[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] Howard commits to nuclear power

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Fri Apr 27 19:34:16 CDT 2007


Howard commits to nuclear power 
Workers in short supply for U.S. nuclear power 
EDF in talks to build new nuclear power station
STP owner hires Japanese consultant on nuclear reactor expansion
Putin to Restructure Nuclear Industry
TransCanada still settled with coal, but looks ahead to nuclear
Proposed Idaho Nuclear Power Plant faces Many Obstacles
Governor Spitzer Wants Review of NY Nuclear Plant
UK widens probe into nuclear plant autopsy tests
Brief Radioactive Scare Demonstrates NYPD's Use of Detectors
Army admits to Brisbane radiation leak

Howard commits to nuclear power 

John Howard will today give the green light to nuclear power in 
Australia, revealing he will lift restrictions on uranium enrichment 
and nuclear power stations.
The Prime Minister´s provocative announcement seeks to eclipse the 
highly anticipated ALP national conference in Sydney this weekend, 
where delegates are expected to vote to abolish Labor´s 25-year ban 
on new uranium mines. 
It will also place Mr Howard on a collision course with the WA 
Government, which has placed a moratorium on uranium mining. 
Mr Howard´s speech in Melbourne seeks to counteract Kevin Rudd´s 
criticism yesterday that the Prime Minister was lost in the past and 
that Labor was the "best navigator" of the nation´s future. 
Nuclear power and enrichment in Australia is opposed by the ALP, 
which says that climate change should be tackled through clean coal 
technology and the increased use of gas and renewable energy. 
In today´s speech, Mr Howard will commit to starting work 
"immediately" to remove legislative constraints on an expansion of 
the uranium industry, including amending the Biodiversity 
Conservation Act which prohibits nuclear activity, and addressing 
restrictions on transporting uranium and disposal of radioactive 
Australia will also join an international group which collaborates on 
the development of the latest generation of nuclear reactors - known 
as Generation Four reactors. Countries such as the US, Britain, 
Canada, France and Japan are part of the 11-member Generation Four 
International Forum. 
Canberra will also fund a skills and training package to ensure 
Australia is prepared for the nuclear industry. 
Today´s announcement is certain to be condemned by the Opposition and 
the Greens and will lead to further debate on where reactors could 
potentially be built. 
Mr Howard hopes the necessary legislative changes will be in place by 
next year. Beyond that, how soon Australia´s first reactor could be 
built will be determined by business. 
The proposal is in response to a report released last year by the 
Government´s nuclear task force, headed by Ziggy Switkowski, which 
found 25 nuclear reactors could produce a third of Australia´s power 
by 2050. 
The report found nuclear reactors would need to be built close to 
population centres, but said nuclear power would not be competitive 
with coal unless a price was placed on carbon emissions. 
Following the report´s release in December, Dr Switkowski said 
Australia could have its first nuclear reactor in 10 years if it 
moved quickly, but it would more likely take 15 years. 
Mr Howard has attacked Labor´s refusal to embrace nuclear technology, 
saying nuclear power was a "clean and green fuel" that needed to be 
considered if Australia wanted to lower greenhouse gas emissions. 
Australia has 38 per cent of the world´s total identified resources 
of uranium. 
In February, Mr Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello came under fire 
from Labor after admitting to being tipped off by Liberal heavyweight 
Ron Walker that he was starting a company to look at nuclear power in 
Australia Nuclear Energy was registered in June last year, five days 
before the Switkowski report was announced. 

Workers in short supply for U.S. nuclear power 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - When the top U.S. nuclear regulator addressed 
industry leaders in March, he spoke about a problem often neglected 
in public debates about nuclear energy: the threat of a labor 
"Where are we going to get the educated and skilled workers to safely 
run the current fleet (of reactors) over extended lifetimes and the 
potential nuclear plants of the future?" asked Dale Klein, chairman 
of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. "Where are they being educated? 
Where are they being trained?"

The U.S. government, energy experts and even some environmentalists 
see a revival of nuclear power as a clean energy alternative, but 
that resurgence may be held up by a lack of qualified workers.

As nuclear power went out of fashion in the wake of the Three Mile 
Island disaster in 1979, college nuclear engineering programs were 
shuttered and fewer workers have entered the field.

Some 103 reactors currently generate about 20 percent of U.S. 
electricity, with the last one coming on line in 1996 in Tennessee.

That number could increase. A new focus on global warming, which most 
scientist say is caused by gases emitted by burning fossil fuels, has 
brought coal-, oil- and gas-fired generation under scrutiny. While 
nuclear reactors produce radioactive waste, they do not emit 
greenhouse gases, and energy experts say a new nuclear plant could 
break ground as early as 2010.

Financial incentives laced through a 2005 energy law have some 
excited about a "nuclear renaissance."

But the nuclear engineers and technicians who landed their jobs in 
the 1970s are retiring and there are few trained to take their 

Carol Berrigan, who researches nuclear infrastructure for the Nuclear 
Energy Institute, the industry's lobby group, described the coming 
labor shortage as a "looming trend."

A 2005 study by the Institute found that half of the industry's 
employees were over 47 years old, while less than 8 percent of 
employees were younger than 32. Most Americans retire after turning 
65, and the survey found more than a quarter of nuclear workers were 
already eligible to stop working.

Even the government's regulator, the NRC, is scrambling to add 200 
new employees this year just to monitor the sector, Klein said.


The number of nuclear engineering majors at colleges around the 
country has risen to 1,800 last year from just 500 in 1998, according 
to the Energy Department, but that is still not enough to feed 
current needs.

Companies have realized they must abandon their usual strategy of 
raiding each other's worker pool and seek new talent, said Mike 
Pasono, head of recruiting for Nuclear Management Company, which 
operates three reactors.

Pasono makes a job offer sometimes a year before a college student 
graduates. There are so few nuclear majors that he gives positions to 
electrical and mechanical engineers.

"There is no one, other than the people who are really struggling 
academically, and I mean really struggling, in our department who's 
worried about a job," said Gary Sanford, a senior in nuclear 
engineering at the University of Florida.

He said recruiters flood conferences and utilities give campus 
seminars with human resources representatives in tow. It's a radical 
change from his freshman year in 2002 when he considered working for 
a doctorate because there were so few job openings.

Many who sign on are too young to remember Three Mile Island or the 
1986 accident at Ukraine's Chernobyl reactor, and are not nervous 
about safety. 

"There's a lot less emotion involved there," said Tracey Radel, 23, 
of her fellow students in the nuclear engineering program at the 
University of Wisconsin Madison. 

Radel, who considers herself an environmentalist, sees nuclear energy 
as an earth-friendly alternative to coal and gas. 

Sanford, the University of Florida student, said patriotism inspired 
him to work on energy generation that did not involve foreign oil. 

Neither student said they were drawn by the field's pay, even though 
the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the average starting salary 
for a nuclear engineer with a bachelors degree is $51,182, higher 
than many other areas. 

Forbes magazine recently listed plant operators as one of its top 10 
best-paying blue-collar jobs, with an estimated income of $56,472. 

To find new workers, the industry also sponsors community college 
programs, joins other energy sectors in recruiting and educates 
middle school students about the field, and even recruits from the 
armed forces. 

"We've realized the value of going after trained military workers," 
Pasono said. 

He seeks officers and those who served on nuclear submarines. Some 
groups use the four-year-old Helmets to Hard Hats program, which 
trains veterans for construction jobs. 

Radel said she found her life's work during a high school visit to a 
nuclear reactor. 

"I thought the technology was really cool, but I liked that it helped 
people," she said.

EDF in talks to build new nuclear power station

LONDON (AFP) - French state-controlled electricity group EDF is in 
talks with British Energy, a part-government owned nuclear group, 
about constructing the country's first nuclear power station in 30 
years, EDF's head said in an interview published Friday. 
Speaking to the Financial Times, Vincent de Rivaz also said that the 
government would have to pass legislation this year making a decision 
on nuclear power so that energy companies would be able to make 
investment decisions, otherwise it risked a "power crunch."

"It is quite natural that British Energy want to be part of new-build 
nuclear, and because we have also a clear ambition, I am confident 
that these two ambitions can match each other," he told the business 

Electricite de France, the biggest producer of nuclear power in the 
world, said it intended to benefit from renewed interest in nuclear 
energy, when it released its 2006 results in February.

"We are well advanced to be in the pole position to build new 
nuclear," De Rivaz told the FT.

He said that having a British partner would help the company in its 
plans, saying that a "nuclear power plant has to be fully embedded 
into the country in which it is built and operated."

He noted that British Energy had the best sites to build nuclear 
power stations, telling the paper: "The top sites are well known, 
they are close to existing (nuclear) plants."

De Rivaz warned, however, that were the government to not pass new 
legislation to decide on nuclear power this year, there could be a 
"power crunch."

"2007 is critical. Some element of new legislation will have to be 
prepared and ready for the new parliament session of 2007-08," he 

"I have said that we will be able to connect new build to the 
networks by Christmas 2017. It is still possible. But if not, we do 
have a problem of a power crunch

STP owner hires Japanese consultant on nuclear reactor expansion

Tokyo Electric Power Co. Inc. (TEPCO) has been hired as a consultant 
to the South Texas Project Nuclear Operating Co.'s planned expansion 
of its nuclear power plant.
The South Texas Project, located in Bay City, Texas, supplies power 
to customers in Houston, Austin, San Antonio and Corpus Christi.

San Antonio's gas and electric utility, CPS Energy, is one of the 
equity owners in the nuclear power plant.

NRG Energy Inc. (NYSE: NRG - News), in Princeton, N.J., another owner 
in the South Texas Project, has proposed building two new advanced 
boiling water reactor nuclear units at the site.

If approved, this would give the South Texas Project the ability to 
generate an additional 2,700 megawatts of nuclear energy to Texas. 
The power plant already has two reactors in service.

This new agreement with TEPCO involves allowing the Japanese company 
to consult on the design, construction, operation and maintenance of 
the new units at the South Texas Project.

TEPCO officials also will provide their expertise in developing a 
combined construction and operation license application, which will 
be submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission later this year.

"TEPCO will be an invaluable partner in ensuring STP units 3 and 4 
come online on schedule and on budget to help meet Texas' growing 
energy needs through nuclear power," says Steve Winn, executive vice 
president of strategy, environmental and new business. "Nuclear power 
has shown its ability to produce much needed power reliably and 
safely and without adding greenhouse gases or other emissions into 
our atmosphere."

TEPCO is the largest electric power company in Japan and is one of 
the largest investor owned electric utilities in the world. The 
company supplies electricity to more than 27.7 million customers 
throughout the globe.

Putin to Restructure Nuclear Industry

MOSCOW (AP) -- President Vladimir Putin signed a decree Friday to 
restructure Russia's atomic energy sector by creating a state-
controlled corporation with broad reach throughout the nuclear 
industry, the Kremlin said.

Russia has ambitious plans for its nuclear industry, and an umbrella 
company uniting its civilian atomic energy companies has long been in 
the works.

Putin ordered the creation of a state-owned holding company that, 
along with subsidiaries, will be responsible for a wide array of 
nuclear industry activities, including research, power plant 
construction and waste management. The Moscow-based company will be 
called OAO Atomic Energy and Industry Complex, or Atomenergoprom, a 
Kremlin statement said.

According to an unidentified official in Russia's atomic energy 
agency, cited by the RIA-Novosti news agency, Atomenergoprom will 
absorb some 65 companies, from uranium mines to power plant 
manufacturers. RIA-Novosti said Putin ordered the government to 
establish the company by July 1.

Russia has 31 reactors at 10 nuclear power plants, accounting for 16 
percent to 17 percent of the country's electricity generation. Putin 
has called for increasing the proportion of nuclear-generated power 
to at least 25 percent by 2030.

TransCanada still settled with coal, but looks ahead to nuclear

CALGARY (CP) - Natural gas pipeline and power giant TransCanada Corp. 
(TSX:TRP) said Friday that coal is still king in Alberta, but that 
building a nuclear power plant in Western Canada could be an option 
in the future.

"The way we look at it, nuclear is primarily an option for supplying 
electricity demand in Alberta, long-term," Hal Kvisle, president and 
chief executive said following the company's annual meeting.

"Does it make sense? Well, we have very large coal reserves, so you 
would have to weigh the merits of power generation from a nuclear 
source versus electric power generation from a coal source."

TransCanada is a partner in Bruce Power which runs North America's 
largest nuclear power plant along the shores of Lake Huron in 
southwestern Ontario. Other partners include Cameco Corp. (TSX:CCO) 
BPC Generation Infrastructure Trust, the Power Workers' Union and the 
Society of Energy Professionals.

Speculation has abounded about the possibility of building a nuclear 
power plant in northeastern Alberta to feed energy needs of oilsands 

However, the operations need more steam than power, which most 
oilsands operators generate on site by burning natural gas to fire 
boilers that produce steam.

The steam is then piped underground to melt thick oil deep below the 
surface, which is then collected by a gathering pipeline and pumped 
to the surface.

Alberta's abundant coal reserves make it the prime fuel source to 
produce electricity, despite increasingly stringent environmental 

TransCanada also has conventional power plants in Canada and the 
United States, including power purchase agreements with coal-fired 
plants in Alberta.

Kvisle estimates costs to overcome carbon dioxide emissions will run 
into the billions of dollars, but will be shouldered by the consumer 
in the long run.

"We're optimistic that by and large the market needs the power and it 
will be possible to flow those charges through to the end consumer."

Increasing costs are a theme across North America, and are taken into 
consideration on all projects, including the proposed Mackenzie 
Valley pipeline, he said.

Lengthy regulatory processes are adding some $600 million to the 
ambitious project, and tacking on years of red tape for something 
that would take a quarter of the time in southern climes, he said.

"The biggest single uncertainty variable for us is what's it going to 
cost to get through the regulatory process and what will the outcome 
be," Kvisle said.

The project's economics are questionable at current natural gas 
prices, but Kvisle maintained optimistic it eventually be completed.

"The Mackenzie is a really long-term initiative," he said. "It's 
important to TransCanada over the longer term that gas comes onstream 
and into our system, but whether it comes on in 2010 or 2020 is not 

Of more importance to TransCanada is the completion of the 3,000 
kilometre Keystone pipeline from Hardisty, Alberta to U.S. refineries 
in Illinois, and the integration of its ANR pipeline acquisition, 
Kvisle said.

The US$3.4 billion acquisitions of American Natural Resources Co. and 
ANR Storage Co. and an additional 3.55 per cent interest in the Great 
Lakes Gas Transmission limited partnership increased TransCanada's 
reach into key U.S. markets.

TransCanada reported Friday first-quarter net profits of $265 million 
or 52 cents per share, compared to $227 million or 56 cents per share 
a year ago.

The Calgary-based company said earnings from continuing operations 
rose to $265 million from $245 million.

Net cash provided by operations rose to $618 million from $515 
million, the company reported ahead of its annual meeting in Calgary.

Proposed Idaho Nuclear Power Plant faces Many Obstacles

BOISE -- NewsChannel 7 has learned a proposed nuclear power plant 
near Mountain Home is off the map for many officials in charge of 

Alternate Energy Holdings, a Virginia-based business, wants to build 
a 1600-megawatt nuclear power plant that could provide all the energy 
for the state and then some. 

But a spokesman for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says they've 
never heard of the company. 

"The only thing that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has heard, 
with regards to Alternate Energy Holdings, is what we have seen in 
the media," said Scott Burnell, NRC. 

"So our first step is county permission approval and if we get that, 
hopefully this summer, then that will start the next large process, 
which is the nuclear regulatory approval," said Don Gillispie, 
Alternate Energy Holdings. 

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission says the company is getting the 
cart before the horse. 

Alternate Energy Holdings also needs approval from the Idaho 
Department of Environmental Quality and the Idaho Department of Water 
Resources. Neither government agency has been contacted. 

Also, Owyhee County officials say they have not yet received an 
application for a building permit. 

Governor Spitzer Wants Review of NY Nuclear Plant

NEW YORK, NY April 27, 2007 -Governor Spitzer has called for an 
independent safety review of the Indian Point nuclear power plants 
before they're licensed for another 20 years of operation.

In a letter to the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Spitzer 
cited a recent leak of radioactive elements into the groundwater and 
the failure of the plants' owners to install a new emergency siren 
system as the reasons for concern about public safety.

A spokesman for the NRC says Indian Point has already received enough 
scrutiny. During his campaign, Spitzer said the plant should be 
closed when alternative power sources become available. Indian Point 
has 2 nuclear reactors, 35 miles north of the city. The licenses 
expire in 2013 and 2015.

UK widens probe into nuclear plant autopsy tests

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain widened an investigation on Thursday into 
the collection of human body parts for scientific tests at nuclear 
plants, after authorities said more sites may have been involved than 
initially disclosed. 

The government launched a probe last week after discovering that 
tissue was taken from the bodies of former workers at a state-owned 
nuclear plant who died between 1962 and 1991.

Unions representing nuclear industry workers said as many as 70 
people who worked at the Sellafield nuclear fuel reprocessing plant 
in northern England and other nuclear facilities may have had bones, 
organs or other tissue removed for tests.

The UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) said it had found evidence 
that tests on autopsy tissue samples had also been carried out at 
Britain's Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell, in 
southern England, "at least until the early 1980s."

"There are indications that Harwell also participated in work related 
to deceased persons who were not employees of the nuclear industry," 
the UKAEA said in a statement.

The controversy has blown up at a sensitive time for the government 
which wants to build a new generation of nuclear power plants. 
Environmental groups oppose the move on safety grounds and because of 
the problem of disposing of waste.

The UKAEA, a state body dealing with nuclear clean-up and research, 
said it was carrying out a more detailed search and review which 
could take several weeks.


Harwell, which the UKAEA calls "the birthplace of the UK nuclear 
industry," is being decommissioned. Trade and Industry Secretary 
Alistair Darling said the UKAEA had told him tests on tissue may have 
been carried out at other sites as well.

Britain's Atomic Weapons Establishment also believed there could have 
been additional testing on its employees, he said in a written 
statement to parliament.

Darling said he had asked senior lawyer Michael Redfern, who is 
carrying out an independent inquiry into the Sellafield case, to take 
account of the new revelations. He asked Redfern to look into why the 
tests were done and whether relatives of the dead had given consent 
for samples to be taken at Sellafield.

The opposition Conservatives and Liberal Democrats both called the 
new disclosures disturbing.

"It is now clear that the removal of tissue samples was on a much 
larger scale than was first thought," Conservative energy spokesman 
Charles Hendry said in a statement.

"Serious questions will need to be answered as to whether tissue 
samples were taken without proper consent or authorization and why 
families were not informed," he said.

British Nuclear Group, which runs Sellafield, said last week the body 
parts were taken for scientific analysis and had been done in almost 
all cases on a legally correct basis

Brief Radioactive Scare Demonstrates NYPD's Use of Detectors
NEW YORK (AP)  -- A counterterrorism officer was driving to work near 
Coney Island on Friday morning when a radiation detector alerted him 
to a possible problem.

The officer, Lt. Steve Donahoo, "got a positive reading from the car 
that was next to him,'' said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.

It turned out to be a false alarm: The Mercedes sport utility vehicle 
was carrying an engineering tool that uses a small amount of 
radioactive material to measure soil density. But the episode 
demonstrated how the New York Police Department has turned to hand-
held radiation detectors in hopes of foiling any plot to detonate a 
so-called dirty bomb. The devices explode like conventional bombs, 
but would contaminate the city with radioactive dust and debris.

In recent years, the nation's largest police department has quietly 
deployed more than 900 of the five-ounce detectors, which are roughly 
the size of an MP3 player and cost at least $1,000. The devices are 
sensitive enough to differentiate between harmful, artificial 
isotopes and naturally occurring, innocuous ones, police said.

Officers typically wear the detectors on their belts like pagers 
while on patrol. The devices emit an alarm that intensifies as they 
get closer to the source.

Police officials refused to say how many radiation alarms they've 
gotten. But so far, only legitimate sources have been detected.

The drill wasn't new for Donahoo: In 2002, the lieutenant -- assigned 
to a counterterrorism unit formed after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks -- 
was driving on the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive in Manhattan when his 
detector went off. After police identified the car that was the 
source, they stopped it and found it was carrying medical supplies 
containing isotopes deemed harmless.

Similarly, when officers from the Highway and Emergency Service units 
stopped the driver of the Mercedes Friday, they discovered the 
radioactive engineering tool, called a Troxler gauge, had been left 
outside its protective container.

The driver, Syed M. Haider, and his employer, Haider Engineering in 
Nassau County on Long Island, were cited for improper handling and 
transportation of a hazardous material. The state Department of 
Health, which licenses the gauges, also was notified and was 
reviewing the case.

"He was supposed put the thing in the container,'' said Syed W. 
Haider, the firm's owner and brother of the driver. "He forgot to do 
that. That was his mistake.''

Army admits to Brisbane radiation leak

The Department of Defence has confirmed there was a radiation leak at 
a Brisbane army workshop four years ago.

A spokesman says the leak was discovered when the substance tritium 
was detected on the clothes of civilian contractors who had worked at 
the Bulimba logistics unit in 2003.

Tritium is used in gun sights and compasses and is highly 
radioactive. It can cause cancer and genetic mutations.

An Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency 
inspector found radioactive contamination in two building on the 

The Defence Department spokesman stressed that there was no threat to 
nearby residents or the staff who came into contact with the 

He says the site has been decontaminated.

Parliamentary Secretary for Defence Peter Lindsay denied there had 
been a cover-up and said residents did not need to be informed.

"Defence every day has 50,000 people out there, 90,000 people out 
there," he said.

"There are always things happening but they are dealt with 
internally. Otherwise you'd spend your time doing other things that 
weren't defence."

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 
Fax:(949) 296-1144

Global Dosimetry Website: http://www.dosimetry.com/ 
Personal Website: http://sandy-travels.com/ 

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