Category Archives: Nuclear events

Kewaunee: What does the future hold?

By Will Davis

kewaunee 200x92Shortly after 11 a.m. on Tuesday, May 7, 2013, the operators at Dominion Resources’ Kewaunee nuclear power plant opened its output breaker, disconnecting the turbine generator from the grid for the last time after just under 40 years of operation. Shutdown of the reactor followed, and the plant entered what for some is an uncertain (even if pre-ordained) future—a long-term storage period, followed eventually after many years by the complete dismantling and removal of the plant.

Prior to the shutdown, Dominion had announced its decision to change the plant’s status (after the shutdown) to what is called SAFSTOR, which, just as it sounds, implies “Safe Storage.” The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s official definition of SAFSTOR reads as follows: “A method of decommissioning in which a nuclear facility is placed and maintained in a condition that allows the facility to be safely stored and subsequently decontaminated (deferred decontamination) to levels that permit release for unrestricted use.” This definition implies that a long period of time will be allowed to elapse before serious and heavy dismantling and removal of key plant components is performed, and before the many site structures are completely demolished and removed.

While the intensity of radiation around the immediate vicinity of the reactor and steam generators is slight compared with when the plant was in operation (and those areas unoccupied), it is not insignificant. The time period between the final reactor shutdown and the beginning of the disassembly of the ‘heart’ of the plant will help in a major way to reduce the radiation exposure of the people who will be required to perform the work—not a small consideration, even in a relatively small nuclear station such as Kewaunee.

Briefly, in disposing of a shut down nuclear plant, there are three options: Decommissioning immediately, which means relatively quickly launching into demolition; SAFSTOR, as described above; and ENTOMB, wherein a plant and some of its components are sealed and abandoned in place for a long period of time or permanently. (Piqua and the Hallam Nuclear Power Facility are two examples of former commercial nuclear stations in this status.)

Dominion has, under federal law, 60 years to complete the entire complicated and expensive decommissioning process, which will see the nuclear plant site returned to “green field” status (releasable for any use) with the exception of a dry cask type spent fuel storage facility. According to Dominion’s latest 10-K filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, decommissioning cost overall will total $680 million; the decommissioning fund presently has roughly $578 million, with the rest expected to be made up by future earnings. Dominion took a $281 million after-tax charge in the third quarter of 2012 as a result of deciding to decommission Kewaunee.

SAFSTOR

Kewaunee is not by any means the only nuclear plant that will be in, or has been in, the SAFSTOR condition. There are a number of other plants that were placed in this condition either to prevent disruption of the operation of other plants on the same site and/or take advantage of economies of decommissioning multiple reactors at once (Dresden Unit 1, Peach Bottom Unit 1, and Millstone Unit 1 all fit in this category, since they are in SAFSTOR and occupy sites that in all cases contain two other operating nuclear plants.) Other plants, such as Dairyland Power Co-Op Genoa No. 2, which was much more commonly known by its Atomic Energy Commission title as the Lacrosse Boiling Water Reactor, was in a state of modified SAFSTOR for many years as most of the heavy work was deferred while some limited disassembly went on in irregular phases.

In the case of Kewaunee, Dominion will relatively soon (in the next months) remove the fuel from the reactor and move it to the spent fuel pool. Dominion will notify the NRC within 30 days, in writing, that it has shut down the reactor for good; after the reactor has been defueled, Dominion will again notify the NRC, which will issue a license amendment rendering the plant “possession only” in regulatory status, wherein Dominion cannot fuel, much less operate, the reactor.

A Post-Shutdown Decommissioning Activities Report (PSDAR) will be submitted to the NRC by Dominion within two years, which lays out expected procedures, timelines, and costs. Ninety days after the NRC receives this report, the plant owner could conceivably begin heavy demolition and component removal if the disposal choice were immediate decommissioning. However, in the case of Kewaunee, the plant will remain in a monitored state, with (very likely) some component removal taking place slowly.

A Dominion spokesman told Platts that the expectations are that Kewaunee’s spent fuel pool contents will be moved entirely to dry cask storage on site by 2020. Much later, in June 2069, heavy dismantling of the plant will begin with completion expected in August 2072.

Decommission

The difficult work will begin when Dominion finally commences the physical dismantling of the plant. Many readers may not be aware that a number of large (and small) nuclear power plants have been not only shut down, but completely demolished and removed. The challenges encountered at each included both expected and unique problems; the work is complex and time consuming, but is proven to be able to release a site completely for other use. A few examples are in order:

Big Rock Point containment under demolition; courtesy Consumers Power

Big Rock Point containment under demolition. (Consumers Power)

Big Rock Point: This plant (designated by the American Nuclear Society in 1991 as a Nuclear Historic Landmark) was an early General Electric boiling water reactor plant in a remote area of Michigan. The plant operated successfully from 1965 through 1997. Over the next nine years, Consumers Power completed major site surveys and engaged in the complete demolition of the plant. Heavy components such as the reactor vessel were shipped to South Carolina for burial. Thirty-two million pounds of concrete were removed; 53 million pounds of material labeled as low-level radioactive waste were transferred to storage facilities in other states.  Fifty-nine million more pounds of clean (uncontaminated) building materials were transported to landfills and buried. The entire 560-acre site was returned to “green field” or a natural state in August 2006, except for the independent spent fuel storage facility.

Connecticut Yankee: This plant, when shut down in 1996 after 28 years of operation, was designated for immediate decommissioning with no SAFSTOR period. The project to return the site (except for spent fuel storage) to green field took place over the period 1998–2007, and 525 acres of natural terrain were the result. Small sections of the property have begun to be turned over to other owners, such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Yankee Rowe site as it appears today; courtesy Yankee Atomic Electric

Yankee Rowe site as it appears today. (Yankee Atomic Electric)

Yankee Atomic Electric: The nuclear plant constructed by this company was among the very earliest commercial power stations, yet operated for 30 years. After final shutdown in 1992, the plant began decommissioning the next year. From the official website of the plant: “Since the start of physical decommissioning in 1993, more than 21 miles of piping and tubing, 1071 valves, 8569 pipe hangers, 321 pumps, and 33 miles of conduit and cable tray have been removed. In addition, six large components weighing a total of more than 500 tons were also removed. Some of the material, including the large components, was sent to the Barnwell, S.C. low-level radioactive waste disposal facility for permanent disposal. Some of the metal was sent to a processing facility in Tennessee.” Over 1700 acres have been released by the NRC and are being considered for future use in a scenic, natural environment.

Component and structural removal

Eventually, the most solidly constructed components of Kewaunee will have to be removed; these are the reactor building and the components inside of it. Projects in the past have encountered special problems and considerations in this type of work, but enough ground has been laid in past years to provide ample experience in this project. Here are some interesting reactor plant related project links:

The International Atomic Energy Agency hosts an excellent presentation by Bluegrass on the processes used to remove the reactor vessel at the long-SAFSTOR but now decommissioning Lacrosse BWR in Wisconsin; see it here. Particular problems were encountered with very small clearances around the reactor vessel, especially at its lower head.

Saxton decommissioning; courtesy GTS Technologies

Saxton decommissioning; courtesy GTS Technologies

GTS Technologies has an impressive set of web pages showing the work it did to remove the reactor containment building at the former Saxton nuclear reactor in Pennsylvania.

The final result—in 60 years

Kewaunee employees right now aren’t thinking about whether or not someone will, eight or nine decades from now, be having a picnic or plowing a field on the spot where the plant’s turbine building once stood. They’re worried about where they’ll find work—Reuters has reported that 200 of the 630 workers will be laid off at the end of May, 100 more in another month. By the middle of 2014, the plant will have just under 300 permanent workers on site; this number will remain (along with outside contractors) for the duration of the procedures. Dominion has not yet announced whether or not it intends to contract some or all of the work to an outside company such as EnergySolutions, whose ZionSolutions unit is presently decommissioning Zion Nuclear Station.

Long after the memories of the stress of the workers’ movement and breakup of the Kewaunee Station’s family is over, it’s the intent that the plant site will be returned to as completely natural a state as is possible. As we’ve seen, even though this work will provide many challenging days ahead, it’s not only possible but proven—and perhaps, if we’re lucky, some entity will erect a sign at the site to tell future generations that a complete nuclear power station was built and operated here for many years, and then completely removed. It will be proper if a sign is needed in order to be able to tell.

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(For more information on the nuclear plant decommissioning process, you can read the NRC’s excellent pages on the topic by clicking here. In addition, other sites that have decommissioned include Maine Yankee, Rancho Seco, and Trojan. Part of the former Rancho Seco nuclear plant site is now the Rancho Seco Recreational Area.)

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WillDavisNewBioPicWill Davis is a consultant to, and writer for, the American Nuclear Society; he will serve on the ANS Public Information Committee 2013-2016.  In addition to this, he is a contributing author for Fuel Cycle Week, and also writes his own popular blog Atomic Power Review. Davis is a former US Navy Reactor Operator, qualified on S8G and S5W plants.

A Weekend of Nuclear History

By Will Davis

The weekend of December 1–2, 2012, sees three events of note relative to the history of nuclear energy.

 

Saturday, December 1, saw the Inactivation Ceremony for USS Enterprise, CVN-65, which was the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier ever built and by far the oldest nuclear-powered ship in service. (USS Nautilus, a nuclear-powered attack submarine, and the Russian nuclear-powered icebreaker Lenin preceded Enterprise into service, as did the cruiser USS Long Beach.) The USS Enterprise was launched on September 24, 1960 (view of launching seen above, at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock), and commissioned into service November 25, 1961. The ship was deactivated just past her 51st birthday. Much more information about the ship, which will be defueled and eventually dismantled, can be found at the official USS Enterprise website.

During the ceremony, the Secretary of the Navy revealed that the name Enterprise will live on in Navy history; the third Gerald R. Ford class nuclear-powered carrier will be CVN-80, USS Enterprise. Instead of eight A2W reactors as installed in CVN-65, CVN-80 will have two A1B reactors with a total power higher than that of the two A4W reactors installed in the Nimitz (CVN-68) class nuclear-powered carriers that followed the first nuclear USS Enterprise.

Sunday, December 2, marks the 70th anniversary of the first criticality of the first nuclear reactor ever built: Enrico Fermi’s “Atomic Pile,” known as CP-1 or “Chicago Pile 1,” achieved criticality  at 3:53 PM, December 2, 1942. The pile, according to “The Atomic Energy Deskbook,” Hogerton, 1963, contained 385 tons of graphite to act as the moderator. Hogerton relates the fact that when the pile was constructed, “only 6 tons of uranium metal were available and it was necessary to complete the assembly with 34 tons of uranium oxide.” The pile was built in layers of blocks of graphite and fuel, eventually 57 layers deep. According to Hogerton, “Critical conditions were achieved somewhat sooner than anticipated, so that the reactor assembly, which had been expected to be spherical, took the shape of an obloid spheroid somewhat flattened at the top.”

Argonne National Laboratory, under whose auspices the original CP-1 was built, has excellent resources on this famous anniversary. The Argonne page on the 70th anniversary gives background and perspective, while “The Dawn of the Nuclear Age” includes a video featuring two early nuclear pioneers, Dr. Harold Agnew and Dr. Len Koch. Agnew was one of the 49 persons present when the CP-1 achieved criticality in 1942.

December also marks a third anniversary: the Shippingport Atomic Power Station achieved its first criticality, and also later achieved full rated power, in December 1957. Shippingport was the first commercial nuclear generating station ordered in the United States, and it was the nation’s first large-scale nuclear power plant to generate electricity for civilian purposes.

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Will Davis is a former US Navy Reactor Operator, qualified on S8G and S5W reactor plants.  Davis performs Social Media services for ANS under contract, writes for ANS Nuclear Cafe as well as for Fuel Cycle Week, and also writes his own Atomic Power Review blog.

Spent Fuel Pool at Oyster Creek

By Will Davis

As the Eastern half of the United States falls under siege by Hurricane Sandy and combined weather fronts—which together are being termed ”Frankenstorm”—the nuclear community is targeted by nuclear opponents keen on capitalizing on this severe weather event. A recent piece quoting Arnold Gundersen asserts that Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station is facing serious problems should it lose offsite power, saying essentially that the plant will be unable to provide cooling for the spent fuel in its spent fuel pool.

This allegation is without merit.

This document—a memorandum from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission  staff to the then-operator of Oyster Creek—spells out the spent fuel pool (SFP) cooling arrangements in place back in 2000. It includes the following description of the SFP cooling arrangements:

Make up water to the SFP is normally provided by the condensate system from the condensate storage tank (CST) which has a nominal capacity of 525,000 gallons. The condensate pumps can provide 250 gallons per minute (gpm) with one pump operating or 420 gpm with two pumps. Additional makeup can be provided from the demineralized water storage tank (nominal capacity 30,000 gallons) by connecting the demineralized water transfer pumps to the SFP with hoses. The fire protection system can also provide makeup from the fire pond to the CST using the 2,000 gpm diesel driven fire pumps through a permanent connection.

The SFPCS {Spent Fuel Pool Cooling System} removes decay heat from fuel stored in the SFP through its associated heat exchangers to the reactor building closed cooling water (RBCCW) system. The SFP water is maintained within its TS limits by these systems. The SFPCS consists of two SFP pumps, two SFP shell and tube heat exchangers, two augmented fuel pool pumps, and one augmented fuel pool plate and frame heat exchanger. In addition, the SFPCS also includes interconnections with the condensate demineralizers and the condensate systems which filter and demineralize the SFP water as well as provide makeup water to the SFP. The SFPCS operates continuously to maintain the SFP water temperature at or below the Oyster Creek TS limit (maximum of 125 degrees Fahrenheit (F)).

As we can see, a total loss of offsite power (LOOP) scenario has clearly been considered—otherwise, diesel fire pumps would not have been mentioned.

Oyster Creek Nuclear Energy Facility

Plants designed to handle spent fuel pools during loss of offsite power

Oyster Creek, like all other operating U.S. nuclear plants, was built to design considerations (10 CFR 50 Appendix A) that set limits on design that includes the protection of spent fuel pool from events both man-made (operational) and natural. The plant has been designed to handle the full heat load of the spent fuel placed in the pool—even with a loss of offsite power.

Spent fuel pool cooling has received greater attention since the Fukushima Daiichi accident; during that accident and for some time after, many had wrongly assumed and asserted that the spent fuel pools were in dire condition. In fact, some even claimed that Fukushima Daiichi Unit 4 was going to collapse and that the spent fuel was going to trigger a cataclysm. Those allegations were refuted at the time, multiple times,  and have been proven false.

Even though early post-Fukushima assumptions about spent fuel pools were overly unrealistic, the NRC has emphasized SFP cooling and level measurement as a part of its post-Fukushima action plan. Many experts and the Nuclear Energy Institute consider this approach sensible. NEI points out, however, via NEI Nuclear Notes that moving SFP actions to Tier 1 in no way implies that operating U.S. nuclear plants aren’t already safe. Read that post here.

The Safety Evaluation Report related to license renewal of Oyster Creek at the NRC contains the following information about Oyster Creek’s spent fuel cooling system:

The SFPCS (Spent Fuel Pool Cooling System) is designed for both normal and accident conditions of loss of offsite power coincident with a single active component failure.  The augmented SFPCS is designed to provide a seismically qualified cooling loop capable of providing cooling during such conditions.

As if that were not enough:

Exelon – Oyster Creek Safety and Emergency Planning Fact Sheet

Clearly, there is provision for SFP cooling at Oyster Creek using two SFP systems—the one that was originally installed and an augmented system installed when the pool capacity was increased—and also it’s a fact that the plant, like all others in the path of the storm, is and has been well aware of the approach of this storm and has even more personnel (and NRC inspectors) on site than usual, making full preparation for any event. “Any event” includes extended loss of offsite power.

Oyster Creek has multiple cooling systems for spent fuel pool

UPDATE:  Exelon has re-confirmed to the American Nuclear Society by telephone and e-mail that Oyster Creek does in fact have numerous, redundant cooling systems for the spent fuel including closed-loop and service water systems. Exelon tells us that if required, two locomotive–sized diesel engines are ready and standing by should offsite power be lost, to provide power to those two backup systems during the refueling outage should an extended LOOP scenario arise.

Exelon has, as expected by many, declared an Unusual Event at Oyster Creek due to the rising water levels. Below are excerpts from Exelon’s press release on this declaration (emphasis added):

 Oyster Creek Generating Station Declares Unusual Event

Lowest of four NRC emergency action levels reached due to high water levels

Forked River , NJ (October 29, 2012) Exelon Nuclear declared an “Unusual Event” at Oyster Creek Generating Station at 7 p.m. today after water levels in the plant’s intake structure reached higher than normal levels.

This is an anticipated declaration required by procedures and is the result of Hurricane Sandy’s impact on the region. There is no challenge to the safety of the plant. Oyster Creek is currently shut down for planned maintenance and refueling.

Oyster Creek is a robust and fortified facility, capable of withstanding the most severe weather. When the storm was identified, operators performed a host of plant inspections to ensure that all safety systems were operational and that outside equipment and materials were properly secured.

An Unusual Event is the lowest of four emergency classifications established by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. There is no danger to the public or plant employees associated with this declaration.

Exelon Nuclear has notified all appropriate federal, state and local emergency response officials of the Unusual Event.

Oyster Creek is about 60 miles east of Philadelphia in Ocean County, New Jersey. The plant produces 636 net megawatts of electricity at full power, enough electricity to supply 600,000 typical homes, the equivalent to all homes in Monmouth and Ocean counties combined.

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For more information

Below is a brief video interview with the Nuclear Energy Institute‘s Everett Redmond, director of Nonproliferation and Fuel Cycle Policy. He breaks down in straightforward language the purpose and design of spent fuel pools to store used fuel at nuclear energy facilities. This is a basic overview that does not address specific nuclear energy facilities.

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Will Davis is a writer and Social Media consultant for ANS, is a Contributing Reporter to Fuel Cycle Week, owns and writes the Atomic Power Review blog, and is a former US Navy Reactor Operator, qualified on S8G and S5W reactor plants.

ANS staff members also contributed to this report and compiled additional resources for readers.

UC-Berkeley NE department receives ANS Presidential Citation

The University of California–Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Department has been awarded an American Nuclear Society Presidential Citation, ANS President Eric Loewen announced today. Loewen will present the award to UC–Berkeley nuclear engineering department representatives during the President’s Session of the ANS Annual ConferenceNuclear Science and Technology: Managing the Global Impact of Economic and Natural Events, being held June 24–28 in Chicago, Ill.

“The efforts by UC-Berkeley nuclear engineering faculty and students to provide accurate and authoritative information to the public following Fukushima were outstanding and serve as a model to emulate,” said Loewen.

The Presidential Citation recognizes the following achievements:

Nuclear Engineering Department, UC–Berkeley: For serving at the leading edge of communication to educate California and the nation about radiological impact to the United States from the Fukushima incident. By collecting atmospheric-transported radiation samples from Japan, explaining the significance to the public via public forums and the UC–Berkeley Nuclear Engineering Air Monitoring Station website, the UC–Berkeley nuclear engineering department gained national recognition as a trusted source for rational, accurate and authoritative information about radioactivity and its potential impacts on the U.S. population.

UC–Berkeley nuclear engineering department

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 (https://twitter.com/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.
http://freezepilgrim.org/news.html

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 https://twitter.com/ans_org

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ANS Fukushima press conference, March 8 at 10AM EST

The American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima will issue its full report on March 8 at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, at 10AM EST. The press conference will be available for viewing via this link.

The event will also be live tweeted at the ANS twitter feed (@ans_org).

The release of the ANS Special Committee on Fukushima report offers the opportunity to hear an independent, scientifically, and technically informed view on the accident by world-class experts in nuclear science and technology. The leadership of the American Nuclear Society, a scientific and technical organization of 11,600 nuclear professionals, commissioned the Special Committee to provide a clear and concise explanation of what happened during the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and offer recommendations for the nuclear community, for citizens, and for policymakers based on lessons learned from their study of the event.

Special Committee members at the press conference will include:

  • Co-Chair Dale Klein, Ph.D., former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
  • Co-Chair Michael L. Corradini, Ph.D., vice president/president-elect, American Nuclear Society, Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of nuclear engineering and engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin
  • Regulatory Issues Lead Jacopo Buongiorno, Ph.D., professor of nuclear engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Study Director Paul Dickman, Senior Policy Fellow with Argonne National Laboratory

Topics addressed in the press conference and in the report will include risk-informed regulation, hazards from extreme natural phenomena, multiple-unit site considerations, hardware design modifications, severe accident management guidelines, command and control during a reactor accident, emergency planning, health impacts, and societal risk comparison.

The full report will be available for download Thursday morning at the ANS Special Committee on Fukushima dedicated website.

In addition, ANS Special Committee on Fukushima members Professor Akira Tokuhiro and Professor Hisashi Ninokata will hold a press conference at 3:30 – 4:30 Japan Time on Friday, March 9, at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Tokyo, Japan, concerning the ANS Special Committee on Fukushima report release. More information is available at this link.

Visit this ANS Nuclear Cafe post for interviews with the Special Committee Co-Chairs Klein and Corradini concerning the release of the report.

ANS President Eric Loewen and Special Committee Co-Chairs Klein and Corradini discussed the goals of the report in interviews at the 2011 ANS Annual Meeting:

Fukushima health effects

The American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima has been conducting a comprehensive study of the events at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant following the Great East Japan earthquake of 2011. The special committee was tasked with providing a clear and concise explanation of what happened during the Fukushima Daiichi accident, and offer recommendations based on lessons learned. A report from the special committee will be released at a press conference on Thursday, March 8, at 10AM EST. The press conference will be webcast at http://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=85244, and the report will be available for download at http://fukushima.ans.org/.

The report will include a detailed analysis and assessment of radiological health effects resulting from the accident.

The HPS Panel: Robert Emery, John Boice, Robert Gayle, Howard Dickson, Kathryn Higley, Richard Vetter

Meanwhile, the Health Physics Society (HPS) on March 1 held a press conference addressing Fukushima radiological health effects. Major online media coverage of the HPS conference included the New York Times Green Blog, Sizing Up Health Impacts a Year After Fukushima, and the Wall Street Journal Japan Realtime,  Fukushima Health Impact: Minimal?

What have been the basic findings, so far, of the HPS radiation experts? As paraphrased in the New York Times article: “Health impacts from the radioactive materials released in the Fukushima Daiichi meltdowns will probably be too small to be easily measured… And the area cordoned off by the Japanese government as uninhabitable is probably far too large.”

Caracappa

Peter Caracappa, chief radiation officer at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, assisted the ANS Special Committee on Fukushima on radiological issues, and was interviewed in this very informative recent article in Scientific American: Japan’s Post-Fukushima Earthquake Health Woes Go Beyond Radiation Effects.

Radiation monitoring continues in Japan, and long-term studies are underway.

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ANS Special Committee on Fukushima to issue report on March 8

Webcast event available from National Press Club

The American Nuclear Society Special Committee on Fukushima will issue its full report next week on Thursday, March 8.  A press conference will be held at 10 AM EST at the National Press Club, Washington, DC, and will be webcast at http://www.visualwebcaster.com/event.asp?id=85244.

The special committee’s co-chairs are Dale Klein, Ph.D., former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and Michael Corradini, Ph.D., Wisconsin Distinguished Professor of nuclear engineering and engineering physics at the University of Wisconsin.

Klein

“To prepare this report, we gathered from our membership some of the world’s leading figures in the nuclear science and technology community,” said Klein. “The report will look at all aspects of the events at the Fukushima plant after the earthquake and tsunami, and will include recommendations for the nuclear community, for citizens, and for policymakers as a result of the lessons we learned.”

Corradini

Corradini added, “This report will also serve as an historical document for reference by those who wish to know what really happened, from a scientific and technically informed perspective. We thank all of our committee members for their dedication, time, and service creating this report to help us understand these events and better plan for our future.”

Topics addressed in the report will include risk-informed regulation, hazards from extreme natural phenomena, multiple-unit site considerations, hardware design modifications, severe accident management guidelines, command and control during a reactor accident, emergency planning, health physics, and societal risk comparison.

The full report will be available for download Thursday morning.

ANS President Eric Loewen, Ph.D., Klein, and Corradini discussed the goals of the report in interviews at the 2011 ANS Annual Meeting:

Czechs temper expectations at Temelin

Europe’s biggest nuclear project is chopped down from five reactors to two

By Dan Yurman

An ambitious plan to build five nuclear reactors in the Czech Republic worth an estimated $28 billion has been scaled back to just two units. The Czech Republic won’t build the other three anytime soon, even though Germany and Poland may have been counting on those units to supply electricity. Germany has closed eight of its oldest nuclear reactors and will close another nine by 2022.

In an unrelated move, Poland just delayed the start date of a new nuclear power station by five years to 2025 three years after Germany has closed its last reactor.

Power that Europe thought it could buy from Czech state-owned utility CEZ has evaporated before it lifted off  the drawing board. The real winner in the short term will be Russia’s natural gas supplier Gazprom.

Newly installed Czech Industry & Trade Minister Martin Kuba down shifted CEZ’s ambitious plans calling the five-reactor plan “unrealistic,” but he did not say what energy mix would be used in its place to meet growing demand for electricity in central Europe. The primary problem likely is how to finance the combination of two new units at Temelin, one at Dukovany, and two more at the Jaslovske Bohunice site in Solvakia.

The Czech government proposed that reactor vendors provide a complete turnkey solution, including up to nine fuel reloads for the new units. As part of the financing, the Czech government would guarantee rates and provide loan guarantees to CEZ as lures to investors.

What may be “unrealistic” is the expectation that investors and reactor vendors would be willing to pump $28 billion into a nuclear power project spread across five new units at three sites.

However, a plan for two reactors worth $10 billion at one site, Temelin, seems more likely to fly, especially since the United States just last week licensed two new reactors planned for the Vogtle site in Georgia said to cost $14 billion.

The Czech energy plan under Kuba’s predecessor, Martin Kocourek, called for up to 80 percent of the nation’s electricity coming from nuclear reactors by 2060 and being a net exporter of electricity to Germany. Kocourek, however, quit in a financial scandal unrelated to his government job. While Kocourek was a stalwart supporter of the five reactor plan, he got into legal trouble in a complicated divorce proceeding in which he hid assets sought by his now former wife in the settlement agreement.  It’s not clear where the money came from. This revelation in his private life made it impossible to continue in a role of public trust.

What’s realistic now?

Now at the helm so to speak, Kuba believes it is realistic to build the next two reactors at Temelin where power transmission infrastructure is already in place. It has approximately 2000 MW at a site near the Austrian border.

Also, Kuba wants to extend the life the reactors at Dukovany, which are four Russian-built VVER designs of about 470 MW each. They were completed in the mid-1980s. The two units at Temelin that are currently in service are also Russian-built VVERs at 963 MW each. These reactors are relatively new, having been completed in 2000 and 2003.

So, where will the money come from for even just two new reactors? CEZ chief financial officer Martin Novak thinks that some form of shared risk with investors will draw them in. Although Novak claims that CEZ is solvent enough to build two units in the range of 1000 MW each out of cash flow, he’d like to leverage other people’s money for about half of the costs.

At a hypothetical cost of $4,000/Kw, the two units would require $8 billion for which CEZ would have to come up with half and then offer the other half to investors. Leveraging support from investors for the nuclear plants will allow CEZ to build other power plants including natural gas.

Another sweetener would be for the government to offer CEZ guaranteed rates of return for the plants. CEZ chief executive officer Daniel Benes said that the way the model would work is that the government would step in with payments if the market price of electricity dropped below a certain level. On the other hand, if the rates increased on their own, the utility might wind up paying the government the difference. In effect, the government would subsidize the rate of return without directly impacting rate payers.

There isn’t agreement on any of these ideas across the government. Some ministers are opposed to any financial support for new nuclear plants.

And here’s a few more ideas

Vaclav Bartuska, the man in charge of the Czech government’s drive to see the plants built, said that having guarantees for power prices in turnkey projects is the only way such massive investments are possible.

Neither CEZ nor the government have explained in detail the extent to which loan guarantees would also be part of the financial package, though Bartuska has mentioned them. If the government offers loan guarantees, it would make the two Temelin reactors more attractive.

Given the shadow of sovereign default that has spread across Europe, however, a government loan guarantee is no longer a punched ticket to financial success. There still would be a risk premium based on how solvent the Czech government is or how well it can convince investor and rating agencies that it is solvent.

And Bartuska isn’t done with ideas about how to get the other three reactors built. His latest brainstorm is to use decommissioned military bases as sites because the government still owns them. He added that the government could use the sites also as interim storage locations for spent nuclear fuel. In any case, the government is worried about a public backlash if it starts demolishing privately held sites for new reactors.

It may get a backlash anyway with its idea for using decommissioned military bases. Now some of the abandoned sites have reverted to the status of de facto nature preserves with wildlife. Green groups are said to want to protect them. However, the military reservations are also contaminated with chemicals and unexploded ordinance. Contracts to clean up the sites are being offered for bid.

Meanwhile, the bidders for the now downsized Temelin project are going ahead with their proposals, which are due next July. These three short-listed bidders are Westinghouse, Areva, and Atomstroyexport. CEZ hasn’t changed the date for the award of the contract, which is early 2013.

All three vendors are inking memorandums of understanding with local manufacturing firms to improve their localization scores with the selection board. CEZ has said that local manufacturing content, and the jobs that come with it, will be an important element of the evaluation regardless of the size of the project.

Poland pushes back plant start dates

Polish state-controlled energy group PGE announced last week that it will delay by five years completion of the first of two new nuclear plants to 2025. The utility did not state a reason for the change in schedule, which was announced as part of the rollout of a larger energy strategy plan. A second unit would come online in 2029. PGE is reported to be aiming at 3000 MW for each site. Each power station could be composed of two to three reactors.

The sites for the reactors tentatively selected include Choczewo, Gaski, and Zarnowiec. Local support for any of the sites may be thin as the country has considerable anti-nuclear sentiment stemming from the Chernobyl accident.

Later this year, Poland will issue a request for proposals for the first unit. So far, GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse have been gearing up their supply chains as part of their planned response. PGE is looking for equity investors in the plants and plans to hold a 51-percent share for each of them.

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

ANS to hold teacher workshop in Phoenix, AZ

ANS November 2011 Teachers Workshop

Hands-on activity during a November 2011 ANS Teachers Workshop

The American Nuclear Society’s Center for Nuclear Science and Technology Information and the ANS Outreach Department will be sponsoring a one-day teacher workshop on Sunday, February 26, in Phoenix, Ariz. The workshop—Detecting Radiation in Our Radioactive World—is intended for science educators (including biology, chemistry, earth science, physics, physical science, life science, environmental, and general science teachers) at the high school and middle school levels. The workshop will be held prior to WM2012, the international waste management conference that takes place annually in Phoenix.

The following video provides feedback from teachers and presenters who attended the June 2011 ANS Teachers Workshop, held in Hollywood, Fla.

 

The full-day workshop will prepare attendees to teach the basics about radiation, how we detect radiation, and the uses of nuclear science and technology in society. Teachers who complete the workshop will receive a wealth of materials—background information, hands-on activities, and supplementary resources—and a Geiger counter. Career opportunities in nuclear science and technology will be highlighted during the sessions.

“We’re excited to be offering this overview of radiation and nuclear science to teachers in the Phoenix area,” said Chuck Vincent, ANS Outreach administrator. “Workshop participants are always eager to receive their free Geiger counters and learn about hands-on demonstrations that they can use in their classrooms.”

Currently, scheduled presenters include:

  • Mary Lou Dunzik-Gougar, assistant professor of nuclear engineering, Idaho State University, and research scientist at Idaho National Laboratory
  • Mansel Nelson, program coordinator, environmental education outreach program, Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals, Northern Arizona University
  • Terry Price, mechanical engineer, Palo Verde Generation Station of Arizona Public Service Company
  • Walter Thomas, chemistry teacher and district science coordinator, Wickenburg Unified School District, Wickenburg, Ariz.
  • Debra Thrall, executive director, Albert I. Pierce Foundation, Albuquerque, N.M.

Please visit the ANS website for more information, including an announcement and online registration form. The workshop will be limited in size to optimize interaction with presenters. Registration is on a first-come first-served basis.

There is a $60 nonrefundable registration fee—which includes continental breakfast, lunch, printed materials, and a Civil Defense Surplus analog radiation monitor—for teachers to reserve a place at the workshop.  The registration deadline is 12:00 noon (Central Time), Tuesday, February 14.

Funding for the workshop is provided in part by individual and organizational contributions to ANS. Additional support is provided by Waste Management Symposia and WM2012.

Why I chose a nuclear career: video interviews

Today is designated Careers in the Nuclear Fields Day for National Nuclear Science Week! To kick off Nuclear Careers Day, several Chicago ANS Local Section members participated in video interviews to share what fascinates and excites them about their nuclear careers.

Covert bombing kills another Iranian nuclear scientist

It is the latest in a series of deadly attacks

By Dan Yurman

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, inspects uranium enrichment centrifuges

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of Iran, inspects uranium enrichment centrifuges

An Iranian nuclear scientist was killed in Tehran on January 11 by a bomb that was magnetically attached to his car. A driver, who doubles as a body guard, was also killed in the blast.

The scientist was identified as Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, age 32, who was a departmental manager at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.

According to media reports, a motorcycle rider and a passenger attached the bomb to the car in heavy morning commuter traffic. The attack occurred at 8:20 AM Tehran time. It is the fifth such attack in the past two years.

The attack came one day after it was reported that that Iran had launched uranium enrichment production at its underground facility at Fordow near the city of Qum. It is reported to be enriching the uranium to 20-percent U235, which is the boundary between commercial use and weapons use. Iran has been making 20-percent enriched uranium at Natanz, about 400 km south of Tehran (250 miles), since February 2010.

In a related development, the Wall Street Journal reported that two days later on January 13 that Iran agreed to allow a high-level team of International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear inspectors enter the country on January 28. The delegation will be headed by the agency’s chief weapons inspector, Herman Nackaerts.

It is not clear whether the Iranian government will let the inspectors visit is nuclear sites, underground uranium enrichment facilities, and interview officials that the United Nations agency believes may head a nuclear-weapons program.

The combination of three events occurring within a few days of each other indicates the intensity of the issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear programs.

U.S. denies involvement in blast

In Iran, government officials repeated their accusations that the United States and Israel are responsible for this and prior bombings. Top-level Iranian officials called for revenge.

The Obama administration rejected the accusation and also condemned the murder. In Israel, government officials were said to have hinted at covert campaigns against Iran, but did not say that the nation was directly involved in the most recent attack.

Pattern of prior attacks

Model of uranium hexafluoride (UF6)

The explosion in Tehran this week resembles four others, including two in 2010. It comes on the third anniversary to the day of the killing of another Iranian nuclear scientist, Massoud Ali Mohammandi, who also worked on uranium enrichment.

Several of those targeted have been high ranking officials. In a November 2010 attack, two separate car bombs killed Majid Shahriari and wounded Fereydoun Abbasi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Shahriari was a member of the nuclear engineering faculty at Shah Behesti University and did work for the Atomic Energy Organization.

Roshan, who died in the explosion this week, was described as a mid-rank manager in charge of procurement of materials and services for Iran’s uranium enrichment program.

In July 2011, Dariush Rezaeinejad was shot dead by persons unknown.  He worked at K. N. Toosi University of Technology in electrical engineering as well as the Atomic Energy Organization. These are conflicting reports about his connections to Iran’s nuclear energy programs.

The sophistication of these attacks indicates that whomever is carrying them out has an organization chart of key personnel in Iran’s nuclear programs and has tracked specific individuals in terms of where they will be on particular dates.

For instance, Roshan worked on procurement at Natanz, but was killed on his way to an office in Tehran. The attack suggests a long period of undetected intelligence gathering and surveillance of potential targets. It suggests that future bomb attacks may take place.

Other covert attacks on Iran that have delayed its nuclear programs include the Stuxnet worm, which resulted extensive mechanical failures of uranium centrifuges in 2009 and 2010. There are significant clues that point to the likelihood that Israel had involvement in the development of the Stuxnet computer worm.

A devastating explosion on November 12 at the Bid Kaneh missile R&D center killed a high ranking military official in charge of rocket development. Some analysts  have suggested that the explosion at the missile site resulted from an attack by an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV).  Iran has since displayed what it says is a U.S. surveillance UAV that it claims it captured after it crashed inside Iran’s borders.

Damaged Iranian missile site. Image: ISIS 11/12/2011

More information from ISIS about this image is available at its home page.

The explosion occurred shortly after Iran reported success with a test of the missile technology. It is seen as a big setback for Iran in terms of its ability to put a nuclear weapon payload on a medium range missile. A rocket with a range of 800 miles would be able to target many major cities in the Middle East.

What’s really going on?

Patrick Clawson, a national security expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, told the New York Times on January 11 that the covert attacks on Iran’s nuclear scientists appear to have two objectives.

First, they have a chilling effect on the nuclear workforce and they don’t provoke a nationalist reaction in Iran. A military attack from the United States or Israel would surely create one.

Second, Clawson said, “it allows Iran to climb down if it decides the cost of pursuing a nuclear weapon is too high.”

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV)

Gary Sick, a specialist on Iran at Columbia University, told the newspaper, however, that he does not believe the covert campaign will be effective in stopping Iran from its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. Sick said that he thinks “Iran will double down” in its efforts because it enhances their feelings of being under attack by the West.

Charles D. Ferguson of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) told Reuters on January 17 that “such acts of terrorism” are unlikely to significantly delay or deter Tehran’s nuclear work.

“The resulting climate of insecurity feeds ammunition to hardliners in Tehran demanding reprisals,” he said.

U.S. government officials declined to discuss what security measures they will be taking to detect and deter possible retaliatory attacks by Iran on U.S. nuclear scientists. The U.S. Department of Energy is the largest employer of nuclear scientists in the United States, located at dozens of facilities across the country.

In Houston, Tex., this week, Gelareh Bagherzadeh, 30, a medical student who has a long history of speaking out on human rights issues in Iran, was shot dead under mysterious circumstances. Her purse and cell phone were still in her car, which had crashed into a building near her home.

Iran is continuing its threats to block the Straights of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, adding a security premium to the price of oil. This move increases revenue for Iran and imposes costs on the U.S. economy. It is unclear whether or not Iran will actually take any military action, but even a single attack on an oil tanker could send oil prices skyrocketing.

Can Iran make a bomb?

It is also unclear whether Iran has the other capabilities to make a nuclear weapon including the metallurgy, trigger mechanisms, and delivery systems, e.g., missiles with a compact working warhead capable of hitting a specific target 800 miles away.

Diagram of a nuclear weapon using highly enriched uranium

To develop a conventional uranium-based atomic bomb, Iran would have to produce output of about 90-percent U235. Weapons experts say that if Iran wants to produce weapons grade at that level, there is little to stop them, technically speaking, from doing so.

Experts believe that Iran will eventually be able to produce enough weapons grade material to build four or five atomic bombs.  However, at this time, while Iran is enriching uranium to 20%, it isn’t clear that it has moved beyond that point to actually build a bomb.  On Jan 19 the Washington Post reported that the former head of the Israeli intelligence agency said Iran has “the resources and components” to build one.

“If the Iranians get together tonight and decide to secretly develop a bomb, then they have all the resources and components to do so,” Amos Yadlin was quoted Thursday as telling the Maariv daily.

The newspaper added that it was not clear whether Yadlin, who retired in November 2010, was referring to the mechanical elements of a bomb, or that the Iranians have weapons-grade uranium, that is, enriched to 90% U235.

Limited political options

Iran’s political objectives remain unshaken by the bombings of its nuclear scientists. Its clerical leadership is driven by a warped and paranoid world view that is bent on getting the West to recognize its role as a regional power. Unfortunately for Iran, its neighbors in the Middle East are as alarmed about Iran’s nuclear ambitions as the United States and western Europe.

There is no workable roadmap at this time to convince Iran to stop its drive to produce a weapon. Ray Takeyh, a senior analyst at the Council of Foreign Relations, wrote in the Washington Post on December 9 that one of the reasons is that Iran’s defiance of Western powers plays well in terms of domestic politics despite the activity of opposition parties. He wrote:

Ray Takeyh, CFR

“A clerical oligarchy trapped in a mind-set conditioned by conspiracies and violent xenophobia paradoxically views both American entreaties and sanctions as an affirmation of its perspective.

Offers of diplomatic dialogue made in respectful terms are seen as indications of Western weakness and embolden the regime to sustain its intransigence.

Conversely, coercive measures are viewed as American plots to not just disarm the Islamic Republic, but also to undermine its rule. Armed with the ultimate weapon, the Islamists think, they may yet compel the West to concede to Iran’s regional aggrandizement.”

While the U.N. Security Council has imposed four rounds of economic sanctions against Iran for enrichment work, its members are divided on next steps. There is general agreement that enrichment to 20 percent exceeds the country’s civilian needs, since Russia is providing the fuel for Iran’s Bushehr commercial nuclear reactor.

Finding a path to bring Iran back into predictable diplomatic relations and to stand down from its pursuit of a weapons program remains a major challenge.

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Yurman

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

National Nuclear Science Week and Nuclear Science Day!

It’s time to welcome the next generation of nuclear scientists, engineers, artisans, technicians, health professionals, and the myriad other nuclear experts of the future—and celebrate our remarkable nuclear science and technology achievements to date—with National Nuclear Science Week, January 23-27, 2012!

From curing cancer, to powering humanity’s reach for the stars, to helping maintain a cool, clean, green planet here at home, the world’s most powerful science and promising technology is well worthy of celebration and further exploration. A great place to start is the official National Nuclear Science Week website, loaded with information and ideas on how to learn, teach, and celebrate nuclear science and technology.

As part of the festivities, the American Nuclear Society is proud to be a sponsor of Nuclear Science Day at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Wednesday January 25. This full-day event features world-class nuclear experts in many fields of nuclear science and technology, explaining what it’s all about in live internet webinars and question-and-answer sessions for grades 5-12 (and other interested parties). To register for the webcasts, just visit the National Science Teachers Association Learning Center (a great all-around resource for science learning). For details on the Nuclear Science Day agenda, presenters, and all the information, check the Nuclear Science Day Press Release. About 1,000 classrooms will view the webcast throughout the day, representing more than 20,000 students and teachers across the United States.

If you can attend Nuclear Science Day at IIT in person January 25, please come on out. For those individuals of refinement and artistic sophistication, peruse the latest in beautiful nuclear art that will be on display courtesy of PopAtomic Studios. And for those who live in the fast lane—stop by to say hello to Simona de Silvestro, champion Indycar racer and 2010 Indy Rookie of the Year, and ask if you can take a spin in her Nuclear Clean Energy car #78!

 

Nobel Prize-Winning Secretary of Energy Steven Chu commemorates National Nuclear Science Week.

The evening of January 25 will feature a National Nuclear Science Day webinar hosted by Excelsior College titled Women in Nuclear: Professional Organizations and Career Advancement. The event is part of Excelsior College’s School of Business & Technology’s “Women in Technology” campaign and will feature representatives from the Tennessee Valley Authority and North American Young Generation (NA-YGN), as well as Margaret Harding, one of the American Nuclear Society’s leading spokespersons during the Fukushima nuclear crisis this past March and a contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe. For all the details, including how to register, visit the Excelsior College Eventbrite page.

Little ado about nothing

A so-called scientific article issued on December 19 by Joseph Mangano and Janette Sherman purports that an estimated 14,000 excess deaths in the United States are linked to the radioactive fallout from the damaged Fukushima Daiichi nuclear reactors in Japan. The article, published in the International Journal of Health Services, is available by clicking here.

Not much media attention has been paid to the article, which has been labeled as “flawed” by the Nuclear Energy Institute. NEI, on its blog site, subsequently posted columns about the article and about Mangano, who has a history as an anti-nuclear writer. In one of the posts, NEI points out that “Mike Moyer, the writer at Scientific American who so expertly debunked Joe Mangano’s ‘research’ in June, had a chance to read Mangano’s latest coauthored piece.”

Moyer wrote:

No attempt is made at providing systematic error estimates, or error estimates of any kind. No attempt is made to catalog any biases that may have crept into the analysis, though a cursory look finds biases a-plenty (the authors are anti-nuclear activists unaffiliated with any research institution). The analysis assumes that the plume arrived on U.S. shores, spread everywhere, instantly, and started killing people immediately. It assumes that the “excess” deaths after March 20 are a real signal, not just a statistical aberration, and that every one of them is due to Fukushima radiation.

Moyer went on to say:

The publication of such sloppy, agenda-driven work is a shame. Certainly radiation from Fukushima is dangerous, and could very well lead to negative health effects—even across the Pacific. The world needs to have a serious discussion about what role nuclear power should play in a power-hungry post-Fukushima world. But serious, informed, fact-based debate is a difficult enough goal to achieve without having to shout above noise like this.

Others have chimed in to debunk Mangano’s junk science. You can read about it by visiting NEI’s blog site here and scrolling down to the article titled “Dr. Robert Peter Gale’s Statement on the Mangano-Sherman Report on Fukushima Fallout.”

NEI’s blog site also has other posts on the Mangano-Sherman report, which you can find by scrolling down at the site.

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Nuclear Art Update!

By Suzy Hobbs Baker

In the past week, two exciting new art-based initiatives in the nuclear sector have come to my attention. I am thrilled about both and want to share them with my fellow American Nuclear Society members.

First, the Wilmington ANS Section has announced an art competition based on nuclear energy education:

“Avenues to engage students in understanding the beneficial nature of nuclear energy and technology include opportunities for creative expression with the written word or visual art. While exercising creativity, the students will learn about the various attributes of nuclear energy, its role on their everyday life, and develop a context for understanding current events on energy policy, nuclear safety, and the tragic events in Japan. The Outreach Subcommittee is coordinating an activity that encourages students to explore nuclear energy by way of an essay contest and a visual arts contest.”

Two contests are planned. The first, an essay competition for high school-level students, has contestants develop their essays on the role that nuclear energy can play in making life better for people and their environment. The second, a visual arts contest, targets middle school-level students. These contestants can make their expressions through drawings, photography, sculpture, or other visual means as an interpretation of practically any aspect of nuclear energy.

I feel that this outreach activity is a fantastic model and hope that other chapters will consider conducting similar efforts in their respective communities. This is an effective way for the nuclear sector to connect with the local education system and build lasting relationships with students, teachers, and schools. The fact that they are offering cash prizes to the winning students doesn’t hurt, either!

The second exciting nuclear art initiative is by a new fine jewelry company called Fiçonel, which carries designs inspired by the “actual industrial design elements of nuclear technology.” Their women’s and men’s jewelry features “Assemblies” as necklaces, cufflinks, and pins.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On its website, the company further describes the goal of its work:

“At Fiçonel, we show the world the true iconography that represents decades of live-saving medical treatment and sustainable energy security. Wearing a Fiçonel design communicates these accomplishments in ways beyond what the technology alone can say.”

After seeing the website, I was banging my head against the wall, thinking, “Why didn’t I think of this?” Of course, I am really just happy that someone came up with this brilliant idea and is making beautiful, wearable, nuclear art. Here at PopAtomic Studios, we are wishing great things for the Fiçonel team. The more art happening in the nuclear sector, the better!

Lastly, for a little shameless self-promotion, PopAtomic Studios will be displaying selected photographs for National Nuclear Science Week at the Illinois Institute of Technology on January 25, 2012, and again on January 30–31 at the Women in Nuclear Region II Conference in Charlotte, N.C. If you are attending either of these events, make sure to stop by and say, “hello!”

Happy Holidays Everyone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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