Tag Archives: nuclear opponents

2012 ~ The year that was in nuclear energy

Plus a few pointers to what’s in store for 2013

By Dan Yurman

Former NRC Chairman Gregory Jackzo

On a global scale the nuclear industry had its share of pluses and minuses in 2012. Japan’s Fukushima crisis continues to dominate any list of the top ten nuclear energy issues for the year. (See more below on Japan’s mighty mission at Fukushima.)

In the United States, while the first new nuclear reactor licenses in three decades were issued to four reactors, the regulatory agency that approved them had a management meltdown that resulted in the noisy departure of Gregory Jazcko, its presidentially appointed chairman. His erratic tenure at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission cast doubt on its effectiveness and tarnished its reputation as one of the best places to work in the federal government.

Iran continues its uranium enrichment efforts

The year also started with another bang, and not the good kind, as new attacks on nuclear scientists in Iran brought death by car bombs. In July, western powers enacted new sanctions on Iran over its uranium enrichment program. Since 2011, economic sanctions have reduced Iran’s oil exports by 40 percent, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

In late November, the U.S. Senate approved a measure expanding the economic sanctions that have reduced Iran’s export earnings from oil production. Despite the renewed effort to convince Iran to stop its uranium enrichment effort, the country is pressing ahead with it. Talks between Iran and the United States and western European nations have not made any progress.

Nukes on Mars

NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover is a scientific and engineering triumph.

Peaceful uses of the atom were highlighted by NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover, which executed a flawless landing on the red planet in August with a nuclear heartbeat to power its science mission. Data sent to Earth from its travels across the red planet will help determine whether or not Mars ever had conditions that would support life.

SMRs are us

The U.S. government dangled an opportunity for funding of innovative small modular reactors, e.g., with electrical power ratings of less than 300 MW. Despite vigorous competition, only one vendor, B&W, was successful in grabbing a brass ring worth up to $452 million over five years.

The firm immediately demonstrated the economic value of the government cost-sharing partnership by placing an order for long lead time components. Lehigh Heavy Forge and B&W plan to jointly participate in the fabrication and qualification of large forgings for nuclear reactor components that are intended to be used in the manufacture of B&W mPower SMRs.

Lehigh Forge at work

The Department of Energy said that it might offer a second round funding challenge, but given the federal government’s overall dire financial condition, the agency may have problems even meeting its commitments in the first round.

As of December 1, negotiations between the White House and Congress over the so-called “fiscal cliff” were deadlocked. Congress created this mess, so one would expect that they could fix it.

The Congressional Budget Office has warned that if Congress doesn’t avert the fiscal cliff, the economy might slip into recession next year and boost the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013, compared with 7.9 percent now. Even record low natural gas prices and a boom in oil production won’t make much of a difference if there is no agreement by January 1, 2013.

Japan’s mighty mission at Fukushima

Japan’s major challenges are unprecedented for a democratically elected government. It must decontaminate and decommission the Fukushima site, home to six nuclear reactors, four of which suffered catastrophic internal and external damage from a giant tsunami and record shattering earthquake. The technical challenges of cleanup are daunting and the price tag, already in the range of tens of billions of dollars, keeps rising with a completion date now at least several decades in the future.

Map of radiation releases from Fukushima reported in April 2011

  • Japan is mobilizing a new nuclear regulatory agency that has the responsibility to say whether the rest of Japan’s nuclear fleet can be restarted safely. While the government appointed highly regarded technical specialists to lead the effort, about 400 staff came over from the old Nuclear Industry Safety Agency that was found to be deficient as a deeply compromised oversight body. The new agency will struggle to prove itself an independent and effective regulator of nuclear safety.
  •  Japan has restarted two reactors and approved continued construction work at several more that are partially complete. Local politics will weigh heavily on the outlook for each power station with the “pro” forces emphasizing jobs and tax base and the anti-nuclear factions encouraged by widespread public distrust of the government and of the nation’s nuclear utilities.
  • Despite calls for a phase out of all nuclear reactors in Japan, the country will continue to generate electric power from them for at least the next 30–40 years.
  • Like the United States, Japan has no deep geologic site for spent fuel. Unlike the United States, Japan has been attempting to build and operate a spent fuel reprocessing facility. Plagued by technical missteps and rising costs, Japan may consider offers from the United Kingdom and France to reprocess its spent fuel and with such a program relieve itself of the plutonium in it.

U.S. nuclear renaissance stops at six

The pretty picture of a favorable future for the nuclear fuel cycle in 2007 turned to hard reality in 2012.

In 2007, the combined value of more than two dozen license applications for new nuclear reactors weighed in with an estimated value of over $120 billion. By 2012, just six reactors were under construction. Few will follow soon in their footsteps due to record low prices of natural gas and the hard effects of one of the nation’s deepest and longest economic recessions.

The NRC approved licenses for two new reactors at Southern’s Vogtle site in Georgia and two more at Scana’s V.C. Summer Station in South Carolina. Both utilities chose the Westinghouse AP1000 design and will benefit from lessons learned by the vendor that is building four of them in China. In late November, Southern’s contractors, which are building the plants, said that both of the reactors would enter revenue service a year late. For its part, Southern said that it hasn’t agreed to a new schedule.

The Tennessee Valley Authority recalibrated its efforts to complete Watts Bar II, adding a three-year delay and over $2 billion in cost escalation. TVA’s board told the utility’s executives that construction work to complete Unit 1 at the Bellefonte site cannot begin until fuel is loaded in Watts Bar.

The huge increase in the supply of natural gas, resulting in record low prices for it in the United States, led Exelon Chairman John Rowe to state that it would be “inconceivable” for a nuclear utility in a deregulated state to build new reactors.

Four reactors in dire straights

In January, Southern California Edison (SCE) safety shut down two 1100-MW reactors at its San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) due to excessive wear found in the nearly new steam generators at both reactors.

SCE submitted a restart plan to the NRC for Unit 2 in November. The review, according to the agency, could take months. SCE removed the fuel from Unit 3 last August, a signal that the restart of that reactor will be farther in the future owing to the greater extent of the damage to the tubes its steam generator.

The NRC said that a key cause of the damage to the tubes was a faulty computer program used by Mitsubishi, the steam generator vendor, in its design of the units. The rate of steam, pressure, and water content were key factors along with the design and placement of brackets to hold the tubes in place.

Flood waters surround Ft. Calhoun NPP June 2011

Elsewhere, in Nebraska the flood stricken Ft. Calhoun reactor owned and operated by the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), postponed its restart to sometime in 2013.

It shut down in April 2011 for a scheduled fuel outage. Rising flood waters along the Missouri River in June damaged in the plant site though the reactor and switch yard remained dry.

The Ft. Calhoun plant must fulfill a long list of safety requirements before the NRC will let it power back up. To speed things along, OPPD hired Exelon to operate the plant. In February 2012, OPPD cancelled plans for a power uprate, also citing the multiple safety issues facing the plant.

In Florida, the newly merged Duke and Progress Energy firm wrestled with a big decision about what to do with the shutdown Crystal River reactor. Repairing the damaged containment structure could cost half again as much as an entirely new reactor. With license renewal coming up in 2016, Florida’s Public Counsel thinks that Duke will decommission the unit and replace it with a combined cycle natural gas plant. Separately, Duke Chairman Jim Rogers said that he will resign at the end of 2013.

China restarts nuclear construction

After a long reconsideration (following the Fukushima crisis) of its aggressive plans to build new nuclear reactors, China’s top level government officials agreed to allow new construction starts, but only with Gen III+ designs.

China has about two dozen Gen II reactors under construction. It will be 40–60 years before the older technology is off the grid. China also reduced its outlook for completed reactors from an estimate of 80 GWe by 2020 to about 55–60 GWe. Plans for a massive $26-billion nuclear energy IPO (initial public offering) still have not made it to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.  No reason has been made public about the delay.

India advances at Kudanlulam

India loaded fuel at Kudankulam where two Russian built 1000-MW VVER reactors are ready for revenue service. The Indian government overcame widespread political protests in its southern state of Tamil Nadu. India’s Prime Minister Singh blamed the protests on international NGOs (non-governmental organizations).

One of the key factors that helped the government overcome the political opposition is that Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited told the provincial government that it could allocate half of all the electricity generated by the plants to local rate payers. Officials in Tamil Nadu will decide who gets power. India suffered two massive electrical blackouts in 2012, the second of which stranded over 600 million people without electricity for up to a week.

Also, India said that it would proceed with construction of two 1600-MW Areva EPRs at Jaitapur on its west coast south of Mumbai and launched efforts for construction of up to 20 GWe of domestic reactors.

India’s draconian supplier liability law continues to be an effective firewall in keeping American firms out of its nuclear market.

UK has new builder at Horizon

The United Kingdom suffered a setback in its nuclear new build as two German utilities backed out of the construction of up to 6 Gwe of new reactors at two sites. Japan’s Hitachi successfully bid to take over the project. A plan for a Chinese state-owned firm to bid on the Horizon project in collaboration with Areva never materialized.

Also in the UK, General Electric pursued an encouraging dialog with the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority to build two of its 300-MW PRISM fast reactors to burn off surplus plutonium stocks at Sellafield. The PRISM design benefits from the technical legacy of the Integral Fast Reactor developed at Argonne West in Idaho.

You can’t make this stuff up

In July, three anti-war activitists breached multiple high-tech security barriers at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Y-12 highly enriched uranium facility in Tennessee. The elderly trio, two men on the dark side of 55 and a woman in her 80s, were equipped with ordinary wire cutters and flashlights.

Y-12 Signs state the obvious

The intruders roamed the site undetected for several hours in the darkness of the early morning and spray painted political slogans on the side of one of the buildings. They were looking for new artistic venues when a lone security guard finally stopped their travels through the plant.

The government said that the unprecedented security breach was no laughing matter, firing the guards on duty at the time and the contractor they worked for. Several civil servants “retired.” The activists, if convicted, face serious jail time.

None of the HEU stored at the site was compromised, but subsequent investigations by the Department of Energy found a lack of security awareness, broken equipment, and an unsettling version of the “it can’t happen here” attitude by the guards that initially mistook the intruders for construction workers.

The protest effort brought publicity to the activists’ cause far beyond their wildest dreams and produced the predictable uproar in Congress. The DOE’s civilian fig leaf covering the nation’s nuclear weapons program was once again in tatters.

So long Chu

Given the incident at Y-12, Energy Secretary Steven Chu, who came to government from the quiet life of scientific inquiry, must have asked himself once again why he ever accepted the job in Washington in the first place.

DOE Energy Secretary Steven Chu

Chu is expected to leave Washington. That he’s lasted this long is something of a miracle since the Obama White House tried to give him the heave ho this time last year after the Solyndra loan guarantee debacle, in which charges of political influence peddling by White House aides colored a half a billion dollar default on a DOE loan by a California solar energy company.

The predictable upswing in rumors of who might be appointed to replace him oozed into energy trade press and political saloons of the nation’s capital.

Leading candidates are former members of Congress, former governors, or just  about anyone with the experience and political know how to take on the job of running one of the federal government’s biggest cabinet agencies. It’s a short list of people who really can do the job and a long list of wannabes. With shale gas and oil production on the rise, having a background in fossil fuels will likely help prospective candidates.

_______________________________

Dan Yurman published the nuclear energy blog Idaho Samizdat from 2007–2012.

Challenging scientific organizations to adhere to scientific methods

By Rod Adams

Rockwell

For more than two years, I have been privileged to be included in correspondence about a battle for truth led by Ted Rockwell, one of the pioneers of nuclear energy and radiation protection. He continues to seek support of nuclear energy and radiation professionals in an effort to encourage the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) to do something that is apparently difficult for any large organization to do—apologize and take effective action to correct a continuing mistake.

NYAS book on Chernobyl effects rejects the scientific method

Here is a brief background of the error. It will be followed by a call to action.

The work selected as the December 2009 edition of The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) was an expansion and translation of a report originally published in Russian and later translated to English under the sponsorship of Greenpeace International. The NYAS book, titled Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment comes to conclusions about the effects of the accident that are in stark opposition to the conclusions reached by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR).

Where the UNSCEAR report indicates that the total number of deaths caused by the accident through 2006 was less than 50, the book that the NYAS selected as its December 2009 Annals edition claims that there were 985,000 deaths attributable to the accident. It is difficult to comprehend the possibility that two scientific studies of the same event could differ by a factor of 19,700.

Fortunately, the authors of Chernobyl Consequences provide a reasonable explanation for the vast gulf between their conclusions and the conclusions reached by the scientific organizations that studied the accident’s effects. I am paraphrasing here, but the bottom line is that the authors, publishing sponsors and editors involved in the project had no intention of doing any scientific or statistical analysis. Instead they spent their time compiling as many anecdotes as they could find to support their preexisting mission.

Here are some quotes from Chernobyl Consequences that support my summary of their goals and methods:

(Causal thesis)
We believe it is unreasonable to attribute the increased occurrence of disease in the contaminated territories to screening or socioeconomic factors because the only variable is radioactive loading. Among the terrible consequences of Chernobyl radiation are malignant neoplasms and brain damage, especially during intrauterine development. (p. 2)

(Rejection of correlation requirements)
Why are the assessments of experts so different?
There are several reasons, including that some experts believe that any conclusions about radiation-based disease requires a correlation between an illness and the received dose of radioactivity. We believe this is an impossibility because no measurements were taken in the first few days. Initial levels could have been a thousand times higher than the ones ultimately measured several weeks and months later. (p. 2)

(Rejection of impact of other variables)
In independent investigations scientists have compared the health of individuals in various territories that are identical in terms of ethnic, social, and economic characteristics and differ only in the intensity of their exposure to radiation. It is scientifically valid to compare specific groups over time (a longitudinal study), and such comparisons have unequivocally attributed differences in health outcomes to Chernobyl fallout. (p. 3)

(Anecdote collection method)
The scientific literature on the consequences of the catastrophe now includes more than 30,000 publications, mainly in Slavic languages. Millions of documents/materials exist in various Internet information systems—descriptions, memoirs, maps, photos, etc. For example in GOOGLE there are 14.5 million; in YANDEX, 1.87 million; and in RAMBLER, 1.25 million citations. There are many special Chernobyl Internet portals, especially numerous for “Children of Chernobyl” and for the Chernobyl Cleanup Workers (“Liquidators so called”) organizations. The Chernobyl Digest—scientific abstract collections—was published in Minsk with the participation of many Byelorussian and Russian scientific institutes and includes several thousand annotated publications dating to 1990. At the same time the IAEA/WHO “Chernobyl Forum” Report (2005), advertised by WHO and IAEA as “the fullest and objective review” of the consequences of the Chernobyl accident, mentions only 350 mainly English publications. (Preface p. xi)

(Rejection of statistical methodology)
It is methodologically incorrect to combine imprecisely defined ionizing radiation exposure levels for individuals or groups with the much more accurately determined impacts on health (increases in morbidity and mortality) and to demand a “statistically significant correlation” as conclusive evidence of the deleterious effects from Chernobyl. More and more cases are coming to light in which the calculated radiation dose does not correlate with observable impacts on health that are obviously due to radiation.

(Emphasis added.)

Though Greenpeace International and its favored authors are free to print any material they want and people are free to read that material to reinforce their existing belief that radiation at any level is harmful, it is the responsibility of the scientific community to provide accurate information and to submit its work for independent peer review. The normal process of challenging assumption, correlating causes and effects, performing valid statistical analysis and accounting for confounding variables is what allows reasonably correct decision making.

Electronic version of NYAS book available for download

Though the decision to publish Chernobyl Consequences took place more than three years ago, it should not be relegated to the category of old news. The NYAS might have stopped printing the paper bound book, but the electronic version of the publication remains readily available for purchase or downloading by NYAS members. The publication web site contains links to several reviews and responses that are only available to people with academic subscription services or to people who care enough about the issue to lay out $39.95 for each letter to the editor. Just one of the linked responses is available to the public without additional fees; it is a devastating review written by M. I. Balonov of the Institute of Radiation Hygiene in St. Petersburg, Russia.

I purchased the response from Yablokov and Nesterenko to the criticism of S. V. Jargin so you would not have to. It provides more fodder for my assertion that the authors have specifically challenged the notion that the scientific method is important, and it includes a veiled accusation that should offend nuclear energy professionals.

In the Foreword, the Introduction and in Chapter II, it is mentioned that obliteration of those publications is not acceptable both from a moral and an ethical (note that in general, medical practitioners could only add short statements about their studies in numerous scientific and practical conferences) but also from a methodological point of view (when the sample number is very large, there is no necessity to use statistical methods developed for a small number of samples).

In this respect, criticizing us with the fact that our conclusions are in disagreement with those of IAEA (2006) and the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR 2000) cannot but be surprising. The book itself was written as a counterpart to reports of official experts that may be connected to nuclear industry.

(Emphasis added.)

In response to Ted Rockwell’s sustained pressure, the staff of the Annals of the NYAS made some adjustments to the site hosting the book. They published what they described as a disclaimer that made it clear that the NYAS did not commission the book and that the opinions and conclusions are the responsibility of the authors, not the NYAS. However, the “disclaimer” also makes the statement that the book falls into the category of work deemed “scientifically valid by the general scientific community”.

Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences issue “Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment”, therefore, does not present new, unpublished work, nor is it a work commissioned by the New York Academy of Sciences. The expressed views of the authors, or by advocacy groups or individuals with specific opinions about the Chernobyl volume, are their own. Although the New York Academy of Sciences believes it has a responsibility to provide open forums for discussion of scientific questions, the Academy has no intent to influence legislation by providing such forums. The Academy is committed to publishing content deemed scientifically valid by the general scientific community, from whom the Academy carefully monitors feedback.

That phrase “has no intent to influence legislation by providing such forums” was apparently selected to protect the tax exempt status of the NYAS, but it has no meaning in this instance. There is no pending legislation that could be remotely influenced by an honest discussion that evaluates the scientific merit of the December 2009 edition of the Annals of the New York Academy of Science. The discussion and resulting evaluation, however, would partially restore the scientific integrity of the organization as one that acknowledges that everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own set of facts.

Challenge to integrity of scientific and technical professionals

There are many correct ways to do good science, and there is a method and a process that should be generally accepted as the way to glean truth, gather evidence, and evaluate causation. It is the responsibility of everyone who has a professional interest in properly informing the public about their subject to challenge those who seek to portray fiction as fact. It is especially dangerous for the truth to allow anyone to publish direct challenges to science and the professional integrity of thousands of people under the imprint of an organization like the New York Academy of Sciences.

Quiet pressure from a long-time member of the NYAS has not resulted in any effective action. Perhaps individual letters to the NYAS leadership sent by dozens of qualified professionals will have more impact.

___________________________

Adams

Rod Adams is a nuclear advocate with extensive small nuclear plant operating experience. Adams is a former engineer officer, USS Von Steuben. He is the host and producer of The Atomic Show Podcast. Adams has been an ANS member since 2005. He writes about nuclear technology at his own blog, Atomic Insights.

Uranium 233 is a valuable resource, no matter what Robert Alvarez believes

by Rod Adams

Robert Alvarez has issued another misleading report about energy dense fuel materials, titled Managing the Uranium-233 Stockpile of the United States.

According to Alvarez’s report, the United States owns about 3400 pounds of U-233, which is one of two fissile isotopes of uranium. He portrays this resource, which has been in storage since the 1970s, as a hazardous stockpile that somehow puts the world at risk of a rogue group obtaining a nuclear weapons capability. Unfortunately, he is not the only person with this mistaken opinion. The Department of Energy is currently planning to spend nearly half a billion dollars to get rid of the United States’ carefully protected U-233 resources.

Alvarez’s report does not mention the fact that the stockpile contains as much potential energy as 23 million barrels of oil. At current world oil prices, that gives it a comparable energy value of more than $2 billion, even if it is not used for its highest and best purpose, as the seed for an expansive program of thermal spectrum breeder reactors.

Waste not, want not

My Depression Era parents deeply embedded the “waste not, want not” mantra into my brain. As a relatively prosperous adult, I must admit that I do not always spend as much time separating and consolidating materials for recycling as my parents did, but I still respect their teachings that one should not discard items or materials that have future uses. Short-sighted acts of disposal often destroy any potential value because of the difficulty associated with removing contaminants.

I’ve been writing and reading for nearly two decades about the impressive capabilities offered by using a nuclear fission fuel cycle that includes uranium 233 and thorium 232. As anyone who has read Kirk Sorensen’s excellent blog Energy from Thorium or listened to his passionate talks on molten salt reactors knows, U-233 produces about 15 percent more neutrons per thermal fission as U-235 or Pu-239. That difference is significant; it means that a U-233/Th-232 fuel cycle can achieve a conversion ratio greater than 1.0 in a thermal spectrum reactor, resulting in a self-sustaining fuel cycle that might never need any additional fissile material.

Light water breeder reactor

Sometime during the early 1990s, after I had been a nuclear-trained submarine engineering officer for about a dozen years, I learned about the demonstration reactor core that was installed into the Shippingport nuclear power plant. That final core was operated 1977–1982 as a Light Water Breeder Reactor.

That demonstration proved that a well-designed thermal spectrum reactor could use the extra neutrons produced by U-233 to turn thorium into a useful fuel material at a rate faster than the U-233 would be consumed. Unfortunately, one inherent disadvantage of nuclear fuel cycle knowledge development is that it takes a long time. After five years of power production, the light water breeder reactor core was still going strong, with no evidence of the loss of reactivity that accompanies conventional reactor materials as they consume the fissile materials in their low-enriched uranium fuel rods.

Because the project sponsors knew that they might not be able to continue funding the team that would perform the post-operation fuel material analysis, they stopped the experiment. There were no immediately scheduled follow-on cores because any potential customers would have wanted to wait until the final results were known. No large-scale production capacity was ever developed to handle the unique blend of materials involved in the LWBR process.

Analysis

The destructive fuel rod analysis that proved that breeding had occurred was not completed until five years after the experiment had been terminated, which was more than 10 years after the fuel fabrication had been completed. Here is a quote from section IX, Summary and Discussion of Significance from a report titled “Proof of Breeding in the Light Water Breeder Reactor (WAPD-TM-1612),” which was provided to the DOE in September 1987 under contract No. DE-AC11-76PN00014. (I have provided that detail just in case someone thinks it might be worthwhile to file a Freedom of Information Act request.)

The results demonstrate conclusively that LWBR was a breeder. They show that breeding can be achieved in a light-water reactor using 233U as fissile fuel and the naturally occurring, relatively abundant 232Th as fertile material. Thus, the Light Water Breeder Program which the Department of Energy pursued for more than twenty years has demonstrated and proven unequivocally that 233U-232Th breeders can be built, operated in light water reactor plants to produce electrical energy, and breed more fissile fuel than they consume. This means that the plentiful domestic supply of low and moderate cost thorium represents a potential resource for providing about fifty times the amount of energy which could be produced using current light water reactors and the domestic supply of low and moderate cost uranium. This light water breeder system could supply the entire electrical energy need of the United States for centuries.

The primary significance of proving breeding in LWBR is the demonstrated potential for greatly increasing our nation’s electrical energy generation capability for many years to come.

By the time those words were written at the end of the quietly submitted report, the leading proponents of the technology had either died (Rickover) or lost all of their influence on government programs (Radkowsky). Radkowsky, the creative designer of the fuel system, eventually started a company called Thorium Power (which is now operating under the name of Lightbridge) to attempt to commercialize his ideas.

A few years before Rickover and Radkowsky demonstrated the possibilities of using a U-233/Th-232 fuel cycle in conventional reactors, there were a couple of experiments conducted at Oak Ridge National Laboratory that avoided the fuel fabrication and destructive testing issues described above. By dissolving the U-233 and Th-232 into molten salts, those experiments showed that it was possible to design liquid-fueled reactors that might be arranged to enable utilization of the world’s large thorium fuel resource. There is much to be learned about building durable molten salt reactors with closed fuel systems, but the learning process would be made less time consuming if the Department of Energy enabled effective use of the already existing inventory of special material.

Even if one agrees with Alvarez’s stated concern about the need to carefully protect the U-233 from all possibility of being stolen, I cannot imagine any system that is less likely to experience material theft than operating nuclear power reactors. Those devices are surrounded by thick shielding resembling a vault, and they are full of self-protective radioactive isotopes. Sarah Weiner, writing for the Center for Strategic and International Studies, characterized Alvarez’s well publicized report as “alarmism”, but she also supported the DOE’s plans to make it nearly impossible for the energy laden material to be put to any beneficial use.

Knowing what I know about U-233′s potential benefits, I was saddened by Matt Wald’s recent article titled Uranium Substitute Is No Longer Needed, but Its Disposal May Pose Security Risk. It is disturbing to think that so many people have such a huge misunderstanding of nuclear fission technology that they take action to make U-233 an expensive waste product, instead of more accurately treating it as a potent energy resource that would become more valuable the more it is used.

PS—I cannot resist the temptation to compare the DOE’s planned expenditure of $473 million to destroy the potential value in its U-233 stockpile with the $452 million that has been widely promoted as the government’s contribution to small modular reactor development.

______________________________________________

Adams

Rod Adams is a nuclear advocate with extensive small nuclear plant operating experience. Adams is a former engineer officer, USS Von Steuben. He is the host and producer of The Atomic Show Podcast. Adams has been an ANS member since 2005. He writes about nuclear technology at his own blog, Atomic Insights.

Facts and fears at NRC public review in Vermont

By Howard Shaffer

View from VermontVermont Yankee’s annual NRC performance review for the previous calendar year was held May 23, in Brattleboro Union High School, within 10 miles of the plant. In previous years, annual reports and state meetings have been held here, and in the Vernon Elementary School, across the road from the plant. The town of Vernon stopped hosting plant-related events due to behavior of some attendees.

This year’s meeting was in two parts. The first was set up like a science fair, with displays and the opportunity to move from one exhibit to another to talk individually with presenters. The second part of the meeting was held in the same room after the removal of displays, with a traditional setup of chairs for attendees, a table and chairs for NRC officials, and a moderator to manage a Q&A session. Events during this second part of the meeting were covered in “The Politics of Intimidation.”

An important display

BWR MK I Containment and Reactor Building, showing location of used fuel

One of the displays in the “science fair” part of the meeting was a cutaway model of Vermont Yankee’s reactor building. The model showed the fuel pool wall and liner depicted with clear plastic. In the pool were models of fuel assemblies, and the walls were blue to show the location of the water. This model clearly demonstrated that the fuel is several stories below the refueling floor, behind a thick outer wall, the thick pool wall, and pool liner. Obviously a great deal of work and expense had gone into this model. It seems to have been made to address one of the issues that “anti-nukes” continually raise against boiling water reactors with the MK I containment: an alleged vulnerability to aircraft attack by intentional collision.

An attempt to explain

As I approached the table with the model, a member of the public was examining it. Behind the table was the staff member assigned to explain it to the attendees. I joined the conversation. I mentioned my background as a startup engineer at the plant and pointed out that the fuel is behind very thick walls, as shown in the model. Also, the top of the pool is at the refueling floor level, and the water surface just below, as clearly shown in the model. It was pointed out an aircraft would not be a good “battering ram” against the reinforced concrete walls.

The reaction

Walking away with the member of the public  toward the next display, I continued to explain that the industry had carefully studied the effects of intentional large plane crashes into plants. The study found that the only parts of a large commercial jet of concern are the engines. The turbine shaft acts like a spear. The rest of the plane is only a little more than heavy duty aluminum foil, when a plane is used as a battering ram. The tragic crash at the Pentagon on 9/11 proved that.

Stopping, turning, and looking at me, I could see the fear in this person’s eyes as she said “I don’t buy it.”

Enhancing fear

During the second part of the meeting, nearly all the speakers were opposed to Vermont Yankee and nuclear power. Many statements and questions raised or reinforced fears.

One speaker listed all the core damaging accidents in the history of nuclear power, then said that the frequency was much more than had been predicted and “promised.” As I recall from hearing Professor Rassmussen describe the results of his work [WASH-1400 "Reactor Safety Study" (1975)], the frequency he stressed was for core damaging accidents resulting in releases to the public. Core damaging accidents not resulting in releases to the public would be expected to be more frequent. After the Three Mile Island accident he reviewed his report, and found that an accident like TMI was predicted to have already happened before then!

A calm request

Former State Representative Sarah Edwards, from Brattleboro, complemented the opponents for being there, and for being persistent. She said that she had visited Waterford, Yucca Mountain, WIPP, and Oak Ridge, and was on the Vermont State nuclear advisory panel; all while a member of the legislature. She asked that used fuel in the pool be moved to dry casks as soon as possible. Edwards said that she understood that used fuel had to stay in the pool for five years after being discharged form the reactor. As I understand it, this request could be fulfilled, once the Vermont Public Service Board modifies the plant’s Certificate of Public Good. Currently, the plant is approved only for dry cask storage sufficient to reach the end of the original 40-year license—which was this past March.

The future

On June 4, the State of Vermont filed an appeals brief in the US Second Court of Appeals, as expected. The consensus is that this case, Entergy v. Vermont, will go to the Supreme Court.

The Vermont Public Service Board is conducting an examination for a new Certificate of Public Good for Vermont Yankee. There will be a public hearing in November in Vernon, the plant’s location.

End note

David Ropeik, former Boston environmental journalist and expert in risk communication at the Harvard School of Public Health, is well known to the American Nuclear Society’s Northeastern section, having spoken at and attending our meetings over the years. His recent article on “what controls what we think” is highly worthwhile reading. The feelings and behavior at the NRC’s May 23 meeting confirm his conclusions.

____________________________

Shaffer

Howard Shaffer has been an ANS member for 35 years. He has contributed to ASME and ANS Standards committees, ANS committees, national meeting staffs, and his local section, and was the 2001 ANS Congressional Fellow. He is a current member of the ANS Public Information Committee and consults in nuclear public outreach. 

He is coordinator for the Vermont Pilot Project.  Shaffer holds a BSEE from Duke University and an MSNE from MIT. He is a regular contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

NRC Public Meeting in Brattleboro: The Politics of Intimidation

By Meredith Angwin

A recent public meeting held by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) turned out to be a horrific way for a nuclear supporter to spend an evening. The NRC held the meeting to report its annual review of the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant’s performance. The plant received the highest safety ratings, but that was not the focus of the May 23 meeting in Brattleboro, Vt.—to put it mildly.

I hope I never get that close to a mob-rule situation again. I will be completely honest here. The politics of intimidation at this meeting definitely intimidated me. I have always urged people to “show up at the meeting and stand up for nuclear energy” in my discussions of nuclear activism. I will continue to say and do this, but perhaps more cautiously.

The meeting begins

The NRC meeting was divided into two parts. The first session in some ways resembled a “science fair.” Attendees could see NRC exhibits and ask questions one-on-one with NRC officials. Vermont Yankee also provided an exhibit, a cut-away model of the plant. This part of the meeting was completely civil. You can see people standing by an NRC table, and standing around and chatting, in this picture:

Near the end of this first session, however, a group of women in black, with white death masks, filed into the room and began walking a circuit around it.

As the NRC attempted to set up tables for the second session, intended to be a more formal meeting with a question-and-answer period, many of the black-dressed women went to the front of the room and stood behind the NRC tables. The NRC moderator asked them to sit down. He said that he wouldn’t start the meeting with them standing there, and that standing behind the tables was disrespectful. (You can see the interaction at WCAX “Vermont Yankee hearing turns heated.”)

The crowd shouted that those were merely the NRC rules, that this is a democracy, that the women don’t have to sit down. Then most of the crowd surged up from their seats to stand near the women.

At this point, at the front of the room, the NRC regulators were now surrounded by a hostile crowd. The police and the NRC decided that the NRC officials should leave the room for their own safety. This picture shows the NRC officials leaving (at right) while the front of the room is filled with protesters.

I hope to leave

With the NRC gone from the room, the opponent group had taken over the microphones and were saying anything they wanted and clapping for each other. This was an anti-nuclear rally, with a meeting room thoughtfully provided by the NRC.

I realized I had no earthly reason to be in that room. Maybe it was time for me to leave too. While the NRC was out in the hallway, I became hopeful that the meeting would be cancelled and I could leave.

Alas, the NRC came back in to the meeting. The NRC ceded the front of the room to the opponent crowd. Chris Miller, NRC Region 1 director of the Division of Reactor Safety, answered questions from the side of the room. Karl Farrar, NRC Region 1 regional counsel, called on people to ask questions from the aisle at the center of the room.

Same old, same old

The anti-nuclear crowd was noisy and intimidating. At random-seeming intervals, they started chants. One of the leaders would shout “Mike Check” and the group would echo it. Then the leader would shout a few more lines about the plant, or “This is what democracy looks like!” and the group would echo that. The audience also shouted, whistled, and rang bells to show approval for one of their speakers, or disapproval for an NRC official, or for the sole brave pro-nuclear speaker.

The questions and statements of the opponents were the usual. NRC is an industry lapdog, there is strontium in the fish, etc. The final query was what could the people at the meeting say that would get the NRC to shut down the plant. Karl Farrar answered, “That’s not the way the system works.” With that response, the anti-nuclear leaders declared that “the people” were leaving. There was a final burst of chanting, and most of the audience walked out.

Was it worth it to attend?

Yes and no. During the “science fair” session of the meeting, I had a friendly talk with Mike Mulligan, a Vermont Yankee opponent. Mulligan frequently comments on my blog Yes Vermont Yankee. Howard Shaffer also spoke with several plant opponents at that time. I saw several pro-nuclear people whom I like a lot (but they left early—and I do not blame them!). I was interviewed by a local TV station (it’s in the video clip above) and also a radio station. So for those reasons, it was worthwhile to attend.

I have been to many meetings dominated by nuclear energy opponents, but in general the meetings have been civil enough that I felt my presence counted for something. My feeling about this meeting is different. My presence at the formal meeting did not count, and I had no chance to stand up and speak during the entire meeting. A Keene Sentinel article said this about the one man who did speak up:

One man spoke in favor of the plant, but was shouted down by other audience members.

Go to meetings anyway

I still encourage people to go to public meetings and show support for nuclear energy. Most public meetings are not like this one, thankfully. On the other hand, after this meeting, I would also suggest that you keep your eyes open. “Bail out” if you think things might get ugly. Many of my friends left early. There’s no shame in deciding to get out.

I put a link to the WCAX video on the Save Vermont Yankee Facebook page. Here’s what one man wrote in response. I think I will end this post with his words:

It’s strange I did not see anyone arrested in the video. It’s almost at the level of a lynch mob, which is where this type of activity appears to be escalating. You should be careful around mobs like this. They can be very dangerous and things could get ugly quickly.

____________________

Angwin

Meredith Angwin is the founder of Carnot Communications, which helps firms to communicate technical matters. She specialized in mineral chemistry as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Later, she became a project manager in the geothermal group at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Then she moved to nuclear energy, becoming a project manager in the EPRI nuclear division. She is an inventor on several patents.

Angwin serves as a commissioner in the Hartford Energy Commission, Hartford, Vt.  Angwin is a long-time member of the American Nuclear Society and coordinator of the Energy Education Project. She is a frequent contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

How to Survive an NRC Public Meeting

By Suzy Hobbs Baker

Several weeks ago in the quiet community of Gaffney, South Carolina, I attended a public meeting held by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to discuss the potential environmental impact of Duke Energy’s proposed William States Lee III site. About 100 anti-nuclear activists also descended on the meeting.

The funny thing about this meeting is that of the dozens of people who spoke out against the proposed nuclear plant, not a single one of them was from Cherokee County, which is the location of the Lee III site. In fact, the vast majority of them were not even native to South Carolina. This was a group of volunteers organized by professional anti-nuclear activists who were bused down from Asheville, North Carolina. Many who spoke had well-rehearsed speeches about sick children, multi-billion dollar proposals that benefitted their own solar companies, and even one very long “Occupy” chant that had little to do with anything as far as I could tell.

This is not the first time that activists based in western North Carolina have organized against nuclear projects in other communities, in other states. In fact, it has become protocol. In the past two years, activists from the Asheville area have hiked to Oak Ridge, Tenn., to protest, bused to the Savannah River Site, S.C., to speak to the Blue Ribbon Commission, flown to Florida to fight the Crystal River nuclear power plant, and donned zombie costumes in Knoxville, Tenn. I’m sure that some American Nuclear Society members have had experiences with these same activists in the past.

So, why do I care about these anti-nuclear activities, and why should you?

I’ll start by explaining why this particular meeting was important to me. The Lee nuclear project will be built 15 miles from where my husband and I just bought our first home. We are located in the rural region between Greenville and Spartanburg, S.C., near the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. This beautiful area has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country, as well as one of the highest poverty rates in the state (20.6 percent in Cherokee County, more than double the national average).

A 2006 survey published in the International Journal of Nuclear Governance suggests that building a new nuclear plant is one of the best ways for a community to grow. Like the majority of local citizens, I would love to see new jobs, flourishing cultural activities, and increasing home values. Sadly, this vision for future prosperity was overshadowed by the chanting, hollering masses of activists during this particular meeting (the presence of four armed guards suggests that things have gotten quite heated during past meetings at this location).

Unfortunately, my experience was not the exception but the rule when it comes to these meetings. Anti-nuclear activists have found effective ways to disrupt the NRC’s public comment periods, and to create a false sense of community opposition to nuclear projects. This often translates into real delays in licensing and construction, increased cost, and sometimes litigation, which are serious reasons why nuclear professionals should care about how we respond as citizens and as an industry.

It would be fabulous if the NRC would implement a few common sense guidelines to make public meetings more community focused, and less of a circus. Simple steps like reserving comments at public meetings for community members, and asking out-of-state citizens to submit their comments by mail or email would add value to this process.

Of course, I don’t see this happening any time soon, so I wanted to share some tips on how to survive an NRC public meeting. Many nuclear professionals understandably avoid these meetings, but the reality is that with new nuclear builds in the works, we should all become actively engaged in this process:

  1. Take a tip from the opposition and think of public meetings as a social event. Call your like-minded friends and family; go out for a nice meal together before or after the meeting.
  2. Use your local network. Send an email out to your ANS chapter, as well as other non-profits you may be a member of (NA-YGN, WiN, etc.). The more the merrier!
  3. Call the NRC in advance and request a table. And bring cookies. Seriously, sweets go a long way in win hearts and minds. So does smiling, it’s very effective.
  4. No suits! If you are attending a public meeting as a citizen, then dress like a citizen. Grab your favorite pro-nuke t-shirt, or something colorful and casual.
  5. This is more of a lesson learned, and is a little harder to pull-off, but it can be achieved by arriving a few minutes early and asking nicely of the NRC. For example, if you have a group of a dozen people, and you all sign up to make a comment, request to be spread out through the meeting. Then, as accusations and false information arise, you can take notes and directly counter particularly inflammatory statements.

In case you are ready to go kill ‘em with kindness and cookies at the next NRC meeting, here is the schedule.

And finally—as proof that with a little planning, an NRC meeting can actually be fun—here are some pictures of our crew of nuclear supporters in Gaffney last month.

Our outreach table with free t-shirts and cookies!

From left: Suzy Hobbs Baker (PopAtomic), Jennifer Saucier (NA-YGN), Rod Adams (Atomic Insights), Kasey Baker (PopAtomic), Brian Dyke (ANS Savannah River Section)

NA-YGN Carolina Chapter

 

A Tale of Two Nuclear Opponents

By Howard Shaffer

So many people oppose nuclear power that it becomes easy to lump them all together as “the opponents.” Like any other group, however, the opponents actually have  various depths of commitment. The extremes are the Professional Opponent and the Concerned But Reachable Volunteer.

The Professional Opponent

A colleague once asked me, “Who is X?”  (X is used to conceal name.) The colleague had heard X introduced as a “scientist” at nuclear power plant public review meeting. My colleague looked on X’s organizational Web site, but could not find X’s qualifications. “Does anyone know anything about X? Does X actually have any technical background at all?” the colleague asked.

Yes, I explained, I know something about X, and no, X has no technical background.

Seabrook nuclear plant

I first met X sometime after I began working at the Seabrook plant in 1984. The Clamshell Alliance, an anti-nuclear group, was holding public meetings and staging protests against the plant, and some of us from the plant attended the meetings. We always identified ourselves as plant employees, so as not to give ammunition to the charge that the plant was spying.  Of course, if we had been asked to leave, then it wouldn’t have been a public meeting! We held conversations, and always tried to be polite (which is often not easy), regardless of how we were treated (I must admit that my politeness sometimes slipped).

Even at that time, X had a usual-form activist history: Studied philosophy in college and dropped out, counseled draft resistors during the Vietnam War, joined the anti-nuclear protest movement shortly afterward.

Kent State protest

While I was working at Seabrook, after 1986, the protesters’ plans included scaling the fence around the plant site. I had met X by then, and knew that security regulations had expanded the specific rights of security guards. I wrote to X, who was active in the Clamshell Alliance, and included a copy of the guards’ rights, which specified the right to shoot in self-defense. I asked, “Please, no more Kent States,” referring to the Vietnam War college campus protest tragedy, where several students were shot, and one or more killed, the aftermath of a large crowd of students surrounding a small band of National Guard troops.

Thankfully, the Seabrook protest ritual had evolved to the point where the police would be on board, the media would be called, those protesters picked ahead of time would scale the fence and be arrested, and all would then go safely home. The media would have its footage and nobody would be hurt.

Vermont Yankee nuclear plant

I met X many times after that, as he moved from positions in one anti-nuclear organization to another. I saw him testify in Washington, D.C., and in Montpelier, Vt. Our last meeting was when he came to present to legislative committees on the Vermont Yankee tritium leak. He and his colleague egregiously said that the leak was unmonitored, and that this was not allowed! Shortly thereafter, we were on a plane together from New Hampshire to Washington, D.C. We sat together and talked.

X firmly believes that nuclear power must be done away with to ensure elimination of nuclear weapons. Of course, X also believes that “any amount of radiation is harmful.” X and his organization don’t have a transition plan, for how the United States and the world would keep going while we convert to their proposal of a nuclear-free existence.

X is a professional “anti-nuke,” making a full-time living at opposing nuclear plants. He represents a very few who are the hard core. One can learn how to counter his arguments, but one cannot hope to change his mind.

The Concerned But Reachable Volunteer

At the other end of the opponents’ spectrum is Y, an anti-nuclear volunteer. Several years ago, Y arranged a debate about nuclear energy and I was a panel member. Y had retired from urban life to live in the hills of the Connecticut River Valley. Once, we both happened to be at Vermont’s State House, in Montpelier, at the same time. Y came over to me to say hello.

Angwin at Vermont Yankee demonstration

I saw her again just a few days ago. On June 23, the Safe and Green Coalition held a demonstration in Brattleboro, Vt., outside the Post Office building, where the federal court was holding an injunction hearing, in the suit by Vermont Yankee against the State of Vermont. Meredith Angwin (who also writes blog posts under the View From Vermont banner) and I attended. Meredith had a poster with a picture of a child using a breathing mask, saying “Save the Children (from asthma). Yes Vermont Yankee.” Y was there on the sidewalk with a sign, along with 60 others. Y called to me as I walked along, and we again had a cordial conversation.

I could see in Y’s eyes some genuine concern about nuclear and a sense of doubt. There were no strident words, and no bubbling up of anger as with some of the others there. Y truly wants to do well by the children, and she sees nuclear as a major danger. In my opinion, she is not entirely dedicated to that belief.

Different strokes

Opponents are a mixture of people with a range of feelings. These feelings go from fear, anger, and “lie down in front of the bus” determination, to questioning and apprehension about nuclear power. Some such as Y appear to be unsure about the depth of their opposition.

The challenge for nuclear advocates is to find ways to communicate—that is, address the fears and concerns of those who are reachable. By doing so, we will bolster our supporters and convince the wavering middle ground in the electorate.

We do not have an easy job, because we are in an arena with the loud voices of the professional opponents. These professionals can be cordial, but will never be swayed.  Still, we can convince the concerned citizens.  Some high-profile former opponents have been able to see the light.

We must challenge the false statements of the professional, and we must keep working to engage concerned citizens by providing correct information,  acknowledging their fears, and speaking to reasons that matter to them.

 

Shaffer

Howard Shaffer has been an ANS member for 35 years. He has contributed to ASME and ANS Standards committees, ANS committees, national meeting staffs, and his local section, and was the 2001 ANS Congressional Fellow. He is a current member of the ANS Public Information Committee and consults in nuclear public outreach. He is coordinator for the Vermont Pilot Project.

Shaffer holds a BSEE from Duke University and an MSNE from MIT. He is a regular contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe.

Gwyneth Cravens talks about nuclear energy in Vermont

View from Vermont

by Meredith Angwin

Gwyneth Cravens came to Vermont last week for a full plate of speaking engagements and media interviews. Howard Shaffer, myself, and John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute had planned for weeks her visit to Vermont. I was tired of seeing the constant parade of anti-nuclear people like Helen Caldicott, Paul Gunther of Beyond Nuclear, and others come up to Vermont.

It was about time we dispelled some of the gloom of ignorance with a solid pro-nuclear talk!

The action

Craven’s media appearances started before her trip started, with two radio interviews while she was still in California. One was on WDEV, the Mark Johnson show, and you can hear it here:

Part 1
Part 2

Her other interview was on Vermont Public Radio’s morning edition, but I have been unable to find a link. VPR may not yet have archived Cravens’ appearance.

On Thursday in Vermont, Cravens

  • had breakfast with supporters at the Burlington Sheraton
  • gave a rushed talk to legislators in the State House in Montpelier
  • spoke to students and faculty at the University of Vermont in the afternoon (sponsored by the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics)
  • addressed the Ethan Allen Institute’s Sheraton Economic Series at the Burlington Sheraton in the evening (click here for video of her presentation).

The next day, she gave a long interview with True North Reports, a start-up Web magazine. Then she flew home.

Cravens

By the end of the day on Thursday, Cravens had given three one-hour talks in three separate venues in two cities. An immense and successful effort! The talks were recorded by cable companies and a documentary film maker. All the seats were filled in the State House Committee room and the Sheraton Economic Series. At  the University of Vermont, we still had seats available, but the faculty sponsor looked at the 30 students and said that this was a “good crowd” for the type of event we were holding.

The results

What worked? What didn’t?

Mostly, everything worked. The talk to the legislators was rushed because we basically had the committee room for only 45 minutes during the lunch hour, and there was time only for one question. We were handing out free copies of her book, Power to Save the World, and 20 legislators took copies. As a courtesy, John McClaughry of the Ethan Allen Institute also brought a copy of the book to the offices of Vermont Lt. Gov. Phil Scott and Gov. Peter Shumlin.

Sometimes, victories are smiles and sometimes they are scowls. I saw some scowls on the faces of a few plant opponents in the State House hallways. I always love it when one particular senator scowls at me. He is an ardent plant opponent, and when he gives me a dirty look, it means I have done something right!

University of Vermont

Because we had more time, the UVM talk went more smoothly. At the university, as in her book, Cravens talked about her journey from someone who was automatically anti-nuclear to someone who became a nuclear proponent. This story of increased knowledge and changed views definitely resonated with the students. Most of the student questions were thoughtful, and the question period ended on an unexpected high note. The last question was a statement by one grad student, who had become convinced that nuclear was the future. I talked with the student afterward. He is an engineering student and working on wind turbines. He has become quite certain that wind turbines will have limited utility, and so he has been looking at other methods of making power. Of course, he likes nuclear.

The crowd at the Ethan Allen Institute talk in the evening was older and more conservative than the students at University of Vermont. The good news was that they were already mostly nuclear supporters. The bad news was that several of them objected to Cravens’ description of global warming. Cravens handled their questions very well, and one person told me that she thought the question period had been the best part of the presentation. I consider that a true compliment to Cravens.

Exit sign containing tritium

Another great part of the evening talk was Howard Shaffer’s show-and-tell. Shaffer bought (on Amazon.com) a tritium-containing exit sign with seven curies of tritium. Pointing out that he held, in his hand, about seven times the entire amount of tritium that had leaked from Vermont Yankee definitely had an impact.

The bottom line

We supported our friends in the legislature, who left the meeting with big smiles. We at least partially discomfited the plant opponents there. Students were receptive to Cravens’ talk, and conservatives were also won over by her knowledge during the question period.

This event was unique in the recent history of Vermont, which has had several visits from Helen Caldicott, but no visits (before this one) from out-of-state nuclear experts. We had some media coverage, but I wish there were more. I also wish that we had more legislators in the room, and maybe even a few Democrats in attendance. (Knowledgeable people said that all the legislators present were Republicans.)

The bottom line is that it was a start. It was a beginning. We were a presence. One swallow does not make a summer, and one set of appearances does not make a victory. But they help.

Angwin

Meredith Angwin is the founder of Carnot Communications, which helps firms to communicate technical matters. She specialized in mineral chemistry as a graduate student at the University of Chicago. Later, she became a project manager in the geothermal group at the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). Then she moved to nuclear energy, becoming a project manager in the EPRI nuclear division. She is an inventor on several patents. Angwin serves as a commissioner in the Hartford Energy Commission, Hartford, Vt.

Angwin is a long-time member of the American Nuclear Society and coordinator of the Energy Education Project. She is a frequent contributor to the ANS Nuclear Cafe.