, Hiroshima & Nagasaki , Nuclear Power, Nuclear Waste, Radiocide, Nuclear Waste Marker Systems, Nuclear Accidents, Radiation Sickness, Nuclear Bomb Testing & Earthquakes & Nuclear Language.

Letters: Vanunu’s courage | World news | The Guardian
Once again the Israeli authorities have shown their disregard for human rights and unremittingly vindictive behaviour towards Mordechai Vanunu (House arrest for Israeli nuclear whistleblower, 30 December). Despite having known of Mordechai’s two-year relationship with his Norwegian girlfriend, the authorities chose now, over Christmas (a repeat of what happened two years ago), to once again arrest and detain him and his girlfriend for 24 hours, on the basis that he was mixing with foreigners. Mordechai has been discouraging his many supporters from contacting him. But the authorities have shown little sympathy to his response to their requests that he should keep a much lower profile.

BBC News – Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu arrested
Israeli police have arrested Mordechai Vanunu, a technician who spent 18 years in prison for revealing details of Israel’s clandestine nuclear programme.

He is being held on suspicion that he met foreigners, violating conditions of his 2004 release from jail, police say.

At a Jerusalem court hearing, Mr Vanunu was placed under house arrest for three days until the case proceeds.

U.S. missile shield holding up nuclear deal: Putin | Reuters
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Tuesday U.S. plans for a missile defense system were the main obstacle to reaching a new deal on reducing Cold War arsenals of nuclear weapons.

World | Russia

The two largest nuclear powers say they are close to agreeing on a successor to the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I), although U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev have yet to clinch a deal.

Asked by a reporter what the biggest problem was in the talks, Putin said: “What is the problem? The problem is that our American partners are building an anti-missile shield and we are not building one.”

Japan presses India to sign CTBT
As Japan on Tuesday renewed its call to India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), India put the onus on the US and China for taking a lead by ratifying the agreement and reiterated its commitment to ”universal, verifiable and non-discriminatory” nuclear disarmament.

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama, left, shakes hand with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, after signing a joint statement in New Delhi, on Tuesday. APJapanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama told his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh that Tokyo expected New Delhi to sign the CTBT soon. Singh reminded Hatoyama about India’s impeccable non-proliferation record and its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing.

I expressed the hope that India would sign and ratify the CTBT, Hatoyama told reporters here at a joint press conference with Singh. Prime Minister Singh told me that if the US and China signed the treaty, it would create a new situation. Hatoyama is currently on a tour to India. He and Singh held the annual India-Japan summit on Tuesday.

Investigation panel confirms three secret Japan-U.S. agreements | The Japan Times Online
A government panel has confirmed the existence of three secret Japan-U.S. pacts involving the 1960 revision of the bilateral security treaty and the 1972 reversion of Okinawa to Japan, government sources said Tuesday.

It has long been suspected there are four secret pacts.

The pacts that have been confirmed involve Japan’s agreement to allow stopovers and passage of U.S. craft carrying nuclear weapons, use of U.S. military bases in the event of a crisis on the Korean Peninsula, and allowing the U.S. to bring nuclear weapons into Okinawa in times of emergency.

The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb (Part 1 of 4) | Troy Media Corporation
On July 16, 1945, the world’s first nuclear device was tested at a remote location in New Mexico, the Alamogordo Test Range, the Jornada del Muerto (Journey of Death).

The word bomb was never used. Instead, it was referred to as the gadget or the thing. The Manhattan Project was named after the Manhattan Engineer District of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, where most of the early research was conducted. While more than 30 research and production sites were used, the bulk of the Manhattan Project was secretly conducted in Hanford, Wash,, Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Los Alamos, N.M.

The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb (Part 2 of 4) | Troy Media Corporation
The beginnings of the Manhattan Project can be traced to early science and technology research into uranium-238 conducted at the University of California, Berkeley. U-238 is the most common radioactive element, making up about 99 percent of the Earth’s supply of uranium.

Uranium-238 does not sustain a fission chain reaction, however, and must be modified into an isotope that can. It can be bombarded in a nuclear reactor to make U-235, the fuel used for the Hiroshima bomb. That isotope was made and separated at labs in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb (Part 3 of 4) | Troy Media Corporation
While Oak Ridge, Tenn., would make U-235, the fuel for the Hiroshima atomic bomb, Groves looked for a site in the West that was far from population centers. It also needed a generous supply of electricity to run the bomb factories and water to cool the reactors.

Hanford, Wash., downriver from the just-completed Grand Coulee Dam and adjacent to the Columbia River, fit the bill. To develop plutonium, the Hanford Site in Benton County in south central Washington was carefully chosen in December 1942 as the perfect place.

The Manhattan Project: The building of the Atomic Bomb (Part 4 of 4) | Troy Media Corporation
Right up until practically the last minute, only an elite few knew about the building, testing and ultimate plans to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. When the gadget was about to be tested, project manager Maj. Gen. Leslie R. Groves  who ran the project from its inception tried to explain it as the explosion of an ammunition dump.

As a precaution, Groves alerted the governor of New Mexico that it might be necessary to evacuate the state if something went wrong. The physicists working on the project jokingly bet that testing the gadget could set fire to the atmosphere, says Cameron Reed, a professor and chairman of the physics department at Alma College in Alma, Mich., and an expert on the Manhattan Project. They didn’t know what to expect.

Russia’s New Military Doctrine Stipulates Preventive Nuclear Strike – Pravda.Ru
In October 2009, Nicolai Patrushev, Russia’s Security Council Secretary, announced that the new military doctrine was on its way. The old one was dated back in 2000 and written even earlier, under Yeltsin. Patrushev named the announcement of Russia’s right for a preventive nuclear strike the key provision of the new doctrine. He kept his word, and this provision does exist in the text of the doctrine approved by the Security Council. The President of Russia is expected to sign the document by the end of the year. Experts believe that the doctrine is fair and properly reflects the current state of affairs.

Nuclear Bomb Researchers Accidentally Blow Up Building – Science – Gawker
According to an “Occurrence Report” obtained by the non-profit Project on Government Oversight (POGO), researchers blew up their building with a powerful cannon used to study the types of forces produced by a nuclear explosion:

“On December 16, 2009, Shock and Detonation Physics Group researchers heard a loud unusual noise from Technical Area 15, Building 562 after firing a shot from a large-bore powder gun (LBPG)…. the researchers conducted surveillance outside TA-15-562 and observed that two doors had been blown off the facility and concrete shielding blocks on the west and east side of the building were separated from the wall.”

Although no one was hurt, a POGO source puts the damage at around $3 million. We’re going to say it: That was $3 million of taxpayer funds well-spent. Forget those stem cell thingies. Blow up a couple buildings every month and we’ll have high school students flooding science classes like they were Jonas Brothers concerts.


Department of Energy News

Guest commentary: Playing with plutonium at Rocky Flats – Boulder Daily Camera
Playing with plutonium is not a good idea. But this is exactly what will happen if the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) implements its plan to open the Rocky Flats National Wildlife Refuge for public recreation.

For almost four decades the Rocky Flats Plant located about nine miles south of Boulder produced the explosive plutonium “pit” at the core of every warhead in the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Major accidents and routine operations released very fine plutonium particles to the environment on and off the site. Because this highly toxic material remains radioactive for a quarter-million years, its presence in the environment poses a permanent danger.

Inhaling or otherwise taking such particles into the body can induce cancer, disrupt the immune system or damage genetic material. Children, who would be encouraged to visit the refuge, are especially vulnerable, because they stir up dust, breath in gasps, eat dirt, or may scrape a knee or elbow.

DOE Gives Nuclear Labs One Heck of a Long Winter Vacation – The Project On Government Oversight (POGO) Blog
If your kid accidentally blew apart a building, would you give them less supervision?

This hands-off approach is exactly what the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) is doing by giving the contractors who manage the nation’s eight nuclear weapons sites (Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Nevada Test Site, Sandia National Laboratory, Savannah River Site, Pantex, Y-12, and the Kansas City Plant) a six-month break from many regularly scheduled oversight reviews.

Energy park at Hanford holds promise for powering vit plant -| Tri-City Herald
A proposed energy park at Hanford could include piped natural gas, a biofuel plant and acres of solar panels that may help power the vitrification plant and one day produce commercial power.

Gary Petersen, vice president of Hanford programs for the Tri-City Development Council, told Benton County commissioners Wednesday that Cascade Natural Gas has proposed piping natural gas to the future site, which could supply a significant amount of the energy needed to power the vitrification plant being built there.

Two Cascade pipelines could be used. One would have to cross the Yakima River and the other would have to cross the Columbia.

Natural gas is one of four proposals being eyed to offset energy consumption by the massive plant being built to turn some of Hanford’s worst waste into a stable glass form.

Dissension, poor communications found at federal nuclear site (1/5/10) —
Internal strife and management breakdowns at South Carolina’s Savannah River Site threaten to undermine the public’s confidence in the mission of one of the country’s largest and most critical federally owned nuclear sites, according to a report by an agency watchdog.

The Energy Department’s inspector general reached this conclusion after conducting a four-month investigation into allegations of misconduct by a senior official in the department’s Office of Environmental Management, which supervises the Savannah River Site. While investigators did not discover specific wrongdoing — the five allegations either could not be substantiated or witnesses provided conflicting testimony — the IG did find a facility rife with tension and infighting.

Big cleanups & bigger landfills in Oak Ridge|
Bricks and mortar and other materials that built Cold War success are now filling up Oak Ridge landfills, which is why those landfills keep getting bigger.

A major expansion is under way at the Department of Energy’s nuclear landfill, with similar projects getting started at a series of sanitary landfills — which receive construction rubble and other non-radioactive wastes generated during demolition and cleanup projects.

Bechtel Jacobs, DOE’s cleanup manager, said a significant milestone was achieved in December when the construction team completed installation of a high-density geomembrane on Cell 5 — a new cell that’s supposed to add 465,000 cubic yards of disposal space at the landfill for low-level radioactive waste and other hazardous materials, bringing the total to 1.7 million cubic yards.

Probe finds distrust at SRS –
An investigation into serious allegations of misconduct at the Savannah River Site found no specific wrongdoing, but did discover “unusual levels of distrust and acrimony” as well as failures by key officials.

The investigative body that oversees the Department of Energy released its report, painting a picture of SRS with disorganized lines of leadership, discrimination, racism and many different stories about controversial incidents.

Sparked by an anonymous complaint from an SRS employee, the Inspector General’s office came to investigate five specific allegations “concerning improprieties by a senior official with the Office of Environmental Management.”

The 12-person investigative team interviewed 80 DOE and contractor employees and scoured through about 150,000 e-mails.

Hanford’s Year-End Report Card From Washington State Ecology
It’s been a big year at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Cleanup there was one of the biggest items in the federal stimulus package. And the largest federally funded construction project right now — Hanford’s Vitrification plant — reached the halfway point. But are we closer to cleaning one of America’s dirtiest places?

If Hanford were a student, Washington State Ecology’s Ron Skinnarland says he’d give the site an “A” on its end of the year progress report. Here’s Hanford’s list of got–it–done in 2009: A newly negotiated Tri–Party Agreement that sets deadlines for cleanup. A massive factory to treat nuclear waste is 50 percent complete. And 51 buildings were taken down. Ecology’s Skinnarland says without the stimulus funding many projects would have been put off.

DOE: Bechtel Jacobs out as contractor at K-25 site » Knoxville News Sentinel
Department of Energy Manager Gerald Boyd said it’s “sort of doubtful” that Bechtel Jacobs Co., DOE’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge, will complete the demolition of K-25 by the end 2011 – when the company’s contract is due to expire – and federal officials are starting to make other plans.

Last year, DOE extended and modified the BJC contract, valued at $1.48 billion, to allow the contractor to finish work on the mile-long and massively contaminated building that once processed uranium for the nation’s Cold War arsenal of nuclear weapons.

Schmidt asked DOE for investigation of Areva – Chillicothe Gazette
U.S. Rep. Jean Schmidt said it was her initial complaint that has led the Department of Energy’s Inspector General to investigate Areva, a competitor with USEC’s American Centrifuge Plant in Piketon for federal loan guarantee money.

Schmidt said federal law prohibits the DOE from entering into contracts with companies that have business operations in the Sudan under the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act of 2007.

Areva is a French company and, according to Schmidt, it conducts gold mining operations in the Sudan.


Other Energy News

UK power prepares for a cold wind of change | Business | The Observer
It was supposed to be a great leap forward in Britain’s green energy revolution. Three of Labour’s biggest beasts the prime minister, Lord Mandelson and Ed Miliband lined up in London on Friday to launch a new wave of offshore wind turbines the government hopes will create up to 70,000 “green collar” jobs over the next decade. But as snow brought Britain to a halt, the green dream had little hope of dominating the headlines.

£100bn wind farm plan heralds green energy era – Green Living, Environment – The Independent
26,400 turbines to wean Britain off its carbon habit

Revolutionary plans for a massive expansion of offshore wind farms have been unveiled in a £100bn project designed to usher in a new era of green energy for Britain.

A quarter of the country’s electricity needs would be met through wind power by 2020 under the strategy, with the construction of 6,400 turbines within nine sites dotted around the coast. The programme amounts to the biggest energy supply shake-up since the discovery of the North Sea oil and gas fields more than 40 years ago.

The Indypendent» All Things Considered: Climate Change from Different Angles
Now that more people are attuned to the ticking clock of climate change, there is no shortage of theories for how the next act will play out. Though scientists, activists and theorists have been wildly off the mark so far, they continue to guess at what will be the solutions — and pitfalls — for getting the planet back on track.

Stewart Brand first made his mark not by imagining the future, but by making it happen. His Whole Earth Catalog of 1968 (published through the early 1970s), changed publishing, kick-started the computer revolution, the green movement, organic farming and the whole concept of living off the grid.

Special Focus on Bill Joy’s Hi-Tech Warning – The Center for the Study of Technology and Society
The same technologies that will let us cure diseases, expand the economy, and overcome everyday inconveniences can theoretically bring about catastrophes. Is the risk of apocalypse serious enough for us to relinquish the current pace of technological innovation?

AFP: China adopts law to boost renewable energy industry
China’s national assembly Saturday signalled the country’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions by adopting a law supporting its renewable energy industry.

The new law, an amendment to one on renewable energy adopted by the National People’s Congress standing committee, obliges electricity grid companies to buy all the power produced by renewable sources.

It also empowers the State Council’s energy department, the electricity regulatory agency and its finance departments to determine the amount of renewable energy available in the country’s overall power generating capacity.

Power companies will be obliged to take up all of that capacity, and those refusing to do so will be fined an amount up to double that of the economic loss of the renewable energy company, Ni Yuefeng, vice-president of the assembly’s environmental affairs commission, told reporters.

Innovation in solar technology helps conserve water, create jobs –  – Las Vegas Sun
It seems cruelly ironic that tapping into Southern Nevada’s vast solar energy potential could slowly drain our desert. Traditional solar thermal power plants that use wet cooled technology require millions of gallons of water over time in the process of converting solar rays into clean, renewable power for our community.

Southern Nevada received some good economic news last month when Solar Millennium, a division of one of the world’s top solar power generators, announced new plans to use a dry-cooling system on two proposed solar power plants in Amargosa Valley, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. This dry-cooling system will use 90 percent less water than previously planned.


Nuclear Editorial and Opinions

Gulf Times Qatar’s top-selling English daily newspaper – Opinion
More than five years ago, Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at the Israeli nuclear facility in Dimona, was released from prison after serving 18 years for revealing Israel’s nuclear weapons secrets. This week he was arrested again in Jerusalem, accused of talking to foreigners, in breach of conditions imposed on his release.

It was in 1986 that Vanunu told his story to the Sunday Times and was lured to Italy by a Mossad agent, where he was drugged and sent back to Israel, charged with treason and espionage. He emerged from prison in 2004 believing even more passionately in a nuclear-free world, and non-violence as a solution to the problems in the Middle East.

New Times SLO | fault should be considered
PG&E should not be allowed to apply for a 20-year license renewal until state-of-the art seismic studies for the newly discovered earthquake fault offshore from the Diablo Canyon plant and its high-level waste site are completed. This is the position of the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, and the California legislature.

This leaves the Alliance for Nuclear Responsibility and many others wondering why the state Superintendent of Schools, Jack O¹Connell, appeared in support of PG&E’s premature application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). We know there are two major active earthquake faults within two miles of Diablo Canyon; that a previously unknown fault knocked 8000 megawatts of nuclear energy offline in Japan in 2007 and commercial generation has yet to be restored, and the NRC has not required new information on the seismic adequacy of aging reactors to be reviewed when it evaluated the 54 license renewals already granted. In fact, the NRC has denied all contentions on earthquakes in relicensing proceedings.

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