Saturday, September 8, 2007

Energy Alberta files for tar sands reactors

Shell Oil is said to be the first customer

Reuters reports that Energy Alberta Corp. said it filed an application with the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to build a nuclear power plant in Alberta that aims to be in service within 10 years.

The Calgary, Alberta-based company said its application is for two twin-unit ACR-1000 advanced Candu reactors just west of Peace River in northern Alberta.

Energy Alberta, which teamed with state-owned Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd, said it would first build one twin-unit reactor that could produce 2,200 megawatts of electricity by early 2017.

The U.K. Independent newspaper says the customer for the reactor is Shell Oil.Shell is considering using nuclear power to operate its tar sands oil production in Canada.

Tar sands extraction – mining oil from a mixture of sand or clay, water and very heavy crude oil – uses a huge amount of energy and water.

Canadian firms AECL and Energy Alberta have proposed building a nuclear reactor near the site of Shell's vast Athabasca tar sands development. Energy Alberta has said the C$6bn reactor has the backing of a large unnamed copany that would take 70 per cent of the reactor's energy.

A spokeswoman for Shell Canada refused to confirm that the company would take electricity from the reactor but said: "We have had a number of power options presented to us. Yes, it includes nuclear."

AECL Plans Eight New Reactors by 2020

Atomic Energy of Canada to Build More Than Eight Reactors by 2020

Bloomberg wire service reports Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., the only maker of power plants that don't need enriched uranium, plans to build more than eight reactors by 2020 as orders pick up after two-decades of suspended animation.

The Canadian builder aims to expand in countries where it has already completed plants, including China, Canada, Argentina and Romania. AECL may also market in India after adapting designs and gaining political approval. A reactor deal between India and the U.S. is currently getting heated debate in both countries.

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AECL, which works with the Canadian units of General Electric Corp. and Hitachi Ltd., has built seven reactors in Romania, South Korea and China in the last decade after Canada stopped commissioning reactors in 1978.

The company is scheduled to begin talks with Argentina later this year on a secure contract to build one CANDU 6 reactor. Another two such units could be added at Romania's Cernavoda plant.

Energy of Alberta Ltd. could order as many as four with two targeted for tar sands work and the province of New Brunswick another one of its new ACR-1000, 1,200 megawatt-capacity reactors. Alberta has applied for a site license, while New Brunswick is studying the feasibility of the C$3 billion project.

IAEA Science Forum to Look 25 Years Ahead

A Nuclear Crystal Ball? Experts to Look 25 Years Ahead
IAEA Scientific Forum 18-19 September

The IAEA´s Scientific Forum this month promises to offer far-reaching insights into where nuclear development is headed over the next quarter century. Many of the world´s top authorities are examining issues of nuclear power, safety and security, safeguards, and international development.

The Forum is taking place September 18-19 as part of events during the IAEA General Conference at the Austria Center in Vienna. Opening the Forum are IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and Gareth Evans, the Forum´s Chair and head of the International Crisis Group, an independent multinational non-governmental organization.

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Four sessions are being held:

Nuclear Power. This session will look at energy in the 21st century and the potential for nuclear power, particularly for developing countries and countries in the Middle East. Other presentations will examine nuclear fuel services in the next quarter century; managing residues; innovation, research and development in the next quarter century; and expectations for fusion research and ITER.

Meeting New Challenges in Food, Agriculture and Health. Speakers at this session will talk about cancer as a global health issue; future trends in radiation therapy as as effective tool to fight cancer in women; global challenges in food and agriculture, controlling animal diseases; and sustainable agriculture.

Global Safety and Security Regime: Building Robust Safety and Security Infrastructures. This session´s invited speakers will address challenges to a harmonized global safety regime; transport of radioactive material; nuclear reactor aging; safety and security of innovative reactors; safety and security of radioactive sources; decommissioning; and enhancing global emergency preparedness.

Safeguards and Nuclear Verification: A Long-Term View. The focus of this session will be on the expected world security context for the next 25 years; outlook on the global nuclear non-proliferation regime; understanding clandestine nuclear procurement networks; and consolidation of safeguards and non-proliferation in the context of a nuclear renaissance.

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Dr. ElBaradei stressed the range of challenges and tasks remaining to be done, singling out issues in health care, agricultural production and water and energy supplies; radiation safety and security; and non-proliferation and arms control.

"We need to look for creative approaches in all these areas so that nuclear technology can continue to play a significant role in social development and the promotion of peace," he says in the Forum announcement.

Nuclear renaissance at WNA London meeting

429 reactors operating globally, 25 under construction, 76 planned and 162 proposed

Reuters has a report on the opening speeches at the World Nuclear Association annual conference held in London this week.

The nuclear power industry said on Thursday it provided a clean alternative to fossil fuels and a global warming crisis, saying environmentalist concerns about nuclear waste and atomic security were overblown.

The term "renaissance" was the buzz word as nuclear industry players emerged from the 21-year-long shadow of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster and gathered in London for two days of talks at the 32nd annual symposium of the World Nuclear Association.

"Nuclear power is now a fully competitive electricity source," said WNA chairman Ralf Gueldner. "Today we see the begin to reach full bloom."

Nuclear power now provides 16 percent of a world electricity demand predicted to at least keep pace with the 50 percent growth in population expected by 2075 -- and nuclear optimists see that share rising.

Gueldner said he even expected his own country Germany to reverse its current policy of phasing out nuclear power plants.

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The nuclear power industry, despite environmentalists' worries about security, nuclear weapons proliferation and the fact that nuclear waste remains deadly for thousands of years, sees itself as an obvious choice.

At present there are some 429 reactors operating globally, with 25 more under construction, 76 planned and 162 proposed.

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International Atomic Energy Agency head Mohamed ElBaradei said nuclear power had a role with 1.6 billion people without any access to electricity and the developed world using 170 times more electric power than the developing nations.

But he said the world had to guard "relentlessly" against the dangers of weapons proliferation.

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Environmentalist James Lovelock, who outraged the green movement several years ago by saying nuclear power had a role to play, introduced a more somber note to the gathering.

"World systems are already in failure mode," he said. "The world itself is in no danger and we as a species will probably survive. What is at risk is our civilization."

NRC expects a flood of new reactors

The count is at 29 reactors at 20 sites in three years

The Associated Press reports Federal regulators, girding for explosive growth in the nuclear power industry, say they are weeks away from an anticipated flood of license applications for new reactors not seen since the 1970s.

The agency expects to receive new fast-tracked combined construction and operating license applications for as many as 29 reactors at 20 sites, most in the South, over the next three years.

NRC has hired more than 400 inspectors, engineers and examiners to handle the load. Ultimately, the power companies will be billed for their time.

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Some of the power companies expected to file soon for new reactors include the Tennessee Valley Authority, as part of the NuStart group for its Bellefonte site in Alabama; Duke Energy, for its Lee Station in South Carolina; NRG Energy, for its South Texas Project; Dominion Energy, for the North Anna site in Virginia; Southern Co., for its Vogtle plant in Georgia; and South Carolina Electric & Gas, for its Summer station.

All are looking to use advanced reactor designs, which the NRC is working to approve in advance in standardized form to hurry along the process. Two of five most likely designs already have been certified by the NRC. The others are either under review or expected to be submitted by year's end.

Israel wants a U.S. vendor to build it a nuclear plant

The U.S. pending deal with India opens a door

Platts Energy News has made available the full text of an interesting story about Israel's drive to develop a commercial nuclear power plant. Usually a story of this significance and complexity is available only to subscribers of Nucleonics Week.

According to the report, Israeli officials in August said they will be looking to a US vendor to supply the reactor they plan to build in the southern Negev desert.

Current US and international restrictions bar such a sale, but the Israeli officials say a pending US-India deal sets a precedent for departing from those rules.

Israeli National Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben-Eliezer on August 3 told engineers at the Israel Electric Corp., IEC, that the ministry is renewing plans to build the nuclear plant.

Abstract - Idaho's Invisible Nuclear Power Plant

AEHI Idaho Reactor: For Real?
State Regulators, NRC Baffled

By Dan Yurman, Contributing Reporter
Fuel Cycle Week V6 N237 July 14, 2007

The proposal to erect a 1,600-MWe reactor in Idaho, floated last month by Alternative Energy Holdings (AEHI) of Virginia, seems to be invisible to those regulators who would have anything to do with it. That includes the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, and the State Water Board.

NRC, usually the first agency a nuclear-project hopeful would contact, told Idaho station KTVB through spokesman Scott Bernell that its only information about the project has come from “what we have seen in the media.” The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality did not return a reporter's calls about the proposed plant.

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Water a Nonstarter

Another huge obstacle for the project is the scarce water resource in southern Idaho, which has some of the most fiercely protective water users in the country. AEHI would cool its reactor with water from the Snake River, where additional demand for a consumptive use is a nonstarter. In fact, it could create the political equivalent of a core meltdown from farmers and ranchers, the recreation industry, Indian tribes, and other users. The slightest risk of measurable radioactivity in the reactor’s return flow would bring these groups out by the hundreds to an NRC hearing.

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Financial Credibility Gaps

Financial credibility is one of AEHI’s biggest challenges. The stock has no SEC filings and trades for less than $1.00 in the “pink sheets” area of the over-the-counter market. Daily trading volumes range from 7,000 to 40,000 shares. On July 13, the stock was trading at a price of $0.95 on volume of 27,000 shares, up from half that price earlier this year.

Nevertheless, on June 26, AEHI announced that Cobblestone Financial Group, Inc., an upstate New York firm that reportedly represents numerous investors, had issued a letter of intent to fund 100% of AEHI’s proposed Idaho Energy Complex, estimated at $3.5 billion

Cobblestone has financed small shopping centers, but not nuclear power plants. Had it dealt with the start-up, refurbishment, or restart of any existing power plant, the nuclear-energy community might take it more seriously. Or had it advised an electric utility on finances or consulted on mergers and acquisitions with any type of power generation, its financial qualifications might be more credible.

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Idaho’s nuclear-energy advocates worry that AEHI’s purported venture could undermine prospects for legitimate nuclear projects in other Western states. They hesitate to air their doubts in public, lest they fuel anti-nuclear sentiment, but the AEHI project meanwhile has many of them scratching their heads.

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Please contact the publisher for a sample copy or to purchase the full text of this issue at:

International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC
Tel: 202-547-8300 Web: http://www.innuco.com/

Abstract - Nuclear Loan Guarantees Pending in Congress

Fate of Loan Guarantees Tied to Funding Bills
Industry and Environmental Groups Contend for Influence

by Dan Yurman, Contributing Reporter
Fuel Cycle Week V6 N244 September 4, 2007

As Congress returns from its August recess, it is facing a key issue for the nuclear industry, whether and how much support the federal government will provide to the construction of new nuclear power plants in the form of federal loan guarantees under Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

There are stark differences in the House and Senate bills, which must go to a conference committee and then be passed by both chambers before October 1st. The House passed its appropriation bill, but the bad news for the nuclear industry is that Democrats removed all support for nuclear energy loan guarantees from the bill. The Senate Appropriations Committee offers generous terms for loan guarantees that go far beyond the original conditions of the Energy Policy Act. It isn’t clear when the Senate bill will see floor action.

The House Appropriations bill is contentious even without the loan guarantee issue. President Bush has threatened to veto the funding measure as it now stands. The $25.24 billion allocated for the department in the House version is $1.15 billion over the 2007 budget. Much of the extra spending was focused on climate-change programs, with $1.9 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, including solar energy, biofuels and vehicle technology. That’s enough to get OMB’s attention and a recommendation for a presidential veto.

Senate, House Appropriations Bills Markedly Differ on Loan Guarantees

Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes DOE to provide loan guarantees for new or improved technologies that reduce greenhouse gases. Nuclear energy is on the list of eligible technologies. A key provision limits loan guarantees to apply only to “new or significantly improved technologies.” Proven commercial nuclear energy reactor designs, such as those licensed by NRC to Westinghouse and General Electric, aren’t eligible for the loan guarantees under the Act, but that hasn’t stopped the industry from trying to change it nor environmental groups from trying kill off loan guarantees completely.

It comes as no surprise that major U.S. environmental groups oppose loan guarantees for nuclear power plants for the same reasons they oppose the plants themselves. These reasons include the lack of a permanent solution to management of spent nuclear fuel and concerns about the potential for terrorist attacks.

Perhaps the most radical idea about loan guarantees comes from Peter Bradford, a former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. In a bit of conceptual block busting, he says DOE should forget about subsidies and loan guarantees altogether. Bradford told the Dallas Morning News last January the government ought to just build the first few new nuclear power plants and operate them until investors are confident nuclear energy is a safe bet. Then the financing would flow because the risks would have been worked out in revised plant designs and improved construction processes.

This sounds like an interesting idea, but it goes down hard with Edwin Lyman, a spokesman for the anti-nuclear Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Lyman told FCW the nuclear industry now faces the challenge of proving its economic argument. The only way to do that, he said, is by demonstrating that “the so-called resurgence will result in the construction of more than a small number of reactors, exactly the number that receive subsidies under the Energy Policy Act.”

Adrian Heymer, the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Director for New Plant Deployment, disagrees. He told MSNBC last January the extent of the rebound will soon be clear. While Lyman might be thinking about just four plants, Heymer says applications to the NRC to build 24 or more new nuclear reactors are expected by the end of 2007.

A less contentious policy position than the one laid out by UCS emerges from an interview with Chris Paine, Director of Nuclear Programs, at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). In response to questions from FCW about loan guarantees, Paine said he anchors his views on the legislative intent of the 2005 Energy Act. If Congress “cannot resist the urge to extend loan guarantees” to new nuclear power plants, it should stick to guaranteeing “only those investments that represent the first constructed unit of a new design licensed for the US market.”

David Frantz takes the helm at DOE's Loan Guarantee Program

The Department of Energy has a new director for its loan guarantee program. David Frantz was named to the post in August. He comes to DOE from the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, with long experience in the public and private- sectors in executive roles managing complex financial instruments. He has advanced degrees in business and securities studies from Tufts University.

This is the type of financial background that the nuclear industry asked the Energy Dept, to get in a leader for the loan program. The Senate also called for an experienced executive in the financial services field. They got what they asked for in a director, but it still doesn’t alter OMB's position which offers the industry far less in covering debt for new nuclear plants than the industry wants.

Frantz, who declined to be interviewed by phone, responded via email to an FCW reporter's questions through DOE spokesperson Megan Barnett. Frantz has inherited the management of DOE’s draft regulations, issued last May.

In them DOE wrote it would guarantee up to 90% of the amount of any loan as long as DOE does not issue guarantees for more than 80% of the total cost of a project. These numbers leave some pretty big holes in the loan coverage and the industry is not happy about them.

According to NEI, under DOE’s plan, commercial debt would be ranked second relative to debt guaranteed by the government. This requirement would have the effect of limiting investor debt for a new nuclear plant to the amount that would be covered by the government and no more. Given the huge costs associated with a new plant, no investor is going to provide funding and stand in second place.

Domenici weighs in on loan guarantees

Senate support for the Council’s position is highlighted by Sen. Pete Domenici. At a July 26th Senate hearing, he lectured Jim Nussle, who was testifying on his nomination to be the Director of the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), about the loan program. Domenici accused OMB of “dragging its feet” on implementing the loan guarantee program.

Instead, Domenici said the loan guarantees should cover $25-30 billion in new investment and hit the industry’s mark of 80% of the cost and 100% of the loans.

Two days later on August 2nd Domenici got an answer more to his liking. In a press release, the New Mexico Senator said he received “a commitment from OMB” to meet his demands.

Industry mobilizes a new group to change the Energy Act

The American Council on Global Nuclear Competitiveness, a relatively new nuclear industry trade organization, is advocating that the federal guarantee program be expanded to cover other types of nuclear facilities. The new facilities would include uranium mills, processing plants, conversion, enrichment facilities, reactor component fabrication facilities, and spent fuel reprocessing facilities.

Kotek calculates the political drift this way: He points out there are 104 nuclear plants operating in the U.S. at 64 sites in 31 states. While only one in seven member in the House have a reactor in their district, the situation is very different in the Senate. The 31 states translates into 62 of 100 Senators who have reactors in their states. Add nuclear R&D operations at DOE labs in several states and, “you have a solid majority of senators, including Democrats, who have states that enjoy the benefits of nuclear energy.”


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Please contact the publisher for a sample copy or to purchase the full text of this issue at:

International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC
Tel: 202-547-8300 Web: http://www.innuco.com/

Abstract - Australia's New Nuclear Ambitions

Australia’s New Nuclear Ambitions Revealed
GNEP May Swing the Outcome of Its Next Election

By Dan Yurman, Contributing Reporter
Fuel Cycle Week, V6 N243 August 28, 2007

On July 20th the Sydney Morning Herald, Australia's biggest newspaper, blew the lid off a story the government would rather have kept secret until September. The paper reported Australia is negotiating with the United States to join a worldwide effort to control the manufacturing, distribution, reprocessing, and storage of nuclear fuel. According to government briefing papers reported by the Herald, "The proposed action plan would open the way for valuable nuclear cooperation with the U.S." The news scoop set off a media frenzy on nuclear issues and handed the Labor Party opposition new political ammunition to be used in the parliamentary elections later this year.

Draft plans prepared by the government, revealed by the newspaper, have John Howard, Australia's Prime Minister, announcing the decision to join the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) during a visit to Sydney on September 4th by U.S. President George Bush as part of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. The conference will include Australia, Japan, and the U.S. China's President Hu Jintao will join the group for multi-lateral discussions on regional economic development involving 19 other Asian countries. A key topic will be North Korea's nuclear ambitions and its threat to countries in the Pacific rim.

The impetus for the Australian GNEP plan, according to the Herald, is that at least a year ago Prime Minister Howard decided to expand the nuclear industry in Australia, which could ultimately include nuclear reactors, a uranium enrichment plant, and spent fuel storage. The GNEP deal has the potential to transform Australia in less than a decade from being merely a supplier of unprocessed uranium to becoming a powerful member of the world’s nuclear club with all the technical capabilities of five other GNEP partners.

Australia has no uranium enrichment plants of it own. It's one effort to build a nuclear power plant was halted unfinished in 1971. Earlier this year Howard told Australians that given the challenges of global warming, they must face the reality that nuclear power plants "will come probably in 10 years.”

Politically, he is positioning the nuclear energy plan at the center of his election campaign. He intends to defy Labor Party scare tactics and reject claims he is committing political suicide by promoting nuclear energy as a response to climate change. "It's not political suicide to tell the truth," Howard told the Nine Network's Sunday program. "There are only two ways that you can run power stations in this country. You can do it on fossil fuel or you can do it with nuclear power."

He’s got some wind in his sails. Support for nuclear power is gaining ground in Australia. A poll published in the Australian newspaper in March 2007 reports 45% of people surveyed are in favor of the development of a nuclear power industry as one of a range of future energy options. That figure was 35% four months earlier with even lower numbers in 2006. It is the first time there is more support than opposition to nuclear power. Nevertheless, Labor Party opponents are using the Herald’s report on GNEP as a wedge to attack Howard’s government.

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Please contact the publisher for a sample copy or to purchase the full text of this issue at:

International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC
Tel: 202-547-8300 Web: http://www.innuco.com/

Abstract - Nuclear Energy for Alberta Tar Sands

Are Nuclear Plants Coming to Alberta Tar Sands?
High risk takers and state-owned corporate giants hunt customers

by Dan Yurman, Contributing Reporter
Fuel Cycle Week V6 N243 August 28, 2007

In the next decade or sooner oil companies working in Alberta’s Athabasca Tar Sands are likely to place a $6 billion bet on nuclear reactors. They will use the reactors to tackle the recovery of 180-330 billion barrels of oil. In the process they stand to gain $30 billion a year for the next 30 years. The reactors would supply the oil companies with the huge quantities of heat for steam, electricity, and maybe the hydrogen, needed to extract and refine the oil.

What the oil companies are digging into are massive deposits, perhaps in the trillions of barrels, of heavy crude oil called bitumen that lie beneath the surface in sandy soils and limestone outcrops. With the price of oil climbing to stratospheric levels, the Alberta tar sands have turned into one of the world’s most sought-after areas of oil exploration and extraction. A major boom is in progress despite winters with steel shattering cold temperatures of -40F and a wilderness landscape with few roads or towns.

Some oil is less than 250 feet below the surface and is taken out by strip mining methods. However, most of the oil is 600 feet or more below ground. It is extracted using high-pressure steam to loosen the bitumen from the sand and pump it out. Hydrogen is used to refine the heavy crude into a marketable product.

According to the Alberta Geologic Survey, it takes tens of thousands of cubic feet of natural gas and hundreds of gallons of water to make enough steam to produce one 55-gallon barrel of bitumen crude oil. Studies by the Canadian Energy Resource Institute (CERI) indicate that a nuclear reactor can generate the heat needed to make high-pressure steam without emitting CO2 and at a lower cost than natural gas.

For instance, Suncor Energy, one of the major oil sands energy companies, is currently using 400 MW of electricity to extract the oil, process the bitumen, and then pump it to refineries. The rising cost of natural gas to make steam to get the oil out of the ground is pushing the envelope on energy balance issues.

The questions Suncor face, how much energy in, how much money out, create market interest for the industry as a whole whether nuclear reactors are a cost-effective deal. Current production from the tar sands region is one million barrels a day with forecasts of double that amount by 2010. The oil industry will realize huge profits from the tar sands with a selling price of oil at $65/barrel, assuming 300 days of production annually. There’s head room for a nuclear reactor or two in these numbers.

The people in the nuclear business are seeking customers who want the deep tar sands oil badly enough to build the reactors. What the customers digging the tar sands want is to get the most oil out of the ground for the least cost. Some of them think reactors might be right for the job. Is there a sweet point in the mix?

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Please contact the publisher for a sample copy or to purchase the full text of this issue at:

International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC
Tel: 202-547-8300 Web: http://www.innuco.com/

Summer is over - there's still some nuclear news

August is a slow month, but there were a few nuclear issues

Summer is a time for vacations and taking advantage of the fine weather. That's mostly what I did, so this is a long post that catches up on a lot of the nuclear news that took place anyway. Many of the links from news sources have expired so readers will hopefully excuse the lack of them in these reports.

EnergySolutions Bids for USEC

The Salt Lake City firm surprised the Department of Energy and Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich) with an unsolicited sole source bid for two government-owned uranium enrichment plants. The proposed $9.5 billion deal would add $700M a year in revenue to EnergySolutions' bottom line according to a story published in the Salt Lake City Tribune on August 3rd.

Rep. John Dingell hit the ceiling, politically speaking, in a letter he sent to Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman. Dingell said there are lots of qualified firms who could bid on the plants if DOE decides to sell them. He asked Bodman why the government wants to hand off the plants to a nuclear waste cleanup firm for closure when both are still operating? For its part DOE said they've received EnergySolutions proposal, but won't say anything else.

The real prize is a huge supply of government owned and partially processed uranium at the two plants worth millions if turned into nuclear fuel.

Fluor and Toshiba to build U.S. nuclear power plants

Fluor engineering and Japan's Toshiba, which owns Westinghouse, announced they will build two new nuclear power plants in Texas and also bid on a massive cleanup contract for the Sellafield nuclear facility in the U.K.

PBMR to seek NRC license

Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Ltd of South Africa said in August that the company plans to submit a design certification application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission by late 2009. Edward Wallace, the PBMR U.S. program manager, said the company is working with the U.S. Department of Energy on the agency's Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) to be built at the Idaho National Laboratory. Wallace said the licensing work for the NRC would support design work for the PBMR and the company's work on NGNP. Westinghouse is a participant in the PBMR reactor. Areva and General Atomics also have NGNP contracts with DOE.

PBMR's licensing efforts are expected to focus on fuel testing and qualification. However, Wallace said that if the NRC requires a containment building for the PBMR, the firm probably won't seek to build one in the U.S. The PBMR uses a "pebble bed" fuel design and is cooled by helium. South African utility Eskom plans to start building a 165 MW PBMR in 2009.

Utah Thinking About Nuclear Power

The Utah legislature is developing a bill that would encourage nuclear generation in the state according to a report published in the Utah news media in August. Utah's commitment to coal fired electric generation is being challenged by California utilities that have blocked the third unit of Intermountain Power's coal-fired plant.

Rocky Mountain Power is considering building a nuclear power plant and is reportedly looking for sites in Utah. The company wants the legislature to support a provision similar to one enacted in Florida which allows a utility to pass along the construction costs to ratepayers before the nuclear plant actually makes electricity. This measure would reduce risk for investors the company said.

Friday, September 7, 2007

PBMR Manufacturing Suspended

Paperwork is the problem

A setback to the pebble bed modular reactor (PMBR) project has been revealed in the annual report of the state-owned entity developing these small-scale, high temperature nuclear power plants.

In the annual report to Parliament this week, the chief executive of PMBR Limited, a subsidiary of Eskom, Jaco Kriek, wrote that an instruction was given to Eskom during the year by the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) to suspend manufacturing activities.

"The NNR felt that not all the processes and documentation to adequately oversee the manufacturing activities of components at some of PMBR's suppliers were in place," Kriek said.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Edward McGaffigan Jr

Edward McGaffigan Jr., the longest serving member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) and a public servant for more than 31 years, died today at Capital Hospice in Arlington, Va., after a long battle with melanoma. He was 58.

A Boston native and self-described John Kennedy Democrat, McGaffigan was appointed to the Commission by President Clinton in 1996 and 2000, and by President Bush in 2005. In October 2005, he began an unprecedented third term on the commission that regulates the safety and security of nuclear materials and nuclear power plants. On Nov. 3, 2006, he became the panel’s longest serving member. Then, on Dec. 8, 2006, he marked 10 years of service to the NRC. His death followed the 11 anniversary of his first swearing-th in by a matter of days.

In his tenure at the agency he focused on improving the effectiveness and efficiency of agency processes dealing with reactor oversight and reactor license renewals, and since Sept. 11, 2001, he helped design an enhanced security posture at the nation’s 104 commercial nuclear power reactors and other NRC licensees. He took great pride in the fact that the agency, beginning in the late 1990s, became a more disciplined, higher achieving organization, and also took pride in the stability having a full slate of five members gave the agency’s efforts after Sept. 11.

Full text of the NRC press release here