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Can We Talk?

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Our report on the American Nuclear Society
Meeting in Boston June 2007!
Be sure to see the photo and caption snippets at the bottom of this page!


John B. Ritch, Director General of the
World Nuclear Association
G Duarte, Us Nuclear Energy

John B. Ritch, Director General the World Nuclear Association

John B. Ritch, said on a world scale “fewer than 40% of the worlds people can switch on the lights, numbers on the same scale apply to clean water”. “Today water tables are dropping under the demands of expanding human consumption”. Today, we have one available tool, large scale desalination of the water, an energy intensive process that will compound global energy demand. “We have the great mass of humanity positioned between poverty and prosperity. This population which is poised for advance will be the engine of our world’s future economic development.” In less than 10 years from now the annual greenhouse emissions from developing nations will equal the emissions from the countries we now call developed. This single fact underscores the magnitude the urgency and the scale of the challenge we face. While energy conservation windmills, solar panels help we cannot hope to rely on such measures alone to meet our worlds expanded appetite for more energy. “Humankind cannot conceivably achieve a global clean energy revolution without a huge expansion of nuclear power to generate electricity, for traditional purposes, to produce battery power and perhaps hydrogen for tomorrow’s vehicles and to desalinate sea water in response to the worlds rapidly emerging fresh water crisis.”


Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman

Secretary of Energy Keynote Address to the American Nuclear Society

Samuel Bodman, Secretary of Energy “By the year 2030 we estimate that global energy consumption will grow by over 50%”. 70% of that growth will come from the worlds emerging economies. For electricity specifically we estimate that US demand will increase by about 50% by 2030 with global demand nearly doubled. To meet this demand in the US we would require 285,000MW new base load capacity, by way of comparison that represents roughly the total capacity of all of the coal burning power plants now operating in the United States. At almost three times the capacity of the existing solutions of nuclear required. Although global demand is rapidly increasing we must recognize the realities of global climate change and work to slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and pollution here as well as in other countries around the world. At the same time we must enable the type of economic growth particularly in the developing world that will increase living standards and allow all nations to succeed. In short we must meet demand by developing and deploying energy solutions that encourage global economic growth and discourage global reliance on polluting outdated technology. To do this we’ll need more energy from all sources, we must use fossil energy more cleanly and more efficiently including the conserving of energy that we currently waste. We must increase our use of currently available renewable and alternative technologies and develop new ones. In that regard I applaud messages of Governor’s Patrick’s energy efficiency initiative which he announced this morning, I think it’s right on the mark and is something that needs to be emulated elsewere in this country.

    We must also expand access to safe and emissions free nuclear power in a way that responsibly manages waste and dramatically reduces proliferation . . . this can and in my judgement should be done because this is the critical point, “at present nuclear power is the only mature technology that can supply large amounts of emissions free base load power to help us meet the expected growth”. Yes there are other technologies available or under development from wind power to bio management, clean coal through carbon sequestration and there are different energy efficiency technologies as well but, all these have a big impact on our energy security, we are talking however about what is available to order right now that would have a material impact on our ability to produce home grown clean power we simply have to talk nuclear power. We have not licensed a new nuclear power plant in this country in over 30 years that simply must change. Now I realize that I am preaching a bit to the choir here but the point needs to be made . . . we must get the overall process going again. Doing so requires us all to work together to remove the major impediments to getting new nuclear plants ordered, sited, and eventually built and operating. There is a bit of a danger here of putting the cart before the horse so what I’d like to do today is throw out into your discussions a bit and focus, in my view, what the federal government should do and in fact I believe we are doing it to remove the roadblocks and catalyze this process.

    The way I see it, the role of the federal government is to help break the inertia, if you will, working closely with industry and the academic community, we must take steps to remove the constraints associated with getting the next generation nuclear plants online, from there the market will take over. And let’s face it, the constraints are considerable, there are immense sighting and regulatory concerns from the local level on up. There is a need for more funding of nuclear science and research and development from the government as well as the private sector and related to that, of course, is the human component which you are focusing on here. We also must address two very real security concerns #1 the storage of spent fuel and #2 the risks of proliferation of nuclear technology and materials. Both of these are linked directly to a large issue, the state of our current nuclear capabilities. In many ways the nuclear capability of the United States has abdicated in the thirty years since the last nuclear plant was ordered. We no longer have the capacity to forge the heavy ingots needed to fabricate major nuclear reactor components. Whereas this nation was once the unquestioned leader in enrichment technology . . . (we in fact invented it) we currently meet only a portion of our domestic demand and even that is with outdated technology and we depend on foreign sources for more than 80% of our enriched uranium requirements and have no domestic commercial fuel recycling facilities for operating fast reactors or gas cooled reactors and no operating high level nuclear waste repository. . . .

    Now I don’t mean to paint to negative a picture here, after all we still have more operating nuclear reactors than any other nation we have 104 plants operating in 31 states, I should mention up until recently that number was 103 plants, as many of you know after 22 years offline and a massive renovation the Brown’s Ferry Unit-1 nuclear plant in North Alabama was officially restarted in late May and was reconnected to the TVA power grid on June 2nd. I had the fun of visiting that site with the President just last week. The progress at Brown’s Ferry thought long in coming is certainly a step in the right direction but we need to take more steps, actually in leaps and bounds. Thankfully I believe that we will get there. I am proud to serve in an administration with a vision of a future world that can universally enjoy the benefits safe affordable emissions free energy and we have programs and plans in place to achieve that vision and to put the US back in the nuclear energy game again. . . .

    Our focus is not on alleviating the constraints facing nuclear power expansion in the country. First we are implementing important provisions of the energy policy act of 2005 or EPAC . . . this will allow us to address some very significant road blocks in getting nuclear power rejunivated specifically . . . to take steps to share some of the risks associated with constructing new advanced nuclear facilities through federal group insurance and loan guarantees. After extensive industry and public input in August of 2006 the department announced a final rule that established the process for a utility to qualify for a portion of the 2 billion dollars in risk insurance for the first six plants that are built. Among other things the insurance would cover events beyond the control of the owner such as delays associated with NRC reviews or other licensing schedule delays as well as delays certain delays associated with litigation. The new loan guarantee program that I mention provides the backing of the US government by having the department share some of the financial risk associated with new clean energy projects that avoid, reduce or sequester air pollutants and greenhouse gases and that includes new nuclear plants . . . just last month we issued a notice of proposed pool making in line with our authority to guarantee up to 4 billion dollars in loans this year. We had requested authority to guarantee up to nine billion dollars for physical year 2008. We are using these guarantees to catalyze new projects and share the risks with the project sector by essentially lowering the costs of capital for these projects. If we are to reduce the barriers to the deployment of new nuclear plants then we must demonstrate to the industry that it is indeed to navigate the regulatory process.

    Through the nuclear power 2010 program we are engaging in a cost shared effort to do just that. As many of you know nuclear power 2010 is attempting to pave the way through the early site permit process as well as the combined operating license (COL) process for generation three plus light water reactors. In other words to demonstrate the untested federal regulatory and licensing processes for the sighting, construction and operation of these plants and to do it in conjunction with industry we need to work the kinks out of the system in so doing we will allow those utilities that follow through the process do reference this work and to negotiate the process in a substantially shorter period of time. We are well on our way to meeting program goals and completing this process. Another program that I would highlight is the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) . . . an international effort to address our growing global energy demands in a way that fosters economic development, improves our environment and responsibly manages nuclear waste and significantly reduces the threat of proliferation and terrorism. GNEP will expand the use of nuclear power in the United States and globally by developing more proliferation resistant technologies to recycle spent nuclear fuel . . . last month my counterparts from China, France, Japan and Russia all announced their commitment to this ground breaking partnership. Working with our international partners we will develop cutting edge technologies and develop new mechanisms for the distribution of fuel. On the technology side we will demonstrate an advanced recycle technology that does not separate pure plutonium like current reprocessing technology that is carried out in various parts of the world, most particularly France. By separating spent fuel into different elements . . . we can recycle most of the long life elements as fuel back into reactors to produce additional electricity and optimize disposal of the remaining waste products. Some of the most highly radioactive products . . . have half lives that are only about 30 years and do not require long term fuel object disposal so by recycling most of the very long life elements and setting aside for decay storage the most radioactive and heat producing elements we will greatly reduce the burden on a geologic repository. With recycling, required depository space can be reduced by 90% and radio toxicity reduced by 99%.

    Through GNEP there are tremendous opportunities for university partnerships and participation in fact, the project’s success will depend on the academic community here and all over the world. In general we believe that a foundation exists in the academic community to expand our collaboration with the energy department . . . the office of nuclear energy support now extends to approximately 50 universities with about 30 of these offering nuclear engineering degrees and the amount of money we have committed to them is over 50 million dollars in each of the last two years. . . . We must continue to encourage congress to support the GNEP initiative. We must continue making the case for more nuclear power in this country and we need all segments of the nuclear science establishment, labor and industry to follow. It is a robust and growing commercial industry that will lead to more jobs and more university research. The future needs for our highly trained nuclear engineers and other personnel . . . will not be there unless the market demands it. The market will not do so without a supportive policy environment . . . once we have the right politics in place and much needed support from congress we will have paved the way for new plants to be ordered, built and brought online.


Our US Nuclear Energy presence at the 2007 Summer ANS meeting in Boston kept us very busy with photos, studying the presentation topics and trying to assemble our media coverage. Here is more of what we learned.

    Click on thumbs to enlarge thumbs! . . . Our photos and comments from the 2007 ANS summer meeting in Boston, MA.

Carol Berrigan, Director Industry Infrastructure
Nuclear Energy Institute. One of the difficulties the US faces with our mission to rebuild and advance new nuclear development in America is our need to rebuild the materials components needed for the nuclear plant industry. Our dormancy over the past 30 years has allowed our leadership in plant components to move offshore and it is going to take a long term serious effort to rebuild what we let go.

Poster on display of the Newman-Wachs racing car displaying the American Nuclear Society decal. Through the efforts of ANS, Eagle Alliance and others the nuclear industry is seeking to bring the clean energy option that nuclear offers to high high profile people within other industries.

Our US Nuclear Energy banner and literature displayed
on a table at the entrance of the conference rooms. Each year that goes by, we are making headway at promoting our mission of "Bringing Science to Citizens" and developing some high level industry contacts.

One of the very active panel sessions was this one discussing nuclear energy and climate change.

This is the panel covering the nuclear & climate change session. Paul Genoa, (seated left) Director of Policy Development for the Nuclear Energy Institute in Washington, DC overviews some of the advantages that nuclear development (with no CO-2 gases can contribute to ease the amount greenhouse gases produced by the fossil fuel plants.

The attendees at this session had a lot of (after show) discussions reviewing the objectives and covering the science factors of those technical presentations.

Government leaders throughout the world are recognizing the need for expanded nuclear energy sources worldwide. The United States, because of its many years of nuclear procrastination is now seriously behind in our needed development of new nuclear energy. The costs to make our US coal fired plants C0-2 near-free will exceed the costs of nuclear plants causing even higher costs for future energy. Energy costs are some of the reason that our manufacturing industry has moved offshore. We must level or REDUCE our energy costs in order to regain and stabilize US manufacturing.

John B. Ritch, Director General, the World Nuclear Association in his discussion . . . "Humankind cannot conceivably achieve a global clean energy revolution without a HUGE expansion of nuclear power. America is the single largest consumer of energy worldwide and in relation to the global picture, we MUST understand our responsibilities to put the development of nuclear energy on the FAST TRACK in America.

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