[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] Mich. Nuclear Power Plant Sale Completed

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Thu Apr 12 09:33:14 CDT 2007


Mich. Nuclear Power Plant Sale Completed
Nuclear scanners said ready for use at U.S. ports
Paul Leventhal, Who Opposed Commercial Use of Nuclear Power, Dies at 69
Sen. Sherrod Brown now open to nuclear power
Residents, officials debate proposed Savannah River nuclear recycling site
Nuclear reactor firm to buy stake in Summit
TXU's Nuclear Ambitions
Legal dispute centers on nuclear safety, emergency planning
Green nuclear power 'just three years away'

Mich. Nuclear Power Plant Sale Completed

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- The Palisades Nuclear Plant officially has a
new owner. Entergy Corp., a New Orleans-based utility holding company, has
completed its $380 million purchase of the plant from Consumers Energy Co.,
a subsidiary of Jackson-based CMS Energy Corp., the two companies announced
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission said Friday it had approved the transfer
to Entergy of the plant's operating license, clearing the way for the sale.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission previously approved the transfer of
the plant itself to Entergy.

Under the terms of the sales agreement, Entergy will sell 100 percent of the
798-megawatt plant's output to Consumers for 15 years.

State Attorney General Mike Cox and several consumer groups had argued that
the deal could be a bad one for customers. The Michigan Public Service
Commission, however, agreed with Consumers that ratepayers would benefit by
the arrangement and gave its approval last month.

Customers will save up to $700 million in energy costs during the next 15
years, the MPSC said.

Palisades sits near Lake Michigan in Van Buren County's Covert Township,
about 55 miles southwest of Grand Rapids, and has been producing power
commercially since December 1971. Consumers turned over operation of the
plant in November 2000 to Nuclear Management Co. of Hudson, Wis., which also
runs nuclear plants in nearby states.

On Jan. 8, the NRC granted Palisades a 20-year renewal of its operating
license, which now expires in 2031.

Consumers Energy provides natural gas and electricity to nearly 6.5 million
residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.

Nuclear scanners said ready for use at U.S. ports

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The next generation of radiation-detection technology
should be ready for use at U.S. ports and borders this year, helping
distinguish harmless goods from nuclear material, a U.S. official said on

Tests underway at the New York Container Terminal have gone well enough that
the director of the Department of        Homeland Security's Domestic
Nuclear Detection Office said he was inclined to recommend deployment at 400
sites nationwide.

"We're very optimistic that when we go to the secretary this summer he will
give us permission to go to production," Vayl Oxford told reporters.

Oxford is due to report to Homeland Security Secretary        Michael
Chertoff in mid-July on the performance of three competing portals being
tested alongside current technology at the terminal.

The advanced models on trial are made by Canberra Industries, part of the
French group Areva (CEPFi.PA); Integrated Defense Systems, a business of
Raytheon Company (NYSE:RTN - news); and Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO -

Oxford said there has been a noticeable difference in the performance of the
three models but declined to elaborate, saying he could recommend going into
full production with one, two or all three versions.

All three firms are prepared to ramp up production immediately, Oxford said.
Last year, they were awarded $1.16 billion in contracts to develop the new

The current technology can be set off by the radiation coming from a load of
bananas or granite, slowing commerce when such cargo is flagged for further
inspection. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach experience 400 to 500
such alerts a day, officials said.

The advanced portals are meant to reduce false alarms by distinguishing
natural radiation from enriched uranium or weapons-grade plutonium.

Homeland Security officials hope to inspect 98 percent of all seaborne
containers with some kind of portal monitor by the end of 2007.

Portals made by each of the firms have been installed next to each other at
the New York Container Terminal, monitoring each truck as it leaves with
containers that arrived by sea.

The portals also have been tested with weapons-grade nuclear material at the
Nevada site where America's early nuclear bombs were tested.

Paul Leventhal, Who Opposed Commercial Use of Nuclear Power, Dies at 69 

Paul Leventhal, who as president of the small but influential Nuclear
Control Institute was one of the most vocal opponents of expanding the
commercial use of nuclear power, died Tuesday at his home in Chevy Chase,
Md. He was 69.

The cause was cancer, his son Ted said.

Mr. Leventhal founded the Nuclear Control Institute in 1981, two years after
becoming co-director of the United States Senate's bipartisan investigation
of the Three Mile Island accident, the nation's most serious commercial
reactor failure. . 

Mr. Leventhal opposed commercial nuclear power not only because of the
threat of a Chernobyl-like disaster but also because of its potential to
ease the making of nuclear weapons. The construction of nuclear reactors in
this country ceased for decades, though experts attribute this to cost more
than to fears of proliferation. But Mr. Leventhal kept those fears on the
front burner for 22 years as his institute's president and since 2002, when
his title became founding president. 

He lobbied lawmakers, organized conferences and wrote op-ed articles about
proliferation, nuclear terrorism and the use of commercial reactors to make
tritium, an ingredient of nuclear bombs, a program that the federal Energy
Department is now pursuing. 

He was particularly concerned about Iran, which he believed had a secret
weapons program that would justify a harsh reaction, perhaps even military

"If you look at every nation that's recently gone nuclear, they've done it
through the civilian nuclear cycle," Mr. Leventhal told The New York Times
in 2004. 

Atoms for peace can be a "shortcut to atoms for war," he added. "It may take
the unthinkable happening before the political process can screw up the
courage to put an end to this ridiculously dangerous industry."

Paul Lincoln Leventhal was born in Manhattan on Feb. 12 in 1938, a son of
Jack and Helen Shapiro Leventhal. In addition to his son Ted, of Washington,
he is survived by his wife of 39 years, the former Sharon Tanzer; another
son, Josh, of Raleigh, N.C.; a brother, Warren, of Roslyn, N.Y.; and two

Mr. Leventhal graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 1959 and
received a master's from the Columbia School of Journalism in 1960. He was a
reporter for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland and later The New York Post and

In 1969, Senator Jacob K. Javits, Republican of New York, hired him as his
press secretary. Mr. Leventhal began concentrating on energy issues for Mr.
Javits and, in 1979, was named staff director of the Senate's subcommittee
on nuclear regulation and a director of the Three Mile Island investigation.

Sen. Sherrod Brown now open to nuclear power 

WASHINGTON ? In a major reversal, Sen. Sherrod Brown yesterday said the
nation should consider nuclear power as part of a broader effort to reduce
the emissions of carbon dioxide thought to cause global warming. 

In an interview for the Ohio News Network show On The Hill, Brown said, "We
should look at nuclear power. Five years ago, I wouldn?t have said that. I
think nuclear power is safer than it used to be." 

The Ohio Democrat acknowledged that "nuclear power to me is not anything
close to a first choice or even a second choice." He said the nation has not
devised a plan yet to safely store the waste generated by a nuclear reactor.

But he also said, "We need to at least think it through more than we have." 

Brown?s shift is a sign that environmentalists might accept a greater use of
nuclear power to generate the electricity needed to power the economy of the
United States. Unlike coal-fired utility plants, nuclear plants do not
contribute to climate change. 

But lawmakers and the public have been leery of nuclear plants since the
neardisaster at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979. 

Also, the Davis-Besse nuclear plant between Cleveland and Toledo was shut
down in 2002 for two years for safety repairs. The Nuclear Regulatory
Commission imposed a record $5.45 million fine against FirstEnergy Corp.,
which operates the facility. Last year, the utility agreed to pay a record
$28 million in fines, restitution and community-service projects to avoid
federal charges. 

Brown said he would prefer that the federal government begin a major effort
to develop a commercially viable technology to burn coal cleanly to produce
electricity. He also called for "a real Manhattan project" to develop wind
and solar energy. But, he conceded, "I don?t know if that is enough." 

Congressional Democrats are pushing for a sweeping measure this year that
would curb climate change. Any bill would call on the utility industry and
major manufacturers to devise ways to reduce their emissions of carbon

No nukes or go nukes? Residents, officials debate proposed Savannah River
nuclear recycling site

Beaufort County residents got a first look Wednesday night at a
next-generation nuclear fuel recycling center and reactor that could come to
the Savannah River Site near Aiken.

Not everyone was thrilled by that possibility; some residents raised issues
of safety and water quality and availability. 

Representatives of the Washington Group International, which runs the
current Department of Energy nuclear facility at the site; Areva, a French
company that builds and runs nuclear facilities; and the Aiken & Edgefield
Counties Economic Development Partnership pushed the economic benefits and
argued there would be little environmental impact.

The facility could create up to 4,000 long-term jobs, $15 billion in capital
investment and federal and state taxes of $100 million annually, said Ernest
Chaput, special projects manager for the economic development partnership.

But some of the 19 residents at the Bluffton meeting were frustrated when
presenters couldn't specifically answer questions about water quality impact
and if spent fuel from other countries would be shipped to South Carolina.

"South Carolina may have a legacy of expertise in nuclear power," said Sara
Barczak, safe-energy director for the nonprofit Southern Alliance for Clean
Energy, "but we also have the legacy of being the community that accepts
(nuclear waste)."

Residents were also concerned about the possibility of terrorism.

Donna Antonucci, who serves on a citizens' advisory board for the Savannah
River Site, said the current facility has a strong safety record. 

The earliest a site might be selected by the Department of Energy is next

The Savannah River Site is among 11 finalists for the facilities, which also
include a research lab. The project, which wouldn't open until 2020, is part
of the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership, which seeks to better control
nuclear fuel globally.

Energy Solutions' site in Barnwell is also a finalist. The nuclear dump has
a direct connection to the Lowcountry since it is less than a half-mile from
a small waterway that feeds into the Savannah River, which provides 60 to 70
percent of the drinking water here.

A meeting on that location will be from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. Tuesday, April
17, at Fennell Elementary School in Yemassee.

Nuclear reactor firm to buy stake in Summit

The mining company Summit Resources has agreed to sell the world's largest
builder of nuclear reactors an 18 per cent stake in the company. 

French multinational corporation Areva is also the world's largest uranium
marketing company and the third-largest uranium producer.

Summit Resources controls 25 uranium deposits around Mount Isa in Queensland
that are worth about $10 billion.

Summit managing director Allan Eggers says the deal, under which Areva's
initial 9 per cent stake will increase to 18 per cent over six months,
ensures the future development of the deposits. 

"Areva have agreed over the next six months to inject some $292 million into
Summit at an average price of $ 6.75 a share," he said.

"This backing along with their technical expertise will ensure that we have
the financial ability to take the project forward as well as we have a sales
agreement for our products down the road." 

Mr Eggers says a takeover bid for the company is still viable.

He says the deal does not mean a $1 billion takeover bid by Paladin
Resources should not go ahead.

"The Paladin bid is still on the table, it's an unconditional bid," he said.

"Our shareholders have the option at any time to either cash the shares on
the market or accept Paladin stock for it until Paladin either changes the
bid conditions or withdraws the bid. 

"That's really up to our shareholders what they do but certainly we believe
this is the superior offer."

TXU's Nuclear Ambitions

Last month, TXU (NYSE: TXU) announced that it would order two nuclear
reactors from Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. The news, which wasn't widely
reported, was noteworthy for a couple of reasons.

First, the announcement was a severe blow to Westinghouse (which is
controlled by Toshiba), because earlier, TXU CEO C. John Wilder had
indicated that his company intended to use its advanced pressurized water

The news was all the more surprising because Westinghouse's reactor design
had received final certification from the federal government's Nuclear
Regulatory Commission and Mitsubishi's has not.

This suggests that the advantages of Mitsubishi's cost-effective reactors,
which can produce 1,700 megawatts apiece, were enough compared with
Westinghouse's technology to convince TXU to select the yet-to-be-certified
reactor. It further suggests that Mitsubishi's advanced reactors also have
some characteristics that make them more appealing than General Electric's
(NYSE: GE) reactors. In fairness, I should note that GE is supplying an
advanced reactor to NRG Energy (NYSE: NRG) and Westinghouse is to supply
reactors to some of the nuclear power plants that Exelon (NYSE: EXC) has on
the drawing board.

The news is also important because it suggests that as the environmental
costs of coal-produced electricity become better-known, nuclear power
becomes a more attractive option for producing electricity than coal-fired
power plants.

You might recall that environmental groups were very active in the
negotiations leading to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts' decision to make an offer
to buy TXU, and it's believed they were instrumental in convincing TXU to
reduce the number of coal-fired plants it planned to build in Texas from 11
to three.

It's difficult to imagine that these environmentalists were not also
consulted regarding TXU's decision to proceed with the construction of two
new nuclear plants. If so, it's yet another indication that the U.S. is on
the verge of a nuclear renaissance. 

And as more nuclear power plants are approved, investors are encouraged to
closely monitor which companies are supplying the reactors, because there's
big money involved. TXU's order has been estimated to be worth $5.1 billion
in revenue for Mitsubishi.

Legal dispute centers on nuclear safety, emergency planning

BRATTLEBORO -- A neighbor of Indian Point nuclear power plant in Buchanan,
N.Y., is asking the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, FEMA and Entergy to pay
for personal emergency preparedness. 
He wants the three to be financially responsible for the costs incurred in
building, stocking and maintaining a personal space or shelter, to be used
in an emergency when sheltering in place is recommended. 

Sherwood Martinelli, who lives within three miles of the aging power plant
which was temporarily shut down last week for a fire in a non-nuclear area
of the plant, is also asking the NRC to perform bi-yearly independent safety
assessments of all nuclear power plants, to include a review of both on site
security and off site evacuation plans. 

The petition is part of the rules-making process that any person can
participate in, said Neil Sheehan, a spokesman from the NRC. 

"There is a panel set up to examine the petitions and decide whether or not
it's worthy of consideration," said Sheehan, who declined to comment on
Martinelli's petition until he has had a chance to thoroughly review it. 

Even if the panel decides it's a worthy topic, he said, it could take years
to develop new regulations. 

"It is appropriate that (Martinelli) take this issue up at the commission
level," said Rob Williams, spokesman for Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.
He had no other comment on the petition. 

Though the option for a petition is open to anyone, more often than not the
NRC receives letters and e-mails in support of particular petitions, which
can be done at its Web site. 

"I am hopeful that I can bring enough attention that it has been filed and
hold people's feet to the fire," said Martinelli, in a telephone interview

The NRC, and the other agencies mentioned in the petition, have embraced
sheltering in place "without any financial mechanisms put in place for the
citizens to have the proper tools and shelters to actually take protective
actions in the case of a significant event," wrote Martinelli. 

"This amounts to a cold, calculated, negligent and egregious case of
economic racism, even class-based genocide," he wrote. "Vice President Dick
Cheney, at taxpayers' expense, has been afforded the ability and space in
which to shelter in place." 

The average citizen would need to spend approximately $50,000 to build and
supply a shelter, said Martinelli. Such costs "denies those unable to afford
the costs of the basic tools needed to protect home and family the right to
the peace of mind that comes with having a workable plan in place that has a
high ratio of success in the case of a major nuclear incident and/or
terrorist attack of a nuclear facility, and makes one's chance of survival
greatly dependent on their ability to buy the best protection money can by."

"Lots of citizens have grown frustrated," he said. "We are powerless." 

He hopes his petition starts a grass-roots movement of other like-minded
citizens sending in their own rules making petitions. 

"It's the citizens' chance to level the playing field by using our numbers,"
he said. 

"In the past few years, specifically since Sept. 11, (these organizations)
have embraced as a primary strategy for protection of the general public,
the concepts and principles of sheltering in place should there be a
terrorist attack and/or incident that resulted in the release of nuclear
material, particulates, plumes or matter into the general public," wrote
Martinelli in his petition. 

"The NRC and FEMA on one hand suggest we would only be sheltering in place
for a short time," said Martinelli. 

But, he said, other federal agencies have indicated in the case of a nuclear
attack, which would have similar repercussions as a nuclear accident, people
might have to stay in their homes for up to two weeks. 

One local anti-nuclear activist said sheltering in place "is like making
local citizens into rats in a box." 

"New England housing stock is the oldest in the nation," said Gary Sachs, of
Brattleboro, adding he supported Martinelli's petition. "In houses built to
1948 building codes, complete air exchange occurs in less than an hour. Wood
and shingles do not stop gamma rays." 

Sachs, who lives 6 miles from Vermont Yankee, said "I would rather drive
away than stay in a drafty house." 

Martinelli is also concerned that the NRC, Entergy and others are not
fiscally prepared for the damage caused by any potential accidents. In the
case of Indian Point, he wrote, costs of an accident could run as high as
$750 billion. 

"They don't have any problem with asking the host communities to be
financially ruined so they can run these facilities," he said. "Don't ask me
to accept risk that you are not willing to accept." 

"The NRC and other governmental agencies own studies admit that the average
home owner would only get back pennies on the dollar if a major nuclear
incident or attack were to occur," he wrote. 

"Price Anderson requires insurance in the event of a severe nuclear
accident," said Sheehan. Operators of nuclear power plants are obligated to
make an annual contribution to an insurance pool, he said. That pool sits at
right around $10 billion right now, he said. Another $8.6 billion is in a
secondary insurance pool. 

"The reality is, as with Sept. 11, the federal government is the insurer of
last resort," said Sheehan, especially when losses far exceed the insurance

Green nuclear power 'just three years away' 

People could be using "green nuclear" energy in their homes within three
years as entrepreneurs rush to produce zero-emissions electricity. 

Geodynamics Ltd told the Australian Stock Exchange yesterday it had sped up
plans to harness the heat generated by natural nuclear activity deep beneath
the country's central desert. 

The company plans to pipe high-pressure hot water from the granite bedrock
4km beneath the Queensland-South Australia border, where the slow decay of
potassium, thorium and uranium generates temperatures as high as 300C. 

"The granite is hot because of the natural nuclear activity in there," chief
executive Adrian Williams said. "It's green nuclear." 

Dr Williams expects Geodynamics to send electricity to the national power
grid by 2010 and later directly to western Sydney. By 2015 it could produce
as much power as the Snowy Mountains hydro scheme. 

Some scientists say hot-rocks technology could deliver huge volumes of
economically viable power, thanks to the continent having the hottest and
most geologically favourable granite deposits on Earth. 

"There's enough energy to run the country for thousands of years," said
Prame Chopra, a scientist who sits on the Geodynamics board. 

According to a conservative estimate by the Centre for International
Economics, Australia has enough geothermal energy to meet electricity
consumption for 450 years. The industry has strong backing in Canberra.
"I've been a long-time fan," Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane said

The granite in South Australia's Cooper basin contains "fractures" that hold
super-hot, high-pressure water. It could power a steam turbine then recycle
water back into the bedrock for reheating. The hotter the water, the more
efficiently it can be converted into electricity. 

Australia is home to the world's six listed hot fractured rock geothermal
energy companies. One, Petratherm, recently signed a memorandum of
understanding to supply geothermal electricity to South Australia's Beverley
uranium mine by late 2009. 

Torrens Energy is exploring hot sites near Adelaide. 

The main impediment to the renewable energy industry is that the nation's
electricity is among the cheapest in the world, thanks to huge deposits of
coal. But geothermal energy is set to be economically viable after a
moderate cost is imposed on greenhouse gas emissions. 

Geodynamic, aided by $11.8 million in Federal grants, said it would produce
one megawatt of electricity for about $45 an hour compared with coal power
of about $35. Prime Minister John Howard's task force on nuclear energy
estimated the cost of nuclear energy at $40-$65, "clean coal" at $50-$100
and photovoltaic solar energy as high as $120.

Sandy Perle 
Senior Vice President, Technical Operations 
Global Dosimetry Solutions, Inc. 
2652 McGaw Avenue
Irvine, CA 92614
Tel: (949) 296-2306 / (888) 437-1714 Extension 2306 
Tel: (949) 419-1000 Extension 2306
Fax:(949) 296-1144
Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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