Author Archives: rickmaltese

Welcome back the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers This week Carnival #267

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Energy Reality
Guest Post from Mathijs Beckers
    Mathijs Beckers from the Netherlands offered to summarize a talk given by Thomas Jamm Pedersen at the Thorium Energy Alliance Conference in Palo Alto, California. Pedersen presented his companies design but also requested participation on a new committee to further improve awareness.

1 Post from James Conca
    Tea Party leaders in Congress are trying to kill the Export-Import Bank of the United States by deceptively depicting it as a taxpayer subsidy. The Ex-Im Bank provides financing for U.S. companies, mostly small businesses, to sell products and services to foreign customers, but doesn’t end up costing taxpayers anything. There are no subsidies, no tax breaks, no financial aid of any sort, and no risk to taxpayers at all. In fact, the Ex-Im pays billions into the U.S. Treasury’s general fund every year. There has never before been any opposition to the Ex-Im. Until now. And our nuclear industry will be especially hurt. Without an Ex-Im, the U.S. won’t even be allowed to bid on large contracts. The weird thing is Republican districts benefit the most from the Ex-Im.

Nuke Power Talk
Post from Gail Marcus
    This week, Gail Marcus, writing at Nuke Power Talk, congratulates NEI on scoring high as a good place to work in a survey of Washington, DC area firms. She notes that one might think that NEI’s work could be discouraging, given the distorted views toward nuclear power that some people hold. However, NEI’s workforce is apparently happy because they are working together for a cause they believe in fervently, and because their management recognizes their efforts and has created a work environment that is supportive.

Yes Vermont Yankee
Post from Meredith Angwin
    When considering the future of energy in New England, many people look to Germany for guidance. However, Meredith Angwin has just returned from a wonderful vacation in France. In this post, she compares the French and German experience with energy. France’s nuclear success story can guide New England.

Next Big Future
2 Posts from Brian Wang
      Brian Wang made a bet back in 2009 with Michael Dittmar. Dittmar wrote a series of posts about nuclear energy that was published on The Oil Drum in 2009. The bet was about uranium supply running out “civilian uranium stocks are expected to be exhausted during the next few years.”
    The other bet was about the growth of nuclear power generation. Read more.
    Brian Wang keeps you up to date with a survey of the world’s nuclear power plants.

Hiroshima Syndrome
2 Posts from Leslie Corrice

This week, we post two overlapping, albeit parallel responses to Robert Hunziker’s identical postings in Counterpunch and UK Progressive.

The Most Blatant Fukushima FUD to Date

The rebuttal topic is a June 15, 2015, opinion piece written by Robert Hunziker, entitled “What’s Really Going on at Fukushima” (Counterpunch) and retitled “Is Fukushima Godzilla? Why 38 million Tokyo residents are at risk” (UK Progressive). Hunziker alleges apocalyptic effects from the Fukushima Daiichi accident, citing references that are categorically prejudiced, using universally-rebuffed journal publications, and cherry-picking the juiciest, scariest blurbs found in Japan’s universally-antinuclear Press. This is Fukushima FUD at its worst.

It’s time for much of the left to reconsider a long-standing opposition to nuclear energy that often refuses to consider arguments on the other side – arguments that are rational, science-based, and deeply concerned about the environment and human health. There is plenty of inaccuracy in the form of deliberate lies and unwitting misinformation coming from the left-wing about many things. With nuclear energy it’s high time to stop.

Atomic Insights
1 Post from Rod Adams

Rod Adams was able to attend an event in Boston put on by Nuclear Matters and gives a report of his experiences at this 2nd of 6 events put on at major cities across the US.

Neutron Bytes
2 Posts from Dan Yurman

Dan Yurman gives us his report on international nuclear power related stories.

Title says it all.

Requesting Comments about radiation standards at Nuclear Regulatory Commission

Thanks to Bob Hargraves for the links

Three petitions for rulemaking to end ALARA and reliance on LNT have been submitted to the NRC by qualified radiation professionals Carol Marcus, Mark Miller, and Mohan Doss with additional signatories from Scientists for Accurate Radiation Information. Marcus has successfully petitioned NRC for a less sweeping rule change using this petition process in the past.

NRC has now docketed these petitions under “Linear No-Threshold Model and Standards for Protection Against Radiation” at!docketDetail;D=NRC-2015-0057

You may submit comments by email to specifying Docket ID NRC-2015-0057.

I recommend you read their well-written, well-referenced petitions here:!documentDetail;D=NRC-2015-0057-0001 Marcus!documentDetail;D=NR C-2015-0057-0002 Miller!documentDetail;D=NRC-2015-0057-0003 Doss

Below is Marcus’s announcement of the petition published in Clinical Nuclear Medicine.

The annotated letter below includes NRC’s summary of the docket, written to Miller.

Please take advantage of this opportunity to end radiophobia.

Bob Hargraves”

Quote from the book “A Cubic Mile of Oil”

This quote is from the introduction explaining how the book got its title:

“In discussions of global energy and resources with our friends and colleagues, we found that many of them shared our frustration with all of the different units being used to describe energy. What we needed was a large unit of energy that could be visualized and would also evoke a visceral reaction… We turned to a unit that one of the authors, Hew Crane, had devised as he sat in the long lines that typified the energy crisis if 1974. He had heard that the world was using oil at the rate of 23,000 gallons a second and began wondering how much it would be in a year. A few multiplications later, he calculated it to be approaching a trillion gallons. 724 billion gallons to be more precise.”

This happens to be the volume of a cubic mile. So in 1974 we consumed a cubic mile of oil per year. Later in the book he points out that we are now consuming over 3 cubic miles of oil a year 41 years later.

Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers #257

Welcome back to the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week.

2 Posts from James Conca
    How will “STAY OUT!” be written 5,000 years from now? We will eventually dispose of some amount of nuclear waste in a deep geologic repository, and with the discussion of resurrecting the Yucca Mt. repository, the old question resurfaces of whether, and how, we should warn future humans that nuclear waste is buried here. Putting up 10,000-year warning signs might invite intrusion more than prevent it. Of course, an accidental intrusion isn’t the horror one might imagine.
    The Ten Biggest Power Plants In America – Not What You Think
    Everyone has been measuring the size of power plants wrong, using Nameplate capacity instead of produced power. The biggest power plant in America is the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station in Arizona that produces over 30 billion kWhs per year. Not the Grand Coulee Hydroelectric Dam that only produces over 20 billion kWhs per year. The largest power plants in the United States are nuclear because they have such a high capacity factor (cf), that is, the amount of electricity actually produced divided by the maximum amount that is possible if the plant ran at capacity every hour of every day. Nuclear has an average cf of 90%. Coal is 65%, natural gas is 50%, geothermal is 70%, hydro is 40%, solar is 20%, and wind is 30%.

Nuke Power Talk
Post from Gail Marcus
    At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus comments on several recent news items about delays in new reactor projects–in particular, the Russian Generation IV BN-1200 reactor and the EPR at Flamanville, France. She notes that we should not be surprised–large construction projects and new technologies of all types frequently experience delays and cost increases. She reminds us of Admiral Rickover’s famous quote about the difference between “academic” or “paper” reactors, and “real” reactors.

Hiroshima Syndrome
Two Posts from Leslie Corrice
    Clearly, the Japanese Press needs a good education on radiation; what it can do, and what it cannot. It seems a moral imperative to relate radiation information correctly and not in a fashion that only proliferates science-fiction-based misinformation.
    Judge Higuchi’s attack on Japan’s NRA is not the result of him not understanding the facts. Higuchi’s injunction is a cold, calculated move intended to needlessly delay nuke restarts. He knows exactly what he is doing. Judge Higuchi has demonstrated that he is firmly antinuclear.

Next Big Future
Post from Brian Wang
    There are calls to start construction on as many as 500 new nuclear reactors domestically in China by 2050, and even more abroad, China could single-handedly more than double the number of reactors worldwide. China will need to build as many as 10-12 reactors a year, roughly double France’s record pace in the 1980s. Experts believe China has the production capacity to meet the demanding schedule, it is currently projected to approve no more than six to eight new reactors this year, potentially ramping up to 10 or more annually by the beginning of the next decade President Xi had a speech which suggests, the government’s interest in
    nuclear energy goes beyond economic concerns. Beijing claims the industry is also key to reducing the ubiquitous haze from the country’s many coal-fired power plants.

    Curbing smog is a top priority for China’s leadership, which is nervous that failure to solve the problem may lead to social unrest.

    Concern over the issue seems to have added some pressure to speed up construction.

    In March, He Yu, chairman of state-owned China General Nuclear Power Group, argued that the country will need to adopt an even more aggressive nuclear development strategy if it hopes to meet its goal of increasing power generated from sources other than fossil fuels to 20 percent of its energy mix by 2030.

    Yes Vermont Yankee
    Two Posts from Meredith Angwin
      In this post, I review and discuss the Platt’s blog post on how Vermont is leading the way about fighting renewable sprawl. The legislature is trying to make the situation better for renewables by proposing they will be sited in gravel pits. But there aren’t enough gravel pits.
      This post describes the circles of pain (from the employees to the town to the grid) that spread from Vermont Yankee’s closing. The post first appeared as an article in Nuclear Engineering International magazine.

    Energy Reality Project
    Two Posts from guest Mike Conley
    Power to the Planet is a book in progress by Mike Conley. Here are two preview chapters.

    1. Let’s Run the Numbers

      This is a chapter with shared credit to Timothy Maloney who makes a couple appearances as guest co-author in the book. This covers the topic of renewables vs baseload, in particular “Wind and Solar vs. Nuclear”

    2. We’re Not Betting on the Farm, We’re Betting on the Planet

      This covers how the grid is not well suited for intermittent power sources.

    Post from Robert Hayes
      Robert Hayes explains the nuclear processes that makes Thorium a useful element (see Thorium Cycle) and puts its use as a reactor fuel into perspective with respect to current reactors. For my regular readers he does not explain that several companies are currently pursuing new reactor designs that will use thorium such as FLIBE or that China is investing heavily into making a molten salt reactor design to use thorium. He also does not explain the molten salt reactor that has been considered the more favorable reactor design for using both uranium and thorium in next generation reactors. Also of interest is that Canada’s CANDU reactors can be made to run on thorium


Mike Conley’s Preview of “Power to the Planet”

Power to the Planet is a book in progress by Mike Conley. Here are three preview chapters.

Wind and Solar’s Achilles’ Heel
The Methane Meltdown at Porter Ranch
by Mike Conely and Timothy Maloney

Let’s Run the Numbers is a chapter with shared credit to Timothy Maloney who makes a couple appearances as guest co-author in the book. This covers the topic of renewables vs baseload, in particular “Wind and Solar vs. Nuclear”

We’re Not Betting on the Farm, We’re Betting on the Planet This covers the topic of how the grid is not well suited for intermittent power sources.

California’s Water Emergency – A Solution Worth Considering

by the TESV folks in California

When considering options for energy production in drought stricken geographies like California, nuclear energy plants such as The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS), should be highlighted for the role they can play in meeting our energy needs, while not consuming an abundance of freshwater resources. During its operation, SONGS conserved approximately 126,548 gallons of freshwater per hour and produced enough energy to desalinate 668 trillion gallons of water a year. (2 million acre-feet.)

Ninety percent of the electricity produced in the United States comes from fossil fuel and nuclear power plants, which require large quantities of water for cooling steam (that is used to spin turbines that generate electricity) back to water that can be reused in the electricity generation process. Each type of power plant requires different amounts of water for cooling. For example, once-through cooling systems (such as the one used at SONGS) for nuclear power plants consume 400 gallons/MWh, coal power plants consume 300 gallons/MWh, and natural gas power plants consume 100 gallons/MWh. Once-through systems most commonly use freshwater from rivers, lakes, or aquifers, thus consuming water that could be used for agriculture, industry, and residential consumption. However, some power plants built near the ocean, like the SONGS, incorporate seawater into their once-through cooling system and require very little freshwater, leaving valuable water resources available for other purposes.

During its operation, SONGS produced 19% of the power used by Southern California Edison customers, supplying power to large portions of Southern California. Operating at full capacity from 1984-2011, units 2 and 3 of SONGS had a gross capacity of 1,127 MW and supplied on average 7,592 GWh of electricity a year and required the use of very little freshwater resources. The negative impacts of SONGS closure on the environment is already being realized. Carbon dioxide emissions from California’s power generation facilities increased from 30.7 million tons in 2011 to 41.6 million tons in 2012 in part due to the early closure of SONGS. Furthermore, millions of gallons of water that could be used for a multitude of other purposes have been used in fossil fuel energy production processes to replace the electricity once produced by SONGS. During its operation, SONGS conserved approximately 126,548 gallons of freshwater per hour (see calculations and assumptions below) that would have been used to produce the same amount of energy from other sources.

Furthermore the energy produced by SONGS could have been used in other ways to address water scarcity issues in California. For example, the average energy supplied through SONGS could have desalinated 668 trillion gallons of water a year, (2 million acre-feet) assuming it takes 3kWh to desalinate one cubic meter of water. That is enough water produced each year to supply San Diego’s population of over 3 million people with 119 gallons of freshwater (San Diego County’s daily average per capita) every day for five years.

Producing water locally would have also saved a considerable amount of energy that is required to pump water from reservoirs to Southern California. It requires on average 2908 kWh of energy to supply Southern California with one acre-foot (326,700 gallons) of water. Therefore during an average year, SONGS could have desalinated enough water locally, saving 5948 GWh of energy a year that would otherwise be required to pump water to Southern California.

Freshwater Conservation Calculations and Assumptions

Assuming the majority of the energy produced at SONGS would be used by Southern California Edison (SCE) customers, SCE’s energy mix can be used to determine what proportion of energy sources would be needed to make up for the loss of 7592.9 GWh of electricity SONGS supplied on average each year.

 SCE Energy Mix for 2006 (the most recent energy mix data):

  • Natural Gas: 54%

  • Coal: 8%

  • Nuclear: 17%

  • Large Hydro: 5%

  • Renewables: 16%

If energy production was ramped up proportionally across the energy mix of the SCE, each energy source would need to produce the following additional energy:

  • Natural Gas: 4,100.166 GWh (54% of 7,592.9)

  • Coal: 607.432 GWh (8% of 7,592.9)

  • Nuclear: 1290.793.59 GWh (17% of 7,592.9)

  • Large Hydro: 379.645 GWh (5% of 7,592.9)

  • Renewables: 1214.864 GWh (16% of 7,592.9)

According to the Nuclear Energy Institute, natural gas, coal, and nuclear consume the following amount of freshwater to produce electricity:

  • Natural Gas: 100 gallons MWh

  • Coal: 300 gallons MWh

  • Nuclear: 400 gallons MWh

Which would result in the following freshwater consumption a year:

  • Natural Gas: 410,016,600 gallons (4,100,166 MWh * 100 gallons MWh)

  • Coal: 60,743,200 gallons (607,432 MWh  * 300 gallons MWh)

  • Nuclear: 129,079,300 gallons (1,290,794 MWh * 400 gallons MWh)

  • Total: 1,108,563,400 gallons

Therefore during its operation in 2006, SONGS conserved 1,108,563,400 gallons of freshwater a year or 126,548 gallons of water an hour, that would have otherwise been used by other power generation processes to produce the same amount of energy.

So if you’re thinking that San Onofre Nuclear Plant should not have been closed then you get it.

Perception Versus Reality

If we try to stay current with what’s going on in the world we find ourselves constantly faced with sorting out how others often fail to see the reality of things. But of course, depending on your sources, getting to the truth is harder because in the explosion of information there is deluge of misinformation available. Finding the full truth can set you free. I will limit my writing to my own personal experiences.

A big eye opener, I had not too long ago, was in a Facebook chat with a passionate young man who called himself a human rights activist. I was trying to persuade him that Ontario’s energy bills were higher because of subsidies for renewables such as wind and solar. He was clearly very smart and articulate. Still, he disagreed.

He wanted to inform me that nuclear energy was bad because the uranium mining it required was doing harm to the environment. His take on it was that nuclear power was run by the big bad corporations and that they were interested in profits at the expense of the people, especially the first nations people. I could not help but wonder about the enormous benefit Ontario experiences as a result of our nuclear plants. The good that a nuclear plant does far outweighs the harm the mining does.

But after digging more into the subject I discovered that mines and power plants have consequences and their proximity to valued natural habitat going back just 25 years has a dark history with regard to the wishes of the First Nations people. Consultation has been missing from the process of establishing mining and power plant operations.

As recent as 50 years ago consultation with First Nations, Inuit and Métis regarding mining activities was nonexistent. There has been a significant improvement and in recent years there are clear indications from Ontario Power Group (OPG) that dialogue has improved. But what’s interesting is that the only active uranium mine currently in Canada is in Saskatchewan. The world’s biggest uranium mines are in Kazahkstan, Canada and Australia. Canada’s worst health impacts to the indigenous people go back to the 1930s right up to 1962 in Deline, Northwest Territories.

It is a violation when you show up in someones backyard uninvited. It is invasive when you start digging without permission and without any attempt to educate the people about the dangers or benefits. All of that has changed and the rules were laid out in 1995. Now that protocols have been established and consultation has been started what needs to be communicated more often is that the benefits of uranium mining and nuclear energy far outweigh the costs. That means economically, environmentally and humanely. The risks may be small but when the perception of the risks are high then dialogue is needed and the First Nations groups were not getting that information or communication. Who handles marketing for the nuclear industry?

From the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) website they say (see footnote pdf):

“…Uranium exploration poses the same low risks to public health or the environment, as any exploration methods (such as drilling small core samples). It does not significantly modify the natural environment. Uranium exploration presents a very low risk of increasing radiation or radon exposure to the public and to the environment…”

“…The CNSC ensures streams, lakes and rivers downstream of uranium mining projects are safe for people, plants, fish and other animals…”

“…The CNSC assesses monitors and tracks licensees’ environmental performance to verify that releases to the environment are not harmful and are below regulatory limits. Since 1994, an ongoing monitoring study in northern Saskatchewan has assessed the cumulative impacts of radon, radionuclides and heavy metals on the local environment. Results have shown that uranium mines have no effect on radon levels, and that uranium, radium-226, lead-210 and polonium-210 levels in fish were often below detection levels. When measurable, these levels were no different around mine sites when compared to those at both nearby and remote reference sites…”

In recent years Quebec, British Columbia and Nova Scotia have placed moratoriums on uranium mining after investigations into Uranium Mining practices appeared largely based on pressure from human rights groups. These groups demand inquiries and reports are made but typically lack the scientific inquiry and they ignore the properly conducted scientific studies of already existing reports made by the CNSC.

There has been successful antinuclear activity in affecting change. Canada and the US both have their share of opposition to all things nuclear. The majority of cases where restrictions have occurred are due to emotional reactions based on outdated information and antinuclear rhetoric that ignores the successes in upgrades and regulations that apply to all current uranium mining in North America in effect since the 1990s.

Clearly the discussion with the young activist had a positive effect on me. I researched the topic. But I scored a few points too. He agreed that closing down all the coal plants in Ontario was something to be proud about. The point he did not grasp was that nuclear power was the main reason that stopping coal was even possible. He also failed to realize that Ontario would not be able to maintain its low carbon footprint without nuclear plants. He kept throwing at me the line about keeping this sustainable. I tried to explain that wind and solar farms are not sustainable. That was a tough one to crack.

If the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining in the idealistic world of renewable energy lovers what energy source comes to the rescue? Well in Ontario it happens to be natural gas. The same is true for other parts of the world especially where natural gas is easy to come by.

What is interesting is that nuclear power could do it all alone. But to humour the pro-renewable camp let’s try to understand why Europe has had load following reactors and North American reactors don’t. The punitive attitude towards nuclear would never let modifications take place without a massive review process. Consequently we don’t even try for new designs. So, carbon emitting natural gas wins by default because our system is still out of date and bases their decisions on a dogmatic approach to radiation dangers that have been proven to be overly conservative.

In Germany coal is winning that role where they foolishly started shutting down their nuclear reactors. But the hardest part to grasp is that if wind and solar were not part of the strategy to start with you would not need to find energy to replace the momentary losses of wind and solar power. So the perception that a significant risk exists outweighs the facts and decisions are made that have serious consequences economically and environmentally.

I noticed that my adversary and I resorted to our areas of expertise and I eventually realized our agendas had completely different foci and prevented us from winning each other over to our own side. It was clear to me that this individual was more concerned about the rights of individuals than about the best way to save the ecology of the planet. I did have a moment where I got him to recognize that nuclear might have a role in keeping things sustainable. I guess that was an accomplishment.

There was a lesson here. If your adversary calls themselves an activist you better be prepared to anticipate their bias and try to frame any new arguments you have from a perspective that they understand. I realized that my argument should have been that clean water and clean air are human rights and that nuclear energy happens to be one of the best ways to accomplish the goals of keeping the air and water clean.


Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers – Feb 1/2015 #246

Welcome to the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers. This week.
Nuke Power Talk
Post from Gail Marcus
    At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus summarizes inconsistencies in the positions of several countries that seem to want to have their cake and eat it, too. They advertise their environmental creds, but want to abandon their binding CO2 targets, or have others buy their oil and gas, or they don’t want their neighbors’ nuclear power plants near their borders, but it is OK if their nuclear plants are near their neighbors’ borders.

Posts from James Conca
    Americans will consume a lot of food and beer during this Sunday’s Super Bowl XLIX between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots – 3 billion bottles of beer, 70 million pounds of avocados, 30 million pounds of chips, 6 million pizzas, 5 million pounds of pretzels, 4 million pounds of popcorn, 3 million pounds of nuts, and 50 million pounds of “other”. The amount of chemical energy that will be released by passage of this mass of foodstuffs through a hundred and ten million intestinal tracks will equal to the total output of America’s 100 nuclear power plants during the game.

Hiroshima Syndrome
Post from Leslie Corrice
    On Monday, a worker at F. Daiichi fell from the top of a wastewater storage tank and died. One of the causes was Tepco continually building more and more tanks to store these waters. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka told Tepco to start the wastewater discharges as soon as possible, before someone else gets hurt.

Two different blog website by Meredth Angwin
Post on Northwest Clean Energy Blog
    Washington state legislators are considering bills to allow nuclear energy to be considered part of Washington’s required “alternative clean air energy.” Indeed, Washington state has always been a clean air pioneer, and increased nuclear energy will continue that tradition. In contrast, increasing the numbers of wind turbines will soon require fossil (gas turbine) back-up. Washington’s excellent hydro resources are already strained to provide balancing for the existing wind.
Post on Vermont Yankee
    This post describes the background of an upcoming “Citizens Decommissioning Advisory Panel” meeting in Brattleboro. Anti-nuclear activists want Entergy to keep all Emergency Planning Zone funding in place for a long time. After all, there is still fuel on the site. Emergency planning until Gibraltar crumbles?

Neutron Bytes
Post from Dan Yurman
    Dan Yurman discusses the conservativeness and reluctance to bring nuclear back online after Fukushima. Also America’s , Russia’s and Japan’s involvement with Viet Nam’s nuclear energy plans.

Carbon Pricing in Ontario set for Spring 2015

I hear this and automatically wonder why now just after shutting down coal plants. My other concern is that electric cars don’t have charging stations so that seriously affects EV car sales. Maybe the taxes collected should go towards these charging stations.

Ontario to Unveil Carbon Pricing Plan this Spring