Monthly Archives: April 2012

May is near, don’t forget April NN

The month of May is knocking on the door, but don’t forget to turn to your April issue of Nuclear News magazine for the latest in outage management news. The April issue, which is available in hard copy and electronically for American Nuclear Society members (must enter ANS user name and password in Member Center), contains the following articles on outage management:

  • Palo Verde’s outage ALARA success: Is it repeatable and beatable? by Mark Fallon
  • A look inside Callaway’s 18th refueling outage, by John Bassford
  • Six-year Bruce A restart project moves toward conclusion, by Dick Kovan

The issue also contains a special report on the fiscal year 2013 budgets for the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Other news in the issue: the NRC issues licensees its first post-Fukushima lessons-learned orders and requests for information; vendor partnerships may lead to siting of small modular reactors at the Savannah River Site; the Nuclear Energy Institute rebuts the NRC on degraded voltage issue; Florida Power & Light Company comments on the draft environmental assessment and the finding of no significant impact for St. Lucie power uprate; the NGNP Industry Alliance backs Areva’s reactor design for a Next Generation Nuclear Plant; FENOC says that the 1978 blizzard caused cracks in Davis-Besse’s shield building; the NRC acts on contentions in Seabrook’s and Pilgrim’s license renewal proceedings; the ASLB’s second partial initial decision favors South Texas-3 and -4; another off-site loss of power at the Byron plant; and two reports express concerns about National Nuclear Security Administration’s management of national security laboratories.

International news includes: North Korea agrees to a moratorium on nuclear activities; another setback for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s safeguards efforts in Iran; the majority of Japan’s mayors and governors would accept restart of shutdown reactors; the ANS special committee releases its report on Fukushima Daiichi; Russia’s Rosenergoatom begins construction of Baltic nuclear plant; Areva aims to expand the supply chain in Czech Republic and Poland; the United Kingdom government addresses nuclear waste, decommissioning costs; Finnish government urges nuclear companies to cooperate on waste management; and a report that proposes an international concept for spent fuel storage.

And there is much more.

Don’t go a month without your Nuclear News!


102nd Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Carnival is up at Next Big Future.

The Carnival is the collective voice of blogs with legendary names which emerge each week to tell the story of nuclear energy.

If you want to hear the voice of the nuclear renaissance, the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs is where to find it.

Past editions have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, Idaho Samizdat, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, and CoolHandNuke, as well as several other popular nuclear energy blogs.

The publication of the Carnival each week is part of a commitment by the leading pro-nuclear bloggers in North America that we will speak with a collective voice on the issue of the value of nuclear energy.

While we each have our own points of view, we agree that the promise of peaceful uses of the atom remains viable in our own time and for the future.

If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog, and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brian Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support. Please post a Tweet, a Facebook entry, or a link on your Web site or blog to support the carnival.

ANS participates in the USA Science & Engineering Festival

American Nuclear Society exhibit

Visitors learn about nuclear science & technology at the ANS display during the USA Science & Engineering Festival going on this weekend in Washington, DC.

4th Annual Texas Atomic Film Festival

The 4th annual Texas Atomic Film Festival (TAFF) is being held April 26 to May 3, 2012. The festival attracts short films (3 to 5 minutes) produced by students in nuclear engineering courses at the University of Texas at Austin. A public screening of the films, which focus on nuclear and energy related topics, is being held on April 26 at 12:30 pm at the UT Student Activities Center auditorium.

The goal of TAFF is to provide an opportunity for students to take creative approaches to convey scientific information through short films. Griffin Gardner and Alex Fay are this year’s media judge and technical judge, respectively, and awards will be given in four categories:

  • Best Film
  • Technical Content
  • Editing
  • Audience Award

The Audience Award is based on the number of “likes” accumulated by each film through the Facebook social plugin available on the TAFF website for the 2012 entries.

Please visit the TAFF website, view some of the films in the 2012 Entries section, and vote for your favorites by clicking on the “like” button. You can also follow TAFF and make comments through Twitter by using the hashtag #TAFF2012.

TAFF includes 11 films this year:

  1. How Dangerous is Low Dose Radiation?
  2. An Outlook on Future Energy Solutions
  3. The Legend of HP-Man
  4. Radon—Hazards in the Home: Myths and Facts
  5. The Chicago Pile: A History
  6. The Influence of Nuclear Events on the Public Perception of Nuclear Science
  7. U.S. Electrical Power Production:  A Comparison of Energy Sources
  9. Special Report: Nuclear Terrorism
  10. From War to Peace: Non-Proliferation 101
  11. Nuclear by the Numbers

Other schools are invited to participate in next year’s TAFF. If you are interested, please contact Steve Biegalski.  Special thanks to Juan Garcia and Matt Mangum, of the Faculty Innovation Center at UT, for their continued support of TAFF.


Freeze Pilgrim debate tonight: Follow on Twitter

This evening there will be a debate on a nuclear referendum that is on the town ballot in Plymouth, Mass. The referendum calls for a halt to relicensing the Pilgrim nuclear power plant, pending implementation of Fukushima lessons learned.

Dave Lochbaum, appearing on behalf of the Union of Concerned Scientists, will be supporting the referendum. Russell Gocht, appearing on behalf of the American Nuclear Sociey, is a nuclear engineering graduate student at UMass-Lowell and will be opposing the referendum.

ANS has arranged live-tweeting of the debate via the ANS twitter feed @ans_org (

This is the second of three nuclear-related public events in Massachusetts this week:

  1. Tuesday’s radio panel featured Meredith Angwin and Richard Schmidt
  2. Tonight’s FREEZE debate
  3. A forum on Thursday with Dave Lochbaum and others at MIT.

The Pilgrim plant

Please keep an eye on the twitter feed and take part in the social media conversations about the debate!

WHEN: Wednesday, April 25, 7-9 pm

WHAT: Freeze Pilgrim Forum. Plymouth, Mass.

WHERE: Plymouth South Middle School, Plymouth, Mass.

WHO: Russell Gocht, PhD student at UMASS Lowell, will be opposite David Lochbaum, of UCS. Lochbaum is expected to discuss UCS’s report on the NRC’s post Fukushima actions.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: Attend or follow the ANS live twitter feed: @ans_org or


ANS delegation to India

India is fast emerging as a leading world power in nuclear science and technology. In this video interview, American Nuclear Society President Eric Loewen discusses the recent delegation he led to help foster U.S.–India nuclear cooperation to benefit both countries.

For more background and information, see this ANS Nuclear Cafe article on the ANS delegation to India.

ANS at the USA Science & Engineering Festival

The American Nuclear Society will be participating this weekend in the largest celebration of science in the United States: the 2nd annual USA Science & Engineering Festival.  The finale Expo of the festival will be Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29, at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington DC.

The Expo will feature over 3,000 fun, interactive, hands-on exhibits; more than 100 stage shows featuring science celebrities, musicians, magicians, and comedians; and 33 author presentations.

Visit the ANS exhibit (“booth” #2653) during the Expo at the Convention Center to take in some nuclear knowledge. Click here for a map of exhibit locations—we will be in Hall A between the National Robot Fest and the Einstein Stage. The start page for the Expo is here. As you can see, there will certainly be no shortage of things to do!

Expo hours will be 10am-6pm on Saturday and 10am-4pm on Sunday. New this year:  The USA Science & Engineering Festival Book Fair, and a Career Pavilion for high-school students that includes a College Fair, a Job Fair and a Meet the Scientist/Engineer Networking area.

The main idea is to encourage kids to consider careers in science and engineering. The ANS exhibit will be supported by ANS Outreach staff and by members of the Washington, D.C. and nearby ANS Local Sections. The USA Science & Engineering Festival is free of charge, so be sure to visit!

Join the exhibit to talk with young people about nuclear science and technology

If you live in the DC area, please consider volunteering to spend some time with ANS staff and ANS Local Section members talking with young people about nuclear science and technology — email Chuck Vincent, ANS Outreach, for more information.

Founding chair of ANS Young Members Group wins Landis Award

By Jennifer Varnedoe

David Pointer, principal nuclear engineer at Argonne National Laboratory and the founding chair of the American Nuclear Society’s Young Members Group (YMG), was honored with the 2012 ANS Landis Young Member Engineering Achievement Award. The award recognizes an individual who has made significant technical contributions in any one of the many engineering disciplines served by ANS. The contributions can be in the form of a new principle, concept, design, method of analysis, product emanating from research or development, or from effective application of engineering knowledge to yield a commercial service or product needed in the nuclear energy enterprise.


Pointer received the award in recognition of his outstanding young career, exceptional technical achievements, and excellence in leadership to support the development of next-generation simulation tools on high-performance computing platforms. He is currently the technical lead in the development of the SHARP toolset, an integrated code able to address reactor multi-physics problems (thermal-hydraulics, neutronics, structural mechanics) in a fully coupled manner.  Among his numerous achievements are notably the development of innovative aerodynamic solutions for trailer-trucks, the development of multi-phase computational fluid dynamics models, and ground-breaking simulations of large-scale sodium fast reactor assemblies.

Pointer also received the YMG Excellence Award in 2007. A long-time member of YMG, and now a supporter of its mission, he exemplifies how YMG can be instrumental in promoting and fostering a young professional’s career through ANS. He had this to say about his vision of the role of YMG and how it helped him:

“The ANS Young Members Group was established to enable the next generation of nuclear professionals to reap the full benefits of active involvement in the Society much earlier in their careers.  My involvement in YMG has enabled me to take a much more active role in the development of my career, and I credit much of my success to the strong relationships I’ve forged through YMG.”

The Landis Award will be presented to Pointer at the ANS Annual Meeting in Chicago, in June.  Join us there to toast Dave Pointer for this prestigious achievement!



Jennifer Varnedoe is chair of the ANS Young Members Group. She is a project engineer with Advanced Programs at GE Hitachi Nuclear Energy. She has been an ANS member since 2007 and is a guest contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe.


101st Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers

The Carnival of Nuclear Energy Bloggers enters its second century this week.  If you missed it, the 100th Carnival was published last week at Atomic Power Review which is maintained by Will Davis.  It includes messages of congratulations from the American Nuclear Society and the Nuclear Energy Institute. This recognition shows that social media is here to stay as a communication tool in the nuclear energy industry.

What is the Carnival?

The Carnival is the collective voice of blogs with legendary names which emerge each week to tell the story of nuclear energy.

If you want to hear the voice of the nuclear renaissance, the Carnival of Nuclear Energy Blogs is where to find it.

Past editions have been hosted at Yes Vermont Yankee, Atomic Power Review, ANS Nuclear Cafe, Idaho Samizdat, NEI Nuclear Notes, Next Big Future, and CoolHandNuke, as well as several other popular nuclear energy blogs.

The publication of the Carnival each week is part of a commitment by the leading pro-nuclear bloggers in North America that we will speak with a collective voice on the issue of the value of nuclear energy.

While we each have our own points of view, we agree that the promise of peaceful uses of the atom remains viable in our own time and for the future.

If you have a pro-nuclear energy blog, and would like to host an edition of the carnival, please contact Brian Wang at Next Big Future to get on the rotation.

This is a great collaborative effort that deserves your support. Please post a Tweet, a Facebook entry, or a link on your Web site or blog to support the carnival.

This week’s Carnival

Vermont Yankee – Meredith Angwin

On Tuesday, April 24, Meredith Angwin and Richard Schmidt (nuclear engineer, local resident, and occasional guest blogger at Yes Vermont Yankee)  will debate two anti-nuclear activists on a radio show at Northampton Massachusetts.

If you live in the area, you can attend the show, which will be broadcast live from a local restaurant.  If you do not live in the area, you can call in questions.  The show will not be streamed on the web, but will be podcast later.

Hiroshimasyndrome – Leslie Corice

This week’s blog post of 4/20 is titled “F. Daiichi unit #2 robot inspection – one answer and two new questions”, which argues the F. Daiichi unit#2 hydrogen explosion idea has been all but put to rest.

It asks two overlapping questions about unit #2 cooling. Basically, if there are no perceptible leaks inside the PCV and Drywell, then where is all the water going and how is it getting to the turbine building basement?

Next Big Future – Brian Wang

The Turkish government recently signed a $20 billion project with Russia to build nuclear power facilities in Akkuyu, Turkey. Now the Turkish government has set its sights on constructing a nuclear plant in Sinop, Turkey.

The Financial Times recently reported that China is the primary contender for this contract due to its ability to secure financing without requiring guarantees from the Turkish government. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited China last week, confirming reports of the deal when Energy Minister Tanir Yildiz held talks with Chinese authorities. At these meetings, Chinese Energy authority Liu Tienan pledged full financial guarantees for the $20 billion project.

This is a review of estimates for a nuclear energy century.  It reports 1000 reactors for 2030 would be the high-2030 scenario from the World Nuclear Association (WNA) – Nuclear Century. The WNA lists nuclear generation targets by country.

Idaho Samizdat – Dan Yurman

Once again it is time to spit on your hands, rub them together, and raise the black flag of contention to respond to deliberate attempts at creating fear, uncertainty, and doubt.

It will take upwards of three decades to decommission Fukushima. There are many engineering challenges ahead.  However, feat mongering is not useful as part of the dialog about the future nuclear energy in Japan or anywhere else.

In California Friends of the Earth is using Gundersen’s report to create fear of the SONGS plant by questioning the design basis of the steam generators. That’s propaganda. It isn’t engineering fact.

ANS Nuclear Cafe – Paul Bowersox

Suzy Hobbs Baker introduces the Nuclear Literacy Project, a new website and outreach initiative geared toward reaching young, non-technical audiences with information about nuclear energy.  The new website is just the beginning… which you can check out at  There are many ways to support Nuclear Literacy.

Dan Yurman covers the breaking story of a partnership between Westinghouse and Ameren Missouri to develop and build Small Modular Reactors at Ameren’s Callaway site — and other recent entrants in the race to win $452 million in cost-shared funding from the U.S. Department of Energy for SMR licensing and technical support.

Atomic Insights – Rod Adams

Electric utility executives, public utility commissions and energy industry pundits all seem to agree that the ability to extract useful quantities of gas from deep, tight shale gas reservoirs has opened up a 100 year supply of cheap natural gas. Many have publicly stated that abundant supplies of low-priced gas makes nuclear energy irrelevant and hopelessly uncompetitive.

ExxonMobil, one of the most widely respected multinational petroleum companies in the world is betting in the other direction. They are investing heavily in the capability to produce and distribute natural gas. They are not investing tens to hundreds of billions of dollars in natural gas related capital assets because they think gas will remain cheap.

ExxonMobil often places contrarian bets and rewards stockholders because they successfully buy cheap assets when no one else wants them and sells massive quantities of high margin products when everyone else is buying

Atomic Power Review – Will Davis

Will Davis at Atomic Power Review continues on his mission to give nuclear energy its history back by introducing an unusual (to the nuclear energy world) series of historical prose.

Previously announced at APR were four recurring, new historical features; the actual launch occurs now with the first installment covering Sylvania-Corning Nuclear Corporation’s Western Sales Office.  Through many original documents both from Sylcor and from the late Jim Vadeboncoeur, Will Davis tells the inside story of the early days of commercial nuclear energy.

Thorium MSR – Rick Maltese

This is a book about LFTR the forgotten and hopefully revived Thorium molten salt reactor is an excellent read.  This book tells the story of the slightly radioactive element thorium, a much-touted alternative fuel for nuclear power plants.

Expanding on his Wired cover story, the author explains that the element was actually used as a nuclear fuel in an experimental reactor built and run by American scientists at Oak Ridge in the late 1960s.

Martin focuses on the work of Kirk Sorensen, a former NASA engineer, now head of Flibe Energy, who urges U.S. utilities that are preparing to replace some 30 older reactors to build a new kind of reactor—a liquid-fluoride thorium reactor, which proponents consider to be more efficient and safe than existing plants.

# # #

Competition heats up for DOE SMR funding

Westinghouse gets support from Missouri for 225-MW reactor

By Dan Yurman

The race to win $452 million in cost-shared funding from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) for licensing and technical support to bring a small modular reactor (SMR) to market by 2022 got a new entry on April 19. Westinghouse has partnered with Ameren (NYSE:AEE) to submit a proposal based on the reactor vendor’s design of a 225-MW SMR.

The proposal won enthusiastic support from elected officials, including Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, with the promise of high-paying manufacturing jobs to build the components for the reactors in Missouri. Nixon called it a “transformational economic development opportunity.”

A consortium composed of Westinghouse, Ameren, and regional electrical utilities will prepare the proposal to submit to the DOE. The cost-share agreement covers a five-year period and would involve equal spending by the winning team and the government up to $904 million. The government may make two awards splitting the funds among developers.

The Westinghouse SMR is a 225-MW light water reactor design based on the firm’s 1100-MW AP1000, which achieved design certification from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) last December. Westinghouse is building four units in China, and in 2012 began construction of four units in the United States—two in Georgia and two more in South Carolina.

Westinghouse SMR conceptual design diagram

If Westinghouse wins the DOE funding, it could submit combined license applications to build and operate, over time, up to five of its SMRs with Ameren in Missouri—eventually providing the equivalent of a single AP1000 reactor.

Kate Jackson, chief technology officer for Westinghouse, said in a statement that the first unit would be built and ready to enter revenue service within 24 months of receiving an NRC license.

Westinghouse SMR summary table of specifications

Change in strategy for Ameren

Until recently, Ameren had been pursuing a legislative strategy of seeking to change a 1976 Missouri law that banned CWIP. The acronym means “construction work in progress” and it defines a rate mechanism that would, if authorized, allow a utility to charge customers for the costs of an early site permit, licensing, and construction of a new reactor as they come in.

Ameren has twice tried and failed to win legislative approval to overturn the 1976 law. In 2012, on the third iteration, Ameren sought cost recovery just for the early site permit (ESP) in hopes that the legislature might be more amenable. That tactic appeared to be working. On March 8, the Missouri House committee on utilities passed a bill supporting the more limited concept. The bill, introduced by Rep. Jeanie Riddle (R-Mokane), provides for up to $45 million to be recovered for an application for an ESP.

Ameren President Warner Baxter told the Kansas City Star on April 20, however, that the firm is suspending its drive for CWIP and instead is focusing on its new partnership with Westinghouse.

Greenhouse gases by the way

Even so, opponents of the effort to bring SMRs to Missouri lined up to sound off. The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) told the Kansas City Star that the new KCP&L 850-MW coal-fired power plant cost $2 billion, or $2,350/Kw—about half the estimated price of the Westinghouse SMR at $5,000/Kw.

Ironically, Ellen Vancko, the UCS spokesperson, said that natural gas plants might be cheaper and faster to build. The issue of greenhouse gas emissions wasn’t mentioned in the report of her remarks.

Crowded field for DOE dollars

Competition to the bid by Westinghouse to win the DOE money will most likely come from other developers of SMRs using light water reactor technology.

Babcock & Wilcox is developing a 180-MW unit and has an agreement for cost-shared licensing and development with the Tennessee Valley Authority for two units at the utility’s Clinch River site in Tennessee. B&W already has its own manufacturing supply chain in Ohio and Indiana.

NuScale recently announced it would develop a unit for testing and licensing purposes at the DOE’s Savannah River Site. The DOE is not providing any money for the project, which will operate as a paying tenant at the lab. NuScale is partnering with NuHub, a South Carolina economic development organization to pursue the new build.

Further afield there are several efforts to develop fast reactors as SMRs, including Hyperion, which recently went through a management reorganization and re-branded itself as Gen4 Energy. It is working with a venture capital firm in Denver to commercialize a 25-MW design first developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The DOE says that it will make a decision by September 2012 on how it will award the funds. While the agency has the first of five years of funding in hand, future funding will depend on the decisions in appropriation bills of a deficit-minded Congress. The outcome of the presidential election and possible changes in the House and Senate will all play in the mix to determine whether the DOE will be able to deliver on a five-year funding commitment.


Dan Yurman publishes Idaho Samizdat, a blog about nuclear energy, and is a frequent contributor to ANS Nuclear Cafe.

ANS Student Conference 2012 in the News

The 2012 ANS Student Conference in Las Vegas wrapped up last weekend.  Thanks to all attendees and to the host University of Nevada Las Vegas Student Section of the American Nuclear Society for making the event such a success!  News coverage of the conference from ABC TV Channel 13 KTNV:

Global nuclear markets regaining momentum

More starts than stops

By Dan Yurman

Futuristic nuclear plant Image World Nuclear news

The global nuclear energy market is not a monolith. The truth of this assertion is seen in several recent developments taking place during March. While there were some setbacks, including two German utilities pulling out of the U.K. new build, there are more new starts and even a faster pace at one high profile project.

U.K. takes a step back

Two of Germany’s biggest nuclear utilities slated to build Westinghouse 1100-MW AP1000 nuclear reactors at several sites in the United Kingdom have packed up and gone home. E.ON and RWE announced on March 29 that they will not be carrying out business plans worth an estimated $24 billion to build nuclear power stations in the U.K.

The companies said in a joint statement that the “accelerated nuclear phase-out” in Germany has led to a decision to pull back from a number of international investments.

Last year Germany closed eight of its oldest nuclear reactors and scheduled to close the remaining nine by 2022. The two utilities are hard hit by these moves as the reactors were essentially depreciated cash cows that would have provided money for international expansion projects. E.On said in its financial statements that it suffered a 50-percent decrease in profits due to the closure of the older reactors.

UAE nuclear project speeds up

The South Korean consortium building the first of four new nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates has trimmed four months off the construction schedule. Assuming all goes well with the regulatory agencies, it plans to pour its first concrete in July 2012 and complete the unit in January 2017.

The speed up in schedule is being facilitated by the pre-positioning of equipment, supplies, and people at the site, which is a remote desert location some 186 miles west of Abu Dhabi. Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) is leading the $30 billion effort. The Emirates Nuclear Energy Corp. (ENEC) manages it for the UAE government.

Of interest is that the original contract was for $20 billion, but the price has shot up by a third. Financing will involve a mix of cash, and bonds sold to investors, from the UAE, and export credits from South Korea.

In a domestic development in South Korea, Kim Joong-Kyum, chief executive officer of KEPCO, was quoted in late March by wire services as saying that his firm was in talks with ENEC for a new deal to build four additional reactors. ENEC said on April 5, however, in response to these press reports that it is ruling out any new contracts beyond what it already has in place, which are four 1400-MW units.

Saudi Arabia plans electricity exports

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) plans to build 16 nuclear reactors over the next 20 years, spending an estimated $7 billion on each plant. The $112-billion investment, which includes capacity to become a regional exporter of electricity, will provide one-fifth of the Kingdom’s electricity for industrial and residential use and, critically, for desalinization of sea water.

In February, top energy officials in KSA told the Bloomberg wire service that domestic needs for electricity are growing at the rate of 2 Gwe/year. State-owned Saudi Electricity Co. sees seven percent growth, but with the construction of new nuclear reactors, it will be able to export electricity to its neighbors as part of the multi-year development cycle.

The plan is to bring the first two reactors by 2020 and then two more a year until the plan is complete. KSA has nuclear cooperation agreements with a number of countries, but has not yet signed a 1-2-3 agreement with the United States.

Despite the pending nature of the significant and sensitive diplomatic relationship, The Shaw Group and Exelon have signed on to a joint initiative through Japan’s Toshiba to build two nuclear power plants. It is likely that KSA will select several types of reactors and designs to avoid putting all its eggs in one basket.

India fast tracks next round of reactors

With the Kudankulam twin VVERs back on track, India’s NPCIL is clearing the decks to begin development of what eventually will be a 10-GWe power station at Kovvada Matsyalesam. The first stage is to develop a baseline of environmental data for the site. Land acquisition will begin later this year and earth will be moved by the end of 2012.

NPCIL says that each of the reactors planned for the site will be in the range of 1300-1500 MW. The first plant will be completed within 54 months of breaking ground or by mid-2017.

Also, NPCIL is working on a joint venture with the state-owned aluminum company Nalco to set up a second nuclear reactor at one of three potential sites. Nalco would have a 49-percent equity stake in the 1500-MW project, which would supply electricity for its metal smelters and also make it an independent power producer in the region.

South Africa gets ready for nuclear

The South African government is conducting an “Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review” as a parallel process to its announcement of an upcoming tender for 9.6 Gwe of new reactors. It is assessing the government’s capacity to conduct oversight of construction and regulatory control of safe operations of the new plants.

Energy minister Dipuo Peters said that the exercise has the objective, among other things, to communicate clear signals about the government’s intent to proceed with the new build.

At the same time, the government is considering rebuilding its uranium enrichment and conversion facilities that were dismantled 40 years ago. According to a Reuters report for March 2, the country wants to use its domestic uranium deposits to supply an estimated 465 metric tonnes of enriched uranium a year to fuel the new reactors.


Dan Yurman publishes Idaho Samizdat, a blog about nuclear energy, and is a frequent contributor to ANS Nuclear Cafe.

ANS Fusion Energy Division statement on FY2013 energy appropriations

The American Nuclear Society’s Fusion Energy Division submitted a statement on April 10 to the U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee and the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. The statement addresses certain proposed fiscal year (FY) 2013 appropriations for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The statement is below and can be downloaded in PDF format by clicking HERE.

Dear Chairman Inouye, Vice Chairman Cochran, Chairman Feinstein and Ranking Member Alexander:

The Fusion Energy Division of the American Nuclear Society has a Statement on the proposed Department of Energy budget and its adverse effect upon the future of fusion energy research and development:

Research in nuclear fusion represents one of very few options for a long-term effort to provide a major source of energy to replace climate-changing fossil fuels and ensure America’s energy security. Fusion is one of the fundamental energy sources of the universe. Providing energy from fusion is a major scientific and technological challenge—in fact, it is one of the National Academy of Engineering’s Grand Challenges for Engineering—but the rewards of fusion power and the benefits of a sustainable domestic source of energy make it a challenge worth taking.

The FY-2013 budget request by the Administration endangers the United States’ domestic fusion program as well as our country’s scientific contributions to the ITER international project. If implemented, the FY-2013 budget reductions will deal a major blow to the U.S. fusion research program and further erode its leadership position. After years of operating on minimal budgets and essentially level funding, the U.S. fusion program cannot withstand the proposed reductions without significant negative impacts.

Control room of MIT’s Alcator C-Mod fusion reactor

U.S. fusion researchers were told a few years ago that there would be some “belt tightening” to divert fusion research funds to ITER construction. Without any quantitative guidance from the DOE on belt tightening, there was speculation that it might be 1% or perhaps even as much as a 5% budget reduction for a few years. The FY-2013 budget, however, proposes a 16% reduction ($45 million) of fusion research funds, and DOE officials have given warnings that reductions of up to $100 million more will be needed in the coming years. If the Administration’s FY-2013 budget is implemented, the DOE will close a unique fusion experiment, the Alcator machine at MIT, and the students and staff there will be dispersed. Deeper cuts in the future will disperse even more staff and students at institutions around the country who would use the ITER results, and greatly reduce the number of American engineers and scientists who will be educated and trained in fusion.

We urge the U.S. to consistently and adequately support the fusion research program as outlined in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (PL 109-58, sec 971-972) and reverse this position, restoring funds to the domestic fusion program budget and, separately, fully funding this nation’s promised annual ITER contribution.

The path to discover commercially viable fusion energy is one of the grand scientific challenges of our time. With ITER under construction to explore the science of burning plasmas, the world fusion program is poised to enter its final era of research. Other nations, including China, the European Union, Japan, Russia, and South Korea, are forging ahead rapidly, investing heavily in their domestic fusion programs and in educating the next generation of fusion researchers. They are fully supporting ITER as well. The U.S. has consistently led the fusion field and should continue to do so. American leadership in fusion energy would be in the best interests of the U.S. and science itself.

Lee Cadwallader
Chair, Fusion Energy Division

Minami Yoda
Vice-Chair, Fusion Energy Division

cc: The Honorable Dr. Steven Chu, Secretary of Energy
       The Honorable Dr. William Brinkman, Director, Office of Science, Department of Energy
      Dr. Edmund Synakowski, Associate Director, Office of Fusion Energy Sciences, Department of Energy

ANS Idaho Section hosting Social Media Workshop

 Mark your calendar: April 19

The Idaho Section of the American Nuclear Society is sponsoring an all-day event “Communicating in a Changing World: Social Media Workshop” on Thursday, April 19, at the Shilo Inn in Idaho Falls.

“This workshop is for those new to social media and those wanting to learn a few new tricks,” said Teri Ehresman, communications lead for Idaho National Laboratory (INL), when ANS Nuclear Cafe asked about the upcoming event. “Idaho National Laboratory has a new Nuclear App and, as part of the workshop, we want to share some of our lessons learned from that experience. We see social media as a way to help spread our message.”

The day-long workshop features a lineup of speakers, including Sarah Lane, co-host of iPad Today, the Social Hour, and Tech News Today at

The workshop schedule follows:

  • 8:30 a.m. — Registration
  • 9 a.m. — Speaker: Sarah Lane, San Francisco. She will speak on “Communications and Media at, ” “Understanding Social Media,” and “Where are Social Media and Technology Going?”
  • 12 p.m. — Lunch Speaker: Mike Hart, president of CommDesigns of Idaho Falls, will discuss “Reaching Mobile Audiences and the Challenges of App Development.” He will share lessons learned from developing the nuclear application for INL.
  • 1 p.m. — Speaker: Cynthia Price, Richmond, Va., director of Communications for ChildFund International, will discuss “Developing and Using Social Media at”
  • 2 p.m. —  Speaker: Misty Benjamin, INL Communications  and Government Affairs, will discuss “Leveraging Social Media at Idaho National Laboratory”
  • 3 p.m. — Speaker: Paul Menser, Idaho Falls blogger, will discuss “The Transition from Traditional to Social Media at the Local Level”
  • 4:00 – 4:30 — Social time

Live-tweeting: #ifsocialmedia

RSVP to Teri Ehresman, , or call her at 208-526-7785.


Introducing the Nuclear Literacy Project

By Suzy Hobbs Baker

The Nuclear Literacy Project is a new website and outreach initiative geared toward reaching young, non-technical audiences with information about nuclear energy. You can check out the site at

The nonprofit organization PopAtomic Studios has teamed with a committee of nuclear communications and technical experts, as well as Atomic Insights, American Crane, and StratusFX, to develop an innovative and effective approach to energy education.

The website is just the beginning. We are also working to create new apps, games, and quizzes to reach young people through venues that they already know and enjoy using. You want to learn 10 important facts about nuclear energy in about 1 minute? No problem! Just check out our Fast Facts page. Want to test your nuclear knowledge on your smart phone? Try one of our Quizzes.

We are also very excited to offer a first hand look into the lives of young nuclear engineers through our “Nuclear All Stars” blog. Click on the picture to read about Anagha, a California girl who is headed to the southeast to pursue her education in nuclear engineering and make the world a better place.

We invite you to visit the new website and to get involved. You can support this effort in many ways:

  • Share this article with friends and colleagues.
  • Connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Make a tax-deductible donation to the Nuclear Literacy Project.
  • Ask your company or organization to make an annual contribution to NLP.

You can read more about the history of the NLP at


Hobbs Baker

Suzy Hobbs Baker is the executive director of PopAtomic Studios, a non-profit organization dedicated to using the power of visual and liberal arts to enrich the discussion on nuclear energy. Hobbs Baker is an ANS member and a frequent contributor to ANS Nuclear Cafe.