Tag Archives: licensing

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)

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).

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 http://www.morrisdailyherald.com/articles/2011/06/06/08698241/index.xml

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.


Nuclear Advocacy Uncategorized

Toronto’s Recent Nuclear Symposium

The two day Nuclear Symposium in Toronto took place April 28 and 29th.
I have been busy so it has taken a while to post my notes.

There was no indication that a nuclear age was becoming mainstream.

But that does not mean that it won’t survive.
The focus in Canada for now has changed toward refurbishment and not new plants.
That’s the mini paradigm for the near future in Canada.

Fukushima was a setback and so were the Federal and Provincial elections.
My original view was that the public and therefore the industry would benefit from
the outcome of Fukushima because of the education gained. Maybe too soon to tell.

I only was able to visit Thursday and it started with with catching the end of

Bruce Power executive John Sauger’s talk on “Evaluating the Economic
Impact of Nuclear Power Development: Perspectives from Key Stakeholders.”

John Sauger spoke about how to keep costs down and how to meet challenges to avoid delays.
It involves time sensitive planning such as having 100 percent of the engineering completed before
starting the projects. He also mentioned that construction and maintenance costs were
an 18% markup which he called “funny money”.

They also had made 17 collective agreements negotiated with various unions.

Albert Sweetnam Exec VP Nuclear New Build from Ontario Power Generation
CANDU 6 is the favored choice and takes longer than 4 years in Canada
but only 4 years in China. Referred to Canada’s regulations as more intrusive.

Brad Duguid the Ontario Energy Minister spoke for 20 minutes mainly expressing support
for Nuclear mentioning that 50 percent as a goal to maintain for nuclear generation of electricity.
He also made a firm commitment to supporting two new Darlington units.
He also expressed the need for the federal government to show more support for nuclear energy
like they do with the oil sands.
Duguid praised Tom Mitchell and Duncan Hawthorne for their roles as consultants regarding the
Fukushima Daiichi events.

Duane Bratt from Mount Royal University. on
Assessing the Evolving Role of AECL in Canada’s Nuclear Landscape
1) Too small to compete
2) AECL needs cash.
3) Crown Corporation mentality
4) ACR1000 dead can be seen from omnibus bill passed
5) regulators are biased in favour of local technology
6) trade barriers exist between provinces and between nations
7) poor relations with China

Brian Hilbers Lessons Learned from Bruce Power’s Unit 1 and 2 Refurbishment
and Applying them to future projects

Highlights units 1 & 2 completed adds 25 years to lifetime
units 5-8 refurbishment between 2015 – 2020 will add 25 years to their lifetime.
Demand for Power has fallen steadily in recent years graphic was shown
Estimating costs need to improve.
The shortage of labour needs to be solved. Only enough to handle one project at a time.
At one point which I don’t remember his point or what the numbers mean but he said
14,000 MW equates to $40 Billion Dollars for _______?

CNSC Greg Rzentkowski Director General of CNSC “Maintaining Critical Safety Standards for Nuclear Reburbishment Projects”

First red flag was the description of CNSC role to reach “highest levels of safety that are reasonably able to be accomplished”
The word “reasonably” strikes me as absurd and debatable.
Later he showed a graph that was disturbing that showed expectations of safety over time and that during the life of a plant
there were a continuing increase in safety standards that needed to be met. The graph indicated that the rate of increase
was decreasing but was still significant.

I asked the question whether there was any budget for the CNSC to educate the public and he said no.

Later when I spoke to him privately he said they try to encourage the Plant Operators to educate the public.
I tried to suggest that there was a direct relationship between Fear and Regulatory standards he said much more so in the US
He commented that they provide a description of the outcome for their requirements and allow the NPPs to find their own solutions.
which allowed for innovative solutions.
I also suggested that the CNSC were standards followers rather than standards makers and he disagreed.

He also mentioned at recent International Conference in Vienna that Canada recommended
a set of International Safety Standards be made that outlined minimum requirements.

Milt Caplan from MZConsulting did 45 minutes on “A Comparitive Short-Term and Long-Term Economic and Environmental Outlook for Nuclear and Natural Gas Power
Compared fuel to Operating costs
Nuclear fuel cheaper than Natural Gas and coal
1.3 to 1.6 $US cents per kiloWatt hour

changes in natural gas costs reflect changes in electricity costs
not true of Nuclear
discount rates of ________? affect nuclear energy costs but not natural gas costs
Cost of Plant construction for NPPs does affect the price of electricity
Costs doubled in last decade from $2000 per kwh to $4000 per kwh
Mentioned book The End of Free Markets
east vs west comparison 1) east costs are lower than wests

CONFIDENCE big factor that determines cost
Every new plant lowers the price of future plants
Every year without a new plant increases the price

Bruce Landry from NuScale spoke of their Small Modular Reactors -
significant cost saving approach based on a scalable LWR with
a 12 unit footprint built in the ground but each unit added as needed

Action List Uncategorized

NRC Hearing: Yucca has become inconvenient distraction to other performance issues

Hearing Report on the “Role of the NRC in America’s Energy Future” – video of hearing

Chairman John Shimkus started by defining his role in Illinois and its 6 reactors and went on to suggest he is concerned by the long delays in decision-making and suggested changes were needed to allow progress.

What Ed Whitfield said and what he prepared were two different things. He did not speak about the “front end” or the “back end.”

I have included the sections they did not have time to discuss because of the lengthy interrogation on Yucca and what to do with Nuclear Waste.

Waxman reminded them of the 26 applications for new reactors and the need to facilitate the process.
He also mention the President had appointed the Blue Ribbon Commission on Nuclear Waste and the report is due by the summer.
Shimkus pointed out that it is the first gathering at a hearing by the committee that included the NRC commissioners in a decade. 4 of the 5 commissioners were present.

CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND POWER – Ed Whitfield (full statement here)

“On the front end of nuclear power development, I’m very interested to hear about whether the NRC can develop and provide more regulatory certainty in its licensing and re-licensing programs. As in other energy sectors, regulatory certainty, such as keeping to decision schedules, is essential for ensuring the investments necessary to develop nuclear energy. Additionally, I think it is worth reviewing the Commission’s organizational structure, and whether an agency rightly focused on safety is suitably structured to also facilitate the advancement of new nuclear generation.”

Mr. Rush mentioned his concerns of having NRC staff permanently deployed at plant locations that could lead to complacency. He also wanted to know about waste storage.

Mr. Upton from Michigan reiterated much of what the others were saying about the importance of nuclear energy for the future power supply but also acknowledged the independence of the NRC and it’s qualified staff. Reading between the lines we still get the sense that the science has not been tackled by the committee members and that they are humbled by the knowledge and authority that NRC represents. I think this is unfortunate.

Joe Barton of Texas focused delay of Yucca repository.

Chairman Jaczko spoke of the Fukushima events and pointed out the possible reevaluation of standards in US:

“…On Monday, March 21, my colleagues on the Commission and I met to review the status of the situation in Japan and identify the steps needed to conduct that review.  We subsequently decided to establish a senior level agency task force to conduct a comprehensive review of our processes and regulations to determine whether the agency should make additional improvements to our regulatory system, and to make recommendations to the Commission for its policy direction.    The review is being conducted in both a short-term and a longer-term timeframe.  The short-term review has already begun, and the task force will brief the Commission at 30 days, 60 days, and 90 days, to identify potential or preliminary near-term operational or regulatory issues that may need to be addressed.  The NRC will begin the longer-term review as soon as we have more complete information and understanding of the events in Japan.  The Commission will hold a public meeting on May 12th to receive the Task Force’s 30-day status update, and will meet again on June 16th and July 19th… There has been no reduction in the licensing or oversight function of the NRC as it relates to any of the U.S. licensees… The NRC is actively reviewing 12 combined applications to construct and operate new nuclear power reactors.  Five different reactor designs are referenced in these applications; the NRC is currently reviewing the design applications for certification or amendments. If these design certifications or amendments are approved, they will be available to be referenced in future COL applications, and thereby make those reviews more straightforward. The NRC is also performing safety, security, and environmental reviews of facility applications, a uranium deconversion facility application, and applications for new uranium recovery facilities…”




Vermont Yankee Faces Another Obstacle From the State

http://www.courthousenews.com/2011/04/19/35926.htm April 19, 2011
Nuclear Plant Operator Sues Vermont Governor By ROBERT KAHN

Entergy is suing the State of Vermont for Vermont’s Act 160 that permits the state to shut down the plant even when the NRC agreed to extend their licence until 2032 and that no other state has ever overruled an NRC ruling. Those who have followed the battle will know that Tritium was leaking from the plant. Entergy made several attempts to get it under control and eventually did. But the part the press rarely mentions is that the Tritium found in the water was at very low doses and far below dangerous levels. This is another example of taking advantage of the public ignorance and giving into fears stirred up by the Fukushima crisis. The plant currently provides 75% of Vermont’s electricity. The expression  “you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth” applies here.  The scientific community, engineers and advocates for clean air all think it should stay open. The same comparisons still apply and that seems to make no difference. The fact that coal plants emit far more radiation than any nuclear plant ever has in the US makes no difference. If the Governor succeeds in having his way it will be another victory for the fossil fuel industries who lobby and spend big bucks to promote their polluting ways over carbon free nuclear.


Bill Gates is forced to pursue breakthrough TWR abroad!!!

You know maybe Bill Gates will help change the way the US does business with Nuclear Energy. He’s trying to find a utility company willing to test his reactor. Well we can hope he has luck in the US. The article says he is pursuing utility companies outside of the US.

The article published in the WallStreetJournal A Window Into the Nuclear Future
TerraPower—with the backing of Bill Gates—has a radical vision for the reactors of tomorrow.

Bill Gates both funds and guides TerraPower LLC in their pursuit of the Travelling Wave reactor which has many of the same attributes of the Thorium molten Salt Reactor aka LFTR.

Here’s a quote from the article

“A cheaper reactor design that can burn waste and doesn’t run into fuel limitations would be a big thing,” Mr. Gates says. He adds that in general “capitalism underinvests in innovation,” particularly in areas with “long time horizons and where government regulations are unclear.”

Action List

Announcement by Gregory Jaczko about this years applicants

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.


Why has China chosen our old TMSR as their own reactor project?

Energy from Thorium: China has officially begun a thorium molten salt reactor program. It is very interesting that the information was posted to our Energy from Thorium Discussion Forum. Energy From Thorium Discussion Forum View topic – China started “thorium based molten salt reactor Charles Barton has noted this as well:http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2011/01/china-starts-lftr-development-project.html
Jaro Franta: That should certainly boost the international TMSR project’s clout ! …good !
Douglas Waller: Everyone is leaving us behind.
Jason Grant: or forcing us to catch up! At least its started. Very exciting indeed!
Greg Barton: Is this our…dare I say it…Sputnik moment?
Erik Andersen: I certainly hope so. Of course, given the difference between the regulatory process in the USA vs China, I expect China will have one designed, built, and working by 2014. By 2020, the US government on the other hand will have picked a huge contractor like Haliburton, contracted with them for $2 billion, paid them $46 billion extra in budget overruns, and received a white paper on The Effects of Massive Thorium Ingestion on Spotted Owl to show for it.
Dennis Jackson: @Greg…yes. Clever analysis, I hope someone in Washington D.C. catches your post.
Siren Hakimi: Congrats to China being the first nation in recognizing the value of this superior technology. This is actually good news for US, Washington will finally have its epiphany and join the game. If we still don’t catch up, we will only exist in history books.
Edward Peschko: @Erik, that’s why I’ve always said that if there is a LFTR to be built in this country in short order, it’s going to be built by the military. Their reactors aren’t under the jurisdiction of the NRC (direct from the mouth of chairman jaczko), they have political and financial clout, there’s a clear way to save money and lives for them (in the form of lesser fuel costs and smaller supply chain), they have less pressure from special interest groups outside the military to block it, and they have a history of both supporting the national labs and in making civilian spinoffs of their technology. We are also fighting 2 wars which tends to let them get funding for anything that may shorten those wars. But whether or not a technology gets implemented there can depend on the knowledge of the top brass on the technology – ie: whether or not it exists, and its potential benefits. My thought with thorium is that *nobody up high enough knows* and perhaps that with this development, some ammunition could be brought to bear to *get* someone high enough up there *to know*.
Jason Correia I can’t help but have a feeling of sour grapes about this. As much as I hate to say it, China is moving ahead into the future while America twaddles.
Jason Correia: ‎@Edward, I agree about *nobody up high enough knows* but seriously, ANYONE who might spend 30 minutes reading up on nuclear energy matters on the internet would probably stumble upon LFTR. And the fact that talk and buzz about LFTR never seemed to take off in those upper circles means these people have their heads buried in the sand and ought to be ashamed of themselves for their pitiful lack of intellectual curiosity.
Robert Steinhaus: @Edward – I would agree that regulatory obstacles are probably the largest single obstacle to building LFTR in the USA – China currently enjoys a considerably friendlier regulatory approach and this would probably make a significant difference (a decade) in time required to complete a LFTR prototype.
The US military would be a wonderful sponsor for LFTR and military projects do enjoy a regulatory advantage (special window at NRC). Perhaps not widely appreciate is the fact that National Laboratories have also enjoyed a regulatory path where NRC traditionally permitted the Labs to “self regulate” research reactors built on their Lab sites. ORNL built 13 research reactors on their Lab site in the period from 1943 – 2010 and these were built without direct NRC regulatory oversight.
ORNL/TM-2009/181 – An Account of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Thirteen Nuclear Reactors – Murray W. Rosenthal – ORNL Deputy Director, ORNL (retired)http://info.ornl.gov/sites/publications/files/Pub20808.pdf
Many additional reactors have been built on National Lab sites at INL, PNL, and LLNL over the last half century on an independent regulatory track from NRC.
Bottom Line: The military would be a good sponsor for LFTR (Three Star Admiral/Congressman Joe Sestak understood LFTR and its many advantages and was prepared to support it in Congress before his recent defeat in his bid for the Senate). Alternatively, a private consortium (Teledyne-Brown?) and a cooperating National Laboratory could produce a NRC certifiable commercial LFTR prototype in America without decade long regulatory delays in ~ five years at acceptable cost (best guess $9 billion for project).

Rep Terry Nealey has the right idea about nuclear innovation

Rep Terry Nealey of Washington State is proposing some legislation which I hope catches on in other states. There are two companion Bills being introduced Bill SB5564 and HB1513
Here’s the article from The State Column:
Rep. Terry Nealey authors bill seeking expansion of nuclear energy in Washington Friday, January 28, 2011
By: Kramer Phillips
“Rep. Terry Nealey issued the following statement:
As the state’s energy demands continue to grow while baseload electrical generation from coal and other fossil fuels is discouraged, Rep. Terry Nealey says nuclear energy is the cleanest, most efficient way to replace that lost power.
Nealey, R-Dayton, has introduced legislation that would expedite the regulatory processes and provide incentives for expansion of nuclear-generated energy in Washington state.
“We are rapidly reaching a critical point in time that will require us to determine how to meet Washington’s future energy needs. As our state’s population grows, so will demands for additional electricity. Consumers are using more electricity than ever to operate computers, televisions, server farms, and other equipment, and in the future, our state will be transitioning toward electric vehicles. At the same time, there’s a strong push to move away from coal and natural gas, which have been important sources of baseload generation, and toward clean, renewable energy sources, such as wind, solar and biomass,” said Nealey. “However, expansion of these new sources alone will not be sufficient to supplant fossil fuel baseload generation because wind and solar are intermittent. The answer is to expand nuclear energy, which exists as one of the most reliable and clean non-emitting electrical baseload generation sources. This legislation brings expansion of nuclear power into the conversation.”
House Bill 1513 would create a joint legislative task force on nuclear energy to study the feasibility of pursuing additional nuclear generated power in Washington. The study would include: the use of new nuclear energy generation technologies; methods of recycling, converting and disposing of spent fuel; a comparison of kilowatt-hour costs between nuclear and other low-carbon generation sources; review of federal incentives to support advanced nuclear power projects in Washington; integration of additional nuclear generation into the electric grid; maximizing public and private investment in nuclear generation to reduce ratepayer risk; and quantification of greenhouse gas reductions resulting from nuclear generation.
The nine-member task force would comprise one legislator from each caucus in the state House and Senate, a representative from the governor’s office, and four others appointed by the governor. The bill requires the study to be submitted to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2011.
Nealey says it’s important to begin the conversation of future energy generation now, because it will take time to build the infrastructure necessary to support nuclear-power generation.”
“If coal and gas-fired plants are discontinued, there is no way we can meet our future energy needs through wind and solar alone. Utility companies have said we need more baseload generation because wind and solar are so intermittent that they cannot rely on it as a consistent source of energy. Hydro continues to be an important part of providing for our state’s electrical generation needs, but to date, it is still not legally considered in our state as a ‘green’ source of renewable energy. So we’re going to need another reliable source and that should be nuclear,” said Nealey. “Along with hydro, nuclear is the cleanest, consistent source of energy we have.”
The measure would provide an expedited permit process for a nuclear energy application, if the governor and Legislature agree to the request. The state would also commit to constructing at least one nuclear energy facility by 2020, three by 2030, and five by 2040.
“Some have been reluctant to discuss nuclear energy as an option because its reputation was severely tarnished years ago with the disasters at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl. People are still fearful, but they shouldn’t be any more. Technology has substantially advanced since 25 years ago. There’s a newer, better concept of smaller module units that put out up to 400 megawatts. It’s less expensive than the old, huge models, and nuclear power is safer, and it’s clean generation,” said Nealey. “Nuclear has become a primary source of electrical generation in Europe and other parts of the globe, but we continue to straggle behind here in the U.S., unnecessarily, because of the tarnished reputation of years ago.
“It’s also important the public doesn’t confuse this with the issue of weapons-grade nuclear waste, which is what has created environmental concerns at Hanford. Nuclear-energy generation creates a very small amount of waste, which is safely handled and stored, and not a threat to the environment,” he added.
Nealey suggests new nuclear plants could be constructed at Hanford, which already operates a nuclear energy facility on site. He said transmission lines are present on the site to accept the new generation. He added the small amount of waste generated could be stored at the site, just as it is now.
“The issue of waste is overplayed. In the 28 years since Energy Northwest has been producing nuclear power at the Columbia Generating Station, only 26 steel and concrete canisters of waste have been produced. They are stored outside under heavy security at Hanford in indestructible containers. For now, it’s the best, safest and most proper way of handling the spent fuel,” noted Nealey.
The 16th District lawmaker is hopeful his legislation will spark thoughtful debate and a serious discussion over how Washington will meet its future energy needs.
“We live in a high-tech economy dependent on increasing energy supplies to sustain its growth. If we’re to move toward cleaner energy sources, we have to be ready to replace that baseload generation if it is lost from those abandoned sources. It makes sense that nuclear should be a key component to supply the increased demands. Let’s have this conversation now,” concluded Nealey.

NRC Approves AP1000 design

Martin Burkle posted Jan. 30,2011 12:23AM

Good News! The NRC has approved the design for the Westinghouse Vision 17 AP1000 reactor.
IHS: Westinghouse AP1000 Reactor Receives NRC Approval

Actually, I am surprised but pleased. Southern Company expects to get its Construction and Operating License (COL) for the Vogtle site before the end of the year. Assuming the license is granted it will allow a speedier application for the next company that requests a COL in which case only the site specific designs will be inspected by the NRC. The idea is to greatly reduce the time between the application for the COL and the approval. It has been about 30 years since the last construction license was granted in the United States.

Once the COL is granted, the first concrete pour could happen within weeks because the site is already prepared and the concrete plant has already been built.

Maybe there really is a way out of this regulatory jungle.