Green New Deal

Mitigating Nuclear Hazards - Part 1 Overview

To discuss my experience with mitigating nuclear hazards, I like to say that I am the only person I know of who has worked on almost every aspect of the nuclear fuel cycle. Please let me know if you know anyone else making such a bold claim so perhaps we can gain their perspective? Groups that gave me this experience include the University of Wyoming, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, U.S. Department of Energy, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as well as several consulting assignments.

Ironically, in the U.S. we do not have a complete nuclear fuel cycle so a person would need to work with the French on reprocessing spent fuel to go full circle. The examination of the nuclear fuel cycle for mitigating hazards is relevant to nations and taxpayers under the construct of Conserve & Pro$per on many levels that will be discussed.

As shown on the figure, the nuclear fuel cycle is the process necessary to generate electric power (as well as medical isotopes) in a reactor. The cycle begins with mining, involves several steps to produce and burn fuel rods, store spent fuel, then ultimately burial in a engineered-geological repository. As discussed on my blog post about the Green New Deal, we all use nuclear energy, which accounts for about 20% or one-fifth of our electricity generated in the U.S. So even for the anti-nuclear activists, we all must be aware of the risks and costs involving the nuclear fuel cycle including the fact that we must properly deal with existing nuclear waste.

I will need many blog postings to explain my experience with the nuclear fuel cycle and provide examples of mitigating nuclear hazards. Here is my proposed outline to be provided in upcoming blog posts:

  1. Overview

  2. Uranium Mining

  3. Uranium Mills and Clean Up

  4. Yellowcake Conversion, Enrichment, and Fuel

  5. Nuclear Reactors - Operations, Relicensing, and Decommissioning

  6. Spent Fuel Storage

  7. Reprocessing (in France)

  8. High-level Waste Disposal

  9. Summary of Mitigating Nuclear Hazards

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Green New Deal: Inserting Realities into Radical Proposals

The Green New Deal proposed this month in Congress calls for radical changes to how we get our electricity. The non-binding resolution introduced by two progressive Democrats as reported by NPR suggests the energy sector can be converted to 100% zero-carbon power within 10 years while at the same time eliminating future nuclear power plants.

Can the U.S. realistically eliminate generating electricity from natural gas, coal and possibly nuclear sources in the next decade? According to the Energy Information Agency, here are the present sources of power generated in the U.S.: Natural Gas 33%, Coal 29%, Nuclear 20%, Hydroelectric 7%, Wind 7%, Solar 2%, and Biomass 2%

As you can see, 64% of current power generated releases carbon. Nuclear power does not directly emit carbon into the atmosphere and receives mixed to negative support by environmentalists. Currently, renewable wind and solar only accounts for 9% of power generation.

So it is not realistic to propose converting the entire power fleet in a decade to renewables only. Senator Diane Feinstein from California, which leads the nation in renewable power generation, said the Green New Deal must be modified to be more realistic, provide funding such as a carbon tax, and not have such an ambitious timeline. Most of the news coverage showed her defensively debating with children.

I believe that the Green New Deal is timely for creating the debates needed to move the United States from being the second largest emitter of carbon (China is the largest) to leading the future of green power generation and that rational realism, such as including new nuclear technologies as reported in Forbes, needs to be adopted in future legislation and energy planning.