Saturday, January 2, 2010

Yet more bloggers for nuclear energy

2010 is off to a great start with three new blogs and one re-start

bloggingThere are three new nuclear blogs and one re-start. There’s a lot more activity in the blogsphere as the new year gets underway.

It is an exciting time to be involved with the nuclear energy industry and this enthusiasm is reflected in the work the these blogs. In fact, it is positively smoking!

The authors all come to their adventures in online publication from different perspectives and no one can say that nuclear bloggers are not independent thinkers. It is this energy and commitment to intelligent and civil dialog which makes them worth reading.

Yes Vermont Yankee

Meredith Angwin is not someone who will let politics or ignorance stand in the way of progress or carbon emission free nuclear energy. She’s been working up to publishing a blog about Vermont Yankee for some time and has finally punched the big red ‘publish’ button to launch it.

‘Yes Vermont Yankee’ is a blog in support of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant. Vermont Yankee is due to be relicensed in 2012, but is fighting fierce opposition from well-organized groups.

Meredith writes . . .

The Vermont Yankee power plant has been a asset to Vermont by providing safe, clean, reliable, inexpensive power. It has provided good jobs, charitable donations, and taxes. Yankee's low-cost electricity encourages business and employment in Vermont. Vermont Yankee has been, and can remain, a boon to the state and the region.

It is time that Vermont Yankee supporters become organized. This new blog can be a place where we can trade information. I hope it will become a rallying point for plant supporters.

Meredith Angwin does not work for Vermont Yankee. She is a physical chemist, and a writer, but the blog is not part of her paid work. It is an independent effort.

Nuke Power Talk

Gail H. Marcus, Ph.D., has a distinguished career in the nuclear energy field including a stint as president of the American Nuclear Society (ANS). I had the privilege of talking with her about blogging for an hour last November at the ANS winter meeting in Washington, DC.

In response to her question about ideas for topics, I suggested she write what she knows, and what she feels strongly about, in the nuclear energy field. She is doing just that at Nuke Power Talk. See especially her latest blog post ‘New Years Reflections’ which is important advice for the industry.

Dr. Marcus continues to work as a consultant in the nuclear industry. The blog is an independent effort.

Nuclear Dialogues

This pro-nuclear blog is published by Patrick McEwen, a University of Wisconsin nuclear engineering student. He's off and running so stop by to say hello.

His eye-catching logo suggests a terrific creative streak which should serve this engineer in training well in his career. It’s a knockout.


This blog is published by Andrea Jennetta, publisher of Fuel Cycle Week, in Washington, DC. The blog has been on standby since August 2009. Blogging will resume the week of January 4, 2010. Andrea has nearly two decades of experience in the nuclear industry.

You will find reading her insights and analysis well worth your time. For instance, her first blog post in 2008 ‘Dumping on Yucca’ took on people who called Yucca Mountain a “dump” instead of by its proper name which is a spent fuel repository.

Go Andrea.

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Job Outlook for Class of 2012

Students who declare nuclear engineering majors in 2010 have bright prospects

College students thinking about careers in nuclear engineering in the middle of their sophomore year, in the dead of a recession tainted winter of 2010, have good reason to wonder about their future.

What are the real opportunities in the nuclear energy field for a college graduate with a degree in nuclear engineering? The answer is the opportunities are really good in the U.S., and excellent if you are willing to travel to the U.K., France, India, China, Korea, and the United Arab Emirates. Here's a breakdown of where to look in the spring of 2012 as you contemplate how to turn that sheepskin into cold hard cash.

Also, for your generation, which experts say want more from a job than just a living, who want to make a difference in the world, slowing the growth of greenhouse gases by building carbon emission free nuclear power stations is a worthy profession.

The future is bright for the graduating class of 2012 in the nuclear engineering field. Read the full details exclusively at CoolHandNuke, a nuclear jobs web portal and a whole lot more.

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Thursday, December 31, 2009

The Atomic Show Podcast #146

system 80Want to know how South Korea won the $20 billion UAE nuclear energy contract?

Tune in here Details Below.

The Atomic Show #146 - South Korea Nuclear Technology Development

The United Arab Emirates has recently selected a consortium that includes Korea Electric Power Corp., Westinghouse Electric, Hyundai Engineering and Construction, Samsung C&T Corp and Doosan Heavy Industries to supply it with 5.6 gigawatts of electrical power capacity. The order includes four APR-1400 nuclear reactor power plants and all associated secondary equipment.

Rod Adams, who blogs at Atomic Insights, made contact with Rick Turk, the engineering project manager for the effort to obtain a US Nuclear Regulatory Commission design certification for the Combustion Engineering System 80+ which is an ancestor of the current APR-1400.

On December 29, 2009, Rick Turk, Dan Yurman, Idaho Samizdat, and Adams chatted about the evolution of the APR-1400 and the way that South Korea has worked to develop its capacity as a nuclear power plant supplier capable of winning a competitively bid $20-40 billion project.

Point your web browser here to listen.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Four fearless futures for nuclear energy in America

NewYearResolutiuon1It’s not too early to think about what needs to be done in 2010

[Updated 12/30/09 with a few new observations and an opportunity to participate in an online discussion forum about the impact of new social media on the global nuclear energy industry.]

[Update 01/18/10: Idaho Samizdat crosses the pond! This blog post was reprinted in the January 2010 issue of Nuclear Engineering International.

Claims that one will turn over a new leaf in January, via new year’s resolutions, often get a bum rap. For example, will you go to the gym and lose all extra pounds gained during the holiday season? Usually, the rap is deserved because our good intentions fade by the time the Superbowl game hits the TV. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a good idea.

As someone who spends a fair amount of time thinking about the future of the nuclear energy industry in the U.S., I’ve organized my thoughts to describe what I think are four key priorities for 2010. In short, these are my proposals for new year’s resolutions for the U.S. nuclear industry.

Critics of the nuclear industry are focused on fault lines

There is a lot of uncertainty about the future of the nuclear renaissance in the U.S. Critics are exploiting the fault lines that have already appeared, and some, under the guise of scholarship, cherry pick their sources to make the case for failure. Their objective is to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt in the minds of business and government decision makers.

I’m not prepared to accept a long-term future for the U.S. as being an agnostic on nuclear energy while the U.K. France, Italy, India, China, and other countries put the pedal to the metal to build dozens of new reactors to meet the challenge of global climate change.

Further, if the U.S. wants to be taken seriously in terms of its nonproliferation objectives, it must do more along the lines of the 1-2-3 agreements it inked with India and the UAE. It must support deals that produce U.S. jobs at home and export of nuclear technologies, including fuel, for commercial projects in nations that set aside ambitions to have nuclear weapons.

Here then are four new years' resolutions for the nuclear energy industry.

Four fearless futures for nuclear energy in America

GNP Funding A key path to meeting the challenge of public acceptance of nuclear energy in the U.S. is widespread stock ownership of the plants through publically-traded corporations. In order for utilities to develop stock offerings, the U.S. government must place the full faith and credit of federal loan guarantees behind the new plants.

The amount of coverage should be in the range of $200 billion over three decades, which is enough to support about two dozen new reactors. Without the loan guarantees, few utilities have the market capitalization to “bet the company” on a multi-billion dollar investment in a new nuclear reactor. Loan guarantees are not subsidies. They are no different than the crop insurance offered to farmers to insure food gets to your table. Why would you not want the same certainty for electricity when you flip the switch to turn on the lights?

design tools Workforce The second critical issue which requires attention is developing a new cadre of nuclear engineers and skilled trades capable of building new reactors on time and within budget. Foreign competition will raid U.S. engineering programs for talent unless the federal government puts in place a scholarship program and partnership with industry for jobs to channel graduates to U.S. projects. Secure funding for new reactors, via loan guarantees, will convince engineering students to enter the nuclear energy field.

Supply Chain The third critical issue is revitalizing U.S. manufacturing capabilities including development of a facility to produce large forgings, e.g., 400 tons or more, for reactor vessels. There are three manufacturing centers under development by Areva in Virginia, Shaw in Louisiana, and Babcock & Wilcox/McDermott at locations in Ohio and Indiana. However, it is more likely the next global sources of large forgings will be in South Korea and India unless the U.S. industry makes it a priority.


Without these capabilities, the U.S. new nuclear build will create demand that will drive up the global costs of nuclear reactor components and produce delays in construction. For instance, despite increases in capacity, Japan Steel Works reports a three-to-four year wait time for 400 ton reactor vessels. The price just to get in line is measured in millions.

If the U.S. wants to build reactors on time and within budget, it needs to have its own supply chain. Everyone else building reactors wants to complete their master equipment list from the same suppliers. Right now we are in a situation where reactor parts come from Japan, fuel comes from Russia, and the turbines come from Europe. Plus, home-grown supply chains mean high paying manufacturing jobs for U.S. workers.

Fuel Cycle The fourth critical issue is to resolve issue of management of the spent fuel by developing two strategically located 500 ton/year recycling plants. Related to this initiative is the need for a commercial MOX fuel manufacturing capability.

Closed nuclear fuel cycle

The final part of this initiative is development of commercial versions of fast reactors to burn the MOX fuel and complete the fuel cycle. The U.S. MOX plant being built at Savannah River will use weapons grade plutonium as its feedstock, and cannot be considered in the near-term as a facility in this commercial spent fuel initiative.

This strategy, which needs to evolve through R&D, pilot projects, and commercial acceptance, is far more cost-effective than the burden of indefinitely storing tens or hundreds of thousands of tons of spent fuel and the loss of the energy potential of the spent fuel itself.

Addendum 12/30/09

Nuclear energy communications

At a panel discussion held at the ANS winter meeting Nov 17 about how the news media covers the nuclear energy industry, four seasoned journalists said one of the issues they have with the industry is that it is unclear about its priorities and does a poor job of communicating them.

One of the outcomes of the ANS meeting is that a discussion forum has been created to address the issue of how the nuclear industry uses new social media to communicate information about itself to a wider audience. If you are interested in this topic, please send me a one sentence email with a statement of interest, affiliation, and a valid email address. I'm at: djysrv [at] You'll get a reply with information on self-service registration. There is no cost to participate in the forum which is hosted at NuclearStreet. So far 110 people have signed up.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Areva targets Fresno, California, for new reactor

The French state-owned nuclear giant will have to contend with California’s strong anti-nuclear bias and its 30-year ban against new reactors

Areva logoAREVA and Fresno Nuclear Energy Group (FNEG), LLC announced that both companies have signed a Letter of Intent to cooperate in the development of a nuclear power plant project in the Fresno, Calif, area. The agreement updates a relationship that has been maturing since early 2007.

According to a press release from Areva US for Dec 29, the two companies will work together on the initial development and permitting process for one or two AREVA 1,650 MW EPR plants. The project will start with preparation and submission of a technology-specific Early Site Permit (ESP) to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and subsequent Combined License (COL) Application as a further step toward eventual plant construction.

“We are at the point where a major, well-qualified player must become part of our team,” said John Hutson, President of the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group, LLC. “AREVA shares our commitment to carbon-free, renewable energy; like us, they believe that nuclear is only part of the solution.”

In 2010, AREVA and FNEG said they will begin a series of studies to identify a feasible site for a new nuclear power plant in California.

FNEG is organized for the objective of providing an source of electricity to further develop the agricultural industry within the Central Valley of California.

Huston said FNEG and its affiliated organizations are actively pursuing legislative change and support for nuclear power in California through a campaign of public awareness and education.

Some history of the Fresno project

Fresno nuclear energy group logoIn July 2007 this blog interviewed John Huston. He is the former chairman of the Fresno Public Utility Commission and now head of the Fresno Nuclear group. He said Fresno’s building trades council paid for him to travel in 2007 to France and Finland to study and report on Areva’s EPR nuclear plants.

The major barrier to building the plant, then and now, is California's more than three-decade ban on new nuclear power plants. The state's environmental groups, led by the Sierra Club, are among the most rabidly anti-nuclear organizations in the nation. In 2007 they called the Fresno project “unrealistic” and garnered strong support from the Democratic party dominated state legislature.

It is a question of whether anything has changed with green groups though California Senator Barbara Boxer, a Democrat, is now supporting nuclear energy as part of climate change legislation in Congress. She is joined there by Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, also from a state with strong anti-nuclear sentiments. Maybe change is in the air after all?

What's different in 2010 than 2007?

The question will be how the Fresno group, and Areva, will succeed now after the setbacks of 2007? What mechanism will they use to seek change to California law? The state is for all intents and purposes ungovernable with intractable multi-billion dollar budget deficits and partisan passions that have locked both parties into virtual no-fly zones.

The challenge in 2007 will still be present in 2010, which is how to mobilize a state-wide initiated ballot measuure and not get buried by the national environmental groups. Worse, these groups may see it as an opportuity to make the ballot a test case on a national basis. They win if it loses. It could undercut political support for nuclear energy in other states. This would be a double hit for green groups and an outcome they would eagerly commit money and resource to achieve.

Overturning the ban failed in 2007

Efforts to fund and win a ballot initiative to overturn the state ban against new reactors failed in 2007. At the time election polls showed the state’s electorate 52% in favor, 42% against new nuclear plants in California. A July 2005 poll by the Public Policy Institute of California showed 39% in favor of building new nuclear power plants with 52% opposed so things were improving, but the ballot issue was abandoned in late 2007.

The reasons were a lack of broad and active political support for it beyond the Fresno area and a lack of money to pay for collection of signatures. Political analysts said the 10% spread in the 2007 poll was not enough to raise the millions needed to put the issue on the ballot.

Chuck DeVoreAnother reason may have been the close association of the ballot initiative with conservative Republican state legislator Chuck DeVore (left), from Orange County, who regularly got run over in the Democratic controlled legislature on this issue.

His opponents including Dan Hirsch, president of the Committee to Bridge the Gap, who said in November 2007 that the group was pleased with the failure of DeVore’s drive. In a predictable, and ecstatic, outburst of rhetoric pitch forking the politically dead effort, Hirsch said,

"Nuclear power is the most dangerous technology on earth, with risks of meltdowns, terrorist attack, proliferation, and leaking long-lived wastes. This humiliating reversal for a proposed initiative to revive it in California is a great victory for common sense. Now the state can focus on safe and sensible renewable solutions to global warming."

Economic impact of the reactor project

In 2007 Hutson said the proposed reactor project could bring thousands of well-paying jobs to the region. For the plant location, he said in 2007 the group targeted 3,000 city-owned acres south of Fresno. It hired a nuclear energy expert from Atomic Energy of Canada (AECL). The difference this time is the commitment to file for an ESP and COL with the NRC.

The Fresno group also has support from Robert Smittcamp, CEO of food-processing giant Lyons Magnus. Some of these circumstances may have changed over the past three years.

According to a statement from Areva in December 2009, a new U.S. EPR project would create up to 11,000 direct and indirect jobs during component manufacturing and plant construction. Additionally, it would create more than 400 permanent jobs and spur billions of dollars of investment into the regional economy.

Such a project would require hundreds of qualified suppliers and subcontractors. When complete, the 1,650 MW U.S. EPR nuclear plant would produce clean, reliable, CO2-free baseload electricity for more than 1.6 million households.

California currently has four nuclear reactors. According to the Energy Information Administration (EIA), they supply about 17% of the state’s energy needs. By comparison, 55% of the state’s energy for electricity comes from natural gas and coal.

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Canadian uranium news for December 2009

uranium ore This is an edited version of a monthly column published 12/16/09 in Fuel Cycle Week V8:N357 by International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC.

Cameco sells gold mine shares to focus on uranium

Cameco (TSX:CCO), one of the world's largest uranium producers, will reap estimated net proceeds of [cdn] $872 million by divesting its position in Centerra Gold. The announcement was accompanied by a promise to shareholders it will stick to priorities in uranium mining and nuclear energy.

Cameco said in a statement it plans to use the net proceeds "primarily to grow its core uranium business as it pursues its target of doubling uranium production."

Cameco will dispose of its entire interest in Centerra, consisting of 113,918,472 common shares, or 48.5% of the outstanding common shares. At market open on Dec 14, Centerra (TSE:CG) traded at $10.45 making the stake being divested by Cameco worth $1.19 billion.

Lyle Krahn, a spokesman for Cameco, told FCW that there are, in effect, two transactions to divest Cameco's interests in the gold mining venture. The first will involve offering 88.6 million shares of Centarra for public sale in Canada and by private placement elsewhere.

The second transaction involves the transfer of 25.3 million common shares of Centerra to Kyrgazaltyn JSC pursuant to an agreement which Cameco entered into with the Government of Kyrgyz Republic on April 24, 2009.

A uranium industry executive familiar with the gold mine operation told FCW the payoff will satisfy the Kyrgyz government's claims that it didn't get full value from its deal with Cameco given the rapid rise in gold prices over the past year due to the global financial crisis.

He added that getting out of the gold mine is a "good deal for Cameco. The regulatory issues associated with the min, now resolved, would have been hard to litigate in that country and could have become a major distraction for Cameco's managers.

He noted that the gold mine was beneficial to Cameco because it buffered the company's finances in the 1990s when uranium prices were much lower. The net effect of divesting itself from Canterra is that Cameco no longer has political risks for its non-uranium investments related to unstable politics in regimes with closed societies.

Krahn pointed out the proceeds from the public sale of Centerra shares will be used by the firm to support its goal of doubling uranium production from 20 million pounds a year to 40 million pounds a year by 2018.

Asked whether Cameco will use the proceeds from sale of Centerra stock to fund acquisitions, Krahn told FCW, "we have the financial flexibility to look for opportunities to increase uranium production."

An industry executive familiar with the company told FCW that one of Cameco's targets could be the British government's interest in Urenco which reportedly will be offered for sale. This assumes the Dutch and German governments don't exercise their rights first. However, Urenco's current owners might have questions about Cameco's 24% $125 million stake in Ge-Hitachi's laser enrichment process.

The executive also said rumors Cameco might buy a stake in Palladin, or the whole company outright, don't make financial sense due to the cost.

The executive added that Cameco doesn't yet have a stake in Africa which he feels is going to be the next major source of production. "You have to be there," he said. "The only question is what is the right project?"

Overall, the executive said, Cameco will now have enough cash to make a number of choices including just buying uranium on the spot market.

In August 2008, Cameco completed the acquisition of a 70% interest in the Kintyre uranium exploration project in Western Australia. A joint venture comprised of Cameco (70%) and Mitsubishi Development Pty Ltd (30%) purchased the Kintyre project from Rio Tinto. Also during 2008, the company acquired 24% interest in Global Laser Enrichment (GLE) based in North Carolina. GLE is focused on developing an uranium enrichment process using laser technology.

The Vancouver Sun reported Dec 9 that Cameco chief executive Jerry Grandey, who highlighted Paladin as an attractive takeover candidate in November, suggested that Cameco will also consider acquisitions and joint ventures with customers in Asia. The Sun reported extensive speculation by numerous investment analysts for a variety of target opportunities, but none of them provoked comment from Cameco.

Bayswater provides NI 43-101 resource estimate for Anna Lake

Bayswater (CVE:BAY) announced the results of an NI 43-101 Mineral Resource Estimate for its 100% owned Anna Lake Deposit located in the Central Mineral Belt (CMB) of Labrador. The Anna Lake estimate indicates an inferred resource of 4.91 million pounds U3O8 using a 0.030% cutoff (5.06 million tonnes averaging 0.044 % U3O8). Also contained within this resource are an estimated 1.56 million pounds of molybdenum.

Bayswater CEO George Leary said in a statement additional exploratory drilling will be needed to move the deposit into the measured and indicated categories. No economic feasibility studies have been completed for the site which is near Fronteer's Jacques Lake deposit. Both open pit and underground mine operations will be assessed for the project.

Crosshair discovers new uranium find in Labrador

Crosshair Exploration & Mining (TSE:CXX) announced discovery of several new uranium targets in the Central Mineral Belt (CMB) Joint Venture uranium project in central Labrador. Exploration activities in 2009 resulted in discovery of four new uranium targets as well as confirming the presence of historic high grade mineralized material at the CMB-East property. The best new result is 2.19% U3O8.

The CMB property is directly west and adjoins the Jacques Lake Deposit controlled by Fronteer Development Group. The CMB project is a joint venture with Crosshair (60%) Silver Spruce Resources (CVE:SSE) which owns the other 40%.

Crosshair also announced Nov 20 that it had closed a private placement for $2.3 million to support further exploration of vanadium properties in the Central Mineral Belt of Labrador.

Uracan discovers new uranium mineralization in Quebec

Uracan reports on channel assay results from the Summer 2009 exploration program at its 100% owned North Shore Project in Quebec. Highlights include samples graded at 3.48 pounds U308 per ton of ore (0.174%). A total of 42 channels containing 376 samples were taken in seven separate zones in the exploration area. The results of two of these zones, the Grandroy and Turgeon zones, were previously released on August 26th and September 29th, 2009.

On Nov 16 Uracan closed a $5.1 million private placement the proceeds of which will be used to continue development of the company's properties in Quebec and Saskatchewan.

Uravan takes land position in Athabasca basin

Uravan Minerals (CVE:UVN) has started acquiring a land position in the Athabasca Basin, Saskatchewan. This is a significant first step in obtaining a major position in this uranium endowed district. The firm is identifying additional acquisition opportunities.

Larry Lahusen, Uravan CEO, told FCW the reason for the move is "there are too many headwinds with aboriginal land claims that are not getting resolved by the federal government."

He said it takes too long for a junior uranium company to wait around while complex land issues are pending. "We're tired of it," he said."

"If you can't get a drill on the land, your investment there is worthless."

He said the firm is also being buffeted by environmental issues that don't make any sense. For example, he said that environmental groups have claimed the drill rigs will disrupt caribou calving grounds.

"Drills don't bother caribou," he said.

To resolve these issues, the firm would have to pay for expensive environmental impact statements with no guarantee they could proceed with exploration.

"We're not going to do it. It is untenable," he said. "As a uranium junior our investors have no patience with these kinds of delays."

"The reason we're going to Saskatchewan is that we know we can go there and be successful without all this other stuff."

Uravan has three projects in Canada. Two uranium projects in the Thelon Basin in Northwest Territories (NT) and Nunavut (NU); and the high-grade Rottenstone nickel-copper-PGE property in northern Saskatchewan.

Protests erupt over uranium mining in Quebec's north shore

While there are no active uranium mines in production in Quebec, the Toronto Globe & Mail tallied more than 80 exploration projects in various stages in the province in its editions for Dec 11. That level of activity, which has increased since last year, has set off a call for a "national debate" on uranium mining in Canada.

A group calling itself Sept-lles Sans Uranium sparked a reported protest by 23 area physicians who threatened to leave the area. They said a drilling exploration project being operated by Terra Ventures (CVE:TAS) at Lake Kachiwiss 13 km from the town of Sept-lles was a threat to drinking water supplies. The site is 900 km northwest of Montreal.

Marc Fafard, a spokesman for the uranium protest group, said his organization feels a national referendum on uranium mining is the only way to get attention to their issues. Getting one on the ballot he said means "the government will no longer be able to ignore us."

Fafard has been active for some time in his cause to stop uranium exploration in Quebec. What's different this time is that on Dec 13 he led a march of over 1,000 people through the town against uranium mining.

The doctors were reportedly joined by the local chamber of commerce and city council in a protest march through the town Dec 13. However, the Quebec College of Physicals called on the doctors not to make good on their threat to leave the area saying it would constitute a threat to public health.

Steve Aplin, VP for Energy & Environment at The HDP Group in Montreal, told FCW the protest by the doctors looks like "copy cat environmentalism."

"Something is definitely afoot in Quebec. Whatever organized effort is happening in Sept Iles, it’s working. The town council adopted two resolutions for a moratorium on exploration. Plus, the official opposition party in Quebec, the Parti Quebecois, is now officially anti-nuclear. "

"The mainstream media in Canada always watches and reports on this kind of thing, and always does the both-sides-of-the-story thing, even if one of the sides has less facts than the other. But the doctor thing usually wears a bit thin. Most people can sniff out an ideological bias, even in a doctor."

The Quebec Mineral Exploration Association issued a statement critical of the protest. It said the doctors failed to back up their concerns with scientific data. It added that the exploration activities pose no threat to anyone's health.

Jean-Pierre Thomassin, director general of Quebec's mining exploration association told Canadian wire services, "This is strictly a fear campaign. The doctors probably have cottages near the site and don't want to be bothered."

He also believes a province-wide ban on uranium minig is unlikely due to potentially expensive compensation the province would have to pay to companies who have already invested in explorations.

"There would be consequences," he said. "If the government doesn't compensate the companies, it's over. No one will come to Quebec for exploration."

John Kotek, a partner with the public relations firm Gallatin Group based in Boise, Ida., told FCW his experience with mining projects is that in such cases it’s incumbent on the project proponents to engage in a broad-based communication effort. He said the best sources of information will come from medical and environmental experts who can explain what is real and what is imagined when it comes to potential risks of the project to human health and the environment.

Kotek added that the proponent must then go to great pains to explain the steps it will take to mitigate those concerns that are real.

"At the same time the proponent must reach out to its core base of supporters and enlist their help in explaining the benefits and addressing the concerns about the project. It is complicated and time intensive but it can be done."

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Blogger comment system to remain for now

No shift to third-party comment software planned for Idaho Samizdat

primitive_manLike many of my readers, I’ve been disappointed with the primitive nature of the Blogger comment software. You’d think a product owned and operated by Google, which hires only the smartest software engineers on the planet, would have a better comment system, but it doesn’t.

A lot of people familiar with the limitations of the Blogger software comment system have used several third-party software products.

After trying out two of the three available packages, and also reading reviews like this one, I’ve decided for now not to subject readers to complicated and/or buggy comment third-party comment software.

Some of the problems I ran into include some readers, depending on their browser, not being able to see blog posts! That’s a deal breaker. In other cases, the comment software presented readers with obtuse login choices and a stiff learning curve. Either one is likely to drive people away in frustration.

So, where we are is to continue for now with the comment system that comes with Blogger and which makes life relatively easy for me and for readers. It’s not great, but it still wins in terms of getting the job done without a lot of overhead.

All comments will continue to be moderated to keep spam out and your thoughts in. Anonymous comments are discouraged on this blog.

You know who I am. Please don’t be shy about telling the rest of the readers here about yourself by logging in with a blogger ID or Open ID. Both are free. Eventually, I am told Google will provide automatic login to the Blogger comment systems via Friend Connect, but I don’t know when.

Forum on nuclear energy and social media

In the meantime, in order to promote discussion of nuclear energy, and social media, there is a new online forum for those interested in these topics.

This forum is not intended to debate the value of nuclear energy. You can do that over at the Energy Collective. The forum I'm talking about is for people in the nuclear industry or who work with industry, and who are using or are interested in using social media to communicate about nuclear energy topics with online services, tools, and venues. It is an outgrowth of the informal session held Nov 17 at the ANS winter meeting in Washington, DC, on the impact of social media on the nuclear energy industry.

Nuclear_Street_LogoThe forum is being hosted at no cost to users at Cam Abernethy’s Nuclear Street web portal on nuclear energy.

If you want to participate, send me a one-sentence statement of affiliation and or interest and a valid email address. You will receive self-service registration information in reply. My email address is: djysrv [at]

if nothing else, maybe we can figure out a way to get better discussions going on nuclear blogs. I look forward to hearing from you.

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PST gives Energy Advocacy Award to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer

He receives a standing ovation for remarks

Schweitzer Gov Montana 20091219 Idaho Falls IDBrian Schweitzer, the Governor of Montana, has a metaphor for his views on the nation's energy policy.

He explained it on Dec 19 while receiving an award from the Partnership for Science and Technology (PST) for his advocacy of America's need to break its addiction to foreign oil.

Growing up on a farm, Schweitzer said the arrival of electricity through the lines of the Rural Electrification Administration supplemented the family's wind-powered generator. He said the key benefit of the new juice from the power company is that it allowed the family to "weld at a higher voltage."

welding2Schweitzer's metaphor is that energy policy isn't just about measures that reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, though that's important.

What he says is that support for the economic goals of our nation includes developing new energy technologies.

Giving people the ability to 'weld at a higher voltage' is a touchstone for the Montana governor's passionate views on energy policy.

New energy technologies will reduce reliance on foreign oil

After accepting the award, Schweitzer clad in his signature look, bolo tie, jeans and cowboy boots, engaged the audience with three key points.

  • We need to break America’s addiction to foreign oil. We need a new energy system that is clean, green and American-made.
  • Right now, the United States imports about 70 percent of its oil from overseas. At the same time, billions of dollars we spend on foreign oil ends in the hands of groups who are openly hostile to American values and our way of life.
  • This not only hurts America’s energy independence, it costs American families hundreds of thousands of jobs. This is a time when America should be working harder than ever to develop new, clean energy sources and technologies including nuclear, clean coal, wind, solar, bio fuels, and natural gas.

The governor pointed out that the development of high-efficient batteries will lead the way to future success. It will be the young people of today that will become the scientists of tomorrow who will develop the batteries that will help solve the world’s energy problems. He praised the work of the Center for Advanced Energy Studies (CAES) in Idaho Falls, ID, as one of the institutions that is training the next generation of energy experts.

Schweitzer selected for tireless energy advocacy

wind-turbine-flagThe selection by the Partnership for Science and Technology of Governor Schweitzer for the 2009 Energy Advocate Award is based on his tireless and effective advocacy for sound national energy policy and for the clean development of the West’s abundant energy resources.

He has worked effectively to promote clean energy investment in Montana. His hard work has paid off for the people of Montana in the form of new wind farms, transmission lines, and the promise of a wind turbine manufacturing facility and a carbon-sequestering liquid fuels plant.

As the Chairman of the Western Governors’ Association (WGA), he promoted the formation of a Canada-U.S. energy corridor to increase cooperation across state and national borders, and he has pledged to keep energy and climate change as top priorities for the association over the next year.

The Governor isn’t confining his energy policy efforts to the members of the PST and the WGA. He has been a prolific and highly effective spokesman for sensible energy policy, as demonstrated by his rousing speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention and his thought-provoking appearances on programs such as 60 Minutes, Larry King Live, and Real Time with Bill Maher.

The Partnership for Science & Technology is proud to have given its award this year to Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer.


Media Contact:
Lane Allgood, (208) 313-4166

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

South Korea wins UAE $20.4 billion nuclear contract

Award is based on commercial and safety merits of the bid

The Wall Street Journal reports Dec 27 that a consortium led by South Korean companies has won a $20.4 billion contract to build four new nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The newspaper reported that the announcement was made in Abu Dhabi by UAE President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayede al Nayan.

UAE officials told the WSJ the South Korean consortium was selected because it met “stringent requirements” in terms of commercial aspects and for safety. The UAE expects the first reactor to enter revenue service in 2017. The win is a stunning victory for South Korea and projects its nuclear rector technologies into the global market. The winning team include Korea Electric Power Corp., Samsung and Hyundai business groups, Doosan Heaving industries, and Westinghouse.

Reuters reports that the South Korean team will supply four 1,400 MW light water reactors. The design was completed in 2002 and is being used to build new power stations in South Korea. Reuters also reports that the four units to be built in the UAE are expected to have a life cycle of 60 years. The deal reportedly includes operations of the reactors, turbines, and other balance of plant facilities.

Nuclear fuel for the reactors could come from other vendors including Areva. The UAE said it is in discussions with Areva for supply chain support outside the scope of the initial contract.

In a statement, South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak, told the WSJ the deal will bolster energy security for the UAE which is facing shortages in natural gas in future years. He was president of Hyundai engineering before entering politics.

The UAE is expected to become a net exporter of electricity to other countries in the region including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The New York Times reports the UAE regional transmission and distribution grid will require "substantial upgrades."

The announcement comes after much speculation that the deal would be delayed by as much as six months due to the debt crisis at Dubai with a government-owned real estate project that is seeking to re-schedule $60 billion in debt. The Abu Dhabi emirate recently set up a $10 billion line for Dubai easing international fears that the real estate project would go into default.

Why did Areva lose?

The bid by French state-owned nuclear giant Areva, which was expected by many to win the reactor portion of the deal, may have been impacted by the UAE’s review of the firm’s track record at a project in Finland. It is is significantly over budget and behind schedule.

Recent public disputes with Finnish nuclear regulatory authorities, Siemens, and subcontractors, have not helped the project’s international image. While Areva has claimed to be making progress in resolving these problems, it apparently wasn’t fast enough for the UAE.

Price may have also played a significant role. Last month EDF and Areva, along with GDF Suez, reportedly resubmitted their bids with new price information. At one time the value of the contract was said to be as high as $40 billion.

The Korean bid was reportedly considerably lower than the bid submitted by the French group according to several wire services. Operating costs over 60 years, including fuel, and which could be as much as another $20 billion, are not accounted for in the inital award. KEPCO, the South Korean utility, is expected to take an equity position in the project.

GE-Hitachi also submitted a bid, but there are no details on it in news reports today. The Wall Street Journal's assessment of the bid process Nov 17 turns out to have been on target.

Korea and Westinghouse nuclear history of collaboration

According to the World Nuclear Association (WNA), Westinghouse has a significant presence in South Korea in terms of the number of operating reactors. Nuclear energy provides 40% of the country’s electricity and there are plans to increase that figure to 56% by 2020. [Complete WNA profile of South Korea’s nuclear capabilities]

In a profile of Korea’s nuclear energy industry, WNA wrote . . .

The Advanced Pressurized Reactor-1400 draws on CE System 80+ innovations, which are evolutionary rather than radical. The System 80+ has US Nuclear Regulatory Commission design certification as a third-generation reactor.

The APR-1400 was originally known as the Korean Next-Generation Reactor when work started on the project in 1992. The basic design was completed in 1999. It offers enhanced safety with seismic design to withstand 300 Gal ground acceleration, and has a 60-year design life.

Cost is expected to be 10-20% less than previous Korean designs. The first APR-1400 units - Shin Kori 3 & 4, are under construction, and operation is expected in 2013 and 2014. A 48-month construction period is envisaged. Korea Power Engineering Company (KOPEC) is the main designer, and Doosan the main manufacturer.

KHNP decided not to renew its reactor technology licence agreement with Westinghouse in 2007 but to embark upon a business cooperation agreement instead, whereby KHNP would join with Westinghouse in marketing jointly-developed technology while KHNP completes the development of its own components to replace those, eg in the AP-1400, dependent on the licensing.

This will lead into a KHNP $200 million program to develop an exportable AP+ large reactor design by 2015.

UAE and the US 123 agreement

The UAE deal is the first new commercial nuclear reactor project in the MIddle East. The UAE signed a “1-2-3 agreement” with the U.S. in which is promises not to build its own uranium enrichment capabilities nor reprocess spent nuclear fuel. The agreement is promoted as a model by the U.S. in terms of meeting nonproliferation objectives while advancing the use of carbon emission free nuclear energy to combat global warming. The agreement allows US firms, which includes Westinghouse, to sell nuclear reactor technologies, including fuel, to the UAE.

The UAE will use electricity from the nuclear reactors for three purposes. The first is for water desalinzation. Second, the UAE will move its aluminum industry up the value chain with electricity to forge ingots and finished goods. Third, the country needs to get off its supply of natural gas which is not able to meet its growth needs. See my coverage at the Energy Collective from March 2009 for details.


Blog - The Capacity Factor 27 Dec 2009

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