Sunday, August 13, 2006

Episode 25

Listen to the PodCast Here

Welcome to the show – we have a lot of news this week. I'll also joined by David Bradish a data analyst and mathematician with the Nuclear Energy Institute.

First the news…

US local government lures nuclear plant.
Calvert County, Maryland has offered Constellation Energy several million dollars in tax incentives if they build a new nuclear reactor at the two-unit Calvert Cliffs nuclear station. The economic incentive package is designed to entice the project which would add 400 permanent jobs and 3200 construction jobs over five years. Constellation currently pays $15.5 million per year in taxes and the county is offering a 50% tax break for 15 years - a pretty sweet deal! Last week I told you about how Constellation has begun ordering large forgings for a new US EPR reactor, but they've not announced the location of that new plant.

Reactor vendors order major components.
And it turns out that Constellation is not he only company that has begun to order heavy forgings. General Electric has also begun that process. And it appears that US suppliers are getting into the game. BWX Technologies of Virginia signed an agreement with Areva to manufacture nuclear forgings at their manufacturing facility in Southern Indiana. The BWX facility is located in Mount Vernon, Indiana and is in a great location because it's right n the Ohio river which gives them access to barge transportation for large components.

Iran threatens to use Oil as a Weapon

This week Iran warned Britain and the US that they would force a new oil crisis if the United Nations Security Council imposes sanctions over their illegal nuclear enrichment activities.

Speaking in Tehran, Ali Larijani, the country's chief nuclear negotiator said Iran would cut its oil exports. He's quoted as saying "We do not want to use the oil weapon, but we will react in a way that would be painful for them ... Do not force us to do something that will make people shiver in the cold."

So much for their prior promises NOT to use oil as a weapon!

The USA is Moving Ahead with GNEP plans.
The US Department of Energy is offering $20 million for siting studies for used fuel reprocessing facilities which will be built under the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP). Encouraged by the response to GNEP, the DOE is now proposing a two phase development for fuel recycling. In the near term it will deploy Areva's Coex process on a commercial scale, and after further R&D, the Urex+ process. Wastes from the latter process would be made up of only fission products, and thus be shorter-lived and easier to accommodate in a repository.

The countries identified by the DOE as likely participants, besides the USA, are France, Russia and Japan.

China and Pakistan Negotiating Nuclear Deal
Pakistan and China are close to finalizing a deal that would supply Pakistan with six 300 MW reactors over the next 10 years. The deal is likely to be signed during a visit to Islamabad by China's President Hu Jintao in November. Pakistan also wants to buy a 600 MW unit from China, but the Chinese have just started building the first of that design, so it will not be available for export for several years. The deal is part of Pakistan’s plan to increase their nuclear capacity to over 8,000 megawatts by 2025,

Special Guest
As I mentioned earlier, In a few minutes David Bradish of the Nuclear Energy Institute will join us to discuss the economics of nuclear energy. David is an expert a analyzing data to get to the facts that are sometimes hidden below the surface.

With many environmental leaders coming out in favor of nuclear energy, and nuclear plants operating more reliably and safely than ever, the antinuclear faction in the mainstream media is stepping up their attempts to paint nuclear power as too expensive to compete in the global energy market.

Today we're going to spend some time taking a close look at one such recent attempt by KAI RYSSDAL of American Public Radio and his guest MARK HERTSGAARD who took a shot at the economics of nuclear energy.

Back in 1983 Mark Hertsgaard wrote a book on nuclear energy called “Nuclear, Inc.: The Men and Money Behind Nuclear Energy" which is out of print. If you take a look on line you'll find a good deal of recent writing by Mr Hertsgaard that is critical of nuclear energy because, he claims, it's way too expensive, and our limited funds should be spent on conservation and not on more generation capacity, particularly nuclear.

I'm going to play a clip from the American Public Radio broadcast, and then David will join me to provide a counterpoint. Before I play it, though, I want to be totally above the board here and tell you that I am only playing a portion of the American Public Radio show. If you want to hear the entire interview then you can find it at

Listen to Audio 1

Mark Hertsgaard has been vocal that nuclear energy is too expensive for greenhouse gas reductions, and that nuclear is seven times more costly than conservation. That's a perplexing bit of logic, and doesn't pass the reality test. Every source of energy production is far more expensive than conservation! In order for that argument to make since you have to believe the human race will be able to reduce energy consumption below current levels, but that's not going to happen! If you've listened to my show before you'll know that I'm not advocating a disregard for conservation - on the contrary, I’m passionate that we need to find every way possible to reduce our energy consumption, and to transfer our energy foot print away from fossil fuels to clean sources. But the energy hungry world needs electricity. Access to electricity is the single most important factor in increasing the standard of living and quality of life in a society, and the developing nations of the world are NOT going to reduce their energy consumption.

If you accept that as a fact of life, and it is, then you come to the next step - deciding which forms of energy production you're going to spend your limited capitol on. It comes down to cost, and where David Bradish can help put this in perspective. Here’s David!

Listen to my discussion with David

One thing we didn't have a chance to discuss was Mark Hertsgaard's assertion that nuclear energy can't survive without subsidies, and David has a lot of information on that topic. He's agreed to join us again on a future show to discuss that.

Be Well!

John Wheeler

"This Week in Nuclear" Episode #25