Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Resurrection of US Nuclear Power

 

Harry Reid almost single-handedly crippled nuclear power in this country through his efforts to block the licensing of the nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. In spite of a the safety evaluation report and the environmental impact statement published by the NRC that stated the repository would be sound for the 1-million-year period of waste isolation required in the regulations, licensing the repository has remained in limbo.

It wasn’t all Harry Reid’s fault. For a number of reasons, the public has been uneasy about nuclear power. To a great extent, this ambivalence has been due to the nuclear industry’s pitiful job of educating the public. Chernobyl and Three Mile Island dominate public perception; people don’t know the difference between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. In addition, the building of plants has become prohibitively expensive, particularly without government involvement.

But, perhaps the tide is turning. On June 28, the House Energy and Commerce Committee brought HR 3053, the Nuclear Waste Policy Amends Act of 2017, out of committee with a 49-4 vote. The Act now goes to the full House.

Among other priorities, this bill stops the collection of fees for the Nuclear Waste Fund by utilities until a decision has been made about Yucca Mountain. Subsequent to Yucca Mountain approval, these fees will become available. The Nuclear Waste fund fees will then be collected for an additional 25 years “to assist in construction and operating costs, to make payments to the State of Nevada, and for eventual decommissioning costs.”

Along with this progress in waste storage, the nuclear industry has made great strides in developing new reactors that are more efficient and cost effective. For those of you who are interested in this technology, there are several links provided here.

Finally, President Trump and Energy Secretary Rick Perry are very enthusiastic about seeking energy independence.

From President Trump: “The first of those initiatives, he said, would be to ‘revive and expand’ the country’s nuclear energy sector. ‘A complete review of US nuclear energy policy will help us find new ways to revitalize this crucial energy resource,’ Trump said.”

From Rick Perry: “I believe no clean energy portfolio is truly complete without nuclear power, and so does the President. If you want to see the environment and the climate that we live in affected in a positive way, you must include nuclear energy with zero emissions to your portfolio…. Do it safe, do it thoughtfully, do it economically. Under the leadership of the United States, the world can benefit from that. This administration believes that nuclear energy development can be a game-changer and an important player in the development of our clean-energy portfolio globally. I believe we can achieve this by focusing on the development of technology, for instance, advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors.”

As we continue to develop our options for energy in this country, the future of nuclear power looks bright.

There are 56 comments.

  1. PHCheese Member

    Susan. If you lived here on Charleston Sc you may not believe there is a resurrection of nuclear energy. SC &G is building a new plant. I is five years behind schedule and billions over budget. Worse yet the contractor filed bankruptcy ( Westinghouse). Our electric rates are the highest in the country at 20 cents a KWH. The power company has been pre- charging for the cost if the plant. We are paying 20% of our bill towards the plant which I may not live long enough to use. It has been rumored that they are considering abandoning the construction. Another problem we have here is the Savanna River site. Although not directly of energy production it is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I hope we can get our act together in this country with nuclear power but I have my doubts

    • #1
    • July 9, 2017, at 9:59 AM PDT
    • Like
  2. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    Nuclear power is a slam dunk for Trump.

    Fuel Independence – We have extensive known uranium reserves. People who say we are running out are the same people who said we were at peak oil. Other major mines are in Canada, Australia, and South Africa – not exactly hostile countries. Due to the economics of nuclear power, the cost of fuel could triple without effecting electricity costs

    American Expertise – We developed the nuclear reactor. We operate vast numbers of naval reactors with an impressive safety record. We have an extensive nuclear industry with an incredible safety culture. I would feel comfortable with my entire family and friends living on the fence line of a nuclear power plant.

    American Jobs – Nuclear power plants are the source of numerous high-paying blue-collar jobs. Being a reactor operator pays very well, and does not require an expensive degree. Veterans of all services find positions at nuclear plants – I was recommending that BossMongo look into nuclear plant security, because they recruit extensively from the pointy end of the spear, and carry serious business weaponry. As an aside, if terrorists have to attack a target in the US, let it be a nuclear plant. The guards will get some live fire training & the tangos get the 72 virgin express – win-win!

    The Environment – Coal really does have pretty nasty emission products. In fact, a coal plant emits enough radioactive material to the air to get a nuclear plant shut down. Nuclear power has negligible emissions – the “smoke” over water towers is a cloud of water vapor, no different from those currently hanging overhead. Environmentalists who have actually spent some time thinking about reducing greenhouse gases realize that the only way to provide reliable power all over the globe is nuclear. Any person who is saying that global warming is a crisis and opposes nuclear power is either ignorant or a liar. Trump could use this as wedge against the environmental groups.

    • #2
    • July 9, 2017, at 10:05 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  3. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    Susan. If you lived here on Charleston Sc you may not believe there is a resurrection of nuclear energy. SC &G is building a new plant. I is five years behind schedule and billions over budget. Worse yet the contractor filed bankruptcy ( Westinghouse). Our electric rates are the highest in the country at 20 cents a KWH. The power company has been pre- charging for the cost if the plant. We are paying 20% of our bill towards the plant which I may not live long enough to use. It has been rumored that they are considering abandoning the construction. Another problem we have here is the Savanna River site. Although not directly of energy production it is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I hope we can get our act together in this country with nuclear power but I have my doubts

    Excellent points, Omega! My husband and I lived in San Clemente near San Onofre. When I first met him, he was a senior reactor operator, so he knows the industry firsthand. He’s retired now.

    • #3
    • July 9, 2017, at 10:13 AM PDT
    • Like
  4. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    Susan. If you lived here on Charleston Sc you may not believe there is a resurrection of nuclear energy. SC &G is building a new plant. I is five years behind schedule and billions over budget. Worse yet the contractor filed bankruptcy ( Westinghouse). Our electric rates are the highest in the country at 20 cents a KWH. The power company has been pre- charging for the cost if the plant. We are paying 20% of our bill towards the plant which I may not live long enough to use. It has been rumored that they are considering abandoning the construction. Another problem we have here is the Savanna River site. Although not directly of energy production it is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I hope we can get our act together in this country with nuclear power but I have my doubts

    PH, I appreciate your skepticism. If it’s any comfort, I have it from a good source that CA’s power costs are higher than SC. My husband (the expert in this household) says that he believes that dollars have been guaranteed by Toshiba as part of the bankruptcy settlement, which “should” be enough to finish the plants. Time will tell. Also, is there something in particular that you are concerned with at the Savannah River site?

    • #4
    • July 9, 2017, at 10:16 AM PDT
    • Like
  5. PHCheese Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    Nuclear power is a slam dunk for Trump.

    Fuel Independence – We have extensive known uranium reserves. People who say we are running out are the same people who said we were at peak oil. Other major mines are in Canada, Australia, and South Africa – not exactly hostile countries. Due to the economics of nuclear power, the cost of fuel could triple without effecting electricity costs

    American Expertise – We developed the nuclear reactor. We operate vast numbers of naval reactors with an impressive safety record. We have an extensive nuclear industry with an incredible safety culture. I would feel comfortable with my entire family and friends living on the fence line of a nuclear power plant.

    American Jobs – Nuclear power plants are the source of numerous high-paying blue-collar jobs. Being a reactor operator pays very well, and does not require an expensive degree. Veterans of all services find positions at nuclear plants – I was recommending that BossMongo look into nuclear plant security, because they recruit extensively from the pointy end of the spear, and carry serious business weaponry. As an aside, if terrorists have to attack a target in the US, let it be a nuclear plant. The guards will get some live fire training & the tangos get the 72 virgin express – win-win!

    The Environment – Coal really does have pretty nasty emission products. In fact, a coal plant emits enough radioactive material to the air to get a nuclear plant shut down. Nuclear power has negligible emissions – the “smoke” over water towers is a cloud of water vapor, no different from those currently hanging overhead. Environmentalists who have actually spent some time thinking about reducing greenhouse gases realize that the only way to provide reliable power all over the globe is nuclear. Any person who is saying that global warming is a crisis and opposes nuclear power is either ignorant or a liar. Trump could use this as wedge against the environmental groups.

    I lived for 50 years near the first commercial nuclear power plant in the country near Pittsburgh and another 10 years , two miles away from the Brunswick Power plant at Southport NC. We lived on BHI across the Cape Fear River. After 9/11 they supplied us with iodine pills which thankfully we never needed.

    • #5
    • July 9, 2017, at 10:20 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  6. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    Susan. If you lived here on Charleston Sc you may not believe there is a resurrection of nuclear energy. SC &G is building a new plant. I is five years behind schedule and billions over budget. Worse yet the contractor filed bankruptcy ( Westinghouse). Our electric rates are the highest in the country at 20 cents a KWH. The power company has been pre- charging for the cost if the plant. We are paying 20% of our bill towards the plant which I may not live long enough to use. It has been rumored that they are considering abandoning the construction. Another problem we have here is the Savanna River site. Although not directly of energy production it is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I hope we can get our act together in this country with nuclear power but I have my doubts

    I can’t vouch for every utility, naturally. Some of them are mismanaged and fail.

    I will say that the process for building a new plant is ridiculously long and stringent. Some random Green can completely shut down the process with a complaint, and the NRC under Obama was pretty horrible with random regulation changes that require redesigns. The government needs to massively streamline the process – do a review of the site and design in tandem, issue the operating and building permits together, and have one community comment period, not several.

    Why is the Savannah River site a catastrophe waiting to happen? I figured any major controversy would would be on the wikipedia page, since they usually have plenty of people on both sides of the nuclear divide. They are going to build a nuclear recycling center there that will help massively cut down on nuclear waste.

    • #6
    • July 9, 2017, at 10:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  7. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    I will say that the process for building a new plant is ridiculously long and stringent. Some random Green can completely shut down the process with a complaint, and the NRC under Obama was pretty horrible with random regulation changes that require redesigns. The government needs to massively streamline the process – do a review of the site and design in tandem, issue the operating and building permits together, and have one community comment period, not several.

    To some degree, stringency is needed and required, but I’m not sure how much in this country is for political purposes. And a little incident can create a major kerfuffle, as you probably know, Omega. People know about Three Mile Island, but they don’t know that the plant did precisely what it was supposed to do, in spite of human error. That’s what counts.

    • #7
    • July 9, 2017, at 11:02 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  8. Profile Photo Member

    France has for many years generated about 80% of electricity with nuclear plants. The whole controversy is partly the result of the most successful KGB operation in their history. It began with Bertrand Russell, who was a bit of a nut but was egged on by the Soviets who wanted to cripple the US nuclear weapons industry while the Soviets used the material their spies provided to allow Stalin to catch up.

    The next installment was when Reagan proposed to decouple the “Massive Retaliation” strategy of Dulles and Eisenhower from the fear that the US would not risk national suicide over a non-nuclear assault on Europe by the Soviets. He proposed installing nuclear armed intermediate range missiles in Europe so the conflict, if one occurred, could be limited to Europe. The KGB swung into action and staged riots all over Europe.

    The Soviet Union is gone and the intermediate range missiles probably are too but the hysteria, once stirred up persists. It has been adopted by the Global Warming hysterics even though emissions are not a problem. I can recall, in the days when I still subscribed to Scientific American, an article alleging warming by nuclear plant water cooling systems. Actually, I think that was a better argument but CO2 took over.

    • #8
    • July 9, 2017, at 11:26 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Mike-K (View Comment):
    France has for many years generated about 80% of electricity with nuclear plants. The whole controversy is partly the result of the most successful KGB operation in their history. It began with Bertrand Russell, who was a bit of a nut but was egged on by the Soviets who wanted to cripple the US nuclear weapons industry while the Soviets used the material their spies provided to allow Stalin to catch up.

    The next installment was when Reagan proposed to decouple the “Massive Retaliation” strategy of Dulles and Eisenhower from the fear that the US would not risk national suicide over a non-nuclear assault on Europe by the Soviets. He proposed installing nuclear armed intermediate range missiles in Europe so the conflict, if one occurred, could be limited to Europe. The KGB swung into action and staged riots all over Europe.

    The Soviet Union is gone and the intermediate range missiles probably are too but the hysteria, once stirred up persists. It has been adopted by the Global Warming hysterics even though emissions are not a problem. I can recall, in the days when I still subscribed to Scientific American, an article alleging warming by nuclear plant water cooling systems. Actually, I think that was a better argument but CO2 took over.

    Thanks, Mike. I think it’s a good idea not to mix the discussions of nuclear power with nuclear arms. It’ll just confuse the discussion for those who aren’t well-informed.

    • #9
    • July 9, 2017, at 11:40 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  10. Doug Watt Moderator

    Nuclear power in Arizona:

    The Palo Verde Generating Station is the largest power plant in the United States by net generation.

    The Palo Verde Generating Station produces about 35 percent of the electric power that is generated in Arizona. This power plant became fully operational by 1988, and it took twelve years to build and cost about 5.9 billion dollars. This power plant employs about 2,055 full-time employees.

    This nuclear power plant is a major source of electric power for the densely populated parts of Southern Arizona and Southern California, e.g. the Phoenix-Scottsdale, and Tucson, Arizona, Los Angeles, and San Diego metropolitan areas.

    The Palo Verde Generating Station supplies electricity at an operating cost (including fuel and maintenance) of 4.3 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2015. As of 2002, Palo Verde supplied electricity at 1.33 cents per kilowatt-hour;[6] that price was cheaper than the cost of coal (2.26 cents per kW·h) or natural gas (4.54 cents per kW·h) in the region. However, this power was more expensive than hydroelectric power (0.63 cents per kW·h). In 2002, the wholesale value of the electricity produced was 2.5 cents per kW·h. By 2007, the wholesale value of electricity at the Palo Verde Generating Station was 6.33 cents per kW·h. For 2015, a kW·h costs PNM an average of 4.3 cents.

    According to the Arizona Public Service Company, power generation operations to date at Palo Verde have offset the emission of almost 484 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (the equivalent of taking up to 84 million cars off the road for one year); more than 253,000 tons of sulfur dioxide; and 618,000 tons of nitrogen oxide. The company noted, If Palo Verde were to cease operation at the end of the original license, replacement cost of natural gas generation – the least expensive alternative – would total $36 billion over the 20-year license renewal period.

    • #10
    • July 9, 2017, at 11:51 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  11. Profile Photo Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):
    I think it’s a good idea not to mix the discussions of nuclear power with nuclear arms. It’ll just confuse the discussion for those who aren’t well-informed.

    The confusion is a large part of the controversy over nuclear power. Ignore that and you will have a hard time coming to any conclusion or approach to reviving the industry,.

    • #11
    • July 9, 2017, at 12:03 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Doug Watt (View Comment):
    The company noted, If Palo Verde were to cease operation at the end of the original license, replacement cost of natural gas generation – the least expensive alternative – would total $36 billion over the 20-year license renewal period.

    Thanks, Doug. My husband worked with them when he was consulting to the nuclear power industry. They did a pretty good job! I know So.Cal had to depend on them during refuelings.

    • #12
    • July 9, 2017, at 12:04 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. Randal H Member

    Fracking has given us cheap natural gas (not complaining) that has delivered a death-knell to nuclear power, at least as it now stands. Of course, fossil fuels are a finite resource (although they will continue for some time) but nuclear power will have to be some part of the mix in the future. At that point they won’t be the huge site-built installations that we now construct, but some smaller, tested, consistent, mostly fail-safe designs assembled in a factory situation and combined at the desired site for scalability. There are number of such designs around now, but mostly the world will have to wait for the cheap natural gas era to wane before they become financially viable.

    The fear of radiation is also highly overblown. I recommend reading “Radiation: What it is, what you need to know” to put the dangers of radiation into perspective.

    Edit to add:

    Nuclear waste is a problem we created politically and can fairly easily solve. A large amount of energy potential (upwards of 90%) still remains in “spent” fuel rods, but we are prohibited by law to reprocess those for further use. There are also reactor designs that will make use of radioactive waste materials to produce energy.

    • #13
    • July 9, 2017, at 12:08 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  14. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    Randal H (View Comment):
    Fracking has given us cheap natural gas (not complaining) that has delivered a death-knell to nuclear power, at least as it now stands. Of course, fossil fuels are a finite resource (although they will continue for some time) but nuclear power will have to be some part of the mix in the future. At that point they won’t be the huge site-built installations that we now construct, but some smaller, tested, consistent, mostly fail-safe designs assembled in a factory situation and combined at the desired site for scalability. There are number of such designs around now, but mostly the world will have to wait for the cheap natural gas era to wane before they become financially viable.

    The fear of radiation is also highly overblown. I recommend reading “Radiation: What it is, what you need to know” to put the dangers of radiation into perspective.

    Thanks so much for filling in the picture, Randal. Re-starting nuclear is a long-term strategy for sure, especially since we have to make the new, smaller plants easier to create and install. By the time they’re built to be used, we may very well need them, since we don’t know how long the natural gas production will be cheap and available.

    • #14
    • July 9, 2017, at 12:12 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. PHCheese Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    Susan. If you lived here on Charleston Sc you may not believe there is a resurrection of nuclear energy. SC &G is building a new plant. I is five years behind schedule and billions over budget. Worse yet the contractor filed bankruptcy ( Westinghouse). Our electric rates are the highest in the country at 20 cents a KWH. The power company has been pre- charging for the cost if the plant. We are paying 20% of our bill towards the plant which I may not live long enough to use. It has been rumored that they are considering abandoning the construction. Another problem we have here is the Savanna River site. Although not directly of energy production it is a catastrophe waiting to happen. I hope we can get our act together in this country with nuclear power but I have my doubts

    I can’t vouch for every utility, naturally. Some of them are mismanaged and fail.

    I will say that the process for building a new plant is ridiculously long and stringent. Some random Green can completely shut down the process with a complaint, and the NRC under Obama was pretty horrible with random regulation changes that require redesigns. The government needs to massively streamline the process – do a review of the site and design in tandem, issue the operating and building permits together, and have one community comment period, not several.

    Why is the Savannah River site a catastrophe waiting to happen? I figured any major controversy would would be on the wikipedia page, since they usually have plenty of people on both sides of the nuclear divide. They are going to build a nuclear recycling center there that will help massively cut down on nuclear waste.

    Going to build is the operative word. Meanwhile thousands of barrels of nuclear waste some in mild steel are buried leaking into the ground water and eventually making its way to the river. A pond was built to try to stop the spread. When it gets full water is sprayed on nearby grass and trees. There was even soil taken from other remedial sites buried in cardboard boxes. During the Cold War records weren’t even kept where thousands of those barrels are buried. To the best of my knowledge shipments of waste are still being delivered there. I am all for nuclear energy and I understand that this was a weapons plant but the waste issue needs to be addressed and soon. Every plant in the country is sitting on a pile of waste waiting for a solution.

    • #15
    • July 9, 2017, at 12:22 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  16. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    To the best of my knowledge shipments of waste are still being delivered there. I am all for nuclear energy and I understand that this was a weapons plant but the waste issue needs to be addressed and soon. Every plant in the country is sitting on a pile of waste waiting for a solution.

    PH, that’s what this post is about. It looks quite possible that Yucca Mountain may be opened, which will take everyone’s waste. It won’t happen immediately (heavens no, we can’t expect the government to hurry for anything), even though the need is urgent. You can thank Harry Reid for the delays. I lay the problem at his feet.

    • #16
    • July 9, 2017, at 12:40 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  17. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Nice post, Susan.

    I enjoyed watching Energy Secretary Perry’s presser last week. High energy!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9SRt2t2xos

    • #17
    • July 9, 2017, at 3:24 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    Nice post, Susan.

    I enjoyed watching Energy Secretary Perry’s presser last week. High energy!

    Thanks, Mama Toad. I was delighted when I heard that Pres. Trump had picked Perry for this position. I think he’s a great choice, fearless and determined, and will help move the energy agenda forward.

    • #18
    • July 9, 2017, at 3:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    During the presser Secretary Perry is grilled by at least three reporters to recite the Orthodox Creed on Climate Change (“There is no cause of climate change but man and only government regulations can stop the existential threat.”) Perry’s responses are great, the best one starts at 16:39.

    He also has fun with the fears over nuclear and makes the point in the presser that all the fluttering reporters so flustered over nuclear energy are ridiculous — they all love the Paris Climate Accords but fail to recognize the amount of electricity the French get from nuclear. Starts at 35:01. “Our French friends are very comfortable getting 76% thereabouts of their energy from nuclear, and I can assure you they’re very fond of getting it at the rate they’re getting it.”

    • #19
    • July 9, 2017, at 4:13 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    During the presser Secretary Perry is grilled by at least three reporters to recite the Orthodox Creed on Climate Change (“There is no cause of climate change but man and only government regulations can stop the existential threat.”) Perry’s responses are great, the best one starts at 16:39.

    He also has fun with the fears over nuclear and makes the point in the presser that all the fluttering reporters so flustered over nuclear energy are ridiculous — they all love the Paris Climate Accords but fail to recognize the amount of electricity the French get from nuclear. Starts at 35:01. “Our French friends are very comfortable getting 76% thereabouts of their energy from nuclear, and I can assure you they’re very fond of getting it at the rate they’re getting it.”

    Bless you, Mama Toad. I haven’t had a chance to watch the whole thing, but I watched those two segments. I think I’m in love–he’s masterful!

    • #20
    • July 9, 2017, at 4:25 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Bless you, Mama Toad. I haven’t had a chance to watch the whole thing, but I watched those two segments. I think I’m in love–he’s masterful!

    Sorry I had so much trouble getting the right links to the right places in the video… but I think they go direct now. Goodness…

    You are most welcome. I really loved it when he told the pompous windbag that his question was completely incomprehensible, but he was sure the fellow could frame it clearly if he really tried hard.

    • #21
    • July 9, 2017, at 4:27 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  22. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    The problem with current solid fuel reactors, is that they’re incredibly wasteful. The CANDU reactor is quite efficient, but even it dumps 98% of the energy in its fuel rods into the waste pool. If there is to be a nuclear renaissance it has to be with molten salt reactors.

    A good modern design for one of these reactors can be found here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMSR

    • #22
    • July 9, 2017, at 4:43 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    The problem with current solid fuel reactors, is that they’re incredibly wasteful. The CANDU reactor is quite efficient, but even it dumps 98% of the energy in its fuel rods into the waste pool. If there is to be a nuclear renaissance it has to be with molten salt reactors.

    A good modern design for one of these reactors can be found here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMSR

    Thanks, Occupant! Here’s another producer of the SMRs.

    • #23
    • July 9, 2017, at 5:14 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  24. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    Going to build is the operative word. Meanwhile thousands of barrels of nuclear waste some in mild steel are buried leaking into the ground water and eventually making its way to the river. A pond was built to try to stop the spread. When it gets full water is sprayed on nearby grass and trees. There was even soil taken from other remedial sites buried in cardboard boxes. During the Cold War records weren’t even kept where thousands of those barrels are buried. To the best of my knowledge shipments of waste are still being delivered there. I am all for nuclear energy and I understand that this was a weapons plant but the waste issue needs to be addressed and soon. Every plant in the country is sitting on a pile of waste waiting for a solution.

    Thank Jimmy Carter and Harry Reid.

    Jimmy ended the practice of reprocessing – nuclear fuel recycling – which is done by every nuclear operating country in the world. This was one of his grand moral gestures. Harry Reid shut down the waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, which is not far from the Nevada test site. By the way, that spent nuclear fuel is safely stored under armed guard inside power plants – it is nothing like Hanford or Savannah River.

    There is workable technology to deal with nuclear weapons waste. You can turn it into water-insoluble glass. It just costs money. It’s like the many Superfund sites across the country, except this waste slowly becomes less hazardous over time.

    • #24
    • July 9, 2017, at 6:26 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    The problem with current solid fuel reactors, is that they’re incredibly wasteful. The CANDU reactor is quite efficient, but even it dumps 98% of the energy in its fuel rods into the waste pool. If there is to be a nuclear renaissance it has to be with molten salt reactors.

    A good modern design for one of these reactors can be found here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMSR

    Thanks, Occupant! Here’s another producer of the SMRs.

    By comparison, that’s huge! 76’x15′ and 700 tones? The reactor core of a MSR, is something on the scale of 8’x6′ and is light enough to be mounted in a truck. Molten Salt Reactors can be scaled down even smaller – to the size of a residential water heater for space flight, and air mobile deployments.

    If you get rid of water as primary coolant, you can really cut the size and weight of your reactor. this is a pressurized reactor vessel, which is why its big and heavy, a molten salt coolant can operate at peak thermal efficiency at a much higher temp than water – and at ambient pressures. (about [email protected] atm pressure)

    • #25
    • July 9, 2017, at 6:34 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. OccupantCDN Coolidge

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):

    PHCheese (View Comment):
    Going to build is the operative word. Meanwhile thousands of barrels of nuclear waste some in mild steel are buried leaking into the ground water and eventually making its way to the river. A pond was built to try to stop the spread. When it gets full water is sprayed on nearby grass and trees. There was even soil taken from other remedial sites buried in cardboard boxes. During the Cold War records weren’t even kept where thousands of those barrels are buried. To the best of my knowledge shipments of waste are still being delivered there. I am all for nuclear energy and I understand that this was a weapons plant but the waste issue needs to be addressed and soon. Every plant in the country is sitting on a pile of waste waiting for a solution.

    Thank Jimmy Carter and Harry Reid.

    Jimmy ended the practice of reprocessing – nuclear fuel recycling – which is done by every nuclear operating country in the world. This was one of his grand moral gestures. Harry Reid shut down the waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, which is not far from the Nevada test site. By the way, that spent nuclear fuel is safely stored under armed guard inside power plants – it is nothing like Hanford or Savannah River.

    There is workable technology to deal with nuclear weapons waste. You can turn it into water-insoluble glass. It just costs money. It’s like the many Superfund sites across the country, except this waste slowly becomes less hazardous over time.

    Actually no, France is the biggest on reprocessing. Canada, UK, Belgium and Germany also do not reprocess fuel.

    • #26
    • July 9, 2017, at 6:38 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  27. David Foster Member
    David Foster Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    The nuclear industry really missed a bet by not making a bigger deal out of France’s success with nuclear electricity generation. However, under Hollande France adopted a plan to reduce its nuclear component to 50% and to make up the difference with ‘renewables.’

    This will get stretched out, I would imagine, but is still likely to exert an upward pressure on French electricity prices and hence a negative effect on their competitiveness in certain industries.

    • #27
    • July 9, 2017, at 6:42 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  28. OmegaPaladin Moderator

    OccupantCDN (View Comment):
    The problem with current solid fuel reactors, is that they’re incredibly wasteful. The CANDU reactor is quite efficient, but even it dumps 98% of the energy in its fuel rods into the waste pool. If there is to be a nuclear renaissance it has to be with molten salt reactors.

    A good modern design for one of these reactors can be found here:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMSR

    Molten salt reactors are the new fashion where everyone waves around a thorium banner. It is not the only way forward for nuclear power.

    Modern reactors designs are much more efficient, even the classic PWR. Most reactors out there are 60s era designs and have been modernized without changing the basic systems. The modern PWR is much safer and more efficient. A PWR uses enriched uranium but can use normal water. CANDU uses natural uranium but has to enrich the water.

    Now, efficiency can mean a number of things. The classic is thermal efficiency – how much heat is turned into electricity. The steam based cycle is well-understood, but it is not the most efficient – although it is self regulating in Western reactor designs. One option is to make use of the waste heat for desalination or process steam in industry. This makes the waste heat into an asset. Another option is the closed-cycle gas turbine, which is much more efficient due to running very hot. This is the HTGR or Pebble Bed approach. These are meltdown-proof, and could use the same design innovations as natural gas combined-cycle turbine power plants.

    Fuel efficiency is actually less of a concern with nuclear power as the fuel is incredibly energy-dense. The cost of fuel is a tiny fraction of the operating costs of a power plant. The main way around that is reprocessing, which allows for considerably more burnup and massively reduces waste. Failing that, you have the IFR and other metal-cooled fast breeder reactors. These convert non-fuel material into fuel. The IFR used online reprocessing – it recycled all of the fuel on site. Bill Clinton killed it along most other nuclear energy research. The molten salt reactor is another type of breeder which has a number of useful features. Burning thorium would provide vast stores of energy for a very long time, we just don’t need to jump on it right now.

    • #28
    • July 9, 2017, at 6:54 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    OmegaPaladin (View Comment):
    Molten salt reactors are the new fashion where everyone waves around a thorium banner. It is not the only way forward for nuclear power.

    Modern reactors designs are much more efficient, even the classic PWR. Most reactors out there are 60s era designs and have been modernized without changing the basic systems. The modern PWR is much safer and more efficient. A PWR uses enriched uranium but can use normal water. CANDU uses natural uranium but has to enrich the water.

    Now, efficiency can mean a number of things. The classic is thermal efficiency – how much heat is turned into electricity. The steam based cycle is well-understood, but it is not the most efficient – although it is self regulating in Western reactor designs. One option is to make use of the waste heat for desalination or process steam in industry. This makes the waste heat into an asset. Another option is the closed-cycle gas turbine, which is much more efficient due to running very hot. This is the HTGR or Pebble Bed approach. These are meltdown-proof, and could use the same design innovations as natural gas combined-cycle turbine power plants.

    Fuel efficiency is actually less of a concern with nuclear power as the fuel is incredibly energy-dense. The cost of fuel is a tiny fraction of the operating costs of a power plant. The main way around that is reprocessing, which allows for considerably more burnup and massively reduces waste. Failing that, you have the IFR and other metal-cooled fast breeder reactors. These convert non-fuel material into fuel. The IFR used online reprocessing – it recycled all of the fuel on site. Bill Clinton killed it along most other nuclear energy research. The molten salt reactor is another type of breeder which has a number of useful features. Burning thorium would provide vast stores of energy for a very long time, we just don’t need to jump on it right now.

    As soon as I started reading the OP, I thought to myself, “I hope OmegaPaladin jumps in here.”

    • #29
    • July 9, 2017, at 7:31 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Slow on the uptake Thatcher

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):
    During the presser Secretary Perry is grilled by at least three reporters to recite the Orthodox Creed on Climate Change (“There is no cause of climate change but man and only government regulations can stop the existential threat.”) Perry’s responses are great, the best one starts at 16:39.

    He also has fun with the fears over nuclear and makes the point in the presser that all the fluttering reporters so flustered over nuclear energy are ridiculous — they all love the Paris Climate Accords but fail to recognize the amount of electricity the French get from nuclear. Starts at 35:01. “Our French friends are very comfortable getting 76% thereabouts of their energy from nuclear, and I can assure you they’re very fond of getting it at the rate they’re getting it.”

    I listened to the press briefing and like you I think Perry handled it very, very well. But at one point during the during the event the thought jumped to my mind that surely these folks “asking questions” (?) are not journalists. Surely they aren’t reporters. Were these guys just selected from the most recent group of street demonstrations? I don’t recall anything that wasn’t an attempt at “gotcha”, not anything that was just a question soliciting information. Probably there was something and I just forgot it.

    • #30
    • July 9, 2017, at 7:34 PM PDT
    • 1 like