Tag Archives: regulations

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).

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

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.”

Later

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.

NOW HERE WILL BE THE ANSWER WE NEED to the question IS JACZCO ANTINUCLEAR?
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.

XK7Q698XXBPT

Uncategorized

BRC and NRC Battle! What is Most Needed? Policy vs Know How

Friday May 13 was the date of the last Blue Ribbon Commission hearing on Nuclear Waste. A recurring theme for the six hour marathon meeting was that technical issues are processed far too slowly by the NRC. The NRC has been delaying their announcements about conclusions drawn from the Fukushima events for two months. The delays affect progress and affect decisions regarding nuclear energy projects. Their procedures for investigating the risks or the promise of innovations take months or years to reach their conclusions and even then reveal a lack of understanding of the actual risks and seem to measure their decisions based on the temperature of the general fever of doubt by the public.

The kinds of conclusions suggested by the BRC from documents available on the BRC website make very pessimistic predictions. They conclude that it will be decades before reprocessing is practical. They still proceed as if the Oak Ridge National Laboratory studies on Molten Salt Reactors never happened.

Another overwhelming recurring theme was that transportation of nuclear waste is the biggest issue about finding permanent or interim storage. The fears reveal a lack of understanding the dangers involved. The whole manner of these proceedings is frustrating. Presentations are given and most of the commissioners admit to being far too unqualified to judge and then when the questions are asked at the end of each presentation or when the public comments are made no attempt is made to bring clarity to technical issues.

Per Peterson, one of the only highly technically qualified people on the BRC, raised the point about the need for more qualified technical staff as did some of the other commissioners in their own way. The chairman Lee Hamilton at one point put the NRC on the spot by insisting on some reassurance after 60 days of investigating the Fukushima incident that something useful be brought forth or perhaps saying that there is no useful conclusions to apply to America’s nuclear power plants. The word “tentative” kept coming up to refer to the fact that information has not been easy to come by regarding the Fukushima reactors and the fuel storage.

The shocking reality to me that seems so obvious is that these guys are in over their head. When the pressure for answers is on and the answers are so scarce there is an obvious need for really knowledgeable people to investigate the situation.

What do bureaucratic organizations do when they lack expertise? They dictate policy. Even Per Peterson’s presentation was given from a policy point of view.

Perhaps the biggest problem with forming a commission or a regulatory agency is that a lot of the times that they are needed the staff are able to handle the technical challenges. Nuclear energy has specific needs and just like when an emergency calls for “a doctor in the house” so does forming a committee about nuclear, let that be several, not just spotted here and there among senior bureaucrats.

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…”

 

 

PlayPlay
Action List Uncategorized

4 Ways to Fix the DOE

I came up with the following guidelines based on Philip K. Howard’s Ted Talk on 4 Ways to Fix a Broken Legal System
(see original 4 points at the bottom)

Creativity has been stifled by fears over legal battles and rules created in a climate of fear. We need to look at ways to improve the system. The way I’ve reworded Howard’s original points makes the points more generic and applicable to many areas.

4 ways to fix the DOE (Department of Energy)
(they apply to many levels of government and rugulatory bodies as well as Law)

1. make decisions mainly by its effect on society not individual situations
2. Trust that decisions are applied for the common good
is an essential condition of freedom and moving forward.
Distrust skews behavior towards failure.
3. Rules must set boundaries protecting an open field of freedom,
not provide a way to enable adversaries to win disputes.
4.To rebuild boundaries of freedom, two changes are essential:
1) Simplify Rules
2) Restore authority to stakeholders and officials to apply the rules.

4 Ways to Fix a Broken Legal System

1. Judge law mainly by its effect on society
not individual situations
2. Trust in Law is an essential condition of freedom.
Distrust skews behavior towards failure.
3. Law must set boundaries protecting an open field of freedom,
not intercede in disputes
4.To rebuild boundaries of freedom, two changes are essential:
1) Simplify Law
2) Restore authority to judges and officials to apply law.

Two quotes from the talk:
Thomas Edison said “We don’t have any rules around here.
We’re trying to accomplish something.”

You can’t run a society by the lowest common denominator

Uncategorized

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.

Nuclear Advocacy Uncategorized

The Time is Right for Discussing Hormesis

http://bravenewclimate.com/2011/04/07/lessons-nuclear-quake-tsunami/

I recently had a chat with a couple of people who reminded me about how if people knew examples of others who have survived exposure to radiation on numerous occasions only to live long and healthy lives those people might be a little more relaxed about the reports on Fukushima Daiichi Reactors.  The recent article from BraveNewClimate by guest author Dr. William Sacks presents his understanding of the effects of low level radiation known as hormesisW

It is hormesis that I suggest has enabled certain nuclear scientists to live into their 80’s and beyond.  I will eventually give a bit of a bio for each but here are their names for now. Eugene Wigner, Alvin Weinberg, Charles Barton Sr., Edward Teller, Ralph Moir (he’s only 71), Lauriston Taylor and there is one case from the very early days of nuclear investigation who did not know about the dangers. Marie Curie who they say died from the effects of radiation was able to live until 66 years of age but she carried unshielded radium and other radio active materials in her pockets and near her work desk. She won two Nobel Prizes in her career.

So read the William Sacks article and see what kinds of lessons he thinks are important about nuclear energy after the Fukushima events.

Quick summary about Hormesis:

LNT stands for Linear No Threshold and various regulatory bodies still use this model for applying standards.  The problem with the model is that it assumes that radiation is bad at any dosage and that it will become cumulative assuming that somehow the body retains the radiation. This is in opposition to known facts of no effects from exposure and many examples exist where small doses of radiation and in some cases large doses have had a beneficial effect.

So the two camps LNT who are usually regulators or antinukers and the hormesis camp who know about how the body can deal with low level doses.

More reading… Detectable radiation versus dangerous radiation at AtomicInsights.com

Hormesis – Low Doses of Most “Poisons” Can Be Beneficial at Old Atomic Insights
updates:

How Does Low Level Radiation Provide Beneficial Effects by Rod Adams May 3, 2011
Ann Coulter on Bill O’Reilly Video where she says women tuberculosis patients in Canada who had chest x-rays had lower incidence of cancer. Another community of 10,000 were exposed to Cobalt 60 had only 5 incidents of cancer when normal amount would be 150.

Viewpoint: We should stop running away from radiation March 26, 2011 By Wade Allison University of Oxford

See Bernard Cohen’s Chapter 5
posted online How Dangerous Is Radiation?
from his book The Nuclear Energy Option

Three Useful Diagrams


Uncategorized

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.”

Later

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.