Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major News and Commentary Military and Civilian Nuclear Activities

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Nukes 101: Up close and personal with nuclear power

As the U.S. and the rest of the world try to reduce pollution from power generation, particularly coal plants, nuclear is very much part of the discussion. Although opinion is clearly mixed, even some high-profile environmentalists who had opposed nuclear power in the past have changed their views on nuclear power, which has no greenhouse emissions during operation.

Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20018260-54.html?tag=topStories2#ixzz11D9wz3U0
http://news.cnet.com/8301-11128_3-20018260-54.html?tag=topStories2
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Partnerships toward a miniFuji Thorium Molten Salt Reactor

In July 2010, an industry organisation with members such as Toyota, Toshiba and Hitachi, IThEMS unveiled their plans to build the world's first commercial Thorium Molten-Salt Reactor (Th-MSR) power generator.

They are trying to get $300 million in funding. The first step on the path to commercially available Thorium Energy will be through their 10MW miniFUJI (in 5 years). That will be followed by a larger capacity design called FUJI, delivering 200MW in ten years.

The Fuji Molten salt thorium reactor would generate power at a cost significantly lower than that of current Light Water Reactors (LWR) – at least 30% lower.

There are agreements and the goals but there does not seem to significant levels of real funding. There maybe a million dollars at this point.

We have covered the fuji molten salt reactor in detail before

After five days of discussions and negotiations, IThEMS and the Czech Republic molten salt researchers concluded and signed memorandum which lays a foundation for collaboration towards the realization of a miniFUJI in practical use in a near future. 

  http://nextbigfuture.com/2010/10/partnerships-toward-minifuji-thorium.html
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Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate of H.R. 5866 Nuclear Energy Research and Development Acto fo 2010

http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/119xx/doc11926/hr5866.pdf
http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=11926
H.R. 5866
Nuclear Energy Research and Development Act of 2010
As ordered reported by the House Committee on Science
and Technology
on September 23, 2010
SUMMARY
H.R. 5866 would authorize the appropriation of nearly $1.3 billion over the 2011-2013
period to the Department of Energy (DOE) for programs related to nuclear energy.
Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO estimates that implementing
H.R. 5866 would cost $1.3 billion over the 2011-2015 period. Enacting the bill would not
affect direct spending or receipts; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do not apply.
H.R. 5866 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in the
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no costs on state, local, or
tribal governments.
 
BASIS OF ESTIMATE
For this estimate, CBO assumes that H.R. 5866 will be enacted in 2010 and that
appropriations will be provided as specified by the bill. Estimated outlays are based on the
historical rate of spending for DOE’s nuclear energy research programs. H.R. 5866 would
authorize appropriations totaling about $1.3 billion over the 2011-2013 period, primarily
for DOE to carry out a variety of research programs related to nuclear power. (DOE
received a total of nearly $800 million for nuclear energy programs in 2010.) The
authorization includes:
 $603 million for research and development related to the nuclear fuel cycle;
 $297 million for research on crosscutting nuclear technologies and efforts to
integrate research on specific elements of nuclear energy;
 $195 million to support efforts to design and license small modular nuclear reactors;
 $192 million for nuclear energy research and development and activities to
demonstrate commercial applications of nuclear technologies; and
 $3 million for the National Institute for Standards and Technology to establish a
committee to revise and establish standards for nuclear technologies.

Wave Power Delivers Electricity to US Grid For First Time by Matthew McDermot

Science & Technology (alternative energy)
power buoy oahu photo
photo: Ocean Power Technologies
While wave power often seems like the poor cousin of the renewable energy world, and frankly doesn't have the practical potential of wind or solar power, tapping the power of the sea does have its place and this next one is worth a bit of hand clapping: One of Ocean Power Technologies' PowerBuoys can claim to be the first wave power device to deliver electricity to the US grid.
As Renewable Energy World reports:

OPT's PB40 PowerBuoy was hooked up to the grid at the Marine Corps Base Hawaii as part of the firm's program with the US Navy to test wave energy technology. The connection demonstrates the device's ability to produce utility-grade renewable energy that can be transmitted to the grid according to international and national standards, says the firm.
The PowerBuoy was deployed three-quarters of a mile off the coast of Oahu last year and has produced power for more than 4,400 hours of operation. As for environmental impact, independent evaluation has found the PowerBuoy to have no significant impact. All good news, if a small step forward.
power buoy size comparison chart
Comparison of various sized PowerBuoys next to a wind turbine via OPT.
If you're unfamiliar with how the OPT's PowerBuoy's work, this passage from 2008 here on TreeHugger will fill in some of the knowledge gap:

While most tidal power uses a underwater mounted turbine of some sort the Power Buoy relies instead on the rising and falling of the waves to generate power. Power is transmitted to the shore via underwater cable. OPT says that the a 10 MW power station using this technology would occupy 12.5 hectares of ocean. Theoretically the technology is scalable to 100 MW power stations, according to OPT's website.
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Friday, October 1, 2010

A future energy giant? India’s thorium-based nuclear plans

http://www.physorg.com/news205141972.html

As part of an ambitious three-stage plan to fulfil its nuclear vision and desire for energy security, India could find itself a leading global exporter of an alternative nuclear technology that is more efficient than today’s uranium-plutonium fuel cycle.
India’s energy future doesn’t however end with thorium. As Chalmers writes, “In a modern context, Bhabha’s nuclear vision is part of a wider goal for clean, affordable energy also in form of solar, wind and hydroelectricity - all of which India is investing in heavily.
“India’s nuclear programme could even one day encompass nuclear fusion, with the country already a partner in the ITER project currently being built in France, “
More information: http://www.physicsworld.com/
 

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A cold-blooded look at the CANDU: problems and opportunities

A cold-blooded look at the CANDU: problems and opportunities

“Look what happened to the CANDU,” a senior official at Rosatom, the Russian nuclear conglomerate, recently told Platts. “It’s a good reactor, but nobody is building it.” Why the post mortem, for a reactor that at six a.m. today was cranking out 62.6 percent of Ontario’s electricity? Because, said the official, a Rosatom analysis indicates that if you want to be a profitable reactor vendor, your worldwide installed capacity must be at least 100,000 megawatts. Toshiba-Westinghouse has that, so does Areva. Soon, says the Rosatom official, Russia will too. AECL, which makes the CANDU, has only around a quarter of that putative requirement.

How valid is this go-100,000-MW-or-go-home claim? According to Platts, the Rosatom guy used the CANDU as an example of what will happen to vendors of boiling water reactors, who may represent more serious competition for Russian PWRs than the CANDU. But he is also worried about the CANDU 6: it is competing directly against Russian and French PWR technology in Jordan, and possibly in Argentina.

Presumably GE-Hitachi (GEH), the biggest BWR maker, will read the writing on the Rosatom wall and just withdraw from the global reactor market. And Areva, which only 12 days ago signalled its readiness to offer its own BWR, the 1,200 MW Kerena, to New Brunswick, will also abandon that design and focus only on the 1,100 MW Atmea and the 1,650 MW EPR (both PWRs).
Such wishful thinking is commonplace when companies talk about their competitors. Rosatom obviously hopes that other prospective buyers are listening, and that this go-big-or-go-home idea takes root in buyers’ minds. If that happens, then the competitive field is narrowed down to the big PWR vendors Toshiba-Westinghouse, Areva, Rosatom, and the South Koreans. Against that field, Rosatom hopes that the Russian VVER, with safety features its proponents claim come close to being as inherent as those of BWRs, comes out on top.
Still, it is worth examining the CANDU situation, since the Canadian government is trying to sell the CANDU part of AECL. Why is nobody building one of these reactors right now? Does it really have anything to do with the size of the worldwide CANDU fleet? Let’s look at the most “firm” sale AECL has in the hopper right now: two, maybe three, ACRs to Ontario Power Generation. OPG wants 3,000 MW of new capacity at its Darlington station. That process has been on the shelf since this time last year, reportedly because of the high cost of AECL’s bid.
More at:
http://canadianenergyissues.com/2010/07/20/a-cold-blooded-look-at-the-candu-problems-and-opportunities/

GE Hitachi ESBWR Design

GEH’s next evolution of advanced nuclear BWR technology is the ESBWR European Simplified Boiling Water Reactor. It utilizes a number of new features to provide better plant security; improved safety; more location options; excellent economics; and operational flexibility that ultimately increases plant availability. The ESBWR, a GEH-designed Gen III+ reactor, is currently in the U.S. Design Certification process. The Design Control Document was docketed by the NRC in 2005, and the Referred Combined Construction and Operating License (COL) application was submitted in 2007.
ESBWR is an evolutionary design … the latest in a long line of proven GEH BWR reactors. ESBWR employs passive, safety design features. It includes further design evolutions that simplify the reactor, allowing faster construction and lower costs.
Primary benefits and features of the ESBWR include:
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NS Book Review by Randy Brich - The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation

http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_ind...ion-100103.aspx

NS Book Review by Randy Brich

The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation by Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman

I hear the train a comin'
It's rollin' 'round the bend,
And I ain't seen the sunshine,
Since, I don't know when,

* Johnny Cash

Everything I knew about the proliferation of nuclear weapons became obsolete after reading Reed and Stillman's myth-shattering expose' The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation. Talk about eerie; this book will make your skin crawl. By the time you're about half way through a reading diet of a chapter a day followed by a long walk to clear your head becomes necessary - it's that heavy. But, your head never quite clears and the haunting image of a train load of nuclear bombs headed for a wreck that will forever alter the course of western civilization can't be erased. The Nuclear Express

The book opens with a "What if" scenario that reverberates in the nooks and crannies of your mind throughout the rest of the tome. It describes the likely impact if the first attempt to blow up the World Trade Center had been with an inefficient nuclear bomb. The results of a bomb yielding only 5 kilotons would have caused such widespread destruction that we'd likely still be talking about it today.

That evocative image pervades the entire book as you learn, in chronological order, the incredibly interesting details regarding the paths each of the eight declared nuclear powers (US, Russia, France, Britain, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea) took to discover the secrets of the bomb. Additionally, as Reed and Stillman recount the means Israel employed to unofficially obtain the bomb, you - like me- might be surprised to learn that the US wasn't involved. Other incidents involving Israel made me stare in disbelief at the page. For example, during the 6 Day War I learned that Israel attacked and sunk the US spy ship, Liberty - killing dozens and wounding more than a hundred military personnel -- while President Johnson ordered the fleet of fighter jets scrambled to Liberty's defense to turn around. Similar anecdotes keep the pages turning as you immerse yourself in one of the greatest tales you will ever read.

The first several chapters record the familiar story of the major nuclear players acquiring The Bomb. Unfortunately, the authors get it wrong on the Xenon poisoning fix for the startup of the world's first nuclear reactor, Hanford's B Reactor, which author Jim Mahaffey details in Atomic Awakening: A New Look At the History and Future of Nuclear Power (Interviewed and reviewed here). To set the record straight, it was John Wheeler's calculations that determined the need to fill the unused process tubes on the corners of the octagonal reactor block with uranium fuel elements, not the installation of off-gasing tubes as Reed and Stillman allege, that solved the Xenon poisoning problem.

The remainder of the book reads like a spine-tingling suspense novel; but in reality, it is a well researched text which makes sense because Reed and Stillman lived much of it while executing their official jobs for the US Government. A more expert look at what can only be described as the most pressing potential problem facing western civilization would be hard to find.

Reed and Stillman systematically peel away the layers of the onion skin that cloak the involvement of nuclear countries promoting proliferation in their allies. From France's direct involvement in Israel's unannounced nuclear arsenal, thought to be about 100 weapons, to Russia's blueprint copycat reproduction of their nuclear city in China, Reed and Stillman provide details, dates and decisions that implicate both the provider and the receiver.

Along the way Reed and Stillman unveil amusing anecdotes that lend credibility to their story, like the time Mao received Kruschev in his swimming pool (Kruschev didn't know how to swim). Kruschev cut his visit short, exiting the madman's kingdom after 3 days and taking with him several high-ranking nuclear ninjas. Within the following year, all of Russia's scientists had conveniently left China either on vacation or business trips never to return. Realizing that Russia knew the exact locations and intimate details of their nuclear program, China recreated the entire project elsewhere in remote areas protected by canyons and wilderness.

Despite their convincing conjecture contradicting the Bush Administration's insistence of WMDs in Iraq, Reed and Stillman articulate the extraordinary indirect results achieved by Bush's War on Terror. Perhaps the most significant indirect result involves striking fear in the hearts and minds of dictators like Lebanon's Qadafi, who disclosed his country's clandestine attempts to acquire the bomb and came clean.

Similarly, the co-authors probe Iraq's early nuclear history and, again, France's nuclear fingerprints appear at the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, the ubiquitous Khan's presence can be traced to other nuclear wannabe's including India and Iran; while China's appear in Pakistan, and North Korea's surface in Syria.

Once the proverbial nuclear genie was out of the bottle, the task of putting him back in becomes increasingly daunting. Yet the major nuclear powers continue to try and, as Reed and Stillman relate, success stories currently outnumber failures. Major successes in the former Soviet Union, as well at home, underline the importance to see the job completed.

Although 99.9 % of the former Soviet Union's HEU has been accounted for, 1000 pounds remain at large - enough for several Hiroshima gun-type weapons. To put that number into perspective, Reed and Stillman postulate the following scenario: suppose 5 primitive nukes (i.e., 30% efficient or about 5 kilotons each) are detonated simultaneously across the US -- two on the East Coast, one in Chicago and two in LA. Reed and Stillman state that an attack of that magnitude would not only kill millions of Americans it would also decapitate the government as chaos and bedlam prevailed while the surviving members of Government hovered over the carnage in planes and helicopters.

Published in 2009, Reed and Stillman predicted several situations, such as those involving Iran and North Korea, that the next president would be forced to confront during his first term in office. These predictions are coming true as President Obama struggles to contain their nuclear aspirations. These and other hard issues offer no easy solution. The Nuclear Express leaves the reader with the feelings that a colossal nuclear train wreck looms over America and without prompt direct action to derail it is only a matter of when, not if.

The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and Its Proliferation
Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman
Zenith Press (2009)
ISBN 978-0-7603-3502-4

U.S. Awards $120M Missile Defense Contract

U.S. Awards $120M Missile Defense Contract


The U.S. Defense Department has awarded a $120 million contract to Northrop Grumman for further work on the Air and Missile Defense Radar system, United Press International reported yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 30).
The system is intended to provide comprehensive radar abilities , encompassing S-band and X-band technology, to analyze large amounts of aerial data to detect and track ballistic missile threats (United Press International, Sept. 30).
Defense contractors Lockheed Martin and Raytheon also received similar technology development deals for the Air and Missile Defense Radar, Signal magazine reported.
The contracts call for Lockheed to receive $119 million and Raytheon $112 million (George Seffers, Signal, Oct. 1).

North Korea Doing New Work at Nuclear Site

North Korea Doing New Work at Nuclear Site


New satellite images indicate that North Korea is building something or digging at the site near a demolished cooling reactor for the plutonium-producing reactor at the nation's Yongbyon nuclear complex, a U.S. organization said yesterday (see GSN, Sept. 30).
"There is no indication in the imagery that North Korea is rebuilding its cooling tower," which was destroyed in June 2008 as part of the North Korean denuclearization process that faltered again a few months later, according to Institute for Science and International Security analysts David Albright and Paul Brannan.
"The new excavation activity appears to be more extensive than would be expected for rebuilding the cooling tower," they stated. "But the actual purpose of this excavation activity cannot be determined from the image and bears watching."
The images, collected Wednesday by DigitalGlobe, also show continuing building work on two small structures located next to the cooling tower site. While the purpose of the structures does not appear connected to construction assistance, "it is unclear if the activity seen in this image represents preparation for construction of a new cooling tower or preparation for construction of other buildings or structures for some other purpose," the ISIS report states.
This is the first suggestion of building or digging activity around the site where the tower once stood, Albright and Brannan wrote (Albright/Brannan, Institute for Science and International Security report, Sept. 30).
The Yongbyon nuclear complex produces the plutonium used in North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The country is thought to have enough fissile material to make at least six weapons, Agence France-Presse reported.
The site's 5-megawatt reactor ceased operations in July 2007 as part of an agreement between the North and the other nations in the six-party nuclear talks -- China, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the United States. Talks were last held in December 2008. Pyongyang announced in spring 2009 it was leaving the nuclear negotiations and would revive its plutonium processing efforts (Agence France-Presse/Spacewar.com , Oct. 1).
Meanwhile, high-ranking Chinese Communist Party Central Committee member Liu Yunshan today said Beijing was prepared to support the newly appointed leaders of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
A rare political congress in Pyongyang this week saw ruler Kim Jong Il's son and presumed heir and other family members promoted to powerful posts (Xinhua News Agency, Oct. 1).
The promotions are speculated to be part of an effort establish a power transfer process in which Kim Jong Un would gradually take on more regime duties. He would be advised by his aunt and uncle who would act as de facto regents should the ailing Kim Jong Il die before his son is believed ready to assume full authority.
A South Korean Unification Ministry official said Wednesday that "we are carefully watching for the effects that could have on bilateral relations and the North's power structure," the Asahi Shimbun reported (Tetsuya Hakoda, Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 1).

Fusion Experiment Planned at Livermore Lab

Fusion Experiment Planned at Livermore Lab


    The United States is set within one week to conduct the first of a new series of tests aimed at achieving nuclear fusion "ignition" with a massive laser array at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California, the Monterey County Herald reported yesterday (see GSN, April 12).
    Officials overseeing the laboratory's National Ignition Facility had sought for years to begin carrying out "credible ignition experiments" before the close of fiscal 2010, which ended yesterday. The process under investigation is mainly intended to help measure the safety and dependability of U.S. nuclear weapons, but it might also have energy and other applications.
    "Credible means that we have no reason to believe it's not going to work," National Nuclear Security Administration head Thomas D'Agostino said in March.
    Still, the type of fuel pellet to be used in the upcoming test largely precludes the possibility of ignition taking place, LLNL spokeswoman Lynda Seaver said.
    "This is not ignition. It will take a year or two to get ignition," Seaver said.
    Laboratory representatives did not address why the imminent experiments were not directly aimed at achieving ignition, despite earlier pledges that the milestone would be reached in fiscal 2010. "These experiments put us further down the pathway to ignition," Seaver wrote in one e-mail message.
    Outside analysts also believed the upcoming tests were unlikely to prompt ignition, according to a Government Accountability Office report published earlier this year.
    "There has always been this skepticism about can they do this by Oct. 1, 2010. I think over the long term there was more confidence they would be able to achieve ignition," said GAO Assistant Director Jonathan Gill, who worked on the assessment.
    The laboratory's apparent decision not to seek ignition last month was "actually shocking," said Marylia Kelley, director of the watchdog organization Tri-Valley CAREs.
    "Its scientific goal was ignition," said Kelley, who contended that the purportedly $3.5 billion facility had received funds approaching $5 billion based on pledges that it would achieve ignition within a set time period (Suzanne Bohan, Monterey County Herald, Sept. 30).
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    Lithuania May Sign Nuclear Power Plant Contract Before July, Premier Says

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-30/lithuania-may-sign-nuclear-power-plant-contract-before-july-premier-says.html

    Russia Sells Nuclear Reactors Decades After Chernobyl Accident

    Russia is prepared to tap global nuclear market
    Russia appears prepared to compete with major nuclear energy suppliers on price. Since the Chernobyl disaster, the country has made strides in nuclear technology. "The power reactors they are offering the world are the same basic design everyone else is offering," said Mark Hibbs, a senior associate for nuclear policy at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Bloomberghttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-30/need-a-nuclear-reactor-decades-after-chernobyl-russia-is-ready-to-sell.html
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    Uranium – is it set to fuel the nuclear renaissance?

    Uranium market needs improvements


    The economic advantage of commercial nuclear power relies on the low price of its fuel. However, the gap between the spot price and long-term price for uranium demonstrates its imperfections as a commodity trading market. Although things are getting better, quoted prices should be treated with caution. By Steve Kidd
    http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?sectioncode=147&storyCode=2057683
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    Japan Plans to Lend as Much as $4 Billion for Texas Nuclear Plant Project

    Japan could lend $4B to NRG for Texas nuclear project
    NRG Energy's nuclear-expansion project in Texas could secure a $4 billion loan from the Japan Bank for International Cooperation so long as the U.S. government guarantees the venture, said Tadashi Maeda, head of JBIC's corporate planning department. Toshiba's reactor design would be used in the $10 billion expansion. Bloomberghttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-10-01/japan-plans-state-loan-for-10-billion-u-s-nuclear-power-plant-project.html
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    From panelists, many calls to action

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/29/AR2010092906685.html
    Sen. Alexander calls for construction of more U.S. nuclear plants
    The U.S. should construct more nuclear plants if it desires "clean, reliable and cheap" power in sizeable quantities, said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. "China is building a new nuclear power plant every three months," he said during Washington Post Live's Energy Is Urgent conference.

    Stuxnet Worm Heralds New Era Of Global Cyberwar -- The Guardian


    A New Era Of Global Cyberwar

    Stuxnet Worm Heralds New Era Of Global Cyberwar -- The Guardian


    Attack aimed at Iran nuclear plant and recently revealed 2008 incident at US base show spread of cyber weapons

    The memory sticks were scattered in a washroom of a US military base in the Middle East that was providing support for the Iraq war.

    They were deliberately infected with a computer worm – the undisclosed foreign intelligence agency behind the operation was counting on the fallibility of human nature.

    According to those familiar with the events, it calculated a soldier would pick up one of the memory sticks, pocket it and – against regulations – eventually plug it into a military laptop.

    They were correct.

    Read more ....


    More News On The Stuxnet Worm Network Attack

    Mideast Mystery: Did Israel Cyber Attack Target Iran Nuke Program? -- CBS News
    In a Computer Worm, a Possible Biblical Clue -- New York Times
    Stuxnet 'cyber superweapon' moves to China -- Yahoo News/AFP
    New virus threatens to wreak global havoc -- Zawya
    Did The Stuxnet Worm Kill India’s INSAT-4B Satellite? -- Forbes
    All Eyes On Stuxnet At Annual Virus Researcher Summit -- Threat Post
    Stuxnet Trojan attacks could serve as blueprint for malware writers -- Search Security
    Stuxnet Cyberattack on Iran Arms Hackers with New Ideas -- Tech News Daily
    Stuxnet: Great cyberweapon or cyberfizzle? -- Global Security
    A worm in the centrifuge: An unusually sophisticated cyber-weapon is mysterious but important -- The Economist
    The meaning of Stuxnet: A sophisticated “cyber-missile” highlights the potential—and limitations—of cyberwar -- The Economist
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    Thursday, September 30, 2010

    Pentagon Loses Control of Bombs to China Metal Monopoly


    U.S. Bomb Output Is Now Limited By China Metal Quotas

    Photo: Motors in missiles like the JDAM might be three times as big without advanced magnets. The JDAM has been used extensively in Iraq and Afghanistan. Photographer: Philip A. McDaniel/U.S. Navy via Bloomberg
    Pentagon Loses Control Of Bombs To China Metal Monopoly -- Bloomberg

    A senior manager at a company that churns out metals routinely used in U.S. smart bombs pauses in mid-sentence when his phone rings: a Wall Street stockbroker looking for information. He makes a note to have an assistant call back -- someone who is fluent in English, not just Chinese.

    “It’s a seller’s market now,” says Bai Baosheng, 43, puffing a cigarette in his office in Baotou, China, where his company sells bags of powder containing a metallic element known as neodymium, vital in tiny magnets that direct the fins of bombs dropped by U.S. Air Force jets in Afghanistan.

    Read more ....

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-09-29/pentagon-losing-control-of-afghanistan-bombs-to-china-s-neodymium-monopoly.html


    'Small Modular Reactors' No Panacea For What Ails Nuclear Power

    'Small Modular Reactors' No Panacea For What Ails Nuclear Power

    The small modular reactor is being pitched by the nuclear power industry as a sort of production-line auto alternative to hand-crafted sports car, with supposed cost savings from the "mass manufacturing" of modestly sized reactors that could be scattered across the United States on a relatively quick basis.
    by Staff Writers Washington DC (SPX) Oct 01, 2010 The same industry that promised that nuclear power would be "too cheap to meter" is now touting another supposed cure-all for America's power needs: the small modular reactor (SMR). The only problem is that SMRs are not only unlikely live up to the hype, but may well aggravate cost, safety, and environmental problems, according to a new fact sheet prepared by the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research (IEER) and Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR).
    The small modular reactor is being pitched by the nuclear power industry as a sort of production-line auto alternative to hand-crafted sports car, with supposed cost savings from the "mass manufacturing" of modestly sized reactors that could be scattered across the United States on a relatively quick basis.
    The facts about SMRs are far less rosy. As the IEER/PSR document notes: "Some proponents of nuclear power are advocating for the development of small modular reactors as the solution to the problems facing large reactors, particularly soaring costs, safety, and radioactive waste. Unfortunately, small-scale reactors can't solve these problems, and would likely exacerbate them."
    Co-author Arjun Makhijani, the president of IEER, holds a Ph.D. in engineering (specialization: nuclear fusion) from the University of California at Berkeley.
    He said: "Amidst the evaporating hopes for a nuclear renaissance, nuclear power proponents are pinning their hopes on small modular reactors without thinking carefully about the new problems they will create such as inspecting production lines in China, procedures for recalls, or the complications and costs of a variety of new forms of nuclear waste."
    The supposed cost benefits of SMRs are also subject to debate. The costs of mass manufacturing would be offset at least in part by loss of economies of scale. Further, modular construction will impose much higher costs on the first units, increasing the uncertainty and risk of initiating nuclear power projects.
    As IEER/PSR researchers note: "The cost picture for sodium-cooled reactors is also rather grim. They have typically been much more expensive to build than light water reactors, which are currently estimated to cost between $6,000 and $10,000 per kilowatt in the US. The costs of the last three large breeder reactors have varied wildly. In 2008 dollars, the cost of the Japanese Monju reactor (the most recent) was $27,600 per kilowatt (electrical); French Superphenix (start up in 1985) was $6,300; and the Fast Flux Test Facility (startup in 1980) at Hanford was $13,800. This gives an average cost per kilowatt in 2008 dollars of about $16,000, without taking into account the fact that cost escalation for nuclear reactors has been much faster than inflation ... Spent fuel management for SMRs would be more complex, and therefore more expensive, because the waste would be located at many more sites."
    The IEER/PSR fact sheet also raises significant safety-related concerns. Eliminating secondary containment would decrease costs but raise safety issues, while including that containment would raise costs.
    As regards to sodium-cooled reactors they note: "The world's first nuclear reactor to generate electricity, the EBR I in Idaho, was a sodium-potassium-cooled reactor that suffered a partial meltdown. EBR II, which was sodium-cooled reactor, operated reasonably well, but the first US commercial prototype, Fermi I in Michigan had a meltdown of two fuel assemblies and, after four years of repair, a sodium explosion. The most recent commercial prototype, Monju in Japan, had a sodium fire 18 months after its commissioning in 1994, which resulted in it being shut down for over 14 years. The French Superphenix, the largest sodium-cooled reactor ever built, was designed to demonstrate commercialization. Instead, it operated at an average of less than 7 percent capacity factor over 14 years before being permanently shut."
    The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) exemplifies the types of problems that SMR technology has encountered in the past two decades. The factsheet concludes that "Despite 50 years of research by many countries, including the United States, the theoretical promise of the PBMR has not come to fruition. The technical problems encountered early on have yet to be resolved, or apparently, even fully understood. PMBR proponents in the US have long pointed to the South African program as a model for the US. Ironically, the US Department of Energy is once again pursuing this design at the very moment that the South African government has pulled the plug on the program due to escalating costs and problems."
    And what about SMRs as some kind of "silver bullet" for averting global warming?
    The IEER/PSR fact sheet points out: "Efficiency and most renewable technologies are already cheaper than new large reactors. The long time - a decade or more - that it will take to certify SMRs will do little or nothing to help with the global warming problem and will actually complicate current efforts underway. For example, the current schedule for commercializing the above-ground sodium cooled reactor in Japan extends to 2050, making it irrelevant to addressing the climate problem. Relying on assurances that SMRs will be cheap is contrary to the experience about economies of scale and is likely to waste time and money, while creating new safety and proliferation risks, as well as new waste disposal problems."
    The Institute for Energy and Environmental Research provides policy-makers, journalists, and the public with understandable and accurate scientific and technical information on energy and environmental issues. IEER's aim is to bring scientific excellence to public policy issues in order to promote the democratization of science and a safer, healthier environment.
    The Physicians for Social Responsibility Safe Energy program focuses on protecting public health, taxpayer dollars, and national security by preventing the construction of expensive, dirty, and dangerous new nuclear reactors.
    More than 60 years since the first civilian nuclear reactor was turned on, a mature industry is still dependent on government subsidies and economically unsound, mired in unresolved safety issues, and a threat to public health.
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    Turkey's Nuclear Future: A View from Ankara

    Turkey's Nuclear Future: A View from Ankara http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_V_9ALZhbw

    New Book by Avner Cohen Calls on Israel to Modify Nuclear Policy

    New Book by Avner Cohen Calls on Israel to Modify Nuclear Policy

    Please read the release from Columbia University Press regarding CNS senior fellow Avner Cohen's new book, "The Worst-Kept Secret: Israel's Bargain with the Bomb." From the press release:
    "In his new book, The Worst-Kept Secret, Avner Cohen, author of the critically acclaimed Israel and the Bomb, draws on newly revealed historical data to offer a bold and original study of Israel's decades-long policy of nuclear opacity. Democratic governance at home and compliance with international standards for responsible nuclear behavior, Cohen argues, require that Israel acknowledge its nuclear might and openly confront its many ramifications. Cohen concludes with fresh perspectives on Iran, Israel, and the effort toward global disarmament."
    For more information, to arrange an interview with the author, or to receive a review copy, contact Meredith Howard at (212)-459-0600, ext. 7126 or email mh2306@columbia.edu.

    World's first 'cyber superweapon' attacks China


    A computer virus dubbed the world's "first cyber superweapon" by experts and which may have been designed to attack Iran's nuclear facilities has found a new target -- China. The Stuxnet computer worm has wreaked havoc in China, infecting millions of computers around the country, state media reported this week.
    Stuxnet is feared by experts around the globe as it can break into computers that control machinery at the heart of industry, allowing an attacker to assume control of critical systems like pumps, motors, alarms and valves.
    It could, technically, make factory boilers explode, destroy gas pipelines or even cause a nuclear plant to malfunction.
    The virus targets control systems made by German industrial giant Siemens commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other industrial facilities.
    "This malware is specially designed to sabotage plants and damage industrial systems, instead of stealing personal data," an engineer surnamed Wang at antivirus service provider Rising International Software told the Global Times.
    "Once Stuxnet successfully penetrates factory computers in China, those industries may collapse, which would damage China's national security," he added.
    Another unnamed expert at Rising International said the attacks had so far infected more than six million individual accounts and nearly 1,000 corporate accounts around the country, the official Xinhua news agency reported.
    The Stuxnet computer worm -- a piece of malicious software (malware) which copies itself and sends itself on to other computers in a network -- was first publicly identified in June.
    It was found lurking on Siemens systems in India, Indonesia, Pakistan and elsewhere, but the heaviest infiltration appears to be in Iran, according to software security researchers.
    A Beijing-based spokesman for Siemens declined to comment when contacted by AFP on Thursday.
    Yu Xiaoqiu, an analyst with the China Information Technology Security Evaluation Centre, downplayed the malware threat.
    "So far we don't see any severe damage done by the virus," Yu was quoted by the Global Times as saying.
    "New viruses are common nowadays. Both personal Internet surfers and Chinese pillar companies don't need to worry about it at all. They should be alert but not too afraid of it."
    A top US cybersecurity official said last week that the country was analysing the computer worm but did not know who was behind it or its purpose.
    "One of our hardest jobs is attribution and intent," Sean McGurk, director of the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), told reporters in Washington.
    "It's very difficult to say 'This is what it was targeted to do,'" he said of Stuxnet, which some computer security experts have said may be intended to sabotage a nuclear facility in Iran.
    A cyber superweapon is a term used by experts to describe a piece of malware designed specifically to hit computer networks that run industrial plants.
    "The Stuxnet worm is a wake-up call to governments around the world," Derek Reveron, a cyber expert at the US Naval War School, was quoted as saying Thursday by the South China Morning Post.
    "It is the first known worm to target industrial control systems."http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Worlds_first_cyber_superweapon_attacks_China_999.html

    Stuxnet file hints at Israeli link: NY Times


    Stuxnet file hints at Israeli link: NY Times

    http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Stuxnet_file_hints_at_Israeli_link_NY_Times_999.html Washington (AFP) Sept 30, 2010 The Stuxnet worm attacking computers in Iran includes a reference to the Book of Esther, the Old Testament story in which the Jews pre-empt a Persian plot to destroy them, and is a possible clue of Israeli involvement, The New York Times reported Thursday. A file inside the Stuxnet code is named "Myrtus," an allusion to the Hebrew word for Esther, and is a possible Israeli calling card or, perhaps, a "red herring" designed to throw investigators off the track, the Times said.
    According to security software experts and analysts, Stuxnet may have been designed to target Iran's nuclear facilities and suspicions have fallen on Israel and the United States.
    Iran said this week that Stuxnet is mutating and wreaking havoc on computerised industrial equipment there but denied the Islamic republic's first nuclear plant at Bushehr was among the facilities penetrated.
    Stuxnet specifically attacks Siemens supervisory control and data acquisition, or SCADA, systems commonly used to manage water supplies, oil rigs, power plants and other industrial facilities.
    The self-replicating malware has also been found lurking on Siemens systems in India, Indonesia and Pakistan, but the heaviest infiltration appears to be in Iran, according to researchers.
    No one has claimed credit for Stuxnet and a top US cybersecurity official said last week that the United States does not know who is behind it or its purpose.
    The Times noted that there is no consensus among security experts about who may be behind Stuxnet but said "there are many reasons to suspect Israel's involvement."
    Israel has poured huge resources into Unit 8200, its secretive cyberwar operation, and Stuxnet may be a "clear warning in a mounting technological and psychological battle" with Iran over its nuclear program, the newspaper said.
    The Times said Ralph Langner, a German computer security consultant, was the first to note that "Myrtus" is an allusion to the Hebrew word for Esther.
    Shai Blitzblau, head of the computer warfare laboratory at Maglan, an Israeli company specializing in information security, told the Times he was "convinced that Israel had nothing to do with Stuxnet."
    "We did a complete simulation of it and we sliced the code to its deepest level," he said. "We have studied its protocols and functionality. Our two main suspects for this are high-level industrial espionage against Siemens and a kind of academic experiment."


    http://www.spacewar.com/reports/Stuxnet_file_hints_at_Israeli_link_NY_Times_999.html

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    U.S. Natural Gas Imports & Exports: 2009

    U.S. Natural Gas Imports & Exports: 2009

    This report provides an overview of U.S. international natural gas trade in 2009. Natural gas import and export data, including liquefied natural gas (LNG) data, are provided through the year 2009. In 2009, net U.S. imports of natural gas were the lowest since 1994, representing just 12 percent of total consumption. The primary underlying cause for the lower level of net imports was continued strong levels of natural gas production in the lower 48 States. Dry natural gas production increased 3.3 percent compared with 2008 and was nearly 9 percent higher than in 2007. With these recent gains in domestic production, the United States is now the largest producer of natural gas in the world. U.S. domestic consumption decreased in 2009, which in turn contributed to a reduced demand for imports. Although liquefied natural gas (LNG) gross imports increased almost 30 percent (from a 5-year low established in 2008), LNG remains a very small source of supplies for the United States, accounting for less than 2 perchttp://paceeenvironmentalnotes.blogspot.com/2010/09/us-natural-gas-imports-exports-2009.htmlent of consumption.
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    Foreign Policy and the 2010 Midterms: New START and Arms Control from CFR.org - The Council on Foreign Relations by Council on Foreign Relations

    A new arms control agreement with Russia has met political opposition in the U.S. Senate, and some analysts believe its fate it tied to the outcome of the 2010 midterm elections. This Backgrounder examines the Senate debate.http://www.cfr.org/publication/23058/forei...t=Google+Reader

    Nuvia gets foothold in Indian market

    http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/C-Nuvia_gets_foothold_in_Indian_market-3009104.htmlFrance's Nuvia group has entered into a partnership agreement with PL Engineering of India to offer nuclear engineering and support services, initially to the Indian market but later worldwide.

    Don't Miss the Largest Celebration of Science in the U.S. on Oct. 23-24!

    Don't Miss the Largest Celebration of Science in the U.S. on Oct. 23-24!
    What is the universe made of? Why did dinosaurs go extinct? What do magic tricks and hip-hop have to do with math? What can amphibians and reptiles tell us about the environment? What do engineers have to do with baseball?

    K-12 students and anyone with a curious mind can find out at the first ever USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo on the National Mall! Explore science and engineering with over 1500 free, hands-on activities and over 75 stage shows featuring science celebrities, jugglers, magicians, bands and more. The two day expo is perfect for teens, children and their families, and anyone with a curious mind who is looking for a weekend of fun and discovery. Build an underwater robot, chat with a Nobel Laureate, explore the science behind the magic of Hogwarts Academy and see a car that drives itself. From bugs to birds, kitchen chemistry to computer games, environmental monitoring to electronic music-the Expo has something for everyone and is completely free of charge.

    The Expo is the pinnacle event of the inaugural USA Science & Engineering Festival to be held in the greater Washington D.C. area October 10-24, 2010. The USA Science & Engineering Festival is a collaboration of over 500 of the nation's leading science and engineering organizations including, Case Western Reserve University, Duke University, Harvard University, Howard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Maryland, AAAS, American Chemical Society, American Physical Society, FIRST, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, National Society of Hispanic Engineers, the U.S Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Health and many others. The Festival is funded through corporate sponsorships, grants and private donations.

    I ask that you learn more and attend the USA Science & Engineering Festival Expo. Please get involved and visit www.usasciencefestival.org. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact Larry Bock at biobock@mac.com.

    Japan firms to provide nuclear estimates to Kazakhstan

    Japanese companies to assist Kazakhstan in potential project
    Toshiba, Japan Atomic Power and Marubeni have agreed to supply data and cost estimation for Kazakhstan's plan to construct its first nuclear plant. Nuclear-technology exporters, including Japan, could be presented with a competitive opportunity should Kazakhstan proceed with a feasibility inquiry based on the companies' input. Reutershttp://af.reuters.com/article/energyOilNews/idAFTOE68S08D20100929

    Sen. Graham's Plan for Clean-Energy Bill Could Drain RES Support

    Sen. Graham plans bigger role for nuclear in clean-energy bill
    Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., is planning to offer an alternative-energy bill that could pull support away from a proposal by Sens. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to establish an economywide renewable-electricity standard. Graham's plan would require utilities to generate a portion of their power from clean-energy sources, including nuclear and clean coal. He said that the Bingaman-Brownback bill is "a bad proposal because it doesn't acknowledge nuclear power as being a low, carbon-free source of energy." More at: The New York Times (free registration)/Greenwirehttp://www.nytimes.com/gwire/2010/09/29/29greenwire-sen-grahams-plan-for-clean-energy-bill-could-d-63814.html
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