Monthly Archives: June 2011

Action List

Is Canada’s Federal Government Sabotaging Nuclear Energy?

Canada Sells AECL’s CANDU Reactor Division to SNC-Lavalin

It is beyond belief that Harper is so biased that he ignores the importance of Nuclear Energy and washes their hands of it by grossly under selling the CANDU reactor division to SNC-Lavalin. It is beyond me to speculate and makes me deeply suspicious about the Federal Government’s or should I say Harper’s intentions. Is it possible that Harper has become so pro-oil and natural gas that he is blinded by ambition? I need time to collect thoughts on this one. It’s a serious step and leaves me very concerned and disappointed.

I pointed out in a previous report that the current buzz in Canadian nuclear energy is about refurbishing existing nuclear plants.  This seems to be the immediate plan for SNC-Lavalin. That leaves a lot of unanswered questions about proposed new plants in Ontario and elsewhere.

Action List Contributors

“Moving from denial and catastrophic fatalism to positive action”

There is an article for which I’m providing the abstract here. It’s about what to do about the health consequences of climate change and addressing the widespread inaction for “unavoidable climate change.”
Global health and climate change: moving from denial and catastrophic fatalism to positive action


The health effects of climate change have had relatively little attention from climate scientists and governments. Climate change will be a major threat to population health in the current century through its potential effects on communicable disease, heat stress, food and water security, extreme weather events, vulnerable shelter and population migration. This paper addresses three health-sector strategies to manage the health effects of climate change—promotion of mitigation, tackling the pathways that lead to ill-health and strengthening health systems. Mitigation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions is affordable, and low-carbon technologies are available now or will be in the near future. Pathways to ill-health can be managed through better information, poverty reduction, technological innovation, social and cultural change and greater coordination of national and international institutions. Strengthening health systems requires increased investment in order to provide effective public health responses to climate-induced threats to health, equitable treatment of illness, promotion of low-carbon lifestyles and renewable energy solutions within health facilities. Mitigation and adaptation strategies will produce substantial benefits for health, such as reductions in obesity and heart disease, diabetes, stress and depression, pneumonia and asthma, as well as potential cost savings within the health sector. The case for mitigating climate change by reducing GHGs is overwhelming. The need to build population resilience to the global health threat from already “unavoidable climate change” is real and urgent. Action must not be delayed by contrarians, nor by catastrophic fatalists who say it is all too late.

I often ask the question why is there so little action towards preventing climate change.  The authors of the article state that climate change is “unavoidable” but also clearly believe we can make a difference but choose not to take action.  I have various theories and my biggest one is the idea of widespread low self esteem where individuals feel that their contribution would not amount to anything. But that can’t explain it all. There must be plenty of people with a voice inside them hoping and even strategizing for change but never express or take the time to share their thoughts. Could there be a numbing effect of information overload? It also does not help that whole governments engage in making decisions against the will of the people.

Back in the seventies when the dollar was taken off the gold standard by President Richard Nixon the banks and the Federal Reserve stopped caring about how much currency to print. It was an event that I call a “terminator” moment after the Science Fiction story of the same title. A decision that could alter the future of our survival as a civilization. Sure I could be exaggerating because I have used the same term to describe the shelving of the Thorium Molten Salt Reactor project and choosing a different direction for nuclear energy. A decision so vital that the outcome could be catastrophic. A “terminator” moment. In other words worthy of sending someone back in time to prevent the decision.

The abstract says that scientists have done plenty of study on climate change itself but they have done little to study the impact on health and care for the highly probable outcome.

The title itself is brilliant as a communication tool because in a few words it refers to Global health and the current mental state of the global populace. They must be in denial or catastrophic fatalists to allow such an impact to take place.  What is totally ironic is that there are movements that have wide influence on voters and these movements vote for change that helps speed us on toward climate change.  So what is going on? Are the people who don’t vote also the same people that are in denial or in a psychological funk like catastrophic fatalism. Decisions are being made by fewer people and the collective will is an illusion. The voters are the few who seize the opportunity and believe they can affect change. Unfortunately voting to shut down nuclear energy is the worst “collective” decision we will ever witness unless more people learn the truth about nuclear energy.

I have written in the past about how our society has become more and more fragmented. All kinds of specialty skills are replacing the generalists of the past.  Every time there is economic hardship the government steps in to try to remedy the situation. They put into place the classic outcome of a fragmented society. The expression “the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing” applies well to the government. Politics trumps common sense much of the time. The NRC is in Harry Reid’s pocket. Obama endorsed Harry Reid’s sideman to run the NRC. We have politicians fighting to reopen the Yucca repository, the multi-billion dollar facility that was nearly completed sitting dormant while the world is heating up in more ways than one.

Choosing not to vote or choosing to remain silent, when the system is easier than ever to send a message to your representative, is now a borderline psychopathic decision. Ignorance is no longer an acceptable excuse.  It will not work to say “I didn’t know it would get this bad” when the water levels rise above the cities. Many of us are becoming senior citizens within decades and when the time comes when our health fails it would be nice if the environment could be more forgiving. All I can say is start caring and voicing your opinion. If you can’t do it for your grand children then at least do it for yourself.

*Authors of the cited article

  1. Anthony Costello
  2. Mark Maslin
  3. Hugh Montgomery
  4. Anne M. Johnson
  5. Paul Ekins


Contributors Nuclear Advocacy

History of the Antinuclear Movement Part 2 by DV82XL

The History of the Antinuclear Movement, Part 2 is up

They are under the Reference Section but here are the links for them here

History of the Antinuclear Movement. Part 1

History of the Antinuclear Movement. Part 2a

History of the Antinuclear Movement. Part 2b


Action List

Without nuclear where do the children play?

Where do the children play?

This was not only a song by Cat Stevens about our growing separation from nature but it was also a foretelling of a time when we could lose sight of what is important to us. Having enough space is becoming a major concern in some parts of the world and we need to be concerned. We have seen the effects of how space and opportunity is comparatively plentiful in North America.   Japan’s Fukushima events affected Switzerland, Germany and Italy to the point that they are likely going to need to sacrifice valuable land for wind and solar energy if they stick to their plan of going with so-called “renewable” energy.

How I became a nuclear energy supporter and advocate?

It was my concern for the environment that led me to start looking at the energy problem. I was excited about the new age of technology that authors of the  sixties and seventies of my youth had predicted would bring us leisure and comforts never before seen.  My fascination with the world of nuclear technology peaked when I started reading the blogs of Kirk Sorensen and Charles Barton (Jr.). Never mind the theoretical physics concepts like quarks and quantum nechanics but now I was reading the writings about Alvin Weinberg and the Molten Salt Reactor experiments with Thorium which were simpler to understand and that convinced me this technology was truly a game changer if we were able to embrace it as a new kind of nuclear energy source.  A reactor that could be built to function under water and provide energy and with it’s high temperature and excess heat it could desalinate water into fresh drinking water that up till recently was fairly abundant. Climate change has started causing droughts and in turn forest fires that threaten our homes and our air.

The voluminous writings of Charles Barton and the infectious passion and enthusiasm of Kirk Sorensen and later the wise and insightful posts by Rod Adams convinced me that I was onto something really important.

This is why I think the nuclear renaissance still should happen.

Nuclear has a small physical footprint and a small carbon footprint. It is not intermittent and we are discovering that because of the intermittent nature of the two most popular renewables, wind and solar, that they will need load following and that means, if not nuclear energy, natural gas or coal will be needed to supplement the times when the wind stops or when the night comes. We have learned that both industries have negatives that are hard to live with. We don’t need them as a necessary evil. The technology is too expensive. The cost to the environment is too big. The pollution of coal is the worst but the undocumented damage caused by fracking Methane out of the ground is also too big a cost. Nuclear has the added advantage of being a very dense source of energy and the newest methods will also run themselves with built in passive safety. This improvement over current reactors is an enormous improvement.

Old Dreams and New Dreams

These days it’s hard to mention the American Dream without raising a feeling of bitterness.  It’s like being at a funeral and talking about the drinking habits of the deceased and what killed them. I want to remind people that the dream is not lost, that what we aspire for can be regained. The enormous challenge of getting back to a level of productivity and a state of optimism will only be accomplished if we embrace a nuclear age.  We will all share in the guilt of leaving behind a messed up world for our children if we don’t try to repair the damage.

First, the nuclear energy solution needs to be recognized as a real solution to improving the quality of life. The quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, the climate we share and the economy for which we are a part.

How Nerds are like children and what they both can teach us.

There is no better way to honor our children than to follow their example of natural idealism. We should recognize that their naivite and fearlessness to facing the unknown is what brings out the envy that we so willingly express when we mock their child like ways. In the same way we mock Nerd like behavior and part of what makes a nerd is their tendency to keep their child like ways, slower than most of us, to adapt to adult personalities and traits.

Nerds like efficiency, compactness, all things esoteric, intellectually challenging and rewarding. Well it is interesting that nuclear energy is also efficient, compact, esoteric, intellectual, challenging and rewarding. Also Nerds in large numbers like nuclear energy. But in this case the Nerdy choice is the best choice. It’s about time we catch up to scientific achievement. Coal began the industrial revolution. ~160 years later we’re still using it. Let’s really join the modern age.



It’s unanimous about Nuclear Energy, Aspartame, Climate Change

I just chose the three things I could think of that scientists agree on yet the public won’t accept Nuclear Energy, Aspartame, Climate Change.

Wikipedia on Aspartame explains:

“Aspartame has been found to be safe for human consumption by more than ninety countries worldwide, with FDA officials describing aspartame as ‘one of the most thoroughly tested and studied food additives the agency has ever approved’ and its safety as ‘clear cut’. The weight of existing scientific evidence indicates that aspartame is safe as a non-nutritive sweetener.”

The public is slow to recognize the scientific certainty of climate change. Not enough people are showing outrage. Far more are showing outrage for things that will help prevent climate change like nuclear energy. The question that I wonder about is “Are the most vocal protesters honestly engaged or are they just followers of manipulators like the environmentalists and higher up the fossil feul companies themselves.
The struggle for scientists and engineers to succeed in bringing about change is like Richard Feynman once said

“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”

Our knowledge has been consistently diluted and misrepresented by the news. If you want the truth you have to seek it painstakingly. Feynman also points out that if it was easy to explain scientific things to the public Nobel prizes would not be needed.

If I could explain it to the average person, I wouldn’t have been worth the Nobel Prize.

Action List

NRC Should Not Get All the Credit for Nuclear Energy’s Decades of Safety.

The Institute for Nuclear Power Operations in the US and the World Association of Nuclear Operators deserve a lot of the credit for improvements in safety and other design improvements. They are the Nuclear Industry’s self regulating bodies. And most of the accomplishments were made within the 10 or so years after the Three Mile Island accident. I point this out to set the record straight about who and how the excellent record of safety that has come about in the nuclear industry is not at all understood. I feel that this is a needed contrast to the “fallout” from the cries of fear among the mainstream media. They report exaggerations and inaccuracies in a blind deterministic desperation to keep their audience.

The recent article

says that a bill The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Continuation Act, H.R. 2068, is needed to ensure that the NRC remains functional as if to imply that some kind of shake-up is taking place.  Well maybe it’s time to expect accountability from the current head of the NRC Gregory Jaczko.

The latest controversy regarding Jaczko’s bad judgement involves making the recommendation to the Japanese government that they increase the perimeter of safety to 50 miles around Fukushima Daichi. He apparently did this without seeking approval from his team and without consulting with experts. This came after a similar recommendation for NPPs in the US. This decision showed lack of forethought and naivety. The actual danger was being overstated at a time when the rest of the country was in a state of emergency and shelters were already being overrun. The other consequence is that antinuclear groups picked up the idea that that distance should be made effective in the US and have started applying pressure to shut down places like Indian Point in New York State.

There are a couple of important questions that need to be asked.
1) Is he qualified for the job?

2) Why is the regulator anti-nuclear?

To get to the bottom of this would require some real digging and resources that I don’t have. What I can tell you is that Jaczko is Harry Reid’s choice for the NRC. Harry Reid’s relationship to nuclear is puzzling. He was against the Yucca repository and used his influence to close it down.  Reid supported the Gulf War and made little effort to end it. Considering he’s a Democrat he sure had a lot of Conservative ways.

All I can say is that questions need to be asked about Reid’s motives and Jaczko’s performance.

The article says that the new bill will bring stability to the NRC. It needs far more than stability.

In February 2011 This article:

Top Nuclear Official: New reactor applications could be approved by the end of the year

NRC chairman commented on the news that the status of applications under review for nuclear plants will be ready this summer

…“That’s certainly possible and it’s something that as we continue to make progress on our reviews is possible,”…

…The approvals could pave the way for construction to begin on the first new nuclear reactor in the United States in decades. The comments come as President Obama has stressed his support for nuclear power as a way of lowering the country’s greenhouse gas emissions…

“Potentially we could be looking at finalizing some of the design reviews in the late summer and after that there’s a few things that would have to happen for the final design approvals or the final license approvals,” Jaczko said in an interview that ran Sunday, but was taped earlier in the week. “And that could happen possibly by the end of this year.”


House Republicans have said they plan to focus this year on streamlining the regulatory process at the NRC, arguing it is too burdensome. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) criticized the process last month. 

“Gone are the days of reasonable expectations for a stable and predictable regulatory process,” Upton said. “This uncertainty and lack of transparency in the process is needlessly putting plants and thousands of jobs at risk.”

“The NRC must do better as nuclear power is critical as we seek to meet our nation’s growing energy demands through an ‘all of the above’ approach,” he continued.

If there are more delays as a result of Fukushima then we will be pretty certain. We’ll know by the end of the summer.



Response to Germany’s Misguided Decision to Shutdown Nuclear Power Plants

Could the German decision be helpful to promoting nuclear energy?
I’m beginning to see criticism mount. Wall Street Journal question of the day
Comments: Germany-shutting-down-its-nuclear has a critics responding in numbers and Sweden criticized Germany’s decision.

WSJ: Germany is shutting down its nuclear program. Do you agree with the decision?

Germany said it would close all of its 17 nuclear reactors by 2022, a sharp policy reversal that will make it the first major economy to quit atomic power in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan. What do you think? Is the plan an over-reaction to recent events in Japan? Can nuclear energy be safe
The Federal Association for German Industry (Bundesverband der Deutschen Industrie) (B.D.I.), sent a letter on Monday morning to the chancellery, warning her about the consequences for German business.
“How will the international competitiveness of German industry be guaranteed?” Hans-Peter Keitel, B.D.I.’s president, wrote. “Industry last year accounted for two-thirds of Germany’s economic upswing.”

Iran was not pleased with the decision either but why that is true is not clear.

==> I, too, am loving the discussion thread on the WSJ, but have to agree with William Icquatu — there are some really fervent (rabid?) anti-nuclear participants. This thread contains some of the finest, most persuaisve, pro-thorium comments I’ve seen anywhere.

However, I think it would be good to remember that DISCUSSIONS and DEBATES are FACT-based. Fling enough UNCERTAINTY and DOUBT into a debate and FACTS become OPINIONS. DEBATES become ARGUMENTS which are won by the loudest, most emotional, and most frequently shouted OPINIONS. Watch for the FACT=>FUD=>OPINION transitions in news coverage of controversial issues such as evolution, global warming and nuclear power. Seems like everything devolves into ARGUMENTS where no one wants to be confused with facts while they make up their minds.

There seems to be a strong lemming mind set in Germany. Hitler led millions over the cliff into WW II, now the “greens” are leading millions over the cliff into energy poverty. The Russian nickname for Germans, “Duybs”, translates into “oaken-headed”. Russian gas producers are about to become incredibly wealthy from the decisions of the “oaken-headed”.



Weather in France slows nuclear power production

Imagine The weather affecting France’s ability to run their plants

The higher spring temperatures are affecting the cooling of the plants

“…Water restrictions—on use for car washing and plant watering —have been imposed in about half the country. The parched soil is already certain to hit France’s wheat harvest, Western Europe’s largest, something the government says will push up world prices.

Nuclear plants, which provide some 80% of France’s electricity, need plenty of water to cool the reactors. If river flows are decreasing and levels get too low, “it will make it harder to pump water out of the rivers and cool the systems.” said a spokeswoman for Electricite de France SA, the world’s largest producer of nuclear energy.

Another potential problem is a higher-than-normal water temperatures. A combination of warm water in insufficient quantities could mean taking the plants offline or lowering their production, she said.

But this year, there are problems with the usual ways of compensating for such reductions in nuclear-power production. Hydroelectric power was down in the first quarter, which is extremely rare, due to the lack of snow and precipitations, the EDF spokeswoman noted.

France normally imports power from Germany during summer, as it conducts maintenance work on some of its nuclear plants. But Germany reduced its electricity output by 5% in March following the crisis at Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in Japan. Germany’s Federal Network Agency—the electricity grid regulator—has warned that permanently shutting down nuclear plants will eliminate the country’s reserve capacity, endangering summer power exports to France.

This week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Germany would by 2022 phase out all nuclear power, which accounts for about 23% of German electricity.

“We are asking ourselves questions about Germany’s decision,” France’s Mr. Besson said. “The decision is sovereign, there’s no place for criticizing or contesting it. And yet it will have a considerable impact for German households and businesses and greenhouse gas emissions.”

Power traders cautioned it was too early to quantify how the changed supply situation in Germany will be reflected in prices.

In the first stage of Germany’s nuclear phase-out, it has closed eight of its 17 reactors, something that could cost its government about €1 billion in tax revenues a year, finance ministry spokesman Martin Kotthaus said Wednesday. The government introduced a tax on nuclear-fuel rods earlier this year.