Friday, March 23, 2012

Update on San Onofre for 2012 03 23


Tubes found with excessive wear at Unit 2

The Los Angeles Times reported March 22 that excessive wear has been found on 129 tubes in the steam generator for Unit 2 at San Onofre. Previously, the problem of premature wear was limited to Unit 3.  Both steam generators were supplied by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and installed in 2009.

Both reactor units remain out of service while the utility, the NRC, and the vendor try to find the root cause of the problem. That means the combined total of 2,200 MW of power isn't being generated by the plant.

In a separate development, California energy officials are predicting the possibility of power shortages in Los Angeles and San Diego if both units of San Onofre stay offline through the summer.  This development could give pause to people who might otherwise sign a petition being circulated by anti-nuclear groups to close San Onofre and Diable Canyon.  If the group collects 550,000 valid signatures, it could result in a November ballot initiative on the future of the power plants.

Prior coverage on this blog


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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Is Progress Energy out of the woods on rates in Florida?

The utility is still in hot water over repairs for Crystal River

This is my updated coverage from Fuel Cycle Week V11:N464 March 15, 2012, published by International Nuclear Associates, Washington, DC.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAProgress Energy (NYSE:PGN) is a consumer advocate's headache in Florida and a lightning rod for rate protests by the elderly on fixed incomes. The utility has high costs, which it estimates to be in the range of $900 million to $1.3 billion, for repairs associated with the damage the firm did in Fall 2009 to the containment structure at the 860 MW PWR Crystal River reactor during the replacement of the steam generator and a planned 20% uprate. The reactor was supposed to reopen in April 2011. That never happened.

It has rising costs, estimated by the utility to be in the range of $17-22 billion, associated with the planned construction of two new Westinghouse 1,100 MW AP1000 nuclear reactors in Levy County on Florida’s west coast. The PSC has its own estimate with numbers that are closer to $25 billion.

The reason the numbers are so high for the two new reactors is that utility has applied for an NRC license to build and operate them at a green field site that will require extensive and costly upgrades to transmission and distribution infrastructure to get the electricity to customers. Progress has also applied to extend the license at Crystal River, opened in 1976, for another 20 years, but this process is on hold.

Yet, there may be hope dawning for the utility which is also poised to merge with Duke Energy by July of this year. On Feb 22 Progress inked a multi-year agreement with the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), which handed down a unanimous vote for it, that may provide some certainty in moderating electricity rates. But there is a dark side to the plan which could set the stage for new troubles in future years. (Florida PSC Fact Sheet)

The disastrous break-in at Crystal River

The trouble started at Progress Energy in September 2009 when it dismissed advice from its own engineers to use an experienced team of contractors to cut into the heavily reinforced concrete of the containment structure at the Crystal River reactor to replace a steam generator. The utility chose an option to save money, as much as $150 million, by doing the job itself.

delamination damage at crystal riverInstead of asking the obvious question of third-party experts, e.g., who else besides Progress executives thought this was a good idea, the firm charged ahead. Things did not work out well. Damage to the concrete during the cutting job, called "delamination," (right) was so extensive that the plant has been shut down since 2009 and is likely to remain out of service until at least 2014. That's at least four years of no revenue from a huge capital asset.

According to Charles Rehwinkel, Deputy Public Counsel at the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC), fossil fuel replacements costs are running at $300 million a year. He told FCW that by the time the utility gets the reactor back on the grid in 2014, total costs could be $600-900 million.

Asked if the public counsel's office views the problem with the containment structure to be a "botched job" as alleged by consumer groups, Rehwinkel’s answer shows that the rate settlement on repair costs is decisive in mitigating the potential for a much harsher legal finding.

"There is a big difference between what is foreseeable and what happens because of mistake or even negligence. Since we settled the case before the PSC, we never filed any pleading that formalized our position regarding whether PEF was imprudent or negligent (the standard the PSC uses for assessing costs between shareholders and ratepayers). Having settled the case we will never make such a filing or take a formal position on fault."

In effect, Progress dodged a legal bullet biting a financial one instead.

Rate settlement for repairs

In the settlement, Progress provides a refund of $288 million refund to customers of replacement power costs associated with the current outage. It removes the Crystal River reactors, commonly known as CR3, from base rates, starting in 2013, while the company prepares an engineering study to determine the best way to effect repairs. In return, consumer advocates, or "interveners" agreed not to file new challenges to fuel replacement costs through 2016. The reason is the settlement includes a big stick.

Progress has until the end of 2012 to begin repairs and must complete them by 2014. Otherwise, under the terms of the settlement, it could face financial penalties of $40 million if the plant isn't producing electricity by 2015 and another $60 million in penalties if the repairs stretch into 2016. Progress can charge the customers for power from the plant once it returns to service.

Progress spokesman Suzanne Grant told FCW there is no date at this time for completion of the engineering study. Critics of the utility point out that a key challenge is the first of a kind engineering work involved since no one has ever had to make these kinds of repairs to a containment structure. Given the cost of the repairs, up to $1.3 billion, and their complexity, getting a bid out the door and a contractor on-board by the end of 2012 will require a lot burning of midnight oil.

High expectations are one thing but dim prospects for payments are another

dim prospects[6]According to Grant fuel replacement costs through 2011 have totaled $478 million. Insurance coverage has included $162 million, or just one-third of fuel replacement costs, and $136 million for repairs. Given the expectation of considerably larger tabs in both categories, the question is how much of the total will be paid by insurance? Grant said that the insurance coverage provides up to $2.5 billion for repair costs per accident and $490 million in fuel replacement costs.

Progress CFO Mark Mulhern said in February during a teleconference with analysts, "it is not probable" that the insurer will voluntarily pay the full coverage amounts.

A spokesman for Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL), which holds the insurance coverage for Progress, refused to comment to FCW on any payments it has made or scheduled for Progress. Complicating the issue is the fact Progress CEO Bill Johnson sits on NEIL's board. For his part, Johnson has said to Wall Street analysts he remains "optimistic" that the insurer will pay up.

But PSC's Rehwinkel isn't so sure telling the St. Petersburg Times Feb 16 the claims Progress has made with NEIL are bigger than anything the insurer has ever seen or expected to see.

It appears from the numbers that Progress has burned up its maximum fuel replacement coverage. As for repairs, it is possible the insurer is waiting for the engineering study before it commits to further payments for them. Since they're not talking, it's unclear what they will do.

Two new reactors for Levy County

While Progress is struggling with repairs for Crystal River, it is also working to convince rate payers, under Florida's version of CWIP, to cover costs for licensing and construction of two new reactors. Progress expects the NRC to issue licenses by the end of 2013 to construct and operate the twin reactors.

Under the utility's current schedule, the first unit would enter revenue service in 2021 and the second 18 months later. Including transmission and distribution infrastructure, the total cost, or "all in" as characterized by Grant, would be $17-22 billion. Grant says the utility will reassess its schedule and costs after it gets the licenses. That's an important caveat given the terms of the recent rate agreement with Florida's PSC.

The PSC's Public Counsel estimates the "all in" costs to be in the range of $22-25 billion. In effect, the starting point for the PSC on costs at the low end is the high point of the costs as estimated by Progress. Differences in cost estimates also reveal a problem in cost recovery from rate payers.

The settlement with the PSC limits what Progress can charge customers for construction through 2017. That provision could delay construction of the reactors. It is a squeeze play that will limit how much Progress can recover through CWIP for construction costs in the early stages of the project.

The settlement provides that Progress can collect an estimated $350 million to cover construction costs for the period 2012-2017. It will need at 15-20 times that amount in the same period to meet its self-imposed deadline of hot start for the first unit in 2021. Taken together with uncertainty about "all in" costs, and it looks like the nuclear renaissance is in trouble in Levy county.

Balbis3In fact, Florida PSC Commissioner Eduardo Balbis (right) said as much in February with regard to the settlement. He's concerned that delays in the project "could result in a reduction in the cost-effectiveness to the point where the project is no longer viable."

Balbis tempered his remark by also saying the delay of any rate impacts are "in the best interest of consumers."

What he's talking about is Florida's elderly population, which is 6% higher than the national average. Led by AARP, and other organizations representing the elderly, this group has repeatedly descended on the PSC's offices in Tallahassee raising the black flag of intergenerational conflict over CWIP for the new reactors.

PSC's Rehwinkel told FCW, "The settlement acknowledges there will be significant delay in completion" of the reactors if Progress decides to pursue construction once it receives the licenses.

He also told FCW that the Public Counsel's office will not claim it would be "imprudent" for Progress to cancel the EPC contract to build the reactors or "ultimately the project itself if that happens."

Progress merger with Duke still on

Prospects for one of the biggest planned mergers between electric utilities could end abruptly in July without completion unless a rat's nest of regulatory issues is resolved and soon. Progress and Duke Energy had planned to close last December, but that didn't happen due to concerns over markets and rates from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North Carolina Utility Commission.

On Feb 22 Duke and Progress filed a second wholesale market mitigation plan with the regulators which they hope will work. Duke spokesman Thomas Williams told FCW that despite two rounds of filings, the North Carolina regulator hasn't yet made a decision on the merger.

Williams said the merger "expires" on July 8, 2012. If that happens with no agreement, he said no decision has been made whether to try a third time to close at a later date.

Asked about financial troubles at Progress over repairs and replacement fuel costs at Crystal River, Williams would only say, "we're watching the issue."

Since May 2011 three of eight leading wall street firms who follow or who initiated coverage have downgraded Progress stock. A fourth firm which started covering the stock in 2011 initiated its rating at "underperform" relative to the recession blasted NYSE. Progress stock closed March 12 at $54.17 near its 52-week and five-year high of $56.39, which it hit on Dec 26, 2011.

Interestingly, that price was recorded two weeks after Duke and Progress announced the closing on their merger would be put off due to the rejection of their filings by FERC over the issue of market power of a combined firm.

Basics of the merger

Duke Energy announced Jan 10. 2011, it plans to buy Progress Energy for $13.7 billion in a deal that will create America’s largest utility. The new company, to be called Duke Energy, will have a combined value of $65 billion and about 57 GWe of domestic generating capacity from a diversified mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas, oil and renewable resources.

About 16% of the generating capacity of the combined firm would come from nuclear energy. It would become the largest regulated single fleet of nuclear reactors in the U.S.

Duke Energy operates the Catawba, McGuire and Oconee nuclear plants, which between them have seven nuclear units. Progress Energy operates the Brunswick, Crystal River, Harris and Robinson nuclear plants, with a total of five reactor units.

Duke has applied for licenses to build two new Westinghouse AP1000s at the William States Lee III site in South Carolina. Progress has applied for licenses to build twin AP1000s at the Levy County site on the west coast of Florida and at the Harris site in North Carolina.

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Updates on international nuclear energy programs

Setback on financing at Temelin in Czech Republic

A report by an influential banking advisory firm has set back plans to build two new nuclear reactors at an estimated cost of $10 billion. The Prague-based firm of Candole Partners wrote in January the project, originally scoped to include five new reactors, isn't financially feasible due to low demand for electricity.

Czech state-owned utility CEZ has disputed the analysis saying it has a short-term perspective and that demand for base-load power will increase especially as Germany phases out its remaining nine reactors by 2022. That's about the time the new reactors at Temelin would come online.

Candole said its analysis is based on the $7 billion CEZ would have to raise to pay for the two new units which would raise its debt ratio higher than other European electric utilities. It turns out the Candole report exposed a rift in the thinking of CEZ's executives. CEZ CFO Martin Novak reportedly wants to bring in new investors to share the risk and lower the debt, but CEZ CEO Daniel Benes is on record as being opposed to bringing in new investors.

In the meantime, CEZ is moving ahead with the bid process for the two new reactors with responses due from vendors by July. The short-listed bidders are Areva, Rosatom, and Westinghouse. A key success factor for the winner will be to be able to convince CEZ it can deliver the twin units on time and within schedule. So far, in that regard, Westinghouse's experience in China with four new AP1000s puts it ahead of Areva which has significant schedule delays and cost over runs at a plant under construction in Finland.

China restart may soon be underway

Areva EPR under construction in China
When the Fukushima crisis occurred in March 2011, the Chinese government suspended approvals of new reactor projects with a special emphasis on its domestic and so-called "generation II" reactor technology.

The government continued work on four Westinghouse AP1000 and two Areva EPR Gen III+ reactors. Both designs include enhanced safety features for dealing with loss of offsite power and the need for cooling water in an emergency.

One of China's most significant challenges isn't in the reactor technology it uses, but in the development of a strong nuclear safety regulatory function. The government reportedly has a new set of regulations that strengthen the safety oversight role, but it is unclear whether it will have the power to stand up to the ministry which oversees reactor development. The new regulations are expected to be published this month.

China completed its assessment of its 10 GWe of operational reactors last Augusts amid speculation that would be the milestone that would allow new reactor projects to get going. However, the new regulatory framework took more time, and may have experienced political delays. In any case, most observers believe the regulations were done by December 2011 and that China was then moving ahead to reorder its new starts related to the new safety regime.

Nuclear industry analysts expect that China has used the time since April 2011 to review its portfolio of planned new nuclear projects. Two trends emerge from their reports. The first is it is likely China will not construct its previously announced target of 80 GWe of new reactor generating power in the next two decades. A build of 50-60 GW seems more likely according to Steve Kidd from the World Nuclear Association. Second, China will use its technology transfer agreement with Westinghouse to develop domestic versions of the Gen III+ reactor at the 1,100 MW and 1,400 MW power ratings.

There is also a question of whether China will be able to continue to self-finance its new nuclear build. Even at internal prices of $2,000/Kw, an 1,100 MW plant comes in at $2 billion. A new build of 60 Gwe requires $120 billion.

The New York Times reported March 21 that the Chinese government is making is easier for foreign investors to put money into China’s stock market. This move may be a signal that the era of 100% self-financing large capital infrastructure is coming to an end.

According to the newspaper, the move is in response to a rising flight of capital from the country, a deepening slump in real estate prices, a weak stock market and at least a temporary trade deficit caused by a steep bill for oil imports.

The newspaper said these issues are offsetting fears of the potentially inflationary effects of big inflows of foreign cash.

If China needs cash from outside investors to bolster its growth, will it also need equity investments in its ambitious new nuclear building program? Will this need for cash speed up efforts by China to obtain export earnings for sales of its domestic version of Gen III+ technology? For instance, China is reported to be considering entering a bid for South Africa's new build.

China has also been building up the capabilities of its nuclear components supply chain. The one year delay in start of new projects has also given China some breathing room to address quality assurance issues for both components and systems. John Ritch, head of the World Nuclear Association, told the DowJones News Wires March 8 he believes China will eventually emerge as a world class supplier of nuclear reactor components.

South Africa to ask for bids on 9.6 GWe

In its latest effort to build new nuclear reactors, South Africa said March 8 it plans an ambitious program to build the equivalent of six Areva 1,600 MW EPR light water reactors. It expects to release bid documents in the next few months.

One possible scenario for financing is that the winning bidder will own and operate the plants for the first 15 years of their operational lives. In return the government would guarantee a profitable rate of return through Eskom, its state owned electric utility. After 15 years, the reactors, with proven track records, would be sold to investors for the remainder of their 60 years of operation.

South Africa cancelled a similar bid process in 2008 due to the lack of financing for its ambitious plans. Eskom was broke because the government refused to allow it to increase electricity rates to pay for future capital improvements. In turn, the nation's heavy industry suffered from brownouts leading to a significant dip in GNP.

Likely bidders include Westinghouse, Areva, Atomstroyexport, Korea Electric Power, and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Group. Ditebogo Kgomo, the government's point man on the nuclear tender, told Reuters he wants the bid documents out the door by the end of 2012. The first units could be generating power by 2022 or earlier.

Vietnam continues ambitious efforts

The New York Times reported March 3 that Vietnam now plans to build ten new nuclear reactors by 2030, two more than previously announced by the government. A major challenge for the country, which wants reliable electric power to attract manufacturing plants, is to staff up to build and operate them and to have an effective safety oversight function.

Russia has been selected to build Vietnam's first two nuclear plants. Japan is reported to have won the contract to build the next two, and South Korea is said to be pursuing the contract for the third two-reactor power station. Financing is being provided in the form of loans and export credits from Russia, Japan, and South Korea.

Vietnam is already home to high tech manufacturing having opened a $1 billion computer chip manufacturing center for Intel. The government wants to exploit bauxite deposits in the central highlands using electricity from new reactors to smelt aluminum and produce finished goods.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

California steaming at San Onofre

It's tough being a nuclear plant operator in the land of extreme green politics

Steam is generated in the secondary loop
On February 1 Southern California Edison safely shut down Unit 3 at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) to begin dealing with what has turned into a marathon unplanned outage that continues some seven weeks later.

The problem began when operators got indications of a steam generator tube leak. Their quick action to shut down the plant prevented any radiation from being detected outside the plant boundary.  

What plant operators found on inspection was that some of the equipment installed as brand new in 2009 showed unusual wear for the time it was in service. Worse, some of the tubes, which transfer reactor heat to make steam to turn the plant's turbines to make electricity, were failing under pressure tests. 

There are 9,700 tubes, each about three quarters of an inch in diameter, which were installed as part of a $670 million overhaul using equipment supplied by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.

* * * Note to readers: for a detailed look at steam generators surf on over to Atomic Power Review where Will Davis has a tutorial on design of these components that includes some detailed historical comparisons. 

According to the NRC several tubes show unusual wear with up to a third of the tube wall worn away. Another 69 tubes showed 20% wear, and there was 10% wear in another 800 tubes.  Some media reports have variations in these numbers, but the general ranges are similar.  NRC spokesman Victor Dricks told wire services this kind of unusual wear is a problem because it can lead to leaks.  

One of the ways nuclear utilities deal with leaking steam tubes is to plug them.  At some point power levels are affected, but the number of tubes that can be plugged varies for each reactor and steam generator installation. The NRC told the Wall Street Journal Feb 4 that up to 7% of the tubes at SONGS can be plugged with no loss of power.

The questions is with that arithmetic how many of the tubes with excessive wear will need to be plugged since 7% of 9,700 tubes is 679, and there are already at least 869 identified so far with wear issues?

Steam tube wear and tear well-known problem

A spokesman for SONGS pointed out that wear on steam tubes is a well known problem in the nuclear industry even in early years of usage.  The issue of wear and tear on steam tubes has also surfaced at Arkansas Nuclear One,the operating unit at TMI, and St. Lucie.  

The NRC told this blog in an email Feb 14 the agency does not think that the alloy that is used to make the tubes is the problem.  What the agency has also said is that while other steam generators have shown wear after one cycle of operation, the level of wear at SONGS Unit 3 is more than expected for the time the equipment has been in place.  

The initial concern is why the tubes were showing wear so fast. It's a major safety issue which is why the NRC has dispatched a special inspection team to look at the situation.  The problem is that leaks from the tubes could allow radioactive steam to enter the turbine system and then escape into the environment.

Mitsubishi engineers are on site working with SONGS to assess the problem.  The plant remains shut down.  Unit 2 was already shut down for maintenance and remains off line.  A SONGS spokesman said there is no firm date for either unit to return to service.  Units 2 and 3 are Combustion Engineering pressurized water reactors and generate 1,172 MWe and 1,178 MWe respectively.

Predictable political fallout

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.)
It didn't take long for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) to get up her own head of steam over the outage at San Onofre.  She said in a statement March 15 that her constituents are afraid of radiation leaks from the tubes.  

Boxer went further sending a letter to NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko demanding the agency "thoroughly assess" the conditions at SONGS.  Also, she asked what the agency was planning to do about similar issues at other nuclear plants.

Buckets of signatures needed for ballot initiative

The problem with steam tubes gave new momentum to a state-wide anti-nuclear ballot initiative.  Ben Davis, Jr., who led the successful campaign in 1989 to shut down the Rancho Seco nuclear plant, thinks the current crisis will help him get the 505,000 signatures needed to put a new initiative on the ballot this fall.  

If passed, it would force both SONGS and the Diable Canyon nuclear reactors to shut down until spent fuel management issues, long a federal political football, are resolved.

Davis isn't relying just on steam tube issues. He's waving the flag of Fukushima fears even thought SONGS CEO Anthony Early told the Bloomberg wire service in early March the plant can withstand tsunami and seismic risks.

Even if the signature gathering phase is successful, there is the possibility of lawsuits that the measure is an "unlawful taking" of private property.  For his part Davis declined to tell the Bloomberg wire service how many signatures he's collected so far.

Nobody so far has calculated the cost of replacement power if the reactors are shut down nor the volume of greenhouse gases that would be released by compensating fossil fuel plants.

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Vermont Yankee dodges another bullet

Federal judge: State can’t shut down Vermont Yankee over spent fuel

Federal District Court Judge J. Garvan Murtha ordered on Monday, March 19, that the Vermont Public Service Board (PSB) cannot use the issue of spent nuclear fuel as a mechanism to deny a certificate of public good to the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Murtha wrote that the PSB cannot prevent the plant, owned and operated by Entergy (NYSE:ETR), from continuing to operate because of the necessity of continuing to store its current inventory and new spent fuel.

On February 27, Entergy filed an appeal of the ruling claiming that the PSB should not be able to stop Vermont Yankee from operating over the spent fuel issue.

The judge concurred with the appeal saying that any effort to do so by the PSB would fall under the umbrella of nuclear safety regulation and was outside the jurisdiction of the state agency.

Read the full details exclusively at ANS Nuclear Cafe online now.

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Iowa advances toward small modular reactors

Legislation creating a favorable rate environment has better prospects for passage this year

small reactorsEfforts by MidAmerican Energy to convince the Iowa state legislature to enact a bill that would create new opportunities to build a small modular reactor got a boost this week. House File 561, which passed last year in the House by a vote of 68-30, was reported out of a Senate committee by a vote of 8-7 and is now awaiting floor action.

If passed the legislation would allow MidAmerican to cover the costs of building a new nuclear reactor as they are incurred under a principle known as CWIP – construction while in progress – which could save up to 25% of the cost of the project. (See also this fact sheet on the legislation from MidAmerican)

MidAmerican is known to be looking at small modular reactors (SMRs) such as NuScale's 45 MW LWR and a 180 MW LWR being developed by B&W. SMRs offer market entry into the use of nuclear energy because they are not "bet the company" projects. Plus, the revenue from the first one provides the financial impetus to build the next one. Both of the reactor designs noted here are intended to be built in "modular" fashion.

On the Senate side in the Iowa legislature, Sen. Matt McCoy, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said the compromise legislation which it approved will require that MidAmerican have the financing in place before it begins construction. The bill provides that MidAmerican can recover licensing and construction costs. It puts in place a long list of consumer protections including annual spending caps and reviews by state regulatory agencies to mitigate "rate shock."

Read the full details exclusively at CoolHandNuke online now.

coolhandnuke

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Monday, March 19, 2012

Podcast: Four on Fukushima at Week 53


From the U.S. perspective a low point is eight seconds of bull riding over Fukushima spent fuel pool #4

Image: Wikipedia
The history of the Fukushima nuclear crisis will be significant in many ways, but perhaps two aspects of it stand out right now in terms of the U.S. response. The declaration by NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko that the spent fuel pool #4 was empty, on fire, and spewing radiation prompted a second message which was that a few thousands Americans in Japan should evacuate to a distance of 50 miles.

This message created panic among the 200,000 now homeless Japanese who had already responded to their government's order to evacuate to a distance of 20 km (13 miles).

It probably took Jaczko about eight seconds to make this part of his statement before a congressional committee on March 16.  It will likely be 80 years before the last survivors of the Fukushima evacuation stop remembering it.

It turned out the spent fuel pool at Fukushima reactor #4 never lost its water, was never on fire, and never a source of radiation releases. However, the Japanese government nearly lost its mind over Jaczko's precipitous interference in the domestic affairs of a sovereign nation.

There was never any danger from the Unit 4 spent fuel pool. There was never any indication that there was any danger from that pool. The Chairman did not follow the EPA’s Protective Action Guides and did not do his job to maintain calm, effective response to the actual events as a means of protecting human health.

Instead, Jaczko unilaterally increased the confusion and contributed to the mistrust that the Japanese people have recently developed for their government.  Their question at the time was that if the government is only ordering an evacuation to 13 miles and the Amercians are moving to 50, what is it that they know that our government isn't telling us?

Since then anti-nuclear groups in the U.S. have picked up on Jaczko's 50 mile order in an effort to arbitrarily impose it on existing plants and new ones.  This makes no sense since the decision to evacuate, or shelter in place, is based on a multitude of facts.  The current emergency planning zone for a U.S. reactor is 10 miles.

The American Nuclear Society, in its report on Fukushima released March 8, 2012, questioned the technical basis for Jaczko's declaration. Michael Corradini, co-chairman of the commission that wrote the report, said, "The EPZ should be risk informed and not an arbitrary distance. The technical basis for the NRC's 50 mile evacuation order for Americans was based on incorrect information."

Four for Fukushima

On March 18 four people in the U.S. who were involved in communicating with the news media over events taking place in Fukushima participated in a Podcast about their experiences.  Rod Adams at Atomic Insights produced the show.

The following guests were on the show:

Bob Apthorpe (@arclight) who is a degreed nuclear engineer and currently employed by a firm that specializes in severe accident analysis models. He is an active Twitter contributor who has more than 4,000 people following his musings.

Margaret Harding (@M2harding), the former GE fuel system designer who was widely quoted in newspapers and who made numerous, calming appearances on commercial television shows.  Harding received an ANS Presidential Citation for her work in media communications about Fukushima.

Dan Yurman (@djysrv), who blogs at Idaho Samizdat and who helped organize the ANS Nuclear Cafe blog to be a major source of factual information about Fukushima especially in the early days of the crisis.   Yurman received a Special Recognition from ANS for his work on crisis communications about Fukushima.

Rod Adams (@atomicrod) notes his primary goal is to record and share their thoughts and experiences to add to the growing body of nuclear communications lessons learned or still to be learned.

You can listen to the show here: Atomic Show 182

The show runs for a bit over an hour so I recommend listening to it in the pop-up window. Note there is a 40 second intro of music provided by the hosting site.  There may be an advertisement in the slot in the future.

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