Michele Kearney's Nuclear Wire

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

Saturday, December 22, 2012

10 Interesting Energy Statistics from 2012

10 Interesting Energy Statistics from 2012

Sometimes energy makes headlines, sometimes it doesn’t.  But it almost always has important implications for the global economy, the environment, and our day-to-day lives.Here are 10 energy statistics from 2012 that capture some of the most noteworthy trends of the year, and that will shape the energy world in the years to come.Natural gas, one of the three key fossil fuels in our energy economy (along with coal and petroleum), continues to ascend as a major force.One prominent example: during the month of April, for the first time ever…Read more...http://oilprice.com/Energy/Energy-General/10-Interesting-Energy-Statistics-from-2012.html

Why the US should not Invest in Exporting Natural Gas

Why the US should not Invest in Exporting Natural Gas

Investing in natural gas export facilities “is a bet against what US firms excel in—developing and commercializing new technologies and products,” says economist Frank Wolak.With the advent of the “shale gas revolution,” the United States has undergone a full-scale natural gas boom. Driven by fracking and horizontal drilling, the United States will likely overtake Russia as the world’s largest producer of natural gas by 2015, according to the International Energy Agency.Now, as estimates of available reserves…Read more...http://oilprice.com/Energy/Natural-Gas/Why-the-US-should-not-Invest-in-Exporting-Natural-Gas.html

TEPCO investigation finds multiple spent fuel pools at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant house damaged spent fuel assemblies by Lucas W Hixson

TEPCO investigation finds multiple spent fuel pools at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa plant house damaged spent fuel assemblies

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Faults said risk to Japan nuclear plants

Faults said risk to Japan nuclear plants

Tokyo (UPI) Dec 21, 2012
A nuclear watchdog agency in Japan says earthquake faults in the country's Aomori Prefecture may be active and could affect many nuclear facilities. The finding, announced Thursday by Nuclear Regulation Authority, is expected to prompt further study at nuclear-related operations in the northern end of the island of Honshu, The Asahi Shimbum reported.http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Faults_said_risk_to_Japan_nuclear_plants_999.html

CIVIL NUCLEAR Swedish nuclear reactor shut after sea water infiltration

Stockholm (AFP) Dec 21, 2012
A reactor in Sweden's biggest nuclear plant was stopped Thursday after an infiltration of sea water, the operator Vattenfall and the national nuclear industry watchdog said. "There is no safety problem" at Reactor 4 at the Ringhals plant near Gothenburg in the country's southwest, nuclear authority inspector Jan Gallsjo told the national TT news agency. He added that the presence of salthttp://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Swedish_nuclear_reactor_shut_after_sea_water_infiltration_999.html

Vattenfall wants 3.5 bn euros in German nuclear spat

Stockholm (AFP) Dec 21, 2012
Swedish energy group Vattenfall is demanding 30 billion kronor (3.5 billion euros, $4.6 billion) in damages from Germany following Berlin's decision to shut some nuclear reactors, media reported on Friday. "Vattenfall has launched proceedings against Germany for more than 30 billion kronor," business daily Dagens Industri wrote, without citing any sources.http://www.nuclearpowerdaily.com/reports/Vattenfall_wants_35_bn_euros_in_German_nuclear_spat_report_999.html

NRC Chairman Writes about Enhancing Safety after a Visit to Fukushima

Posted: 22 Dec 2012 03:47 AM PST
"On reflection, I can’t help but be reminded of the important role the NRC performs for the nation; the work we have underway to further enhance reactor safety; and the renewed importance of ensuring no accident like this happens in the United States. I want to be sure that we continue to take the steps necessary to be certain that communities surrounding nuclear reactors are protected and that we’ve done all we can as regulators to prevent and mitigate severe accidents that displace people and contaminate land."http://theenergycollective.com/rodadams/163746/nrc-chairman-writes-about-enhancing-safety-after-visit-fukushima-japan?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The+Energy+Collective+%28all+posts%29

Climate Story Of The Year: Extreme Weather from Superstorms to Drought Emerges as Political, Scientific Gamechanger

Posted: 21 Dec 2012 11:30 PM PST
This year brought staggering weather extremes, record loss of Arctic ice and a growing body of scientific analysis linking the two. Those extremes, plus Superstorm Sandy, raised public concern about the immediate threat posed by climate change, providing a palpable debunking of the (mistaken) belief that climate change will impact only future generations or people in faraway lands.http://theenergycollective.com/josephromm/163486/climate-story-year-extreme-weather-superstorms-drought-emerges-political-scientifi?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=The+Energy+Collective+%28all+posts%29

Energy Intelligence Report December Newsletter

Energy Intelligence Report

Greetings from London.

This is our last newsletter for 2012, so along with wishing you Happy Holidays, we’d like to leave you with a few notes on what we expect for the New Year—a year full of risk and fuller still of opportunities. A New Year and a New Era for energy.

Two key issues to be addressed in the US for 2013 will be whether to export natural gas and whether to go ahead with the Keystone XL pipeline.

There are some who think it imprudent to export US natural gas; others who think we have a lot to lose if we don’t. Here, we will square things off with a few snippets from across the dividing line.

According to Michael Lynch, president and director of global petroleum service at Strategic Energy & Economic Research, “while there are projections that liquefied natural gas exports could become quite large, the reality is that they will almost certainly be minimal for the next several years, and unlikely to affect prices any time soon.”

Then we have economist Chris Martenson, whom we had the privilege to interview earlier this week. Martenson is categorically opposed to exporting US natural gas. Why? Martenson believes we should use our remaining natural gas as “a bridge fuel to get us to a new energy future that's durable and provides us with a high quality of life.”

Exporting, he says, is a massive waste of resources: “Fully 25% or more of the energy contained within the natural gas is expended just in the process of liquefying it. That's what you get to do with 25% of the units of work. You get to turn the gas into a liquid.”

And then we have Keystone XL--that beleaguered behemoth of a pipeline project that is becoming a widening frontline in America’s proxy energy war. We cover this extensively because it is symptomatic of the underlying question of US energy strategy—even if it is not so important in and of itself. In Texas, the situation continues to intensify, most recently with another round of arrests of activists. But in Montana, there is forward movement. On Monday, Montana approved easements to let the Keystone XL pipeline cross state-owned land, including the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers. Keystone will have to be decided on once and for in 2013.

Against the backdrop of these issues, the chatter in DC is who will be the next figures to assume the energy-driving posts of Secretary of Energy and Secretary of the Interior. Rumor has it that Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Security of the Interior Ken Salazar have one foot out the door. Over the past four years, these two figures have played key roles in reshaping US energy strategy, so everyone’s wondering who (and what) will replace them.

For now, all we have is a short-list. Former Colorado Governor Bill Ritter and California hedge-fund manager Tom Stever are two names being bandied about for Chu’s potential replacement. Other names on the shortlist include former North Dakota Sen. Byron Dorgan; Susan Tierney, a former assistant energy secretary; and Steve Westley, a California businessman.

There seems to be a great deal of focus on Ritter, director of the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. He also is a member of the board of directors of the Energy Foundation and is a senior fellow and board member of the Advanced Energy Economy Institute. He’s a big name in “new energy”—at least in Colorado.

Beyond the “issues”, we have opportunities. For 2013, East Africa is the place to be. The New Year will finally let us know if those massive oil finds in Kenya earlier this year are actually commercially viable. If they prove to be so, and on the scale that everyone is predicting, we should see a major restructuring of the playing field as juniors give way to majors. If you want to play around with stocks here, you have to watch this restructuring closely. In the meantime, the discoveries just keep coming …

For gas, Algeria is set to rival Tanzania and Mozambique as the hottest new venue. Europe is eyeing it greedily, thanks to its massive reserves, existing pipeline infrastructure, relative stability and closer proximity to the European market.

Turkey, too, is a worth keeping an eye on for 2013. While it doesn’t have impressive proven reserves, its unexplored Black Sea territory is highly promising. This territory adjoins some major discoveries by Israel and the industry is hedging its bets that there’s a black gold mine under those waters. Plus, everyone likes working with the Turkish government, while the country itself is poised to become a major energy hub at an important crossroads.

And then we have the Bakken and Eagle Ford shale plays in the US, which contain impressive proven reserves and plenty of untapped acreage. For 2013, these plays will remain very active.

On a geopolitical level, the most visible energy-related conflict of 2013 will be that between the Iraqi Kurds and the Iraqi central government. More than any other in recent times, this conflict demonstrates how oil drives geopolitics. Oil = Kurdish independence. And that equation won’t be calculated without bloodshed. But you can read all about this in our new premium newsletter, which launches on 11 January 2013.

For investors, this week we take an in-depth look at solar EOR—which is gaining ground as a cheaper and more effective method of coaxing heavy crude from played-out wells. In the next three years, EOR is set to go from a $3 billion market to a trillion-dollar market. Solar was given the boost it needed last week to win a significant share of this market. Most of the world’s current oil production comes from played out wells—so it’s no small thing. On a broader level, it’s a brilliant marriage of fossil fuels and renewable energy, which is a good start for a New Energy Era.

Happy holidays.

James Stafford
Editor, Oilprice.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/oilandenergy       
Discuss: http://oilprice.com/discussion

The Investment for 2013: Solar Oil Extraction

Customize Two words can change everything when they are combined: solar and crude.

We’re just getting started with this in earnest, but what we’re talking about is solar technology that can extract heavy crude from played-out wells cheaper and more effectively than natural gas processes.

First, let’s look at the process, and then we’ll get to the investment opportunities.

As much as two-thirds of every well’s crude oil is left behind, unproduced. These are “aging” or “played-out” wells. More to the point: most current oil production actually comes from these “mature” pools. Enhanced oil recovery (EOR) is the process of extracting these significant leftovers.

Most commonly, EOR is conducted through three separate process: natural gas EOR, carbon dioxide (CO2) EOR and chemical EOR—to a lesser extent nitrogen and oxygen are used.

Carbon dioxide (CO2) injection is one of the most common methods of EOR, and there are over 100 CO2EOR projects currently in process in the US—the bulk of them in western Texas. One problem with this method is that there are often challenges to finding suitable CO2 volumes. This can get expensive, especially if CO2 has to be piped to the location. If there are no nearby supplies, a pipeline has to be built to pump it in.

While nitrogen and oxygen can also be used and can be produced on site, they also require the use of huge compressors to inject the gases into the well—so this is only feasible if we’re talking about a massive reservoir. Likewise, chemical flooding, which is combined with water flooding, is costly depending on water sources and the type of chemicals used. So we’re talking about a cost of anywhere between $2-$40 per barrel. So, it’s economically feasible—sometimes.

Natural gas EOR is increasingly attractive because of low gas prices and high availability. Natural gas is used to boil water into pressurized steam to flood the well and make the oil more fluid for pumping. But still, this requires diverting natural gas that could be used elsewhere.

Enter solar. The production of this leftover oil and natural gas ultimately requires ENERGY to lift the fluids to the surface. EOR was already a $3.1 billion market way back in 2005. By 2015, analysts think the market will be worth $1.3 TRILLION. Those figures are set to look even nicer as solar makes major gains in the EOR market.

How does it work? That’s easy. Solar technology uses the heat from the sun to coax heavy crude to the surface.

Recent studies show that solar EOR may be better than natural gas EOR. Specifically, solar EOR can produce 16% more oil from a played-out well than natural gas processes—and there is no fuel cost. So the process works better and is more economically viable.

It’s an idea that is gaining ground with—and investment from—big oil companies like Shell. And the US and Middle East are the two current venues of choice for this EOR method.

Here’s who you need to look at:

GlassPoint Solar Inc.

• This month, Royal Dutch Shell Plc. (RDSA), RockPort Capital and a few others invested a total of $26 million in this California-based upstart. The investment will spur the company’s expansion in the Middle East.

• GlassPoint is showcasing its Enclosed Trough Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) enhanced oil recovery process, which uses solar to tap into played-out wells

• GlassPoint already has a 300 kilowatt solar EOR project in Kern County, California, and another project close to completion in an oil field south of Oman.

• It is now seeking to expand to Kuwait and Bahrain where its technology will reduce oil production costs. (The Middle East is excited because this means it can export that natural gas instead)

• GlassPoint is the clear driver of large-scale solar EOR

BrightSource Energy (BSE)

• BSE has taken the technology to new heights and taps into aging wells for Chevron (NYSE:CVX) in the Coalinga oil field.

• BSE has spent $67.3 million on this project, which began in earnest last year.

So we’re talking about a new (and old) option for EOR, which is already set to become a trillion-dollar market in the next few years. We’re talking about a proven technological process that can access billions of barrels of oil from played-out wells around the world. And it’s cheaper and more effective. It’s a win for investors, and a win for the marriage of fossil fuels and renewable energy.

By. Oilprice.com Analysts

Energy News: AP: People flee Japan nuclear disaster — Some can’t get away, I feel so sorry for them

Energy News: AP: People flee Japan nuclear disaster — Some can’t get away, I feel so sorry for them

Posted: 22 Dec 2012 03:40 AM PST
Posted: 21 Dec 2012 02:01 PM PST
Posted: 21 Dec 2012 09:22 AM PST
Posted: 21 Dec 2012 08:29 AM PST
Posted: 21 Dec 2012 07:29 AM PST
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Posted: 21 Dec 2012 04:56 AM PST

Recommended Reading: Power Grid Operations


FINALLY!!!! – There is a book written about the electrical power grid and how it is operated, which is NOT written by an engineer.

NREL study shows CSP with energy storage can help utilities

NREL study shows CSP with energy storage can help utilities
Renewable Energy Magazine (press release)
The NREL report found that, compared to solar PV, CSP having a six-hour storage capacity can lower peak net loads even when the sun isn't shining, thereby adding at least $35.80 per megawatt hour to the capacity and operational value of the utility.http://www.renewableenergymagazine.com/article/nrel-study-shows-csp-with-energy-storage-20121221

Concentrated solar power with thermal energy storage can help utilities' bottom ...

Phys.Org - ‎Dec 21, 2012‎
(Phys.org)—The storage capacity of concentrating solar power (CSP) can add significant value to a utility company's optimal mix of energy sources, a new report by the U.S. Department of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) suggests. http://phys.org/news/2012-12-solar-power-thermal-energy-storage.html

DOE offers $20 million to marry solar thermal with existing power plants

Clean Energy Authority - ‎Dec 19, 2012‎
Areva's CSP solar trough technology in action One of the great things about concentrating solar power (CSP)—specifically solar thermal—technologies is their flexibility. While photovoltaics convert solar energy directly to electricity, solar thermal technologies ...http://www.cleanenergyauthority.com/solar-energy-news/doe-offers-20-million-to-marry-solar-121912

Concentrated Solar Power with Thermal Energy Storage ... - NREL
The storage capacity of concentrating solar power (CSP) can add significant value to a utility company's optimal mix of energy sources, a new report by the U.S. ...
Global Energy Storage Projects Top 700 | Energy Manager Today
The total number of energy storage projects worldwide - including announced, funded, under construction, and operating facilities- reached 714 in the last.
Nanomechanical Energy Storage in Twisted Nanotube Ropes
Nanomechanical Energy Storage in Twisted Nanotube Ropes. David Teich,1 Zacharias G. Fthenakis,2 Gotthard Seifert,1 and David Tománek2,*. 1Physikalische ...
More than 700 Energy Storage Projects are ... - MarketWatch
BOULDER, Colo., Dec 19, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Energy storage projects are increasing steadily, both in terms of the project pipeline and the number of ...

Local under-30s on Forbes list

Local under-30s on Forbes list
Boston Globe
Forbes explains, “the Waste Annihilating Molten Salt Reactor (WAMSR) will utilize liquid fuel consisting mainly of the 'spent' fuel rods from the nation's ...http://bostonglobe.com/lifestyle/names/2012/12/21/boston-forbes-under-list/4zZH9hTeOZweJBK7V28jGM/story.html

Chinese Energy Strategy in the Next Five Years

Chinese Energy Strategy in the Next Five Years

I recently had to write an essay about energy trends affecting China, so I thought I’d share here as well, with a few details modified:
While China has actively expanded its use of renewable energy and fostered innovation in the clean-tech space, planning on the renewables development and deployment front has been suboptimal in the face of present realities. To advance China’s twin goals of modernization and security in the energy space, China should place greater emphasis on renewable capacity utilization rather than capacity expansion in the next five years. China should also find ways to increase the proportion of non-maritime energy imports in its overall import portfolio.http://blog.hiddenharmonies.org/2012/12/chinese-energy-strategy-in-the-next-five-years/#more-17470

Environmental Activism Takes Hold in China

Environmental Activism Takes Hold in China
Energy Tribune
China's authoritarian leaders show few signs this year that they are ready for political activism. But there are indications they are increasingly aware and willing to listen to public demands when it comes to the environment. As protests gain in ...http://www.energytribune.com/68834/environmental-activism-takes-hold-in-china-2

Even California Can Do More to Advance the Clean Energy Economy

Even California Can Do More to Advance the Clean Energy Economy
Natural Resources Defense Council (blog)
Share | | |. A new report released this week by the Legislative Analyst's Office recommends that the California Legislature develop a comprehensive strategy for meeting the state's energy efficiency and alternative energy goals. Included in the report ...http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lettenson/even_california_can_do_more_to.html

Why green construction in California will be getting a big boost

GreenBiz.com (blog) 
A new California law is set to go into effect in January that will bring in up to $550 million annually for efficiency and clean energy school construction projects. Details for the distribution of these funds are still being worked out, but the end result will be a huge ...

What do you think about Thorium Plasma Battery Technology?

What do you think about Thorium Plasma Battery Technology ...
These nuclear batteries never need to be recharged and they are being used by the militaries of America and Russia for sattlelites, long range torpedos, and ...

Friday, December 21, 2012

Seawater leak shuts down Swedish nuclear reactor

Seawater leak shuts down Swedish nuclear reactor
Swedish authorities have ordered the shutdown of a reactor at its largest nuclear power plant near Gothenburg following a seawater leak. The leak is the latest in a string of similar incidents that have plagued the Swedish nuclear industry.http://rt.com/news/swedish-nuclear-reactor-gothenburg-589/

Wishful thinking on nuclear power

Wishful thinking on nuclear power
In the article Cameco CEO bullish on nuclear future (SP, Nov. 30), Tim Gitzel presents a report of the nuclear industry that is very much at odds with the World Nuclear Industry Status Report 2012 and the International Atomic Energy Agency. http://www.thestarphoenix.com/news/Wishful+thinking+nuclear+power/7729997/story.html

Is nuclear power necessary for solving climate change?

Is nuclear power necessary for solving climate change?
The Guardian
The relative costs and benefits of nuclear energy have been the subject of heated debate in recent years thanks to a combination of factors, including the need to cut carbon emissions and the 2011 accident at Fukushima, Japan. Critics argue that ...http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/dec/21/nuclear-power-necessary-climate-change

Small, Modular Reactors Driving Nuclear Industry to New Energy Frontiers

Small, Modular Reactors Driving Nuclear Industry to New Energy Frontiershttp://nuclear.duke-energy.com/2012/12/19/small-modular-reactors-driving-nuclear-industry-to-new-energy-frontiers/

Auditors Blast DOE for "Fragmented" Cyber Attack Preparations

Auditors Blast DOE for "Fragmented" Cyber Attack Preparations

By Diane Barnes
Global Security Newswire
WASHINGTON -- A "decentralized and fragmented" investigative framework continues to ensnare U.S. Energy Department probes into digital attacks against its nuclear weapons sites and other facilities, placing targeted infrastructure in greater danger, the DOE inspector general asserted in a new report.http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/auditors-blast-doe-cyber-attack-response/

Defense Authorization Bill, Nuclear Lab Mandate Sent to White House

Defense Authorization Bill, Nuclear Lab Mandate Sent to White House

By Douglas P. Guarino
Global Security Newswire
WASHINGTON – The Senate on Friday approved a defense authorization bill for fiscal 2013 that would mandate construction of a new nuclear weapons laboratory and storage facility in New Mexico but that lacks many other controversial nuclear security provisions lawmakers considered earlier this year.
The 81-14 Senate vote on the of legislation followed House approval of the latest version of the same bill on Thursday by a vote of 315-107. The bill authorizes – but does not appropriate -- $527.5 billion in base Defense Department spending, $88.5 billion for overseas operations, and $17.4 billion for defense-related nuclear programs managed by the Energy Department.
The bill now goes to the White House for the president’s signature.http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/final-defense-authorization-bill-nuclear-lab-mandate-sent-president/

Iran, IAEA Reach Initial Deal on Atomic Probe, Envoy Says

Iran, IAEA Reach Initial Deal on Atomic Probe, Envoy Says

Draft terms were reached last week for the International Atomic Energy Agency to look into indications of possible nuclear weapon-related experiments by Iran, an envoy told the Xinhua News Agency.
Representatives from Iran and the Vienna, Austria-based agency on Dec. 13 held the latest in a series of meetings aimed at establishing ground rules for the investigation of possible military aspects of Iran's nuclear work. Tehran insists its nuclear ambitions are strictly peaceful, but did not permit any IAEA audit of its Parchin facility; the U.N. organization has linked the armed forces installation to a number of suspected sensitive studies.
Two dozen specialists have urged President Obama to support a potential compromise granting temporary curbs on economic penalties if Tehran agrees to end operations involving 20 percent uranium under monitored conditions, the London Guardian reported on Wednesday.http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/iran-iaea-reach-initial-deal-atomic-probe-envoy-says/

India has nuclear plant delays and higher costs and Japan shifting to pro-nuclear policies

India has nuclear plant delays and higher costs and Japan shifting to pro-nuclear policieshttp://nextbigfuture.com/2012/12/india-has-nuclear-plant-delays-and.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+blogspot%2Fadvancednano+%28nextbigfuture%29

Replacing Fossil Fuels With Renewables

Replacing Fossil Fuels With Renewables

Barry Stevens, OilPrice
Economic Growth! Energy independence! Climate Change! There are countless arguments for moving beyond fossil fuels, for world energy needs. Unfortunately, many hurdles must be overcome before we can feasibly count on other sources of energy to replace coal, oil and possibly natural gas, which all together provide the lion's share of the world's electricity generation and transportation fuels. Even if there were no greenhouse effect, all of the fossil fuels we rely on will probably be depleted within a few hundred years. If humankind is going to have a future on this planet, at...http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Renewable-Energy/Replacing-Fossil-Fuels-with-Renewables-Part-1.html

EPA offers details of its controversial fracking study

EPA offers details of its controversial fracking study

The public and the energy industry got their first glimpse Friday of a long-awaited study on the possible correlation between water pollution and fracking, but Obama administration officials said the full results and definitive findings of their study won't be released until 2014.
The review could have major implications for ...http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/dec/21/epa-offers-details-its-controversial-fracking-stud/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

Who should manage the nuclear weapons complex?

Who should manage the nuclear weapons complex?

As the lame-duck Congress wraps up business, a serious debate is unfolding over the future of the US nuclear weapons complex. For the first time since the end of World War II, the long-held policy that places control of the design and production of nuclear weapons in civilian hands may be up for grabs. At issue: What is to be done with the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), now located inside the US Department of Energy?http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/who-should-manage-the-nuclear-weapons-complex

Panel: Fault Under Japan Nuke Plant Likely Active

Panel: Fault Under Japan Nuke Plant Likely Active


Indian Point Nuclear Threat Needs Senate Review, Engineers Contend


Indian Point Nuclear Threat Needs Senate Review, Engineers Contend


Guest column: Replace expensive, unreliable wind power with natural gas


NRC to consider solar flare nuclear safety petition

NRC to consider solar flare nuclear safety petition


U.S. Approves Joint Purchases by Nuclear Power Companies

U.S. Approves Joint Purchases by Nuclear Power Companieshttp://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-12-20/u-s-approves-joint-purchases-by-nuclear-power-companies.html

2012: The Year in Energy

US NRC Blog Update: A Visit to Japan: Reflectons from the Chairman

U.S. NRC Blog

A Visit to Japan: Reflections from the Chairman

by Moderator
This past weekend I had the honor of leading a delegation of U.S. officials to an international conference in Japan designed to keep up the global momentum of enhancing nuclear safety after the Fukushima accident.
We met in Koriyama City, some 30 miles west of the scenic Japanese coast, where recovery work continues on the four Fukushima Dai-ichi reactors that were damaged by tsunami-induced flooding and the explosive force of pent-up hydrogen.
In my remarks to our counterparts in the newly installed Japanese Nuclear Regulation Authority (JNRA) and to the roughly 400 delegates at the conference from across the globe, I stressed that national nuclear regulatory bodies must be independent and buffered from political winds and whims. And at each opportunity, our delegation said that a regulator’s work should be carried out in an open and transparent manner so all can see the reasoning behind decision-making, and that regulators should be funded and staffed at a level to get this important work accomplished.
One of the more important sessions I held was with the newly appointed chairman of the JNRA and three of his Commissioner colleagues. We discussed the challenges ahead as the JNRA embarks on the demanding task of creating an effective independent nuclear regulatory program for Japan. This will be a major undertaking, not easily accomplished. If asked, the NRC will enthusiastically assist JNRA. I am confident that other nations and non-governmental organizations with nuclear experience and expertise will also step forward if their help is requested.
On our first day in Japan we visited the crippled reactors at Fukushima Dai-ichi. We approached the scene through silent villages, devoid of people, with weeds growing in abandoned parking lots, and japanmapnow-empty crop fields. I saw the immense beauty of the countryside and the Japanese coastline. This striking land is now empty and may be unusable for a considerable period; 160,000 people are displaced because of the radiation that escaped these reactors.
We stood atop the No. 4 reactor at the Fukushima site, next to the now-covered spent fuel pool. We witnessed the progress made by a full contingent of cleanup workers in remediating the site, a testament to the resilient spirit of the people of Fukushima and Japan. This said, immense work is still ahead at the Fukushima site and the surrounding areas – work that will take decades to complete.
On reflection, I can’t help but be reminded of the important role the NRC performs for the nation; the work we have underway to further enhance reactor safety; and the renewed importance of ensuring no accident like this happens in the United States. I want to be sure that we continue to take the steps necessary to be certain that communities surrounding nuclear reactors are protected and that we've done all we can as regulators to prevent and mitigate severe accidents that displace people and contaminate land.
Allison Macfarlane
NRC Chairman
Moderator | December 21, 2012 at 1:28 pm | Tags: nuclear | Categories: Emergency Preparedness and Response, Operating Reactors | URL: http://wp.me/p1fSSY-UK

Fukushima Updates 12/21

Here are the topic summaries for today's Fukushima updates. Please click the link for the full reports.
The current focus of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority is earthquake possibilities concerning nuclear plants, and the issue has become foggy. The question now has to do with the proximity of a fault to a nuclear station, and no method for assessment exists... The mayor of Futaba, Fukushima Prefecture, has been hit with a no-confidence vote by the town assembly over his refusal to take part in discussions over a temporary low level decontamination waste storage facility... The Environment ministry has announced they will delay environmental surveys for temporary storage facilities in Futaba County... The Hamaoka nuclear station, which was the first nuke ordered shuttered by Tokyo after 3/11/11, will have a 67 ft. high anti-tsunami seawall built.

Ringhals 4 nuclear reactor shut down in Sweden

Ringhals 4 nuclear reactor shut down in Sweden

Reactor 4 at Sweden’s 3,700 MW Ringhals nuclear power plant, the country’s largest, was shutdown Dec. 20 after “an infiltration of seawater."http://www.power-eng.com/articles/2012/12/ringhals-4-nuclear-reactor-shut-down-in-sweden.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+power-engineering-latest-news-rss+%28Power+Engineering+Latest+News%29

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant Weekly Review

Fukushima unit 3 spent fuel pool. Source: TEPCOThe successful removal of a beam dropped into a spent fuel pool, the first Tokyo Electric Power Co. settlement related to the death of an evacuee and a higher seawall at the Hamaoka nuclear plant highlighted the last week's news from Japan.

Developments related to the Fukushima Daiichi power plant severely damaged following last year's earthquake and tsunami include ...
...(read more)http://nuclearstreet.com/nuclear_power_industry_news/b/nuclear_power_news/archive/2012/12/21/fukushima-daiichi-nuclear-plant-weekly-review-122102.aspx

The Five Most Influential Energy and Climate Studies of 2012 by CFR

The Five Most Influential Energy and Climate Studies of 2012

Fessenheim safety work ‘satisfactory’

Fessenheim safety work ‘satisfactory’

Fessenheim safety work ‘satisfactory’

EDF’s plans to improve emergency cooling systems and to reinforce the basemat of the reactor at unit 1 of the Fessenheim plant are “satisfactory” to meet requirements for its continued operation, the French nuclear regulator said.http://energyandnuclear.com/2012/12/21/fessenheim-safety-work-satisfactory/

Action plan working for Areva

Action plan working for Areva

Action plan working for Areva

French nuclear company Areva has confirmed its targets for 2012 and 2013 and says its strategic commercial recovery plan remains on track even though it has revised overall earnings forecasts for 2013 downwards.http://energyandnuclear.com/2012/12/21/action-plan-working-for-areva/

Nuclear News Round Up (17th – 21st Dec 2012)

Nuclear News Round Up (17th – 21st Dec 2012)


 17 December, 2012 18 December, 2012
20 December, 2012
21 December, 2012

The Nuclear Information Project

The Nuclear Information Project 

The Nuclear Information Project covers nuclear weapons and arms control and the nuclear fuel cycle.
The project provides the general public and policy-makers with information and analysis on the status, number, and operation of nuclear weapons, the policies that guide their potential use and nuclear arms control. Nuclear weapons data are based on official documents, testimonies and previously undisclosed information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, as well as independent analysis of commercial satellite images.
The project reports on developments in the nuclear fuel cycle that are relevant to nuclear weapons proliferation. Both uranium enrichment for nuclear reactor fuel and separation of plutonium from spent reactor fuel can produce fissionable material for nuclear bombs. The project puts technical information into a nonproliferation context and looks at case studies by conducting independent calculations and analyses.

Get the Latest Project News

In the News (when others use our work)

Chronology of news coverage.

Featured External Nuclear Resources

The ALSOS Digital Library for Nuclear Issues

Nuclear weapons and nuclear power have greatly influenced the world since 1945. This digital library maintained by our colleagues at Washington and Lee University provides a vetted, annotated bibliography of over 3,000 books, articles, films, CDs, and websites about a broad range of nuclear issues. Browse or Search ALSOS »

The Future of Nuclear Power in the United States

The Future of Nuclear Power in the United States 

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The Report

On February 8, 2012, the Federation of American Scientists and Washington and Lee University released a new report examining the future of nuclear power in the United States.   

In the wake of the devastating meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in Japan, many Americans are now reevaluating the costs and benefits of nuclear energy. If anything, the accident underscores that constant vigilance is needed to ensure nuclear safety. Policymakers and the public need more guidance about where nuclear power in the United States appears to be headed in light of the economic hurdles confronting construction of nuclear power plants, aging reactors, and a graying workforce, according to a report by the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) and Washington and Lee University.
Charles D. Ferguson, President of the Federation of American Scientists
Frank A. Settle, Visiting Professor of Chemistry at Washington and Lee University

John F. Ahearne,
Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society
Albert V. Carr, Jr., Washington and Lee School of Law
Harold A. Feiveson, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Princeton University
Daniel Ingersoll, Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Andrew C. Klein, Oregon State University
Stephen Maloney, Azuolas Risk Advisors
Ivan Oelrich, independent defense analyst and former Vice President for Strategic Security at FAS
Sharon Squassoni, Center for Strategic and International Studies
Richard Wolfson, Middlebury College

From FAS.org- The President's Desk
Secrecy News
Strategic Security Blog 

CRS Reports- 2012 January 12: Nuclear Power Plant Design and Seismic Safety Concerns
2011August 25: Financing Recovery After a Catastrophic Earthquake or Nuclear Power Incident
2011 May 10: Nuclear Energy Policy
2011 April 5: The Japanese Nuclear Incident
2011 March 29: Nuclear Power Plant Sites
The Report:

The Future of Nuclear Power in the United States 
Edited By Dr. Charles D. Ferguson and Dr. Frank A. Settle.

April 2012 - Update to Chapter 2: A Critical Examination of Nuclear Power's Costs

Press Releases:

2012 February 8: Will Nuclear Power in the United States See a Revival This Decade?

2012 February 8: Nuclear Power Report Co-Prepared by Washington and Lee Debuts Feb. 8.


Nuclear Energy: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, May 2011).

In the News:

2012 February 8: Government Security News"Study Says Nuclear Plant Designs Need Stepped Up Attention to Security"

2011 November, Foreign Policy"Think Again: Nuclear Power"
2011 July 1, U.S. News & World Report: "U.S. Must Learn From Japan's Nuclear Crisis"
2011 March 23, NatureDo Not Phase Out Nuclear Power -- Yet
2011 March 16, Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsThe Need For a Resilient Energy Policy in Japan