Nuclear Advocacy

My Second Midlife Crisis

​I am writing this as I face an uncertain future as an activist. Without going back to school I want to know how one makes a difference in their locality in my case Ontario. Ideally I’d like to have the whole Canadian government attend an all day seminar to teach them the truth about energy. Failing that I’d settle for the Premier of Ontario and the Energy minister. What I have realized is that without funds my activism is nothing more than PR. As a person who has limited resources you can imagine a self employed musician has with few ways to communicate outside website blogs.​ Without funding there’s not much choice.​

I followed a steady path after quitting university back in 1976. I wanted to get a music degree in composition but changed my mind when I realized I could not study the masters until fourth year. Also it was too costly and I did not have the right teachers. I made a career of music anyway. logo9

Almost 30 years later I got my degree in computer science (still paying student loans.) In the last seven years ​​I have found my​ ​interest is consumed with all things nuclear. Science would have been​ ​my calling with the right mentors but music was indeed my stronger​ ​talent.

So I am getting to know key players in the nuclear industry. ​I have been a volunteer for various nuclear conferences and that is giving me a better idea of what the “climate” in the nuclear industry is like for lack of a better word. ​​I know it’s all about refurbishing right now​ but I hope that changes. I will be advocating to convert Pickering into a Generation IV nuclear facility in 2020 rather than decommission.

The Energy Reality Project is my cause and the name I chose to spite Al Gore and his anti nuclear ideology who claims to understand “climate.” You may wonder how a musician arrived at my current views. It was through the Thorium evangelism of Kirk Sorensen back in 2007. But I have come a long way since then. I realize that energy is the most important issue that is connected to every other issue in many ways. I don’t think there is a better world-changing topic that is more meaningful. And nuclear energy is the only type of energy that can effectively make a difference.

I have noticed the fascination that the industry has for Small Modular Reactors and I applaud David LeBlanc for his successes with the IMSR and Terrestrial Energy.

What I am lacking is any kind of industry support for my wish to educate the people that matter. I hope to turn the Energy Reality Project into a one stop easy to access plain language source for people to grasp what nuclear energy is all about. It seemed only natural that with so many learning challenged people out there that a
resource that is unbiased (on the surface anyway, that was the original intent) and makes comparisons and reveals what each energy source is and how they perform that it would become a great tool.

I know that websites are not much good without a presence in the real world. I am planning to get a on-profit status. We will organize meetings and do things as a group. I have chosen to visit the annual American Geophysical Union conference this December 15th to 19th at the Muscone Center in San Francisco. I will be there Monday to Wednesday and I am volunteering at the Thorium Energy of Silicon Valley booth #2617 to promote Molten Salt Reactors along with a handful of other topics such as awareness of oceanic acidity, the saving of the Diablo reactor and of course theEnergy Reality Project.

You can see I have raised some funds here http://patreon.com/energyrealist through a new kind of crowd funding. It is far short of my needs but a beginning.​ I also have donate buttons at http://thoriummsr.com and on http://energyrealityproject.com​

There is so much more I could have shared (see my pronuclear websites below) but it better if you explore my websites. So if you are able to arrange funding please do so and if you are unable at this time maybe provide any suggestions what you think should be my next course of action.

Depending on the level of sponsorship or donation you can arrange I can list the kind of funds I would like. $20,000 would allow me to pursue non-profit status and legal fees as well as allow me to spend the time needed on the project and blogging without worries of making a living for the next year. $9,000 would allow me to develop and pay a professional writer for a story about molten salt reactors plus deal with travel expenses to two conferences in 2015 in the US. This would give a much needed boost for nuclear approval ratings. $700 would help with my rent in for next month and give me some printed materials to promote the various topics at the AGU conference.

Thank you.

Rick Maltese
647-379-9655

My @pronuclear Assets

http://energyrealityproject.com
http://thoriummsr.com
http://deregulatetheatom.com
http://MsSci.com
http://economicsofnuclear.com
http://nuclearclarity.wordpress.com

Uncategorized

Ontario Public Service Announcement Dec-2014

The Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC) will hold a two-part public hearing on the application by Bruce Power Inc. (Bruce Power) to renew, for a period of five years, its power reactor operating licence (PROL) for the Bruce Nuclear Generating Stations (NGS) A and B located in Kincardine, Ontario.

The current licence authorizes Bruce Power to operate the Bruce NGS A and B, which consists of eight nuclear reactors and their associated equipment, designed to produce electrical power.

~Hearing Part 1: February 5, 2015~

Place: CNSC Public Hearing Room, 14th floor, 280 Slater Street, Ottawa, Ontario

Time: as set by the agenda published prior to the hearing date

~Hearing Part 2: April 14, 15 and 16, 2015~

Place: The Royal Canadian Legion, 219 Lambton Street, Kincardine, Ontario

Time: as set by the agenda published prior to the hearing date

The public hearing will be webcast live and then archived for a period of 90 days on the CNSC website, http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca.

Members of the public who have an interest or expertise in this matter or information that may be useful to the Commission are invited to comment on Bruce Power’s application on Hearing Part 2. Requests to
intervene must be filed with the Secretary of the Commission by March 16, 2015, either online – at http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/the-commission/intervention/ – or via the coordinates below. Pursuant to the
Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission Rules of Procedure, the request must include the following information:

- a written submission of the comments to be presented to the Commission

- a statement setting out whether the requester wishes to intervene by way of written submission only or by way of written submission and oral presentation

- name, address and telephone number of the requester

Personal information, such as address and telephone numbers, is essential for linking the submission to its author. Please submit your personal information on a separate page to ensure its confidentiality. It
should be noted that all submissions are available to the public upon request to the Secretariat.

Bruce Power’s submission and CNSC staff’s recommendations to be considered at Hearing Part 1 will be available after January 5, 2015. These documents are not downloadable. To obtain them, a request must be made
to the Secretariat or directly from the website. Agendas, hearing transcripts and information on the hearing process are available at the CNSC website, nuclearsafety.gc.ca.

Read the notice:

http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/the-commission/pdf/2015-02-05-NoticePublicHearing-2015-H-02-BrucePower-e-edoc4583092.pdf

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For all the latest CNSC news, visit CNSC’s homepage at http://www.nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/
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Subscribe to CNSC’s YouTube channels: http://www.youtube.com/cnscccsn
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Follow CNSC on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CanadianNuclearSafetyCommission
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If you experience any difficulties in accessing the CNSC website, please send an email to mailto:info@cnsc-ccsn.gc.ca

Nuclear Advocacy

Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers #191 – Jan-12-2014

I’m glad to be hosting the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers this week. We have a cold spell in our hemisphere while high temperatures prevail in other parts of the world. The weather has been extreme to say the least to begin 2014. A lot of us stayed indoors to avoid the roads and the cold. I am urging the bloggers, environmentalists, concerned citizens to unite. I started a new initiative called The Energy Reality Project. I am determined to reach out beyond the internet and encourage people to go out and get ACTIVE this year. We’ll be needing it more and more each year to make a difference. We need to motivate our own advocates as well as the Big Nuclear companies to promote nuclear energy. We will be helping the planet and the economy.
Nuke Power Talk
Post from Gail Marcus
    There seems to be a never-ending supply of new acronyms. Gail Marcus, who blogged on acronyms once before on Nuke Power Talk, does so again this week with a new cache of acronyms she has stumbled upon.

Yes Vermont Yankee
Post from Meredith Angwin
    On a cold day during the Arctic Vortex, Meredith Angwin monitors the situation on the New England grid. Natural gas was expensive and unavailable, so higher-carbon oil and coal were on-line. Nuclear remains the backbone of the grid. This post contains many graphics illustrating the grid situation.

The Hiroshima Syndrome/Fukushima Commentary
Two Posts from Leslie Corrice
    The Press-dreaded spent fuel transfer at F. Daiichi has gone two months without a hitch. In addition, it seems Tepco has effectively resolved the storage tank leakage problems that dominated the headlines the last half of 2013. Most Japanese news outlets are relatively devoid of new Fukushima news because there’s nothing scary or upsetting to report. But a few newspapers have literally bent over backwards to keep Fukushima-angst alive among their readers.
    This morning Tepco stopped the operation of the water decontamination system called ALPS (Advanced Liquid Processing System). All three ALPS streams must have been operating for a considerable period of time before the crane broke down on Tuesday, but nobody seemed to care. Both Tepco and the Press seem to feel the world does not need to know that ~7.8 million gallons of Fukushima wastewater has been stripped of radioactive Cesium and Strontium since October 28.

ANS Nuclear Cafe
Post from Will Davis
    In the early days of nuclear power research, it was by no means clear which designs would prove to be most viable. An illustrated look at the first five year program of the US Atomic Energy Commission for development of commercial nuclear power.
Post from Rod Adams
    From his home state of Virginia, Rod Adams writes on an important missed opportunity due to the state’s ongoing uranium mine moratorium – the potential economic development benefits are much more important than widely acknowledged.

Next Big Future
Four Posts from Brian Wang
    China acquires energy technology and other technology and then scales them up massively.
    China’s energy infrastructure strength today foreshadows even more economic strength in a few years. This is even with expected economic slowdown to 4-6% GDP growth after 2016.
    During the Polar vortex natural gas went up to $100 per thousand cubic feet on the east coast and even $40 in Texas, Coal plants had problems too but nuclear energy performed great.
    China is heading up to 4.8 billion tons of coal per year in 2020 and they will spray water from their skyscrapers to blunt the worst of the particulate pollution. They will also finally force coal plants to turn on the smokestack bagging systems that reduce particulate pollution.

Canadian Energy Issues
Post from Steve Aplin
    Germany has some of the most expensive and dirty electricity in the European Union. This is not in spite of the highly touted energiewende, but because of it. As Steve Aplin demonstrates, the upshot of Germany’s rush to renewable energy has been that German use of combustible fuels, especially coal, to make electricity has increased.

Atomic Power Review
Post from Will Davis
    At Atomic Power Review, Will Davis continues coverage of the South Korean nuclear corruption and parts scandal with this latest develoment – plus background links to previous coverage.

Forbes
Post from James Conca
    Diversity is really important – in biology, in culture, and in energy production. The polar vortex that hammered the United State last week demonstrated how badly we need a diverse energy mix (a third fossil, a third nuclear and a third renewable would do nicely) and how lucky we were to have significant nuclear power.

Action List

Recent power outages are outrageous.

Not sure what is worse. Sitting alone at a table for two in a very noisy bar waiting for my phone to charge or going home to a dark apartment with a flashlight and candles.

I am sitting at one of the noisiest bars in Toronto. I am here on a Sunday night because the power is out for the 4th time in 3 years. Yet this bar, across the street from where I live has all its power all day. Why do the stores along Bloor on both sides all have power? The power infrastructure in Ontario is seriously out of date.

The temperature is hovering around freezing but will get colder tomorrow. Many of the locals have so much ice on their cars that they gave up on de-icing.

I spoke to Steve Foster, my new friend from Barrie, who has power yet 300 thousand others need to wait a few days while Christmas is around the corner.

Steve said his city has no visible power lines (meaning they have been wisely buried underground). Why we continue to suffer 19th century style inconveniences has to do with mismanaged government at all levels.

Extreme weather is no longer a freak event. We should expect these events to happen. I see no reason why we should suffer or worse, have our lives threatened. The cold, if not prepared for properly, can be lethal.

We also need to update our power facilities so that they don’t flood in extreme weather like what happened July 2013. What is really ironic is that I’m sitting right across from a wall of 100 year old enlarged black and white photos of my neigbourhood. If it was 1913 I might have electricity right now.
1913_photo_king_yonge

Our times have changed considerably. Yet we still have power lines above ground through most of Toronto. We need to change our grid infrastructure. Forget about “smart” grids. Let’s start with reliable grids. We now know that power lines are vulnerable to ice storms.

hydro-quebec
A series of Hydro-Quebec high voltage towers near St-Bruno, Que., south of Montreal that collapsed after a severe ice storm hit the southwest Quebec January 1998. The storm left over one million households in the Quebec Provence without of electricity. Jacques Boissinot/CP PHOTO

Toronto’s first electric company started up 130 years ago. It ran on boilers. 20 or so years later Niagara Falls generated power to the city. 60 years after that nuclear power was added. But 50 years of nuclear and we still have power lines above ground.

How much business is lost on account of power failures? Each year the US loses over $100 Billion due to power failures. Ontario’s losses must be in the $billions. Besides robbing us of our rights to normal comforts we also lose business. Our power infrastructure is also expensive because we are forced by law to include wind and solar energy into our grid. We need to subsidize the unreliable, “natural gas” dependent so-called “renewables” because of a perceived need for an all of the above energy mix. Our energy bills are higher because of this idealist yet proven to fail method of powering the grid. Germany now has the highest electricity rates in Europe because they have decided to go green and discontinue nuclear energy. Germany has been forced to increase the building of coal plants to make up for the lost nuclear energy. Italy no doubt will face the same consequences. Just like California who shut down San Onofre Nuclear Plant over irrational fears over a possible accident. An interesting fact is that worst ice-storm in Ontario’s history did not affect the nuclear plants at all.

With three levels of government having elections in the near future it is now a good time to put pressure on them to upgrade our power system. i.e. put power lines underground and make the power stations flood proof and allow new build of nuclear to replace the plants that will be decommissioned because of age.


For those interested in an analysis of Ontario’s challenges
click here –>check out Scott Luft’s excellent blog. <-- click here

 
Action List Nuclear Advocacy

Why is there no public support to reform nuclear energy regulatory policy?

First there needs to be a perceived need for reform. What this blog is about has everything to do with raising awareness. So although the answer to the title question might seem obvious the polls indicate higher than 50% support for nuclear energy. Learning the obstacles to a sustainable energy future is  much too low a priority for most people. The opinion that nuclear energy needs to be a part of the energy mix is not widespread enough.

The idea of the NRC is to be an objective unbiased watchdog that provides guidelines and enforcement of regulations to safeguard against possible contact or release of radiation to all citizens. There are political forces which interfere with that objectivity and bias. I don’t want to condemn the NRC as operators but more in the way that the organization is structured and how far it deviates from it’s original reason for being. This post explores the consequences of too much scrutiny and built-in punitive fees that only apply to nuclear creating an unfair advantage to the alternative energy sources. I get a little resistance from some of our own pro nuclear community when I post on this topic. I think it has to do with the feeling that the NRC is so far out of the public’s radar that it is a waste of time to write about it. Still others see regulations as black and white and that the politics around the institution are not the fault of NRC members. Of course it is not their fault and my concept of deregulating is not just about the regulations themselves.

I see climate change as a very serious issue. But perhaps the best solution to that issue is nuclear energy. Nuclear is good for preventing climate change from going totally out of control. Why? Because it produces zero emissions. But it will be a race with time to gain acceptance and implementation. The hurdles are understanding the economics, the myths surrounding it and paying attention to the new and improved design concepts.

Acceptance is largely slow to take hold because of the negative view of anything nuclear that started way back at the beginning of the arms race during the cold war. We fail to fully understand that so many of the false impressions are due to the uninformed public. There is a massive amount of unnecessary hysteria over the idea of radiation. Radiation in small doses can be beneficial. We know that. Yet some people sick with cancer still refuse radiation treatment for fear of the consequences.

The fact is that many cancer patients survive because of radiation treatment. The effects of radiation are not permanent. They use radiation in some food purification. How is it that these mundane processes don’t get in the news but nuclear reactor accidents are the big apocalyptic events that make news everywhere.

Yet nobody has died from radiation at a commercial plant since Chernobyl. Now I’ve started that can of worms, Three Mile Island and Fukushima are the only other known nuclear accidents that had major public reactions yet no illnesses appeared as a result.

Keep in mind that there are more reasons than climate change to use nuclear and promoting new nuclear plant designs because they not only are a game changer economically but also environmentally, industrially and medically. The NRC has a lot to do with the economics. And the economics have a lot to do with whether nuclear energy benefits industrial or medical technologies.

Species extinction is tied to ecology imbalance. We are witnessing the biggest environmental changes in several millennia. That means we have new weather patterns that cause floods and drought along with rising sea levels and fresh water shortages. Besides emitting no CO2, new nuclear plant models can be used to desalinate water. Do the forest fires start from a shortage of fresh water? Could fresh water be pumped to farms and forest lands while we get cheap clean electricity? Why not.

I know there is a very strong influence from climate deniers and fossil fuel industry to oppose climate change believers. Of course nuclear energy is too strong a competitor. These same people oppose nuclear energy and try to confuse the issues based on general public ignorance on all things nuclear, especially nuclear energy, purely for profit gain.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has been both beneficial and harmful to the cause of nuclear energy and are also unknowingly prolonging climate change. The best way to eliminate CO2, other greenhouse gas emissions and toxic chemicals is to replace coal plants with Nuclear Power Plants (NPPs).

It is a complex subject and requires strong investigative skills to determine how much of what the NRC does is simply by the book and how much is guided by corporate and political forces. What drives NRC policy change? Despite the odds, over 100 Nuclear Power Plants have survived and continuously benefited our country by replacing potentially very harmful green house gas and pollution from coal plants across the USA.

In 2006, there were 1493 coal-powered units at the electrical utilities across the US, with the total nominal capacity of 336 GW (compared to 1024 units at nominal 278 GW in 2000). The actual average generated power from coal in 2006 was 227 GW (2 trillion kilowatt-hours per year), the highest in the world and still slightly ahead of China (1.95 trillion kilowatt-hours per year) at that time. (source Wikipedia.) There are still way too many coal plants.

How can the country proceed to build electric cars with a clear conscience knowing that the batteries will be charged by the 45% electric energy sources that are the worst polluting machines on the planet.

“an incredibly important problem that continues to get worse with every day in
which humans consume 80 million barrels of oil, 16 million tons of coal, and about
300 million cubic feet of natural gas all while releasing the resulting waste products
into our shared atmosphere and bodies of water.” – Atomic Insights (recent post by Rod Adams)

For instance there are a couple of recent law suits against the NRC for extending the length of time for storing spent nuclear fuel (“nuclear waste”) on site of the nuclear power plant (NPP) from forty to sixty years.

I have a strong bias for reforming the NRC. I believe they are preventing innovation. The biggest hurdles for innovators are barriers like the fact that they must pay $50 million for the application process which most of time gets rejected. This leaves only the existing companies like GE and big utility companies who can afford to apply for NRC approval Unfortunately I also believe that Obama has chosen the wrong advisors with people like John Holdren and Ernest Moniz and Steven Chu. Chu is more of a conservationist and his area of nuclear expertise is focused a very different field of atomic science than nuclear energy.

Dan Rather in his recent broadcast Rather somehow got the right questions but limited his people and point of view to the opinions of mainstream nuclear “has beens”.
see http://atomicinsights.blogspot.com/2011/03/pragmatic-view-of-nuclear-renaissance.html

Some people think the NRC deserves credit for the success of improved conditions in Nuclear Plants and there excellent safety record but credit should also go to the Institute for Nuclear Power Operations and the World Association of Nuclear Operators.

Much of the damage to nuclear energy’s image was because of public and political pressure after Three Mile Island and the fictional China Syndrome movie.

For this story to be effective you need to be convinced that Nuclear Energy is the answer to the worlds energy needs. I can not convince you in this email. I can give you excellent sources on where to begin:

CanadianEnergyIssues.com   (Steve Aplin)  -  DeregulateTheAtom.com   (Rick Maltese) - AtomicInsights.com   (Rod Adams)

Thanks
Rick Maltese

from Toronto, Ontario Canada which has the biggest per capita consumption of electricity produced from nuclear power in North America. Only surpassed by France (my own educated guess).

Uncategorized

OCI Conference was More Like a Workshop and Well Received

This past Wednesday Nov. 20th I was at the OCI (Organization of Canadian Nuclear Industries) Annual General Meeting/Conference that took place in the Ajax Conference Centre in Ajax, Ontario near Toronto. The theme was titled “Speaking up for Nuclear Power. Advocacy and Politics in the Age of New Media” I have attended four events this year and saw OCI president, Ron Oberth, at three of them. He was always friendly and involved in the proceedings and I have come to learn is a valuable asset to Ontario’s nuclear industry.

The conference topic this time around was mostly getting industry people to help improve the nuclear industry’s image. I know as a blogger myself that I have two audiences: industry professionals and bloggers but also ultimately a growing public. I often preach to the choir about how outreach is sorely lacking. This conference hopefully will get more ideas to our own community on how to do just that.

The days proceedings began with the meeting, open to members only and then, later, to anyone who was willing to pay to attend the conference that followed. It started with the four invited speakers doing their ten to fifteen minute talks and a question/answer session afterwards.

I attended as a media person and very much enjoyed the talks and discussions. The speakers/panelists were Rod Adams of Atomic Insights, Steve Aplin of Canadian Energy Issues, Andrea Jennetta of Fuel Cycle Week and Scott Luft of Cold Air Blogs and dinner speaker Sean Conway who spoke about “The Politics of Energy”

Rod Adams spoke about the role of Social media in context with general media but also how he learned some lessons early in his attempt to get his nuclear reactor business going back in 1993.

Rod was blogging before the word was even coined. Back in 1990 Rod became AtomicRod on a precursor of the internet called Usenet. His career began as a Navy submarine nuclear engineer. Rod spoke briefly of his later years and the challenges as a nuclear entrepreneur and that his early concepts were essentially his own atomic engines which are now called Small Modular Reactors. Rod pointed out that in the process of researching his own promotion ideas he discovered and met army and navy people involved in projects that demonstrated how times have changed and in some ways are worse now. What at one time took as few as 18 months for a complete cycle to build a reactor now takes ten years or more. He gave a 1963 Greenland research reactor as an example. It was sharing common interests and sharing story opportunities that attracted his first readers. But his readers were not only local but all over the world. He discovered at meetings and industry events people came to know him as Atomic Rod.

Rod also shared some simple easy to accomplish tasks that make his blogging experience smoother.One was to read other peoples blogs and participate in the comments. Not only did he get ideas for his own blogging but gained some followers in the process.

Rod also suggested audio and video as enhancements to the reader experience. Audio in his case became a regular feature including a podcast with his own theme song. It became possible for users to subscribe and download.

Joining an email list group can also help keep you up to date and find useful and essential information that can make your blogs and reports more timely and accurate.

New bloggers on Nuclear Energy can join a community of nuclear bloggers called the Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers that posts the best blogs of the week at one of the volunteer host bloggers.

Last but not least he comments on getting active on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus among other social media platforms.

He attributed some of his career success to his blogging. It served as a learning tool and his integrity as a blogger meant that he wanted accurate and reliable sources and often consulted with text books and industry reports which added to his knowledge but also how people viewed his credentials.

Finally Rod announced that after 20 years of mixing a day job and blogging he has become a dedicated full time communicator this past October. Rod always was prolific as a blogger but visit http://atomicinsights.com to see an even more active output.

Original thinkers like Rod continue to shape the fabric of what nuclear can become without an actual official communication infrastructure.

Next it was Canada’s own Steve Aplin who spoke about the unsung successes of Ontario’s energy mix. Steve mostly discussed how reducing CO2 as a platform for environmentalists often ignores the extraordinary role that nuclear energy has played in that specific task of providing clean energy. His recent post on Canadian Energy Issues titled “Public perception, global warming, and nuclear power: playing the trump card” comparing Germany to Ontario was the thrust of his talk.

    “Take Germany, for example. Up to a couple of years ago, nobody talked the climate talk louder than Germany. And nobody has a more embarrassing record to compare against all that talk. Germany, as I mentioned last week, gets most of its electricity by burning fuel that emits carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal man made greenhouse gas. In the course of generating electricity in 2011, Germany dumped more than 325 million tons of CO2 into the same global atmosphere that people all over the world, including in the Philippines, rely on. More than half a kilogram of CO2 came with every kilowatt-hour of electric power generated in Germany and sent into the grid. For comparison, less than 40 grams of CO2 came with every kWh of Ontario electricity”

Steve and I agree that Ontario’s success at providing nuclear energy needs to be praised and boasted about. This single important fact that Germany’s “green” image has just met with an embarrassing year with it’s high energy bills and increased “dirty green” that required “dirty” baseload power to replace the missing nuclear power they once had.

Several countries, including Germany, have responded to Fukushima by either shutting down or cancelling nuclear energy plans. The myth will be with us for a while that Fukushima can and likely will happen again. The myth is unfortunate and false and should be part of our duty to clarify how Ontario is a better energy model for preventing not just global warming and climate change but also improving the quality of life. It is hydro and nuclear that enable clean energy and keeping energy bills down can only be done by limiting how much wind and solar is part of the mix because they require the baseload that nuclear and hydro provide. Hydro growth is limited to land, water ways and topography so that leaves nuclear as the most logical clean energy source. Comparing nuclear to methane is the trump card. Yes methane is dirty. It’s not any more natural than nuclear but nuclear produces no greenhouse gases but burning natural gas produces 550 grams of CO2 per kilowatt-hour.

If the conference had been just one day later I’m sure Steve would have commented on the credit that Katherine Wynne and Al Gore tried to take for the clean energy Ontario now has. Wynne announced the banning of coal in Ontario. Bringing in Al Gore was a clever strategy as if to say we can thank these progressive thinkers for our cleaner air. Did they mention nuclear energy? No. Al Gore is anti nuclear and it appears Wynne is too. It is our job to remind people that 60 to 80 percent of our electricity has been coming from nuclear energy.

Next up was Andrea Jennetta whose comedic style brought humour and maybe more importantly a rallying spirit to the reserved bunch that usually show up at these events. Her talk started off with a loaded question. “Is there anyone here that does not believe that politics is nuclear energy’s only problem? Raise your hand.” She wanted to interject two facts about politics that never change. First, that politics is local and second, that people are stupid. I think the crowd was a little shocked at first but she was right and as my previous paragraph shows politicians will use that to their advantage. Her comment that most people equate nuclear bombs with nuclear energy and that perception has to change. Also reporters don’t care about the difference.

She pointed out that it was “Cold War guilt” that created a bunch of apologists and the self-effacing nuclear industry. She also said the nuclear industry’s biggest crime over the last 75 years was “NOT SHOWING UP”. Another little shock as she raised her voice. But as a community the industry does not participate in town halls or rally’s that fail to defend or illuminate nuclear energy in the best light. Another information “byte” was “we don’t kill anybody.” This was one of the three or four catch phrases that she repeated in her talk.

Andrea’s first suggestion was to write or speak to your local politician. In the content she said don’t lead with facts. Since people are stupid facts don’t matter. But later acknowledged that facts matter sometimes as Steve’s talk clearly reveals. Then proceeded to share how our own community helps to perpetuate the myths such as nuclear is expensive. Then she compared wind to nuclear and how wind does not project the durability, maintenance, lifetime or decommissioning in their costs. A reactor can last 80 years and is burdened with regulatory costs while wind gets a free ride. Referred to Rod Adams (@atomicrod) and Canadian Nuclear Association (@TalkNUclear) as prolific tweeter people. Andrea appealed to senior executives who need to understand the role of advocacy and politics. She also recommended empowering the employees to speak out as Rod Adams also pointed out. Perhaps an atmosphere of secrecy and expecting employees to wear blinders metaphorically is an attitude that needs changing. Company secrets can remain secrets but industry facts that paint a good picture can be shared with all. In the end she reminded us we are allowed to show our human side where ever we might “show up”.

Scott Luft spoke next as a blogger but not specifically a pro-nuclear blogger. His content is fact and statistic based and wanted to point out how rate-payers don’t know hidden costs. That is one of his areas of focus. He is also a nuclear advocate in the sense that he responds to false or misleading reports that give inaccurate information for the wrong reasons. He mentioned some fundamental lessons such as encouraging visits through comments at different blogs to read your own blogs is an important step to increase ratings and readership and in some cases the media will pick up your posts as recently happened with Steve Aplin in the Financial Post.

The decades have passed without an integrated forward thinking community. Not for lack of trying. The traditional reactors have been maintained and the few new generation reactor designs have only started to be assembled in the last few years at great expense. We should continue to produce safe reactors but also recognize when too much safety is not needed and that we can recommend changes to our regulatory system.

We need to remember that even with so-called expensive reactors (they are economical over time) their output is clean, reliable and long lasting which is reason to be proud and boastful.

Action List Nuclear Advocacy

The Human Erosion of Progress and Will

Erosion is a process of gradually losing earth to natural processes like wind and water but I am referring to a different erosion and that is the general understanding of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math (S.T.E.A.M.)? I first stumbled on this combination of words, and it's both convenient and ironic acronym, in an article about education in New Mexico.

What does this erosion mean to our futures and does it matter? How do we even recognize the moments when the best technological solutions are put on hold in favor of what will bring in a quick profit and excite share-holders? Cornering prices in the energy market has been a strategy by the natural gas utility owners. My thoughts move to fracking for natural gas. It is rapidly growing worldwide. There has been very little time to get a true estimate about the damage that fracking causes. Apart from the damage to the local environment there may be cumulative damage to the atmosphere. Methane is said to escape to the atmosphere which is a much worse green house gas than CO2.

What about learning complex science? Is Nuclear Physics so hard to learn? How much do we need? It is complex but what you need to know is not so far away or hard to find. So between truth and fear lies a lot of fact finding to clear up the misconceptions about nuclear. Once the truth comes out then we can see how the big energy players care more about profits than the environment. Getting a grasp on the science will also help to lighten your view of what is possible and what is not. Common myths like "all radiation is dangerous" can easily be seen to be false by looking at data and knowing that radiation is everywhere.

Most people know that when we disturb nature we affect the way nature reacts. Examples are abundant. If someone accidentally introduces an insect or a fish from another land or habitat and that creature has no natural predator or enemy keeping their populations in check, it will sometimes result in the loss of crops and/or other forms of life. The ease of human mobility and their careless behavior can have a devastating result on other species and on the general survival of healthy vegetation. It is an unfortunate mistake and in the past such actions were forgiven. The popularity of beaver fur hats in the 1700's was the driving force behind much of the early exploration in Canada. But trapping caused a dramatic decline in the beaver populations. (See wikipedia's list of human caused transfer of invasive species.) Again these human caused activities were mostly done unknowingly.

It is beginning to be imperative that we take responsibility for the damage we cause to nature and our planet Earth. Pleading ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse in the information age. It's sounds like a cliche but you are either part of the problem or you are part of the solution.

Travelling has become very easy, too easy. But with travel comes responsibility. We travel great distances by planes, trains and cars for business and pleasure and we tolerate gas fumes and inconvenient traffic jams using up fuel that pollutes the air without much consideration of its cumulative effect. The environmentalist will seriously consider finding work close to home or finding a home close to work. The idea of providing incentives for living closer to the workplace is pretty rarely implemented. Housing near employment centers is usually more expensive. Cooperation of employers with employees needs to improve to make a difference.

Do electric cars make sense if the charging of the cars relies on energy created by fossil fuels? So you electric car supporters need to support nuclear because it keeps cars going without affecting the air quality. Nuclear energy can through process heat in high temperature reactors also be a solution for producing hydrogen for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

How we erode progress has just as much to do with turning a blind eye as it does with willful ignorance.  The kind of human failure I'm talking about has to do with many human traits including greed and self-indulgence. In addition this failure is also determined by the limits of how we practice capitalism. The traditional idea of each home having a "bread-winner" is still very prevalent among couples and families. The idea of being pragmatic and driven to provide food and shelter has a "noble" origin and harmonizes well with the idea of what defines success. The mansion on the hill does you no good if you are caught in a mudslide due to extreme weather.

Who's to blame for this decline in awareness, the apparent complacency? Not everybody, but almost everybody. Seriously.

The wealthy 1% are more to blame. The old idea of the nouveau riche and the bourgeoisie had some traits in common, traits similar to what we now call the 1% and they live up to their reputation as shallow and greedy with a false sense of self importance.

And in the middle are banking and financial institutions. While the 1% are busy controlling what they can to maintain their advantage over keeping the wealth the banks and financial institutions are allowing inflation perpetually which could be argued is the worst influence.

The less wealthy 99% are to blame for masochistically taking the abuse without fighting back and if they do fight back it's for the wrong reasons and often contribute to the noise by fighting for causes that do more damage than good.

I think of Greenpeace protests against nuclear plants. They occasionally succeed in delaying construction but what is just as bad or worse is that they promote the notion that nuclear energy is scary allowing natural gas and even coal to dominate the base load power. They really do meddle and they have outlived their welcome to those who have a more enlightened view of what is needed. The recent arrest of Greenpeace activists by Russian authorities is a perfect example. They wanted to draw attention to the offshore drilling for oil. Their arrest had many thinking they deserved it. Oil independence is not such a crazy idea and groups like Greenpeace need to pick which companies they protest more thoughtfully. What about coal and natural gas?

Another example is the unwillingness of so many protesters to actually try to understand the science and relative value both economically and environmentally is another example of the human failure. Two nuclear reactors in the US were recently shut down due to market driven factors. Kewaunee in Wisconsin and Vermont Yankee were forced out of business partly because of the existence of cheap natural gas. But the other factor is lack of public awareness. Too many people see the closing of a nuclear power plant as a victory. I am one that feels both angry and sad that fear of radiation, and I mean any radiation is very much part of the North American psyche. There is a huge difference between reality and perception. We need to close this gap.

The reactions to the Fukushima accident has endless claims of insane apocalyptic scenarios. The truth is far calmer than most people think. Robert Stone asks the right question when he says: "Is everything you know about nuclear energy wrong?" His documentary Pandora's Promise which opened in Theaters last June and will be airing on CNN in November (Nov-7 at 9pm) is a great eye opener. The documentary film asks the right questions. The premise for the film is about how it's featured guests who, being once anti nuclear, changed directions to support nuclear. Most of what we think we know about nuclear is wrong. I think the film succeeds in getting viewers to think and to gain a much needed perspective on the subject.

There is an arrogance that accompanies fear. The damage to US reputation abroad has been heightened by the arrogant treatment of muslims and the countries that contain terrorists of muslim heritage because of their connection to the 9/11 twin tower tragedy. The flames of fear were stoked by war mongers who encouraged war for profit. The reckless thinking of profit for the short term sounds like a serious case of greed and that might explain why the separation between rich and poor is increasing. Possibly the rich sense a future where entitlement will be the only way to escape the misery that the planet will become.

But what about "will"? What should an individual do? Anonymity is both a condition and an excuse for bad behavior. We witness this daily in car traffic. People feel anonymous behind the car steering wheel and raising a finger or showing our dark side is not so uncommon. Is the same effect occurring by remaining passive to concerns like fracking, natural gas pipelines, coal plant operation? In other words anonymity is making us less responsible. Nobody will confront our horn blast or finger gesture as we rapidly drive off in another direction. Is it a similar hiding that we do by being unnoticed? Hiding behind the wheel and hiding behind your anonymity in front of a TV screen or computer screen is a convenient way to be ruled out of the loop when action is needed.

But our condition is still easy to understand. The continual battle to make ends meet in the face of constant inflation and loss of employment opportunities. But there is a connection between our lack of involvement in the process and the never ending spiral. We keep using credit cards and living beyond our means giving the bank reasons to keep up their penalties and fees. Why not join a credit union which has fewer fees and penalties. I know you need to pay off the debts first.

So our collective inaction adds up quickly and we let democracy lose to whoever makes the most effort to manipulate the system. Brush up on your STEAM and when you are ready you can start making a difference.

Action List Nuclear Advocacy

Not Wanted on the Voyage and The Future of Nuclear

I asked myself “What did I learn?” from the Oct. 9, 2013 first Future of Nuclear Conference. I volunteered my services as a camera operator and wannabe contributor. The conference was better attended than I had expected. Many key players were present. Over 80 mostly nuclear industry people although I did spot a couple of anti-nuclear people I had met before.

Tom_Mitchell_Oct-9-13

After watching several speakers who delivered their talks without much enthusiasm I found myself wanting to shake things up a little. After all Ontario is the unsung hero of energy systems in the world. Why not shout and boast about our successes of reduced coal, increased nuclear and renewables (however subsidized) and as a result cleaner air and thriving economy? I found myself wanting to remind everyone of the misplaced praise given by the anti-nuclear movement to German initiatives when Ontario is actually proving to be a much more successful model.

The facilities at the MaRS centre are first rate. The microphones, screens, comforts all very pleasant. Henry Vehovec, the conference organizer, did a nice job of scheduling and promoting the event.
I think my biggest wake-up call from the whole event is that everyone present has there own agenda. This was evident from the response to my grassroots concept that I was promoting the “Energy Reality Project.” I had a one pager attempting to be as concise as possible outlining what the project was about. I had a few responses but it was the lack of enthusiasm that tipped me off that I was too obviously not a big enough player to be taken seriously. Perhaps their lack of response was the result of conditioning after 30 years from road blocks to nuclear.

After a couple of years of doing conferences I find that the few in Canada that I have attended leaves me thinking we are too insular and lacking in PR and ambition. The two Thorium Energy Alliance conferences I attended in Chicago had far more visible enthusiasm.

Tom Mitchell from OPG gave a slow and low key speech that had an off the cuff delivery. It was hard to tell if he actually was using notes. But, there would be few places he could speak where the audience would have been as attentive and interested in what he had to say. It’s not that he doesn’t deserve it. He does manage the largest utility company in Canada. OPG runs Pickering and Darlington and owns the Bruce reactors which combined provide 60% of Ontario’s electricity and that is in addition to a mix of hydro, gas, coal, biomass and wind.

I walked away from the conference realizing that the nuclear industry in Canada (mostly Ontario) is in desperate need of revitalization. Very much like the house of commons proceedings I see a large group of individuals who appear to be powerless and frustrated at their lack of influence over the few that actually have power. What’s worse is that the power is in the hands of those who do not understand the important role that nuclear energy provides.

Little did we know that the following day that the Globe and Mail would drop the news about Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals announcement to cancel the two new nuclear builds in Darlington. The possibility of new builds are what had attracted speakers from Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox to the conference to make their presentations. The stranglehold on nuclear energy is even worse in the US. David LeBlanc of Terrestrial Energy Inc., during his talk about molten salt reactors and his own IMSR, commented that he has been telling his US counterparts seeking to sell their nuclear concepts to try Canada which has a more reasonable regulator in the CNSC. I had heard this from David before but it somehow had more significance with the presence of CNSC’s Director General of Nuclear Power Generation, Greg Rzentkowski.

I hope you were not expecting a detailed report. I can simply say that there will be a video of the numerous talks.

I learned a few things from Tom Mitchell’s talk and maybe more from his Q & A.
They (OPG) cannot do any major planning. They are dictated to by the Ministry of Energy. They are more like property managers and utility operators. That was my impression. He spoke about being open to partnerships. I asked him later are they open to partnerships outside Ontario and he said yes.

Here are the people who spoke:

  • Michael Delage(General Fusion)
  • David LeBlanc(Terrestrial Energy)
  • Greg Rzentkowski(CNSC)
  • Rosemary Yeremian(Strategic Insights)
  • John Luxat (McMaster Professor)
  • Krista Hill(Nuclear Law)
  • Cedric Jobe(Ontario Ministry of Energy)
  • Ron Lewis(Westinghouse)
  • Ron Oberth(OCI)
  • Thomas Snyder (Babcock and Wilcox)
  • Jim Burpee(Canadian Electrical Association)
  • Milt Caplan(MZ Consulting)
  • Paul Dinner(Mindfirst)
  • Shobhit Shanker (consultant)
  • Marina Freire-Gormaly (Graduate Student at U of T)

John Spears covered the event – Nuclear industry faces critical decade – OPG Chief

So I’m not giving a play by play but the event was a success and will leave a lasting impression for those who attended. The information and learning are what drives people like myself to attend these conferences and I did learn a lot. However, not everyone there was like me. The walkaway value to those looking for contacts to further their careers were at least given 3 chances including lunch to meet and mingle.

So now that a few days have passed since the event I reflect back to the unexpected Ontario government announcement to cancel new builds in Darlington. I thought about one of the bold comments made during one of the panel discussions. That was something to the effect that if CANDU does not work harder on marketing abroad that it could be fated to go the way of the Avro Arrow and RIM Blackberry. But something else lingered. It was a feeling of belonging to a group that were “not wanted on the voyage.” No matter that nuclear energy could well be the one technology that could prevent catastrophic global warming. When it comes to predicting doomsday I’ll remember that humans are quite possibly not up to the task of recognizing a solution that stares them right in the face. There are times that I have started to feel too old and somewhat ignored by peers and younger people who can’t relate. So in another sense I feel “not wanted on the voyage” of other people too. But I don’t give up easy. I expect next years Future of Nuclear Conference to go even better and have high hopes for Toronto becoming an energy hub that will attract international attention.

Action List Nuclear Advocacy

Carnival #177: Carnival of Nuclear Bloggers

Atomic Insights
Post from the original nuclear blogger himself Rod Adams
    Rod Adams is making a career change. For the foreseeable future, he is going to write books and articles for a living. This career move has been a long time in the making. During Rod’s first interview for a nuclear-related job, Admiral Rickover asked him, “English major? Why are you an English major?” Rod responded “Because I like to read and write, sir.” He followed up with “Write? Have you ever written any books? I have. Three of them. Have you read any of them?” Rod response was “Not yet, sir.” Rod’s done the promised reading, now it’s time to do the writing.

Deregulate the Atom
Post from Rick Maltese
    What is the future of nuclear energy? A conference with a Canadian perspective which is truly an Ontario perspective. And Canada has reason to be proud and reason to boast about Ontario’s success.

Yes Vermont Yankee
Post from Meredith Angwin
    Entergy announced that it will close Vermont Yankee next year, and opponents began having parties. In response, plant supporters have written letters to the editor: “Count me out of the party.” By publicly expressing their sadness that Vermont Yankee is closing, supporters show that anti-nuclear sentiment is NOT universal.

Canadian Energy Issues
Post from Steve Aplin
    The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change announced Monday that it is unequivocal that the planet is warming up and that man-made carbon emissions are responsible. Steve Aplin wonders why the mainstream environmental lobby, which has used the IPCC report to criticize governments for inaction on climate change, continues to oppose nuclear energy, the only proven large-scale zero-carbon electricity generation source.

Nuke Power Talk
Post from Gail Marcus
    At Nuke Power Talk, Gail Marcus reflects on an “offer” made by Sir John Armitt to break the financing impasse for Hinkley Point C in the UK by using an approach similar to that used for the construction of the facilities for the 2012 London Olympics. Since he made that offer, hints are emerging from the UK that some solution has been found, although it is not clear yet what the solution is. Whatever emerges in the case of Hinkley Point C, the financing issue remains a serious challenge for new nuclear plants, so Gail finds it encouraging that people are thinking outside the box.

ANS Nuclear Cafe
Post by Rod Adams
    Some observers assert a long future of low natural gas prices in North America and an enormous ramp-up in electricity generating market share for gas. However, Rod Adams reminds us that gas is a volatile commodity, in more ways than one, and points to some factors indicating an impending end to the current low-price gas glut. In light of these factors, short-term thinking and planning – which is leading to increased natural gas dependence and has contributed to the puzzling shutdown of perfectly operational assets like the Kewaunee and, next fall, the Vermont Yankee nuclear plants – may not be very smart.

Next Big Future
Post by Brian Wang
    Some coal is high in fluorine and also has iron pyrite. The combination is deadly – when burned it make hydrofluoric acid. Coal pollution is getting deep into food and water in China where it cannot be washed away. It is damaging teeth and bones of many people. Excess fluorine consumption can often cause dental fluorinosis, a condition in which excess fluorine is deposited in the teeth, discoloring them. In more severe cases, fluorine deposition in the bones can lead to osteofluorosis, which can cause disfigurement, deformity, and chronic pain.

The Hiroshima Syndrome/Fukushima Commentary
Post by Leslie Corrice
    Many in Japan believe that the Fukushima accident was the third nuclear bombing of their country, albeit self-inflicted. If it were up to the people of Hiroshima, the confusion between reactors and bombs would be a thing of the past. But it isn’t, and the residents of the city to first suffer a nuclear weapon don’t like it one bit.

Action List Nuclear Advocacy

Future of Nuclear Conference in Toronto Oct. 9th

Future of Nuclear, a Conference that will be held in Toronto, Ontario, on Oct 9 in the beautiful Mars Center on College Street, just east of University Ave.

ONTARIO is home to the largest-capacity nuclear plants in the world supplying 12,500 Megawatts to the province. Sixty percent of our power is nuclear. Our CANDU reactors have an outstanding performance record for safety and reliability. With AECLs privatization two years ago there are new opportunities for renewed global growth reaching beyond the existing plants in South Korea, India, China and Argentina. Ontario’s workable energy mix is the new green standard, with nuclear playing an important role while science progresses forward.

See what science and technology hold in store for energy innovation and solutions. The keynote speaker will be Tom Mitchell, the CEO of Ontario Power Generation. His keynote responds to MIT Prof. Richard Lester’s call for action against the climate breakdown:

    “If the world is to avoid the most harmful effects of rising greenhouse gas levels while still meeting the demand for abundant, affordable, reliable energy, nothing less than a fundamental transformation of current patterns of energy production, delivery, and use will be necessary. This historic transformation to a low-carbon energy system will almost certainly not be achievable without a large-scale expansion of nuclear energy globally, along with very rapid scale-up of renewables and major advances in energy efficiency in both developed and developing economies.”

Also on the roster is Canadian visionary and inventor, physicist David LeBlanc, founder and director of Terrestrial Energy Inc. He will update us on his new Generation-Four reactor which he envisages will be operational in less than a decade. We are making significant gains in eliminating coal plants and reducing fossil fuel emissions. Future reactors will go even farther by converting existing nuclear waste into fuel and providing process heat for industrial use never before available.

The media turmoil in the wake of the Fukushima disaster is giving way to a calmer, more reflective climate where a less polarized discussion of nuclear options and a more holistic perspective of energy in all its forms is taking place.

I hope to see you at the conference. You can become a pathfinder and help Canada be a leader of an emerging safer nuclear renaissance. Join me for a full day’s conference on Wednesday, Oct 9.

See details on their website FutureOfNuclear.com, where you can register. Hope to see you soon.

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