Thursday, May 13, 2010

Nuclear Power Tidbits

A. Here is an interesting article from the Heritage Foundation about an attack on nuclear power under a hidden "environmental" label.

“The New York Department of Environmental Conservation rejected Indian Point’s request for a water-quality certificate, which the plant needs to keep operating one reactor running after 2013, and the other after 2015. . . . The State denied the certificate largely because Indian Point’s water-intake system, which draws water from the Hudson to cool the reactors, kills about 1 billion aquatic organisms annually — mostly eggs, larvae and plankton.”

Indian Point’s two nuclear reactors provide about a third of Gotham’s power (and nuclear plants overall generate 31 percent of electricity statewide). . . .

“[The regulators] are demanding a system that would require the construction of cooling towers — a process of up to 15 years. Thanks to various regulatory delays (see below), these wouldn’t be online until about 2030. The system would cost more than a billion dollars and take the power plant offline for a year. . . .

Bottom line: The Department of Environmental Conservation is basically imposing hurdles that Indian Point almost certainly can’t clear — which suggests what the real agenda is here. . . .

That is: The decision to deny Indian Point its water-quality certificate is a bid to close the plant down — possibly with an eye on then shuttering other nuclear plants with similar cooling systems across the state or even nationwide.

This isn’t state bureaucrats doing their job — it’s an ideologically-driven move that could cost New York a vital source of clean, affordable energy.” A Sneak Attack on NYC’s Electric Bill The Foundry: Conservative , April 8th, 2010.

B. George Will makes the case for the safety of nuclear power as compared with the coal industry. He also proposes that we recycle nuclear waste as is done safely in France.

“The 29 people killed last week in the West Virginia coal-mine explosion will soon be as forgotten by the nation as are the 362 miners who were killed in a 1907 explosion in that state, the worst mining disaster in American history. The costs of producing the coal that generates approximately half of America's electricity also include the hundreds of other miners who have suffered violent death in that dangerous profession, not to mention those who have suffered debilitating illnesses and premature death from ailments acquired toiling underground.

Which makes particularly pertinent the fact that the number of Americans killed by accidents in 55 years of generating electricity by nuclear power is: 0. That is the same number of Navy submariners and surface sailors injured during six decades of living in very close proximity to reactors. . . .” This Nuclear Option Is Nuclear, by George F. Will, April 9, 2010.

C. Safe disposal of nuclear waste (and Yucca Mountain being the best site) has been scientifically proven since at least 1984 when I served as a management consultant for the High Level Nuclear Waste Management Office in the WA DOE overseeing the US DOE research in selecting the nuclear waste repository. Recycling the waste is a better idea. It is time to get building the plants we will need to meet future electrical energy demand.

“The amount of used nuclear fuel currently in storage in this country is not an enormous amount by volume. It could be stacked on one football field to a height of ten feet, and this used nuclear fuel is being stored safely and securely in engineered water pools and dry casks at nuclear plant sites.

However, it is important to recognize that 95 percent of the nuclear used fuel could be recycled. In fact, countries that recycle their used fuel include France, Great Britain, Russia, Germany, Belgium and Japan. Instead of continuing to store 65,000 tons of used fuel at nuclear plant sites, we should turn the Yucca Mountain site into a national recycling center. Recycling, which is also known as reprocessing, reduces the volume of so-called nuclear waste by 97 percent.” U.S. needs nuclear waste recycling, by Gary Wolfram, from Detroit News editorials, May 5, 2010.

D. This National Center for Policy Analysis article says that “until the government meets its legal obligation to provide storage for spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste, only a few new nuclear reactors are likely to be built. . . .

With waste building up, Congress passed the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act (amended in 1988) to ensure proper long-term storage. The act required the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and maintain an underground storage facility for nuclear waste.

The Energy Department determined that Yucca Mountain, Nevada, was a satisfactory storage place. However, despite scientific evidence that Yucca Mountain is safe, lawsuits and political wrangling have prevented use of the site as a storage facility.” Nuclear Power Development: Removing Roadblocks, March 29, 2010. See for full report.

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