Saturday, October 17, 2009

More bad news for USEC's uranium enrichment plant

DOE fails to get the $30 million it promised last August

USEC logo The Energy & Water appropriation, sent by Congress this week to the White House, does not include $30 million promised by the Department of Energy (DOE) to USEC (NYSE:USU) to help it with its plans to build a uranium enrichment plant in Piketon, OH. It is the second time in recent months that DOE's plans to rescue the project have run into a political firewall.

Earlier this month uranium miners lobbied Congress to prevent DOE from selling surplus uranium to raise $650 million to pay for accelerated cleanup at the Piketon plant. The governor of Wyoming weighed in saying that if a butterfly flaps its wings in Ohio, it does matter in his state, a major producer of uranium. DOE's plan was to fund 800 nuclear waste cleanup jobs while it tried to get USEC's enrichment plant back on track. So far, both efforts have failed to produce the expected results.

Full text of this report can be read exclusively at CoolHand Nuke, a nuclear energy jobs portal and a whole lot more.

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Note to readers – Jeff Madison, CEO at CoolhandNuke, is a co-sponsor of the nuclear blogger meeting to take place at the American Nuclear Society winter meeting.

It will be at 6 PM Nov 17th at the OMNI Shoreham Hotel, 2500 Calvert St., NW, Washington, DC.

You do not have to register at the conference to attend this discussion of how new social media is impacting the nuclear energy industry.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Dale Klein to step down from NRC

Former chairman asks President Obama to fill his seat

NRC INTERVIEWNRC Commissioner Dale Klein (left) has submitted his resignation to President Barack Obama.

Klein also committed to serve in his post until his successor takes office. His term expires in June 2011.

In his letter Klein wrote he looks forward to returning to private life. He welcomes the President’s recent announcement of the nomination of “his friends and colleagues Bill Magwood and George Apostolakis to the Commission.”

“I applaud the President’s choices. I have worked with both of them for several years and if confirmed, I look forward to welcoming them to the Commission.”

Klein entered government service in 2001 as a policy level official at the Department of Defense. He served as Chairman of the NRC under two presidents from July 2006 to May 2009..

In terms of his future plans, Klein said,

“I also have looked forward to returning to private life at that small university in Austin Texas at the completion of my term.”

Klein was interviewed on this blog earlier this month. He took special pride in NRC’s designation in 2007 and again in 2009 as one of the best places to work in the Federal government.

Previously, Dr. Klein served as the Vice-Chancellor for Special Engineering Programs at the University of Texas System and as a professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering (Nuclear Program) at the University of Texas at Austin.

See also NEI press release on Klein's departure from NRC.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Rethinking the electric grid

Just how smart do we have to be?

powerlinesEnergy Collective webinar will tackle this issue in a live webinar ~ October 28, 1 PM EST

Join a panel of experts as they discuss how to modernize the nation's transmission systems.

Register here - registration is free, but you must provide a valid email address in order to access to webinar.

The registration page has a lot of information about the event and what will be discussed and about the panelists. Marc Gunter, an editor at Fortune Magazine, will moderate the session.

Congress adds $4 billion for a smarter grid

With $4 billion of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act designated for the “Smart Grid,” or modernization of the nation’s electrical transmission systems, investment has accelerated at a feverish pace in viable projects initiated by utilities, research facilities, and technology companies.

The Smart Grid represents more than a commercial opportunity. It will make possible more efficient and lower cost delivery of power, better informed customers, smart appliances, distributed energy, electric cars and a host of other innovations yet to be invented.

Webinar Topics

EnergyCollectiveLogo In an effort to help our members better understand the policy, investment opportunities and trends swirling around this topic, The Energy Collective is proud to announce the second of our fall panels on energy topics: “Rethinking the Electric Grid."

In addition to fielding any questions from the audience, our expert panel will respond to following questions:

- Where is the leadership for innovation coming from? Utilities? Technology companies?

- What policies are needed at the federal and regional levels to support smart grid deployment?

- How will greater decentralization of the grid change the power distributors' business models?

- What role does FERC need to play, acting in concert with utilities?

- What roles will the customer and customer feedback play in the development of smart grid?

- What technology breakthroughs are needed?

Want to know more?

Check out the Energy Collective special section "rethinking the electrical grid"

A good example is a link to a piece by the Economist which reports

"Information technology can make electricity grids less wasteful and much greener. Businesses have lots of ideas and governments are keen, but obstacles remain."

Smart Grid Video from IEEE


Robin Carey on new social media



Questions?

Caitlin Hinrichs
Community Marketing Manager
Social Media Today LLC
w: 973.763.2829
f: 973-763-2864
caitlin@socialmediatoday.com

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350 reasons to focus on climate change

Blog action day points to progress at Copenhagen in December

350Today, October 15, 2009, is blog action day focused on the issue of climate change. So far it involves 10,884 blogs, 13 million readers, and most of the nations of the world. As readers of this blog known, nuclear energy is a carbon emission free source of base load power. In this blog post, readers are offered some climate-related news on progress, or the lack of it, in dealing with the global crisis.

350 parts per million is what many scientists, climate experts, and progressive national governments are now saying is the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere. We are already well past that number as any polar bear looking for an ice flow knows all too well.

For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Parts per million is simply a way of measuring the concentration of different gases, and means the ratio of the number of carbon dioxide molecules per million other molecules in the atmosphere. 275 ppm CO2 is a useful amount—without some CO2 and other greenhouse gases that trap heat in our atmosphere, our planet would be too cold for humans to inhabit.

So we need some carbon in the atmosphere, but the question is how much?

You can learn more and find out ways to have your voice heard at the web site 350 which has a wealth of information on this global issue. Here's their video. Tweet your participation to #350ppm

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Snake River Alliance vows to drive Areva out of Idaho

Haunted by the goblins of the cold war, a Boise-based group is obsessed with a uranium enrichment plant

GargoyleA relic with knee-jerk, anti-nuclear reflexes from the cold war has energized itself to oppose Areva's planned $2.4 billion "Eagle Rock" uranium enrichment plant in Idaho. The Boise-based Snake River Alliance (SRA) has a war chest of $300,000 from the Bullit and the Edwards Mother Earth foundations and Patagonia outdoor clothing. With a staff of five and a claim of 1,000 members, it is planning to mount a major campaign to drive Areva out of Idaho.

The French nuclear energy firm announced plans in May 2008 to build a $2.4 billion uranium enrichment plant in eastern Idaho 18 miles west of Idaho Falls, ID. Areva chose the site after a yearlong nationwide search, with intense competition among five finalist sites, and only after the Idaho legislature offered tax incentives to sweeten the winning deal. Idaho Falls is one of the nation’s most pro-nuclear cities with a sustained track record of standing up for Areva’s project.

Tilting at windmills or trophy homes?

Andrea Shipley, the 26-year old director of the SRA told the Idaho Statesman this week the Areva plant, "is the biggest threat to Idaho in 30 years." With that tag line in hand, SRA says their stated goal is to “drive Areva out of Idaho.”

She is taking this message, as a fund-raising slogan, to the trophy homes of the super rich who are seasonal residents in Sun Valley, just two hours drive west of the Areva plant. Once they are told that “radioactive releases” from the plant could threaten their mountainside playground, checkbooks fly open. It isn’t the first time nor the last that the SRA will engage in exaggerated rhetoric to raise funds and win over supporters.

watchdog2The SRA describes itself as a "watchdog," but as Idaho’s self-appointed nuclear watchdog, the Snake River Alliance (SRA), has also demonstrated that having one around sometimes results in a lot of barking at the wrong things.

At an NRC environmental scoping hearing held in Idaho Falls last June, the Snake River Alliance (SRA) made the 300-mile trek to speak out against Areva's license application. Like its campaigns against U.S. Navy nuclear spent fuel reprocessing programs at the Idaho National Laboratory during the Cold War, the SRA was not averse to telling farmers in nearby Twin Falls, ID that the nuclear energy project in Idaho will French fry the state's famous potatoes right on the vine.

Watchdog barks but at what and why?

Two of SRA’s assertions are that there is no “need” for the enrichment facility relative to market demand and that the depleted uranium from the gas centrifuge process would be a threat to Idaho for decades if not centuries. Areva has pointed out the demand for enriched uranium by 2014, which is when the plant will come online, will exceed the total U.S. capacity. Areva has also repeatedly stated no waste will be left onsite. It will ship the depleted uranium to a licensed landfill for disposal.

Meanwhile, in Idaho Falls, at International Isotopes(OTC:INIS), entrepreneur Steve Laflin is working on raising investor support for a $55 million plant to be located in Hobbs, NM, to recover high quality fluorine from depleted UF6 and sell it to industrial customers. The SRA did not respond to comments at the hearing about their mis-statements of fact, which they continue to assert on their website.

The SRA also claims on its website that Areva's commercial uranium enrichment plant will be making weapons-grade uranium for use in nuclear weapons. This false claim could kick up some dust on the diplomatic scene, possibly creating an international incident, since it alleges that a foreign nuclear power is planning to make its weapons components on American soil. This is the type of incendiary rhetoric that has gotten the group into hot water in the past.

Slap shot, slap suit

baloneyLast year Shipley called Alternative Energy Holdings Inc. (OTC:AEHI) a "scam." The penny-stock firm has had little success in its efforts to organize a nuclear reactor project in Idaho. Also, it has repeatedly failed the now world-famous “baloney test” first developed by this blog in 2007. However, there are no reports of any financial wrongdoing by the company which last year registered its stock with the SEC.

Unlike most nuclear energy companies, which take over-the-top, anti-nuclear rhetoric in stride, thin-skinned AEHI CEO Don Gillispie threatened to sue the SRA for libel. SRA then exploited the situation it had created by charging AEHI with trying to shut it up with a “slap suit.” But both parties backed down after a cooling-off period.

And there is organized opposition to the SRA. Lane Allgood, executive director of an Idaho Falls-based pro-nuclear business group, Partnership for Science & Technology(PST) told me, "we will challenge them [SRA] if they make statements that are misleading or wrong. With a staff of one and a budget one-fourth the size of SRA's, Allgood may have his work cut out for him.

Even the news media doesn't seem to be much help. In a long retrospective piece on the SRA's three-decade history published last Sunday, the Idaho Statesman inexplicably mis-labeled Areva's facility as a "nuclear reprocessing plant."

NRC licensing process underway

Areva logo Areva's license application for the Eagle Rock Enrichment Facility is under review at the NRC. The firm has asked the agency to complete its work by early 2011. The NRC told Areva last month, conservatively speaking, the firm should have its license no later than January 2012.

More recently, NRC Commissioner Dale Klein told a meeting of business and civic leaders in Idaho Falls he did not foresee any unusual circumstances that would prevent Areva from getting its license for the enrichment plant and by sometime in 2011.

Areva told community leaders in Idaho Falls this week the firm is focused on the regulatory process at the NRC with no plans to respond at this time to SRA's initiative.

Greenpeace blinks on nuclear energy in the U.K.

For the first time ever an environmental "manifesto" from Greenpeace in the U.K. is devoid of strident anti-nuclear rhetoric. While the Snake River Alliance in the U.S. pursues the cold war anti-nuclear campaign issues of a former generation, Greenpeace, always a militant presence in the European environmental movement, appears to have changed its tune.

stephen_tindale_140x140The group's omission of its usual negative broadside against nuclear energy may be the result of a change of heart by its former director. Stephen Tindale (left) went public last year with his support for nuclear energy. He promotes his views in the U.K. through a new organization called Climate Answers.


In a paper titled "Change the politics. Save the Climate," Greenpeace laid out 12 goals for reducing carbon emissions and using "renewable energy" technologies. The group wrote that "nothing should be ruled out in terms of applications of "low carbon technologies." It also referred to documents published by the U.K. Committee on Climate Change and the IAEA, which call for significant investments in nuclear power to lower CO2 emissions.

Even if most of the Greenpeace members in the U.K. remain staunchly anti-nuclear, observers in the U.K. told this blog the change "represents cracks in the group's facade." In the U.S. the Snake River Alliance shows little likelihood of such a change, preferring to remain as rooted in its 30-year history as the sagebrush on the Arco desert.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nuclear energy seminar in Denver Oct 22

The Truth about Nuclear Energy -- to be told --
at the Denver Art Museum, 7 PM Thursday, October 22nd 2009

denver skylineIs nuclear power a "Green" energy solution? Is it a viable option for mitigating climate change? Can small nuclear energy modules provide the baseload power required to make solar and wind power plants continuously productive?

All these questions and more will be addressed in Denver, Colorado, at the Denver Art Museum on the evening of Thursday, October 22nd at Mondo Energy's free seminar ‘The Truth about Nuclear Energy.’

Respected experts and authors clear the air about the energy debate

Speakers

· Gwyneth Cravens, author of Power to Save the World will speak on her personal experience of becoming an educated supporter of safe, clean, and affordable electric power from nuclear power plants.
Book bty Cravens· Dr. Roger Pielke, Jr., professor of Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder, will speak on the impact of climate change legislation and policy on the physical world.
· Dr. Robert Amme, professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Denver, will speak on the Green Economy, and the role of education in becoming a professional in this exciting set of industries.
· Honorable William C. Anderson, former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Air Force, will speak on electricity demand and enabling global stability through energy interdependence.
· Nick Rosen, award-winning international producer, journalist and author of How to Live Off-Grid will speak on living off-grid, the wave of distributed power, and the Nuclear Renaissance in the United Kingdom.
· John R. Grizz Deal, CEO of Hyperion Power Generation, will speak on grid-based generation and small nuclear power plants.

Because of limited seating, the free tickets for the event, along with more information, should be obtained in advance by visiting Mondo Energy on the net.

Doors open at 6 PM for meet and greet with the speakers Presentations run from 7:00 to 9:00 PM. In addition to answering questions, speakers will address: the role of nuclear power in the clean energy mix; the "Neutron Economy: past, present and future;" and what "Green Incorporated" doesn't want you to know.

Denver_Art_Museum_Main_BuildingThe ‘Truth about Nuclear Energy’ will be held at the Denver Art Museum in the Lewis I. Sharp Auditorium and is being sponsored by Denver-based venture capitalists Altira Group, LLC, ; Hogan & Hartson, LLP attorneys at law; TVC - Technology Ventures Corporation, EUCI - Electric Utility Consultants, and Hyperion Power Generation, Inc.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

New funding, honors, at Idaho nuclear lab

Rep. Mike Simpson brings sustained funding for key nuclear energy R&D programs

simpsonFunding in the next federal government fiscal year (2010) for the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) will take a jump thanks to the legislative accomplishments of Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) (right). Simpson's district, which stretches across southeastern Idaho, includes the lab and almost all of its employees. The lab's primary focus is nuclear energy R&D. Also, taking place at the lab are two large nuclear waste cleanup contracts and the continuing operations of the Naval Reactors Facility.

Simpson, who is a member of the House Appropriations Committee, announced Sept 30 substantial increases in funding for the Idaho National Laboratory and the Idaho Cleanup Project as part of legislation funding the Department of Energy.

The legislation includes an increase of $33 million over current funding levels for new facilities and other infrastructure improvements at INL bringing total infrastructure funding to $173 million. Just two years ago, the budget requested just $104 million for Idaho infrastructure funding.

The additional funding is available for a variety of uses including new buildings, renovation of existing buildings, equipment purchases, and the Advanced Test Reactor’s operation as a National Scientific User Facility. Simpson has made additional funding for new infrastructure at INL a top priority over the past three fiscal years.

“Thanks to the hard work and dedication of those who work at INL, substantial new resources are headed Idaho’s way to improve facilities and expand the capabilities of some of the lab's premier resources,” said Simpson. “This funding is the second installment of a multi-year commitment by the DOE and Congress to revitalize the INL’s infrastructure to support the revival of nuclear energy in the United States.”

greenlightAmong its provisions, the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill also includes:

Level funding from Fiscal Year 2009 for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant (NGNP) of $169 million. The NGNP is designed to produce both electricity and heat for industrial applications.

$10 million for INL’s Light Water Reactor Sustainability Program. The Program focuses on maintenance and life extension of our nation’s current fleet of nuclear reactors.

$464.168 million for cleanup activities at INL, which is a $59 million increase over President Obama’s FY2010 requested amount.

A $20 million increase for the treatment of Sodium Bonded Fuel at INL. The treatment will include fuel originally used in the Experimental Breeder Reactor II and fuel transferred from Hanford, WA.

$1 million for equipment purchases at the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at INL.

Simpson said in a statement the funding shows Congress supports the nuclear R&D work taking place at the lab and the progress being made by the cleanup contractors.

New INL project tackles nuclear fuel recycling science

Nuclear fuel assembly color A new $2 million research project from the DOE Office of Science at Idaho National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory will use an innovative approach to learn how to get more use from nuclear fuel. [INL press release]

INL has won a competitive research grant that could help nuclear fuel be recycled or used for longer periods of time to produce more energy. The INL team will collaborate with scientists at the Argonne Tandem Linac Accelerator System (ATLAS) user facility in Illinois.

New INL project will improve nuclear reactor simulations

A new project at Idaho National Laboratory and Brookhaven National Laboratory, funded by the Office of Science, will improve the way scientists model the inner workings of nuclear reactors. [INL Press Release]

nuclear fuel simulation Researchers will use the money to develop more accurate, and more universally applicable, reactor simulations. As a result, engineers should be able to design better, more efficient reactors down the road.

INL and BNL scientists will use data from experiments already performed at nuclear facilities around the world to test and calibrate their models of nuclear reactions at the atomic level. This will enable them to integrate data from the meter scale (humans and their machines) with outcomes at the femtometer scale (the atomic nucleus). The research will cover an unprecedented 15 orders of magnitude, equivalent to the range between a single footstep and a light year.

Herring named ANS Fellow

hydrogen-carJ. Stephen Herring, leader for the U.S. Department of Energy's Idaho National Laboratory research on nuclear hydrogen production, has been named a Fellow by the American Nuclear Society. [INL Press Release]

Herring will be recognized for the honor at the ANS 2009 Winter Meeting and Nuclear Technology Expo Nov. 15-19 in Washington, D.C. The Fellow designation is the highest honor ANS can bestow on an individual and acknowledges outstanding leadership, professional accomplishment and service to the profession.

International Nuclear Energy Academy elects INL leader

high energyOne of Idaho National Laboratory's top managers, Phillip J. Finck, Ph.D., has been elected to the membership of the elite International Nuclear Energy Academy (INEA). [INL Press Release]

INEA is a group of prominent, experienced scientists, engineers and related nuclear energy specialists who conduct studies and discussions, and develop recommendations for the international nuclear community on various generic nuclear energy issues. Academy membership is limited to 100 distinguished individuals from around the world.

Finck is the associate laboratory director for Nuclear Science & Technology at INL and is an internationally recognized expert in advanced reactor and fuel cycle programs.

See also the INL Facebook page for additional information

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Updates to the Blogroll

Environmental and energy bloggers added

Processed with MaxIm DLThe blogsphere expands rapidly albeit not like galaxies at the speed of light in outer space though sometimes it feels that way. This week I made some additions and changes to the blog roll to organize a year's worth of updates.

Additions are from the fields of environmental economics and climate change because what happens there affects the nuclear energy industry. I am reading these blogs so I recommend them because I think they are worth your time to read them too. All of the sources noted here are listed below as clickable links and are also included in the left panel of this blog. Also, I updated the section on energy blogs at major newspapers and wire services.

Environmental / Climate Blogs

EnergyCollectiveLogoMarc Gunter is a Fortune Magazine editor and fellow blogger at the Energy Collective. He also moderates their energy webinars. John Whitehead, is also a blogger at the Energy Collective and a professor of environmental economics at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. Full disclosure; Marc, John, and I are all members of the Energy Collective’s “Blogger Advisory Board.” The Energy Collective is sponsored by Siemens.

Joel Makower a noted author on green energy topics. Barry Brook is an international scholar on climate change blogging from Australia. He is Director of Climate Science at The Environment Institute, University of Adelaide.

Nuclear Energy Blogs

Ted Rockwell, a well-known nuclear industry veteran, has revived his blog Learning About Nuclear Energy. Gail Marcus, a former President of the American Nuclear Society, has a new blog Nuclear Power Talk.

Newspaper Energy Blogs

Also updated is the list of major newspapers that publish energy related blogs.

new-york-timesMatt Wald, a NY Times reporter who covers energy issues, is now posting the latest links to nuclear energy-related news reports and blog posts he finds significant for the newspaper’s readers. The newspaper aggregates all of its coverage of nuclear energy, and related links, under that heading in Times Topics.

The Financial Times Energy Source is written and edited by a team led by Kate Mackenzie. It covers all energy sources and occasionally includes links to further reading.

The WSJ Environmental Capital Blog is led by Keith Johnson who also writes the daily Green Ink column there. It covers both environmental and energy issues with a vigorous comments section.

The Energy Wire at the Washington Post is written by reporter Steve Mufson who brooks no fools in the energy policy business.

Newspaper veteran Frank Munger covers all there is to know about the Oak Ridge world of energy, commercial and defense matters, at Atomic City Underground. John Fleck does the same for DOE labs in New Mexico at Ink Stain.

Elizabeth Souder and a team of reporters at the Dallas Morning News cover the oil patch and find time to observe the rise of the nuclear renaissance in Texas.

Nuclear news wires

WNAglossy_logo Also, I’ve added four nuclear energy news wires with multiple contributors. World Nuclear News is edited and published daily by Jeremy Gordon with set of stories from London with a crisp and distinct international flavor. NucNews is a clipping service that publishes a long list of relevant nuclear energy news links, with a global perspective, seven days a week. The others news wires listed here are also very useful.

Please add a comment if you know of others that meet the high standards set by the writers on these lists. Don’t forget to check out the other blogs who are listed here.

Additions

Environmental / Climate /Energy blogs Energy Newspaper & Wire Service Blogs

Social Media

Much as I would like to add links to various places on Facebook, Linkedin, and other social media, there are simply too many to include in a blog roll. Here are a few highlights.

Linkedin logoPlease check out the work being done by Ed Kee on Linkedin to maintain the group “Nuclear Power – the Next Generation” which this month passed the 2,400 mark in membership. This makes it the largest and most active nuclear energy group on that site. It includes news, discussions, and job listings. Also, it has two subgroups including one on small reactors. Another new nuclear energy jobs portal is Jeff Madison's CoolHandNuke which also publishes content from this blog.

twitter-emeraldOf course, no note on social media could bypass Twitter. You can see who I follow on Twitter at djysrv You can see links to my Twitter and blog posts on Friendfeed.

If you post on nuclear energy related topics to Twitter, don’t forget to include the #nuclear hash tag in your posts.

This blog is indexed by Google Analytics, Technorati, Icerocket, Yahoo MyBlogLog, Disqus, and Lijit. Syndication is through Pluck/Blogburst, Forbes, Nuclear Street, and the Energy Collective.

Changes

Inactive: ‘Fuel Cycle Week’ – expected to reappear in 2010 in a new setting.

Closed: ‘We Support Lee’ – Job well done to Ruth Sponsler

Music to surf by

To get your blood moving to link to and explore these news listings, I offer for your listening pleasure Van Halen with ‘Jump”

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