Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I don't believe what Mr. Obama says, because I see what he does

In a press release yesterday, the anti-nuclear group NIRS noted that "Last week, President Obama submitted his FY 2010 budget, which explicitly calls for an end to the Yucca Mountain project and includes only enough funding for the Department of Energy to participate in the licensing process."

If Yucca were really dead, why isn't the licensing effort stopped? The answer is that Yucca is not dead. Mr. Obama has explicitly called for many things. He's called for transparency, for example. Yet he has had lawyers fighting for months to keep Hawaii from releasing his birth records. Neither Yucca Mountain nor court challenges to Mr. Obama's eligibility to serve as President are dead.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Next Generation Nuclear Plant

diagram of advanced reactor design for electricity production and hydrogen production

This is a diagram of an advanced reactor designed to both produce electricity and hydrogen. The NRC presentation which discusses the design is available at

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Nuclear plant construction time can be cut 10 months by new Korea Hydro steel plate concrete method

Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Co. (KHNP) claims their new steel plate concrete building method may reduce overall construction time by 10 months while saving 200 billion won ($147US million) for every two 1,400 megawatt reactor units built. South Korea plans to build eight new reactors by 2016 -- all of them are to use this construction method. A commercial reactor usually takes seven years to build at a cost of trillions of won, depending on power output.

The state-run company said the PC method uses prefabricated sections made by two steel plates embedded with "studs" that are made at factories and shipped to the construction site. Once they are in place, concrete is poured into the space between the plates to form solid walls. "This method is safer, faster, reduces environmental pollution and can be used in the construction of industrial plants and other facilities," a KHNP spokesperson said. The official said the new method was roughly two years ahead of similar research being conducted abroad.

In the past, contractors relied solely on the reinforced concrete method to make specially designed walls at nuclear power plants that required steel reinforcement bars to be built in place, molds to be set up to outline walls, and the space created by the molds filled with cement.

[Source: Yonhap News, "S. Korea develops process to cut time, cost to build nuke reactor", April 9, 2009]

Hillary Clinton's assessment seems a little off on Iran

"There is nothing more important than trying to convince Iran to cease its efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon." That is a quote from Secretary Clinton in article from Jerusalem Post today. Your humble editor disagrees with her take. It's not the trying that's most important, it's the succeeding.

Yucca Mountain - a breathtaking view

I'm 54 years old. If I were paid a tenth of a cent for every breath I've taken so far, that would come to about $430-thousand. I mention that because electricity customers have been paying an extra tenth-of-a-cent for each kilowatt-hour produced by nuclear power since 1983. The extra money goes into a federal government account called the Nuclear Waste Fund, which is dedicated to the task of disposing of the spent fuel. There's been a lot of electricity produced by these hundered-and-some plants over the years. The tenth-of-a-cent charges have totalled to some $30-billion. Almost half has been spent already, on Yucca Mountain, without a single spent fuel bundle yet put in the big hole we've dug. And our federal government leaders don't seem inclined to ever let Yucca Mountain be used for that purpose. I know with all the trillions of dollars being printed to bailout, er rescue, er stimulate, a triflingly few billions wasted doesn't seem so breathtaking any more. More's the pity.

Nuclear power allows Vermont to emit less air pollution in a year than Wyoming does in a day

"Vermont Yankee provides nearly all of Vermont’s electricity, making it the cleanest state in the country. (Coal-rich Wyoming emits more air pollution in a day than Vermont produces in a year.)"

Source: William Tucker, "Go Ahead, Close Oyster Creek", planet gore blog (National Review Online), April 9, 2009

Mr. Tucker just published a book titled Terrestrial Energy: How Nuclear Power Will Lead the Green Revolution and End America’s Energy Odyssey. His article title about closing Oyster Creek is not because he thinks shutdown is warranted, but because New Jersey would be so hurt by shutdown that the resultant howling and gnashing would be instructive the rest of the country.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

ESBWR - design cert inspection identified 6 apparent violations at GE-Hitachi

On December 15-19, 2008, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) conducted an inspection at the General Electric-Hitachi (GEH) Nuclear Energy facility in Wilmington, North Carolina. The inspection was part of NRC's design certification review of GEH Economic Simplified Boiling Water Reactor (ESBWR). The inspection team in part focused on the development and use of GEH software codes to perform safety analyses for the ESBWR design certification. NRC today released the inspection report and notice of several apparent violations.

05200010/2008-201-01 Open NOV
10 CFR Part 21: Failure to perform Part 21 evaluation when other GEH organization indicated that a software problem had impacted their use of the code

05200010/2008-201-02 Open NOV
Design Control: Failure to document the justification or rationale for the use a particular version of a non-Level 2 code during an alternate calculation to verify original calculations and developer's assumptions.

05200010/2008-201-03 Open NOV
Corrective Action: Failure to get ECP problem reports responses in a timely manner.

05200010/2008-201-04 Open NOV
Corrective Action: Failure to have adequate corrective action program for Level 1 software code errors.

05200010/2008-201-05 Open NOV
Audits: Failure to have the GEH NQA audit plans for 2006 and 2007.

05200010/2008-201-06 Open NOV
Audits: Failure to adequately document the basis of the audit findings to support the audit conclusions.

Fermi-3 - Army Corps of Engineers review process goes beyond Clean Water Act guidelines - 20 other public interest factors

Army Corps of Engineers' Fermi-3 review will include determining whether the project meets its Clean Water Guidelines, and if so, how the project impacts the public interest. There are 20 public interest factors considered: conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, cultural values, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, flood plain values, land use, navigation, shore erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber productions, mineral needs, and in general, the needs and welfare of the people.

For more info, see pdf of March 3, 2009 letter from ACS to NRC: John Konik (Engineering & Technical Services Chief, Army Corps of Engineers Detroit District's Regulatory Office), letter to NRC Office of New Reactors' Division of Site and Environmental Reviews, March 9, 2009 (ACN ML090850037)