Saturday, December 3, 2011

Not enough buckets for Helen Caldicott

The New York Times puts her in the batter box, but her wild swings at nuclear energy produce a strike out

In the world of baseball, a batter who steps away from home plate with his leading foot, instead of a straight-ahead stride, is said to "put their foot in the bucket."

It is also generally a slang or idiomatic phrase that means clumsiness or cluelessness which can and often does lead to wrong-headed action.

Such is the case of Helen Calidott, MD, a long-time advocate against the use of nuclear energy.  She founded Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and remains active on behalf of the organization.

In an OP ED published 2 Dec 2011 by the International Herald Tribune, the Paris, France, based print and online outlet for the New York Times, Dr. Caldicott makes so many errors in her claims against nuclear energy that if she were in a nine inning baseball game, there would not be enough buckets to hold them.

Caldicott complains in her New York Times OP ED that . . .

"Nuclear advocates often paint those who oppose them as Luddites who are afraid of, or don’t understand, technology, or as hysterics who exaggerate the dangers of nuclear power."  

Frankly, that describes her very well.  Put another way, Caldicott paints the world green with fear, uncertainty, and doubt giving a bad name to the environmental movement. Here are the examples which make that point.

Chernobyl did not kill one million

Let's start with her claim that one million people died as a result of the Chernobyl accident.  Caldicott cites as her source a discredited study published by the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS).  The Academy, when advised of the lack of scientific rigor in the materials it published, was so embarrassed it returned the copyright to the authors and removed the work from its website.

Nuclear blogger Rod Adams has the devastating details of how the study came to public attention and its rapid fall from grace.

There can be no question that Caldicott is aware that the NYAS report has been determined to be incredible and useless as a scientific reference. In 2009 the NYAS acknowledged a published a review pointing out the study, sponsored by Greenepeace, contained "hasty impressions and ignorant conclusions".

By citing the discredited Chernobyl report in the pages of the New York Times, she is deliberately misleading the newspaper's readers.  Relying on the NYAS report for the truth of casualties at Chernobyl is like stepping on a banana peel and expecting to retain your stride.

If you are willing to read real science, the web pages of the American Nuclear Society (ANS) contain a wealth of information on the original accident and a retrospective 25 years later.  As a member of the ANS Public Information Committee, I was a contributor to the ANS materials on the 25th anniversary of the accident. The work was guided by a technical team of nuclear scientists and engineers.

Fukushima fairy tales

Fukushima radiation map ~
Source: US. DOE
There are no dangerous cesium-137 hot spots in Tokyo from the Fukushima reactor site.  The Japanese government and the U.S. Department of Energy, and other agencies have made detailed maps (Nature 11 Nov 2011) of hot spots, especially those that would be considered dangerous.  See for instance this interactive map published in the science journal Nature last September.

Many thousands of people are NOT living in highly radioactive areas around Fukushima. The Japanese government evacuated over 140,000 people in a 20 km radius around the plant. (New York Times map of evacuation zones 16 March 2011).

And the news media did not suppress information about the accident.  With the speed of the Internet, the coverage was global and unceasing.  TEPCO, the Japanese government, and even U.S. government spokesmen, made mistakes in the way they communicated information, but errors in technical information did not stay uncorrected for long.

For instance, an assessment by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that the spent fuel pool at Fukushima unit 4 was uncovered, and releasing radiation, was later retracted by the chairman of that agency.  The reason is that video images and tests of water chemistry showed the spent fuel remained undamaged and was always covered with water to keep it cool.

Why nations build nuclear reactors

Caldicott claims that nations build nuclear reactors because propaganda from the industry pulls the wool over their eyes.  The facts, not fiction, are much more reliable as an explanation.
  • India, despite the work of political opposition parties, will move ahead with new construction of nuclear reactors at Jaitapur (Areva) and Koondankulam ( Atomstroyexport) because it needs baseload power to drive its economy. India's electrified railroads are planning to have their own dedicated network of nuclear reactors to power the trains.
  • Japan is less than 50% self-sufficient in terms of food. To pay for food imports, it must produce high value manufactured goods for export like cars, electronics, and industrial machinery including large forgings for nuclear pressure vessels.  Japan must turn its shuttered reactors back on or it will starve.
  • China is shifting its investments from Generation II to Generation III nuclear reactors with passive safety systems. It is making these investments because it cannot power its economy with coal.  China is expected to build 25-30 GW of new reactor generation capacity by the end of this decade.
  • The U.K. will build 19 GWe of new nuclear power plants because the North Sea gas has a finite shelf life and its current fleet of reactors are reaching the end of their service lives.
  • The Czech Republic will build as many as five near reactors worth {e}21 billion - two at Temelin, one on Slovenia, and two more at other sites.  Much of the power will be sold to Germany and Italy which have decided not to use reactors within their borders.  Hypocrisy anyone?
  • In the U.S. by the end of this decade there will be six new reactors producing electricity in the southeast - two in Georgia, two in South Carolina, one in Alabama, and one in Tennessee.  By 2020, or earlier, at least two U.S. firms will have NRC licenses to build small modular reactors opening up new domestic and international markets.
  • In the Middle East the UAE will build four new reactors supplied by South Korea.  Saudi Arabia has announced plans for 16 new reactors with the tender for the first units to be released soon. If the center of the global oil industry thinks nuclear industry is good idea, exactly where does that put Caldicott's logic. It's back in the bucket.
Terrestial energy

In the same issue of the New York Times, the editors ran another OP ED this one from Nathan Myhrvold who is driving the development of the TerraPower reactor design. Funding comes in part from the Foundation established by Microsoft billionaire Bill Gates. 

Gates is putting up his money because he believes energy is a key to sustainable development and that it cannot be achieved solely with solar energy or wind power.

Readers may also benefit from reading Myhrvold's essay which explains the concept of relative risk, e.g., it is more dangerous to drive to the airport than to fly on the plane.  Myhrvold writes that the harm done by fossil fuels to the planet, in terms of pollution and greenhouse gases, "pose a greater threat than the darkest nuclear accident scenario."

Caldicott passes on mentioning global warming or greenhouses gases in her campaign against nuclear energy.

Calm reason makes sense. Over-wrought emotion does not.  

Video - absolutely putting your foot in the bucket

# # #

Friday, December 2, 2011

Davis-Besse gets green light to restart

The NRC said the cracks in the shield building are not a threat to safety

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said in a statement Dec 2 it has determined that it is safe to re-stasrt the Davis Besse nuclear power plant located in Oak Harbor, Ohio, 40 miles southeast of Toledo.

The NRC said the operators of the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Corp. (FENOC) "have provided reasonable assurance that the shield building is capable of performing its safety functions and that the utility can proceed with restarting the plant." 

The NRC said its independent assessment "evaluated a wide range of information such as technical details ranging from the size of the cracks, the utility’s sampling and testing of the concrete in the building to determine the extent of the cracks, and its structural analysis."

The background to the issue is that on Oct. 10 the NRC was informed by FENOC that while conducting work to replace the Davis-Besse reactor vessel head its workers identified cracks in the shield building. The shield building is a 2.5 foot thick reinforced concrete building that surrounds a 1.5 inch thick steel containment vessel that encloses the reactor. The two buildings are separated by a 4.5 foot space.

The NRC said in a letter to the utility it must continuously monitor cracks in the shield build to insure they do not impact safety.

There is additional news coverage, including the usual anti-nuclear roundup, in the Toledo Blade.

# # #

NRDC challenges Limerick license

The environmental group has filed a contention saying the safety analysis is outdated

green lobbyThe Natural Resources Defense Counsel (NRDC), one of the nation’s leading environmental groups, told the NRC Nov 28 that the re-licensing application for Exelon’s Limerick nuclear power station has an out-of-date safety analysis.

The petition filed by NRDC challenges the relicensing process on the grounds that Exelon (NYSE:EXC) did not update a 1980s era safety analysis and that the NRC granted the utility an “inappropriate exemption” from the requirement to do one now.

Limerick is composed of two 1,200 MW BWR reactors. Unit 1 entered revenue service in 1986 and Unit 2 in 1990. Their NRC licenses expire in 2024 and 2029 respectively. The plants are located 21 miles northwest of Philadelphia.

Matthew McKinzieMatthew McKinzie, Ph.D., a nuclear energy specialist for NRDC, (left) told this blog . . .

“All U.S. nuclear plants are required to conduct a critical safety review known as a Severe Accident Mitigation Alternatives, or “SAMA,” analysis to determine potentially cost-beneficial operational safety upgrades at nuclear plants. The last analysis for Limerick, completed in 1989, relied upon population data from 1980 and therefore didn’t take into account evacuation planning and the health risk from radiation exposure for up to 1.4 million additional people now living downwind in the Philadelphia-Wilmington-Newark metropolitan area.”

He called the original SAMA “outdated” because it ignores population growth in the region. He cites a statement in NRDC’s press release about the contention.

“Some common sense planning is needed here. What was acceptable in 1989 is not good enough for the next 30 to 40 years.”

Not so fast says Exelon

Exelon disputes this view. April Schilpp, a spokesperson for Exelon, told this blog in an emailed statement that Limerick performed the required safety analysis in 1989 for initial licensing.

“The purpose of the analysis is to determine if there is cost effective mitigation for the environmental effects from a severe accident. It is required to be performed once, and Limerick, Watts Bar and Comanche Peak performed this analysis as part of initial licensing because of a court ruling in 1989. Since all other licensing was completed, the NRC required the analysis to be completed for other reactors during license renewal.”

She points out that NRC regulations require the analysis be performed for license renewal unless it was performed for initial licensing.

“We verified that there is no new and significant information that would alter the conclusion that the environmental effects remain low. Therefore no additional mitigation is necessary.”

And Exelon isn’t happy about the contention in general. Schilpp writes in an email, “The NRDC petition disregards everything else Exelon has done over the years to ensure safety and operational excellence.“

NEPA challenge at the heart of the contention

Green footprintBut there’s more from NRDC. McKinzie said NRDC is aware of the exemption for Limerick from the NRC for doing a new SAMA.

So why file a contention on these grounds?

McKinzie says the exemption is in conflict with the intent of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). It appears to be a question of what is the “green footprint” of the plant.

“We want a ‘full-up’ and completely new SAMA. We think that new and materially significant information would result from one. Our contention is based on the plausible significance of this information,” McKinzie said.

He goes on to list seven reasons why the NRC should require a new SAMA for Limerick.

  1. additional accident scenarios analyzed for BWRs;
  2. real world information regarding reactor core damage frequency;
  3. population within 50 miles Limerick;
  4. economic consequences from accident scenarios at Limerick;
  5. evacuation speed assumed during accident scenarios at Limerick; and
  6. meteorology at Limerick.

Mc Kinzie says that “taken individually and especially in combination, this new information would plausibly cause a materially different result in the SAMA analysis for Limerick. This is why we think the current SAMDA analysis is incomplete.”

Again, Exelon isn’t buying it and not just because it wants to save money in the relicensing process.

“A great deal of investment has also been made to keep that analysis up to date since then, so it’s also not an “inadequate” study,” Schilpp says.

“In fact the Environmental Report itself (part of the application) lists the results of eight other safety analyses that were performed 1992 through 2009. Among other advances, these safety analyses show plant safety has improved over time (the calculated Core Damage Frequency (CDF) is lower),” Schilpp said.

Would a new SAMA make a difference?

ConsultantWith this back and forth from NRDC and Exelon in play, I turned to an expert third party for an opinion on whether a new SAMA would make a difference. This engineer, who also holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering, and has more than three decades of operational experience, told this blog via email;

A new SAMA analysis will basically be just be "more work for consultant firms"

While this sounds cynical, he said a new document would not be likely to produce much new information usable in day to day operations, “because it looks at additional hardware and tries to figure out if it has any additional benefits."

Does this mean NRDC has misunderstood the use of a SAMA? The consultant points out they may get it but also may be off the mark. He points out the knowledge of severe accident phenomenon has dramatically improved from what existed in the 1980's era and many of the safety issues which were addressed then are now recognized as obsolete.

“Some risks are reduced because of better knowledge of basic physics.”

"Some of the features incorporated voluntarily by the industry - such as hard pipe vents from the BWR suppression pool - have a huge impact on risk reduction. This would allow one reasonably sized fire pump and an open suppression pool vent to remove all decay heat from the core indefinitely."

The engineer concludes a number of major improvements have been added due to voluntary initiatives and for security measures. These include additional emergency diesel generators and fuel supplies.

He says, "It is difficult to see that re-evaluations in 2011 could come up any different."

The engineer is not quoted by name at his request due to contractual obligations with another nuclear utility which is not Exelon.

Watchdog group seeks leverage

watchdogNRDC’s contention has to pass some tests before it has an impact on the relicensing process for the plant. Even so, NRDC has to convince the NRC is has standing to file the contention and that it has raised a legitimate issue. The legal back-and-forth will take time so it could be mid-winter before the dust settles on this issue.

Exelon filed for relicensing in June of 2011 with an NRC calendar indicating a decision as early as April 2013. The plant license is good until 2024 so even if NRDC prevails on this issue, it won’t result in shutting down the reactor. Exelon has until the end of this month to file a legal response with the NRC.

What’s clear is that NRDC is seeking to overturn the exemption the NRC granted to Exelon. Whether a new SAMA would make a difference in over all plant safety isn’t clear based on a consultant’s expert observations. Then again, watchdog groups like NRDC seek leverage where they can find it so this may be an issue worth watching.

On the Web

# # #

Thursday, December 1, 2011

MIT nuclear fuel expert has new economic ideas to deal with it

Locating all back-end facilities at the same site will increase community acceptance because of job creation

A nationally recognized expert says that collocating a reprocessing plant with a waste disposal facility can improve the economics, efficiency, and public acceptance of both.

Charles Forsberg, executive director of the MIT Nuclear Fuel Cycle Study, (right) writes in the November 2011 issue of the Amercian Nuclear Society’s Nuclear News magazine that a new business model is needed to manage spent nuclear fuel and repositories for long-term storage of highly radioactive waste.

In an exclusive interview with Forsberg at the ANS Winter Meeting held in November in Washington, D.C., he said that there is an opportunity to borrow from the business model of an airport authority.

For instance, an airport authority owns the runways, and collocated with them are public and private airline terminals and freight handling warehouses. All of these facilities, which generate user fees for the airport authority, benefit from collocation with the high-value runways.

The issue related to spent fuel, Forsberg said, is whether the Secretary of Energy’s Blue Ribbon Commission asked the right questions. A key issue is how to make a spent fuel repository, and collocated reprocessing center, an attractive economic asset for a community that hosts them. Such a strategy would also save 30 percent of the costs of building the plants at separate locations, according to Forsberg.

Read the complete story exclusively at the ANS Nuclear Cafe online now.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Another Blogger for Nuclear Energy

A veteran of the nuclear industry provides timely updates about Fukushima and battles misconceptions about nuclear energy in general

Most misconceptions about nuclear energy can be tied back to Hiroshima and Nagasaki says Leslie Corrice who should know since he spent a entire career dealing with them on behalf of a U.S. nuclear utility.

Now retired after a second career as a high school math and science teacher, he updates two web sites three times a week.

He told me he started posting about ten months before the events that took place at Fukushima in March 2011.

"At that point, blog traffic just went off the deep end," he said.

"Even after the U.S.started bombing Libya, and the mainstream news media moved on, interest remained strong about Fukushima."

At the Hiroshima Syndrome he writes in the tradition of the great American humorist Will Rogers who said, "

“It ain’t what you don’t know that counts. It’s what you know that ain’t so.”

Here are some examples;

Did you know...
...Mother Nature is totally nuclear.
...Uranium is not a natural explosive.
...Three Mile Island’s accident was a severe meltdown.
...Bomb fallout is very different from nuclear power plant radiation releases.

At his blog on Fukushima, he posts news and detailed updates three times a week.

Welcome to the nuclear blogsphere Mr. Corrice.  We're glad you're in it.

# # #

Monday, November 28, 2011

Branding tactics for renewables v. nuclear

Are solar and wind really a better mousetrap?

I have long felt that much of the debate over nuclear versus renewables is tied up in philosophical and lifestyle concerns as well as hard engineering and economic analysis.

I think that some of the push back on nuclear is its larger than human scale of industrial organization, its technological opacity and its de facto symbolism of being a monument to advanced industrial civilization.

People are overwhelmed by the scale of industrial society and seek a simpler framework that includes solar and wind power.

Why do these renewables have high public acceptance?

Read the full story exclusively online at Nuclear Clean Air Energy online now.

Mousetrap fission - link

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Germany's quixotic withdrawal from nuclear energy

It seems to have a lot going on for for a country that is pulling the plug on nuclear energy

German Chancellor Angela Merkel hit the big red "stop" button earlier this year calling for the closure of all 17 nuclear reactors that provide about one-quarter of the nation's electricity. 

Eight reactors have been shut so far with the rest to be closed within another ten years.  That's a long time and a lot can happen. 

While the rise of Russian natural gas supplies in the energy mix, and the political problems that will come with it, seems inevitable, there are other developments that are worth noting.

Germany's overseas nuclear investments

Like Japan the paradoxical situation in Germany is that while the nation is winding down its commitment to nuclear energy, it is ramping up its exports to other nations.  Brazil and the U.K. are two 'go-to' markets for German nuclear firms.

Angra 3 ~ image: World Nuclear News
The Financial Times Deutschland reported in September that the German government is supporting the construction of a third nuclear reactor in Brazil. 

Angra 3 will get a continuation of a {e}1.3 billion export credit.  The construction contract for the project is headed by Areva, the French state-owned nuclear giant.  The export credits sustain thousands of jobs in Germany. 

Green groups in Germany, which are vociferously anti-nuclear, condemned the government's decision to continue the financing arrangements.  Sven-Christian Kindler, a spokesman for the Greens, called the move "schizophrenic" pointing out it makes no sense, in terms of the politics of his group, to turn off nuclear reactors in Germany while building one in Brazil.

He will need to get some more press releases ready because two leading German utilities are building new reactors in the U.K.  German firms E.on and RWE plan to build at least 6 GWe of new nuclear reactor capacity in the U.K. at the Wylfa and Oldbury sites. 

According to a Nov 17 Reuters report, Alan Raymant CEO of the joint U.K. venture of the two firms, called Horizon, said the project's ambitions haven't been impacted by events at Fukushima.

Germany's hidden stumbling block to renewable energy 

The problem for any energy producer is to get the power from the generating plant to rate payers.  For wind and solar projects, the problem is even more acute because of their intermittent nature. No power is flowing through the grid of transmission lines if the wind doesn't blow or the sun doesn't shine. 

Investors who want reliable returns on new transmission infrastructure are understandably skeptical of projects for which there will be tolls only part of the time.  Grid operators have complained about having to intervene in load management as more solar and wind projects come online. 

German wind power locations
And getting new lines built, even with government subsidies, is going to be a dicey business.  German citizens appear to be as opposed to new power lines going across the countryside as they are to nuclear power plants.  

A Bloomberg wire service report for Nov 25 indicates that of 149 planned grid expansion projects, 73 or about half, are delayed by disputes. 

The head of Germany's electric power regulatory agency, Matrhias Kurth, told the wire service, "Energy transformation can only work if grid modernization keeps up with the expansion of reneweables."

It turns out there is an answer to load balancing. It's called coal or gas.  According to a Nov 17 report in Platts, Germany's Economic Minister Phillipp Roesler is calling for new fossil fuel plants to be built at the sites of decommissioned nuclear reactors.  He told an energy conference in Leipzig that this strategy would take advantage of existing power lines.

Roesler told Platts the country needs 20 Gwe of fossil power to support the grid with some of it coming from Russian gas plants financed and built by Gazprom.  Sergei Shymatko, a Russian energy official, reportedly told a German newspaper his country is ready to put up {e}15 billion in a joint venture with German utility RWE.

Czech Republic to the rescue

Czech Republic Prime Minister Petr Necas, who has committed CEZ, the state-owned electric utility, to build two new nuclear reactors at Temelin, and three more at other sites, is a bit nervous about how these plans will be received by Germany.  That country could be CEZ's largest customer for electricity from the new reactors.

Neas is meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to assure her his intentions are honorable.  He also wants her business.  Additionally, the Czech Republic wants the reactors to develop independence from Russian gas supplies. 
It is paradox that Germany is exporting nuclear technology
and plans to import electricity from reactors in other countries

CEZ has released bid documents to three organizations - Areva, Westinghouse, and Atomstroyexport.  The bids are due in July 2012.

The first two reactors will be built at Temelin, two more at Dukovany, and one in Solvenia.  Taken together, the deal is estimated to be worth {e}21 billion and its Europe's largest planned new nuclear construction effort.

Given that the Czech Republic shares a long western border with Germany, getting the power to its newest customer should help rescue that nation from its troubles keeping the grid stable.

It is a paradox that while Germany is slamming the door on nuclear energy at home, it is exporting technology overseas and importing nuclear powered electricity at home.

# # #

Short stack of dark and light patches of nuclear news

Stuff collected over the long Thanksgiving break 

Short stack
Quiet periods like turkey day, and the days off around it, offer time to sift through the piles of "I read them later" clippings that seem likely topics for blog posts.  So here's a collection of items, a "short stack," that I found to be dark as in bad news and light as in good news for your review.

California heads toward energy suicide

Over the years there have been any number of predictions that in terms of geophysical stability, the entire state of California will one day simply slide into the Pacific ocean.  Political instability in California may yet produce tectonic changes in the energy landscape.  An initiative to put a ballot item up for a vote could wind up closing the states two nuclear power stations.

The proposal, which will require more than half a million valid signatures to get on the Fall 2012 ballot, would remove an exemption in state law that allows the San Onofre and Diablo Canyon nuclear reactors to continue to operate.  The law bans construction of new nuclear power plants until the federal government establishes a long-term solution for disposition of spent nuclear fuel.

San Onofre NPP
Anti-nuclear groups have for years tried all sorts of tactics to close the reactors, and now Ben Davis, Jr., of Santa Cruz may have found one for them.  Davis, a long-time anti-nuclear activist, has started the ball rolling and produced instant alarm in Sacramento.

The State Legislative Analyst's office says the loss of the reactors, which supply 16% of the state's electricity, would have a "profound effect" on the stability of the electric grid."

The office also predicted rolling blackouts and huge business losses.  While green groups say the replacement power would come from solar and wind power, these sources are much more expensive than nuclear.  Green groups may wind up having the state to themselves as businesses stampede for the exits before someone turns out the lights.

Is Calvert Cliffs III "inconceivable?"

John Rowe, CEO of Exelon, the operator of the nation's largest fleet of nuclear reactors, told Platts in mid-November that building a third reactor at the Calvert Cliffs site in Maryland is "almost inconceivable."  Rowe made his comments about the lack of economic justification for the project in a speech to the Bipartisan Policy Center, a think tank in Washington, DC.

Could anything be less clear?
Rowe said the fact that Calvert Cliffs is a merchant plant means "there is no regulatory protection" for the firm's capital from competing energy sources including natural gas.  Rowe said he expects the price of gas to remain below $8 mbtu for the long term.

EDF, Constellation, and Areva, which have a stake in plans to build Calvert Cliffs III, had a variety of comments about Rowe's remarks.  Translating them from corporate speak produces a common theme of "thanks a heap for your support."

Exelon wants to complete its merger with Constellation by 2Q2012 according to a Reuters report.

Closed reactors in Japan mean missed climate targets

Japan has just 10 of its 54 reactors in revenue service.  The other 44 are closed for "maintenance," but in point of fact cannot reopen without the political blessing of provincial government officials.  Frozen by Fukushima fears on one hand, and having the other out for bribes from the central government and the nuclear utilities, the only question is at what point it will be safe to take the money and the political heat.

In the meantime, Japan's electric power industry is burning any fossil fuel it can get its hands on and that is not making for happy faces at the Federation of Electric Power Companies.

Makoto Yagi, chairman of the federation, told the Mainichi Daily, an English language newspaper in Japan, that before the Fukushima crisis, the industry had set a target of reducing emissions per kilowatt hour by over 20% by 2012 based on 1990 levels.

With the uncertainty about the restart of the nation's nuclear reactors, it looks like that target will be missed which has international ramifications under the Kyoto Protocol.  Japan's provincial governors may not care about the nation's diplomatic commitments, but eventually the national government may find that they are one more reason to restart the reactors.

UAE puts price tag on four new reactors

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) believes that a joint venture with Korea Electric Power Corp to build four 1,400 MW nuclear reactors will cost about $30 billion. The price tag represents a $10 billion increase over the reported value of the deal which was inked in December 2009.

Before readers get too excited about these numbers, consider these are "greenfield" sites and will require substantial transmission and distribution infrastructure to get the electricity to market from a remote site on the Persian Gulf.

Bloomberg wire service reported the number Nov 25 along with some estimates of how the deal will be financed among the two parties.  According to Bloomberg, the UAE will put up $10 billion in equity and South Korea will put up another $10 billion in debt.

The remaining third will come from bonds issued by the UAE government for investment by third parties.  The UAE told the wire service details of the financing plan were not yet complete.

To help keep costs down the UAE's Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) is talking to its counterparts at Finland's Radiation and Nuclear Safety  Authority (STUK) to learn more about radiation safety, nuclear safety, security and safeguards.  The UAE said the bilateral agreement will help FANR get up to speed on lessons learned in Finland.

Another benefit will be to learn how to avoid some of the issues that bedevil the construction of an Areva 1,600 MW EPR that is behind schedule and over budget.  Areva has repeatedly tangled with STUK over regulatory issues which has been one of the reasons for the delays.  Management of subcontractors to meet nuclear reactor quality standards in construction has been at the top of the list of concerns by STUK.

# # #