Tag Archives: US

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).

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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.

Action List Contributors Nuclear Advocacy

History of the Antinuclear Movement-Part 1

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

 
Other DV82XL see Q and A on Regulations

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Just 10 days since this Blog started and great results

813 views all-time (web site launched Jan 20th/2011) until today
143 viewed today (Jan 31/2011)
138 is the most views in one day (Jan 21/2011 ) previous
– that was the day Charles Barton posted a short review on his NuclearGreen.blogspot.com
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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).
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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.
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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.

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When the AEC became the NRC Nuclear Energy stopped growing in the US.

Robert Steinhaus replied to a Gwyneth Cravens Facebook posting about a NewYork Times article that James Hansen’s would like to say if a tour were planned by Obama.

Dr. Hansen is quoted as saying
“The other thing not mentioned above is that the most fundamental problem, which I keep repeating, is this: as long as fossil fuels are the cheapest energy, somebody will keep burning them — implication, we must put a rising price on carbon”.
I would ask why it is necessary to place a price on carbon to advance the cause of responsible energy production?
Nuclear energy is currently suffering from being artificially priced up in the United States by the influence of current NRC regulation. On a level playing field, operating in a regulatory environment as existed in the US in the early 1970s under the AEC, nuclear energy produced electricity would be cheaper in cost than any of the fossil fuels and would just relentlessly push fossil fuels out of use based on cost of electricity alone. In the early 1970s, under AEC unified regulation where technology advocacy and restrictive regulation lived under one agency roof, the nuclear industry was on a trajectory to double the number of America’s then existing fleet of nuclear reactors in something like twenty years. If the US had pursued that track of development we would have built enough nuclear reactors (approximately one hundred and fifty-five 1600 MW(e) nuclear plants) to completely replace all of the electricity produced from burning coal by 1990. My preliminary examinations of the costs of nuclear plants built in the late 1960s and early 1970s versus the estimated costs of similar sized nuclear power plants proposed to be built today suggest that the current cost of NRC regulation versus the cost of AEC regulation as it existed in 1970 on reactor construction costs is about 400% or 4X. Reactors are about four times as high in capital construction costs just because of the influence (and delays) of current NRC regulation. If you were to reform the way nuclear is currently regulated you could reduce the cost of building nuclear to about ¼ of the current costs and nuclear would just win in all contests against its fossil energy competition and would dominate the future of American power generation.
Why is it necessary to price up carbon when nuclear regulatory reform would overnight drop nuclear construction costs, which are the primary obstacle to building new nuclear?
When you price up carbon containing fossil fuels you impact fully 85% of US economic activity currently driven by burning carbon based fuels. Making energy cheaper makes everything made with energy cheaper and makes American products manufactured for export more competitive. Warping the energy playing field by making carbon (the dominant fuel source driving the economy) more expensive just shrinks the economic pie.
Why not reform nuclear regulation to bring it back into parity with our industrial competition and the safe standards that existed during the era of the AEC while making energy cheaper and broadly stimulating all energy using business in the economy while creating large numbers of new jobs in a long term sustainable way?

and later he says

I believe that the impact of regulation on the US nuclear industry is cumulative. The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 initiated the period of segregated industry advocate (ERDA-DOE) and restrictive regulator (NRC) functions. This arrangement was proposed to remove a more theoretical than practical “conflict of interest” built into the regulatory system where the then existent AEC regulator wore both advocate and regulator hats. In the early 1970’s nuclear energy was on a trajectory of very strong and healthy growth that would have seen it replace most if not all electricity generation from coal and to a lesser extent, natural gas, by 1995. Quietly, an antinuclear/early environmental/fossil fuel coalition succeeded in putting into place this segregated regulatory structure that had built into it the liability of, in the name of PUBLIC SAFETY ABOVE ALL OTHER CONSIDERATIONS, running away to destructive levels of regulatory restriction. That has resulted in not a single nuclear project being initiated under NRC regulatory supervision since the day the agency opened its doors in 1975 and therefore ever getting successfully built. While it might make the lives of regulators easier, that is,  to have a single focused duty and responsibility (public safety over all other considerations), unfortunately this is not what produces the best benefit for society. An important industry (nuclear) was practically shut down for 35 years through this unwise regulatory arrangement and the public was denied the benefits of  clean and abundant power that this industry was on the cusp of producing for America. In energy regulation, balance and wisdom is unfortunately needed to maximally produce good for the public. It is true that you can achieve a measure of safety by just raising regulatory obstacles, to a point where no new nuclear technology gets built. But this does not produce for the public good because more costly, more polluting, and more dangerous power industries then have to be built to produce the power needed by the nation. With the passage of The Energy Reorganization Act of 1974 a segregated regulatory framework that lacked balance replaced a unified regulatory arrangement which better and more effectively served the public good and permitted real nuclear reactors to be built. In the name of public safety, by introducing a segregated regulatory arrangement we reduced real public safety by forcing new energy development from that point forward to feature an intrinsically less safe technology (coal) to replace the safer and less costly nuclear that we were on a clear path to building.
Nuclear Power is not the most dangerous way to produce abundant amounts of electrical power, indeed the opposite is factually the case (not one fatality in 50 years of commercial power generation – although there were early military fatalities). Regulatory safety standards should be designed to address the real probabilistic risks of the technology – not some imaginary exaggerated risk in the mind of the public vaguely relating to use of atomic weapons.

If we ignore the problem of separating advocate and gatekeeper functions and nuclear regulation we will never be able to get the nuclear renaissance off the ground. All we will be able to do in the next 40 years is build a tiny trickle of very overpriced traditional Light Water Reactors at a rate slightly below what is needed to preserve nuclear at the same proportion of power generation (about 20% of total electrical power generation). We need to find a way to build new nuclear, and up to now the NRCs attempts to streamline certification and licensing has not resulted in new reactors – only a little grading, preliminary excavation, and site preparation, and landscaping. We need real reactors (one hundred and fifty-five 1600 MW(e) reactors) to replace electricity produced from burning coal to protect the climate and preserve American quality of life. We need to preserve innovation and permit new technology, like Thorium fueled LFTR and small modular reactors, to enter the nuclear industry. I believe that a real nuclear renaissance in America that results in building hundreds of new reactors will only take place if we reform the way we regulate nuclear.

More form Robert on another Facebook thread later the same day by Kirk Sorensen on Obama treading too lightly…

I agree with you that nuclear regulatory reform will be needed to permit building in the next 40 years more than a tiny trickle of very overpriced traditional Light Water Reactors at a rate slightly less than is needed to replace the plants lost to designed retirement. We need to find a way to build new nuclear, and up to now the NRCs attempts to streamline their certification and licensing has not resulted in new reactors or even new licenses – just early site preparation and grading permits. To permit innovations like LFTR and SMRs we need regulatory reform and a reduction of the regulatory obstacles to parity with the industrial competition. I like the idea of studying what would happen if the US rolled back regulation to the level that existed in the US in the early 1970s when the US was on a trajectory to double the size of the reactor fleet within ~20 years.
Still, we should be a little careful. NRC is not the “axis of the enemy”. If you had much interaction with NRC regulators (and I have had only a little while I worked at LLNL) you would know that the majority of the regulatory staff is intelligent, dedicated, and hard working. Most of the AEC regulators that guided the growth of nuclear to 104 reactors in the AEC era continued on and became the first generation of regulators in the NRC era. These were almost without exception very good guys who performed a significant service. I believe that the problems that we are in do not come from having bad staff at NRC but rather the problems have mostly come from bad direction to NRC from certain elements in Congress allied with fossil fuel/environmentalist/anti-nuclear lobby. It is easier to sow the seeds of uncomprehending fear than to teach people enough to understand the moderate risks and huge benefits of nuclear energy. Even today, politicians on both coasts grandstand to the voters over closing nuclear plants while keeping in place nuclear moratoriums that, if lifted, would help improve the climate and make America energy independent. NRC should be reformed and ideally replaced with a unified regulator like the old AEC (or the current FAA) but the staff should not be sacked in my humble opinion at least.
(I suggest SACK Congress!)
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It’s National Nuclear Science Week

Mark Flanagan tells us it’s National Nuclear Science Week

Nuclear science plays a vital role in the lives of Americans…and the world. Consider these facts: 

  • 18 million nuclear medicine procedures are performed per year among 305 million people in the United States
  • 104 operating nuclear reactors in the US employ an average of 700 people to operate them in the 31 states that have nuclear power generating plants
  • 20 percent of our nation’s electricity is generated by nuclear power
  • 436 nuclear power plants are operating in 30 countries, supplying 14 percent of the world’s electricity. Fifty-three new nuclear plants are under construction in 14 countries.

All true. As it says above, different topics are addressed each day. Today is about Careers, tomorrow Generation (that’s NEI and its membership, broadly speaking), Nuclear Safety is Thursday, and Nuclear Medicine on Friday. Take a look – there’s a nicely designed web site with a lot of activities – it’s a great way to introduce young folks to nuclear energy.