Friday, November 21, 2014

Groups want Northwest's only commercial nuclear power plant shut down due to fuel storage concerns

by The Associated Press

RICHLAND, Wash. — Two Seattle-based groups are calling for the closure of the Northwest's only commercial nuclear power plant.

Heart of America Northwest and Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility on Wednesday said the Columbia Generating Station should be closed because of worries about the storage pool that cools used nuclear fuel.

A new report commissioned by the groups also questioned worker protection at the plant, which is on leased land at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation.

The Tri-City Herald reported the plant employs about 850 people and generates about 4 percent of the electricity in the Northwest through the Bonneville Power Administration.

The report was written by Robert Alvarez, a frequent critic of nuclear power and a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies.

The report is "64 pages of details about a plant that the author knows very little about," said Mike Paoli, spokesman for Energy Northwest, which operates the plant.


Cities may turn to new forms of nuclear power


BOUNTIFUL, UT —  Safer, more compact nuclear power may be Utah’s energy future.

According to Doug Hunter, general manager of Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS), the group is currently looking at small modular nuclear reactors as a possible solution to the new EPA regulations that will severely restrict the state’s coal plants by 2024. Though no decisions have been made, UAMPS members cities including Bountiful Power and Rocky Mountain Power are looking into utilizing the smaller, safer reactors.

“The nice thing about these smaller reactors is that they have such a safety factor built in,” said Allen Johnson, director of Bountiful Power. “The bigger nuclear plants can be sort of scary.”

The modular reactors are smaller nuclear units currently being built in a plant in Idaho. Though they produce much less power than a larger reactor or even a coal plant, they can be used in conjunction to produce just over the power an average coal plant would put out. The advantage is that this power is carbon-free, making it safe from the EPA regulations.


Monday, November 17, 2014

New nuclear power threatened by shortage of atomic engineers

Engineering and design consultancy Atkins is having to retrain engineers from other specialisms in nuclear technology to meet growing demand for atomic power in the UK and internationally.

The company is running an internal academy to deal with the shortage of suitably skilled engineers as the UK begins to gear up to build a new fleet of nuclear power stations and other countries hope to develop their own generation capabilities.
Uwe Krueger, chief executive of the FTSE 250 business, said: “You cannot believe how scarce these guys are. We are willing to support growth opportunities with resources and to encourage people into the field we have started an internal academy.”

Training can range from just learning the terminology of the industry so engineers understand its requirements, meaning they can design buildings on nuclear sites, to much more in depth learning for complex design challenges.


Before we close more nuclear power plants, we need a national conversation

Friday, November 14, 2014

Texas, the U.S. wind energy leader now looks to battery storage

By Robert Magyar for
Dallas - Texas, home of the oil and gas industry, is the U.S. leader in installed wind energy. As its energy mix for electricity continues to change, it has begun to deal with the issue of battery storage similar to California and New York. 

Texas, the long time hometown to the nation's oil and gas industry, now has the most installed wind energy generation in the country and continues to add more wind generating capacity each year going forward. According to the American Wind Energy Association in its latest 2014 quarterly production data, Texas has installed more than 12,752 megawatts (MW) of wind energy and currently has more than 40 new wind projects in various stages of development. Its total wind energy output is on par with many U.S. nuclear plants and it has double the amount of wind production as California and more than four times the amount of wind energy generated in neighboring Oklahoma, it close cousin in the oil and gas industry. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

America's Critical Infrastructure Is Vulnerable To Cyber Attacks

Guest post written by Michael Assante for Forbes - Similar to the use of technology, the ability to regulate a solution is inherently limited. Regulation creates a compliance mentality in which policies and investments are based on achieving and maintaining compliance. Compliance is predictable, which makes it the hacker’s best friend.

Lack in security professionals who understand both digital security and control system technology

Legislation (HR 3696) has been introduced in the U.S. Congress that would increase the sharing of information related to control system breaches to better arm security professionals to prevent future breaches. That is a worthwhile goal; unfortunately, there is a dire lack of security professionals with an understanding of both digital security and control system technology to benefit from this information sharing.


Monday, November 10, 2014

NRC Resumes Nuclear Power Plant License Renewals

By Enerknol Research - On October 29, 2014, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released a report highlighting the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) resumption of license renewals, ending a two-year suspension on licensing decisions. The NRC resumed the process on October 20, extending the license expiration dates of Pennsylvania’s Limerick Generating Station Units 1 and 2 by 20 years (to 2044 and 2049, respectively) – bringing the number of renewals with 20-year extensions to 74.  Currently, there are 100 operating nuclear reactors in the U.S; nuclear power accounted for 20 percent of total power sector electricity generation in 2013.