Thursday, June 7, 2012

Update on Jordan's nuclear program

An asset swap of uranium for reactors seems likely

Khaled Toukan
The Jordanian Atomic Energy Agency has entered into negotiations with Areva and Rosatom to build 2 Gwe of nuclear powered electricity by 2020. Both firms are offering 1,000 MW reactors.

The Kingdom is likely to offer to pay for them with an asset swap from its uranium ore reserves said to be equal to 25,000 tonnes of yellowcake. However, opposition in Jordan's parliament may slow down closure of the deal. Currently, Jordan imports almost all of its electricity.

Late last April the government short listed both firms to running competitive negotiations in parallel. Rosatom is expected to offer its 1,000 MW VVER, a conventional PWR reactor which is its primary nuclear export. Areva is teaming with Mitsubishi to offer a new 1,000 MW reactor design expected to meet the needs of customers who don't want the more expensive 1,600 MW EPR. Jordanian government sources have told wire services they hope to sign with a vendor by the end of 2013 or sooner.

1-2-3 agreement a case of shadow boxing?

While no American firms are in the bidding, the U.S. has been holding diplomatic talks with Jordan to open its markets to American suppliers. Last January U.S. State Department officials dropped objections to Jordan building uranium enrichment facilities as a pre-condition for a 1-2-3 Agreement under the Atomic Energy Act.

Khaled Toukan, head of Jordan's Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) praised the change in U.S. policy. While he's happy about it, back in the U.S. republican members of Congress were critical of the move. Congress has to approve any 1-2-3 agreement before U.S. firms can sell equipment to Jordan.

The whole issue of whether Jordan wants to enrich uranium is a tempest in teapot - or a case of shadow boxing - take your pick. Areva has said that the primary value of the uranium is for export and not for development of fuel cycle facilities in Jordan.

Last December Areva shelved plans for massive capital expansion of its uranium facilities in France citing a soft market and a desire to fully utilize its new George Besse II enrichment plant in France. It has no incentive to build a competing site in Jordan having also shelved indefinitely breaking ground on the Eagle Rock Enrichment Plant in Idaho, US. (3 M SWU/yr)

If the firm wins the contract to build the reactors, it would likely supply nuclear fuel from its factories in France and return spent fuel to them to make MOX. As for Russia, it enriches its own uranium and also blends down HEU from the disposition of nuclear warheads.

Neither France nor Russia are interested in the political heat that would be injected into negotiations with Iran if Jordan decided to leverage a reactor deal with either of them for an enrichment plant.

What it comes down to from market and political perspectives is that that Jordan's insistence on the right to enrich its uranium as a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty looks to be more a case sovereign political posturing for consumption in the volatile Middle East than a possible practical outcome.

In addition to the realities of uranium enrichment markets, in Jordan electricity and capital are needed elsewhere to develop the nation's economy. In any case, estimates of the amount of uranium ore in Jordan vary. Areva is currently exploring the ore bodies to get a grip on the numbers.

Some ham handed handling

While all this commercial activity is developing, two other developments may throw a wrench in the gearbox. Jordan's lower house in parliament voted in late May to suspend the nuclear tender until financing is secured and a suitable location is found for the reactors.

An early list of sites generated intense opposition when one of them was announced to be near a popular tourist destination. Environmental groups seized on the outcry over sites, but gained little traction for their issues. The primary concern in parliament is containing the cost of the reactors.

In a development which does not bode well for the leadership of the nuclear energy tender, Khaled Toukan, head of Jordan's Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC), found himself in hot water after he allegedly called opponents of the nuclear program "donkey"s and "garbage collectors."  Opponents in parliament, and among tribal leaders who have factional axes to grind, issued the predictable calls for Toukan's resignation. For now he's likely to survive the media driven controversy.

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South Africa tries again to expand its nuclear program

This time Eskom wants vendors to self-finance

Eskom infrastructureSouth Africa wants to capitalize a nuclear energy manufacturing industry on top of a 9 GWe program to build new reactors. Energy Minister Dipuo Peters wants to achieve both objectives with funding from reactor vendors.

Her business model is likely to be one that guarantees rates for at least 15 years and will pay back the cost of the plants and position them for local investor ownership.

She told wire services June 4 that South Africa will make its decisions on reactor technologies, a short list of suppliers, and the procurement process by the end of the year.

To get there, Peters wants to “localize” manufacturing of the complex components of building a new nuclear reactor and beef up South Africa’s role in the nuclear fuel cycle.

Peters told a nuclear energy conference held in Sandton, S.A., in late May that the nation’s ambitions are for a bigger share of the pie than just “digging trenches and pouring concrete.”

Read the full story at ANS Nuclear Café online now.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Video production skills for nuclear bloggers

What can be done to promote the use of video in nuclear energy blogs? 
Attend the social media meet up at the ANS Chicago conference to share your ideas

In June 2009 you could put four nuclear bloggers in a room and have 80% of the North American market on hand. In June 2012, there are a lot more and new people start English language nuclear energy blogs every month.

So, it appears we as a vibrant community have mastered the text/graphics skills necessary to publish information on blogs. That's good, but there are new challenges ahead.

The next one is video. There are a growing number of people searching YouTube for answers as there are searches on Google.  In fact, YouTube is the key place to be if you want to be seen and heard.  Nuclear bloggers need to be there.

NEI and Areva have posted some great content on YouTube and both organizations have told me they are willing to provide ideas and information for the nuclear blogging community.  For instance, NEI has its own channel of nuclear energy videos.  Areva's channel has some outstanding animations which have a definite "wow" factor.

Kick off discussions

What can be done to encourage nuclear bloggers to produce 3-5 minute YouTube videos?  How much work is involved in making one?  What's within the range of possibilities for equipment, software, and the online capabilities of an independent blogger?  It is easy to be intimidated by the excellent work of large corporations.  However, excellence in a small scale is accessible for an investment of a few hundred dollars for a camera, tripod and editing software.

I'll be talking about these ideas, and looking for ideas from others, at the social media meet up to be held at the American Nuclear Society national meeting in Chicago. The conference runs June 24-28.

On Tuesday morning, June 26 from 7:00-8:30 AM nuclear bloggers, and others attending the ANS conference who are interested in social media, are going to have an informal discussion about this topic.  If you are there and interested in this activity, please stop by. 

Tentatively, the event will take place at the ANS Media Room, Stetson Hall, Room F, West Tower, Hyatt Regency hotel in downtown Chicago.  This blog will be updated if the location changes.  Unlike past social media meet ups, this one will not offer any beverages or snacks.  Please bring your own breakfast.

Formal training course?

Readers of this blog might be interested in my conversations with several people about developing an on-site and/or virtual one day class on YouTube video production for pro-nuclear bloggers.  Right now the project is in the conceptual stage.

One of the next steps in capacity building for nuclear bloggers, as I see it, is to develop skills to produce multi-media blog posts and get them on YouTube.  If we can train a bunch of people at the same time, we can lift the pro-nuclear blogging community with the same elevator so to speak.

I'm interested in getting ideas about what should be taught in the class. Skills that seem to be needed include story boarding, video editing, and integration of multi-media content such as stock video, recorded live video, power point charts, and still photos.  Most importantly, nuclear bloggers have told me they want to learn how to conceptualize and execute the entire process from inception of an idea to finished product.  Everyone wants to get past the talking head stage produced with Skype type web cams.

I'm assuming people can become competent with the hand held video cam technology and basic video editing software. What I am focusing on is the production process and how to build an audience on YouTube.  What works?

There are several possible ways to deliver the training including a virtual class, in a classroom setting, or a combination of virtual and classroom experiences.  I expect there will be a cost for this training however it is eventually put together.

Right now this is just my brainstorm so I am pushing forward with it. I welcome ideas, partnerships, and collaboration.  And if someone has already done this, please tell me who it is.

If there is enough interest, I would like to target delivering the first class in Fall 2012.

Please respond with a comment, or to me via email or by phone, however you are most comfortable.  See the blog sidebar for contact information.

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107th Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Carnival is the collective voice of blogs with legendary names which emerge each week to tell the story of nuclear energy.

Nuclear abstractIf you want to hear the voice of the nuclear renaissance, the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs is where to find it.

Past editions have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, Idaho Samizdat, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, and CoolHandNuke, as well as several other popular nuclear energy blogs.

The publication of the Carnival each week is part of a commitment by the leading pro-nuclear bloggers in North America that we will speak with a collective voice on the issue of the value of nuclear energy.

While we each have our own points of view, we agree that the promise of peaceful uses of the atom remains viable in our own time and for the future.

If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog, and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brian Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support. Please post a Tweet, a Facebook entry, or a link on your Web site or blog to support the carnival.

This week’s Carnival

Gentlemen start your engines

Brian Wang - Next Big Future

Japan  appears to be about 3 to 4 weeks away from having the Oi nuclear reactors started. Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda will give a formal order to restart two nuclear reactors at the Oi plant in western Japan next week. It would then take two or three weeks to get each one up and running. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda told reporters that it was necessary to restart idled nuclear reactors whose safety has been confirmed, adding the central government was winning understanding from local authorities.

China has approved a new nuclear safety plan and appears they will have a new 70GW target for 2020 and they should approve the restarting of new reactor approvals and construction.

New England's school of hard rocks approach to nuclear energy

Meredith Angwin - ANS Nuclear Cafe

"NRC Public Meeting in Brattleboro: The Politics of Intimidation"

Meredith Angwin at the ANS Nuclear Cafe gives a first-hand account of her experience at a recent Nuclear Regulatory Commission annual review public meeting held in Vermont.

The Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant received the highest safety ratings, but that did not turn out to be the focus of the meeting -- to put it mildly.

Meredith Angwin – Yes Vermont Yankee

“A tale of two plants: NRC grants license extensions to Pilgrim and Columbia”

The NRC granted twenty year license extensions to two BWRs; Pilgrim in Massachusetts and Columbia in Washington State.  Pilgrim's license extension application took 6.5 years to grant, and Chairman Jaczko objected to granting it.  Columbia's application took less that 2.5 years.  This blog post compares the differences.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Les Corrice – Hiroshima Syndrome

(1)Kan’s con – using misinformation to suit his purpose (May 29)

Japanese ex-PM Naoto Kan has been working hard to try and absolve himself of wrongdoing during the Fukushima accident. He has gone so far as to make himself out to be the world's savior by allegedly keeping Tepco from abandoning F. Daiichi (which now seems to have been a gross over-reaction based on misinformation).

Now, he's attacking Japanese Disaster and Nuclear Emergency law for being "insufficient", saying it was the reason for his heavy-handed meddling. However, his testimony befor the Diet's NAIIC reveals that he had no knowledge of the law and was initially more concerned with routine politics than the Tohoku calamity.
(2) What about F. Daiichi unit #4? (May 28)

Tepco is now saying the huge surge in radiological releases on March 15, 2012, was due to containment damage with unit #2 at F. Daiichi. However, they fail to consider that unit #4's refueling deck exploded on the 15th. In addition, they attribute most of March 16th's releases to unit #3, but there is virtually no mention of unit #3 releases on March 15 in the Tepco statement, and their data shows only a minimal release on March 14 (Unit #3's refueling deck blew apart on March 14). What's wrong with this picture?

I once caught a fish story this big

Eric McErlain - NEI Nuclear Notes

I once caught a fish story this big

No Public Health Impact from Radiation in Blue Fin Tuna  or tracing the tale of the wild tuna

The report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that there was no food safety or public health concern of any kind related to radiation from tuna. The trace amount of radiation found in the tuna is less than radiation that is found naturally in the Pacific Ocean from Potassium 40.

Didn't we domesticate wheat 10,000 years ago?

Nuclear Energy: The Wheat and the Green - Why this attention in a nuclear blog? Well, the Greens seem –awfully – anti-science, don’t they? – luddites, even. Genetically modified foods have been accepted in North and South America, among other places, and it hasn’t raised quite such a stink

We’re just sick about more myths about nuclear accidents

Rod Adams – Atomic Insights

Exaggerated myths about nuclear accidents CAUSE negative health effects

Fukushima will result in no casualties and no long term radiation related illnesses, because the key mistakes that were made in the initial response to the accident at Chernobyl were not repeated. Unfortunately, the most important lesson from 25 years worth of intense international study of the Chernobyl accident has not been learned.

That accident had very real social, economic and health consequences. Those completely avoidable consequences were due to the way that governments, the antinuclear movement, and the media chose to react.

Nuclear Testing & Training Site hits Milestone

Will Davis - Atomic Power Review

The Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory's Kesselring Site has just passed an important milestone in its significant history.  Details, links to outside stories, and of course obscure photographs are all featured in APR's coverage.

SMR developers go for $452M in DOE gold

Dan Yurman – Idaho Samizdat

An overflow crowd at the Platts Third Annual Small Modular Reactor conference held last week got an up-close and personal look at three of the consortia.

They are vying for a piece of the U.S. Department of Energy’s $452 million cost-shared funding program for licensing and engineering support to develop small modular reactors, e.g., less than 300 MW

Some benefits of nuclear medicine

Robert Haves - Science & Technology

Nuclear medicine is perhaps one of the obvious benefits to mankind arising from the onset of the nuclear age.  Two of the more familiar instances of nuclear medicine are what’s known as stress tests for the heart and thyroid scans.

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