Can We Talk?
US Nuclear Energy Foundation
Our mission is to influence change in public opinion towards
“Our freedoms can only
Through our travels in the past years and attending nuclear industry conventions we have come to the conclusion that there is a disconnect between science and the media. The excerpt below is part of a more extensive NOTE at the bottom of our mission statement page.
"There is a major need for a great expansion of "scientific editors" throughout the entire "world media" to "report" science and engineering related to this industry not the sensationalisms of the past".
Our letters to editors are an effort at providing accurate representations of nuclear science to citizens. In numerous cases, editorial comments concerning nuclear energy and waste repository science are sometimes misunderstood or misleading when presented to the public by media sources. Our interest is to try to balance the science with the media presentation.
Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009
This story relates to the City of Ely Nevada and White Pine County. Over the past couple years their community has been involved in discussions with NV Energy concerning coal driven power plants. In early 2009 NV Energy suspended potential applications due to politics and EPA discussions. In September, 2009 our US Nuclear Energy Foundation traveled to Ely Nevada simply for the purpose of providing City and County officials with a presentation, “A Primer on Nuclear Energy”.
Below, Ms. Tavares authored a story about Ely’s consideration. Based on her story and contact with USNEF we replied to the story for informational purposes.
Dear Ms. Tavares:
Las Vegas Sun
Per your call on Friday concerning some input from US Nuclear Energy Foundation, I thought you might be interested in some feedback facts relative to your story. I have commented in italic green copy, thanks pretty good story: Gary Duarte, USNEF
In Nevada, nuclear raises touchy issues
Plants’ voracious thirst, state’s Yucca stand complicate idea for Ely
Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 | 2 a.m.
Nevada’s long-standing common sense argument against Yucca Mountain in reality, the State of Nevada has never applied “common sense” to the Yucca issue, for the “most part” the Yucca project was proven viable by “scientifically engineered data” not by common sense. has been that the state doesn’t even have a nuclear plant, so it would be patently wrong to force it to be the nuke dump site for the rest of the nation. Actually Nevada has NEVER been self supporting with electrical energy importing up to 50% of its power up to about 2006, slight change today. Also in fact up to 2006 about 10% of THAT power was purchased from nuclear generation sources, we purchased nuclear power.
That line might not be valid in the future, however. Ely is considering going nuclear. Actually it wasn’t valid then, and it won’t be in the future. What is valid is that ALL nuclear plants must have provisions for some 20-30 years of “on site” temporary storage of the plants spent fuel. There is little doubt that major reprocessing technology will be available at that time within Nevada or else ware. Spent fuel at that time will become a very valuable asset.
The northeastern Nevada town was once slated to become home to two huge coal power plants. But as costly regulations of carbon emissions loomed large in recent years, those plants were put on the back burner. The mining town is desperate for the economic diversification and high-paying jobs a power plant would bring. Its advocates argue that nuclear energy is “green energy” to the extent that it does not emit greenhouse gases.
Plans to build at least one major transmission line from Ely to Las Vegas mean a nuclear plant up there could supply power to Southern Nevada and elsewhere, notes Gary Duarte, a Sparks resident who is the founder and director of the US Nuclear Energy Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes nuclear energy in rural areas. Not exclusive to rural area but actually the western U.S. Not sure why you explain little of our phone conversation per the mission of US Nuclear Energy Foundation bridging the gap between science and citizens. The public has been mislead by the politics about nuclear energy for many years. On our mission, as the public is given the truth their ability to exercise logic and common sense is refreshing.
A nuclear plant anywhere in Nevada, however, would not only fly in the face of the state’s lobbying against nuclear waste, In reality spent nuclear fuel exists regardless of the states position. It’s the location of Nevada Yucca site passed into law by congress that the state opposes. it would also be a huge consumer of a resource over which epic fights are under way — water. Fights are often caused due to a lack of knowledge this applies to state representatives as well as the public. This next paragraph supporting this I posted in a blog to this story on your website:
Facts be known when you factor in water usage in coal preparation, steam production to make the electricity and water use in plant scrubber operations to (partially) clean the smoke, the coal plant actually uses more water overall. A megawatt of electricity is a megawatt, and requires the SAME steam to drive the turbine. Coal and Nuclear are very close to equivalent in water usage. This is why if preliminary water may support two coal plants it might also support one large nuclear plant.
The power industry has developed "Hybrid" (half water half air) and Dry cooling (totally closed air) systems, some of which have been actually installed and tested in New Mexico. Large scale deployment can be accomplished given a sites specific limitations.
Solar systems require water to keep them clean to maintain their efficiency. Ironically, any PV system is best installed where there is little or no water (hard for the mirror washers)! Any Solar-Steam system will actually use more water than a power equivalent Nuclear or Coal system, for the water usage to clean the mirrors. (Just wondering, how many pints, quarts, gallons to clean a PV panel X number of panels X frequency, week, month, year)? Again the steam-turbine uses the same water quantity megawatt to megawatt.
Yucca’s staunchest and most powerful (power is not always accompanied by intellect) opponent, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, wouldn’t address the Ely situation directly, but through a spokesman said he wants to hold off on nuclear energy until scientists figure out what to do with the lethal waste the plants generate. Scientists HAVE figured this out via reprocessing. Senator Reid KNOWS this and it is apparent that his NIMBY political position does not follow the scientific “conclusions” of the “majority of data and engineering” produced at Yucca Mountain. Also: The following article was printed from the Local Stories section of the Reno News & Review, originally published December 20, 2007.
Reid: I’m cool with nukes: The Nevada senator’s opposition to coal plants may give nuclear power a new lease on life
For his entire 24-year congressional career, U.S. Sen. Harry Reid has been trying to stop the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste dump in Nye County. Now, with coal-fired power plants dropping like flies, Reid says he can live with nuclear power, even though it will add pressure for the opening of the Yucca facility.
“If I have a choice between coal and nuclear, it’s an easy choice to make,” Reid said.
Reid says he prefers renewable alternatives to coal rather than nuclear, and he’s skeptical of federal subsidies for the nuclear power industry. But between coal and nuclear, his choice is nuclear.
See for yourself: http://www.newsreview.com/reno/Content?oid=607697
Reid also has concerns about the amount of water a nuclear plant would use, his spokesman, Jon Summers said.
“All Nevadans should be aware that there is no other power source that requires more water than nuclear,” he said. “In fact, it’s the only power source that requires more water than coal.” I challenge this. Ask Mr. Summers if his coal water calculations are totaled from the mine to the energy generated?
Water is hugely politicized in Nevada — especially in Northern Nevada. It’s not political it IS reality! This resource is within the realm “geographical area of Northern Nevada it IS their resource! Rural Nevadans are steamed about Southern Nevada’s decades-long quest for all the unused water (and even some of the used water) in their aquifers. As they should be, southern Nevada “should be responsible for themselves” and their own public utility requirements. To most Nevada citizens this is common sense unless diluted by self necessity!
Ely is afraid that if it doesn’t use all the water it has, the Southern Nevada Water Authority will swoop in and take it. “Afraid”? If it wasn’t in the “plans” the Southern Nevada Water Authority would have nothing to be “thinking about . . . they are and that water IS in their thoughts.
The water in the Steptoe Valley basin, which covers the area of White Pine County that includes Ely and the outlying area where the nuclear plant might be located, is spoken for, according to state records. Enough water flows into the basin most years to enable farmers, miners and municipalities to pull about 70,000 acre-feet of water from beneath the ground each year. Locals have permission from the state this is where the rub is, isn’t it? The state managing geographical resources . . . sort of like the state opposing the Yucca Mountain Site on federal land? to pump more than 96,400 acre-feet of water a year. Most water rights holders don’t use all their water every year, and the biggest users are farms, where much of the water used trickles back down into the aquifer. Nevada mines are one of the major consumers of both water and power not just farming, you shouldn’t miss this. If Ely built a nuclear plant and “talked” about a sizable discount for power to the Nevada mining industry, common sense might plug them into becoming nuclear supporters. Nevada business needs low cost electrical power . . . nuclear IS the source, wind and solar cannot support production cost efficiency.
That wouldn’t happen with water used at a nuclear plant. A good portion of it is lost as steam. This is misleading. The fact is “use” is about 25,000 acre feet less than half of what you claim as the availability.
Modern nuclear power plants use about 25 million gallons of water a day. Annually, that comes out to about 60,000 acre-feet of water. Mike McGough, senior vice president of UniStar Nuclear Energy, which made an informational presentation on nuclear development last month in Ely, notes that most plants have recapture technology that can drop that number to 25,000 acre-feet. But that’s still 36 percent of the basin’s water — and water that is not even available, according to state records. So, how was the state going to fly two coal plants for NV Energy?
Ely Mayor Jon Hickman, who is advocating for the nuclear plant, said enough water for it would be available if both coal plants were officially scuttled and the companies abandoned their quest for water rights.
He said Ely residents fear that if they don’t find another use for that water, the Southern Nevada Water Authority will get it, further limiting the town’s options for economic diversification. This is reality, Mayor Hickman is absolutely correct and the city and county “direct rights” should overrule the State. Especially given that estimates show that the Southern Nevada Waters Authority “spends” run about 27% of its fees are the costs of “moving” the water they use? How much common sense does this avail?
The authority says that won’t happen, but Northern Nevadans don’t believe it. Simple resolution, have the Southern Nevada Water Authority author a resolution stating that they under any circumstances will not partition the State of Nevada to access water from the prescribed locations?
Hickman and others in Ely do believe in nuclear, though. I believe this is rightfully so. USNEF simply did a presentation to the Ely City and County officials, “A primer on Nuclear Energy”. It simply presents the facts, the safety and the advances over the past 30 years. Common sense can prevail when the truth is presented.
“Ely really needs something that is going to be more permanent than what we have,” Hickman says. “Like any mining community we always live in fear of the mine closing. It would destroy our economy.” The value of a potential nuclear plant in Ely is not only measured in its employees but what a boost to high technology for the State of Nevada . . . with an environment of 350 engineers, what might be on the horizon for “new business”?
A nuclear plant would boost the Ely economy by first providing 4,000 skilled construction jobs for the six years it would take to build the plant, McGough says. During that time, the town’s population — now just over 4,000 — would boom, supporting local businesses. And locals could use that time get the education they would need to land one of the approximately 360 permanent jobs that would each would pay from $85,000 to $90,000 a year.
The economic footprint of a nuclear plant would be huge — about $20 million in state and local taxes, McGough said.
“There are a lot of positive impacts,” he said. “The jobs at the site all spawn secondary and tertiary economic impacts.”
It would take a lot more than an ideal site to get a company like his to build a $9 billion power plant, however.
“Anybody who is going to develop a nuclear energy plant would be irresponsible and asking for an uphill battle if they were trying to go build something in a place where they’re not wanted,” he says. “Our feeling is that there are lots of places where these facilities are desired and if we’re going to develop this huge endeavor, we’re only going to do it if we’ve got local, state, political support.” Precisely the stated mission of US Nuclear Energy Foundation, “Bringing Science to Citizens”. Each time we display our presentation we seed a few more open minds of our citizens as they grow, so does our mission and public policy about nuclear.
But could a nuclear power plant developer get that support in a state known for its opposition to nuclear waste?
Nevada Nuclear Waste Task Force Executive Director Judy Treichel said her organization is opposed to both storage of the nuclear waste and of the plants that make it. She and the anti-nuclear waste organizations that her group represents would be sure to mount strong opposition. As the science and engineering FACTS are presented to the public citizen common sense will eventually replace the skepticism and misrepresentation.
Even in Ely, the town’s leaders and residents have a lot of questions, Hickman said. They’ve set up a community committee to explore the pros and cons of having a nuclear plant nearby and to gauge public opinion. This is exactly the USNEF motto: “Our mission is to influence change in public opinion towards knowledgeable citizens about nuclear energy and waste repository issues”.
That was a major hurdle for the coal plants, which were fairly popular with most Ely residents, but strongly opposed by others throughout the West. Hickman said he expects opposition to a nuclear plant would be just as strong. Again, this answer can only be resolved by providing Nevada citizens with a common sense educational overview of nuclear power.
US Nuclear Energy 501 (c) (3) Foundation
Letter to the editor / RGJ Contact: Gary J. Duarte, Director
Is Yucca Mountain, finally seeing some balanced media coverage?
Finally, after many years of biased public awareness several other Nevada factions and groups have jumped on the bandwagon. US Nuclear Energy Foundation initiated our nuclear awareness website and outreach to citizens through public presentations in late 2005. Nevada citizens are now beginning to get a balancing of opinion concerning the Yucca Mountain Repository and nuclear reprocessing science. The advent of such a project has far reaching potential for the entire business climate in Nevada.
For several years our website has supported that The Yucca Mountain Project offers many possibilities for expanding and developing new research and technology programs in Nevada UNLV, UNR, DRI, TMCC, Nevada State College . . . current and future Yucca program elements represent opportunities now and after the repository is operational: - Chemical and Mechanical Engineering . . . - Industrial Engineering - Mining Engineering - Health Sciences - Remote Monitoring - Robotics - Computer Processing - Technicians, etc.
If Nevada citizens had been given a balanced picture, how advanced “could” we have been TODAY building and establishing reprocessing technology? We should have been looking at Yucca as a source of high-paying jobs, at the cutting edge of science and technology and as a stimulus for the development of our educational system moving toward science and engineering which is necessary to attract high technology companies to Nevada. Seven out of the top 10 academic achievement states in the country have nuclear power plants in those states.
Eventually science solves our problems and being truthful we all know that affirmative Yucca Mountain science far outweighs negative Yucca Mountain science at the science level. What have our politicians cost us, our children and grandchildren for the POLITICS of their backyard? We all have backyards but have not been represented fairly by our public administrators.
Gary J. Duarte, Director
US Nuclear Energy Foundation
To the Editor, Nevada Appeal, Carson City, Nevada
I would like to respond to an article published in the Nevada Appeal on December 27th by Bob Loux, Executive Director of the Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects. Having pointed out that he has been “intimately involved” with the Yucca Mountain Project since 1984 seems rather astounding that he and the state have not been able to disprove the science applied to Yucca Mountain . Instead, they have simply been throwing “political roadblocks” based on “nonsensical” scenarios for transportation attacks, water rights, 10,000 and 100,000 year no-fault tolerance scenarios, etc.
To say that Nevada should not be the repository state because it does not have any nuclear power plants is shortsighted. Nevada imports about 50% of its electricity and 10% of that is generated by nuclear plants. But beyond that, the energy problem is a national one and Nevada is one of the 50 states; it is part of the problem and it must be part of the solution.
Nevada should be looking at The Yucca Mountain Project as a source of high-paying jobs, at the cutting edge of science and technology and as a stimulus for the development of its educational system moving toward science and engineering which, in turn, will help attract high technology companies to the state.
Mr. Loux asks the question “what price can and should Nevada's leaders put on agreeing to accept a facility that they know will fail and eventually cause great damage to the environment and to public health and safety for future generations of Nevadans and Californians” . The answer is that the State leaders must, with the advice of appropriately educated scientists and engineers, assess the risks versus benefits of the Yucca Mountain project and come to an agreement with the Federal Government. The State leaders must abandon the present policy which is ‘stop this project, period, by any means’ and evaluate Yucca Mountain objectively based on a scientific safety assessment and an economic benefit to Nevada and its citizens.
The main worries about the risk from the repository are (a) transportation issues, and (b) possible leak of radioactive materials in the biosphere in the very distant future [~10,000 years and beyond]. Transportation issues are not serious and can be resolved in such a way that the transportation of the nuclear fuel [mostly by rail] will pose equal or even less risk than the hazardous materials transported routinely every day through our cities and the countryside. Regarding the radiation risk it is important to mention that the regulatory agencies demand that the expected above background dose be in the range of 10-25 mrem per year (this extra dose at ~10,000 years; until then the extra dose will be essentially zero; the natural background is in the range of 200-300 mrem/year). The 10-25 mrem per year is within the variation of our normal background radiation. Those who live in Reno, receive about 30 mrem per year more than people living in Los Angeles because of Reno’s higher elevation. If the Government and the state of Nevada believes that that 25-30 MREM per year is harmful (i.e. it causes harm that can be measured), they should evacuate Reno and Denver and all the other cities equal to that elevation or higher.
I am not a college graduate; I am not a scientist either. I am Joe Citizen who is concerned about the future of our state, the nation, my grandchildren and my purpose is to provide factual information to my fellow Nevadans. I am very certain that if our citizens have the correct information they can make an informed decision.
You can find some valuable data on many pages of our website, www.usnuclearenergy.org . Check out find this link on our home page, Radioactive Waste Disposal: Nature’s Way vs Government’s Way Dr. Bernard L. Cohen, University of Pittsburgh. Tab to, PDF Library, Yucca MT, Yucca PR. In lieu of media editing this entire text will be posted on our website.
Gary J. Duarte, Director,
US Nuclear Energy, a non-profit 501(c)(3) foundation:
To the Editor, Las Vegas Review Journal, Las Vegas, Nevada
Is Nuclear power on the comeback; could be, should be, and overdue.
Please, let’s not let our politicians slow down America’s desperate need for cost, effective carbon free, electrical power! At least our citizens are beginning to listen and learn about nuclear energy from the science perspective and not the politics. When you say to someone nuclear, their first thought is bomb. “This is unfortunate and our fellow citizens must be educated to think about the (20% US) supplied to millions of homes and the major contributions in medicine and research in every scientific field. Nuclear science contributes much more to our world than just explosions. Can we suggest logical non-partisan reasoning?
Let’s talk about the science. “Invention and innovation come about through constant failure”! Chernobyl happened because the operators violated their own procedures. However, a Chernobyl-type reactor will never receive an operational license anywhere in the world (except Russia, maybe) After the Three Mile Island accident, the plant performed as it was designed, the reactor was shut down and the containment building sealed, some radioactive gases were released, non ever proven to cause any deaths. Both these accidents provided scientists with invaluable data toward new research which has been applied to most of the 2nd generation plants.
Let’s leave “my backyard” out of this and consider another perspective? Yucca Mountain could be viewed as America’s foremost spent nuclear fuel “research facility”. As a repository the stored material can be removed at a later time. America’s 2nd generation nuclear plants were only 50 to 60% efficient at their fuel “burn cycles”. This means that commercial spent fuel destined for Yucca contains 40 to 50% “remaining energy” which makes it a very valuable The State of Nevada should request that the [title] of the Spent Nuclear Fuel going to Yucca Mountain pass to the State. The SNF still contains a considerable amount of energy [as a nuclear fuel] it is highly likely that it will be used in the future, our state and our citizens reap that future energy revenue, when generation IV “reprocessing plants arrive. And what an infusion for the technical and engineering future or our university system!
We need Yucca to come online for a permanent location for our military spent fuel. Also very important and seldom discussed is our current plant installations, several are being updated with newer safer designed components, as these retrofits go online they need to remove their temporary spent fuel inventory to provide room for their extended operating production cycles.
The world we have created is a product of our thinking; it cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” Albert Einstein.
Ms. Phoebe Sweet, reporter, Las Vegas Sun, Las Vegas, Nevada
The following is a response by Gary J. Duarte, Director, US Nuclear Energy Foundation to a story published in the Las Vegas Sun on December 4, 2007 by Phoebe Sweet.
Dear Ms. Sweet:
I reviewed a copy of your article in the Las Vegas Sun concerning the DOE/EIS meeting held at the Cashman Center.
I’m not an editor or a journalism student but I question a writer’s dialogue when resorting to “Clap, clap, clap. Cheer” and Boo, hiss, boo at a public hearing concerning a rather serious topic, the transportation and storage of nuclear material.
I have taken the time to respond to your “story” in hopes that you will review these comments objectively. I have written my response in the Arial Narrow font, blue type to distinguish our differences in “perception”.
Yucca forum gets loud, rude, does little
A Sincere effort of Major importance to America-Nuclear Energy!