Showing posts with label Nuke Power. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nuke Power. Show all posts

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Our booming economy ...

Just not in Wisconsin.
The office of North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue (D) announced today that Toshiba Nuclear will open a project management and engineering center in Charlotte; adding 194 jobs to Mecklenburg County. The jobs will pay average salaries of $122,037 a year.
I would imagine that Wisconsin was near the top of their list, but just missed out. But I would be wrong.
The company is the primary contractor for the construction of two nuclear reactors planned in Texas. The company initially considered sites there and in Northern Virginia, where it is based, for the new operation before cutting the list to Charlotte and Atlanta.

"Charlotte is becoming the place to be in the U.S. for nuclear engineers," Fuyuki Saito, chief executive of Toshiba America Nuclear Energy said in a statement. "The quality of the work force, quality of life and strong support we have received from state and local officials make Charlotte a perfect fit for out new center."
Strong support from state and local officials, I wonder what that means?

H/T - NEI Nuclear Notes.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Oh, the humanity ...

The peregrine falcons are back at Kewaunee and it is not pretty. There is carnage everywhere, bird parts and bodies scattered all over the plant site. I witnessed an especially disturbing occurrence today, a seagull in the parking lot being left to bleed out and die. It appears that the falcons may be hunting for sport.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


As seen at NEI Nuclear Notes.

Obviously missing from the presentation is the rate of increase of debt under a Democratic administration.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Finally, a stimulus plan I can get behind

As seen at Powerline, Hugh Hewitt made a case for a nuclear power stimulus package.
If President Obama was to demand the funding for and enabling legislation to kick start the construction of the dozens of new nuclear power plants this country needs, as well as the wind turbines envisioned by T. Boone Pickens and the grid expansion everyone knows is necessary, not only would he be creating thousands and thousands of great jobs, he'd be powering the U.S. up for a second American century. The appropriation is only the first step. He'd need not a car czar, but a power czar, tasked with delivering the plants on a schedule and authorized to blow through logjams. To get such a massive and necessary expansion of our power supply underway, he'd also have to have "notwithstanding any other law" language in the appropriations bill, or every one of the new plants would be quickly swamped in the sorts of environmental challenges that bedevil every major infrastructure project in the county.

The good news is that the spending bill that looms is so huge that all but the most ardent environmentalist can be bought off with a set aside of billions for habitat acquisition for any threatened or endangered species impacted by the power project. The unions would cheer; environmentalists would cheer, conservatives who know that energy equals freedom would cheer. Well before he faced re-election, President Obama could point to the massive outline of the next generation's power supply, a signal achievement with extraordinary multiplier benefits to the economy and national security.
Far fetched? Maybe not. Planet Gore reports that Energy Secretary Designate Stephen Chu may be behind the idea.
“Isn’t it important we accelerate this proven source of clean energy?” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Al.) asked with respect to nuclear power.

“I’m supportive of the fact that the nuclear industry should be part of the mix,” Chu said.

He said federal loan guarantee programs should be used to jump-start the nuclear industry while the nation develops a long-term plan for safe disposal of waste and researches ways to recycle waste in an economically viable and safe manner.
Ca-ching! More record profits in the nuclear consulting business are on the horizon.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Manly jobs for manly men

It isn't just Zeke, nuke plants are magnets for the manliest of men.

Details here.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Parts of the economy don't suck

IBD tells us that some sources of power are just more farts in the wind.

The domestic auto industry isn't the only uncompetitive industry that seems to require life-sustaining transfusions of government cash to stay in business. Alternative energy sources have relied on such subsidies, called "investments," for years.

Yet in President-elect Obama's announcement of his energy team, we were told "the foundations of our energy independence" lie in "the power of wind and solar." Except that for these alternative sources there's been a severe power shortage.

After decades of tax credits and subsidies, wind provides only about 1% of our electricity. By comparison, coal provides 49%, natural gas 22%, nuclear power 19% and hydroelectric 7%.

Wind power is currently uncompetitive. As the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported recently: "In 1999, 2001 and 2003, when Congress temporarily killed the credits, the number of new turbines dropped dramatically." These subsidies will be renewed in the new administration, but to "invest" in wind and solar to replace fossil fuels will be expensive.

IBD continues.

Meanwhile, nuclear power is making a comeback despite regulatory and environmental roadblocks, and little federal help. It is spending its own money to invest in clean energy for the future.

The hysteria after Three Mile Island, where no one suffered any harm, shut down the American nuclear power industry and caused our nuclear manufacturing base to atrophy. The overhyped event at Chernobyl was more an indictment of Russian technology than of nuclear power. Yet the damage was done.

Until recently, there was no domestic capacity to manufacture the huge components needed to build nuclear reactors. Global nuclear giant Areva and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding are partnering to start building heavy nuclear components. The U.S. had very little enrichment capacity. Now, two new facilities are under construction, with two more planned.

"While visions of 'green jobs' dance in the heads of Washington bureaucrats," notes Jack Spencer of the Heritage Foundation. "The nuclear industry is creating thousands of high-skill, high-paying jobs."

Westinghouse, for one example, has already created more than 3,000 jobs and expects to add 2,900 for a development in Louisiana that will be used to construct modules for new nuclear plants.

Each new reactor will employ 1,400 to 1,800 people during construction, rising to as high as 2,400 jobs as the facility is built. During operation, a nuclear plant typically has a skilled work force of between 400 and 700 employees.

Business has never been better for engineering consulting in the nuclear industry. More work is available than we can handle and we will post a record profit in 2008. By a factor of three!

All of this with construction of the next generation of reactors still years away.

Let the good times roll.

Thank you Nobel Laureate Gore.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Interesting theory

From the NYTimes.

As a supporter of the nuclear revival, I certainly regret the Three Mile Island accident and the way it ended nuclear construction in this country. Yet I would also argue that, as a work of art, The China Syndrome was eerily prescient in anticipating the events at T.M.I. and played a positive role in making nuclear power a safer technology.

In the movie, a key moment occurs when the control room supervisor (Jack Lemmon) realizes a spring gauge is stuck, indicating the cooling water is too high when it is actually too low. The operators are trying to drain the coolant when the reactor is actually overheating. Only Lemmon’s alertness lets them avoid disaster.


After Three Mile Island, the industry founded I.N.P.O. — the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations — to upgrade operator training and pursue safety research. In the 1990’s a group of Navy veterans began asking why reactors couldn’t operate as efficiently on land as they do on submarines. After upgrading their operations, the utilities soon had their fleet of 104 reactors running at 90 percent of capacity — as opposed to the historical 60 percent.

Natural gas now constitutes 39 percent of our electrical capacity but delivers only 19 percent of our electricity because it’s so expensive. Meanwhile, nuclear — with 11 percent of capacity — generates 20 percent of our electricity because reactors are running so smoothly. Reactors generally close down only once every 18 months for refueling.

No, The China Syndrome didn’t kill nuclear power. Instead, it set off a series of innovations that have transformed the industry. As a result, nuclear power is ready today to shoulder a much larger portion of our electrical burden.

Sounds familiar. Where did I read this before?

H/T - NEI Nuclear Notes

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I seriously believe that Obama, Pelosi, and Reid have entered into an energy suicide pact for America.

First, drilling our known oil reserves is forbidden.

Coal, oil and natural gas fired electricity cannot be expanded (they emit CO2, you know).

Windmills are good, except near Teddy's place or any other Blue State location.

Barack says corn based ethanol from his friends at ADM is okay, too (but not the more abundant and more efficiently produced sugar based ethanol). Of course, replacing more than 20% of U.S. petroleum with corn-eth is impossible, even in perfect growing conditions.

Today NEI Nuclear Notes reported Obama's position on new (CO2-free) nuclear construction.
"In fact, it makes about as much sense as his proposal to build 45 new nuclear reactors without a plan to store the waste some place other than right here at Yucca Mountain."
Which is his way of saying "No Nukes!" By the way, it is Mr. Obama and his party who are blocking the opening of Yucca Mountain.

Other than that, we are supposed to wait for a breakthrough in matter-antimatter technology.

*BANANA - Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anything

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Get real.

TOKYO - The world needs to invest $45 trillion in energy in coming decades, build some 1,400 nuclear power plants and vastly expand wind power in order to halve greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, according to an energy study released Friday.

The report by the Paris-based International Energy Agency envisions a "energy revolution" that would greatly reduce the world's dependence on fossil fuels while maintaining steady economic growth.
I've got news for the Paris-based IEA: It ain't gonna happen.

I work in the world of commercial nuclear power and will for the rest of my life (Retirement, what's that?).

It sucks. Nothing is easy, even the stuff that should be.

Finding and training qualified people to staff the World's current 443 plants is a struggle. Most of the experienced people are looking for a way to get out (just give us government Universal Healthcare and 10% will leave immediately). There is no way to safely build and run 1,843 reactors. Corners will have to be cut and qualifications relaxed.

I'd rather take my chances with global warming than the risk of almost 2,000 ticking-Chernobyl's all over the planet.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Avoiding Groupthink

Avoiding Groupthink

1. The group should be made aware of the causes and consequences of group think.

2. The leader should be neutral when assigning a policy-making task to a group, initially withholding all preferences and expectations. This practice will be especially effective if the leaders consistently encourages an atmosphere of open inquiry.

3. The leader should give high priority to airing objections and doubts, and be accepting of criticism.

4. Groups should always consider unpopular alternatives, assigning the role of devil's advocate to several strong members of the group.

5. Sometimes it is useful to divide the group into two separate deliberative bodies as feasibilities are evaluated.

6. Spend a sizable amount of time considering all warning signals from rival group and organizations.

7. After reaching a preliminary consensus on a decision, all residual doubts should be expressed and the matter reconsidered.

8. Outside experts should be included in vital decision making.

9. Tentative decisions should be discussed with trusted colleagues not in the decision-making group.

10. The organization should routinely follow the administrative practice of establishing several independent decision-making groups to work on the same critical issue or policy.

Monday, June 02, 2008

A Real Life Example of Groupthink

I previously presented the Eight Main Symptoms of Groupthink. Here I note some real life examples of those symptoms to show how groupthink can affect public policy.

1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious deficiencies (their climate models don’t work), take extreme positions (a 20 foot rise in sea level), and are overly confident in their position (the IPCC’s steadfast position in the face of a cooling planet).

2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away any positions contrary to group thinking (only deniers and flat-earthers (and now daughter rapists) disagree with them).

3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions (the solution is worse than the problem: Cap & Trade will kill global economy with the poor hit hardest; ethanol = starvation; and other much worse consequences of these tunnel vision solutions to follow).

4. Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group (GW deniers are the house n-words of Big Oil).

5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty (conflicting voices are not invited to climate change conferences and cannot get their research funded or published).

6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments (the Medieval warm period was washed from the “hockey-stick” data set).

7. Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent (Al Gore says the scientific consensus is unanimous, never mind those 31,000 deniers).

8. Mindguards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency (Al Gore defines this characteristic).

There is a reason for my hang-up with groupthink. It has been repeatedly stressed to me in my work-life that groupthink is to be avoided. It is a challenge in the nuclear industry to avoid mental traps, such as groupthink, in decision making. This is stressed in training, as well as addressed by regulation.

10 CFR Part 50.59 provides the regulatory framework for addressing changes to commercial nuclear plants. The following questions must be addressed in evaluating engineering changes to a nuke plant.

(i) Result in more than a minimal increase in the frequency of occurrence of an accident previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(ii) Result in more than a minimal increase in the likelihood of occurrence of a malfunction of a structure, system, or component (SSC) important to safety previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(iii) Result in more than a minimal increase in the consequences of an accident previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(iv) Result in more than a minimal increase in the consequences of a malfunction of an SSC important to safety previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(v) Create a possibility for an accident of a different type than any previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(vi) Create a possibility for a malfunction of an SSC important to safety with a different result than any previously evaluated in the final safety analysis report (as updated);

(vii) Result in a design basis limit for a fission product barrier as described in the FSAR (as updated) being exceeded or altered; or

(viii) Result in a departure from a method of evaluation described in the FSAR (as updated) used in establishing the design bases or in the safety analyses.

Nothing approaching this level of rigor is applied to the knee-jerk solutions to a climate change problem which may not exist, or may be an environmental benefit under some criteria. Global Warming/Climate Change Groupthink has made it unnecessary to perform any rigorous analytical thinking before decisions are made.

One other thing. If you get locked into groupthink in the nuclear power business, you may just find your name listed here some day. On the other hand, Global Warming Groupthinkers may get listed with other Nobel Peace Prize winners.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Eight Main Symptoms of Groupthink

Eight Main Symptoms of Groupthink

1. Illusion of Invulnerability: Members ignore obvious deficiencies, take extreme positions, and are overly confident in their position.

2. Collective Rationalization: Members discredit and explain away any positions contrary to group thinking.

3. Illusion of Morality: Members believe their decisions are morally correct, ignoring the ethical consequences of their decisions.

4. Excessive Stereotyping: The group constructs negative stereotypes of rivals outside the group.

5. Pressure for Conformity: Members pressure any in the group who express arguments against the group's stereotypes, illusions, or commitments, viewing such opposition as disloyalty.

6. Self-Censorship: Members withhold their dissenting views and counter-arguments.

7. Illusion of Unanimity: Members perceive falsely that everyone agrees with the group's decision; silence is seen as consent.

8. Mindguards: Some members appoint themselves to the role of protecting the group from adverse information that might threaten group complacency.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Lots of windmills

Construction of the largest wind farm in Wisconsin is complete, We Energies announced today.

The Blue Sky Green Field wind power project in Fond du Lac County consists of 88 wind turbines spread across 10,600 acres in Calumet and Marshfield, east of Lake Winnebago. Until this year, the state had 30 wind turbines generating electricity at a variety of sites across Wisconsin.
I drove from Madison to Manitowoc last night on Highway 151 and was going to blog about the two massive wind farms I saw. Dag gum it, the Journal Sentinel beat me to it.

I was going to post on the mass expanse of land these things covered. I personally think they look cool; in an artistic, sci-fi movie kind of way. The big blades slowly turning are almost hypnotic to watch. But they seemed to go on forever. They were in sight from outside of Waupun until I made the turn East towards Chilton. That was about 40 miles of highway travel for the largest wind farm in Wisconsin.

Those windmills also produce a significant amount of electricity, 145 megawatts of power, or about a quarter of the greenhouse gas-free juice that Kewaunee puts on the grid. Kewaunee is visible for maybe 5 miles when traveling on State Highway 42.

The point is, if you want to replace 20% of the 16,000 MW that is currently used in Wisconsin with wind power, there will be a windmill everywhere that you look (except for Dane County, which will be exempt from siting of unsightly wind power).

Avoid Groupthink

Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The end.

Six months ago I blogged about the challenges of my new job. Here is some of what I wrote.
Slowly I learned more of the story. Other project managers told me I was taking over a doomed project and that the project is behind schedule with less than 6 months until implementation. The project had also failed in two previous attempts at implementation. The other PM's were steering clear of this job.

Then I learned that the CEO of this Fortune 500 corporation had a hand in the firing of the previous project manager, unbelievably high level attention for a project this size.

Finally, I get this email note from the owner of my new company (portions redacted).
Welcome aboard. We, and specifically this project, need you. If this
project fails rest assured we will be blamed regardless of our degree
of culpability...

So don your armor and proceed into battle (and watch your backside).

PS - Please don't run out the gate with your arms flailing.
I actually laughed out loud when I read that.
My Project from Hell is complete and turned over. Even in spite of having additional scope (with no new resources) added 3 months before the outage, valve flow test results that caused a major system redesign after the start of the outage, and an engineer that was trying to see the project fail even before I arrived.

The project was finished behind schedule, but was never on critical path for the outage. Nuclear power is now safer yet for America.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Good paying jobs available

This is from a report at NEI Nuclear Notes on opportunities in the nuclear world.
Today the average age of the nation's nuclear workers is about 50. Many will be eligible to start retirement at 55. Within five years, about 35 percent of the specialists who have been running U.S. nuclear plants for the past quarter-century -- about 19,600 people -- are expected to begin a mass retirement.

With the explosion in job opportunity, nuclear professionals are mobile again after years of stagnating in a low-turnover industry.
I am seeing this first hand at the Kewaunee plant's refueling outage. Of the 400 laborers brought onsite for the outage, 80% are first time nuclear workers. These workers get 72 hour work weeks, with many away from their homes for up to 2 months. Somehow the premium dollars make it worthwhile. Bring your union card, they will find work for you.

Capitalism is a wonderful thing.

Illegal immigrants need not apply.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Groundhog Day

For my first week of 12 hour workdays, I dreaded the 04:25 squawking of my alarm clock. It is just insanely early, and I could barely get focused all day. I began to feel like Bill Murray in the movie. There was just no way to avoid that damn alarm clock. Not only that, but every day seems the same, with all the time at work, there's not much else that I can get done.

Finally this Monday, I woke up bright and chipper, and ready to take on the day. I started doing what Murray did in the movie, I quit fighting it and tried to make everything as good as it could be in these circumstances.

First, in order to get enough sleep, I have a maximum of 3 hours of personal time between getting home and going to bed. So I have to make choices on what I do with that time. I'm trying to exercise when I can, and I cook my meals instead of getting fast food. I am abstaining from alcohol on work nights, the last thing I need is to wake up with my head pounding. Finally, I'm enjoying the challenges of work and trying to make a difference. I am even anxious to get to work to find out what happened on night shift.

But I'm still hoping to wake up and have it be tomorrow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I Took Five

My god, look at those white guys swing. They're almost like an alien life form. The Dave Brubeck Quartet - Take Five.

I had my day off today. Now it is back to 12-hour days, six per week starting tomorrow. Overtime pay is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Snowmobile or surfboard?

Some things just aren't right. There was a snowmobile in the parking lot at work this morning.

Later in the day, I found this link at the NEI Nuclear Notes blog.
The dialogue on the pros and cons of holding Hawaii’s first Constitutional Convention in 30 years has not yet mentioned one critical reason for having a convention: The need to repeal the prohibition on nuclear power in Hawaii that the 1978 Con-Con established. We need to do this before spiralling oil prices devastate Hawaii‘s economy.

The 1978 Convention added Article XI, Section 8 to the State Constitution: “No nuclear fission power plant shall be constructed or radioactive material disposed of in the State without the prior approval by a two-thirds vote in each house of the legislature.”

Oh yeah!

I'll be looking for work at the Banzai Pipeline Nuclear Power Station if that amendment is repealed.

Monday, December 24, 2007