T Nation

Nuclear Power

Looks as if the new energy bill is going to try to grow more nuclear-power-generation capability. I think this is a good thing, from a variety of angles, including: 1) nuclear power, if added faster than the rate of demand growth, will lessen demand for oil-generated power because it’s cheaper; 2) properly managed nuclear-power generation is very clean; and 3) nuclear-power generation would not seem to be subject to rate fluctuations in other energy sources, other than to make it even more attractive if prices for those other sources increase.

On the minus side, such plants would seemingly require a lot more security expense, and obviously any problems involving meltdowns, whatever the projected probability, would have huge potential damages, both economically and in human costs.

Anyone else have any thoughts?


Energy Bill May Revive
Nuclear Power in U.S.

Industry Still Faces Numerous Hurdles;
Is ‘Great’ Legislation Going to Be Enough?

By JOHN J. FIALKA
Staff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
July 28, 2005; Page A4

WASHINGTON – The energy bill nearing passage in Congress could be the best news the nuclear-power industry has seen in many years. The question now is whether it will be enough good news to produce what the industry and the Bush administration both want: a genuine revival of nuclear power.

The bill contains at least $1.5 billion in direct subsidies to promote a new generation of nuclear power plants, plus the potential of billions of dollars more in government commitments to ensure that the plants will get financial backing on Wall Street. (See related article.)

“This is a great bill,” said John Kane, a senior vice president for the Nuclear Energy Institute, which represents the utilities that run the nation’s 103 operating nuclear power plants. He says the bill, which provides a legal foundation and financial incentives for new nuclear plants, “will set the stage for nuclear to play a role in supporting our future economic development.”

The package took months of lobbying, including last-minute intervention by President Bush, who successfully pushed for a new government-backed insurance program – “standby support insurance” – that would protect plant owners against losses caused by delays in the lengthy regulatory approval process required to win a plant operating license.

Whether this will be enough to launch construction of plants promising to be safer, easier to operate and more secure against terrorist threats remains to be seen. No new nuclear plant has been proposed since the 1970s, and there is skepticism on Wall Street and elsewhere that the new models will ever get built.

Still, some utilities already familiar with nuclear power are moving ahead. “Congress is to be congratulated,” said Curt Hebert Jr., executive vice president of Entergy Corp. The New Orleans company runs 10 nuclear plants that produce 52% of its electricity, and it hopes to be the first to license a new one, with site selection possible in October. No final decision has been made, he said, but the company is “optimistic and hopeful.”

Entergy currently has invitations from counties in New York, Louisiana and Mississippi to locate a new plant there. “This is the opposite of NIMBY,” he explained. “This is, please build the plant in my backyard.” In rural areas hosting nuclear plants, he noted, the facilities represent a good portion of the tax base.

The nuclear plant Entergy is weighing would cost $2 billion to $2.5 billion. That is more than a similar coal or natural gas-fired plant, a factor he said the company is weighing against others, including the possibility that Congress may pass mandatory regulations on carbon dioxide over the next decade. Nuclear power plants don’t produce carbon-dioxide emissions, which are thought to be a cause of global warming.

Nuclear power also will be a hedge against the possibility that the price of natural gas – which fires some of Entergy’s other plants – will continue to rise. The downside, Mr. Hebert says, is that the plants take a long time to permit and build. If Entergy is first in line to build a new plant, as he hopes, the process could take a decade or more.

That is where the energy bill comes in. It extends the coverage of the Price-Anderson Act, which limits the liability for current nuclear-power-plant accidents to $9 billion each, to new plants. Its “standby support insurance” will ensure the first six plants to go through federal and state licensing processes can recover as much as $500 million for delays caused by regulatory logjams or lengthy legal challenges during construction.

It also provides production tax credits for the first half-dozen plants, giving them the same incentives as power produced by wind turbines, and it has $1.2 billion in tax write-offs to help offset the costs of funds needed to ensure that the plants can be safely torn down, or “decommissioned.”

“At this point I think you could crawl out on a limb a little bit and say this will probably be what the industry needs to get started,” Mr. Hebert says.

Not everyone is ready to get out on that limb, though. Theodore Roosevelt IV, a managing director of Lehman Brothers, said utilities already have started courting Wall Street, and bankers see the possibility of billions of dollars of new investments looming. “We’re all talking about this and there is some enthusiasm,” he said.

He added that financial analysts remain worried about an unresolved nuclear-waste problem and the proliferation of nuclear materials. They also worry about proliferation of government subsidies.

“I get nervous and cautious around subsidies. These things should be able to stand on their own two feet.”

Nonetheless, he thinks Congress has started a process that others, especially those worried about climate change, may have to “think through.” Mr. Roosevelt said that “we shouldn’t have old nuclear taboos governing future policies.”

Nuclear power is great. If they’d just agree whose backyard out west we can still the waste.

My brother is a nuclear engineer on the East Coast. He’s been agitating for just this kind of increase for years.

Watch the extreme, uniformed stupidity that will be launched at this bill by the greens.

Let me assure you, the safety profile of nuclear power plants has improved ten-fold since the 70’s.

Before the “Bush lied, everyone died” crowd gets revved up, please do some research into the potential of nuclear power and the safety measures now in place.

Thanks.

JeffR

Nuclear power is incredibly expensive. Beware of figures that indicate otherwise.

Building and maintaining these plants plus the cost of waste disposal always makes rates go up at a significantly higher rate.

I am generally against nuclear power because of the expense. I have not looked at the numbers in quite a few years, but I would be surprised to learn differently.

Of course if CO2 induced global warming is a true hazard or we do run into a real coal/natural gas/oil supply problem, building a lot of nuke plants would make sense.

I wonder how many that oppose nukes also oppose powerplants that produce “greenhouse gasses”.

I’m no expert, but I’ve heard that nuclear power is not in fact very clean due to the waste it produces. Apparently this waste doesn’t go away for many thousands of years which means we’re stuck storing the large pools of it. Like I said I’m no expert so this may or may not be true.
My 2cents.

[quote]Roark wrote:
I’m no expert, but I’ve heard that nuclear power is not in fact very clean due to the waste it produces. Apparently this waste doesn’t go away for many thousands of years which means we’re stuck storing the large pools of it. Like I said I’m no expert so this may or may not be true.
My 2cents.[/quote]

True. This waste has to be stored somewhere.

It can be considered clean because it doesn’t pollute the atmosphere.

It is all a trade off.

Know Nukes!

(1) The amount of nuclear waste from one plant for one year, if they keep refining it until useless, would fill a box about the size of an office desk. It’s when they only use it once that you have any sort of mess (thank you Jimmy Carter). The rest of the world keeps processing until useless.

(2) Coal-burning plants dump about 10,000 trainloads of ‘leftovers’ into our rivers and streams every year.

(3) You get far more radiation from living in Denver, for example, than you ever would if you lived next door to a nuke plant.

There are lots more reason to KNOW NUKES. Let’s hear more, guys!

[quote]
Roark wrote:
I’m no expert, but I’ve heard that nuclear power is not in fact very clean due to the waste it produces. Apparently this waste doesn’t go away for many thousands of years which means we’re stuck storing the large pools of it. Like I said I’m no expert so this may or may not be true.
My 2cents.

Zap Branigan wrote:
True. This waste has to be stored somewhere.

It can be considered clean because it doesn’t pollute the atmosphere.

It is all a trade off. [/quote]

This is true, but does anyone know how much of the stuff would be generated by a new plant in a given year? It’s my understanding that it would be incredibly small.

Now if the government would get going with the construction of the storage facility in NV, that would be a good thing…

I think we should start making clones of Lance Armstrong. These clones could be born with blinders on, or have certain parts of their brains removed to remove curiosity, thought, or any desire to do anything other than pedal. And then we could just have a whole army of stupified Lance clones in a wharehouse somewhere just pedaling away producing power like crazy. And when they die you can just bury them out back, no need to make a big lead/concrete bunker to store them in.

But on the other hand, since we’re screwed into being dependant on either coal/oil or Nukes, I’d have to go with Nukes I guess. Sure clouds of carbon-based by-products aren’t radioactive, but in the long run they’ll probably kill us all faster than underground nuke storage compounds. Hopefully anyway.

Just do this with convicts. And the prisoners at Gitmo.

I have read that coal itself(along with most other things in the ground) contains very trace amounts of radioactive isotopes so that, when massive quantities are burnt(like in a coal fired power plant, for instance), these radioactive isotopes are released into the air we breathe in amounts which could be dangerous to one’s health. With a nuclear plant, you can bury all the radioactive waste somewhere like Utah, where nobody wants to live anyway.

I did a quick search for a page to back me up:
http://rds.yahoo.com/S=2766679/K=coal+radiation/v=2/SID=w/TID=E192_80/l=WS1/R=1/IPC=us/SHE=0/H=1/;_ylt=AqXnVzObgkW0lN2ESfXCHTBXNyoA/SIG=12dmmb3it/EXP=1122667386/*-http%3A//www.ornl.gov/ORNLReview/rev26-34/text/colmain.html

Nuclear power is a good thing. Pretty clean and rather inexpensive compared to other forms of energy. The major costs, once an expensive plant is built, is manpower. However, any type of power plant will be expensive to build.

The next generation of nuclear plants will be smaller than today’s and generate even less waste. I expect them to be located where current nuclear plants are already located.

Spent fuel does need to addressed. Processing in the US doesn’t seem to have much potential. Storage at the current sites will continue and is only a stop-gap measure that can last for many years to come. But this will add to production costs and energy bill increases. Yucca Mt. is the way to go.

Usafirefighter, sounds like you just watched The Island… which is an excellent movie.

Everyone else. I used to work at nuclear fuel manufacturing facility. We made fuel for the majority of plants in the U.S and some in Japan and Taiwan. There are way more plants in the U.S. than people think. There is a lot that goes into this process. It costs a lot of money to run plants. Uranium is very expensive. A single fuel bundle is more than $1 mil these days. Radiation is at a minimum at most facilities and for the most part are safer than people think. Sometimes its the operators that arent safe and they do things to f it up for everyone.

Now sure the government wants more nuclear fuel and I’ll tell you why. My former employer has struck a deal with them. In a nutshell, this is the plan. The fuel company is buying weapons grade uramium from the D.O.E. Tons of it. They make a contract that makes the government rich, build a plant in Tennesse to down blend the uranuim powder to something that isnt so radioactive and combustable (all fuel grade uranium is below 5.00% enrichment) Then the utility (power plant) has a contract for the fuel. There is also some law that states a nuclear power plant cant be shut down unless there is going to be a meltdown or something weird that totally benefits the government.

[quote]Bigpull wrote:
Usafirefighter, sounds like you just watched The Island… which is an excellent movie.

Everyone else. I used to work at nuclear fuel manufacturing facility. We made fuel for the majority of plants in the U.S and some in Japan and Taiwan. There are way more plants in the U.S. than people think. There is a lot that goes into this process. It costs a lot of money to run plants. Uranium is very expensive. A single fuel bundle is more than $1 mil these days. Radiation is at a minimum at most facilities and for the most part are safer than people think. Sometimes its the operators that arent safe and they do things to f it up for everyone.

Now sure the government wants more nuclear fuel and I’ll tell you why. My former employer has struck a deal with them. In a nutshell, this is the plan. The fuel company is buying weapons grade uramium from the D.O.E. Tons of it. They make a contract that makes the government rich, build a plant in Tennesse to down blend the uranuim powder to something that isnt so radioactive and combustable (all fuel grade uranium is below 5.00% enrichment) Then the utility (power plant) has a contract for the fuel. There is also some law that states a nuclear power plant cant be shut down unless there is going to be a meltdown or something weird that totally benefits the government.
[/quote]

They don’t make weapons out of uranium any longer. The government can’t benefit from anything like selling fuel because it’s not a company and it sure doesn’t benefit other than from taxes on the power sold from the plants. There is no law keeping nuke plants running. In short most of your allegations just don’t make one bit of sense.

i work for a power company so ive been hearing a lot of talk about this for a while…and i think nuclear power will be great for our infrastructure.

to build a nuclear plant is very, very expensive, but, suprisingly, to operate a nuclear plant, is actually cheaper than operating a coal plant (as in, cost per unit power).

yeah, you do end up with nuclear waste, but i look at it this way: with a nuclear plant, we know where the waste is, and thus we can manage it. with a coal plant, the waste becomes unaccounted for and unmanageable as soon as it leaves the smokestack. it ends up in our water, lungs and soil. odds are, you will never see the effects of the waste from a nuclear plant, but you will see the effects of coal plants (see the thread about mercury in tuna).

as far as security, it is my understanding that it would be extremely difficult to deliberately cause a nuclear meltdown.

i am convinced that nuclear power is, without a doubt, the best option for power generation that can be used in all areas.

[quote]Headhunter wrote:
Know Nukes!

(1) The amount of nuclear waste from one plant for one year, if they keep refining it until useless, would fill a box about the size of an office desk. It’s when they only use it once that you have any sort of mess (thank you Jimmy Carter). The rest of the world keeps processing until useless.

(2) Coal-burning plants dump about 10,000 trainloads of ‘leftovers’ into our rivers and streams every year.

(3) You get far more radiation from living in Denver, for example, than you ever would if you lived next door to a nuke plant.

There are lots more reason to KNOW NUKES. Let’s hear more, guys![/quote]

would that radiation thing you talk about have anything to do with Beautiful Rocky Flats?

[quote]Bigpull wrote:
Usafirefighter, sounds like you just watched The Island… which is an excellent movie.
[/quote]

Nah, no Island here, probably won’t be able to see that here for another month or so. My inspiration came from that sportscenter commercial a few years ago with lance powering the whole building. I figure if we can get about a million (nice round number) lance clones pedaling away we’d be good to go.

[quote]CU AeroStallion wrote:
Headhunter wrote:
Know Nukes!

(1) The amount of nuclear waste from one plant for one year, if they keep refining it until useless, would fill a box about the size of an office desk. It’s when they only use it once that you have any sort of mess (thank you Jimmy Carter). The rest of the world keeps processing until useless.

(2) Coal-burning plants dump about 10,000 trainloads of ‘leftovers’ into our rivers and streams every year.

(3) You get far more radiation from living in Denver, for example, than you ever would if you lived next door to a nuke plant.

There are lots more reason to KNOW NUKES. Let’s hear more, guys!

would that radiation thing you talk about have anything to do with Beautiful Rocky Flats?[/quote]

Coal fired power plants contribute more to the background radiation levels for people living near them than nuclear power plants do. This is because coal actually contains uranium in small concentrations, and when the coal is burned (in vast quantities) the uranium escapes into the atmosphere, then falls to the ground as dust.

Nuclear power is also cheap. Maybe someone can check out where most of the nuclear plants are out of and how that correlates to power prices.

Maybe read up on TVA and see if they built any.

If fusion power ever becomes a reality, energy is going to get very cheap, very fast. This will allow the rest of the world to develop (and compete) with the developed world. Watch the Lefties, who are really puppets of the power-elite, come out strongly against this.

It’s just like using biotech to increase crop yields. Heaven forbid if the 3rd world is not hungry – they might start competing with us instead of eating the bark off of trees.