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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Climate Change: coastal properties already threatened by sea level rise

nuke-&-seaLRising tides threaten communities on the beach — and far from it, too USA Today, Matt Alderton, Green Living  April 19, 2014  The mud in Folsom Lake, near Sacramento, Calif., is dry and chapped, like cracked heels. The bottom of the reservoir, once under water, now is largely barren, save for its shallow center and a smattering of stray puddles.

That’s because California is in the midst of one of the worst droughts in state history. Conditions are so bad that
Gov. Jerry Browndeclared a state emergency in January. He urged state residents to voluntarily reduce personal water consumption by 20 percent.

In the context of having so little water, it might seem strange to worry about having too much. And yet, that’s exactly the dilemma facing California today. Even as it reels from drought, it must begin planning for floods. And make no mistake: Floods are coming. Not only to California, but to coastal cities across the country and around the world, which face a certain influx of water as oceans rise under the specter of climate change.

“We analyzed 55 different water level stations throughout the United States and found that for about two-thirds of them, sea level rise from climate change has already more than doubled the risk of extreme flooding,” says Dr. Ben Strauss, director of the Program on Sea Level Rise at Climate Central, a nonprofit organization dedicated to communicating the science and effects of climate change.

Based on the analysis, Climate Central developed Surging Seas, an interactive website (sealevel.climatecentral.org) that maps the flood threats from sea level rise and storm surges. The map shows how more than 3,000 coastal communities in the contiguous United States would be affected if sea levels were to rise from 1 to 10 feet.

“Sea level rise is already happening, and its continuation is inevitable,” Strauss says. “At some point it will be obvious to every family living in a coastal area, and every community will be looking to protect itself.”

A scary proposition

Multiple forces are colluding to make the oceans swell.

One is warming oceans. “Because of that, you have an expansion of ocean waters, and the only place they can go is up,” says Rachel Cleetus, a senior economist in the Climate and Energy Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, an alliance of citizens and scientists who collaborate on solutions to global problems.

Another is melting land-based ice forms such as glaciers and ice sheets. “You’re adding volume to the world’s oceans, and that’s causing them to rise,” Cleetus says.

Because the rate of ice loss is accelerating, oceans are rising faster than ever before. Cleetus says sea level could rise anywhere from 8 inches to 6.5 feet by the end of the century. Some scientists put estimates as high as 10 or 15 feet. That’s on top of approximately 8 inches of sea level rise already logged in the last century.

“Those 8 inches of sea level rise from climate change are already making every single coastal flood bigger, deeper and more damaging,” Strauss says.

Although scientists typically project sea level rise through the year 2100, communities likely will be impacted much sooner than that. The culprit? Incremental storm surges……….

Ultimately, then, the best solution might be the hardest to swallow: retreat.

“We need to pull back, in essence, from the shore,” says environmental and land-use planning consultant Barry Chalofsky. “If you live (in a coastal floodplain) and you’re counting on your house to be your nest egg when you retire, or you want to pass it on to your children, I would strongly think about elevating your property, then selling it over the next five to 10 years.” http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/2014/04/19/green-living-coastal-communities/7871349/

April 21, 2014 Posted by | climate change, USA | Leave a comment

Greater earthquake risks recognised now for New England nuclear reactors

nuke-earthquakeQuake risks at New England nuclear plants cited http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/04/18/markey-and-warren-urge-improved-earthquake-safety-measures-pilgrim-seabrook-nuclear-plants/1EgTQZCDmgeT2wRmxwDnkJ/story.html Warren, Markey urge upgrades at Pilgrim, Seabrook By Jennifer Smith GLOBE CORRESPONDENT   APRIL 18, 2014 US Senators Edward J. Markey and Elizabeth Warren are calling for increased safety measures at two area nuclear power plants after a Nuclear Regulatory Commission report found potential vulnerabilities to earthquakes.

In a letter to NRC chairwoman Allison Macfarlane on Friday, Markey and Warren asked the commission to require that Pilgrim Power Station in Plymouth and Seabrook Station in Seabrook, N.H., “implement mitigation measures against seismic risks that were previously unknown.”

 Following the 2011 meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi Nuclear Power Plant, which was sparked by an earthquake and tsunami, the NRC established a task force to evaluate possible vulnerabilities at US nuclear facilities and the need for enhanced regulatory oversight, according to the NRC report released Thursday.

Markey and Warren were “alarmed” by the newly evaluated seismic risks at the two area facilities, which are greater than they were originally licensed to withstand, the senators said in the letter.

April 21, 2014 Posted by | safety, USA | Leave a comment

Koch brothers and fossil fuel lobbies out to kill renewable energy

Koch-climate-changeKoch Brothers, Conservatives & Oil Companies Lobby States Using Renewable Energy Sources: Alternative, Solar Power And Environmentalism Gaining Popularity Latin Post,   By Shawn Raymundo (staff@latinpost.com) 20 April 14,  As more and more states are beginning to utilize solar energy and adapt other clean green energy solutions, conservative lobby groups and oil tycoons have aggressively started pushing back against alternative energy.

The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist and a number of powerful companies in the nation have started running campaign ads in Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina that paint renewable energy as a greedy bad guy, according to the Los Angeles Times.

With the help of solar power companies, environmentalists are battling back against big oil companies and their lobbyists over states that have implemented two types of energy policies: net metering and renewable energy requirements.

Net metering allows homeowners or businesses that have solar panels installed on roofs to sell back extra electricity to the power grid at attractive rates. The other policy requires utility companies to generate at least 10 percent of renewable energy, the Times reported. The majority of states in the U.S. have begun operating under at least one of the two policies if not both. The only states to not use net metering or generate power from renewable energy are Alabama, Idaho, Mississippi and Tennessee.

South Dakota and Texas are the only two states without metering programs but generate a percentage of their power from renewable energy, according to the Times………

The power industry fears that as more people install solar panels, less money is being paid to maintain transmission lines, substations and computer systems that many people rely on……

Edison Electric Institute, an advocacy group for the power industry, warned power companies that renewable energy policies could irrevocably damage the industry. The institute issued a report that stated, “it may be too late to repair the utility business model” if electric companies do not take action.

Christine Harbin Hanson, a spokeswoman for Americans for Prosperity, the advocacy group funded by billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch, told the Times in an email that “state governments are starting to wake up” and challenge renewable energy polices.

“These green energy mandates are bad policy,” Hanson said. http://www.latinpost.com/articles/10814/20140420/koch-brothers-conservatives-oil-companies-lobby-states-using-renewable-energy-sources-alternative-solar-power-and-environmentalism-gaining-popularity.htm

 

April 21, 2014 Posted by | politics, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Latest Nuclear PR Gimmick – reactors floating on the ocean

Christina Macpherson's websites & blogs

Christina Macpherson’s websites & blogs

What really fascinates me about this proposal is this bit -”the ocean serves as an “infinite heat sink,” which allows for the core to be cooled passively.”Now one current big argument FOR nuclear power, is that it would fight global warming. . Yet anyone who knows anything about global warming would know that heating up of the ocean is one of the major factors in global warming. This floating nuclear proposal is the clearest example yet, of how the nuclear industry CONTRIBUTES to global warming.


reactors-floatingMIT Wants to Mass Produce These Floating Nuclear Reactors JORDAN PEARSON 18 April 14
MIT RESEARCHERS WANT TO GO SURFING WITH NUCLEAR POWER. THEY’VE DESIGNED A FLOATING REACTOR THAT PROMISES INCREASED SAFETY—AND THE COST-EFFECTIVENESS AND MASS REPRODUCIBILITY OF FORD’S MODEL-T. 

The reactor is essentially built like a floating oil rig, and its designers, MIT professors Jacopo Buongiorno, Michael Golay, and Neil Todreas, promise that it will be able ride out tsunamis, earthquakes, and that meltdowns will be essentially impossible. According to Buongiorno, the ocean serves as an “infinite heat sink,” which allows for the core to be cooled passively……….

If this scheme catches hold, in the future we could see mass-produced nuclear power plants, ranging in size, powering many of America’s coastal cities. For now, however, the design team has their eyes set on Asia, specifically Japan, as an area which has a growing need for power sources that can withstand tsunamis.

Yet floating reactors have an unmistakably ominous quality to them, not unlike the Titanic. Although meltdowns may be “virtually impossible,” they are certainly not impossible, and the big question is what happens if one of these cores goes, well, nuclear.,….The 1970s plan for nuclear energy at sea got about this far, as well, before it was shot down by a slew of environmental, economic, and social concerns. At the time, there was an outcry over the potential environmental impact of a core meltdown at sea. John O’Leary, a Department of Energy secretary, delivered what a staffer called a “grim—even alarming report.” After the Three Mile Island disaster, the curtains had closed on the plan to build reactors at sea. Until now, that is……http://motherboard.vice.com/read/mit-wants-to-mass-produce-these-floating-nuclear-reactors

 What really fascinates me about this proposal is this bit -”the ocean serves as an “infinite heat sink,” which allows for the core to be cooled passively.”Now one current big argument FOR nuclear power, is that it would fight global warming. . Yet anyone who knows anything about global warming would know that heating up of the ocean is one of the major factors in global warming. This floating nuclear proposal is the clearest example yet, of how the nuclear industry CONTRIBUTES to global warming.

April 19, 2014 Posted by | Reference, technology, USA | Leave a comment

Desperate publicity manipulations by the nuclear industry

text-nuclear-uranium-liesYou know the nuclear industry is desperate when…  Michael Mariotte April 1, 2014 You know the nuclear power industry is getting desperate when it solicits its CEOs to start piling on ghost-written op-eds in publications chosen for their reach to key audiences. And you know the industry is really desperate when it brings out big guns like a couple of paid-for former U.S. Senators to support nuclear power in The Hill newspaper, which, as its name implies, is aimed at current legislators. And you know the industry is super desperate when it pulls out none other than Rudy Giuliani, who continues stuffing his wallet with nuclear-powered green.

Giuliani-Indian-Point

And when it rolls out all three on the same day? That’s when you know that the nuclear industry knows what not enough clean energy activists have yet understood: the nuclear power industry is in real trouble; it’s sensing its near-imminent demise; and like the dinosaur snarling and wagging its tail on its way to extinction, it’s in a dire, and ultimately likely to be unsuccessful, scramble for its very existence.

Yesterday, March 31, the nuclear industry’s march to oblivion was on full display. Two of the op-eds it placed were remarkably similar, so much so that they probably came from the same pen. And their points are so easy to knock down that one wonders if the Nuclear Energy Institute’s public relations A-Team already has jumped ship. Seriously, if these are the best arguments the industry can offer, they’re in bigger trouble than even I thought.

First up is Mike Renchek, the CEO of Areva, who is trying to convince Providence Journal readers that “nuclear energy is crucial to New England.”The crux of his argument seems to be that nuclear reactors kept providing power during the “polar vortex” this winter. Well, so did solar and wind plants, and energy efficiency worked pretty well too we hear. What didn’t work so well was natural gas, which went up in price and down in supply. But gas, although it is typically much cheaper than nuclear and in New England especially has been undercutting the region’s reactors in price, isn’t exactly an ideal provider of electricity, especially in the nuclear-free, carbon-free energy system we’re working to build. Gas is, at this exact moment in time, a genuine competitor to nuclear, but nuclear’s real future problem isn’t gas, it’s renewables and efficiency. And Renchek’s reactors can’t compete with those anymore either and will be even less able to do so as this decade rolls on.

 Former Senators Evan Bayh of Indiana and Judd Gregg of New Hampshire are the figureheads of a new industry-sponsored group called Nuclear Matters, which was created to try to prevent the shutdown of more existing reactors. Creation of such a group is itself a sign of the industry’s desperation–who knew a technology that is so self-evidently advantageous (at least in the minds of the industry itself, if for no one else) would need a new organization not to promote industry growth but to try to postpone its inevitable stumble into oblivion?…….

The nuclear industry’s sense of desperation is palpable. Activists need to understand what the industry obviously knows: it’s in serious trouble. This is our time to really join together, ramp  up our efforts, and kick more of these reactors over the edge; they’re already teetering. They’re dangerous, they can’t provide cost-effective electricity, they don’t have a solution to their radioactive waste and they exist now only because they were built decades ago and the utilities want to milk them for everything they can before they surrender to the inevitable and have to begin spending huge sums of money again–but this time it won’t be to build new reactors, it will be to decommission their dinosaurs. http://tinyurl.com/n3b9myt

 

April 19, 2014 Posted by | spinbuster, USA | Leave a comment

Waste Isolation Pilot Plant so radioactive that crews had to retreat

exclamation-AP: Crews retreat after nuclear material found at WIPP — Officials: Correct to turn back, contamination was increasing — Robots brought to site for radiation levels too high for humans — ‘Significant amount of information’ will be revealed to public in next few days (VIDEOS) http://enenews.com/ap-crews-retreat-after-nuclear-material-found-at-wipp-officials-correct-to-turn-back-contamination-increased-the-further-they-went-robots-brought-to-site-in-case-radiation-levels-too-high-for?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ENENews+%28Energy+News%29

AP, Apr. 17, 2014: Crews on their fourth trip into the mine on Wednesday made it into the only active waste storage area and found contamination, [Tammy Reynolds, U.S. Dept. of Energy’s deputy recovery manager] said. The deeper they went into the area, the more widespread the contamination, she said. But the crews had to retreat before identifying the possible source because they had been underground for five hours in protective gear that retains heat and the batteries on their respiratory equipment were running low. [...] The next step is for crews, and possibly robots, to go back down to see if they can identify what caused the leak.

Tammy Reynolds, deputy WIPP recovery manager: “The more they went into panel seven, the more (the contamination) became more widespread [...] They made the correct decision to turn back [...] Everyone was safely returned to the surface.”

John Heaton, former state representative and chairman of the Carlsbad Mayor’s Nuclear TaskforceWIPP Town Hall, Apr. 17, 2014 (at 7:00 in): I think that next week might a very busy week in that I think that there will be progress to report in terms as to what might have been the cause and also Phase 1 of the accident investigation report. […] I believe — I hate to speculate on this — but there will be a significant amount of information that will come out next week. So I think it will be a very important meeting and I think we need to have adequate time for people to be able to ask questions.

ReynoldsWIPP Town Hall, Apr. 17, 2014 (at 23:00 in): One of the other things we’ve been working on is the contingency plan […] They’ve been working to have robots prepared that in the event that the conditions in the underground don’t allow us to be able to get to the waste space or other parts of the mine later on in recovery activities because of the level of contamination, as a contingency we’re looking at the use of robots. And so there’s a couple of robot operators, they’ve already been to the WIPP site, they’ve received all of the training they would need to go into the underground […] they’ve completed that. And today they brought the robots out to the site and they did a demonstration for us […] so that if we can’t go and visibly put our eyes on certain pieces of the mine, the robot can do that for us and feed us back that information.

Watch the KRQE broadcast here

April 19, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

Washington State and DOE squabble over disatrous radioactive waste problem at Hanford

Hanford 2011State, feds reject each other’s Hanford proposals http://www.kansascity.com/2014/04/18/4968158/ap-newsbreak-state-rejects-hanford.html April 18 BY NICHOLAS K. GERANIOS SPOKANE, Wash. — The state of Washington and the U.S. Department of Energy on Friday each rejected the other’s proposal to amend a federal court agreement governing cleanup of the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the nation’s most polluted nuclear weapons production site. The state sent a letter to federal lawyers saying the Energy Department’s March 31 proposal that would have eliminated many deadlines for Hanford cleanup “is not acceptable to Washington.”

The Department of Energy, meanwhile, said a state proposal also issued March 31 that would have left many deadlines in place was unrealistic.

The state proposal does not “adequately account for the realities of technical issues resolution, project management requirements and budget constraints,” the Energy Department said in a news release.

While the state warned that it might consider legal action, the Energy Department said it wanted to keep negotiating the issues. Hanford for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, and now is engaged in cleaning up the nation’s largest volume of radioactive wastes. The site is near Richland. Continue reading

April 19, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

U.S. Republican Senator Rand Paul said: Nuclear Iran is Not a Threat to Israel

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-IranRand Paul: Nuclear Iran Not a Threat to U.S., Israel, Washington Free Beacon, Endorsed Bilderberg conspiracy theories before winning Senate seat BY:  April 18, 2014

Sen. Rand Paul (R., Ky.) denied that a nuclear Iran would pose a national security threat to the United States or Israel in a 2007 radio interview with talk show host and conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

“Even our own intelligence community consensus opinion now is that they’re not a threat. Like my dad [Rep. Ron Paul] says, [the Iranians] don’t have an Air Force, they don’t have a Navy,” said Paul, according to a recording of the interview. “You know, it’s ridiculous to think they’re a threat to our national security.”

“It’s not even that viable to say they’re a national threat to Israel,” Paul added. “Most people say Israel has 100 nuclear weapons, you know.”

The future senator, who was working on his father’s presidential campaign at the time, also came out against military action, saying Republicans “all want to invade Iran next.”

“I tell people in speeches, I say, you know we’re against the Iraq War, we have been from the beginning,” said Paul. “But you know we’re also against the Iran war—you know the one that hasn’t started yet.”……….. http://freebeacon.com/politics/rand-paul-nuclear-iran-not-a-threat-to-u-s-israel/

April 19, 2014 Posted by | politics, USA | Leave a comment

A sort of a comeback for renewable energy loan guarantees in USA

Loan Guarantees for U.S. Renewables Making a Comeback, National Geographc by Pete Danko on April 17, 2014 Federal loan guarantees for renewable energy, which spurred the development of massive projects like the recently completed Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System in California – and roiled the 2012 elections – are emerging from hibernation.

More than two years after closing the last such loan guarantee, the U.S. Department of Energyannounced on Wednesday that it intends to make up to $4 billion available “for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.”

The announcement sets the stage for the DOE to offer support for projects that incorporate one or more of five broad technology types [PDF]:

  • “advanced grid integration and storage,” a key need in getting more intermittent renewable energy on the grid;
  • “drop-in biofuels,” which could directly replace conventional fossil fuels in cars, planes and ships and function within the current distribution system;
  • “waste-to-energy,” where waste gases and discarded materials are used in commercial-scale energy production;
  • “enhancement of existing facilities,” such as adding power-production to existing dams that don’t have it;
  • and “efficiency improvements,” a catchall that could range from residential building improvements to the recovery of energy from curtailed renewable energy systems……….

“The Loan Program Office portfolio is strong,” Reicher said. “You have a piece of this as a taxpayer, and it’s doing quite well.”

The portfolio is heavy with solar – the DOE notes that it backed the first five 100-megawatt-plus photovoltaic plants to go online in the United States – but will move into new realms now. That’s good news for companies like Wisconsin-based Virent, a developer of advanced biofuels technology……http://energyblog.nationalgeographic.com/2014/04/17/loan-guarantees-for-u-s-renewables-making-a-comeback/

April 19, 2014 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Radioactive trash from fracking is just booming

Radioactive Waste Booms With Fracking as New Rules Mulled, Bloomberg,  By Alex Nussbaum  Apr 16, 2014 Oilfields are spinning off thousands of tons of low-level radioactive trash as the U.S. drilling boom leads to a surge in illegal dumping and states debate how much landfills can safely take.

wastes-from-fracking

State regulators are caught between environmental and public health groups demanding more regulation and the industry, which says it’s already taking proper precautions. As scientists debate the impact of small amounts of radiation on cancer risks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says there’s not enough evidence to say what level is safe.

Left to police the waste, state governments are increasing their scrutiny of well operators. Pennsylvania and West Virginia are revising limits for acceptable radiation levels and strengthening disposal rules. North Dakota’s doing the same, after finding piles of garbage bags filled with radioactive debris in an abandoned building this year. “We have many more wells, producing at an accelerating rate, and for each of them there’s a higher volume of waste,” said Avner Vengosh, a professor of geochemistry at Duke University in Durham,North Carolina, who’s studied the issue. Without proper handling, “we are actually building up a legacy of radioactivity in hundreds of points where people have had leaks or spills around the country.”

Source: North Dakota Dept of Health via Bloomberg

On Feb. 28, North Dakota officials found hundreds of irradiated “filter socks” — used…Read More

The waste is a byproduct of the drilling renaissance that has brought U.S. oil and natural gas production to its highest levels in three decades — while also unlocking naturally occurring radium from rock formations far underground…….

Radium Contamination

The issue is shale rock, the dense formations found to hold immense reserves of gas and oil. Shale often contains higher levels of radium — a chemical element used in industrial X-ray diagnostics and cancer treatments — than traditional oil fields, Vengosh said.

Freeing gas and oil is a water-intensive process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in which drill bits cut thousands of feet through shale fields to make way for high-pressure water streams that pulverize the rock. The process displaces radium-tinged subterranean water that comes up through the wells, where it can taint soil and surface equipment. Radiation levels can build up in sludges at the bottom of tanks, pipeline scale and other material that comes in extended contact with wastewater.

Buried Waste

Some states allow the contaminated material to be buried at the drill site. Some is hauled away, with varying requirements for tracking the waste. Some ends up in roadside ditches, garbage dumpsters or is taken to landfills in violation of local rules, said Scott Radig, director of the North Dakota Health Department’s Division of Waste Management.

In that state’s Bakken oilfields, “it’s a wink-and-a-nod situation,” said Darrell Dorgan, a spokesman for the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition, a group lobbying for stricter rules. “There’s hundreds of thousands of square miles in northwestern North Dakota and a lot of it is isolated. Nobody’s looking at where all of it is going.”…….http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-15/radioactive-waste-booms-with-oil-as-new-rules-mulled.html

April 18, 2014 Posted by | USA, wastes | Leave a comment

$Millions spent on Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) “just gone”

military-industrial-complexIrresponsible spending on nuclear weapons infrastructure http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/economy-budget/203685-irresponsible-spending-on-nuclear-weapons-infrastructure By Eric Tamerlani 17 April 14 Hundreds of millions of tax dollars have been wasted on U.S. nuclear weapons infrastructure—again. The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) wasted about $600 million on the design of the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

The waste was confirmed by Bruce Held, NNSA administrator. In an April 8 House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee hearing chaired by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Held said that half of the $1.2 billion spent on designing the UPF is “just gone.”

Responsible for maintaining the nuclear weapons arsenal and laboratories that support the arsenal, NNSA is a federal civilian contracting agency that oversees major construction contracts. A major contract is defined by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) as having a value over $750 million.

NNSA’s major contracts are on GAO’s “High Risk List,” susceptible to fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement. When it comes to big construction jobs, NNSA seems to have more money than sense. To their credit, NNSA has improved on managing projects less than $750 million; several smaller projects were completed on time and on budget. Unfortunately, the UPF is among the latest examples of NNSA’s failure to responsibly manage large contracts.

Half the money spent on designing the facility is gone with nothing to show for it. The start of UPF’s construction has been delayed by at least 10 years. According to Held, the facility may not be finished until 2038—“well after most people who are today working at Oak Ridge would be long retired.” Each representative and senator on the Appropriations Energy and Water subcommittees should wonder how a federal agency with several major contracts could let one project slip so perilously out of control. When mismanagement leads to exorbitant waste and abuse of the taxpayer, it is time to take a closer look. Rep. Rogers was right: it is awful.

Nuclear weapons facilities have operated on an assumption that government objectives are better met by the skill and expertise of private industry. Facilities would be owned by the government, and industry would be contracted to operate the facilities. That relationship has worked in some other functions of the Energy Department, particularly the Office of Science, but the model seems to have failed the UPF project.

The management and operating contractor for the UPF was Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Y-12 (B&W), which has since been replaced on the project. NNSA would oversee B&W as the private contractor carried out the majority of the work to design and build the UPF. B&W was free to achieve the NNSA’s performance goals as they saw fit, which is in line with the thinking that government defers to the expertise of industry.

In the process, B&W subcontracted UPF’s design to four other companies and then failed to consolidate or supervise the subcontractors’ work. This led to an untenable design which was scrapped and over half a billion tax dollars were paid to a handful of companies for nothing the government could use. More rigorous performance standards for contractors have since been put in place. However, more can be done. A peer review process could be used at NNSA. Private engineers and managers from other contractors across the nuclear weapons complex could critique each other’s plans, under NNSA direction, before embarking on large construction projects. This would provide assessment of projects from companies that work for NNSA but are not working on the project being considered.

Additionally Congress could place the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in charge of supervising all major NNSA construction projects until NNSA has a better track record with the GAO. The Corps has helped other parts of the government with fledgling construction responsibilities and they could teach the NNSA a thing or two.

The Friends Committee on National Legislation opposes all nuclear weapons and the facilities that support their modernization. However, you don’t have to be a Quaker or pacifist to realize the millions our government throws down the drain on the UPF and other mismanaged projects at NNSA is poor public policy.

Demanding accountability from federal contractors, requiring independent performance evaluation from across the complex, and supplementing industry expertise with the Army Corps of Engineers protects taxpayers from waste and abuse and certifies the NNSA can be effective at overseeing large projects that it delegates to industry.

Tamerlani is the program assistant for Nuclear Disarmament at the Friends Committee on National Legislation.

April 18, 2014 Posted by | politics, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

Obama does what he can to promoter solar energy

Obama to challenge private companies to boost solar power use WP, By  and ,   April 16 E-mail the writers

President Obama will challenge companies Thursday to expand their use of solar power, part of his ongoing effort to leverage the power of his office to achieve goals that have been stymied by Congress. The new initiative comes as the White House is hosting a Solar Summit aimed at highlighting successful efforts on the local level to speed the deployment of solar energy…….

“Now is the time for solar,” said Anya Schoolman, executive director of theCommunity Power Network, a Washington-based nonprofit group that helps communities build renewable energy projects. She will be honored at the summit Thursday.

“The costs are affordable, in reach of middle America and above. We know how to do it now, we know how to scale it, and we kind of just need people to let it go and encourage it,” she said.

In an effort to make it easier for state, local and tribal governments to expand their solar portfolios, the Energy Department is launching a $15 million-dollar “Solar Market Pathways” program………

States are starting novel ways to help commercial tenants access solar energy. In Connecticut, the state set up a green bank with taxpayer dollars. When a building owner wants to access capital for solar projects, the state puts a tax lien on the building and gives the owner a loan that must be paid back over 20 years, said Jessica Bailey of theConnecticut Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority.

Rhone Resch, president and chief executive of the Solar Energy Industries Association, a trade group, said solar is no longer an “afterthought” in the renewable energy conversation, accounting for nearly 30 percent of new electric in 2013.

“Without question, the Obama administration has been the most solar-friendly ever,” Resch said.  http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/obama-to-challenge-private-companies-to-boost-solar-power-use/2014/04/16/76bd2b20-c5a3-11e3-bf7a-be01a9b69cf1_story.html

April 18, 2014 Posted by | politics, renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Nuclear companies switch to more lucrative business – closing down reactors

OPG, Westinghouse forge nuclear alliance OPG and Westinghouse will join forces to bid for nuclear projects around the globe  Toronto Star, By:  Business reporter,   Apr 16 2014

Ontario Power Generation will join forces with Westinghouse to bid for nuclear projects around the globe, the companies announced Wednesday.

The news comes the same week that the Ontario government set up a panel headed by TD Bank chairman Ed Clark to consider privatization – or other strategies – for provincial assets.

OPG is 100 per cent owned by the province.

“Under the agreement, the companies will consider a diversity of nuclear projects including refurbishment, maintenance and outage services, decommissioning and remediation of existing nuclear power plants, and new nuclear power plants,” OPG said a release.

money-in-wastes-2

Westinghouse will work directly with Canadian Nuclear Partners, a subsidiary of OPG headed by Pierre Tremblay….http://www.thestar.com/business/2014/04/16/opg_westinghouse_forge_nuclear_alliance.html

April 17, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Canada, USA, wastes | Leave a comment

$4billion boost to renewable energy and energy efficiency in USA

sunFlag-USAUS Plans New $4 Billion Renewables Support Program http://www.energymatters.com.au/index.php?main_page=news_article&article_id=4266  17 April 14 The USA’s Department of Energy (DoE) has issued a draft loan guarantee solicitation for renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that could make as much as USD $4 billion in loan guarantees available.

  “Through our existing renewable energy loan guarantees, the Department’s Loan Programs Office helped launch the U.S. utility-scale solar industry and other clean energy technologies that are now contributing to our clean energy portfolio,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “We want to replicate that success by focusing on technologies that are on the edge of commercial-scale deployment today.”
  
The five key technology areas of interest to the DoE are : advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities and efficiency improvements.
  
The Department’s Loan Programs Office has been no slouch in supporting renewables and energy efficiency; with more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments supporting dozens of projects throughout the nation. 
   
Among the beneficiary projects was the Caithness Shepherds Flat wind project, an 845 MW wind farm located in eastern Oregon. The Department of Energy provided a $1.3 billion partial loan guarantee that was crucial to the project’s success. Another project to benefit was the Agua Caliente Solar project, a 290-megawatt solar panel based power station Yuma County, Arizona. The Department of Energy provided a USD $967 million loan guarantee for this project.
  
Before the latest program is rolled out, the Department is inviting public comment; which will be considered in defining the scope of the final solicitation. The draft solicitation can be viewed here.
   
The DoE’s Loan Programs enables the body to work with private companies and financiers to mitigate the financing risks associated with clean energy projects, “and thereby encourage their development on a broader and much-needed scale.”

April 17, 2014 Posted by | renewable, USA | Leave a comment

Investors wary of South Dakota uranium mining project, and with good reason

Uranium Mine In The Black Hills Gets Federal Approval. Azarga Mining Is Elated. But Shareholders? They Still Look More Like Bagholders. http://theconstantcommoner.blogspot.com.au/2014/04/uranium-mine-in-black-hills-gets.html

     Yesterday the Nuclear Regulatory Commission gave Azarga Uranium Corporation (PWE.TO–it still carries its symbol and trades as if it’s Powertech, the company that will soon be absorbed by Azarga) its approval to go ahead and start its in situ mining venture in the southern Black Hills.  That brought the requisite cheers from the company and some brassy projections about its outlook.  I don’t normally follow penny stocks, which I think are the most laughable component of the stock market, but the brouhaha over Azarga/Powertch’s plans to extract uranium here in the Hills has caught everybody’s attention, and with good reason.  The company plans to inject water into the ground, dissolve the uranium that’s down there, pump it to the surface where the uranium will be harvested, then release the water and all its contaminants back into the ground.  The company says it’s safe, the NRC says its safe, and a lot of people living in the immediate area seem excited about the prospect of a little economic development.  But just as  its pending merger with Azarga didn’t particularly excite Powertech investors when announced earlier this year, yesterday’s NRC news fell on a generally apathetic trading community…….

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April 17, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Uranium, USA | Leave a comment

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