Saturday, November 25, 2006

Episode 38

Listen to the Podcast Here

1. Australia’s Nuclear Energy Report

2. Nuclear Energy is 1000 times safer than Coal, Oil, and Hydro Power

3. The Myths and Realities of Solar and Wind Energy

4. Anti-Nuclear Singer Elected to US Congress

5. John Hall’s Report Lacking in Key Facts

6. Anti-Nuclear Bloggers Support John Hall

7. Indian Point’s Containments Among the Safest

8. Listen to the show at (510) 248-0360

9. Leave a voice mail at (206) 984-3654

Australian Nuclear Report

This past week the Australian government released their formal study of the potential for expanding the nuclear industry in Australia. The study concluded that even in coal-rich Australia nuclear energy can be cost effective. If carbon mitigation and environmental impacts are factored in, nuclear energy becomes cheaper than coal. The report also concluded that nuclear generated electricity is the safest form of electrical generation.

Some fascinating statistics from the report:

  • Nuclear energy accounts for 0.006 fatalities per GWe-year of energy produced.
  • Gas powered electricity accounts for 15 times more fatalities than nuclear.
  • Coal, oil, and hydo powered electricity account for 1000 times more fatalities than nuclear.

So here’s another independent analysis that shows nuclear energy is the safest form of large scale electrical generation!

The report was greeted, as you would expect, by a flurry of press conferences and official statements by politicians and green party members who condemned the report as biased. Some even threatened legal action.

South Australian Premier Mike Rann, for example, says his government will pass laws to prevent a nuclear power station ever being built in the state. No surprise here – the coal industry is a strong supporter, and will do everything they can to prevent nuclear energy from taking any market share. This kind of reaction is just plain irresponsible in light of Australia’s air quality that claims more lives than traffic accidents every year.

Another report from New Zealand Green Party tries to create public fear of a Chernobyl-type accident by claiming New Zealand will be “squarely in the path of radioactive fallout.” This argument ignores the fact that any nuclear plant in Australia would be a generation III+ or Generation IV reactor. These modern nuclear plants have passive safety features and a containment structure, unlike the irresponsibly designed Chernobyl plant that was inherently unstable and lacked a containment building. This is the kind of anti-nuclear rhetoric that has become the status quo for the Green Party.

The Australian report predicts that the first nuclear plants could be running in 15 years, and by 2050 25 nuclear plants could be running. That that would help reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Australia from 8% to 18% .

The Myths and Realities of Solar and Wind Energy

Last Saturday afternoon I was admiring the beauty of the desert while taking a run along the Rio Grande River near Albuquerque, NM. It struck me that the geography and climate of the area seemed to make it an ideal location for wind and solar energy. You might get the impression that I have a one size fits all attitude about energy, but the truth is exactly the opposite. There’s a right time and a right place for each of the technologies. I’ve been pretty critical of coal as an energy source, but unlike some of the extremists out there I recognize that politics, economics, energy demand, and the abundance of coal mean world won’t be able to do without it. But the quality of the air we breath and the preventable deaths around the world caused by the coal fuel cycle – from mining accidents to air pollution related illness – force me to believe that no new plants should be built anywhere in the world without “clean coal” technology. The question of CO2 gas sequestration is another issue entirely, and one that I’m not convinced will be achievable safely or cost effectively, but that’s a topic for another show.

I’m getting off track because I wanted to talk about solar and wind. On Saturday and Sunday I was thinking Albuquerque was a great place for solar and wind, then over the next three days I had to change my mind. Monday was cloudy and it threatened to rain all day – no good for solar, but there was a little light breeze. Tuesday and Wednesday were sunny, but there was little wind. In fact, Wednesday was so calm there was a temperature inversion – stagnant air so still that a feather would drop straight down. From the local weather report I discovered temperature inversions are common in Albuquerque. Again, that’s no good for wind energy.

My experience made me wonder what the typical capacity factors are for wind and solar power stations. Nuclear plants on average put out 90% of their rated capacity day in and day out, so that was my benchmark. At 90%, nuclear plants run at 100% most of the time except for planned maintenance and refueling outages every 18 or 24 months that last a month or less.

What I found confirmed what I suspected – in the USA solar photovoltaic stations have an abysmal 21 % capacity factor because the sun doesn’t shine at night, but also because cloudy days and the seasonal changes in the angle of the sun mean that solar panels virtually never operate at their rated capacity. Solar thermal systems, systems that convert sunlight to heat, have slightly higher capacities, but are much more expensive to build.

Wind energy is affected by the weather conditions, and by mechanical breakdowns, resulting in a capacity factor of about 41 %. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been fascinated by wind and solar energy my whole life, and I’d love to see the technologies mature. While both are getting better every year, experts predict that by 2030 wind energy will only produce 1.1% of all the electricity consumed in the USA. Solar power is even lower – by 2030 it will contribute less than ½ % of the electricity production. For the sake of argument, let’s hypothesize that the Energy Information Administration is wrong – let’s say that because of concerns over climate change the US government implements some kind of carbon legislation that make solar and wind more competitive with coal and natural gas. Let’s assume that in this hypothetical scenario the growth in both wind and solar power is 10 times higher than the experts predict. Even in that extreme case the combination of wind and solar will produce only about 18% of the electricity needed, less than nuclear plants do today.

The low capacity factors have another less obvious impact – it raises the cost of producing a given amount of energy. Let me explain this in simple terms; Let’s assume there are two power stations that both put out 1000 MW, and both cost the same to build and operate. Plant “A” runs at 40 % capacity factor, and plant “B” operates at 80%. With this difference in capacity factors, every MW of electricity generated by A will cost twice that of power plant B. That’s a huge consideration in a market where a few tenths of a cent on a kilowatt of electricity is the difference between making a profit and going out of business.

So that brings me back to reality – the capacity factors of wind and solar, when combined with the construction and operating costs put them both way out of line with coal, nuclear, gas and oil. You’ve heard me talk about gas and oil before – they are the highest cost options and we shouldn’t be burning them anyway if were going to reduce our reliance on foreign fuel sources. That leaves the big two – coal and nuclear. Solar and wind will continue to get better and cheaper, but they won’t put a dent in coal or nuclear in my lifetime or even in my daughter’s lifetime. That’s why you don’t hear about large utilities planning to invest in 30 to 50 Gig watts of solar and wind capacity, but they are talking about that level of investment in coal and nuclear. There are other technologies out there, too, like tidal generators, biomass, and a few others, but none have a chance to contribute even 1% of our energy needs in the foreseeable future. That’s why nuclear energy is the only technology that has a chance to reduce the greenhouse gas emissions released by burning coal.

I’ve used statistics from the United States in this discussion, because that’s the data that’s readily available for me. My conclusions hold true elsewhere because the economics are essentially the same elsewhere in the world. Nuclear energy is even more attractive in the EU where they’ve implemented a carbon trading program.

This is the same debate, and the same logic that has brought so many environmentalists around to support nuclear energy; Patrick Moore, for example. He’s one of the founding members of Greenpeace, and here’s what he has to say about nuclear energy…

(Patrick Moore audio plays here)

That was Patrick Moore sharing why he supports expanding nuclear energy.

So reflecting back on my mental wanderings in the New Mexico desert, I guess Albuquerque might be an OK place for solar or wind energy, it’s a GREAT place for a nuclear plant! The water supply might be an issue, but that can be solved. The largest power station of any kind in the USA is the Palo Verde Nuclear plant, which is located in the desert about 50 miles from Phoenix, Arizona. They get their cooling water by treating the waste water and sewage from Phoenix!

Politics and the Indian Point License Renewal

In my last show I talked about politics at the national level in the USA. As you’ll recall, I think there’s a lot to be optimistic about in terms of bipartisan support for nuclear energy. I’m more concerned about issues at the state and local level. Here’s an example: in a race for a seat in the House of Representatives for the 19th district in southern NY state the liberal Democratic Party challenger John Hall narrowly defeated the republican incumbent Sue Kelly. You’re probably trying to figure out where you’ve heard that name – John Hall.… He’s a singer who had a hit back in the 70’s called “You’re Still the One.”

John Hall is vocally anti-nuclear, and he campaigned on a promise to shut down Indian Point Nuclear Plant and turn it into what he calls an “Alternative Energy Center.” In fact, he’s published a 38 page report describing how he plans to do it. I’ve read the plan, and let me give you a few highlights…he wants to replace the 2000 MW, or 2 Gigawatts, of electricity produced by Indian Point with wind energy, tidal generators on the Hudson River, and solar power. Pretty interesting…..Economics aside, if a wind farm can’t get sited in the ocean off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, what makes John Hall think the people in Westchester County, NY are going to allow wind turbines on the Hudson River? Considering the site is in the migration path for bald eagles, that’s not going to happen! For get the fact that the Indian Point site is in a geographical area classified as “Marginal” by the Energy Information Administration for wind power.

And tidal power? Well at least we’d have electricity on the full moon!

Oh – I forgot to mention, John Hall claims to want to reduce CO2 emissions, but he also wants to add lots of gas turbines burning bio-diesel. Hey, I’m a big fan of bio-diesel, because it can help reduce foreign oil consumption, but last time I checked burning bio-diesel it still created CO2! There is no way that NY State can meet its obligations under the Northeast Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative under Congressman John Hall’s proposal.

I’m all for developing these technologies, but as I’ve just explained, none of these separately or in aggregate can replace the contribution that nuclear energy makes – not at Indian Point, and not anywhere.

I also have to mention that funding for John Hall’s Alternative Sustainable Energy Center to replace Indian Point will come from raising taxes by $150 million per year! He’s trying to downplay this astronomical tax burden because only a small fraction would be paid directly by residential electricity customers, and the rest would be born by energy producers – but where does he think that money will come from? If you tax the producers then the cost of energy they provide will go up. In the end, the people of NY will pay the bill with higher energy costs, higher cost of goods and services, and a trickle down of taxes to the counties and local governments. A $150 million per year tax increase in a state that is already chocking on a tax bill. High taxes are driving businesses and young people out of NY state at an alarming rate. And even this astronomical tax burden wouldn’t pay for the plant – Hall’s proposal doesn’t discuss how he plans to buy the plant from Entergy, Indian Point is worth billions of dollars. Does he expect Entergy’s shareholders to donate the plant to the state? That’s unlikely since Entergy just this week applied for a 20 year license extension for both Indian Point units.

John Hall’s suggestions are strangely reminiscent of the Shoreham Nuclear plant deal – remember that one? Then Governor Mario Cuomo brokered a deal where NY State bought a brand new, ready to operate nuclear plant from Long Island Lighting Company for $1 and assumed the billions of dollars of debt that they passed on to the taxpayers. The state tore the plant down, and the people of NY paid for it and will continue paying for it through our children’s lifetimes. The deal also resulted in Long Island electricity prices that are some of the highest in the nation.

I’ll have to give John Hall the benefit of the doubt because he’s obviously been misled on the science, and economics underlying electricity infrastructure in southern NY. We’ll need to give him a chance to use his new position to become better informed on the issues and the facts. He claims he’s been against nuclear plants since the 1970’s and that may be part of the problem. The nuclear industry today is NOT the industry of the 1970’s! Advancements in the technology that have been added to existing plants, 40 years of worldwide operating experience, and improvements in all aspects of how nuclear plants are operated, tested, maintained, and managed paint a striking contrast – I’ve been in the industry for about 23 years and have seen a remarkable change in just that period of time. In the 1970’s most nuclear plants had trouble staying on line for half the time. Today, the industry’s average capacity factor is 90%! That’s better than any other form of electricity generation!

The Hall report also makes an interesting reference to “unscrupulous multinational corporations who have downsized thousands of people.” The only multinational corporation I know of in his district that has downsized thousands of people is IBM. I wonder what IBM thinks about his characterization of their corporate morality?

Anti-Nuclear Blogger

Congressman-elect Hall definitely got out the radical anti-nuclear vote. One such activist, a blogger who calls himself “Porgie Tirebiter” is publishing misinformation and false accusations about Indian Point. According to Mr. Tirebiter there’s criminal collusion going on between the NRC and Entergy, the plant’s owner, to hide the truth and lie to the public. If you believe him, the plant is spewing glowing green toxic waste, the containments are falling down, and the operators are a bunch of illiterate morons. I really take offence to his characterizations. Yeah, I’m biased, I’ll admit it, but my beliefs are the result of years of study, and personal real world experience. In fact, I spent several years in operations at Indian Point, and held a senior reactor operator license there. I consider myself fortunate to know many of the operators who work there today. To a person they’re smart, dedicated, and highly trained. Being a nuclear plant operator is a great job, but it’s a demanding field that requires intelligence, dedication, and motivation. If you’re missing any one of these traits you won’t make it as a nuclear plant operator.

This reminds me of another fact about Indian Point that the mainstream media seems to miss – the containment system at Indian Point is one of the only ones in the world, maybe the only one – with a full-time liner leak detection system. It’s a unique system that makes the Indian Point Containment one of the safest containments on the planet.

Indian Point's Contaiment Safety is Enhanced

Here’s how it works: The containment is made from three or more feet of steel reinforced concrete. The inside of the containment is lined with an airtight steel liner That steel liner is made of thousands of steel plates welded together, and every one of the welds is encased in a welded steel channel that is pressurized with air. If a liner weld springs a leak then the operators can tell immediately because the pressure in the channels drop and the air flow to the channels rises. This ability for operators to continuously monitor the leak-tightness of the containment liner welds makes the Indian Point containments unique, and among the safest in the world.

Indian Point has some other unique design features that add to the safety of the plant that I’ll talk about in a future show.

New Show Features

Now you can listen to the show by calling (510) 248-0360 on your cell phone or telephone (or via Skype). There’s no charge for the call other than what your telephone or cell phone provider charges for the call. This is great if you’re traveling, or if you don’t have routine access to a broadband Internet connection.

You can also call and leave a voice mail that I can play on the show at (206) 984-3654.

Be Well!

John Wheeler

Episode 37

Listen to the Podcast Here

This is the audio from the panel discussion I participated in with Rod Adams and Eric McErlain at the American Nuclear Society 2006 Winter Meeting in Albequerque, NM. In this episode you'll hear Rod Adams and I discussing the new media, blogging, podcasting, and sharing the truth about nuclear energy using these fantastic new media forms.

The panel discussion was more than 2 hours long, so I was not able to include Eric's comments (the audio on Eric's part was not as clear).

Also, the session was facilitated by Lisa Stiles-Shell. Nice job, Lisa!

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Episode 36

Listen to the Podcast Here
  1. The GE Hitachi Deal
  2. 2006 World Energy Outlook
  3. An Overview of How Laws are Passed in the USA
  4. How will the new congress affect the US Nuclear Industry?
  5. Audio from the Chairmen of the Senate Energy Committee
  6. Podcast News
  7. Call my voice mail at (206) 984-3654
  8. Welcome to New Listeners from Around the World!
  9. My ANS Presentation
  10. How you can support the show

GE/Hitachi Deal

On Monday, GE Nuclear Energy and Hitachi announced they’re forming a joint venture to market new nuclear plants and nuclear services around the world. The new enterprise, in my mind, is the most creative in a string of similar unions that have sprung up over the last several months. Hitachi will hold 80% of a jointly held company in Japan, where GE hopes to get in on new business there, and GE will control 60% of the global venture in the USA and elsewhere outside of Japan. This unique arrangement leverages the strengths and relationships of each company where they are needed most, and I take my hat off to Andy White of GE Nuclear and Kazuo Furukawa of Hitachi for coming up with a winning concept! Hitachi’s recent nuclear plant construction experience and supply chain will be an asset to GE, while GE’s ESBWR and ABWR offerings and nuclear service infrastructure will give Hitachi a leg up in Japan’s market.

I hope to cover the GE/Hitachi joint venture in more detail in a future show.

So the nuclear teams have lined up as follows: Toshiba with Westinghouse promoting the AP-1000, Mitsubishi with Areva marketing the EPR, and Hitachi with GE offering the ABWR and ESBWR, as well as Hitachi’s PWR designs….these companies are all poised to compete for the hundreds of billions of dollars in new nuclear plant construction around the world. The other major players are AECL of Canada, and Atomstroyexport of Russia – both serious competitor when it comes to smaller or lower cost units. India and China have also thrown their respective hats into the ring, but I doubt they’ll capture much more than a small fraction of world market. I’m betting they will partner with others to strengthen their positions – for example Canada and India might partner on the Advanced CANDU technology. One thing is sure – the business is about to heat up!

IEA Releases 2006 World Energy Outlook

This week in the International Energy Agency released their 2006 World Energy Outlook, and the results are striking…

  • World energy demand will grow by 53% in the next 24 years.
  • 70% of the growth will be in developing economies, led by China and India
  • World oil demand will rise from 84 million barrels per day in 2005 to 116 mb/d in 2030, and most of the increase in production will come from a small number of middle eastern nations.
  • Along with that increase in oil consumption will come more political leverage wielded by nations in unstable regions of the world, those with fundamentalist Islamic governments, and questionable human rights records.
  • Oil prices will be unstable and will continue to rise over the long term.

On the podcast I have a short audio clip from Platts Oil Podcast that discusses the World Energy Outlook.

Platts Oil Podcast is a good source of information about the oil and gas industry, and they occasionally include broader energy industry news. You can find it on iTunes or by searching for “Platts Oil Podcast."

The 2006 World Energy Outlook is an independent report that highlights the vital importance of investing in nuclear energy, energy conservation and other sustainable energy sources. Without this investment, coupled with focused national policies, CO2 gas emissions will continue to rise, and the world’s reliance on oil will continue to grow. With that reliance will come political instability, and conflicts. Every nation of the world needs to become energy self-sufficient to the maximum extent possible, and nuclear energy can play a huge role in allowing that to happen.

Review of US Legislative Process

The democrat party’s overwhelming victory in last week’s US national elections could have a profound affect on the nuclear industry, but it’s not all doom and gloom. Here’s an overview of some of the challenges the industry will face with the shift in majorities in both houses of the US congress:

For the benefit of my international listeners, before I go into the changes in congress and how they might affect the industry, I’d like to review how the US congress functions, and how laws are created and ratified in the United States. Understanding this process is valuable in recognizing the potential impact of the new congress, particularly the roles of congressional committees and committee chairmen.

The US congress is divided into two houses – the House of Representatives and the Senate. The political party with the majority in each house has the right to appoint committee chairmen, so in the new congress the chairmen of all the committees in both the Senate and the House of Representatives will be democratic party members.

New laws or changes to existing law can be proposed by any member of either house, but these “bills” as they are called, have to be approved committees in both houses before they can be voted on by congress. When laws are proposed they go to congressional committees for debate and to be drafted into legislation. Committees can elect not to consider legislation at all, in which case the bill dies before it goes anywhere. Committee chairmen, of course, have a lot of influence on what bills the committees pay attention to, and the direction the debates go. Committees in both houses debate bills separately. If a committee concludes a proposal deserves to be voted on by the full house, then the bill is sent for a full vote. Bills have to be approved by committees in both houses, then approved by a vote in both houses. After a bill is approved by both houses, the next step is to eliminate any differences between the two versions. After that the bill is sent to the President to be signed into law or vetoed. Presidential vetoes can be overturned by a 2/3 majority vote by both houses of congress.

You might say the congress has unlimited authority to propose changes, but little authority to approve change because with only a slight majority the democrats don’t have the power to override a presidential veto. By contrast, the president has almost unlimited authority to stop changes, but no authority to initiate change.

In addition, congress holds the purse strings and has to approve budgets and funding which, of course, gives them the ability to shut down programs without formally killing them. Even if a program has been previously approved, they can decide to sit on the funding request – if they don’t appropriate the funds, then the program starves to death.

So if either party wants to pass any changes to laws or any new laws then they will have to cooperate with one another.

The New Congress

So for at least the next two years the democrats will have a slight majority in both houses of congress which means they will appoint chairmen of all the committees, and will thus have control over the legislative agenda and the budgets. If anything is to get done in the new congress then the two parties will have to work together because while the Democrats control the legislative agenda and the funding, the Republicans hold the veto power.

The leaders of the houses, Senator Harry Reid of Nevada and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi from California will assume majority leader positions in the Senate and House of Representatives, and will have tremendous influence over what the congress does and doesn’t do.

The change with the most impact on a national scale is Nevada Senator Harry Reid’s assuming the influential role of the Senate Majority Leader. Senator Reid is, of course, an outspoken anti-nuclear and he’s leading the legislative attack on the Yucca Mountain project. He’s likely to do everything in his power to kill the project while sucking as much money out of the nuclear decommissioning fund as he can. He’s tried to do that before – in fact, his state has been the recipient of billions of dollars that have already been spent on Yucca Mountain. A good chunk of that has been legal fees paid to his lawyer buddies back home in Nevada.

In an earlier episode of “This Week in Nuclear” I told you about a bill he proposed earlier this year that would divert money from the fund to other projects – I expect that bill to resurface because if he can get an interim storage plan in place it will take pressure off of Nevada to make progress on Yucca Mountain. The longer it drags out, the more money Nevada makes.

More and more, Harry Reid finds himself at odds with his party over the issue of greenhouse gas emissions. They recognize that only nuclear energy can provide large scale, cost effective base load power without CO2, and that’s bringing them around to support nuclear energy. Nancy Pelosi, for example, is a lot more open-minded about the role nuclear energy will play in our future. Just recently she was quoted as saying the US needs to consider nuclear energy as one of the ways we can fight global warning and reduce reliance on foreign oil. Some other influential democrat members of congress have also begun to move away from their prior positions of strong opposition to nuclear energy. I’ve been pretty critical of Hillary Clinton on past shows, and for good reason, but she IS moving cautiously towards recognizing the USA has to expand nuclear energy’s role. I also heard that Senator Ted Kennedy said something to the effect that perhaps he’s been wrong about nuclear energy all these years, but I’ve been unable to confirm that story.

Other changes include Barbara Boxer, a liberal democrat from California who will become the chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. One note here – this position would have been held by Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of CT if he had not been forced to ditch his party affiliation in that much publicized election. As an independent he losses the opportunity to serve as a committee chairman – one of the inequities of the current system! Boxer is likely to push for some kind of greenhouse gas legislation. In fact, she’s already introduced one version of a bill designed to do just that. Under her leadership opening ANWAR and the outer continental shelf to oil and gas drilling is much less likely, meaning those sources of domestic energy will not be available anytime soon.

The house committee on energy and commerce will be chaired by John Dingle from Michigan. He held this position for 16 years prior to 1994. You might think that the democrats, with their platform advocating energy conservation, would be in favor of raising fuel efficiency standards for automobiles. Well, most of them probably are, but not John Dingle – he’s beholden to the automobile industry and has been opposed to automobile efficiency standards for years. Since he’ll control the energy committee, tough automobile efficiency standards are not likely to pass.

So when you get right down to it, the democrats are in a bit of a quandary; they want to limit greenhouse gases, but they won’t force auto efficiency standards. They want energy independence, but they won’t allow new drilling for domestic oil. It doesn’t leave many options, does it? If they can curb the anti-nuclear faction within the party then they might actually start supporting nuclear energy as part of the solution to reducing greenhouse gases, AND reducing reliance on imported oil. They have to buck Harry Reid, though, because he’s one of the shrinking minority of anti-nuclear radicals in congress.

Chairmanship of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources will pass from Senator Pete Domenici to Senator Jeff Bingaman, both of Nevada. Together they addressed the American Nuclear Society this week and on the podcast I have a sound clip of their remarks for you – Senator Domenici went first, and was followed by Senator Bingaman. You’ll hear them both make remarks about the importance of nuclear energy, and the need for bipartisan support resolve questions surrounding Yucca Mountain.

(audio clip here)

Again, that was Senators Domenici and Bingaman, the out-going and in-coming chairmen of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, addressing the 2006 Winter Meeting of the American Nuclear Society. They both called for congressional hearings to resolve questions surrounding the Yucca Mountain project. That will be a good thing, no matter how you slice it!

So on the national level, things are not as bright as they were two weeks ago, but its not all bad. In fact, call me an optimist, but I believe there’s an opportunity here to develop a strategy on nuclear energy that both parties can get behind. If we can accomplish that, the industry will benefit in the long run. That will help demonstrate long term stability in policy and legislation that utilities and investors need in order to put the money on the table for new plants. I’ll be keeping you up to date on things as they shake out in the new congress!

Podcast News

I want to say “thanks” to all of you who visited the web site at and provided me with your feedback. You helped me identify ways to improve the site, and fix a broken link or two. I also discovered that the mobile version does not work on all cell phone providers or an all cell phones, and I’m trying to figure out why. I suspect it’s the way some cell phones decode the web pages, but I’m not sure. I’ve verified that the links are all working, so if you try the mobile version at and it doesn’t work, please send me an email with your carrier and the type of cell phone you’re using.

It dawned on me that the mobile site would also be useful for people on dial-up Internet access because its nothing but text and will load quickly, even on a low bit rate connection. So if you’re on dial-up give it a try and let me know how it works.

Digital Voice Mail Box

I have a new feature that gives you another way you can be a part of the show – a digital voice mail box. If you call the voice mail phone number and leave a message that I can insert it into the show audio file. The telephone number is (206) 984-3654. If you’re calling from outside the USA, then you’ll have to add the country code. This could be really useful if you have some interesting information or additional thoughts about a story that I’ve discussed in the show - you can call and record your comments and I’ll add them to the show. If you have a nuclear or energy related website, podcast, or blog then call and leave me a message and I’ll give you a chance to plug what you’re doing. Hey, you can’t beat an offer for free advertisement! I’m getting about 200 downloads per day, and it’s steadily growing, so you’ll be reaching a worldwide audience.

So please call the mail box and leave me a comment. I think it will add a lot to the show to hear from you! Again the phone number is (206) 984-3654. There’s no cost other than what your telephone service charges you for the call.

New World-Wide Listeners

One thing I find interesting is how many of my earlier shows are being downloaded…something that indicates new listeners. When I combine that with other statistics, I get a good picture of who’s listening. Just this week for example, I have new listeners in France, Chile, Argentina, Colombia, Liechtenstein, China, and Ireland.

One new listener, Simon Filiatrault, wrote me an email suggesting I discuss some of the new technology surrounding waste disposal. He has a very interesting blog at . Well Simon, I will do my best to cover that topic in the future. There is a huge body of knowledge on used nuclear fuel reprocessing and storage that is not being well represented in the mainstream media, and I’d love to spend some time on that. If you go to the show notes for this episode you’ll find a link to Simon’s blog.

Another technology that’s gaining awareness is the abundance of Uranium in seawater. There’s enough Uranium in the oceans of the world to power civilization for centuries, and it is not that costly to extract it. I plan to cover that in a future episode. The anti-nuclear crowd wants people to believe there’s not enough uranium to go around, when in fact it’s amazingly abundant, but we’ll have to save that for another show.

ANS Panel Discussion

My panel discussion this past week at the American Nuclear Society went great. If you were there, then I’d like to say “Thanks” for a lively discussion about communicating in cyberspace. My partners there were Rob Adams of the Atomic Show, and Eric McErlain of the NEI NuclearNotes. They both do a fantastic job and I encourage you check out their respective web sites.

I posted a copy of my presentation on my home page so if you’d like to take a look at what I discussed you can find it there. As a reminder, there’s a lot of information on my web site at You can listen to prior episodes, read the show transcripts, post comments on my blog, search prior episodes, and learn more about podcasting on my podcasting tips page. You can also help support the show by using my shopping page, or by visiting some of the links on various pages.

Shop at Amazon via “This Week in Nuclear”

I’d like to mention that with the holidays coming if you plan to shop at then please consider starting at my shopping page. I get a small percentage of any sales that originate from my store page, and it doesn’t cost you any more than it would if you go straight to the Amazon home page. You can shop for books, music, electronics, games, movies, and just about anything else that’s sold at So why not support the show by pointing your browser to “This Week in Nuclear” and start there. Revenue from donations and advertisements still don’t cover the expenses associated with the show, and I’d like to get it to the point that it’s self-sustaining.

Be Well!

John Wheeler