[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] Canada sees possible nuclear renaissance

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Fri Mar 2 21:32:52 CST 2007


Canada sees possible nuclear renaissance
Radiation monitors will screen goods nationwide
Milky Way black hole may be colossal 'particle accelerator'
Veto nuclear waste bill
Feds ill-prepared to deal with nuke terror, report says
Los Alamos lab holds debate on nuclear fuel recycling
Nevada panel warned about effort to license nuclear dump
Westinghouse takes next step in China nuclear plant deal

Canada sees possible nuclear renaissance

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Concern over global warming has breathed new life 
into Canada's nuclear industry, which is eyeing the possibility of 
its first new plants in the country in a quarter century, industry 
officials said on Thursday. 
"The climate change driver is so compelling a case that the nuclear 
file becomes a critical part of the solution," Duncan Hawthorne, 
chairman of the Canadian Nuclear Association and chief executive of 
Bruce Power, told Reuters.

Though atomic energy always raises the question of what to do with 
nuclear waste, its attraction in terms of the climate change debate 
is that it emits none of the greenhouse gases that are blamed for 
global warming.

Officials said Canada's "nuclear renaissance" had created a challenge 
for companies and regulators to hire enough qualified workers, 
particularly as the workforce ages.

Bruce Power as well as Ontario Power Generation, which is owned by 
the Ontario government, have begun the applications process or new 
power plants on separate sites in Ontario.

The head of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, Linda Keen, told 
a nuclear conference on Thursday that her regulatory body had 
accepted Bruce Power's project description in just five months, at 
the end of January, and was now looking at a way of speeding up its 
environmental assessment.

Keen said she would recommend to federal Environment Minister John 
Baird that the project go straight to a public panel rather than 
first going through an eight-month process to determine if an 
environmental assessment panel was necessary.

She said the Ontario Power Generation project description, for a new 
site at Darlington, about 70 km (45 miles) east of Toronto, should 
also be dealt with expeditiously.

In addition, the federal government and the private firm Energy 
Alberta are promoting the idea of using nuclear energy to develop 
Alberta's massive oil sands reserves.

"If you're going to tackle climate change, you've got to do 
everything," Hawthorne said. "That includes energy efficiency and 
conservation, but it also includes a pretty significant investment in 

He said that as Canada's government moves to limit greenhouse gas 
emissions, industries which want to continue to grow will have a 
natural incentive to turn to nuclear energy.

In the case of Alberta's oil sands, he envisaged industry using a 
combination of carbon sequestration, whereby carbon dioxide is 
buried, and nuclear energy.

Bruce Power operates six nuclear reactors on Lake Huron, about 250 km 
(155 miles) northwest of Toronto, and is refurbishing two more, which 
are due to come on line in 2009. Bruce will then have more than 6,000 
megawatts of capacity.

The major partners in the operation are uranium miner Cameco Corp. 
and pipeline company TransCanada Corp..

The power plants are divided into Bruce A and Bruce B stations, with 
four reactors each. All four Bruce B units and one in Bruce A will 
need to be refurbished or replaced between 2015 and 2020.

Hawthorne said it was possible, if Ontario authorities call for more 
power, for the company to both refurbish the Bruce B reactors as well 
as build the new units for which it has started seeking regulatory 

However, Bruce is limited by transmission capacity to get its power 
to market. Transmission upgrades are planned at least to take the 
extra electricity that will be made by the two refurbished Bruce A 
units starting in 2009.

The company hopes that if it does decide to build some or all of the 
new 1,000-MW units it will start within three years and finish five 
years later -- by 2015 or 2016 -- just as the first Bruce B units are 
due to be retired or refurbished.

Radiation monitors will screen goods nationwide

(Richmond Times-Dispatch) Mar 2- U.S. Customs and Border Protection 
is installing radiation portal monitors nationwide -- at seaports, 
borders, rail crossings and international airports. The goal is to 
screen all incoming goods, people and vehicles for radiation.

According to the agency's Web site, "Nuclear and radiological 
materials are of particular concern because of their potential to 
harm large numbers of people and disrupt the U.S. economy."

No nuclear or radioactive devices have been found, but the agency 
reports investigating more than 800,000 alarms since 2002.

Radiation detection portals -- permanent and mobile -- have been in 
place at Virginia Port Authority facilities in Hampton Roads for more 
than five years. They scan an average of 5,000 vehicles a day, 
including cars and trucks of port employees, according to the 

The portable radiation trucks were put in use at the port in Richmond 
in January because it was not high on the government's priority list 
for potential terrorist attacks, the Customs and Border Protection 
agency said.

Milky Way black hole may be colossal 'particle accelerator'

(UNIVERSITY OF ARIZONA NEWS RELEASE) Mar 2 - Scientists were startled 
when they discovered in 2004 that the center of our galaxy is 
emitting gamma rays with energies in the tens of trillions of 

Now astrophysicists at The University of Arizona, Los Alamos National 
Laboratory and the University of Adelaide (Australia) have discovered 
a mechanism that might produce these high-energy gamma rays. The 
black hole at the center of our Milky Way could be working like a 
cosmic particle accelerator, revving up protons that smash at 
incredible speeds into lower energy protons and creating high-energy 
gamma rays, they report. 

"It's similar to the same kind of particle physics experiments that 
the Large Hadron Collider being built at CERN will perform," UA 
astrophysicist David Ballantyne said. 

When complete, the Large Hadron Collider in Switzerland will be able 
to accelerate protons to seven trillion electronvolts. Our galaxy's 
black hole whips protons to energies as much as 100 trillion 
electrovolts, according to the team's new study. That's all the more 
impressive because "Our black hole is pretty inactive compared to 
massive black holes sitting in other galaxies," Ballantyne noted. 

Ballantyne collaborated with UA astrophysics Professor Fulvio Melia 
in the new study published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. 

For the last several years, Melia has been developing a theory of 
what may be going on very close to the Milky Way's black hole. Melia 
and his group find that powerful, chaotic magnetic fields accelerate 
protons and other particles near the black hole to extremely high 

"Our galaxy's central supermassive object has been a constant source 
of surprise ever since it's discovery some 30 years ago," Melia said. 
"Slowly but surely it has become the best studied and most compelling 
black hole in the universe. Now we're even finding that its apparent 
quietness over much of the spectrum belies the real power it 
generates a mere breath above its event horizon---the point of no 

Melia said that the Milky Way black hole "is one of the most 
energetic particle accelerators in the galaxy, but it does this by 
proxy, by cajoling the magnetized plasma haplessly trapped within its 
clutches into slinging protons to unearthly speeds." 

Ballantyne used detailed, realistic maps of interstellar gas 
extending 10 light years beyond the black hole in modeling whether 
accelerated protons launched from the galactic center would produce 
gamma rays. 

"We calculated very exactly how the protons would travel in this 
medium, taking into account specifically the magnetic force that 
changes the protons' trajectories," he said. The team calculated 
222,000 proton trajectories for a statistically solid study. 

Even though the protons move close to the speed of light, their 
motion is so random that it takes several thousand years for the 
particles to travel beyond 10 light years of the black hole. After 
the high-energy protons escape the black hole environment, they fly 
off into the interstellar medium, where they collide with low-energy 
protons (hydrogen gas) in a smash-up so energetic that particles 
called 'pions' form. These particles of matter quickly decay into 
high-energy gamma rays that, like other radiation, travel in all 

Ballantyne, Melia and and their colleagues found that this process 
can explain the energy spectrum and brightness of gamma-ray emission 
that astronomers observe. Researchers detect the high-energy gamma-
ray emission with ground-based telescopes at Namibia, Africa, at 
Whipple Observatory in southeastern Arizona, and elsewhere. 

Only 31 percent of the 222,000 proton trajectories in their sample 
produced gamma rays within 10 light years of the black hole, 
Ballantyne said. The other 69 percent escape to greater distances, 
where presumably they, too, will interact in gamma ray-generating 

"Astronomers do, indeed, observe a glow of very-high energy gamma-
rays from the inner regions of the galaxy," Ballantyne said. "It's 
possible that this emission is also caused by protons accelerated 
close to the central black hole." 

"Ironically, even though our galaxy's central black hole does not 
itself abundantly eject hyper-relativistic plasma into the 
surrounding medium, this discovery may indirectly explain how the 
most powerful black holes in the universe, including quasars, produce 
their enormous jets extending over intergalactic proportions. The 
same particle slinging almost certainly occurs in all black-hole 
systems, though with much greater power earlier in the universe," 
Melia said. 

Ballantyne holds UA's Theoretical Astrophysics Program Prize 
Postdoctoral Fellowship. The university's Theoretical Astrophysics 
Program, organized in 1985, is an interdisciplinary program of the UA 
departments of physics, astronomy and planetary sciences. A National 
Science Foundation grant funded this research.

Veto nuclear waste bill

(Daily Herald) Feb 27 - One of the bills sitting on Gov. Huntsman's 
desk is arguably the worst to emerge from this year's Legislature. It 
involves the way radioactive waste is approved or denied in Utah.  

For the sake of all Utahns, Hunstman should veto Senate Bill 155 and 
preserve the current system of oversight of elected officials when it 
comes to the expansion of a radioactive waste dump. 

The bill, sponsored by Nephi Republican Sen. Darrin Peterson, is 
nothing but a cheap way for the Legislature and governor to avoid a 
political hot potato -- a potato that it's their duty to handle. The 
bill would take elected officers out of the loop and allow state 
regulators to approve expansion requests that do not exceed a dump's 
original footprint. 

EnergySolutions under this scheme could find it much easier to win 
approval for doubling the height of its dump in Clive. All it would 
need is a simple OK from the state's Radiation Control Board instead 
of approval through the people's representatives -- the Legislature 
and the governor.

It is no surprise that EnergySolutions would like to see elected 
officials taken out of the loop. The former Envirocare's last attempt 
to expand its waste operation was scuttled when Huntsman announced 
that he would not approve it. So SB 155 creates an end-run. Lower-
level approval from regulators would mean that decision-making is 
taken away from the most important stakeholders -- ultimately the 
citizens of Utah.

This bill is simply not in the public's best interest. 

More radioactive waste destined for EnergySolutions means more 
radioactive waste shipped by rail or truck through our communities. 
While EnergySolutions maintains that the material it stores is far 
safer than spent nuclear fuel rods proposed for Skull Valley, it is 
not harmless. 

It is dangerous enough that the EnergySolutions goes to great lengths 
to check its employees for radiation exposure. It is dangerous enough 
that two people who crashed through the dump's fence in a stolen car 
recently, and two Utah Highway Patrol troopers who responded to the 
accident, needed to be screened for radiation exposure. 

Do we really want more of this stuff out there, seeping into our soil 
and water? No. Nor do we want to be fending off proposal after 
proposal to increase the storage volume or the level of radiation 
accepted. When business sees a profit to be made, it is relentless. 
The history of nuclear waste storage in Utah provides a classic 
example of how big money nibbles away at political resolve. 

Utahns want to see their state marketed as a healthy, wholesome place 
to do business and raise a family. They do not desire a reputation as 
a radioactive dumping ground. Making it easier to dump this poison is 
not the best way to promote Utah to the world.

The two most important reasons to keep the Legislature and the 
governor in the loop are to keep the process accountable to the 
people and to maintain integrity in the permitting process. 
EnergySolutions, in its life as Envirocare, was involved in an ugly 
incident in which then-owner Khosrow Semnani was accused of bribing 
the state director of radiation control to get approval to operate 
the dump. Semnani claimed that Larry Anderson demanded money in 
return for granting Envirocare the necessary approvals. 

Semnani paid a fine for not reporting the payments on his income tax 
while Anderson went to jail for tax evasion.

Do we really want to create a climate that could increase such 
temptations for businesses and officials? Do we want them cutting 
ethical corners to advance a project? No. Yet that is the prospect if 
the governor signs SB 155.

He must not do it. The Legislature and the governor should stand 
accountable to the people on this vital issue. They should not shrink 
from their duty.

Feds ill-prepared to deal with nuke terror, report says

WASHINGTON (McClatchy Newspapers) Mar 2 -- Although the Bush 
administration has warned repeatedly about the threat of a terrorist 
nuclear attack and spent more than $300 billion to protect the 
homeland, the government remains ill-prepared to respond to a nuclear 

Experts and federal documents suggest that, absent a major 
preparedness push, the U.S. response to a mushroom cloud could be 
worse than the Hurricane Katrina debacle, possibly contributing to 
civil disorder and costing thousands of lives.

"The United States is unprepared to mitigate the consequences of a 
nuclear attack," Pentagon analyst John Brinkerhoff concluded in a 
July 31, 2005, draft of a confidential memo to the Joint Chiefs of 
Staff. "We were unable to find any group or office with a coherent 
approach to this very important aspect of homeland security. ...

"This is a bad situation. The threat of a nuclear attack is real, and 
action is needed now to learn how to deal with one."

Col. Jill Morgenthaler, Illinois' director of homeland security, said 
there was a "disconnect" between President Bush's and Vice President 
Dick Cheney's nuclear threat talk and the administration's actions. 
"I don't see money being focused on actual response and mitigation to 
a nuclear threat," she said.

Interviews by McClatchy Newspapers with more than 15 radiation and 
emergency preparedness experts and a review of internal documents 

The government has yet to launch an educational program, akin to the 
Cold War-era civil defense campaign promoting fallout shelters, to 
teach Americans how to shield themselves from radiation, especially 
from the fallout plume, which could deposit deadly particles as far 
as 100 miles from Ground Zero.

Analysts estimate that as many as 300,000 emergency workers would be 
needed after a nuclear attack, but predict that the radiation would 
scare many of them away from the disaster.

Hospital emergency rooms wouldn't be able to handle the surge of 
people who were irradiated, or the many more who feared that they 

Medical teams would have to improvise to treat what could be tens of 
thousands of burn victims because most cities have only one or two 
available burn-unit beds. Cham Dallas, director of the University of 
Georgia's Center for Mass Destruction Defense, called the predicament 
"the worst link in our health care wall."

Several drugs are in development, and one is especially promising, 
but the government hasn't acquired any significant new medicine to 
counteract radiation's devastating effects on victims' blood-forming 
bone marrow.

Over the past three years, several federal agencies have taken some 
nuclear disaster planning steps. The Department of Health and Human 
Services has drawn up "playbooks" for a range of attack scenarios and 
created a Web site to instruct emergency responders in treating 
radiation victims. The Energy Department's Lawrence Livermore 
National Laboratory is geared to use real-time weather data, within 
minutes of a bombing, to create a computer model that charts the 
likely path of a radioactive fallout plume, so the government can 
warn affected people to take shelter or evacuate. The government also 
has modeled likely effects in blast zones.

Capt. Ann Knebel, the U.S. Public Health Service's deputy 
preparedness chief, said her agency is using the models to understand 
how many people in different zones would suffer from blast injuries, 
burns or radiation sickness, "and to begin to match our resources to 
the types of injuries."

The government's National Planning Scenario, which isn't public, 
projects that a relatively small, improvised 10-kiloton bomb could 
kill hundreds of thousands in a medium-sized city and cause hundreds 
of billions of dollars in economic losses.

The document, last updated in April 2005, projects that a bomb 
detonated at ground level in Washington, D.C., would kill as many as 
204,600 people, including many government officials, and would injure 
or sicken 90,800. Another 24,580 victims would die of radiation-
related cancer in ensuing years. Radioactive debris would contaminate 
a 3,000-square-mile area, requiring years-long cleanup, it said.

Mr. Brinkerhoff, author of the confidential memo for the Joint 
Chiefs, estimated that nearly 300,000 National Guardsmen, military 
reservists and civil emergency personnel would be needed to rescue, 
decontaminate, process and manage the 1.5 million evacuees. The job 
would include cordoning off the blast zone and manning a 200-mile 
perimeter around the fallout area to process and decontaminate 
victims, turn others away from the danger and maintain order.

Mr. Brinkerhoff estimated that the military would need to provide 
140,000 of the 300,000 responders, but doubted that the Pentagon 
would have that many. The Public Health Service's Capt. Knebel cited 
studies suggesting that the "fear factor" would reduce civil 
emergency responders by more than 30 percent.

The U.S. intelligence community considers it a "fairly remote" 
possibility that terrorists will obtain weapons-grade plutonium or 
highly enriched uranium, which is more accessible, to build a nuclear 
weapon, said a senior intelligence official, who requested anonymity 
because of the information's sensitivity. The official said 
intelligence agencies worry mainly about a makeshift, radioactive 
"dirty bomb" that would kill, at most, a few hundred people, 
contaminate part of a city and spread panic.

But concerns about a larger nuclear attack are increasing as North 
Korea is testing atomic arms and Iran is believed to be pursuing 
them. Al-Qaida's worldwide terrorist network also reportedly has been 

Los Alamos lab holds debate on nuclear fuel recycling

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. Some retired Los Alamos National Laboratory 
scientists are praising a Bush administration plan to expand 
worldwide nuclear energy production.

Other former Los Alamos scientists are calling the plan unworkable.

The U-S Department of Energy initiative could bring nuclear 
facilities to three New Mexico locations, including Los Alamos where 
a public hearing was held yesterday.

Los Alamos is being considered for a research facility under the 
plan. Roswell and Hobbs are in the running for a recycling center and 

The federal government wants to recycle spent nuclear fuel and reduce 
the amount of waste requiring permanent disposal.

The government plans to release a draft report of environmental 
impacts this summer. Public comments are being accepted through April 

Nevada panel warned about effort to license nuclear dump
CARSON CITY, Nev Feb 28 - A Nevada panel fighting a proposed Yucca 
Mountain dump for nuclear waste was told Wednesday that project 
backers face big obstacles but are still seeking approval of the dump 
and of rail shipping routes - including one through downtown Reno and 

The warning to the Nevada Commission on Nuclear Projects prompted its 
chairman, Richard Bryan, a former state governor and U.S. senator, to 
say, ``This is no time to sit back and assume everything will unfold 
... in our favor.''

Bob Halstead, a transportation adviser to the commission, said rail 
shipments through the Reno-Sparks area would have a huge impact on 
commercial and residential properties near the route - possibly 
lowering their combined value by well over $1 billion.

Asked after the commission meeting why Nevada must press its fight 
against the dump, Halstead said, ``We've driven a stake through this 
vampire's heart three or four times - and each time he stands up and 
says, 'Yucca Mountain.'''

Halstead added that while U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-
Nev., has promised to block the Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain 
project, which already has cost at least $9 billion, Nevada remains 
the No. 1 target because no other states want to take high-level 
radioactive waste.

Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said Feb. 5 that the DOE will prepare 
an application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license for 
the dump, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, by June 2008.

President Bush has asked Congress for nearly $500 million to allow 
completion of the application.

Originally scheduled to open in 1998, the dump has been set back 
repeatedly by lawsuits, money shortfalls and scientific 
controversies. The DOE's current best-case opening date for the dump, 
which would hold 77,000 tons of waste, is 2017.

In his remarks to the commission, Halstead said some trains from 
waste-producing power plants would run on tracks parallel to 
Interstate 80 in northern Nevada, coming from the east and the west.

Trains from the west would run through downtown Reno and Sparks.

The trains would then run south to Yucca Mountain along a route near 
U.S. 95, which goes through several rural towns including Schurz, 
Hawthorne, Mina, Tonopah and Goldfield. Halstead said the DOE's 
estimated cost of upgrading rail routes and laying new track is $1.6 
billion - but he termed that ``a made-up number.''

Also speaking at the commission meeting was Sparks City Manager Shaun 
Carey, who said the DOE rejected a request for a hearing on the rail 
route. He said the route is of particular concern for his city, since 
it's home to a major rail operations yard.

Bob Loux, head of the state's Agency for Nuclear Projects, said it 
looks like the DOE wants to ``deliberately keep people in northern 
Nevada out of the process.''

DOE spokesman Allen Benson said a preliminary hearing on rail routes 
was held at the University of Nevada, Reno in late November, adding, 
``I don't know much closer we could get to Sparks City Hall.'' He 
said additional hearings will be held in northern Nevada in the 

``We're years away from routes,'' he added. ``We haven't settled on 
any routes. Our focus is on completing and submitting the licensing 

Benson also said the federal government has been hauling nuclear 
waste by truck for half a century with no problems.

Westinghouse takes next step in China nuclear plant deal

Westinghouse Electric Co.Mar 1  signed an agreement with officials in 
China Thursday that is the latest significant contractual step in the 
company's quest to build four nuclear power plants in that country.
Neither the company nor officials in China are reporting the value of 
the deal, but analysts place the value of the deal for delivery of 
four Westinghouse AP1000 reactors at between $5 billion and $8 

The framework agreement signed in Beijing was with officers of 
China's state Nuclear Power Technology Company, officials with 
Westinghouse and their U.S. partner on the project, the Baton Rouge, 
La.-based Shaw Group Inc.

The framework agreement provides such things as funding for long lead 
materials and early engineering.

Final contracts on the four plants are scheduled to be finalized by 

Over the next 25 to 30 years, Westinghouse expects to play a 
significant role in the construction of as many as 26 additional 
nuclear power plants in China.

Along with the Chinese contract, Westinghouse has been selected to 
build as many as 12 nuclear power plants by energy consortiums in the 

Westinghouse's plans are good news for local employment numbers, as 
the company is on pace to house as many as 2,000 new engineers in 
Southwestern Pennsylvania over the next five years. The company is 
currently deliberating between sites in Monroeville and Cranberry for 
a new engineering campus.

Spokesman Vaughn Gilbert said Thursday that the company will be 
making an announcement on its site selection in the next two weeks.
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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