Saturday, September 19, 2009

NRC workshop on small reactors Oct 8-9

It’s open to the public and includes real-time online access

nrc logoNuclear Regulatory Commission staff will hold a workshop at the agency headquarters in Rockville, Md., on Thursday and Friday, Oct. 8 and 9, to discuss generic issues regarding potential applications for so-called “small and medium-sized” nuclear reactors.

The workshop will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 8, and from 8:30 a.m. to noon on Oct. 9 in the auditorium of the NRC’s Two White Flint building at 11545 Rockville Pike in Rockville (map). The public is invited to participate with NRC staff and industry representatives throughout the workshop.

For NRC are small reactors the same as big ones?

“We’re going to examine how these ‘small’ reactor vendors would need to address the NRC’s requirements in areas including safety, security, decommissioning and emergency preparedness,” said Michael Mayfield, director of the Advanced Reactor Program in the NRC’s Office of New Reactors.

“This meeting will help us and our stakeholders determine what issues need more clarification and get everyone’s expectations on the same page.”

The NRC is currently focused on reviewing applications for a variety of light-water reactor designs similar in size to those used in current U.S. commercial nuclear power plants.

heatSeveral reactor vendors, however, have indicated they intend to seek NRC certification for designs that are much smaller and in some cases could be used for applications other than producing electricity, such as providing heat for industrial processes.

Real-time online access

A teleconference line and Webinar will be available for members of the public; Webinar participants can view workshop presentations online, as well as take part in discussions on the proposal.

For more information or to register for the meeting, contact Brian Wagner (301-251-7595 or brian.wagner@nrc.gov ) or William Reckley (301-415-7490 or william.reckley@nrc.gov ).

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Western Lands Uranium Gopher for 09/19/09

This blog post includes edited content which also appeared in Fuel Cycle Week V8N344 09/16/09 published by International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC.

Turmoil rocks Uranium Resources

gopherIt's been a tough month for Uranium Resources (NASDAQ:URRE). On September 4th CEO David Clark stepped down as President and CEO. Four days later the firm walked away from a major deal worth $1 million in cash and four million shares of stock with NZ Uranium LLC for 113,000 acres of checkerboard mineral claims in Crownpoint, NM. The only good news is that the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver set a January 2010 date for oral arguments on an En Banc review of the "Indian Country" controversy.

Clark, who has been CEO for the past three years, told the company he was leaving to resume a writing career he put on hold to head the company. He will remain a consultant to the firm through March 2010.

Rick Van Horn, VP at Uranium Resources, told FCW that while Clark's action was unexpected, the firm immediately hired Donald Ewigleben as its new CEO effective Oct 1st. He is an attorney and has held numerous executive positions with Anglo Gold Ashanti North America. He also worked in the coal industry and is a director of the National Mining Association.

The deal that went south with NZ Uranium LLC has left hard feelings on both sides. Van Horn told FCW the deal for NZ Uranium's claims "was subject to due diligence.'

"There are issues with the title for these claims that were not cured," Van Horn said, and, "we could not proceed with the deal."

Not so says an angry Robert Worsley, CEO at NZ Uranium. He told FCW "Uranium Resources walked."

"They just changed their minds. They are not being genuine. The title issues were minor and immaterial. We were working on them."

Worlsey blames the collapse of the deal on Clark's departure. He said, "I don't know what's going on over there [at Uranium Resources] because of the change in leadership."

The good news for Uranium Resources is that the firm finally has a date for oral arguments on the "Indian Country" controversy that has hobbled its uranium operations in New Mexico. Van Horn told FCW, "We have a timeline now which we never had before."

He also noted that the firm has a permit from the State of New Mexico, but the claim by EPA that the site is within the jurisdiction of the Navajo Indian tribe has prevented the firm from doing any work. Van Horn said that the firm has maintained all along that the site is on private land and not subject to regulation by the tribe. The State of New Mexico agrees and filed an amicus brief with the 10th Circuit Court affirming its claim to jurisdiction for regulation of the mine.

Denison gets permit for Arizona mine

Good news came to Denison Mines (AMEX:DNN) with an air quality permit from the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ). It is the final regulatory action needed for the mine to start operations. Bad news followed in its footsteps because the mine is located on the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Three environmental groups announced plans to sue the Bureau of Land Management for approving the mine on public land.

Benjamin Grumbles, Director of the ADEQ, issued a statement saying the permit for the mine is good.

"We've added important new safeguards to ensure existing mines protect air and water quality near one of the state's most precious resources."

The three environmental groups do not see it that way. The Sierra Club, Center for Biological Diversity, and Grand Canyon Trust argue the mine is within a nearly 1 million acre buffer area declared to be off limits to new mining in an order issued in July by the Department of Interior.

Taylor McKinnon, of the Center for Biological Diversity, said BLM's decision to allow mine operations "was illegal." He said new endangered species have been discovered since the mine's permit was issued by BLM in 1988 and must be taken into account. Roger Clark, of the Grand Canyon Trust, said that Denison's mine "will permanently poison land and water in this arid region."

Dension points out the mine is exempt from the Interior department's order affecting new mines since it was established more than two decades ago.

Ron Hochstein, Denison CEO, said, "We are within 10-15 miles of the north rim, but geologically speaking, their allegations we will impact the Grand Canyon are simply not within the realm of feasible outcomes."

"The idea that the mine threatens the Grand Canyon ecosystem can't be justified by any stretch of the imagination."

He added that "as far as Denison is concerned we have all the permits we need to put this mine into operation."

A review of statements by Sec. of Interior Ken Salazar indicates Denison is correct about its status as an existing mine. While Salazar called for a moratorium on new mines, he also said that the new measure "would not prohibit ongoing or future mining exploration, extraction, or operations on valid, existing claims."

Crosshairs announces NI 43-101 report for Bootheel property

Crosshair uranium (AMEX:CXZ) announced the results of the initial independent National Instrument (NI) 43-101 Mineral Resource estimate on the Bootheel Project, in southern Wyoming. The estimate includes an indicated resource of 1.09 million pounds U3O8 and an additional inferred resource of 3.25 million pounds U3O8.

The resource estimate for the Bootheel Project is based on results from 93 Crosshair drill holes totalling 50,163 feet (ft) and approximately 1,450 historic drill holes for which detailed information is available.

The Bootheel Property, together with the Buck Point Property, cover 8,524 acres within the Shirley Basin in southern Wyoming and make up The Bootheel Project, LLC. Crosshair and Ur-Energy Inc. (AMEX:URG), are the members of The Bootheel Project. Crosshair is currently earning a 75% interest in the Project and anticipates completing its earn-in during this fiscal quarter. The mine is being developed using ISR methods.

Uranerz announces NI 43-101 report for Arkose mining venture

Uranerz Energy Corporation (AMEX:URZ) announced that the Arkose Mining Venture, a joint venture between the company (81%) and United Nuclear, LLC (19%), has received an independent National Instrument 43-101 technical report for its South Doughstick Property that estimates a "measured and indicated" mineral resource of approximately 2,287,250 pounds U3O8 at an average grade of 0.121% and an "inferred" mineral resource of approximately 189,305 pounds at an average grade of 0.096%. This is the first resource to be reported on a project within the Arkose Mining Venture.

The South Doughstick property is located in Campbell and Johnson Counties in the Pumpkin Buttes Uranium Mining District of the Powder River Basin, approximately 60 air miles northeast of Casper, Wyoming. During six month period ending June 2009, Arkose completed 331 exploratory drill holes on the South Doughstick property. The results of that drilling program were the primary source of information and data for the NI 43-101 technical report on the South Doughstick property.

Uranium Energy gets Texas permits

Uranium Energy (AMEX:UEC) announced that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality issued draft permits for two disposal wells that are part of ISR mine operations at the firm's Goliad project. The action kicks off a 30-day comment period. Harry Anthony, COO for the firm, said it does not anticipate major changes in the final permits.

Bayswater to Acquire Reno Creek uranium project from Strathmore

Bayswater Uranium (TSX:BAY) announced it signed a letter of intent with Strathmore Minerals Corp (TSX:STM) to acquire the Reno Creek Project in the Powder River Basin in northeastern Wyoming. The project has NI 43-101 reported resources of just under 11 million pounds U3O8 at an average grade of 0.066%. Bayswater said it planned to mine the uranium using ISR methods.

The price for the deal is set at $32 million and is expected to close in December. Bayswater said in a statement it planned to bring the site into production within the next six years.

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Small reactors offer big rewards

A nuclear engineer with an entrepreneurial spirit may do well with one

coolhandnukeWhat’s of interest to a nuclear engineer who doesn’t want to get swallowed up in the bureaucracy of a mega utility is that small reactor projects are organized like Silicon Valley start-ups.

Venture capitalists are willing to roll the dice on small reactors. Two of the small reactor firms, Hyperion and NuScale, landed some of their initial funding from these types of investors.

So, if you have an entrepreneurial fire in your soul, take a look at small reactors. Here’s a brief profile of some of them posted exclusively at CoolHandNuke. Check it out.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

DOE releases $40M for NGNP

The funding opportunity is for design work on a high temperature gas cooled reactor

vhtr-ngnp-lgThe Department of Energy announced Sept 18 a significant funding opportunity for work on the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP). U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said that up to $40 million in funding will be available from the Department of Energy to support design and planning work for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP).

The announcement comes the same week Energy Sec. Chu announced a rescue plan for South Africa's Pebble Bed reactor project. In the rescue plan Chu called for joint development of R&D work on high temperature gas cooled reactors.

It’s not clear whether the timing of this funding opportunity announcement is linked to Chu’s actions earlier this week or whether it is simply coming out as the bureaucratic wheels make their turns. A DOE spokesperson said the opportunity is open to US and international applicants, but that there is no specific linkage to Sec. Chu's actions earlier this week.

Process heat applications

natural_gas

DOE said in a statement NGNP will extend the application of nuclear energy for process heat production into the broader industrial and transportation sectors, reducing fuel use and pollution and improving on the inherent safety of existing commercial light water reactor technology.

NGNP will use new, high temperature, gas-cooled reactor technologies (HTGR) to integrate multiple industrial applications in one plant or facility, such as generating electricity while producing process heat for refining petroleum. For instance, the reactor could replace the use of natural gas in Alberta’s tar sands region.

“Support for new developments in nuclear technologies will be critical to meeting our energy, climate and security goals for years to come,” said Secretary Chu.

“Next Generation Nuclear Plants hold the promise of safe, cost-effective, zero-emissions energy for major U.S. industries that are some of the largest energy consumers in the country. By integrating multiple industrial processes, this next generation technology will offset imported fossil fuels, reduce pollution and create tens of thousands of quality jobs in industries across America.”

According to DOE 40% of the nation’s greenhouse gas emissions come from industrial processes in high energy heat consuming sectors. With NGNP systems, the process heat or steam generated by the high temperature nuclear reactors will be used to power applications like advanced highly efficient turbines, manufacture plastic components from raw materials, or produce ammonia for fertilizer. Chu said producing process heat with nuclear energy will make these industries more competitive.

Link to Pebble Bed rescue?

PebblesOn Sept 14 Energy Secretary Chu and South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters signed the bilateral agreement on cooperative R&D for nuclear energy on Sept 14 in Vienna. The agreement sets the basis for cooperation in the areas of advanced nuclear energy systems and reactor technologies.

The two countries will collaborate on improving the cost, safety, and proliferation-resistance of nuclear power systems. The agreement will also expand efforts to promote and maintain nuclear science and engineering infrastructure and expertise in both countries.

Chu’s action this week is an answer to a long-standing quest by PBMR, the firm developing the Pebble Bed design, to collaborate with the Idaho National Laboratory to build a full scale, 300 MW prototype. At this time construction is not anticipated to start on the Arco desert before 2016. The new relationship with the Pebble Bed project could produce new funding, a faster path to an NRC license, and to breaking ground.

In August 2008 the NRC published an NGNP licensing strategy. The strategy lays out a process, but says nothing about anyone’s design for the reactor. Further, the agency is on record as being reluctant to assign any of its engineers to reviewing licensing applications from small reactors, e.g., less than 500 MW, until they have bona fide reactor designs and, most significantly, real customers.

By the time NGNP is ready with a reactor design for NRC review, at least four-to-six years from now, Sec. Chu and the current administration will be long gone. Like other nuclear reactor projects, the life support for a radical new design will depend on political commitments which are not yet on anyone’s event horizon.

The good news is that South Africa’s Pebble Bed project is now potentially engaged in a joint venture to design and build a prototype. There may be more wind in the project’s sails over the long term. Keep your fingers crossed.

First of two project phases

Building a business from scratchThe NGNP project is being conducted in two phases with Phase 1 comprised of research and development, conceptual design, and development of licensing requirements.

Phase 2 comprised of detailed design, license review, and construction that would lead to operation of a demonstration plant by 2021 that is capable of producing hydrogen, electricity, and/or process heat.

The Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) released by DOE will support the following Phase 1 activities:

  • the development of cost-shared conceptual design(s),
  • cost and schedule estimates for demonstration project completion and
  • a business plan for integrating Phase 2 activities.

More information on the funding process

DOE will use the information and data gathered in Phase 1 as a basis for determining whether the project should continue to Phase 2. DOE said applications for the FOA are due November 16, 2009.

Applications must be submitted through http://www.fedconnect.net to be considered for award. DOE expects to make up to two awards in February 2010 with each supporting a unique reactor concept. The full Funding Opportunity Announcement is available at www.Grants.gov and www.FedConnect.net under DE-NE0000149, CFDA No. 81.121.

# # #

Energy Sec Chu saves PBMR Pebble Bed Project

Dramatic rescue announced at IAEA meeting

Moore-LoneRanger U.S. Department of Energy officials today know what it is like to be a hero like the Lone Ranger. With a shout, metaphorically speaking, of "hi yo Silver away!" heard halfway accross the globe, U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu has come to the rescue of South Africa's PBMR Pebble Bed reactor project.

The action occurs just days after a dramatic announcement last Friday at the World Nuclear Association meeting in London by PBMR CEO Jaco Kriek, who said construction of a prototype plant has been "indefinitely postponed" due to financial constraints based on the dire straits of Eskom, its primary customer. At this point the Pebble Bed Reactor project was on the rocks.

Kriek said PBMR is now looking at a new business model and a 50% smaller reactor design. The firm is seeking investors from industries that want a carbon emission free source of process heat. Examples include coal gasification, salt water desalinization, and oil extraction from tar sands.

IAEA_logo Not only is Chu's pre-emptive action filled with the drama of rescuing a fair damsel in distress, it also takes place at a high profile, multi-lateral meeting occurring at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria. The U.S. decision to save the Pebble Bed project is visible to the world's nuclear energy powers in a way that could not possibly be matched in any other setting or time.

It also represents the clearest signal to date that the Obama administration is cognizant of the value of nuclear energy in the response to global climate change. The agreement followed discussions by President Obama and President Zuma during the July G-8 Summit and subsequent bilateral discussions by U.S. and South African senior officials on a broad range of nuclear energy issues in Pretoria, South Africa last month.

What’s in the deal?

pebble1Energy Secretary Chu and South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters signed the bilateral agreement on cooperative R&D for nuclear energy on Sept 14 in Vienna. The agreement sets the basis for cooperation in the areas of advanced nuclear energy systems and reactor technologies. The two countries will collaborate on improving the cost, safety, and proliferation-resistance of nuclear power systems. The agreement will also expand efforts to promote and maintain nuclear science and engineering infrastructure and expertise in both countries.

"As the world moves to address the climate crisis and cut carbon pollution, it is clear that nuclear energy has a major role to play in our energy future," said Secretary Chu. "This agreement reflects our commitment to a new, clean energy economy and strong partnerships with nations around the world to address our shared climate and energy challenges."

PBMR and NGNP will meet on the Arco desert

INL logo blue largeOne potential area of cooperation will likely be R&D with South Africa’s Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) and the US Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP), which are both high temperature gas-cooled reactors. The NGNP project is underway at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL)The research will focus on development of Generation IV technologies and to draw on the unique expertise of each country.

Today's announcement will inject new life into both the PBMR project in South Africa and the NGNP reactor design developments. Cheers can be heard in Idaho Falls all the way from Pretoria.

# # #

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Idaho pro-nuclear group on Facebook

Partnership for Science & Technology joins social media

PST LogoThe Partnership for Science & Technology (PST), a non-profit, pro- nuclear group, launched its Facebook page this week. It is is a non-profit, public interest organization advocating for advancement of science, energy and technology. The organization is independent and nonpartisan.

PST is noted for its monthly ‘Up-and-Atom” breakfast meetings. Craig Piercy, who leads the presence of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) in Washington, DC, talked to the group in August about the role of nuclear energy in climate change legislation. That meeting was co-sponsored with the Idaho Chapter of ANS.

NRC INTERVIEWNext Wednesday Sept 23 immediate past NRC chairman Dale Klein will be here in Idaho Falls to speak to an "Up-and-Atom" breakfast of business and civic leaders sponsored by PST. Klein is in town for an agenda of working meetings at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL).

Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson keeps the group up-to-date on nuclear energy funding issues. A key focus of PST is the Idaho National Laboratory and the Idaho Cleanup Project, both of which are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy.

Past meetings have included noted author Gwyneth Cravens and former Greenpeace leader Patrick Moore.

Coming up PST will hold its annual awards dinner for national, regional, and local nuclear energy leaders.

Partnerships are the key

A key local partnership is work with Grow Idaho Falls. Together, the two groups worked hard with local, regional, and statewide business leaders and elected officials to land Areva's $2 billion Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility for the region. Areva had many choices for sites, but it came to Idaho Falls because of the quality of the recruitment efforts here.

Currently, Eagle Rock is in the NRC licensing process and is expected to break ground in 2011. It will bring hundreds of construction and high paying permanent jobs to the region plus new firms that will provide products and services to the plant.

On a national level PST works with the Energy Communities Alliance and sponsored one of its national working meetings here in Idaho Falls.

Sign on as a fan or join!

When you go to the PST Facebook page, you can sign on as a Fan and post comments on the Wall page. Look for PST guest editorials and photos on the other tabs.

If you support the organization's goals, and want to join, contact information is provided on the Notes tab.

Check it out.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Italy advances, Germany falters, on nuclear energy futures

Two countries could not be further apart on splitting the atom

TugofWarOn September 27th German voters will go to the polls and decide the fate of 17 nuclear power plants and 25% of its electricity supply. While Germans are making this fateful energy policy decision, Italy is moving to build eight new nuclear reactors after earlier this year overturning a two-decade old ban on them. The differences between the two countries is stark. Even more to the point, the two countries could do a complete role reversal in terms of the price of power and where they get it.

Currently, Italy imports 80% of its natural gas, relies heavily on dirty coal plants, and has some of the highest prices for electricity in Europe. Germany has long since depreciated its nuclear power plants which are are now fat cash cows that help the nation preserve a significant degree of energy independence.

Role reversal in the wind

AngelemerkelIf the German electorate swing enough votes from Chancellor Andrea Merkel’s (right) party to challenger Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, and a splinter green party, the fate of the nukes will be sealed and they will be decommissioned by the end of the next decade.

This outcome will force Germany to import enormous amounts of natural gas (think energy density;– uranium v. methane) from Russia with all of the political baggage and risk that comes with the fuel. Additionally, German greens, who think renewables are the answer, will find they have brought an economic nightmare to German industry with electricity at 20-30 cents/KwHr and unreliable base load power. Germany will wind up with Italy’s energy crisis and the country will have done it all on its own.

Meanwhile, by the end of the next decade, Italy will have built two of four 1,600 MW Areva EPRs and three of four 1,200 MW Westinghouse AP1000s for a total of 11 GWe of power. The country will have removed forever plans to build massive coal fired power plants with their greenhouse gases and it will have significantly reduced its dependence on natural gas supplies.

German business groups want to keep the reactors

Frank-Walter SteinmeierWhile Chancellor Merkel is currently leading Minister Steinmeier (right) in the polls, business groups are nervous about the election. The major German utilities have all but halted new capital investment in the nation’s nuclear power plants holding their collective financial breath until the ballots come in.

Financial analysts say If Merkel wins, RWE and E.ON have promised substantial new construction, including uprates of existing plants and possible replacement of aging reactors, that would produce thousands of new jobs in a recession racked economy.

Martin Lueck, an economist at UBS,told Bloomberg wire service Aug 11 that keeping the reactors “would be good for equities.” Deutsche Bank analysts told World Nuclear News Aug 25 that Merkel would commit to a policy of “life extension” for nuclear energy which is the only way the nation will meet climate goals.

Christopher Kuplent of Credit Suisse told the Economist Sept 10 that keeping the existing plants will stabilize electricity prices. This is why Germany’s manufacturing center, which relies heavily on exports for earnings, wants to keep the plants. If the price of electricity soars, and power supplies become unreliable, exports will suffer.

Swings of public opinion?

22.06.2008, Germany, Goslar, Niedersachsen, Bundesumweltminister Sigmar Gabriel, Portraits, © Frank Ossenbrink, Reinhardtstr. 27 b, 10117 Berlin, Tel.: 030-28 09 79 00 oder 0172-400 65 05, Fax: 030-28 09 79 01, e-Mail: mail@politikfoto.de, Bankverbindung: Sparkasse Bonn, BLZ 380 500 00, Kto.-Nr.: 101 294 627, www.politikfoto.de, Steuernummer 502/5221/1111 beim Finanzamt Bonn-InnenstadtPublic opinion in Germany is another matter. The Economist reported Aug 11 that Social Democrat Party (SDP) Sigmar Gabriel (left), who is the current ruling coalition’s environmental minister, has exploited unexpected nuclear plant shutdowns and problems at a waste dump to fan public fears about nuclear energy. He’s achieved some success too with less than a fifth of the electorate polled reported to be in favor of keeping the reactors after 2020.

For her part, if Ms. Merkel wins, she pledges to form a new coalition with the Free Democratic Party isolating the SDP and its anti-nuclear political agenda. In a debate last week with her opponent, Merkel argued that nuclear energy is needed as a “bridge” to reach climate goals, but was not specific about what’s on the other shore. Steinmeier made a series of pledges to create more jobs, but was no more specific about how to pay for them. Polls following the debate showed a split among voters with less than three percentage points between supporters of the two candidates.

While German voters consider how to cast their ballots, their neighbor to the south is voting with bond issues and commitments to funding a massive new nuclear build.

Italy launches new nuclear utility venture

HandshakeFrench and Italian utilities have formed a new, joint venture which will raise billions of dollars to fund eight new nuclear power stations. Italy’s Enel will team with France’s EDF to form Sviluppo Nucleare Italia which translates loosely as “we build nukes in Italy.”

To fund the venture, Enel will raise $14.3 billion and EDF will raise an additional $4.7 billion for a total of $19 billion to kick off construction of 11 GWe of nuclear power. At $3,000 Kw, that’s enough to pay for two EPRs and three AP1000s.

Italy’s second largest utility Edison sPa has committed to taking a 15-20% stake in the Enel/EDF joint venture. CEO Umberto Quadino told Reuters Sept 4 this would equal his firm’s national market share of Italian electricity customers which is about 17%.

The massive financial commitment comes less than a month following a change in Italian law that overturns a two decade ban on new nuclear power plants. By 2030 the country could generate up to 25% of its electricity from nuclear reactors.

Westinghouse deal set for Sept 29

ScajolaItalian Energy Minister Claudio Scajola (left) told Dow Jones wires Aug 25 he expects the first plants to break ground by 2013 and to be in revenue service by the end of that decade.

Westinghouse will build reactors in Italy through a joint venture with Ansaldo Nucleare. The deal will be sealed when Scajola attends an international economic summit to be held in Pittsburgh, PA, on Sept 29. EDF will build Areva EPRs similar to the units now under construction in Finland and France.

World Nuclear News reported Sept 7 that Ansaldo Nucleare has kept its workforce current on nuclear technology with recent completion of Romani’s Cernovada reactors.

In a paradox that surpasses the diametrically opposes nuclear futures of Italy and Germany, German utility E.on is said to be interested in participating in Italy’s new nuclear build.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Webinar: Will there be a Senate climate bill?

Climate Legislation ~ What Will it Look Like?

Live Webcast September 30, 1 PM EST / 10 AM PST

  • To register click here ~ Registration and participation in the webinar is free

greenhouse_gases

Key U.S. CEOs and world leaders are urging the Obama Administration not to go empty-handed to the UNFCCC Conference in Copenhagen this December. All eyes are on the president, who will address the UN on climate change in New York on September 22 while the Senate considers climate legislation back in DC.

The President’s focus on passing health care legislation has put the Senate climate bill awaiting action on the back-burner. However, Todd Stern, the U.S. State Department lead negotiator, has continued to urge Congress to act.

How critical is it that the U.S. climate negotiators have a bill this year? Would a strong bilateral China-U.S. agreement before December be sufficient instead? In the Senate, what type of climate and energy bill has the greatest likelihood of passage, and how will it differ from the House version?

Energy Collective Webinar

EnergyCollectiveLogoTo explore these issues and to answer your questions about the current legislation, The Energy Collective and several of its members are presenting a live interactive panel discussion on September 30, at 1 PM Eastern. We hope you will join us.

All participant will be able to submit questions to our panel of experts. Moderator Marc Gunther will also explore questions such as these:

  • What are the sections of the bill that have the greatest support?
  • Is there any chance of a bi-partisan bill? If so, what is required for Republican support?
  • What role will nuclear play in the climate legislation? Will the new nuclear title negotiated over break remain intact? Will there be greater support for loan guarantees?
  • What about oversight for carbon markets, as addressed in the House bill?
  • Will there be more concessions and free allowance allocation to carbon producers (oil & gas, utilities, industrial manufacturers) in the Senate version?
  • Will a safety valve be necessary politically, and to ensure carbon permit prices are stable and predictable?
  • How strong will international trade protection be? Will Obama reconsider mandatory border-tax adjustments to protect U.S. industries?
  • What role will the EPA play in the negotiations?
  • If legislation is not enacted this year, what constructive action, if any, can the U.S. government take at Copenhagen?

Speaker Bios

Marc Gunther is a veteran journalist, speaker, writer and consultant whose focus is business and sustainability. Marc is a contributing editor at FORTUNE magazine, a senior writer at Greenbiz.com, a lead blogger at The Energy Collective. He's also a husband and father, a lover of the outdoors and a marathon runner. Marc is the author or co-author of four books, including “Faith and Fortune: How Compassionate Capitalism is Transforming American Business.” He's a graduate of Yale who lives in Bethesda, MD.

Jesse Jenkins is Director of Energy and Climate Policy at the Breakthrough Institute, and is one of the country's leading energy and climate policy analysts and advocates. Jesse has written for publications including the San Francisco Chronicle, Baltimore Sun, Yale Environment 360, Grist.org, and HuffingtonPost. His published works on energy policy have been cited by many more. He is founder and chief editor of WattHead - Energy News and Commentary and a featured writer at the Energy Collective. Jesse goes by @JesseJenkins on Twitter.

Michael Zimmer is counsel practicing in the Energy group at Thompson Hine LLP, with a focus on energy regulation, climate change and energy corporate acquisition and finance transactions. He has been involved in assignments in non-utility generation, renewables, gas and electric, emissions credits, rural cooperatives, energy and emissions trading, and manufacturing industries. Michael is also currently national co-chair of the ABA Renewable Energy and Distributed Generation Resources Committee, and ABA Vice Chair of the Committee on Energy & Environmental Finance.

Manik Roy is the Vice President of Federal Government Outreach for the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, where he manages communication between the Center and the U.S. Congress. Dr. Roy has twenty-five years of experience in environmental policy, having worked, before coming to the Pew Center, for Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Representative Henry A. Waxman, the U.S. EPA, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the Environmental Defense Fund. Dr. Roy holds a Ph.D. in public policy from Harvard University and a Master of Science degree in environmental engineering from Stanford University.

More Information

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# # #

Monday, September 14, 2009

Tamar’s Law

Please welcome the first edition of a new monthly column on nuclear and environmental law issues

by: Tamar Cerafici *

A download on the latest environmental developments in nuclear law

Indian Point – more work ahead

entergylogoThere is lots of material on Indian Point this Spring. Although the NRC has recently issued its Safety Evaluation Report (SER), I need to note that the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is under review.

Riverkeeper and the State of New York still seem intent on opposing the relicensing effort on environmental grounds, despite the NRC staff recommendations on safety. Their objections continue unabated.

Riverkeeper and the State of New York have filed contentions about the EIS before the Atomic Safety Licensing Board but there won’t be a hearing until early 2010. Two of their contentions – impacts from terrorist attacks and the requirements to add cooling towers – seem to have gone by the wayside.

The possibility of terrorist attacks on independent spent fuel storage facilities has been the hobgoblin of environmental reviews since the September 11th attacks. Various courts (California) (New Jersey) have looked at the question with different results.

In California the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals told NRC to investigate the probability of terrorist attacks. The 3rd Circuit told the State of New Jersey that NRC couldn’t be responsible for predicting terrorist activities at a particular storage facility.

Riverkeeper unsuccessfully challenged EPA’s rule for intake structures and cooling systems when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that agencies could look at costs and benefits of various cooling systems. So, for the time being, applicants and agencies can weigh the costs of adding cooling towers or changing intake structure design (to decrease water intake) against the benefit to a given fish population. Riverkeeper is hoping EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson will develop new rules limiting cost benefit analysis.

South Texas Project is going to be busy

NRG LogoLast week, the Atomic Safety Licensing Board allowed one contention to stand in the intervenor action against the South Texas Project COL (In the interest of full disclosure, I have worked for the South Texas Project on its Environmental Report.)

Given that the intervenors had filed an alphabet soup of environmental contentions (28 in all), the one remaining might be considered a victory of sorts for the plant. But the ASLB effectively sent the applicant back to the drawing board to beef up its assessment of the effects of an accident at the two existing units on “the proposed Units 3 or 4 and vice versa.” The ASLB concluded that sections of NRC’s environmental assessment guidelines “may require” discussions of the impact of design basis accidents on units that are co-located, regardless of the safety requirements on the existing plants.

Salem and Hope Creek Renewal

PSEG logoThe Salem and Hope Creek renewal applications are available for review at the NRC website. My crystal ball says to count on stiff opposition from New Jersey’s environmental groups, who filed an appeal against Oyster Creek’s renewal in June.

Richard Webster’s article in July’s issue of the Pace Environmental Paw Review lays out the argument pretty clearly. For one thing, he says, the entire relicensing process is faulty and should be reworked. Citizen participation in safety decisions should be permitted to greater degree than it is now. And the public should be able to aggressively pursue requests for information from the licensee. Right now, he writes, NRC interferes with the public’s ability to get licensing information and evaluate it.

New Jersey’s Department of Environmental Protection will likely join in the fray to wield its permitting powers under the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Clean Water Act.

How some lawyers see nukes

Actually, if nuclear professionals want to get a quick overview of the way public interest lawyers view license renewal, look at the Pace Law School’s 2009 Colloquium proceedings. Some of my thoughts on reactor licensing are included in it. The proceedings are a helpful look at the current perceptions this particular group holds about the nuclear community.

Tamar_Cerafici_profileAuthor ID

* Ms. Cerafici (right) is an attorney in private practice with expertise in nuclear licensing and environmental law.

Contact info

Tamar Jergensen Cerafici, 349 Shaker Road, Northfield, NH 03276 Tel: (603) 496-2575 tnelaw@gmail.com

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Nuclear news roundup for 09/13/09

Russia seeks UK nuclear energy market share

russians-are-coming-dvdcoverThe Guardian reports that Russian atomic energy export agency is seeking deals to build new reactors in the UK or at least provide fuel for them. It is partnering with German industrial giant Siemens to provide turbines to generate electricity from the plants. The Guardian reported that these “bold ambitions” to break into the British market also raise fears that once there the Kremlin might use energy as a political weapon.

Major challenges for the Russians include the history of the Chernobyl accident and the actions of another state agency, the natural gas export agency, which cut off supplies to Kiev in the Ukraine in mid-winter over policy differences.

Russia’s state-owned Atomenergoprom is developing a joint venture with Toshiba, owner of Westinghouse, to get into the nuclear fuel business. It has provided fuel to the UK Sizewell plant.

Russian agency CEO Krill Komarov told the Guardian his firm is vertically integrated and compared it to Areva. It currently operates 68 reactors and has commitments to build 14 more for export.

“We can do everything from providing fuel to operating plants.”

He made his remarks at the World Nuclear Association meeting taking place in London Sept 11.

The Russians are unlikely to offer their own reactor designs to the UK new building program, but they are interested in selling fuel. After Westinghouse won nuclear fuel contracts supplying Russian reactors in Hungary and the Czech republic, the export agency went all out to successful win back the contracts.

France plans fast breeder program

BBigotBernard Bigot (right), chairman of the French Atomic Energy Commission, told a conference in Paris Sept 8th that France will use fourth generation nuclear plants to renew its fleet. He said the government is developing a fast breeder reactor program that will break ground on a demonstration plant by 2012 and have it operational by 2020. About 500 science and engineering staff will be assigned to the project.

The objective is to stretch out uranium resources. Bigot said that the fast breeder program would provide fuel for the reactors for a very long time.

Bigot also endorsed the IAEA plan for an international fuel bank for conventional nuclear reactor fuel at 3-5% U235.

“I am convinced that the time has now come for concrete steps toward a multilateral approach to the fuel cycle.”

He closed by emphasizing that safety and security in nuclear plant operations are top priorities to insure a bright future for nuclear energy.

Japanese fuel reprocessing plant delayed again

nuclear_wasteThe Rokkasho nuclear fuel reprocessing plant, which has experienced multiple delays in setting a hot start date, has one more. A new date has been set for October 2010 in order to complete operational readiness work on the vitrification facility.

This part of the plant involves encapsulating dried radioactive waste in molten glass for permanent disposal. Reportedly, the furnace which makes the glass lost some insulation bricks from the ceiling of the unit.

Another task is a cleanup job. The plant reportedly had a nitric acid spill that affected equipment not ordinarily exposed to it. Repairs are needed before the mechanisms can be used again.

The Rokkasho plant had an initial target of processing 160 tonnes of fuel per year in 2010. It was then to double that production rate in 2011. Instead,the plant is expected to process just 80 tonnes by the end of 2011. Full production is said to be 800 tonnes per year taking fuel from 40 reactors in Japan.

GE-Hitachi in talks for six reactors for India

Reuters reported Sept 11 that GE-Hitachi said it is in talks with India’s state owned nuclear power authority to build at least six reactors. If the plants are the firm’s new ESBWR, which comes in at 1,500 MW, the total capacity could be 9 GWe.

The report came out of a statement made by Danny Roderick, VP for GEH, at the World Nuclear Association conference being held in London this week. He also told Reuters the firm has plans to build at least 15 new reactors in Europe by 2030.

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Thorium fuel conference Oct 19-20

The future of Thorium as a nuclear fuel is on the agenda

thorium_proton_aceleratorA conference on the future of Thorium as a nuclear fuel will be held in Washington, DC, October 19-20. Advocates of the fuel and related reactor designs that can use it claim it is cheaper than uranium and more abundant. John Kutsch, who is a spokesman for the meeting’s organizers, posted a note about it on the conference website.

“As a result of so much activity in the rising field of Thorium energy production, it was decided that a professional organization had to be created to help answer the demand for information regarding this topic. In spring of 2009 The Thorium Energy Alliance, a pending 501(c)3 educational organization, was organized. This is our first national conference.”

Speakers (partial list)

John Kutsch, The Public Perception
Kirk Sorenson, Keynote - Liquid Fluoride Thorium Reactor (LFTR)
Rick Martin, Wired
Paul Houle, LFTR Lift-off: R&D prospectus
Robert Hargraves, Aim High
Jim Hendrick, US Geological Survey
Jack Lifton, China Materials Investment Outlook
Congressman Joe Sestak (PA), Legislation
Charles Barton, Blogger View
Joe Bonometti, What Fusion Wanted to Be
Ralph Moir, Molten Salt Reactors
Magdi Ragheb, Fission Fusion Thorium Hybrid
Dave Walter, Daily Kos, Alternative Press, Alternative Energy
Dave LeBlanc, Design Portfolio

Contacts

The meeting will take place Oct 19-20 at the Kellogg Conference Center. at Gallaudet University, Washington D.C.

For more information contact:

Thorium Energy Alliance
107 W. Front St.
Harvard, IL 60033
Tel: 312-303-5019
Email: thoriumenergyalliance@gmail.com
Web links on thorium as a nuclear fuel

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