[ RadSafe ] [Nuclear News] Slovaks and Czechs among the biggest nuclear energy supporters in EU

Sandy Perle sandyfl at cox.net
Mon Mar 5 20:28:21 CST 2007


*Slovaks and Czechs among the biggest nuclear energy supporters in EU
*Firm aims to reopen nuclear plant
*State flags referendum on nuclear power
*GCC has right to pursue nuclear energy: Saudi 
*Nuclear power not the only thing Alternate Energy has in mind

Slovaks and Czechs among the biggest nuclear energy supporters in EU -
Eurobarometer poll 

Slovakia and the Czech Republic  -  both  new  European  Union  
member  states which have nuclear  power  plants  -  are  among  the 
biggest supporters of nuclear energy within the EU, according to a 
Eurobarometer poll released Monday. "Sweden  tops  the  ranking  
(27%),  followed  by  Finland, Slovakia and Bulgaria  (all  24%),"  
the Eurobarometer poll said. "In these countries the share  nuclear  
energy  represents  in  total electricity production ranges from 
about a third in Finland to 56% in Slovakia." The survey  noted two 
factors appear to have an effect on public opinion at country  level: 
 whether  a country has nuclear power plants (NPP) in operation and, 
to a certain extent, the share of nuclear energy in total electricity 
generation in each country. The highest proportions of EU citizens 
who say that the share of nuclear energy should  be  increased  are  
found  in  countries  where there are functional NPPs, according to 
Eurobarometer. "High numbers  of  respondents  who would like to keep 
the proportion of nuclear  energy  the same are also found in 
countries where [plants] are in operation,  namely  the  Czech 
Republic (51%), Hungary (50%), Finland (47%), Slovenia and Slovakia 
(both 46%)," the poll found. Fifteen  EU  states  have  nuclear  
power plants: Belgium, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, 
Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Spain, the Netherlands, Romania, 
Slovenia, Slovakia, Sweden, the United Kingdom. The twelve  EU states 
that do not have nuclear power plants are Austria, Cyprus,  Denmark,  
Estonia,  Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, Malta, Poland 
and Portugal. 

Firm aims to reopen nuclear plant  
Hinkley Point B is due to be decommissioned in 2011 
British Energy has applied for permission to reopen Hinkley B nuclear 
power station in Somerset, after six months of repair work. 
The station was closed in September last year for repairs to cracked 
pipes in the boiler system. 

The Stop Hinkley Campaign Group says it is not safe and British 
Energy will be taking a huge chance by operating it. 

The power station, which costs about £1m a day to run, is due to be 
decommissioned in 2011. 

Campaign group spokesperson Jim Duffy said: "We're already passed the 
effective life of this nuclear reactor and what's happening is that 
Hinkley are acting on a string and a prayer." 

He said the fact that it took three months longer than expected to 
complete the repairs meant it was not safe. 

However, Nigel Cann director of Hinkley B section, said if the units 
were not in a position to start up safely, then they would not. 

"Our responsibility to the safety of the public and our staff members 
is always our number one priority," he said. 

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate is expected to make its 
decision by the end of the month. 

State flags referendum on nuclear power

SOUTH Australian Premier Mike Rann says he will call a referendum on 
nuclear power if the Federal Government moves to override state bans 
on such a power plant in SA.

Mr Rann today said he would introduce legislation to parliament that 
would trigger the referendum if the Commonwealth pushed the issue.

"It now appears the Prime Minister is becoming a champion of domestic 
nuclear power generation and his government is actively promoting the 
idea of overturning laws to allow their establishment in Australia," 
Mr Rann said.

"I believe this is an issue of such significance and controversy that 
the people should be given a direct say in whether they want nuclear 
power plants built in South Australia." 

Mr Rann said his position was clear and his government would always 
oppose nuclear power because it was financially irresponsible, 
economically unviable and would massively force up the price of 

But he said if the community wanted to debate the pros and cons of 
nuclear power then a referendum would provide a platform to help 
people make an informed judgment. 

"If the Federal Government is so sure that nuclear power stations are 
a good idea, then it should welcome the opportunity for the people of 
South Australia to have a say," the Premier said. 

GCC has right to pursue nuclear energy: Saudi 

(The Peninsula)  Mar 6 - The First Deputy Premier and Foreign 
Minister H E Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al Thani attending the 
Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting in Riyadh yesterday. 
Gulf nations warn against attack on Iran 

Riyadh o Saudi Arabia said yesterday that Iran´s nuclear programme 
was an extra burden on a region already fraught with challenges, but 
that Gulf allies had the right to their own peaceful atomic 

Foreign Ministers of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) 
states were meeting in the Saudi capital to discuss progress in their 
plans for a joint civil atomic programme that has raised fears of a 
nuclear race with Iran. 

They agreed at a summit in December to study the feasibility of 
developing nuclear energy. "The nuclear crisis in the region has 
become an extra burden to challenges that are already facing us," 
Saudi Foreign Affairs Minister Prince Saud Al Faisal told the 

"This urges us to deal with the new challenge with full 
responsibility ... and adopt diplomatic solutions in a way that would 
preserve the right of countries in the region for their own nuclear 
energy for peaceful purposes." 

Prince Saud also criticised Israel, which is widely believed to have 
the Middle East´s only nuclear arsenal. "The International Atomic 
Energy Agency standards and measures should apply to all countries in 
the region without exceptions, including Israel." 

Earlier, GCC Secretary-General Abdul-Rahman Al Attiyah, who visited 
the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month, said he 
would brief the meeting about plans to cooperate with the UN nuclear 

In Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, Al Attiyah said the GCC states oppose any 
attack on Iran over its nuclear programme. "We reject any escalation 
of the crisis relative to this dossier (that could) lead to a 
military confrontation that could have negative consequences and lead 
to catastrophe," the GCC Secretary-General said. 

"A political solution to the crisis over the Iranian nuclear dossier 
still has a chance," he said at the start of a conference on Gulf 
security in Abu Dhabi. GCC member states have in the past voiced 
concern about an eventual air strike on Iran´s nuclear facilities and 
the potentially catastrophic environmental consequences. 

The GCC´s decision to pursue a nuclear programme has raised concerns 
that Arab states may want to protect themselves if Iran acquires 
nuclear weapons. Gulf states have expressed concern over Iran´s 
nuclear programme which the United States says could be aimed at 
making bombs. Tehran says its programme is peaceful. Gulf states say 
their nuclear programme will be used for power generation.

Nuclear power not the only thing Alternate Energy has in mind
(News Advance) Mar 5 - Its critics call Alternate Energy Holdings 
Inc. inexperienced.

After all, the small Thaxton-based firm has never built a nuclear 
power plant.

The start-up alternative energy firm in Bedford County put a 4,000-
acre tract in Idaho under contract in February for $20 million - and 
plans to build a nuclear power plant there.

It also has entered into negotiations with AREVA NP to use its "next-
generation" nuclear reactor at the Idaho site.

When talking about this, company president and chief executive 
officer Don Gillispie just sits back and smiles.

He realizes his company´s ambitions might seem comparable to a child 
with big dreams to an outsider.

He said his company may be new, it may be small, but it has the 
skills. The company may not have the experience, he said, but its 
board does.

"I think if you count amongst our board members we´ve built 12 
(nuclear) plants," Gillispie said.

Former senior executives in the utilities and investment industries 
founded the alternative energy company. Its current board members 
include a former vice president of the Nuclear Energy Institute 
(NEI), a former executive director for operations of the Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission (NRC) and several former board members of 
nuclear utility regulator Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.

If its ambitious plan succeeds, the firm´s Idaho project would be the 
first nuclear-generating plant in the United States since the 1970s.

According to a company news release, "The proposed plant was 
originally requested by the Rural River Co-op to assist with local 
farmers´ irrigation needs.

"Subject to regulatory approval, AEHI is considering further 
involvement in the Idaho agricultural community, primarily by using 
surplus heat from the plant to lower the high cost of producing 
bioethanol from locally grown grain."

Alternate Energy´s board is not alone in its way of thinking.

NEI spokesman Mitchell Singer said 19 companies have announced their 
intention to build a nuclear plant, including Alternate Energy and 
Amarillo Power in Texas.

"If everything moves ahead as we it expect it will, construction on a 
new plant will start 2012," Singer said.

Amarillo Power is the brain child of Amarillo, Texas, developer 
George Chapman, who is attempting to bring an estimated $5 billion 
nuclear power plant to that part of the country.

Attempts to contact Chapman were unsuccessful.

Like Alternate Energy, Amarillo Power has never built a nuclear power 

Stephanie Coffin, branch manager for the NRC Office of New Reactors, 
said Amarillo Power is the only company to file with the NRC that 
isn´t currently operating a nuclear power plant. Alternate Energy is 
awaiting the geologists report on the Idaho property before it files.

`Shocking´ alternatives
Alternate Energy´s big ideas don´t stop with nuclear power.
Like any company, Gillispie said, Alternate Energy has to look at 
supply and demand. He said utility companies usually have to worry 
about the supply side. His firm not only wants to make energy 
available, but efficient as well.

The firm has a few projects in the works to make that possible, 
including lightning harvesting, a fuel additive, a new system to 
remove carbon dioxide at power plants and a system to convert coal 
into synthetic natural gas.

Benjamin Franklin is credited with harnessing electricity with a kite 
and a key in a lightning storm. Alternate Energy currently has a 
patent to do something similar, without its five employees standing 
in a thunderstorm.

Gillispie said a pole with an electric charge will attract currents 
in the air. It will sit on about 50-acres of open land. The currents 
would travel down the pole into a series of ground wires where it 
would be converted into electricity and stored.

The average lightning bolt contains approximately one million 
kilowatts of electrical energy. According to the Department of 
Energy´s Web site, its not conducting research on the viability of 
lightning-generated power.

Gillispie said he was approached by Israeli native Steve LeRoy about 
the project. LeRoy had worked on the lightning-harvesting project for 
22 years.

Gillispie said the Department of Defense offered to purchase the 
project, but LeRoy turned it down because he thought the department 
would use the technology as a weapon.

Alternate Energy has had success with the prototype on a smaller 
scale. It even got into a bit of trouble with the Federal 
Communications Commission because the electrical currents going into 
the prototype were messing with neighbors´ TV reception.

"Our plan is to try to get it built (to scale) by this summer," 
Gillispie said.

Another idea in the works is mini reactors. Mini reactors are 
actually an old concept, Gillispie said.

The reactors are just what they sound like - small nuclear reactors 
that are used to power boats, airplanes and maybe one day the space 

Gillispie said the project is in the preliminary phases right now.

His firm is currently working on a container that will hold the mini 

Incentives, global warming concerns have power companies scrambling 
to plan new reactors 

(The Times-Picayune) Mar 4 - At River Bend nuclear power plant in St. 
Francisville, a crater about the size of two football fields was 
originally supposed to house the site's second nuclear reactor. 

The abandoned crater is representative of more than 60 nuclear 
reactors throughout the United States that were canceled in the 1970s 
and 1980s because of rising construction costs, a slowdown in energy 
demand and changing regulations because of a nuclear accident at 
Three Mile Island near Hershey, Pa. 

Since then, the nation's 103 nuclear plants have been supplying about 
17 percent of the nation's energy. Not a single new reactor has 
broken ground. 
But spurred by more than $12 billion in federal incentives, a growing 
concern about global warming and rising demand for energy, the 
nuclear industry is undergoing a gold rush of sorts, as companies 
jockey to be first in line to build a new plant. 

"We are looking to finance the first movers," said Craig Stevens, 
press secretary for the federal Department of Energy. "We want to 
create an environment where nuclear reactors can be built." 

About 15 companies, including Entergy Nuclear, have announced they 
are considering building as many as 33 new reactors -- including at 
Entergy's River Bend plant and its Grand Gulf plant in Port Gibson, 
Miss., according to the Nuclear Energy Institute. Entergy says such a 
new plant could be operating in 2015 at the soonest. 

The companies say nuclear power could bring more fuel diversity to 
the nation and provide the only large-scale emission free power. 

"It's critical that nuclear be a part of the climate change 
calculus," said Jim Owen, a spokesman for the Edison Electric 
Institute, an electric company trade group. 

But as the prospect of more nuclear plants comes closer to reality, 
environmentalists are questioning the economics of building such 
expensive plants and the rationale of supplanting pollution from 
fossil fuels with the problems associated with nuclear fuel 
production and waste. 

"The environmental footprint of nuclear is phenomenal. It far exceeds 
any other form of energy generation," said Geoff Fettus, an attorney 
at the Natural Resources Defense Council. "And putting all of that 
aside, the economics don't work. We could be doing a lot better 
things with our money." 

Because no plants have been built for so long, there is no reliable 
estimate of how much a new plant will cost, according to the Energy 
Information Agency. Estimates range from $2.5 billion to more than $8 
billion per unit. 

Spiraling costs 

As the last round of nuclear plants was being built in the late 1970s 
and early 1980s, several events came together and ended the 
development of new nuclear plants for decades. First, initial 
construction costs for many of the proposed plants were 
underestimated. Then, following the accident at Three Mile Island in 
Pennsylvania, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission tightened regulations 
and standards for nuclear plants, creating even more cost overruns. 


Plants that were initially expected to cost a few hundred million 
dollars ended up costing a few billion. River Bend was estimated to 
cost $307 million in 1971. By the time it was finished in 1985, the 
plant cost $4.4 billion. 

Additionally, high interest rates doomed some projects. 

"In the 1970s when construction ended, the most expensive component 
was the interest on the loan," Stevens said. 

And predictions of rising demand for electricity turned out to be 
false, limiting the need for new sources. 

Those financial and regulatory obstacles had to be overcome to 
encourage the development of new nuclear plants. 

The Department of Energy tackled one of those issues in 2003 when it 
offered to pay 50 percent of the $50 million to $90 million cost of 
licensing to groups that were willing to try out the Nuclear 
Regulatory Commission's new, streamlined licensing process. 

Previously, companies had to apply to the commission for a license to 
construct a plant. When construction was completed, they had to 
return to the commission to obtain a license to operate the plant.

The two-phase licensing gave critics more opportunity to oppose the 
project, ultimately slowing it down, Stevens said. 

A consortium of companies called NuStart Energy, whose members 
include Entergy Nuclear, Exelon Generation, FP&L, General Electric 
and Westinghouse, took advantage of the Energy Department's offer and 
are applying to obtain combined construction and operating licenses 
for new reactors at Grand Gulf in Mississippi and at Bellefonte in 
Alabama, which is owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority. 

NuStart plans to submit its construction and operating licenses this 
year. Once the licenses are obtained, NuStart will turn the process 
over to the reactor's owners. 
Entergy says it hasn't made a decision on whether it will build a 
plant, but it wants to have the option to do so, said Randy 
Hutchinson, senior vice president of development for Entergy Nuclear 

"It's a serious phase to preserve the nuclear option," he said. 

The Department of Energy also has offered risk insurance to the first 
six nuclear reactors to break ground. The first two companies to 
start construction will be eligible for as much as $500 million in 
insurance to hedge against bureaucratic and legal delays, and the 
next four will receive $250 million. 

The first six companies will also receive tax credits of as much as 
1.6 cents per hour for new power generation. 

The government is also offering loan guarantees to companies that 
apply for them. 

Nuclear industry critics say if nuclear were a good investment, the 
companies would be building the plants on their own, without taxpayer 

"This is an astronomical amount of money that is being used to 
subsidize a mature polluting industry," Fettus said.

A spokeswoman for the Nuclear Energy Institute said the industry is 
asking help to get the new plants off the ground. 

"What the industry seeks from Congress is limited investment in a 
limited number of new plants for a limited time," Melanie Lyons said.

Uniform construction 
In addition to the incentives and regulatory changes, the way the 
reactors will be designed and built has changed dramatically, company 
executives said. 

For instance, during the last generation of nuclear plants, reactors 
were designed as they were constructed, and each was unique. 

The new generation of nuclear plants will be standard throughout the 
industry and will be largely designed before construction begins, 
Hutchinson said. 

Those designs also will contain fewer pieces of equipment and will be 
"passive safe," meaning that they will be safer to operate and 
maintain and will automatically shut down in case of an accident, 
said Garry Young, who is handling the licensing process for the 
proposed reactor at River Bend. 

Paul Gunter of the Reactor Watchdog Project said that in the 
companies' efforts to reduce costs, the new round of plants will be 
less safe, and "profit margins are pitted against safety and 

Experts in the field 

Entergy would try to avoid cost overruns by putting one contractor, 
General Electric, in charge of the project. Previously, the company 
managed several different contractors.

We'll sign one contract. We will be dealing with one person with 
accountability to get the job done on budget and on schedule," 
Hutchinson said. 

Another advantage comes into play for Entergy: its experience in the 
nuclear field. 

The company is the second-largest nuclear operator in the nation 
behind Exelon. 
The company had reactors in Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi in 
1998, when it decided to expand its reach and make nuclear a "core" 

"At that time, when most utilities wanted to divest their nuclear 
units, Entergy Nuclear knew that the 103 nuclear plants across the 
nation had unrealized value and potential that could be tapped by a 
knowledgeable, experienced nuclear operator," said Diane Park, a 
spokeswoman for Entergy's nuclear business development unit. 

Since then, Entergy has acquired five more reactors. It is preparing 
to close on a sixth reactor in Michigan. It also operates a plant in 

"It's a very big part of our business today, and we see that more and 
more going forward," Hutchinson said. 

Nuclear amounts to 30 percent of Entergy's power capacity but closer 
to 50 percent of its actual generation, he said. 

The company's experience in the nuclear field allows the company to 
operate plants more efficiently and with economies of scale, Park 

Lately, the nuclear division has proven to be a strong revenue stream 
as the demand for nuclear power has risen because of higher fossil 
fuel prices.

In 2006, Entergy Nuclear earned $309.5 million, compared to $282.6 
million in 2005, largely because of higher contract pricing and 
higher generation, according to the company. 

No greenhouse gases 

Nuclear power has come to the forefront in recent years as a 
potential solution to global warming. 
Demand for power is growing, as is pressure on the energy industry to 
reduce carbon dioxide emissions. 

"Nuclear is the only large base-load power supply that doesn't emit 
greenhouse gases," Hutchinson said. 

The industry has even adopted the slogan "Go Nuclear: Because you 
care about the air." 

If Congress taxes carbon dioxide-producing fossil fuels, nuclear 
power, which wouldn't be taxed, could become a very affordable option 
for electricity. 

"Such a tax would further encourage nuclear development from a cost 
standpoint," Hutchinson said. 

Based on the long time and expense it takes to build a nuclear plant, 
Fettus said, Congress should be encouraging other forms of emission-
free energy, such as wind and solar. 

"Nuclear has the longest cost and the longest time frame," Fettus 
said. "We have a short and limited time frame" in which to reduce 
greenhouse gas emissions. 

Waste concerns 

Although many of the stumbling blocks for new nuclear plants have 
been overcome with new incentives and changes in regulations, the 
question of what to do with the nuclear fuel once it's used is still 

"There is the long-term cost of nuclear waste," Gunter said. "The 
future generation won't get one watt but will have to deal with this 
Federal law requires that the Department of Energy locate and operate 
a repository for nuclear waste, and in 2002, 20 years after the law 
was passed, Congress agreed that Yucca Mountain in Nevada would be 
that site. The Energy Department has said it will open the repository 
in 2017. 

But questions about the site's suitability persist. Senate Majority 
Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said he will continue to work to block 
completion of the project. He told United Press International in 
December that "Yucca Mountain is dead. It'll never happen." 

Until Yucca Mountain or another repository begins taking the nuclear 
waste, companies must store the nuclear waste on-site. 

At River Bend, huge concrete casks are being built to store nuclear 
waste. Each cask costs $2 million to $3 million each, said Randy 
King, director of nuclear safety assurance at River Bend. Those costs 
are passed on to customers. 

Future unclear 

It's anyone's guess as to how many new nuclear reactors will be built 
or when. 

The Nuclear Energy Institute says it's too early to even speculate. 

Entergy hasn't decided whether it will build any reactors, including 
the two it has proposed. 

"We clearly have not made a decision to build at this time," 
Hutchinson said. "It's clear that we are going to have to add base 
load. It's clear that it will be nuclear or coal or clean coal." 

Hutchinson and Owen of the Edison Electric Institute say that even if 
new nuclear plants are built, it won't be the only new source of 
electricity needed. 
James Hewlett, an analyst at the Department of Energy's Energy 
Information Agency, has been watching the nuclear industry for 20 

He said the resurgence of nuclear should have been anticipated. 

"Once you had an administration that is pro-nuclear -- combine that 
with global warming and it's not surprising. I'm just surprised it's 
happened this quick." 

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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