Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

Major Energy and Environmental News and Commentary affecting the Nuclear Industry.

Friday, July 16, 2010

China starts 1st nuclear power generator since 2007

China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group, one of China's two leading nuclear power developers, started generating power on Thursday from a new unit that is expected to be commercially operational by October after a ramp-up, the group said.

The reactor, the twelfth in China, has generating capacity of 1.08 gigawatts and adopts the CPR1000 pressurised water reactor technology that is based on European technologies but with some Chinese improvements.

The reactor, one of the two making up the second phase of Ling'ao in southern Guangdong province, would be China's first nuclear power generating unit to be brought online since 2007 after China National Nuclear Corp started the second nuclear power generator in Tianwan in eastern Jiangsu province.

Tianwan's two generators use Russian technologies. Ling'ao's second generating unit in its second phase is expected to start generating power in June 2011, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group said.

China is now the world's largest construction site for nuclear power plants and a testing ground for different technologies, with more than 20 reactors or about 25.4 GW of capacity under construction that are based on its own technology or technologies from France, Canada and the United States.

Gov. Gregoire speaking to nuke waste commission The future of nuclear energy in the U.S. depends on whether this country can figure out how to treat and dispose of the waste that is created, a leader of a commission charged with reviewing U.S. nuclear waste policies said Thursday.

The future of nuclear energy in the U.S. depends on whether this country can figure out how to treat and dispose of the waste that is created, a leader of a commission charged with reviewing U.S. nuclear waste policies said Thursday.

President Barack Obama appointed the Commission on America's Nuclear Future to review U.S. nuclear waste policies following his fulfillment of a campaign promise to kill the proposed Yucca Mountain repository 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

It's no simple task, and nowhere is the problem of nuclear waste more apparent than south-central Washington's Hanford nuclear reservation.

The federal government created Hanford in the 1940s as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project to build the atomic bomb. The site produced plutonium for the world's first atomic blast and for the bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, effectively ending World War II.

At that time, the country had an immediate objective and lacked information about waste and the technology to handle it, said Lee Hamilton, commission co-chairman and former congressman from Indiana.

Today, Hanford is the nation's most contaminated nuclear site.

"Now we've run into a situation where the consequences are very severe," he said. "It's understandable that the people of this community would have deep concerns about a permanent repository. They've had a long and difficult experience at Hanford."

The commission spent two days at Hanford, touring the site and hearing from local advocacy groups and American Indian tribes about the importance of cleanup.

Gov. Chris Gregoire reinforced that sentiment Thursday, stressing that the key to ridding Hanford of its most dangerous waste is a deep geologic repository to store it.

Washington and South Carolina have filed lawsuits to block the Energy Department from stopping the project, and a legal panel of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission said the agency lacked authority to block it. The Energy Department and Nevada officials have promised to appeal.

Friday, Jul. 16, 2010 The unending fight to open Yucca Read more: http://www.thestate.com/2010/07/16/1378906/the-unending-fight-to-open-yucca.html#ixzz0trOtcNGM

The decision by a panel of judges at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to block efforts by the Obama administration to abandon the Yucca Mountain waste-repository project in Nevada is being called a victory for South Carolina, which is storing a high volume of high-level waste. The next phase needed to keep Yucca Mountain viable would be to "fight back the parochial interests" behind the moves to abandon the project, this editorial argues. The State (Columbia, S.C.)

Report: Carbon cap to spur nukes, gas, renewables

Passage of climate legislation that would impose emissions caps on the country's utilities sector would result in a "significant shift" to nuclear, natural gas and renewable energy, according to a report by ICF International. Also, proposed air-pollution rules could lead to the closure of coal-fired power plants, the report added. CNET/Green Tech blog

The 65th Anniversary of the Nuclear Age by David Krieger

Thursday, July 15, 2010

'Iran hit wouldn't halt nuke program' By JPOST.COM STAFF

07/15/2010 10:22

Oxford Research Group says Israel shouldn't use military action.

Clues Suggest Amiri Defection Was an Iranian Plant By Gareth Porter*


N.B. urged to build new nuclear reactor

U.S. governors back Canadian province's possible nuclear project
Governors from Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont gave their support to plans by Canadian province New Brunswick to construct a second nuclear reactor. During a news conference, Rhode Island Gov. Donald Carcieri said he would be "very supportive" of the project, as nuclear plays a key role in the region's energy mix. The Edmonton Journal (Alberta)

Senate Democrats to Pursue a Smaller Energy Bill

White House, Democrats push for utility-focused climate bill
President Barack Obama and Senate Democrats are moving ahead with a plan to craft a utility-focused climate bill that caps emissions from electricity producers, deducing that a broad energy-and-climate bill will not muster enough votes to clear the Senate before the fall elections. The Obama administration has always proposed an "economywide solution but recognizes that may not be where we are," said Carol M. Browner, the White House's top climate adviser. The New York Times (free registration)

Drill with care: Alternatives to offshore drilling moratorium needed to spare Gulf coast economy

Editorial: A new energy era includes more nuclear
President Barack Obama should view the Gulf of Mexico oil spill as an opportunity to introduce a new energy age, which can be achieved in part by expanding nuclear energy use, according to this editorial. Nuclear has been proven to be clean energy, as well as safe and reliable, in facilities across the world, the editorial points out. Houston Chronicle

US DOE Official: All 3 Leading Nuclear Projects May Get Funding

The top three candidates for nuclear loan guarantees could all secure additional loan volume from the Energy Department if the Senate approves $9 billion in additional funding, said Matt Rogers, a senior Energy Department adviser. Without the bill, the department is capable of awarding only $10 billion, which could support one project. "If you look at the total funds, that begins to look like you could do all three of them," he said. Fox Business/Dow Jones Newswires

TVA ready for review of possible nuke site Clinch River location could be place for new small reactor

TVA gears up for assessment of potential nuclear site
The Tennessee Valley Authority is prepared to proceed with an environmental review of a potential site in Oak Ridge, Tenn., for the construction of a small, modular nuclear facility. TVA officials, however, need to determine whether the property would be suitable for such a project. The Knoxville News-Sentinel

UAE Ambassador Says Country May Back A US-Israeli Attack On Iran from Business Insider by Gregory White

The U.A.E. may be about to support the U.S. and Israel in their rumored plans to attack Iran, according to reports from Der Spiegel.

The U.A.E.'s ambassador to the U.S., Yousef Al Otaiba, recently expressed his concerns that the costs of having Iran be a nuclear power were too high for his country, and worth the costs of going to war with the country:

But, he added, "if you are asking me, 'Am I willing to live with that versus living with a nuclear Iran,' my answer is still the same. We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the U.A.E."

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev recently expressed his concerns that Iran was close to building a weapon, after Iran announced it had 20 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium.

This will only lead to growing worries over the plans of both the U.S. and Israel regarding war with Iran.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

China's CNNC Keen To Build Argentina Nuclear Power Plant

China National Nuclear wants to participate in the construction of Argentina's fourth nuclear facility, according to the Argentine planning ministry. The plant, which may cost more than $3 billion, could start operating in 2016, according to another Argentine government agency. The Wall Street Journal/Dow Jones Newswires

Nuclear Power Could See Revival

The U.S. nuclear industry is poised for a revival as the government seek ways to curb the country's dependence on petroleum, writes Jesse Emspak. The Obama administration's pledge to support new plants, the high number of license applications during the past three years and the emergence of safer reactor designs indicate that the industry is on the verge of expansion, Emspak writes. International Business Times

* Nuclear Renaissance in the U.S.? July 13, 2010

Talk of a U.S. nuclear revival is gaining traction, as the government seeks clean-energy solutions in response to the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, according to this blog post. If the government follows through on its commitment to support the industry, the country could have four to eight new nuclear plants from 2016 to 2020, said Leslie Kass, senior director of business policy and programs for the Nuclear Energy Institute. PowerGenWorldwide.com

Funding fortifies US nuclear education - University-level nuclear education in the USA is to be boosted by $18.2 million in funding for research reactor upgrades, equipment purchases and student funding from the US Department of Energy (DoE).

The Energy Department will set aside $18.2 million to fund nuclear energy programs in U.S. higher education. Energy Secretary Steven Chu touted the grant as an investment that would benefit students and the country's nuclear industry. "Restarting the U.S. nuclear industry is a critical part of our efforts to build a clean-energy economy and create clean-energy jobs," he added. World Nuclear News

Bechtel to Back Small Nuclear Plants Engineering and Construction Giant Joins Reactor Designer Babcock & Wilcox to Advance New Type of Power Plants

If it smells like peak oil, it probably is A bleak new report from the International Energy Agency offers plenty of fodder for those who believe the era of cheap oil is over, forever.

A good energy strategy doesn't fit in a slogan

DOE nuclear loan guarantees reborn in House appropriations bill

Abducted' Iran scientist surfaces in US

Washington (AFP) July 13, 2010 - An Iranian scientist who Tehran claims was abducted by US spies surfaced Tuesday in Washington, where officials confirmed he had been in the United States "for some time" but said he was was free to leave. It was the latest twist in a bizarre saga tied to international pressure over Tehran's controversial nuclear program, which Iran says is for peaceful purpose, but many nations fear masks a ... more

Nuclear Plants Operate At Exceptional Levels To Stabilize Grid

Washington DC (SPX) Jul 13, 2010 - As the Eastern United States suffered through record-breaking triple-digit temperatures threatening brownouts and blackouts, the nation's nuclear power plants posted an average operating capacity of 97 percent July 4-7. Eighty-five reactors across the country ran at 100 percent operating capacity during the entire week. One hundred two of the nation's 104 nuclear power plants were operatio ... more

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Pakistan Embassy Denies Harboring AWOL Iran Nuke Scientist from Danger Room by Spencer Ackerman

Next post Bombs Away on Administration’s Nuclear Review Read More http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/04/bombs-away-on-administrations-nuclear-review/#ixzz0tcfmdcL6

Fewer Nukes, More Cash: Energy Dep’t Wants $175 Billion for Weapons Complex from Danger Room by Spencer Ackerman

Obama administration plans U.S. strategic nuke arsenal cut of 30-40 percent from Nukes & Spooks by Jonathan Landay

The Obama administration is proposing to slash the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal to between 3,000 to 3,500 warheads from the current total of approximately 5,000 weapons, according to previously unreleased documents obtained by the Federation of American Scientists and the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The cuts in both deployed and stored warheads would occur between 2011 and 2030.

At the same time, the administration's "FY 2011 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan" calls for spending around $175 billion over the same period to modernize the "complex" of national laboratories and other facilities - some dating back to World War II - that ensure that U.S. warheads remain safe and operate reliably in the absence of underground testing.

The plan, which was sent to Capital Hill in May, was drafted by the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Department of Energy arm that oversees the U.S. nuclear stockpile, as part of the DOE's proposed 2011 budget.

Russia To Test-Launch 10-12 ICBMs A Year Through 2020

Moscow, Russia (RIA Novosti) Jul 13, 2010 - Russia's Armed Forces will test-launch up to 12 ballistic missiles a year over the next decade, a top military official has said. "We currently carry out 10-12 ballistic missile launches a year and we will maintain this level in the foreseeable future," Lt. Gen. Alexander Burutin, first deputy chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, said after a meeting of the State Duma De ... more

Monday, July 12, 2010

Report: US threatens to cut Jordan's aid. Arab media reports Washington demanding Amman coordinate uranium enrichment with Israel

The United States has threatened to cut financial aid to Jordan, if the Hashemite Kingdom continues to develop its nuclear program without coordinating with Israel, the Arab media reported on Monday.

The American threat comes after Amman rejected Israeli demands to participate in extraction and enrichment of uranium, and Jordan's failure to obtain US approval for its nuclear plan, despite talks between the two parties, which lasted six months.

According to reports, the ultimatum was probably given to Amman days after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judah.

In 2007, at least 65, 000 tons of uranium ore was found in the Jordanian desert, making it one of the largest deposits in the world.

The Hashemite Kingdom has claimed its enrichment program was aimed at reducing dependency on petroleum imports. Ninety five percent of Jordan's energy consumption is supplied by other countries, mainly Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

The nuclear reactor would allow Jordan to produce a large amount of its own electricity and export power to its neighbors. However, the kingdom is dependent on American financial assistance, without which its economy will be severely damaged.

According to Jordanian Minister of Planning Jaafar Abdul Hassan, the United States has transferred Jordan some $665 million during the first half of the year, out of which $360 million was financial aid and $300 million military aid.

America's increased aid to Jordan is meant to help the country deal with financial and social problems, as well as help it strengthen national security.

Last month, King Abdullah accused Israel of blocking his country from achieving nuclear capabilities. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, the king said Israel was pressuring France and South Korea not to sell nuclear technologies to Jordan, and that its covert operations deteriorated the relations between the two countries to the lowest point they've been since the peace agreement was signed in 1994.

Snuffysmith's Nuclear Wire by Michele Kearney: Iran Claims 44 Pounds of Higher-Enriched Uranium -- Global Security Newswire

Snuffysmith's Nuclear Wire by Michele Kearney: Iran Claims 44 Pounds of Higher-Enriched Uranium -- Global Security Newswire

Russia warns Iran near nuclear weapons potential

Iran Claims 44 Pounds of Higher-Enriched Uranium -- Global Security Newswire

Iran yesterday announced it holds more than 44 pounds of uranium enriched to 20 percent, 7 pounds more than when the nation last declared its stockpile of the material roughly three weeks ago, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, July 9).

The Persian Gulf nation in February began further refining low-enriched uranium from its stockpile, ostensibly for producing medical isotopes at a medical research reactor in Tehran. The United States and other Western powers, though, have feared the process could help Iran produce nuclear-weapon material, which has an enrichment level around 90 percent. Tehran has insisted its nuclear ambitions are strictly peaceful.

Read more ....

The Diplomat Blogs South Asia’s Nuclear War Risk - Facebook China’s planned nuclear reactors sale to Pakistan highlights the risk of war on the Subcontinent. It could also increase it.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari has just concluded a visit to China on a trip that attracted particular attention because of Beijing’s contentious plan to sell two nuclear reactors to Pakistan.

There’s nothing new about Zardari visiting China—in fact he’s been a regular guest there since taking office, having travelled to Beijing five times since September 2008. The frequency of the visits (on average about once every about three months) is likely largely aimed at reassuring Chinese policymakers who preferred dealing with his authoritarian predecessor, Gen. Pervez Musharraf. But although ostensibly, the latest trip was over whether China will sell the two additional nuclear reactors to Pakistan, the meeting also raises deeper—and in...

MAP OF THE DAY: Global Warming Study Shows Expanding American Deserts from Clusterstock by Gus Lubin

Global warming scientists hit a rough patch this winter over private emails. But they're back with an apocalyptic vision of your future.

Stanford's Noah Diffenbaugh and Moetasim Ashfaq predict routine heat waves by 2039, which may damage agriculture and health.

"In the next 30 years, we could see an increase in heat waves like the one now occurring in the eastern United States or the kind that swept across Europe in 2003 that caused tens of thousands of fatalities. Those kinds of severe heat events also put enormous stress on major crops like corn, soybean, cotton and wine grapes, causing a significant reduction in yields."

Congress must push back

Editorial: Congress should act to keep Yucca Mountain viable
President Barack Obama's decision to abandon the Yucca Mountain waste-repository project in Nevada was driven by political considerations, not safety or environmental issues, according to this editorial. Members of Congress, particularly the 91 lawmakers who urged the Department of Energy to halt efforts to close Yucca Mountain, should craft legislation to force the government to act, if necessary, the editorial adds. The Herald (Everett, Wash.)

Platts Energy Week Small Modular Reactors Assessing the feasibility of small modular reactors

Assessing the feasibility of small modular reactors

Platts Energy Week 7.11.2010 - Bill Loveless holds a panel discussion with Mike Anness from Westinghouse Electric Company; Paul Genoa from the Nuclear Energy Institute and Edwin Lyman from the Union of Concerned Scientists.

As president touts green power, plants launch a 'nuclear renaissance'

PSEG is hoping that it can secure a federal loan guarantee to help in the construction of its planned nuclear site in New Jersey, which would be capable of covering up to 28% of the state's power needs by 2021. The company also expects the public to view nuclear as a power option that more environmentally friendly than coal. The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.)

South Texas Project prepares for new units

Pre-construction site preparation has commenced for Units 3 and 4 of the South Texas Project nuclear plant. Company officials expressed confidence that they would be approved this year for the federal loan guarantees they need to complete the project. Victoria Advocate (Texas)

DOE appeals on Yucca decision Department aims to reverse last week's ruling

The Energy Department appealed a ruling by a Nuclear Regulatory Commission panel that blocked the withdrawal of the license application for the Yucca Mountain project in Nevada. Terminating Yucca falls under the department's authority, according to the appeal.

Nevada files brief backing withdrawal of Yucca application

Nevada officials have requested that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission overturn a ruling that prohibited the Energy Department from abandoning the Yucca Mountain project. In a legal filing, officials said the NRC "has never prohibited an applicant in the past from withdrawing its application." Las Vegas Sun

Trio team up for Saudi nuclear projects from World Nuclear News by Warwick Pipe

The Shaw Group, Exelon and Toshiba plan to team up to pursue contracts for "a full complement of services to design, engineer, construct and operate" nuclear power projects in Saudi Arabia.

N.Korea shifts to peace offensive after ship sinking

Seoul (AFP) July 10, 2010 - After months of tensions, North Korea is now looking for a way out of the confrontation sparked by the sinking of a South Korean warship, analysts said Saturday. After securing what its UN envoy termed "a great diplomatic victory" when the UN condemned the sinking without identifying the culprit, the North expressed willingness in principle to return to nuclear disarmament talks.

Apocalypse now? In US and abroad many are prepared

Washington (AFP) July 10, 2010 - From the outside, Jerry Erwin's home in the northwestern US state of Oregon is a nondescript house with a manicured front lawn and little to differentiate it from those of his neighbors. But tucked away out of sight in his backyard are the signs of his preparations for doomsday, a catastrophic societal collapse that Erwin, 45, now believes is likely within his lifetime. "I've got, under ... more

20 kilos of 20 pct enriched uranium ready: Iran

Tehran (AFP) July 11, 2010 - Iran said on Sunday it has produced around 20 kilogrammes of 20 percent enriched uranium, in defiance of the world powers who want Tehran to suspend the controversial nuclear work. "We have produced around 20 kilogrammes of 20 percent enriched uranium and we are working to produce the (fuel) plates," Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi told ISNA news agency. World powers led by Washingt ... more